Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tender Presence

Tonight, as I had the privelege of entering into the presence of God with an amazing group of women, the Holy Spirit gave me the most precious vision of what was happening in the room.
As we began a time of listening and responding to the Word the Lord had taught us in our time together, I began to hear the tingling of brokenness fill the room. But it wasn't a clamoring crash...no...it was a beautiful sound. Music was made as pieces of our flesh fell away.
I listened to tears that resonated with the reality of His greatness, His goodness, His love, His truth, His freedom.
Strength stood.
Courage moved.
Vessels were broken.
Treasures were reclaimed.
And with treasures in hand, the reality of who He is and who we are not washed over us.

In that moment, the eyes of my spirit were opened to see the unseen, in a way that only the Holy Spirit can.
He wasn't just somewhere in the room.
Standing next to each woman...there He was: the Holy Spirit was tending to them.
He was tending to each one.
He was administering healing and comfort through the tenderness of His presence.
I saw it.
I experienced it.
The Person of the Holy Spirit had each one enveloped, counseling their spirits, healing the wounds of brokenness that are making way for growth beyond imagination.
Overwhelmed is the only way I can describe it.
Beautiful is the picture painted by His presence over us.
Tender. Loving. Gracious.
He was so tender with our spirits, caring for His daughters in a way that only He can, even when He saw every part of the wretchedness we brought.
Oh how He loves!
Gentle, as we begin to walk forward in our healing on new feet, in unfamiliar places, longing for only one thing: to find more of Him.

"He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers lambs in his arms and
carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young."
Isaiah 40:11

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Summer to Remember...

I pray that you all are having a great summer thus far and that somewhere in the mix you find time to relax with family and vacate the everyday routines for a little rest time and fun time! :)
Jarrett and I had been telling the youth as summer approached that they have a choice: make this a summer to remember or a summer to forget.
So what about you?
How awesome would it be to be standing in the glory of of the golds and oranges of autumn, leaves falling around as the brisk wind carresses your face and fondly remember, "Ahh summer. The summer I gave it all to my Lord and really began to experience the love relationship He's been longing to have with me! The summer Our love really began!"
It isn't just for everyone else, you know.
It is for YOU.
Time is going to pass. Seasons are going to change....but will you remain the same?
What are you waiting for?

You have the power through the Holy Spirit.
You have the resource and wisdom through God's Word.
Unfortunately, there is one thing we all have that holds us back: PRIDE.
It disguises itself as many things, but PRIDE is the root to so much of what litters our lives and distracts and pulls us away from our Lord.

Pride tells you that spiritual intellect is better than relationship.
Pride tells you that keeping Jesus as one of many options is the same as having him as the only option.
Pride tells you it is ok to read the Word and apply it to everyone else, but not to yourself.
Pride tells you the more you do, the more you are.
Pride tells you that surrender is only for fanatics.
Pride tells you that you can follow Jesus and still look like the world.
Pride tells you that if it makes you happy, go for it.
Pride tells you that position is more important than obedience.
Pride tells you that this life is all about you and that it doesn't have to be all about Jesus until you die.
Pride tells you that being religious is the same thing, or even better than relationship.
Pride tells you that as long as you appear super religious, that you're good to go.
Pride tell tells you how to justify every choice you make.
Pride is the KING if excuses.
Pride is the ORIGIN of excuses.
Pride is the undetected, elusive cancer in your spirit.

Don't let it hide and wreak havoc on you any longer.
Don't wear yourself out pulling up the little weeds popping up over here, over there, continually in your spirit.
Kill the source!
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you surrender your all, and through the power and authority of the blood of Jesus, loose you from the shackles of PRIDE!

We each have further to go in our relationship with the Father. Wherever you are, there is more of Him ready and waiting to be poured out into your life.
What are you waiting for?
What are you stuck in?

Some of us are stuck in routine.
Some of us are stuck in busyness.
Some of us are stuck in religion.
Some of us are stuck in fear.
Some of us are stuck in lies.
Some of us are stuck in ignorance.
Some of us are stuck in piety.
Some of us are stuck in bitterness.
Some of us are stuck in unforgiveness.
Some of us are stuck in complacency.
Some of us are stuck in apathy.
Some of us are stuck in intellect.
Some of us are stuck in denial.

Where are you? Where does the Holy Spirit say that YOU are?
Not where you think someone else has caused you to be or where the harshness of life's circumstances have put you....it's about where YOU have chosen to stay.

John 15
The Vine and the Branches
1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesa] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.

Where have you placed your roots? What have you sunk your roots into?
Where are you remaining?

The fruit we produce is undeniable.
In today's world, many are in the habit of trying to harvest their real or actual fruit in darkness and then trying to pass of other fruit as their own, as if it came from the nutrients running through their veins, but the reality of where your roots are cannot stay hidden forever.
What flows in your inmost being will find its way out.
"...for out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." Matthew 12:34
"Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account." Hebrews 4:13

Don't stay stuck in the all the muck the enemy entices you into!
Don't allow pride to drive you into the mirey stench of the enemy and convince you to stay!

Plastic fruit in a bowl looks pretty, but it brings no nourishment, no joy, no sustenance...it only gathers dust and is obviously fake upon further inspection.

YOU are the desire of the Father's heart and He longs to see you free in His love, flourishing in His Spirit!

