Tuesday, May 19, 2009

He's the remedy...

This past weekend I got to spend a lot of time with my family. I really do have one of the greatest families ever. And as crazy as they all are… I love them. I so often take them and my influence in their life for granted. But this weekend God opened my eyes. He reminded me that He desires a relationship with each of them. I wouldn’t change a single thing about any of them- but they are broken individuals without Christ. He reminded me that He’s called me to be a part of their story and that scares me. As I left I began to pray and ask God to equip me to fight on their behalf. And on my drive home I heard the song “Remedy” by David Crowder. I couldn’t help but in that moment worship as God reminded me who He is…

Oh, I can’t comprehend
can’t take it all in
Never understand
Such perfect love come
For the broken and beat
For the wounded and weak
Oh, come fall at His feet
He’s the remedy
He’s the remedy

Recently, a man so entwined in lies took his own life. I haven’t been able to get my mind away from that. I’ve spent a lot of time praying for the family but as I drove by the funeral I began to weep- not only for the family but for that man, and for the brokenness in this world. It felt like darkness had victory. And it made me angry. It is physically painful for me to think about the people walking around thinking and feeling like that man felt. I look at myself, my family, my friends and strangers- and it scares me because without Christ we are all just broken, beat, wounded, and weak.

But God is our remedy- it’s simple on paper. It’s harder in life- but it’s real. And I wish that everyone could experience that the same way I have. This weekend at church we sang a new Hillsong song called You Hold Me Now. And God reminded me that He does have victory! There is a greater day…

No weeping, no hurt or pain, no suffering,
You hold me now, You hold me now
No darkness, no sick or lame, no hiding
You hold me now, You hold me now.

Tonight in the car I asked Ellie and Cianna if they wanted to hear my new favorite song… so I played this for them and I tried to explain to Ellie that they were talking about Heaven. Where everything is good- there is no bad. She said, ‘so I bet you don’t have to go to bed there.’ I agreed. Then she asked what you do there and I told her you get to hang out with Jesus. She asked me what that would be like. Stumped… I looked at her in my review mirror, smiled and said ‘really cool.’ She asked if we could go there now. Instantly I thought- Oh, if only she really understood what Heaven was- she wouldn’t ask for that.

Truth is… if I really understood Heaven… I’d be asking for that too.

Jesus, help me lead the broken and weak to fall at your feet. And help me to stay there.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Trusting God's Heart

Two weeks ago Jared taught at our University campus. It was so exciting to see him up there and to see him teach God’s truth in a powerful and yet Jared-like way. He continued the James series and taught about faith and deeds… but I walked away thinking about ONE of his points. It’s something I’ve been wrestling with over the past few weeks- Trusting God’s heart. It sounds simple on paper. But God has been showing me how I act as if He is untrustworthy.

Jared was on stage, pacing back and forth- acknowledging all the pain and suffering in the room. And then he talked about trusting God in the midst of that. Usually at church I keep my gaze fixed up front (honestly, I think it’s weird when people look around during church) BUT for some reason I looked to the left and across the room I caught a glimpse of a couple trusting God’s heart in that very moment. This couple recently received news that their unborn child will be born with severe mental and possibly physical disabilities. And there they sat, tears streaming down their face, smiling- as they trusted God’s heart. It was a beautiful picture that trusting God’s heart is messy. It’s hard but it’s joyful.

And so here I am- trying to consistently trust God’s heart. Sometimes it’s simple and sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes I’m just like Eve and doubt God- accusing Him of withholding things from me. And other times I fall on my face wondering why I would ever doubt Him. I’ve been reading through the book of Joshua. As much as I love the Old Testament – there is so much I haven’t read.

I want to operate just like Joshua- to hear a clear word from the Lord and obey immediately. God told him to do some pretty crazy stuff. If God told me to march around a wall for seven days and then blow horns… well to be honest I’d probably act like I didn’t hear Him. Or, I’d talk to my closest friends and see what they thought of the idea. But instead of all of that- Joshua obeys.

I want to be that person.

And more importantly, I want to hear God like that again. A while ago, I asked God to stop speaking to me like that. The last time I thought I had a clear, specific word from God I ended up hurt and confused. And in the midst of that I stopped trusting Gods voice and His heart. I kept reading my bible and I would tell God- I’d like for you to teach me something, some knowledge, but don’t SPEAK to me.

As wrong as I was in those moments… God was gracious with me. He didn’t run ahead of me or push me. He’s walked next to me, giving me time to rest, heal, and begin trusting Him again. It's been a slow process. He’s been my comforter and my strength the past few months and I’ve experienced Him in ways I never had before. My tiny, insignificant human brain will never understand God or His ways. And so I gave up trying. I've asked God to speak to me again. It sounds simple- but its monumental.

God, teach me to really trust You again. To hear you speak. Open my ears and forgive me for ever asking you to be silent in my life. And thank you for never actually being silent but instead gentle and patient.

I stole this quote from Jordan Stinziano's blog a year and a half ago. And over the past week I've read it every day. It has been my prayer for myself and for the Stinzianos- that in the midst of life- that there we would see Jesus Christ.

