Tuesday, 24 March 2015

My Yes For His Heart

   I was first called to go to the Middle East when I was 9 or 10. I had been told of the masses that were living lives of fear and brokenness without ever hearing the Gospel and it wounded my heart. I could not stand the thought of them now knowing my Jesus and I determined to tell them. For years that was a cry of my heart, that God would send me.

   As I got older I started to forget that cry. In junior high my family and I went through some hard circumstances and I really began to wrestle with my faith for the first time (which led to a total transformation of my faith in which God completely reintroduced Himself to me, but that is a story for another time). At the same time I got involved in ministry with kids in a downtown after school program. I got distracted and caught up in my ministry in America and completely forgot about the call to the Middle East.

   Recently God has been tugging on my heart to go to the Middle East again, and I have once again given my yes. I am finishing high school this year and going off to the Fredericksburg House of Prayer (also called The Prayer Furnace) to intern with their Missions And Prayer School (MAPS). It is a 2 year program at their house of prayer, and then there is 3 months in the Istanbul (in Turkey) House of Prayer. From there I want to be a witness for Christ in Saudi Arabia (originally the specific country in the Middle East I was called to). I am laying my life down to love God in the Middle East. I am laying my dreams and my plans for my future aside to pick up my cross and follow Christ.

   I tell a story of a young girl who heard a crazy call as a kid and said yes, and now as a teenager is acting on that yes in radical ways. The part of the story I don't tell, is I didn't really want to go for a long time. I tell the story of a kid that felt the call to go and said yes, which is true. But deep down I didn't really want to go, and secretly hoped God wouldn't actually end up sending me. I love my American life. I love my kids (I call the kids at the after school program "my kids"). I love my family. I love my city. I love my comfortable lifestyle. I love my dog. I have dreams here in America that if I go to the Middle East I leave behind. The idea of leaving all that behind and moving to minister in a foreign culture with huge difficulties, including crazy hard languages, was terrifying to me.

   So what made the difference? How did I go from saying yes but secretly begging for a no, to completely on fire for the Middle East and desperate to go? Jesus and prayer. Jesus and prayer made the difference. Holy Spirit slowly started working on my heart even while I resisted. I relented enough to start praying 7 times a day for the Muslim people groups and I started asking God to send workers into the harvest. They were (are) short prayers, often 2 or 3 sentences and nothing super spiritual. But somehow in that my heart shifted. Where fear once ruled my faith started to grow and take hold. In this transformation one day I was sitting on our couch and I saw Jesus's face. I physically saw my Lord. He was grieved over the unreached people groups and it broke my heart. I realized I can no longer pray for the Muslim people and pray that God would send workers into the harvest and not first go myself. I realized that if my heart is not breaking for the things that break His heart, than I am not truly in love with Him. I now weep at the thought of my Beloved having died for a people group that does not know Him as their Beloved, and that bow their knee to another. I weep for the Islamic masses that do not know my Beloved, that do not know my Father. The people who live their lives in brokenness, never knowing a God that is good. That is Love. Never knowing the Truth. It's no longer a sacrifice to think about giving up everything to pursue God's heart for the Middle East. I realize the truth in the quote, "There is no shame in lovesickness."* What was once radical or a huge painful sacrifice is nothing. My heart is so shifted that to go and to even give up my life if it comes to that is not a sacrifice.

   Some look at me and think I am crazy. Some question whether or not I have any idea what is going on right now in the Middle East (which despite our lack of a tv at home I do have actually an idea what is going on). Some think I am a radical super Christian. Some think I am signing up to be systematically executed. But in reality, I am just a lovesick teenager with a God who is in love with the Middle East. I'm not a super Christian. God's dreams were just bigger than mine, and when I gave Him my yes, He gave me His heart. And that is a trade I will make again a thousand and one times a day for every day of my life.

*Kim Hager, a The Prayer Furnace staff member.

Names of God

Do you have a favorite name for God? God's names are endowed with His character. His character is a reality and His names reflect that. I believe it is important that we in turn reflect on His names, and therefore reflect on His character.     

"Who are we, 
mere breaths that quickly fade, 
that we should be honored
 to know the Name of our God?
And to worship at His feet,
a people of unclean lips. 
Yet even to know Him one day 
as He knows us."    

Today I am reflecting on His name I AM and the character implications of that name. I would challenge each of you to pick a name of God and reflect on it for a day, a week, or even month. Ask God why He chose it as His name and what of Himself is He portraying through it. You will be surprised what He will reveal when you ask Him about His names.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Possessing Nothing But Christ

     "Possessing nothing but Christ, yet owning everything."

