Break Camp

“Break camp and advance… See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession…” Deuteronomy 1:7a,8a  NIV

 

The opening chapter of Deuteronomy lifts a curtain on a scene in the land of Moab where the people of God are gathered before His servant, Moses. The day is memorialized in Scripture with pin-point precision: it was the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month.

 

That’s Day 1 of Month 11 in Year 40.

 

The stopwatch on this forty-year time frame took its first tick just as precisely. It was on the fourteenth day of the first month of the first year. The day carved out on God’s sovereign schedule for their massive exodus from Egypt.

 

 

That’s Day 14 of Month 1 in Year 1.

 

 

Endure the tedium of the dates for a moment because each set swells with significance. The first twelve months in the wilderness were calendared by God for the construction of a dwelling place for His glory. According to Numbers 10:11-13,  in the second year, in the second month, on the twentieth day of the month, the cloud then lifted above the tabernacle of the testimony to advance the people of God toward the land He’d solemnly promised to their father Abraham. 

 

That’s Day 20 of Month 2 in Year 2.

 

Thirty eight harrowing years had flown by at a sloth’s pace when Moses gathered the people of God on the damp edges of Canaan for the renewal of the covenant recorded in Deuteronomy. The skeletons of the faithless were scattered across the desert, picked clean by jackals, bleached white by a searing sun. Idolatry had fed gold to a bonfire and brought forth a graven calf in pangs of revelry to the tunes of slurring songs. Spies had returned from Canaan weighted down with the paradox of fruit and fear.

 

The delay had not come because the people disbelieved that God could do wonders. They’d seen Him split the sea, swallow their foes, shower down bread, and spit water from rocks. What they disbelieved was that God could do wonders through them.

 

We are not able…for they are stronger than us…The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants. Numbers 13:31,32

 

As it turned out, they were devoured not by their foes in their land of promise but by their faithlessness in a desert where, ironically, every dawn sprayed sunshine on a twinkling blanket of wonders. (Exodus 16:14-15)

 

But in the fortieth year and the eleventh month, something different happened. The sun rose bold and bright over Moab on a brand new day. Before Moses stood a new generation.

 

A generation ready to break camp and advance. We are not told that they were taller than their predecessors or that the giants across the river had shriveled and shrunk. In all their human frailty leaned against the gargantuan task, that new generation simply believed, broke camp, and advanced. Even without the leader who’d raised his staff to the Red Sea, rousing an east wind that made walls out of waters.

 

Fast forward thousands of years. Same God, looking for the same thing: people with bona fide faith who will swallow their fear and step out there into the unknown to make His praise glorious.

 

Every generation of Christ-followers is commissioned to advance the work of His kingdom across this globe, not to dispossess but to disciple, until a great multitude from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages can cry out with a loud voice,

 

Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! (Revelation 7:9-10)

 

Many of the generations behind us stepped up to the challenge and did the work of the gospel, even if it killed them. We read about them. We marvel over them. We quote them. But we’re the ones dotting the landscape now. This is our tenure. They had nothing that we do not have. We have the same Savior, the same commissioning, the same Scriptures, and the same indwelling Spirit. We’re on.

 

But if we really want to advance, it’s probably time to break some camps.

 

 

Our camps are stalling us. They’re distracting us, dividing us, detouring us and detaining us. They are depleting the energy we need for the supreme task: to see people come to saving faith in Jesus Christ with a clock ticking so fast and furiously that our heads are spinning like tops.

 

God forbid in this metaphor that we’d confuse a camp with a community. Community is essential within the Body of Christ for individuals to flourish.We’d be hard-pressed to fulfill our callings apart from community. We can’t forsake meeting together. Nothing could be further from my mind than all of us out there on our own, unattached, unaccounted for, and unaccountable.

 

But camps are something else. They call for allegiance.

 

We’re all drawn to camps because they help satisfy our bone-deep desire to belong. But our pledge of allegiance to a camp will become a snare to us over and over. Our camp will eventually come into direct conflict with our allegiance to Christ because He will personally see to it. Jesus will systematically challenge every single confederation we hold dear in order to make sure that His authority stands completely alone and uncontested. Even good affiliations. Even godly ones. Those, in fact, can be the biggest competitors for authority in the lives of believers in Christ.

