Thanks for journeying with me!
My dad is well known for his many catch-phrases. Those of us who know him well, can sometimes predict what he is about to say next. I can almost hear him saying one of them now, “hurry up and wait.”
So silly, so ironic, yet so true. We live in a fast food, fast paced, digital, world at your fingertips age and we often feel like waiting is not a reasonable option.
What we want, we get. When we want it, it's ours. Right? Wrong.
God works differently. He takes His time. He is patient- intricately working in each and every detail to build us, to shape our faith and our character. Yet we would opt out of the character building if we could. We want the final product, without the messy in between parts. We look on towards the destination and past the journey. Yet the journey is deeply connected to the heart of God. He uses it to get our attention, to shake us out of our complacency, our independence, our fears.
In John 11 we see a beautiful example of the faithfulness of God to show up. Mary and Martha sent word for Jesus to come because their brother Lazarus had become gravely ill. Although Jesus dearly loved this family, when he got word, he waited for two days. HE WAITED! But Lazarus was dying, why would he wait!? Why Jesus, why?!
He is not playing games, He is not busy with other things. He has intricate purposes over your life, He has timing. He wants to form your faith.
Those deep desires, those promises from God, He hasn’t forgotten, He is not withholding them for sport. He is faithful. The enemy will often try to snatch up our seasons of waiting, injecting the poison of doubt into our deepest insecurities. So we rush, we strive, we flail around trying to make things happen. We hurry up & wait. Yet, being in a hurry doesn’t bring the fulfillment of God’s promises any faster, it just brings heartache.
I understand the feeling. Those dreams that are dead and collecting dust, I've got em. Lord, why didn't you show up already? Why are you waiting so long? But He does show up. He will show up. And when all feels dead and buried, he breathes life and revives that thing. Don't lose out on your waiting season, rest in His promises.
& whatever it is you are waiting for, let go. Let go of your idea of timing and your expectations. Instead, cling to who God is, develop expectancy and know that He who molded the very universe, is molding you in His image. He has a great desire for relationship with you and these times of waiting are meant to deepen that.
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”
we have faith. with God, the impossible is possible. we got this. we got this... and then the storm hits and we are back at it again with our fear and our scrambling for control.
in reality, it is a fine line between faith and doubt and I’ve faltered between the two more than I care to admit.
when we fix our eyes on Jesus, we can conquer anything. when our eyes are diverted, we sink. it is pretty simple. one minute confidently walking on water, the next- a terror filled, spiral out of control. it’s funny how life is like that.
when will we learn to remember?
when will we learn, that we were never the ones in control?
we will, when we learn to look again.
Peter confidently cries out to Jesus to call him out on the water. At this point, the storm and the depth of the sea were inconsequential, they were nothing compared to the glory of looking Jesus in the face. He was on a faith high, ready to face anything, until the wind and the waves, they beckoned, picking up speed and dragging his attention away from the gaze of Jesus and onto the danger. He begins to sink.
Did you catch that? When we focus on the circumstance, we sink. When we look at the storm instead of Jesus, we sink. When we look anywhere but Jesus, you guessed it- we sink.
It only takes a split second, but it has dire consequences.
Praise Jesus, we aren’t doomed to our sinking. Praise Jesus, we aren’t doomed to our circumstance or our sadness or even our unraveling. For, even though we are a fickle people and we look away- we can look again, and the minute we do, that storm doesn’t seem so intense any more. It’s about focus, it's about perspective. It's about our gaze.
Where are you looking to? Your circumstance, or your Savior?
Where are you looking to? Look again.
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If anyone out there was keeping track, I probably shouldn’t be a missionary. If my compliance with "the law" determined my salvation, I wouldn’t even really be saved at all. I can be a mix of good & bad, messy & selfish. I can lose focus and allow criticism to fill my thought life. There are of course good things about me too, but when I live out of my own strengths, I can forget who I am meant to be and all that I have been saved from.
From the sickness of sin I have been healed. Hallelujah, for I am a sinner who has been saved. Saved, not by blindly following a set of rules or laws, but by the immeasurable sacrifice of a loving Savior.
I didn’t earn any of this. Because I have been undeservingly saved, I must live life missionally.
I would be disqualified by the law, but I am saved by grace & that is exactly why I should be a missionary, so that others may know.
It is not about us perfectly upholding the law, or doing the best we can during our lifetime simply to get by or to make it to the end goal of heaven. It is about daily dying to yourself, fully understanding and never forgetting the massive gift of grace we have been given. It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I know how much the love of God has impacted my life. How it has taken me and given me beauty for ashes, how it has given me joy for mourning.
