Saturday, February 25, 2012

I, Me, My, Know Better

As believers, we "don't understand what we do.  For what we want to do we don't do, and what we don't want to do, we do."  (Romans 7:15)

We have a battle of: 

The text of Romans 7:14-25 is where Paul is a believer.  He has Jesus.  Further, he desires what God desires.  Yet, still he struggles within, between the right thing and the wrong thing.  Knowing the difference, yet his decisions and thoughts aren't aligning with his actions.  This is a perfect example of what christians, or followers of Christ, or believers, internally feel when they slip and don't understand why, because, quite frankly they know better.

Paul shows us this is normal.  We aren't crazy.  We aren't spiritually schizophrenic, knowing and not doing, deciding and not doing.  Something isn't working.  This struggle will continue spiralling with attempts at resolution on our own. 

In the NIV version of this text, Paul uses the word "I" 27 times, and variations (to include "me," "myself," and "my") another 15 times!  Ultimately, in only 9 verses, self is mentioned 42 times.  Yes, the struggle is inward.  Further, the struggle is magnified when it is self focused. 

The despair in verse 24 peaks the cycle of his struggle when he cries out, "What a wretched man I am!  Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?"  Finally, the acknowledgement of upward focus.  Finally, the end of the self-help. 

You cannot serve two masters.  (Luke 16:13 & Matthew 6:24)  You cannot serve sin and God both successfully.  You can try.  However, your decisions and your actions, your knowing and doing, will only align through Christ within you.  No matter how hard you try on your own.  No matter how determined you are to make sense of it on your own.

So, I encourage you today to stop looking inward and look upward.  If you know better, but continue to slip...  If know know what you should do, and continue to outwardly do the opposite....  If your intention does not align with your action... Look up.  Focus on Him for alignment.  Let his strength within you help you be More Than A Conquerer! (Romans 8:37)


Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday's Phrase

Brought to you by:
Romans 1:5 (MSG)

“Through him, we received both the generous gift of his life and the urgent task of passing it on to others who receive it by entering into obedient trust in Jesus.”

The dictionary defines obedient as “an agreement to obey or willingness to comply.”

The dictionary defines trust as “reliance on the integrity, strength and ability of.”

We receive by entering into “an agreement to obey/willingness to comply”  “reliance on the integrity, strength and ability” of Jesus.

It doesn’t say we are to be only obedient.  It is possible to be obedient, follow the rules, comply with the law, on our own and by our own strength and ability.

It doesn’t say we are to only trust.  It is possible to wave the flag of Jesus and live life as though He does not exist.  We can acknowledge we trust without fully handing ourselves over to Him.

However, when we obediently trust, we agree to rely on the strength of Jesus, the integrity of Christ, and the ability of God in our life.  Thus, obedience we cannot muster on our own.  In my weakness, God is my strength.  I am not my own.  My life isn’t about me.  Sometimes that is hard to accept, because I know I have potential.  However, the potential GOD has for me is far beyond my puny imagination.

I need to rely on God rather than my own watch, my own feelings.  Why?  Because I am called into obedient trust in Jesus.  I obediently trust that “God’s got all this!” – not me.

In His Love,

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Thursday Track: Give Me Faith

Welcome to the first edition of:

Track -  "any road or path affording passage/pursuit/to follow"
~While maintaining yours, listen to theirs~

If you are feeling down...
If you are feeling weak...
If you are feeling broken...
lost... tired... like a failure...

This song will lift your spirit, strengthen you, and remind you to recenter and refocus.

Verse 1:
I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
To see that You’re shaping my life

All I am, I surrender

Give me faith to trust what you say
That you’re good and your love is great
I’m broken inside, I give you my life

Verse 2:
I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of me

I may be weak
But your Spirit’s strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Revival Recap Through My Eyes Pt. 1

Out of Charlotte, North Carolina, is a church - Elevation, pastored by Steven Furtick.  If you haven't heard of it, check into it.  It is phenomenal the way God has moved through this church, this pastor, the staff, the volunteers.  Everything explainable only by God, to whom they do give all the glory. 

During January 2012, they had a 12 day revival.  A revival that I have single-handedly seen permeate the beings of those not even in attendance, not even there at the campus, not even in the same state.  Lives have been and continue to be touched through merely hearing the word spoken in those 12 days via internet, iTunes, and the Elevation App for iPhone. 

I took notes throughout the revival on what I learned, what touched my soul, and what changed my very person.  I am certain this will flow into more than one post.  So, stay with me.  Side bar:  Let me just say, you watch this revival, and I am 100% certain you will grasp things that I didn't.  You may hear different phrases or different sentences that didn't affect me the way they affect you.  That being said, check it out for yourself, too.  You WILL be changed, impacted, even transformed in some way, shape, or form by receiving these messages.

