Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Warrior Princess

She wasn’t always a warrior. Even now she still bleeds and feels pain and every wound. She stands and fights with weak knees and a trembling heart. But she fights, gathering arrows and filling her quiver. She fights, knowing the I Am who is ever near doesn’t waste her pain.

In times past there were days of defeat. Days when the arrows lodged deep- so deep they couldn’t easily be torn from her flesh. She writhed in pain and sunk deep in sorrow. She washed her wounds with her own tears even as she scanned the battlefield for a friend, a helper that never seemed to come. Those were the days that darkness swallowed her soul, that victory seemed sure for the enemy, that the arrows seemed to wound almost mortally deep. Those days when her knees buckled and her tears ran were the days she knew she had to keep trying. Trying to tear the arrows from her side. Trying to pull herself up. Trying to stand straight even if she must lean on the presence of the I AM. She knew if she tried to stand on her own she would surely fall and all would be lost. But if she didn’t try she knew the darkness would win.

Arrows seemed to fly so fast and furious and many found their mark. She looked at the arrows protruding painfully from her heart. They had names. Names like Abuse, Fear, Rejection, Depression, Anxiety, Perfectionism, Worry, Hopelessness, Loss, Grief, Sorrow, Loneliness. Some hit their mark so deeply that the wound gushed for days, weeks, months, even years. Some she easily removed but as soon as they were dislodged a new one just like it, or even stronger lodged in the same tender place.

The fighting became tiresome and her blood, sweat and tears seemed to begin to lose value. But yet, the presence of the I AM moved her ever so slightly and ever so gently. The Goodness of the I AM seemed to hold her up. He seemed to drip the cordial of Faith and Grace on her wounds from time to time. At the perfect time. At the last moment. The moment she thought she had been mortally wounded. The cordial seeped deep and warm and healing into the open wounds giving her just enough strength to stand once again.

She stood. As a tentative child on the inside even as He called her a regal warrior princess. She let the I AM  steady her steps and lift her head with his Goodness. She let Him minister to and heal the wounds. She took a breath of fresh air but as sure as the air entered her lungs the arrows began flying once again. Hitting their mark, stealing her joy. Shattering her hopes and dreams. Wounding, tearing and cutting at her soul.

She closed her eyes. She leaned hard into the I AM. She reached with a trembling hand and grasped an arrow burning and protruding from her side. She whispered the words the I AM had spoken to her, “This will not be wasted.” And she yanked it out hard and fast, leaving the stinging wound wide open. With force and determination she plunged the arrow into the quiver on her back. One at a time, with a strength that could have only come from the I AM, she continued to yank the arrows from the wounds in her body and force them into her quiver. Bleeding and broken she stood. This time bearing the call as the Warrior Princess.

She stood and stared into the enemy lines. From deep within she cried words not of this world. Words of strength and courage. Words that came from the I AM. She knew He had given her the quiver on her back and the bow in her hand for such a time as this.

Scanning the battlefields before her she saw the bodies strewn bleeding and wounded before her. She saw the arrows flying through the sky, many hitting their marks in the hearts of those people. She saw the people, their eyes full of fear. She saw some starring in disbelief at the arrows in their sides. She saw some giving up and wishing for death. She saw some wandering around aimlessly not knowing what to do.

She took hold of the bravery the I AM had given her at her birth and she stooped low before a young, wounded soul. She saw the name on the arrow. She sought the arrow bearing the same name from her own quiver  and with a vengeance she took aim at the enemy and fired. The I AM made sure the arrow hit straight and true.

With a tenderness and compassion birthed through understanding, she lifted the wounded soul from the field to walk beside her.

Again and again the Warrior Princess found arrows in her quiver bearing names that matched those that were wounding others. Boldly she would place the matching arrow on her bow and fire. Knowing the I AM would guide the arrow. Arrow after arrow became protection for others. Arrows that had been intended to kill her now became weapons that ministered faith and hope to others.

However, some on the battlefield covered their faces and refused her help out of shame. Some looked at her in disbelief calling her a fake and a fraud. Others refused to let her even get close enough to name the arrow. But for the few who accepted her strength and courage she fought. She fought hard.

