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"Encourage one another daily, as long as it is today," Hebrews 3:13. Adventure in progress…

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Relationships

Trusting God…ellipses

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photo by J.K. Photography

I am in a moment of trusting God, of how many seconds or years or decades it will last, I don’t know. Every day that I seek his promises or ask him to speak, I am encouraged. I started out desperately asking for the answers to my questions. Then I started to pray around all of the outcomes I personally deemed acceptable. God was patient with me. He never told me what I wanted to hear, he told me what I needed to hear.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

Promises Promises

God wants us to lean on him daily, to go to His word day and night and seek his presence continually, (Ps. 1:2, 1 Chron. 16:11).

These past few months I’ve been through days and sometimes weeks where I needed to hear God’s promises minute by minute. I’ve felt so thirsty that a firehose fixed to my mouth would have done little more than keep me from drying out. A lie crept up in this struggle, telling me that once God spoke I should be satisfied. Believing him should be enough.

I must not be drinking in his promises correctly if I couldn’t get my fill, right? I thought maybe something was wrong with my uptake. Shouldn’t I trust God enough to let it be and take him at His word?

Trusting God isn’t a transaction, it’s a state of being.

He said I want you to depend on me daily. I want you to seek me continually.

It’s right there in His word! The Bible tells us to pray in all situations, (1 Thes. 5:17, Eph. 6:18, Luke 18:1, Phil. 4:6, Col. 4:2, 1 Tim. 2:1…).

“Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face continually.” Psalm 105:4

We were made to seek His presence continually. He will never tire of repeating himself because that’s part of who he is and the loving relationship he created us for. We need to hear his promises again, every day. He made us to depend on him. It’s a good thing.

*Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, but replace the word “love” with “God.”

His patience does not run out. Rather, he tells us to keep talking with him. Always.

Waiting on the world to change…

Once upon a time ago, I was 10 years old sitting in a rented vacation motorhome watching the second season of the Amazing Race while my family waited to check in to the airport so we could fly home from Alaska just days after 9/11. I made a promise in my journal that I would be on that show if it was still running when I was old enough. No matter what.

I waited for 11 years. I didn’t end up going on the Amazing Race after all, I did something bigger and better.

I had the privilege of traveling to 11 countries on 3 continents all over the world with 55 strangers (now family) who loved Jesus so we could serve in His name for a crazy life-changing 11 months.

It was worth the wait. More importantly, the waiting was essential to preparing me for those plans.

Sunday a random devotional popped into my email inbox. Guess what the topic was?

Trusting God.

The main point was this, that God uses the waiting to prepare us for his plans for us.

It went straight to my heart when I read the line, “he wants us to trust him.”

Think about that. What place is a heart in when someone who loves us asks us to trust them?

They are offering their help, their confidence, their best. They are for you.

It’s clear if you read the Old Testament (go ahead and skip to the New Testament for even more proof) that God always keeps his promises. There are whole books on it.

“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God  who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,” Deuteronomy 7:9

When God asks us to trust him, we can be assured it’s because he is trustworthy.

Israel

Do you ever have those season where you feel like God is speaking directly to you through a particular verse, story, or passage? It’s been like that for me with the story of the Israelites.

God keeps telling me through other people, sermons, prayer, reading the Bible-even random places-how I’m like Israel in her different seasons.

Our promises are the same. I don’t understand it all, but when my wisdom and foresight isn’t deep I still know that this is significant.

Summer

He told me he was taking me the long way around.

Remember when the Israelites had to wander in the desert for 40 years after finally being set free from the hand of Pharaoh? That wasn’t just because God got tired and decided to stick his kids in time out for a while so he didn’t have to deal with their whining. It had purpose.

Part of that purpose was to prepare them for the promised land he was taking them too. They weren’t ready, according to his own standards (key).

So he took them the long way around.

“The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Occasion after occasion I have found myself fighting within my heart to control an outcome or avoid an unfavorable one when God speaks this verse, telling me to be still.

He is fighting for me.

Imagine The Avengers; Thor with his hammer, Captain America with his shield, Iron Man fully suited up, Hulk-well, as Hulk. All of them. Throw in the Justice League too if your imagination can take it (Superman, the Flash..). All of them standing around you, fighting for you. This team, shielding and protecting you from the enemy.

