Old Faithful

This past weekend was one of the most fulfilling weekends I’ve had in a very long time. They were full of wonderful friends, fantastic adventures, new people, warm conversation, and joyous hope for the future. Saturday morning I attended a beautiful baby shower for my dear friend Santana and her husband. After I left the shower, I was blushing with excitement. It was a beautiful afternoon with perfect, sunny weather. I wanted to be romanced, so I turned to the One who loves me most. I decided to see a movie and spend time driving around talking to Jesus. I ended up driving to a department store and meandered inside for a bit.

I’m a simple girl, but for some reason I found myself drawn to the jewelry section. This is usually unlike me. However, I began to glance at the rings and admire their shining magnificence. As my eyes scanned the selection, a certain beauty commanded my attention. I reached for it and read the inscription around the silver band. Believe. I slipped the ring onto my thumb and it was a perfect fit.

ring

Tears sprang to my eyes as I admired the ring on my finger. I felt the spirit of God amplifying lessons and examples of his faithfulness in my life over the course of the last two months. He has been steady, loving and correcting me unconditionally. As memories of his faithfulness swirled through my mind, I felt a strong impression that he wanted me to use this ring as a reminder. My life has been on a calculated ascent ever since I began to dare to believe all that God says about me and all that he says I am. That’s how salvation begins for us all, when we decide (as a response to God’s awakening, not our own doing) to believe he is true and good. Yet, I knew that this thing was to be a reminder for me everyday to consciously decide to believe God on a consistent basis.

  • I believe Jesus is enough for today

I am fully persuaded that all that I need in life is in and flows from my precious Jesus. There is no real fulfillment outside of having a personal relationship with a God who brought me from death to life. There is no room for discontent in my life because Jesus is the source of all of my satisfaction. Does this mean that we don’t need money, friends or family? No! This simply means that we should understand all we need–all things good–comes from him. Therefore, he is my Superior Pleasure above all other things. As long as Jesus is on the throne, we shall never face a day that isn’t full of hope in him.

  • I believe God is for my good

Every good thing comes from God and God does not withhold good things from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). Not only do I believe that God does good things, but that he wants good things for me more than I want them for myself! Consequently, I can rest and trust his timing, his placement, and even his delay because I know he will come through for me.

  • I believe I am loved and accepted

I am not a mistake. God decided (it was in his perfect, detailed plan!) to create a woman who looks like me, smiles like me, laughs like me, thinks like me, loves like me. I am a purposeful, hand-stitched creation that God yearned to see in the world so that I could bring him glory and impact people for his kingdom. I am accepted and loved by God. It doesn’t matter who else has beautiful hair, a nice smile, or even who can write better than me. This world has space and a need for my particular personality, my particular words, my particular influence. Be grateful for the person God made you to be because it doesn’t matter how many people you think look, work, learn, or perform better than you do… God has a sphere of people and lives that only you can touch. You are special. You are loved. You are important. You are needed. You make a difference.

Blinking back tears, I took the ring to the register and paid the cashier. I find myself staring at it often and remembering that I do believe God in all these areas of my life and more. It’s not always been easy, but it’s worthwhile to trust a God who cannot fail.

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. Psalm 85:10-11, ESV

I love how the people of God declare that love and faithfulness are friends and righteousness and peace are intimate. It’s a beautiful picture of the goodness of God and the wonderful life he offers us. When I read this passage, my heart swelled. This depiction of faithfulness flooding from the ground like a geyser and righteousness shining down from the heavens creates an image of the earth being an incubator of the goodness of God.

Photo Credit: Andreas Tille, Creative Commons

With such a beautiful, biblical description of God’s faithfulness erupting from the ground, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the infamous geyser in Yellowstone Park is named Old Faithful. Nature in all its magnificence only scratches at the surface of the awe-inspiring glory of God.  Everywhere our feet trod is covered in faithfulness; everywhere the sun beams light and heat radiates in righteousness. What a picturesque truth! The faithfulness of God is inescapable. It’s who he is and it’s all around us.

Prayer: The Escape from Temptation

Last week was one of the most confronting weeks I have experienced with God in a long time. It was a time of consecration, isolation, and true adoration (pardon my rhyming) of the One who formed life from dust. Prayer was my focus, which was great for me since my prayer life needed refreshing. I have been thinking about our greatest deterrents to prayer and the difficulties we face when approaching prayer. One particular idea stood out to me. I believe one of the most difficult times to pray is when we are battling temptation. (Click to tweet!)

