Tag Archives: Spirit

Spread Your Wings

There is a song that sings to every soul where the melody and words break through every barrier. People build walls and chains around themselves and others. Some divide and bound us by culture, religion, or gender, others’ divide by different personal expectations and experiences. Yet, this song plays on. It seeks to connect with one’s soul. It connects with the knowing within us that there is more – more to this world. More than what we’ve see. More than what we’ve experienced. More than what we know…and yes, that we were made for more.

spread-your-wingsYou know it. It’s what makes you pause at it’s mention. It’s what makes you wonder. It’s what pushes you to stand up against injustice, be charitable, serve another, and admire those who do the same.  It makes you feel alive!

Humanity is a beautiful tapestry, expressing different colors, cultures, and experiences. So, this search may look different from one to the next. The search, your search, my search, may be diverse, but all are connected in the pursuit that there is more.

Joel McKerrow’s piece called “Search” expresses this in poetic form. He is an international touring performance poet, writer, speaker, educator, and community arts worker based in Melbourne, Australia. In this poetic piece it starts with a girl sitting on a couch looking rather drawn and down. McKerrow’s rhythmic words burst forth. The girl moves in sync with his words. It symbolizes the words coming alive within her. It is the words lived out. It’s a dramatic and vivid piece.

It stirred me. In fact I watched it several times. Here is a set of strings that resonate with me from this piece: [content_box_light_blue width="75%"]“To see the beauty of what would be, she must innerface away from what was…turn away from the ropes that wrap around & the chains that bound…don’t look back with longing for your longing should always face the direction your feet are pointing…Run! Run like your world is just about to begin!”[/content_box_light_blue] This challenges me. The call to go forward is a call to search out the “more” in life.  I am thankful for what I have seen and experienced. And yet, I yearn for more. I know that there is more to life. But, in order to see more, I must be willing to see… [content_box_light_blue width="75%"]“For it is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” Epictetus[/content_box_light_blue]

So, jump in if it’s your first time, tip your toe if it helps, either way, first time or journeyman, sink into the song, bath yourself in the melody that beckons you to search for more. Spread your wings. McKerrow’s piece echos the cry within my soul yearning for that which is Greater than me. I hope this blesses you and continues to move you in your search. I am interested in hearing your story and how this piece resonates with you. Please leave your comments below.

Enjoy! Click here for the video.

The Object of my Worship

What does the word “Worship” make you think or feel? It has been said that everyone worships something. When I Google the word, I found the following definitions:

Wikipedia: Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity.

Merriam-Webster Online: Worship is the act of showing respect and love for a god especially by praying with other people who believe in the same god.

Free Online Dictionary: Worship is the reverent love and devotion accorded a deity, an idol, or a sacred object.

worshipTo be honest, I have often felt resistance to the idea of worship. When I have questioned this feeling in my spirit, I find that the problem is connected to my understanding of who it is I am worshiping. Jesus speaks of this in his interaction with the Samaritan woman in John 4. In verse 23, He explains the path to worship in this way, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” In order to worship God we need to know the “Truth” of the object of our worship.

Today I experienced a special time of worship as I meditated on the truth of who my God is. We sang the song by Meredith Andrews called “Not for a Moment (After All)“. The lyrics to this song have such an impact on me.

[content_box_light_blue width="75%"]After all You are constant
After all You are only good
After all You are sovereign
Not for a moment will You forsake me
Not for a moment will You forsake me [/content_box_light_blue]

This song always brings to mind the fact that regardless of the circumstances swirling around me, my God is these three things. He is constant. He is good. And He is sovereign. This is a comfort to me and an assurance that the object of my worship is truly worthy of all I have to offer. Then I am filled with gratitude for all my God has given me.

Knowing the truth of who we are worshiping is the key to unlocking the door to giving 100% of ourselves to genuine worship. Authentic expressions of gratitude can follow. This is the way I have found to unlock my own heart to the Father.

