Feb 28, 2014

Said the drummer to the guitar player

I was in the kitchen wiping crumbs off the counter as families were preparing to part ways after a day long celebration, when from the living room I overheard a most beautiful and profound truth being shared by a not quite 16 year old to his adoring 12 year old cousin.  Both of these young men have mad musical talent.  The discussion was about joining the worship team sometimes to play in "big church," but the guitar player was confiding in the drummer that he was a little nervous to play in front of the whole church. And then, the gold nugget of truth was poured out:

Tapping on his chest (because he's always drumming),

"Ya know, when you're up on stage in big church, the lights are so bright that you can't really make out the people in the audience," drummer casually offered to guitar player.  Satisfied with this theory, guitar player let a slow grin creep onto his face.

It was a short little conversation, but I was blown away by the wisdom in this statement.  Crumbs in hand, I was stopped in my tracks, considering how much I related to the guitar player, knowing my own fear-of-man tendencies and how when I walk in them they keep me tucked out of site, unexposed, safe.  BUT, Jesus is the bright light that I should be focused on, and when I am, I am not checking for approval in the face of human beings.  His face is the one that I should look for in a crowd, and when I'm locked into His expression, nothing else matters.  His heart should be what guides me.  His praise, and only His, should be that which I seek.  Sometimes I need a drummer to remind me of that . . . .

So . . . here I remain camped out - or running circles around - a verse that has been spurring me on and coming alive in big and small ways lately, Hebrews 12: 1-3:  

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run(A) with perseverance(B) the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus,(C) the pioneer(D) and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,(E) scorning its shame,(F)and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

And so I ask you, what is the difference between an audience and a cloud of witnesses?  An audience implies a performance is happening, but a cloud of witnesses implies that others can testify to the power of the Lord in the midst of great weakness.  In both cases, people are watching - and they always will be - but the real beauty of "the show" is when we truly open ourselves up in such a way that those watching point back to Jesus.  

What are you fixing your eyes on?

Feb 26, 2014

Living with toes tucked under

She had been asking for new tennis shoe for a couple of weeks.  I thought that she had just grown tired of her perfectly-good-purchased-less-than a year -ago tennis shoes, so I was not in a hurry to take her shopping for new ones.  Eventually, she wore me down with pretty pleases and good behavior, so off we ran to make a purchase.

So I began with one size up - a size 5, and handed her a stack of boxes to begin the parade of  the trying on.
Funny. She was not  a size 5, so I grabbed a 6.
Nope. The 6 didn't fit either.  7's here we go.  Nope- 7's were a little tight.  7.5?
Really? It's not even been a year since we bought that other pair! In the end, she walked out of the store with a size 8 women's tennis shoe.  Oh. My. 

On the way out, I inquired, "Girlie, have you been curling your toes up in the end of your old tennis shoes for a while?" flabbergasted that her shoe size had doubled and wondering how she had had a sunny disposition all the while wearing shoes too small.  She said, "I dunno.  I guess. I really hadn't noticed except that my feet hurt sometimes and my shoes were tight." 

Sometimes we get accustomed to things the way they are, or the way they have become, and instead of dealing with them, we just continue on with our toes curling up in the ends of our shoes.  We compensate for instead of combat against a situation that requires action.  It could mean dwelling in comfortable misery or growing resigned or feeding hopelessness - that toe curling business.   It could also be just dealing with what you've got in the only way you know how.  Have you ever grown comfortable with the discomfort?  Content with discontentment? Numb to the pain that was intended to awaken you?

Sometimes a situation that we are in deteriorates around us, but we can't necessarily see the damage that is so close.  Or maybe we've curled one toe at a time and the discomfort was so slightly incremental that we didn't notice the pain of our toes-sies learning to operate half baked.  The art of not noticing or pretending to not see can be evidence of a person numbly walking in bondage, ensnared by the Father of Lies.  It masquerades as a coping mechanism and walks hand in hand with complacency and apathy, residing at the intersection of hopelessness and oppression.  It coaxes us into thinking that we are stuck.  Why bother?

Because God intends for us to frolic in glorious freedom with arms and toes and hearts outstretched for Him!

Are you walking around with your toes tucked under?  Is the life that you are meant to live trapped in by the life you are currently living?  Don't ya hear Him calling? I do!!!!

"We should reject the things that numb us of our captivity." Rebekah Lyons

Feb 14, 2014

The little things

Like a time elapsed photo of the seasons changing in rapid succession, with a broad stroke change happens quickly, and at closer glande, it happens slowly.  Slowly like the deliberare slimy slither of a snail. Yet, in the blink of an eye.  Whether weight gain, compromise or the accumulation of things, it happens not in a big chunk, but little by little.  Eventually the small things do add up, don't they?  

