Friday, March 24, 2006

Inhale, Exhale

These past few months have been an incredibly confusing and stifling period in my life.

I have been raised in a denomination that puts a lot of stock in spiritual authority figures. And as a woman, I have also been taught to submit and defer to the leadership of men within the church.

BUT......over the course of the last year, I have had to reevaluate a lot of things. Actions have been taken by church authorities that have sounded warning bells in my head. There have been events which brought a check in my spirit and which did not seem to line up with what God Himself had taught me in His Word.

I have found myself bogged down in a mire of legalism and religious oppression, not sure who to believe anymore, and second-guessing my own ability to even hear God for myself (because I was actually told that I was incapable of doing so.)

BUT THOSE ARE LIES FROM SATAN!!!!!! The true message of the gospel brings freedom, not bondage. Grace, not legalism. Passion for the lost, not indifference toward the non-elect. Love, honor and respect--not an attempt to prove oneself better than another.

So I am taking some time to get away from the voices that have been influencing my life recently. Some of them have been positive, and I am thankful for those godly men and women who I have met along the way. But many more have been confusing, hurtful, and negative.

I am currently doing Beth Moore's "Believing God" study. In it, she talks about "spiritual breathing." We inhale the written word of God, and exhale the living Word of God.

I need to get back to the basics of spiritual breathing. I have been in an unhealthy cycle of hearing from God through His Word, but then allowing the voices of men to suffocate me. I have questioned whether God can really speak directly to me.

But the Word of God is "living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." (Heb. 4:12) It stands alone and lasts forever. I don't have to have a priest or minister interpret it for me. God's Word is not only for the spiritually elite. It is for ordinary people. And children. And whoever chooses to believe.

I can read it for myself. I can boldly approach the throne of Grace. And the Holy Spirit can teach me through the Word of God. I am not dependent on the wisdom of "religious" men for my spirituality. God is the only one I can fully trust and count on. He is all I really need.

He is who He says He is. His Word is TRUTH. I am who He says I am. I choose to believe that. I choose to silence the unhealthy voices around me, and simply hear the voice of GOD. I choose to breathe again.

Monday, March 20, 2006

What is Ministry?

My mentor gave me this, and I thought it was so true.

Ministry is...

Giving when you feel like keeping
Praying for others when you need prayer
Feeding others when your soul is hungry
Hurting with others when your own hurt can't be spoken
Keeping your word when it is not convenient
Being faithful when your soul wants to run away

~Author Unknown

Saturday, March 18, 2006

10 Things I learned in Quebec

This is L'Eglise Baptiste Evangelique des Laurentides--our home for the past 8 days. I drove to Lachute, Quebec with 10 college students and one intern, really not sure what God was going to do, but expecting great things.

The week surpassed my expectations. We worked hard, played hard, and the team merged in a way that only God could do. Plus we fell in love with the people of Lachute, and gained a heart for the street kids of Montreal.

Fun things I learned while in Quebec:

1. Milk comes in plastic bags
2. If you take french fries, cover them in cheese curds, pour gravy on top and call them "poutine", it's considered a delicacy (see pic at left.)
3. Trees don't always fall in the direction you would expect when chainsawing them down.
4. The French expression "Thank You", if pronounced incorrectly, can also mean "nice ***".
5. It is possible to walk on water, (and DRIVE on water) when it has two feet of ice on top of it.
6. There are actually roads with potholes as big as your car.
7. Plastic trash bags, combined with steep, snowy hills, result in a wild ride and a snow wedgie.
8. Manitoba is the slurpee capital of the world.
9. It is possible to survive six hours of scraping paint in freezing rain and frigid temperatures.
10. The customary greeting in French culture is to kiss on both cheeks. One of our students innocently announced, after being welcomed in church on Sunday, "that was my first French kiss!"

We had the most amazing time in Quebec. They welcomed us into their church family, and we got a glimpse of how it will be to all worship together someday in Heaven. Can't wait.

Friday, March 03, 2006

How Deep The Father's Love for Us

I found something really cool in my reading yesterday. One of my favorite verses is Zephaniah 3:17. "The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save, he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing."

I just wanted to remind myself of his love, and was looking that verse up in some different translations.

But I noticed something new that had not occurred to me before. The term "mighty one" in the Hebrew ("gibbor") is like the equivalent of a mighty champion or warrior. I imagined a little boy boasting to another kid, "my Dad's tougher than your Dad!!!" God is like our ultimate superhero!!!!

Yet in the same verse, it speaks of his incredibly gentle love, like a mother consoling her child. That reminded me of Ps. 131:2 "But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me." Every time I read that verse, I imagine climbing up into God's lap, leaning against His chest and snuggling up into the security of His presence.

I can see similar images in these other verses:

Isaiah 49:15-16 "Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me."

Isaiah 40:10-11 "Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young."

God has all the loving qualities of both a father and a mother. He is EVERYTHING we need. "Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite." (Ps. 147:5) All human friendships will fail us. Even our most primary and intimate relationships will fall short. But Psalms 27:10 promises, "For my father and my mother have forsaken me, But the LORD will take me up. "

When I hear that last verse, I always think of our kids from the Children's Home. The parents were supposed to love, nurture and protect them, but failed miserably. In most cases, it was their Mom or Dad who inflicted such deep pain on their young lives. Those little ones were abused, abandoned and neglected.

But in spite of these injustices, God promises that HE will never leave us or forsake us. (Deut. 31:6) He is our nurturer, protector, parent, friend and redeemer. He is our superhero!!! And He loves us more than we can ever imagine.