1.   To make this my prayer: 

"Give me a testimony from my trials.  Make me obsessed with the majesty of Jesus.  Let me   experience you in a life I never thought possible.  Let me be so attracted to Jesus that it is fatal to my flesh.  Turn my emotion into devotion.  Turn my conviction into committment.  Jesus, be magnified in me.  I want to know you like never before."

I need to check into which speaker said it on which date.  This first set of notes is power packed. 

"Lord, give me a testimony from my trials."  We all go through something.  No one I have ever met has a picture perfect life with the fairy tale backdrop and relationships without some sort of chaos.  From every disaster, there is a lesson.  From every pain, there is a plan.   From every heartache, there is a blessing. Show me what it is God.  Show me how to use it, Lord. 

"Make me obsessed with the majesty of Jesus."  We cannot love Jesus without knowing the life of Jesus.  Every step was with purpose.  Every word was with strategy.  Every display of love was a pure example.  You crave what you eat.  Take in Jesus, and you will only crave more.  Your thirst is for Christ, and only Christ can satisfy.  Make me obsessed, God.

"Let me experience you in a life I never thought possible."  Don't just let me know you and leave me here.  Use me.  Let me experience you in a life I could have never even imagined on my own.  Let me encounter you in ways I have never encountered you.  Let me see you in the mundane, in the excitement, in the sadness, in the joy, in the heartache, in the celebrations.  Let me witness your glory in ways I never have.  Be on display for me to see, and let me not take for granted the things you do for me, with me, and through me even when I do not know. 

"Let me be so attracted to Jesus that it is fatal to my flesh."  Let my heart yearn for Jesus.  Let my flesh die, and I live in Christ.  Let me be so into the life of Jesus that I don't even have time to entertain sin.  Let me be so preoccupied with Jesus that my will vanish and transform into His will.  A fatality of the flesh is biblical.  Die to sin, live for Christ.
"Turn my emotion into devotion."  Let not the joy from these lessons vanish, but may I devote the rest of my life to the greatness of God.  Make my feelings not leave me, but transform me into a continual and habitual student and servant. 

"Turn my conviction into committment."  Let my conviction change me.  I don't want to be aware of wrong and not do anything about it.  Turn my awareness into ways to change.  Help me to commit to change, tranformation, restoration, and renewal in my life.  Let me not focus on road blocks, difficutly, frustration, or even pain.  But, turn me up to face you and not focus inward.  Keep me intent to my pursuit for you, God.

"Jesus, be magnified in me."  You are there, living within me, taken up residence in my heart.  Don't let me stunt your growth in my life.  Be magnified in me.  Let this relationship be taken to another level, continually, unendingly, constantly.  Why?  Because, "I want to know you like never before." 

And I do.  I want to know you like never before.  I pray the same thing for every eye that sees this page. 

In His Love,

Friday, February 17, 2012

Well Hallelujah Anyway!

My grandma has a saying: "Well, Hallelujah anyway!"  I do not remember the specific conversation that lead to this teaching, but I do remember the impact and intent of the lesson.  Add this phrase to your vocabulary.

"Well, Hallelujah Anyway!"  A Biblical spin on the saying - when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Having a bad day?  Confronted with an obstacle?  Hear someone has spoken against you?  Been feeling down and discouraged?  Notified of news that is not great? 

Well, Hallelujah anyway!  Nothing can diminish your worth, because a price has already been paid. Well, Hallelujah anyway!  Life isn't about the destination but about the journey.  There are lessons to be learned from every situation.

There are road blocks designed for your destruction.  Your reaction is crucial.  Do not let your opponent(s) steal your joy.  Satan wants to steal, kill, and destroy.  But Jesus came to redeem, rescue, and raise you up to be His.

Will you rejoice in your suffering? 
Will you praise God regardless of your circumstace? 
Will you remember that your plan is a plan, not the plan?

Consider this your encouragement to do just that!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Falen's Testimony

My momma loved Jesus. My mom's mom studied the Bible and taught my first memory verse, John 3:16. She paid me a dollar and that verse impacted me in a way I never knew a mere sentence could.

I witnessed violence as a little girl. In fact, most of my childhood is merely a blur, because my mind won't let me remember most of it. This isn't a complaint. I couldn't be more thankful. The dominant memory is my mother and her heart for her creator. Looking back, I see her protecting me through her pain, loving me through her own heartbreak, and always encouraging me regardless of her own difficult circumstances. I, of course, didn't even know the half of it growing up. My mom, to this day, is the absolute sole inspiration in flesh in my life.

