Lovesick Bride

Lovesick Bride Quote.pngWedding bells are ringing and engagement rings are blinging. Do you hear the sound of blissful laughter and celebratory music in the air? Can you see the joyful tears and the expressions of satisfaction from friends and family? You have waited and waited and the long anticipation of the “One” has finally arrived; and you are about to become “One” in the formality of the ceremony and in intimacy. What a beautiful sight….What a beautiful invitation….

Invitation? What do I possibly mean by invitation? I have a confession. As someone who desires to be married one day, I do not desire the wedding day as much as I desire the one I plan to spend the rest of my life with. There is a difference. I wonder if as a culture we have put so much emphasis on the wedding day, that we have actually failed to prepare to love and be loved by our spouse to be. It’s not too much to think that we as Christians have also done the same thing with our Bridegroom Jesus Christ. I was recently listening to a few messages by Damon Thompson and I was motivated to write this message that was on my heart.

You see, the wedding day is only an invitation to go deeper, higher, and into a more selfless life with the “One” you confess your love for. It’s just the beginning. It’s just the start to something beautiful and sacrificial. Yet, we have made the wedding day the ending. The result. The finish line. Thus, you have marriages falling apart because there was no vision, no effort, and no motive to go further than the day they said “I Do.” The wedding day is so glorified in our culture that we have shows called, “Say Yes to the Dress,” “Bridezillas,” and expos for Bridal shows. We have conditioned ourselves to value our “YES” to the dress over our “YES” to the Bridegroom.

It is no different in our relationship with God. As devoted Christians, we have become more infatuated with sacraments and religion than being in love with our King. We have loved our duties more than loving our Beloved. In essence, we have been saying yes to ministry, and yes to trying to save the world, and yes to our busy and ordinary lives, that we have missed the only “YES” that will set us free from it all…

We are closer to the conflict than we are to the ANSWER. ~ Damon Thompson

The ceremony lasts only a few hours, but the marriage is meant for a lifetime. We are so insecure about God’s love for us that we try to cover ourselves up with “BUSY.” We are flawed and imperfect people but God has such a furious and unrelenting love for us that when we finally get rooted in it, disappointments no longer matter. God’s thoughts toward us are filled with extravagant emotions of desire and this crazy love becomes the theme for our lives. It is never ending. It is never failing. It always protects, hopes, and trusts…

Be warned. There is a danger in not saying “YES” to the King. As Christians, we will have successful ministries and organizations, but the glory will not be given to the King. We glorify our efforts and grind rather than living in the grace that God has equipped us for being in covenant love relationship with Him.

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I love Queen Esther in the Bible. That woman right there was beautiful, bold, and brave. She was perhaps one of the greatest warriors in the Bible and I say that because she got close to the King. It was more dangerous for her to approach the King in His bed chamber than for her to go and swing her sword out in the public. It required more preparation to be found more favorable and irresistible to the King, than to just go and try to save the Jewish Nation on her own. She even said, “If I perish, I perish.” You just don’t walk into the bedchamber of the King…even as Queen.

She knew that her nation needed to be saved. Just as we know that our nation is in critical moments…new election, social and racial injustice is prevalent, domestic violence, human trafficking, and the list can go on and on….but Queen Esther chose to be irresistible to her King versus swinging her sword. She got so close to her Bridegroom that all she had to do was whisper to him her request and He moved without hesitation. Do we dare risk to get so close to our King Jesus that all we have to do is whisper for Him to move? Do we not understand that it is only YAHWEH that can save? How is the shouting working for you? How is the sword fighting working for you? How are your own efforts working? Could it be that our risk is getting so close to the King that all He needs is a whisper from us?

