Friday, December 17, 2010

God - The Righteous Judge

I think this picture is funny!
Lately I have found myself in several conversations concerning the judgment of God. I am realizing that there are many people who hold much fear concerning the "Day of Judgment" or the "Day of the Lord" mentioned in Scripture. I understand this...I remember as a little girl praying to God and asking Him to not let Jesus return to the earth while I was alive because I was afraid of what would happen to me. I have had many misconceptions of God's character and what "Judgment Day" will look like.

So, a couple months ago I set out to see what Scripture actually has to say about God's judgment and how it was perceived by the original audience the Scriptures were written to. What I've found is changing how I view my Jesus and its giving me a new confidence in how I approach Him.

GOD'S JUDGMENT IS AN OCCASION FOR REJOICING:
There are several verses in the Old Testament that reveal this point. Psalm 67:4 says, "Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for You judge the people with justice and guide the nations upon the earth...Selah." Also, in Psalm 96:12-13 it says, "Let the field exult and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for He comes, for He comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the people in His faithfulness." 

If in Scripture, the Jews rejoiced over judgment, then what truth am I missing that would cause me to fear and repel from judgment? It's about perception. C.S. Lewis gives his answer to this question in his book, Reflection on the Psalms. He writes:

The reason for this becomes very plain. The ancient Jews, like ourselves, think of God's judgment in terms of an earthly court of justice. The difference is that the Christian pictures the case to be tried as a criminal case with himself in the dock; the Jew pictures it as a civil case with himself as the plaintiff. The one hopes for acquittal, or rather for pardon; the other hopes for a resounding triumph with heavy damages.

The Jewish nation over history has understood this, I think, so much better than Christians...and for good reason. They have had much cause to cry out for justice in times of injustice. As slaves in Egypt, as the exiled in Babylon unable to practice their worship to the true God, as the oppressed under the Roman fist unable to rule their own land...they have experienced merciless cruelty and bondage. Who else could they turn to when all the world's systems are against them? God alone would be their rescuer, their hero of justice. This is how they viewed Him. God was the One who would avenge them. He alone was the One who could return all that was stolen from them by their enemies. The Divine Judge is the defender, the rescuer. Psalm 9:7-8,12 says, "But the Lord sits enthroned forever; He has established His throne for justice, and He judges the world with righteousness; He judges the peoples with uprightness...for He who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted." Psalm 76:8-9 says, "From the heavens You uttered judgment; the earth feared and was still, when God arose to establish judgment, TO SAVE ALL THE HUMBLE OF THE EARTH." 

I am beginning to believe that when each of us will give an account of himself to God (Romans 14:12) it will not be me standing before the Lord having every single sin I've committed on earth declared over a loud speaker in heaven. I believed this and I know that many others fear this, too. Jesus has already dealt with my sin on the cross. He will not deal with it again. For Him to deal with my sin a second time means that the cross did not fully achieve it's goal of atonement. I am beginning to believe that when believers, children of the Father, stand before Him to give an account, it will be stories of what we and Jesus did on the earth together. Our testimonies will be celebrated in heaven. The judgment (or penalty as we view it) will be a case built upon the enemy and how he has worked to hinder the Kingdom of God and harm the Father's children. He is the Righteous Judge, Who's judgmental energy is spent on rescuing the humble of the earth. Who are the humble? Those living their lives in daily submission to the will of the Father...those living as Jesus lived.

Because of this, we can approach the throne of God with confidence. He will hear our cries for mercy, for help, for justice. Our position is to be like the persistent widow (Luke 18) who trusted that if she kept crying out, the judge would hear her and grant her justice. Jesus tells us this is how we should pray and view our God (Luke 18:1). Our heart's position needs to shift. Often we approach God in prayer timidly wondering if He'll do anything for us. I do this and I am realizing how faithless my approach to God can be. I don't believe Him to answer the cries of my heart and so I stop asking. I give up. But, to have persistence means that I faithfully believe there will come an answer. I am His daughter. My Father knows the sound of my voice. He will not turn a deaf ear. His punishment is saved for those opposed to Him. His justice is saved for His kids. If I can get this truth planted deeply in my heart and exercised in my daily life, what freedom that will bring in my relationship to Him as Father! He is so good and He has destined us to be children abundantly living in justice.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Love Hermeneutic

Today I was reading 1 Timothy chapter 1. Paul is writing to Timothy to direct him to handle people in the Church of Ephesus who were teaching false doctrines. They had wandered away from the truth of the Word to teach their own perceptions of it. Verse 7 says  they were "desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they were saying or the things about which they made confident assertions."

I'm caught on verse 1:5. Paul tells Timothy that "the purpose of our commandment is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."  In the verses previous (1 Timothy 1:1-4), Paul makes it clear that the Bible was not written to provoke philosophical debate nor to encourage the pursuit of theological bunnytrails. The purpose of Scripture is love.  They have been given in order to incite and perfect our love. 

With this in mind, if my time spent in the Word does not increase my love for God, then I've missed the whole point. I think it's also correct to say, then, if my teaching or preaching of God’s Word does not draw listeners toward a more fervent love for Christ, I have abused the Scriptures. Bob Sorge calls this the "Love Hermeneutic." Hermeneutics is the theory or methodology by which Scripture is interpreted. Because God is love, the Word can only be interpreted through that lense if we're going to encounter correctly God's intent. 

The next time you're reading a passage of Scripture that makes little sense, read it again while asking this question:    How does this passage point me to the love of God? Because, everything in Scripture must be seen as directing our hearts more fully into the love of Christ.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dreaming Myself Out of a Mindset of Mediocrity

I don't want to come to the end of my life with any regrets. I heard someone say recently that "mediocrity is violent and gives power to the spirit of poverty. A poverty spirit is about you living with meager possibilities when Jesus said, 'All things are possible.'"


SO...at the end of my life, I want my human footprint on earth to say:


*I discovered my fullness of potential in Christ Jesus.
*I lived taking risks.
*I lived thoroughly enjoying the majesty of God.
*I didn't live conservatively, but lived boldly and outrageously in love towards God and others.
*I fully capitalized on my relationship with the Holy Spirit.
*I finished completely exploring my present and my future in the Father.
*I was a woman of great faith.
*I moved through circumstances joyfully attacking the negatives in my life.
*I won't look back to see I'd been entirely too passive. 
*I influenced and inspired as many people as God wanted me to. 
*I lived in the grace of God refusing to be bound by any chains.
*I pursued freedom and excellence in order to occupy the space made available by the Holy Spirit.
*I was a pioneer...not a settler.
*I determined to find the best that God has and plundered it with all I'm worth. 




...to name a few.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More on Inheritance...