What about you? What helps the temporal become sacred for you? What leads you into the presence of God?

 

Right Where I am Called to Be

overwhelmed- cartoon-1Ringing phones, emails piling up, articles to read, friends to visit, family to spend time with, and a growing “action items” list for today that will inevitably be recycled to tomorrow: do you ever have days like this?

I often get caught up in the whirlwind running from one thing to the next. While I’m desperately trying to keep up with it all, I’m often also laughing at myself, once again caught up and wondering whether this is really what I’m called to.

Society says this is a good thing. We live in a busy, global world, and culturally, busy is a synonym for working hard and being successful. This belief has plagued me in the past, but I am retraining my mind. I do not have to live this way just because society or the people around me say this is what you should do.

I’m definitely not saying that we shouldn’t invest time into “good things.” I want to help my company grow and be more efficient. I want to be available via phone and respond to emails in a timely manner because I want people to know they are important to me. I want to spend time with my friends and family because I love and care for them. And I want to learn about new ideas, build new opportunities, collaborate with others, and cultivate deeper community in the process.

I believe we are each here for a purpose. We are all created to be world changers! I want to continue reaching for this truth and learn how to incorporate more and more of it in my life. Yet, I do not want this pursuit to cultivate a whirlwind in me (even good things can be unhealthy). For me, the root of it is fear (yuck, tough to write this out). I am afraid I may become complacent and distracted, and then my life will not look like what I “expect” it to look like.

Yes, this is the circular myth of fear and expectations. (There’s that word “expectation” again. Fortunately, Gratitude helps to fizzle out expectations.)

The Art of Learning to Be Still

The constant whirlwind I often inflict upon myself ties me up in knots and prevents me from being fully present, fully alive, and fully able to give all of me. I start second guessing my choices (Should I really be working on this project, or this other one?). Or, I have mixed feelings when a friend wants to get together (I want to go, but feel buried right now). And all of this leads me to being physically and mentally wiped out. My body starts to cry uncle, but I push through. When it starts affecting my mind’s ability to focus, I finally lay down. But even then, I still end up keeping running lists in my mind. Relaxing the mind is a challenging practice.

A friend counseled me, “praise is powerful,” So, I started to incorporate praise into this time and that has made a world of difference. Praising the Lord ignites my soul; using this wiped-out space for worship was transformational. With every note, I released more of my grip on what I was running towards, and even the fear around what I was running from.Heart-shaped-hands-and-compassion- slightly diff color

The Beauty of Presence

So, in the quiet, still moments, I am here, and so is He. I am learning more and more of what it means to “be.” I shared these thoughts with a friend and she said, “It’s being present with who you are with, or what life looks like at that moment, and receiving the now.” To receive the now is a gift in itself.

For now, I am more aware of His presence in moments of rest, and yet, the mystery is His presence is always there whether I recognize it or not, for He is love (1 John 4:16). It’s not that love is part of God, it’s that He actually defines love. Love always gives, is always present, it is not dependent, nor is it conditional as to if the other receives the love.

In His presence I am refueled, renewed, and reminded that I am right where I am called to be.

Receiving the Gift of Abundance

To fully live
To fully live is to fully receive!

My One Word for this year is quite timely. When I chose “abundant,” I thought, yes, Jesus is the one who gives abundant life and I was excited to embrace this word by spending some time listening to the Lord. But the listening has not come as peacefully as I originally envisioned.

Over the last couple of months, my life has been redirected down an unplanned path. A dear friend of mine says, “We lay out our plans for our life, tell God, and He laughs.” I don’t think God is laughing at us, but I do think He may laugh while saying “Why do you see so small? Dream so small? Live so small? When I have called you to do GREAT things…greater things than Jesus!” (John 14:12)

While my departure from the original plan was somewhat abrupt, I sought to make the most of the transition by building my plan of attack. Not lying, (feel free to join me in laughing), I laid out my 3 point plan to the Lord. It would be He and I on this mission in forging a new path. Here was my plan:

  1. Spend the next couple of months in R&R –  pull back from my busy schedule, and spend more time being still – mind, body, & spirit.
  2. Spend the following months in R&D – research, read, and learn. This was my time to gather information and sort it.
  3. Review the information gathered, set a plan of attack, and accomplish the goal. Woo Hoo! Victory here we come! See, Plan, & Conquer.