Today she stands as a warrior not because she has always been a warrior but because she fell hard and leans hard on the I AM. Today she knows more arrows are coming, some will hit their mark, will wound and burn and even take her breath away. But there is something else she knows. The Goodness of the I AM. She has Him and He has her and He said the pain can make her brave. He said the strength comes in the fighting. He gave her the quiver. He taught her to use the arrows and He will make them straight and true.

She still bleeds and feels the pain. Her hands still tremble and her knees quake but today she will stand, gather arrows and fight like the Warrior Princess the I AM told her she is.

(This is a word picture of a vision the Lord gave to a very good friend of mine for me.)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Hard is Hard

I ran across a particular meme on social media the other day, it said, “I hear you. Raising kids and running a house keep me busy too. I also have this little gig on the side called a full time job.”

Thankfully it was on a social media page and not in real life or I might have just come unglued right then and there! As it was, my poor husband had to listen to me rant and rave and then watch me mull and cry over this one little meme. I know, I know, it is just social media right? I know, I know, it isn’t real life right? But you know what? It IS real. It means something.

What it means is that one person somehow thinks they have a corner on the market of “hard” when it comes to living life. It means that one person seems to think they have the right to tell someone else that unless they have “walked in their shoes” then they have no room to feel like life is hard. It means that somehow one person thinks they have the right to see others’ hard times as trivial if they don’t think they compare to the hard stuff in their own life.

Look, LIFE IS HARD. It just is. It is supposed to be hard. What? Yes. I said it. Life is supposed to be hard. Somewhere along the line of history we bought into, swallowed and embraced the idea that we are supposed to achieve the life of perpetually sunny days, no work, all play and no struggle. This simply isn’t true. The Bible is very clear that in this life we WILL have struggles (John 16:33, 1 Peter 4:12, James 1:2,- to name a few). Yes, Jesus made a way for us to choose joy, to grow and to have hope in the midst of struggles and hardships but hardships are a guarantee, nonetheless.

Some days we might get it right. Some days we might encounter hardships and be able to smile and move right on through it. Some days we might be organized and have all our stuff together. Some days we might even be able to endure and laugh and enjoy life even though deep down it feels really, really hard. Some days that is great! But other days maybe not so much. Sometimes we crash and burn. Sometimes we fall and feel overcome and overwhelmed. Sometimes we cry and ask why and scream about it not being fair. Guess what. That is ok too. So, if it is ok for you. Let it be ok for others.

Maybe, just maybe, your neighbor or friend or coworker or church acquaintance is also struggling in life. Maybe, just maybe, they are encountering hard days, days of grief, days of trial and maybe they are feeling overwhelmed by life in general. Is it your job to say whether today is an ok day for them to feel that way? Do you get to say how hard is hard enough to finally claim "life is hard"? No. You don’t. Their hard may not seem very hard to you but it is so very hard for them. Let them have their hard. Let them have their days of struggle. Be there for them, support them, pray for them, encourage them but please, oh please, do not belittle their struggle by saying “Well, my life is harder than yours and I’m not crying about it so neither should you.”

For goodness sake, we really have no idea at all what they are really going through. We don’t know their heart. We don’t know all there is to know about what they are encountering. Sometimes the best friendship, the best support, the best thing you can do is to let them experience their hard stuff in their own way.

Don’t misunderstand. It is the vital role of the body to encourage, lift up and bring life to those around us. This can be done without minimizing their hurt, their grief and their struggle. This can be done in such a way that builds them up, builds relationships and points them to the Father. Sometimes we don’t need to say what we encountered in our own journey or what seems hard in our own lives in order to prove to someone else that we understand what they are going through. Sometimes just listening and offering kind words is enough. Sometimes just empathizing with the feeling of “ life is hard” is good enough without comparing your hard life to theirs.

I have gotten this wrong. So. Many. Times. I know I have hurt others by minimizing their life experience. For that, I am truly sorry. I am learning to love without judging, to care without comparing and to encourage without advising. May we learn.

I implore you, Body of Christ, let us put aside our judgement. Let us put aside our impressions and opinions. Let us put aside our own needs and attend to those who are struggling around us. You aren’t the only one with hard stuff going on. You don’t have a corner on that market. And just because you think someone else’s hard isn’t as hard as yours doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to them. Hard is hard, my friend. It is just hard.

And may we remember that social media is not a place to fling stones and think nobody will get hurt. People are people whether behind a screen or in front of our face. And if we must err, may we err on the side of love and grace.

