Friday, February 25, 2011

I can't wait to see!

I'm off with my friend, Alyssa, for the weekend to lead worship for a women's retreat.  It's always an honor and a joy to lead God's people in worship.  A time of worship with my sisters in Christ is especially meaningful to me.  Getting ready for these things is always funny.  I mean, yeah, there's planning, preparing, praying, thinking through words and songs, practicing...and then, when all that is done, it's just this sense of excitement, anticipation, and waiting for what God has in store.

I was thinking this morning...what if my days always started like this?  Lord, I can't WAIT to see what You're going to do today! 

I think of Moses.  Habbakuk.  Abraham and Sarah.  Elizabeth.  Mary and Joseph.  God saying to all of them...just wait and see what I'm going to do!  Psalm 46 says, "Come and see the works of the Lord."  He has great things in store--much bigger things than we can even imagine.

Even when it looks dim.  Maybe cloudy outside and inside.  But God wakes us up in His grasp.  Telling us this is the day He has made and we can rejoice and be glad in it.  It's almost as if He's leaning in and whispering in our ear with a smile and excitement in His voice saying, "just wait and see what I have in store."

Blessings on your weekend.  I'm excited for what He has in store for you.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

waiting here for you.

Chris Tomlin was in town last week and ever since, I've been trying to gather my thoughts to share with you what a blessing it was.   I could write a whole journal full of what I took in from that night of worship and teaching.  So I'll do my best to be focused.  If you want to hear more, buy me coffee and we'll chat.
I have to be honest, some of the things that were said that night were unreal and in the midst of thousands, the words spoke directly to my heart.  I might've laughed out loud when Chris Tomlin decided to stop in the middle of a set and speak about what it means to wait on the Lord.  Seriously??  What is this that keeps following me?!  I turn to my friend, Alyssa, and smile.  She says to me, "you're going to blog about this, aren't you?"  And so here we are.

Do you ever want to give up?  Or maybe you wouldn't admit to it with your mouth, but your life would prove that you already have.  I'm not a quitter.  I never have been, but it seems lately, that I've begun settling for the "good enoughs" of life.
        "Well..I don't like this about me, but no matter how I try it's not going away, so I'll just deal with it.  It's who I am."  "This situation isn't ideal, but I need to just suck it up and push through."  "I don't have balance in my life, but maybe this was what God had in mind for my story."

Oh friends, the things we settle for.  I quit waiting.  I said I was waiting, but really not believing that the promise of life to the full would continue to unfold.  Chris talked about coming to the throne of God with expectation for His promises to be fulfilled.  Expecting that He's going to move.  Expecting that He's going to keep bringing freedom, keep bringing life, keep bringing forth His glory in any and all situations.

Then Christy Nockels sang this song, Waiting Here for You:
If faith can move the mountains, let the mountains move.
We come with expectations, waiting here for You.
Waiting here for You.

You're the Lord of all creation and still You know my heart.
The author of salvation, You've loved us from the start.

Waiting here for You, with our hands lifted high in praise.
And it's You we adore, singing alleluia.

You are everything You've promised.
Your faithfulness is true.
And we're desperate for Your presence.
All we need is You.

(You may or may not be able to find a recording of this on youtube because of copyright things.)

As she sang, I closed my eyes realizing how easily I'd given up hope and how small I'd made the God of the universe.  I quit expecting.  Settling for good enough.  Accepting brokenness as "as whole as it's going to get."  Telling myself that it wasn't possible for God to move in these areas of my life.  I am so sorry, Lord.  How dare I try to limit what You have in store for me.  How dare I quit expecting for You to be glorified in my life.

Louie Giglio took some time to teach in between the two worship sets.  In one part, he talked about raising hands.  Specifically, he mentioned that one of the ways that we raise hands in worship is in desperate hope for God to come through.  Desperate hope.  Hope isn't something we're wishing for...maybe it'll come, maybe it won't.  No.  Hope is something we're certain of.  God is our deliverer.  He has and will continue to deliver in some way, shape, or form.  Let's not misunderstand and think He won't.  He's given us Christ.  Our all.  As Matthew 7 says, "how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"  Be expectant.  Wait on the Lord.  Don't just say you are--let our lives be lives where we expect God to move and be glorified.  Being joyful in the hope we have and being lost in praising Him.

In our waiting, in our deliverance, in our wholeness, be glorified, Lord.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

love is here.'s that time of year again.  You know...Valentine's Day.  The time of the year where love is acquired and admired, cussed and discussed.  In honor of all that jazz, here's a video to throw your way.

No matter your relationship status, your desired relationship status, or the social engagements you have arranged for the holiday, know this: love is here.  I'm not gonna go all "Jesus is my Valentine" on you, but seriously.  Life and love is bigger than our human capacity to love or be loved by another person.  If we lose that perspective, we become idolaters and end up settling for a love way smaller than what we were made for.  I got news for you all...even if your valentine is the bee's knees, you were made to be loved by Jesus, and he or she ain't gonna hit that mark.

So the favorite part is this:
 Come to the treasure, you who search
And you'll search no more.
Come to the Lover you who want
And you'll want no more.

Love is here. love is now.
Love is pouring from his hands, from his brow.
Love is near, it satisfies.
Streams of mercy flowing from his side.  --Tenth Avenue North

No other love from any other human can be that for you.  He created you, knows all of you, and is crazy about you.  You don't have to fix yourself up to get it or put your best foot forward.  You don't have to have your junk figured first--He rather you didn't pretend to, actually.  Jesus' love is here and it satisfies.  It's challenging and it can be scary because there's nothing you can do to lose or gain it.  It demands change because nothing can stay unaffected by it.  It's perfect.  It never fails.  It's deep, high, long, and wide.  You can never be separated from it.  It's yours in Christ.  Right now and always.  Finally, something you don't have to wait for.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

stones will roll.

