A story I want to share with everyone because it has transformed my life, and because as much as I want to share it I want to remember it for myself.
Let me paint a picture for those who were not there.
I am in a softly lit room, in Antigua Guatemala, an amazing message was just shared although right now I do not remember what it was even about. IGNITE class 11 has been invited to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and the leaders have gone around laying hands on each of them praying for them.
Then one of the leaders tells us there is an open time of worship and prayer about to happen. Kristin one of my field time overseers is sitting next to me already, Brittany an RA comes to sit beside me both ask if they can pray for me. As Brittany begins praying for me I thought "how kind of them to make me feel included." Suddenly the words pop into my head "You know you're welcome here right?" it was the LORD. "You need to stop believing that you're not welcome here Manon."
I don't even remember the prayers of Brittany and Kristin, but my eyes became teary, as I thought about the significance of these words spoken to my heart. I had started to withdraw as class 11 had been there believing I was the one who now had to be strong for every one. I had started to believe I couldn't ask for prayers or time to talk things out. This was not just in IGNITE that I have had these feelings, but also at church, and camp, and my own family, back home. this was not by any means the fault of anyone but myself, the devil had catered to my pride, and I believed I had some kind of image to uphold.
However as I cut off fellowship I stopped walking in the light, sharing my weaknesses, confessing my sins, and as that happened my relationship with God became more and more distant, not being able to talk out my guilt, and confess my sins I was walking in darkness. I slowly felt the separation from God that would have been so easily removed if only I had shared with others my struggles and sins. Because of that I had started to believe I could not come to God.
So when God said "you're welcome here."
God did not only mean in that moment You're welcome here in this pfm family, you're welcome in the family of the church, but most deeply affecting me, was as He spoke those words, it also meant "You are welcome in my presence, to worship me and enjoy sweet fellowship."
the Prayer ends, and I ask if I can in return pray for them. I thank God for each one, and neither of them yet realizes the impact that one small act of prayer had just done in my heart as they obeyed the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I finished praying Brittany leaves Kristin begins worshiping with the music, lifting my eyes I immediately thought of my team mates, I found Emily and prayed for her, then seeing each of the others being prayed over I return to my spot, and I worshiped, I was free. Every wall I had let be in the way was removed by the words "You're welcome here."
These are some scriptures that have been on my mind today.
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
" 1 John 1:6-9
"The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." 2 Peter 3:9
" 1 Peter 6:6-11
Monday, October 3, 2016
from rivalry or conceit,
but in humility
count others more significant
What to say about this verse, how does it relate today. I like to think it doesn't apply to me, I am not trying to compete with anyone, am I?
However I do often find myself trying to be right, and I find I don't like to be wrong. Is that a bad thing? Maybe not in itself, but maybe the motive is. All though I am not trying to compete with anyone specific, I find myself trying to maintain this image of correctness. Why? It only frustrates me more because in reality I want to be perfect. It frustrates me because I obviously am not, I see that and I hate when others see it too. I am grateful for those around me though, because they do not hate me for it. That has begun a process of letting go the need to look perfect, but it still gets to me at times.
“Count others more significant than yourselves.”
This also hits me, I don't look down on others. I count others as my equals, that is all that is required of us now a days. To treat others as equals will make you highly respected in America or most other places in the world. God however is looking deeper. To treat another as an equal is good, but it is not the kind of love that God pours into us. When Jesus died on the cross he esteemed our lives more significant than His own. When He washed the disciples feet He showed that place as their Master did not make service an inappropriate thing for one Who is Highly esteemed.
The Law said love God with all that you are and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus said a new command I give you that you love one another as I have loved you, by this others shall know you are my disciples, by your love one for another.
Jesus has called us to a deeper love. And I may get brownie points from men for loving others as myself, as my equals, but not with God. He asks more. How can I live with a sacrificial love. How can I practically show love to others and treat them as more significant than myself?
All the while I think about this, yes practical acts of love are good, but I am not satisfied with that.
