Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lessons from a Leper...

    Last month I took some time to read through the gospels.  Now when I read them, I didn't take the time to study what I was reading, nor did I really go searching for a deeper meaning in the context.  I just wanted a clearer idea of who Jesus was, so I read the stories of his life on this earth....and that was that....or so I thought.
  Over the past few weeks though I've been noticing a theme in my life, a theme that I realize now comes from the time I spent reading the gospels.  You see, there is a story in them (you can find it in Luke 17) about a time when Jesus healed these ten lepers.  Basically the synopsis of the story is that Jesus is traveling on his way to Jerusalem and as he reaches the boarder between the towns of Galilee and Samaria these ten guys who have leprosy (a disease that forced them to live outside of the community because of their "unclean" state) cry out to Him asking for healing.  Jesus tells them to go show themselves to priest (which they needed to do by law in order to be declared "clean" and welcomed back into society) and on their way to the priest they are healed (talk about "Stepping" out in faith!).  Yet only one leper returns to thank Jesus for his healing...the one who was a Samaritan (basically the biggest "outsider" of all these ten unclean "outsiders").   The story ends with Jesus saying, "Didn't I heal ten men?  Where are the other nine?  Has no one returned to give glory to God but this foreigner?".  It's this story has changed my life!
  You see, I use to be the girl who could go days without thanking God for anything.  I would go about my day and some how forget that the very fact that I have air in my lungs and the ability to move is a gift from God.  But lately I've been taking the time to thank God for  His work in my life.  Whether it's getting on my knees after a long day of work and just thanking God for the strength and energy to make it through another eight hours during this crazy retail season, or praising Him for an answer to prayer that I've been crying out to Him about.  No matter what it is, I realize I don't want to forget to give God the glory due his name!  I refuse to be like nine of those ten lepers who cried out to God, received their healing, and left Jesus standing there saying, "Has no one returned to give glory to God"!  So in good times, in bad, when things go how I expect and when things seem like chaos, no matter the situation, I will give all glory to God....because in the end, just like He did with those ten lepers, Jesus has changed my life!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

God is God and I am not....the 2011 version...

 Woody Allen once said, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans”.  It’s kind of funny when you think about it.  Here we are, mere humans, coming to God telling Him what we are going to do, as if the very act of being able to think of such plans wasn’t His very own design formed in us!  Yet we so easily come before Him acting as if we are God, having any right telling Him what to do or how to move.   I often wonder if God’s just looking down from heaven, chuckling, with a little smirk on his face and a tiny shake of his head, while He watches us try to call the shots. 
  I know in this moment I kind of find myself in that place…chuckling at my own foolishness in thinking that I know anything about being God.  I sit here, just days after laying down my first payment for a mission’s trip I plan to go on this summer, thinking how ironic it is that earlier this year I was swearing to God that I was not going to step out in faith beyond a certain point anymore.  I thought I understood myself…I thought I understood my faith in God….…I guess I really just thought that I could be God and control my life!  Turns out…He’s still God….and on the throne!
  You see, months and months ago when I told God what he could and couldn’t do in my life.  I was talking out of fear and a sense of failure.  I had made up my mind that it wasn’t worth it to step out in faith… was better to play it safe….live comfortable.  I was willing to sacrifice abundant life for the sake of being comfortable and to save face.   Then somewhere along the line, God brought me to my knees in total surrender once again.  Then He did what only God can do and took my broken pieces, brought healing to those places, and sowed me up stronger and tougher than I was before.  He gave me the ability to dream again….the desire to turn to Him more completely…and the faith to once again step out beyond my comfort zone!  God can certainly do the impossible…and I can’t help but be grateful that he’s done it in me!  Thank you God that you are God and I am not!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday morning Struggles...

  This morning I struggled so much to get my butt to church....and then proceeded to slip in and slip out as quickly and unnoticed as possible.  Sadly, it's not the first time I've done this....nor will it be the last, I'm guessing.  Through out this year I've struggled a lot with the idea of church.  On the one hand I see the value in meeting together with other come together  to praise God and build each other up and learn more about Him from His word.  And I know that when I go weeks without stepping foot into a church, my faith begins to stagger and my relationship with God begins to suffer.  But..sometimes....its just awkward for me to actually GO to church.  Honestly, I feel so much more comfortable sitting in a coffee shop with some friends pouring over scripture and talking about God...than I feel during the hour and half I spend seated with the congregation at church on a typical Sunday morning.  But I also believe that the church is the Bride of Christ, His beloved...and in that sense I would never give up on her!  So even though I have mornings where I'm sitting in service contemplating different exit strategies and crafty ways to avoid the uncomfortableness of the crowd....I'll keep going...and trust that in doing so, God is honored.  But I have to I alone in this struggle?!?!  Has anyone else ever felt this way too?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Ah-ha Moments at the Gym....

