Circumstances

It is so easy to get caught up in the lies of the world.  The lies that there are a set of circumstances out there which, if you could only obtain them, you would FINALLY have happiness and peace.  Perhaps if you win a million dollars, or find the man/woman of your dreams, or buy the car you’ve always dreamed of.  This mentality can so easily slip into the realm of a Christian life as well: I’ll be more satisfied when I am involved/known in the church, have my own ministry, have reared Godly children to adulthood, etc.  What a sad way to live!  And what falsehood!  There is NO perfect set of circumstances in the world.  This is evidenced by the fact that there are people in all walks and circumstances of life that are not happy/fulfilled/joyful.  And there are people in dire circumstances who are.  I once heard a quote “Before wishing for a set of circumstances, check the happiness of someone who already has them.”

         What, then, are we to do?  Lord, desperately we need you to teach us to live deeper than our circumstances.  That is the key.  YOU are the ONLY one who gives us LIFE!  Teach us to be content in each and every set of circumstances.   And help us to learn your lessons well.  “I have LEARNED the secret of being content in every circumstance, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!”  Lord, help us to see our circumstances through YOUR eyes.  Help us to know that you are close, even when circumstances are difficult.  Help us to see that there is so much more happening than what we understand, that you are loving us DEEPLY throughout our circumstances.  Help us to know that sometimes, when they are hard, you are loving us the most by drawing us closer to you and opening our eyes to your presence.  Help there to always be something in my life that will cause me to fall on my knees before you in a prayers of awe and pleas for help.  Open my eyes to see you working all around me.  Help me to revel in the good at each circumstance in my life, and dwell deeply in you during the difficult parts.  And in all things, help me to rest in you and wonder at your love for me!

 Tami

Mirror mirror on the wall…

Claim yourself; friend or foe I proclaimed to the bathroom mirror this morning!

The mirror is forming his opinion.

Are you going to tell me what section of my eyes got puffier overnight, which strands of my hair carry the pillow head label or are you going deeper this morning looking into my eyes and see the dreams that I could not grasp or the nightmare that left my body shivering blanket less and cold?

One thing is for sure, you see what you see. You see the real time reflection of who I appear to be, what I appear to feel and who I am at only face value. What you cannot see, is that my eyes as they may seem to be puffier this morning (OK I admit it!) they feel the presence of the Holy Spirit. Although I am looking more like alfalfa of our gang I want you to know Mr. Mirror, that pillow head is the outcome of my pillow rebelling against its own territorial rights and my hair had nothing to do with it! You want to go deeper into my head about my dreams? I want you to know that during the frigid response, I was awakened by the Lord to claim His name and the frost turned to warmth! So Mr. Mirror and your own biased opinions, reflect on that!

So the mirror, which claimed to know all things, at first glance now is placed nicely into his place:

NAILED TO THE WALL!

So many times in our lives’, we take the mirrors point of view and with great reaction, misery and rebellion we attempt to cover with makeup, razor or anti puff cream the accusations of the nailed critic.  What is showing on the outside may only show a portion of the internal however; we still need to handle the mirrors reflective response. As the outside gradually fades away, the inside is the true reflection. The enemy it seems can see the outside reflection easily plans its mode of operation and begins the assault.

Weapons of doubt and destruction fill the enemies arsenal.  Heat seeking missiles of temptation, nuclear tipped points of worry and the vast amount of black veiled demons whispering songs of satanic victory.

We then, with hands on hips look into the full body mirror mounted in the bedroom (now that the bathroom mirror is silenced) consider our protection for the day. Helmet: check. Breastplate: check. Sword: check.

BRING IT ON!

Mirrors can come in a variety of shapes; the mirror of life’s financial expectations, the mirror of the external family, the mirror of our professional workplace and the mirror of our own perceived failed expectations. Each one, much like the bathroom mirror wants to look at the outside, tear it apart and leave the reflector lying on the sidewalk.

But we, more that conquerors in Christ saw these reflections coming, we blocked the arrows with our helmet knowing that the “greatest of these is Love”, shot back the reflection of our polished breastplate with “I can do all things through Christ” and slashed a “J” on the shirt of the black masked whisperer.

The mirror can reflect many images; it can attempt to look at us through fleshly eyes. But we, the body of Christ have a more wonderful reflection inside; the glow of eternity, the wonder of Grace and fresh blood that carries new DNA.

THE MIRROR HAS BEEN SILENCED!