Would you grab a plastic sword and anxiously swing it around just to be extra sure you’ll make it out of this battle okay?

No, because that’s ridiculous.

When you have Thor and Captain America defending you, you sit back with a milkshake and relish placing your confidence in such warriors. You know you are going to win. It might not be easy to watch, but you just know it.

God is bigger than Thor. He is stronger than Hulk. He is braver than Captain America. He is faster than the Flash. He is more bullet proof than Superman. He has better aim than Hawkeye and Arrow combined. Iron Man’s suit has nothing on him. He is even cooler than Vision. Yeah, I said it.

(I really hope you now have this awesome picture of God surrounded by angels that look like Thor with wings.)

Trusting…

How often do we trust like this? I trust you God, ellipses…

I’m waiting. I’m taking a chance on you. This is a risk. I really just want what you’ve got planned at the end of this.

I woke up this morning, got into my car, turned my heart to prayer and immediately God flipped the angle of my heart.

I wanted to pray things centered around myself and fixing this discomfort of waiting. Another day, more promises, I could do this. Refuel. That was the plan.

Instead, he gave me prayers of blessing for someone else.

It’s funny how becoming a blessing can minister to us in powerful ways.

The Holy Spirit filled my heart with thankfulness and praise.

Then I realized, the joy and peace that comes from simply trusting God, obeying Him, reading his word, being with him, was in and of itself the reward.

Crowns

We read about crowns as a reward for faithfulness in the Bible (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

At times the thought of earning those crowns to throw at Jesus feet (because he deserves them all) has been the motivation and encouragement I needed to get through a moment of waiting.

A good thing, but not as it turns out, the cake.

This morning I finally get it.

Trusting God isn’t about what he has promised or the results of your waiting-it is about trusting God. The very state of being in God’s presence, trusting him, is worth it for the state of being in that moment of trusting Him.

Trusting Him is worth trusting him because he is so good, so loving, that Himself is worth it. He is the prize for our trust.

Trusting him means giving him your whole heart, and getting all of him.

He continues to make you bigger on the inside so you can receive more and more of his fullness. Trusting him is about knowing him. It’s about relationship. It’s not about the future, it’s about the two of you. The condition of your soul. What you were made for.

The rest is frosting.

I want to challenge you with this question; is trusting God enough for you?

This should be our ultimate aim. Not the answer to our questions (and believe me, I have plenty of them too…limitless Leah they probably call me in heaven), not the future we imagine, nor the dreams we asked for. Our worries gone. Our troubles ceased. The good things that He has planned for us. Those are real-but they are not the aim.

The questions may never be answered. Keep asking anyway. Remember to listen for what God is actually saying, not just the answers to your questions. Trust is meant to bring us closer to him and to glorify him. Not to get you what you think you want or need.

What you need is to trust Him.

Trusting Him is the greatest gift.

 

 

 

5 Reasons You Should Get to Know GOD Better

Like a relationship with any person, growing closer to God continues to reveal new things I didn’t know about His character or myself. If you believe, but you have not experienced what I am talking about, then keep reading. Ask God for revelation. If you have experienced these crazy truths, then join in and comment with your own list. What do you love most about God? In what ways have you gotten to know Him?

God can be your Dad. 

He lets us know in the Bible that we are His children, (Galatians 3:26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.) He also promises to be a father to the fatherless, Psalm 68:5.

The man I call dad on earth is loved, but he does not know how to be a father. He is not a dad to me in my life anymore. But there is forgiveness and grace in that because I have let God take the place of Father (which He was always meant to) in my life. I have forgiven my dad for falling short of my expectations and I receive the fullness of God as my dad. That gives me the freedom to love my dad for who he is, where he is, without getting hurt or playing host to bitterness.

God takes care of me. He protects me. He provides for me. He listens to me. He gives me good gifts.

I remember a time where I cried for all the moments I felt I had missed out on by not having a dad who took me on father daughter dates or showed up to every performance with flowers. God was there in every single moment I wanted and needed a dad. Whether I felt it was true or not. Not only that, but he was a perfect dad to me.

I’m still learning what it looks like to have a Dad as amazing as God, but He never lets me down or ceases to surprise me with his love and goodness.

