Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Love Project 2014: The Wonder of Miracles


Rise up and walk kind of experiences.

Go and sin no more moments.

Speak Lord and it will happen type of trust.

Who is this man and how does He do these things awe and amazement.

That’s what I want to see. Be apart of. Know, experience, share and see.

My small group is going through the book of Acts. As we walked through chapter 4, and discussed the lame man who asked Peter for silver and gold, I had a thought.

Do I really and truly believe that miracles happen the way we read about them in the scriptures?

Do I truly believe that someone can rise up and walk when spoken in the name of Jesus with complete faith?

Or have I become so tainted and jaded by “false prophets”, that I miss it when it really happens?

To me it seems like such a delicate balance. A balance of the true belief in the Holy Spirit and those gifts, coupled with discernment for that which is not of the Lord.

Because I love Jesus and I know He hears me, I have no problem believing in the answered prayers I see coming to fruition in front of me.

But what about miracles?

Do I really believe they exist?

I want to. I want to see them, experience them, hear of them and believe in them.

I want my love for Jesus to be so strong and firm that I don’t doubt the possibility of miracles.

I don’t just want to read about them to believe in them. I want to believe in them and know them to be true.

True because the One I love has said they are so, and not only did them, but still does.

Thou art the God that doest wonders: thou hast declared thy strength among the people.
Psalm 77:14

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Love Project 2014: If You Give a Girl a Cape

When I was a wee child (no short jokes please), there was this book that I absolutely loved to read. It was called, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." The entire premise of the story is based on the hypothetical situation that will arise if  and when you give a mouse a cookie. You know, should he walk up to you and say, "Hey you. Yeah, you with the cookie. I want one."

The problems you then face (not counting a talking mouse as a problem) are as follows: he will probably want some milk. And then a blanket, and then a jacket and a bed. You get the idea. Sort of like the concept that says, "if you give them an inch, they will take a mile."

This philosophy says loud and clear, "STAY WITHIN YOUR BOUNDARIES! DON'T TAKE RISKS OR LET ANYONE IN!"

Granted, I am reading way more into this iconic piece of children's literature than need be, however, I am going to put on my cynical hat for a moment. 

The entire book is filled with what if's.

Growing up, I totally felt like the kid who wanted to give the mouse a cookie. Just to see what would happen. However, I got caught up in the what if's.

What if that person is upset with me.

What if they don't like me. 

What if they don't think I am funny.

What if someone goes down a wrong path because of the one thing I said wrong. 

Or my friends turn against Jesus.

Or that adventure I want to go on doesn't pan out. 

Or. Or. Or....

Most of the time, I was a free spirited kid, until I placed this unbelievably heavy sense of responsibility on my own shoulders.

Until one day, I decided enough of that. 

And even though it didn't rectify itself overnight, I made a conscious and focused decision to embrace life.

So, if a children's book were to be written about me, I would call it "If You Give a Girl a Cape."

Why a cape?

I am so glad you asked.

If you give a girl a cape, she will feel strong.

She will feel powerful.

She will be confident and radiate light and fun and laughter.

She will not shy away in the face of uncertainty or danger.

She will be brave and stand for what is right. 

She will love fiercely and be a support for those who need her most, while also allowing people to love her and support her in return.

I know most girls like princesses, and don't get me wrong, I do as well.

However, there is just something way cooler about have an invisible plane than having a crown.

As a kid, I pretended to be one. Wonder Woman was and is my favorite. Followed by Wolverine and Batman.

Because, there is just something about wearing a cape that makes things right with the world.

Especially on "Superhero Friday." When wearing capes to work is encouraged. Mostly by me, but whatever. Actually, wearing capes ANYWHERE is encouraged!

So, I wear my cape to work, frequently. 

People know me as Wonder Woman. 

And it's awesome.

What's more awesome is that Jesus used something as simple as a cape to teach me something powerful.

Something empowering and encouraging. 

Something that I want to share with everyone! And if wearing a cape on Fridays makes that possible, then bring on the capes!

Because my friends, you are precious in the sight of Jesus.

He fills you with His light, His power and His love. 

And that is greater than any super power and He is more powerful than any superhero.

He is the ultimate SUPERHERO!!!

Cheers to wearing capes, spreading joy and taking the love of Jesus everywhere!!!

