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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Getting our fire back: 5 things to ask our heart every day.

This year can be different. Friends, 2013 can be different. 

These past twelve months have been full, overflowing with emotions, relationships and words said. For all of us are stories are different. Some of our stories are filled with victory as Goliaths were overthrown, while for others of us, they are filled with heartbreak and with fight.

And no matter whether defeat or victory, let us hold onto our stories. It is in the whispers and pauses and breaths of them that we catch the wind of His own breath and the beating of His champion heart.

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There is one thing that has been shouting through my insides in regards to this upcoming year like a war-cry in my heart.

2013 is a year to get our fire back. 

There are things that got our attention in 2012 that maybe shouldn't have and voices that we sat at the feet of and listened to when we didn't need to. There are things that sucked us dry, sometimes punching our identity in the gut and yet we let them continue. There was stuff that told us lies, stuff that stole our hope, our peace, our rest, our sleep.  I want to tell us today that, this year can be different.

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I have been learning that there are things that take from us because we let them. It is not even because something is bad, but it is our heart response to it. Your heart matters and how your heart responds to God and to the things around you matters. How your heart copes with stress and with pain matters. How your heart connects to people matters. It matters.

It matters to Him and it has got to matter to you. 

Your heart was made to be with Him. Your heart was made to be healed by Him; not by your food, not by your sex, not by your money, not by you. Your heart was not made to run and hide from Him, it was made to run to and be naked before Him simply, because He is safe. That thing inside of you that beats with a rhythm was made to be loved and to love in return and it will do anything to get it. We have an opportunity to lead it so, so well.

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I have been learning that it is all about the heart, at the end of the day. That's what it is.

You gotta know where you're at, you gotta know what you need and you gotta know how you're meeting those needs. No one else will know that. Only you. Let's do ourselves a favour and give ourselves grace and leadership, chasing after what we need, receiving the thing we hunger for and saying no to the stuff that gets in the way.

We gotta ask ourselves questions, maybe often and maybe everyday. And I bet if you do, if you take the time to really start asking yourself these questions, things will change and that heart inside of you won't just be another thing in the way, but you'll learn to listen to it and Him inside of it.

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The five questions I've come up with are, drumroll please....

1. How is your heart doing? What are you feeling? 

2. How has your heart been responding to life? Is it crawling up on the inside, taking life on it's own shoulders, talking to Jesus? 

3. Where is your heart right now? Is it hiding, it is alive, is it close to Jesus, is it far away? 

4. Is your heart growing? Is it getting bigger, is it getting smaller, what's taking up room in there? 

5. How are you loving?  Are you able to receive His love? Can you love others? How are you loving others? 

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Join with me as I do it with Him. Let's start the dialogue we need the most. The conversation between our head and our heart.

The fire starts in His eyes and it ends up in your heart. Don't break your gaze, not for anyone, not for anything. 

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If you liked this post, please comment, email or share! 


I claim no rights to any of the pictures included in this post. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Meet Hannah Macuzzi.

I am about to introduce you to a woman that I just love dearly. I met her a few years ago through a mutual friend and she is someone that I can honestly say exudes the love of Jesus. She is passionate, she is beautiful and I swear she breathes out creativity.

If you could meet her in person, you'd probably fall in love with her laugh and be impacted by her heart. As you lean into hear what echoes inside of her today, I pray that the love of your Father touches you and leads you into further abandon with Him.

Meet Hannah Macuzzi. 

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Hannah is a busy woman! She is a full-time missionary in Atlanta, Georgia in the Old Fourth Ward downtown and a 3rd year student in the Atlanta Dream Centre School of Ministry. Also, she is assisting the director of the School of Worship and leading worship 3-4 times a week. But her main job, loving God and loving the people that He has put all around her.

I am posting my interview with Hannah as a Q & A because I love how her heart exploded, especially in our last question. :)

Me: What makes you come alive?

Hannah:  Jesus. Intimacy with the King of Kings. Laughter. Family. The body of Christ. Worship.

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Me: Worship makes you come alive. Has it always been like that for you?

Hannah: Oh yes, but it got deeper as I spent more time with Him. It is like the more I behold Him, the more in love I become.