Tonight I had a moment at the gym.  The kind of moment I haven’t had in years….but also the kind of moment I have been longing for.  I had spent a good hour and a half pushing myself…Hard…Harder than I have in a long while, and was walking over to get a towel to wipe down the my equipment, when I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  Now normally I try to avoid the mirrors at the gym at all cost.  I already feel pretty self-conscious there….surrounded by all the skinny people….that the last thing I want is to be reminded of my puffy, red-faced, huffing and puffing self!  Yet tonight, something happened when I looked in that mirror…’s like my eyes connected with the eyes of my reflection and I was able to see deep down inside of myself….and what I saw….was a fighter!
  Over the past several years I have felt pretty bad about myself.  I’ve had moments where I’ve been able to convince myself that I can do it….but ultimately I’d relent to the fact that I’m pretty much a failure.  I have tried so hard to become who I once was, that I’ve pretty much been frustrated over and over again with the reality that I just don’t believe in myself anymore.
  But tonight….tonight when I looked in that mirror…. I saw the girl who lost 130lbs….the girl who can run for hours without stopping…the girl who faced her fears and jumped out of a plane! It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her…and tonight I found that girl inside of myself again!  I don’t know why that switch flipped in me or why it happened tonight, or why it happened at such a strange moment!  But tonight I saw the fighter in me awaken and the competitor in me rise up!  I’m not doing this to prove anything to anyone….to get anyone to notice me…..or even to win some sort of prize.  I’m taking my life back again…and tonight I realized once again I have the power to do just that!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Women of Faith 2011...

  This past weekend I had the privilege to attend the Women of Faith Conference in Hartford Connecticut.  Now for me, a lot of times these types of conferences tend to be a time where I am just reminded of God’s love for me.  You see, it seems no matter how hard I try not to, life always has a way of clouding that issue for me and I forget that God calls me His beloved.  So heading into this weekend, I pretty much had the expectation that this is what would happen, even though for the past several months I’ve had no doubts about this truth.
  Well as the weekend drew closer, I felt a strange excitement welling up in me.  It was as if I knew there was something I needed to hear and God was going to speak it to me during this conference.  There were so many obstacles in just getting to the “bus stop” for the conference (from ticket issues, to lost keys, to not being able to find my favorite shirt...hee hee), that there was definitely a part of me that felt like that only confirmed that God really did have something for me, and the devil really was trying to keep me from hearing it (a thought that I don’t normally really turn to, but seemed pretty appropriate this time around).
  Friday morning, we arrived in the arena and found our seats and I put on my tiara (something our group leader decided we all should wear so that we could identify all the ladies in our large group… and as a symbol of the fact that we are “daughters of the king”).  To be honest, I didn’t want to wear it.  I felt like people might look at me and think “Who does she think she is?!?! “.  My insecurities about the whole thing actually only solidified for me my belief that obviously God was going to speak to me about the fact that I am his “Beautiful Beloved”.  As the speakers began, I listened so intently, jotting down notes here and there, hoping not to miss what God was going to speak.  And as the afternoon passed into evening, and then the night ended, I felt this strange sense that God had done what He needed to do, but since it wasn’t where I had expected, I had no idea what it was.
   Saturday morning, I woke up and as we headed back to the arena I honestly wasn’t expecting anything else from God.  I felt like He had done His work and even though I couldn’t put my finger on what it was, I was satisfied with it.  All day I listened to these very touching stories that just seemed to only confirm in me the belief that God truly is for us.  And I went home celebrating in the knowledge that I am God’s and He is mine. 
  That night before bed, I quickly read through my notes  and saw something that I had jotted down that don’t even remember hearing anyone say that first day.  On the top of the page, in big bold letters, under the heading of Dr. Henry Cloud, I had written….”You weren’t designed to be your own source”!  Now if any of you have been following my blog over the past several weeks and months, you know that God has been speaking to me a lot about surrender and giving Him all control.  I don’t like to trust other people, to hand over the reins.  I want to be in control so I can make sure that things go as I need them to in order to get what I think I need (as if I really have that kind of power)!  For me, this statement was a big, glaring, Ah-ha!  A light shining in the place of heart that says I have to get it all together, do it all right, make things happen, put on the show, take care of it all!  Here was God saying to me….I AM your source…..I AM your EVERYTHING. 
  I can’t really explain it….I almost hate moments like this for that reason…Moments that feel so profound but yet don’t come with the words that allow me to truly express what it means in my heart to anyone else!  The best way I can try to explain it is that it was like a momentous sigh of relief….a release….like a load was lifted off my shoulders (moments like this make me understand why the writers in the bible always use similarities to describe Jesus, God, the Spirit, Heaven).  I didn’t need to hear that God loves me, that He sees me, and that I’m His Beloved.  I already knew that!  What I needed was to KNOW He is my center, my rock, my strong tower….and I am anchored to Him forever! 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I See Sweaty People....