Transformation in reverse is deterioration.  And the little decisions that are made with the bat of an eye and then repeated can make a big impact over time - whether that's jogging or eating a late night snack.  Each one, when repeated, leads to a certain end result.  And I can tell you for a fact what late night snacking leads too!

Not even 2 months ago we landed in the U.S. with 6 suitcases.  If we packed our bags today, I promise that we would have atleast 15 suitcases.  How. Did. This. Happen?  One thing at a time.  Plus 15 pounds - how did this happen? One cheeto, coke, unhealthy snack, at a time.  "We were just going to kiss, but then before I knew it we were . . . " How did this happen? One compromised boundary at a time.

Is it possible to be true in the big things and falter so crazily in the little things?  I would like to say yes because that would make me feel better AND because I am optimistic about God's redemptive story.  However, I get things backwards. A. LOT.  Sometimes I wonder: if I get them backwards, am I getting them at all? Can I love God but trash His temple?  Can I say I trust His sovereign plan but then lay awake fraught with worry?  Can I put people first but hoard my earthly treasures?

Luke 16:10
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.

I have long been a believer that the little things make a BIG difference.  Whether that is in decorating, offering a word of encouragement, making someone's coffee, etc.  Recently, I realized that in the really important areas of my life, I stink at the little things.  It's true, I really, really do.  I would like to change that.

God has a history for caring for the little things: sparrows  (Luke 12:6), hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30), the mite of a widow (Mark 12:42-44).  I have a history of giving lip service to the little things but not truly caring. The good news is, since I have been adoped by Him, since I have been redeemed by Him, since I can have victory by the power of His spirit, when I pursue Him I can become about what He is about.  And He is about the little things.  I take heart in knowing that He is transforming me - one little thing at a time.

2 Corinthians 3:18
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Feb 13, 2014

Run Rachel Run

I have been holding out on you (and me and ultimately God).  I have not been sharing that which I have been called to share. For fear. Outwardly, I don't want to be held accountable.  Inwardly, I am dying for help.

This is my story.  God wants me to run. Not the proverbial run, the mental run or the spiritual run. Over the last 8 years in the Dominican Republic, the Lord has been working on my spiritual endurance and teaching me what it means to persevere in the face of hardships, but now. But NOW, God is asking me to fill in some gaps in my understanding on these matters by running.  God is asking me to get up, put one foot in front of the other and physically run.  The race.  What race?  I. have. no. idea.  The one HE has marked out for me which I assume He will let me in on at some point (physically speaking).  The only thing I ever physically run to is the cookie jar or to my bed at night, and therein lies the problem. God knows this.  He wants to fix me.  I'm broken.  This is just one area of my brokenness where I haven't let Jesus have his victorious way with me . . . yet.

Having pondered this verse,

*"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith." Hebrews 12:1

the Lord reached in to my life and He gave me a command.  Run, Rachel, Run.  I was (scratch that) AM petrified.  I would love to report that I started immediately, but I did not.

God continues to speak to me about this.  Last night, I was getting dressed for a meeting, and in that moment where I had to suck in and jump a little to zip my pants, God spoke.  He said, "If you aren't going to obey, don't complain." My heart was silenced.  There's more.  As I went to bed shuddering at the the phrase the Lord has given to me, I woke up with a new one. "Wun, Rachel, Wun."  Not really understanding why what seemed like  a speech impediment had altered my call to worship, I went to the Lord in prayer.  The Lord said to me, "Rachel, I am asking you to put on your shoes and go run, outside.  I am not saying that you can't take breaks, or that you can't walk during your run.  I want you to move for ME, and if that means wunning (walking + running), that is great.  Wun, Rachel, Wun!"

For many of you, perhaps,  physically running is not a swear word.  It would not be a scarey thing for God to ask of you.  Maybe you even already do it as part of your daily life. Because you want to.  For fun.  But this is not a concept I understand.  I really DON'T like running.  I really DON'T want to run.  But what should my feelings have to do with anything? I am serious.  My feelings lie and keep me in bondage.  My feelings should not be my guide on life, yet many days they have ruled the roost.

God is asking me not to run away from things, but to run to Him and for Him and with Him.  He is asking me to worship Him as I run for Him, and to run as if to get the prize.  He is asking me to run with purpose, and to not be ruled by my flesh, but to discipline it to obey His spirit.

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be diqualified for the prize." 1 Corinthians 9; 24 - 27

So, if you are out there, people, reading this . . . AND I believe you are, I am asking two things of you:  1) Would you encourage me to obey God? Would you check in with me about this? 2) Would you chime in on this: Is there an entanglement in your own life that the Lord is speaking to you about to address? If so, what is He saying to you?

*This was the theme verse for the IF : Austin Gathering last weekend.  One of the awesome speakers, Bianca Olthoff's theme was "Run yo race!" God was speaking very directly to me about this, and now has given me a a new season to run.