 

As a pen to the ink of the Spirit, Paul described the tendency of spiritual people to wrap a death grip around precepts and religious practices instead of “holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” (Colossians 2:19)

 

There is a growth that is not necessarily from God.

 

If we want the only kind that matters to Him, we’ve got to hold fast to the Head.

 

Not to the camp.

 

To the Head.

 

The camp does not equal the Head.

 

When our loyalty to Christ or camp is tested and the camp wins, we lose. Our advancements with the gospel work will eventually either brake to the pace of an inchworm, screech to a stop, or reverse directions entirely until we’re inadvertently working in opposition to the Holy Spirit. The bleakest part is that we could be the last to know. A camp vision can get so thick, cloudy, and all-encompassing that we don’t even realize we’re missing a move of God. A banner can become a blindfold.

 

One way we’ll know the difference between a camp and a community is how freely we can move within it, around it, and even out of it. A camp elicits adherence. If departure would feel like a break up and differing perceived as disloyalty, we’ve probably got ourselves a camp.

 

Any organization or system in Christendom becomes a camp when it holds sway in our spiritual identity. We are known, not so much for being Jesus-followers as for being a  ___________________________________.

 

 

Camps have more flag bearers than cross-bearers.

 

Camps consider significant differences as one of two basic things: menacing threats or colossal signs of ignorance.

 

If you can go wholeheartedly with Jesus and still stay in a group and flourish, you’ve got yourself a fine community. Your calling and your community can peacefully coexist for years on end. But, if what you’ve got on your hands is a camp and you risk adjusting your doctrine according to what you’re learning right there on the pages of Scripture, you can count on a head-on collision. To decide exactly what we believe by the time we’re 30, choose our camp, and carefully reaffirm that exact line of belief till our dying breath will freeze our feet on the field. Getting people to come to us will eventually and invasively replace our *going  to them.  (*Mt. 28:19)

 

 

We can’t cram for life in the Spirit. It’s not a degree and the Bible’s not a diploma. We are summoned by the Spirit to study the Scriptures and seek Christ all our lives, increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:10)  A life-long disciple is a life-long learner. That means that we take the risk of realizing that maybe we were wrong about a strong stand we took. If we’re in a community, that can be okay. If we’re in a camp, that’s a cat fight.

 

Hold fast to the Head.

 

Not to the camp.

 

Look up from the huddle to fields white for harvest.

 

 

If we want to advance with the gospel of Jesus Christ on the battlefield of this globe where the carnage amounts to millions of souls, we are not called to keep camp.

 

We are not called to trade camps. (This will be the natural tendency of the long-term camper who feels the need for change. Simply hop on one foot to another one.)

 

Nope.

 

We are called to break camp.

 

Break camp and advance.

 


Here we get to pledge our affection to every brother and sister but here we pledge our allegiance to Jesus Christ alone.

 

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Colossians 3:11 NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Yahoo BookmarksDeliciousTwitterFacebookGoogle BookmarksPrintFriendlyStumbleUponShare

Let’s Not Be A They

The other day I read something written to me that, while I understand was meant to encourage me, actually ended up slightly offending me. I was a little taken back at the offense because I’m usually not the type that ends up easily offended. A few days later I heard the exact same thing and all of the sudden, I took up my defense and simultaneously had the sudden revelation of why I was offended in the first place. Thank you, Lord.

 

I was offended because I was being associated with something and defined by something I didn’t want to be known as. It was something I had no control over. There was nothing I could do to create change and while it wasn’t rude, or bad, or even ugly, I just know it’s nothing permanent.

 

I realize I’m being vague but the point is not what I was categorized into, the point is that we do this to people all the time without even realizing what we’re doing.

 

We constantly are associating people with something whether it be their job, their marital status, their gifts, their friends, their family, their finances, their church attendance, their weight, their height, their clothes, and all manner of things I’m not listing. This list is exhaustive.

 

My mind immediately went to Zacchaeus.  (And let me just go ahead and categorize, if you grew up in church, go ahead and sing along with me. “Zacchaeus was a wee little man, and a wee little man was he…” And seriously, what man wants to be labeled as a wee little man?!)

 

“He entered Jericho and was passing through. And behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus. He was a chief tax collector and was rich. And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. So he ran on ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see him, for he was about to pass that way. And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully. And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:1-10

 

Here we learn that Zacchaeus was a tax collector, he was rich, he was small in stature and he was obviously a sinner, so they grumbled because Jesus chose to go stay with a sinner. Gasp!

