Obeying God

Obeying God

There have been several moments in the last week that I have listened to what I thought God wanted me to do and diligently acted on it, despite my personal desires. What was the end result? I have seen and experienced the provision of the Lord. Let me repeat: I have seen and experienced the provision and guidance of the Lord! This is miraculous. God does speak. Not only does He speak to prophets and pastors but, He speaks to all His children.

I knew this was true of God. I had heard Him before but, each time it is amazing. I tested whether the voice I was listening to was truly God or something else. I had to look at the reasoning behind it. I saw that the direction God was moving me towards was not my first plan of action. This was sign number one that this thought was not from myself. I also noticed that the direction I was being guided in could potentially be for my long-term well being. God is not a God of quick fixes but of restoration. He restores death to life.

The voice of the Lord can be difficult to hear. We must wait patiently for the LORD. We may have to endure loneliness, strong adversity or natural disasters before you hear the voice of the LORD. We are not told the timing of God’s voice because God is larger than the entity of time. A promise we can hold on to is declared in Matthew 7:7-8:

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” –Matthew 7:7-8

These words are not dead. There are as sure and true as the living and reigning God Himself. The voice of the Lord is hardly ever audible; but it exists. The enthroned holy One does speak to humans. However, the difficulty in hearing the voice of the Lord is not in the softness of His voice, but the deafness of our senses.

I am constantly filling my eyes with images, messages and updates of the world and hardly ever pause to listen. I want to go and learn and go and see and go and do. I don’t sit well. Even when I try to rest, I fill up my mind with social media or thoughts or conversations.

God still beckons me to listen to Him.

When I sit and focus on listening to God, it may get boring. It can be frustrating to finally get enough motivation to actually listen to God and not receive anything at first.
Patience is key with God. He continues to talk to me after I ignore Him for long periods of time.

He both exhibits and requires patience with His children. Why? He is God and we are not.

Waiting on God is worth it. When I ask God to speak and listen with expectation for His response, He is faithful to hear and answer me. The answer may not be as complete as I would like. Even in His incomplete responses, God comforts me with His presence and assures me that He is sovereign over all things. Not knowing all the answers reminds me that I am not God. Sometimes it may take years for His full response but His ways are not our ways. They are much higher and much more in our favor than we could plan for ourselves.

When I listen and obey God, it always (this is an intentional superlative) works out for good. Why? What is God’s motivation for my good? My pastor posed this question yesterday. The response came from Psalm 5:12: “For you bless the righteous, O LORD; you cover him with favor as with a shield.” There is nothing in us that makes God pursue us except for His own favor, which is put in us by His great love.

I will never understand the expanse of God’s provision in my life and I will never understand His great love. I can only rejoice in the reality that God rejoices in me.

So I will talk to and listen to this holy God who rejoices in me. He is my authority of whom I love to obey.

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Fall on your face and BE STILL.

Tonight, I had to just drop everything, fall on my face and behold the glory of the Lord.

“I can’t do it.

I can’t do it.

Jesus, I can’t.

I don’t know how.

I can’t.

I can’t.”

But God, you are.

I can’t do it but you are the conqueror.

You are the enthroned King.

You have conquered all my issues.

My abilities are diminishing.

You surpass my entity.

I am overwhelmed in and by your presence.

How are you….

I don’t know.

The only thing my brain can grasp is

You are good.

You are GOOD.

You give me what I need.

–just what I need–

BEHOLD the Glory of the Lord.

—BE STILL—

Be overwhelmed in His goodness.

Tremble in His MIGHTY POWER.

See that He is sovereign over ALL things.

Feel His nearness.

Know that He has worked for your good.

Remember that He gave His best for your worst.

Hear Him call you to Himself.

–Receive Him–

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Regreting to Rejoicing

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Sometimes the most theological prayer one can pray is: “Jesus I am broken and I need you.  I believe you can heal me.”

 

After struggling through a few weeks of remorse and at hurting heart, I am learning more of the depth of God and the depth of which to trust Him. 

 

Remorse and regret filled my thoughts in a way I have never felt.  I didn’t understand why I felt these feelings but I thought I have moved on and conquered this issue in my life.  Why did I do the things I did?  Why did I say the things I said?  What would my life look like right now if I did things differently?