Me: If you could sing anything over this generation, what would it be?

Hannah: That's an intense question, but here is the most recent thing God has been sharing with me:

Come awaken Our Love
Alive Alive
His Spirit is searching for hearts ripe to breath His breath of Life on.
His eyes going to and fro
His Lovely Bride. He's probing the earth for her.
He's looking for the broken, the poor, the one who's ready to give it all for just one glance of His eyes.
She's in love with the One who is Worthy to Open the Seals, the One with the sword in His mouth, flames in His eyes, feet of pure bronze. The One who sits on the Throne.
Her Beloved King.
You are the King.

Me: Is there anything else on your heart you want to share with us?

Hannah: My heart is burning for His Bride to awaken; for her to come awake with a fiery passion burning inside her for the One. Only ONE!
God is glorified when He is enjoyed.

So much of us 'like' truth and like 'knowledge' so much so that we read books and listen to sermons every so often so we can regurgitate what we think we have. We MUST become it!! We must desire and love Truth. And what is Truth? The person of Christ. We have got to have an encounter with the person of Jesus and chase Him out.

The Kingdom is full of mysteries and hidden things. Things that will take eternity to search out and understand. We must keep searching. Do we even know what His dream is? He wants His image back (Romans 8:28-30 and Eph 1:4).

What is the beginning of the understanding these mysteries anyways? The Fear of the Lord. Who is this King of Glory? Do you  know Him?

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As we read Hannah's heart, I love her passion. As we lean into it, let's ask ourselves those questions. Let's ask our heart questions about where we are at and who we believe Jesus is for us.

God is most glorified when He is enjoyed. Those words have been resounding in my heart. Let them resound in yours too.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How are you doing? No, really. How is your heart?

I just wanted to share a moment with you tonight.

If we were really together, I'd invite you over into my shoebox apartment and make you looseleaf tea or water with lemon or give you a can of ginger ale. I'd get you sit on the only seats I have, my beige and green checkered couch, and I would ask you how you're doing.

I would ask you how you're really doing. 

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I'd try to get you to talk out of your heart and not from your head. Not out of memory, not out of expectation, not out of this-is-what-i-should-say, but out of what you're thinking deep inside.

That in this season of celebrating Jesus coming to earth and being with family and all the other stuff that gets mixed in with that, how's your heart? Is it at peace? Is it wandering? Is it feeling alive? Is it sitting with Jesus or is it mixed up in compromise? How is your heart? 

Some of you maybe would look at me like I am crazy or maybe you'd be bold enough to tell me, really tell me.

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And I'd tell you about my heart too. I'd probably tell you about some of the fears I have been wrestling through and all the ways I have been feeling the Holy Spirit pull at me like He wants to get my attention. Perhaps, I'd share about relationships or my job search or my passion for being here writing.

Maybe I'd even share with you something the Holy Spirit shared with me today.

"You remind me of your Father in heaven because you've never given up." 

Someone needs to hear that today. 

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And as we would chat and we would sip on our tea and ginger ale, we would remember Jesus.

That He came to earth out of this insane love that we might not ever understand and that every single day, He invites us into an adventure with Him, to have a life with Him.

Just because. Just because that's what He wants. 

So when we don't have it altogether or even if we do, Jesus didn't come for a version of you, He came for you being you. He came for you where you're at right now. Sometimes that is so hard for us to swallow.

Because that level of acceptance doesn't sound right, doesn't even sound just.

But it is. 

So this Christmas as you take in family and the food and the gifts and soak in this story of Jesus, can you remember that with me? He came for you. Like the real you. And He is still with you.

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It reminds me of the lyric in Joy to the World that says, "Let every heart prepare Him room." 

He was shut out from an inn because there was no space, but in this generation, it can be different.  In this generation, may every heart prepare Him a room.

And that's why we gotta bend low and ask about each other's hearts. Because it matters to me if you're making room for Him and it should matter to you, if I am.

We love our Papa and we gotta inspire one another to love Him more. 

And as a note, this blog ain't rhetorical. Please shoot me an e-mail and tell me how you are. And if not with me, with someone. Give yourself at least one place to breathe.
All images are linked to where I found them. They are not my pictures. 

