Sunday, December 31, 2006

When God Sneaks Up On You

Hallooooooooooo all!

Yup, I'm back! I've been going through some change, as I've mentioned in earlier posts, but praise the Lord, He's been working things out for me.

So December 31, 2006 was our church's final day under the name of "Empower". Now, we are officially known as "Family Life Christian Center". Everything is the same, we just have a different name. There is a story behind the name change (one I might tell, should the time arise), but I won't bore you with the details right now. I've already changed the link, so it goes directly to the new website. The site is under construction, but it's looking great, and I can't wait to see the final product!

This is a post I've been working on for a little while now. There were a lot of thoughts that I knew I wanted to express, but I could tell I needed to be more focused in my delivery. Praise the Lord, I have a Divine Editor!

1 John 4:10 This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

I'm just going to dive right in. God loved you first. Before you ever thought of Him, He loved you. While you were still completely engrossed in other things, God was thinking about you. He came for you before you even realized you needed help!

Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I love the Message's version of Romans 5:8: "But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him." Haha!! How's that for crazy?? We had absolutely nothing to offer Him and yet, He sent His ONLY Son to die for us!

Isaiah 65:1 "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, 'Here am I, here am I.'

I remember the day that I finally understood what these verses meant. Let me tell you something, if you haven't yet read these verses and cried your eyes out, you haven't understood them. Before you showed any interest whatsoever in God, He LOVED you with an undying devotion! He claimed you as His child and reached for you!

I was lost once. I wandered off and got lost. The world became dark and I tried to make my own light with my own strength. I trusted in myself to pull myself out of the things I had gotten into, but everything just kept getting darker and darker. Depression and desperation were my daily companions. I kept hiding behind a chipper smile and my "never give up because I am SUPERWOMAN" attitude, but on the inside, I was broken. I felt worthless, unloved, cheated, lonely, abused, overlooked and unmissed. I kept telling myself that I was strong enough to dig my way out and find the light again, but it was all lies. It was ALL lies.

I would tell myself that I was strong enough to take care of my own problems. I didn't need help. I was being strong for my family. I would FORCE my circumstances to change, because I was superwoman. What a bunch of baloney!!

Understand something: if you are telling yourself that you are strong enough to take care of yourself, you are deceiving yourself. Stop that train of thought now, because it's that thought process that kept me in bondage for SO LONG.

Yes, you can muddle along and perhaps keep a certain standard of living on your own, but you won't ever be able to fill the yawning void on the inside of you! It's living on food stamps and welfare when a billion dollars has been set aside for you! It's fighting off a strong attacker and just managing to keep him from killing you, when you have a guy with a black belt in tae kwon do standing over to the side waiting for the word from you to attack!

Let me tell you about my breaking point. I was in my bedroom, lying on the floor, looking up at the ceiling. It was night time, and very dark out, but that darkness was nothing compared to the blackness that had swallowed me. I rested at the bottom of this thick shadow, just listening to my breathing. Something had happened that day that had upset me so much that I had gone upstairs and wept. They weren't the proper kind of tears though. They were angry tears, tears of supressed rage. I was aware of the fact that I was so angry and bitter, I could feel the effects in my bones. My arms and legs felt so odd; like they were heavier and heated some how. This heavy grief was resting ontop of my chest and I realized that, though I still thought I could exist in this hell on my own, I would be doing just that. Existing. I couldn't dispell or eradicate the thing that was sitting on me.

In my grief and rage, I finally went to God. I didn't try to hide my condition. I didn't know how to address Him properly, I just screamed out to Him. I guess, partially, I blamed Him and accused Him, but really I was calling for His intervention. I knew I didn't want the sickness and brokeness anymore. I wanted Him to save me.

Let me tell you! He came to me! He quieted my heart and stilled my accusations. The work wasn't instantaneously completed right there, but over the next couple weeks, He worked me over. He opened my heart, washed me off, applied salve, and bandaged my wounds. The more I reached for Him, the more He supported and healed me. The peace came, the direction came, the provision came. He broke through that darkness and ultimately tore it to shreds!

I don't rely on my strength anymore. I am less than a weakling compared to Him; besides it's fun riding around on His shoulders, watching Him annihilate anything that attacks me. I like the veiw! It's like killing ants with an atomic bomb, an unfair amount of firepower is involved!

I keep hearing God saying to me, "Find my lost ones. They are lonely and hurting, abused and disillusioned. Go get them and bring them to Me!" I have to tell you, the ONLY thing that gave me hope, the ONLY thing that gave any peace, the ONLY thing that solved any of the serious battles I faced was God. He is the best I have to offer you, the greatest solution I've ever found.

Acts 17:27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

Reach out to Him. Wherever you are today, reach out to Him. He isn't far from you. He doesn't mind climbing down into the muck and crawling under things to reach you. He'll gather you into His arms and carry you out. You will feel this fabulous peace and comfort. The silence inside of your aching heart will be so soothing! All the accusing voices will finally be silenced! And as He washes you off and bandages your wounds, your heart will heal.

Don't wait. Don't put it off. Don't try to figure everything out on your own anymore. Turn to your Perfect Father and let Him help you. He loves you so much!