God wants a heart change rather than a habit change. It is twofold.
And the truth is my heart is not right in this area.
Yes I think it is going to be a twofold thing.
Count others as more significant than myself instead of just equals from the heart, and act upon it.
I will pray and ask God to change my mind and heart on this, and also be intentional in looking for ways to lift others up today, to count them more significant then myself.
Monday, September 19, 2016
“One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee's house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” And Jesus answering said to him,“Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”
“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.
I tell you,
which are many,
are forgiven—for she loved much.
But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”
And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
this is a long piece of scripture to try and IBS there is so much in it. The emphasis however is verse 47. and there I shall direct most of my attention, while keeping in mind the whole story.
I love this story, my heart is moved as I think of the love this women had for Jesus. She came with a heart to serve and bless Jesus. I do not by any means think she came with the intent to do a good work and earn His favor. I think she came already knowing she had been forgiven. The parable Jesus told indicates what her heart had already been through. How did she know Jesus could or would forgive her? What had happened to her previously that day, week, month, year, or years to make her believe that she had been forgiven by this Jesus? What kind of sins had she committed? Here it only labels her sinner. The type of sin didn't matter. Even as with each of us the type of sin does not matter, the fact remains we are each a sinner.
Had she during her prayer time heard God speak to her heart saying that through His servant and son Jesus she would be forgiven. We don't know what led up to this outpouring of love events wise. However any of us who have experienced the forgiveness of God knows what transpired in her heart that day as she came to worship and give thanks to the new Lord of her life. How deep her love must have been to walk right into a room full of men who would gladly stone her. Who despised and looked down on her. How fierce her love must have been, she knew that in the midst of these scorners was the One Who loved her, and whom she loved deeply. It made her forgetful of what surrounded her, forgetful of the shame and set her free to love without restraint.
When we walk close to Jesus and love Him we will be surrounded by those who hate and look down on us, because of our past, or our association with Him.
What kind of love was it that drove her there? It was not her own. Here we see a truth displayed clearly.
The type of sin does not matter.
The amount of sin doesn't matter.
We all have a debt we are helpless and unable to pay.
We all have a Help to pay it.
Jesus is our Help.
Jesus has the power to forgive sins.
If we understand the depth of our sin even if we never did the “big sins” we would understand the Depth of His love.
If we understand the depth of His love we will not be able to resist coming closer to Him even if that means coming into a room of scoffers.
Even if it means coming into a place of being despised.
It means that no matter where Jesus is we will follow, because “Your steadfast love is better than life” Psalm 63:3. Because we cannot bear being away from Him.
Do you love like that? Jesus said “They shall know that you are my disciples by your love for one another.”
Last night I heard it said that the love of the LORD makes His bride fierce. Do we have a fierce unrelenting love? Do I have a fierce unrelenting love, that will drive me to places I know I will be despised by others? One that does not care because I need to be near my Savior, to show Him the love and gratitude I have for Him? One that says “my soul clings to you;”? Psalm 63:8. The answer is some days yes, and other days I forget that I am forgiven, forget that in His eyes I am no longer only a women a sinner. I am His “delight” Psalm 18:19
Live in an understanding of God's love for me.
Today if I remember my past forgiven sins, I will not neglect to remember that God has forgiven me, by quoting aloud or in my heart Lamentations 3:21-23. If I keep struggling to let it go, I will ask a trusted friend for prayer and talk it out with them.
Wednesday, September 7, 2016
“And he said to all,
“If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself
and take up his cross daily
and follow me.”
Lately I have noticed a lack of surrender in my own life, more so than ever yesterday. Why yesterday?
I was browsing Facebook when I came across a long post by one of my IGNITE classmates, it was an IBS. I don't remember all of it. It's sadly quite easy for me to read something and forget it. What I do remember was the application was one of a heart surrendered to God.
The funny thing is that it didn't make me feel depressed or condemned or guilty even.
It made me feel encouraged and hopeful. It gave me another feeling...
