Sunday, December 26, 2010

The REAL You

Daily reading from Ransomed Hearts ministry.  He says in a different way what I shared God was showing me in my last post.  Check out both!

You are not your sin; sin is no longer the truest thing about the man who has come into union with Jesus. Your heart is good. "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you" (Ezek. 36:26). The Big Lie in the church today is that you are nothing more than "a sinner saved by grace." You are a lot more than that. You are a new creation in Christ. The New Testament calls you a saint, a holy one, a son of God. In the core of your being you are a good man. Yes, there is a war within us, but it is a civil war. The battle is not between us and God; no, there is a traitor within us who wars against our true heart fighting alongside the Spirit of God in us:

A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death . . . Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won't know what we're talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells . . . if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus . . . When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. (Rom. 8:2, 9-11 The Message)

The real you is on the side of God against the false self. Knowing this makes all the difference in the world. The man who wants to live valiantly will lose heart quickly if he believes that his heart is nothing but sin. Why fight?

(Wild at Heart, 144-45)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wish List

“If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?”

It’s an interesting thought I’ve recently seen a new side of, this wish list idea of what we would make new about ourselves.  First, I have to back track so you know where I’m coming from.

I’m often not good at making myself read non-fiction books, but I never regret when I do.  I find that the best benefit I get from them is not always the information I read but the thoughts they provoke.  And such is the case when I picked up Blue Like Jazz (Donald Miller).  I just started and can’t even say yet if I would recommend it but there is a particular thought he introduced that began to spiral in my mind.

Miller writes:

“Everyone wants to be fancy and new.  Nobody wants to be himself.  I mean, maybe people want to be themselves, but they want to be different, with different clothes or shorter hair or less fat. It’s a fact.  If there was a guy who just liked being himself and didn’t want to be anybody else, that guy would be the most different guy in the world and everyone would want to be him.”

I immediately thought of a question that we often ask customers in Mary Kay, “If there were one thing you could improve about your skin, what would it be?”

Sure, it’s a selling technique but the truth is we don’t have to prompt people to come up with something.  People already have a wish list and, when we ask, they just pick one thing from this pre-created list.

And when I asked the question at the beginning, did your mind start scrolling through your own wish list?  Or maybe you have several.  Maybe you wondered if I was talking about a change physically, or a personality change, or a character trait, or something different entirely.  Because if you are like me then chances are you have a separate wish list for each different area. 

Miller goes on:

“The whole idea of everybody wanting to be somebody new was an important insight in terms of liking God…

“God said he would make me new.  I can’t pretend for a second that I didn’t want to be made new, that I didn’t want to start again.  I did.”

From there on, my mind just went crazy and that’s when I realized I needed to write, cause I needed to resolve this random tangent.

So, we want to change.  We want to be made new.  Christ wants to (and can) make us new. 

“He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.” –Titus 3:5

“And the one sitting on the throne said, ‘Look, I am making everything new!’” – Revelation 21:5

There are 2 trails this can lead down: the perspective of unsaved people and the perspective of Christians

Briefly on the unsaved, consider if we started sharing the gospel with the understanding of this view point.  I know it would change the way I approach people.  I have what they want!

Now, I’m going to continue on assuming you are a Christian and understand the fact that you already are new in Christ.  We know we can’t continue to be who we used to be.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” – Ephesians 4:22-24

What does this have to do with our wish list?  Well, I think we might just get a new one of those too.  God’s wish list for us doesn’t real match the one we have for ourselves.  Have you ever considered there might be traits you want to change that God actually had a reason for putting in you?

I debated this idea initial when it first came into my head.  I thought, “But we do have a fallen sin nature.  There are aspects of us that need redeemed.”  True, but who we are at our core is EXACTLY who God created us to be.  Let me repeat that, who we are at our core is EXACTLY who God created us to be.  When we want to change that, we’re going against the ultimate design plan of God himself.

Before you think I’m saying we’re perfect (we’re not) and that we don’t have to change anything (see Eph 4:22 above), listen to this.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” – Eph 1:4

“Before the creation of the world…” there was no sin.  It was only after creation that sin entered the world.

I’m no theologian but what I’m thinking is that God’s original design for us was holy and blameless and that at our core, we are designed that way.  My belief is that the enemy can not create, so anything that is in us was designed good.  Sin then came and corrupted that.

“When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” – Rom 5:12

Although there may be holes in my logic, here is the conclusion I’ve come too:

When Christ makes us new, he does not change who we are.  Instead, he takes away the sin that has corrupted who we are

So look at your wish list. 

