Community is underrated :: The church has become another social event when it was designed to be a body. A family. A community built on love and truth and with the sole purpose of growing together in and toward Christ - that is our aim.
This is for me as much as any other believer in Christ. We were never meant to go it alone. There’s a need and a time to be with the Lord in the secret place, yes. And it should start there. Yet we cannot neglect the need we have to be in communion with other believers, bearing each others burdens as we have been commanded to do (Gal 6:2).
Vulnerable stories told with trusted friends will lead to greater freedom and life in the Spirit. If you don’t have community now, don’t wait, do whatever it takes to find it. If you have community, think of how to go deeper with one another. Ask yourself, what does it mean to suffer with those who are suffering? How can I celebrate with those who are rejoicing? See what the Lord would have for you and press in. Be the first to take the steps in obedience toward deeper more enriching relationship in the body of Christ.
“Let us consider how to stir up one another toward love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:23-25
“But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Corinthians 12:24-26
Unity in the body is sanctity in Christ.
Anyone else really dislike the waiting periods of our lives?
Those periods in life where you’ve reached the end of one season and you know there’s another coming, yet you don’t know when or where this “new season” is coming from or what it’s supposed to look like.
I call this, the in between. The transition stage. The strange middle ground existing somewhere after the obliteration of one thing and the exhilaration of a new beginning. To be caught there is sometimes awkward and almost always confusing.
The unknowns of life take the most energy. I guess that’s why we wait.. We wait. We breathe. And we find God in our story again. Not that we’ve lost him, though some might have and some may not have found him yet, but we stop and we breathe to remind ourselves of the one who fills our lungs with air. Who keeps our heart beating. Who waits with eager ears and anticipation at what we’ll do next. Who cries when we turn away and smiles when we turn back. Who knows us better than we could ever know ourselves and yet still finds us fascinating. God is enthralled by his creation and longs to know us even more. He pursues relentlessly, yet patiently stands at the door of our hearts and knocks.
I forget that. I forget it so often I’m embarrassed to say how many times I’ve lost my way. So many times I’ve found myself in the in between, wandering aimlessly once again. Searching and grasping at anything or anyone to fill a need and quench my desire to be seen and known and loved. It’s in the in between where I come face to face with my humanity. And It’s in the in between I’m called to wait.
There are so many places in the bible where it talks about waiting; how it is good to wait on the Lord. The other day I revisited a verse I normally tend to look over. It’s from Isaiah 40:31…
“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
It is the EASIEST thing to look at this passage and think, yes, when I call upon the Lord he will give me new strength, new heights to soar, stamina to run, perseverance to walk forward! … And he will, and sometimes he’ll do it right away… but more than not, those things come through the waiting. “Those who wait for the Lord, will…” The promises come once we realize we can’t produce them ourselves. So we wait for the one who can.
Yes, it is the hardest thing to wait, especially in this quick fix, results-driven age, and even more so when we don’t know what it is we’re waiting for. However, God needs us to stop throwing ourselves into the next thing and take a breather every once in a while. He needs us to reflect and to be reminded that He is God. He is in control. And that he has good things in store for those who wait on Him–His ways and His time.
Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
The word LET stands out to me. Let your heart take courage and wait for the Lord. I’m still telling myself this… Don’t rush through it, don’t push past it, don’t try and move on to the next thing because you’re uncomfortable with where God has you. Allow yourself room to process, to grieve, to feel, to rest. Realize he has you there. In that space. And maybe not for any other reason than to be still and know he is God. And to find purpose in just being there with him.
It’s also important that I mention, waiting isn’t stagnant. In fact, the seasons of waiting have been some of the most intentional of my life. Purposefully running after the Father’s heart with all that I have. Sometimes that looks like sitting in silence with him, listening, and other times it’s driving 3 hours to be with family in a crisis. It’s simply living. It’s not a meditative state, though that is needed too, it’s a patient, steadfast, obedient walking out of each day. It’s living in communion with the Holy Spirit. It’s letting him have the final say, the final thought, waiting for him to speak and then acting in accordance.
The more I reflect on the in between moments of my life, the hard ones and the good ones, I start to see it’s about something even bigger. Life on this earth seems to be ALL the in between - a time we GET to be intentional with where we are and who we’re with. Not looking to get somewhere or achieve something, but being present with our creator God, King Jesus, at all times - waiting for his final return. So we wait, and we are vigilant, and we posture ourselves, preparing our hearts for his coming.
James 5:7-8 “Be patient, therefore, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
Lamentations 3:25 “The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.”