I always knew I'd love Jesus and Jesus loved me. I mean, he did die on the cross for everyone right? It wasn't until I was married for almost a decade with two children of my own that I would learn that not only did Jesus love me, but my very identity was in Him. I'm a try-er. I tried to protect protect those around me. I tried to keep fantastic grades.  I tried and thought I succeeded in finding my identity as a wife and a mom.

I married the guy who knocked me up my senior year. He worshipped the ground I walked on, and well, if he was smitten with me, who was I to look any further. I found a winner! We married a couple years later. He joined the military and moved me and our son across the country. So, there I was.... "happy" housewife and mom. We went to church, because remember, Jesus loved me. I tried to make Jesus proud too. I never stopped being a try-er, even after I found my identity within my role as a wife and mom.

I prayed. I sang worship music. I joined Bible Studies. I served where I could, when I could. Something was still off. I still wasn't "filled." I needed something more.  A couple big lessons I learned at our first base was the "Forgiveness" lesson. I struggled with forgiving certain people, but I did it and never looked back. Pastor Steven Furtick once said, "Forgiveness is releasing a person of an offense, and realizing the person is you." Boy did I learn that first hand.

That was lesson one. Lesson two: Gossip.  Once it was identified, I couldn't understand what this gossip stuff was all about? Where are the lines? Can I talk about other people at all, even if it is good?! I thought, well, if it is a sin, and I'm not really sure of the definition of this "gossip" word and phenomenon, maybe I'll go where I learn truth and really hash this out with my Maker.... So, I was led to the Bible....

I'm not even who I was when I learned my "big lessons." After these two big lessons, I remember thinking.... wow! I have this God/Jesus stuff down! I'm invincible. My invincibility led to my being judgmental of other people's ability to be nowhere near as invincible as I was. There is this word people use, it's called "empathy." That was not part of my vocabulary, furthermore it was beyond my comprehension level. I was of the mentality - "Well, if I can, why can't they?" Yeah, that was me. Superwoman with Jesus as my passenger. See, I got Jesus, what's wrong with you?! Boy, was I wrong! It's funny, looking back, at how smart I thought I was, but really how ignorant I was. Ever have those moments? Wow, was that really me? Along came big lesson three. I was superwoman with Jesus as my passenger, but somewhere along the line he jumped out and I didn't care to notice. I left him somewhere and didn't know it til I was so far off track, all alone, and crying on a bathroom floor, wondering "what on earth did I do?" 

I had done it.  I had fallen flat on my face.  I was so on top of the world, I didn't realize I was walking on quicksand until it was too late.  I felt abandoned yet still thought I was superwoman. I was invisible. I had Jesus. Nothing was going to happen to me.  Something happened.  When it did,  I couldn't remember the last time I even prayed or read my Bible. I was caught up in the superwoman role and the neediness that was my life at that time to understand what was really going on. Looking back, it was a life lesson to bring me to my knees. I should have known to dropped to my knees before God.  I remember being utterly disgusted, disappointed, feeling like a failure, like I let down my family, I let down my husband, I let down my Jesus! Jesus?! Where are you?! Why did this happen? Where were you?

It wasn't another year and a half before I prayed with my whole heart again. I basked in guilt and shame for another five years almost. I was caught up in the whole John 3:16 thing. God sent Jesus to endure an unimaginable death, unthinkable pain for ME?! Me! But, I screwed up royally. I mean, I used to trash talk and judge women who did far less than I did. I betrayed God.

It took a long time to know within my own heart that I was never the driver. I only rode shot gun. When I thought Jesus left me he was still in the driver's seat, and I had just refused to acknowledge or change the fact that I was the one out of the car. For those five years of guilt and shame, I was seeking forgiveness that had already been gifted to me. Nothing I could do would let me EARN it or LOSE it! It wasn't until I started to find my identity in Christ that I learned that a) therefore, there is NOW no condemnation in Christ, b) Nothing can separate me from the love of Christ, c) God forgave me for my sins of yesterday, today, AND TOMORROW. [Thank you Pastor Steven Furtick for the "Christ Alone" series!]

He made me wonderfully and fearfully. I am valuable, more than rubies and pearls. I am loved unconditionally. I am strong in Him, even at my weakest points in life. He is my source of strength, comfort, peace. And, peace, that is a big one.  I have been freed by my savior. He is a better Father than my biological dad, loyal, faithful, caring, supportive, and comforting.  Nothing can separate me from the love of my Savior.

I have learned to forgive. I have learned to keep my mouth shut. I have learned to be empathetic. You never know what someone else is going through. You never know when someone is hurting and too prideful to ask for help. You never know when someone is on the brink of disaster. Always be kind. Let the fruits of the spirit flow, you never know when someone you are talking to needs an apple.
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