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Archive for the ‘the future is bright’ Category

In preparing for the move to Charlotte, I posted my resume on a job website and received a free resume critique, in which I read, “You come across as a ‘doer,’ not an ‘achiever.'”

I was taken aback.

Began to think of all the failures that must be perceived if what she wrote was accurate.  Luckily, I have a friend who knows me better than I know myself, and He reminded me of words He inspired a dear, mature sister in Christ to share with me just last week.

“Melanie, I see you as a starter.  You won’t always see the impact you have, but you will be used to plant the seed” (paraphrased).

Whatever seeds God chooses for my life’s work to plant, I will be grateful (1 Corinthians 3:6).  And to whomever, He places in the ministry’s path to water the seed, I am grateful.  To the One who grows the seed, I am eternally grateful.

To Miss. Resume Editor, I will no longer hold offense to your words, but I will not value them either.  For I know that my purpose is to “do” and that does not always allow me the privilege of seeing a work completed.

 

 

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March 27, 2014

Human perception is foolish.  We see roadblocks when truly the LORD sees we are still fervently walking along His chosen path.

From the beginning, God set his people apart, and warned them that no king will reign as God reigns over them.  Samuel asked for guidance, and the LORD responded, “they don’t want me to be their king any longer” (1 Samuel 8:7).  The LORD then looked down on his people “in mercy and heard their cry” (1 Samuel 9: 16).  Samuel warned the Israelites and offered them Saul, to whom it was said, “you and your family are the focus of all Israel’s hopes” (1 Samuel 9: 20).

Having read through 1 & 2 Samuel today, I find myself baffled by the relationship of God’s first two anointed kings.  At one point, Saul referred to David like a son, as it was David who played the harp whenever “the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul” (1 Samuel 16:23).  It was also David who bravely defeated the Philistine giant that Israel’s army feared.  However, in fear of losing his power and his life, Saul hunted David for several years.  Even then, David was a man after God’s own heart, and kept his oath to never kill the anointed king.  When Saul fell upon his own sword, David led his people and mourned over the loss.

David was anointed through Samuel as a young boy– the youngest son of Jesse, the last to be presented before the prophet as an eligible future king.  He was crowned king of all Israel at 30 years old (2 Samuel 5:4).  During the period between his anointing and reign, David’s army defeated several of the Lord’s enemies.  However, David was called a visitor to many regions, for he fled from the hand of Saul.

Imagine being anointed a king of Israel, leaving Israel, hiding in the wilderness from the current anointed king of Israel, and finally returning and capturing Jerusalem for the God of Israel.

All the while, even the Philistine king said David had been a trustworthy ally,” without flaw, “as perfect as an angel of God”  (1 Samuel 29: 6-10).

The past seven days have been filled with confusion–in my mind and body.  I found myself perhaps struggling with the tormenting spirit that God had given Saul.  However, today was a day of anticipation.  And as it approached, I found myself fully believing God’s presence in my life, but confessing, “Ye of little faith, how dare ye not trust in the LORD’s provisions.”

At that moment, I wept, as did many before me when faced with our own sins.

I began worshiping the LORD, singing of His light and steadfast love, that His was the strength that endures.  I called upon the LORD and he responded with a miraculous sign: A flashing green light.  Joyfully, I began to rationalize the sign’s meaning.  The LORD is  my light that leads me through darkness.  When a red light flashes, we stop for a shorter break than a solid red light.  Therefore, what is it’s contrast?  Rather than sprinting towards God’s promise, shall I be wise in maintaining endurance until my dying breath?  Time and time again, we read in Scripture that a man foolishly made an oath that caused troops to faintly approach battle, or otherwise, led to another man’s sin.  For instance, we read that Saul made a foolish oath causing his own son to sin before the LORD (1 Samuel 14: 1-46).  Perhaps, instead of offering God our restless bodies, we are to fortify the breath He has offered us and deliver to Him rightfully what is already His.

It is in the spirit, that I boldly recognize, that no letter of denial can hinder my trust in the Lord’s promises.  For a man may stray from keeping an oath, but “he who is the Glory of Israel will not lie, nor will he change his mind, for he is not human that he should change his mind!” (1 Samuel 15: 29).