When I was younger I had a dream that I have never been able to forget. In the dream it is dark, so void of light that I can feel the darkness threatening to suffocate me. Suddenly I see a tiny glimmer of light in the far distance. Naturally, I am drawn to the Light and I began to walk toward it. As I mesmerized by this Light, it begins to grow bigger and shine brighter until it is blazing in the horizon. As the light grows, I notice people on either side of this path who represented temptation. They were people who I wanted to associate myself with who were doing things that I wanted to do. They represented all the things that appealed to my flesh. As I walked past them, many of them tried to coerce me to indulge with them, but I was determined to get to the Light. It wasn’t until I reached a certain temptation that I didn’t want to resist that I turned away from the Light. I gave the temptation my undivided attention and indulged in sin. After I sinned, I turned frantically about in search of the Light…but it had vanished.

Jesus handled temptation much differently from the way we usually do. (Click to tweet!) Let’s study how He wrestled with temptation.

And Jesus came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Luke 22:39-45, ESV

Jesus knew His purpose

In the text, we know that Jesus is preparing to die. He knows that His time has come and He knows what lies waiting for Him at Calvary. He also knows that He exists for one purpose, which is to reconcile God and man once and for all. Before Jesus goes into this battle, He has it in the forefront of His mind that He is not there for Himself. He is not there to gratify Himself. He is not there to do His own will because He has a higher will to accomplish.

Jesus negotiated with God

 Jesus knew that before the world began that He would lay down His life for the souls of man. After the plan was set, the environment perfect, Jesus has finally reached the moment in history where He faces the precipice of His sacrifice. Now He has a choice to make: Am I really going to go through with this? Is there any other way?  Jesus’ prayer is saying, “I know this is the day we’ve been planning for, but is there a Plan B? Is there another trick You want to pull out of Your hat, Father?” His flesh was kicking and screaming out, “If there is any other way for me, then I want to do it! If there is any other way for me not to do what God is calling me to do, then I will.” (Click to tweet!)

Jesus’ humility provided strength

But Jesus remembers that His life’s purpose is to be for God and not for Himself. Jesus then prays, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” He sets aside His personal agenda and submits Himself to God. Then something incredible happens. An angel comes to strengthen Jesus. It wasn’t until after Jesus submitted His own will to God’s will that He received angelic strength. He was vulnerable with God and admitted the weakness of His flesh. When Jesus submitted His will He was in the perfect posture to receive grace and strength to withstand temptation. (Click to tweet!)

Jesus prayed more earnestly

After the angel poured strength into Him, one might assume that the struggle was over. Not so, for the Bible says that Jesus was in agony. Then, He began to pray more earnestly. This is not our usual response to temptation. When the temptation intensifies we tend to collapse from the pressure and tell God, “Nope, I can’t do it. Lord, forgive me in advance.” (Click to tweet!)

Many of us shy away from praying about the things that tempt us because we are ashamed of them. Our greatest temptations are alluring to our flesh and, if gratified, reveals a portion of our brokenness. Our temptations show us what we want, crave, feel entitled to–it is something we might go to extreme lengths to get. It is the guilt of that rush we feel in the middle of temptation that causes us to hang our head in shame and avoid prayer. The adrenaline we experience from the mere tempting thought makes us feel that we have already failed God, so we may as well trudge on into sin. Temptation is not a sin. When we are offered a sinful thought, desire, or opportunity, we can reject it. It is only after the acceptance of that temptation that it becomes sin. This simple truth can free us to boldly approach the throne of grace in the heat of temptation.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15, ESV

James tells us that temptations lure us away (remember the dream I had), and desire conceives sin. Yet, we know that the temptation itself is not sin, but when it conceives it becomes sin to us. How, then, do we stop the conception of sin?

Stay tuned for the answer in Part II of Prayer: The Escape from Temptation.

Join the discussion! What are your thoughts on this topic? What are other reasons why we don’t pray when we’re tempted?

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The Prayer I Almost Regretted

It was at a point of brokenness, heartbreak, and frustration with myself and painful situations that I prayed the scariest prayer to ever leave my lips.

Lord, if he isn’t the man I will marry, then don’t bring him into my life.

Sounds harmless, right? Wrong. I wasn’t mindful that I serve a jealous God who loves me more than my mind can comprehend. I wasn’t thinking about God as my Father who would do absolutely anything to protect my heart from intruders and invaders. I believe He was eager to answer this prayer because in about two years not a single man has tried to win my heart.

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Photo Credit: Glenda Ortero (glendali), royalty-free

I didn’t know that the answer to the prayer would mean:

– lonely weekends void of dates (Scandal re-runs and Words with Friends, anyone?)

– battling insecurities and self-doubting thoughts of inadequacy (Am I good enough?)

– nearly no male companionship (Hey, boys, remember me?)