 

And when they saw it, they all grumbled, “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.” (Luke 19:7) I don’t know about you, but I’ve been a they. Shame on me.

 

I’ve seen Jesus do things for people that I didn’t think they deserved because of this or that, and no doubt, the Lord put me back in my place.

 

But thank you, Lord, for grace and mercy. As one of my favorite authors puts it, “Grace doesn’t seem fair until you need some.” Bob Goff.

 

Last night I got to pray for a girl who confessed to a group of people that she just wants to love people. It was obvious that her heart matched her confession. And that’s what I want, too.

 

Whether it be positive or negative, so often we base our love on the conditional, the seen and the status.

 

I’ve realized in my own life there are two dangers to categorizing.

 

Either they’re better than me or I’m better than them.

 

Admitting that makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little. Gag!

 

When we associate people by being “better” than them, we feel like we have so much to offer that person and try our hardest to mold that person into someone we think they should be. Or, we ignore them because they simply don’t deserve our attention. We don’t give them the time of day because the more “important” people deserve it. It is sickening.

 

The danger in placing people in a category better than us is that instead of seeing and loving them as Jesus sees them, we start acting out of intimidation and performance because we want them to accept us.  We believe they would never accept the real, messy us because certainly he or she never struggles, so we place them on a pedestal and put on a mask.

 

And in both cases, we end up withholding love.

 

In either situation, there is no real relationship. Only pride. And pride keeps people at arms length while humility invites people in.

 

But when we put on lenses to see people by Jesus’ eyes, we remember that we’re no less or more loved than the person standing in front of us. That we ALL fell short of the glory of God and Jesus came to see and to save the lost, which, if you needed a reminder like me, was all of us at one point or another.

 

It’s a reminder that our love for people is no comparison to God’s love for people. Nor do our ideas about someone else determine God’s love for them. Or what He’s doing in them. Or how He wants to use them.

 

I often have to remind myself that if I were in a large group and asked those of us to raise our hands that have ever struggled with any sin, whether it be bitterness, anger, lust, laziness, or addiction, just to name a few, the hands raised would represent two groups of people: those who were raised in church and those who were not, but don’t we categorize people into those two groups? Don’t we assume that churchgoers struggle with less? My point being, we’re all flesh and blood born sinners, churched or not.

 

Lest we forget, church does not cause transformation, only the power of Jesus Christ does. Nor does perfect church attendance equal godliness.

 

But when we greet and see people and honor people with the love of Jesus, despite where they work, what they do, or who they are or who they’re not, or what gifts they’ve been given, we can relate because we’re all just human and we’re all struggle in one way or another. And that alone is comforting.

 

And all of the sudden we realize we’re just one of them, instead of a they.

 

It’s all grace.

 

Dear Lord, help us. Give us eyes to see and hearts to love. In Jesus’ name.

 

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Yahoo BookmarksDeliciousTwitterFacebookGoogle BookmarksPrintFriendlyStumbleUponShare

LPL Memphis Recap (Watch this!)

Well. I don’t know much about this past weekend in Memphis because I wasn’t there myself, but I can only imagine how the power of the Holy Spirit showed up simply based on this most excellent recap. I just told Rich this morning, one of our LPL photographers, that this is one of my favorite recaps. And coupled with the song “Awesome” off Travis’ new I’m Living Proof CD, it’s nearly perfect.

So, I don’t know if you normally take the four minutes to watch these recaps or not, but I’d encourage you to stop what you’re doing and watch this one.

If you just sent your Kindergartner off to school for the first time, watch this.

If you showed up to work this Monday morning discouraged again, watch this.

If you are in a season of joy, watch this.

If you are in a season of crushing, watch this.

It’s so good, y’all. Trust me.

Living Proof Live | Memphis from LifeWay Women on Vimeo.

I can’t wait to hear about the weekend. Have a happy Monday!

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Yahoo BookmarksDeliciousTwitterFacebookGoogle BookmarksPrintFriendlyStumbleUponShare

In Which I Introduce a Few of my Favorite Worship Albums!

I started working on a little post yesterday, but set that aside for the time being to talk to y’all about music.

Yes, music.