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wonder & Awe: 10 ways to get it back if you have lost it.

Hey you. Don't lose your wonder. 

I know that sometimes we get so busy, sometimes we get really stressed out and sometimes we have this list scrolling through our heads that has no end. I know. And I know that sometimes when there are bills piling up, relationships needing work and people expecting things of you, you're not thinking of your wonder, you're thinking of how in the world you're going to make it work, how you're going to get it done.

But let's take it back. 

Remember when you were a kid, remember when even the little things held wonder? And how you always were thinking in questions even if you never said them out loud. Do you remember that feeling of awe that swirled in your stomach and how it was like if you just reached out your hand, your dreams were in your grasp? There was wonder in the first snowfall, in the dawn of Christmas morning, in floating on the waters of the lake, in watching flour and eggs became a cake.

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I can think of the wonder I had of being this little girl sitting in front of my aunt's mirror and trying on her necklaces and bracelets as the hung loosely like oversized coats. I can think of the wonder of waking up on Christmas morning and feeling like I just woke up a princess, not because of the gifts, but because of the love. I can think of the wonder of falling back in the snow before it had ever been touched, running through fields of long grass softly scratching my legs, climbing up on farm tractors and my heart being so happy.

Because I was so full of wonder. 

Wonder makes life a gift and it transforms life from a performance into an adventure. It inspires us to run harder, dream bigger, play more, dance longer, laugh louder. It makes life like an ocean, dive in, hide in the centre of the wave or splash the ones you love, just dance with it.

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Something about it makes us feel so loved. As if this adventure was just for us. As if He was waiting for us to ask those questions. As if it was all to grab our hearts and say, "Woman, you have never been more loved in all the world." 

How do we get more wonder in our lives and how do we restore the wonder that has been lost? My thoughts are simply: 

  1. Try new things.

  2. Make room to play.

  3. Do art.

  4. Laugh even if it is just you and Him.

  5. Float in the lake, jump in a puddle, fall back into a snow bank.

  6. Ask questions.

  7. Let go of the dark stuff.

  8. Dance even if no one is around.

  9. Dream. Bigger. And bigger. And bigger. Like every one of those dreams will come true.

  10. Disconnect from social media and do what you love.


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Let's try this, this week. I bet it will bring us alive a little bit. I bet it will release a little more joy, a little more creativity and a little more passion.

And I bet you'll feel more loved, more pursued because that's what wonder does. 

It reminds us how loved and pursued we really are and how blessed we are to be gifted with this thing called life. 

Try it! Then e-mail me and tell me about it!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Five things I want to tell women in their twenties.

Sometimes it feels almost as if I bought into a lie of what I thought my twenties would look like.

As a teenager with fire in my heart, I ploughed ahead with passion and vision and I had very distinct expectations of what my life would look like into the next decade. I am not even quite sure where I got my ideas and expectations from but like I was gathering sticks for the fire, I got them together and I waited. And I waited. And I waited.

Can I be honest and tell you that this picture I painted in my mind looks little like the canvas I see now? 

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Sometimes I feel like we romanticize our futures, especially as women and especially as dreamers. I feel it rumbling around in me and I know that the media feeds it like gasoline oil on a roaring flame. There are specifically movies I watch as a young woman that feed and fuel those expectations and I am not even limiting it here to the anticipation of love, marriage, family or a romantic relationship. But to the very romanticizing of our future.

I want my life to look like that. I want that type of relationship. I want that type of job. I want my life to turn around like that. I want those shoes and her hair. 

It is like I can hear this whisper moving through the syllables of those very words.

"I want to be perfect. Because maybe if I am perfect, then I will be loved." 

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And the more we romanticize our futures, creating unhealthy expectations that set us up for disappointment and even loss, the more stuck we feel. Like why can't I get there? It is a cycle that is tearing us apart and keeping us from destiny.

I believe that these expectations are so often full of passion and often stem from such a deep want and need in our own hearts, that we grow attached to them. The want and the need is real.  Don't dismiss that. But there are healthier ways to manage our wants and needs without building unrealistic expectations. It is better for your heart my friend. It is better for you. 

As much as I am writing this for you, I am writing this for me.