Will you choose to make this a summer to remember?
Will you make the choices necessary to "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance."(Matt 3:8) ?
Will you sink your roots deep into the PERSON of God, not just the activities of God?
Will you allow the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where the spirit of Pride has taken hold in you and allow Him to UPROOT all that is keeping you from fully experiencing the Lord?

This season will come and it will go....will you be the same with its passing?
Or will you be forever changed...rooted in His love...rooted in His power...rooted in His TRUTH?
Choose for this to be a summer to remember.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

In the Waiting

Laundry. The bane of my existence.

It is never done.

It is the job infinitely unfulfilled and incomplete.

I dread it. I procrastinate.
And then, I end up exactly where I am at this moment: waiting on the dryer to stop so I can go to sleep.
And no, I cannot just go on to bed because dryers left running unattended account for…well, some amount or number of house fires I heard somewhere. And that statistic, little or big as it may be, still looms in my mind and reminds me to stay awake- or get someone else to- if the dryer is still going when it is time for beddy-bye.
So here I sit at 1am in the morning at my desk in a dark house, save the glow of my computer and the faint light of my laundry closet creeping onto my kitchen floor, with the low rumble of the dryer lulling me into a sleep that I cannot embrace at the moment!


I really despise laundry.
Don’t I?
Well, maybe not.
As I ponder this, I realize that it isn’t actually the laundry that I despise; it is the laundering of the clothes that frustrates me so.
Laundry is that which gets laundered. So to say I dislike laundry is to say I dislike clothing, and…well…one glance at my closet will confirm that I do, in fact, like clothing.
So, you see, it is the act of laundering that truly is the source of these woes.
But the reality is, these clothes I like so well, if I desire to continue wearing them in such a way that is enjoyable and not brandishing a foreboding stench, then I must enter in to this place of laundering in order to experience the benefits that it affords me.
I simply place my garments in the washer and then dryer, carefully reading and following instructions on how to go about this task of cleaning my clothes so they are ready for wear.

My garments cannot go unlaundered or they ultimately will become useless- something they were never created or purchased to be.

So how are your garments…the garments of your soul and spirit?
Have you come to see the purifying of your soul and spirit as the bane of your existence, where dread leads to procrastination and the inability to “arrive” drives you insane as you stare at your unfulfilled, incomplete self?

Are you allowing them to be laundered so that they can be used in the purpose for which they were created and then purchased on the cross?
The reality is that so little is required for you and I to receive so very much.
I do not have to stand and scrub those clothes- I simply sort, measure, load.
I do not have to use the breath from my lungs to restore those clothes to a condition in which I could comfortably wear them- I simply toss them in the dryer and press start.

Yet, I speak of the process as though I did the work; like the labor was mine alone.
I wear my frustration as a badge of honor, a decorated heroine who has fought the battle of endless socks and won- if only for a fleeting moment…

But as I sit here and wait, I realize that I have done all that I can do and now I must simply wait and let the dryer do the rest...bring to completion what my act of faith began.

It would be pointless for me to keep running to the dryer every 5 seconds just to be absolutely certain that it really was going to dry my clothes.
I simply have to trust.
I have to do what I can do and then leave the rest up to the dryer.
Have I connected to the power source? Check.
Have I surrendered the clothing? Check.
Have I turned it on to access the power? Check.
Have I been patient in allowing it to accomplish what is intended? Well…………
Not so much.

I long for new clothes, fresh clothes, clothes that are exactly what I need for what is ahead of me at any given moment. Garments that have been through the wash and smell clean and fresh and ready to wear…that is what my heart cries out for.

But the fear of laundering must be cast aside.

The fear of what may happen to the garment cannot keep it from being lovingly placed in the wash so that it can be made clean and ready for the wear.
Clothes were made to be worn and enjoyed!

They only become a chore when they are dirty and in need of being cleansed!
We must each come to the realization that day by day, the stench of flesh rubs off on the garment of our spirit and we are in need of laundering.

Why? So that the blessing, joy, freshness, and newness can freely and fully flow in, breathe on us and prepare us to be effectively and completely used.

We cannot keep trying to find brand new clothes readily offered by the world and even borrowed clothes to put on when we haven’t allowed the Lord to cleanse the ones we have...our God-given clothes!
Take responsibility and do what has to be done.

In the words of Joyce Meyer, “ Just do what you can do and allow God to do what you cannot do.”

What does my impatience reveal? Too little faith and too much fear and feelings.

I simply must do what God has told me to do and have faith that He is working and doing everything that I cannot.
The result?
Garments that are pure and fresh…that have the scent of the Father lingering over them, the warmth of His touch radiating from them.
The kind of garments that you put you face into and breathe deeply and exhale,
“Ahhhh…this is the product of my waiting.”

The dryer just stopped....whew....and it scared me half to death as its BUZZZZZ broke the silence!

I was caught up in this writing God had called me to do- His speaking in the midst of my waiting.
Just like that...............the silence is broken.

The process that induced the waiting has come to an end and the result is ready to be embraced…so that more of Him and less of me can be the reality in which I live and move and have my being.

There is always more laundering of this filthy soul to be done.
So I will simply do what I can do, what He asks me to do-and allow Him to do all that I cannot.
The filth of this soul that I loathe to launder is a glimpse at the great potential for the purity of Christ.

As I place it in the washer and dryer, the waiting produces a garment that is fresh and righteous according to God’s grace and goodness.