Do you want to change the sin in your life?  Or do you want to change who God has created you to be?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Listen to your heart!

John Eldredge brings a great word once again about our heart.  It touches on a reality deep down we want to believe, but many times are too afraid to believe.  Go ahead, believe it…your heart is good!

“When we set out to hear God's voice, we do not listen as though it will come from somewhere above us or in the room around us. It comes to us from within, from the heart, the dwelling place of God. Now, most of us haven't been trained in this, and it's going to take a little practice "tuning in" to all that's going on in there. And there's a lot going on in there, by the way. Many things are trying to play upon the beautiful instrument of the heart. Advertisers are constantly trying to pull on your heartstrings. So is your boss. The devil is a master at manipulating the heart. So are many people-though they would never admit that is what they are doing. How will you know what is compelling you? "Who can map out the various forces at play in one soul?" asked Augustine, a man who was the first to write out the story of listening to his heart. "Man is a great depth, O Lord . . . but the hairs of his head are easier by far to count than . . . the movements of his heart."

This can be distressing at times. All sorts of awful things can seem to issue from your heart-anger, lust, fear, petty jealousies. If you think it's you, a reflection of what's really going on in your heart, it will disable you. It could stop your journey dead in its tracks. What you've encountered is either the voice of your flesh or an attempt of the Enemy to distress you by throwing all sorts of thoughts your way and blaming you for it. You must proceed on this assumption: your heart is good.”

From Daily Readings (Waking the Dead, 105-6)

Click here to join their mailing list!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

ATX Awakening

GOD IS HERE!

We’re seeing Him.  We’re hearing Him.  We’re obeying Him. 

The last couple of days have been quite an exciting journey among a crew of young folk here at ONEchapel.  Sunday night launched a call for 7 days for prayer and prophecy among the group and things have been shaking!  For the last 4 nights there has been some sort of meeting among brothers and sisters and God has been glorified.  It is just the beginning…

    • Sunday-prayer and prophecy at the office.
    • Monday-meeting with other believers in the city to hear God speak through Bill Johnson
    • Tuesday-prayer and prophecy over a family in the church
    • Wednesday-weekly prayer meeting for the ONEchapel family
    • Thursday- TBA

It’s exciting to think that what is beginning in our baby church is going to impact the city and maybe even the nation!  It has been said that there is a revival starting here.  I believe it but I also want to give credit where it is due.  We aren’t the first to have asked for this or cried out for the city of Austin.  There have been intercessors here for decades on their faces praying for this place.  There has been work among the already established churches to soften the ground.  There have been warriors that have risen up to fight for our city.  And now we join their efforts. 

All that said, I know what is happening among us is hugely significant for the Spirit to be loosed on this place!  Yes, it is about more than us, but we are also a formidable force as we wage war for hearts in Austin.

To be less ambiguous, here are some of the fruit we’ve seen already in just this week: encouragement, joy, peace, refreshing, healing (there are stories!), direction for life, revelation of the Father heart of God, love, camaraderie, new tongues, and more!

That’s exciting!  Now, here’s something that God’s put on my heart that excites me even more: the fruit that is yet to come!!!!!

I’m believing for: salvations, the orphan put in homes, homeless getting jobs, addictions of alcoholism, drugs, sex, and other bondages being broken, people freed of demons, the bars of 6th St being turned in to houses of missions and hope, open visions of heaven, awakening from the spirit of passivity, purpose for every family in the church, greater revelation of God’s heart of love, all the fruit of the Spirit being manefest (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control), God’s glory being manifest in a powerful and tangible way.  That’s just a start!

As Pastor Ross said, close your eyes and picture what it looks like for the Spirit to be poured out on the city.  What do you see?  What does it look like?  What changes?

DREAM WITH ME!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Daring to Desire

I had no intention of leaving my last post hanging for so long! And what a post to leave hanging! My schedule got too full for writing but not to full for God to keep His gentle and patient leading. Looking back something did come out of that night, but it wasn’t that night alone. It’s been a process leading up to that and since then, and I’ve become a better woman because of it. Now, to find the words to summarize it to you.

 
DESIRE…that is the key word for what I’ve been walking through. Not the fleshly desire that we’re supposed to run from but the God-will-give-you-the-desires-of-your-heart desire. As God has challenged me to let my heart come alive, it’s brought a lot to the surface with it.