Perfection is not your goal. In God's eyes, you are already perfect through His Son Jesus. You are His perfect and stunning daughter. So take off all the weight, let go of those expectations and breathe woman, breathe. You are loved more than you will ever really know.

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Can we get some truth rolling out this evening, sister?

1. You're loved. Straight up. And those Reese's Pieces or Mini Eggs or chocolate ice cream ain't going to make you feel more loved. (I know you think it will, but it won't.)

2. You look beautiful. Your hair is gorgeous. Your eyes are stunning. All of you is beautiful. Tell everything inside of you that says, "I will be more beautiful WHEN" to shut up. You're not more beautiful when you've lost 15 pounds, when your makeup is like the celebrities on the covers of tabloids, when that guy you like gives you attention. No, no, no. You are beautiful today.

3. You are a success. You are a success because Jesus chose you and loves you today and calls you again and again every day. Your clothes and your job position and your ministry title don't make you a success. If anything, they give you responsibility.

4. You are doing good. I know sometimes you don't think you are and there is still that running list in your head. But you are. You're doing real good. You're breathing, you're laughing, you're living. You haven't given up. You still believe. You STILL believe. You're doing good.

5. You are not defined by your relationship status. Some of us need to read that over and over again until we get it into the deepest places in our hearts. Your worth is not defined by your relationship status. It's not. No way in heaven or hell. And there is nothing wrong with you. Nothing. You're not second class and not second rate. Girl, you are beautiful and you are loved. 

So breathe. Laugh. Dream big. And when you feel stuck, take a look at those expectations and let them go if they're a little unrealistic. Set new ones. Set healthy ones. Set ones that come into line with the truth of who you are.

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Hush. My thoughts on the loss of my aunt and the Connecticut shooting.

I cannot look at the pictures and really, I never can. 

Sometimes death strikes suddenly and sometimes expectedly, yet I find it so hard to look at the pictures. The pictures of them. The pictures of their family. The pictures of what happened. 

This weekend, I am in the United States for a funeral to celebrate the life of my great aunt, an amazing, amazing woman. In the midst of the heaviness of that, I am surrounded by the news of a horrific shooting in Connecticut that took many young lives. And one of the thoughts flooding my mind is, I cannot look at the pictures. 

I cannot look at the pictures of the tragedy and see the shock and innocence written across their faces like a deafening dust. And to look at pictures that bring back memories, from the death that hits so much closer to home, my eyes are hesitating.

This year I lost two women who were especially huge in my eyes as a child. Two women who helped shape me and love me and teach me and who I do deeply respect with my whole heart. I remember when I went to a funeral earlier this year for one of them, the hardest thing for me was seeing her picture. Remembering and feeling that loss that starts at the pit of your stomach until it springs out as tears from your eyes.

And whether it is in these pictures of the ones I loved so much but now have lost or in these pictures of lives affected by great tragedy, it is the same. Like my eyes are meeting with their eyes in the stillness of those images and I just know. I know there is so very little that separates me from them. And that what has happened, I could never stop.

I feel like some of us feel this responsibility like we could have stopped this from happening. We could have stopped this death, maybe if we did something else; prayed more, loved more, gave more, paid attention more. We could have stopped this tragedy, we should have done more! Heck. Why didn't we do more? 

And we feel this heaviness come upon us and every time we look at their pictures, that is what we feel. Like we somehow disappointed.

I just am writing today to say I feel like the hush of heaven is with us. It is not a time for questions. It is not a time for political statements and arguments. It is not even a time for blame. I know something inside of you is squirming, squirming for justice and for answers. It is okay, it is okay. 

He is here even in our grief. This is not your fault. Don't carry it like it is. Condemnation happily uses death and tragedy to beat people up soul and spirit. Not my Jesus. Not for you, my friends.

So for today, hush. Hush your thoughts. Hush your questions. Let that peace of Jesus sweep over you and into the very beating depths of you.

If you need to cry, please do. And if you have recently faced loss close to you like I have, lay back. Lay back in those green pastures that He leads us to. Because it is in moments like these, that we stumble across the blink of eternity and we remember every life has got to be celebrated. Every single one.