It was in my approach that I wept, but in reviewing the letter, I found myself already praising God for what will come of it.  For the process, all I can do is trust in the LORD, knowing that He is my Great Teacher, my Provider, and that His presence will not hinder, for in chasing after God, He promises, ” I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13: 5).

I have a green light.  I have not been stopped.  I will continue forward, accepting the commands God spoketh unto me.

My prayer tonight:  I pray this is a journey.  May I not rely on the comforts of my present temporary state to withstand the next season of preparation.  Rather may I pursue God boldly in radically living to serve Him.  May I recognize His voice and follow His directions.

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March 15, 2014

For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:13).  Teaching this verse to the 2nd and 3rd graders at North Coast Church has been a joy.  Each day, as children of God we are being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

The Station Pastor, Josh Nelson’s “Better Days – Part 3” sermon also speaks to the matter of living a life that is fulfilling to the life God has set forth:

“It’s trusting Him in your career. Pursuing the dreams and the desires of your heart.  There are so many people who don’t even think about discovering their own gifts and their own abilities.  They don’t even ask the question, ‘How can I impact the world for the LORD?’ or ‘How can I make the church better for the LORD?’ These have become just lofty, distant ideas because we have just been bombarded by fear.  And we want to be a church that not only inspires but empowers you to do those things. You don’t have to retract in fear…you can step out and do the impossible.

Jim Zimbala “I despaired at the thought that my life might slip by without seeing God show Himself mightily on our behalf.”

Josh confessed to the congregation, “I want to live a life that leaves a legacy…that is not mundane. ”  How much greater would life be if we truly concentrated our energies on the impossible, knowing that God gives us the ability to do whatever it is He sets out for us to accomplish.  Life should be impossible without the continuous intervention of God.

Let me end with the prayer Josh lifted high that Sunday morning.

God I pray that we would be a church that lives fearlessly.  LORD help us to be bold.  To have faith and courage despite our fear.  We want to be a church that steps out of our comfort zones, that walks into the fullness of Your plan for our lives… And God, as we reach out to this morning, we thank you that we are empowered to walk in everything you have created us to do.  

Amen.

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March 9, 2014

As I sit her just this moment, I recall the day I walked towards the remaining wall of what once was the Holy City’s Temple.  As I walked backwards in respect leaving the Western Wall (known also as Wailing Wall or Kotel), I took out my journal and began to write the victory of a confession that had just been placed in a crevice of the wall.  I was speaking with Jesus, and was asked to stop.  It was against Jewish law to work in the presence of something so Holy, and to them, writing was work.

Here I am on my Sabbath, and again I find myself working.  However, I do not hesitate, as what I write is inspired by my devotion to the LORD, and is therefore a sign of worship in and of itself.

However, my readings of Scripture this morning were of different topics, so this comes from a conversation with the Holy Spirit.

Just yesterday, I listened to “Scare Crow in a Melon Patch” a 3-part sermon series by Pastor Josh Nelson.  In it, he speaks on how the idols of his past kept him from initially believing the Divine call on his life.  Josh attended Hillsong International Leadership College, and during one worship service, he asked the Lord for direction.  In response, Josh saw clearly the hand of God anointing him as he heard one word, “pastor.”  He was 21.  It wasn’t until Josh was 30 that he felt the LORD insist it was time to begin the church.  Again, Josh battled saying, “I am not educated enough,” or “I am not old enough.”

Today, The Station Church is 2 years old and thriving to serve God and anticipate the movement of the Holy Spirit in every relational interaction and serving opportunity.

Josh thought his past prevented him from being “good enough” to pastor God’s church.

A different perspective of Divine destiny is my own.  At 20 years old I had received the Call of God in a dream.  After the most trying years of my physical, Spiritual, relational, and emotional life,  I had finally rested a full night’s sleep and awoke at peace.  This dream ended an excruciating series of disgusting, distorted, traumatizing nightmares where the enemy had held me captive in the night.  I fully believe our night’s rest prepares us for the works of our day, so in this season of nightmares, I found myself believing my worth was relative to that of which the enemy claimed.

However, the dream unleashed an ambitious student of an everlasting God.  It is my childhood, my independence as a teenager, my foolishness, my temptation, and my distortion of my worth as a female that make me the person God chose to pursue a retreat for broken families, where parents will be equipped to better support their children struggling through mental, emotional, or psychological pain.