 
Do I really have FAITH to believe that God will do what He’s placed on my heart?
Do I believe that He has redeemed my heart and that my heart is GOOD?
Do I believe I REALLY HEAR from God and that He has given me these dreams?
Am I going to walk in confidence towards this or will I shy away in FEAR of failure?

 
Do I DARE to DESIRE when there is the possibility of disappointed?

 
I heard someone talking about “being on the near side of faith or the far side of faith”. If I had written before now, I would have been on the “near side” of learning desire…now, I’m in the middle hoping to be on the far side. Does that not make sense? Think of a river…if you’re on the near side you can think about the challenges of crossing and you can observe and learn about the river by what you see. Now, you cross the river and you’re on the far side. It’s not a thought or theory anymore. It’s reality for you now. You know what it takes because you’ve experienced it. So it is with this revelation. I’m “crossing the river” to the “far side” as we speak.

 
Here’s the interesting side of things, this is helping me learn to be me. It may be strange that these 2 things are connected but they are: desire and self-identity. Here’s the tie in: if I don’t believe the truth of who God’s created me to be, I can’t believe that what He’s put on my heart is true. God has been inviting me to be myself, fully and completely. And when I stop to think about it, it scares me to death!

 
To be different and set apart…not hiding in a crowd. To be seen and known for what I’m passionate about…not just accepting the status quo. To be secure in my beauty and individuality…not worrying about being accepted and what others think. *deep breath* Ok…here we go…

 
For those who are wondering, no, God has not given me specifics about my future. I refer to dreams and desires in the general sense of the term. That’s enough for now. The details are coming as I continue to grow and walk in obedience. It’s part of the faith-thing, knowing God will show me what I need to know, when I need to know it.

 
And that is where I am right now. Hopefully it will be much sooner than last time before you hear from me again. God is certainly doing enough! It’s just a matter of me taking some time to spell it out.  Until then, something for you to ponder…

Are you DARING to DESIRE?

 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Needy Woman

I debated about sharing this story because it still feels a little raw. Then, I thought about not going into detail about how hard it was. I decided on a little vulnerability though. Honestly, I’m risking a chance that you will judge me and think less of me because of my struggle. But it’s worth the risk because just maybe God will use this story to help someone out; maybe that’s you, maybe it’s not. Only one way to find out…read on!

I had just decided to have a date night with Jesus after work, so when I found out I was 30 min early to work, I was excited to start early! I found the local park and parked where I could see the trees and nature and turned up my music and started waiting to connect. Uh oh …there was a heaviness in my spirit.

“I don’t care about feeling guilty any more God! I just need you to show up!”

Wait, what? That’s not what I expected to say but, yes, my heart had said guilty. Where did that come from? I was supposed to be worshipping or praying or something to spend time with him, not begging. Then again, maybe that was the problem. As a “mature” Christian, I knew what is “expected” of me and what I’m “supposed” to do to enter into His presence. The problem was I hadn’t been doing any of that. So, when I’ve been spending time with Him, I’ve felt guilty and haven’t expect Him to come. My logic, I didn’t measure up, so He wouldn’t show up.

It all hit in a moment: my desperation, my neediness, the lies I’d accepted, the pressure I put on myself, my lack of dependence on God to be faithful. Tears poured from my eyes, tears I’d been wanting to cry but not knowing why. I’d accepted weariness and guilt as normal because I didn’t call them what they were. I’d let lies slip in and in an instant the revelation floored me.

“I don’t care if I don’t deserve you! I need to feel you! I need you to show up in a dramatic way! A powerful way! I need you to blow me away! I know I’m not doing it right, I just need you! I need you to be bigger than my failure! I need to know you love me despite that! I NEED YOU!”

OK, 30 minutes were up! Pause God time and head to work…

5 hours later after my shift, I was desperate to meet with Him. I had a little time to reflect logically and I came up with this. I knew it was silly of me to have gotten to that point in the first place. After all, Paul was writing to me when he said, “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” (Gal 3:3) People, I grew up in church. If I know anything, I know I can’t save myself! Then why am I “now trying to attain my goal by human effort”? Golly, I hate being needy! I don’t mind asking for favors but depending on others for emotional support has always bothered me. I can keep my own emotions under control! Then why am I “now trying to attain my goal by human effort”? Oops, I had started operating that way with God…