Sadly–yes, I really mourned over this–this journey is not playing out as planned. January was my big month to start the R&D. But every time I prepared for this venture, the Lord pressed upon my heart telling me “not yet.” This was hard to take. I cried out (no, seriously), “Then what am I suppose to do?!!” He said, “I want you to fully live.” With frustration I said, “That’s what I am trying to do! If you would just let me.” Again, a little perspective… oh what small eyes see.

I do long to fully live. It’s just that I have a picture in my mind as to what this looks like–traveling around the world investing in culturally and religiously diverse people, helping to build bridges, connecting, uniting, and restoring. Yes, to some this may sound admirable, to others crazy and vague. But it makes my heart soar!

To leave what you know for the unknown...for the chance to soar
To leave what you know for the unknown…
all for the chance to soar!

And, yet, with all my efforts, strategy, and passion towards my picture of “fully living,” I have only tasted these types of experiences. I am realizing that while my heart longs to be an extension of Jesus, I do not know how to do this and have used the only method I know how–doing. So in this season of transition I am learning how to embrace His abundance instead of my own.

The word abundant and John 10:10 are inseparable to me:  “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

So, what does it mean to have life and “have it abundantly?” I took this question to the Source. And as a good teacher does, He did more than tell me. He brought it to life in me.

I was pondering this question while reading, and came upon Luke 12:22-32 and was drawn to 22-24:

[content_box_light_blue width="75%"]“Look at the ravens, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, carefree in the care of God. And you count far more…”[/content_box_light_blue]

This resonates with me. I love being outdoors. As the weather warms up, I find myself outside more and more. I am drawn to look up to the sky, beautiful with the different array of colors, shapes, and life. I love watching the birds soar through the air. I am captivated by their effortless flight as they catch the air currents. Their bodies were designed for flight. They were made to ride the air currents.

This reminds me of John 3 for “everyone ‘born from above’ (new life with Christ) by the wind of God, the Spirit of God.” We were created to ride the Wind of God. The ravens were created to ride the air currents. They are not focused on working out their job description. They just ride. They are just as they were created to be. And, then I read Luke 12:29-32:

[content_box_light_blue width="75%"]Jesus said “What I’m trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God’s giving…”[/content_box_light_blue] 

This verse helps to lift my eyes up, off of me–my “job description,” my accomplishments, my doing–and opens my heart up to be and receive. To ride His Wind current. To listen and spend time with Him. To be in His abundance. And, “the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood” (John 1:14). To be more in Him and to have Him be more in me.

What if this is the “Great” thing we are called to do? Could it be that simple?

 

Wonderfully Made

You are one of a kind. You were specially made. You were made with a unique purpose.[content_box_light_blue width="75%"]“Then God said, ‘Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us’… So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26 & 27[/content_box_light_blue]

I am continuously awestruck in reading these words, “made in God’s image.” I have thought about this passage over many seasons. To see God as the omnipotent Lord, Creator of the Universe, holding all power and glory and yet that men and women were made in His image. fearfully and wonderfully made- baby's feet

Just think about what this means…to be made in God’s image? The word image means to resemble one, to be like one. You can look at a baby born to a mom and dad to get a glimpse of this truth. The baby resembles the mom and dad. As you look at the beautiful baby you may say “oh how cute, she has her dad’s nose…she has her mom’s eyes.” And as the baby grows expressing gifts and talents you may say “she is athletic like her mom” and “she is witty like her dad.”