Not because of anything good that I have done, but because of the obedience in doing what I could do and having faith for Him to do the rest.

There are many “silences” in my life that I long to be broken. Some big; Some small.
But I will wait.
And then, I will breathe in the freshness only His Spirit can bring.

I will breathe deep the scent of my Father, embrace the warmth of His presence and I will exhale, “Ahhhhh…Lord, more of YOU is always worth the waiting.”

"But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior;
my God will hear me."
Micah 7:7

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Excited Expectation

I have to say...I was probably a little too excited.
A little too excited to see a movie that I had already seen numerous times and currently own...yet, here I was going to the movie theatre to see it ahhhh-gain.
But wait, there's more.
THIS time, I was going to see the movie on...da-da-dum....(enter the big booming announcer voice).....
Gasp, awe...

Anyway, a new theatre opening locally was having their grand opening, and to celebrate was offering FREE movies of "recent Hollywood hits".
I love FREE. (Kudos to you theatre peeps for that great idea btw!)

Having realized that FREE would be the only way in which our family would be able to go all together to see a movie in...(here comes the voice again)...IMAX 3D, I quickly got on the task of gathering details about this opportunity and was determined to see it come to pass!
Movie choice: check.
Address to feed Lori(Jarrett's GPS): check.
Jacket for theatre: check.
So off we headed to see this movie we had all seen before, lots of times, and in all honesty, could have stayed home to watch.

As we rounded the corner to the theatre, I actually felt a little giddy...you know that little kid excitement that rises up inside.
My expectations were off the chart!
Yes, I am willing to admit that, I, the seatbelt freak, even unbuckled as soon as Jarrett turned into the parking lot, so as to uninhibit my calculated speedy exit from the vehicle in order to out walk other patrons headed to the ticket line!
I even left my family at the car.
I mean, hey- when its time to get to business, mama don't play.
Either your daddy can hold your hand across that parking lot or you can use the brain your heavenly Father gave you!...ok relax all you horrified people, I'm kidding. No children were left unattended in the viewing of the movie.
But for real, Jarrett brought them after I had gone ahead.

And so I got in line- the shortest line- and was relieved to find out our time was NOT sold out! YES!
Having heard that lines had been horrendous at times during this grand opening promo, I felt like waving my tickets and doing the "Rocky" dance, but I restrained myself, and instead just kept asking the kids over and over, "Aren't you excited? Mommy is excited! Isn't this great? Aren't you excited? Can you believe the blessing this is for us? Isn't God good? Aren't you excited?" (I realize, at this point, that those of you who feel you were not embarrassed enough as a child, are all wishing that I, too, was your mother. ha.)

We entered the theatre, found great seats right in the center, top and I prepared myself.
Phone silenced: check.
Jacket on: check.
All children pottied: check.
3D glasses cleaned with precision: check.
Comfortable positioning of 3D glasses for myself and kids tested and memorized : check.

And then, the moment came...
Previews had come and gone...and now as the theatre began to identify itself as...(here it comes)...IMAX 3D, what was on the screen suddenly transformed and came to life!
Words that had been on the screen now danced before me, nearer than I could ever have imagined. Details jumped from the screen flooding my eyes, my mind...and I couldn't just sit and let it pass me by! I stretched my arms out to reach for what was in front of me!

The responses were so varied, but were evident across the theatre:
Caroline giggled, I said WOW, some gasped, some ooed and ahhed, jaws dropped, polite people whispered, rude, oops I mean other people talked in an outside voice...and this was not even the beginning of the movie- it was merely of taste of what was to come!
I knew this was NOT going to disappoint!

More amazing, reach-out-and-touch-the-screen moments occurred as we saw this movie we had seen so many times...but why?

Why was this time different than all the others?

Because this time, we were experiencing this movie in the fullness its creator intended it to be experienced.
The time and detail placed in this film was for movie goers to not just see the story, hear the story...but to be drawn into the story and experience it.

How often do we approach our encounters with the One True Living God this way?

When is the last time that I had such a great level of expectation that I was actually giddy just thinking about what I was going to experience by coming in to the presence of the Lord?

When is the last time I spent that much preparation to be in God's presence?

When is the last time I made sure I was sharing with others around me the greateness of the One I was expecting to experience and let them know that same encounter is available to them?

When is the last time we threw off all that hinders, stepped outside of our rituals and routines and went after the Lord...even when others choose to lag behind?

When is the last time we simply embraced being in His presence, allowing Him to make Himself evident in us, through us, with laughter, ooos, ahhs, whispers, shouts, outstretched arms, a shared word?

Our Heavenly Father, the Creator of all, longs for you experience the fullness of Who He is!

He presence is not something to be simply spoken of, heard of, or seen through the vantage point of a man-made box.

His presence is a place of TRANSFORMATION.
His presence is a place of VISION.
His presence is a place of REVELATION.

It is to be experienced.

So that you can be transformed into His image.
So that you can have the vision of His perspective.
So that you can receive the revelation of His will for your life.

We have become so content to view God through a key-hole that we randomly stumble upon when life begins to trample on us...hoping to glimpse just enough to give us a clue about the story line and fashion our lives into a faint resemblance, then tout our knowledge of Him as though we actually knew Him in an experiential way.

But the reality is, the key that fits that hole was purchased on a cross on which Jesus bled and died, and was delivered into His hands when He rose from the dead three days later.
The door of sin and death that separates us is unlocked for all who believe.

