Thursday, March 31, 2016

Why R U stressin'?

So it's 2:45 am. I should be in the bed asleep. Already been in the bed and was getting absolutely no sleep. So of course, that means time to read or time to write.

Today I had a fourth interview for a job. With one phone interview and three in-person interviews under my belt, it has been a process. They will make a decision in two days. But in all of it, I have tried to keep my focus on God's will.

So as I was lying in my bed trying to settle down my brain enough to stop replaying the interview over and over in my head, it occurred to me, What does God want to do while I wait?

One thing that I am sure of is God does not have incidentals. Things that just happen for no reason. Things that just fill the spaces of our lives. God is always at work. He is always working to make us more like Christ. He is always revealing something about where we are with Him or where He is trying to take us.

So what are you waiting for? And what is God speaking in that time? What is He up to? What is He working to bring about in your life?

I was having a text conversation with a friend today who is also waiting to hear back from a job interview. We both agreed that the waiting is the worse because you are left hanging in the balance.

But what I know for me is God is teaching me to just trust Him. This past Easter weekend, our family was watching an episode of "The Bible." Although we know the story, we were still amazed that Peter had enough faith to get out of the boat, in a violent storm, and began to walk on water towards Jesus. And Peter was doing just fine when he didn't pay attention to his circumstances, to what was going on around him. He just narrowed his focus on Jesus and went toward Him. But for a moment, he took his off Jesus and He began to sink.

My take away from today and the waiting is just to trust. Trust that I have a Heavenly Father who knows the desires of my heart before I even speak them. Trust that I have a Father that also wants and does what is best for me. Trust that when I have done all I can humanly do, God has the final say. Trust. In the unknown time, can I still praise God? Can I still have joy? Can I still thank Him? My answer is YES.

I don't know what will happen with the job, but God most definitely does know. I trust Him with the outcome because He is faithful.

Now off to bed. My mind is at peace. Leave your troubles with Him. God has heard your prayers. Have faith and trust.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Squash the negative self-talk

When I was a college student, I was involved in a campus ministry that hosted short-term missions trips in the summer. I went to Ocean City, New Jersey. It was revolutionary for me in so many ways. That summer we studied the Book of Romans. Our key verse was Romans 8:1, "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." That summer I was taught so many foundational truths that it truly changed the course of my faith walk. Our leaders called them positional truths because they addressed our position in Christ, things that were unshakeable because they were not based on us, but started with God and His covenant with us.

I learned grace and confession and God's redemptive power. I thought I was living my life in light of those truths but recently had to come face to face with a truth that I could not ignore.

I was attending a Bible Study a few Saturdays ago and we were journaling about ways to actively engage people in sharing the gospel. And in my journaling, I begin to see a negative picture of myself that I had not previously been aware that I was painting. The writing was filled with negativity and I realized that I had been struggling with a spirit of condemnation. I had been talking the language of grace, but living the lie of condemnation. Let me explain.

You know how things happen in your life and you play it over and over again in your mind trying to figure out if you had done something different, maybe the outcome would have changed. Not necessarily something big, but maybe one small thing. One time you should have spoken up, but you chose to stay silent. One time  you should have said "no" but you did it anyway. Just one time that you should not have gone along, but you didn't want to offend. If you have had those times then you know that the regret can silently eat away at you. And you can allow internal guilt to rob you of the peace that God wants for you.

So I realized in my journaling that I had been consciously and unconsciously playing these scenarios in my mind and the more I did, the more I walked away from God's grace and instead clothed myself in condemnation. I forgot the truth of Romans 8:1, "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus."

At this same Bible Study, I shared this revelation after our journaling session, and an older woman told me that the key is discernment. If that tugging at my heart is from God, it will point me back to Him, that is conviction. If that tugging at my heart, points me back to self, that is condemnation, and that is not from God. That helped me to examine my emotions and that negative self-talk I had been battling. It was a beautiful example of Titus 2:3-5, older women teach the younger women.

Just this week, I was listening to a book on tape. I would have never thought that it would be a place that I would find the summary of my situation. After a tragedy had occurred, one of the lead characters was feeling guilty over the role he played because his friend was hurt. He was told, "It happened. It was awful. You aren't perfect. That's all there is. Don't confuse your grief with guilt."

And I remember sitting in my car thinking how profound! Don't confuse my grief with guilt. The situation I had been replaying in my mind definitely involved a lot of grief. But in my grieving I had allowed the voice of the enemy to turn my grief into guilt. I was being weighed down by internal accusations that were truly, 100% condemnation and not conviction.

So I am working my way through it this week, continuing to be honest with myself and with God. I'm not perfect. I trust His grace. I need it always. But He knew that already. So embracing Romans 8:1, "So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus." Even when we know God's Word, sometimes we need to be reminded not just to apply it to others, but to apply it to ourselves.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Tell your heart to beat again

Had not at all intended to write a blog today, but was listening to K-Love on the way home from dropping my son off to school and heard the story behind the song, "Tell your heart to beat again." When I got home, I looked up the lyrics and listened to the song and it was so fitting.

I think leaving a church is one of the very hardest decisions that you can make as a believer, especially when your church is your family. You know that in leaving you are ripping apart something that will leave a jagged edge. 

So I find myself in that position, but not just me, but many other families who made the same decision -- many people that I love and esteem who are now wounded. 

This song reminds me that yes, there is a season for us to protect our hearts while God repairs the brokenness, a season where we step back and process the pain. But we cannot be overcome by the pain, paralyzed by it, jaded by it. That would be a greater tragedy to add on to the hurt of the breaking of the bonds of church family if we added to that bitterness and resentment. 

We were not family because we met in the same building, we ARE family because we are children of the Living God, we are brothers and sisters in faith. We care about each other. We help each other. We look out for each other. We serve one another. That doesn't stop because we don't show up during the week at the same address. 

My last blog was "The God Who Sees Me." I had reached a point of emotional exhaustion in another situation. I clearly knew that God was telling me, "you can guard your heart so that you are not so exposed to the hurt, but I do not release you from reconciliation." There is still work to be done. We live to fight another day!

So yes, guard your heart for a season, but God hasn't released us from the ministry of reconciliation. He has not released us from our calling. He has not released us from trusting. 

So tell your heart to beat again! Yes, it's hard. We're there together -- having to find a new place to worship, having to learn all of those new names and new stories. But the biggest one is learning to trust someone again with your heart. You are not alone. Over and over and over again, God has told us not to be afraid. Joshua 1:9 goes even further. "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." 

I will never forget. I taught a new members class once and the topic was forgiveness. A young man who was a new believer made a profound observation about the love and grace of God and the magnitude of His forgiveness. In the moment that we confess our sin, God already knows that we will sin again, and yet, He still forgives us and trusts us with His heart. He opens Himself up to love us in spite of the hurt that will come. 

Let God heal your heart, but don't stay guarded and build walls around your heart, around your children, around your family. There is hard work before us. God will be our strength. There are still people who need to hear the gospel, people that need prayer, people that need to see transformed lives and need to have their lives transformed. Tell your heart to beat again! 

Love you family! :)

CLICK HERE to watch lyric video of "Tell your heart to beat again" by Danny Gokey.