That evening, it was me and Jesus. I kept crying the whole time. He HAD to show up. I had nothing to give. I knew I couldn’t get the right formula. My ears were tired from straining to hear His voice. About the only thing I did “right” was set time aside for Him. Sure, I put on worship music but it was a desperate attempt to keep me focused; it barely worked, and even then not for as long as I wanted. I didn’t crack my Bible. I didn’t worship beyond the point of admitting my utter failure and my desperate need for Him. I didn’t pray for anyone else. I didn’t dance. I didn’t kneel. I didn’t pace. I didn’t read any books. I didn’t listen to any teaching. I didn’t ask for a picture or a word. I don’t even know if I prayed in tongues. If I did, it was a weak, half-hearted attempt rooted in habit, not from an overflow or special leading. I pulled up a playlist on Itunes and curled up in a ball and cried. Did I mention I cried? Cause I did…a lot. Sobbed actually would be a better word. I was simply there, a desperate, needy woman needing to be loved in a dramatic and powerful way.

At this point I would love to write another 10 paragraphs telling you that Jesus visited me face to face. That he took me up to heaven. That I worshipped with the angels. That I heard an audible voice. That I had a vision, a dream. That I got drunk in the Spirit and worshipped uncontrollably. That I had a profound new revelation. That He gave me a new gift. That He told me the plan for my life. That I’ll never go back to where I was. That He showed me a divinely strategic plan for ministry. Anything…I would love to tell you that anything extraordinary and supernatural happened because that’s what I was longing for. But I can’t, because it didn’t. I just laid there curled up in a ball and cried myself to sleep. The most exciting thing that happened was that I fell asleep earlier than I have since I’ve been here and I slept very soundly. That’s it. That’s all that came out of my desperation.

I wish I could say I’m ok with that, that I walked away in peace at least. Nope, I’m not really ok with it at all. In fact, I’m extremely disappointed. Why would He answer my silly little prayers and not the really big one I was so desperate for? Practically, I could say He answered my big prayer by answering my little ones. My heart doesn’t buy it. It’s not enough. I’m not going to settle.

Here is what it comes to then: I have a choice, even as I stare this discontent in the face. It seems to confirm the lie I had heard, “I didn’t measure up, so He wouldn’t show up”. Is it really true then? I don’t want it to be. Am I going to become bitter and mad at God? Or am I going to continue to walk in expectant faith? If feels a little dangerous to keep on hoping, knowing how much disappointment hurts, so do I keep asking for Him to come, knowing I might be disappointed or do I harden my heart?

May truth prevail in freeing my heart from these lies!

Cosmic Drama

I subscribed to Daily Readings from Ransdomed Heart ministries with John and Staci Eldredge and this day jumped out at me. If we only could view the Bible with such an epic perspective, I think we would aproach life a little differently!

May it encourage your heart to become alive to the hope that we are created for something bigger than what we are currently experiencing! Do you long for adventure and mystery? Good! Because that's what we were created to live! A Great Romance where we have a King who fights for us and reveals himself to us!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

We have lived for so long with a "propositional" approach to Christianity, we have nearly lost its true meaning. As Mary Stewart Van Leeuwen says,

Much of it hinges on your view of scripture. Are you playing proof-text poker with Genesis plus the Gospels and Paul's epistles, with everything else just sort of a big mystery in between-except maybe Psalms and Proverbs, which you use devotionally? Or do you see scripture as being a cosmic drama-creation, fall, redemption, future hope-dramatic narratives that you can apply to all areas of life? (Prism interview)

For centuries prior to our Modern Era, the church viewed the gospel as a Romance, a cosmic drama whose themes permeated our own stories and drew together all the random scenes in a redemptive wholeness. But our rationalistic approach to life, which has dominated Western culture for hundreds of years, has stripped us of that, leaving a faith that is barely more than mere fact-telling. Modern evangelicalism reads like an IRS 1040 form: It's true, all the data is there, but it doesn't take your breath away. As British theologian Alister McGrath warns, the Bible is not primarily a doctrinal sourcebook: "To reduce revelation to principles or concepts is to suppress the element of mystery, holiness and wonder to God's self-disclosure. 'First principles' may enlighten and inform; they do not force us to our knees in reverence and awe, as with Moses at the burning bush, or the disciples in the presence of the risen Christ" (A Passion for Truth).

(The Sacred Romance , 45)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Heart vs. Mind

God’s been showing me some interesting things about emotions. Try this on for size: emotions show us what’s happening in the spiritual realm.