We’re not out of the woods yet, but when are we ever? Life is not that easy. But God is always in the midst of the wilderness with us… no matter how dark or desolate it seems. He is always declaring His goodness, His might, His power and His grace to us. The key to living in those dark times is to see Him there…to see and find Him…and be willing to embrace Him in the wilderness and wait there with Him until He leads you out. There His grace becomes evident. There His love becomes so overwhelming, and you become so confident that only He can lead you, only He can save you, only He can really love, and only He is worthy of your love and your life.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

And the challenge remains...

Engage the world. That’s what God has told me (and you, actually).

I’ve always been interested in helping people come to know Jesus MORE. I like to help them go deep. I bought onto the vision of presenting the gospel to every man, woman, and child a long time ago- but I thought it was someone else’s job. And God’s been working in my heart to change that. In the Emergency Room the other night I was alone with one of my doctors. He asked me what I did… trying to make me feel less uncomfortable, I’m sure. It was fun to be able to have a conversation with someone that didn’t already know I worked at a church and didn’t try to say the ‘right thing’.

I left that night after a 20 minute conversation realizing how much I missed that. In college I was surrounded by people that needed Jesus. Now I work with strong Christians. I live with them. I hang out with them. And it’s great…. I wouldn’t trade an ounce of that for anything!! But how can I call the people I lead to reach every man, woman, and child- when I’m not even trying?

I’m reading through the book of Hosea and as he describes wayward Israel and God’s judgment on them, I can’t help but think about every man, woman, and child in Southwest Florida that need to hear about Jesus. So I’ve asked God what I’m to do in order to have opportunities to engage people…

Should I get a part time job?
Should I find a new hobby?
Should I volunteer somewhere?
Should I look for a (non-ministry) career?

It scared me to even ask the last question. Even though I believe God has called me into full time ministry and I would never want to leave Summit- I don’t want to look back 5 or 10 years from now and realize that God didn’t want me in a ministry position yet but I was too afraid to step out of my comfort zone and look to the right and left to see what God had for me, so I stayed. And so I have to ask, God what do you want?

…Because I’m committed to that. So I’m looking right and I’m looking left.

So far God has told me… look into things. Write them all down and know I’m in control.

So over the next month I’ll be listening to God. I’m going to take an intentional “sabbatical weekend” (at my parent’s beach house, yay!) at the beginning of April where I can spend a ton of time alone with God. I’m excited. I know God is doing something big in my heart and in my life. So, pray for me to listen to the only ONE that can truly direct my steps.

God, I pray that you would delight in my ways and make my steps firm. Psalm 37:23

(also, don't edit these.... sorry!)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

God speaks...

I’ve been waiting on God for my next step for months. I’ve been anxious for guidance from God for a while. And as I’ve sought, experienced and gotten to know God more- all I’ve heard is “Wait. Be patient. And trust me.”

And so I decided to.

The past two weeks I’ve felt like God has told me to listen up. My initial thought was that God was going to help me figure out my role in our college ministry. I’ve felt ineffective lately and have wrestled with God to try to figure out my role there. I disciple six girls…. but out of 10,000 students at FGCU- it’s nothing. It’s been a weird transition from a college student to an adult that helps lead the ministry. When did I become the grown up that shows up on a Tuesday night? YUCK.

This weekend I got to hang out with a bunch of college students and I didn’t feel terribly old. They were great to serve and hang out with. We spent the weekend at Give Kids the World. It’s a place for children with life threatening diseases to come with their family and enjoy a week at some of the most magical places on earth! This place is phenomenal. They serve these families like you can’t even imagine. Everything is free from transportation, to Disney, to snacks. It’s all free and at their fingertips.

We did everything from putting on princess make-up and running a carousel to serving lunch to 150landscapers. It was fun to get to interact with the families though. Before I got there I thought it would be an emotional experience and that I would be consumed with tears at most points of the day. But instead of feeling sad I felt charged. Instead of crying I would bend down and look those little kids in the eyes and engage them in conversation. I’d spend my time just talking to them about silly things like Disney.

I asked one little girl if she had been to Disney yet. She quickly informed me she was going the next day. So of course I asked her what she was most excited to see. Her response was, “Well I don’t know. I’ve never been there so I don’t know what they have.” I told her she would probably see all the princesses. She instantly smiled and told me that Cinderella was her favorite. When I told her that Cinderella’s castle was at Disney her mouth dropped open. It was as if I had just given her the best news she had ever heard. I had so many things I could talk to her about because I had been to Disney and experienced it for myself. We talked for a long time while I made her hot chocolate.

I left Give Kids the World realizing something. I went out of my comfort zone to engage those kids because they were sick. Because I knew they needed to feel loved and special. And the honest truth is- because I knew most of them were dying. It caused me to respond differently. God reminded me that every day I’m surrounded by ‘sick’ people. They might not have a physical disease but spiritually they are dying. And I’m called to walk out of my comfort zone and engage them the same way I engaged those little kids. I’ve experienced Jesus Christ. I’ve got stories to tell that would make people stand in awe just like that little girl did when I talked about Cinderella’s castle. So what am I doing? How am I engaging the world?