   What would it be like to possess nothing, in that there was nothing material or of this world we held dear? What if we lived like Paul said and counted it all loss for the sake of Christ? What if we were so unattached to material possessions we could trade them for utter poverty in the eyes of the world and never even notice their absence? What if possessing Christ was all that mattered?  

   If our ultimate goal in life was to possess nothing but Christ, how different would our lives look? What radical lifestyles would we lead if we realized the wealth in possessing nothing but Christ?

   The less we possess of this world (in terms of what we hold on to), the more we can possess of Christ. And to possess Christ is to possess everything. To possess Christ is to be among the wealthiest to ever walk this earth.

   What if our goal in life was to see just how much of Christ we could possess? How well could we reflect Him in life in a broken world? How much of His Spirit could we contain? How much could we surrender to Him? How close could we get to Him in this life? How much can we possess Christ?

"I am my Beloved's and my Beloved is mine."*
Song of Songs 2:16a

"You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one."*
Hebrews 10:34b

"But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way... as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything."*
 2 Corinthians 6:4 & 10.

*Emphasis mine.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

"Is Passed"

   "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me,
hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life."
John 5:24 Authorized King James Version.

   I don't normally read the KJV Bible, but recently have delved into the words of Jesus in the KJV. Words that I've heard so many times, even at times preached wrongly, that they lost their luster to my eyes. But because I am not as familiar with the King James Version and the language is so different, it hits me fresh and in a new light. The bit of difficulty in the language and need to study harder to find the meaning is rewarding to me. One verse in particular utterly captivated my heart... and commandeered my attention.

"But is passed", not "has passed" from death unto life. I've read this verse so many times in the NIV and other modern translations, but it really caught my attention in the King James Version when I read it. The grammar nazi in me wants it to read "has passed" since both "has" and "passed" are past tense. But it reads "is passed", is being present tense, and passed being past tense. We live in a continuous state of having passed from death into life.     

   As I was contemplating the complexities of this reality, this living in a constant state of having passed from death unto life, another line of thought came to mind. What is the only reason I cannot simultaneously be in both Alaska and Kansas? The answer; Time. Time is the only reason I can not be in both places. I can go to and be in Alaska, and I can go to and be in Kansas. The only thing I can not do is be in both places at the same time. If you take time out of the equation it becomes a whole new playing field. There is no time in eternity. Therefore in eternity we are not limited by time nor tenses (past and future come from having time. In eternity there is only the now, the forever present tense. Or, as I like to say, the forever presence tense). Inside of time we are limited by both time and tenses in our ability to experience. We are not limited in our ability to experience in eternity. We are not limited by tenses in eternity. We can experience the fullness of God WITHOUT LIMIT! A limitless experience... for eternity. 

   We live in a state of having passed from death unto life, and one day will be unlimited in our ability to experience Him. We get to experience God completely for all of eternity! Do you know what that means??? Do you have any idea what we get to look forward to??? No wonder Paul said to die is gain! We have life to the full, for one day we will experience Him to the full! And that, my beloved, is worth living for.


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Glorious and Inexpressible Joy

   Are you filled with joy? Are you filled glorious and inexpressible joy? Because if you are not, then you are not living as God would have you to live. You are not stepping into the destiny that God has for you. You are not fully accepting the gift from God that was bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ.

   Joy is an emotion from the Lord. When we feel God’s emotions, when we feel what God is feeling with Him, our hearts become even more intertwined with His than before. When we feel His joy, His love, His tenderheartedness, and when our hearts break when His heart breaks, our hearts become tied together with God’s. Our hearts can become so intertwined together that no one will be able to tell where one begins and the other ends. And there is power when that happens.

1 Peter 1:8 says, "Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy." Our joy comes from knowing what He has done for us, will one day allow us to see Him face to face. We will one day know Him as He knows us (1 Corinthians 13:12). Do you know what that means? Do you have any idea how intimately He knows us? Our thoughts, our deeds, our desires, our emotion, our personality, our tastes. He knows every single nuance and quirk of our being.  He knows every hair on our head. He knows what makes our heart beat faster and what excites us and what long for with all of our being. And we will one day know Him as He know us! Do you know what that means? Even angels long to look into the things we will one day know (1 Peter 1:11-12). If that doesn't make your heart come alive with glorious and inexpressible joy, than you need to fall in love with your Lover. If that does not bring tears to your eyes and fire to your heart I don't know what will! We will one day see Him face to face and know Him just as we are known. Can you imagine? I can not even begin to fathom what that looks like but that is where I find my inexpressible and unending joy. That is where I find my strength to live for another age. That is how I have hope amidst the hardest circumstances.  

