Apr 19 2019

The Best Guide

I had a chance to spend time with my Great Uncle this past week and had another opportunity to see what a life sold out for Jesus looks like. He is 94 years old and still on fire for God! He told me some new stories I haven’t heard before, about many of the revivals he led, different churches he planted, and even about a time where the power of God hit him so hard that someone else had to preach for him—and he laid on the platform during the entire service! One thing he reminded me about was the importance of following Holy Spirit. Jesus taught about the importance of Holy Spirit, about how he would will lead us into all truth, and even show us the future (John 16:13). When we follow closely after Holy Spirit, we are sure to run into truths we have not yet discovered and catch glimpses of what God has planned for us a little further down the road. Our society today has advanced to the point where we can find a lot of the answers we need, or we think we need, by reading a book, taking a test, or putting some type of process in place. Some of these methods work, but they are often substitutes for what Holy Spirit can teach us, if we are simply willing to listen to him. We often teach on the importance of developing such a deep intimacy with our creator, that we are able to hear his voice in any situation and follow the path of his footsteps wherever he leads us. It’s not always a quick fix. Sometimes it’s a journey that leads us to a place that we could have never reached using any other method. It’s not always easy, and sometimes we look a little foolish, especially when those around us don’t understand this simple principle. But one thing I have learned is that there is no one better to follow. Even if I don’t understand where he is leading me, or how long it will take to get there, I will follow him anywhere. That’s the life we are all called to live. There really is no better guide who can not only get us through life, but can do it in a way that enables us to fulfill every purpose and destiny for which we were created. If you are trying to figure out your next steps, if you are going through a season of difficulty, or even if you are in a great place right now, ask Holy Spirit to guide you, and get ready for the greatest adventure of your life!

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Mar 29 2019

Simple Instructions

We started a reading plan this year with the goal of reading through the entire Bible in chronological order in 90 days. You tend to notice the thread of God’s grace a lot easier when you read at this pace, and you tend to recognize one common theme throughout the Old and New Testaments which is pretty simple and straightforward: do what God tells you to do and everything will be OK. Actually, better than OK, God promises that we will be blessed when we are obedient. It’s amazing what God will do in our lives if we simply choose to live according to his word, and not allow anything apart from his word to have an influence in our lives. It almost seems too simple. But the reality is that the gospel of Jesus is very simple. We tend to complicate it, but it really just comes down to following our King wherever he leads us, and that can be through the written word of God, through the Holy Spirit’s leading, through messages delivered by angels, or even through hearing God’s audible voice. I have found that when we give his word precedence in our lives, he speaks to us in amazing ways. The problem, of course, is that there are so many other competing voices that want to have influence in our lives. We all tend to look for the quick fix or the quick answer, especially in this fast food age where everything we need is at our fingertips all the time. But Jesus wants us to do something different. He wants us to sit at his feet. He wants to keep it simple. He wants us to focus on the guidance and direction that he gives. And a great place to start is by reading and studying the written word of God, and applying each of his principles to our lives. A verse in Galatians 6:14 jumped out at me a few days ago; “The world is crucified to me, and I to the world.” I have come to the point that I really don’t care what the world has to offer. It used to interest me, but not anymore. I just want more of Jesus, so I can have an even greater impact in the lives of people I encounter every day. I remember someone telling me a long time ago about how the Bible could be thought of as this acronym: Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. Simple instructions, but a powerful message. And when we apply it to our lives, we are able to live in a way that honors the sacrifice of Jesus. By the way, if you are interested in our Bible reading plan, you can find it on our resources page here.

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Mar 1 2019

Spiritual Maturity

If we look back at our childhood and teenage years, from the perspective of an adult, we can quickly recognize how much maturity we gained as we grew older. We can also recognize how the influence of others may have helped or stunted our maturity, or in many cases, how our youthful obstinate attitudes slowed the maturation process. We all seem to mature at different rates, and this is also true with spiritual maturation. Just like physical maturity gives us a greater understanding of how to make healthy choices and behave appropriately in society, spiritual maturity also helps us to do the same when it comes to spiritual choices and interaction within the spiritual realm. If we look back at our spiritual journey, many of us can recognize when we went through seasons of growth that increased our maturity in a way that enabled us to make adjustments to the way that we think, believe, and live. 1 Cor. 13:11 speaks to this reality, that as we mature, we need to put away childish perspectives. As children, we don’t understand why we need to behave in certain ways, but as we mature, we learn more about what appropriate behavior looks like. This is the same thing in the spiritual realm. As we mature, we learn to put away perspectives and practices that are not appropriate for the children of God to allow into our lives.