So, may your hard days be well weathered and may your hearts find healing in the helping of others. May your roots grow strong and your fruit grow beautiful as you endure your hardships and one day, lend a loving hand of understanding to others.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Don't Waste Your Pain

(This is the second half of the the message that was shared at the Be Still and Know Retreat for ClayHouse. This is the part that I spoke - adapted for this blog.)

Turn with me to Psalm 136. This is David’s psalm of remembrance.

V. 1- Give thanks to the Lord for He is good – “His love endures forever”
v. 4- To Him who alone does great wonders – “Hid love endures forever”
V. 10- To Him who struck down the first born of Egypt –“His love endures forever”
V. 12- With a mighty hand and outstretched arm –“His love endures forever”
V. 13- To Him who divided the Red Sea asunder – “His love endures forever”
V. 16 – To Him who led his people through the desert – “His love endures forever”
V. 23- To the One who remembered us in our low estate – “His love endures forever”
V. 24 – And freed us from our enemies – “His love endures forever”
V. 25 – and who gives food to every creature – “His love endures forever”
V. 26 – Give thanks to the God of Heaven - “His love endures forever”

Here in these verses we see that David goes back all the way to the beginning of time to recount the wonders and goodness of God.

He mentions things that God did long before David himself was ever born. In V 16 he recounts one of the driest times in his ancestor’s history – the desert. Yet he is thankful for it and recounts God’s goodness and love in the desert.

Lastly, in verse 26 he refers to God as the one who gives food to every creature. This is a statement of faith based on what he knows about God from the past and what he believes to be true about God in the future based on that knowledge. He believes that God will continue to prove faithful to every creature.
This passage is significant for us because it gives us an example of remembrance. It gives us an example of faith based on God’s character not our circumstances. Faith based on the trust we get from knowing Him.
Remembering how God has proven Himself in the past is a powerful motivation for believing God in our present. Even if we feel like we have to go all the way back to Christ on the cross – start there. Start recounting the memories you have made with God. Your active remembrance of His faithfulness will increase your willingness to trust him today.

Let’s go to Joshua chapter 3.

I will quickly set the stage for you. The Israelites had been wandering in the desert for 40 years. They had followed Moses out of Egypt and into the desert. Moses died and here we are with Joshua and a fresh generation and God is about to do a miracle to show His mighty power. To give them a way into the promised land.

 Read Joshua 3:15- 4:7

Here God is instructing His people in building memorials to remember the great things He has done for them, 1. So they can say “See God loves us. God cares and God is good.” And 2. So they can tell their children about the wondrous works of the Lord.

This is expressed in Joshua 4:18 – “No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the water of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.”

There was no physical evidence of the wonderful thing God had done. If they looked back would they even believe He had intervened in their lives? All they had was the stone altar.
This is what God said about that altar in Joshua 4:21 – “In the future when your decedents ask their fathers ‘what do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground. For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over.”

And verse 24 – “He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”

So, here we are. Facing our Jordan. Facing the unknown. Carrying the past on our shoulders. Maybe you have recently journeyed through a desert or maybe you feel like you are still there. Maybe you feel like you have come so far and endured so much and bare so many marks. Maybe you can look back and see the footprints in the sand that represent your progress but maybe you still feel like your promised land is far away and there is just so much to face on your way.

God is calling you to the banks of the Jordan and as He told Joshua, He is calling to you – “Do not be afraid! Do not fear! Do not be discouraged!”

The banks of the Jordan begin your walk of faith. The walk of remembrance.  Actively remembering God in your past turns into believing God for your future.

This is where we lay down the burdens we brought with us from Egypt. This is where we search our hearts. This is where we lay down, drop our huts and wounds. This is where we decide what we are going to do with our pain. The things we have endured in the dessert. The marks we have on our hearts. We musn’t waste our pain. We must let our pain be the door we walk through to a deeper intimacy with the Father.
If you are like me, you have heard most of your life that “the past is in the past”. “Move on”. “Live and learn and then move on to the next thing”. But consider this, the experiences of the past, including the ones that were painful, just might be the most powerful tools we have for strengthening our future with the Lord and with others. So, again, I say, let’s not waste our pain. Use it to build an altar unto the Lord. A memorial for what He has brought you through.

What are your marks? What are the lies you have believed about yourself? What are the sins you are guarding? What is keeping you from taking that first step into the Jordan?

