Eleven 32

Today is a very special day.

Today our home church The Harvest in Allen, Texas announced its’ new name.

When I first heard that the name was changing I was crushed. Our family had been part of The Harvest from some of its’ early beginnings. It was our family, our community and our home. I served on staff for over 13 years.

The Harvest was and still is family1456093874217

It felt like how I imagine our daughter Jessie felt as we sold our home and moved out-of-state. (Jessie remains in Texas studying and serving at our Texas church).

I’m thinking –But that means we’re not part of the church now. We are only part of the history of a church we no longer are active members at.

We hadn’t wanted to leave, but followed the tugging of the Holy Spirit.

Brad and I made the choice pursuing God on a new path in a new state; starting over again with our vocation, home, and community.

The first several months were rough. I felt as if we were being punished. Maybe we were not good enough for what God was going to do back home and He needed us out of the way. (Unguarded; the mind is such a playground for the enemy!)

This hurt at my core, so I turn to Father.

Lord, I know You are doing great things at home. You have clearly drawn us to this new place and people.

But Jesus…  I still miss home and now it has a new name!  Will we still be family there or some old ‘used to be’ strangers?

To which I get His response; Child, really?

I am doing marvelous things. You cannot know it all. You are not capable.

I am growing My Kingdom and the ways I do it will always be new to you.

Remember,  ‘Living things grow and growing things change.’

Pastor Dustin is a man of God filled with the fire of Father’s Spirit; burning fiercely to advance the name and glory of the King.

Bear with me as I segway a minute; this is cool.

 We really love how Pastor Al at Calvary Worship Center has tied together the message of Christ in our lives and culture today -throughout our study of the book of Daniel.

It’s historical, but as last week’s title “Back to the Future” implied; it really is looking back at the prophecies of God to His people, telling of things to come thousands of years ago and things yet still to be fulfilled. It’s all about Jesus.

In Daniel, we see God showing His sovereignty and goodness to His people in the midst of crooked times, leaders and cultures. Daniel helps us to look back as we look forward.

Lord, may we be a people who seek after You standing firm in Your ways no matter the times or the “political correctness”.

This week we would dive into Daniel Eleven.

Yeh, that’s the new name of our home church: Church Eleven 32!

In Daniel 11, we see that Antiochus IV Epiphanes appeased the cultures with deceit. He was all about his own kingdom and his own glory. His character was vile and he despised the Word of God. It was dark times for the people of God.

Motivated by hostility towards God and God’s people, Antiochus stops the holy offerings and desecrated the holy temple bringing in a sow. He attempts to scorn the One true God appealing to Hellenism.

In Daniel 11:32 he appeals to the culture, “By smooth words he will turn to godlessness those who act wickedly toward the covenant,”

We’re in dark times now. And there are plenty of smooth talking world leaders.

But –—! “but the people who know their God will display strength and take action.”

Here in COS we’re studying Daniel 11 and verse 32, while back home they banner the name in commitment to be the people “who know their God, will be strong and carry out great exploits”.

Of all the verses we would study today –it’s the very one our home is lifting as a beacon committed to advance God’s glory and Kingdom.

Only God knows the times and seasons, and yet, we are in a time where it is politically correct to honor all gods of all people. It’s not ‘acceptable’ to banner Jesus as THE ONLY WAY to God and heaven.

Jesus said,

I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”    John 16:6

It’s all about Jesus, wherever we are –we are to be about standing firm, honoring the King of all kings; to know Him and make Him known.

So, I’m totally rejoicing here in Colorado, excited to see what God will do next here, there and everywhere that people will stand firm to raise the name of Jesus.

Wherever you are, bloom where you’re planted -and raise the name of Jesus!

 

Change and Transitions

Whether you are going thru a time of change or just coming out of one, change is inevitable. Change challenges us to leave the comfort and security of the familiar.

Have you prayed for change?

Are you waiting for change?

Are you in the middle of change?

Are you in a season of change, finding it’s different then you envisioned it?

Are you wondering if you really heard God right?

