Devotion, Faith, freedom, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Day 8: “Pursue Freedom.”

freeWeek 2 of the fast hopefully finds you more rested, clear-headed and at peace. Pursuing freedom is a lifelong journey, not to be oversimplified here. However, you have hopefully identified some blockages in your life which rob you of your peace and inhibit your ability to receive God’s gift of rest.

The Holy Spirit wants to rid your life of shame, guilt, un-forgiveness, offense, anger and strife… whatever torments you or holds you back.

Today, meditate on this:

“There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:3-5 MSG)!

Allow the Holy Spirit to flood your life with more of his Word, an abundance of  love, additional blessings. Let your heart overflow today with worship and thanksgiving. When you see your troubles developing passionate patience in you, you can even count them as benefits. Divulge your secrets to your God. Declare victory over your past.

As you speak these things out loud in your prayer time, you’re pioneering your path to freedom.

Courage, Uncategorized

Don’t Stop Now

I love to run on the nearby Fernleigh Track.  It follows an old railway line and winds me through gorgeous bushland where I can hear Bell Birds and see wildlife like cute bunnies hopping across my path.  I recently ran a little further than usual and as I turned back towards home, I noticed a sign I had never seen before:

Here's the sign on my run!

Since I was a good 5km from home, this “all-caps-command” felt like an order, dictating to my tired legs what they yearned to hear.  I have a policy that I don’t STOP and walk when I’m running.  Otherwise, it feels too hard to start back up again.

Running is one thing, but what about genuine trials in life that press us down so hard, we cave under the pressure?  Our marriage feels too far in the ditch to bring back in alignment.  We STOP putting ourselves out there for relationships because we have been hurt one too many times and trusting feels too hard.  We feel helpless when it comes to our finances or our jobs so we terminate early.

Personally, this journey of church planting has felt lonelier and more stressful than anything I have ever done; at times, everything in me has wanted to fly back to Texas and give up.  The weight of expectation for what it means to be a pastor’s wife feels confusing and daunting most days. And, when our vision doesn’t come to pass quickly, it’s easy to doubt God’s word and wish I could turn back.

We all face trials that cause us pain and moments when we feel like we can’t suck in enough air to go another mile.  There are times our heart beats out of our chest with anxiety and fear and we think our bodies might explode.

Rather than letting an outside voice slow us down, why don’t we let our inner voice speed us past this wreckage that seeks to halt our progress?

Last I checked, as Christians, are actually “more than conquerors” and it’s for “freedom that Christ has set us free.”  We aren’t victims of circumstance nor are we underdogs or fools.

We have been given a “shield of victory” and we are supposed to be bold because of the hope we have in Christ. We shouldn’t be overrun by negative thinking or hopelessness.  Instead, when those thoughts come, we should remind ourselves not to “burn out or quit in hard times; instead, pray all the harder.”

I’m believing for that last bit of leg strength to keep running.  I’m believing for the breath of God to fill our lungs so we are strong and courageous.  I’m expecting God to strengthen our spiritual and mental muscles so they can take us farther than we thought we had strength to go.  That our minds would focus on the long-term marathon, not just the next km.

“I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.  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” (Phil 3:12-16).

Friendship, Inspiration, Lift Church, Uncategorized

Who Will Follow Me?

follow me

You ever meet someone new and think, “I’d like to be friends with her?”  Or, maybe there’s someone on social media whose life looks interesting and you watch their Instagram posts; do you track what clever thing they have to say on Twitter?  You “follow” them in order to have their influence or to live vicariously through them.  There’s only one problem with those types of relationships: they are one-sided.  You might follow someone on Twitter and re-tweet everything they say only to find they never write you back or even know who you are. We all want someone to want us, but real friendships take two people reciprocating attention to one another. You put yourself out there to pursue the relationship and cross your fingers the other person responds.

Oftentimes, in my relationships, I’m the pursuer.  I think that’s why I was so good in sales when the motto of our company was, “the fortune’s in the follow-up!” I enjoy the follow up.  If I like someone or something, I have no problem going after it/her. When someone new visits our church, we make sure to thank them for coming and we call them afterwards.  If there’s any hope of connecting or forming a relationship, we can’t leave it to chance.

When someone tracks me down, I find it surprisingly refreshing.  Amazing, actually!  A new acquaintance remembering me and taking time to reach out is wonderful.

In the “striving for attention” sort of age we live in, I like to be reminded:

There’s one follower we all have.

The Ultimate Stalker.  The ONE who doesn’t have to troll our FaceBook pages to know what we’re up to or where we “checked in” last.  He knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb and he promises to never leave us nor forsake us.

We can be sure, no matter how lonely we might feel, forgotten even, that God is hot on our trail. He is pursuing us. He came to seek and save. HIs love is forever overtaking us. No amount of striving can earn what he freely gives. Running cannot put us out of his reach.  Ignoring him won’t change his position or cause him to shrug his shoulders and walk away.  The Author of Time will wait for us to turn our face towards him.  He won’t “un-friend” us, block us, or report our bad behaviour. His friend request sits waiting for us to accept.  He tells us to come follow him as an invitation for relationship, not just a way to boost his stats.

I’m so thankful for friends and followers in my life.

But, I’m mostly grateful for a God who is both tender and kind, not easily angered, immense in love, and who never, never quits (Psalm 86:15).