Daniel Shibley

Enjoying God

 

(T)Enjoying God:  The ocean is such a wonderful picture of God.  “Great and mighty is the Lord.  Mightier than the ocean, Mightier than the great breakers of the sea”.  I am struck by His might and His greatness as I stand and watch the waves crash and thunder toward the shore.  I am also made aware of how very small I am beside that great expanse of water.  It is amazing that my God should care for me at all.  “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” 

         As I watch and enjoy the waves during my long walk on the shore, I am also struck at how the ocean is enjoyed so differently by each person.  Some love to sit by the ocean and listen to the beauty of the pounding waves (my mother).  Others love to walk beside it and ponder the wonder of it all (me).  Still others love to chase each wave as it comes in and out and/or make elaborate sand castles (my daughters).  My young son loves to just sit and feel (and eat) sand for hours on end.  My husband loves having a refreshing swim amongst the waves.  And numerous others enjoy it by painting it, surfing in it, catching fish, swimming in its depths, parasailing, boating, studying the animal and/or plant life, traveling to islands surrounded by it, studying its currents and movement, and numerous other activities. 

Could this not give us a picture of you, Lord?  You are so vast, so immense that there is no way to completely comprehend You.  And yet, you invite us to experience and enjoy your presence in many ways.  And You will open our eyes to more and more ways to enjoy and experience who You are.  You are untamable, mighty, vast, immense, powerful, ever-changing, life-giving and glorious.  There is no way to completely understand You.  And yet, to love You is to enjoy You and be awed as we walk along the shore of Your presence.

 

Tami

What makes a church a church

Last Friday I met with a seminary student who was trying to understand what makes a church a church.   He needed a bit more than our vision frame, pathway, and habits. So I told him the following (that all churches should embrace) and I wanted to share it with you.
 
1. A church is about Jesus.   We worship the triune God, but the center-point of Christian faith is Christ, ala Col 1.   He is the savior, and in him all things hold together.  He is the alpha and omega.  He opens the way to God, our atoning sacrifice.
 
2. A church is about helping people personally engage with the Lord.   It’s not enough to simply know about God and the Savior, but to press in and have a active engagement — explore, connect and grow and thrive.    And this engagement is not an isolated, private thing, it’s communal.    Our faith in Christ is only really lived within us when it’s lived in community.
 
3. A church is missional.   We exist for those who are not yet members.  So we reach out, serve and extend the kingdom wherever possible, to the ends of the earth.
 
This might come in handy with our fall series, called “Why Church”.    We want to really help our people know the value and place of church for all of lives together.
 
Rob Acker

He Has Overcome

As we move within our Christian walk, certain moments within that journey witness the Holy Spirit using inspired words of our Brothers and Sisters to encourage us. Such inspiration has been influencing my soul over the last few weeks. Although * 1 this is not a new song the words and soft melody have been working an*def  impregnated path within my heart. The words constantly moving with me every moment of the last several weeks. Over and over again, “He has overcome” reigns within my heart, mind and soul. Uniquely this song is a little more direct than most Joel Houston lyrics. Each verse seems more distinct, the chorus more direct and the closing thoughts more powerful. As I look at the opening thought of each verse, chorus and bridge a story can be wrote within the song. So as we journey through “Take Heart” lets pause(Selah) and let the Holy Spirit work the words into our soil.

“There is a light” burning brighter than the sun, stealing the night and casting no shadow. Hope replaces darkness, falling mountains and rising oceans cannot overpower God. He never fails, He will never leave us alone.

‘So take heart” let His love lead you, holding onto hope and once again take courage in His hope, that He holds our tomorrows and forgives our yesterdays. He is the heart healer.

“Death by love” we a part of a fallen world have been overcome by His love. He wears the scars of that freedom and His unfailing love, sweeps our fears away. Scars of Love, Scars of Sacrifice.

“All our troubles, all our fears, God our Hope – He has overcome”.
“All our heartache, all our pain, God our healer – He has overcome”.
“All our burdens, all our shame, God our freedom – He has overcome”.


What is left to battle us then, if troubles, heartache and burdens have been overcome by God our Savior?  If death has been overcome by love and our fears are swept away, what then robs us of our peace? Shouting promises of truth is a tremendous weapon against all enemies. *2 If our God is for us, then who can be against us, if our God is with us, then what can stand against?

So as we shout & sing promises mounting on eagles wings, we can sing the closing promises of “Take Heart”. 

“God our justice
God our grace
God our freedom
He has overcome”

“God our refuge
God our strength
God is with us
He has overcome”

He is our Savior King, so take heart.

* def- to permeate something with a particular aura or tone, or make something contain a particular quality.

