Monday, August 20, 2012

Never Again the Same

I have, quite obviously, struggled with writing over the past year or so. I have sat down countless times with either good thoughts that just would not pull or together. Or the attitude of 'I HAVE to write something something, it's been ages, COME ON Noel just do it!' (as Nike would say)
As you can see neither worked. I have countless drafts of unfinished posts, the beginning process of a few good thoughts that fizzled out in the end.
This has been depressing, and led to discouraging thoughts of  'Maybe I have lost my writing capability' or, 'I have been out of school so long I forgot how to finish a paper'.
I have wondered if the enticing draw of seemingly endless media and social outlets might be the culprit. For example: why write about my own boring life when I can stalk people on Facebook or Instagram, be thoroughly confused by Twitter, waste away my ENTIRE life wishing for things on Pinterest, and last, but not least; watch a plethora of mindless forgotten TV shows on Netflix. Take your poison, er, choice.

Four weeks ago I started a Bible study by Beth Moore, 'Believing God'. One word: life-changing, (maybe that's two.....oh well)
I think that God has been preparing me for this kind of renewal, revival, sifting season for a while now. I can see His hand working in my life, for this purpose, going back at least a few years.
Africa, marriage, church, personal walk, sermons I've listened to, people I've come in contact with, etc.

I have not come to any conclusion, (HA!). In fact, I am hoping that this is a journey that never ends, in which my life is continually being changed day by day. Sounds familiar.......
Anyways, it sounds so cliche to to say something like 'I've never felt closer to God in all my life'. And honestly I think I've been having so much trouble finishing posts because I have been more concerned with sounding good than being transparent and laying it all out there for everyone to see.
This new sense of 'belonging' is not just a feeling of 'I am so close to God right now'. Because I've been there, and because it is a feeling it always fades. The spiritual highs and lows of my life are numerous, they are practically a roller coaster unto themselves.
It started a week or so ago when during a discussion about prayer, asking God for things, and His love for us, I was abruptly brought face to face with three different lies I had been believing. Things that have been ingrained in me for as long as I can remember.

#1 - Why do I get offended when God doesn't answer my prayers? I get mad or upset, maybe even bitter because He did not do something I asked Him to.

#2 - When I am praying for someone, either for their health, situation, salvation, etc, I always pray like I am the only thing that is holding God back from wreaking havoc on that person and destroying their life. And if I do not pray for them who knows what God could do to them!

#3 - In my innermost heart I believe that God is unjust and cruel, otherwise how could He could He let these things happen to people that He supposedly loves.

Harsh, maybe, Hard questions, oh my yes. Things we've all thought, you tell me.

I received three answers right away.

My child, are you entitled to anything from me? More than that, what more can I give you? I have given you my Son, He made a way for you to live with me forever when you deserve hell for eternity. I created you, I am in all things, and all things are for me and through me. I give you life and breath and everything. 

You act like I don't care about what is happening to the people you are praying for, but you are forgetting one important detail: I created each and every one of them. I love them and know them so much more than you can even imagine. Of course I want what is best for them, and I want each and every person to be saved, haven't I made that very clear?

Ah, yes, the 'Why do bad things happen to good people?' question. You throw this in my face like it is a big mystery, when there is a simple answer. Think of my Son for a moment, do you think I loved Him? Cared for Him? Wanted the best for Him? You have no idea beloved.
Yet, I allowed Him to suffer, be nailed to cross, endure shame and humiliation, have all of my judgement and condemnation for the world be put on His shoulders, and die. Do you think He deserved this? No. The ultimate bad happened to the ultimate good, and this was my plan. To save you. How can you doubt when hard things happen? Question my very nature that I have already proven time and time again. 

I love you.

Every time I think about I get chills, and a feeling of awe and unworthiness comes over me.
The past week has been a journey, I look back and I think look at what I was missing! I had no idea what that scripture meant, or what a personal moment by moment walk with the Lord felt like. I have heard that small, quiet voice many times each day. Most of the time it could be passed off as 'my inner conscience', but I know better. He is alive in me, and He loves me more than I can fathom.

Let Him in. Let Him speak to you. Let the walls comes down. He is worthy of our trust. And adoration, worship, allegiance, and life.

Be free (from doubt and mediocrity)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

'Is That It?' vs. 'What next?'

'Today we are getting things done.'

