Friday, December 23, 2011

relaTional reFreshment

relationality is a word that i think i might have just made up. i like saying it better than "being relational" more like it's a qualitiy. i want to have relationality: to be intentionally relational. 

but why? why is it something to be desired? 

well today i have had one of those moments. i went to coffee with let's say a new real friend and we talked about the value of being relational. we talked about our lives. we were relational. we didn't have an agenda or task to be accomplished. we shared stories, ideas, and ended with prayer. it was refreshing. that is something i always walk away with from those moments: feeling refreshed. that is one huge reason i want to have relationality. 

you see God is creative. He created us and He did so in a way that makes us all different when it comes to ideas, experiences, mindsets, knowledge, attitudes, dreams, etc. so when we begin to be relational and dive a little deeper, below the surface, we get to see something different. we aren't looking into a mirror. we aren't talking to ourselves. we are diving into a pool of new, different refreshment. through their stories, thoughts, laughs, struggles, passions, and prayers we get to see a new piece of God's creativity. and that is refreshing. 

fresh. it's a word that brings life. it's like a breath of new air. 

if i don't step outside of myself then i will become the opposite of fresh. i will be stagnant, old, the same thing. when i am all that i know, when my thoughts are the only one going through my mind, when my stories are the only ones i hear i become stuck. i become a pond with stagnant water. no one likes that. you want a fresh river with new water flowing through, full of life. 

so when we become relational and dive into new waters, we walk away refreshed because we experienced new life. we saw a new side of God's working in this world. a new perspective. new stories. new dreams. it's beautiful. 

my challenge is for you. don't be afraid to go below the surface. don't just be at the same place doing the same thing and call it bonding or friendship. have that plus getting to know people for who they are. what is the dna of their story? what brought them to the place they are now? how has God changed their life? what are their passions? what do they struggle with? what do they love? and then be willing to share the same things with them. take a dive together and come up refreshed. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

it's unbelievably beautiful

if you know me well then you know that i don't exactly come from a Christian family. this was something that presented as a challenge to my faith in the beginning. i was discouraged. i used to separate my faith from my family and avoid the topic with them. i didn't like them making fun of me. i didn't like defending my faith because i didn't know how to then. 

alot has changed since then. 

two of my older sisters and mother regularly go to church. through the Spirit's prompting we started meeting as a small group. this has helped strengthen our relationships as a family of believers not just blood. we dig into God's love. we take in His grace. we share and we pray. oh how the Lord has bee moving! 

when i started going to church i had to sit with my friend's family and other kids from youth. i now get to sit with my family. i get to worship next to my mother and sisters. i get to hear them praise Jesus. that was a vision that was far from my imagination in the beginning. it is reality now. somehow, someway the Lord has made sure to shine through my life so that my family does not see my actions without seeing Him. that is beautiful. i used to be intimidated because i was younger than them. now the Lord teaches me in order to share the knowledge with them. 

i have two little sisters as well. i honestly didn't know how to be a big sister that influenced them for Jesus. but the Lord works in our weakness, that's for sure. one sister went to summer camp this year and has started going to youth. she is shy and we haven't had deep conversations about Jesus, but the door has been opened. 

my youngest sister. well i have never really had much of an opportunity to share with her about Jesus. see, she is 7. the gap means that we haven't lived in the same house together much. she has been so young and not thinking about anything dealing with God. oh but on saturday things were different. Caroline wanted me to take her and her friend to see the Christmas lights at the Down's house. i was a little reluctant, but decided to be a cool big sister and take them. 

we parked and watched the lights. at one point there was a picture of the cross in lights. i asked them if they knew what it meant (Caroline's friend goes to church so i figured i'd get an answer) and they answered "Jesus." that question, the one that i didn't know was coming out of my mouth when it did turned into the gospel. in a grass field parked in my dad's truck i shared the gospel with my sister. we talked about everything and continued to do so as we drove home. when we got home i explained why we celebrated Christmas. we went into the house, i grabbed my Bible, we sat together on the couch, and i read her the story of Jesus' birth. the next morning as i walked out of my room i found her reading the Bible i left out. she picked up where we left off. she then joined me for church as we celebrated with our Christmas spectacular. at the end of the service Caroline raised her hand representing that she wanted to submit to Christ. she repeated the prayer the pastor lead everyone in. you see the night before i had told her that you had to make the choice and pray to Jesus. she told me that she couldn't remember everything you needed to say so i told her i could lead her through it if she wanted. well at church when she raised her hand, i looked at her and said that the pastor was going to lead her in prayer just like i said i could do . she said ok and proceeded to pray. 

i can't say that caroline understands it all. i can't say what really happened in her heart or what is going on now. but i can say that the glory goes to God. He is moving in my family. these beautiful moments are not your average moments. they have eternal fruit. and boy are they beautiful. i am blown away by the fact that the Lord chose me. He chose me to follow Him in a family that was not. and through His power, truth, grace, mercy, and love He is making Himself known among their hearts. He is strengthening me everyday. why He chooses to use me i will never figure out or understand. but i am so glad that i get to be a part of it. 


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Stupidity brought Purpose

Every now and then I am prompted to write things in my journal and the way I write them it is as if I am writing for someone else to read. When I go back and read these types of entries I feel like I should share them. Maybe someone needs to read it, maybe several need to, or maybe the Lord just wants me to be willing to share things that aren't so warm and fuzzy all the time. Whatever the reason I feel as though these next few thoughts are to be shared. There aren't too many people that I have shared these things with as I am sharing them now. Take it or leave it, but it is my life.

Journal Entry from October 25, 2011: The Purpose of Life

"Everyone thinks that question is the hardest one. What am I meant for? Why am I here? What is my life supposed to mean? Everyone has their own answer. People think everyone is here for something different. People either take the question incredibly serious or blow it off. Those who take it seriously may worry and fear if they are left without an answer-What's going to happen to me? Those who pass it off with a shrug of the shoulders do so because they don't want the burden. They want to live the way they want to live.

I used to worry. You see, we as humans want to feel important. We don't want to come and pass as if we never existed. We want to be wanted. We want to be needed. If we don't have any of that then why even come into existence? This is a big world filled with many people. If I don't stand out then why be here?

Before I knew who Jesus was I was afraid to die. I had heard of Heaven and Hell. I had heard of different people giving different explanations of what would happen after death. I didn't know what to believe. And because of that I was so fearful of death. Where would I go? What would happen? What if there is a Heaven and I don't get in? I was a good person right? Sure I would make it to Heaven. The only thing I was certain of was that I was not certain about life after death. I didn't know if there was a God out there and if there was, what was he like?