Change doesn’t just happen. It’s usually a process.

As much as we hunger and cry out to God for it, when transition comes and change begins, it can be unsettling.

My brother always says, “Living things grow; growing things change.”

So we cry out for change.

And God answers.

Over the last several years I’ve prayed as a restlessness and hunger rose in me; a hunger for MORE. It appeared ‘illogical’ as we saw God answering prayers better than we imagined at our church. Serving on staff as Director of Adult Ministries, I should have been more eager than ever to remain in a place where God is moving in and thru people at an exponential rate.

I love the Pastors, the staff and all the people.
I love seeing the hand of God impacting new believers literally every day.

I had every reason NOT to leave.

And yet… I wanted more.

Two years ago during a time of church-wide prayer I had a dream that further fueled my hunger for MORE though I didn’t know what MORE looked like (see my post Step Into Your Dream).

Thru prayer and time and tears I began to take steps into change.

Surely I’m not the only one who finally surrendered to my “assignment” only to be surprised that it would be a long, sometimes exhausting journey that could get lonely.  I didn’t expect I would have to work at it since I did agree, “Yes Lord.”

I’ve prayed for change for years. I’ve asked “when Lord?” and “How much longer Lord?”

I had a long distance view of the assignment He’s called me too.

I’m so ready to do what You’ve called me to do; be who You’ve called me to be…

Eventually I started listening more and speaking less.

I found that in my silence, I heard Him more. It wasn’t that He spoke more.  Rather, I became more aware of Him and less aware of myself.

I’m in a TRANSITION period. At first I fought it and begrudged being held back.  I wanted to expedite things. I wanted to GO.

I’m used to being in an environment of strong believers praying and strategizing and talking about what we can share about God this week. I miss weekly meetings reviewing what God did the week prior.

In March, I asked for the Pastors’ blessing to step out of my role to pursue writing.  It was scary as I have no writing “experience” or education.

I’ve been tempted to write and blog and post on FB telling what God is doing.

But God said, “No. Not yet.”

At first I felt naked. I love PEOPLE, especially my people. “What will they think?” God, this is very anti-social.

Then I felt lonely. “Does anyone even care that I’m not there?”

I realized how fond I had become of the role and title I wore. Now it’s just me, a few close friends. And God. Stripped down.

Here, in the waiting; it’s as if God is saying, “Child, just spend time with me. Don’t be so quick to tell about me, to show about me. I want a season of just you and I.”

The other day I was spending time with Him.

me:  “I love this time. I could stay here forever, but I still don’t get it Lord.”

“It’s counter to my desire to serve others. That’s what YOU want, what Jesus taught.”

Lord:  “What’s a wedding?”

me:  “A ceremony where two people who love each other come together marking the commitment to share their lives together as one.”

Lord:  “Who comes?”

me:  “Usually friends, family, photographers, musicians. Lots of people.”

Lord:  “And what happens?”

me:  “The public exchange of vows and usually a big celebration.”

Lord:  “And then where do all the people go?”

me:  “They go home.”

Lord:  “Why don’t they go with the bride and groom?”

He’s not condescending in these questions. I understand He always has a point.

me:  “That time is special.  It’s set aside for the bride and groom.”

Lord:  “No one goes with them?” 

I know He knows. I’m searching for what He wants me to see.

me:  “No.  This is their time. To share each other. No one else Lord.”

Lord: “Yes. Their time. A special time. They begin as one.”

Then, with “Follow me.”, He left me with the impression:  “no one else is there when the groom carries the bride over the threshold.”

I can tell you right now: God is interested in your attention.

He wants your full attention presence.

WHAT HE WANTS FROM YOU more than ANY thing you can do or be is for you to spend time resting in His presence.

Have you found satisfaction simply being alone in His presence?

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13

All that we DO is additional to what He seeks from us. If we do not first find peace and satisfaction in God’s Presence, then what we do will not be from Him, it will only own works.

Maybe you are taking steps to walk out the unique purpose God has called you too.

That’s great! You’re right on track. That’s part of what He created you for and how He reaches others.