For me I have been marked by:
A-Sexual abuse

And so much more, but I can say I have faced Jordan rivers recently with regards to these marks.  And now I can say, I picked up my foot. I boldly stepped forward in faith. There was a time I felt like I was being consumed by the desert. Now I see that God walked with me and we made memories. I finally dropped my old marks for new stones of remembrance. I built an altar unto the Lord from the stones He gave me and now when I come to the desert or the river, I can look at my memorial of God’s faithfulness and say, “See! God loves me. God is good. God brought me through once before and He will do it again!” When the enemy stirs up my doubt and unbelief I can go right back to my stones of remembrance and say, “No! God has delivered me from doubt and fear before and He will do it again!”

These are statements of faith based on what I know to be true about God’s character because of what He has done for me in the midst of my pain.

But maybe you feel like you  have a backpack full of old rocks – old pains, old marks on your life and very few or no new stones of remembrance with which to build an altar unto the Lord. Nothing to return to. Start today. Right now.

We all have pains, wounds and marks that fight to define us. But God is here wanting to take you through on dry ground to the other side where He will give you a new identity for each one of your pains. He will give you new stones to replace the old ones. These stones are light. They are full of life.

So, steady your heart and open our ears. Jesus is here. The Holy Spirit is here and He longs to speak to you. Even as you sit at your computer, reading this,  you can ask Him to speak to you and you can hear His voice.

You can pray this prayer right now -
Father, I thank you for opening a way for me to speak directly to you and to hear what you have to say to me. Right here where I sit, I invite the Holy Spirit only. No other spirit may speak to me. I open my ears and heart to hear your words for me.

Now, as you read this and pray, God will show you the pain, the wound, the sin, the mark that has been deceiving you, hurting you, disabling you. God does not reveal things to you to embarrass you. He does not reveal things to you unless He plans to heal you of that thing and to help you through it. Pick up a rock from your garden, or a piece of paper from your desk or anything you can write on.  Ask Him to show you what mark He would have you write on your stone, your paper or in your journal.  Then, write in faith.

When you have written the word or letter on your stone (or paper etc) and you are ready to die to that thing. To lay it down. To drop it. To let go. To step in the healing waters of the Jordan. Move forward in faith believing He is bringing you through that Jordan. When you are ready to make this move with the Father, throw out that old stone or paper or mark out that word in your journal. Drop it, lay it down. Ask the Lord to reveal a new word of healing for you. What is the word He is speaking to you to replace your old mark? Maybe it is “Healed”, “Free”, “Whole”, “Brave”, “Cherished”…. Then write that word on a new stone, or on a new paper or a new page in your journal. Put it in a place that you will see it. For this is the stone that will begin or add to your memorial unto the Lord’s faithfulness and goodness in your life.

Maybe it’s not your stone of remembrance, maybe it is your stone of faith. A representation of your first step into the deep waters of trust with the Lord.  Maybe this will be the very first stone of faith you place in your life. Do not fear! He is faithful!


Recently, my children and I have been studying ancient history and a big part of that is walking through the Bible one book at a time. We are in Second Kings now. There are few things that have been standing out to me in light of the upcoming Passion week.

1. How different life really was back then. In fact, how different life is for us here in America than many other places on this planet.  There is a link going around on facebook that highlights the difference between a child’s bedroom in many of the developing countries around the world as compared to our children’s bedrooms here. The stark contrast is evident in the the size, the d├ęcor, the level of comfort items etc. Basically, there are many many people living today with practically nothing. To some of these, I imagine many of these people, it is just their way of life. It is not a bad thing or a good thing. It just is. This is how it was in Bible times. There was not much to be had by most.  This is an excerpt from David C. Cook’s Journey through the Bible: an Isrealite woman spent almost all of her time working around the home. She had no time or money to spend on beauty care. Baths were rarely taken… Only a few women were wealthy enough to own makeup…. A woman spent most of her day preparing food and spinning cloth for clothing. It took hours to grind grain into flour… After the flour was made, it was baked into bread. Everything had to be done by hand. Each morning and evening, it was the woman’s job to walk to the well and draw water for the family’s needs…. At night, she awoke several times to refill the lamp that kept burning till morning.