Because a good friend practically bugged me into going to church when I was 14 I was told things that completely changed my life. I heard about God. Story after story of all these things He had done with humanity. He created us and continued to interact with us. He loves us. No matter who we are or what we've done, He loves us. Then I heard something new to me: Jesus. Jess came and lives a sinless life only to be beaten and hung on a cross. But why? Because between us and God was a sin that kept a Holy God from an unholy people. By Jesus living a perfect life without blemish He qualified as a sacrifice that could cover it all. What needed to be taken out on each person through God's Holy judgment was all laid on Jesus. His blood covered my sin and washed me clean. And that stands for all. The wall was broken and we were promised eternity with God. From the day we acknowledge Jesus as savior and submit to His authority until the days after physical death. Those days are all promised to be spent with the Creator of this universe. That includes a home in Heaven.

After hearing these things. After coming to know Jesus as  real and true, not a character from a book. After being confronted with the Truth. I knew Jesus as my savior and bridge to the Father. After that I was no longer afraid of death. I was secure. I had no more reason to worry, question, doubt, or fear.

Yet, just because I knew my end was secure didn't actually mean I knew why I was living. My ending was much bigger than I ever knew, but I couldn't help but fall into thinking that I, and my life, was so small. I still didn't know my purpose. I went through life with more satisfaction after giving my life to Jesus. However, I never let go of the idea that I was insignificant in this world. I didn't know my purpose. And that left my mind open for many different thoughts:
"There is no reason for me to be here."
"No one would care if I was gone."
"I'm not even sure people actually like me."
"If I died I doubt anyone would go to my funeral."

I allowed those thoughts to cycle through my head for a long time. I didn't think it was odd. At that time I thought everyone thought like me. I would get distracted from those thoughts time and time again. But they never left. I allowed them to stay in my mind. They made a home in my thoughts. When things would get frustrating or I felt insignificant to other people they would yell at me. 

One day I allowed those thoughts to be the only ones I heard. I believed that I had no purpose and that the world would be no different, maybe even better, without me in it. Over and over these thought went round and round to the point of leading me to the kitchen. I opened the silverware drawer, grabbed a knife, and placed it against my flesh. At that moment I heard something different: "Ashley What are you thinking? You are significant to me and I created you with a purpose. Don't do it. Let go and come to me." The Lord broke through and showed me something outside myself. 

I had been ignoring the thoughts and truths of the very One that created me. I had been listening to every other thing about what my life meant. But they did not create me. They didn't draw my design. How could they know what I was meant for? Just as no one but the creator of an invention can state its purpose, no person can tell me mine that is not God. 

"What is the purpose of life?" is no longer a tough question. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came to build a bridge that offered reconciliation between us and our Father. And while Jesus founded the bridge, added to it is every person who chooses it. Those who acknowledge Jesus' gift get to play a part in it. When my life was made new in Jesus I was given a purpose. I am to glorify God in all I do in order to point others to Him and the bridge that connects them. When I gained new life in Jesus my life became part of something so much bigger. While my life may seem small compared to this world and just an instant in time, it plays a part in the very thing that created time itself. Jesus is above all. My life is in Him. His purpose is now my purpose. So my life doesn't just come and go. My life contributes to something eternal.

I am not here to wander through life. I was not an accident. My life is not meaningless. My life is being used by Jesus in a worldwide epidemic of souls being saved and reconciled with the Father. Talk about purpose. Talk about significance. I get to be a tool through which Jesus speaks, acts, and reveals truth. When I let go of my life that was limited to my ideas and abilities I was able to live into the life designed for me.

So don't be like me when I was young. Don't let outsiders define your life for you. People change their minds and sway with emotions. They get confused and deceived. You are going to let that determine who you are? Don't do it!

The purpose of life- to know God and to make Him known.

Live into that. Until you seek that first and do so with your whole heart, you will never know what the looks like in immediate details. Your purpose for the day will not be revealed or accomplished until you know the purpose of your life. So don't worry about today. When you know what all is supposed to be lived for you will know how to live today. Let every small thing point to and align with your ultimate purpose and you will see it all amount to the greatest of all things. Each small act of life that lines up with knowing God and making Him known is actually not small at all; they become eternal. Knowing the big picture brings significance to all.

Seek to know God- He is eternal so you will never grow bored, but placed in a stance of awe continuously. Seek Him and you will find Him.

Make Him known to all- this will overflow out of knowing Him. His heart is for every heart. When that is what you know that is what you will see to do. He is so incredible that you won't be able to stand knowing there are people who don't know Him.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Put In Me

I have been listening to one album in my car for the past 3 weeks.
this song is so deep and such a prayer.
i just felt the need to share it:

Oh, Mercy, fall on me
Like a warm blanket
On my cold, cold heart
Clean me with Your blood
That turns me white...on the inside
I'm on my knees again...
'cause I'm breaking Your heart

Put in me what I cannot buy with gold
Put in me, oh God, come restore my broken soul
Put in me what I cannot give myself
Put in me...a clean heart

I know all my broken places
Like the back of my hand
That slapped your face again
Wash me with your love
And hold me tight like a baby
'Till I have no memory
Of ever breaking Your heart

And in the joy when you restore me
I will stand and walk again
I will run into this world I will call them to come in
But I will not point my finger or grow that wicked skin
That cannot remember what I will not forget
I how I broke you, or how I'm broken
-"Put In Me" by Enter the Worship Circle on First Cirlce album

Friday, November 18, 2011

numb to home

so i entered the states monday night, practically tuesday morning
this was a early return, but it was what needed to happen.
i won't get into details because what matters is that God gave me a peace about coming home even though every ounce of self wanted more than anything to stay longer.

since being back i have being experiencing something new to me
i have traveled and returned a few different times and there are some things that seem to regularly occur each time such as:
little desire to return home
lots of tears at some point between time of departure and the first 2 days of being back
weird feeling of being home
and usually summertime to adjust in ease

well this time around has been very different.
the overall experience was unlike any other overseas experience i have had thus far
not only was there a totally different relational ministry mindset
but i also gained an actual family that i lived with
the culture was much more relaxed and not dictated by the clock
so adjusting from that is super weird
i came back in the middle of a semester full of people who are full of schedules
i have no schedule and no place so it feels
welcome back to America
it hasn't even been a week and i feel obligated to be thinking and deciding about my immediate future

but what has been the weirdest thing has been this numbness that i feel
 a fog over my emotions
i can't seem to be fully excited, no tears,
no comprehension,
and no release of the whirlwind i feel caught in
sometimes it feels like i am on the outside watching myself it and talk with others
it takes me longer to respond and sometimes i wonder how much time actually passed before i spoke.
my senses have been overloaded
and i haven't been able to release it
i want it, i feel it, the release is on the edge but when i have to time i can't

when i was in the Ukraine i was obviously separated from the American culture so it wasn't too weird, i noticed it and every now and then i missed being a part of what was going on

but now i am home, i am back,  i am here in it
yet, i feel so far away from it
it's the weird numbness that i have

i don't understand it and i don't get it
i don't really like it

however, there is something that i do know.
while i am in such a place of uncertainty there is something i am certain of:
God is sovereign. when i have no idea what is going on He sits on His throne of authority with pure sovereignty and certainty over everything.
I know that He is good and powerful and incredible.
He deserves all glory all the time
no matter how numb i am to my surroundings right now i am not numb to God's awesomeness.
He truly is my solid rock to stand on when all around me is so unclear and uncertain.



