Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Life Begins After Surrender

Life begins at conception, but how often have we heard when our lives "really" begin? Some people have heard that "life begins after college", while many singles have heard or get the impression that "life begins after marriage". I remember being a little girl of 10, and thinking that surely life begins after I turn 13, because the grass is always greener on the "teen" side of the fence when you are 10.

I'd like to throw a new (or maybe old) "life begins" statement your way. "Life begins after surrender". Over the last couple of years, I have written quite a bit about the concept of surrender. This is a truth and an experience that has been slowly and seriously changing my life, perspective and ability to live in peace, no matter what circumstances I encounter. However, today as I was doing dishes and thinking about the finger prints of God on my life, I realized that my life truly and really "began" after I surrendered my every move, breath, thought and desire to Him.

When we surrender and let go of the tight grip of our will, our desires and our timing, we in turn enter into a place that is unknown. Many of us have only known what it means to hold on with all our might that when we let go, we aren't sure what to do with ourselves. It is kind of like falling off a cliff with nothing to hold onto, but falling because you know you need to in order for someone to catch you.

This has been my life. From a little age I knew that I loved God, I knew that He gifted me with a voice to sing, the ability to confidently speak truth, a sensitive spirit towards others, a compassion and a passion and a love for people. Later on He showed me very clearly that I also have a love and an anointing for the elderly population. He also has given me a heart and a desire to be a wife and a mother.

Throughout the years, I have done a great many things. In all of those life experiences, I continued to fumble. I kept searching for my "purpose" and a way to keep the bills paid, but throughout that entire time, I kept feeling like something was  missing. There were times where I thought what was missing was more education, work experience, a spouse, money and sanity. In a lot of ways, I felt like my life hadn't really "began". In my relationship with Christ, I sought Him out on this, pleading for understanding and direction. In the mean time, my dear mother would more then on one occasion say "Sarah, just be still. Be still.".  

It wasn't until April of last year that I truly learned what it meant to surrender my life to His will. After losing a relationship with a man that I loved, living in an area where I knew no one, and working at a job that I hated and made it nearly impossible to meet people, I completely surrendered. I knew what my strengths, talents and desires were, but I literally had no idea as to what to do with them, and literally no money to start a new chapter of life. It was a helpless feeling. A feeling that developed into surrender, and the result of that surrender has been a peace that surpasses all understanding.

I have always struggled with the concept of being "happy". Our culture has conditioned people to think that their pursuit in life is to be happy, where as Christians God desires us to pursue holiness. However, I do know that God desires His children to be happy, but it wasn't until recently that God has shown me where that line really is.

Happiness is surrender. When we surrender, our lives literally fall into place. We stop looking for that puzzle piece, because God has had it under His thumb since the time He knit you together in your mothers womb. In serenity, there is humility, realizing that there is in no way, shape or form any possibility that you can have sanity, understanding and peace without surrendering yourself to Christ. It is admitting that apart from Him, you can do NO good thing. (John 15:5)

Friends, let go. Loosen the grip of your fingers on the familiar and let go. May you experience this peace, this freedom and this joy in the shadow of His wings.

God's Ultimate Design: Part 2 - Complication of The Original

In the first piece of the “Ultimate Design” series of posts that I wrote, I addressed how important it is to recognize that the ultimate of God’s design is life. (Click here to read the first part of this series before you proceed with this entry) 

 God designed man and woman to bring forth life and serve Him on the earth that He created. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it…”  Gen. 1: 27-28. I would like to make note that the purpose of this series is to point to God’s original design. I am not going to waste a lot of precious energy debating the angles of this scripture, and the point that I’m trying to get across. I realize that there has been much that has taken place since the earth consisted of two human beings, and since then there has been an over abundance of human life and some would argue that there is an over population of human beings. This is not my point. If you choose to view what I write from this angle, you will miss what I’m trying to communicate to you. I pray that what I communicate to you will be heard by your heart on some level.
 May I point out that with time has come knowledge, but with that knowledge and time has come a complication and a perversion of the beautiful simplicity of the original master piece and plan. I visualize this concept as a painting. Have you ever seen an artist paint on a canvas, and at some point you feel like the beauty of that piece cannot simply be added to? But just a few seconds later, the artist adds some texture and technique to the sky and trees, and you realize how wrong you were. On the flip side of this visual, have you ever seen a painting or a picture that is simply too “busy”? There is far too much detail, color, and action in the piece of art that you don’t know where it starts, where it ends and what the real purpose of it is?
As Christians, we know that the beauty that we experience on this earth is only a teeny, tiny peek and reflection at the unfathomable beauty of our eternal home in heaven. In the same breath, I believe that it is safe to say that due to sin, there has been great complication and perversion of God’s beauty on this earth. And although there is beauty in a great many things on this earth, I once again point you to the beauty of God’s ultimate design: human life.