 

“Jesus I am broken and I need you.  I believe you can heal me.”

 

My feelings were overwhelming me in a way that seemed like the issue residing was not simply regret of a situational decision.  The real issue that dwelled is my belief about my outcome.  I didn’t see the reason for the actions that transpired beyond the direct effect.  I thought I was in control and I messed up.  Now my heart seemed destined to be broken.  It was my fault.  My fate seemed to rest in one decision that I had to make.   

 

What does that say about me?  Is says that I think I am in complete control of my life.  I believe I have to work towards the good in my life.  I believe that I have conditional grace and need to give in order to receive.

 

What do I believe is true about God?  Do I believe He is sovereign over all things?  Am I working for my sanctification in Him?  Do I believe He answers my prayers?  Do I believe He will open the door if I knock?  Do I believe He will give me good things?

 

I believe God is good.  But, do I believe He does good for me? 

 

Coming to believe this requires a relationship with God.  I have to allow myself to ask for the good things He provides.  I have to seek the face of Truth and admit my unbelief.  Not only do I have to see and confess my doubts, I must be prepared for an answer—the answer of Truth.

The truth about how much I struggle;

The truth about how much I try to control;

The truth about what I really need.

 

“Jesus I am broken and I need you.  I believe you can heal me.”

 

The answer I seem to be receiving is Christ is enough.  He did it all. 

No deed of mine can change the way Christ thinks of me.  He deeply cares for me.  He loves me with an everlasting love.  Jesus understands who I am because

(1) He made me 

(2) He sees me

(3) He was tempted in every respect I am yet was without sin. 

He gave up His life so my life may be complete in Him. 

Jesus came to earth

to save and heal broken-hearted sinners like me.

 

“Jesus I am broken and I need you.  I believe you can heal me.”

 

 

“I thank Him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because  

He judged me faithful, appointing me to His service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent.  But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

 

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

 

But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display His perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life.

 

To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen,”

                                                                                                                                            1 Timothy 1:12-17

 

At the end of the day, what do I have to complain about?  Would it be my busy schedule, my singleness, my hearting heart, my unfulfilled dreams? 

 

CHRIST IS DEEPER STILL.

 

This makes me break down

sobbing outwardly and in my soul

rejoicing in the goodness of my Savior.

 

It is appropriate to weep over the goodness of God.

GOD IS FOR ME.

Because I am adopted as a daughter of God

Through the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross

And the power of His resurrection,

Everything that is true of Christ, is true of me.

In Christ, God is for you.

 

Christ is deeper than a pinnacle music performance.

Christ is deeper than my emotions.

Christ is deeper than my health.

Christ is deeper than my wisest revelation.

Christ is deeper than the imaginative minds of artists.

Christ is deeper than all combined human intellect.

Christ is deeper than the most philosophical or theological conclusion.

 

He desires us to approach Him in the embarrassing truth of who we are.

He took joy in my salvation from my self to Himself.

He takes joy in me now.

 

There is no decision or action I could make to diminish His power

or His delight in me as His daughter.

 

I can trust in:

Truth that I am not condemned;

Truth that I am fully forgiven;

Truth that I am continually being made new.

 

Bringing dirty rotten truth about my doubt to God is intimidating but,

He always assures me of who I am in Him.

He casts out remorse of my sin and makes me rejoice in His grace.

 

“Jesus I am broken and I need you.  I believe you can heal me.”

 Regret to Rejoice

Praying for Trust.

Ever feel like your heart is crying?  You want to cry but you can’t.  You have to hold it all together.  You have to be strong.

 I feel like this.  I want to be extremely thorough in everything I do.

I want to be everything for everyone. 

This is living a life of exhaustion. 

I am constantly exhausted.

 

Going and doing all the time has its limits. 

There are only twenty-four hours in a day.

The body shuts down after a while. 

 

God instructed us to rest during some of that time.  He even demonstrated it for us in the seventh day of Creation.

 

I must embrace honest labor if I am in Christ.  He calls us to work.  Humanity was designed with an innate desire to have a purpose and work towards that purpose.   We were designed to labor.  Ephesians 4:28 says to labor with a literal translation meaning working until we are tired. 