Friday, November 4, 2011

the Lord is my home, the Acts 2 church is in action

Current situation:
because of changes in government, Max and I are having to travel to Budapest, Hungary.
there we will apply for new visas to go back to Ukraine and stay till January 3.
the reality is that this could not work, they could say no, and we have to find some way to get back to America.


Journal from October 30:
I am not ready to leave this place. It doesn't matter how different it is, how many ways of life have changed for me, how few friends from home I have here, Iam not ready to lave. Sure there are things of home I miss a little, but not enough to have to leave this plave to have them. I was talking with Max about it the ther day and I think I've figured it out just a little. Almost every place I have gone I have enjoyed and not wanted to leave. Each place has been unique so it isn't a matter of there being some theme of culture or people. But there is a theme: God moving. Each place I have traveled I have experienced and seen God move in awesome ways. Once I gave my life to Christ He became my home. So no matter what place in this world I call "home" Jesus is my home. He is in my heart so wherever I am I can call it home. When Jesus is moving, teaching, revealing truth, transforming lives it is a great place to be. So I could call each place home. The underlying theme and reason I love it here is because of the work of God. It is beautiful, holy, incredible, peaceful, exciting, it is everything I could want in a home. So I am no ready to leave this place. Yet, by the very truth that I came to to this knowledge, the reason I want to stay, is th very truth that pushes me to the need for understanding that I won't ever leave "this place." I may have to leave this location, physically, but I don't ever have to leave this plave of home in the Lord. The reality is that the Lord moves everywhere. I can't say He doesn't move in Oklahoma. My life in itself is a testament to His work. So why do I not feel the same way about home? Maybe because when I travel I get to see the Lord wor in a different people group in a different way. So perspective is what I need. In realit the Lord is eternal an everlasting. He is constant in His ways. So nothing is new for Him. The ways He moves here He moves everywhere, always. I can't limit Him and I can't box Him in. Even if the Lord movied in the same way in my life for the rest of my life it would have eternal consequences. So praise the Lord for the way He moves in Oklahoma and praise the Lord fot the way He moves in Ukraine. He is worthy of my praise and excitment everyday in every place. If I have to go home soon , so be it. The Lord is my home and we move together. No matter where I go I am home.


In Acts 2:
here in the Ukraine I have experienced the church like it was in Acts 2 several times.
when the believers gathered together they:
broke bread
fellowship
teaching
prayer
eveytime we go on home visits with Alexander we get to experience this.
so often back home I would hear of the Acts 2 church and ow it shoul be our model. but honestly, I didn't experience it too often in a pure form.
but now that I have tasted it I want more!
we gather in a home, the other day there were 11 adults anda child in a small bedroom
then we pray, spend time in fellowship which always involed testimonies and life stories, sing praises and other songs, have tea and cookies and other snacks, continue with more testimonies and conversation with eachother about our lives, have some teaching on the Word, and we end in prayer.
nothing is forced or unnatural.
when I was sitting in the home I was staring the Acts 2 church in the face.
my goal is to bring this back to America in more than just a small group setting. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Universal Translation

when you travel to other countries you deal with differences.
there are differences in almost every aspect of life.
different countries equals different cultures.
so when you start talking to people of another culture you realize that some things just don't translate.
ways of life sometimes are so different that you just avoid talking about it because it will only create confusion. it ends in laughter or awkwardness.
so there are basically some things that can't be translated from one culture to another.

going from America to Ukraine seems to present many differences.

what about from Heaven to Earth?
there are more than a few differences between His world and ours.
yet the incredible thing is that even though His world may seem so different than ours it translates into any culture, anywhere, in any language.

when I visit a home in this culture I may have trouble sharing things about my culture.
there may be confusion about certain ways of life.
but I can talk about Jesus and there is no barrier.
there is nothing lost in translation.

while there may be things about my life that come from my culture that are not to be applied to everyone in this world, there is something about my life that is meant for everyone, everywhere.
Jesus is universal and there is something in the heart of everyone that knows it, whether they want to admit it or not.

I need a translator to go from one culture to another for language barriers and explanations of the different ways of life.
there are so many different cultures in this world that I'm not sure they cn be counted.

however, there are really only two cultures: the Father's kingdom and the world.

those of us who claim to be a part of His kingdom get to be translators to this world.  
we may need earthly translators for languages of the tongue, but we get to help translate things of the spirit to earthly bodies who have souls crying out for spiritual life. just like I can't understand the Russian language without the help of a native, the people of this world don't understand the things of God's kingdom without the help of a native.

I would know nothing of God, His ways, and the gift of Life that He so freely offers me if He did not use His children of the kingdom to translate it all to me. i knew nothing. it was like hearing a foreign tongue with no translator.

how is this world going to know the Word of God and His ways if we don't let Him use us as translators? what good would it do me if I simply had a Ukrainian walk along side me, travel with me to schools and homes, but not translate anything for me? what good would it do if someone has a follower of Christ walk beside them, travel with them from place to place, but not translate anything of the Spirit?

God is so present in this world. His miracles are continuously occurring. He is reaching out for the hands of all His wandering children.

but no one can understand Him. He is from a different culture. He is speaking a different language.
just like we need language translators to go from one culture to another, so the world needs translators to enter the kingdom of God.
though i may not know every aspect or detail about God i think i am fluent in His ways, His truth, and His gift of grace. He has trained me to be a translator. the more i engage the more i will learn and the more i will be used.

will you join?






