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Sing A New Song

“Sing a new song to The Lord,

For He has done wonderful deeds.

His right hand has won a mighty victory,

His holy arm has shown His saving power!”

-Psalm 98:1

I am so thankful that God is big enough to handle my questions, doubts, and fears. I can come to Him with raw honesty, and He does not destroy me. He doesn’t take one look at me and decide that I am not worth the trouble. He is patient with this stubborn heart of mine because He knows that it is all a part of the redemption process. I always fight Him, even when what He wants to give me is a blessing. I am thankful that I am not too complicated for Him. Though sometimes I am a complete mystery to everyone else, including myself, I make sense to Him. He knows how to work with me. He lets me have my fit and then lovingly picks me up, brushes me off, and says, “Here we go again. Let’s do this!”

I am also thankful for a redeeming God. When my heart wants to constantly remind me of my track record, God is constantly reminding me that He is writing a new story in my life. This God of forgiveness doesn’t hold my past failures and mess ups against me, but instead He takes my hand and leads me forward. Sometimes He is dragging me as I am kicking and screaming and begging Him to let me stay in the safe place of self-pity and insecurity. Sometimes He is beckoning me gently with His love. Sometimes we walk together as lovers at the close of day. Whatever the state of my heart, His grace is faithful. And what an incredible grace this is, that found me where I was but refuses to leave me there. The Holy Spirit is constantly molding and shaping me, though sometimes it feels like surgery without the anesthetic. It is all a process of transformation into the likeness of God, and He does not do it so that I can feel good about the progress He is making. He does it all for His glory and for the sake of His Kingdom. God has a Divine purpose for my life, and heaven forbid that He would ever let me forget that!

Yesterday I was fighting with God (like normal) and I had a conversation with our pastor’s wife that put things into perspective for me. I told her that God is asking things of me that I feel are too big for me, and there are two things that terrify me: facing a project that I have never done before and facing a project that I have done before but failed. She looked me in the eyes and told me once again that our God is a redeeming God and that He wants to redeem my story. She told me that I have to make a decision. I can either choose to stay in the place I am in, sitting in the chair and waiting for my life to pass me by. I will never make any mistakes, but I will always wonder what could have been. However, I could choose to take God’s hand and go for it, making a few mistakes but discovering that His strength in me is more than enough. I will find that I am ready because He has prepared me for this moment. It is true that I can only please God by risking it all for His will. So that is what I will choose.

Sometimes the lessons God teaches go against everything we have always understood to be foundational to life. Sometimes the truth of God is completely contrary to our belief systems or our experience. I had a conversation with a friend the other day and I told her something that God almost immediately turned back on me: sometimes the truth in the Bible is contrary to our experience, and what do we tend to believe more? Our experience, because it is more real to us. However, what is true doesn’t depend on what I believe. What is true is what is true. The challenge of our lives is to so immerse ourselves in the truth of God that our foundations, belief systems, and the essence of who we are look like who He is. It takes deep immersion in the Scriptures and a life lived constantly in the presence of God to reach this point, and it must always be our goal. And God keeps moving that point deeper and deeper. I can believe all I want that the sky is blue. My experience can tell me that a sun-filled summer day yields a blue sky, but what about that day in science when they told us that the sky actually doesn’t have a color, but only appears to because of a chemical reaction in the air? How can something only appear to have a color? It is like that at certain points  in our relationships with God. As growing babies in the faith, we hold to concrete facts until we grow up and realize that there is so much more to God and how we relate to Him than we ever thought possible. God works in our lives like a chemical reaction, making the concrete facts that we read about as babies in the faith more profound. It isn’t just a wave of the ocean that gets us wet, but rather is a cold breeze that pierces deep inside of us and shakes us in the deepest places. The salvation prayer that we prayed when we first accepted Christ as our personal Savior is seen for what it is: words repeated after a pastor or missionary. The transforming work happens when we sincerely yield our hearts to Christ and decide to not only adopt a belief system, but the very heart, hands, and feet of Jesus. This is the true essence of salvation.  When we open the door to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, the spiritual chemical reaction begins. Though often painful, the end result is that we look like Christ. To a lost and dying world, we are Christ and we bring a message of hope: you don’t have to stay where you are! Make the decision to take the hand of God and allow Him to write a new story in your life!