Similarly, last night I spoke with a 16-year-old girl who had been fighting the urge to self harm for hours.  Her anxiety kept her from talking with anyone she knew, so she called a stranger.  After discussing several options for 20 minutes, I was left clueless as to how to help.  However, just at that moment, I suggested a phone number that changed her mentality completely.  It was a teen line, trained teenagers who will not judge or condemn a caller, but rather, support and empathize.  At that very moment, this young girl spoke clearly, “Can I do that?” She began to speak energetically, “I want to be a psychiatrist for teenagers.”  At 16, this girl already recognizes that her experience suffering with mental illness is what qualifies her to help others more accurately.

Because of what and who we were, we are able to better empathize with individuals struggling in the same matters.  It is then, the transformation through surrender and obedience to God that enables us to have an eternal impact on such individuals.

Whether you struggle to think you are not good enough to accomplish the calling God has set forth, or you recognize it is your past that makes you the right person, know that it has been placed on you, and no one else is responsible.

In Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, David Platt speaks of the 6 billion people who have yet to hear the Good News.  He repeats through the text, the only way this is possible is that we are not praying.  He also suggests, too many people are not listening and obeying the calls to share God’s Truth.

As Josh, the 16-year-old girl, you, and I continue in life, may we be praying people who trust the voice of God and look for guidance in His Word.  May we be bold in our radical pursuit of becoming more in-lined with God’s path: living and loving others as Jesus has lived and loved us.

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February 19, 2014

Often times in the past I have considered myself a “runner” in regards to settling down in a community, location, or program.  It is apart of my instinctual adventurer’s spirit; however, it also has caused strains on past friendships.

My current job has me working in the homes of families with autistic children.  Since I work in homes, the scheduling permits many awkwardly large gaps of time where I find myself sitting in my car, waiting for the allotted time to arrive.

Tonight I found myself early, as usual, but too early.  Therefore; I chose a podcast to engage my mind while I fed my stomach.  All the while, still sitting in my driver’s seat with the ignition off, lights out.  You’d think I was eager to fellowship with adults by this point.  In addition, my days are spent working with kids, who for the most part are non-verbal.  An extrovert like me should be crying out for communication.

And yet, this time, I sat outside a home hosting my church’s bi-monthly prayer meeting.  Thirty minutes early… by the time the sermon completed (probably my 20th just this week), the meeting had progressed for 15 minutes.  I walked to the door and found it locked, I was late.  Rather than knocking, I found myself walking away, without an ounce of discouragement.

Instead, I found myself in my car, yet again.

God met me rather quickly, of course.  As He insisted I recall the last time I walked out on a church fellowship event, I found myself contemplating my understanding of temporary.

Just last week I submitted two graduate school applications.  One of my references forwarded her letter to me, with intentions I am not too sure of.  However, I found myself encouraged that this woman, who held authority over me in a position of service in kid’s ministry, saw the individual who diligently pursues the Image of Christ.  Do you see the conflict?  In reaching for the future, I was required to focus on the past.  Where am I left in the present?

A few weeks ago I was insisting on seeking deeper relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ; today I walked away from the chance to communicate with God  in an intimate community setting.  In my essays I wrote:

God, the Light of Life, came into the world and began His ministry in His thirties.  During His ministry, He invested fully into the lives of twelve men—eleven who furthered the call.  This concept of studying in deep fellowship is a characteristic I believe Fuller Seminary is able to offer that no other psychology program offers.  Coming out of a season of solitude and deepened dependency upon the Lord, I yearn to speak of God’s presence and characteristics, to question and discuss, to challenge and be challenged by other believers.  My drive is to work for God’s ministry.My hope is to grow alongside other students—of academia, Scripture, and life—who are also seeking after God’s commands first and foremost as they move forward in life.It is my intention to study under professors passionately serving God’s Family through directly servicing family relations in professional and missional work.

I thank God that these are my desires in pursuit of seeking greater knowledge and ability to serve Him as He has planned Our ministry.  However, it is incredibly self-serving and self-neglecting for me to assume a seminary is able to offer me such fellowship and mentorships, but the Christians I walk alongside in my day-to-day life right now are temporary.

Life is temporary. All of it.  This life I am living is temporary.  In this one life I live, there have been and will continue to be several transitional phases in life; however, this does NOT permit me to disregard the works of my present.  God is in pursuit of intimacy with each of His beloved children.  The relationship He so longs for is eternal, a forever-lasting connection.  It will not fade.