Stop being a key-hole peeker and a threshhold dweller!

Expect to experience the fullness of God.
THAT is what God created you for and that is why Jesus died for you!

Don't settle for a 2D, 7 inch screen walk with the Lord when He has made an...(enter that big voice)...IMAX 3D abundant life available to YOU!

God never disappoints.

OH!....and did I mention, just like my cinema experience...it's FREE!
I love FREE. :)

"My ears had heard of You, but now my eyes have seen you."
Job 42:5
"Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good."
1 Peter 2:2-3
"Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see-how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to Him"
Psalm 34:8

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What Will YOU Ask?

The Holy Spirit recently impressed this question on my spirit...

Have you asked the Lord to do something IN you
have you only asked Him to do something FOR you?

To be perfectly honest, asking Him to do something FOR you, the way most people approach it, requires little more than the asking.

Asking Him to do something IN you, however, means that you are ready to hear, surrender and respond in obedience.
It means you have placed yourself on the altar and are ready for examination...willing to allow the Great Physician to diagnose the core problem, the disease at hand- rather than simply saying "mask this symptom", "get rid of this negative side affect", "anesticize the problem".

Many times, the reason we do not receive the answers to the very things we talk God's ear off about is because we have not asked the right question first: Will you do something IN me Lord?

Ultimately, faith is required of both questions...but if you do not have the faith that trusts God to prune, sculpt, shape your life first, then the faith you claim to be releasing when you ask Him FOR something is not genuine faith: it is merely a ritualistic attempt to receive a desire of the flesh through religious means.

And when that doesn't work, self-reliance steps in to create the solution you want.

When you ask Him to do a work IN you, once you have heard His heart, then you can truly understand what it is you really need to be asking FOR...we will be praying what the Spirit desires because our soul(mind/will/emotions) is aligned with HIS rather than seeking desires of the flesh.

You begin to ask from a place of relationship, rather than treating the Lord like a drive through at a fast food restaurant.

You may begin asking FOR things, but there's one thing you will ask for, CRAVE the most:

You will be hungry for who He is rather than what He can give.

I have NEVER known ONE PERSON who had a GENUINE CRAZY PASSION for Jesus that this was not the case.

When it came to what the SOLD OUT, Jesus lovers sought after, what they wanted first and foremost......
.....They didn't seek a ministry platform. They didn't seek a class to teach. They didn't seek the next best worship song to sing. They didn't seek happiness. They didn't seek to keep up with the Jones'. They didn't seek more money and things. They didn't seek the next best position or promotion. They didn't seek to fit in. They didn't seek to look hot. They didn't seek to have read all the best Christian books. They didn't seek to be right. They didn't seek the world's approval. They didn't seek to be religiously entertained. They didn't seek to excel in EVERYthing. They didn't seek to BE everything. They didn't seek to label others. They didn't seek to solve all the mysteries of God and box it up to market it for the world. They didn't seek greater intelectual knowledge of Christ to further their own aspirations. They didn't seek religious fame. They didn't seek the appearance of perfection.......
......They sought JESUS, JESUS, and MORE JESUS.
THIS is it.

Some of the above may have happened as a result of seeking Him first, but it was never what they were clamoring after and hungering for!

In Revelation 2:4 Jesus says to the church that has DONE great things, that had endured hardships and perservered, "Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love."

He wasn't talking to wretched people, blatant in their sin! He was talking to the ones everybody thought of as spiritual and strong. They were strong in things of God, but had stepped away from the person of God!

The interaction between the Holy Spirit and our spirit becomes so warped, distorted, clogged, mangled by all those things that we seek. We may even think that we are acting, reacting in good ways and seeking good things, but if there is ANY other motive than MORE of JESUS, we have forsaken our first love.

How do we keep this from happening?

ALWAYS ask Him to do something IN you before you ask Him to do something FOR you.

Psalm 139:23-24(The Message)
"Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong- then guide me on the road to eternal life."

I admit, I so many times let my head get before my spirit...you know when the soul tries to run the show and I start operating from a "religious"place rather than a "relationship" place, with no one around me the wiser...asking FOR things- even good and noble things...but forgetting to throw it all to the side and first go after the most important thing: simply HIM.

And why? For no other reason but to know Him more. If you are "trying" to get to know God so that blah blah this or blah blah that...then you need to go back to Psalm 139 and cry out the verses above! We need to consistently be asking the Holy Spirit to assess our motives, to look in the places we have begun to overlook, ignore and tolerate.
Then LISTEN...and allow the Holy Spirit to begin a powerful and amazing transformation in you!!!

Are you willing to be BRAVE and ask Him to do a mighty work IN you?

Are you willing to lay aside pious comparisons and self righteous attitudes that keep you where you are and are offering false assurance and breeding complacency?

Are you williing to let Him INVESTIGATE your life, without locking doors of your heart?
Are you ready to give Him an ALL ACCESS pass to ALL that you are?

He already knows every seen AND HIDDEN thing! (Heb 4:13!)

He is simply waiting on you to invite Him to begin creating a masterpiece out of your mess.

Stop trying to figure it out! He already has.
Surrender and Trust.

Let Him change you from the INside out.

I long for you to experience a PASSIONATE GROWTH EXPLOSION in your intimate relationship with GOD!

The real question is......do you?????