Tuesday, October 11, 2011

on my face,soaked in tears

I just had one of the most intamite times with the Lord. It was unlike any experience  I have really ever had. I would love to explain and share, but I still can't comprehend it all. However, part of this time included a poem that He inspired me to write. I'm not sure if anyone will get it or appreciate it because it was literaly just penned. But I do believe the Lord never does something in a life just for that single person so for that reason I share it. After many tears and attempt after attempt to speak the name of Jesus correctly, my pen started writing. And the tears didn't stop till the end. Have with it what you will.


In Your presence
    there is no comprehension,
                  no way to contain.
The words You spoke,
    the beating You took,
             the blood You shed.
All done by the authority
     in Your name.

You promised the temple
     to be destroyed.
       to be rebuilt in just three days.
The mocks were made
      with laughing loud.
But on the cross you revealed to the proud
      that pride comes
                  before the fall.

They thought they could defeat You
    by putting You to death
But after three days
    You breathed new life
            with just one breath.
The temple was rebuilt
      not of stone, of wood, or clay.
The temple was made new
     it was rebuilt in You.
The stone rolled back
   and from the grave You walked.
The Savior was alive!
    the man that they
                once mocked.

Before You walked this earth,
    winning was the enemy.
But through Your blood,
      the Truth and Life,
he has no victory over me.
You sent the Helper to dwell,
       dwell in my heart,
                my soul,
                      my mind.
So with all I am
      and all I have
  please let us be intertwined.

Your death and resurrection
       are not just a story
They are the proclamation  of victory!
       Victory over the devil!
       Victory over the flesh!
       Victory each and every day!

Thank You for reconciliation.
 I submit my life to be
       in constant admiration.
Though I may fail
       and I may slip
Your love will never fail
     and I will never be
           let from Your grip.

In Your presence is where
      I want to be.
Fear and trembling, joy and singing
All of this I get to share
       with You
Because I am not chained
   or held, but in You
           I have been made free.

You took my place on the cross
     so have Your way in me
On this earth let me be
    the lips that speak Your words.
In this place let every
     heart and saddened face
               be renewed in who You are
So that each new life
     may be of You
             a living memoir.

Thank You forYour grace
     and thank You for Your love.
Please be my guiding light
    when darkness closes in
So that from the hands
      of the enemy I may
            ascend like a dove
Let me be Your living testimony
    to tell of all You've done.
To share with the world
     that each and every heart
          has already been won.

The Lord is Holy,
     Pure, and Strong
And all my days I
     I will work
to make that
       my life song.
  

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pot Luck

Well my mind has been going, going, and going the past week or so. It's like my mind had a pot luck dinner and invited all its friends. A little of this and a taste of  that. Some things have tasted so sweet while others bitter. But my favorite is desseret. The sweetness of the Lord always finds a way to shine through. So grab plate and stroll down the table with me. Here are some samples of thoughts and events I want to share.

Language Barrier:
I have been here in the Ukraine for almost 8 weeks.
With this time I have been able to pick up a little Russian, a little.
I have interacted with people who speak English.
Communication has happened, but oh how I long, I yearn for more.
Frustrating and Beautiful all at the same time.
Well the Lord has His word to put in my mind on this.
He invited me to sit in His seat for just a moment. Sit where He sits and imagine His perspective.
I got a glimpse of the barrier between Him and His children.
we interact.
there is some communication..
He reaches to our level and communicates with us.
we pick up some things and ways to communicate.
but He longs for more, He yearns for something greater.
It cut me to my heart and lead me to prayer.
Sure I might not know how to fully communicate with my Heavenly Father, but He wants me to try.
He wants my frustrations. He wants me to think it through. When I can't find words He wants what I have.
There is no language barrier between us and Him.
so why have we created one?

English Teaching:
Max and I finally had our first interaction "teaching" English at a school.
we walked down our gravel road, stepped on the trolly, got off, took the wrong trolly, walked back to the stop, waited for te right trolly, and found our way to the school across town.
as we walked up to the door I heard a knock on the upstairs window to be greeted by waving teenagers. Exciting.
the two of us sat in the front of the class room with about 18 students between 14-17 yrs old.
we introduced ourselves and began a classroom discussion on home, family, hobbies, food, music, childhood dreams, etc.
most unexpected moment-a quiet girl sheepishly raised her hand to be the first to share about her favorite music. hard rock & heavy metal. the classroom was filled with laughter in surprise.
after our hour was up they asked when we would come back again. all was well and good.
we even had two students walk us back to the bus stop. I see good things.
Simon Says this week.


Spirit Train:
ysterday we headed back from Kiev. 12 hours later we arrived in Donets'k this morning.
I started getting a headache but chose to ignore it for a while.
the headache decided to also bring an upset stomach.
so I climbed up to my top bunk, placed a towel over my face to block out light, and prayed.
I have been challenging myself to resist selfish prayer and check my heart.
after reassuring myself that it wasn't selfish to ask the Lord to keep me from praying about not throwing up on a people filled train car I prayed and prayed.
the Lord provided and lulled me into a restful prayer time coupled with reflection.
I dreamed with excitement about future possibilities.
Spirit: "Ashley, what do you think about most often? What makes your mind tick? What do your daydreams paint a picture of? What does your hear burn for? Thos are your passions and dreams. Place them in my hands like I have placed them in your heart."
my family.speaking.teaching.shepherding.
sweet and sorrow family: some know Jesus, but are yung in His ways. a few laugh. others turn to opposite extremes. a couple hearts resemble stones. I want to pray with my family, not just be the one asked at holidays. I want to dive into the Word with my sisters. I want to worship alongside my brother. More than anything I don't want any of them to leave this world, face Jesus and say "I didn't know." while I walk this earth doing "ministry" in every other place but my family.
speaking: gives me more excitement in dreams than most things yet bring about more doubt and fear. Is that the enemy trying to scare me away from something incredible? Praying through that.
teaching: while I am not a master of much I would love to help teach those who are in a place I once was. I used to be void of the Word, empty of biblical principles, cold to the Lord's passion. I would love to teach on those things with the knowledge I do have, whatever that may be. And all the while the Lord will be teaching me in the moment.
shepherding: acoring to a recent spiritual gifts test this is my top. giving it a title makes me back off. knowing what it is ignites my heart. teaching others, living life with them, watching them mature, laughing and crying, praying, getting excited, oh!
the Spirit was speaking to me on that train.
I pulled out my journal and scribbled some challenges He gave me.
it was a beautiful, awkward place.
tears rolled down my face as a gained a burden for my family more than ever.
tears streamed as I was joyus and sorrowfull all together.