I’ve seen what God can do with a sinner like me & I want others to have that chance. In remembering how desperately I need my Savior- that is what motivates me to be a missionary, so that others may know.
i've had some things rattling around in my mind lately. i've had desires to know God on a deeper level and to be known on a deeper level- yet something is holding me back. i feel paralyzed in some ways. i know my desires, i see them within my grasp- yet they are, or feel, unattainable.
i had the revelation: i've become comfortable, paralyzed. i've become dry bones. with the advent of social media things have changed. i'm not necessarily living in an obvious sin. i'm doing full time ministry, i serve God, i pray, i live by faith for my ministry & finances- but the last few months i've felt like something was missing. i've felt dry. i've felt disconnected, numb. i've been reduced to bones.
sometimes we, or at least myself over here, have this picture of the enemy that he is the big bad wolf. he's out to get us, and we are the innocent victims. that he uses these out of the box ways to hinder us, in our callings and in our life & honestly this is, in many ways, true. something i have realized however, is that we often times do his job for him. we disqualify ourselves, we take ourselves out of the race. we allow ourselves to be silently paralyzed, without recognizing the connection. i am being honest here friends, & i am preaching to myself as well.
i have felt this conviction so strongly lately. when i have a couple of free minutes- i end up on social media. when i wake up, & right before i go to bed- i end up on social media. throughout my day i end up on social media when i don't even mean to be. i recognize the irony that this post is being shared on social media & i'm not here to villainize it- but i am here to recognize its dangers. I am a firm believer that social media is a tool that we can use to bring awareness, to highlight testimony of our God: who he is and how he works. it can be used to build relationships, to share prayer requests, to communicate life happenings, to share joy and sorrows & those are all good things! social media is not evil! but there is a catch, there is a downfall, when it takes the highest place in our lives. when it eliminates us from feeling anything real, from being able to hold an intentional conversation in person. when it eliminates us from really living a life outside of cyber space. it can be like a silent poison, slowly suffocating us, while disengaging us from reality, separating us from who God is or why we are even here on this earth in the first place. as i began to process all of these things, and recognize this in my own life God pointed me to Ezekial 37.
i've read these verses many times, they are some of my favorite verses in the bible. i love the idea that the Lord wants to partner with us to bring life, when he has all the power to do it on his own. i've always associated these verses with calling forth life into those who are dry because they don't know the Lord, but this time God showed me a different side of this. just because i know the Lord does not mean that i am immune to becoming dry bones. he spoke to me that these verses reference his church, his people becoming dry and desolate, when his earnest desire is for them to be lively, living beings.
i often think about the state of our world and feel sad. people can be hateful, violence is prevalent, fear is a driving factor, and the trend towards hopelessness is all too real. why do you think an app like "pokemon go" is doing so well? yes it is fun, yes it is throwback and brings up nostalgia and all those great things... but in reality it is just another distraction. it is something to divert away from processing and realizing how hard things on this earth really are.
as christians, we live in the tension between heaven and earth. we live in the tension of being saved and living for the hope of eternity & feeling hopeless, feeling weary, feeling overwhelmed with the sin and destruction that seemingly reigns in this world.
rather than accepting the way things are, rather than shutting down, going into dry bones mode or not allowing myself to feel anything- i feel God calling me to a different option. I feel God calling me to wake up. our nation is in a state of dry bones, rather than accepting things as they are, this should fuel me in my intercession and standing in the gap for the state of my community, my city, my nation, my world.
we allow ourselves to be paralyzed and numbed by social media, afraid of the destruction and news we see, living like the walking dead. all the while, God is calling us into deeper relationship, he is calling us to partner with him in breathing life into dry bones. this starts with individuals, with the church coming alive, aligning themselves with God, stepping into their identity and destiny and calling others to do the same. when non-believers see someone sold out for Jesus, walking in freedom and their calling it is often irresistible, why then are so many people turned off of christianity by the church? because we are walking in religion not the true life that jesus christ brings. we are dry bones and we don't even realize it! God created us to live in constant, living and vibrant relationship with him. please church, here me out. come alive again. prophecy life and breath into your own lives and then extend that to others. bring jesus into your work place, your relationships, friendships, assignments, hobbies, days and nights and things will be dramatically different. there is so much more available to us than comfortable christianity, there is so much more for us than dry bones.
Lord, I ask you to breath life into my dry bones. I ask your forgiveness and lay down the idol of social media. may you take the highest place in my life. i am done living paralyzed to your presence and your goodness in my life. i know that there is so much more of you available to me & i beg you to breathe life into my relationships, my ministry, every single aspect of my life.