  This past weekend I transferred my Gym membership to a location closer to my house.  I had been using the excuse that it's a 15 minute drive to the gym as a perfectly good reason not to go for months...I mean it's simple math...if I worked till six, came home to eat (cause by then I'm starving), rested my belly, and then went, I would be getting home around 10pm and would still need time to wind down before falling if I wanted to go in the morning I would need to wake up at like 5am to get all the things done I need to do in the morning...and well for me that's like the middle of the night.  So like I said, I transferred my membership to a closer location...and well a 7 minute drive from door to door, really eliminates any excuses I have.
  However, all week I've been struggling with something that I've never really struggled with before at the gym.  I find at this new location I'm so self conscious!  I don't know what it is.  The people are nice, and I keep to myself for the most part anyway, but I feel like everyone is looking at me....staring at me....wondering what I am doing there!   I honestly think I am less self conscious in my bathing suit at the beach than I am in my sweats at the gym!  It's weird!  But if I were honest, I think it springs from the fact that I'm not skinny anymore.
  People always tell me that nobody is really paying attention to anyone else at the gym.  And I guess I always believed that because when I started going to the gym I was skinny and I never really had a reason to focus on anyone else who was there. But now all of sudden, I'm noticing people.  I noticed the older women who was watching Archie bunker while strolling on the treadmill, I noticed the Mexican gentleman huffing and puffing on the elliptical, I noticed my old cafe manager using the weights......I'm paying attention to people....which makes me worry ...are people noticing me too?!?!  And if they are what are they thinking!
  What is my problem?  And how do I get over it?  I'm sick of all my excuses!  I just want to get back in shape....and since winter is here, this is how I have to do it!  Am I the only one that feels like this at the gym though?  Please tell me I'm not alone!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

"Am I Not Big Enough".....

  Have you ever had an argument with God?  I know it sounds funny, but it seems that a large portion of my relationship with Him has been based on these mini arguments we have where I know he’s God and yet I try to convince Him I know better than Him!  It’s kind of silly when you think about it.  I mean He’s God….He created me….Do I really think that I can outwit him?  Sometimes I wonder if He’s just sitting up in heaven giggling to Himself has I march into His office with my well thought out pro/con list that is sure to convince Him that He’s wrong and I am right!  Boy do I have a lot to learn….
  Usually when I am having such an argument with God, all my reasoning’s are self-centered.  God will speak something to me and immediately my mind starts racing….is this God?  How do I know it’s God?  Well if it is God how will I get people to see that?  How will I make this work out?  How can I be sure I’m not about to make a huge idiot of myself?  I…I…I…Me…Me…Me…
  Well the other night I was sitting in my room, listening to some worship music and praying to God …aka thanking Him for making a way where there seems to be no way, all the while admitting my fears of the millions of other obstacles that seem to be standing in the way of where I feel He’s leading me….when God delivered the knockout punch to my argument.  Here I was offering my self-centered complaints about all I can’t do…as if I am in control….and God simply whispered…. “Am I not big enough”?
  Right then…Right there I repented, and cried, and tapped into all levels of girliness before my God, as I realized that true surrender means trusting Him to make the way!  Over and over and over again God has been speaking to me about the freedom, and the peace, and the joy, and the life that comes from giving all control over to Him and allowing Him full reign in my life, and here I am acting as if I have to hold everything together cause I am the one who can truly bring anything to pass!
  I am not God….and cannot do anything without Him….therefore if God calls me to something then it must be by His power that I walk out in it.  It’s kind of strange to think about, but it’s moments like these where I get what Paul meant when he talked about freedom in Christ…..that it’s in surrendering to HIM that we find it!  Like I said, I have a lot to learn, but I’m finding the more I trust in Him, the more lessons He brings me through and for that I am truly thankful (all Glory to God)!

Friday, October 21, 2011

"Revolution in World Missions"...