the sweetness in the end:
Jesus is Lord and He is making sure that I stay near.
when I was a new believer I saw people walk away from the church and then God as they aged far more often than I should have.
I feared that I would do that. I thought it was a way of life.
I wondered if I would say I was passionate and be faithful yet walk away in the end.
God is my caring Father who disciplines me in times of need.
Jesus is my teacher and guide.
and the Spirit is strong. He has His way in me through methods I couldn't imagine on my own,
the Trinity together is beautiful.
there is no walking away from life.
they have not become a part of my life.
they invaded my heart and transformed me, baptizing me in the Spirit and giving me a new life.
there is no walking away from life.
the only thing to take me out is death, which only brings us into a closer relationship.
He is the sweetness in the end, always.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Journal Church


Sunday I had church in my journal.
What does that mean?
Well when I normally go to church I worship, listen to a message, and pray.
Here it is hard for me to engage in church.
Church here is 2 ½ hours long, all in Russian.
I don’t know the songs, I can’t understand the message, and I pray when they pray but can’t hear the other praises and thanks from the congregation.
So yesterday I remembered to take my journal with me.
As I sat in the back surrounded by the church I experienced the Spirit.
During worship I prayed and asked the Lord to have the time, not letting me be bored and lost.
When we sat I opened up my devotional and was encouraged to dwell on the sacrifice of Jesus.
I opened my journal and wrote a message to myself inspired by the Lord.

“Trying to actually feel the weight of the cross is a difficult task. It’s a story we know. We’ve seen the movies. We’ve heard it told in various ways. We’ve read the scriptures. It happened over 2,000 years ago. It’s hard to make it truly personal today. Yes, I know what Jesus did for me. But at the same time I allow it to be something that applies to humanity as whole. Because of this I don’t let my own personal actions connect with the cross as I should. I know Jesus died for me, but He died for all. So turning it the other way…my actions reflecting on Him and not just His affecting me. It wasn’t just the sin of humanity laid on Jesus. It was the inequity of us all. Not some abstract idea. Not something in itself: ‘humanity’s sin.’ That was made up by something, many things. Each sin from every person that ever was, is now, and all to come. That includes me. All the things I have ever done, am doing, and will do that are contrary to Jesus. They all played a role in getting Jesus to the earth, beaten, hung on the cross, and then raised from the dead. When Jesus turned His attitude towards the Father and said, “forgive them, for they know now what they do…” that applies to me. While He was in pain. As He was nailed to a cross, hanging in pure agony He asked for my forgiveness. And yet I live each day my way. Saying “thank you Jesus” and then on with my day. He covered it all so I am forgiven, but I should be striving for something better. He spent His life paying for mine. I should be doing the same for Him. Paying Him back by letting Him work through me. Because He is not here is my debt. He didn’t get to stay here because I am sinful. I owe Him. I did the offense to the Father and when the Father came to punish, Jesus stepped up and asked for my punishment. He loaned me eternal life. With my finite, earthly life I need to pay Him back. The terms of payment are different than what this world calls for. It is not a one-time offer. It is nothing to desire freedom from. It will never be done. If for some reason I think it is covered and paid in full I would be sadly mistaken. And why should I not grow weary? Why should I continue? Why should I not grow cold in this pursuit?
 Love.
The foundation of it all is love.
Coming to the earth was an act of desperate act of love from the Father.
Speaking truth was not out of a place of being better. It was love pouring out in hopes of redemption.
Healing was not to show off. It was love wrapping arms around a child.
Being beaten didn’t occur because He failed. It was love stepping in and saying “stand back my child. I will take it.”
Hanging on the cross wasn’t showing a lack of authority. It was displaying just how powerful love truly is.
Raising from the dead wasn’t because Jesus wanted better for Himself. It was love proclaiming our freedom.
So to pay it all back. To give Jesus back what He gave. It must be love. And if it is love, there will be no end. Love sees past obligation.”
When my pen inked the last sentence we engaged in worship again. I stood with eyes closed and opened my lips to praise Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice. I made up a song to the tune of the worship. Then I prayed, and prayed, and prayed. When I opened my eyes leaders went to the front to prepare communion. How incredible! I had no idea we were going to do that this Sunday. The Lord put me in a place of incredible awe. He spoke to me a message about His sacrifice and then allowed me to engage in communion sealing the deed. Our God is not just good, He is the author and definition of good.
I had church in my journal and the Lord had His way in me.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

With All Your Soul

In Matthew 22 a Pharisee asked Jesus which commadment of the Law was the greatest.
In response Jesus said,
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul
and with all your mind."-verse 37

the word soul is thrown around often.
everyone seems to have their own definition.
some try and seperate it from the body and claim it is only spiritual.
others say it is just an abstract thought.
but today I read something that summed it up pretty well for me.

in the devotional
Worship the King by Chris Tiegreen
he wrote:

"The soul is hard to define, but God doesn't really ask us to define it.
He asks us to love Him with it.
He tells us that our life is all about Him.
That affects our commitments, our passions, our drives,
our motives, our thoughts, our feelings, our will, and our ways.
Our whole personality is to revolve around Him as the earth revolves around the sun.
Our soul is the center of our lives, and He is to be the center of our soul.
When we dive deep down inside, we should find Him there.
That's what it means to love Him with our soul."

that's how this world will come to know who Jesus is.
Jesus was, is, and always will be set apart, holy.
we need to live as though our soul is the temple of Jesus.
can you imagine?
it's a challenge I know. I can't pretend I live this way.
but through prayer, investing in the Word, and fellowship the Holy Spirit will have His way.

if you're on the same page as me you need a soul check.
spend some time with the Lord asking Him to cleanse your soul.
ask to be refined so that He may live more fully in your soul.
and pray for one another as this task is of no ease.


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Thanksgiving

Today we celebrated Thanksgiving in our church.
as is normal for every Thanksgiving season I was reminded to reflect on all
the things I have in life to be thankful for.
everytime I do this it humbles me and encourages me.
I am humbled because, well, it puts me in my place.
so often we go through life thinking about what we want and how this or that could be better.
if our prayers were put on a scale the side with our requests would far outweigh our thanksgiving right?
yes.
but this reflection also encourages me.
I am reminded and even made aware of how much the Lord has truly blessed me in this life.
this season I have become aware of something that I have not given thanks for in a while.

my testimony.

yeah, that's right.
I don't thank the Lord for my testimony very often.
salvation, yes when I focus on it I thank Jesus for the salvation He made possible.
but how often do I thank the Lord that I not only have salvation but
aslo
I have a way of sharing that.
I get to share how the Lord Jesus became a reality to me.