* 1Take Heart- Hillsong United – Aftermath –  2011

* 2  Our God -Chris Tomlin – And If Our God Is For Us – 2011

A Creative Story

A man taking a walk on a winter day came across an object in the snow that was almost unrecognizable. With his imagination getting the best of him, he brought the object up to him out of the cold frosted ground and placed the object in his warm coat pocket.

The often traveled trail had many paths connected to it, but the often traveled trail received the most attention . The undiscovered forks although hidden by winter snow, seemed to beckon the man to turn and discover new wonders. But the man, always taking the worn and proven path, never succumbed to the beckoning of the lesser traveled paths that laid motionless in the snow.

A few days had passed and when the man placed his coat on once again found the object he had discovered a few days past. So, choosing to forgo his walk on the well traveled path, he chose to warm a pot of coffee, clean the rusted object (that had been passed by on the well traveled path) and investigate the rusted and neglected object.

With the care of a watchmaker the man laid the object on a clean white cloth. With smooth hands that gently cleaned the object, he began to discover that the  rust covered find was something he would have never imagined to find on such a worn path.

Feeling that this quest had taken a different approach than simply cleaning a rusted piece of metal, the man took out his most pure cleaning compound and laid the object within it. Over the next few days, the object began to lose its dirt covering, release its rusted embedment and  begin to show what was at one time a well crafted jewel.

As time went on, the man began to use his most intricate instruments to move the micro pieces of the jewel until the cleaning had been completed. The man then began to lay each piece on a softer and more gentle cloth. Lenses, covers, well crafted pieces made up this once covered and rusted object.

He also laid out what appeared to be the main sections; A finely honed arrow and a distinct patter of letters and numbers on a tempered glass screen.

Months went by and the man restored each of the object pieces. Each piece the man discovered had distinct functions within it. The internal workings, the internal covers and the precise lens.

Finally it was time to assemble what had taken months to repair. First the finely jeweled internal pieces, then attaching the lens, transparent cover and the protective outer sheath.

The man, dressed in his finest suit, then took the object back to the place he had found it. Clearly his heart was responding to the call of the now beautifully repaired jewel. Softly and quietly he came to the place where he had found it. He began to lay it back to its resting place when he felt the soft gentle vibration within it. He gently and somewhat fearfully began to open the fully restored jewel.

As what seemed to be an eternity, he followed the direction of the jewels leading. There within the soft case were three letters that had no meaning. E, W and S.  None of which had the wonder of the gentle arrow landing upon them. Only one letter had that honor and the man followed it. To his astonishment the lone letter pointed him to take the once snow covered fork that veered off the well worn path. He followed.

Each step was distinctly cautious, each moment an eternity. As time went on the path once covered with mud, snow and dirt began to display wildflowers, trees and wildlife that the man had never seen before. With unbridled amazement, the man breathed in each moment and then as if the Creator of the universe placed His hands on the man’s shoulders , the man stopped , looked down and found a tablet leaning against the tree stated ” you have found your true North” forever will you be on this path, now behold your bride.

Marriage

The orchestration of a marriage through the hand of God is a very beautiful thing. Using each other’s strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, gifts and ministries give a priceless value to the marriage that God has woven together. As most of you know, worship is a huge part of my life. The intimate relationship that I have discovered with the creator through intimate worship, has changed my life(almost pinpointing to the day my life changed through it). Recently my wife and I have realized that our love of worship and the desire to be in His Word is different from one another. Where my wife speaks the word vocally during a trial, I find myself splashing worship to put out the flame.

Where neither one is the answer for everyone, what we have found that works in our marriage is understanding each other’s strengths and combining them to battle the world that is so intent in damaging us and the marriage God created. Not to say that one is stronger than the other, but this understanding our strengths, works for us. Is one weaker than the other? One would argue that speaking the Word at a trial or difficult circumstance is the only act of offensive weaponry (meaning fighting with the sword) however, didn’t the walls of Jericho come down with shouts of praise? What can be more defeating than the enemy observing you and I in constant worship in the midst of the storm?

I do not believe that the one (Spoken Word) outweighs the other (Intimate Worship) and truly a balance in a marriage of using both of these powerful weapons is surely effective. I do know this, that understanding how precious the Word of God is to my wife is meaningful to our marriage and that her understanding that I NEED intimate worship in the forefront of my life is just as important. The key is that God has provided both and the recognition of how each(within the marriage) can not only inspire your walk with God, but give your relationship wings to fly not only in that relationship with God  but with your spouse.

