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I See You

In an age where we are more “connected” than ever, we are ironically more disconnected than we have ever been and we are longing for real companionship.

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I thought I knew her well, seeing her come into the bank often. Each time we would have a small conversation about what is going on in her life and she would leave. And that was that.

Until today. As she was getting ready to leave, she mentioned to me that she was thinking about moving in a couple months.

Me: Where are you thinking about moving to?

Her: Oh, down with my daughter.

And then she added something that has touched and challenged me ever since:

“Nobody sees me. I go to Walmart and the grocery store and nobody sees me. Nobody realizes how lonely it is being here, all alone without family or friends.”

And we could have had an amazing conversation after that. However, I was so stuck in my own head, trying to figure out what I could say to her and not get in trouble with my job. And before I could resolve that in my mind, she walked out the door.

Oh how I wish I would have said to her, “I see you! Do you know how important you are? Do you know how special you are? Do you know how loved you are?”

I wish I would have just stepped out from behind my desk and given her a hug.

And it’s made me wonder how many people all around me every day feel the same way but don’t know how to say it out loud. I know that I feel that way often too. In an age where we are more “connected” than ever, we are ironically more disconnected than we have ever been and we are longing for real companionship.

The movie Avatar had a big impact on me when it taught me the simple phrase, “I see you.” In the movie, they used it like a greeting, but it had a deeper meaning. It meant, “I’m not simply walking by you nor am I dismissing your presence. I am making a conscious effort to be here with you in this moment. I see you.”

That means the simple five minute encounters with customers throughout the day, or the eight hours that I spend with my coworkers. I am praying that God would help me to focus in more on where He has placed me and with whom He has placed me. What could be more important than that?

In Deep

I don’t know about you, but I REALLY want to see God do something amazing in and through the Church. I want to see courage arise in the lives of those who follow Christ. I want to see genuine faith demonstrated. I’m tired of the Sunday commitment and the title. I want to see the life lived out.

Last night we started tackling the creation of what will be the Outreach Office. We are painting, repurposing, and forming a space that will be a refuge and place of prayer for many people. It is exciting to see things form, even though there is a long way to go.

As we were working, our friend Mark stopped by and we all began discussing how we see God moving and reshaping so many things. Mark compared it to driving on a curvy road through beautiful mountain scenery. There is so much to observe all along the way.

And it’s true that the world around us is changing dramatically. However, it’s important to note that it’s not just changing in a bad way. I believe the Church is being called up from the ashes like never before in history. The question is: will we answer that call?

If we do, we will see things that we never imagined happen in our communities, nation, and world. I don’t know about you, but I REALLY want to see God do something amazing in and through the Church. I want to see courage arise in the lives of those who follow Christ. I want to see genuine faith demonstrated. I’m tired of the Sunday commitment and the title. I want to see the life lived out.

The Church is standing at a moment of decision. Mark used the illustration of jumping off the diving board for the first time. There are some who go up first and jump, and others who stand back and watch them, trying to build up the courage to do it themselves. I think that’s truly what it means to encourage each other – to give each other courage to climb up that ladder, walk to the edge, and jump.

Can I speak right now to all who love Jesus, to those who follow Him? Can I speak to those who are afraid of taking that step, any step, toward that choice? Let’s do this together. Let’s go in deep.

Jesus uses the illustration of a seed that must die for new life to rise up. The same is true with us. We must die to our fear, selfishness, and pride. We must get to the point where there is no hesitation when we hear His voice. As the Church, we must be unified for one purpose – to see light conquer darkness and to see God’s love conquer the world of hatred that is rising up so powerfully right now.

And you know what? I’ve read the end of the book…and we win. Jesus wins. Do you realize what a big deal that is? Remember that – when times get hard and you want to back down. Remember that – when everything inside of you is screaming to take what seems to be the easy way out. Remember that – when your life is put on display for the cause of Christ. We win.

So take that step. Climb that ladder. Walk to the edge and jump. Come on, Church! Let’s go in deep. The time is NOW.

Like Only You Can Do It

You don’t have to do things the way they have always been done…or even the way they have ever been done. God created you unique, so be unique. Love Jesus and disciple others…and do it in the way that only YOU can do it.