We meet with people throughout each week, and often receive questions about healthy and unhealthy spiritual practices. Spiritual maturity helps all of us to recognize unhealthy spiritual practices. But those who are not spiritually mature have a difficulty in understanding the wisdom of God, and just as we were as children, we have to grow to a mature state and avoid obstinate behaviors that can slow the spiritual maturation process. We all need to recognize that unhealthy spiritual practices can create ungodly spiritual influences in our lives. As we become more spiritually mature, we become more spiritually aware of the importance of this danger. Sadly, for many believers, it’s not until the later years of life where we begin to figure this out. Part of the reason for this is because, in the past few hundred years, the church has not served us well in teaching about the spiritual realm or the supernatural ways of God. As a result, many believers have pursued supernatural encounters through ungodly processes. Some of those processes are overt, such as fortune tellers, psychics, or Ouija boards. Others are quite covert because they have non-Christian spiritual roots that are not immediately obvious to the spiritually immature. Some examples here are Yoga, Enneagram, Mindfulness, and Reiki; all of which are rooted in Hinduism, Buddhism, and other mystical beliefs that are anti-biblical. These fall into the category of the “childish things” we see mentioned in 1 Cor. 13:11 because they are actions born out of an immature spiritual state. And they are dangerous practices because all non-Christian religious practices are influenced by demonic spirits, who are seeking to create ungodly influences in our lives.

Another question we often receive in this realm is about why some Christian leaders support the notion that these other religious practices are perfectly fine to participate in and even teach that they are helpful for a follower of Jesus. That answer eluded me for a short time until the Lord revealed the reality of spiritual maturity to me through a friend and local minister. I realized that we can be mature in some areas and remain immature in others. I think we can see parallels to this in the physical realm as well. Someone can be mature in some areas of theology, and be immature in others, because they were never properly trained or discipled in those areas. This goes back to my earlier point about the church not doing a great job at teaching about the spiritual realm. We don’t know what we don’t know. Unfortunately, immature spiritual areas of our lives become very susceptible to deception from the enemy. It’s easy to be deceived when you don’t know better. And once you are in deception, you rarely know that it is happening. Spiritual immaturity can also lead to self-righteous attitudes forming in our hearts, that keep us from accepting the possibility that we have been tricked into believing a lie.

For me, all of this comes down to a simple perspective. It’s not about theological positions of judgement vs. grace, legalism, or allowing believers the liberty to form their own doctrinal opinions; it’s about pursuing a lifestyle of holiness. Jesus taught us to “seek first the kingdom of God,” which means pursuing what he has for us above all else, and not looking to anyone or anything else to define our identity or provide us with spiritual experiences. We are called to be set apart, to be in the world but not of the world. We are called to pursue Jesus with everything we have. As we pursue Him, we grow in spiritual maturity. As we grow in spiritual maturity, we more easily recognize the “childish things” we shouldn’t allow into our lives. And as we set aside those things, we continue to reach greater levels of maturity. It’s a journey we are all on together, and we need to have grace for everyone as we grow through the different stages of our spiritual maturation process. Now here’s the secret to accelerate your spiritual growth: let Jesus be everything and every answer for you, and don’t let anything or anyone else ever take his place!

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Feb 15 2019

Checkmate

In the game of chess, many games can end up in a situation where the strength of one of the players causes the other player to be in an unwinnable position. This typically comes about by the stronger player using a better strategy or employing more accurate tactics to force their opponent into a passive defensive roll. In this situation, a player, when recognizing they can no longer win, can choose to resign the game and no longer delay their inevitable fate, or they can make moves that delays their loss causing the game to continue for several more moves. I have found that the enemy of our soul likes to use similar delaying tactics against us. He knows that he has already lost the battle, but he tries to throw things into our path to slow us down from arriving at the place God has planned for our lives. He can’t win. He has already lost. But too many believers don’t fully live as if this is true. And this allows him to put things in our way. OK, so what does this actually look like? It looks like lies that he tricks us into believing. It looks like fears that he whispers into our ears. It looks like a myriad of other things that he knows we are susceptible to just so he can throw us off guard. I’ll say it again, he can’t win. So if we just ignore his stupid antics and focus on “every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” we will be successful in the mission God has given to us. As long as we toss aside his distractions, he can never be victorious in our lives. The easiest way to do this is to practice being in the presence of God every day. Practice listening to the voice of your Father. When you do, you will quickly recognize when it is a different voice and toss it aside. You have something the world needs. The devil wants to distract you so that you can’t be who God created you to be. Don’t let him do it!