We have found that whether it is the Word or Worship, that consistency in each is critical. If you are a “Word” digester or a ‘Worship” displayer, consistent use of either one is critical and long periods of time without them is harmful. So what we have discovered is that we consistently encourage each other in the challenge of that intimacy of the Word or Worship or a soft combination of both. She may e-mail me a verse to challenge my walk that day and I might e-mail lyrics to a worship song to touch her heart, using the gift that touches us, to touch each other. Also, if periods of time go by where I do not here her speak the Word, I challenge her to tell me what she read in her devotion (Word of God). As when she does not hear me humming or singing, she would challenge me to what song is on my heart.

What we do know is this: that God has provided nourishing Words of both inspired in His Word, or through inspired children (Worship) and that both of these amazing gifts are available 24/7.

 

What works for you?

Hearing God’s Voice

Hearing God’s Voice

 “‘Whoever believes in me, fountains of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit.” (John 7:38-39)

“His sheep follow him because they know his voice” (John 10:4b)

 

When we receive Christ as Lord, a “fountain” gets implanted in our lives. This fountain is the presence of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. We receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when we turn the control of our lives to Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, even though we give Christ the “driver’s seat” it is amazing how we always take it back! So we can be “filled with the Spirit” (again and again) when we give back to Jesus the control of our lives.

 

The benefits of having the Fountain of Jesus in us are amazing! One great benefit is that we can hear Christ’s voice. John 10 says that Jesus’ sheep recognize His voice and hear it. This is not an audible voice, but often a thought or impression that runs through our mind. Sometimes (but not always) it is accompanied with a certain sensation – like peace, joy or a sense of compassion. But one thing is always true: the voice of our Shepherd is in perfect alignment with the Word of God (Scripture).

 

The ability to hear God’s voice is also dependent on our “yielded” attitude. It is very difficult to hear the “still, quiet” voice of God when we insist on our own way. It is impossible to hear God when we are filled with busy-ness. Usually, if we aren’t hearing from the Lord, it’s not because He’s not speaking – it’s usually because we are not listening! We must be willing to listen and willing to respond in order to hear Christ.

 

There is something wonderful and refreshing about hearing the voice of Jesus – it quenches your soul’s thirst! Hearing God’s voice (what the ancient Hebrews called “Kol Yahweh”) is one way we drink from the Fountain. I encourage all of you to take the steps (that many in our fellowship are taking) to listen for Jesus’ voice – He’s calling to you right now!

 

I also encourage you to reflect upon these two questions:

 

1. What are some practical ways that have helped you to drink from The Fountain?

2. What are those times when your soul needs a drink from The Fountain?

 

The object to all of this is to encourage us to drink and drink and drink again the living waters of The Fountain. It is one tragedy to never have taken in Christ’s living waters – it is perhaps a greater tragedy to only drink once from His waters, especially when you have a built in drinking fountain inside you!

 So drink up, and as the Jewish people say … La Ch’aim! (To Life!)

Thoughts

Thoughts:

I have come to the understanding that all action begins with thoughts. Every evil deed, every amazing and magnanimous action has stemmed from a thought.  Even the very words of our mouths begin with a thought, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaketh.” Our very character is formed by the thoughts we think.   There cannot be enough emphasis on the importance of taking control of our thoughts and bringing them under the authority of the Lord.  I have believed in the past that this is an area that could be mine alone.  That I should have the freedom and ability to think what I like and that my thoughts would not bring harm to anyone else.  This could not be more incorrect.  Our thoughts are the very wellspring of our being.  They shape who we are. “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think on these things” (Phil 4). THESE are the things that will give us true joy and help us to see and know God. We cannot truly desire to follow the Lord without bringing even our thoughts under the authority of His kingship. We must give him EVERYTHING.

 

The act of giving every thought to the Lord can take on a different meaning in each person’s life.  To one person this may mean allowing the Lord to reshape critical thoughts of others.  To another it may take a change in thoughts that are complaining about people or situations in life.  Some may just need to be more purposeful in thoughts, to bring questions, ponderings, thoughts before the Lord and allow Him to form their very musings. Still others may be need to give up their “right” to impure thoughts that consume their thought life.  I have heard it said, and found it to be true in my own life, that sinful thoughts can begin small, but take on a much larger dimension and scope the more I give myself to them.  Earlier in life, before finding out about the importance of thoughts, I would spending increasingly more time on thoughts that were not pleasing to God.  Does it become any surprise when our lives lose the joy and luster that God intends for us?  Our very thought lives can bring glory to God, because out of our thoughts, actions and words come.  Oh Lord!  Help us to realize the importance of our thoughts.  Help us to bring everything to you and allow you to shape and mold us according to your image even in the very thoughts we think.