Right now I am sitting in Starbucks listening to carefree music over the speakers that should be calming me down, but is actually annoying me. I had dedicated tonight to working on leadership material for this training course I am developing, but the whole evening has gone downhill. Weeks of work and 45 pages later and I am considering throwing it all out the window and starting over.

Chelsea, that is the absolute worst way to start a blog post. Yep, that’s probably right. But it’s honest. This is me being honest right now.

I can’t do this. I absolutely can’t do this. And then I remember the quote that I have been preaching to myself all week: “You will be the most tempted to quit when you are the closest to your calling.” (Steven Furtick).

Like, dude. What? I used to think that quote was so true, except right now when I’m in the moment and I feel the farthest away from accomplishing my objective. I came here to finish this, not dig myself deeper into a hole. I’m sitting here staring at pages and pages of great material and it feels empty.

Why does it feel empty? I’ve written a great class…awesome for study. There’s one problem: it’s not me. This isn’t who I am. This isn’t my style. This whole thing is put together the way I think it SHOULD be done…not the way I would teach.

I wonder how often this happens for us in life. We are frustrated in certain areas, not because we are doing something badly, but because we are doing things the way we think they SHOULD be done, rather than the way we were uniquely created to do them. Then we end up in Starbucks at the end of our rope, and no one wants to be there…at least at the end of our rope…although we might still should end up in Starbucks.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: if you’re going to end up in Starbucks, make it a happy thing. You don’t have to do things the way they have always been done…or even the way they have ever been done. God created you unique, so be unique. Love Jesus and disciple others…and do it in the way that only YOU can do it.

So today, if you are finding yourself at the point of giving up on a project or calling…ask yourself the question, “Am I frustrated because I am limiting myself to the way I think it SHOULD be done?” Then go get some Starbucks (preferably a Chai Tea Latte with six pumps of vanilla…just kidding…get what you want) and do it like only YOU can. Ready…set…GO!

I Want to See

I want to see Jesus lifted high. I want to see brokenness made whole in the presence of God. I want to see hearts renewed. I want to see hope rise here…right here…in North Platte.

It’s amazing how God can change a person’s heart.

Six months ago I would have said, “Never again will I live in North Platte.” I should have known better, really.

So God called me back to my hometown, the one place I always swore I would avoid. He gave me a vision of His power and love being poured out on the people of this town, with a light radiating from the lives transformed by His Spirit. In the name of Jesus, North Platte will be a beacon of hope to a watching world.

I was like those cynical people that said, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” So God attacked my pride.

Yesterday as I was praying in the sanctuary of my church, I saw in my heart streams of people rushing in the doors. I saw them worshiping God, hungry for more of Him. I realized how much I want to see that, right here.

And so I am praying that through me or someone else, that God would shake North Platte with His love. I am praying for an awakening of His Spirit, and I am praying that my heart might be ready.

A few days ago a sudden storm ripped through our town, tearing down dead branches and knocking over dying trees. Only the vibrant remained.

The Holy Spirit has often been compared to a mighty wind. May He sweep away all that is dead and dying within me, within our church, and in our community. May the Breath of Life once again raise up the dry bones of fallen soldiers and fill their lungs with power. I want to see Jesus lifted high. I want to see brokenness made whole in the presence of God. I want to see hearts renewed. I want to see hope rise here…right here…in North Platte.

So Satan, bow down before the Lamb, for this city is no longer yours.

In the name of Jesus may the Church rise up and fight for a world that needs salvation. May we hit the streets with His mighty love. May we not be hidden away in neat corners, but out touching and transforming messy lives. May we feel the urgency of the times and stop at nothing to share the hope that we know. Lord, give us Your vision. Fill our hearts with Your passion. Lord, may we see Your hand move, and not later. I want to see it now.

Will you pray with me?

To THAT Girl

I want to write this letter to THAT girl…

I want to write this letter to THAT girl…

The girl who is always passed up, overlooked, and turned down by the guys…

The girl who is left trying to figure out what is wrong with her and what that other girl has that she doesn’t…

I want to talk to YOU. Have you ever been THAT girl?