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Feb 1 2019

Crazy Ideas

I have a lot of crazy ideas every year. Some are ideas for inventions, some are ideas to help people that we regular meet with, and some are ideas for what the life of a Jesus follower should look like. If you have been around us for more than a few days, you already know that living a supernatural lifestyle is a major component of our lives. I think there is a nuance to this type of lifestyle that believers who are not on the same pursuit may not realize. There is a cost to being used by God, it costs everything, but the result is worth so much more than anything we can ever pay. So, my crazy idea is that when we give our lives to Jesus, we need to give him everything; we can’t hold anything back. The world needs believers now more than ever, and God is willing and able to use anyone, but I tend to think that if we are willing to put everything on the altar, we will see God do even more through us. I have found that the closer you draw to God, the less you care about the stuff that doesn’t really matter. The more we are in his presence, the less interested we become in what the world has to offer. And the more we strive to be like him, the quicker we are able to recognize areas in our lives that need to be placed on the proverbial altar, so that we don’t have anything for the enemy to use as a foothold for temptation or manipulation. It’s not about trying to be holy, Jesus already made us holy (see Hebrews 10:10). It’s about living out a life of holiness that doesn’t allow anything else, not even the smallest idea, to take our eyes off of Jesus. If we can do that, we can carry the heart of the Father into every city, every situation, every life, and see transformation every single time. This is the kind of crazy idea I can get behind. Who’s with me?

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Feb 24 2016

Buckle up and enjoy the ride

I would describe myself as adventurous.  I like roller coaster rides, especially those that go in loops.  I used to be afraid of them until I was in middle school and a friend talked me into riding one.  I was hooked after that first ride.  I was terrified and then the feeling of the adrenaline hit and it was so much fun.  I immediately wanted to ride again.  thus began my love affair with amusement parks and roller coasters.

Now, as much as I love roller coasters, I do not like ups and downs of life.  Well, at least I didn’t when I thought that I had to be in control of every aspect of my life.  Let me be clear- I like a certain amount of control, but I have definitely learned that life is more fun if you just buckle up and embrace the ride. Life is more fun if you just buckle up and embrace the ride.

God is the ultimate adventurer.  In order for us to see His creativity, just look at the aardvark and the diversity of the fish in the sea.  I think that God wants us to enjoy life and have a great adventure.  Following God and living while listening for His voice and obeying is definitely an adventure.  Once you know that you hear His voice and then do what He is asking you to do is just as exhilarating as that first roller coaster ride- terrifying and exciting at the same time. Hearing God’s voice & obeying, is like a roller coaster ride- terrifying & exciting. He didn’t create us to live a mundane existence.

The ups are exactly like the best times of your life and then the downs are the parts when you throw your hands up and scream!  You’re screaming because you are terrified, but it releases all of your emotions and it brings that adrenaline that you need to get to the next climb.  If we look at those downs as a way to regain momentum to get back to the top, then that changes our perspectives.  So the next time you feel like you are barreling down hill, take a moment to ask God what He is preparing you for as you are re-charging for the next mountaintop.  It’s even ok to scream a little and throw your hands up 🙂

 

 


Feb 10 2016

A healthier me

I am reading a few books right now, 3 to be exact.  One of them is Beni Johnson’s newest book Healthy and Free: A Journey To Wellness For Your Body, Soul and Spirit.  It awakened something in me.  It made me realize that I can feel free in one area of my life, but not in others and that as I might have more confidence in one area, I might feel so inadequate in another.  It also helped me to realize that I am not getting any younger and I really want to be the healthiest version of me that I can.  Not just spiritually, but physically as well. I want to be healthy, not just spiritually, but physically as well. #fitforme

So, an amazing woman in my small group, Emily Attwood, asked me if I wanted to join a group of women in getting healthy and learning to make some lifestyle changes.  I am happy to say that I have found that I am stronger than I thought and that with a group people to share with, I have been able to begin and maintain a regular workout schedule for over one month!!!  This is huge for me, pun intended.  I never thought that I was strong enough to do this.  When I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes more than 10 years ago, I thought that there were things that I would have to give up, that I was doomed for life and that I would forever be on a constant rollercoaster of meds, out of control emotions and neverending doctor appointments.  Yes, there have been so many times when I would just yell at God and say, ” Can I just feel normal for ONE day?!!!”  I would feel like King David in his bipolar expression of love for God and then immediate anger and large pity parties.  I would try really hard to remember that God told me that I would be healed and then I would forget just as quickly.