Men and women were created to resemble God. Even if one chooses not to be in relationship with God and thus not reflect God, it does not void God’s original intent that you were “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

For oh Lord, [content_box_light_blue width="75%"]You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me! Psalm 139:13-18[/content_box_light_blue]

The mystery of God is that He is all knowing, all powerful, all consuming, and yet full of freedom, love, and grace.

While I know this to be true, I am still learning what this means in full and how to apply it and believe it in all areas of my life. He is faithful. As I walk through life He continues to rain His truth over me showering me with opportunities to hear and believe His truth about me. He uses all things, the good, the bad, and the ugly to show me His truth. Nothing goes wasted.

Regardless of where I am on this journey He pursues me. He cheers me on. He calls me His beloved.  He has torn down the veil between King and Servant and brought me to His banqueting table. It is beautiful. It is rich. It is intimate. It is everlasting.

He is one of abundance. His love does not run dry. He is never too busy for you. He is always available. He always cheers you on. You are His beloved.

You are a prized child of the King! You are precious in His sight…now, tomorrow, and forever!

Come and see more of who you were created to be in Him. Be still. Spend time with the Lord. Ask Him, “Who am I in your eyes?”

 

Returning to the Holy

I am re-reading A. W. Tozar, The Knowledge of the Holy, a beautiful book exploring the attributes of God. It is Tozar’s cry for people to return to the wonder of God.

Our lives are full of many opportunities to reunite with the Holy One. For our God is a pursuing, loving God. I join with Tozar raising my clarion horn: Let us have ears to hear and eyes to see awakening us to the Holy Spirit and encountering the holiness of God. It is through the Holy Spirit that we see God’s heart for us as His Beloved.

Tozar was moved to write this book to address “the loss of the concept of majesty from the popular religious mind.” He calls it a condition; I liken it to a sickness. It dis-eases my heart as it is trying to consume the patient, the Church. Tozar is compassionate toward the Church, and so am I. This is a loving, heartfelt, and grace-filled call. No condemnation. No judgment. No contempt. Simply love and grace.

[content_box_light_blue width="75%"]With our loss of the sense of majesty has come the further loss of religious awe and consciousness of the divine Presence. We have lost our spirit of worship and our ability to withdraw inwardly to meet God in adoring silence. Modern Christianity is simply not producing the kind of Christian who can appreciate or experience the life in the Spirit. The words, “Be still, and know that I am God,” mean next to nothing to the self-confident, bustling worshiper in this middle period of twentieth century.
–Tozar[/content_box_light_blue]

In losing our focus on the Holiness of God we have forgotten God’s call for us to be in relationship with Him. We have forgotten that He created us in His image. We have forgotten how He came down to earth as Jesus and died for all men without asking or demanding us to change ourselves first. And, we have forgotten that it is the Holy Spirit who is our guide and convicts us of our sins.

We have become consumed by our fears, doubts, insecurities, and experiences. Thus we have reshaped our interaction with God to be more about what we do, what we look like, and how we act. In Paul’s words, he tells the Corinthian believers we no longer seek to know God with human wisdom.

[content_box_light_blue width="75%"](For) it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit. And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. When we tell you these things, we do not use words that come from human wisdom. Instead, we speak words given to us by the Spirit, using the Spirit’s words to explain spiritual truths
–Cor. 2:10-13[/content_box_light_blue]

The Knowledge of the HolyMy heart longs to answer the call to be One with God as Jesus prayed we would all be one as He and the Father are one. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians is also to me. For I can be a Corinthian pursuing God with human wisdom, making Him bit size, understandable, and tangible to me.

In using human wisdom vs. Spirit wisdom I mold God into what I know, what I can explain, and what I have experienced. To seek Spiritual wisdom vs. human wisdom is to step into the unknown. It’s choosing to operate from God’s Kingdom, serving as His ambassador. It’s resting in Him instead of feeling like I need to know it all and be able to explain it. It’s admitting I do not know the fullness of God. I do not know His many expressions. I do not know the entirety of His plan. Yet, I know He is a pursuit, loving, grace filled God. He is God! And, He is big enough to cover it all.