God desires our company more than we desire to further His cause. ~ Damon Thompson

I pray that we become LOVESICK BRIDES! That we fall in love with Him this fall more than we ever have. Let our hearts become in rhythm with His heartbeat and not the cadence of the world. Let us yearn and ache for His presence and be saturated in His kisses. I pray that we don’t ask for greater influence but greater capacity to feel God’s love for us! (Damon Thompson) It will be overwhelming, but He longs for the affection of our hearts. Let Him see us fully naked and transparent before Him so that we can forever become captivated by the fire in His eyes. We are called to be irresistible to the King. He is waiting for us to take our seat and authority as queens and brides so that He can give us what we desire. All we have to do is get close. All we have to do is whisper. We won’t get there because of our greatness; it will be because of the softness and yielding of our heart.

Just love the King. Just love the King. Just love the King. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

 

 

Wake Up and Enjoy the Moment!

Ah…. the smell of roasted coffee or bacon in the morning can awaken my senses! I used to not be a coffee drinker until I started graduate school and then I was hooked! As I was thinking about what to write about this morning, my thoughts centered on these words…”WAKE UP.” Ephesians 5:14-15 MSG Bible says this:

Wake up from your sleep. Climb out of your coffins; Christ will show you the light. So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times!

I believe many of us are sleep walking through our lives and not able to enjoy the moments and the season that God has placed us in. Just as coffee can awaken our senses, I believe that God places miracles and blessings in our lives to awaken us to His goodness and  purpose for us. However, if we are asleep, and not recognizing the urgency in the time which we are living, then we can very well miss our moment.

It’s hard to enjoy the moment when you are always looking for the next one. When you are always trying to get to the next level or the next season in your life, you could very well sleep through the season you are in now and miss all that God has for you NOW. You are where you are for a reason. The truth is….how you exit one season will greatly determine how you enter the next season. If you can’t wait to get to the next season, you will do the same in that season and miss what God is trying to teach and show you even then.

So how do we wake up from our sleep? How do we climb out of the coffins and SEE what God is trying to do in this season of our life? The answer is given in the verse above.

CHRIST WILL SHOW YOU THE LIGHT!

We need to allow God to do CPR to our hearts so that we can become alive in the NOW and see all that He has for us in the moment. I don’t want to miss the lessons in this season. I don’t want to look back on life and say, I missed it or I wish I would have slowed down some more and got that life lesson or that event. Or I wish I would have enjoyed my singleness more or even appreciated my relationships more. Our hearts are our spiritual eyes and when we give God our hearts, He gives us sight to see (Proverbs 23:26). I hope this encourages you this morning. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

My Prayer For You

GOD CAN DO ANYTHING. BELIEVE IT.

God can do anything

Be encouraged this morning! I don’t know what your circumstances are or what you may be going or praying through; have faith to believe that it is all working out for your good. I want to challenge you and dare you to put faith in God. True faith is trusting in Him, even when everything else is impossible to understand. One of my favorite quotes says, “Don’t be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”

He will turn those impossibilities around in your life.

He will make the wrongs right.

He will do more than what you expected.

God Can Do Anything. Believe it.

I prayed this over myself this morning, and I want the same blessing for you all! My hope is that you will be encouraged and strengthened in your walk today! Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

Dear Father, thank You for being so good to us! I ask You to strengthen everyone by Your Spirit, that You will live in us as we invite You in. I pray that we will be ROOTED in Your love and grasp how wide and long and high and deep Your love for them is. I pray that we will dare greatly…that we will believe ferociously…that we will rise up and live our lives to the fullest!!! I pray we know that You can do anything, even beyond our imaginations and wildest dreams. Father, work deep within us, change us by Your gentle Spirit so that we can be all that You called us to be. Amen. (Reference Ephesians 3:14-21)

Why You Need to Journal

We are half way through the Habits of Grace study! I just want to thank those who have read, commented, and liked the posts so far; your feedback is very much appreciated. Today we will immerse ourselves in the topic of journaling. Why journal? You’re probably thinking I have no time and it’s very impractical to my day. However, I’m here to help shift your vision on what journaling really is. As David Mathis states, “Perhaps no single new habit would enrich your spiritual life as much as keeping a journal.” Although we are talking about spiritual disciplines, I would go as far as to say that journaling in all aspects of your life will benefit you.