And sometimes we can only remember to celebrate when our thoughts and questions have been hushed. When we let Him lead us to the river. When we let Him make us lay down in green pastures, in good things.

When we hear Him say, "It is okay. It really is okay." 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

For when you're having trouble breathing, He rushes in.

This morning, I want to tell you a story. It is a story of a little girl I met a few years ago and for the purpose of this blog, we will call her Lucy. I met Lucy because her parents were looking for someone who could take care of their kids for the occasional night out. And for whatever reason, they picked me.

The first night I met Lucy, I was taken back by her cuteness and also her sass. She was two years old with bright blue eyes that asked questions and told stories. She had crawled into my heart and next thing I knew I myself was crawling through tents and giggling hard as she taught me about delight. Simple and pure delight.

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After I put Lucy to bed, she suddenly started becoming quite sick. She had been crying, so I went upstairs to check on her and she was having trouble breathing. She would fall asleep but would then lose her breath and it would scare her, so she would wake up crying. So I did the only thing I knew to do, I got in her toddler bed with her. held her and pulled her hair out of her face. And as soon as I did, every single time, she would fall asleep.

It was as if just me laying there with her made her feel safe, safe enough to fall asleep, safe enough that even if she lost her breath, I was right there. I was right there.

I was thinking of this story tonight and how sometimes we are like Lucy. It is like sometimes we are have trouble catching our breath, life has been overwhelming, it has been hitting us from the corners and from the caves. As if it is sitting in our lungs and what used to be normal doesn't feel so normal. Breath isn't coming out like it used to. It is a little slower, a little harder, it takes a little more effort.

And it scares us. 

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Sometimes we wake up crying, sometimes we wake up frustrated, sometimes we wake up with our hearts in our throat. And what we need in those moments probably isn't for someone to come and shake us and plead with us to breathe. But what we need, what we really need is someone to come and sit with us, lay with us, hold us. Someone to move the hair out of our eyes and just be. Someone that shows up, so if we do, heck if we do stop breathing, they are right there. They are right there. 

Can I please just challenge us to see Jesus like this? And honestly, even if you don't know Him and even if you feel like there is a lot of distance between you and Him, it doesn't matter. Really. It does not matter. Because what He is thinking about is your heart, not the last time you did what you think He is looking for. 

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And when we feel heavy, when we feel overwhelmed, when we feel like we can't breathe, I feel like He rushes to us. It does not matter where we are, He is going to crawl into that corner and sit with us. And you know what I have found? His very being there is what soaks up the fear and the shame and pulls your burdens from your heart onto His.

And sometimes He won't even say a word, sometimes He doesn't have to. 
Thos is for us. Those of us who can't sleep at night. Those of us who cannot seem to quiet our thoughts. Those of us who have forgotten to rest. And it is like every time His hand touches our head, He quiets our thoughts. And every time, His arms embrace our own, His peace makes its home. And every time His head hits the pillow beside us, our souls start to breathe.

And that breathing gets easier. And easier. And easier. 

 And the rest becomes safer. And safer. And safer. 

 And the fear gets quieter. And quieter. And quieter. 

And we get free. And more free. And more and more free. 

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Brokenness is a privilege.

Today I am just taking a short moment to be with you and share something on my heart with you.  So if you have a moment, come on over and lean in and join the conversation.

Brokenness is not punishment. Brokenness is a privilege. 

Somewhere inside of us we have been convinced that brokenness is weakness. And that's a lie. Your tears don't make you weak and neither do your experiences.

Your brokenness wherever it is and whatever it is saying (and we all have some so don't pretend you don't) deserves to be felt and deserves to be heard. Not so that you can wallow in the darkness and somehow come out more wounded. But so that you can take this brokenness, this very gift of brokenness, and be changed. 

Some of us will go through things or face different stuff and we won't embrace the brokenness. Maybe we will just plough through. Maybe not think about it. Maybe just grin and bear it. Maybe just straight-up avoid.

But if you stop and you pause your heart and you embrace the cry in you heart that you just NEED Him to come through, He will. And if you allow it, you will find Him coming in and filling those empty and those thirsty and those weak places inside of you.
And suddenly this brokenness becomes a place of constant encounter with Him. And that what makes your brokenness a gift. Because it has transformed from being weakness to being a place of invitation for His presence, for ALL of Him to invade ALL of you.