K.P Yohannan is the founder and international director of Gospel of Asia.  He is also the author of the book “Revolution in World Missions: One man’s journey to Change a Generation”, of which I finished reading this afternoon.  His story is amazing and his message inspired by God.  Here’s a man who as a child was a complete introvert, now leading nations to Christ through his ministry.  If that’s not God I don’t know what is.
  Throughout this book Yohannan shares the story of his life and with each turn of the page you begin to hear more fully the heart beat of God beating through his words.  Born in India, the youngest of six sons to a mother who constantly prayed and fasted that one of her boys would go into the ministry, Yohannan was the least likely choice and God’s number one candidate.  He gave his life to the lord at age 16 and spent the next 8 years serving with Operation Mobilization, a breeding ground for the vision God was placing in his heart.  He went to Bible College in the United States, married his wife (from Germany) and even began pastoring.  Then, knowing the call of God on his life, he gave away all he owned and resigned from his position in order to give his full attention to the spread of the Gospel in Asia.  Interestingly enough, it wasn’t by returning to his Homeland that God used him.  Instead, he began to speak up for his national brothers in Christ who were already over in Asia and raising money to support them in the spread of the gospel.  Thus was the creation of Gospel for Asia.
  Yohannan’s challenge is this….World Missions has changed and it’s our responsibility to get on board with what God is now doing.  He talks about so much of western missions has become nothing more than social work….that we have forgotten that “the only weapon that will ever effectively win the war against disease, hunger, injustice and poverty is the Gospel of Jesus Christ” and that “fighting this powerful enemy with physical weapons is like fighting an armored tank with stones”.  Not that he is against feeding the pour, visiting the orphan, caring for the sick, etc., in fact he sees these has the call of God in the Gospels, but in his challenge is the desire for people to open their eyes and see that “meeting these needs is a means to share the love of Christ so that the people might be saved for eternity”.  We are suppose to go into all nations making disciples of Jesus, not just putting band-aids on wounds! 
  The other half of Yohanna’s challenge is to realize that our western ways do not work overseas.  In fact many countries are now closed up to the Westernized world and therefore our response now, in order to reach the ends of the earth for Jesus, is to sow into the ministry God is already doing through the national missionaries that He has already raised up in these countries!  American’s spend so much money on things we don’t need.  In every town there are HUGE churches, Christians living in excess, and thousands upon thousands of dollars being held onto “just in case”.  Our job is to step up to the challenge and seek God as to how we can support these ministers of the gospel who risk everything (and I mean everything) to carry God’s message to the people we can no longer reach!
  I can’t even begin to do justice to the stories that are shared in this book, in my little review.  I am not even successfully able to communicate what these words have spoken to my heart in the past week.  But I encourage each of you to READ this book (you can even download a free MP3 version of the book or send away for a free copy of it at and let God challenge you through these words!  Amen!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Starving Jesus: Off the Pew, Into the World"...

  Every once in a while I have these grand moments of clarity where everything just seems to make sense and I realize that life just isn’t about me.  It’s like for that all too brief and fleeting moment I get what the writer of Ecclesiastes was saying when he penned “Meaningless Meaningless everything is meaningless” and I understand that in light of eternity the only things that really matter are the things I’ve done for God.  I guess that’s why I resonate so much with books like “Starving Jesus” by Craig Gross and JR Mahon (which I completed reading today).  Books like theirs remind me that my faith isn’t just something I talk about; it must be something I live….day in and day out….and ultimately what matters most in life is not if people like me, if I’m comfortable, if life is good for me, but rather if I gave my life…my all…for the one who gave His all for me.
  Craig and JR start a conversation in their book about the fact that the church has lost its fire…it’s full out commitment to Christ. They talk about how we are more concerned with what people think about us and the idea of offending anyone, than we are with the heart of God.   In their words…. “The church has lost its outrageous edge.  Period…  Today, outreach is safe, with nicely contained events controlled by the politically correct.  We have become a church chained to itself”!  Ouch!
  Their book is a challenge…a challenge for the church to get off their butts and start being the hands and feet of God!  They talk about how God has called us love one another, to care for the poor, to visit the sick, to feed the hungry…and that in doing so we are being the “body” of Christ.  Yet too often we sit around debating  motives, talking about how faith isn’t social service, waiting for the right moment….all the while starving “Jesus” who is out there in our neighborhoods, our work places, our lives waiting for us to show them the WAY!
  I would like to say that my life is a great example of Jesus.  That my relationship with God and my ability to walk out all that He has called me to is not hindered by anything….but that’s simply not true.  I let so many things stand in the way of the life I know I could have with God.  I let worries about what people will think of me and how things will work out hinder me.  I let fears about not being smart enough or trained enough get in the way.  I starve Jesus by making life about me…..when it truly should be all about HIM!
  But what I am learning as I continue to seek God and surrender myself to all that He is, is that God doesn’t need my great abilities, my perfect leadership, my well thought out plans….He needs my heart and my willingness to say “Yes” to Him no matter where it may lead.  God doesn’t need us…He chooses to use us and “when you act out your faith….it produces fruit that you can touch, eat and share.  From nothing stems something…this is how God gets it done”.  This is the kingdom…and this is how God can take what is so “meaningless” and turns it into abundant life!