In Him you also, when you heard the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee (down payment) of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory.     ~Ephesians 1:13-14

Anything we encounter through the Holy Spirit is but a taste, a down payment, a fraction of the riches we'll receive when we are face to face with our full inheritance in Christ. What blessings and riches has the Holy Spirit poured out in your life? However beautiful and magnificent His work in your life may be, it is but a fraction of what is to come. What is the worth you would attribute to the inheritance God has coming for you?

Whatever that amount of worth is makes Ephesians 1:18 all the more sweet...what are YOU worth as the inheritance of Jesus??!

Holy Spirit, you can come deposit as big a down payment into my life as you can possibly make! I'll take it! And may my life be a reciprocator...one who gives all I have to be Your inheritance as well.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Inheritance

This morning I slept in past 11:00! Beautiful day off! 

I woke up thinking about inheritance, so I decided to get my thoughts down before jumping out of bed to start my day. In Ephesians 1:11 Paul writes, "In Him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will." When I think about the truth that I have been given an inheritance in Jesus, my imaginative wheels start spinning wildly. What riches are included in this inheritance? What doesn't belong to Jesus, the King of kings? The Psalms declare that all of heaven and earth are His footstool. In Psalms 2:8, the nations are Jesus' possessions. The beauty of heaven, the glory of the throne, the angelic hosts, the weird creatures with the eyes...the list in endless! Paul even tries to give us a glimpse of what our inheritance in Christ looks like in earlier verses in Ephesians 1:

*every spiritual blessing in Christ
*we've been chosen to be holy and blameless
*He's in love with us
*spiritual adoption
*glorious grace freely given
*redemption through His blood
*forgiveness of sins
*wisdom and understanding
*knowledge of His mysterious will

This is just a portion of our inheritance in Jesus. What glory and majesty will the Father give His sons and daughters? The concept is staggering and enough to keep me wondering all my days. But...this isn't where I'm to remain. This isn't the highest truth that God wants me to dwell upon. My relationship with Him doesn't end with what He can give me, although its fun to think about. 

Paul goes on to write in Ephesians 1:18, "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints." Apparently, Jesus has an inheritance, too. What does a Father give a Son who has everything? What would make His heart excited to have and to hold throughout the ages? WE are His inheritance. Think about how grand our inheritance in Christ is...in comparison to the inheritance He will gain! What worth the Father and the Son ascribe to us faulty beings! YOU are the inheritance Jesus is waiting for...this is astounding! 

I believe that my life as a follower/daughter/bride of Jesus is to move from focusing on Ephesians 1:11 to living Ephesians 1:18. It's wonderful to know what God will give me. It's so fun to wonder about. But, if I stay in that line of thinking too long, my relationship with Jesus will become self-focused. God can easily become my vending machine...gimme! Jesus wants me to move from a self-focused follower to a God-focused follower. I am the inheritance. What does that mean for my life? It means that I live to fulfill His desires. It means that I live to walk in voluntary obedience. It means that my heart wears a giant sandwich board that screams YES! to anything He asks. Jesus wants to conquer nations because the Father has promised the nations to be His possession and we, as princes and princesses in the Kingdom of God, are called to this high privilege and partnership to see this happen. I want Jesus, at the end of this age, to have His full inheritance...because I know assuredly that He will give me my full inheritance. He will not hold back. He will only continue to lavish His affections and resources upon me. I desire to be an equal marriage partner to Him. I want to live in such a way that my life lavishes my affections and resources upon Him. I want to walk around with the confidence that I, as His inheritance, am His trophy wife! It's a beautiful position to which we are all invited to fill.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

YIELD

Today I feel overwhelmed with thankfulness that I belong to God. I'm so thankful that I have been given knowledge of who He is...not the knowledge that puffs up, but the knowledge that renews my mind to live the way He lives. It's knowledge that renews my mind to think the way He thinks. What a gift! What kind of stinking evil would I be without His transforming kindness?

It makes me feel hungry to know more about Him. It makes me hungry to have more discernment. If His ways are higher than mine, than I desire to know His ways better than I know my own...to spend more time in His ways than in my ways. If His thoughts are truly higher than mine, I want to dwell on His thoughts more often than I dwell on mine. It seems that His ways and His thoughts are a higher reality than my simple, faulty ways and thinking. I want to live out of His reality. It's a high goal. 1 Corinthians 2:16 says, "For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct Him? But WE HAVE the mind of Christ."  I have the mind of Christ! I can know the ways and thoughts of the Lord because I've been given the mind of Christ. Come renew my mind, Holy Spirit. Transform me to look like You, think like You, speak like You.

This sounds like Jesus. He said on earth He only spoke what He heard the Father say. He only did what He saw the Father do. He knew the thoughts of the Father. He knew the ways of the Father. He laid aside His deity when He came to this earth. He spoke these words as a human. As a human, Jesus KNEW the Father, which means to dwell in the higher reality of the Father's ways and thoughts is possible for me, too. HOW? I believe Jesus accomplished this, not by having super powers, but by laying His powers down. He fully yielded Himself to know the Father. He fully yielded His ways and His thoughts to abide in the ways and thoughts of His Father. Intimacy comes when we yield to the One we want to know. I think knowing the ways and thoughts of God must come at the expense of getting to exercise our own ways and thoughts. Jesus was tempted by satan to do things His own way and to not go to the cross. If He was tempted, it means He had to wrestle with laying down His own options before submitting to the way of the cross the Father had laid out for Him...if the King of kings had to wrestle to lay down His will, how much more do I need to make this a daily (if not moment to moment) discipline?

My hunger is growing and the road is getting more narrow. It's so narrow that there isn't even room enough to turn around and get out. I have no where to go but towards the more narrow. I'm hooked. I must know more of who He is. I must know how He thinks and how He operates. I must know, because in knowing, I will find the highest reality of how to live. I will find out who I am meant to be in light of who He is. I will know Him in yieldedness.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Unconditional Embrace

This morning I was flipping through my Bible trying to find a place to land. Sometimes I'll do this because it's a fun game to play with God...often the random page I land on is the very voice and whisper I need to hear Him speak. Today is no exception. This is where the pages flipped to:

All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus' words, acknowledged that God's way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God's purposes for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.                          ~Luke 7:29-30
All the people, even the tax collectors, had a stirring in their heart that Jesus, this new movement and out-of-the-box revolutionary, was the right way. They acknowledged that He was from God. However, this wasn't just a head acknowledgment. Their hearts were stirred beyond head agreement into heart action. Their love for God was activated and proven through the testimony of baptism. On the flip side, the Pharisees rejected God's purposes for themselves...how? By refusing to move their head knowledge into heart action. They produced no external fruit and testament of their faith in God. They rejected the baptism of John. What did this baptism represent? A move of God outside of their understanding and paradigm. This baptism represented the need as humans to surrender to the sovereign wisdom of God, and to humbly admit that we don't know everything about how He operates.