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I Can't Sleep

I am not a troubled sleeper....usually.
Lately, I have not rested as well as usual and it is honestly getting on my nerves.
I am the one who falls asleep as my head is on the way to the pillow, or-and Jarrett will back me up on this- in the middle of a sentence that I am reading aloud to you from the computer screen!
It's not the falling asleep, but the staying there that has been hit or miss as of late.
Friday night was one of those nights.
I woke up at 3:30.
Rolled over and looked at the clock at 4:15.
Prayed some more.
Along came 4:45...
You know those times when you know it is more than yourself keeping you awake? Maybe you do, maybe you don't....but I came to the point where I knew I wasn't supposed to be lying in that bed anymore. My spirit has been roused by the Holy Spirit. Something was up and He needed me up...
Finally, I said, "Ok Lord. I get it. I am getting up. What do you want me to do?"
And so I went-you could even say somewhat begrudgingly-to mine and the Lord's meeting place in the den, Bible and journal in hand, and waited....
And as I did, I felt impressed to write.
I didn't think and write, I simply wrote and then read what came out...and it was such an amazing thing when I went back and read!
The Holy Spirit molded my spirit into His desire in a matter of lines on a page and so gently led me to a place where I could receive...so sweetly plowed the hardened ground of my heart...so lovingly tuned the ears of my spirit to His frequency...

...and nothing else mattered.

It was a refreshing like no amount of sleep could ever bring.

I love Him SO much!
I mean, I really just love that He loves that time with me and will wake me up to get it.

So, what follows here is a rare excerpt from my journal from that early morning hour that the Holy Spirit has nudged me to share, because I want you to see how precious He is and how willing He is to be the most tender of Shepherds and guide you where you need to go...if you will just be willing to follow...

I can't sleep.
I don't know why.
Any noble purpose I've let slip by.
Some other one may have known what to do
In these moments given, this morning, brand new.
I can think of millions of tasks to fill the time-
All menial and domestic-nothing sublime.
But there's a need to satisfy down in my spirit and soul,
An emptiness calling, longing to be whole!
My spirit has been awakened to commune with Your love,
To lay aside earthly burdens and focus above.
Who You are awaits to show me who I can be.
Illuminate my mind, help these blind eyes to see!
So how can I answer, more than, "Here I am!",
And position myself before the Spotless Lamb?
In this unadultered hour, all I want is YOU.
As the moon begins to hide, let Your Son rise, revealing TRUTH.
There's a thinness to the walls that have seemed to separate,
A Divine entrance fashioned, a spiritual floodgate!
Anticipation trickles into the fog of my spirit,
Burned away by expectation as Your Holiness comes near it!
So come, Holy Spirit, take me where I dare not go!
Overwhelm this earthen vessel, help me receive what You desire me to know.
And I will wait before You.........
No, I won't leave...I'll adore You.....
You are why
I won't sleep.

Ezekiel 36:25-28(The Message)
"I'll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I'll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I'll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that's God-willed, not self-willed. I'll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands. You'll once again live in the land I gave your ancestors. You'll be my people! I'll be your God!"

Monday, April 5, 2010

ENGAGE in Snuggle Time!

I have come to the conclusion that I turn into a kid magnet at night.
As much as my 11, 9, and 7 year olds may ignore me at times during the day....at night everything changes.
And, of course, I LOVE IT! :)
They always want me to lay down with them, or either want to snuggle with me in my bed...and I cherish every minute.
The other night Caroline came running in my room and jumped onto Jarrett's side of the bed and said , "Mama, I want to snuggle with you! I want us to have snuggle time!"
"Sure!", I said.
So, she jumped under the covers and turned toward me, but just then, something that was on Food Network on the TV in our room caught her attention and she simply laid back on Jarrett's pillow rather than us actually snuggling.
We were close...but the snuggling just wasn't happening because you can't see how Chef Robert conquers his impossible cooking mission AND nuzzle into Mama simultaneously.
So Chef Robert won(the mission and my time slot!)
When the show ended the king of the land(Jarrett) came in and proclaimed that it was bed time which means: I want my bed and my spot...all kids to your beds, asap.

Caroline turned to me with this horrified look on her face.
"But Mama! I never got to snuggle with you! I wanted to snuggle and then I just forgot! And now I don't have time!"

It was true...I had been there beside her, turned toward her, arm extended, with a place right there for her to snuggle into me, and although she was close...she never actually snuggled in and received what her heart originally came there longing for.

What a picture for us as Believers.

Isn't that really what we all come to the Lord longing for?
Don't you want to just crawl into the arms of the Father and receive all that He has to offer you?

Ahh, to lay our head on the chest of the Father and listen to His heartbeat, to allow the rhthym of our breath, the rhythm of our LIFE to be in sync with His!

We come so close, but never quite make it to the moment that brings the nourishment our soul continually and ravenously longs for.
We may go to the right places, open the right books, even position ourselves around the right people, but we never ENGAGE.

The thing is, we can be coaxed, called upon, encouraged to, but until we choose to look away from what is distracting, turn TOWARD what God has made available and then MOVE INTO it...we will never experience what we came to the Lord to receive in the first place.

You will merely be in proximity of God, rather than IN the POWER of God.

"The kingdom of God is not a matter of talk, but a matter of power."
1 Corinthians 4:20

It's about choosing to dissengage from the things that are taking the time that is for you and your heavenly Father.
It's about choosing to dissengage from even the seemingly harmless, even the "religous" good things when they are not what God has specifically told you are HIS BEST for your life.