Friends, it is time we built coping mechanisms of grace.  Learning to cope through our harsh realities by resting in His love.

And that really in the eye of eternity, it is all gonna be okay. And He is gonna love you through it all. He is gonna stick with you through it all.  And on the days when He isn't fighting but He is resting, like He did with the disciples in the storm, don't wake Him, but lay down, shut your eyes and rest too.

Because it is almost like sometimes, we gotta stop fighting and wrestling and we just gotta lay down as if He is saying, "Sometimes it is just sweet for you to be  here with Me." 

Monday, December 10, 2012

I will admit it. I am fighting.

Sometimes I feel like we get caught up in this standard of perfection, that we forget. We forget that not everyone is doing okay, not everyone is waking up happy, not everyone is slaying giants in their sleep. In fact, somedays few people are.

I really do believe there is mighty power in the words we say and what we declare over our life. I really do believe that we do need to keep going back to the promises of God and to His heart even when it does not make sense and even when it hurts.

But I do not believe in covering up pain for the sake of making a declaration. I do not believe in neglecting the processes and the pain of the heart to attain an image of spirituality that has no substance.

And this is where I am at today. 

Why are we so afraid of the pain in us and why are we so afraid of the pain in other people? 

I am realizing more and more, maybe because of the struggle in me and glimpses of struggle in other people, that we are all living out a story. We all have things we are fighting against. Some of us are at better parts of the story and some of us are fighting hard. But in our fighting and in our wrestling, we are hiding it. And maybe no one takes the time to stop, to ask, to provoke our heart and say, "Are you okay?" 

And so yes the stories continue, but they continue as isolated plots when they were designed to be a masterpiece production.

Maybe you're feeling like you're afraid to show people your wounds. Listen, if you're fighting, let people know you're fighting and if you're dancing, let people join in with your joy and dance too.

Don't submit to this ridiculous theology that says you have got to be something perfect to be loved because it is a lie. It is a lie from hell.

Jesus did not shun Thomas because He had doubts but He actually came nearer. Jesus was not shocked at the sexual sin of the adulteress but He actually knelt lower. Jesus did not ignore the Samaritan woman at the well but He actually made the conversation longer. Jesus didn't cut off the tax collectors but He actually ate with them over dinner.

You know what that tells me? 

Perfection isn't the requirement of His time, His attention, His passion. He is nearer to us than we think. He is closer to the people you wouldn't think He would be and He is making His conversations longer with them, kneeling with them in the dust, eating spaghetti with them at their house.

We have got to know that in our hearts for us, that even in our messes, He is sometimes doing the very opposite of what we think He would. Those things darkness whispers in your ears, He's the opposite. He is true and He is love.

So I will go first. You know what friends? I am fighting. For the past year, I have been fighting. Fighting for my heart and fighting for the truth. Wrestling against more loss and struggle than I could have ever imagined possible.

I am thankful for the people who have stopped for me and bent low. Thank you. You are some of the most amazing people I have ever met.

And friends, we can't accept this as the end of our story. Because it is not. It is just the beginning.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Meet Bobbie Jo Berry.






My friends, I am so excited to share with you the story of an amazing woman today. She is an incredible friend and a dear sister to me whom I value so much. I pray that as you lean in to hear her story, that you would catch some of her fire and be reminded of how deeply loved you are. Always. And how that doesn't change. Ever.

Meet Bobbie Jo Berry. 

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I loved interviewing Bobbie Jo because at times it was like she was giggling in between syllables and at other times, her passion was like a fiery river flowing out of her. I first met her two and a half years ago at Lakemount Worship Centre (one of the best places in the world) and I was struck by her authenticity, her love and her good fashion, of course.

Bobbie Jo is a graphic designer, currently residing in California with a heart is beating for Canada. She even married a Canadian which is clearly amazing.

When I asked her what makes her come alive, she had two things on her heart to share with us besides coffee. Creation makes her come alive. When Bobbie Jo was a little girl, she would sit on her fence in her backyard and for hours sit and watch the clouds change colours, from white to yellow to purple and pink. It was like in those tender and innocent moments, God was telling her He loved her. Those moments would set a foundation in her for the rest of her life.