I’m still developing this thought but consider with me. When have you been most emotional? For me, it’s usually when I’m under the most attack or closest to the heart of God. I can’t find any scripture that supports this specifically but the Word has plenty to say about emotions over all.

Take fear for instance. When you’re in battle (which we are!) when are you most afraid? When the enemy is near or far? 2 Chron 20:15 So when we are afraid, shouldn’t that tell us that the enemy is near? Look at what God tells us about fear - 1 Jn 4:18

What about peace? That’s one of my biggest indicators that God is present in a place or situation! When I’m making a big decision, I wait for supernatural peace before I move forward. If I don’t have that, I’m not going anywhere! I also look for in when I enter someone’s house. Most places I can tell if God’s presence is invited in.  God even tells us how to get this peace in Phil 4:6-7.

Here’s the danger, our emotions have an enemy within our own beings. It’s called logic. Our heart and our minds are at odds more often than not. Or maybe I shouldn’t speak for you. Maybe it’s just me. But when I talk to different people, I have a hunch I’m not alone. There is a constant struggle between what we know and what we feel. It’s hard to trust emotions. They’re not solid. They change often. It’s not easy to express them all the time. They get “abused” when people use them as an excuse to not be mature. We’re afraid of them.

That is where my thoughts start to end, because I haven’t found any answers about what exactly to do with these feelings and emotions. That’s what inspired this. My mind and heart are battling even as I write. When I sat down to type, I kept feeling like I needed to write, but no concrete words came out. So I started writing a poem.

Pause…rewind…I wrote a poem…I created something…I used art. Maybe that’s a key to look into. Creating, whether it’s dancing or writing, is often the only ways I can funnel these abstract emotions. I don’t know that my art has a purpose beyond the fact that I feel a little better to get my feelings out of me and sometimes the art helps me connect with others who are feeling the same way.

Then again, maybe it does have a greater purpose. Go back to my first statement about emotions: emotions show us what’s happening in the spiritual realm. So…I’m thinking this as I write, so go with me…if emotions show us what is happening in the spiritual realm, and art is a way of making an outlet for them, does that make art a weapon to use in the spiritual realm? There may be some error in that logic, or maybe there is a better way to say it, but it makes me think…

Please let me know if you have any thoughts on this. Have you experienced this? What has God shown you about emotions? Have you seen any scriptures that support or oppose this?  What about art as a weapon?

So, as you think, here is the poem that helped me get out my emotions today…

Heart
vs.
Mind

Tears are on the rims of my eyes, unable to spill over
vs.
Nothing is wrong, I should be OK

I’m wanting more
vs.
I’m staying busy
You are on my mind all the time
vs.
There are plenty of people to talk to with Facebook and texting
I’m craving purpose, vision
vs.
I have plenty to do to fill my time if I just do it

Connecting with God is so hard lately
vs.
He is showing up all around me
I feel my heart hurting
vs.
I have everything going for me

I need to express myself
vs.
I have nothing to say

I’m all alone
vs.
I’ve been around people almost constantly

There is an unnamed longing in my heart
vs.
I need to be content with what I have
I need to experience His love
vs.
I know He loves me

There is so much more I could do for the Kingdom
vs.
Living by the rules is almost easy and getting easier

I can’t put a finger on what’s wrong
vs.
I can’t see anything wrong

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Craving Adventure

Adventure is in my blood! Look at a Warrior Princess. A woebegone princess waiting in a tower is a bit boring but having something to fight for while waiting, that’s exciting! Or maybe a couple-mile hike to get the blood pumping, then a rock face to go bouldering on for a little adrenaline. That will do it too! Most recently, my adventure has taken the shape of a move across country to a city where I’ve never been where I’d only met a couple people who would be here before coming.

Sometimes it seems a little silly to think in these “romantic” sort of fairy tale terms but recently I had an interesting revelation about this tendency of mine. I’ll have to share some back story to get you up-to-date.

When I was younger, my craving for adventure took on a much different shape. I had my adventure through books. Although non-readers might fail to see how sitting in one place for hours on end could classify as adventure, let me tell you, I lived in another world. I lived my life through other people’s stories. One summer I joined a reading club at the library and so had reason to document my addictio…I mean, progress. In 60 days I read…drum roll please…18,000 pages equaling well over 100 books, almost 2 books a day for 2 months straight!