The girl who is never thin enough, athletic enough, pretty enough, funny enough, brave enough…

The girl who shouts for joy with her friends when they are blessed with the desires of their hearts, but goes home and cries herself to sleep.

THAT girl.

I hear you. I see you. I understand you, because I AM you.

I’ve shed those tears. I’ve felt that pain. I understand the loneliness and the wondering if it will be forever.

I get the questions that go through your mind.

Am I too much or not enough? Am I too intense or too nice?

Am I worth it?

It seems like the world would say you’re not. It definitely seems like guys would say you’re not.

And right now you expect me to come in and say something to try to win back your hope…

Right now you expect me to say that someday Prince Charming will come and that you won’t even remember all the years of pain getting there…

But I couldn’t say that, because truth be told, I don’t know what may come someday. And I can’t promise that you’ll forget.

And I wouldn’t try to cheaply explain away your pain, because people have done that to me for years and quite frankly, I hate it. I hate the well-intentioned comments that people make. I hate the flattery. I hate false promises…I’ve heard enough of them to make me doubt a real one.

Are you THAT girl?

I AM.

But there is so much MORE to me than that. And there is to YOU too.

I AM the girl who said “Yes” to God many times when I was scared to death…and watched miracles happen before my eyes.

I AM the girl who has been able to do so many crazy things with my life because my path looked different from my friends’….and I’m not sorry for that at all.

I AM the girl who overcame countless obstacles to become who I AM today. No, really…you have NO STINKING IDEA what I have had to go through.

I AM powerful in Christ. I AM successful because of Him. I AM relentlessly loved by Him.

And I NEVER EVER EVER have to apologize for who I AM.

I am THAT girl, and you’d better not forget it.

And you know what I think?

I think you’re THAT girl too. You’re AMAZING. You’re BEATUIFUL. You’re WANTED.

You’re WORTH IT.

And guess what?

You NEVER EVER EVER have to apologize for being THAT girl. Seriously, don’t do it. There is so much more to you than meets the eye…so much more than even you’ll ever know…so much more than any boy could ever define for you.

Go out there today and be THAT girl.

O Ye of Little Faith

There is one thing in me that I know makes His heart smile. I keep getting out of the boat for one reason only: if Jesus is out there on the waves, then I want to be out there with Him.

Be strong and courageous…

I’ve never wanted to run in the other direction so much in my life. I’ve never felt more inadequate or stretched. I am scared. I am overwhelmed. I’m drowning.

A few weeks ago, I saw a painting of Jesus standing on the water, reaching down through the tormented waves for my hand. His face was peaceful, His eyes determined, and the light surrounding Him a stark contrast to the darkness all around.

I remember a conversation I had with God as a senior in high school. He asked me if I could do anything with my life, what would it be? So I shared with Him my dreams. Only a few days later, I received an email that I was nominated to attend a leadership conference in South Africa, and my life took off from there. To tell you all that He has done would totally exhaust you, so we will just stick with this statement: it’s been CRAZY.

I can’t tell you how many times I have had to re-surrender my life. I can’t tell you how hard it has been to be obedient at times. I can’t tell you how many times my efforts have fallen short. I can’t tell you how many times I thought my life was leading in this direction or that direction, and in the end wound up totally confused. However, I have discovered that as chaotic as my life has been the last ten years, it has truly been led in one direction only: straight to the heart of Jesus.

And that’s how I found myself here, struggling for life under these tormented waves. I wanted to live an extraordinary life for Jesus. I wanted to see Him do great things. I saw Him out there and I just wanted to be with Him. I didn’t even step; without thinking I jumped out of that boat! And I walked on that water.

Somehow the storm got loud. Somehow I fell, and all I knew to do was cry out to the only One who could save me now. Turning back isn’t an option. My strength is totally irrelevant here in the depths of the sea. The only thing that matters is that hand reaching down, that face of peace, and those determined eyes of love. “Lord, save me!” the words bubble out of my mouth as I reach with all I have for His hand.

“O ye of little faith, why did you doubt?”

