Tuesday, March 7, 2017

"Just chose to love, to never speak ill, to believe the best and to let God by God."

I just finished reading Tease by Amanda Maciel. After a HS girl committs suicide, the book tells the story of the events before and after her death. What led Emma to take her own life? What happens to the groups of kids that bullied her to the point she felt like she had no other option? As someone who was a HS teenage girl and now works with teenage girls-- the two sides of this story were fascinating. In the Author's Note at the end of the book Maciel writes, "I wish we had better tools to deal with bullying. I certainly don't know what the answer is, and I know the problem grows more complicated as our methods of communication grow vaster and more unwieldy. But it seems to me that there's always more to the story-- at least two sides, if not four or seven or one hundred. And I believe that everyone deserves to be heard."

After attending IF: Gathering for a second year, I was so excited to read Jennie Allen's newest book Nothing To Prove. I don't know of anyone who can't relate to the desire to do enough and be enough. "Nobody is okay, fine, great. But, goodness, we are all tired of trying to pretend we are." Jennie's book will introduce you to stories from the bible in a whole new way and help you relearn the truth that there is freedom in Christ-- you can stop striving for enough because He already is. So many of her words will stick with me...

He alone is the Source from which flows all the things we crave and hope to become. And IF God is real, how are we going to live like it?

Deep down, I want to be enough. I don't want to keep needing God. I am realizing it's not my curse that I believe I am not enough; it's my sin that I keep trying to be. 

God is in these ordinary moments, and He is also calling us to do wild and obedient things we could have never imagined. It isn't either/or, it is both/and. Sometimes we don't even know which are the big things and which are the small. Heaven will tell the stories earth missed. 

I want to live an entire life full like this. I want to be full of Jesus to the point that He is pouring out of me.

The nearness of Jesus is enough to infuse joy in the midst of everyday experiences. Our joy, or lack of it, is a direct result of where we spend most of our time and thoughts and energy. 

He tells us, "You are enough and you have enough because I AM ENOUGH." This is how God works, but we have been functioning in a scarcity mentality. Rather than trusting in His abundance, we try to be enough and get enough as if there isn't enough. And we are exhausted from trying to do all of this on our own. 

Leadership is the willingness to take initiative for the good of others.

Jesus lives on the other side of our comfort zones. The streams we are craving--that He is offering--flow strongest in the spaces we see our need for Him. And as we step out of the boxes we have built, our hearts wake up. The Spirit of God stirs us toward a wild uncontrolled adventure, even if that plays out in the mundane parts of our lives. 

I want to see Jesus in my everyday life, not just when I arrive in heaven. I want to love Him more than I want to appear religious. 

Stepping outside of sameness expanded my world, and I'm better for it. We had to grant each other permission to be who we are and to say what we think and feel. She gave me the grace and permission to say the wrong things and know she won't turn away. 

Emotions are designed by God to point to an ache for Him and for heaven. Emotions are compasses, not destinations. We don't ignore them and we don't camp out in them, but we let them show us the places God wants to meet us and the places we need to do work.

We don't confess so that God will forgive; we confess to remember and enjoy that we already are forgiven. Jesus has handled this problem fully and completely and replaced our sin with His goodness. 

Every once in awhile I get around someone whose soul is full of God. Their souls are so content, Jesus is just coming out of them. Do you know people like that? It is so refreshing. It is beautiful. They are not needy. They're not trying to prove themselves. They're not trying to measure up. They're not trying to get your attention or affection. They hold no judgement for others because they are aware of their own sin. 

When I think about light, every single light humans have ever built requires energy or some force to light it. Lightbulbs drain and run out, even LED lights eventually. Flashlights, car lights, lamps... they all pull energy from some other source that can drain or become depleted.
Then I think of the light God creates. Fire running wild, the sun burning always, bajillions of stars all burning with great force--all the light that He creates, it needs nothing to exist. It needs no other energy source. It just is. 
And guess what happens when people try to produce light? We get tired. Trying drains energy, like every human light that has ever been created. 
So what if instead of trying to create light, we simply received light? The vision of God for our lives is that we would receive His light and then give light to the world. In Matthew 5:14 Jesus says, "You are the light of the world." Most of the time, the New Testament refers to Jesus being the Light, but when His Spirit lives in us, we are the light of the world. We receive who Jesus is and then give Him away.

"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands." May we desire to be helpful rather than important. May we seek to make God's name great and not our own. I don't wan to see my eyes on impact; I want to set my eyes on Jesus and knowing Him more. 

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