If I recognize how temporary this life is, and I recognize this season is extremely short in preparation for the next, how dare I think there is nothing left to learn.

My prayer tonight for myself and anyone who identifies with this distress, is that we cling to God in our present, believing Paul when he wrote, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).  A brother in Christ from my undergraduate studies said it like this, “Be joyful in all He does through you.  Search for the best, pray to be blessed, and let God take care of the rest!”

May we celebrate God’s grace with anyone and everyone who has ears to hear (Matthew 11:15, 13:9).

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January 6, 2014

I just now realized this, after I was affirmed to write today, that today is my Jesus Birthday! With one of those smiles you just can’t tear down and tears of joy bursting out of my eyes, I thank God that we have explored the world, the home, the education, the ministry, the death, and the life together for SIX YEARS!  I celebrate my Jesus Birthday, extra special, it is the only day of the year that I recognize as a day to celebrate the life that I personally am living.  It is a day that I fly on the wings of an Eagle, protected under the wings on most days, but today we soar.  My Jesus Birthday is the anniversary of the day I was baptized, the day I was renewed by a cleansing, by accepting Jesus’ sacrifice as Truth to restore me into a new person.

I think of the kids I teach every day and on Sundays, the six year-olds who have been taught to pray, and begin to individualize their pleas to God.  The joy that exudes out of their non-manufactured dances and their worship screams.  No kid is in tune.  No kid is dancing a prim and proper dance.  But God, He is delighted by the celebrations and communications of His little children.

I am one of them today!

Although my six comes after 16 years of emotional, social, physical, and mental growth, so my abilities at a Spiritual 6 are greater than that of a physical 6, I have the joy of a child after God’s heart.

_________________________________________

Bill Hybel’s Holy Discontent is a book I read through in not even a day in a half.  I was at a four day silent retreat, Sacred Heart, in Colorado.  God shook me BIG.  See, for 51 months I have lived now knowing the mission that God has for my life.  I have lived nearly every day dedicated to attaining the skill and intellect to achieve His mission with the best of my abilities.  I have sacrificed my immediate desires to satisfy this need.  I have lived knowing, “vocation is the place where your happiness meets the world’s greatest need” (Frederick Buechner).

However, for me, it is greater than happiness.  It is recognizing what delights me most and then working to bring that to others.  Therefore, my vocation, as God has shared, is facing the ugliness of the world and bringing those in hardship to a place of peaceful companionship.

Reading through my prayer box and lifting the individual requests up to God this morning, I found one dated November 4, 2012.  It reads as follows:

I give you my Holy Discontent.                                                                                            My Holy Discontent: Broken marriages  → bad parenting

God, may my heart grow.  May I be connected with the people, may this discomfort be fed, may our work be viewed as an act of grace–a time for broken hearts to be united in Your Family.

On the front of the card I have written, “Affirmed on September 1, 2013 by C.M.” a mom of one of the kids I teach in Sunday school.

In the kid’s classroom yesterday afternoon, I found God encouraging me to pray for the perverted minds of the world.  I did not recognize the pain He felt until I recognized the environment: as the kids sung  songs of praise around me and I stood still with tears dripping from my eyes.  This morning I added an index card to my “God Box,” praying:

I GIVE YOU… this world’s perverted minds

May we be a stronger army of rebels fighting against sexual perversion.  May young girls not become victim to twisted men any longer.  I appreciate, O God, that Your Light shines in darkness, but may this evil be demolished! Completely won over by the Goodness that is You!

Prostitutes, whether in human trafficking abroad or on the American streets, are a clientele God has pulled my heart to yearn for.  One day, in my retreat center, I pray many girls rid the lie from their lives that their worth is only the value men view there bodies for.  I pray over girls dying on the street right now, that they may be told by ANYONE, perhaps YOU, that their is a god, the God, who loves them, adores them, and enriches their lives.  That He cares for their heart, not their physical attractiveness. That He has great plans for their lives, and that the girls will never be bonded again.  For Jesus allows freedom of the greatest magnitude!

As I finished reading Jennie Allen’s Anthing: the prayer that unlocked my God and my Soul last night, I fell in love again with the call God has placed on my heart.  It is simply undeniable how great and glorious our God is.  He has a plan for our lives grander than we can imagine, grander than we can achieve on our own two feet.  He desires for us to reciprocate His characteristics.