I’m sure this happens to all of us every once in a while and I feel like God is saying,”It’s ok.”  It’s ok to get angry, ok to have a pity party, even ok to yell at God, but the important thing is to not dwell there. It’s ok to get angry,have a pity party, even yell at God, but don’t dwell there. God knows how we feel, more importantly He knows our hearts and our desires.  I believe that His heart hurts to see us go through our rollercoasters and I love it when He goes out of His way to show us how much He loves us and is cheering us on.

I know that I can cry my eyes out to Him and He is there.  Even if I don’t feel Him, He’s there.  I also know that I He created me to be a warrior, strong and able to accomplish most anything I put my mind to. I know God created me to be a warrior, strong & able to accomplish most anything I want to. I know this because I can now hold a plank for an ENTIRE minute.  I never knew a minute could feel like such a long time, but it can.  I can complete a Plyo workout and walk the next day.  For the record, those of you who saw me after day 1 & 2 of the beginning of my new lifestyle change, you know how I could barely walk, well, I’ve added weights to those workouts 🙂

So, I am now finally stable in my workout routines, daily nutrition, and even my diabetes is “controlled”.  At this rate, I hope to be fully healed soon!  I have lost 13 pounds and almost 11 inches since I began this journey and I am so looking forward to getting my physical health up to speed with my spiritual and mental health!!! I say all of this to hopefully be an encouragement to someone out there who doesn’t feel strong enough or disciplined enough to make a change.  You can do it and God and I are both cheering you on!!!

 


Feb 3 2016

Sometimes life is more like a Picasso…

There are so many uncertainties in life.  We never know for sure what will happen, how it will happen or who it will happen to.  We like to try to plan things so that we can project or guess what the outcomes are and we set goals and hope to accomplish them.  I like to see the big picture.  I consider myself adventurous and most people that know me would say that I am too, but people don’t know that I actually like to see the whole picture more often than trying to guess what the picture looks like.

I love art and one of my favorite things to do in DC is to visit the different Smithsonians and art museums.  My taste varies from pop art like Peter Max to classics such as Monet or Matisse.  I love an Ansel Adams portrait as much as I love Klimdt.  I know it doesn’t make sense, but sometimes I feel like I ask God for the whole picture and I get an image that is more Dali-esque than Georgia O’Keefe!  I started to realize that God likes to show me things in pieces or in phases so that I will have to look closer at the images, or situations that I am in.  He shows me different sides of the place that I am in, forcing me to often look inward instead of outward. God shows me a different side of the situation, forcing me to look inward instead of outward.   This is not fun and it is a scary thing sometimes when you realize that you are the one that needs changing and that sometimes we are not as perfect as we think we are!

It is also a reminder of why we need God in our lives, because if we could do it all on our own, why would we need Him? When I ask God to change someone or something, I find that the person that needs changing is me and that my heart being shifted just a little can change my circumstance. When I ask God to change someone or something, I find that the person that needs changing is me.  God often tries to show us pieces of the picture so that we can see things more closely and not get overwhelmed by the entirety of it all.  I think that He is so gracious to make sure that we can handle the piece that we have before He gives us more.  It reminds me that I can be happy with my piece and look to others to see if their pieces fit mine to make a beautiful picture.

