Devotion, Fasting, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Day 21: “Keep Going.”

come-like-rainTo paraphrase the Apostle Paul in Philippians, “[You’ve] got your eye on the goal, where God is beckoning [you] onward – to Jesus. [You’re] off and running, not turning back.” The 21 Day fast is coming to an end, but you will continue to benefit from a vibrant relationship with God.

This relationship is two ways, however. It’s often said that God is a gentleman, never pushing his way in or demanding anything from you. James promises that God will come close to you when you come close to him.

You must acknowledge him and shift your thoughts towards him daily in order to experience his refreshing. Faith brings full assurance when you draw near to God with a sincere heart (Hebrews 10:22). In other words, you can count on your faithful God; but, it’s difficult to trust someone you don’t talk to or spend time with.

“So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it”(Philippians 3:15-16 MSG).

“Let us acknowledge the Lord;
    let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
    he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
    like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3

church, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Show Up and Grow Up!

growLife is full of obligations and requirements we don’t feel like doing (think taxes, exercise, going to work, changing nappies).  Sometimes, we get complacent in our relationship with Christ only to find ourselves not feeling like going to church.  We start making excuses and we disconnect from the body of Christ.  Much like someone who puts on 10 kilos of extra weight after weeks of small unhealthy eating choices and too many “snooze-button-mornings” of skipping workouts, we make decisions that not only limit our faith but actually stunt our spiritual growth.

SHOWING UP to God’s house means we increase our odds of  GROWING UP in our faith.

Like anything worth committing to, great rewards come when we attend God’s house week in and week out.  We actually allow God the opportunity to speak to us in new ways; we lead others into His presence through serving; and, we experience life corporately alongside other believers.  I heard a powerful testimony last weekend at Colour Conference in Sydney of a young girl who grew up attending church but struggled to experience God in a miraculous way.  She testifies that she just kept turning up, however.  She never backed down, never gave up seeking God.  And now, she’s grown up and she is actually leading a huge youth ministry impacting thousands of young people.  What if she had stopped showing up?

My own Pastor Lori Champion, has a similar testimony of “showing up” while grieving the sudden traumatic death of her father who was a pastor.  Instead of letting herself go down a path of anger towards God in questioning why this wonderful Godly man could die in the middle of preaching a sermon on a Sunday morning, she just kept getting herself to church.  When she was numb from the pain and grief and didn’t “feel God,” she went anyway.

I run into people all the time who say they love Jesus yet are disconnected from His bride.  This cannot be. Am I saying the only place you experience God is in church?  No.  He is omni-present!  EVERYWHERE!  However, someone saying he wants to be best friends with my husband, but who dislikes me, his wife, probably doesn’t stand a chance at getting close to Greg.  It’s the same with Christ. He is coming back for His church.  His church is his kingdom on Earth, the hope of the world, the place where we find our ultimate fulfillment and calling.  The church is the answer to our community’s problems and needs.  “At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.” (Ephesians 1:20-23 MSG)

So, my friend, wherever you are in your walk with God… let me encourage you:

Show up.  And then Show up again.  People aren’t perfect.  Pastors aren’t either.  The world is full of pain and it’s not God’s fault.  When you’re not happy, go to church.  When you’re hurting, attend anyway.  When you don’t know God and are searching, run to His House and look for Him.  Find a local body of believers and stay when they remind you that Jesus died for you.  Go to a sanctuary where people love you just the way you are.  Connect, dig in, serve, give, and keep showing up.  I promise you that God will meet you there.  And you will grow up your faith and convictions.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (James 1:2-4 MSG)

Australia, Faith, Inspiration, Lift Church, Uncategorized

A Cup Check

My whole life, I’ve battled the “glass half empty” mentality.  This will come as a surprise if you know me because I am generally full of joy and positive about everything.  My natural tendency, however, is to see things as a “realist.”  I think that is  my excuse for worrying.  It’s rooted in fear and doubt.  It comes from a desire to protect myself; playing out the worst case scenario somehow makes me think I can handle it better if it comes.  It’s not the way any Christian should look at life.

The word of God is full of His promises to us.  It’s full of descriptions and examples of His character and faithfulness to His people.  There is NO natural reason for any of us to ever walk in doom and gloom.  Or to expect bad things to happen.  I have spent a lot of time taking my thoughts captive as the Bible tells us to do in 2 Corinthians 10:5.

In order to see the glass “half full” there must be a conscious effort to choose my response to negative situations in life.  Although I’m not always perfect, I have found the greatest way to battle any negativity is to choose an attitude of gratitude.  Concentrating on the goodness of God and giving Him credit for each and every blessing overrides any sadness, depression, fear, or anxiety.

I can fill my own cup with a spirit of gratefulness.  I think this must be what James was referring to when he said to “consider it pure joy when you face trials” (James 1).  No one really is happy when he faces a problem.  But I can find something of joy in every circumstance and the perseverance I’m building is certainly something to celebrate!

Many of us have experienced inexplicable tragedies or pain that is unbearable.  It’s hard to see the cup half full during these times.  A good friend of mine years ago was walking through a dark time in her life after her husband left her.  It was difficult and lonely yet I never heard one negative word come out of her mouth.  She never spoke ill of her ex-husband.  When I asked how she remained positive despite her circumstances, she taught me something amazing.

She said it would do no good for her to hate him or to feel sorry for herself.  She actually prayed for him everyday.  On days when life was really hard she would take out her journal and literally make a list of things for which she was thankful. Writing down “my bed, my pillow, my breakfast, my car” might be the only things she could come up with some days.  This attitude of gratefulness would crowd out any fear, anger, depression, and/or doubts about her future.  I am forever grateful for what she taught me in that moment.

As my family is in a season of transition, I could easily let my cup dry up and be enslaved by anxiety and fear.  Instead, I wake up everyday and thank God for my blessings.  He fills my cup.

This morning, I was overwhelmed with gratefulness for my children, my health, my most loving husband.  I thanked God that we will move to Australia debt free and able to start a new life without financial stress.  I thanked Him for choosing us to start Lift Church.  Most of all, I thanked Him for my salvation and my relationship with my creator who loves me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  You anoint my head with oil; my CUP overflows. Psalm 23:5