shelter, love others

How do we as Christians miss the simple love of God so often?  Why do we continue to allow ourselves and those around us try to complicate God?

I know those are powerful statements, but they’ve been on my heart lately.

Love God

God loves us.

Love others the way God loves us. Unconditionally

 

I could quote scripture after scripture about loving your neighbor as yourself, loving your enemies, turning your cheek, caring for the poor, widowed, and needy, and go on and on, but we all KNOW those.

So why is it so hard to put those into action on a day to day basis??

I’m not talking about “oh next week i’m going to do _____” or  “last summer i _____”  Faith is not a checkbox. You don’t get to “check off”  a “love others” box.  It doesn’t work that way.  Following Christ is a lifestyle, not a to-do list.   You don’t get to say “I did my Christian duty for day/month/year/lifetime”   It DOES NOT work that way.  Yet we often practice this through our actions, words, and teachings.  We do not focus on putting things into DAILY action, we give tangible once in a while, destination opportunities.   Going and serving on a mission trip or taking monthly trips to serve a specific group or weekly meetings with people who can’t come are GREAT things, but those things should be an overflow of our daily lives and an overflow of our hearts, not something we do to meet a criteria list.

Does anyone else see this happening?

I’m not saying it’s easy to love everyone, forgive others, or any of the other things God has called us to do, BUT we aren’t called to do these things on our own either.  God is with us through his Holy Spirit and we were given that gift to call upon when we are in need.  God wants to be in relationship with us.  He wants us to know Him.  God doesn’t give us anything we cannot handle.  I’ve FIRMLY come to believe that over the past several years through my life experiences and watching those around me.  He will be with us if we simply call on Him.  Even if we don’t, He’s still there, right beside us.

My quote calendar today read as follows: “God walks with us, He scoops us up in His arms or simply sits with us in silent strength until we cannot avoid the awesome recognition that yes, even now, He is there – Gloria Gaither

Now, I don’t know who Gloria is, but she get it.  She’s clearly been there.

God is pretty simple and pretty straight forward…..if we let Him be.  So stop complicating things.  Stop trying to tell people they have to fit in certain boxes to be with God/come to church/be your friend/etc.   We are called to love as God loved, and if that means scooping up, then scoop up, but if that means sitting in silent strength, then sit.

I realize this post is pretty sporadic, but I hope you find something in it that speaks to you.  I really feel that when I’m going through something or wrestling with something, God speaks to me through my fingertips as I type, and I know I’ve heard Him in these moments.

This has been sparked by various life events, but they all (mostly) boil down to the fact that by complicating God, and things related to Him, we are DESTROYING the Church as He meant it to be.  By gossiping, twisting, complicating, and adding things on to God’s word, we are doing an EXTREME disservice to ourselves and those around us.

So just be.

Be who God called you to be.  Be where you are and rest in Him.  That’s all we can do, and if we listen, He will tell us the rest.  Rest in the shelter of those in your community, your faith community.  If you do not have a faith community, let’s chat about it.  I’ve learned lately that faith communities take on MANY more shapes than simply pews and stages.  they may be Google Hangouts, fireplace breakfasts, long walks, text messages, or any number of other places.  God is everywhere, not just the Church, so let’s chat about it.

For now, after your mind has been boggled by that post’s sporadicness, I leave you with a beautiful song by Jars of Clay

After All

Lately, I’ve really felt led to just share some of the great music that’s come out lately with such powerful lyrics.  Below is a new song from the David Crowder Band’s final album.  The lyrics don’t seem too special, but after you listen to the song it just overcomes me with the power, grace, mercy, and love of God.  I can’t help but feel it.  Take a listen for yourself.

I can’t comprehend your infinitely beautiful and perfect love
Oh I’ve dreamed dreams of majesty as brilliant as a billion stars
But they’re never bright enough after all

You are Holy
Oh Holy
Holy, Holy, Holy

I will sing a song for you my God with everything I have in me
But it’s never loud enough after all

You are Holy
Oh Holy
Holy, Holy, Holy

Heaven and earth are full, full of your glory, glory
My soul it overflows full of your glory, your glory
Oh blessed is he who reigns, full of your glory, your glory
My cup, it can’t contain all of your glory, your glory
Hosanna we are found after all you are

Holy
Oh Holy
Holy, Holy, Holy

I can’t comprehend
You’re infinitely beautiful

entitlement

I found the following quote on a friend’s facebook page, and wanted to gather your thoughts/opinions.  Do you think this is true?  Explain…

In America the prevailing orthodoxy is entitlement–we’re owed something. It’s a major obstacle to the spread of the Gospel

I think this is undeniably true, but I’d like to hear your thoughts?  How does this affect your life?

take my life and let it be, consecrated, Lord to thee

it’s been a busy, faith challenging, faith strengthening, learning, exciting, life-changing, and amazing few months.

october: i got married 🙂 to a wonderful man of God.

november: our first month of ministry TOGETHER. fall retreat. new town. learning to live with a boy. learning what it means to be a wife. learning what life after college without a job is like. learning a new town. learning what life as a youth pastor’s wife is like. traveling back to tennessee for thanksgiving.

december: realizing that i just have to let God work and let Him reveal things to me aka getting past my stubbornness and listening to those who love me most.