Desire for growth in my own heart. Desire to be closer to God than I am right now. And I knew quickly why that wasn't happening. It's because I have not been fully surrendered.
I have not been denying myself. All too often I have given into fears or whatever seems more comfortable than what is right. All the while hurting others and myself along the way. All the while becoming more distant from Christ. I know I haven't written an IBS (Inductive Bible study with and application) in a while and to be honest it wasn't because I had no time, although I do have very little. It's because doing this kind of study means revealing where I miss the mark, which in of itself is not so much the problem, that happens anyways everyday, but each IBS must have an application. When I write an application I can do one of two things:
1 write an application that is easy to fulfill,
2 write an application I feel God asking of me but is often difficult.
I don't like doing number 1 because then I just wasted a bunch of time doing something that doesn't really bring me closer to God, it just means I took cheap escape to make others think I'm doing my spiritual homework.
Number 2 is hard to do, but I like the fruit of it, still I in my weakness put off doing it because it's hard.
The fact remains that I have a desire to be closer to God. To grow.
I am saved, nothing will change that.
Satan cannot steal your salvation, but he can take you out of the game and put you on the bench. He can make you an ineffective and unfruitful christian.
What I was confronted with yesterday, is that I can do one of two things. I can remain where I am in a state that is slowly becoming more distant from God, or I can grow closer to Him.
However I cannot grow closer to Him without surrendering all, without denying myself.
As He said thousands of years ago.
“If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself
and take up his cross daily
and follow me.”
I have this desire, the reason I came here to begin with, to know God deeper. There is but one way to do that. I have already started down the road of surrender in my prayers.
Surrender totally to His will and walk it out in obedience.
An area of my life that is constantly hard to surrender in is being open with others, but more so is seeking help when I feel overwhelmed. I like to live in denial of my weakness, and dislike others knowing that I am not doing ok. When I am struggling tonight and tomorrow, I will go to one of my sisters in Christ and ask for help or prayer.
Monday, July 25, 2016
2 Corinthians 3:17
“Now the Lord is the Spirit,
and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom.”
In order to explain what this verse means to me I must give a little background. Paul is talking about how the glory of the new covenant surpasses the glory of the old. And as the old covenant has been ended so has it's glory. Paul calls it the ministry of death, and of condemnation, as the law only had power to convict us of sin and our utter helplessness to earn salvation.
I'd like to say I never live with this veil over my eyes, of thinking that if I can live by some set of rules I can be all right with God, but I do. The thing is then I never feel like I'm all right with God, because I can never measure up to the standard. That is why this verse impacts me. When I live with that veil it is because I am looking to my own efforts. I am looking at a law that I cannot fulfill. That I can never fulfill. However when I look to Christ I find He is the fulfillment of the law.
Where the law is there is death and Condemnation. Where the voice of God is there is hope. I can say from experience that when I talk during quiet time I walk away without any answers and feeling a sadness and slavery of anxiety. When I listen and let God speak I am convicted but I am also forgiven as I relent and let God peel back the layers of my heart. I am reminded that though I am helpless to save myself, that God is my help. I am reminded that He understands my shortcomings, my failings, my pain, and my utter brokenness, and it does not phase Him one bit.
Dependence is all He wants from me. That's it, not striving, not keeping a perfect outward appearance, not making everyone believe that I'm a great person. Just walking in the light and admitting what I really am, a sinner and a failure, that has been called His own. To be able to walk in honesty of who you really are, that is freedom. To know that it is okay to fail and fall sometimes, that God does not disown you. To be allowed to make mistakes as you learn to walk beside Him. That is freedom.
To know that it is only by His strength you may walk well, only by His Spirit living in you. To stop having to rely on your own abilities, and begin relying on God for all you need.
The Spirit speaks of Christ, and Christ died on the cross, and rose again. Why? because I am a sinner, and yet He still loved me. He has called me His own, and He leads me.
“My sin runs deep,
Your grace is more,
where grace is found,
is where you are,
and where you are,
Lord I am Free!
Holiness is Christ in me.”
Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom...