If you are discouraged or frustrated or confused, or uncomfortable or overwhelmed or downright SCARED –I can totally identify with you!

I’m so glad God is not having me move forward yet.  It’s as if I’m in a spiritual pause. This is transition. And I’m loving it.

In this neutral place I am realizing that all those negatives I just mentioned are circumstantial.  And here’s the good news; we are not defined by our circumstances. Rather we are defined by whose we are.

Whatever God has planned for me, I am grateful that He drew me out to strip me down from the “good” identity I’d grown to love. I had become fond of my role. What I did was my identity.

Leaving reminded me that there is no higher call then to live simply as a child of God.

Sometimes we need extended states of “pause” to really grasp the bigger picture.  God is God, and we are His.  And He’s concerned with having our full attention.

As you process thru growing in whatever season you are in, remember to first and continuously the One who cares about you more than anyone ever can.

Spend time with Him. Alone.

This is where:

– He strips us down. The grime of earthly perspective is washed off the eyes of our hearts and we gain clarity of vision.

-We become accustomed to His voice in the quiet and recognize Him in the noise of the worldliness. He wants each of us to hear directly from Him!

-Our thoughts are made new as we receive a download from God Himself. We access the mind of Christ!

Practically speaking: Get in the Word. God speaks thru it.

Gather and worship with other believers. Something just happens when we do this.

But more than anything; take time alone with God daily.

If Jesus did this then how much more should we?

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

(Don’t worry about the words, just focus on His presence.)

God has plans for you.  You don’t have to figure it out, you need only show up and take Him at His word. Enjoy being with Him. Everything else will follow. Remember, He appreciates an expectant heart!

Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. “Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert.  Isaiah 43:18-19

 

 

 

 

 

Step into Your Dream

Are you a risk taker?  Do you like to venture out without a plan or agenda?

Not me.  I like security.  I want to know what the plan is.  Even as a runner, I want to know what route to take, how far I will be going and what the conditions are.

I’ve found that where plans are concerned, God has a sense of humor.

A year ago during a time of earnestly seeking Him for direction of my future I had a vivid dream.  It was about my church and my relationship to it.  Our church is a huge part of our family’s life.  It was deeply personal, so I wrote it down.

The dream stirred in me an expectation that something new and fresh was awaiting.  I have revisited the dream many times over the last year.  A year later, almost to the day, I was telling the dream to a friend when it hit me that I had missed one very obvious point.  In fact, I’d missed the main point of the dream.

First, a little about me and my people -our church:

I LOVE our church. It has been our family for the past 18 years.  It’s the people we do life with.    This is our home and our people.  It’s where we have grown as individuals.

It’s also where I happen to “work”.  I love the people I work with.  My role on staff has caused me grow in knowledge, understanding and care for others. I could not have asked for a better opportunity than I have lived the last 2 decades.

So… the dream.

I was in the company of my people.  Many good, Godly things were happening.  For some unexplainable reason I was compelled to leave.  I was perplexed.  Why leave?  These are my people, great things were happening.

I began to suffocate as I delayed.    It didn’t make sense.  I resisted, not knowing why or where I was to go.

Finally, out of desperation, I surrendered and stepped out.  At once, my lungs filled with fresh air.  I looked around me, and my vision sharpened.  I saw things in color. I realized I hadn’t seen color in a while.  Everything around me was fresh and new.  There were things I had lost sight of.   I understood it was not about the place itself, but I myself had come to a state of familiarity and ambiguity.

Then, immediately beside me, I found a carpet like apparatus floating inches about the ground.  Something like an Aladdin carpet (for lack of better wording, I’ll refer to it as the wing of faith).  Curious, I stepped onto the wing. It was a strange sensation, but so exciting!  Right way, I found that anywhere I set my vision, I went. I set out for the ocean, ready to explore the places I longed to go.  com.tinilab.afterphotowatchyourstep - Copy

Freedom.  Mobility.  Adventure.  I was no longer stagnant.