Where are you at in your relationship with God? Are you clinging to facts of God and trying to filter them through the lens of your experience? It is no wonder that you feel overwhelmed by the task in front of you. True Biblical salvation is more than a decision at an altar to ask Jesus into our hearts. It is transforming and all-consuming. And we don’t have a relationship with a God only described on paper between Genesis and Revelation. We have a relationship with a living God whose story begins there and is infinitely bigger and deeper than we could ever hope to imagine or understand. The key to this life is that God is LIVING. He doesn’t always work or speak like we think He should, like the God our finite minds have decided to put boundaries around and keep in a nice safe box so life will never be too overwhelming. We have a relationship with a God who is always pushing those boundaries and asking things of us that we can only do in Him. It is a journey of trust…do you trust Him? Do you trust Him even with all that you cannot do?

I have discovered recently that I have been singing the same song for a lot of years, and it is quite frankly…boring. The song reads: “I can’t.” Those are, my friends, the complete set of lyrics to the song. However, God is giving me a new song, and there are more lyrics than, “I can.” When God changes our lives, He doesn’t just give us the opposite of what we had before. It is better than that. It isn’t just life, but life to the full: ABUNDANT LIFE.  However, we choose to accept it. So the decision is yours: will you stay in the place you are, sitting in the chair and waiting for life to pass you by? You won’t make any mistakes, but you will always wonder what life could have been like if you had dared to trust God. You alone choose today: do you want the safe life? Or do you want the abundant life? Take His hand and go for it. DANCE. Allow God the opportunity to rewrite your story. Sing a new song for Him!

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For All That He Will Do

In each person’s life, there come many cross points of decision. There are times when we must choose to continue in the same mindset and limited devotion we have always been in or to allow God full access to our hearts to make of our lives something we could never have imagined. I have discovered recently that there is growth, and then there is GROWTH. I have seen God’s transformational work in my life every day as I yield my heart to Him, but He has led me to a point this week in my walk with Him where I need to choose.

I believe with all my heart that I have been obedient with what I had and knew up until this point, and God has honored that. However, He is moving me to a deeper place. What would it take for me to let go of all that is holding me back from being everything that He has created me to be? I certainly cannot make that kind of change myself, but I know that the Holy Spirit is more than capable of doing the surgery. He must take out the fear that has caused me to always hesitate. He must rip out the beliefs that I have had about myself that say I am lesser and weak. He must teach me the truth about who I am; that He created me to be a powerful force for the Kingdom and that my timidity is robbing the Kingdom of a treasure. No more holding back. No more little child inside. No more questions about whether or not I am prepared or capable. I am the Lord’s chosen one. I have been called and commissioned, and I must run forward with all authority and conviction.

I want the Holy Spirit to be so active in my life that I can literally be God’s hands and feet to every person I meet. What if I were to hear His voice so clearly in my life that I could walk up to a complete stranger and give him a message from God that speaks into his situation and into the work that God is doing in his heart in that very moment? What if that was my normal? What if every day I saw miracles? What if I could believe that God works through me as much as I would allow Him; that His Kingdom could come to full fruition in my life? What if I held the conviction that wherever I go, I carry His presence with me; this presence that has the power to speak radically to everyone it touches and transform their lives? It is true that one cannot stand in the presence of God and not be rocked by His holiness. This same presence that the Bible describes in Revelation where angels constantly bow before His throne and sing His praises lives IN ME. Would I let this presence invade every corner of my heart? Would I let His light so illuminate my life and that it would drive out completely the insecurity that is keeping me from being the powerful influence on the world that God created me to be? I don’t want to settle for just a little. I want to be saturated with Him; full and running over, spilling out and covering those around me. I want to be used by God to do mighty things in the world. I want to live a life that brings glory and honor to God. My hesitancy does not do that. So today I choose. I choose the radical life. I choose the way of reckless abandon and devotion. Whatever that might look like, I throw out any desire I have to be safe, accepted, and respected. When God moves, I want to move. When He speaks, I want to shout the message from the rooftops. Though some might think me a total freak, I choose to be the one that God would use…and I choose to trust that He will give me the courage in every moment to be obedient to His leading and voice.