I don’t know what else to say except that I love, love it. Any and all kinds, I’m not very picky and so easily pleased. When people ask me to recommend some music, I usually send them no less than 10 albums. I’ve also been known to have a lot of favorites.

Since we’ve been sharing so much this week about the ways God has used us to creatively serve others, I thought it would be sweet to share how some of that creativity has ministered to me!

So, if you’re looking for some new worship music, allow me to share with you some favorites as of late.

In no particular order:

  1. Travis Cottrell: I’m Living Proof – Travis and team released a CD just yesterday! I know many of you are familiar with and love him through our Living Proof Live conferences, so you’ll be thrilled to know this album is a compilation of songs they sing at the conferences. I’ve had it playing all day and I love it. I’m especially fond of Take Me to the King and Victor’s Crown.
  2. Matt Redman: Your Grace Finds Me – I’ll be honest, it took me a few listens to get into this album, but once I did, I was sold. The lyrics. The melodies. The Truth. The everything. It’s so, so good.
  3. Hillsong Worship: No Other Name – This is their newest release and I think I adore every song on the album. That doesn’t always happen!
  4. Hillsong Young & Free: We are Young and Free – If you’re looking for an upbeat CD to workout to, this is it. It’s young and free and awesome.
  5. Bethel Music: You Make Me Brave – Little known fact, this album was recorded live at a women’s conference, even more reason why you should get it. Grin. (This is the CD that It Is Well comes from, the song I blogged about a few weeks ago.)
  6. All Sons & Daughters: All Sons & Daughters – I’ve listened to this CD for a year straight and I’ve never tired of it. Amazing. The whole thing. I so appreciate not only their gifts of creating music, but also their pastoral hearts.
  7. Passion: Take It All – This CD includes songs from Chris Tomlin, Christy Nockels, David Crowder, Matt Redman and some others recorded live at the Passion Conference. Just imagine worshiping along with 20,000 college students as you sign your way through this CD.
  8. Kari Jobe: Majestic – If you can only purchase one song off this entire album, don’t miss Forever. It’s breathtaking!
  9. Audrey Assad: Fortune Fall – I know I’ve mentioned Audrey on this blog before, but Audrey has the unique ability to pen lyrics that are so full of truth and straight from scripture and sometimes all I can say is, she’s so speaking my language right now.
  10. Lindsay McCaul: One More Step – Lindsay is the daughter-in-law to one of our beloved staff members, so naturally, we all love her, too. But I think you would love her as well if you heard her sing. Angelic! The song With the Brokenhearted is worth the entire CD.  God is WITH us. Amen? Amen.

My list extends far beyond these 10 albums, but if you’re looking for some good Jesus music, this is at least a start.

Also, Beth is heading to Memphis as I type this. (By the way, we are out of our fifty tickets! So sorry, ladies!) Will you all join us in praying for her and the LPL team this weekend? We’re praying that the enemy would be bound from that arena and the Holy Spirit would do an extreme work in every individual heart there. He is more than capable to bring people to salvation and cause miracles to happen. Let it be, Lord! Break down walls and build up faith. In Jesus’ name!

Happy Thursday, y’all!

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Yahoo BookmarksDeliciousTwitterFacebookGoogle BookmarksPrintFriendlyStumbleUponShare

The Creative Creator Let Loose Through our Works

Hey, Everybody! I think we may be on the verge of some fun in this post. My good friend, Angela Cottrell, and I were talking recently about how cool it would be to hear women testify publicly to the creative ways God has used them to serve people.

All of us who have received Christ as Savior have a divine calling and the spiritual gifting (1 Cor. 12/Roman 12/1 Peter 4:10-11) and the Scriptures to equip that calling (imperative! 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

But one reason many of us may struggle to find our stride is that we shortlist limitless possibilities into categories we could count on three fingers of one hand. We assume that to serve God effectively, it must look like __________________ or be similar to ________________________ or maybe ______________________________. And we don’t feel like those are a fit for us. Or perhaps we don’t have opportunities to serve like that. So, what happens? We sit down bewildered and unsatisfied and feeling lame.

 

But what if we gave God credit for more creativity than that? What if we realized that there are as many ways to minister in the name of Christ as there are needs out there?

 

No matter how familiar Ephesians 2:10 may be to you, read it again:

 

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 ESV

The same God who created the galaxies in their vast array, the seas in their unsearchable depths, the beasts of the field with spots and stripes, who landscaped the horizon with pines and cedars and sequoias, and set in motion some 37 trillion cells in the human body…

…This same God created us in Christ Jesus for good works.