– struggling with jealousy (I want to be happy for her, but when will I get my chance?)

I don’t think I realized what I was asking for when I made such a serious request. As time had gone by (and still no one on my doorstep with flowers), I had progressively retracted my trust in God and foolishly whined and complained to Him. How silly am I! Who would point their finger at God and complain about the very thing they prayed for?

How dare you answer my prayer, God? You knew I didn’t mean it.

The amazing faithfulness of God blows my mind because He answered a prayer that hurt my pride and heightened my weaknesses, but He’s doing it for my good. Had I not had these moments of solitude, I would never be in the place of learning and valuing dependence on Him. I am remembering and embracing the fact that I need to be single.  It’s in my total singleness that God is perfecting me, shaping me, refining me, and making me whole. Is it for a husband? No. It’s for Him! And if a lifelong partner happens for me in the future, then he will get the benefit of all God is working in me right this moment.

So, the bitterness, jealousy and insecurities are vanishing into thin air by the grace of God. My grievances have been turned into thanksgiving. I am thankful that God was eager to answer my heart’s prayer (this process is torture to my flesh, but my heart is ever grateful) because He knows what it cannot handle. I am thankful that even when my heart ached from loneliness, I was protected from heart aches from unhealthy relationships. I am thankful that when no one is calling my phone or asking me out, I have a God who longs to spend every waking moment with me. He is diligent and steadfast in His love. All the love I need to be whole flows from Him.

It was the scariest request I have ever prayed, but  now I am bursting with joy and hope. I am loved. I am never forgotten. I am protected. I am kept.  I have a God who goes to war for my heart with more strength and intentionality than a girl could hope for in ten thousand warriors. And He is holding my life and my future in His hands.

Leave a comment & join the discussion! What is the scariest thing you have asked God? Was the answer what you expected?

Intimidation of the Call

It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog. I’d like to say it’s because I was busy feeding the hungry, laying hands on the sick, building homes for the homeless, traveling overseas and spreading the gospel, moving and shaking my city for the name of Jesus. Of course, I’d love to say those things, but then I’d be a liar. I was actually in the middle of a transitional season with God. It may be more accurate to say I was in the middle of a transitional season with doubt, fear, intimidation, insecurity, complacency and laziness. This is not to say God wasn’t present and showing Himself mightily to me during this summer, but these other obstacles were also in my line of sight.

I’ve known I was created to write for God for years. I’ve never once questioned my destiny or God’s purpose for my life. I did, however, begin to question my ability to be great in the call. Rather than singing God’s grace and dreams over my life, I quickly sank into self-doubt and intimidation. There wasn’t a particular person or writing style that intimidated me; the call itself caused me to quiver in my boots. This occurred because I measured the frailty in my humanity against the spectacular call that God set before me. In my eyes, I looked at what He desired from me and thought that it would take my own strength to perform it, when all He wanted was the opportunity to use me for His glory. He would be doing the work.

This reminds me of Moses, the murderous, adopted son of Pharaoh turned shepherd, who would have benefitted from a few anger management sessions with Dr. Phil. God gave Moses a call that was much bigger than his own perceived ability. God calls a murderer to be the deliverer. What was Moses’ response to God? “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” God says, “But I will be with you…” So begins the verbal exchange of Moses’ excuses and God’s affirmations (recorded in Exodus chapters 3 and 4).

Moses: Who will I say sent me?

God: I AM THAT I AM!

Moses: But, they won’t believe me.

God: I will perform signs through you.

Moses: But, I’m not eloquent. I can’t speak well.

God: I will be your mouth and teach you what you will speak.

Moses: Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.

Reading this conversation makes Moses seem faithless and weak. We would never be this way with God, right?

Right?

How many times have our own prayers facilitated conversations like this with God? How many times have we questioned God’s confidence in us? How many times have we tried to tell the omniscient, preeminent, omnipotent, supreme, Almighty God of all that He is wrong in His choice to use us for His divine purposes? How silly are we to shake our fists at God’s call on our lives!

I have been much like Moses. I’ve looked at the call on my life along with my own weak abilities, and shrunk in fear. Fear fueled my intimidation and doubt. Fear chased away faith in God. Fear caused me to forget that the same God who called me is the same God who will walk with me every step of the way until I fulfill the call. In fact, God is the one doing the work; I am simply the vessel the source of Life flows through.

God’s love and mercy are so rich, in that even when we doubt our own gifts and capabilities, He is sure. He could have easily said, “You know what, Mo, you’re right. Maybe you’re not the guy for the job.” No, God was sure of His choice in Moses. He didn’t even allow Moses’ speech impediment or insecurity excuse Moses from the call. God told Moses, “[Aaron] shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him.” Talk about a promotion from murderous, has-been son of an evil Pharaoh!

