Saturday, April 30, 2016

Great is Your Faithfulness

Last week, James and I went on vacation.  Originally, we were going to go to Florida with my cousin but things got a little crazy and we decided to go to Branson instead by ourselves.  Cameron had other commitments so he stayed home.  I was finally going to have enough alone time to do some song writing…I brought my keyboard and all kinds of other notebooks and “stuff” I thought I might need; I really didn’t have high expectations, I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing but on Saturday morning after I unpacked and had my quiet time I sat down and began.  I had written some lyrics while I was sick a while back…back when I had a moment to be still.  So I poured over the lyrics to a part of a song I had written called “Be Still”; it really was the story of my life, always being distracted and busy and never “still” enough.  It was based on Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God”.  The music – lyrics and chord progressions came pouring out of me and after a few hours I had a complete song.  Well, at least a song with all the main parts…I could play it for myself and sing it.  I was simply awe struck, God is so good to me.  Day 1 and I already had a song.  I recorded it and sent it to a couple friends, I played it for James - much to his surprise (because he didn’t expect much either) but no one was as surprised as I was and am.  That night a lady I didn’t know texted me about some Alaskan missionaries at her church there in Branson, she said she thought we were supposed to attend her church the next morning and meet them.  So, we did.  If you read my previous post you know that I bawled through at least half of the service, it was an amazing day.  Sunday afternoon I wrote my second song.  Tuesday, I wrote another.  What was happening to me?  God was turning me into a song writer!  The song I wrote Tuesday was called “Great is Your Faithfulness”…He really is faithful.  Tuesday morning we met with an old friend of James’ from back in high school.  She is a songwriter and happened to be in Springfield the week we were in Branson.  She is a wealth of knowledge and gave me so much advice and instruction on where to go from here.  God’s timing is perfect, He has a plan.  It was a wonderful week, I wept a lot and grew closer to my Lord.  Below are some things I wrote down each morning.

April 23, 2016
Galatians 1:24 “And they glorified God because of me.”
This is my desire, that people would glorify God because of me.  I want God to use me to bring people to faith in Him and to worship Him.
Lord Jesus, help me use the gifts You’ve given me to honor You and to show people who You are that they may fall on their face and glorify You, that they would sell out to You with all that they are.  May they glorify You because of me, because I’m living with abandon, following Your will, and pointing them to You.  Keep me humble, holy and righteous.  May you be first in every area of my life and may I boldly display that.  Thank You, Jesus for this opportunity to serve You.  You are glorious and worthy of all praise.  I love You.  Amen
I wrote a song today, it’s called “Be Still”.  It’s based on Psalm 46:10 “Be Still and know that I am God”.  I am simply in awe that God allows me to serve Him in this way.  Singing, playing piano, and now writing music.  Incredible, amazing, He is truly wonderful and worthy of much more than anything I have to offer.  What a blessing it is to be His child and to serve Him.

April 24, 2016
Galatians 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.  And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
                When I surrendered my life to Christ, I gave up living for myself.  There are times when the Spirit battles the flesh but my life is no longer ruled by the flesh if I stay in the Word and in close fellowship with Jesus.
                Jesus, help me today to live by faith, to put away any selfish ambitions and live for You, for Your will and for Your Glory alone.  Thank you for giving Yourself up for me so I could have a relationship with You.  Thank You for what You are doing right now in my life.  Help me not take one moment for granted and to be constantly in awe and wonder of who You are.  Thank you for this journey however short or long it is.  You make what seems impossible possible, I am grateful.  Praise Your holy name.  I love you, Jesus. Amen.

April 25, 2016
Galatians 3:28-29 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for You are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if You are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
                Do the offenders in prison really know how loved they are, how God wants to free them with the power of the gospel and have an intimate relationship with them?  I want them to know this, I want them to see that they/we are all one in Christ.
                Lord, use me in this mission field to show Your love for these, incarcerated men and women.  Humble me, give me words when I have none, silence when none are needed and love so powerful that it cannot be denied it’s from You.  Help me stay focused and not let the world crowd in and distract me from this calling.  All for Your glory, Lord.  Thank You, Jesus, for this time, this journey, this incredible way to serve You and to make You known.  I love You, Jesus.  Amen.  Let our lives reflect You.

