Monday, June 22, 2009

One Issue Derailment

There's this Bible Story that absolutely captivates my heart and speaks to my spirit every time I read it. It's the story of Mary washing Jesus' feet with perfume that was more expensive than a year's worth of wages. Sacrificially giving the one thing within her life that cost her the most, she lay before Christ's feet and gently scrubbed and washed with her hair. Most people see this story and have a reaction of, "what the?!", but the deeper meaning behind this incredible display of respect and love for the One who saved her life is truly remarkable.

In Mary, we see a woman stained with sin, tainted with the ways of the world, and along the path of destruction she meets a man that completely turns her life around. Picking her up out of her slime, her shame, her disgrace - Jesus sees beyond the sin to the hurting woman within and calls her to follow Him. Trusting Christ as her shield and rampart when the rebukes of others came to her ears, the incredible friendship and care that Jesus had over her is amazing to watch.

However, the fact of the matter is that the night this dear, broken woman came to Christ to wash His feet with her most prized possession, those around her rebuked her - seeing the cost of the perfume rather than the sacrifice of love she was making for her Savior. The disciples were more worried about the worlds standards of money and power, instead of God's standards and appreciation for the sold out faithfulness of Mary. Christ's response to all this grumbling from everyone? " 'Leave her alone.' Jesus replied, 'It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.' " - John 12:7-8

The thing that gets me the most about this story is the fact that the disciples were in essence calling Mary crazy for offering the perfume as a sacrifice of love to Christ. How often do we do that to people these days? Making snap judgments instead of seeing to the heart and soul of the person that may be calling out for us to love on them as Christ loves them? How easy is it for us to get into our own little world of comfort and refuse to see the needs of those around us? And how often do we see women like Mary in our lives, working hard for the Kingdom, and call them crazy or ridiculous for their faith in the love and saving grace of Christ?

Isn't it amazing how often we get sidetracked from the calling of the Lord because of one, small issue, one small dot on the whole page that gets us to hone in on it, thus preventing us from seeing the "big picture"? In this particular story, this is SO the case. The disciples see the money that is being "wasted" and worry by the world's standards, instead of seeing the sacrifice of Mary and following her example.

And again I'm reminded - one issue can often derail us altogether. What is that issue in your life? What is everything in your life held up on? Is it Fame/Popularity? Is it success by the world's standards? Is it your friends? Is it money? How about your family, ministry, or work? What causes you to lose your focus on the eternal and live in the standards of today? What happens when that one thing that you treasure more than anything, is taken from you, as Jesus was taken from the disciples in this story? Will we be so focused on the minut issues of today, instead of seeing the eternal sacrifices we should be making? Why not let our lives be held up on Christ – having Him as our firm foundation and not the worldly desires?

Let's let our focus be on the eternal, refusing to let the little issues of life derail us from our calling. Let us rely solely on the power, grace, love, and mercy of Christ to guide and direct our paths. And let's work together to be the change that this world so desperately needs. Deal??

And last, there's this GREAT song called "Dress us up" by John Mark McMillan that chats about this very subject... to a certain degree. One of my all time faves! Go Jesus! :-)

Dress us up in your righteousness
Bring us in with a ring and a kiss
When you walk into the room you know we can't resist
Every bottle of perfume always ends up on the floor in a mess

You make us sparkle and you make us shine
Like the stars who sing on your chorus line
Through space and time we'll harmonize
Where deep meets deep like the ocean meets the sky

The sun and the moon
They come out of their grave just for you
The dead man and the cynical too
They're coming out of their grave
And it's just for you

Cause the love of God is stronger
The love of God is stronger
The love of God is stronger
Than the power of death

Dress us up in the blood of a son
Who opened up his veins so that we would overcome
Hell and the grave in the power of his love
After three dark days he showed us how it's done
And he still does

You make us sparkle and you make us shine
Like the stars who sing on your chorus line
Through space and time we'll harmonize
Where deep meets deep like the ocean meets the sky

The sun and the moon
They come out of their grave just for you
The dead man and the cynical too
They're coming out of their grave
And it's just for you
Cause the love of God is stronger
The love of God is stronger
The love of God is stronger
Than the power of death

AMEN!! :-)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Warrior

Recently, a friend of mine introduced me to, and I’ve been absolutely blessed and blown away by the messages since. Today I started listening to the “The Warrior” series about the struggles that men face when it comes to living in this world. I’ve heard the majority of this information before, but it’s really given me a new perspective on the subject and importance of male masculinity and how to encourage men to be the men God has called them to be.

In our society today so often men are imasculated and told to be more “feeling” or “feminine”. The struggle to push their masculinity aside and become more complacent in their daily lives than warrior-esque is everywhere. Men can’t even walk down the street without seeing some sort of advertisement for a better body, a better girl, or a better car. It’s no wonder that men struggle so much today with pornography, alcohol, substance abuse, and the fear of failing those closest to them. Their mindset is on what the world says and the worlds standards – which will absolutely disappoint them each and every time.