 

His creativity did not come to a screeching halt on the Sixth Day.

 

He is never uninspired and uncreative in His work. The primary way He spreads His broad hands throughout this needy world is through gloves made of warm human skin.

 

All of us have opportunities and they are as diverse as the people trying to leave their footprints in the loose dust of this passing planet.

 

If all our works in Christ’s name look exactly the same, something has run amok. Massive populations and types of people become invisible in our shortsighted vision.

 

I love the wording of Acts 10:38 – “…God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.”

 

Since His ascension to the right hand of God and the coming of His promised Holy Spirit, each generation of Christ-followers is anointed by Him to go about doing good and to see Jesus heal multitudes oppressed by the devil.  And behold, Jesus says, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

 

Shine your flashlight on the less familiar wording of these two segments from The Message, holding it right up close to the catch words of creativity:

 

Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.  Galatians 6:4-5

 

Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, “God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out. He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.  Isaiah 40:27-31

 

If God has shown creativity with the way He has used you to serve people OR if He’s done something off the beaten path with your life as a benefit to your sphere of influence, testify! You don’t even have to sit and analyze whether or not your example fits the category of “creative.” Do you get chances to go about doing some good in Christ’s Name?

 

Then share how!

 

And may a whole world of ideas and possibilities open up to some very willing sisters out there.

 

I am so anxious to read these! So much love to you!

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Yahoo BookmarksDeliciousTwitterFacebookGoogle BookmarksPrintFriendlyStumbleUponShare

LPL Memphis Tickets for You and a Friend

LPL Memphis is coming upon us quickly! As in just days away! In keeping with our new initiative, we have some tickets set aside and available for you to give to some friends you might want to invite to an LPL event. They might not even attend church, or know Jesus as Savior;  they might be new to faith, or simply less discipled in the Word. Listen, if the Lord puts someone on your heart that might be interested and blessed by going, by all means call them up and invite them. You never know what kind of investment you’re making in their life!

If you have someone in mind that can attend with you, or if someone told you about free tickets and pointed you to our blog, or if you stumbled across this blog and don’t know why, just call and ask for Kimberly here at the ministry and she will get you set up: 1-888-700-1999. (Not 800.)

Oh, that our people would taste and see that Jesus is good; that they would be willing to enter in even if just for 24 hours to hear that Jesus DOES exist, HE IS the Savior, and He is LIFE!  If while inviting a friend you need a ticket yourself, we want to gift you a ticket also.

We love y’all.

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Yahoo BookmarksDeliciousTwitterFacebookGoogle BookmarksPrintFriendlyStumbleUponShare

This and That

Hey Y’all!

I find that it’s always a hard balance to know when to talk about something fun and light on here and when to approach the heavy and hard things. Especially right now because I am hyperaware of what is occurring around the world and in our hometowns and it is dark. So much evil. So many unknowns. So much fear. So much sadness. It’s just been one of those weeks in the news, you know? I find the news very hard to watch, but I also don’t want to be naive. The way I see it is the more I know, the better I know how to pray, even though I’m still  more often than not at a loss for words. I’m asking the Lord to strengthen us, protect us, deliver us, have compassion on the oppressed, the afflicted, rebuild the ruins, bring light to the darkness and all the other words my heart cannot come up with. My prayers groan alongside the groans of the earth, of His people. Before I ever uttered one silly word, I did want to acknowledge the terror, the injustice and the hurt that is all around us. Lord, be near! Come soon!

Whew.

Now I’m going to try and make the awkward transition of talking about…gelato.

Yes. Gelato.

Why?

Because I’ve been ruined for anything else. And by anything else I mean any other ice cream. And while I realize gelato is not the same as ice cream, I still don’t know the difference between the two. After all, both of them have the essentials such as milk and lots and lots of sugar.

My palate is pretty consistent when it comes to ice cream and without fail, every time, I head for Blue Bell. Bless you people who don’t live in Texas but have Blue Bell delivered to your home state. You are blessed and highly favored. Recently, though, I’ve skipped Blue Bell all together and gone straight for this: Talenti Gelato. And more specifically, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup.