Live in the Spirit and not my own abilities.
Tomorrow I will make a time to purposefully listen to the Spirit of God, and ask Him to reveal what He wants to do in my heart.
Monday, July 11, 2016
“Let all bitterness
be put away from you,
along with all malice.
Be kind to one another,
forgiving one another;
as God in Christ forgave you.”
As I read verse 31 I see a clear link, these are not just a bunch of bad things all thrown together in a list. I have seen it enough in my own life to know this, far too often and sadly recently. I will say I am pretty irritable, and most often it is because I have held onto some small hurt instead of talking to the person who caused it. I let myself get bitter toward them. I somehow forgot the grace that God showed me. The problem is that bitterness eats at your insides like acid, it never stays inside. Before I know it I am “venting” about how someone else hurt me.
This is called slander, and it happens when we stop looking at how God views us, and how He views those that hurt us. Think gossip is harmless. There is nothing satan loves more than to keep God's kids separated from each other. And gossip is one of his best tools for doing that. Because not only does it separate God's kids, it causes them to destroy one another. It is satan managing to put the opposing army's uniform on your army's men and women. It's blinding. The word malice is not something I understood until a dear friend was talking to me about it one day, she said malice is when you intend to do harm to another. Bitterness towards a brother or sister in Christ is when you have started viewing them as an enemy. Gossip is when you cause someone else to view them that way. If that's not malicious I don't know what is. Never say something about another that is negative even if it is true, you need to go to them with it. Never listen to someone else say something negative about another, because the moment you do it's like your heart has been ripped in two. Even though you have trusted both the gossiper and the one being gossiped about you suddenly don't know who to trust anymore. And there it is, suddenly you're not all in the same military any more. There are two sides and you have to choose one to be loyal to. Satan has just created a battle within your own camp, and the real enemy's military is standing back watching us tare each other apart and laughing. So what do we do?
Bitterness is like a pimple sometimes you have to pop it and get the gook out for it to heal. Sometimes you have to go to the other person and talk with them and get out all the gook before the relationship can be healed. In christian circles we like to call this Matthew 18 ing someone. Or abiding by Matthew 18. What does Matthew 18 say. Verses 15 says this
“Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.”
Very simple you go to them and talk it out.
However some pimples just heal and go away on their own.
In some cases of bitterness, you could be hurt without reason. In other words you need to let it go. Someone once taught me the acronym q-tip. Quit taking it personally. There have definitely been times where I have been given constructive criticism, but I took it only as criticism. People may say things that seem like they are meant as a personal attack, but sometimes are only meant as instruction or a form of endearment and love. You know when I most often have been hurt by someone who never meant to hurt me? When I was taking myself to seriously. And that has even been the case recently. I cannot help but feel convicted and grieved over my inner self a lot. I see so much that is messed up and hope others don't. Then I realize we're all messed up and I need to give them the same grace I desire, heck, that I need. Just because I hide does not mean others don't see it. Like I said bitterness is like acid, it never stay inside, gossip is only one of it's ugly heads. If you don't gossip you become irritable. Every time I'm irritable it's because I'm either stressed about something that I am insecure about, or upset by something someone did to me. But enough about me. Surely if by taking myself too seriously and staring at my own hurt is how I become bitter the best way to keep from being bitter is to look at Christ and His love. I got the privilage of seeing a man use his gifting from God today, working with 50 pounds of clay. If God is the potter he doesn't see a blob of mud He sees what it will be when He is finished with it.
Too often when I look at my brothers and sisters I see the mud, and when I look at them apart from God I will think they are a piece of crud that will never change, what is the point of investing my time and feelings in them only to be hurt? However if I allow myself to see them in the hands of the potter there is nothing more that I want to do than be involved. Apart from the potter the clay can do nothing, it will only sit there and remain the same or worse become hard and dry. However in the hand of the potter, it will be made into a beautiful vessel that God can use to accomplish his purposes.
“Be kind to one another,
forgiving one another;
as God in Christ forgave you.”