He is fun to spend time with.

Did I ever tell you about this one time I met a captain Kirk? Or maybe it was his friend…

I used to have this spot, a grassy knoll you might say, just next to the runway of an airport where I took classes at a community college. I know that sounds confusing. Airport, college nearby, me there ridiculously early in the morning, stopping by a hill near the runway. At 7am on Tuesdays and Thursdays, it was our spot.

I would watch military aircraft come in and take off for the day while I read my Bible or prayed out loud, taking my time to enjoy the calm of the morning. One day a plane called Hercules landed and I got stuck trying to figure out what kind she was. I had it narrowed down to 2 planes but wanted a second opinion.

I sashayed up to the thin fence by the runway and asked the helicopter pilot who was walking by, “Do you think that’s a C-130 or a C-123?” He didn’t know for certain, but we got to chatting a bit nonetheless and he shared with me the story of a Captain he once met in the military named Captain Kirk. His last name was actually Kirk! Having achieved the rank Captain and thus was proudly and properly called Captain Kirk.

I have all sorts of lovely stories like this from the dates I have gone on with God. I sat on the Santa Monica Pier with a picnic dinner to spend time with Jesus, he brought dolphins into my view. He does that a lot actually. On my 11th birthday I got to swim mere feet away from a crew of dolphins in the wild. He likes to have fun with His kids.

God can do more than your imagination’s best. 

Have you ever spent a month at Jim Moriarty’s home in Ireland? I have. No, he wasn’t the brilliant sociopath from Sherlock Holmes, but I can assure you that did not make the experience any less crazy.

This was the first month of my 11 month, 11 country mission trip around the world with Adventures in Missions, (The World Race). You can check out my old blog from the trip if you like. Bear in mind I haven’t looked at it in months.

I had this dream at 10 years old that I would be on the show The Amazing Race. I wanted to travel around the world doing beautiful crazy things that no one else had a chance to do in normal life. I remember writing in my first purple little journal with a butterfly on the front, “If this show still exists when I’m 21, I will be on it!” from the parking lot of the Anchorage airport in a motorhome we had rented on vacation the week of September 11th, 2001. It was a memorable week for many reasons.

A decade later I was in Santa Monica (the same summer of the dolphins) living in eager anticipation- the time was near. I was going to apply for the show. Granted, I still needed a partner but I was more than certain this was happening. It was my biggest dream. I had spent half my life waiting for it.

My ranting all summer sparked the suggestion of several friends to check out the World Race, since I had been saying that I wished I would have time to slow down on the trip and tell people about Jesus. I might as well if I was going to circle the globe. Yes, that would make the Race even better, to slow down and tell people about the gospel.

An explosion burst from my soul the moment I dropped onto that website for the first time.  The World Race. It was the culmination of 10 years of dreaming, God speaking, and this burning passion in my heart to follow. Do you know what that feels like? I cannot possibly describe it to you. It’s better than you can imagine.

He made my biggest dream come true. He took a girl who was used to disappointment and topped the best she could ask for with this mind blowing 11 month, 3 continent, 11 country mission trip around the entire world that changed her life forever.

Now I have to dream bigger. All I started with was a mustard seed of faith.

He saved your life.

Jesus is God’s only son. He came to earth, born as a human with Mary (a virgin) as his Mom so he could live a perfect life as a human being. He also came to be with us, to live in relationship with us. He walked this muddy, sinful world for a whole lifetime out of love. Then he died, unjustly, paying the cost of every single human sin when he was completely innocent. But that was God’s plan. He did this that we might know God the father and live in relationship with him the way we were made to. Made to be loved and love God, love others.

Christ died but was raised from the dead three days later in victory-literally beating death. Because death is a result of sin (which separates us from God). Through Christ Jesus we can be redeemed and made new. Restored to perfect relationship with God for eternity.

If He hadn’t died for you, if He didn’t come to love a wrecked world full of sinners who hated him, we wouldn’t know love at all. We would still be dead. He saved your life.

He is beautiful.

God is beautiful. Look at the heavens, see those stars? He is the artist who painted the Milky Way. He imagined the Cliffs of Moore, the Grand Canyon and the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights). He shaped them like clay, took his finger like a brush to the sky.