As a reader it is clear that as Allen is writing to the public, she is intimately communicating with God.  She writes, “While my prosperity is a gift, I am the dispenser of my gift…use me to recklessly save, recklessly heal, recklessly love” (pp. 175-176).  She incorporates Father Kaj Munk’s words:

What, therefore, is our task today? Should I answer “Faith, hope and love?” That sounds beautiful.  But I would say–courage.  No, even that is not challenging enough to be the whole truth.  Our task today is recklessness.  For what we Christians lack is not psychology or literature…we lack a holy rage–the recklessness which comes from the knowledge of God and humanity.  The ability to rage when justice lies prostrate on the streets, and when the lie rages across the face of the earth..a holy anger about the things that are wrong in the world.  To rage against the ravaging of God’s earth and the destruction of God’s people. To rage when little children must die of hunger, while the tables of the rich are sagging with food.  To rage at the senseless killing of so many.  to rage against complacency.  To restlessly seek that recklessness that will challenge and seek to change human history until it conforms to the norms of the kingdom of God.

What is it that God desires you to rage for?  What is it He has you recklessly seeking? What makes you so uncomfortable that you have yearned for God’s hand in?

In that place, is the ministry.  In that place, is your holy discontent.   In that place, “your happiness meets the world’s greatest need” (Frederick Buechner).

________________________

A great song to start your quiet time with God, asking “What makes me hurt?  What do you desire of me in this?” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6B1Lv8k5pEc

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January 1, 2014

In just two hours of the ball dropping in Time Square (in Western time zone), God already moved in BIG ways.

Yesterday evening I was invited to a game and worship experience to celebrate the New Year.  As the clock approached 11pm the group of 30-50 people broke into small prayer groups.  We opened the transitional period to God’s movement.  Expecting this year to bring Him great joy and honor.

At 12:01 a.m. we began to worship! The hosts included three brothers (ages 13-mid twenties), who led the praise.

Isn’t that beautiful? Making God the center of all our celebrations, rather than limiting it to the three days designed to thank Him, accept the sacrifice of Jesus, and celebrate Jesus’ birthday.

The first thing God spoke to me in the New Year is this:

He reigns over everything I do and am involved in, and yet I have freedom in it.  He is my greatest master, and yet, He treats me nothing like a slave.  I am not burdened by shackles, but overjoyed by serving a God who feeds me with His wisdom, kindness, and strength.  He is the most high ruler of all, and I am His daughter.

The second was of His beautification.  I have never seen something so marvelous in all of my years! It was an upside down firework, a shooting star, not flying across the sky but rather in a downward dive.  I cannot explain what this truly was, but as I drove in the thick fog only one thing appeared, and it was a marvelous moment of light. A design in the sky that moved delicately with such force, similar to that of God’s nature.  God demonstrated His gentle touch in the way of which He designed this earth and His people.  His mighty force may resemble the anger brought down on earth by storms in the Old Testament, but is also the authoritative figure that He is, Ruler of all that is and will be.

The third: a miracle! My best friend felt sick at the event so I drove us home in her mother’s car.  However, the Fiat did not audibly warn us our gas tank needed filling before we entered Camp Pendleton, where we drove for 17 miles on an empty tank.  We were worshiping and praying out loud, which she is uncomfortable doing.  Perhaps, God intentionally made her uncomfortable to demonstrate the goodness that comes from asking for His guidance and protection.

Although the floods date Before Christ, perhaps, the mentioning of the exact dates of the progression of the waters beneath the ark of Noah’s household is another way for us to recognize the celebration of God at the very beginning of the year.

After approximately 204 days in the ark, floating above the land they once tended to, God wiped the earth clean and made it available to Noah, his family, and each of the creatures once more:

And it came to pass in the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, that the waters were dried up from the earth; and Noah removed the covering of the ark and looked, and indeed the surface of the ground was dry” (Genesis 8:13).

Perhaps it is so that life after the floods was the grandest of all New Year celebrations.  God commanded the attention on that initial day of the year, as He removed the water and permitted life to grow once more.

May God be the one you allow to map out the year that is now here.  Happy New Year!

A good song of praise that recognizes God’s place in everything: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BQpl_5Q6T4

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