April 26, 2016
Galatians 5:16-17 “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.”
                Spirit vs. Flesh – this is sometimes a tough battle.  I find myself sold out to the Spirit and ready to jump off a cliff into unknown possibilities and then other times find myself desiring comfort and “so called” stability.  And I forget, I forget that God’s ways are higher than my ways, that He has this all figured out and that His plan is the best plan.  I simply need to trust Him more, rely on His strength, there’s real stability in following His will and an overwhelming peace.
                Lord Jesus, Save me from myself, keep me focused on Your plan for me, lead me by Your Spirit.  When I am tempted to chicken out, remind me of Your mission, remind me that people need to hear about Your saving grace, remind me that time is fleeting and this world is not my home.  May Your Spirit that lives in me overcome my flesh and win out in every decision, thought, and circumstance.  Use me for Your glory, Lord.  I love You, Jesus.  Amen.

April 27, 2016
Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
                Don’t give up!  We will reap what we sow. Some may see that as wordly gain but I see it as lives changed.  Do not grow weary in doing good!  I don’t ever want to tire of sharing the gospel with the lost and hopeless.  What is the cost of one human life/soul?  It is priceless.
                Lord, Use me to share Your truth and hope, help me stay focused on Your plan and not get side-tracked with my own personal interests, help Your interests always be my interests.  Give me strength when I start to get weary, give me a greater, more supernatural love for the lost.  I love You, Jesus.  Amen.

April 28, 2016
Hebrews 11 “Faith”
                This chapter is all about faith in action.  These men and women had faith in an invisible God to lead them to something better and they didn’t have the Holy Spirit!

                Lord, I want to put my faith into action; I want  to so fully rely on You that even when people say I’m crazy I will have Your overwhelming peace and joy, knowing that I’m doing Your will and what You’ve called me to do.  Thank You, Jesus, for Your faithfulness, Your peace, and for continual sanctification.  Make me who You want me to be.  I love you, Jesus.  Amen.

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Make A Difference

Through some interesting circumstances we ended up at a church yesterday and listened to an Alaskan missionary preach.  It doesn't matter how we got there only that God placed us there.  This service was more confirmation that I am doing what God has called me to do.  All through the message I had already felt God had worked out in my heart and I really was sold out to it.

Here's my notes from Ron Pratt's message:

1) Make a Difference in the World with your PASSION.  Passion is Christ's suffering on the cross.  Our love for people that are hurting should move us... The love of Jesus ignites our passion to make a difference in the world!

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith,so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

It's heavenly passion that fuels our boldness.

Ephesians 6:19-20 And also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,  for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

*pray and speak boldly as I ought to speak *boldness empowers you to take risks

2) Make a Difference in the World with your TESTIMONY.  Your story, it's the second greatest story ever told.
Wherever you are listen to that still small voice.  It's never an inappropriate time to change a life. People need to hear about Jesus, they need prayer. The Holy Spirit will not set you up for failure.

2 Timothy 1:7-9 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God,  who saved us and called us to[a] a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

3) Make a Difference in the World with your OBEDIENCE.  Stay focused, the little things matter, don't let the small stuff distract you.

Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Matthew 28:16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.
*What if the disciples didn't go to the mountain?
*We want a mountain experience without climbing the mountain.
*Faith always wins over fame, integrity wins over talent
*Listen and be led by the Spirit

4) Make a Difference in the World with your INVESTMENTS.  Invest in the kingdom, your mission!
*Instead of allowing your budget to influence your faith, allow your faith to influence your budget.

Jude 1:22-23 And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
*Lives are in the balance

The mission God has called me to is prison ministry, I am a missionary in prisons.  The entire sermon seemed like it somewhat rolled off the pages of my heart - crazy faith, holy boldness, running hard after God, anything for you was a miraculous morning and I sat there in awe.  At the end the song "Beautiful Things" started playing and I just wept, I want the men and women in prison to know they are beautiful and precious and that they are so loved.  Prison is my mission field.  Where's yours?

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Crazy Faith

Having faith often means doing what others see as crazy.

How crazy am I?  Since I have faith in the One who is faithful then it doesn't really seem all that crazy, now does it?  I want to live a radical life, a life filled with no regrets.  I don't want to miss something because I was too cautious or maybe even unfaithful...ouch.  I want to look back someday and say, Wow! What a ride God put me on, guided and led me through!  And just because I had some kind of crazy faith, I actually believed that God was sovereign and in control and that no matter what really would be ok.