Call me a traditionalist, but after listening to this sermon series I’ve been truly convicted and encouraged all at the same time. Every man wants to be a warrior – he needs a battle to fight while on the earth. For some it may be a passion for the business world, for others it may be a desire to be in the ministry, and for others it may be just being a part of the lives of those around them or doing something remarkable for someone else. Every man has what it takes to be the man of integrity and character that he’s called to be. Did you hear that guys? YOU have what it takes to be the man of integrity, faith, and character that God is calling you to be! How exciting is that?!?

The problem is that often the fear of failure exceeds the faith in the power and ability of Christ and we end of hesitating in our faith, in our mission, in our work, in our goals – we hesitate because we begin to believe that we don’t have what it takes.

Of course, my favorite part of this sermon was the details on how the woman in every man’s life has the ability to make or break the man they are with simply with their words and respect. Look back in history at the great men of the centuries, in almost every case there was a woman by his side praying and encouraging him step by step, day by day. The thing is, Warriors will see conflict. Warriors will struggle to meet the goal and mission. Warriors will be persecuted – and it’s in the darkest hours that a Warrior needs a maiden to pick him up, love on him, tell him he’s worth it, and pray for his continued success. Even when it’s difficult girls, it’s absolutely VITAL that we encourage and respect the men in our lives. Whether it’s a father, a brother, a husband, a friend - whatever men are in your life they need your prayers, they need your encouragement, and they absolutely need your respect. How incredible is it that we, as women, have the ability to touch and bless the lives of the men in our lives so greatly!

My favorite story of a woman encouraging her man is that of Spurgeon who struggled everyday of his life with devastating persecution and physical illness. He knew his calling was to be a preacher to the masses, and to bring people to a knowledge and relationship to Jesus. The problem was, just like in today’s society, the people around him would hurl insults at him telling him he was ugly or that he was unproductive in his mission to change lives. People all around him would constantly mock this man, yet he persevered greatly in all that he did. One of the reasons for this was his extreme devotion to Christ, and I believe the other reason for his success was the encouragement, love, and respect of his wife. In his biography, his wife writes how her desire was to be her husband’s earthly comfort until he was able to be with his Heavenly Father forever. She made it her mission and objective in life to make sure her husband was uplifted, prayed for, loved on, respected, and encouraged on a daily basis. She was his earthly constant reminder of the great things he was doing as he changes the lives of thousands. She was the whisper in his ear each morning, “you can do it, I know you can, and with God by your side you cannot fail. I believe in you.”. Even as I write this story I’m overwhelmed with emotion realizing that I may be able to someday have that impact on the man I’m with. That someday I will be able to be the “earthly comfort” for a man who is doing great things on this earth. INCREDIBLE!

I leave you with this men – what is your passion? What is the deepest yearning of your soul? What is it that makes you come alive as a Warrior and want to fight for a cause? GO AFTER IT! Don’t let your fear overpower your faith and prevent you from doing the GREAT things God has called you to do. Find what you should fight for, and go after it with all your might. You will be successful with Christ as your anchor and centerfold in all you do. You can succeed, you will succeed, and you can do anything through Christ who gives you strength! Don’t ever give up on your goals and your mission in this life – Don’t give up!

And women, I leave you with these questions – how can you encourage the men in your life? What are the areas that you struggle with that hinder you from respecting them? Choose today to start respecting and encouraging – not finding fault but claiming success in the lives of men around you. Make the choice to stop bickering about what is missing, and start celebrating in what the men in your life are doing. Look for the good in the men in your lives, and challenge them to strive for the passions and goals that Christ has laid before them. Encourage them to be Warriors - to fight the good fight until the end. And yes, this is easier said than done – but I tell you great things happen to children with praying mothers, husbands with respectful wives, and brothers with encouraging sisters in Christ.

This is seriously, SO EXCITING for me!! God is SO incredibly good and has HUGE Plans for those who love him… it’s just a matter of taking that first step of faith toward the goals, passions, and desires that He has laid on our hearts. Remember – nothing is impossible with God (Mark 10:27).

And to the men in my life (specifically brother) - may God always guide and direct your every step, may He be the centerfold of your life and choices, and may you never forget how proud I am of you and your character, strength, integrity, and masculinity. I believe in you, respect you, and value you abundantly. Don't ever give up.

To take a listen to this sermon series... follow this:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

There's no Hell.... right?

You may want to sit down for this one… it’s going to take awhile.