The phrase that smacked me between the eyes was, "the Pharisees rejected God's purposes for themselves." Talk about a fear of God moment! I'm one of those weird people who have a broken heart towards the Pharisees. I so badly want the Bible to be re-written, kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure book, where in the end, the Pharisees' eyes are open to the truth and they run into the arms of Christ. I can't handle it that they missed it. It kills me, probably because I recognize in my own heart how easy it is to miss God's voice by being caught up in what seems normal and right. They rejected God's purposes for themselves. They missed it. They couldn't handle the new things of God and were so caught up in patting themselves on the back that they were not positioned to know truth when they saw it. They couldn't receive that God's goodness and holiness could possibly come in ways they did not understand or did not initiate in their own strength and righteousness.

How easy is it for us, for me, to accept God's goodness in the obvious? It's easy to accept that He is good when everything is going as planned, in the land that is plentiful. I can sing the glories of His goodness in these moments without waver. But, when things don't go the way I've foreseen, when disappointment sets in, when God moves in ways that I cannot comprehend...the fight to believe He is good takes the strength of every fiber of my being to believe. I believe this is where true faith begins. When God operates outside of my expectations, I need to call that good, too. He's not only good when good things happen. He never changes. His goodness is in the wilderness, the unknown. His goodness is around us in every aspect of our lives. I can't surrender my heart to God only in the times when things go my way...this isn't surrender. The Pharisees missed Jesus because they refused to surrender their right to understand and in so doing they rejected the purposes of God for their lives.  Bill Johnson said something in a recent sermon that has been stuck in my head:

"If you want the peace that passes understanding to guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, you have to lay down your right to understand."
I want to have a heart of unconditional embrace...I want to believe in God's goodness in both the land that is plentiful and the road marked with suffering. He is good all the time, and all the time He is good.

Friday, September 17, 2010

PSALM 119:4-8...STARE DOWN!

You have commanded Your precepts
to be kept diligently.
Oh that my ways may be steadfast
in keeping Your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
having my eyes fixed on all Your commandments.
I will praise You with an upright heart,
when I learn Your righteous rules.
I will keep Your statutes;
do not utterly forsake me!

I sometimes feel overwhelmed by the extent of what living a righteous life demands. I can't go a day without messing it up. Sometimes, I can't go more than a few minutes without messing it up! Lord, help me! Oh wait...He does! Look at the weight of Psalm 119:4 and how that burden is lifted in 119:5. The weight comes with the command to keep (obey) God's law DILIGENTLY. "Diligent" means to be contstant in effort to accomplish something. Diligent is a heavy, weighty word. The release from this weight is verse 5...we pray to the ONE who is able to help us keep our hearts steadfast. The weight is in the expectation of obedience to every jot and tittle of the God's Word. The release is that He is the mighty One who helps us succeed. This morning, while reading these verses, I became so thankful that I have a relationship with the Holy God. He is able to bear the weight of keeping ALL of His own commandments. Why? Because He is the Word incarnate. He is the walking, living embodiment of everything He commands us to do.

Look at the next verse...119:6..."then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all Your commandments." The first thing that comes to mind in reading this verse is Hebrews 12:2, where the writer tells us to FIX OUR EYES on Jesus, the author and PERFECTOR of our faith. Jesus is the Word (John 1:1). The way that we remain diligent, steadfast and absent of shame is to keep our eyes fixed on the Word, Jesus Christ. Everything He is is the embodiment and the answer for how we are to live. If you want to be released FROM the weight of the impossibility of living up to all of His commands TO the light and easy burden of actually being equipped to live them, then stare down Jesus! Watch Him in the Gospels. Watch Him in Matthew 5-7. Watch Him in creation. Watch Him in response to other people. Fix your eyes on Jesus. Get to the know Him intimately and watch how your heart will be released to be just like Him. We're not alone. Time for a stare down!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

PSALM 119:1-3...how to do the Happy Dance!

Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with their whole heart, who also do no wrong, but walk in His ways!

The word "blessed" in Hebrew means "happy". There is such a striving around us to find happiness. We look for happiness in many things...relationships, money, possessions, gadgets, etc. Oh! And shoes! The world offers us so many options for immediate happiness, but all of what the world offers is temporal happiness. God is the only One equipped to offer us eternal bliss...and His offer isn't future but very now, very present.

Happy are those whose way is blameless. Happy are those who walk in the law of the Lord. King David wrote in Psalm 24, "Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in His holy place?" David is asking how do you find yourself in the Presence of God? How do you get there? David is hungry for Presence. David answers his question by saying, "He who has clean hands and a pure heart."

God isn't interested in a Pharisaical people only focused on the do's and dont's of His word. He's interested in a relationship with His Bride who desires to please Him. God has kindly given us the Bible, which reveals the things that make Him happy. In a true love relationship, each partner lives to do things to please their significant other. This often involves much sacrifice and other-mindedness rather than self-focus and self-fulfillment. The reward for this is a marriage or partnership that has joy, safety, trust and health. God, in His word, has given us the recipe for how we can live the self-less life and to live the life that pleases our Significant Other.

Today I am asking God to search my heart and show me the disobedient places in my life. What is He asking of me that I am still struggling to do? This is the first step towards an increase of bliss in my life!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

PSALM 119

This morning I was reading in Psalm 119 and was overwhelmed by the greatness of this chapter. I think I will be spending time in this chapter for a while and have decided to blog the things that I think or that I feel God reveals through meditating on it. Stay tuned! Here are some verses that really stood out to me today...


Confirm to Your servant Your promise, that You may be feared.

Remember Your word to Your servant, in which You have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me life.

I entreat Your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to Your promise.

Those who fear You shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in Your word.

My eyes long for Your promise; I ask, "When will You comfort me?"

Uphold me according to Your promise that I may live, and let me know be put to shame in my hope!

My eyes lon gfor Your salvation and for the fulfillment of Your righteous promise.

Your promise is well tried, and Your servant loves it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

As in a Dry and Weary Land...

My week has been filled with unexpected ministry moments. I'm learning from Pastor John's example of how important it is to be interuptable. I have much to learn. God has brought across my path this week opportunities to bring truth to people with addictions and dependence on other things. Their situations are desperate, their families being highly affected and hurt by their dependency. I love these people and my heart aches for them to be free...but more than that, my heart aches for them to know the One who can free them. As I've been in conversation with these people, I've been, to the best I know how, pouring out God's truth to them. He is the only way, the only life, the only truth. He desires us to come to Him completely dependent and aware of lack of strength to do anything for ourselves. He desires relationship with Him, where we willingly yield our way of life to take up His. These things are true to the uttermost and I believe them...but to others who haven't been awakened to His steadfast love, these truths are just words. Without an encounter with the living God, these truths are just another set of advice from just one more person.