 

Knowing this helps me cope with my continual tiredness.  But a question I must ask myself is am I toiling for the right reasons?  God doesn’t require me to rid myself of all my resources and responsibilities.  But He expects me to be willing to do it if He asks. 

 

The more I hold on to and take on myself, the harder it is to let go.  Learning what to let go of is the hard part.  I’m afraid of letting go of what I’m supposed to hold on to.  I’m afraid of not seeing what is clearly in my face waiting for me to grab hold of.  Or maybe just having the courage to take hold of what is before me.  Instead, I dig out and walk in the more difficult path that I am in control over.  Why? 

 

I have trust issues.

 

I am scared.

 

Why is this happening?

 

Why can’t I understand how I feel?

 

What is going on? 

 

 

In response to my current confusion and torn heart I must say:

 

“God, if this is burdening my heart;

If this is my affliction,

May you use it to strengthen me. 

Use this situation and experience as a tool for perseverance of my trust. 

May my trust in myself decrease and my trust in you skyrocket. 

Use this torn and lowly vessel to contain and reflect your power and presence. 

 

I am incapable of control. 

I will live by faith and not by sight.

 

All I see is chaos but I choose to feel and walk in your power.

 

I will follow you when faith and reason make a fork in the road.

Following you does not always make sense.

But I choose to follow you in faith amidst unclear vision and flawed reason.

 

I choose to believe that you are good.

That you will work all things together for my good

And for your glory

 

I choose to believe that you are wise.

You know this affliction is for my benefit.

Refine me into your likeness by taking away what needs to be broken in me

and adding the necessary weights and responsibilities I need grow in.

 

I choose to believe you are sovereign.

You are in control. I am not.

You hold all things together,

Even my bruised heart.

 

For from you, through you, and to you are all things.

 

This affliction is from you,

You will move in me through this experience with your power

and my refinement through this process is for your glory.

 

I believe.

 

Help my unbelief.

 

My unbelief is great.  But the reality of who you are

Surpasses my entire capacity of belief.

 

I thank you that you can move mountains.

I choose to belief you will move the mountains you see fit to move.

 

I’m just going to keep laboring in what I know to do

and trust You to work in ways that I can’t.

 

I can’t see the future–At all.

But I know that you have already orchestrated it in your wisdom.

And it is good.”Image

 

 

I am weak.

On my worst days –days when I feel lonely, dumb, pressured, tired, and intimidated etc.– this is the day when I must have faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the risen and reigning Savior. 

It is truly my only hope and motivation. 

Days that may seemingly seem as failures holding devastations, I must remember that my performance and life accomplishments amount to nothing.  I did not receive life, which is from the Spirit of God, based on my resume, appearance, popularity, money, or abilities.  These are gifts from God. 

The Gospel is for the weak.  I am weak.

In order to live, I must know that I was born dead

(because of my sin).

 Jesus Christ gave me life through his victory in sacrificial death.

This radical transformation is from God, through God and for God-as with ALL things-.

I must believe the Gospel

even when it seems foreign,

when it seems like I am unworthy,

when I have messed up,

when I’m intimidated by those around me,

when I’m flat out scared,

when I haven’t studied in my Bible for a while and I feel ashamed around others who have,

when I think I know all there is to know about the Gospel,

when I am bored with the Gospel,

when I feel like it won’t apply to my specific need or want,

when I am angry or confused with God,

when I think I fully understand myself,

when I can’t stand someone,

when I am frustrated when people who ignorant and arrogant.

when I think I am humble (that’s a good one)

when I think my way is right,

when I think I need more than what I have,

when I rely on myself,

when I am weak,

when I think I am strong

when I am full of joy,

when I feel full of the Spirit,

when I feel like I have everything together,

when I’m in the middle of a storm—a torrential downpour mind you—

when I’m sitting in a meadow of long grass under a tall tree at the beginning the summer,

when I think I can rely on my friends for my spiritual growth,

when I feel like I am constantly pouring out myself into other people.

All. the. time.

I am weak—very weak.  The only thing I can do for myself is admit this reality and put my life in a strong, protecting and providing shelter.  I will dwell in the shelter of the Most High God because He has provided mighty redeeming grace for me and for all mankind.  For all who will receive life in His strong hands become full of life and can know fullness of joy.