He’s right. My faith is so small. I often doubt my ability to follow Him well. But then I remember that this isn’t my first time swallowed up by waves, and it won’t be my last. I must look like a clumsy idiot to those other disciples. However, there is one thing in me that I know makes His heart smile. I keep getting out of the boat for one reason only: if Jesus is out there on the waves, then I want to be out there with Him.

I want more of my Jesus, every single day, every waking moment. Pour it out on my life, Lord! I want to see God do extraordinary things. I’m not satisfied with anything less than all of His power, all of His presence, and all of His Spirit flowing in and through me. I want the Church to once again shake the gates of hell. Holy Spirit is calling for a rescue, and I want to be the first to volunteer.

So what does that look like for the cities that you and I are in? Ask God to give you a vision. Ask Him to share His heart with you. I am exploring that right now. It’s going to be an exciting year. Let’s go!

Alien Encounter

Meeting a Christian should be like a wondrous alien encounter. It should be MEMORABLE. It should be CONVICTING. It should be stuffed and overflowing with LOVE. People should walk away from meeting a Christian thinking, “Wow, that was SOMETHING.”

My friend posted a video the other night of an amazing conversation with a pizza delivery guy who encountered Jesus and it changed his life. The man went out and in turn impacted the lives of other people. His enthusiasm was really exciting.

I sat next to a guy on the airplane yesterday who, when he found out that I was a Christian, he clammed up, saying that he does not practice any religion. There was pain in his eyes. I asked him how his experience has been with other Christians, and he said, “They’re just like everybody else.” I asked him, “In a negative way?” And he said, “No; they’re just like everybody else.” Then the conversation ended. Part of me was thankful that he did not have negative feelings toward Christians, but I couldn’t be too sure where the pain was coming from. Ultimately, I was sad that his experience with Christians was that they were “just like everybody else.” Ladies and gents, this SHOULD NOT BE.

Meeting a Christian should be like a wondrous alien encounter. It should be MEMORABLE. It should be CONVICTING. It should be stuffed and overflowing with LOVE. People should walk away from meeting a Christian thinking, “Wow, that was SOMETHING.”

Let’s look at Jesus for a moment. People wouldn’t leave Him alone anywhere He went. Why? Because an encounter with Jesus was powerful. Sickness went running for its life. Demons came pouring out of guys in legions. A suffering heart met grace and sin met its maker and stayed in the slimy pit from which it came. The dead were raised and pride was dashed into the ground.

I say that I want to be like Jesus, but do these things happen when people have an encounter with me? Nope. I rejoice when I have a good conversation with someone, but the truth is…there is so much more transformational power longing to be at work in and through us. I don’t know what impression that guy walked away with yesterday. Honestly, it was a confusing moment and I literally didn’t know what to say or do. However, it brought to light to me how much more I need to pray for an awareness of Holy Spirit in every moment, so that I might connect with what He is already doing in the lives of the people around me. I don’t want to be “just like everybody else” in anybody’s life. Call me extraterrestrial; I don’t care. I want people to meet Jesus when they meet me.

So that’s my prayer, now and forever. The deep desire of my life…that all would truly KNOW Him. He is so amazing! He captures my heart every day! However, I need Him to capture me in a greater way, so that there exists no missed opportunity for someone to encounter Him through me. Today, here we come!

Delight

I am learning that God deeply delights in each one of us, in our uniqueness; in our beauty and personality. He enjoys spending time with us and He loves to love us.

My greatest prayer is that God would teach me to love people more; that He would make me perfect in love. I so desire to have His heart.

There are moments when I realize that my love is not perfect, when my comfort zone is stretched or I am surrounded by a genre of people that I am not normally with. My tendency is to shift my focus from the people to my feelings about the situation. “Is it ok for me to be here? Around THESE people who are doing THESE things?”

However, the more I read the Bible and understand the character of Jesus, I realize that this is ugly and needs to be broken in me. Jesus constantly put Himself in questionable circumstances, surrounded by “questionable” people. He was not worried about getting “dirty” by being with people doing dirty things. He knew who He was and He deeply loved these people. In fact, He defended them to the church leaders when they questioned His actions.