Y’all. I cannot be trusted with even a pint. It’s sinful. If I’m not careful, I can eat the entire thing in one sitting. In fact, usually I leave about a 1/4 to put back in the freezer just to make me feel better about life and my indulgence. And lest you think a pint is not big deal, I promise you that if I told you how many calories were in this one pint your mind would be blown. Let’s just say it hits four digits!

Consider this your PSA. Every now and then in the midst of turmoil and chaos, it’s good to sit down with a pint of gelato. And if you’ve not tried it, please do yourself a favor and get your hands on some. Ladies, since I’ve shared my secret weapon as of late, please feel free to tell me if I’m missing out on anything else!

Also, in other random news, I got home the other day, checked the mail and found a handwritten letter in the mail from a loved one. Can I just say that I hope handwritten letters never, ever go out of style? Do you feel that passionate about certain things you’re afraid might go extinct? I’m just here to encourage us to go postal occasionally. Let’s keep the forever stamp in business.

Y’all are the best. Thank you for always putting up with my random thoughts.

Have a happy Thursday!

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Yahoo BookmarksDeliciousTwitterFacebookGoogle BookmarksPrintFriendlyStumbleUponShare

One Slender Streak of Clarity

This morning I slipped out of bed before my alarm went off so that I wouldn’t awaken Keith. I’d slept much later than usual because I’d had a full weekend of taping sessions at Life Today for Wednesdays in the Word. Our church also has an 11:00 AM worship service slot which is a glorious grace for people who work many Friday nights and Saturdays and need a little sabbath in the worst way. I had my prayer time and several cups of thick dark coffee in the regular spot where Jesus and I meet on mornings when no one is up in my house but me. If Keith is awake, I move to my library to finish out but, if he’s sound asleep, I stick a little closer to the coffee pot. It saves considerable pacing.

Half an hour in, I glanced at the clock and knew I’d better get moving toward the shower or we weren’t going to get there in time to fellowship at all before the service started. Something is always missing in my Sunday when that happens. I don’t go to church for the service alone unless I’m in too much distress to want to talk to anybody. In that case, I might go in late and leave early, as much as I hate to admit it. But far more normally, second to participating in worship and the Word, I go with full intention to be with a family of believers equally frail and human but also pursuing a life of faith. I give and get hugs. I get and give words of encouragement. I pray for people and people pray for me. Sometimes my own daughter will lean over in the part of our service dedicated to prayer and whisper intercession in my ear.

This holy give and take. A community cannot exist without communing.  Church has never just been limited to a service for me. Nor has it been limited to Sundays.

 

But back to this morning. I didn’t want to be late so I stacked up the Bible I use for my morning devotionals, my journal, and my iPad and headed into my library to set them back on my desk. As I put them down, I hesitated for a moment before turning toward my bedroom. I knew I still had something on my heart that I had not brought to the Lord. When I finish my prayer time, the goal for me is that my heart would be poured out before Jesus in praises, confessions, intercessions, and concerns and then filled back up by Him with His own Holy Spirit.

 

Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him. God is a refuge for us. Psalm 62:8

 

Be filled with the Spirit. Ephesians 5:18

 

I pour out, He pours in.

That’s our deal.

 

Just minutes before in the kitchen with my Bible open, I’d talked around the thing that was on my heart but I’d not voiced it the way I really felt it. I had questions about it that I hadn’t exactly asked. Maybe I hadn’t asked them because I’d not really expected an answer. Or maybe I hadn’t asked them because I was uncomfortable being that raw. By raw I don’t just mean honest. Good grief, I hope to heaven that I approach God in prayer with honesty this many years into our relationship after the places we’ve been together. I don’t think I’m exaggerating to say that, if He hadn’t insisted that I learn to be honest with Him about my true estate, I’d probably be dead by now.

I’m pausing to stare at that statement to see if it really rings true in my spirit.

Yeah. I think my body would be cold and in the ground by now. I was headed for a full fledged implosion.

 

To me, raw doesn’t just mean honest. It means not having to think carefully about how I’m going to word it. Not having to frame it in godly terms. After all, I want to be godly. God help me, I want to be godly. But it’s hard to be godly with a lot of junk stored up in your heart.

 

Raw means, “This is the deal right here. This is how I feel. And why is it that…? What on earth is…?”

Raw means going ahead and putting out there how I really feel about something down deep, even if it sounds selfish or small.