I have been in an attitude of thankfulness for this lately because of how often I have shared pieces of my testimony while being in the Ukraine.
at almost every place I have traveled with Alexander I have been asked to either stand in front of a congregation or share with a group my testimony.
In America I overlook it.
the only place I ever truly share my testimony is with a group of fellow believers.
don't get me wrong this is still powerful and useful.
but last week I shared my testimony in the home of a man and wife who are not believers.
they asked me to share about how I became a Christian.

in that moment I had to thank the Lord that I had a story.
there isn't just one way that the Lord works and moves.
no two believers have the exact same testimony.
God is creative.
He is not boring.
He is not stupid.
He knows that each person thinks differently.
He knows that giving each person a testimony with different details makes it effective for other individuals to hear because of those details.
giving us testimonies with different details shows that God is real.
there is no formula to our God.
He works in us with what we have so we can tell the specific ways He delivered us.

"it's beauiful a beautiful story"
that's what the woman said after hearing my testimony.
now she didn't drop to her knees and repent
but
she did see the beauty of God.
whatever it is she remembers she will remember that the only reason I told the story was because of the hand of God on my life.
through my testimony.
praise the Lord for testimonies.

I challenge you:
1. try being in a state of thankfulness. for each detail.  not just the big stuff but for everday things you take for granted. all those things that if they disappeared would change your life.
2. think about your testimony. ask God to reveal all the details to you. share it.
3. if you don't have a testimony find someone who is a believer and ask them to share their's with you. take a leap of faith and rest assured that God is the creator of all and His son died so we could be reconciled with our creator.



Thursday, September 8, 2011

Word of Life

today I was reminded of how powerful the Word of God truly is.
we visited a sister in Christ who happens to be a widow.
her husband died a the young age of 38.
she had a daughter and twin boys.
she worked hard to provide for her children.

she was not a Christian.

as time went on her daughter got married.
they were Christian and the husdband tried speaking to the widow about Christ.
he told her that she was living life wrong because she wasn't living for Christ.
she isnisted that her life was good. she was a hard worker.
well her twin boys started hanging around the wrong crowd.
drugs.alcohol.harsh words.
she didn't know what to do.
her son-in-law said he would take them for 1 week.
during that week he made them work around the house and yard.
saturday of the week he took them to a Bible study.
Sunday one twin repented.
when they went home their mother saw two different boys.
no drugs.no alcohol. kind words instead of harsh.
they asked to go to church and she thought it was worth a try.
the other twin repented. both were baptized
eventually the widow gave her life to Christ through the help of her grandaughter preaching to her.
while we were sipping tea and listening to her story all I could hear was "power"
God's Word is power.

we left after a word of prayer.

in the car we reflected on how amazing it is that someone can be so changed once having met with Jesus. we talked about true Christ followers and one's who simply proclaim.
without live change there is no evidence of Christ.
Alexander mentioned that his church was filled with 1st generation Christians.
he proceeded to tell that he was 3rd generation.
his grandfather was the first in his family to be a Christian.

here is where it all hit me.

Alexander's grandfather didn't repent after an emotional sermon.
back then there was no option of that.
he didn't repent because someone convinced him.

he read the Word of God.

in case you didn't let that fully hit you please read it again.

he read the Word of God.

immediately I was reminded of the promise in Isaiah 55.
the Lord declares:
"So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty,
but it will accomplish what I desire
and acheive the purpose for which I sent it." 

this brought me encouragement and at the same time conviction.
how often do we forget that the Word of God needs no fixing up.
it is not dirty.
there is no fault in it.
it is not boring.
we need not add our eloquence.

the Word does not need us, we need the Word.

His Word will not return void!
rejoice in that!
dance in the grace of the promise!

when we think we are not equipped like other leaders out there we need to stop looking at our weaknesses and start looking to the power of the Word.
it doesn't matter how pretty you look or smooth your voice is.
the Word of God has a job and the One who powers that job is powerful.


I challenge you today to get into the Word and praise God for it.
stop takin for granted that fact that you get to hold the Word.
pray through the Word today, use it as a guideline.
share the Word today.
and don't be discouraged if there is no immediate response.
God works in His time and His place.
it will not return void.
for if it was false and empty you would not be reading this right now.
without His Word I would be just another lost, lonely, and conused soul out there searching for something among the nothingness of this world.
because of the Word we don't have to rely on ourselves.
proclaim the Word today and show the enemy that he is powerless against the Lord!




Friday, September 2, 2011

My Answer

Coming to the Ukraine I was faced with many questions. But the one that occured the most, of course, was this, "What will you be doing there?"

I had a few stock answers based off the only information I had:
focuing upon youth, but heavily involved in family ministry. oh and possibly teaching english in a school.

you see whenever people go on short term missions there is usually a list of to-do's.
so when I only gave a list of a few things and then proceeded to tell that I was planning on staying for 5 months I got some funy looks every now and then.

but I'm not on a short term mission. I'm on a short long term mission I guess.
I kind of don't like calling it that actually. I don't even like to say that I'm on a mission because of what people expect to come along with it.

I didn't come to have an agenda and check off my list. I came here to be here. I am living in the Ukraine. And I realize something now. I don't want to call it a mission because in reality I should be on the same mission here as I should be every single day of my life whether it be here, there, or anywhere.

David A. Livermore put it very simply but beautifully.
"our eternal mission as people-to reflect God's glory to the world."

to me this is both humbling and encouraging.
humbling because it reminds me that I can't actually do anything but be used by the Father.
encouraging because it reminds me that though I can do nothing Christ can still use me.
God's idea for us isn't to plan, plan, plan but rather to be.
to be His temple that allows His reflection to be seen.
to be His obedient children that always give Him glory.
to be witnesses of the power of Christ.
to be the love that He first showed us.

no, I am not saying that we stop plannin events or having agendas.
however, they do need to come second in importance.
if we are first making sure to step into His glory then we will be able to reflect it.
because it's way too easy to get caught up in the planning and doing while forgetting about the reflecting. but if we first make sure to reflect, then it will carry into all things.

so yeah, some of my days here aren't filled with "ministry outreaches" but every conversation, action, attitude, and way of handling things is an opportunity to reflect God's glory.

that's what I am attempting to do here. that's my new answer to the question.
I am filling my days by trying to empty myself.
empty myself of all the things that take glory away from Christ so He can fill my life with Him oveflowing. and I get to do this in different ways on different days. sometimes it is simply to my host family while other times it is to a society of blind people.

the agenda doesn't determine the "mission"
my God does.

Susie Larson wrote something that, to me, goes along with this very well.
she wrote,
"What kind of change could be affected in our world if we, as Christ's followers, had lines we wouldn't cross no matter what anyone else was doing or saying? If we could remain kind while others are cruel, if we could keep from hating while others do dreadful things-are there any bounds to what the Lord could do through us?"

if that wouldn't reflect God's glory I'm not sure what would.


