Contentment, Devotion, Inspiration, Kids, Prayer, Uncategorized

Day 11: “Home Sweet Home”

it's good to be homeWhat’s happening within the four walls of your own home matters more than anything you do outside of it. Your household environment affects every aspect of your life.

Is it good to live in your home? Is there an atmosphere of faith? Is the Fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) around every corner?

Home should be your sweet spot of serenity. The people you live with should be your safety net when troubles come and your party when it’s time to celebrate. Sadly, this isn’t the case for so many of you; do you have faith enough to believe it can change?

Your family needs prayer. They need support, acceptance, love, validation, encouragement. Your husband needs respect and honour. Your wife needs affirmation and attention. Your kids need cuddles and quality time together.

Ask God to show you where the needs are within your own home. Pray for each person in your family, specifically asking God to be present and for his will to be done in every situation you all face. Extend grace and forgiveness where it’s needed and seek wisdom from above.

“Through [skillful and godly] wisdom a house [a life, a home, a family] is built, and by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation], and by knowledge its rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Proverbs 24:3-4 AMP).

Fasting, Series, Uncategorized

Fasting Devotion, Day Fifteen

Galatians 5:13-26

Have you ever seen someone who looks absolutely miserable and then spoken to them and realise they are actually quite enjoyable and happy? I used to have a friend who would say, “Are you happy? Then, tell your face!”

Sometimes our outside isn’t a true reflection of what’s happening on our inside. Remember the kids’ song, “If you’re happy and you know it, then your face will surely show it…?” Our countenance SHOULD reflect the joy of the Lord. People SHOULD notice something different about the way we carry ourselves as Christians. Negative Facebook posts, complaining, gossiping, and an overall grim outlook on life are oxymoronic for Christ-followers.

We all have bad days! We all have moments when we just feel we need to “VENT!’ But let us not forget our body language and faces reflect the beauty of Christ. The fruit of the Spirit is:

LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS, and SELF-CONTROL.

Those traits LOOK like something! Just like you can pick an apple from an apple tree because there are apples growing on it, people can pick what sort of person we are by what comes out of our lives. As we continue to press into all God has for us in 2014, let’s focus on the fruit in our lives and reap a plentiful harvest by which everyone around us can partake!

God, you are so magnificent and wonderful. Thank you for creating me in your image. I ask that every area of my life reflect the fruit of the spirit so others will be drawn to you through my actions, words, and expressions. Forgive me for the times I fall short of displaying your glory. Give me courage and strength to trust you and remain joyful despite difficult circumstances I may be facing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

church, Uncategorized

Growing Up

Having two toddlers in our home makes for busy days full of laughter, imaginary friends and pets, picky eating, and TANTRUMS!  Our almost-two-year old, Samuel, has two favourite words: “mine,” and “no.”  He is exerting his independence and the battle for control is raging.  Many times, he sits down and looks the other way when given a direction he doesn’t want to take.  I can beg, coax, bribe, demand all I want, but he is not cooperating.  He may kick and scream as I practically drag him where I want him to go.  Although this behaviour is quite annoying and tests my patience and every other fruit of the spirit when it happens, it’s all a part of growing up.  Sam is still young.  He drinks milk with every meal.  He takes a dummy (pacifier for my American readers) to soothe himself to sleep.

Sam doesn’t have enough experience yet to understand consequences for his behavior, although he is learning.  He doesn’t have enough maturity to know everything isn’t all about him and that he doesn’t get whatever he wants on demand.  In time, my expectation as a mother is that he WILL get control of his emotions; he WILL obey me when I ask him to do something; he WILL share and cooperate with his siblings even when he doesn’t like it.

As a Christian, it’s important that we grow up in our faith.  In the church, childish behaviour can be quite prevalent if we allow it.  We fall into the trap of “consumerism Christianity” where we go to church to be entertained; we judge everything according to our likes and dislikes: how loud is the music? How much fun did our kids have in service?  We join a small group so we can socialize with other “believers” and we only like sermons that make us feel good.  We take what we feel we deserve to get from it, never realizing our part to play.  Then, if we aren’t satisfied with something… if the pastor offends us… if we are being challenged to grow up, we quit.  We quit on church, or even worse, we quit on God.

That’s like a tantrum.

Like Saul just before his radical conversion, Jesus is telling us not to “kick against the goads.”  If we realize we have a greater purpose than ourselves, we might understand he has a job for us. Jesus has handpicked us to be servants and witnesses to what’s happened in our lives (Acts 26:16).  In other words, “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!”