Even if it makes me sound pathetic. He can see my heart anyway. And sometimes it is pathetic.

I glanced over at the gorgeous kneeling bench the prayer team at Tuesday night Bible study had given me and I walked over to it and knelt down on it.

Right there I pulled out that pine cone that was still down there pricking and sticking and crowding my heart and set it out before God, all jagged and bloody on the edges. Right there I brought my questions.

 

August temperatures in Houston are oppressively warm and the air is damp and wet even in the morning. Keith Moore likes his house cold and, if he didn’t, I would. The combination of competing temperatures in a humid climate means that every window this time of year is thickly layered in condensation until the sun comes up and burns it off. You have to go outside around here if you want an unhindered view of the dawn.

As I knelt on that bench, everything was a fog out that window especially with my forehead pressed to the glass. But, as I prayed for just those few moments, my eyes adjusted to one slender streak left by a heavy drop. Just one tear of clarity.

And somehow, it was enough. At least for today.

I didn’t get up off that bench with clear answers to my questions but I got up with something else. I rose from my knees with the sense in my heart that I’d been heard. That the questions were not inappropriate. That the matter was not irrelevant. And that, even if it communicated my flawed and small self, what better place to have exposed it?

Then I went to church and worshiped freely because all that had troubled my heart was out on the table before God and I was hiding nothing from Him. I fought tears for most of the service because I felt close to Him and not because I’d been godly but because I’d just gotten to be raw. And it had been okay.

I am struggling with some things and He knows it and not just from reading my mind but from hearing my mouth. Let’s just go ahead and admit it. There is relief in that.

I don’t know why some things are the way they are. It doesn’t change them to admit my bewilderment but it clears the air somehow.

Hostility grows where things are left simmering and unsaid. What I needed to say to Jesus this morning wasn’t about Him but its only safe place was with Him.

Go ahead, Sister. Trust Him with that thing. Go find a place to kneel and say it. Say it in humility but say it with complete honestly.

And I pray that, though the window’s still wet and blurred by the heat, you will open your eyes and there it will be.

One slender streak of clarity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Yahoo BookmarksDeliciousTwitterFacebookGoogle BookmarksPrintFriendlyStumbleUponShare

A Breath of Fresh Air

I’m often asked how many times a year I get to see my extended family in Colorado. Usually we tend to see each other at least once, and if I’m lucky, two times, once in the summer and then occasionally for a holiday. When you grow up living over 1,000 miles from the rest of your family, you don’t know any different. I never had the pleasure of getting to see my grandparent’s or cousins for every holiday, nor were we the ones to just pop over to each other’s houses, but because I didn’t know any different, I never felt like I was really missing out. Thankfully, growing up we were able to spend a more extended amount of time in Colorado each summer since school was out. It was common that we’d fly up with our mom, and then about halfway through the trip dad would meet us there when he had time off work. It just worked that way. Of course, as we got older our summers got shorter, work got in the way, family vacations got smaller and farther apart, because, well, grown up life is different than the beloved carefree elementary years.

All that to say, this past Sunday evening I returned home from a nine-day vacation in Colorado with my family. If nine days sounds long to you, well, it does to me, too! It’s the longest amount of time I’ve spent of there in probably ten years.

When the 2014 LPL schedule came out and Denver had made the cut, I thought briefly about possibly attending with my family, but then completely forgot all about it. Mind you, the schedule was released in 2013, so it was still really off my radar. About three months ago my grandmother sent me an email regarding LPL in Denver that her friend had told her about, and that “if I could possibly go she might attend with me.” A few months of planning, a couple of airline tickets and a handful of conference wrist bands later, I found myself in Denver Colorado sitting on the same row as all of the women in my family. It was a summer miracle, and the kick off of a week in the mountains! The ten of us had a sweet time at LPL. I don’t know if we’ll ever get that opportunity again, so I’m grateful to God for allowing us that brief weekend together.

The women in my family. (Sorry for the multiple shadows.)

And this sums up our weekend together.

The next day, we headed up with my mom’s side of the family to Breckenridge for the week. If you’re an avid skier but have never visited the mountains in the summer, you are missing some deep refreshment. I am equal parts beach girl and mountain girl. I love it all! But, the contrast of the lime green trees and deep blue mountains is unmatched. Not to mention the breath of fresh, crisp air you can only get from the north during the summer. We spent six days resting, reading, hiking, swimming, eating, playing games, laughing, riding the gondola, and being stunned by creation. Beauty right alongside the challenge to keep ten people happy for an extended amount of time. Grin.