So, let us turn our focus back to the Spirit. As Tozar says, “if we would bring back spiritual power to our lives, we must begin to think of God more nearly as He is.” How we think about God is the most important thing about us. I encourage you to read the book The Knowledge of the Holy.

Let’s explore together. How do you see God? What does He want to reveal about Himself to you?

 

 

 

In Response to Pat Robertson–To Wives With Cheating Husbands

Kim’s post yesterday about Mark Driscoll was spot on.

Then Pat Robertson opens his mouth and spews disgusting advice. It makes me so angry. Fire-spitting angry.

He has an audience, a following, a platform, and Christian leaders don’t stand up to correct him. They let this continue while the Mark Driscolls of the world follow in order condemning women.

To you, Beautiful Wife…the one with the cheating husband, the husband addicted to porn, I don’t know if anyone else will say it to you: It is NOT your fault.  You do not control the actions of your husband’s mind with a clean house or meals on the table or by dressing pretty for him.  Your husband is responsible for his own thoughts, his actions, his fantasies, and whether or not he acts on those thoughts. Your husband is responsible for how he treats you, how he talks to you, how he raises the children that both of you brought into this world.

IMG_1573

You are responsible for your thoughts and actions.  Not his. You are beautiful, lovely, and loved. Just because your husband doesn’t value you enough to keep his pants zipped up does not mean you have no worth. It does not mean that you are not a majestic creature made lovingly by the Creator.

I don’t know know why your husband is doing these things. I don’t know why you’re in this position or why you have to deal with it. I’m so sorry that you do. But please don’t lose yourself because he doesn’t respect you. Spend time abiding in our Savior and let Him remind me how valuable you are.

And please listen carefully. If you are part of a congregation that believes that men aren’t responsible for their actions: LEAVE NOW. Seek out a real Christ-following body of believers. Your spirit will immediately tell you when you have found safety.

Thoughts on Time

I have been absent from the blog for the past two weeks because my husband’s mother passed away on April 27th.  She was diagnosed 8 months ago with Pancreatic Cancer.  She was 60. She was a Busia to my two girls, Chloe 8 and Trinity 4, and my niece Mariah 11, and nephew Justiss, 10 months old.  She was the only parent to my husband, his brother and two sisters.  It has been a heart-wrenching time.

I have been singularly focused on caring for my loved ones.  Besides being supportive and strong for my husband, I am trying to help my girls understand and process their first experience with death.  Truthfully, I am learning right along side them.

Busia and Trinity: Like Peas and Carrots

I don’t think that death is something that we ever really comprehend.  Of course, we know it is a part of life.  But the finality of death seems so unnatural to me.  My mind and spirit can’t seem to get a handle on it.

Though I believe completely that the spirit lives on into eternity, the concept of time is all that I have ever known.  When I tell my girls that Busia is gone, but not really gone, I struggle with explaining to them something that I have a hard time grasping myself.  Who can comprehend this?

When I talk to my sister-in-law,  I do my best to try to help her process through her grieving and sadness.  I can only imagine how difficult it must be for her to lose her mother.  I remind her that she has a child who needs her to be strong and keep moving forward.  I tell her it is okay to feel her feelings, then she has to make a conscious decision to direct her focus to what she has and not what is missing.  I hope and pray it helps.  That it gets easier as time passes.

Still, it is so hard.  Jesus understood it well when He was walking this earth.  He wept over the heartache felt by the loved ones of Lazarus and the sorrow of the widow who had lost her only child when He encountered the funeral procession in Luke 7.  So He raised them both from the dead.  Jesus understands our pain and grief when we lose a loved one.  I think that He responds from  a heart that screams out “This is not how it was supposed to be!”

We are responding by treasuring  every moment we have with the ones we love.  By living life to the fullest.  Conscious that every moment is a gift and we don’t know when our last one will be.  This is the natural response I think.  We only know how to operate within these measures of time, so to it we cling.  Until one day, when time will be no more.   And we will rejoice forever.