However, I realized that I needed to use caution where I set my sights, for I soon encountered dangerous places and people.  Not acknowledging the inner caution, I stepped off the wing onto the shore to feel the water on the sand.  I didn’t heed the signs.  Darkness came quickly with a stifling stillness.

Without warning, the tide quickly pulled me down and out.  I flung about gasping for air, no match for the great pull of the sea.  I’d lost sight of all but the dark water swallowing me.  In desperation, and on the verge of drowning, I let out a wordless cry.  The silent wing was at once there extracting me out.  I set my feet once again on the safety of faith.

Seeking wisdom, I returned to the point at which I first set out.

Upon returning, I found my husband, who was ready to set out as well.  Momentarily tempted to go back into the comfortable place; we resisted.  We understood we had entered a season of journey.  Direction was revealed outside -in the light of clarity.

We united, committing ourselves to the journey.  We spent a short time becoming familiar with this “faith”.  At this point, faith took on a different form.  We each had a packet.  Later, I recognized it to be the word of God.

Holding on to our packets, we could hold nothing else.

We set out, this time soaring far above the comfort of the land.  No longer could I step off and walk on my own.  As we continued upward it was increasingly more difficult to maintain our vision of where we thought we ought to go.

It was as if the packets were the driving force, directing our course. Despite all our unanswered questions, there was absolute peace and fantastic joy, freedom and mobility.  We knew we were on the correct path.  High above the land we continued, tightly holding on to the Word nestled at our chests.  We were swept into the jet stream.  It was then I understood; this was about the journey far more than the destination.

A loud beeping interrupted this amazing journey.  My alarm.  No! I willed myself back into the dream, to no avail.

I would like to say the dream ended with a disclosure of where we were to go, or even why.  For a whole year, I have done nothing.

I revisited the dream numerous times over the last year. In a year of many changes, reflecting on the dream brought me comfort.

One night I was telling a friend about the dream.  When I finished, my friend Vickie tilted her head, raised her eyebrows pleasantly, and matter-of-factly asked, “Oh.  So you mean you didn’t know what to do or where to go until you stepped out, huh?”.

In that instant, it was as if the entire dream crystalized within me.

Faith invites you to step out from the gray fog of familiarity and ambiguity before you can see clearly and proceed on the journey of faith.  Only after you take that first step do you gain clarity and direction to take further steps.  You must take initial steps to gain vision.  Faith is the vehicle by which you otherwise cannot go.

Even as I write, it sounds risky to step out unto unfamiliar territory.  I want a plan.  A specific place to go to; a role to fulfill, a means to get there.  Or …I can choose to trust in God and recognize that to date; every place He has led me, I would not have gone on my own left to my own logic and reasoning.

Planning and preparation are good, but sometimes we are called to step outside of all that we have known to embrace that which we are called to.  A good season must end before a better one begins.

In due season, you just know that it’s time, and it’s right.  For me, the time is now, and to hesitate is to suffocate and miss the invitation to the journey by faith thru surrender and obedience.

I am being stretched.   It’s one thing to experience this these truths in a dream, but quite another to walk in out.

Abraham was called from a land that he and his family had prospered in to an unknown land by an unnamed God whom he couldn’t see or audibly hear.  On the journey, they settled for a season in Haran, a place of abundance where He prospered greatly.  Surely he was tempted to remain in that good place.

By faith he picked up his family and pursued God’s call to further follow Him to the place he did not know that God would show him.

What about you?  In what ways are you taking steps of faith?  Have you become stagnant like me?  Are you hungry enough to take a bold step?  What does that look like for you?

What was the last thing God put on your heart to do, and have you done it?  Is there a business or ministry you are called to serve in or even start?  Do you have a skill or talent that is not being utilized? Have you withheld forgiveness?  Maybe there’s someone you know, whom you need to reach out too.

Be bold!  The Word says, “and without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.”  Hebrews 11:6

Don’t get stuck in safety and comfort. Go explore something new.  Nothing ventured truly is nothing gained.  Do something todayAnything, just do something.

Leave a comment.  I’d love to hear what God is stirring in you!!