 

When we give ourselves up to Him and allow Him to form the very thoughts in our heads, He begins to do amazing things.  He enlarges our character slowly, in small increments, so that we can begin to understand even more of His character.  He grows our capacity to know Him.  As we grow in our capacity, He is faithful to fill us with even more of Him. As He continues in this process, we find ourselves able to hear thoughts that are given from the Lord about many various subjects.  I have heard it said that prayer without ceasing is like having an “inward orientation towards God”.  Such can be accomplished through our thoughts.  To have our thoughts constantly oriented towards our Lord is such an awesome privilege.  What better way to live life!!!  To allow our precious Lord to teach us how to think about ourselves, those around us, our neighborhoods, His Word, our everyday circumstances, and any number of other subjects is such joy!  It opens our eyes and reveals a world around us that we could completely miss if we aren’t constantly holding our thoughts up to Him.  It is no wonder our Lord tells to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10: 5).  He is not doing this to be mean, spiteful or a pleasure killer.  He commands us to do this because He knows that the thoughts from him are so much bigger and so much better than anything we can think on our own.  Oh Lord, help us to submit every thought to You, not because you want to rob us of joy, but because You want to give us so much MORE joy than anything we can imagine.

 

The following thoughts are the result of a deep desire to allow the Lord to form His thoughts in me about many various subject matters.  May the Lord be glorified.

 

 

 

Perfection:

         Perfection is arrogance.  Who am I to think that I can even gain anything close to perfection?  And who am I to think that I even have an understanding of what determines “perfection”?  Lord, I am embarrassed that my prayer has, at times, been, “Forgive me for being so far from perfection in this area.”  I am embarrassed that I would be so hard on myself if I was not “perfect” in some way.   My prayer has now become, “FORGIVE ME, Lord, for even trying to be perfect.  For only you know what perfection looks like.  Forgive me for trying to impose MY idea of perfection on myself instead of allowing YOU to determine what you would have me to become.  Help me to remember that “your thoughts are not my thoughts and your ways are not my ways” and that you know the idea you had for me before you had even created me.  Help me to remember you’re your “perfection” might call for the very things I think of as  “imperfect”. Please help me to kneel before you and allow you to mould me as you wish.  I love you.”

 

(T)Enjoying God:  The ocean is such a wonderful picture of God.  “Great and mighty is the Lord.  Mightier than the ocean, Mightier than the great breakers of the sea”.  I am struck by His might and His greatness as I stand and watch the waves crash and thunder toward the shore.  I am also made aware of how very small I am beside that great expanse of water.  It is amazing that my God should care for me at all.  “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” 

         As I watch and enjoy the waves during my long walk on the shore, I am also struck at how the ocean is enjoyed so differently by each person.  Some love to sit by the ocean and listen to the beauty of the pounding waves (my mother).  Others love to walk beside it and ponder the wonder of it all (me).  Still others love to chase each wave as it comes in and out and/or make elaborate sand castles (my daughters).  My young son loves to just sit and feel (and eat) sand for hours on end.  My husband loves having a refreshing swim amongst the waves.  And numerous others enjoy it by painting it, surfing in it, catching fish, swimming in its depths, parasailing, boating, studying the animal and/or plant life, traveling to islands surrounded by it, studying its currents and movement, and numerous other activities. 

Could this not give us a picture of you, Lord?  You are so vast, so immense that there is no way to completely comprehend You.  And yet, you invite us to experience and enjoy your presence in many ways.  And You will open our eyes to more and more ways to enjoy and experience who You are.  You are untame-able, mighty, vast, immense, powerful, ever-changing, life-giving and glorious.  There is no way to completely understand You.  And yet, to love You is to enjoy You and be awed as we walk along the shore of Your presence.

 

Purpose

Our purpose…

To inspire & encourage those who have or want a relationship with the God.  To run along side each other and to spur each other on in this great race which our Lord has already one.

 

 

This is a blog where we can share with each other inspiring ways that God has made Himself real to us in the everyday. It can be a short story of how God used you to help someone make rent for the month, or it can be a picture you took on your morning walk and how you saw God in it. I want to open this as a safe place to build one another up in encouragement and to give hope to those of us who are in the storm.

You can email me whenever you would like to share your thoughts, stories, pictures, videos or verses and I will upload them to our blog. Lets start making a difference!  I love you guys

- Krista