Here are a few of my pictures from the week. It honestly was rainy and chilly the majority of our stay there, but when it wasn’t raining, you can bet we were outside enjoying every moment we could. And if you’re not one for photo journalism, feel free to scroll to the end. Grin.

The sunset our first evening there.

The view from our hike the second day was literally breathtaking.

I have found if you keep going, despite the effort it takes to get the top, it’s usually worth it.

On our way down the mountain after our hike, the Lord sent us a moose sighting. Unreal.

And here are a few shots of the little town of Breckenridge.

One morning before the storms came, I made my way downtown to find some local iced coffee, and planted myself near a stream with this view to read. It was heavenly.

This was our last day heading up the mountain on the Super Chair. Soaring over the Evergreen trees on a 10,000 foot high mountain makes you feel really, really tiny in the best way possible.

Cousins that vacation together stay together. Or something like that. Grin.

In my happy place.

Because of the abnormally chilly weather, it was usually cloudy and rainy at sunset, except our first and last evening there. But it was worth the wait.

Until next time, Breck…

Being away also explains why this blog has been so quiet the past week or so. The same week I was gone on vacation, Beth was out as well. Summers are typically crazy for most everyone anyway, but thank you for being patient with us as it has been quieter than usual around here on the Blog. However, you are never off our minds. In fact, I was delighted to meet a handful of you in Denver. I was just telling someone recently that meeting you all in real life makes it all the more real to me. It’s easy to believe the lie that I’m just talking to a screen instead of real live people on the other side of the computer screen. So it’s nice to get to hug some of your necks!

I imagine some of you have been putting your kiddos on the school bus this week for their first week of school! Am I correct assuming that? Either way, summer as we know it is coming to a quick end. (Though we in Houston will still experience summer like temps well into early October.) I’d love to hear from any of you (singles and families alike), that got to take a vacation this summer. Any places I desperately need to know about before I plan my next trip? (I have no idea when that will be, but I always enjoy thinking about traveling. Grin.) Any surprises on your journey? Like a moose?

Y’all are the best.

Happy Wednesday!

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Yahoo BookmarksDeliciousTwitterFacebookGoogle BookmarksPrintFriendlyStumbleUponShare

Siesta Summer Bible Study 2014 Gathering 5 Wrap Up!

Wow, friends! It’s our last gathering for our Siesta Summer Bible Study 2014! Thank you so much for allowing me to serve you this summer! I am so proud of you for hanging in there and pursuing God through His Word in tailspins of activity and swirls of people. Listen, don’t you dare get discouraged if you were unable to finish in eight weeks. Keep at it and see it to a conclusion even if you don’t get to the last page until October! God will time the themes of the lessons to match your challenges. He is so faithful.

 

I hope you are able to view the video but, if not, you’ll find the basic instructions for your discussions and comments below this screen.

SSBS Session 5 COTD from LPV on Vimeo.

 

Discussion from Week Seven: (To Love the Truth)

1. In your small group or in your comment to the post, review Day 4, “A Strong Delusion”. How can God use darkness when we refuse the light? Was the lesson any help at all in sorting out some difficult concepts?

2. Pages 180-181 – Choose one of those three sections that hit you the most personally and discuss why. For instance, have you experienced a sifting season? Or a thorn in the flesh? Share something you filled in on pgs. 180-181.

 

From Week Eight: (The Lord of Peace)

Pg. 205 – Reread Romans 16:20.

1. Day Four: Discuss why you will be especially happy for that day to come.  How do you truly owe the enemy one? What do you hope to make him sorry for?

2. Pg. 209 – Did you happen to write your own word picture of grace? If so, share it.

3. Lastly, if you have one primary thing you believe this eight week series has been about between you and Jesus, what would it be?

 

Bless you, Sister! I love you and appreciate you so much! Let’s stay in the Word and hold tight to Jesus! I love this portion of Ephesians 6 out of The Message. It’s a perfect wrap up to our series:

 

“God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels. Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet.” Ephesians 6:10-13 (The Message)

Leave a comment here. | Share with Others:
Yahoo BookmarksDeliciousTwitterFacebookGoogle BookmarksPrintFriendlyStumbleUponShare