Thursday, September 1, 2011

a few funnies

I was thinking about it and with Max's help we put this little list together.

You know you're living in the Urkaine when...
*you can't understand the converstaion, not because of content but because you don't speak Russian
*Ashley wears longer shorts than all men
*you pour your milk from a bag
*(for Max) you only go #1 in the restroom but come back smelling like #2
*the car's trunk door opens on the highway rather than the bumpiest back road
*our favorite grocery store is an old night club
*consuming tea only once a day is weird
*Max is the best basketball player on the court
*the boys call Ashley "Lucy" because she's American
*Max and Ashley sing a song in front of the entire church...and they clap
*you shower sitting down without a curtain
*you use mayo more than we use Ranch
*bread is as standard as a napkin with your meal
*everyday consists of cherades simply to communicate
*walking into McDonald's makes you a "somebody" not just anybody




Monday, August 29, 2011

Slow Down Baby

I want to apologize to everyone reading this.
You only get the summed up version of all the incredible experiences.
For that I apologize, we get the best part.

This weekend we went camping with a small group of families and youth from the church.
Our time was spent in a quiet, secluded space in the forest next to a lake.
there was worship, prayer, stories.
I attempted to learn more Russian phrases which entertained the group alot.
while I didn't feel like I was able to communicate with the families as much as I would have liked
I was able to create some trust. As we lived together for 3 days they saw who I was as a person.
I wasn't just the American visitor,but instead I was the one playing with their children, rolling in the dirt as they climbed all over me.
I was the one was attempting to sing a song while max played guitar.
we were engaging on a different level.
while walls were breaking down, trust as being built in their place.





Today Alexander took me and max to visit some handicap children.
i had no idea what to expect going into it
i left with a desire to return as soon as possible
sure i can't say all the things i want to these children but the Lord blessed us with the ability to share smiles and laughs.
we heard each child's story and then gave them a new stuffed animal.
i heard the most precious songs sung by these children
i was filled with joy by a girl who couldn't speak
and more than anything i was humbled
at one point i held back tears while listening to a 5 year old sing a song about santa clause
the Lord displayed His beauty today.



Alexander is one incredible man.
His heart, his passion, his ministry all point to Jesus
there is no doubt in my mind tha the Lord will mold and shape me while working with Alex
He shared his vision for his ministry with me and max after dinner today.
I can't thank the Lord enough for this opportunity.
excitment can't fully describe how I feel.

here are a few pictures:

Susan(Alex's daughter),me, and Max at a Ukrainian wedding

Nadia(my new sister) and I on the trolly
eating cotton candy to celebrate Ukraine's independence

Thursday, August 25, 2011

First Impressions

Hello all!!

This may be short because we are laving for a camping trip soon and my computer batery is low. My converter broke and I can't charge my computer at my host home, only Max's... So here are some bits and pieces of my incredile experience so far.

Ok I have no idea what to even tell you! It's been about a week and a half here but I feel like so much has happened because everday brings something new.

Before heading to Ukraine Max and I did not get the visas that we wanted. So i made sure to have all the details I needed to be prepared for passport control. Well let's just say I was way more prepared than I needed and all the Praise goes to God. It was so simple it was ridiculous. We didn't even have to fill out immigration forms, just simply show our passports and tell them the city we were going to. They even laughed because we were the only Americans on the plane and we knew no Russian at all. Once they stamped out passports we walked to a trailer and grabbed our luggage off. No security or checks of any kind. We walked out and finally met Alexander face to face for the first time. Alexander is the Pastor we will be working with throughout our stay here. The aiport was a breeze and outside was relaxed with hardly any traffic. It was a great way to enter the country.

I got dropped off at my home and was greeted very kindly. Mama Tanya and two daughters Lidia and Nadia. Their friend Ina was also there to welcome me. Hugs and kisses brought me into the family. W shared a meal together as we attempted to communicate. Our new best friend is a Russian-English dictionary I purchased the day before departure.

Max lives with Alexander and his family who are absolutely wonderful as well. Max has a house filled with much more English than me so he gets a little deeper conversation each day, but I think I will pick up Russian much faster. We'll see.

Things we've done:
-went to a blind society meeting and shared pieces of our testimonies
-visited numerous families in need
-tea, tea, and more tea
-attended a Ukrainian wedding and reception
-played UNO so many times with Alexandr's family
-shared our testimonies in Aexander's church and sang a song for them

Things I've done without Max:
-attempted to learn new Russian words each day
-taken the local trolley to the super market
-walked through town to the small shops
-made a "Ukrainian pie" which is more like a sweet bread than actual pie
-let Nadia do several hair do's on me to help time go by
-and so many other things

____________________

I think what has been so incredible is the time of rest. While I may be in a new culure learning new things everyday I still get to rest. This lifestyle is more relaxed and easygoing. I have been able to spend so much time reading, jouranling, diving into the Word, and worshipping. Because I cannot speak Russian so well and I don't have anything of my own to rely on I am forced to lean into the Lord in new ways. In a way it's almost like I have left my home in order to find my true home in the Lord. I am more aware of each moment. My ears are cleared and waiting for the Lord's words. When we gather and pray I can't passively listen because the words are foreign to me, so I pray each time as well. I have been asked to share pieces of my story so many times here that I have to rely on Jesus to speak so that it is tuned tothe ears of those who will hear. I am learning a new way of seeking the Lord. It's refreshing and reviving. It hasn't even been two weeks yet. I can only imagine what the Lord has in store after a matter of months. Thank you Jesus for this opportunity!!

This experience isn't about me, it's about seeing God praised always. I love His creativity. Different cultures show it in beautiful ways. My prayer is that the Lord's evidenc in my life would become evident to those around me both in word and deed.

Thank you everyone who helped get me here through prayer, finances, and encrouagement. I ask for your prayers still.

Pray:
-for open doors in the church
-creativity as we prepare to take on the task of reviving the youth
-of course, language help
-blessings for our host families
-and above all else that God would receive all the glory there is to be had.

I will share photos soon and keep you all updaed now that I have internet on my computer. Love goes out to all my friends and family.