As I sit in starbucks here in our new hometown listening to the YouthWorks Summer 2010 footwashing CD, I find myself quite reflective. If I’ve learned anything these past few months, it’s that I get in the way of God far too often.  I don’t think it’s any coincidence that my biggest struggle has been actually carrying the deepest lesson I learned this summer: to step aside.  Everything that could possibly change in my life has changed in the past several months, and there have been more times than necessary that I’ve forgotten to see the positive spin on that.  It’s the most liberating but also the most challenging thing I’ve ever experienced and I’ve refused to step aside and let God do His thing.  I’ve tried to do it myself, figure it out myself.  Being the human I am, I’ve thought that God would just reveal His plan to me as soon as I got here, that I’d get here and BAM everything would just fall in place and make perfect sense and I’d be able to see all of that clearly.  This sounds ridiculous now as I write it, but over the past several days, I’ve realized this is what I’ve done.

How often do we all do this, though?

We’re told God will provide and reveal His plan for us, but we are not told He will do this in OUR timing.  That would be selfish of us.  “When you need to know, you’ll know,” is what my wonderful husband always reminds me.  Toward the end of school, I wanted and prayed for nothing more than simply being able to be relaxed, help Tom with his ministry, volunteer to get to know the community, and be a supportive wife.  After this summer, I wanted nothing  more than to be able to continue the feeling of knowing I got to wake up each morning and serve others, and simply be the hands and feet of Christ, helping provide for others things they cannot provide on their own, whether it be painting a home, working with Habitat for Humanity, or being a listening ear to someone who feels alone.  This was all I desired and I became frustrated that God was not providing me these opportunities.  I wanted Him to drop these in my lap, I wanted to clearly see these.  I think part of me expected to find these in my daily craigslist job search.

God doesn’t work like this.  If He did, we wouldn’t need him, we wouldn’t need faith, we wouldn’t need to trust, or believe, we wouldn’t grow.

As I finally take the time to reflect, pray, and listen, all I can do is look at my life and smile and see the blessings He has provided me and be relentlessly thankful for His grace.

I have a wonderful husband who knows me inside and out and encourages me to use my gifts however best suited by God.  He challenges me, he encourages me, he prays for me, he allows me to walk beside him in his ministry, not behind him.  He has given me the opportunity to do just what I always said I wanted to do: work part time, volunteer, and be involved in the youth.  He drives to cities with me, walks around Ikea, he provides for our family, and he is constantly reminding me that The Plan will be revealed when it is time.  He’s relentless in making sure I’m able to fully live out my passion and refuses to let me settle.  He watches my stupid CW shows with me and tries to explain sports to me.  He loves me for me and never leaves the house without kissing me goodbye.  He understands how important spontaneity is to me and is the most romantically creative man in the world.  He’s smart, funny, full of life, and loves to the fullest possible extent.  And he makes a pretty good bacon egg and cheese breakfast.  I could not have asked for more and sometimes I miss this.  Sometimes I take this for granted.  When life is new and changing, it’s far too easy to miss the excitement and blessings if we allow the blinders of fear to overcome us.

I’ve been able to meet with the homeless WITH the youth.  I’ve taken them on a fall retreat.  I’ve been able to meet wonderful women of God through our church.  I’ve been able to learn to put bathroom tile and shoe molding down through Habitat.  I’ve been able to put to use the office skills at a local nonprofit working with homeless families that  I learned from long summers helping my mom who was a school bookeeper.  I’ve been able to sit at home in a warm home on a snowy day and enjoy chili with my husband while watching Netflix for endless hours.  I’ve been able to share with others my stories of Minnesota and have started getting to know their’s.

Life is a process. Focus on the journey not the destination.

All of these things that I’ve been able to do are all the things I felt God calling me to do and felt frustrated that He wasn’t providing me opportunities.  The blinders of fear prevented me from seeing this for too long.

Holidays are stressful. Family. Parties. Shopping. All of these things can overwhelm us and cause us to put on any number of blinders that prevent us from seeing the many blessings in our lives.  Yesterday’s sermon at church reminded me to just take the time to be, to remember, to reflect, to regenerate, and to be thankful.  To see that maybe if i’ve been praying for something for awhile, God has answered that prayer, I’ve just been too selfish to see it.

So I thank those of you who have been praying for me, for Tom, for our marriage, and our ministry.