I give Him praise for all that He will do in and through my life. I give Him praise for all that He will do in your life, because you too must make this decision. What is holding you back? What excuses have you made? Are you seeing the world change around you? Are you constantly aware of the Spirit’s leading in your daily activities and conversations? Are people hearing messages from God through you? This is His will for you: that you would be a conduit of His presence where you are and with the people that surround you. Let His presence rock your heart and I promise it will explode into your community and city. I promise that nothing could ever remain the same. Do you want this? Tell Him. Believe Him. Follow His initiation and go be the light of the world!

Do the Work

The past few days have been filled with a lot of stress for me.  My aunt back in the States had a heart attack, we logged over 65 hours last week of ministry, we are planning for a couple different events, we have our first youth service this week, we have a short term team this weekend, and we began classes this week.  This is the life of a 40/40 and well…anyone in full-time ministry.  Last night I went to sleep with a lot of stress and woke up only to fall at the feet of Jesus begging Him for the strength and courage to keep going.  How will I get it all done?  I have no idea, and that is what I told Him.  His encouragement came from a passage in the Bible that I did not expect to speak to me.

King David was probably the most famous king of Israel that ever lived, and he had a deep desire to build a temple for God to house the Ark of the Covenant.  However, God told him that he would not be the one to build it because he was a man of war, but that He would give the task to his son Solomon.  Therefore, David set out to make all the preparations for the temple and gave them to his son along with some fatherly advice.  Here are two passages from this counsel that God used to speak into my situation:

“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately.  Worship and serve Him with your whole heart and a willing mind.  For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought.  If you seek Him, you will find Him.  But if you forsake Him, He will reject you forever.  So take this seriously.  The Lord has chosen you to build a Temple as His sanctuary.  Be strong, and do the work.” -1 Chronicles 28:9-10

“Then David continued, ‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work.  Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you.  He will not fail you or forsake you.  He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly.’” -1 Chronicles 28:20

Solomon was chosen for a very important task, just like I have been chosen for a very important task.  The number one priority of my life should not be my ministry, but rather to know God intimately and to worship Him with my whole heart and a willing mind.  He knows that the desire of my heart is this.  The promise is true:  if I seek God, I will find Him, and the decision to seek Him is one that I should take very seriously.  I could just as easily choose to do this on my own and forsake His power in my life, and that will yield negative consequences just like seeking Him will yield a blessing.  The command is powerful:  “Be strong, and do the work.”  David says this to Solomon twice.

The scripture says, “Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you.”  As much as I am terrified of failure and easily discouraged by a daunting task list that I know I cannot complete, I can rest in the fact that God Almighty is with me.  The most moving truth of all of this is that God will see to it that the work is finished correctly.  That is not my job.  My job is to seek God, be obedient, be strong, and do the work.  I am called to give it my all.  I am not called to yield good results.  That’s God’s department.  That takes a lot of pressure off of me.  So this morning, I am learning to trust Him more.  I am learning not only to trust Him with my dreams, desires, and the people I am ministering to…but also to trust Him with my daily to-do list, knowing that if I am seeking Him, depending on Him and giving my everything to Him, He will see to it that all the work related to this calling is finished correctly.  Thanks be to God!

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