Help us, Lord, as we wait. Forgive our short sightedness as we take our focus off ourselves and surrender our pride in thinking we deserve answers or deliverance from hardship or waiting. Renew the mind of Christ within us, that we may have your thoughts and long for your ways. May we find joy and gladness as we wait for you with eager hearts. Giving thanks for the things that produce in us a purifying fire. You are steadfast and patient with us and worthy of our long suffering. May we forever be struck by your love and mercy as we choose to lay our lives on the altar of hope and wait for you. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Come.
Poem | December 2016
I need you to remind me who I am.
Because somewhere on the road I’ve forgotten.
The weight I feel has crept up.
Maybe I just haven’t swept up.
Or maybe it’s not my fault.
But I just haven’t looked up.
This life has worn on my soul.
Turned me cold.
Slowly and subtle it came.
Creeping in like an unwanted house guest.
Just when I thought I found rest.
Like a criminal seeking shelter.
I thought I had felt hurt.
The blood in my veins freezing over.
I thought this was over.
But it came.
I did not see it coming.
Warm this body.
Warm my face.
With your rays.
With your grace.
A sweet melting of my heart.
And forming into clay.
A lost and lonely heart.
A damaged wounded little prey.
I need you to remind me who I am.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” - Isaiah 43:19
Have you ever thought about what you’d say to a younger you? Every year on my birthday I stop to reflect on the last year of life. This year, however, I went way back - 10 years back. I’ve recently been thinking what I’d say to my 19 year old self if i had the chance. What would I tell her that might possibly make her life any easier?
In all honesty, I don’t think I’d say anything. Sure, I could tell her to be a little more kind to her parents, to look to Jesus and not to relationships for fulfillment, to focus on the being and not so much the doing, to forgive more and screw up less. I could tell her those things. But would I want to?
The very fact that I went through all the struggle, the joys, the loneliness and depression, the breathtaking adventures and the painful heartache is what drew me further into my Heavenly Father’s arms. It’s what formed (is forming) me into the likeness of Jesus.
I can remember back to summer of 2007. I was 17, sitting in a banquet hall for my brother’s graduation from twentyfourseven Academy in CO Springs. The lights went off and their “end of the year” video recap started playing on a large screen. The video was good, but the lyrics to the song playing with it caught my attention more…
Welcome to the planet
Welcome to existence
Everybody’s watching you now
Everybody waits for you now
What happens next…?
I thought, “…what a weird song.” Then the chorus hit…
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened before
And like a rush of adrenaline, the blood started pumping faster through my veins. Tears started forming and I didn’t even know why. At that time in my life, I didn’t really know who the Holy Spirit was, but I know now that he was trying to speak to me in this moment.
As the video progressed, the song unfolded into more depth…
Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be
Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here***
Every note piercing my heart, every word touching the very core of my soul. Something became clear to me then… this life was so much more than I even understood. And it’s STILL more than I understand now. My younger self couldn’t grasp the meaning of those words, because those words come with life lived. They come as God unfolds the pages of our story. They come with the highest of highs and lowest of lows. The darkest nights and brightest days. And I knew in that moment, sitting there as the music faded out, that my life was meant to be fully lived. I knew I didn’t want to waste anymore time. I wanted to start living as if it mattered. As if everything in this life was for a purpose. Even the hard things. And even though I had no idea what “hard” was at that age, the Lord marked that moment for me.
Two years later, at the age of 19, I fully surrendered my life to Jesus. Growing up in a christian family, going to church my whole life and even saying the sinner’s prayer didn’t make me a christian. But the day I finally decided to follow Jesus and give everything to him was also the day my life became difficult. The lyrics to the song started to become real.. Welcome to the resistance, the tension is here between who you are and who you could be, how it is and how it should be. And in the last 10 years I’ve seen more than my share of pain, not only in my life but also in the lives of people I love. Death, betrayal, brokenness, abuse, hate, unforgiveness. All things that never make sense and never should have been.
But now, and only by the Lords relentless mercy, can I look back and say that even though bad things happen, my God is still good. He is still in control. and He is making all things new again* - working ALL things together for the good of those who love him.** Maybe redemption has stories to tell, and forgiveness is right where you fell. Where can you run to escape from yourself? Salvation is here. There is still so much hope and so much beauty to be found in this life with him. I would not trade it for anything. Most definitely not the good and not even the bad.
I think it’s unreal to say we shouldn’t have regrets. Of course there are things I wish I could take back. But ultimately, God is using even those things to weave a beautiful tapestry of redemption. He is all about redeeming. That is why he came to this earth - to bring us back to him. To restore a broken relationship. One that he didn’t even break, we did.
But his love for us is SO great - he is compelled by it to make things right again. And again. and again. and again. He never stops redeeming, making beauty from ashes. Whatever the trial, whatever the sin, he’s making a way for his children. A surrendered life is a life he will make beautiful again. He’s constantly making all things new.