Since that time, I’ve been very much convicted of my use of time and matured to the point where I now live my own life and adventure, but novels still have a way of sucking me in so I tend to avoid them to stay safe. Honestly, now I feel guilty when I want to read because I feel like it means that my journey with God isn’t exciting enough to satisfy this craving for adventure. On the rare occasion however, I’ll sneak past my guilt and pick one up again. Saturday afternoon was one of those times. As I started feeling guilty, I was reminded of an interesting perspective that I’ve been reading about.

This perspective about these adventures of the imagination comes from the pens of Jon and Staci Eldredge. (You’re probably familiar with Wild at Heart.) Recently I’ve signed up for their daily reading e-mails that pull sections from their various books. One of their more common themes (I don’t quote this exactly) is the idea of human race being intrigued by stories and fairy tales because it comes closer to the reality we are created for than our current reality suggests. Let me repeat it this way, we love the too-good-to-be-true stories because they fill a longing of something unfulfilled because we were created live a too-good-to-be-true story. We crave adventure because when we were in the Garden, God wove it in to our very being. He wanted to be the source of our thrill, awe and excitement. He wanted to let us desire romance so He could fulfill it by romancing us Himself.

So, my guilt eased slightly, I now begin the discussion with God about what He showed me through this novel I picked up. If this doesn’t happen, then my reading would once again prove pointless, my guilt would be justified and my craving for adventure would once again be misdirected.

--> “Papa, what about this story shows the way you created us to be in the Garden?”
--> “What is truth in this that I can hold onto?”
--> “What part of the too-good-to-be-true that I desperately want to believe can I really believe when it comes to your promises?”

Friday, June 11, 2010

What I left behind

Birmingham homesickness is setting in a bit.  I ran across an entry I wrote the night before I left not quite 2 weeks ago.  It was one of those time when I had a million words but few of them would settle long enough to let me catch them.  The ones I could get a hold of are recorded below. 

Here's a nugget for thought as you read this: What are the purpose of "kingdom connections*" that you have to leave behind?  (*You know, those kindred spirits you could talk to about God forever with and you walk away refreshed every time you talk with them. Or people that as close as family because you've been through thick and thin with them and would die for them.)

"I sit here at an epic point in my life. I’m someone who enjoys the 'now' but this season has forced me both into the past and into the future. What 'has been' is at a definite end, and what 'is to be' is quite unknown. The only thing I know of now is that it feels as though roots are being torn from the soil. I knew it was going to happen but I had lived as though these were the only people I would invest into. It makes the parting go hand in hand with a dull throb in my heart. I know better than to make promises about meeting again. The only guarantee I can give is that we shall be in eternity together.

"Yet somehow the tears have stayed at bay. Is that wrong? I have to wonder if I am so out of grasp with reality that I don’t realize the enormity of what is happening or, what if I am unrealistic in the way I cling to hope? Or maybe my spirit knows something my mind can’t fully grasp. The only inkling I get has been this thought: I can’t imagine that God has put these relationships in my life only for them to end.

"No, there has to be a bigger reason. What of all that I have learned from them and through them? I shall carry those lessons for a life time. What of the memories and joy that they have brought me? Those will be a constant companion. What of the struggles and battles I have been through with and for them? The scars are there to keep me wise in times to come. What of the victories and peace? It reminds me why I keep going."

Thursday, June 10, 2010

AUSTIN

This entry is going to be less about what God has been showing me and more about where God has plopped me down for this season. It's a pretty cool place this Austin!

I decided to move after I graduated 3 years of 24/7 not based on location but based on following leadership I wanted to serve under. I have not regretted that for one moment in the short time I've been down here but I'm starting to see God's greater strategy to get me to this place for a reason.

I don't know what you've heard about Austin but it's probably true, unless you heard that there is no humidity! There is plenty of that to go around! This is a place is unlike any I've been before. I grew up in the Mid-west, I spent some time out west and lived in the South for a season, yet none of those places have impacted me the way Austin has in a week and a half.

Diversity...that is the only word that comes close to capturing what is here both in people and in activities. My lists below are just what I’ve seen and are far from comprehensive.

PEOPLE GROUPS: hippies, techies, outdoors men, rednecks, athletes, students, musicians, high end rich and dirt poor, and tattooed people who fit in each of those groups (never seen so many in my life!). They all walk down the street together and co-exist happily side-by-side.

ACTIVITIES: Rock climbing, Japanese bubble tea houses, dog parks, countless bars with live music on any day of the week, Whole Foods (that covers an entire block!), bike trails, art galleries, Frisbee disc courses, coffee houses on every corner, Nature and Science Center, concerts, etc. I could already customize a trip for any of my friends who would/will come visit me and it will be different for each person.