And that’s when God began to speak a little vision into my next few steps. But that’s for tomorrow’s blog.

Dare I blog two days in a row?!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Its the small things in life

That teach me so much
I lost my bible a little over a month ago. Not just any bible though. It was my bible. Of course I have about four others. But this one was the place that for the past few years I really got to experience God in His word. It has all my notes and all the lessons I’ve learned.

Throughout the month I looked everywhere I could think of: the church, my office, lost and found, my room, my trunk (…it’s like a black hole), and everywhere else you can think of. No luck. It was gone.

After I looked in my trunk the second time it finally hit me that I had really lost my bible. I had lost all the fun notes of what God had shown me. As weird as it sounds, it was devastating. I had looked everywhere (some places twice) and it was gone. There was nothing else I could do; and that is the feeling that I hate the most. That gross feeling of no control. Yuck.

And so instead of coming to grips with the fact that my bible was gone forever I decided to do something that at the time seemed childish and a bit silly. Every day I started asking God to give me my bible back. I felt silly because here I was asking God to find something that I believed couldn’t be found. I had looked everywhere. And of course I felt a little silly because to everyone else in the world this is the smallest problem ever. I went as far as to ask one of my bosses to pray that God would help me find my bible. He immediately said a funny but rather serious prayer.

That was Tuesday.

On Thursday I got a text from a friend saying “Katie I have your bible.” An hour later my bible was in my hands. I’ve never been so excited to see a bunch of papers bound and wrapped in leather. I immediately flipped through the notes and special papers I had stuffed in my favorite books. I carried it with me all day, telling everyone the great news.

It’s a silly story but I learned some stuff:

Every day I should be just as excited to see God’s word. I should crave it. I should seek it out and be devastated when I can’t have it. I should devour it to the point that, without physically holding it, I am constantly carrying the Truth with me at all times.

God is funny to take such a small thing and teach me so much. He tells us numerous times throughout the gospels to ASK. I forget to ask most times because I’m too busy trying to do it myself. God didn’t let me find my bible on my own. He waited until I depended on Him. There are so many areas of my life that I try to do on my own instead of just asking God for his help.

All God is saying is, ’Ask me.’

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

40 days

41 days ago I thought everything in my life was fine. And then… God stepped in.

The past year and a half of my life has been busy. I graduated. Decided to stay in SWFL. Interned for a year. Went to Africa for two weeks. Got a grown up job. Traveled to Mexico. Tried out for a TV show. Had my first ‘serious’ relationship. Helped lead a college ministry. Made new friends. Watched tragedy surround me.

And as each new thing entered my heart, God was edged out. I didn’t notice it happening because each time it was just a small nudge. Harmless. I was doing ministry. I was surrounded by Godly people. I met with girls and did my best to pull them along. I cultivated Godly relationships. And I even read my bible, most of the time. I was ‘walking the walk.’

But in September uneasiness settled in. Something was missing. I remember praying and telling God that I missed ‘us’. At some point in the year I lost that intimacy. It wasn’t that I was living a life so rampant with sin that I had turned my back on God.

And so for a couple of months I tried and tried to make it better- to get back to the kind of relationship with God I had before. I did everything I knew to do. I made plans for reading my bible when I woke up every morning. I tried books and reading plans to help me. I talked to a few people about it and asked for accountability but it was still a struggle. I desperately wanted to fix it but I couldn’t.

Enters God.

I believe God looked down at the pit I had dug for myself- as I slowly, but surely, edged him out of my heart. I had filled my life with so much and each thing lead me deeper into the pit. None of it seemed bad because it was wrapped up in the Christian wrapping paper: bible studies, Godly friends, discipleship. It all seemed right. And don’t get me wrong, those things are good things- but never when they take God off the throne of your heart. So 40 days ago God, in all his mercy, dropped some serious dynamite into my pit and blew me right out.

At first, I couldn’t catch my breath. Literally, there were moments so full of tears that I thought I might suffocate. I was at a point that I had nothing to cling to but Jesus, Himself. And so I did.

The past 40 days have changed my life. Not because of the actual dynamite but because of how God has rescued me from the life I had made. I know God for WHO He is today instead of WHAT He’s giving or taking away from me. I remember that these are the moments that God steps in to romance and heal me. This is the first time in my life that I know, without any doubt, that God is good. That He is the one I can trust. In that there is peace. It’s the kind of peace that you can’t understand and that sounds cliché when other people talk about it. I laugh at myself because I know that what I’m saying might sound elementary to most, but it’s monumental for me.

I’m still walking through the remains of the dynamite. But I’m doing it believing God for the best. I’m not afraid of what lies ahead. I know what God has promised me. At times I’m surrounded by lies and fears that try to knock me off the path God has for me. But every day God has been faithful to speak to me through His word and silly things like songs, books, and friends.

I wouldn’t trade a moment of the past 40 days. I wouldn’t. Because knowing Christ, like Paul says, is worth it.

I committed that for 2009 I wouldn’t miss a day in The Word, that I would be diligent to listen to what God is saying to me, and that most importantly- I would obey. Today was day 40 of my commitment… I’m overwhelmed with what He’s taught me so far and I’m looking forward to the next 365 days.