Happy SuperHero Friday Everyone! 

The Love Project 2014: I Wanna Be a Fruit Tree

I was eight when I heard Him for the first time.

It was winter. Snow was everywhere. The sky was bright and lightness filled the room. 

And as I walked into my bedroom, I stopped.

I looked over in the corner at my Bible, and I heard Him say, “read it…”

I did. It was fantastic. It made sense.

He has always made sense. However, for a very long time, religion itself confused me. Gave me anxiety. Anxiety that was so distracting at times, I would be thinking about my “image” instead of fully embracing my love and worship of Jesus.

On Monday, I heard a biblical truth stated so clearly, so plainly, that I am still reeling because I had never understood it so clearly before.

“God is interested in fruitfulness because it blesses others.”

Um….wait….what? The main goal of fruitfulness is to be a blessing?

For most of my life, I thought fruitfulness was the litmus test of your spirituality, as well as the perfect gage for the successfulness of your walk with Christ.

(I am cringing as I type these words)

Growing up, I was very dedicated in doing all of the right things. 

I never missed church. I read my Bible every single day. I volunteered in so many ministries. But, I didn't see results. I didn't experience fruit. Or more specifically, the fruit I thought I was supposed to be seeing.

I thought unless I had 20 people down the aisle at church every Sunday who were getting baptized and joining the church, I was failing as a Christian.

I should probably mention I was 9 when I placed this expectation on my shoulders.

I also struggled with the fact that I had been born a girl and couldn’t be a pastor. Because let’s all be honest, standing behind that pulpit looks super fun.

This perception surrounding spiritual success caused a lot of struggles for me. One summer in particular is burned into my brain.

I was at youth conference. It was awesome. We were doing community outreach. Which was also awesome.

Until it became competitive…And by that, I mean, I  got competitive.

That afternoon, a girl had the opportunity to pray with over 50 kids and see them receive Christ. Which is mind-blowingly cool. However, I felt like the most horrible Christian in the world, because I only prayed with two kids.

It physically hurts my heart to write those words. I feel ashamed that my sense of awe and wonder at the power of Christ was dulled by a false and unhealthy perception of spiritual ‘success’.

What happens in our hearts and in our minds that cause us to only see fruitfulness as something that can be measured, weighed and put on display, instead of something that blossoms and is distributed to others?

Guys, I had the opportunity to talk about Jesus with someone. With a living breathing human being. Not one, but two. And yet, I was bummed out.  Because I didn’t have a grand total I thought would give me status that would then translate into love and acceptance! 

I got it so wrong. For so long.

That day? I stopped counting. I stopped keeping track of numbers. Numbers belong on a spreadsheet, not the kingdom of Heaven.

It was a tough place to be spiritually. And it took me a long time to fully get out of that head space. However, it prompted me to start re-evaluating my view on spiritual success. I was tired. There seemed to be a constant battle to be good enough. And it was exhausting.

Then the Lord took me on an awesome journey. He broke down every perception. He began to show me that the closer I got to Him, the more I looked to Him, the less the affirmation of other people mattered.

I still have my moments of guiltiness. I still have times when I think that I am being a horrible Christian because I am not “doing” enough of the “right” things.

When those moments come, and they will keep coming, I remind myself of a few things:
  1. Jesus loves me – completely, utterly, eternally.
  2. Jesus is not standing over me with a hammer, ready to fire me from the Christian life if my numbers don’t add up.
  3. This life is about sharing the Gospel and the love of Christ – which can happen in so many different ways.
I found Jesus when I was 8 years old, and I love the fact that I am still learning so much. I love that perceptions and spiritual pride are constantly being clipped, shot down and redefined.

He is teaching me that the very behavior I define as "godly", is not counted as such when the spirit and motive behind it is prideful and self-serving.

So tonight, instead of worrying if people think I am in God’s will or if I am being a "good" Christian, I just want to be a fruit tree. 

A big, fatty, honey crisp apple tree with branches so full, the fruit is almost catapulting off the limbs.

I want to bear fruit that brings delight, refreshment, encouragement and life to others, especially to my Jesus. I want the light of Jesus to shine through me in such a way that I am completely unaware of it.

“God is interested in fruitfulness because it blesses others.”

Go be a blessing and be blessed!