There is no obligation to it. There is no right way. A good journal is what you make it to be. I have found journaling to be an incredible pathway to joy in my own life. It has been a way for me to express my heart, write out prayers, and dream about the future. I have been keeping journals since I was in middle school, typically only writing about significant events in my life. Now, I keep topic journals and write in them whenever I feel the need to. For example, I have a journal I keep on my laptop only about things that were accomplished for the day. I don’t write what I wish to do, I write down what I actually did. I got this concept from Coach Calipari of University of Kentucky. It’s amazing to look back a year ago and see your productivity for that day. I also have a prayer journal, where I only write out prayer requests and my own personal prayers to God. There are other journals I keep, (I write a lot), but it’s not a burden and it’s not time-consuming. You make journaling your own art and masterpiece.

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Journaling facilitates personal growth. It’s a dream catcher and a vision illuminator. It gives you clarity and focus. Most importantly, journaling has the appeal of mingling the motions of our lives with the mind of God. 

Here are only a few reasons out of hundreds why you should journal. We’re not stopping there. Once you are convinced why you need to journal, keep reading and discover practical ways to flourish in your writing and get started. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

  • TO CAPTURE THE PAST – For the Christian, writing down divine moments are an opportunity for gratitude and praise to God. It’s amazing how we can forget at times what God has done for us and brought us through. We can look back at what we recorded, the thoughts and feelings we had in that moment and remember to give God all the Glory.
  • TO BUILD A BETTER FUTURE – Journaling is an opportunity to grow into tomorrow. It helps you become a better communicator and writer. I love how David Mathis puts it…journaling is where you can try your hand at daring metaphors and literary flair.
  • TO ENRICH THE PRESENT – It’s not just about yesterday and tomorrow, but enriching our lives for today.
    • Examine – The unexamined life is not worth living~Socrates. It is a time for self-examining (2 Cor. 13:5) and to get caught up in Someone Great, Jesus. We may start bleak, but we find that when we journal we can preach to ourselves and end hopeful.
    • Meditate – Let your journal be your laboratory of learning. Pose a hard question, propose a biblical answer, and apply it to your heart and life.
    • Disentangle, Draw Out, and Dream – I often have so many unfinished thoughts and emotions floating around in my head, journaling gives me the discipline  of careful thinking, catalyzing deep feeling, and inspires intentional action. I love how God allows us to take our thoughts further when we write them down and develop them.

If you’re sold on the idea of journaling, here are five simple ways in which to start flourishing in your own writing.

  1. KEEP IT SIMPLE – This is for the long haul so keep it simple so you keep coming back. There are times I write a flood of pages because I have that to get out. Other times I literally write one sentence with a few words. Take baby steps with regularity.
  2. DON’T CATCH UP – The best journals are incomplete! That’s even hard for me to say with all those perfectionists out there. But give yourself the grace to know that journaling should serve your life, not vice versa.
  3. TAKE GOD SERIOUSLY – But don’t take yourself too seriously. The best of journals are just you and God. Take Scripture seriously, and write for the sake of your own soul.
  4. BRING THE GOSPEL – Journaling is a venue for freshly preaching the gospel to yourself and really apply what you are writing to make it your own.
  5. STAY WITH IT – Remember it’s a marathon. The hardest parts is starting, but once the door is open, the stream will start flowing.

Six Suggestions on Fasting

Fasting. What comes to mind when you think of it? It certainly isn’t an easy discipline but if we can change the way we look at fasting I believe we will hold a powerful tool for ultimately enjoying Jesus more. David Mathis calls this “sharpening your affections” for God. There are many forms of fasting, as well as multiple purposes of fasting found in scripture. However, the one we will focus on is that fasting captures our love and worship to God (Luke 2:37).