 

Fullness of joy is not available from my accomplishments because they amount to empty praise.  Fullness of joy is found in the confession that I am weak and sinful and acceptance in a strong Savior who remains faithful when I am faithless. 

I am weak—all the time.

God is strong—beyond the capacity of time.

I have a reason to sing.

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My pieces seemed to shatter and break unto the floor.  All that seemed to matter is I don’t feel You anymore.

 

I didn’t have control.  I couldn’t move with ease.  I was forced to be still when I felt like there was a war going off in my body.  There was the knife.  Oh, they lit the cannon!  FIRE! 

 

The last thing I wanted was to be still.  When was the battle inside going to end?  I needed to get myself together.  I needed to have a genuine smiling face.  My internal war was very inconvenient.  The waiting seemed to last forever

 

Battling the desire to feel better on the inside, I also felt pressure to look calm and composed for everyone else.  I was frustrated and bitter about it.  Despite my yearning to feel better, I still wanted to think about things going on outside of my body.  I wanted to participate in the life happening around me but I felt unattached as I was wallowing in my own discomfort.  Deep down, I wanted joy and to feel back on top of everything.   I needed a reason to sing.  I needed to know that God was still sovereign; that He was holding the whole world in His hands. 

 

As I landed on safe territory, I took my masked face off and fell onto a chair.  Broken and empty I sat there.  While I ate my salad and crackers, I complained about my condition to my confidant.  She sat there with listening ears offering me a haven of rest to express my honest feelings.  “I’m trying to weigh my options on what to do with myself.  I could continue pitying myself in my pain.  Maybe that would make me feel better.  Or, I could just kick myself in the rear end, push forward and eventually get over it. “ 

 

She proceeded to tell me,  “Sometimes we fly through our pain and discomfort and don’t stay in it long enough to learn from it.  It’s ok to be uncomfortable.  That’s normal.  We’re human, destined to mess up and get in ugly messes  You don’t need to feel like you have to be perfect.”   

That was a good word.  I like to talk about beauty in the brokenness but do I really practice finding it?  In the ugly moments when it feels like there is a war ranging inside of me and I am stressed, worn out and annoyed, there is still a reason to sing

 

Sometimes the pain continues and the pressure amplifies.  There is still a reason to sing.  God is sovereign.  God is good despite my circumstances.  I experienced His grace as I offered up a cry for mercy today.  He granted me peace and rest through a sister in Christ, yoga and a nap.

 

In my physical healing He reminded me that He was there.  He was there when I was hurting.  He was with me when I pleaded for healing.  He was in the healing and the pain.  And He was good in both.  He was singing over me in my pain and frustration.  I just didn’t wanted listen.  There is no such aesthetic and comforting experience as being answered and given grace from the Lord God Almighty. 

 

There was a victory.  He sings over me now.  His peace is the melody singing over me now.

 

My life is God’s. My hope is in Him only.  My heart, He holds because He made this sinner holy. 

 

Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion…

The LORD your God is in your midst,

a mighty one who will save;

he will rejoice over you with gladness;

he will quiet you by His love;

he will exult over you will loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:14a & 17

 

The song and prayers playing in my head throughout the day and are written in italic throughout this text are lyrics from All Songs and Daughters “A Reason to Sing” and moved to “Your Glory.”  I am thankful for their ministry, as it has provided a way for me to express honest prayers and praise. Here’s a link to their song “Reason to Sing” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y56nxe5HeFI

 

His glory is so beautiful I fall unto my knees in all. The heartbeat of my life is to worship in His light. His glory is so beautiful.

 

He has put a new song in my mouth.

 

Glory, glory, hallelujah!  Jesus, He are good.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

 

I have a reason to sing.

Grace is a beautiful mystery

Grace requires brokenness to be taken from.  Dealing with brokenness requires vulnerability.  One must be willing to admit and expose their brokenness to be changed from it.  Another must be willing to meet that person in their brokenness.  They must accept them for where the other is, not where they want the other to be. 