Whatever is drawing your eye away from the Lord, whatever is silently but most assuredly siffening time that is His...DISSENGAGE!

Pull the plug, and tap into the REAL source!

Stop settling for fond memories and feel good stories of God's presence! It is not something He intends us to just talk about...He made it available through the blood of Jesus so we could WALK in it-DWELL in it!
"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty." Psalm 91:1
Sadly, we strive more than we thrive...yet, what God desires for us to do is run into His arms, find peace for our souls and power for our steps!
"Come near to God and he will come near to you..." James 4:8
I promise you will never leave the arms of the Father-the true presence of the Lord-unchanged, when you ENGAGE in HIM!

It breaks my heart to see believers possessing the gift of salvation, but then leaving it dusty on some forgotten shelf in their life and then wondering why they are dissatisfied, wandering through life with no direction, never realizing their purpose in bringing the reality of the kingdom of God here on earth!

2 Timothy 2:5 describes it as, "...having a form of godliness but denying its power...".

"The Lord says, 'These people come near me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up of only rules taught by men.'" Isaiah 29:13

Ask yourself:
Am I content to just be in the vicinity of the things of God?
Am I ENGAGING in Person of God?

Let THIS moment be for you the moment that Caroline experienced when Jarrett announced bedtime!
Check into the reality of where you are or where you're not in regard to God's presence and power in your life!
To be a believer who exudes the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, is about more than good intentions!
The world has a way of making us "just forget", as Caroline did, by inundating our lives with must haves, must do's and priorites that always seem to rise above what our spirits are actually screaming for!
The Father wants you because he has so much ready and waiting to impart to you:
"No eyes have seen, no ears have heard, no mind has imagined
the things I have prepared for those who love me."
1 Corinthians 2:9

That night, after her reality check, Caroline came close, snuggling her whole body next to mine, looked into my face with those big brown eyes and said, "Mommy, pleeeeeease can I snuggle with you?"
The thing is...at that point, she had moved herself into my arm and was already snuggling! She had chosen to move herself into the position that had been made avaible to her long before that very moment...it was just that now, she had chosen to take hold of it.


"Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not heresay, that Jesus is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it." 2 Corinthians 13:5-7 The Message

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dig. Plant. Water. (Part 2)

They say (I am not sure who “they” are, but anyway…) that when you have done something 21 times, it becomes a habit.
I, therefore, have concluded that I, Julie McNeely, have a lot of habits!
Some good, some…..not.
For instance…(and this is by no means an exhaustive list)
1. I pick my fingernails with my teeth when I am stressed. I used to bite them, so at least this habit has scaled back to intermittent “picking”.
2. I put my clothes at the end of the bed when taking them off rather than putting them where they need to go.
3. I squish my bottom lip or chin between my thumb and fingers when I am in deep thought.
4. I buckle my seatbelt every time I sit down in the seat of my car, even if I am only moving a foot.
5. When my sunglasses come off my face, they go on top of my head.
6. When I sit, I cross my legs in some shape, form or fashion.
7. When I put my knee braces on to go workout, I put on my left, then my right.
8. I go workout at least 4-5 times a week.
9. I take vitamins every morning before I go workout.
10. I say “like” , “or whatever” , and “ya know” in coversation waaaaaaaay too much.

Bad habits seem to form SO quickly, but good ones….well-those 21 times often feel like 21 YEARS! Right?
So of course, we should expect that when it comes to getting in God’s Word, our enemy is not going to make this seem easy.
As a matter of fact, a slew of excuses and eye rolls probably just bombarded your well intended spirit.
But hang on. Because while many habits you pursue may not produce the results or rewards that you had hoped for, choosing to create the habit of personally and consistently getting into God’s Word and storing it up in your heart, mind and spirit will ALWAYS give you a phenomenal return!

So let’s get down to the nitty gritty.
Do I feel like I have it all together and know what I am doing when it comes to searching God’s Word?
Does it stop me from rolling up my sleeves and getting in there?
Listen, if you were starving, would you not eat simply because you had not been given the title “Iron Chef”?
Would you just sit around and wait for someone to throw the food you need on your plate or even stick it in your mouth?
The last time I checked, the only people that wait for someone to stick food in their mouths are BABIES.
Ouch, I know.
It’s time to get fed by going to the spiritual kitchen and saying, “Daddy, my spirit needs food. I am hungry! Show me what to eat, how to eat it.” And guess what? He will provide!

So it is time to put on your big kid britches and allow the Holy Spirit to have a one on one conversation with you through the His Word.

Hebrews 6:1 (The Message)

"So come on, let's leave the preschool fingerpainting exercises on Christ and get on with the grand work of art. Grow up in Christ..."