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As for the other thing that makes her alive. It is worship. Abandoned worship. That spot where you don't see anything around you, your eyes are locked on heaven and you feel so alive as if your soul is bare before your King.

He sees you, my friends. Hear that today. 

Bobbie Jo's life has been made rich by many things, but one thing that she talked a lot about is her husband. She said,
"It is like you love somebody so much and yet they challenge you in such a way that it makes you a better person. My husband makes me a better person. He sees me. He knows me. He affirms things I never thought I would have. He balances me out. He is full of wisdom. He is a good teacher. I learn so much from him all the time. He just makes me love God more."

Melt my heart and put it in a bucket. Sweetest thing I heard all week.

It just reminds me that even beyond marriage, we can do these things in any relationship. We can fight for one another. We can affirm people and pull things out. We can encourage destiny and hope. And though it is not maybe as extreme as the realm of marriage, we can sprinkle that in all our relationships and encourage everyone we encounter to love God more. 

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If Bobbie Jo could take this generation anywhere and tell them anything, she would choose something impossible. She would want to see such an atmosphere created in worship, that every single person would feel the presence of God in such a way, they would encounter His resounding heartbeat, His heart for their lives. They would encounter love and that encounter with love would release purpose over their lives. 

This is what has wrecked her. That she can just show up and He loves her and approves her just for living and being. No more striving. 

And that even when we show up and feel like a mess and ask Him to clean up the pieces. He is standing there and saying, "This isn't a mess. This is beautiful." 

So right now wherever you are, I encourage you to just lock your eyes on heaven and ask the Father to meet you and that you would hear those words resounding out of His heart for you now and always:

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

When our culture shapes our response to evil.

Many months ago, I found myself watching a documentary on the freedom riders. The freedom riders were a group of university students made up of males and females, blacks and whites who rode interstate buses into the segregated United States. They wanted to make a statement that there is no such thing as sub-humanity and that every person was counted worthy to eat at the same table, ride the same bus, wait in the same place no matter the colour of your skin.

There is always something that strikes me with stories like these.

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You can read books and hear interviews of white people who grew up amidst segregation and amidst the assumed idea that blacks were sub-human and they will tell you, they never realized anything was wrong.   They never realized that the culture they were growing up in was infused with injustice.

But even more so, those who loved God and who signed up to follow Jesus wherever He went, they believed that this is what He wanted. They believed that God's design was segregation. They believed that an entire race was less human. And what blows my mind even more is that it wasn't like it was just this one moment in history where the Church showed up and made these crazy claims.

But all over history, the people of God have risen up sometimes leading the movement, sometime nodding, sometimes turning their head that entire people groups are less human than the rest. Women. Children. Different races. Different income groups.

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And we can look back on all that history and say, “How could they be so ignorant? How could they be so stupid?” But I tell you, my friends we must watch our hearts.

We have to be careful that we do not interpret the scripture through the lens of our culture. We have to watch ourselves that we are not persuaded by the hype and the fear, joining with the masses with our fists in the air, while Jesus, Jesus isn't with us, He is sitting with the poor or the sinner or the lowly of heart.

And there are questions beating within the cabins of my heart.
What if there are things that I am actively allowing now that generations beyond me will be shocked at my complacency and my cold heart? And what if my culture has infused itself as my lens to the extreme that I am not reading the scripture right and I am not even where Jesus is? 

Hard questions. But good questions.

There are so many issues I could throw out as explained in our culture, like how our culture regards the unborn or allows kids to be sold on our streets or shames the poor or treats those who struggle with what our culture has defined as the extreme sins. We are fascinated by the motion of love and justice but very few people are willing to kiss the face of death to see something shift a culture, something set a people free.

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And I want to be clear today that there is a difference between justice and Christian tourism. Just because we have the pictures sitting with kids in the dirt doesn't make us Christian celebrities and what you and I both know is that most often true justice, the full disclosure of heaven, of love, of restoration, that stuff most often flies under the radar. If you bend low enough, you can hear it.