2. These people valued the small things they did have. Allow me to read another brief excerpt – Almost everyone owned a cloak, but most people had just one. Cloaks were similar to the outer coats of today, but much more versatile, and taken almost everywhere. Most cloaks were made from animal hides, goat or camel hair, or from wool. Because it took so much time to make them, cloaks were valuable and were not thrown away until completely worn out. It was a common sight to see a cloak that had been patched many times. A cloak was worn as protection against the burning sun, and for warmth in the cold night. But these were just two of its uses. On a warm night, a cloak made a soft pillow. At a meal, it was lid on the ground and represented a special seat for an honored guest. A bundle of goods was carried home from the village in a cloak. A farmer tied his cloak into a bag, emptied his seeds into it, and planted his fields by hand…. A cloak was sometimes given to a lender as a pledge for a debt. And when torn into pieces, a cloak symbolized great sorrow or grief.

Keeping this in mind let’s read Matthew chapter 21:1-11

"Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethpage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, 'Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them’ and immediately he will send them.' All this was done that it  might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet saying: “tell the daughter of Zion ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’” So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying “Who is this?” So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Remembering the glimpse we have taken into the life and culture of these people it is astonishing and humbling to hear of them laying their garments, their cloaks, on the road to honor the King of Kings. Some of them may not have even been sure who He really was. Still they laid down the one thing that was so incredibly valuable to them. The one thing that could cost much time and money to replace. The one thing that they could call theirs and they most likely cherished. They laid it down on the dirty road in front of a couple of lowly donkeys. Yet they laid it there in honor of the One who came to them. In honor of the One who, in a short time, would actually be laying His life down for them.

What do you have today, that you are willing to lay down in front of the King? What have you been holding on to, thinking “I might need this someday?”. What have you cherished, and coddled and held as a treasure? Or maybe it is something you have hidden away to keep it safely whole. Maybe it is something you have not been willing to bring out into the light. Maybe it is an acceptable addiction (or not so acceptable). Maybe it is the love of comfort. Maybe it is materialism. Maybe it is hidden sin. Maybe it is your heart. Your life, your talents, your calling, your dreams, hopes and desires. There is much to be brought before him. Much that he wants and would be honored by our relinquishing of.

Here we are tonight. Embarking upon the holiday we use to commemorate the Life that was lain out, bare, before the world. The Man who took all of our things, our stuff, our hidden secrets and personal treasures upon himself. What is it that you will lay down before him in honor of His life? In honor of his kingship? In honor of his Sacrifice? In honor of his love?

Lay it out. Lay it down. Let it go and give it to Him.  

Friday, November 15, 2013

Gratitude is Brave

November – The month of gratitude. This is the month when the typically disgruntled complainer joins the perpetually positive proclaimer in taking even a moment to remember something they are thankful for. There is a trend on Facebook that has participants writing one thing a day that they are thankful for. I, personally, love this trend! Even if it is only once a day and even if it is only online, there is nothing that is bad about being thankful.

So, I want to explore this thing we call gratitude. Grab that napkin that’s sitting under your teacup and a pen that hopefully works and take a moment, slow your thoughts and remember. Remember what you are thankful for. It can be simple or complex. What is on your heart? Go ahead, write it down. Try to find 5 or 10 things to jot down.

OK, now you have your list, the things that are fresh in your heart that you are grateful for.  Now, look again, how many of you have written down on your paper the words “trial”, “trouble”, “struggle”, “conflict”, or an item that represents a deep pain or intense experience that you have gone through? No need to raise your hand. Just think.

Truly, it is so much easier to thank the Lord for things we love and the things that are good. I am sincerely thankful to my Lord for fresh water, clean air, kind friends, loving family, food on my table, freedom to worship, and the list goes on and on.

But, how often do you say to the Lord, “Thank you for the trial I just experienced”. Or, “Thank you for the struggle I am currently going through.” Oh, but it is truly a bit frightening to say those words, is it not? Because we know that those words don’t just come in a flash but that it will be a jagged journey that eventually culminates in those statements.

These are the words of David, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees”. Psalm 119:71

Oh! But really? It was good for me to be afflicted? YES!

Can you live without the Word? The voice of God? The presence of the Healer? I know that I can NOT. I can not live without the decrees of the Lord. I must know them, I must learn them. I will simply waste away to nothing without the food and water for my soul!  And how do I learn? Is it not through lessons? Often the painful kind? Too true.