You, yes YOU CAN do this!
It's not about getting it perfect or doing it just like someone else.
If something about your effort didn't tickle your fancy, then change things up.
The Holy Spirit will lead you along the way

Let’s cover some basics that will be sure to help as you endeavor to DIG, PLANT, WATER:
1. DIG: In order to DIG, get a Bible you love. If aesthetics are a big thing for you, then get a pretty or handsome Bible that appeals to you! If you like a certain version, then make sure you have that one to open each time you sit down. The point is…get or get rid of anything that you could use as an excuse to NOT open the Word.
2. PLANT: If you want to plant, get a journal. Ok for all of you- especially men- who just went, “Ugh!” …hear me out. This is not for you to win the Pulitzer Prize, this is simply for you to focus on the Lord. When you write down what He is showing you, you are planting that truth in your life, in your heart, in your mind. When you write a prayer to Him, it will focus your heart and mind in a new way. Don’t we all write down things we want to remember or that are important to us? Then why in the world wouldn’t we write down what God is doing in our life? Journal, computer, notebook, etc…just WRITE. Before long, it will be the unquestionable companion to your Bible.
3. WATER: To nourish that planting, get note cards/index cards. Blank, lined, white, color, spiral bound, binder….the choice is yours.

Now this next part may sound crazy, so stay with me…….open your Bible.
Yep, somewhere between the covers, find a page.
Is there a certain book of the Bible that is coming to mind? Go there and search through various chapters. Something will stick out to you.
Have something that is on your heart? Think of a keyword and then go to the back of the Bible to the part marked “concordance” and find that word. Look through some of the verses listed under that word.
Have a daily devotional that you read? Open to the scripture found there and explore from there.
The key is to not dismiss it when something seems to be highlighted in your spirit as you read. Even if you are not sure why at first, stop and pay attention to what is in front of you.
Read it again and again.
Look at the scripture notes on that verse at the bottom of the page.
Read any verses that are cross referenced with that verse.
Read the surrounding passages.

Next, write down the verse in your journal. I always write the date as well, so I can look back at when the Lord led me to that verse.
Then, simply write what that verse means to you or how it applies to your life and/or situation.
You may even want to write any prayer that you have in regard to how you desire to see this verse come alive in your life! Share your heart with the Lord and willingly deepen your intimacy with Him!

(I will go into my personal Bible study method/appraoch in more detail in another blog post. Right now we are just focusing on how to dig in and find verses to apply and memorize. Eventually, as the habit grows, the two will become one.)

Now, don’t just close everything and walk away!
You want to claim this truth that the Lord has given to replace the lie in your life; claim the life that He has given to replace the death!
But obviously, you can’t walk around all day with your Bible and journal open before you.
So how can you WATER?
Write the verse down on an index card and place it anywhere your eyes will be during the day!
Put it on your dash, on your bathroom mirror, inside your briefcase, on your doorframes, on your door, inside your purse/wallet, in your pocket, on your cubicle/desk, above the baby’s changing table, the refrigerator door…and the list goes on.
Even write it on your hand!
If you choose to write them on spiral bound index cards or ones in a binder, keep it with you and flip through it during the day so you can claim them every chance you get!

In more detail, this is how the WATERing looks in my life…
About 8 years ago, my Big Sissy blessed me with what she called a “Watering Can”(thank you Shay!).
It is a binder for index cards that had sections for me, my children, marriage, etc. where I could write and place verses to claim/believe for those particular areas of my life.
Since that time, I have added many index cards!
For me, I use my Watering Can more for the long range, where I write promises I continually want to claim over these areas.
For the needs that arise and change week to week, day to day, I also keep spiral bound index cards or individual cards on which I write verses that apply to those specific things I am currently dealing with in my life.
For example, if I am feeling inadequate at what the Lord is asking me to do, I might write out
1 Thessalonians 5:24, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

We all go through different seasons of our lives, where we deal with some things more intensely than others and we need God’s truth in our face to guide us as often as possible. Or there may be certain things that we know are always weak areas /areas the enemy tries to attack.
For the different seasons and areas of weakness, I sit down and DIG for verses in the Word. Then I place them in strategic places in my home.
If I am having trouble with self esteem, I will be sure to place a Truth right on my mirror where I know the paralyzing lies will pop into my head.
If I am having trouble sleeping soundly, I will place a verse about God assuring my rest right beside my bed.
If I am snapping at my kids while we are having school, I will place a verse about guarding my tongue in the school room in plain view!
And I could go on and on…
I have verses all over my house in what might seem like crazy places, but it works!

Another thing I do is to put useless time to work.
Let me explain…
Put verses you want to memorize in front of the toilet!(No further explanation on that one…)
If you wash dishes, keep small plastic frame behind the sink where you can change out verses.
When I work out, I choose a verse before I go-sometimes new, sometimes a more familiar one- to recite during my workout. I yell it, close my eyes and say it over and over, whatever I need to do to help me get through that last rep!
I put verses on the dash of my car to read at a red light or other such moments.
The verses on my bathroom mirror I read while I brush my teeth, dry my hair, etc. Just think how much time that ends up being in a week!

I am sure you can think of “dead” time in your day that you can turn into “life” by placing God’s word in it!
Don't feel hopeless and heap on condemnation because you do nothing.
Just do something.

So if you ever wonder why I carry that big ole Bible bag, why I write so feverishly in my journal, or why I keep pulling out index cards, it’s all because I am choosing to DIG, PLANT, and WATER.
I am hungry.
I am thirsty.
I am nowhere near the place I could be with Jesus and I just can’t get enough of Him.
My walk with Him is never perfect, so THANK YOU LORD FOR YOUR GRACE! :)
This is simply a glimpse at some of the things I do in an attempt to get more of Him and less of me.

What will YOU do?

Deuteronomy 6: 5-9
Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Dig. Plant. Water. (Part 1)

The Holy Bible. God's Word. The Word. Scripture.
It is more than what our human blabbering could ever accurately describe or emphasize to the appropriate degree.