Somehow through the mess, the peace i have feels deeper, the joy I have looks brighter, and the love he gives tastes sweeter. I pray that regardless of what season you’re in, it’s one that you’re letting him have control over. Letting him make your life full of purpose, beauty and hope.
So If I were to say anything to 19 year old me, I guess it’d be something like, Embrace the tension and fully live. Life is hard, but with Jesus it’s also beautiful. It’s okay to have regrets. It’s ok to make mistakes. But when you do, don’t hold on to them. Let go and let them be used by God to make the old new and the broken beautiful. He’ll do it regardless, but if you don’t surrender, you’ll miss it all together. And believe me - that is something you don’t want to miss.
* “Behold, I am making all things new … these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5
** “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
*** Dare You To Move - Jon Foreman [still one of my favorites]
Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. - Psalm 25:4-5
This past year was the hardest by far. Whether I wanted to believe it or not, some of my biggest fears came to life. And though I’m not able to share specifics yet, I at least want to pass along something the Lord revealed/is revealing to me through it all, and that is…
true does not equal truth.
If you believed everything you were ever told, about yourself, about the world, where do you think you’d be? WHO do you think you’d be? I think, honestly, most of us would say we’d be someone and somewhere so much worse.
If I believed everything I had ever heard or been told, by anything or anyone, I can almost guarantee my life would be worse off. I’d be living a very sheltered life, no doubt highly insecure, bitter, depressed, afraid of being controlled and therefore trying to control everyone. I would be miserable. And the worst thing is I probably wouldn’t even know why.
I know what the world is telling us. And I know that the world’s voice is strongest in our lives generally because it’s the one we’ve grown up hearing constantly. But I also know it doesn’t have to be.
I wrestled with this concept over and over in my life. What’s true versus what’s truth. We’re tricked into thinking what’s true is actual truth, but it’s a lie. It’s true that I have tendencies toward control, but it’s not truth. TRUTH is that I am set free, able to walk in freedom and trust God with every single aspect of my life. It’s true that I gravitate toward depressive and destructive patterns, but the TRUTH is that I have joy and life in the Spirit. I can claim HIS joy even when I don’t feel joyful. It’s true that I may feel lonely, but TRUTH is that not for a second have I been alone. Jesus has never left my side and He never will. It’s true that I may feel insignificant, but the TRUTH is I am a child of the KING and heir to His kingdom. I am loved by my Father and the apple of His eye. I can walk in confidence of my calling, because he’s called me to it.
We’ve unknowingly made a habit of listening to the world, thinking that this is our reality. But Gods word is truth. And just because we can’t always see or feel it, what God says is more real than anything. He is constantly speaking truth over us. We must become better at hearing him and knowing his voice over anyone else’s. This can only happen by knowing him, spending time and cultivating a relationship with him. “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27.
It’s impossible to ignore the lies we’ve been told forever. We may for awhile, but they’ll always be there. The real victory comes when we exchange what’s true for what’s truth.
We can choose to believe in the life-giving promises of God rather than the false reality of a broken world. “For if you embrace the truth, it will release true freedom into your lives.” John 8:32
That’s a promise. Gods truth releases true freedom. So embrace it. Cling to it. Don’t ever let it go. His promises will never fail you. You can trust him. “Not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” Joshua 23:14. I know I couldn’t have made it through this last year without his truth and the promise of his unfailing love to hold on to.
Thank you, JESUS, for rescuing me from darkness and all the lies of the enemy! For showing us that the things this world has to say are incomplete and incomparable to what YOU say. What you say is TRUTH. If it’s not from you, it’s not truth. This is how we know what truth is.
I implore you this new year, let go of what you think is true and instead replace it with the truth of what Jesus says. Gods word. A good place to start is in Isaiah 61. The Spirit of the Lord has come to give us “a crown of beauty, instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair … Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance … and everlasting joy will be yours.” Key word being INSTEAD. It’s about replacing a false reality with HIS truth. We can still feel things, in fact we should, but we don’t have to stay there and dwell in it. He gives us something greater in its place every time - Beauty for ashes. Joy for mourning. Praise for our despair.
This is our KINGDOM INHERITANCE. It’s time to start living into what he has already promised.
- John 8:31-36 ”…Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free…”
- John 16:12-14 ”…But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth … He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you…”
- John 17:15-19 ”…My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth…”
If you don’t know who Jesus is and/or you want to know more about what he says about YOU then PLEASE message me so we can sit and I can tell you all about him. Really. He’s too wonderful to not know, and what he thinks about you will blow your mind.