As I've been interceding for these people this week, I've been asking myself, "How are you doing in the area of dependence? If someone were to pinpoint the independent places in your heart, how would your words of truth sound to you?" Regarding my areas of weakness, I could easily have a response that says, "Easy for you to say, but you don't deal with my struggle day in and day out like I do." I'm in the same boat. Without an encounter with the living God, truth presented can be simply words.

Today I am meeting with one of these people again. I play out conversations in my head and I had a plan to ask them, "What are you doing to put yourself in a situation to win? How desperate are you to let go of unhealthy, comfortable patterns and to allow God to come in and transform you? Are you willing to go through the work it takes at any cost?" I'm thinking about these questions and asking them of myself now. I'm struggling in areas of money and relationships. I depend so heavily on these things. I haven't yet fully placed my dependedence on God in these places and it's weighing on me. My heart wants to do this. My mind is programed on a different course with what's familiar. But whether it be dependence on money, relationships, or alcohol or food...whatever the other trust-souce may be...dependence is nothing more than idolatry. Dependence on anything other than God is telling Him He's not able in that area of my life and I need a golden calf to make myself feel secure. I need to touch or see something physical in this weakness, rather than a God I can't touch or see.

This morning I am thinking about Psalm 63. David is running around in the wilderness of Judah. From day to day, Saul is pursuing to destroy his life and all he has to hang on is a promise that he will not die, but will rule all of Israel. His heart condition is matching his physical wilderness surroundings. He is desperate. He needs help. And this man who was able to kill the bear, the lion and giant has a choice - "I'm strong enough in my own power to kill this murderous king who's wreaking havoc in my life OR I can place my dependence on the One I love and can't see." David's choice?

Psalm 63:1            "O God, You are my God; earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water."

Psalm 63:8            "My soul clings to You; Your right hand upholds me."

I often think I'm so much stronger than I am. I think that I can handle it and that I don't need to bother God with this issue or that issue...I got this one. But I'm learning that part of God's character is that He desires to help us. He has all the answers and will lavish them upon us. My part, though, is to humble myself to dependence. To admit to my heart, my mind, my fears, my independent spirit that I can do nothing outside of Him...but with God ALL things are possible.

Holy Spirit, I am needy and weak. I cannot do anything without You. Please come today and break my independent heart that lives to do things my way and in my strength. Help me to accept Your way and to joyfully yield my will to You. Help me to remain Your child and to look to You as Father. Give me an obedient heart.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Road to Emmaus...

This past week at Redeemer we studied the story of the couple walking along Emmaus Road. For me, this story brought new revelation and hope to trust God to finish what He started, even when present circumstances seem bleak, chaotic or confusing. I'm so thankful for the way God encourages my heart and strengthens me to keep running the race He's set before me. 

Today while reading, I found some thoughts on this story by Winnie Banov that I think are interesting. I've included them below:

In Luke 24 we find two people on the road to Emmaus just days after Jesus had been crucified and buried. As they were walking, the resurrected Jesus showed up and said, "What is going on, guys? You look really sad." 

They were so disillusioned and confused. "Haven't you heard? You must be a stranger!" they replied. 

Jesus kept His poker face and said, "Tell Me what happened; fill Me in."

"We thought that Jesus was going to get us all out of the mess we were in." When they were finished telling their sad story, He began speaking and opened up the Word to them. They liked what they were hearing and asked Him to stay awhile longer. He agreed, and they sat down to eat together. All of a sudden, their scaly eyes were opened. Jesus revealed Himself and they now saw that it was the Resurrected One who was speaking with them all along. What a marvelous reunion! Then in the blink of an eye, Jesus disappeared. 

The "vanishing act" bothered me for quite some time. I asked, "Lord, why didn't You stay with them for a while and hang out? You labored with them all of that time. You were there, and they finally 'got it,' but then You disappeared. You didn't even hang out for dessert." 

Finally He helped me connect the dots. They were kept from recognizing Jesus on purpose - Jesus was teaching them a new form of communication. On their way back to Jerusalem, they were talking to each other and saying, "Were not our hearts burning within us? Were not our hearts burning when He was speaking to us?" He was teaching them to recognize the burning of the Word in their hearts, and His burning passion in their spirits. Since Jesus was no longer going to walk around with them in His earthly body, they had to start learning this new communication system right away. 

Pay attention to those burning passions and desires, for you have no idea the places that they will take you to. As you follow their lead, you will find yourself doing exactly what God has called you to do.

More Gratitude...

TODAY I AM THANKFUL BECAUSE...

*my life-story isn't finished yet and God has good things in store for me.

*God longs to partner with me and I've been able to ride along with Him the past few days to watch Him work in the lives of hurting people. 

*fall is almost here! Bring out the apple cider!

*I am not alone. 

*God woke me up this morning. His breath is in my lungs. 

*I'm alive and healthy.

*I have an eye appointment today and I get to order new glasses...accessory time!

*I get to spend 4-5 hours of uninterrupted time with my Jesus this afternoon. 

*of Isaiah 55:10-13.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Blue Sky Taco

 Today I was sun (Son) kissed! I spent my quiet time this afternoon at Maumee Bay State Park on Lake Erie. It was a BEAUTIFUL day...one I wish all of summer could be like. I don't often spend my quiet time outside because it's distracting to me. I want to look at everything and explore rather than stay focused on what God wants to say to me. Today was not this way. The moment I began my time alone with Him, it was like all of creation was joining in to honor Him and bring me His voice.

My time with Him began with thanksgiving and praise for the good things He is doing currently. Immediately I felt my heart fill with joy over His goodness...this in of itself is a miracle. I often waste so much time living in disappointment over things that haven't happened yet. It's a sin-weakness of mine that I've been asking God to change. Today I was taken off guard by how much joy I felt over His goodness, so much so, that it revealed to me that He is transforming my heart from misery to joy. The God who created all that I was looking at today is working in my little heart!

With that, I turned to the sky and yelled (I'm not a yeller so this was fun, too!), "Thank You for transforming me, Jesus!" Right then, I became fixated on the sky. I was noticing the different layers and shades of blue. I could see across Maumee Bay to where Monroe's beaches would be. The sky is so vast and big. Today it was so perfect and clear. Is this the kind of day it will be when the sky splits open and Jesus appears?

My mind stayed on Jesus' return. I don't think about this as often as I should. But now I am. I am so acquainted with having a relationship with Him that is veiled by this earth that I live on. I've seen glimpses of His eyes and His arms. I've heard whispers of His voice. A few weeks ago, Pastor John said he saw Jesus come up behind me during worship and put His hand on my head. I believe him, but I didn't physically feel Jesus' hand...only the effects of it. How will my life change when I can really see the fullness of His beauty? Today I became more hungry. Today I became a little bit more excited and little bit less afraid that I might still be living on earth when He returns. Can you imagine being His child, His Bride and living to see the day when the sky rolls back like a big blue taco to reveal heaven? Then, out of heaven here HE comes???! HE! The ONE that I'm devoting my life to. The ONE who greets me with a mercy kiss every morning my eyes are awakened! The ONE who is so beautiful that even the heavenly hosts in all their splendor can do nothing but fall down to worship Him! What if it's on a day like today...a cloudless, vast perfect sky? How will the sky be rolled back? Will Jesus just command it to? Or will the hand of the Father do it? Or those weird creepy creatures with the eyes all over their bodies...will they do it?