How many times does God have to say it to get our attention?  Let us not be like Samuel, needing Mum to go over the basics again and again.  The writer of Hebrews says that we keep needing baby’s milk when we should have been on solid food long ago.  “Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.”  This was written to Hebrew Christians who were struggling embracing their faith in Christ, leaning back to their Jewish roots. They needed encouragement on the implications of following him and growing up in their faith.

A milk based Christian diet is BORING and BLAND!  God wants each of us to go deeper than where we are currently with him. He wants our witness to bear some fruit that has eternal impact and our life to be devoted to him.  Unlike me in my parenting, however, God doesn’t drag us where he wants us to go.  He allows us the choice to either stay where we are or to mature into all that he has planned for us.

God doesn’t want us to re-live one year’s lessons over and over so that we find ourselves the same person in a decade, just 10 years older.  

Let us not spend our lives missing the point of our salvation.  Simply ticking the box to get into heaven isn’t enough for mature Christian living.  Let’s look beyond ourselves and serve others.  Learn to give and take in our marriages.  Gain a deeper understanding of His word; experience closer intimacy with him.

When we walk with God keeping eternity in mind, we actually lead the way for others to know Him.  No one would model their lives after a two year old nor would they let Sam lead the way or give advice on any topic.  Let us not have the same reputation and

Grow Up Together.

Australia, church, Church planting, Faith, Lift Church, religious, Uncategorized

No Turning Back

Today is a landmark day for Greg and me.  It ends our time on staff at Celebration Church as well as our time as distributors in AdvoCare.  Both have had significant impact on who we are as leaders, pastors, and entrepreneurs.  Both provided us with community and relationships that will last a lifetime.  Both have given us fulfillment and purpose.  To close the door on those two chapters in the same day feels somewhat like we have closed one of those huge floor-to-ceiling bank vaults; neither of us have the code to re-open it.  No turning back.

All day, I have been singing the old hymn:

I have decided to follow Jesus

Verse 1:

I have decided to follow Jesus,
I have decided to follow Jesus.
I have decided to follow Jesus;
no turning back, no turning back.

Verse 2:
Though none go with me, still I will follow,
though none go with me, still I will follow.
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
no turning back, no turning back.

Verse 3:
The world behind me, the cross before me,
the world behind me, the cross before me.
The world behind me, the cross before me;
no turning back, no turning back.

The words are significant and powerful. I feel like we are jumping off a cliff into an unknown abyss.  No turning back!  Whether anyone goes with us, still we will follow.  No turning back!  Soon, Texas will be behind us.  Only the cross, our calling, and Australia will be before us.  No turning back!

Sometimes “following Jesus” scares us because of what we think we will have to leave behind or give up.  What we don’t realize is great peace comes in knowing you are right in the center of God’s will for your life.  For every thing I can think of that we are giving up (and trust me, I’ve thought of them all; there are a lot), I can think of 5 possible replacements God might have in store. As a matter of fact, Ephesians chapter 3 promises that God has more planned for us than we can even think up or imagine.  That’s exciting considering I have a great imagination!

The Bible tells us to “deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him.”  This is contrary to everything the world encourages us to do.  Hollywood, TV, and self-help books will tell us to “follow our hearts” or to do what makes us happy.  We are encouraged to deny ourselves nothing.

Did you know God created each of us for a purpose?  Whatever your “gift and passion” are, they were given to you by God Himself.  He desires nothing more than for you to step into that passion and change the world for Him.  Taking up our cross and denying ourselves just means deciding that even if His path seems less convenient or harder, we are willing.  It means that even if we initially feel ill-equipped and worried about the details, we will follow Him anyway.

You can bet moving across the world feels quite inconvenient.  It feels hard and lonely.  I feel like I have no business “starting a church” when I don’t even exhibit the “fruit of the spirit” in my own four walls when it comes to patience with my kids.  Even though the Bible tells me not to worry, you can bet I’ve been up half the night more than once worrying about finances, schools, my kids, losing my friends, and more.

The thought of not walking in my calling far outweighs the weight of all this.  The thought of looking back at my life and knowing I let fear or worry stop me from taking a leap of faith with God is unbearable.

To know that the God of the universe, the ONE who created me, has given Greg and me vision, desire, and training for Lift Church outweighs the sadness I feel about closing that vault.  I remind myself that if God is for me who can be against me ?  This propels me to jump off the cliff.  Knowing there are hurting people living in Newcastle whose lives and eternities will be changed because of our obedience makes me want to run forward as fast as I can.  No turning back, no turning back!