Yesterday I had the privilege of watching the new movie “Lincoln”, starring Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Fields. Many positive feelings flooded through me as I left the theater  but one thing rang very clearly in my spirit, and that is the fact that our country was founded on the word of God and principles/values that have been and continue to be, washed down the drain. In order to gain order in this chaos, to have a world in which our children can live and have relationships in with a decrease of divorce, and to remain strong in the fact that we are God’s children, we have to go back to the foundation of Christ. We have to pray to God to remove the brainwashing of the ways of the world and hold strong and true to the one thing that has never changed since the beginning of time: The ultimate truth of God’s love, faithfulness and plan for His children.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that something isn't working in this world and that people desire change. It reminds me of a woman that has recently entered my life that is searching for truth and is hungry to find the missing piece in her heart. She has tried the ways of the world, the universalism faith concept of “all roads lead to heaven” and has still found herself in a place of confusion. We will all be confused until we have Christ.  If we strip Christ out of God’s ultimate design of life, we will have confusion. It’s as simple or as complicated as that.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Love Won't Leave You Now

Last Wednesday during my "5 freedom hours"  I was driving along the interstate and I tuned into on one of my favorite C.D.'s that I have had for years. Actually, it's not "my" c.d.,  it was given to my mother, but I have developed quite an attachment to the encouraging lyrics in the songs on that c.d.  The c.d. is called "The Mercy Project", and it is a compilation of encouraging and inspiring lyrics for people who are going through a significantly difficult time in life. My mother received the c.d. as a gift from a woman at her church while my parents were going through their divorce. Little did that woman know the power and impact that that gift has given throughout the years.

That c.d. had been "put away" for awhile, but I happened to come across it shortly after a break up I experienced last April. As I was driving to a job that I absolutely hated, dealing so much with the grief and the transition of the lost relationship, I listened to the lyrics as they attempted to encourage and uplift me as I dealt with morning rush hour traffic. Then I heard the following lyrics: 

"Hey, I can see all your dreams lying shattered in your fragile heart, you think your worlds come apart
 Hey, I believe there's gonna be a better day that shines for you my friend, it's waiting around the bend
 You've been dancing on the wire, walking through the fire, thinking you're all alone, but you're not  on your own. There's a faithful hand to guide you, God will always be beside you, all because, He is love and love won't leave you now."- Point of Grace

As I listened to these lyrics, tears welled up in my eyes and opened up this flood gate that I fought in vain to close, as I had to clock in for a long day of work. But the words continued to penetrate my heart, as it captured exactly how I was feeling in that moment. I truly believe that the Lord gives us more sensitive ears for what He wants us to hear. This moment is a perfect example of that truth.

Fast forward several months later and what seems like at least 10 "page turns" in the book of my life.  I tune  into that song, worshiping Jesus with my whole heart. There is a lyric at the end of one of the bridges that says "He was faithful yesterday, and He'll be faithful tomorrow!". When I came to that part of the song, I so vividly remembered driving down main street at 7:45 a.m., dreading to face the day and not sure if I knew how to keep going in the midst of the pain in my heart. I remember the set of scrubs I was wearing, even what earrings I was wearing on that day. I remember how I wiped the mascara out from under my eyes to avoid looking like a raccoon. But most of all, I remember believing, deep down in my heart, that despite the pain that I was feeling and the weight that seemed to be secured to my feet, that His love will not leave me now. That this moment in time is but a breath and God's love and guidance is eternal. 

I am here to tell you right now friends, that we are a day closer to heaven. When the trials, storms and pain of life seem to be weighing down your spirit, remember that "this too shall pass". We were not meant for this world, we are truly an heiress of the King Jesus. This is just a temporary stop on the way to our heavenly home, and His love will not leave you now.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ultimate Design: Part 1

Hello my faithful readers :)

My prayer is that this post will be one of several, as the topic at hand is for lack of a better word "loaded".  I would also like to add that this topic is something that God has placed on my heart awhile ago, but it has taken some time for God to show me how to write it in such a way that not only makes sense, but will hopefully bless and inspire all who read this, pointing them to the very complex, yet very profoundly simple concept of God's ultimate design: human life.

This particular journey of mine started several years ago when I had learned that the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America had voted to allow gay clergy to serve in their synod. I was distraught and so confused, trying to understand how in the world this vote could have ever been passed. I did my own little research, and learned some things that helped me better understand different angles, reasons, thoughts, etc. that were not my own. However, I still remained distraught with this concept, knowing that a synod of a Christian church was accepting of this lifestyle. 