I often feel jealousy towards the disciples for getting to live with Jesus and walk with Him here on this earth. What it must have been to hear His voice expound on His own Scriptures! But today my jealousy waned. What if I get to be on the earth when Jesus returns for the Bride He's been groaning and interceding for? Wow...take that Peter! :)

Nothing will be right until He returns! Maranatha, Jesus!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Clear and Concise...

Worship is agreement with who God is. Intercession is agreement with what God promised to do. When we tell God who He is, our faith expands to believe what He will do.  ~IHOP


This is one of the most simplest definitions of worship and intercession...I like it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Craig Keener on Mary Magdalene at the empty tomb...

Today, in preparation for what God wants to do at Redeemer this Sunday, I've been studying John 20:1-10. It's the story where Mary Magdalene, upon finding the empty tomb, runs to tell the disciples that someone has stolen Jesus' body.

I love what Craig Keener has written about Mary in volume 2 of his John commentary and thought I'd share it:

The faithfulness of Mary Magdalene frames, hence unites, the first two paragraphs of the resurrection narrative (20:1-2, 11-18), emphasizing the important roles played by women in the narrative - whose behavior again shames the supposedly bolder men. Eastern Christianity later called Mary "isapostolos," "equal to the apostles." Some early medieval commentators found in women's initial resurrection announcement a reversal of Eve's role at the fall. As in the earliest tradition, Mary is the first to find the tomb empty and the first to see Jesus risen from the dead.

Mary comes to the tomb first (20:1), and because she remains at the tomb after the male disciples leave (20:10-11), she also receives the first resurrection appearance in 20:15-16.

That it was yet dark (20:1) could symbolize Mary coming from darkness to the light; but in contrast to Nicodemus, Mary appears so positively here that other explanations are more likely. Because the Synoptics mention on that it was early but John that it was "dark", John may play on his light-and-darkness symbolism in a different way; the light of the world was about to be revealed in its darkness. The darkness may indicate Mary's fear or may emphasize her devotion in coming as soon as possible after the Sabbath and the night that followed it. Other accounts show mourners coming at the moment of dawn to show their affection for someone they loved dearly. Thus, perhaps as the priests were eager to dispense with Jesus as "early" as possible (18:28), she is unable to sleep and eager to demonstrate her devotion as early as possible. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Gratitude...

TODAY I'M THANKFUL TO GOD BECAUSE...

*His promises to me are YES and AMEN.
*of the resurrection and that Jesus invites me to know Him in it.
*of the words, "IT IS FINISHED!"
*of the ministry that God has called me to.
*He's given me a heart of worship that is only increasing...not decreasing.
*the Holy Spirit who lives in me and leads me to all truth.
*my dishes are clean!
*He is my ever-present help in time of need.
*He never tires of my questions and curiosity.
*of my church family.
*all of my family are followers of Jesus.
*of the invention of cherry popsicles.
*my car is working and His provision of new brakes, tires and a gas cap!
*tomorrow I will wake up to new mercies.


What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Delight

Recently I was struck by a couple verses in Jeremiah. He says to the Lord in 15:16, "Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by Your name, O Lord, God of hosts."

I'm caught by his phrase "the delight of my heart." This is a heart that is singly focused. It is a heart that has one pursuit. This heart only has eyes for one thing. A heart that can say the words uttered from Jesus are the delight is contented heart. It's a heart that doesn't find sustenance in other things. Paul wrote to the Philippians that he learned the secret of how to be content in all things...whether in plenty or hunger, abundance or need. (vs 4:11-12). This is the kind of heart who finds its delight in God's words.

In the next chapter of Jeremiah, we find that God instructs Jeremiah to never have a wife or children. He's not to attend funerals, parties or weddings. Basically, his social life had no existence! He belonged to God and God alone...not only that, but he was called to give a message to Israel that wasn't the most popular sentiment of the time. Jeremiah lived a very lonely-earthly existence...yet I believe he lived a very full heavenly existence. He was captured by the One who called him and gave him a purpose and destiny. There were no other distractions or earthly crutches of false identity.

I want to know and experience how to have this heart of contentedness. It often feels like an overwhelming carrot dangling over my head that is just outside of reach. I have moments where I feel content and I experience that God is the delight of my heart. But I have way too many other moments where the opposite of this is true. How did Paul learn this secret? In contentedness there is peace and rest. It is void of striving. Contentedness involves trust. When I struggle with trusting God, I want to run to all other things/people for assurance and answers. Contentedness involves a yielded heart. Contentedness seeks first the Kingdom of heaven because it knows that all things will be added in time. Worry and fret do not co-exist with contentedness.

I'm hungry to find contentment in abundance or need, to say that the words of Jesus are the delight of my heart.

Fall Schedule for RMS...



 


Enrollment is still available for the 2010-2011 class.

Spiritual Formation
Tuesdays, 9:30 – 1
Instructor: John Piippo

Description: In order to be used by God as an agent of renewal and transformation one must themselves be in a continual place of personal renewal and transformation. This course will combine times of personal prayer, spiritual journaling, and teaching from biblical and historical resources on what it means to dwell in the presence of God and be renewed and transformed.

Worship I
Wed., Fri., 9:30 – 11
Instructor: Holly Benner

Description: True worship and adoration comes from intimacy with God. It is founded on the understanding of God's great love for you. Intimacy and Worship will focus on building and furthering that love relationship with Him while defining what a lifestyle of worship looks like. This class will include an in-depth look at Song of Solomon and Old & New Testament character studies.


Bible Study Methods

Thursdays, 9:30 – 1
Instructor: Josh Bentley

Description: This course will provide students with systematic methods of studying scripture. Through those methods students will also learn how to practically apply their understanding as they study different books of the Bible.



