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Archive for February, 2015

Last night, as I sat listening to a praise concert composed of the brilliant classical musicians and vocalists from all around the New Orleans area, I found myself stuck on the interactions just two rows ahead of me.  A family of 6.  One father to four beautiful girls.

As his hand lifted high in raising up the name of God, his youngest used her hand to get to know her daddy.

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I just could not keep my eyes off this precious girl.  As he worshiped and led his family, this little gem stroked each part of his face.  As her fingers found their way deeper into his ear, I awaited a swat by his hand.  As she moved his lips as they sang, I awaited his moving his little girl into his wives’ arms.   He never did.  This dad was never annoyed by his little girl.

He continued to worship and she continued to read him.  She’s getting to know her daddy in the best way she knows how.  And he knows that, he accepts that, he delights in that.  In what better light, other than worship, would you rather learn what kind of man your father is?

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).

How precious a reminder it is for us to use our interests, our knowledge, our skills to get to know our Daddy greater.  Just as this father allowed the hour conversation (by touch), our Father too delights in our encounters with Him as we eagerly learn more about Him and His affections for us.  Jesus will not swat you away.  Rather, as He continues to look up, praising the Father, He will stay with you, fully present and aware of your eagerness to learn. 

“But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

Father, we come before You as Your children.  Sons and Daughters of a righteous King, ruler over all that is and will be.  We delight in who you are.  We know that your complete character, full plan, and infinite knowledge have not been revealed to us, and here we are, eager to learn.  As You please, Jesus, teach us His ways.  Teach us to pray, to praise, and to learn more about our God. We sit before You, our hands reaching out, we’re curious creatures, just as You made us.  We thank you for the light that shines down on us both in the day and in the night.  Continue to be the compass, the lamp unto our feet, Jesus, as we seek to know you more intimately in each of our days. 

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For 5 weeks now I have lived in the hype of this new adventure.  There have been blessings upon blessings as God reveals His perfect plan for this time in Our walk.

The onset of this grief: a professor’s tangent.

As she advertized the need of homes for children in the system, my heart experienced a wrecking all too suddenly.

I reached for my prayer journal, the special pen, and wrote for the remainder of the class.  I recall an apology my pastor once shared with me.  After he was caught sharing a piece of my story with another church member, I said “It is okay, no part of my life is a secret.  It truly is His book for anyone to read.”  And so, this “secret” is no more.  For the first time, I will reveal these words publicly, words only known before in prayer.  So to you, I ask please respect this state of vulnerability:

Lord, I have desired to foster.  I want to help, to love Your broken children.  I have been called to provide refuge for the orphaned, for those who felt abandoned.  Five years ago, Lord, you revealed this call, this concern on my heart.  O God, in Charlotte, I would have had the house, the job, the ability to foster. Few things Lord, make me wish my life was that of the ministry we planned for in Charlotte.  But God, I trust in You.

For the next (past) 6 days, I have grieved.  See, two and a half years ago, I met Kristen: blue haired, petite, caring, homeless, mother of two sons, 20, pregnant, with stage 4 ovarian cancer.  “Peaches,” as she was known on the streets, was due to give birth in December, but her doctors believed she had no longer than early November to live. For four months I grew to know this child of God intimately.  She shared about the dangerous circumstances for giving birth to another son.  Although he too would be placed in the grandmother’s house, mom of her drug-abusive ex-boyfriend, the father of her two sons, she desired nothing more than to give her life for his.  A beautiful sacrifice.  She continued to feed herself, to fight social services, all to ensure the safety for this possibly-coming new born.  During our time together, I began adjusting my life to fit the state’s requirements for a safe house for a child in the system.  I was to adopt her son, if he were to ever come into this world.  As weeks went by without any contact and as her street friends began to turn their cheek to my questions, I was comforted knowing they both were in peace, in God’s presence, His perfect Kingdom.  Two years have passed.

And now, all of the sudden, I am grieving the loss of a “son” I never met.  I missed my friend, but never grieved over the life she should have had.  But the thought of a life, altered by parenting at a young age, for me, never came.

For days, I processed it with God.  Finally shared the feelings with a mentor, then today, in an interview was faced with the task of sharing why I’m passionate about being a voice for children in the system, for children abused in their homes, for children who live without feeling loved.  I hadn’t shared this yet with any human, and there, before a possible volunteer-position employer, I spoke of this grief.