God has been opening my eyes to His heart as I meet with people every day. It doesn’t matter who that person is or what they have done; I have been able to sense a growing wonder in each one I spend time with. I am learning that God deeply delights in each one of us, in our uniqueness; in our beauty and personality. He enjoys spending time with us and He loves to love us.

If God feels that way about each person, how should I feel about them? How should that change the way I interact with them? How much should that call me to step out of my comfort zone and GO to them where they are, just like Jesus stepped out of heaven to come and DIE for us? The call is the same for me and for you: to give all, to literally DIE to ourselves for the sake of love. The point is: if we truly understood how very much God loves the people that surround us every day, it would drastically change the manner in which we interact with them.

It doesn’t matter what may be going on in society or in the immediate situation surrounding me; I am called to reflect God’s heart. I pray as David prayed in Psalm 19:14, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to You, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” I pray that I would in no way, in word, thought, or deed, online or in person, be a stumbling block to someone knowing Jesus as He really is and His powerful love in all its transforming beauty. I want my life to be another avenue that God uses to draw the hearts of His people whom He loves so much to Himself.

And I pray that as I have lunch with people, visit their restaurants, walk by their schools, and step into their places of business that I would genuinely delight in people as God delights in them. May people find in me something real. May they find Jesus in me.

Who are YOU?

God didn’t respond with a gushy answer like, “You have specific gifts and skills for this task and I chose you because of your leadership qualities.” He responded with, “I will be with you.”

True story: I often battle insecurity. Whenever God reveals to me more of His plan for my life, that evil voice comes from around the corner: “Who are YOU to do that? Who are YOU to have that kind of influence, to think that YOU could go to those places and say those things?” You could call it fear. You could call it shame. You could call it Satan. I challenge you today to call it MUTE.

When God appeared to Moses at the burning bush and revealed to him the calling that He had placed on Moses’ life, the first reaction was not astonishment, but this simple question, “Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:11)” Like, seriously, God…wrong address. However, God didn’t respond with a gushy answer like, “You have specific gifts and skills for this task and I chose you because of your leadership qualities.” He responded with, “I will be with you.”

And God says the same thing to you and me today. We were not chosen because of our qualifications; we were chosen by grace. Our lives have one purpose: that our relationship with our Creator would bring Him glory and honor. When we lead people to Christ, it is not because we are attractive, but because He is truly beautiful. When we see real success in our work or ministry, it is not because we are so gifted, but because He is with us. This whole thing is really about HIM.

Decide today to mute the voice that says, “Who are YOU to do this?”. You are loved and chosen by God for this. He knew what He was doing, and He is with you. Story complete.

To Walk With Jesus

And that’s what I want my daily legacy to be, not only what people say about me at the end of my life. I want people to step away with the impression that this is what it’s like to be with Him, to know Him, and to be loved by Him.

Tonight I had the opportunity to be a part of a home Bible study for law school students and had an amazing time. During the study, we watched a Francis Chan video on the church, and he told a story that really impacted me about a man named Vaughn.

Francis had a missionary speaker at his church, and this missionary talked about how his life was deeply impacted by a youth pastor named Vaughn. The next week they had another speaker who talked about how his life was impacted by this same youth pastor named Vaughn.

Finally Francis went to a friend and told him about how crazy he thought it was that both these people knew the same youth pastor, and his friend said, “Oh yeah, I know Vaughn! I was in Mexico with him one time and watched how the children on the street flocked to him because they knew that he would take care of them. He was always giving them clothes and food and just loving them.”

Then the man said something that totally rocked my world. “In walking with Vaughn that day, I think that’s what it would have felt like to walk with Jesus.”

Like, really….wow!?!?

My first reaction was: I want people to say that about me! I want that to be their take away from hanging out with me, that they could say, “Hanging out with Chelsea is what I imagine it would be like to hang out with Jesus.”

And that’s what I want my daily legacy to be, not only what people say about me at the end of my life. I want people to step away with the impression that this is what it’s like to be with Him, to know Him, and to be loved by Him.

What a way to live!

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