Kingdom of God I
Thursdays, 4:30 – 7:30
Instructor: Jim Collins

Description: The main teaching of Jesus was about the "Kingdom of God" or "Kingdom of heaven." This course will present the major interpretations of the meaning of the kingdom of God that Jesus proclaimed. Students will learn to understand the real Jesus from the perspective of God's kingdom message.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In Stillness of Soul...by Andrew Murray

Today I read a chapter out of Andrew Murray's book, "Abiding in Christ." He talks about quietness and stillness. I thought I'd include it below:

Andrew Murray: Abide In Christ
Chapter 18–IN STILLNESS OF SOUL
“In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.”– Isaiah 30:15

“Be silent to the Lord, and wait patiently for him.”– Ps.37:7

“Truly my soul is silent unto God.” Ps.62:1


THERE is a view of the Christian life that regards it as a sort of partnership, in which God and man have each to do their part. It admits that it is but little that man can do, and that little defiled with sin; still he must do his utmost–then only can he expect God to do His part. To those who think thus, it is extremely difficult to understand what Scripture means when it speaks of our being still and doing nothing, of our resting and waiting to see the salvation of God. It appears to them a perfect contradiction, when we speak of this quietness and ceasing from all effort as the secret of the highest activity of man and all his powers. And yet this is just what Scripture does teach. The explanation of the apparent mystery is to be found in this, that when God and man are spoken of as working together, there is nothing of the idea of a partnership between two partners who each contribute their share to a work. The relation is a very different one. The true idea is that of cooperation founded on subordination. As Jesus was entirely dependent on the Father for all His words and all His works, so the believer can do nothing of himself. What he can do of himself is altogether sinful. He must therefore cease entirely from his own doing, and wait for the working of God in him. As he ceases from self-effort, faith assures him that God does what He has undertaken, and works in him. And what God does is to renew, to sanctify, and waken all his energies to their highest power. So that just in proportion as he yields himself a truly passive instrument in the hand of God, will he be wielded of God as the active instrument of His almighty power. The soul in which the wondrous combination of perfect passivity with the highest activity is most completely realized, has the deepest experience of what the Christian life is.
 
Among the lessons to be learnt of those who are studying the blessed art of abiding in Christ, there is none more needful and more profitable than this one of stillness of soul. In it alone can we cultivate that teachableness of spirit, to which the Lord will reveal His secrets–that meekness to which He shows His ways. It is the spirit exhibited so beautifully in all the three Marys: In her whose only answer to the most wonderful revelation ever made to human being was, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to Thy word”; and of whom, as mysteries multiplied around her, it is written: “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” And in her who “sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word,” and who showed, in the anointing Him for His burial, how she had entered more deeply into the mystery of His death than even the beloved disciple. And in her, too, who sought her Lord in the house of the Pharisee, with tears that spake more than words. It is a soul silent unto God that is the best preparation for knowing Jesus, and for holding fast the blessings He bestows. It is when the soul is hushed in silent awe and worship before the Holy Presence that reveals itself within, that the still small voice of the blessed Spirit will be heard.

Therefore, beloved Christian, as often as you seek to understand better the blessed mystery of abiding in Christ, let this be your first thought (Ps.62:5, marg.): “My soul, only be silent unto God; for my expectation is from Him.” Do you in very deed hope to realize the wondrous union with the Heavenly Vine? Know that flesh and blood cannot reveal it unto you, but only the Father in heaven. “Cease from thine own wisdom.” You have but to bow in the confession of your own ignorance and impotence; the Father will delight to give you the teaching of the Holy Spirit. If but your ear be open, and your thoughts brought into subjection, and your heart prepared in silence to wait upon God, and to hear what He speaks, He will reveal to you His secrets. And one of the first secrets will be the deeper insight into the truth, that as you sink low before Him in nothingness and helplessness, in a silence and a stillness of soul that seeks to catch the faintest whisper of His love, teachings will come to you which you had never heard before for the rush and noise of your own thoughts and efforts. You shall learn how your great work is to listen, and hear, and believe what He promises; to watch and wait and see what He does; and then, in faith, and worship, and obedience, to yield yourself to His working who works in you mightily.

One would think that no message could be more beautiful or welcome than this, that we may rest and be quiet, and that our God will work for us and in us. And yet how far this is from being the case! And how slow many are to learn that quietness is blessedness, that quietness is strength, that quietness is the source of the highest activity–the secret of all true abiding in Christ! Let us try to learn it, and to watch against whatever interferes with it. The dangers that threaten the soul’s rest are not a few.

There is the dissipation of soul which comes from entering needlessly and too deeply into the interests of this world. Every one of us has his divine calling; and within the circle pointed out by God Himself, interest in our work and its surroundings is a duty. But even here the Christian needs to exercise watchfulness and sobriety. And still more do we need a holy temperance in regard to things not absolutely imposed upon us by God. If abiding in Christ really be our first aim, let us beware of all needless excitement. Let us watch even in lawful and necessary things against the wondrous power these have to keep the soul so occupied, that there remains but little power or zest for fellowship with God. Then there is the restlessness and worry that come of care and anxiety about earthly things; these eat away the life of trust, and keep the soul like a troubled sea. There the gentle whispers of the Holy Comforter cannot be heard.

No less hurtful is the spirit of fear and distrust in spiritual things; with its apprehensions and its efforts, it never comes really to hear what God has to say. Above all, there is the unrest that comes of seeking in our own way and in our own strength the spiritual blessing which comes alone from above. The heart occupied with its own plans and efforts for doing God’s will, and securing the blessing of abiding in Jesus, must fail continually. God’s work is hindered by our interference. He can do His work perfectly only when the soul ceases from its work. He will do His work mightily in the soul that honors Him by expecting Him to work both to will and to do.

And, last of all, even when the soul seeks truly to enter the way of faith, there is the impatience of the flesh, which forms its judgment of the life and progress of the soul not after the divine but the human standard. In dealing with all this, and so much more, blessed the man who learns the lesson of stillness, and fully accepts God’s word: “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.” Each time he listens to the word of the Father, or asks the Father to listen to his words, he dares not begin his Bible reading or prayer without first pausing and waiting, until the soul be hushed in the presence of the Eternal Majesty. Under a sense of the divine nearness, the soul, feeling how self is always ready to assert itself, and intrude even into the holiest of all with its thoughts and efforts, yields itself in a quiet act of self-surrender to the teaching and working of the divine Spirit. It is still and waits in holy silence, until all is calm and ready to receive the revelation of the divine will and presence. Its reading and prayer then indeed become a waiting on God with ear and heart opened and purged to receive fully only what He says.

“Abide in Christ!” Let no one think that he can do this if he has not daily his quiet time, his seasons of meditation and waiting on God. In these a habit of soul must be cultivated, in which the believer goes out into the world and its distractions, the peace of God, that passeth all understanding, keeping the heart and mind. It is in such a calm and restful soul that the life of faith can strike deep root, that the Holy Spirit can give His blessed teaching, that the Holy Father can accomplish His glorious work. May each one of us learn every day to say, “Truly my soul is silent unto God.” And may every feeling of the difficulty of attaining this only lead us simply to look and trust to Him whose presence makes even the storm a calm. Cultivate the quietness as a means to the abiding in Christ; expect the ever deepening quietness and calm of heaven in the soul as the fruit of abiding in Him.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Faith...