"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27

Some may see this kind of living as risk taking but where's the risk when you serve a star breathing, world holding God?  And what am I risking really?  Only things the world holds dear.  I'd rather toil in my obedience than have a life filled with idleness and emptiness.  Everything here is temporary, our homes, jobs, families...we were made for Jesus, to worship Him, to have a relationship with Him, to serve Him with our lives.

"Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow.  For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away."
James 4:13-14  

I'm thankful for the blessings of my precious family, friends, comforts, but I'm most thankful for my King and I want to honor Him with my life and give everything that I am to bring Him Glory.  There may be difficulties ahead, trials beyond my comprehension but that's what life is, regardless if we try to "play it safe".

I think most followers of Jesus stay in their church realm, we serve faithfully in the church, we pray, we give and believe me, all those things are necessary.  I believe that sometimes crazy faith may be waiting and being still...  It's those moments that God reaches down and touches us somewhere deep inside with conviction and wishing even, that we could be more for Jesus, it's those moments that lead us to crazy faith.

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Run Hard After God...He's Worth it

There are a lot of changes happening in my life, I don't think I've ever trusted God the way I do right now.  My life, once again, is transitioning.  This time it isn't my boys growing up, moving out, getting married (oh, Christian is getting married, wow!) etc.  I have never been more sure of following God's will and plan for me...because it's been hard, internally.  I think we all dream big and see ourselves doing so many amazing things for Jesus, we picture ourselves doing big things...maybe on big stages either speaking or singing or whatever God has gifted you with, maybe it's something completely different but allowing God to use you in some special way...and we think maybe, just maybe someday, somehow.  But what happens?, jobs, making ends meet, the list goes on and on...and we never get there.  We say we're willing to do big things for God but one day turns into another and suddenly you look back and wonder where the time went.

And by BIG things, I mean things that matter.  One life being changed by the gospel of Jesus is BIG! What if you told a fourth of the people you came in contact with in one single day about Jesus' love and sacrificial death for them?  What if you sacrificed kids' extracurricular things to make Jesus a priority in your life and theirs?  What if you not only gave the guy with a cardboard sign on a corner something to eat but gave him the gospel too and then followed up with him?  What if you spent more time with Jesus in prayer and in His Word than on Facebook or watching TV or you fill in the blank?

Why don't we run hard after God?  What keeps us from fulfilling God's plan for our lives?  Why do we put off til tomorrow what we should be doing today?

Fear...fear of putting ourselves out there, fear of rejection, fear of failure.

The flesh...there's a battle going on with our flesh, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

It might be hard work...face it, we are lazy, we are selfish, we want to do things our way and on our own time.

We limit God's power...we talk about believing that God is all-powerful, in control, sovereign and then we act like His power doesn't exist or is limited to only a few or that He really doesn't want to use lil ol me.  The same power that rose Jesus from the dead lives inside His children, us - followers of Jesus!

It's out of our comfort zone...of course it is!  It's living for a supernatural, holy and righteous God who we can never measure up to but will completely love us no matter what and will use our willingness to glorify Himself.

Run hard after God!  He is worth it!  Remind yourself that He does the work, we can't do anything on our own, this should be freeing for us!  Spend time with Him in prayer.  Dig deep into His Word, He will speak to you there, He will equip you, He will transform you and enable you to do more extraordinary things through Him than you ever thought possible.  He makes every day worthwhile, full of joy, peace, and hope.

Run hard after God!  Afterall....he ran hard after you when He sacrificed His Son, Jesus, on the cross for you.  You were bought with a price, now go and start living like you were.

"You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men". 1 Corinthians 7:23

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

The Awe and Wonder of Surrender

God has really been moving in my life.  I am in a constant state of awe and wonder at the opportunities He is giving me, the equipping for those opportunities and the boldness He has put in me to do what He has called me to do.  I told James the other day that God had given me, I called it, a Holy Boldness.  The Holy Spirit has been speaking through me in ways that are simply incredible.  In just the last few days I've seen men in prison fall to their knees and cry out to a holy God after sharing my story of Jesus' redemption in me and how He is using me now and has a good plan for their lives and challenged them to give God "anything", spoke God's truth to my family around a table at a restaurant about what He is doing in my life and the good plans He has for us when we follow Him, and challenged others at Celebrate Recovery last night to lay down everything to pursue Christ.

This is once again a part of my ANYTHING journey.  Anything You desire from me, of me, for me...Anything you want Lord, it's all for you.

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