Growing up I dreaded these words. It meant a day of work. Of doing more than the usual chores and school. My mom or dad would give me a job, then expect me to come back when I was finished for another job.
At first I didn't mind, getting things done was a natural part of my first born personality. But after a few hours the novelty and sense of accomplishment would wear off; to be replaced with tiredness, and a feeling of 'What more do you want from me??'
I was smart enough to not show this attitude outright, I was careful to not complain outright, keeping my thoughts to myself, while still obeying outwardly.
Yet, I had my own way of rebelling. Coming back to my mom I would say 'Is that it?'
Subtle, I know. Implying that I was done, and 'Is there anything else that you could possible want from me??'
As I got older God started working in my heart, changing it to be a servant's heart.
I started saying 'What next?' instead of 'Is that it?' Notice the difference? From 'I'm done serving you', to 'I'm here to help you, for as long as you want.'

All of this is the preface to what I wanted to share with you about what God is doing in my heart at the moment.

A few days ago, in the Sunday morning worship, through a great sermon God spoke to me. Well, more like he convicted me so strongly that it felt like a ton of bricks landing on my heart.
He showed me that I have been showing the very same attitude that I used to show to my parents, toward him - in the way that I respond to serving him.
In the times when people talk about serving God, or I am asked to do something else, or even when I think that God is asking me to serve him in a certain way; my mind immediately goes to all of the things that I am already doing. Almost like an excuse; 'Look at all of the things I am already doing for God, surely he couldn't be asking for anything MORE.'

Where and when did I start thinking of serving God as a chore, or even as favor for him. As if my life didn't belong to God already, and it is me going over and beyond to do a few good things twice a week.
That doesn't even make sense!
When I gave my life to Christ I surrendered any right to have a say over what I do with my life.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.
-Romans 12:1

More than that, anything God does ask of me is not a drudgery, I have the honor of obeying him. He chooses to use ME, God doesn't need me to help him - I have the privilege of being a part of his mission.

This was a continuation of what God was already showing me through this short video by Francis Chan. Ouch, ouch, and double ouch. I do get so caught up in this 'life', not even thinking about what would matter for eternity.

Have a great week, mine is packed - but what else is new? :)

be free

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Passion & Urgency

Conviction dawns slowly, starting with a tiny prick and building until there is a throbbing ache in my soul.
My self rises up, once agin, to try and make excuses for what I have done. Selfishness oozes like a writhing, seething monster waiting just below the surface, ready to attack.
I have such good intentions. My heart's desire is to serve the Lord and love with all of my heart. And if love was just a feeling I would be completely in the right, yet, it is not - and I am completely in the wrong.
I long to stay in this place of contrition, with the full realization of what I need to change. I pray that I wake up in the morning with a mind and heart focused on the Holy Spirit.
This is not just for my sake, the cost is much higher than this. There are souls at stake here. Real, hurting, lost souls.
When I read the book of John I am made aware of the passion and urgency that Jesus had for us. And I wonder why I can't seem to grasp that same urgency and focus myself.
I hate my fickleness, my deceit and my lame, sorry excuses.
Oh God, please change me.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

let your light so shine

My heart is twisting inside my chest.
My mind struggles to find the words that will make it all okay.
My soul longs for the Truth to be revealed.
My spirit prays, begging that Satan will not have any more influence.

Life seems terribly mundane, while the days go by, each with things to do and people to see.
All of that can change with one conversation, one situation, and life suddenly seems incredibly fragile, ready to shatter at a moments notice.
It may seem like I am talking about myself, that something tragic has happened in my own little box.
But, this is a false illusion.
Because there is no box.
There is a world full of people; beautiful, valuable, amazing people who need what I can give them. I have a gift, a message, a good news to tell anyone who will listen.
This good news is the Gospel.
Trading sorrow for joy. Sin for righteousness. Being forgotten to incredibly had. Giving all control for all-encompassing peace.
Jesus came, the Son of God, was perfect, died for the world, came back to life, went to prepare a place, left us to tell other people.
The most beautiful, and most hard thing is; it doesn't stop there.
Just 'telling' someone is not enough. How are they supposed to know what to do next? Does life get easier, with Jesus?
I asked this question to a 12 year old girl today, to which she replied; 'No! It doesn't get easier, its harder! Its hard being good.'
I like her honesty.

This next step is Discipleship, and it is one of the hardest (if not the hardest) things that I have ever done.
And perhaps the part that I struggle with the most is how much I care about these girls.
I love them, so much that the thought of them hurting or being led astray makes me physically ill.
This should give me the motivation to do anything and everything possible to help them grow closer to God, and encourage them in their daily struggles.
Yet, this is something that I am still trying to figure out. How to do this practically in my own life.
I need the mindset that nothing is too much, and have the willingness to follow the Holy Spirit in anything.

There is a helplessness in knowing that something is wrong, and having no idea what to do to fix it.
Prayer is the most powerful weapon I have, why is it often a last resort?
This must change.
I must change.
People are depending on me to show them Christ.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven." Matt 5:16