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Words: Life or Death

   Every single word we speak either brings life, or it brings death. They brings light, or they brings darkness. There are no neutral words. And one day we will have to give an account for every careless word we speak (Matthew 12:36-37, "I tell you, on the day of judgement people will give account for careless word they speak.) We will be judged by our words, and we will be set free by our words (Matthew 12:37, For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.).

Every word we speak has power. Proverbs 18:21, "Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits."

The Bible offers guidance for speech. Psalm 37:30, "The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice." And Proverbs 21:23, Whoever keeps his mouth and tongue keeps himself out of trouble." Also Colossians 4:6, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

Holy Spirit will speak through us if we will allow Him. 2 Samuel 32:2, "The Spirit of the Lord speaks by me; His word is on my tongue."

We can enter into covenants on how we will and will not speak. Job 27:4, "My lips will not speak falsehood, and my tongue will not utter deceit."

We can speak with excellence. Proverbs 25:11, "As apples of gold in pictures of silver, is a word spoken in season."

Our words are sharp swords capable of waging great war. Psalm 57:4, "My soul is in the midst of lions; I lie down amid fiery beasts- the children of man, whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords."

We speak about what we love, and our passion moves out speech. Psalm 39:3, "My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue."

God knows our speech and our motives. Psalm 139:4, "Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether."

   This is a message of warning. For by our words we can bring death and judgement to our souls and to the people around us. We can gossip and slander, speak idly and cloud the atmosphere around us. We can speak death over people, even those we love, with our speech.

   But this is also a message of hope, for by our words we can set captives free, bring hope to the hopeless, bring healing to the broken, and life to the lifeless. We can show the love of God by our speech, and we can be set free by the words we speak. We can enter into life by our words.

   It is a message of hope because it declares we can change the life of people we come into contact with everyday. The times we witness without seeing fruit, we can know that we still spoke life over that person and that always makes a difference. The conversations with people that don't feel like they matter can matter and declare life over someone, and do more good than we will every see. It is a message of hope because we can bring life to every conversation when we speak.

  So how will you speak? I will be pretty transparent here and admit this is a struggle for me, especially with my family. I struggle with my tone of voice, and am too quick to speak a harsh word (even when not intending to speak harshly). It's something I need to work on, and will work on. So, starting one day at a time, I am going to really work on speaking life, and not death.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

I'm Getting A Puppy!

   I am getting a puppy! After a dream two years in the making, "Reagan" is officially coming home with me Monday, December 1st! Woo hoo!
Reagan is on the far right. Isn't she cute?

    Waiting for this puppy has definitely been a hard lesson on waiting for God's best. When I first started the journey of looking for a puppy I had planned on only having to wait a year. I picked the litter and waited with anticipation as that year of waiting went by. The year passed and the breeding took place, and I was going to get the pick girl out of the litter. I prayed over the puppies everyday, I bought puppy toys, I scheduled school to have time off for her. I couldn't wait till she was born! But the litter wasn't meant to be. The breeding didn't take, and then mom got an infection in her uterus (pyometra) and had to be spayed.

  Devastated does not even begin to describe how I felt. I had so been looking forward to that puppy, and my hopes were crushed. But the breeder was determined to make sure I got a puppy, and so I kept waiting.

   Another year I waited. The breeder had a couple litters in that time, but every litter just wasn't the right one and God would turn my heart to say no. There was even one litter that I desperately wanted a puppy from, but the mom only had one puppy and I was second on the list for a puppy. Things kept not working out.

   Until Reagan's litter. The breeder was repeating one of my all time favorite breedings of hers and wanted to know if I wanted pick girl. I said yes! Not only that it was the same sire as the original litter that didn't work out. I was getting my puppy after all!

   October 13th. 9 precious puppies were born, the exact number of puppies I had prayed for with the original litter. 5 girls and 4 boys, again exactly what I had originally prayed for.

Waiting for God's best was hard. There were times where I considered compromising. I considering giving up the dream of a puppy. I definitely tried to force things to happen faster. But in the end, God's best was worth waiting for. When I met Reagan yesterday I realized how much better God's plans were than mine. God is good, and all things do work together for those who love Him. Even when it doesn't look like it.

                                 So I am getting a puppy, and God is good.


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