If you got it together and if you’re self-sufficient then this is not for you. Fasting is for those who are hungry and thirsty after righteousness and not satisfied with the status quo. Fasting is used for desperate measures, for desperate times, for those desperate for God. Fasting both reveals and remedies. Joh Piper states:

“She reveals the measure of food’s mastery over us – or television or computers or whatever we submit to again and again to conceal the weakness of our hunger for God. And she remedies by intensifying the earnestness of our prayer and saying with our whole body what prayer says with the heart: I long to be satisfied in God alone! Fasting is the exclamation point at the end of the sentence, ‘This much, O God, I want you!”

I know that fasting can be difficult. No one leaps for joy at the discomfort of fasting. But it is one of the most powerful ways to hear from God. As Christians, we know that Jesus assumes we will fast (Matthew 9:14-15). Thus, the question is not about whether to fast, but when. It’s not that we genuinely do not want to. Unfortunately, we never actually get around to doing it for reasons and distractions we must get rid of. David Mathis offers six suggestions of basic counsel on how to start fasting for new beginners. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

  1. Start Small – Don’t go from no fasting to a weeklong. Start with one meal then work your way up to a daylong, etc. Juice fasts means abstaining from all food and beverage except water and juice. It’s not recommended that you abstain from water during any fast.
  2. Plan What You’ll Do Instead of Eating – Each fast should have a specific purpose. It’s not about self-deprivation. Without a purpose and plan, it’s not Christian fasting; it’s just going hungry. There should be a positive pursuit of God during the time it normally takes to eat or whichever activity you are fasting from.
  3. Consider How It Will Affect Others – If anything, others should even feel more loved and cared for when we’re fasting. Love for God and for neighbor go together. If you have regular fellowship meals with family, friends, etc. let them know ahead of time instead of not showing up, or even plan around their schedule.
  4. Try Different Kinds of Fasting – There are a variety of forms in the Bible on fasting: personal, communal, private, occasional, partial, etc. Have you thought about fasting together with your family, or church? Do you share together in some special need or God’s intervention for wisdom and guidance?
  5. Fast From Something Other Than Food – Some people cannot fast from food because of health conditions. Consider fasting from media, or some other form of enjoyment that would bend your heart back towards Jesus.
  6. Don’t Think of White Elephants – It isn’t fasting if you don’t turn your mind elsewhere when your stomach is growling “feed me!” Christian fasting seeks to take the pains of hunger and transpose them into attention towards Jesus or some great cause of His in the world.

Nine Profits for Praying with Others

It’s been a busy week so forgive me for being delayed in my posts! But I’m back so get ready to receive a flood of reading in the next few hours. We continue with our study of Habits of Grace with David Mathis and he takes us into the topic of praying with company. Our personal prayer lives are so important but our joys and benefits aren’t limited to that. Praying with other Christians; however, takes planning, initiative, and synching of schedules. From Jesus’ example, we see how the early church was in communal prayer all throughout the book of Acts:

  • All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer (1:14; and 2:42)
  • While Peter was in prison, “earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church” (12:5)
  • And in an emotional goodbye to the Ephesian elders, Paul knelt down and prayed with them all (20:36; 21:15)

Here are nine profits for praying with company. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