But when I come to this table of feasting on the decrees, the table of His Word, the table of learning,  I can’t come ready to eat the meat if all I have drunk in the past was milk. So, how do I prepare my spirit for receiving and learning, and strengthen my soul so that it doesn’t crumble on the perilous journey to the table?
Bits of gratitude. Little bits of thankfulness. No less genuine.

“I never stop wanting to learn the hard [deep genuine thankfulness] for the deathbeds and dark skies and the prodigal sons. But I accept this is the way to begin, and all hard things come in due time and with practice.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.

“The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest Light to all the world.” Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts.

If you are brave enough to be counted among the brave that she mentions, then one thing is certain, you will learn the language of gratitude that you will find brings unspeakable peace during the storms of life.

Now, return to your list. Add to it as things come to your mind throughout your day. Ask the Father where you are in the journey to becoming one of the brave. Maybe, just maybe, jot down the hard thing. The one you are not quite sure if you are thankful for just yet. And just see what the Healer does with your faith.

(P.S. If you are new to this blog and you are possibly, like me, a bit cynical about the author, and wondering, "What troubles could she have possibly gone through?" You can rest assured, I have endured a number of trials that I feel were very difficult to be thankful for. But, yes, today I can humbly say I am thankful for the experiences and the things I endured. I have been prodded toward my Father God in ways I didn't ask for, but am deeply grateful for today. So, if you would like just a glimpse into some of my journey you can explore some of my  past posts. It is there in bits and pieces just like my heart has been from time to time.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Being Engaged

When I was a little girl there were many times that if you had asked me what I was thinking about, imagining and planning I would have replied, “My wedding”. Yes, I had it all planned out. The dress design, the colors, the flowers, the ring, even the prince charming. I had dreams and visions of what it was all going to look like and feel like and smell like. I invested countless hours in this event that, truth be told, wasn’t even guaranteed to happen.

But, it did happen. And, it wasn’t anything like I had planned and imagined. I met my prince charming and after first impressions disliked him. But, God has a great sense of humor and it didn’t take long for Him to turn my heart around. In February of 1999 Jason proposed. It was beautiful and well planned. He met me with a beautiful bouquet of roses. He took me to our favorite restaurant, he took me to the place where he had initially asked me to date him, it was beautiful and he even cleaned his car! He had hand made a wooden box and had a plaque engraved in it that said, “Trisha Kristine, I love you so much. Will you marry me?” While he was on one knee, holding a beautiful ring handed down through the generations of his family, I said yes.

He had been planning it for weeks. He had been wooing my heart for even longer. He had learned to see and love the deepest part of me. He embraced the process of loving me and the engagement became a beautiful culmination to the story of our courtship. Of course once we were engaged the chaos of planning a wedding ensued. We only had 3 short months before the wedding. There was so much to do, so little time. My focus and all consuming thoughts were now on wedding plans. Where, when, how…. The dress, the flowers, the bridesmaids, the venue…. And the lists went on and on.  But being engaged was one of the most joyous feelings I had ever experienced up to that point in my life. I was engaged!!! I belonged to someone! Someone wanted me! Someone loved me! I was going to have a wedding! I was engaged!

Following is a quote from the book Love Does by Bob Goff.

“… being engaged isn’t just an event that happens when a guy gets on one knee and puts a ring on his true love’s finger. Being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living and loving. It’s about going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a  hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light. That’s what I want my life to be about – full of abandon, whimsy, and in love. I want to be engaged to life and with life. “

“I enjoy those parts of the Bible where Jesus talks about how much He loves His bride. It makes me wonder if the trees and mountains and rivers are things He planned in advance, knowing they would wow us. I wonder if God returned over and over to this world He placed us in thinking what He had created was good, but it could be even better, even grander. I wonder if He thought each foggy morning, each soft rain, each field of wild flowers would be a quiet and audacious way to demonstrate His tremendous love for us.”

John 14:15 says – “If you love me, keep my commands.”

We have all heard it and maybe even said the words to our own children. “You show your love for me by being obedient.”

Obedience is more than just avoiding sin. We often grow comfortable with the idea that we are good enough Christians, good enough children because we avoid sin. We don’t do really bad things that would get us into trouble. That’s obedience right? Yes, but obedience that shows love is far more than that. Obedience requires being engaged.