Water for our thirst.
Food for our soul.
Rest for our labor.
Wisdom for our ignorance.
No fail GPS for our directionally deprived selves.
Spirit for our flesh.
Life for our death.

And yet, we all too easily dismiss the very source from which we can glean the answers to all the many questions we wade, swim, flail and even drown in.

I remember the time when I became so overwhelmed with the desire to know God more, yet just couldn't seem to figure out how to get there. I read more books, listened to more sermons, volunteered for more Kingdom driven activities, listened to Christian music, even wrote in my journal and prayed more.
All the while the answer I needed lie in the then silvery lined pages of navy bonded leather that I picked up every Sunday and intermittently during the week.

I never took time to HIDE His Word in my heart.
I never pondered on the truths that He revealed within His Word.

But the time came when I realized that nobody else could have my relationship with Jesus for me.

A quote I read recently expressed it this way:
"There are no second-hand meaningful relationships."

Sadly, so many have settled for being acquaintances with Jesus, rather than entering into the passionate love relationship that He died to have with you.

Once I let this truth penetrate my heart, the breath that I took in my spirit was deeper than any I had ever taken before...the air was pure, refreshing, invigorating...and I had to have more!

And I knew the place I had to go to know Him more, to read His words, to hear His voice, to see His way, to learn His character, to discover His promises for me...to find TRUTH.....


But just like with any deep, meaningful relationship, it is not something you slap at and skim over. You have to intentionally get into the Bible and read and study and ponder on what He places before you there!

I believe one of the greatest strongholds that enemy has on Believers is convincing them that God's Word is intimidating and not understandable for them personally.
As a result, they conclude they shouldn't even bother because they won't get anything out of it anyway.

We get stuck on the HOW and never get to the DO: a powerless purgatory!

Satan knows the power of Scripture...Jesus used it to defeat him in the wilderness! Just look in Matthew 4 and Luke 4!
No wonder the enemy wants to keep it out of our hands!

But more critically, the enemy wants to keep it out of our hearts, minds and spirits and ultimately, our mouths.

So when was the last time the Truths that lie in that Bible in your hand/on your shelf/in your Bible bag/on your ipod/etc. made its way into your heart, mind, spirit-and as a result found its way back out your mouth?

We must be resolved as Believers to store up His Word in our hearts!
But in order to do that you have to get in His Word and take hold of what He gives you there!

A dear friend of mine recently began an effort to increase the awareness for what I believe is a great need we have as Believers to do just that: hide God's Word in our hearts- in particular focusing on memorizing scripture.
So many of us know in our head we need to do it and we may even want to do it...but I realized, that so many ask me for detail about how to memorize scripture yet never embrace it.
So, maybe we need to ask this question first: Why memorize scripture?

If you aren't convinced of WHY then you will never carry out the HOW.

Matthew 12:34 says, "For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks."

If we say we are children of the One True God, shouldn't we know our Father's heart?
Shouldn't we sound like, speak like, think like, act like, react like our Father?
Shouldn't HE be what flows out of our mouths?

Why guess what He would say? Just get in His Word and actually SAY exactly what He has said, what he is saying, and what He will say!
That is the power and confidence we have in the Word.

His Word is POWER.

2 Timothy 3:16-17
"All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work."
We have to know His Word before we can speak it, think it and live it.
There is so much more to memorizing scripture than simply reciting a verse, because to store it up it in your heart, you have to experience it, you have to dwell on it, soak in it, put it before you!!! Having the verse memorized simply happens as an added benefit!
It cannot be about checking off another thing on your"good Christian" list. That will never affect change in your spirit...and seeing more of Jesus and less of self should be the ultimate goal.
"He must increase. I must decrease." John 3:30
So what do you do?
Dig in the Word and find what the Lord says about the longings, desperations, issues in your heart and life. Do this by reading various through places/books in the Bible, letting a devotional or other Godly topical resource guide you there, or even just looking up a key word in the concordance in the back of most Bibles.
Getting your hands dirty is the first step to getting your spirit clean!
Plant His promises and truths in your heart, mind, soul, spirit! Read the scripture over and over. Write it in your journal. Write about what the Lord is showing your in regard to that verse, Himself, His ways and its application in your life. Study the verse in the context of the surrounding scriptures.
Place it carefully and intentionally...that seed has LIFE!
Water His promises and truths by consistently and constantly placing them before your mind, your eyes, your spirit! Write them out on note cards, place them in spot you look at every day. Write them in your journal repeatedly. Go back and read what you wrote previously about that scripture in your journal. Speak it over and over as you do some monotonous task like brushing your teeth. Say it in your head in place of that negative self talk or thought the enemy throws at you! Whatever keeps it at the fore front of your mind: DO IT!
The seed you nourish is ultimately the fruit you will reap!
This is just a piece of my heart, a glimpse at my passion when it comes to embracing the Word of God.
It changed...no...it CHANGES my life every single day.
The way God will lead you into His Word is different from the next person, but I do believe it helps to share tips, ideas, methods of how we seek to keep His Word before us. I have had a good many of you ask me to share that in detail and that is what I will do in my next post.
Who knows...I may even share some photos!
The BEST advice I have is this: Open your Bible. Read. Listen. Do.
Psalm 119:9-16
9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, O LORD; teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees; I will not neglect your word.