I don't have anything astounding to write. I have some things I'm pondering about faith that have given me an urge to get it out of my system. If you're reading this, welcome to my head and feel free to jump ship at any moment!

One of the things I'm begging God to do in my life is to make me a woman of faith. I want to be able to trust Him with great big things...my deepest desires, the impossible, secrets that I don't share. I find it's easier for me to believe for breakthrough of His presence in giant rooms filled with people, to meet their needs in supernatural ways. It's easy for me to believe for provision and direction in the ministry He's called me to. But...to trust Him to see my own individual life apart from any ministry or function, is where I feel weak. I want it to be said of me at the end of my life that I was a person who understood and lived "be still and know that I AM God."

The book of Hebrews is one of my favorite books of the Bible...probably because it feels like an Old Testament book that snuck into the New Testament. The Old Testament makes me happy! I like Hebrews because it takes everything great in the Old Testament and layers the higher truth of the new covenant through Jesus Christ on top of it. One verse that has been haunting me for quite some time is Hebrews 11:6 -

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. 

This verse is so intense! Without faith...I cannot please God. His pleasure is the pursuit. To hear Him say, "well done good and faithful servant" or "this is My daughter, in whom I'm well pleased" is beyond music to my ears. But without faith this isn't attained...if I take this verse literally. If faith is something that is a struggle in life, than there is good reason why this verse is scary. Not only can I not please Him without it, but the final phrase, "He rewards those who seek Him," is also linked into faith. So, if I'm struggling to believe He'll breakthrough and reward me with the things I'm seeking Him for, than it's a double whammy because on top of that I'm not pleasing Him! AUGHGH!

I've been spending time reading the miracle stories of Jesus in the gospels. They make me curious. Stories of desperate people in desperate situations who moved the heart of the Messiah. Interestingly, many of them received healing, freedom from demonic oppression or breakthrough and either confessed they had little to no faith OR they weren't a disciple of Jesus before their encounter. Jesus met their needs and desires, not based on faith, but based on His love and compassion for them. Today in conversation with a friend, I finally understood something. Faith pleases God, it's true. But faith does not empower God to move. This has to be true because if faith was what empowered Him to move, it would be by our efforts and works that would bring about breakthrough...which is the complete opposite of faith. Faith is empty of works and effort.

Faith brings gladness to His heart. He loves when we trust His goodness. He loves when we depend on His ability and storehouse, rather than our own resources. Faith pleases Him because it's relationship. But, God doesn't rely on the strength of my faith to drive His love and compassion for my life.

 I don't think anything I'm writing here is that brilliant or filled with astounding wisdom. Sometimes I just have to get my musings down on a page to complete my thoughts and understanding.  I don't want to have faith to manipulate Him into moving or to bring about as the final product fulfillment of my desires. I want to have faith because it's His desire and it brings Him pleasure. 

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Want to Know Him - another Bob Sorge excerpt

For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses - as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 
                 ~Hebrews 3:3

The first motivation of my heart is that I want to be with Him. And the reason I want to be with Him is this: I want to know Him! This is the second great motivation that I want to energize all that I do. I want to know Him "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).

This is the passion that fills the breast of the saint who has been quickened to the beauty of Christ's face. Above all else, he longs desperately to know more of Christ.

Hebrews 3:3 says the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. Speaking of Christ, the writer is saying that the Creator of the universe has more honor than the universe itself. Jesus is more honorable, more glorious, more incredible than the universe He created! So take your pick of the created order - want to tour a far-off galaxy? Interested in exploring a supernova? As splendiferous as that may be, exploring the face of Jesus is even more exciting!

Motivation

If you're serving because you want to see souls saved, you'll probably get discouraged and quit. If, however, your motivation is to be with Jesus, then you'll never grow weary of reaching out to human needs. You'll be energized by the joy of fellowship with the Lord Jesus in the midst of the harvest field.
 ~Bob Sorge

Monday, July 12, 2010

the Father's heart...

The past few weeks at Redeemer we have been continuing our Jesus study by focusing on the crucifixion passages. Bob Sorge, author and former worship leader at IHOP, says that in order to mover further into the love of God you must become an obsessed scholar of the cross. If you want to understand what true love is, look at Jesus on the cross. It displays the love of the Son. It displays the love of the Father. It displays the love of the Holy Spirit.

Lately I've been wondering a lot about the Father's view of the cross. I find it's true of my life that I remember events often in comparison to the emotions that tied into those events. I have many memories of differing situations involving emotions of joy, delight, surprise, excitement. I also have memories of events tied to grief, sorrow, anger and disappointment. As memories arise I find that the emotions linked to those memories are often felt all over again. How is it with the Father every time He thinks about the cross?

Jesus is so clear that His mission here on earth was to only do what He saw the Father doing and to only say what He heard the Father speak. His final words here on earth were, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." Even in death, Jesus was submitted to the will of His Father. What kind of delight and pleasure does the Father take in the Son? How intense is His love for Jesus? What emotions well up within His heart over the Messiah? God the Father will never forget the cross. Even eternity will not be able to wipe that event away from His memory. How often does the Father ponder the cross? What was He thinking during those 3 days as He watched His Son being mocked, tortured and murdered? How intense were His emotions?

I know that the event of the cross was orchestrated so that we faulty humans could gain the wondrous relationship with God. My life is set on the course to understand this grace and love more. But even in that, I can be so self-centered to believe it's only about me...that Jesus only had me on His mind; that the Father only was paying attention to...ME! Yet, lately I'm wondering if, regardless of the Father's omniscient knowledge of what the cross would accomplish, He was more grieved and devastated in the moment of Jesus' death than I could ever understand? To watch His precious Son so willingly obey His every heart's whim, even unto death...what does that do to a Father's heart?

As I've been asking these questions, the extent of the Father's sacrifice and love for me is beginning to sink in. May it continue to sink in deeper and deeper still.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

CREATED TO WORSHIP CD is here...

My first CD, Created to Worship, arrives today! 

What an adventure and learning experience this has been! So many people have served and given much effort and support for this project and I thank God for them. 

The CD's can be purchased at Redeemer Fellowship Church (734-242-5277) or through the following link:

www.digstation.com/HollyBenner



It will be available on iTunes in a few weeks. 

My heart was to do a live CD at my home church of Redeemer in Monroe, Michigan. God has poured out His great favor in our church in regards to worship. Our people LOVE to worship and have great heart's of honor and excitement over God's presence. I praise God that this is the culture I've grown up in. I wanted our worship experience to be captured for others to hear. My prayer is that this CD will be tool for other worship leaders and that as people listen, they will be caught up into the love and presence of God. Blessings!



Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Good things are coming...

The next month for me is going to be filled with incredible God-moments! I have high anticipation...but before I say what's happening, here's a warm-up testimony!