The point of the matter is that everyone who is in Christ is God-designed and has a purpose in Him. We all have a call of greatness over our lives. The amazing truth is that God is aware of our defects, issues, and inadequacies when He calls us, yet He calls us anyway. I’d venture to say that our fragility is the reason why God uses us because we cannot possibly take the credit for the glory which will be done through us. People will take one look at us and know that God has been with us.

I choose to shake off every thought of defeat, and trust in the One who called me. God doesn’t need a reminder of why we’re not qualified, or a list of excuses. He needs a ready and pliable vessel. God didn’t have to use Moses (or any man, for that matter) to deliver His people from Egypt. With one blow from His nostrils, the Egyptians could have fallen dead, yielding instant freedom from captivity for the children of Israel. God doesn’t really need the help of man in anything, yet He intentionally chose Moses. Why?

The purpose of the call includes more than the goal of impacting people for the glory of God. The call is an avenue for I AM to intimately connect with you in a way you’ve never dreamed of.

Dating Jesus

Have you ever heard someone claim that Jesus was their Boyfriend (or worse: their Homeboy)? Unfortunately, so have I. Fret not. That is not the point of this blog entry. Jesus is not my Boyfriend. He is many things to me, but my Boyfriend is not one of them. He has a much more permanent, poignant, precious position in my personal walk (you like that alliteration, right?). I want to hone in on simple devotion.

I am currently reading Simple Devotion: Answering the Radical Call by the amazing Micah Wood and Samuel Bentley (I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend this book for every believer. You can order it from The Ramp Store. You will not regret it!). In the book, these Ramp leaders describe simple devotion as “a designated, devoted time where everything else stops and you lock away with God.” The book goes on to illustrate the dire need for devotion in the Christian’s daily life. A powerful opener to the book is, “Everyone assumes everyone prays, but hardly anyone ever does.” This is a startling reality in the typical Christian’s life, and most recently, it has been a battle of my own. Every Christian knows that the fundamentals of this faith include praying and reading the Scriptures everyday, yet so few of us make time to meet God in the secret place. I’m realizing that devotion is not only necessary to the saint, but it is a joy to the Lord.

I have spouts of emotion when I think about the Lord. If it has been a few days since I’ve heard from Him, I’ll miss Him terribly. There is really nothing else in this life that can compare to the companionship of Holy Spirit. He’s a wonder. I decided that I wasn’t going to ignore that feeling, but embrace it. I decided I was going to enjoy a date with Jesus that night. Just as any girl would do for a date, I prepared. I took a long shower, pampered myself, pulled my hair out of my face, spritzed on perfume and applied my best lotions. I turned my phone off and turned on some worship music to set the mood. I missed Him like crazy and I was about to give Him my undivided attention.

I opened my heart and spirit and began to worship Him. After a while, I asked Him to speak to me, to tell me anything on His heart. He responded, “Minister to Me.” I was astounded and completely humbled all at once. Did Almighty God just say He wanted me to minister to Him? How awe-inspiring is it to know that God wants to hear our voice worship Him? I did not hesitate. I poured out my best for Him and began to say things to Him that I’ve never heard anyone say before. It was a very personal moment which humbles me even now while I’m writing this.

I think sometimes we go into the secret place with an expectation to receive from God, but God also wants to be loved and wooed and completely adored. He wants your heart to throb at the thought of His glory. He wants you to lay awake all night in your bed, entertaining thoughts about His awesome splendor and the beauty of the cross. He wants to be dated! No, I don’t mean in the light of the culture’s definition of dating and the lack of commitment it insinuates. God is not your Boyfriend or significant other. God just wants consistent, intimate time with you that He doesn’t have to share with anyone else. He wants us to be intentional about the time we spend with Him, as Micah and Samuel so eloquently express in Simple Devotion.

Let’s give our God the devoted time He so deserves. God loves us more than we will ever know or comprehend (Ephesians 3:17-19). So much so that He risked the life of His only Son for a bunch of people who were dead and hopeless sinners. How amazing is it that God came up with the plan of salvation so that an all true holy God could have fellowship with humans in intimacy again? The point in salvation is this: devotion with God. The purpose of Jesus’ mission was to bring us all back to God, to be in perfect harmony with Almighty God.

More than God wants us to be healthy, rich, prosperous, happy, blessed, wise…He wants us for Himself and His own pleasure.

God simply wants to walk and talk with us every day from now until eternity.

♫ Now Playing: “Where the Love Lasts Forever” by Hillsong United ♫