Inspiration, Lift Church, Uncategorized

Willie, Cowboys, and 2014

willie

I had the privilege of seeing a legendary country music star at an iconic venue while I was in Texas last month. Willie Nelson has transcended generations with his music and many of his country ballads have famous one-liners everyone could sing whether he likes country music or not and no matter whether she grew up in West Texas like me. One of those classics entitled, “My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys” describes a cowboy much like many of us could be labeled:

“Sadly, in search of, but one step in back of, themselves and their slow-movin’ dreams.”

As I look ahead at my 2014, I don’t want to be in search of myself but always one step behind. And as much as I love a good cowboy, I certainly don’t want my dreams to be “slow-moving.”

A lot of us live this way, though. We really don’t have an expectation of this year to be any greater than last. We don’t have any new goals. Fridays are the only thing we have to look forward to and we seem to have more worries than we have wishes. Our lives are lived the same year after year, just getting older each time.

Personally, I’m thrilled about what 2014 has in store for my family and our church. I expect God to bring more people to Lift; I believe we are going to move ahead with our dream of a community centre and pregnancy resource centre; my kids are going to accomplish more, growing wiser and stronger with more purpose and fervor behind their relationship with God.

I believe our roots in Australia will go deeper and our relationships will thrive and multiply. God is in the business of changing lives and I expect to be right alongside him impacting our city and neighbourhood and school. I want to look back at 2014 and see a compression of time that only God can do! That we will accomplish more in one year than years past combined.

I’m praying and believing the same for you and your families. In the words of Willie, let’s “insist the world keep turning our way” in 2014 and live more like this than a lonely cowboy:

On the road again

Goin’ places that I’ve never been.

Seein’ things that I may never see again

And I can’t wait to get on the road again.
On the road again –
Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
We’re the best of friends.
Insisting that the world keep turning our way.

Australia, Courage, Faith, Uncategorized

Pressing On

This morning, I changed my mind about Australia.  I decided I no longer want to move.  My 10 yr old went to bed last night telling me he is stressed and scared suddenly.  My to do list is growing, not shrinking.  The movers come in a week.  I am saying good-bye to everyone I love.  I’ve been walking around for two days with a knot in my stomach.  It’s just too hard.  Too many unknowns.  Too much risk.

It’s actually too late for all that.  There’s no turning back.  But how do I overcome this unbearable emotion?  I have to be strong for my kids.  I have too much to do to lay in bed and cry.  Besides, I’m supposed to be a “full-of-faith Pastor’s Wife” who has the right answers for other people when they struggle.  I pray with people at the altar who are stressed and tell them to take their thoughts captive.  I know the big picture is good and that God called us.  I know all that.  But I still don’t want to do it.

Maybe tomorrow.

So, I did the only thing I know how to do in these times.  I read God’s word and turned on praise music.  See, what’s awesome about being a Christian is that we serve a LIVING GOD.  We serve a God who actually knows exactly what we are feeling and if we call upon Him, he hears us.  He actually comforts us in our time of need.  He is faithful to draw near to us and bring us peace when we draw near to Him.

The loneliness I feel right now and pity party I can be in on one hand since “nobody understands” is contrasted with Paul in Philippians which I read this morning.

He says, “All the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness. I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power…” (Phil 3, The Message)

As we embark upon Easter weekend, we are reminded of the most remarkable act of God in the history of mankind.  That he allowed his ONLY son to be slain on our behalf.  That He allowed Christ to suffer a brutal death on the cross.  And then, three days later, a miracle of miracles: that Jesus rose from the dead and is seated ALIVE today at the right hand of God, loving us and desiring us as his precious children.

That will put anything into perspective.

Paul goes on to say, “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me.  No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

It’s not that we want to suffer.  But there’s more suffering actually in staying behind.  To live knowing God has called me to do something great and that I didn’t do it is much worse than what I’m experiencing now.  I know I heard from God.  I know He has called us. There will be more hard times than this.  But what about those who are going to suffer eternally for not accepting Christ?  What about those who need the hope I have in Christ?  Is my comfort more important?
I have the hope of eternity to overcome the stress of it all.
In times of great stress and even fear, press into the one who conquered death for you.  Press in through praying, seeking, reading his word, and worshipping him.  Here’s the song that ministered to me this morning:

“Unending Love” by Hillsong

There’s no silver or gold
And no treasure untold
That could draw me away from Your heart
Neither love of myself
Or of anyone else will do

Jesus nothing compares
To this grace that rescues me
Savior now and forever
Your face is all I seek

Now all I am

I lay at Your feet

I’m humbled by the wonder of Your majesty
One thing I know
I find all I need
In Your unending love
In Your unending love
Your love, Jesus

Letting go of my pride
I lay down my desires
Just to worship in Spirit and truth
More than all of my dreams
More than fame I will seek You Lord

Jesus nothing compares
To this grace that rescued me
Savior now and forever
Your face is all I seek

Now all I am
I lay at Your feet
I’m humbled by the wonder of Your majesty
One thing I know
I find all I need
In Your unending love
In Your unending love