A few weeks ago I lost a ring that is really special and significant to me. I never take it off, except for when I'm doing dishes. I've been really bummed about it and asking God to help me find it. It was no where in my house! Yesterday, I pulled a load of laundry out of the washer and there it sat! I'm convinced God put it there because how else would it travel from the window ledge in my kitchen down to my basement? This particular ring is a constant reminder of His love for me and my love for Him. It matters to me. So, it must matter to Him! I'm thankful...

So...about this next month...

This week at Redeemer we have a team from Bethel Church out of Redding, California coming. They are being led by Chris Overstreet. The conference is called Bethel School of Supernatural Evangelism. It will run Wednesday-Saturday of this week. This group of people are so great and we love hosting them! I get to lead worship at this conference and it's so fun! The atmosphere is very thick with joy and excitement over what God will do...a worship leader's dream! It is a sanctuary filled with hungry children for more of their Father.

The following week at Redeemer (June 4th-5th) we will be doing a live worship recording for my CD that's coming out. Anyone is invited to attend. This is something God has totally brought about. His goodness and favor are overwhelming. The worship nights will be Friday at 7:00 and Saturday at 6:00. My heart is not so much about capturing good music. I'm more excited about capturing a God encounter so that years from now I can listen to it and say, "Remember what God did that night? Remember how that person was set free from ___________? Remember how that person experienced the love of God for the first time?" That excites me!

Two weeks after that our worship team travels to Green Lake, Wisconsin for the annual Holy Spirit Renewal Ministries conference. This year Randy Clark is the main speaker. God's favor and presence over this man's life and ministry is incredible. To check out his ministry, click here. I can't wait to see what God does and to simply have that week set aside to be with Him. Life has been so busy the past few months and even though leading worship at this conference is a lot of hard work, it brings rest to my heart. 

I've gone through seasons where it seems that God is silent or distant. These seasons are where I find I grow the most...but I hate them! :) I'm thankful for the days ahead. I'm thankful for His voice. I'm thankful that I can see Him moving. I'm thankful that I can trust His goodness...and that soon, very soon, fulfillment of promises are coming. Taste and see that the Lord is good!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

PSALM 103

For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers we are dust.        ~Psalm 103:11-14

This first picture is the view from Panera Bread in Monroe. Today in my quiet time I've been spending time in Psalm 103 and when I read verse 11, I took a minute and looked up into the sky to try to gain a perspective on how far God has removed my sin from me. As I did that, I began to feel a release from things I've been carrying recently. It often feels like my sin and my failures live right up in my face. I can't get away from the things I struggle with. When I read verses like these, however, I come back to true reality that Jesus has set me free from the torment of sin and death and that I am free to move and breathe. I am free to have joy and peace. I am free to accept His forgiveness and forgive others...BECAUSE...as high as the heavens are above the earth, that is how great His love is towards me! Anyone ready for a glory run???

(ps - the rest of these pictures are taken from the Hubble Telescope. These images catch God in  His creativity just showing off! As you look through them, think about how vastly far away He has removed your sin from you. If you haven't made the decision to follow after this loving God, then hear and receive this truth that forgiveness is offered to you, too!)
 
 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

He is the I AM...not the I WAS or I WILL BE

My title of this post has been stolen from John Piippo out of his blogpost called "The Sacrament of the Present Moment." You can read his post here: 


His post has me thinking much on how "present" God is. He is present, as in near and He is present, as in time...like past or future. I spend so much effort on waiting for God to come. My thoughts are propelled forward that He will come through SOON. I'm in waiting mode. This may be a season for me right now. I am waiting for Him to bring about certain things in my life. But, I find myself getting so caught up in the waiting that I forget He desires to be with me right now...and right now...and again...now. He has peace to bring in this very moment. He has righteousness to dress me in at this precise time. He wants to hear my voice tomorrow, but how much more fun for Him if I talk to Him right now. 

I don't mean to do this, but I find myself often waiting to talk to God until I can put my best foot forward. Without being aware of it, I wait until I only have "pretty" things to bring to Him. I'm realizing more and more that He isn't concerned with my condition when I come to Him. He's concerned about whether I will come. He wants...me and all that comes with that package. He wants my goodness and my funk. He wants my joy, my righteousness. He wants my fears and my anger, frustration and confusion. He wants my submission and my stubbornness. He wants my wisdom and my ignorance. He wants...me. I can't pretty my heart up and put a bow on it and think that I can present myself to Him any more wonderful than what He already thinks. 

Today, I was reading a quote about prayer and relationship with God, and the person had this to say:

Do you remember Moses at the burning bush? God had to tell him to take off his shoes - he didn't know it was holy ground. And if we can just come to see that right where we are is holy ground - in our jobs and homes, with our co-workers and friends and families. This is where we learn to pray. 

I love this! Moses was the Old Testament deliverer! He saw things of God that in my wildest dreams I'm hungry to experience. He was a super-giant...and yet, God had to inform him he was standing on holy ground. Moses, the super-giant, was naive and blind just as I, in my human state, am naive and blind to many things of God. This brings such hope and freedom to my heart! God will use anyone yielded and hungry for Him. He will even use someone like...me. He is the NOW God. He wants to be in all things...this moment...and now this moment. He's ready to talk now. He's ready to move now. Every moment of our lives can be holy ground because He is invited into it. His desire is for me...and for you. 

This makes me hungry for Him, which is a great place to be. 
  

Friday, May 7, 2010

FIG LEAVES...

Any barrier I create to hide my true condition from God's all-seeing, all-loving eye. I have many. I have leaves of shame, leaves of denial, leaves of fear. I have leaves of false holiness - if I can convince myself I am holy enough, maybe God can be fooled, too. The layers of leaves grow thicker and thicker, covering up all freedom and vulnerability. What am I afraid of?

What childishness to live my life saying to Omniscient God, "If I can't see You, You can't see me!" He knows ALL of me...every part. Intimately. Passionately. Lovingly. He sees every vile thought, every vile act. He sees when I try to cover my sin with righteousness and striving. I have defiled this temple I work so hard to cover. He knows...and still...He desires without repulsion. 
                                                  He calls me. 
                                                  He woos me.
                                                  He haunts me.
                                                  He washes me
           and one by painful one, He removes them. Cheap leaf after cheap leaf. Lie after lie. False identity after false identity. Until...there I stand before His perfect beauty, naked and bare, real and raw. Just as I am before Him as He is. I wait for the grimace. I wait for the disappointed gaze or for His very face to turn away at the sight of my true condition. 
                               What is He thinking when He sees me?
                                       Wounds, scars, imperfections...are these where His eyes fall?

NO.

My Forgiver, my Beloved says, "Behold, you are beautiful, my love; behold you are beautiful. Your eyes are doves. You have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes. You are altogether beautiful, my love, my fair one. There is no flaw in you." 

He sees. He knows...and still...He desires without repulsion. Let beauty arise, and fig leaves fall.