Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Out of Ashes

I believe that we like to be safe. In fact I know this! We are comfortable when we know that our lives are in a safe place, whether it be physically, financially, or emotionally. We don't like to step out of this place very often, and for those that do, there comes a great amount of criticism. We hate taking risks, unfortunately, this has leaked over into our view of Christ. If we keep God in a "safe" place, and at  a "safe" size, then we don't have to risk too much.

Think of it like a fire.We're good with a bonfire. It's contained, we can control it. There is very little risk of someone getting hurt. And when we're done we can put it out. I'm afraid this is what we've reduced God to. We like Him as long as we can keep Him contained. We don't want to allow Him to spread too much or get too big in our lives, because then we'll have to start changing. We'll have to give up things we love in order to make room Him.

For Shame!! God is not a bonfire!  No! In fact, I believe God is a wild fire. We fear a wildfire, because it is unpredictable, and we can't control them. They completely change the landscape and leave a path of wreckage and ashes. And when we look at it, that is all we see. But if we were to give it time, there will be something beautiful. The aftermath of a fire gives a chance for regrowth. A chance for beauty to rise out of the ashes. God will do the same with us. He will take what we see as destruction and wreckage, and He will make us beautiful.

Why do we continue to play it safe? We should be praying for Him to wreck us. We should be praying for God to reduce us to ashes! Paul rejoiced in the suffering, he was glad when trouble came and when God wrecked his life. This wasn't because he was a crazy man. (although by all means he totally was) But he rejoiced because this breaking brought glory to God. Paul was a shining example of God's glory in the wreckage. We are to be a display for the beauty and glory of God. But we've got to stop reducing God to a stinkin' bonfire! He is a wildfire, and all consuming, forest wrecking, life changing fire! It's up to us to recognize it, and then let Him have His way!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Have I not commanded you?

Joshua heard the voice of the Lord say to him "Be strong and courageous." And because, he clung to those words, Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land. Then when faced with opposition, Joshua repeated these words to the Isrealites. "Be strong and courageous" With these words, he offered encouragement, and direction.

Knowing that God's words are life and knowing that He cares for us is a breath of Hope. It's what sustains us when the storms we face seem too big. When the boat you're in is being tossed back and forth and you don't know if you can hold on any longer. The reassuring words of Christ, when hidden in our hearts, can be the thing that keeps us calm in the midst of the storm.

"Be Strong and Courageous"

God is good, He is present, and because of Him, there will be peace in the midst of the storm!

'Joshua said to them "Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the Lord will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.'~ Joshua 10:25

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I am learning the importance of community. While in Africa, I was constantly around people. We ate together, prayed together, shared a room (well separate rooms for the genders), and even brushed our teeth together! We were constantly in each others space, asking questions, checking up on each other, sharing victories, and burdens. So you can imagine my sadness when I came home and was no longer surrounded by a community. I slept in a room by myself and woke up to an empty house... No Fun!

I missed the family atmosphere, being constantly surrounded. Which if you knew me before, this is a huge change! I used to cherish my alone time, I had one night a week set aside just for me. Now don't get me wrong, I still cherish alone time, but man do I miss community. To remedy this, I have been spending time with some friends of mine. Here I get the family atmosphere. Trying to figure out what community looks like outside of that is the hard part. How do we make this work in a society that is individualistic and motivated by the desire to make their lives better?

In Acts 2 it talks about how the believers met together daily, they ate together. They shared everything. Everyone's needs were met. The focus was on community. Now even though I don't have an answer to my dilemma, I think it can start by focusing outward. Focusing on the people around us. Learning how to become the Acts 2 Church. My prayer is that we can learn to live in complete community, looking out for each other, caring for each other.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I have to say that I really admire Paul. His writings are honest and straight to the point. Every time he wrote to one of the churches, he had no problem telling them what was up, but he always followed it up with encouragement on how to live. Having just celebrated my 27th birthday, I have learned, that daily I could use this kind of correcting and encouraging.

You have to understand that the last year of my life has been a rough one. I lost a job, experienced major changes, and the hardest of all was losing my dad in April. People and things have been stripped from my life, and there are times when I feel like I'm standing here completely exposed. Losing a job wasn't the worst thing that could happen, even having to give up a nice car and the freedom to spend money as I pleased wasn't that bad. That all paled in comparison to losing my dad. When I lost my dad, I lost my best friend, and my biggest cheerleader. The pain of that loss still aches from time to time. But through it all God has been teaching me! He has been growing me and molding me into the woman He wants me to be.

Even though it's been a hard year, I did experience something amazing and life changing. I spent two months in South Africa. While there I was challenged, broken, loved on, and completely and utterly changed! Those two months taught me so much, but I feel like the biggest thing I learned, was that God uses EVERYTHING for His Glory! All the pain and hurt, He uses it to show His glory in our lives. When I began looking at the trials of the last year in that light, it made them easier to deal with. It made the fact that life can just plain stink sometimes, and ok thing.

I can't just focus on the bad stuff though. I have been so blessed in the last year. I have made new friends, and met people that have deeply impacted my life. I've learned to enjoy life and be bold! God is good and He blesses us for our obedience! It reminded me over and over again of my favorite verse in the Bible:

Ecclesiastes 3:1 " There is a time for everything; and a season for every activity under heaven."

I know this seems like an odd favorite, but I discovered this verse when I was 12 and have leaned on it ever since. Knowing that in our lives, there is a season for everything brings comfort and peace in the times of trouble. God is good no matter what. And because we serve a good God, our circumstances are for His purpose and His good! Praise God!

So this next season of life may not be what I want it to be, but I will abide in who God is and who he is making me into. Because if my life isn't about Him, then it is not worth living. I want to challenge you to do the same!! View every trial and hard time as an opportunity to grow and bring glory to Christ. Live every day with purpose and joy! Be a light of who God is in you. Be bold, and live and awesome life!!!