Yup, you read that right, I’m talking Hell today. I have no idea why, but recently I’ve wondered a bit more about the power that satan has on this world and how he works to plot against those that love Christ and really, every human on the face of the planet. The interesting part of all of this is the fact that satan’s main mission, main objective, overall goal is to convince everyone on this earth that there is no God, no Heaven, and especially no hell. He plots and plans everyday how to put another stumbling block in the way of unbelievers and even Christians to set us up for failure, doubt, and inevitably unbelief. He is the master of lies and utilizes every kind of evil out there to gain followers of him and turn people from the one True God.

Over the past few weeks I’ve done a bit of research on this subject, and specifically how satan uses his lies to attack us with doubts and questions. I’ve come to the realization that the scariest, nastiest, most vile, despicable, evil thing I can think of does not even begin to compare to the power and lies that Satan carries around with him everyday. Think of the worst thing you’ve ever experienced, seen, or heard of - that one event or issue does not even compare to the myriad of evils that satan possesses. I think of things like the extreme poverty and AIDS issues of Africa, rape/molestation/human trafficking in Thailand, the Holocaust of the Jews, the abuse of father’s towards their children, the addictions of this world on porn/drugs/alcohol and how devastating the effects of the addictions are, and even the disgustingly perverse incest of father’s to their daughters around the world. All of this is absolutely sick, the idea that people can be so evil & cause such pain and suffering in the lives of others – all out of their own selfishness.

So what exactly is Hell? Well, the Bible tells us that it's a lake of fire (Rev. 20:15), an eteral abyss (Rev. 20:1), eternal darkness (Matt. 25:30), gloomy (II Peter 2:4), and eternal separation from God and everything good, as seen in the passage from Luke below. In essence, Hell is your worst nightmare coming true over and over and over and over forEVER. It's not going to be a fun venture or a time to hang out with all the "bad guys" from the world. It's actually going to be more like an extremely hot desert of darkness - solitary confinement where all you hear day in and day out are the screams of treachery and pain of those around you who you cannot see but can only hear. I can only imagine that Hell would be the worst agonizing pain you have ever expereinced times 10 and never letting up. Bleeding but never dying, agonizing but never relieved, alone and never encouraged, darkness without even a glimpse of hope. Hell is beyond what our finite minds can even comprehend, and like the rich young man depicted below... we only get one chance to make the right choice.

In Luke 16, Jesus describes, rather vividly, the afterlife of two men, and the choices they make while on earth and the consequences of their actions when they die. Take a read:

19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury (This guy was OBVIOUSLY a big deal) 20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores. 22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham.[e] The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and his soul went to the place of the dead.[f] There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side. 24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames (I love how the guy still thinks of Lazarus as a servant, and that he should be served).’ 25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’ 27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’ 29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’ 30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ 31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’”

After reading this particular passage, I find it pretty obvious that we get one chance to get the whole "is there a God?" "is there a Heaven and Hell?" and "how does Jesus fit into all of this?" thing figured out. Looking back at this passage we see that one man who seems to have everything while on earth - the fancy cars, the big house, all the toys - loses everything he deemed important on earth the second he steps into eternity. There's a similar story to this found in Matthew 19 - a rich young man comes to Jesus and asks him what he needs to do in order to enter Heaven, and Jesus responds:

" 21Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
22When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

You know what I think? I think Matthew 19 has this whole Heaven and Hell debate spot on. In our instant gratification society where we're the top 5% of the entire world's rich, it's no wonder that our society is often so easily swayed by the ways of the world rather than the calling of the Lord. Our hearts have slowly been hardened by the lies of Satan, "just one more look and I'll be satisfied", "just one more shot and I'll finally calm down", "just one more hour of work and I'll be successful". Our lives are run by competing with the Jones' rather than looking to Christ for our utter satisfaction. We, as a society, are so incredibly clouded by the world around us and the attacks of Satan that we don't even realize the lies we're being told until it's too late. We get no second chances when it comes to salvation. We only have one life on this earth, and one opportunity to choose what we'll believe. Will we work ourselves into an early grave so we can have the parties, the cars, the toys, and everything material that doesn't last? Or will we strive for Heavenly perfection, not comparing ourselves to others, but loving God and others along the way?

The choice is....


Praying for you all tonight blogging community, that the Lord would show Himself to you in incredible ways. God is good, and despite what the world says, He still loves you no matter who you are, no matter what you've done - He loves you no matter what.

"17 The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and loving toward all he has made.

18 The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.

19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cry and saves them.