[content_box_light_blue width="75%"]When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”- 1 Corninthians 15:54[/content_box_light_blue]

Love Lesson

Today I want to talk about something that I am learning from God in this season of my life that is really tough.  Have you ever heard someone pray for patience and thought to yourself, “Why would you want to do that?”  Because you know that when you pray for that, God is going to put you in a situation where you will have to be patient.  Well, in order to learn to love difficult people, guess what He gives us… Difficult People in our lives that we need to love.  And in my case, not just difficult, but very difficult.  AAAAND not just very difficult people, but very difficult people in very difficult situations.  And to be perfectly honest, I am NOT doing a very good job of being loving.  I am trying.  Believe me, I am trying.  And I have been trying for quite a long time.  But this week especially, I have realized that I am not doing a good job of it.  Not at all.  So, what to do.

There are a couple of things I have learned so far.  First off, no matter how hard it is, walking away or giving up isn’t an option (at least not with this situation).  I can’t just stop trying.  It would be the wrong thing to do on many levels, but the primary reason is because this person is important to me and to God.  In James 5: 11 it says that those who persevere are blessed and that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

Which leads me to the next and most important thing I have learned: I can’t do this on my own.  In my own abilities, I am not capable of having or showing the love to this person that I should.  I am at the end of my own resources.  I need God to step in and love them with a supernatural love that I don’t have.  Thankfully in I John 4 we are told that love comes from God and God is love.  So lately, the only thing I feel I can do is pray.  I’m asking God to fill me with His love by His Spirit.

How often I have prayed that dangerous prayer, “Lord, help me to be more like Jesus”.   I know that in this trial, He is answering that prayer.  Jesus loved difficult people.  The prostitutes, swindlers, tax collectors, thieves.  All those broken people in that culture who weren’t coping well with life.  There are many of those same people in our lives and  culture.  I want to love them.  I want to be like Jesus.  So He is giving me the opportunity.  In a very up-close and personal way.  I am realizing that loving this person through this season will train me up to love others in a way that is beyond my own ability.

So, I fight on.  In the only way that I am able right now, on my knees before God.

Bold is Beautiful

I’ve been reading (and loving)  The Circle Maker by one of my favorite authors, Mark Batterson.  It’s about prayer.  Actually, to just try to sum it up as a book about prayer is about like trying to sum up the Grand Canyon as just a ditch. (Don’t worry, I am also reading More Than Enchanting and I’ll share my review soon. I warned you that I read at least four books at a time.)

To say that The Circle Maker is inspiring and challenging me is an understatement.  It is honestly changing my life and completely altering the way I pray.  I feel that if there is one area in my faith walk that I have really struggled, it is in the discipline of prayer.  I don’t think that I am alone in that struggle, either–I think most Christ followers would admit that they are challenged with the command to pray without ceasing.

I also feel I’m short on living examples of inspiring pray-ers.  But let me examine that thought: Most of the contexts where I have heard others pray is in groups, which is different in my opinion than solo praying.  And although I have heard some people who can rock a great prayer in public, I haven’t encountered many people that I hear pray and think to myself, WOW I bet they talk to God all the time and with some awesome earth-shaking prayers. The Lord’s Prayer is about the only church training I have received on prayer.  Although I think that is a great model, I know that isn’t the only way that Jesus prayed. 

But The Circle Maker has opened my eyes to how much I have been missing–I am truly emboldened to pray without ceasing. The biggest eye opener for me is I am inspired to pray Big and Bold prayers because those are the kind that truly honor God.  The time has come to start praying prayers that are so daring and huge that they can only be accomplished by a miracle of God.  That is when I will start really seeing God parting some Red Seas in my life.

That is the kind of pray-er that I want to be. That’s the kind of prayer I want to model for my girls. That’s the kind of beauty that I’m after this week. How about you guys?