Now, before I go any further, let me assure you that this series is not supposed to be a series that solely addresses homosexuality, but more so, a series that is meant to help examine where we as Christians and as a church body have "missed the boat" in ministering to those who are gay and/or who struggle with same sex attraction and sexual identity. You may or may not agree with what I have to say, but I do know this: I pray to God that He will enable me to write HIS truth to the best of my ability; that what I write will be a reflection of His heart, and will lead people to Him. That being said, let's get started. :)

"Hate the sin, love the sinner." For as long as I can remember, that has been the response taught to Christians in response of people who are gay. Over the years I have learned that even though this tends to make sense to Christians (the concept of separating the person from their sin), it has little to no positive effect on the individual who identifies himself as being a homosexual. If we really take the time to think about it, how could it have a positive effect,  as nearly all homosexuals view what we to view their "sin" as the entirety of who they are? We can lay down all of those scripture verses that clearly state that homosexuality is a sin, but what use is the law in this situation? Much time and energy has been wasted in debating about how we make certain scripture relevant or non relevant based on the times. We then have the opposing view of how "God is love" and it is unloving to not accept a person being gay, because once again, we go back to the whole concept that being gay is a person, not a part of a person.

So as far as I can see things, Christians are literally stuck in effectively ministering to those who are bound in a homosexual lifestyle.  And, may I clarify, much of what is in this series is only applicable to Christians who are gay and those who wish to minister to those people. None of what I am going to write in this series would ever be received by a gay individual who does not know Christ. Well, I shouldn't say "ever", as I worship a God who is capable of the impossible, but you get point.

Last summer, God brought a man into my life that I went on two dates with, but has since become a good friend. On the second date, we got into a discussion about church politics, to which the issue of homosexuality presented itself. I asked him what his thoughts were on the matter, and he replied that he believes that homosexuality is a genetically born trait. He then asked me what my thoughts were, to which I took a second to pray and ask God to give me the right words. After what seemed like several minutes rather then seconds, I looked him in the face and said very gently, yet boldly "I believe that, although there is ample evidence to prove that there are individuals  that are genetically predisposed towards homosexuality, to say that such a genetic predisposition forces them into a specific lifestyle or way of thinking is one of the greatest lies that satan could ever have a person  believe,  as it goes against God's ultimate design of life and celebration of the roles of man and woman." He sat there kind of stunned, and after a little bit said something to the effect that he had never heard it put in that way. I, too, was stunned at what came out of my mouth, knowing that it was only from God.

Ever since that conversation, God has brought me back to that word: design. It is such a simple, short word, and yet it holds so much meaning.  Gods design is in nearly everything and is visible if we look close enough. However, in some cases, even an atheist would have to admit that the likelihood of something that intricate, that profound, that incredible could not have possibly just come into existence on its own. When we stop and think of the ultimate of Gods design, human life is definitely at the top of that list. Only God could take something as small as an egg and a sperm, and create a living, breathing, intricately and beautifully built baby. Human life is the ultimate of Gods design, because it is a reflection of Him.

As Christians, we all know that the opposite of God is satan. That anything that is not of God is of the devil. It is also stated in scripture that satan's main objective and reason for existence is to "Steal, kill and destroy" (John 10:10) anything that is Gods, especially Christians. Satan hates Christ, and will continue to battle Him until the end of time. So, with this truth in mind, we can clearly see how satan goes against Gods design in so many different ways in this world. As Christians we are constantly engaged in spiritual warfare of good and evil. Earlier I communicated that the ultimate of Gods design is human life. With this truth in mind, is it not too far fetched to say that satan is out to steal, kill and destroy Gods children who are made in His image?

Within the homosexual relationship, there is no possibility of conceiving life between that couple, as God did not design it to be that way. Granted, gay couples can adopt and/or hire a surrogate mother to bring babies in their family, but the design of having a mother nurture and grow a living human being within her womb from the start of a conception ( hopefully done through the love of two becoming one) to the joyful pains of delivering the child into the world, is not present or possible. Thus, the homosexual relationship prevents life by going against Gods design. No life? No image bearer of Christ and less work for satan.

Instead of preaching scripture about the sin of homosexuality, why don't we point them back to the concept of God's design, and challenge them to explore what it means to be a man or a woman? It is clear to me that no human being has the full power and ability to "convert" someone out of homosexuality. God uses His children as tools and instruments to speak through, but ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit and the power of God's truth that has the ability to work on the heart of a person, transforming it and bringing it to a place of understanding and realization that only God can do.

Much like the old saying "you attract more bees with honey then you do vinegar", the same can be said that the gospel will naturally always be more personally accepted then the law. I firmly believe that this truth is a contributing factor to the extremes that we see in the Christian church handling and dealing with the reality of homosexuality. You have some churches who won't even give communion to someone who is gay, while you have other churches that embrace and accept the lifestyle, because we are "not to judge" and "God is love". Truth: satan works in extremes.  It is extremes that divide, not unite. The only thing that it unites are people of the same extreme. Just as Christ is to be foundation, the foundation gives balance to the truth.

In the next couple posts in this series, my goal is to address topics that correlate and fit into this truth. I would be happy to hear any feed back, comments, etc., as I grow as an individual and a writer with constructive criticism and affirmation. I praise God for the opportunity to communicate these truths that have been laid on my heart and will hopefully be worded in such a way that will reach your heart. To God be the glory!