I encourage you all to look back at your prayer life.  What have you been praying for relentlessly?  What seemingly unanswered prayers do you have? Is there something you’ve been asking God for for awhile and don’t seem to see it being provided?  Now stop….look around, look at your life, look at the things that have changed and happened in the time that you’ve been praying.  Take a step back, look at the big picture, remember the things those that love you the most have been telling you, maybe it’s time to listen to those.  Stubbornness can be one of the most hindering things in our lives if we let it.  Life was meant to be lived in community and God provided us the people around us to reflect Him, to confirm things we feel Him telling us.  Allow them to do that, and life will be dramatically, radically different.

This post in itself has been a journey for me.  I have everything I could ever need, and more.  God has blessed me, and Tom, and our ministry beyond what we could have ever imagined.  Today more than any day before, I’m grateful beyond my heart’s capacity. For grace from God and my husband.  He truly is an amazing man of God.

I encourage you to look around, see God’s grace in your life.  Keep praying, but look to see if He’s answered you.  Talk to others. Share that Grace and Joy. Share Love. Don’t just sit on your couch and hope Craigslist will provide you an opportunity.  Invest in others.  We’ve all been given more than we deserve, and with that, we are called to invest it.

waiting on the lord

i found this article here and i just wanted to repost it.

“I left graduate school believing that very soon I would have a job, career, ministry … something that I would feel fulfilled in and gain experience from. I didn’t feel the need to pay attention to a conversation I had with my grandfather driving home cross-country back to Oregon. We were talking about knowing what one is supposed to do with one’s life, and I asked him, “How do I know that it is exactly where I should be at?”

My grandpa shared a piece of advice I would forget, only to remember it after I had to learn the hard way: “Larissa,” he said, “when you pray, pray as to get to know Christ. Prayer is about knowing our Father in heaven.”

A little taken aback at the seeming irrelevancy of the advice, I nodded my head and changed lanes. I have to remember this, I thought. OK, I told myself, I should pray to know Christ; OK, I have to do that … then I will know what God’s will is for me.

Months down the road after discouragement, angst, anger and frustration, I found myself still in the same place, still with no perspective future, unemployed and even more worried and restless than before.

I sat on the rocks by a river near our house, having spent a week in tears and confusion, feeling broken and overwhelmed. I felt as though I had somehow fallen into a deep ditch, and I could not even find any foothold to climb out. I had never felt so discouraged in my life. When looking at where I could be in five years or even five months, I could not even conjure up a small picture through the blackness that enveloped me.

Looking out across the river, I just sat. I did nothing.

And a question came to me: “Larissa, what are you waiting for?”

That was easy. “For You, Lord.”

“Larissa, what are you waiting for?”

Hmm. “For You, of course, Lord.”

“Larissa, what are you waiting for?”

I began to feel like Peter, “Um … for You, Lord!”

“Are you really?”

This question came softly, like a gentle hand that lifted up my chin to help me see more than my feet.

I asked myself the question again, “Am I really?” It dawned on me slowly and my grandfather’s words came back to me: “When you pray, pray to know Christ.”

Yes, I had been waiting for the Lord … but for Him to come through for me with a job, a plan, anything that came up, just something more than waiting on the Lord.

“Waiting on the Lord” can become cliché quite quickly, but I began to finally see what my grandpa meant. I had an agenda each time I prayed. My prayers did not reveal a satisfaction in God but a dissatisfaction with Him. I knew I could trust Him, but I prayed as though my plans were wiser and better than His. I prayed as though I did not trust Him.

As soon as I began to pray without an agenda, my inner anxieties began to dissolve.

I relaxed about where I was and who I was.

My vision seemed uncannily clearer. I no longer prayed with the nonverbal ultimatum of “come through for me or else.”

I arrived at a place of “being” instead of waiting. I became comfortable and comforted.

Sue Monk Kidd tells a story that reflects our often mistaken viewpoint on waiting. During a retreat at a monastery, in her restless state, she notices a monk:

“[He was] sitting perfectly still beneath a tree. There was such reverence in his silhouette, such tranquil sturdiness, that I paused to watch. He was the picture of waiting.

“Later I sought him out. ‘I saw you today sitting beneath the tree—just sitting there so still. How is it that you can wait so patiently in the moment? I can’t seem to get used to the idea of doing nothing.’

“He broke into a wonderful grin. ‘Well, there’s the problem right there, young lady. You’ve bought into the cultural myth that when you’re waiting you’re doing nothing.’

“Then he took his hands and placed them on my shoulders, peered straight into my eyes and said, ‘I hope you’ll hear what I’m about to tell you. I hope you’ll hear it all the way down to your toes. When you’re waiting, you’re not doing nothing. You’re doing the most important something there is. You’re allowing your soul to grow up. If you can’t be still and wait, you can’t become what God created you to be.’”

This is where God eventually called me after all those months: to a new perspective of becoming something out of seemingly nothing.”