If you want to take a picture that captures Austin, it would have to be a collage. If you want to find somewhere that accepts you for you, come to Austin. If you want to find a place that desperately craves authentic, this is your place. If you want to find a church that captures the diversity of the city, good luck.

In a place that is built on relationship and acceptance (these are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet), I have yet to hear of a church that reflects that. I haven’t had time to check any out for myself but I’ve heard reports from a some Christians who have been down here for a couple of years. They are looking for a place to belong and be a part of a community and they have yet to find it. And like I said, they are looking. Imagine what little impact the church is having on those who are lost, who aren’t even looking for a church. Guarantee they will find community somewhere and since the church isn’t offering it, they aren’t going to find living water that will always satisfy.

And onto the scene steps ONEchapel . . . that’s the church plant I’m working with and the reason I’m excited about being here! They’re out to change the way church is done. They want to build the church from its very foundation based on relationships and community, even at the cost of growing a little more slowly. Want to know my hunch? It won’t grow slow because it’s exactly what people are desperate for.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

True Love

There is something very profound about true love that God told me once, (and I know I’m not the only one who has heard it) and it is this: To love much means being willing to be hurt much.

Think about it. One of the most important aspects of being in a close relationship and having true love is vulnerability. We have to let our guard down so the other person knows the real us.

If I were to reference medieval times, picture a knight and his lady. He is strutting about in his shining armor, ready to battle any who come his way and she falls head-over-heels for him as he shows off his strength and valor. Now, he starts to woo her personally, to capture her true love. He speaks sweet nothings in her ear…from behind his masked helmet. He slips his fingers into hers…and she feels the cold metal of his gauntlet. He goes to her father to ask for her hand…with his sword drawn.

What an absurd picture but isn’t that what we think we can do sometimes? We expect to get close to people without risking hurt. Absurd as it sounds, there is a reason we do it. What happens when our guard is down? All our weak spots are exposed and the other person can hit us where it hurts. No one likes that.

So, where does that leave us? When I want to do it right, I look to Christ. I love verses where it talks about God as a mighty warrior, swift and strong. (2 Samuel 22:8-10; Revelations 19:11-15) However when I sit back, I see something different. When God chose to show us true love and send us His son with skin on, that’s not the way He showed up. He showed up as a baby. He did ministry through relationships. He chose to hang out with the outcasts. And, most dramatically, he died on a cross, beaten and naked. If that doesn’t show vulnerability, I don’t know what does.

All that has been things I’ve processed through before, but today, a new thought hit me. God showed his vulnerability long before that. He showed it to us at creation when he gave us free will. Have you ever wondered why in the world God would do that when He knew we wouldn’t always choose Him?

This is why: When we are forced to love, it is to not true love at all, but when we choose to love, that is how God knows we're truly His. For this reason He gave free will. He took a chance of us hurting Him because it was worth it to Him to know we truly loved Him. If we didn’t have that choice, then the whole point of God creating us would have been void. We are created to be in a relationship with God and to love Him with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and with all our strength. (Mark 12:29-30) If we were forced to do this, then it would mean nothing. When we have a choice, then He knows it is TRUE LOVE.

Monday, June 7, 2010

The Four Walls

I have been living in His house, in His four walls, but have I been building His kingdom? I have been taking care of His sheep that are in the fold, but have I gone out to find the lost one?

My move down to Austin has started me thinking about some things I should have been thinking about a long time ago. Actually, they had crossed my mind but they’re not too comfortable so I have never let them stay long. Until now. Now, I have nowhere to hide. I don’t have four walls.

See, I’ve grown up in church and my whole life has been defined by what I have done in those four walls. I’ve gone to church every Sunday morning. I made my best friends in churches growing up. I took co-op classes in churches. My dance studio held classes in several churches across town. I became an intern and spent the majority of 3 years in the church. I learned behind the scenes how to run a church. Even being an intern didn’t break me of wanting to hang out there in my free time.

Then I moved to a church plant less than a week ago. I don’t have four walls. I’m faced with a blunt question: What is my life defined by now?

I don’t want to answer that because the answer…well, I don’t even know if I can answer it.

Here’s the deal; I should have never gotten to that point in the first place. Where in the Gospels does Jesus ever say anything about being in the four walls? (In fact, He had some pretty choice words for those that did stay there.) At what point did I get comfortable there and start calling it ministry? I’ve said I want to work with the local church but is that an excuse to just stay around Christians all the time? How long am I going to make the excuse that I don’t have the gift of evangelism?