 


Jan 27 2016

The hardest thing to say

So, since we had almost 20 feet of snow here in the DMV area (depending on whose measurement data you follow) there has been a lot of time for reflection. Almost too much time, along with too many hours of TV, Hulu, Korean dramas, movies and whatever else you can do whilst enduring a blizzard. I even had time to crochet a new scarf for upcoming blizzards and freezes. I digress.
Reflection, that’s where I was going. I learned something about myself when I turned 40. Something that I feel like would have helped me immensely in my 20s. I learned that there are some really hard things that we have to say to people and to ourselves sometimes. Sometimes we need to say goodbye to people, places and things. I know alot about this since it seems that throughout my life I have been saying goodbye to people every few years (such is the military lifestyle). Sometimes we need to say things to friends about their behavior, in love, so that they can see beyond their circumstance or situation. Sometimes we need to say things to ourselves so that we stop repeating patterns that are unhealthy and hold us back from becoming everything we can be. Sometimes we need to say things to ourselves to stop repeating patterns that hold us back.

One of the hardest things for me to say is , “No”  Well, it used to be a lot harder!  I have learned to practice saying this and it has saved me several times from over committing myself, over indulging and even setting some boundaries in my life.  I had a severe case of the FOMS- fear of missing something- for a long time.  I felt like I would miss some sort of excitement, miss being a part of something epic or even missing out on an experience.  I also felt like I would disappoint people or if I said no that nobody else would do it.  The idea that somebody might be able to do something better than me or people would like others better than me always made me feel like I had to say , “Yes”.  I would constantly over commit myself and stress out about how to fit everything into my schedule because I wanted to make sure that I never disappointed anyone.

God showed me that every time I say Yes to something, I am saying No to something else. God showed me that every time I say Yes to something, I am saying No to something else. He showed me that the important things in life were the ones that were ending up on the No list, or more like, the leftovers list.  The leftovers of my time, focus and my heart.  I freely gave so much of myself to others, often at the sake of losing myself.  A lot of my bad decisions resulted in my inability to say No.  I let people, thoughts, and things get the best of me and not what God had for me or who He had for me.

Not knowing who you are and placing your value in what you do or don’t for that matter is a huge distraction from all the Yeses that are out there.  Learning to be intentional about your Yeses and more frequent in your Nos can be enlightening.  The more you practice it, the more you get better at it.  I have learned that there are people that are waiting for you to say no so that they can say yes and step up to new opportunities.  It’s ok if they even do it better than I could, in fact, I hope that they do!  So, don’t take it personally when I say no to you or something that you need me to do.  I prayerfully think about each request and have made sure that I stop giving out leftovers to God, others and to myself.


Jan 20 2016

I am a promise

There was this song that I learned as a kid.  “I am a promise, I am a possibility, I am a promise, with a capital P, I am a great big bundle of potentiality!”  The Gaither Vocal Band sang this song and I loved it.  You can check it out here. I learned it and happily sang it and it still comes to mind when I am in doubt.  Thank you, for those of you in the Jesus movement that helped make some of those songs such catchy tunes.  I love that this song can probably be sung by so many people from memories when they were a kid!

Every day we have a choice in how we live that day.  If I relied on my emotion of how I felt that day, it might look very different than if I woke up feeling great and had a great night sleep.  Trust me, there are some days when I am thankful that I can remember to be thankful instead of wallowing in my complaints of how so and so has more than I do or how we would love to feel normal for just one day.  It’s hard to have faith for the things you have been waiting for if it seems like you have been waiting a very long time. It’s hard to have faith for things when you feel you’ve been waiting a very long time.  It’s even harder sometimes to be truly happy for those that are getting or doing the things you are waiting for in your own life.

Often we get so bogged down with busyness and life that we forget that we have so much more in store for us and we settle for ok.  We learn to live with mediocre and not really fulfilling all that we can be or even close to what God has for us.  We get comfortable and we learn to navigate around all of the potholes in our lives by swerving around them instead of looking for a way to repair or repave the roads. We get comfortable & learn to navigate around potholes in our lives instead of fixing them. I am thankful that I have some amazing people in my life that really believe in me.  They are the roadcrew of my life.  They are the ones that help me tear up the worn out roads and help repave them. They remind me of the promises that God has given me.  They are also the ones that can tell me to suck it up and put on the big girl pants.  Sometimes they are the ones who have more faith for the things that I am waiting for than I do!

This is what I have learned to do.  Write down the promises that I have been given by God.  Read them out loud over myself, sing them over myself if I have to ( thank you – Julie Meyer) and know that as I learn to “listen and hear God’s voice and am trying to make the right choices” that I am being cheered on by my roadcrew and that I am a part of others’ roadcrews and need to do the same thing for other people.  A little encouragement can go a long way and I promise you that will make all the difference.