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