Maybe it's just because I'm a girl, but I adore the resurrection accounts.  You may not see the connection initially, but it's there.

Mark 16 tells the story...
      When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body.  Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb  and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
     But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.  As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 

I've written about this story before, but it's been on my mind lately.  Well, really one aspect of the story.  The stone.

Mary, Mary, and Salome wake up early.  They stir getting spices ready so that they can leave for Jesus' tomb as soon as Sabbath breaks.  I can just imagine them walking quietly together; still pondering all that had transpired in the past few days.  Their Lord and friend was dead.  All they knew to do now was honor him by anointing His body.  Details are unclear in the fog of grief.  It hadn't occurred to them how this would all happen until it hits them, "who will roll the stone away?"  Yet they continued on their journey to honor Jesus, only to find the original rolling stone no longer blocking the tomb.

The thing I love about these women, though, is that they kept walking.  They didn't stop and wait for someone or something to come along that could move the stone.  They didn't turn around and go back reassuring themselves that they had good intentions of honoring Jesus.  They didn't do what I would've done, which in such an emotional state as it was, sit on the side of the road and have an emotional breakdown.  They didn't do any of these things.  They pressed on, just wanting to be near their Lord and trusting that somehow they could honor Him.

I don't have to tell you that there are stones in life.  Boy, are there stones!  As I look at this story, I think of all the looming stones in my life.  I think of the other people walking with me and the stones that they face.  Nobody knows how they're going to get moved.  Some you just kind of play by ear with a fair amount of certainty that they'll just go away.  Others are absolutely terrifying and so large in size that you're powerless to budge them.  I think satan delights in our stones of life.  He wants us to get all worked up and distracted by the stones that get in the way of our peace, joy, goals, healing, and ultimately our trust in the goodness of who God is among us.  We get so distracted by the stones that we freeze in our tracks, forgetting who our God is and that He gives us all good things.  We get so sidetracked with the stones of life that we don't realize they've been rolled back to reveal an empty space.  We're so focused on the stones that we carry on as if they still block the tombs of our world.

The women walked on uncertain of how it would work, only to find salvation and freedom.  That tomb and all others that loom about us were opened that morning.  As Tomlin says, "Jesus has overcome and the grave is overwhelmed."  God is so much bigger than the stone in our way.  Keep walking while you wait for stones to be moved, wounds to be healed, light to be shined.  Jesus told His friends that He'd rise in three days and sure enough, the stone was removed.  As we're walking into trials, God has given us His promises to trust in.  He's asking us as we are uncertain and fearful about what is coming up in our path, that we trust in His power to do all things and to look out for our good.  Trust that God is who He says He is.  He goes before us.  He rolls away stones away from tombs we didn't even know we had.  God's a stone roller.  In the meantime, keep walking, trusting in the hope and freedom in a stone that's been rolled.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

preach it.

Have you ever though to yourself, "I'm being strong, taking heart, and waiting for you, Lord.  Now what do I do in the meantime?"  Well...the suggestion I have for you today is testify.

There's been a lot of talk around me lately about testifying.  I'm not really sure that the Lutheran folks are too familiar with this, but it's been really cool to hear so many people in the last few weeks talk about sharing what God has done in their lives.

I heard a guy at my church say the other day, "there's no reason for us not to tell about what God has done in our lives."  To that I say, preach it!  God is good to us.

A pastor who was in Nicaragua while we were said this: "We love the testimony, but we don't love the test."  I think that's true.  It's sometimes difficult to trust in God's goodness when we're smack in the middle of struggle.  However, when we go through trials and come out on the other side, we are witnesses to the fact that God works for the good of those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8).

This week I've been reading in Isaiah.  He says this in chapter 43.
12 I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
   I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God.
 13 Yes, and from ancient days I am he."

We are His witnesses.  We're His chosen people whom He loves deeply and He gives us direction to share how He has been Lord in our lives!  In Isaiah He's basically saying, "I've loved you and taken care of you so well!  When people hear about what I've done for you, they're going to know that the God you worship is real and that God is Me!"

If you're waiting for something to happen, look backward for a moment.  See what God has done already in your life through the power of Christ.  Praise Him for it and tell your story.  When Christ lives in us, our lives can't be the same.  One of the most powerful ways to share Jesus with people is telling the story of how He has made you His and how He is peeling back the layers to reveal more and more of Himself in you.  Preach what's good.  Testify about how He's brought you through the bad.  Patience comes much easier when you're dwelling on the goodness of what God has done in you and trusting that He will continue to work to your good.

That being said...let me preach it for it a minute about what's good with me.

These are two of my best girls from Nicaragua.  Kayla and Jazel.  They brought me so much joy and sought me out every time they were at the mission.  We danced and sang and it is evident that they love the Lord.  They are a part of a dance group at the mission that dances in worship and they dance in parks and other public places as an outreach tool.

Though our conversation was limited, they danced their way into my heart.  I got to show them love and they did the same in return.  I've looked at this picture everyday.  I don't know if I'll ever go back to Nicaragua or if I'll ever see Kayla or Jazel again, but I do know that God is using them hugely.  And one of the ways He's already used them is to show me the passion He's put in my heart for kids who need to be loved.  I don't know how that will look, but God is good and He will provide opportunities to be used both later and in the meantime.