This is what Jesus did for us.  While I was a wretched sinner spitting in the face of God and running feverishly away from Him, He chose to die for me so I experience LIFE.  Malcolm Muggeridge, a converted atheist writes:

“How ever far and fast I’ve run, still over my shoulder I’d catch a glimpse of You on the horizon, and then run faster and farther than ever, thinking triumphantly: Now I have escaped.  But no, there you were, coming after me. There was no escape.

 I have never wanted a God, or feared a God, or felt under any necessity to invent one.  Unfortunately, I am driven to the conclusion that God wants me.”

I cannot get over this fact.  I, in my brokenness and pride am wanted.  I am desired and sought after.  I think about this reality for others and encourage them in this but forget that this grace is for me too.  I forget how much baggage I actually am carrying and have been hiding from God and from myself.  I hide behind my relationships with people and influencing their lives so I don’t have to face my own issues.  Once I release them to God and cry out for help, He is always faithful to give peace that passes understanding.  It is not always overwhelming in the moment.  Sometimes it takes time.  But, He is faithful to do what He promises. 

God promises rest for the weary.  But, I must come to Him.  I must be vulnerably honest about my brokenness.  When I admit that I am weak I experience His strength.  And I know that my strength is from God, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. God Himself intercedes for life in my body because Christ gave up His body.  This is the mystery of grace.

Over the past three weeks I have experienced mysterious grace.  I have had several internal freak-out moments.  Being worn out from a two-week camp on top of a busy summer, I was transitioning into a week of full RA training.  I wasn’t expecting much.  Trying to be positive, I just tried to look forward to a consistent schedule once school started as a break from a chaotic schedule.  As I reconnected with friends from school and met some new friends, I began to calm down. 

God gives sporadic grace in unexpected moments.  The initial meeting with my RD, which I was nervous about, broke down a defense wall right away.  Visiting the Jockey Lot, the Nation’s largest farmer’s market, on my first day of training reminded me of markets I have been to overseas.  I was comforted with familiarity in an unfamiliar place.  Later, in our staff meetings, my walls really started breaking down.  We shared our life stories with one another. We vulnerability shared our broken lives with each other.  There was beauty in the broken. 

But He gives more grace.

Sharing both in tears, time and lots of laughter, my RA staff has been one of the most unexpected blessings I have ever received.  The faculty and staff at Anderson University have impressed and encouraged me in such a way that is difficult to communicate.  Their honesty and genuine care for the students at Anderson has been clearly shared and communicated.  Anderson’s strive for excellence does not come from selfish ambition but from the genuine desire to honor God in all we do.  I am continually amazed at the blessings God places in my life.  He has surrounded me in such a supportive and encouraging environment beginning with Himself and continues to bless me.  Why? Because God is Love and He gives grace upon grace to His children.

As I begin my sophomore year at Anderson University, I am anticipating to be busy, to get stressed and to deal with difficulty but through these grow in grace.  May I go through discomfort to be stretched in ways that tear me.  May the tearing break me.  May I realize my brokenness and come to the realization that I cannot accomplish or achieve on my own will.  May I realize that it is God who heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Lord, may I continue to receive the mystery of your grace.

God with us

I was encouraged by this Blogger’s expression of the radical transformation he experienced of being transformed from an atheist to a professing follower of Christ Jesus.

Creative Ministry

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It’s certainly has been a busy year! I have done heaps of illustration for a major project about to be launched so unfortunately, acreativeministry.com and thecreativepanic.com have been a little neglected!

I’ve been playing around with the idea as per the image above for a while, I don’t think I’m there yet but I thought I’d post my play-around efforts to date!

I am so grateful to Christ for bringing me to him. It has now been a year since I was saved and oh man, what a year it has been! I have grown so much in Christ’s love, have learnt so much about His Grace… and I even preached my first sermon a few months ago and will be preaching again on August 25th. You can listen to my sermon here: Sermon 26 May 2013

It’s a little rough and I certainly give thanks to my pastor Deane Meatheringham for…

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Joy

“Joy is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of God.” ~Elizabeth Elliot

Joy is the state of fulfilling our originally innate being.

Joy is communion with God.

Therefore, all joy is 

from God,

through God

and for God.

In Christ, we get to receive and be consumed in the gift of joy.