I’m still in the middle of figuring this out so I have no answers but I think I’ve run across some scriptures that give a hint of where I need to be heading. One thing is obvious, it is outside of the four walls.

Mathew 11:4-5 -
Jesus replied, "Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”

1 Corinthians 2:4-5 -
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

1 Thessalonians 1:4-5-
For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Warrior Princess

Welcome to my blog! 

My hope is that you can take something away each time you visit that inspires you or challenges you or helps you along this journey of life.  For my first post I want to share a poem God gave me and the inspiration for my blog title.  This poem is about who I'm called to be and will hopefully help you understand me.  Some of it is who I already am, some of it is who I will become.  Maybe you'll find yourself in it somewhere as well.

Warrior Princess
The thought makes my heart sing!

This dance of grace and strength
This picture of fierce beauty
This song of love that won’t settle,
   a love that will stare down the enemy,
   a love that will forget self,
   a love that will roar like a wild beast,
      springing on the enemy with hair flying
         should he try and touch her people
This work of art the Father whispers to
   so she will be prepared for the day of battle,
      secret strategies only she can understand and carry out

This is me
This is why I was created
This is a heart that cries out for life and weeps at destruction
   a heart not calloused on the outside
      but emboldened from the inside,
   a heart that listens for the commands of the Commander,
   a heart tender towards the hurting but enraged at the Destroyer
This is the created who fights beside the Creator
This is the beloved who awaits her Lover
This is a strength that holds close those dear to her
This is her prayer, her cry for her people

She looks from the place of authority
   and morns as her people reject love
She takes their hand and places it in the hand of her Lover,
   that He may take them to true healing
She will cry with the weak and rage at the proud
She knows her purpose and will forge ahead at all costs
She loves the unlovely and the unlovable

Her beauty catches the eye of many,
   but she has eyes for only One
As she walks the streets,
   her presence brings a wake of smiles,
      contented smiles of those who know all is well
Her strength comes not in spite of her beauty, but because of it,
   a strength that makes men wonder

Her presence, a light, a peace, undescribable, uncapturable,
   but captivating none the less
Elegance veils tenacity,
   surprising those who haven’t encountered her before
Her greatest joy comes in battle,
   where she wounds the wicked
      and brings healing to the abuse and innocent
Her path is laced with great men,
   men who will support her and need her support
They trust her with their hearts,
   knowing she will surrender them
      fully healed and in perfect timing
Her presence in their lives is irreplaceable,
   even when they have barely met her
She fights their battles at their side, barely noticed,
   her gentleness disguising her true effort

In times of peace, she glides gracefully through her garden,
   yet she has no fear of crushing the head of the snake
      who dares invade her sanctuary
She views fa├žade as weakness and vulnerability as strength
Her eyes are alert and watching, soaking in her surroundings
People’s true colors are not hidden from her,
   yet their deepest secret is not repulsive to her eyes
Those who gaze at her from a distance may judge harshly,
   even so, she offers them compassion

Because she listens to her Lover,
   she is confident in who she is
She trusts Him with her life
As He calls her out, she prepares herself for battle
He turns over to her charge warriors who need strong direction
Her words are inspiration and vision
Dignity is her very essence

Standing on the battlefield before her ranks,
   she is the picture of freedom
Her gentle tresses catch the breeze,
   belying her backbone of steel,
      never wavering
She leads with courage,
   undaunted by overwhelming force,
      diligently following the plan laid out for her

Her heart is tender through it all
In the end, her tears water the field,
   bringing life from the destruction
Her prayers are seeds of hope,
   planted to spring up in due time

Because her greatest goal is peace,
   she is just as willing to lift a sword as
      become delegate in the courts
Whenever she enters,
   she is followed with an aire of patience,
      a beacon of joy following her contentment
She is unbound by protocol,
   yet ever aware of hearts
She draws others to her with her transparency

Truth, pure truth, radiates from her lips
Joy, pure joy, shines from her eyes
Hope, pure hope, beams from her being
Love, pure love, she offers to all

She is strength
She is grace
She is fierce
She is beauty

She is the one who proclaims the message of life
She is the one who bears the hope of the future
She is the on who carries truth on her shoulders
She is the one,
   but more that the one
She is an army,
   an army of beauty called by their Lover

Dedicated to the women of 24/7
May our hearts sing in harmony as we hear the call of our Lover