It became clear, I was no longer grieving only for the loss of her son, but also for the ability to use the third bedroom of my Charlotte house as a refuge for children.  I would have had the life that would allow me to register as a foster parent.  God knew this before, it is just now, I know it as well.  A door has been opened.  Although current circumstances don’t allow me to safely provide shelter and emotional stability for a child, I will be a voice (CASA Advocate) for a foster child.

I learned all these things, and continued to rely on Him: grieving, but affirmed by His calming hand in the midst of the present storm (visible in New Orleans).  As I sat in my devotion chair, speaking with a friend of her directional change in ministry, I found this:

This listing is now pending sale.

You probably guessed it, but this is the house God was going to use for Our ministry in Charlotte.

“O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).

God knew, in all of today’s events, I was made strong enough to receive such news.  My life in Charlotte is no longer an option.  Truthfully, I have not once hesitated about my following God’s call to stop and stay in New Orleans, but that does not mean possible relationships and opportunities have been easily forgotten.  However, as I opened the email, I cried out:

Lord, I just began grieving the ministry opportunity of the third bedroom–solitude, hosting, fostering.  My eyes overwhelmed by the sight, stinging as the floods began streaming down my face.  It was only a house, but truly so much more to me, more than I thought previously.  I appreciate knowing my failure to follow through with the deal has not left this family in ruins, but still, I grieve. I ponder these things in Your presence.  My Lord, You are my Refuge!

Like I said, He continues to open doors, He has blessed me with two incredible communities for fellowship.  And still, through this grief, I am affirmed, “You are so wonderfully encouraging.  I don’t know how you keep it up!”  I share this, not to gloat, but because I read these words from a friend, with tears in my eyes, wondering the same thing, “How do I keep it up?”  I was stomping through my own storm, and yet, God was present with both of us, and His mercies triumph over our selfishness and self-focus.  He is who keeps it up.  Who keeps us up.

Anywho, God is not done with me yet.  This chapter–buying a house of ministry in Charlotte–is officially closed.  As I turn this page, I anticipate some rather entertaining stories.

I appreciate any prayers.  As right now, you are rather aware of the state of my heart.

All the while, this song just so happened to play in the background: “What if the trials of this life–the rain, the storms, the hardest nights–are your mercies in disguise?”  Then, thank you Lord for giving me the eyes to see my merciful King!

 

I’m wrecked, but that is okay. I have a Healer, a Friend, in whom I trust all things.

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An unintentional continuation of yesterday’s thoughts. DSC00513Therefore, please read “Revelation and His Timing” first.

As I sat on the Mississippi coast for the very first time, scrolling through the passages I had fallen behind on in my Bible App. devotional series, I began to read out loud:

You have told me, ” I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.’ If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor…’

The LORD replied, ‘ I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest–everything will be fine for you.’

Then Moses said, ‘If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place (the camp at the foot of Mount Sinai).  How will anyone know that you look favorably on me–on me and on your people–if you don’t go with us?  For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.’

The LORD replied to Moses, ‘I will indeed do what you have asked for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.’

Moses responded, ‘Then show me your glorious presence.’

The LORD replied, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh (YHWH, Jehovah), before you.  For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.  But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live’ (Exodus 33:12-20).

If after asking God about His calling upon your life, like me, you continued down a spiral of repeated questioning, then be comforted…so did Moses.  We often speak of different parts of the Exodus story, but never have I heard the slaughter of the strayed Israelites by the Levites.  This happened just verses before, to which, Moses speaks over the Levites, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the LORD, for you obeyed him even though it meant killing your own sons and brothers.  Today you have earned a blessing (Exodus 32:29).

A blessing. They have been ordained for the LORD’s purpose.  In this story, death by sword was the alternative to God’s anger overcoming all His people.

Boy am I ever so grateful God is not asking me to pick up a sword and run through this city! But let’s concentrate on the blessing: the appointing, consecrating, or commissioning of persons for special service to the Lord and His people.

They had been ordained with a special service to the Lord and His people.  He showed favor upon them.

Remember God saying He will show mercy and compassion to anyone whom He chooses to?  Let’s revisit 1 John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God.  But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.”

Moses asked God, “let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor” (Exodus 33:13). 

Perhaps, this “full expression” of God’s love shared between one another is indeed our practice of full understanding.  Understanding of His call–to the extent of which He permits–as we seek to live obediently.  Each of us, I’m sure, need a different amount of knowledge or to be spoken to in different ways, in order to understand God more fully and to continue to enjoy His favor.  He knows you well enough to respond to you just as you ask of Him.