If you need or want to talk to me more about this, just drop me a comment and I'll get in contact with you. God bless you!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Keeping Your Focus Amid The Bustle

Wow, this has been such a busy time for me. I've been working a lot more, and what with Christmas shopping and finishing up school, I've barely had time to sit down and just be! (Graduation went wonderfully, for those who want to know! Hallelujah!) I wanted to post regularly, and I'm afraid I've fallen down on the job! =\

I could list all the things I've done in the past week, but I'm too nice to do that to you!! Haha! It's just that as I looked back over my schedule and whistled in awe, I felt like God whispered something to me. Don't forget the root of all this. Don't forget the motive behind all the actions and steps.

You see, I've been becoming more involved in my church (it's been fun and wonderful!). As my days become filled with all sorts of doings, it's easy to forget that I want my schedule to be controlled by my Heavenly Father! It's easy to forget that He is the driving force behind everything that I do. Even the little things, like driving my sisters somewhere or picking something up for my mom, they are all things that I want to do cheerfully. I want my God to know that I do even these teensy things in love for Him.

So as I scour out the sink at work or volunteer to fill someone else's shift, I MUST stop and trace my actions back to their source. Am I doing this from a love of being busy? Or am I doing this because I want to develop the heart of a servant? Have I wandered from the original determination to be led by the Holy Spirit? I keep feeling like God doesn't want me to become distracted by all the "things" and "appointments".

I hope you all have a wonderful and blessed Christmas! As you hustle out to buy more stocking stuffers and wrapping paper, don't become distracted from the heart of the season!

Love ya,

Friday, December 8, 2006

My Letter

Woohoo! I'm almost done with college! I have two finals this week and then.......*dramatic drum roll* I'm DONE!!! Praise the Lord, He's gotten me through! Not only gotten through but excelled, thank you Jesus!

So in one of my classes, we worked through "The 21 Indispensable Characteristics of a Leader" by John C. Maxwell. The book really forces you to take a serious look at your life and your habits. Do you have a well developed character? Do you have a vision for your life? Are you disciplined? All of these questions encourage internal growth and I really enjoyed the book.

Now, as part of our final, my teacher is having each of us write a letter to his or herself and turn it in to him, sealed in a self addressed envelope. The letters are supposed to talk about what things are really and truly important to us and what challenges or goals we have for our lives in the future. At some point, after many years have passed, our teacher will mail these letters to us.

I was pretty excited when I saw this assignment. I have felt very challenged by the book and I believe I've made some good changes over the semester. It was this book that helped me to realize what my TRUE vision was. I had been shying away from it before, as I felt that the vision was way too big for me and that I'd fail. But, that's how you know that the vision is from God- when it's waaaaaay too big for you to complete on your own and you know that you'll have to have God's help!!

I have a few questions that are supposed to help us write our letters and I'd like to share them with you:

-Do you have a vision for your life?
-What are the things that are truly important to you?
-What are you willing to sacrifice your life for?
-What is holding you back from going after your vision?
-What can you do to change it?

And let me add one:

-Have you asked God to show you His vision for your life?

I decided a while ago that I was tired of trusting only in myself. At a certain point, I realized that anything I built with my own strength was pretty worthless and unfulfilling. After turning to Him and asking for direction, I've been amazed at the difference! I'm never bored anymore and I'm rarely lonely! The plans He has for me are WAY better than anything that I would have thought up on my own! Yes, they are a bit scary at times, but that's only when I start to fall back into old ways. If I'm looking at His God-sized plans and hyperventilating, I need to remember that He is the one bringing the increase and the adventure! He'll also be the one to pave the path!

I don't want to post the whole passage, but read Isaiah 58:8-12. If you have the New King James Version, it's a really powerful translation.

Isaiah 58:8 Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, And your righteousness shall go before you; The glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

Goodnight and God bless you!


Sunday, December 3, 2006

A Servant's Heart

God has been dealing with me recently about truly having a servant's heart. Now, saying that, one might look at my life and all the things that I do and wonder where the problem was! I'm always up for a special project or helping someone out. I love helping people. But what God has been showing me is that a servant's heart starts at home. I can do big, showy acts of service and kindness, but when it really matters, am I acting the way God wants me to?

It's easy to do "special" tasks and gain approval from the masses; it's not so easy to do the ordinary mundane things like loading and unloading the dishwasher for your mother. (Why is that??) Vaccuuming the living room or making dinner aren't the glorious tasks we jump for.

In Mark 10, Jesus talks about how lots of the people in power lord their authority over their subjects. He goes on to say that for us, His disciples, it can't be that way. If we want to have authority, we have to become servants.

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

I want to be transformed to resemble Jesus in word and deed. For that to happen, I have to follow His example.

Mark 9:35 Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all."

My family is my first mission field. If I can't be the very last and the servant of all to them, I don't have a foundation of compassion that is deep enough to be of lasting effect out in the world! Any change that is made inside of me must first be seen, tested, and tried by my parents and siblings! If it is a true heart change, no matter who is around me, the change will be obvious.