He is the one who knitted together every fiber of your being. He is clever, brilliant. The great physician who knows every hair on your head. He is powerful enough to have known your thoughts before you existed. He is gentle enough to listen to your every prayer. He sends lightening into the sky. He keeps the waves of the ocean at bay. He pulls gravity around the earth and wraps the sun in light.

This imagination, this Creator, this Artist, Scientist, Astrophysicist, and Friend. He is worth knowing. Wouldn’t you like to admire someone who had half the talents of the Creator of the Universe?

What about your favorite story? Or the most beautiful romance you have ever imagined? Can you imagine yourself in front of the most talented symphony in all the world? All these God dreamed up, invented, gave to us to enjoy.

He is wonderful. He is good. He is beautiful inside and out. He is worth getting to know.

As You Wish

Asss youuu wiiiisshh!!!!

Are you thinking of a man falling down a hill declaring his love to a woman who thought he was dead? As you wish might mean something to you because of The Princess Bride (go watch it, right now) but to those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll explain.

A young farm hand grows up in love with the farmer’s daughter. He does whatever is asked of him and serves her faithfully. She acts like a spoiled brat until one day when she realizes that all the time this man has been replying to her, “As you wish,” he has really been saying I love you. She realizes this and it transforms her.

What I want to ask you today is do you hear it? As you wish.

In the story they fall in love when she understands what he has been declaring his love to her all this time. She has a revelation and it opens her eyes to see him for the first time as he truly is. She is then able to receive his love in its fullness. They kiss in front of a sunset…all that gooey stuff.

How is God loving you that maybe you haven’t recognized as a possible display of his affections for you?

Have you asked Him?

I don’t have the answer for you, but I can tell you what this looks like in my life in hopes that you might be encouraged and your imagination increased.

There is a story I want to share for a moment.  A little boy in Africa who was taught to pray by missionaries prayed and he asked for the one thing which was impossible in his jungle village; chocolate ice cream. The next day a helicopter transporting perishable foods broke down and landed in his village. The pilot got out and asked, “We’ve lost our ability to keep this frozen, will you eat all this chocolate ice cream we have brought with us?”

This is the way I love and know God. I don’t know who God has called you to be and I don’t know His plans for you, but I know they are good.

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I don’t know how or why, I only know who. I know who I am because I know whose I am. In finding him I find myself. I encourage you to seek out who you are continually by remembering whose you are. Like an adopted child wonders where they have come from, go seek your Father.

Hint: all you have to do is turn around, for He has already bought and pursued you.

That’s how my relationship with God grew to where it is today. There was a time I doubted Him. I doubted His existence. I doubted his love. But He pursued me. So I pursued him in return. I prayed and read the Bible and dove into community with believers until I had that moment where love became real to me. I heard him say, as you wish sitting on a beach in Venezuela, reading my Bible on the shores of the Caribbean sea. It wasn’t in the beauty of creation but the knowledge that love was the proof. John 4:19 says “We love because he first loved us.” Every time I had loved someone I was living proof that God loves me, because it came from Him first.

You have a different story.

I know God as my Father and King; Christ as my Savior, best friend and the lover of my soul. I continue to grow in this relationship, experiencing him in new ways. Finding out the fullness of his love for me. This is made up of big moments I could tell you about that would blow your mind, truly, and little moments that I excitedly share on a daily basis. It’s different for everyone who knows God personally but it is real. He is the God who shows up and literally drives demons out of your life with a flaming sword and chariot of fire. He is also the God who puts an orange in the fridge for you at work because you wanted to eat an orange today-and you didn’t even ask.

“Seek the Lord where he may be found; call upon Him while he is near.” Isaiah 55:6

Offensive

Be honest, you’re afraid to offend me.

As Christians, we are often afraid to call one another out on our sin. If we are quick to offer up our own mistakes to others, what do we hear in response?

“No, that’s not true; you work very hard,” or “I’m sure you’re doing your best.”

Comforts.

We are lying to one another.

In the United States we perpetuate a culture of acceptance. You are free to be whoever you want to be, and that’s a right no one can take away. You are free to speak, write, or do anything you please, as long as you don’t harm others. If you’re sin looks good, if it doesn’t hurt anyone, enjoy it!