  1. For Added Power – Matthew 18:19…There is an added power to our prayers when we unite with fellow believers in the faith and make our requests to the Father with our hearts joined together. We live in a culture that promotes independence, but the Christian life was never meant to be done alone. We are better and stronger, together.
  2. For Multiplied Joy – When we share the joy of prayer, we double our joy. We not only add to our joy, but also to theirs. Praying with other believers we are avail ourselves to a channel of joy we otherwise would be neglecting.
  3. For Greater Glory to God – Our multiplied joy in God then makes for multiplied glory to God – because God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.
  4. For Fruitful Ministry and Mission – We are to pray for each other in our different ministries and mission for the Lord. We should anticipate greater fruitfulness in the work when others are joining us in prayer. Romans 15:30-32
  5. For Unity Among Believers – Praying together is an effect of the unity we already share in Christ and a cause for deeper and richer unity. It’s a sign and catalyst for more unity.
  6. For Answers We Otherwise Wouldn’t Get – There are some answers to prayer we simply would not get without involving others in praying. Sometimes we have to involve the leaders of the church. James 5:14-16
  7. To Learn and Grow in Our Prayers – The best way to learn to pray is pray with others who have had their prayers shaped by scripture and are more mature in their faith. We are being shaped deep down as we join our hearts with others in prayer.
  8. To Know Each Other – It’s in prayer that we are most likely to let the walls fall. You hear their hearts in prayers like nowhere else. When we pray together, not only do we reveal what most captures our hearts and truly is your treasure, but you can tell if a man or woman is really on speaking terms with God. (Jack Miller)
  9. To Know Jesus More – The best for last, we ultimately know Jesus better. With our limited vision and perspective, there are parts of Christ we’re prone to see with more clarity than others. Tim Keller states, “By praying with friends, you will be able to hear and see facets of Jesus that you have not yet perceived.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Biggest Concern

If you want a book that will wreck your ideas and thoughts about prayer life, “Why Revival Tarries” by Leonard Ravenhill is the one to get. We can all be in different places in our private prayer life, but I do believe the challenge is the same. As in the words of Francis Chan, “My biggest concern for this generation is your inability to focus, especially in prayer.”

Why is the Cinderella of the church today the prayer meeting? Everyone wants to flock to preaching and teaching, or any ministry that will show case talent and skills…but the prayer closet offers no display. The prayer closet allows no showing off. In fact, it is the test of authenticity of our spiritual integrity. It is an important test of whether we are real. Timothy Keller makes this statement, “This is the heart of prayer – not getting things from God, but getting God.” Many will pray out of required cultural or social expectations, but will we pray when nothing on the outside is pressing us too? The place of private prayer is in many ways the measure of who we are spiritually.

No man is greater than his prayer life.~ Leonard Ravenhill

Jesus modeled this for us the best. You find in the New Testament  where Jesus desperately desired fellowship with His Father, so he went again and again and prayed alone. From the beginning of His ministry to the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus made the practice of private prayer an essential part of His relationship with the Father. (Matt. 14:23, Mark 1:35, Luke 6:12, Mark 14:32-42). So don’t be discouraged if your prayer life is not where it needs to be. I have found droughts in my own life where I did not desire God the way I should. The solution is quite simple really. The secret of praying is praying in secret (LH). In the following, David Mathis offers five suggestions to help you evaluate and create your own rhythm and prayer life. Be Blessed! Be Revealed!

  1. Create your closet – Find a regular space to pray. I know we like to tell ourselves, “I’ll just lie in bed and pray…” next thing you know you’re looking at the back of your eyelids! It helps so much if you have a go-to-spot. If you haven’t seen the movie War Room, I highly suggest it. You may even find an actual closet you can clear space from.
  2. Begin with the Bible – your prayers will be richer and more focused when they are in response to God’s Word. Prayer is a conversation we didn’t start, so it makes sense to jump into the conversation knowing what God is already saying.
  3. Adore, Confess, Thank, Ask – Adore God with praise for the truth revealed in your reading and meditation of Scripture, confess your own sins, give thanks for His grace and mercy, and ask Him for your requests.
  4. Divulge your Desires – and Develop Them – Prayer changes our hearts like nothing else. Some prayers in the Bible that helps shape and express our desires towards God (Eph. 1:17-21, Col. 1:9-12, and Phil. 1:9-11).
  5. Keep it Fresh – Change it up for a new year, new month, or a new season of life. You can write out or journal your prayers, you can take a retreat, or you can even go on a fast.