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MY SWEET GRANDPA JIM, PASSED AWAY THIS MORNING, AT 82 YEARS OLD.
To my dearest grandpa Jim:
I wish I had told you how funny you were, or how precious your smile was when you would laugh.
I wish I had told you how much I admired you for working so hard to provide for & raise 8 kids.
I wish you could still be there someday at my wedding to cut in during the father daughter dance.
I wish I had told you how much I admired your faith & passion.
I wish we could play King’s Corners just one more time.
I wish I had told you thank you for raising my dad, for molding him into a man of character, for giving him your humor & for allowing him to dream big dreams.
I wish I had made sure you knew that you were the best grandpa a little girl could ask for.
There are so many things I wish, but this I know-
You are made whole again, free from pain & hurt.
You are with Jesus now & that gives me hope.
This has been an amazing outreach: I've seen God move, & I've seen my students & myself be transformed.
I've seen the eyes of a prostitute light up when she hears that she has true value. I've worshiped with people in the streets of Mexico City. I've gotten to know and encourage survivors of human trafficking. I've hammocked with ngäbe tribal women in the mountains of Panama. I've heard the gut wrenching stories of men deported into Tijuana. I've done lots of dishes. I've translated- even when i felt inadequate. I've befriended people so very different than me, yet very much the same.
I've had the privilege of leading 7 women- beautiful, unique, & wild lovers of Jesus on a crazy God adventure through the nations of Mexico and Panama.
I've grown & learned so much on this outreach, & the biggest thing I've learned? it's how to let go.
As beautiful as this outreach has been, as a leader I allowed myself to be under a lot of pressure. In the midst of all the beauty & chaos, I felt really tired. All of the details and the discipleship and energy needed to lead an outreach, the trying to be in control, it was almost consuming me.
At some point however, I felt something shift. I was sitting and talking with God asking him what had changed and His answer:
you let go.
I let go, I laid it all down. The false idea that I had been in control in the first place, has broken. It took God about 6 weeks or so to break that in me, but He did it. During this outreach when things were meant to be planned for our ministry... they weren't. Sometimes we didn't know what we would be doing for ministry until the night before, sometimes we didn't even know until the morning of. God has so been stretching me, calling me, to let go of control & to trust that He has something for me & my team, even when I can't see it.
It's one thing to want to know & have things organized for yourself but when you have responsibility for a team & have 7 girls looking to you for details & plans, it adds a lot of stress. It has been so humbling to say, many times, "I don't know guys, let's pray."
I've learned complete reliance on the Holy Spirit as a leader. In driving directions, in ministry opportunities & in projects, the Holy Spirit, not me, has been our guide. We've come together as a team each morning & said "okay Lord, what do you have for us today?"
I love, I really love, having things organized & planned. This is my nature & God has totally shaken this up for me. He's kept me on the edge of my seat, trusting Him in every moment.
While organization can be a positive thing, God has really been nudging me to let go of my death grip on the details & enjoy the adventure that he has me on in that season. I haven't been able to rely on my own plans at all & it has brought me closer to Jesus, day after day.
I'm happy I let go, because when I did, I gained so much more peace & freedom, I gained so much more of Jesus.
Steffany Gretzinger, from Bethel Music, is my girl. Her worship is so anointed, so beautiful & this song pretty much sums up what God has done in me during this outreach, have a listen.
In the Merced market district of Mexico City simple transactions are made: clothing items, shoes, fruits, spices and candies are sold for dirt cheap. Oh & so are women.
Each day about 500, beautiful & precious girls, many of them underage, line up against a chain link fence.
WAITING AROUND, WAITING TO BE BOUGHT.
Waiting to be used & then discarded, until the next guy comes along. An encounter with these women goes for as low as $8 U.S. dollars per hour.
No matter how long or how many times I do red light district ministry. It never gets easier. I’ve talked with women & encouraged them only to have them bought seconds later. I’ve seen the hurt, the pain & the fear in their eyes. It’s maddening & gut wrenching. Why is it okay for women & even children to be bought? Why is it okay? The answer is simple- it’s not.
You see, these women, even you and me- we were already bought.
He who was without sin died in our place, paid for our sins, in order that we could enter into full and unhindered relationship with the Father. These women are already claimed & I refuse to believe that there is no hope for them, or for places like Merced. There is hope for God’s heart is to redeem these women, just as he redeems us. Although I cannot see it yet, in faith, I will still hold on to hope.