I am so convinced that true justice doesn't demand to be seen because love is already present.
Injustice was seared on His body and nailed to a piece of wood a couple thousand years ago. You know what that tells me? That the Father's arms are held back from no one. Not you, not anyone. No exclusion, no turning your face away, no silence to suffering is warranted before our Father's heart. It just can’t be.

Fight every temptation to look away. Fight every temptation to ignore it. Fight every temptation to join the masses.

Surrender to everything inside of you that is telling you to go be with Jesus where He really is. Not where the culture says He is, but where He actually is.

My prayer for us all is that we would have eyes to see Him, that we would really see Him.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

I hate that we have domesticated the Cross.

I hate that we have gotten used to the Cross. I hate that it has become almost like a cliche, as if our culture has taken its familiarity and domesticated it. I hate that the Cross has lost its wonder.

I hate that we have lost our wonder.

Sometimes I try to think about what it would look like if I lived in a culture that had never heard about this thing called the Cross, never heard about this man they call Jesus. I did not see it from the highway adorned on every church I passed by. I did not see it on the papers I was handed just outside the grocery store. I did not see it show up on necklaces and on the covers of lace journals.

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Because it is like in our familiarity with it, we have forgotten how radical the Cross is. 

How radical it is that sin is broken. How radical it is that our pasts are gone. How radical it is that He became love; how He became the answer.

It is like I wish I could swim in it, that I could fall back into it, that I could just lay in that for hours. He became my answer.

Forgiveness and peace and power - all these amazing things we have in God - are not because we were just born awesome, but it is because of Jesus.  It is because of Jesus. 

And that my new identity and the insane love that He gives me every moment of every day is never something I think that I should get to the place of feeling entitled to. But it should lead me in praise. 

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My heart is sitting like a lump in my throat today because I think I got used to it.

I think I even got to the place of being tired of hearing about it. That every time that communion table rolls out at whatever church I am at, I feel bothered. How is that okay? 

Sometimes I feel like I sit here and I know Jesus died on the Cross. It has been something I have heard all my life.
But I am so hungry for it to go beyond knowledge and for its reality to transform me in a way that leaves me changed. I am hungry for the Holy Spirit to stumble through my heart and in every corner for this heart of mine to shout out, "The Cross was radical love and now I am a daughter!"

I want to soak in it's goodness until it is like I am drowning in it, as if it drips off every fibre of my being.

That the Cross changed me.  

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Come on a small journey with me and just imagine with me in your mind's eye a blank canvas. Nothing. Just blank. Don't think about any religious tradition, any even thought you have about what the Gospel is. Just blank.

Imagine God's love with me. That fierce look He gets in His eyes. That tenderness that oozes out of His touch. That smile that you just can't get away from. That walk in His step like He owns the earth but yet you're still His favourite.

And imagine with me that all of that is taken away. Gone for just a split second, a fleeting moment. 

That no matter how hard you try and run at God, you can never reach Him. That the heaviness of everything you've done wrong sits on you like boulders around your neck. Your life is consumed by a separation that you can't fix.

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But this Jesus comes. He doesn't come like anyone thought He would and He doesn't look or act or talk like everyone thought He should but that doesn't change that He is Jesus. He is so compelled my love that He is driven to the darkest places and to the darkest place, the place of your wrongdoings, your own personal dusk, the death over you.

And He gives His life. He gives life in your place. 

And because of this, all those boulders have come off. And suddenly that separation is lifted. And that distance is gone and now:

Shame isn't your vocabulary. Your identity is not dictated by what you do. Your worth is no longer made up of sacrifices. And it is so radical. It doesn't even make sense. But you crumble into it, because its all you know to do.
It is that revelation of His death and His insane love that leads you in praise and in the giving of your life. It compels you to go to the dark places with the truth. It sends you into humility and brokenness to love deeply. To love so deeply that it could almost feel like your heart is outside your body. That in the eye of eternity, you would pour out like He poured out.

Not because you're looking for the approval or avoiding the punishment of some distant God.

But because love picked you up. It captured you. It took you from the pits of darkness and sent you into the oceans of glorious light. 

How can we do anything else but give our lives? How can we not worship? How can we stand to see the Cross receive entitlement rather than wonder?

We can't. We just can't.

 

 

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