Monday, August 15, 2011

You walk with me?

i've said my goodbyes to friends and i may seem heartless because i didn't shed a tear.
yes, i will miss my friends more than i can comprehend right now.
but i'm just not that kind of person.
i take time.
time for things to sink in a little.
the plane rides may consist of tears, the future is uncertain.

however.
in church i found myself with tears streaming down my face during worship.
i didn't understand it at first.
fear? i don't think so.
rather i had this overwhelming sense of who God was.
and this realization brought about so much joy.
my God, the Lord of all lords, King of all kings, Captain of all captains.
Mighty Warrior, Creator of all, Sustainer, Savior to all the earth.
this God.
my Father and Refuge.
He has allowed me to be used for His glory.

so i couldn't help but cry.
an overwhelming experience of joy and unbelief all at the same time.

now the enemy tried to have me think it over after church.
was i afraid?
was i worried?
were those actually tears of joy?

so i thought.
am i walking i fear or faith?

if i were walking in fear:
the fact that there is more unknown than known about the trip would scare me
no visas? no way!
language barrier? make it a wall and stop me in front of it!
undetermined amount of time? undetermined mindset.

if i were walking in faith:
the less details i know the more room God has to show off.
language difficulties equals seeing God's creativity.
rather than seeing the negative i see the Lord and His nature.
i don't doubt myself because i can't do it anyway, so instead i ask the Lord to be Him through me.

i choose to walk by faith.
it is all for His glory so i shouldn't be trying to do it.
there is nothing in this world that the Lord can't handle.
plus the way i see it:
if we never step out of our comfort zone, if we never try something new, if we never step into the unknown, then we leave no room for God to be seen.
God doesn't work through our agenda, only His timing.

step out to step in.
 out of ourselves and into what He's doing.

_________________________________

we are about to start our journey.
please join our team by prayer.
thank you to all my incredible friends and family who have encouraged and supported this opportunity.

love to you,
now lavish it on someone.

Monday, August 8, 2011

please intercede

right now we are in limbo.

me and max are planning on leaving for the Ukraine on Monday.
our visa process is at a standstill.
it's a matter of communication.
so i have no other communication to rely on except between the Holy Spirit and God on my behalf.
i honestly don't know the words to say.

Romans 8:25-27

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

because of this i will rest.
rest in the Lord.
rest in His authority over every single thing.
His power to do as He pleases.
the fact that He holds this entire world in His hands
and while i might not be able to see past this week
He sees today while rejoicing in tomorrow.

Lord please have your way.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Lord's Authority

We get to walk with the same authority as the Lord because of Jesus.
Jeremiah 10 has alot to say about His authority.
Read it and rest in Him.

"Hear what the LORD says to you, O house of Israel.  This is what the LORD says:
“Do not learn the ways of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the sky,
though the nations are terrified by them.
For the customs of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter.
Like a scarecrow in a melon patch,
their idols cannot speak;
they must be carried
because they cannot walk.
Do not fear them;
they can do no harm
nor can they do any good.”
 No one is like you, O LORD;
you are great,
and your name is mighty in power.
Who should not revere you,
O King of the nations?
This is your due.
Among all the wise men of the nations
and in all their kingdoms,
there is no one like you.
They are all senseless and foolish;
they are taught by worthless wooden idols.
Hammered silver is brought from Tarshish
and gold from Uphaz.
What the craftsman and goldsmith have made
is then dressed in blue and purple—
all made by skilled workers. 
 But the LORD is the true God;
he is the living God, the eternal King.
When he is angry, the earth trembles;
the nations cannot endure his wrath.
  “Tell them this: ‘These gods, who did not make the heavens and the earth, will perish from the earth and from under the heavens.’”
  But God made the earth by his power;
he founded the world by his wisdom
and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
He sends lightning with the rain
and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
  Everyone is senseless and without knowledge;
every goldsmith is shamed by his idols.
His images are a fraud;
they have no breath in them.
They are worthless, the objects of mockery;
when their judgment comes, they will perish.
He who is the Portion of Jacob is not like these,
for he is the Maker of all things,
including Israel, the tribe of his inheritance—
the LORD Almighty is his name. "

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chosen Desire

let me start off by being honest: my commitment to reading the Word, using tools such as my devotional and music, and to prayer has been anything bu strong lately.

i said that because i stumbled across a great snippet in my devo from a past date that i just didn't get to on that day along with several others.

it's a truth that i'm pretty certain i have known, but never discussed truly.
or said myself in such simple terms. so here it is.

"It may be hard for us to understand, but this salvation for which we
thank God isn't entirely about ourselves. True, we were bought with a price
and shown the magnitude of God's mercy. We were redeemed because we
needed redemption and saved because we needed saving. We were
cleansed of sin because we were dirty and pardoned
because we were treasonous.
But the rhyme and reason of creation isn't humanity.
It's God.
Humans, like all things were created by Him and for Him
(Romans 11:36; Colossians 1:16)....

Our salvation is not a random, happy accident. It is a divine appointment
with a holy Suitor. We have a calling we have not even begun to grasp."
-Chris Tiegreen, Worship the King Devotional

"I knew nothing; I was nothing. For this reason, God picked me out."
-Catherine Laboure
^
^
^
^
God did create this earth from nothing but Him, His nature, His power, His creativity.
i'm pretty sure He can handle the blank canvas of humanity.

Monday, July 18, 2011

i want to drown

on my run this evening one of my favorite songs came on
Meet Me By the River

"Oh, I know.
Oh, I'm undone.
I'm drowning in His love."

i have told people about this truth
i've told myslef about it
His love is so great that we are drowning it

but are we really?
are we allowing ourselves to drown in His love?
know of it? yes.
talk about it? yes.
tell others of it? yes.
but, drown? i doubt it.
take advantage of it? yes.
stop realizing the extent of it? yes.
but, submerge ourselves to the point of drowning? i haven't seen the evidence.

i'm calling myself out more than anyone so don't get offended.
or maybe, do get offended.
get mad!
get angry!
at yourself.
at myself.
for not letting our Father lavish us in His love so deep that we can no longer breathe on our own.

if i were to draw a picture of me right now:

fighting to stay afloat the water.
His love is surrounding me and i won't let it take me.
i feel it.
i know it.
but my humanness has to fight the possibility of drowning.

you see, His kingdom is all backwards.
if we were in water the rule would be to fight,
fight for your life.
don't let the water take you over, resist!

Jesus,
oh sweet Jesus.
in order to gain life in His kingdom we must let go,
stop fighting,
give in,
and drown.

imagine living life in a way
in a way that only gives you the view of love.
every direction you turn is love.
like being 300 feet down in the middle of the ocean.
it doesn't matter what way is up because you don't want to leave this place.
instead of breathing in air you take in the love surrounding you.
let Jesus breathe for you.

we have to stop the struggle of one foot in His kingdom and the other in the world.
we can't fight the drown.
it's not worth it.
sink.
sink down to the bottom