How grateful I am that we have the promise that God will never forsake us (1 Chronicles 28:20)!

For although the Levites have declared themselves God’s people and killed those who worshiped the calf god, He says to them, “I will not travel among you, for you are a stubborn and rebellious people.  If I did, I would surely destroy you along the way” (Exodus 33:3).

God instead, offers us a cleansingI will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols.  And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations (Ezekiel 36:25-26).

And we know, that through Jesus, the Spirit has come upon us and made us new. *He resides in each of us, we are the temples in which God is present (for the biblical transformation of the meaning of temple: Exodus 25-31:11, John 2:21, 1 Corinthians 6:19).  We cannot and shall not hide our faces from God.  He has given us new hearts, He calls out our names, and with compassion He heals our wounds.  God is in control, and He chooses to invest in our lives–yours and mine, alike.

Dear Abba Father, I am dumb-founded.  Reading your Word day after day and not allowing its’ wonderful Truths to direct my life, how foolish I have been.  Lord I receive this Truth.  I have been wicked.  I’m sure I’ve caused you to become angry.  And yet, you offer a cleaning, not only of water, but by the Holy Spirit.  Thank you for this gracious act.  I come to you with thanksgiving for these stories, these pleas before you separated by too many generations to count.  You my Lord, have known this all along, and I thank you for sharing these answers with us today.  Might we continue to walk with You, in confidence, as we know Your call for each of our days is to grow more fully in understanding as we love each other with more of our hearts.  Our lives are Yours.  For You and You alone are to be fully trusted with our complete offering.  Selah.  In You, we shall rest.  With You, we will rise.

*Have you been baptized?  If not, please ask a leader in your church to speak with you about this opportunity to be made new in the image of Christ (Mark 1, Matthew 3).  If you do not feel comfortable in a church quite yet, message a friend, family member, or even me, but do not continue on without approaching God as His precious child, guided by the Holy Spirit each day to live as Christ has lived before us.  Baptism is something to be celebrated as you embark on life with the entire Family, God’s Kingdom, the Body of Christ.

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Not all people receive God’s call upon their life in advance, for He knows us far beyond we understand ourselves.

“And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Sometimes being aware of the future is a temptation.  If we were to know absolutely everything God has in store for our lives, would we come before Him with anticipation and awe every morning?  And thank Him for the mysteries of the day, as we rest in Him at night?

He will not lead you when you feel inadequate, unprepared, and starving for something new.  Rather, He reveals Himself to us each uniquely, through His Truth, spoken word, and revelation.  God knows our weakness.  He lifts us up with His strength (Isaiah 40:29).  He built us to endure:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.  We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.  Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.  Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up (Hebrews 12:1-3).

For nearly 5 years I have known a call on my life, and for almost 4 years I’ve been aware of the ministry He has written for our work together.  Although fully surrendered (as much as my human mind could fathom), He did not lead me at that time to do such works.  He calls us to go into the nations (Matthew 28:18-20), but is it a call for right now?

I could have.  I had the means (mostly), the connections, the drive, and the call of Christ.  But now, here I am.  Still not hosting a retreat or raising an adopted son.  But I know, this is God’s will for now.  He has revealed, in my dreams and in my conversations with Him, incredible things.  I look with anticipation, I pray with specificity, for I know my God and I am aware of His presence in my life.

Although no one has seen God–for we would perish by blindness of His infinite beauty–we can display a full expression of His love to all the people.  All He asks of us is to love one another (1 John 4:12, John 13:35).

When we submit ourselves fully to God, we open ourselves to opportunity to revel in His presence.  He opens our eyes to see as He sees His Creation.  He opens our ears to receive His whispers for us alone.  He holds our tongue and releases it to speak of His power and authority over our lives.  He is omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient.  That is our God.

One Being, three Persons: a Friend, a Father, a Guide.  You’re not alone, and I, I am never alone either.

Dear Heavenly Father, we come before you fully surrendered.  All our burdens before You.  We know that You, our Lord are greater than the weight on our shoulders, we ask you to conquer it all.  Guide us, Spirit, to live as Jesus has lived before us.  Teach us Your ways before our own.  God, we ask you, reveal to us Your will for our years, our days, even our every breath.  We pray that it is all pleasing to You.  Might our lives be a pleasing aroma to You.  We rest in You: Selah. 

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