I don’t know where we got the idea that as Christians, we aren’t supposed to offend people. But I can guess.

From our sin.

We want to be loved. We want to be accepted. But this is not the life that Christ promises us. In fact, he promises a life of persecution. This includes standing up for your boss when your coworkers are talking ill behind his back. It includes forgoing that movie premier your friends decided was okay because you already know about that one scene your mamma definitely wouldn’t approve of. It might even include selling all your electronics because they became an idol.

You’ll get funny looks, you might not “belong.”

“The Son of man has no place to lay his head,” (Luke 9:58). What does this mean? It means we aren’t home. WE are citizens of heaven. Does a Roman receive the same rights wherever he goes? Let me use a better example, could I walk into Iran with a sombrero on my head and start singing my country’s national anthem in the streets? Foreigners are not offered the rights and privileges of their home country in a land of strangers.

What about diplomatic immunity? you say.

That basically only covers parking in the fire lane without getting towed. Or something like that…

We will offend the citizens of earth if we choose to live as citizens of heaven. This is good. It means we’re doing something right.

As Christians, we like to consider ourselves diplomats to earth. We call heaven home but live in this world for a purpose. We are on mission to tell others about Christ. But often we forget and become too comfortable where we are; nestling into the land we’ve entered and taking on their lifestyle. (Read Deuteronomy 7). Does an American diplomat forget the ways of his home country after he spends years living in an embassy overseas? No, that would negate the entire point. He remembers his home all the more because it is his daily job to show others the country he represents. He brings America.  Christians are called to bring kingdom. We are ambassadors of heaven. 

Fellowship with our brothers and sisters means reminding one another who we are. We are not to conform to the patterns of this world, (Romans 12:2). We do not learn the enemy’s national anthem! We do not paint our homes to coordinate with the flag. We do not keep a spare uniform in the closet to blend in when the enemy’s army is on the march. We do not lie to each other.

It is our duty, in truth and in love, to tell one another when are behaving like the enemy; when we take on the characteristics of the world. Even if we don’t want to hear it. Especially when we don’t want to hear it.

13 “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13

Next time your roommate or your coworker starts gossiping about the dummy in line at the supermarket, don’t join in- even if they’re right. When you choose to stay up all night binging on Netflix instead of preparing for a meeting in the morning, don’t let others justify your behavior with sympathy, “Oh, the Walking Dead, I hear you man. Been there.” (Not that I would watch that. Let’s not even go there.) The truth is, your roommate is being a poor steward of her mouth; and you gave into immediate pleasures rather than long term rewards. Call sin what it is, and call one another to a higher standard. Be more than believers in a sinful world. Be ambassadors of Christ. 

Filth & Yogurt

I’ve learned a lot as the nanny of a 2 year old for the past year. Mostly, I’ve learned about myself. I’ve also learned about my relationship with my Heavenly Father.

“No! Don’t! Stop!” is part of my daily mantra wiping the yogurt off of Effie’s hands and face…and hair.

As I move in with a wipe like a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, she grabs hold of my hands with the magnetism of buttered toast, spreading the white slime to my formerly clean self. We repeat this interaction with her face, swapping out my hands for her chestnut hair. She doesn’t understand my dismay when crusty strings start forming in her bangs.

In order to clean up this precious toddler I have to get in there and get myself dirty. Christ did the same for us. When I think about how he left a perfect home in heaven to spend more than three decades in a filthy, broken and sinful world, (by choice) suddenly a little yogurt seems like the least I can do to sacrifice.

I see my own walk with God in the way I care for this 2 year old on a daily basis. She frequently cries for no reason, whines before even asking me to meet her needs and tells me no when I’m trying to do what’s best for her. Sound familiar to you?

God meant it when he called us his children: “For you are all the children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26

When you care for your own kids or other people’s children, ask God for revelation about your own relationship with Him. He has so much to teach us about our relationship with Him through our fellowship with others. While I don’t have any children of my own yet, this is what I’m most looking forward to about becoming a mom one day.

Think about the various relationships you have with people in your life and how they effect your relationship with God.

When you struggle to give others grace, remember, we were adopted into sonship, and we all take turns living like the 2 year old who spreads a plague of yogurt.

Romans 8:15 “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.'”

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