Matthew 25:1-13 – “At the time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and fiver were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out’. ‘No’, they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet and the door was shut. Later the others also came, ‘Sir! Sir! Open the door for us! ‘ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I do not know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Or in other words, “I tell you, be engaged!!!”

We are preparing for a wedding. Our groom is the King of Kings and he has prepared the greatest wedding imaginable. He wants you! You belong to him! He knows you and loves you! You are engaged and you are going to have a wedding! Our part in this? Our part is to be engaged.

When we think of being engaged, we often try to differentiate it out into two words with two separate meanings. 1. Getting engaged as in “He proposed. I said yes. We are  now engaged.” And 2. Being engaged, as in – being engaged in life, being active in the process, pursuing the vision etc.

For tonight imagine with me that it is one word with one meaning. To be engaged (betrothed) is to be engaged (active). We are engaged to be the bride of the Prince of Heaven but in order to become that lovely bride we must engage ourselves with him. We must participate in His plan. We must be proactive in our obedience. We must not just sit around waiting for the wedding march. We must not just sit there and protect ourselves and our “beautiful dresses” from getting stained. We must not let the excitement of the betrothal fade away as the oil in the lamps. We must fan the flame, watch the levels of our oil and move and do and be involved. We must plan with Him, engage in His vision.  We must not just sit and wait until the day of the party. We all have a part in preparing for that day. What is your part? How is He calling you to participate? How are you going to be engaged in the most honored engagement of all time and eternity?

Monday, September 16, 2013

What God Has to Say About You!

God says to you:
“I am giving you a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61: 3
“You are unique. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are simply wonderful!” Psalm 139:13-17
“You are the apple of my eye. I love to protect you and answer your prayers.” Psalm 17:7 & 8
“You are my treasure. You are the one I love.” Deut. 7: 6 & 8
“I want only good things for you! I have plans for you and they are full of hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
“I am your righteousness. Because of me you are clean and pure.” Zeph. 3:5
“I delight in you! I rejoice because I know you.!” Zeph 3:17
“I love you with an everlasting love – it is unconditional and boundless.” Jer. 31:3
“You are my princess!” Ps. 45:13
“You are precious. You are one to be honored!” Isaiah 43:4
“You are beautiful!” Ecc. 3:11
“I see you. I see your heart, your feelings, your thoughts. You are important to me and I see you when you feel invisible to those around you.” Gen. 16
“You are my friend!” John 15:15
“You are free! Do not feel condemned. You are set free from shame!” Romans 8:1 and Galatians 5:1
“You are my darling. I love you!” John 3:16 and Romans 8:38
“You are strong! You can conquer!” Romans 8:37
“I dwell in you.” 1 Cor. 6:19
“You have been made new. Brand new and shiny and lovely!” 2 Cor. 5:17
 “You can do wonderful things. You have great talents!” Eph 2:10
“You are confident.” Eph 3:12
“You are a bright light in this world.” Eph. 5:8 and Matt. 5:14
“You are holy and royal and you belong to me!” 1 Peter 2:9
“You are healed and made whole.” Isaiah 53:5 and Ex. 15:16
“You can rest and be at peace.” Deut. 33:12
“You are my beloved and I am yours. I am the lover of your soul.” Song of Sol. 2:16
“I will keep my promises to you.” Gen 28:15
“You are spicy! Salty! Exciting!” Matthew 5:13
“You are whole and complete.” Col. 2:10
“You are capable and have the ability to tell others about me.” Acts 1:8
“You are my masterpiece!” Phil 1:6
“You are calm, steady and full of peace.” Phil 4:6-7
“You do not need to be afraid. You are full of power and confidence.” 2 Tim 1:7
“You are redeemed. Paid for. Bought and owned by me.” Eph 1:7-8
“You are strong. You are able. It is possible.” Phil. 4:13
“You are bold.” Eph. 3:12
“I like to tell you my secrets. I like to confide in you.” Jer. 33:3
“You are wise.” James 1:5
“You are fully equipped to do good things.” 2 Tim 3:17
“You are my child. The one I want to inherit my riches!” Gal. 4:7
“I chose you. On purpose. I chose you and I still choose you.” Eph. 1:4 and 1 Thess. 1:4
“You are full of life!” Eph. 2:4-5

“I have given you these truths. Let you heart believe them and your mind think on them and become who I see. Become the woman I made you to be.” Phil. 4:8