20 The LORD watches over all who love him" - Ps. 145:17-20

Friday, June 5, 2009

Delightful Weakness

Happy Friday all! What an incredibly amazing week in our lovely State! Seriously, the sun is shining, it's been 85+ all week and we had an incredible Storm come in last night. God is so gracious! I was actually hoping for a good 'ol thunderstorm... because I LOVE watching them come in. :-)

As I was reading 2 Cor. 12, specifically the section on the thorn in Paul's side - I had a new perspective. Three different times Paul begs of the Lord to take the thorn from his flesh, what he calls "A messenger of satan". And you want to know what God's answer was? "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." In essence, God didn't take that thorn away from Paul, and Paul goes on to say: “that’s why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I’ve always grappled with this particular set of scripture because how exactly is His power made perfect in weakness? And how in the world are we ever able to rejoice in hardships? Then I realized, it’s during the times of struggles, trials, and overall downfall in life - when we feel like we’re nothing - that we call out to Jesus the most… and in essence become stronger and more fulfilled in our faith that we’re able to face the next round of struggles because His grace carries us through, training us for what’s to come in the future. When we’re weak in our flesh, we’re strong in our spirit and faith in Christ.

The one part of this that we need to realize and learn from that sometimes, God doesn't answer our prayers the way we want Him to. Sometimes we don't get the job. Sometimes the marriage isn't restored. Sometimes the friendship is not saved. The people we love will die. The things we so desire won't fulfill us. And the worldliness we all so strive for (the bigger house, bigger car, better job, more money, more prestige, more fame, etc) won't give us what we long for and we'll never be completely satisfied - always feeling like we're running around on empty.

I truly believe the reason some of our prayers are answered as "no" is so that we may grow from the trials that will inevitably come with the no. We're walked through the valley's so we can remember that "His grace is sufficient". And it's in the valley's, the frustrations, the disappointments of this life that our Faith is strengthened, our hope is restored, and our desires for God's purposes in our lives are refined.

What are the things God's telling you "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness"? What is God calling you to change in your life? What desires has God laid on your heart to do, but you've never followed through on? God gives us the desires we have so that His kingdom may be grown and that we may have something to look forward to and work for during our time on earth. Go after those desires with the greatest passion you can muster, and God will bless you RICHLY for following what He has called you to do.

I just love the Lord! :-) Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!!

Monday, June 1, 2009


Priorities… those little items in our lives that we believe make or break us. Whether it’s financial or relational – all of us, to some extent have something or someone that takes much of our time, focus, energy, and dedication. As I’ve reflected on this recently, I’ve noticed that I’m definitely a people person. I’ll do anything for a friend or family member that is in need. My priorities lie around my cheerleaders, my friends, my family, and people within my church. Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? But the reality is that I place my priorities in people instead of prioritizing my relationship with Christ.

As I said in my last post, the Lord has been speaking to my heart about one specific woman on my drive to work. Since I’m such a people person, why is it so difficult for me to pull over and help/bless this woman? Simply because I don’t have and I don’t ask for Christ’s eyes – I see through my own selfish nature and my own earthly eyes. And I realized – I would rather help someone I know and love than someone I’ve never met. I would rather gain better relationships with those I already know than step out in faith and meet new people that Christ places in my life. I like the comfort and the safety of my “bubble” and I would rather not venture too far from it.

Why is it that my priorities of loving others suddenly become so incredibly selfish? Because Christ calls us to serve each other and treat each other (and that means EVERYONE) as we treat and love ourselves – placing our own selfish desires on hold and replacing them with God’s eternal desires to love His people. That means asking Christ for his eyes in every circumstance and asking for His confidence to follow through on the calling He lays on our lives. It means getting out of our comfort zone.

As I reflect deeper on my priorities, I finally come to the realization of HOW exactly my relationship with Christ grows and develops. Just like any other relationship that we have here on earth, we make time for those we love and care for. We make sacrifices – whether it be time, money, goods, etc – for those we love. Our relationship with Christ should be exactly the same – but FAR more important. Making time in our always hectic, everyday lives is difficult. But think back to an incredible relationship you’ve been a part of – where you could never seem to get enough of the person – I can almost guarantee that more than time and money was sacrificed to watch that relationship grow and develop – I’d even bet that there were many nights of 2-3 hours of sleep, many days pining over that person, and many events and times with other people that were ditched or cancelled- just to be in that persons arms for a few more hours.

That is exactly how our relationship with Christ should be. We should make sacrifices, whether it’s getting up early or going to bed later, to make sure that we’re in His word and spending time with just Him – without the distractions of life. When was the last time you spent more than 10-15 minutes with the Lord? He SO desires some quality alone time chatting and teaching you so that you may grow into a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him. He wants your time, He wants your focus, He wants your heart and soul to yearn for Him as your heart and soul yearns for others on the earth.

I can absolutely guarantee you that you will be met by Jesus every time you make the sacrifices to spend time with Him. He speaks through His Word and His Spirit – simply refreshing our souls along the journey. He gives us clarity into the issues of life and gives us understanding and renewed hope and direction in this world. With Him by our sides, our biggest dreams, desires, and hopes will come true – and the best part? He’ll even give us MORE than we ever hoped for or imagined. Make a Jesus date and you won’t ever regret it.

God is SO good! Let’s all work on spending more time with the One who loves us far more than anything and wants to bless and care for us in all we do. Amen!!