Eyes that have looked into the heart of God cannot have a bitter heart.
If I had stood at Calvary I imagine what I might have seen had Christ laid His eyes on me.
I was the one who put him there,
my selfish heart of sin had followed the pleasures of this world,
not caring for the consequence.
But the heart of Christ knew the payment I would not be able to pay.
So while He was hated and scorned for my sin,
his eyes fell with love on me.
As the weight of all I'd done sank in from the punishment I see,
my heart melts and whispers God I give my life to thee.
Looking into the eyes of ultimate love should melt our hearts to pour out love on those who have even put us to death with their own selfish actions. Otherwise we probably never believed we were really the sinner that we are.
Replace bitterness with love.
Wednesday, July 6, 2016
“And we know
that all things work together
to them that love God,
who are the called
according to his purpose.”
This week seems overwhelming. Two schools, three English classes three kids clubs, one bus ministry, an entire center to keep up, and various other things to do. Sure I'm not doing it alone, praise the Lord I'm not the one managing the care of the center, that is too much for any one person. I have my whole team around me. Still it seems overwhelming. There is constantly things falling apart around me, a leak in the wall of my room is a constant reminder that things are not always ideal. My family has it's own struggles that I can only catch bits and pieces of.
This verse is the fridge magnet, book mark, wall hanging, in every bible promise book, A-typical christian verse. I may be in a bit of a funk because I'm tired and feeling like I have accomplished far less than I wanted today, but my heart has become dull in understanding this verse. Yes I don't feel like everything is working for good. Right about now I feel like everything is working to show all my faults, failings and inabilities. To show how much less I am than everyone else.
And maybe that is what God wants in a way, to remind me that I am not supposed to be carrying all of this on my back. That I am not the key and sole piece needed for this ministry. To let me fall on my face when I try to do it alone so that I can find out I was never the one doing it in the first place. Feeling overwhelmed is simply the symptom of being in the mindset that I'm the one in charge and responsible for everything going smoothly.
Today I need to know that I'm not the one who is in control.
That's what all this comes down to, the struggle for control. You know the verse that says “Be still and know that I am God.” Can be better translated “take your hands off, and know that I am God.” In other words stop trying to manipulate every situation.
It all comes down to trust, when I ask someone for help I have to trust them to do what I ask. However if I'm constantly hovering over their shoulder watching their every move than I surely am not letting them help, and I'm frustrating them with my own anxiety.
I can do the same with God sometimes and imagine I am the one managing my own life and think of God as my staff. Now I recoil to think that I would ever assume such a position, yet my anxiety and actions prove that is what I'm doing.
Here's the good news about all of this, as much as I overlook the meaning of this verse most days I don't have to today.
This verse says that those who love God, God will work everything together for good to them. That immediately confronts and challenges my heart. Why? Because I know love is not just a feeling, it is an action. What is love? I've heard it said love is putting another's needs before your own. Love in this case is obedience. God desires obedience through faith. Not through our own striving, but through belief in the finished work of Christ, and as we believe in all He did we cannot help but be changed by it. For “the commands of the Lord are not burdensome to those who love him.”
“And to them that are the called according to his purpose.” The called, who are the called? The called is every person. The gospel of Christ is to every person and God calls every person to repent and be saved through Christ. What can I derive from this verse? God is working everything to the salvation of souls. How does that affect me? Everything I am going through has meaning, there is no wasted tears, no wasted pain, no wasted sorrow, no wasted grief.
God is sanctifying me through each situation, or using it to bring me or another person closer to Him.
What does this mean? This means I don't need to be anxious about anything. Even if what I deem to be the very worst thing that could happen happens I can know that in God's eyes it is the best. I have a finite view, He an infinite. When everything seems to be falling apart it's actually falling into place, even though I can't see how.
I confessed to God that I had been trying to do things in my own strength, and asked for him to be my strength instead. Each day this week until Sunday I will make a point to recognize my need before God for his help, strength, and trust him to provide the words and discernment for each situation I am worried about arising.