The Process

Process: a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end. As I settled in to write, once again God reminded me of Joshua. After the death of Moses, Joshua faced an enormous process as he set out to conquer the promised land God had given the Israelites. God did unimaginable things for Joshua because of his obedience:

  •  Joshua 3 – the miraculous crossing of the Jordan River.
  •  Joshua 6 – the battle at Jericho. 
  •  Joshua 10 – the sun stood still. 

All of these miracles came because opposition stood between him and the promise land. Despite the miracles, as he went to battle day after day, did he wondered if the process was worth the promise or if it was ever going to lead him to the promise. 

In my own life, I often find myself wondering the same things. What I’ve noticed about most of us, myself included, is we want what God has spoken to our hearts, but we want it now. We want it easy, like a microwave dinner. When things aren’t working out quickly or the way we believe they should, we assume we’ve heard Him wrong or we’re being punished for something. Can I tell you, God doesn’t allow trials in our lives to punish us but rather to propel us toward the promise. 
When I first discerned the call to the young adult ministry, God opened a door to teach a small group of around 6 people at the church I was attending. Certain God was going to grow the group significantly, to my surprise, God instead told us to change churches and sit the bench, so to speak. I questioned time after time if I had heard Him correctly and if that’s what He wanted for me. In the process, we stayed faithful to His voice and moved churches. I taught once in the five months there, before God moved us again, this time to a new town. Long story short, we moved. We got involved and sat the bench for another six months before God opened the door for my husband and I to step into the young adult ministry at our church. I now realize God was growing, maturing, and teaching us how to handle the ministry He had for us. Sitting the bench for a year wasn’t my idea of moving toward what God had for me, but he needed to prepare me to handle it.

James 1:2-4 tells us, “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So,don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” (The Message)
What would life had looked like for the Israelites had Joshua given up in the process? What would my life and yours look like if we decided the process wasn’t worth it? There’s a process to your promise, but don’t allow the process to rob you of your progress. God is working in your battles and pauses.Trust him, trust his timing, and trust his promise for your life. 

Believe in Me…

“Believe in me.” Those were the words God whispered to me as I sat at the pond with the sounds of nothing but the wind, water ripples, and an occasional frog croaking.  I often go to the pond to think, write, get alone with God or to hear His voice. It’s my little sanctuary, right here at home. I had been sick all week and hadn’t spent much time with God other than begging him to please hurry up and heal me and my kiddos. I especially needed to be with Him and hear from Him that day at the pond. It seemed like forever since I had heard His voice or spent quality time with Him.

Now to be honest, the words “believe in me”  shocked me. I believe in God, not only do I believe in Him, I spend my life trying to follow him and reaching out to others to do the same. What does He mean, believe in me??? As I sat there a little puzzled by what I heard, I felt Holy Spirit begin to explain. While I believe in Him, I still struggle to believe what He will do in my life. I believe He can heal my mom, I believe He can take my friends music ministry to the next level, I believe He can do crazy amazing things in the lives of my Pastors, but I struggle to believe He will do what he says He will do in my own life. At times, I get excited about what he’s said he will do, only to find myself watering it down, making it easier to believe in my tiny mind. I have seen God do amazing things in my life that only He could do, yet I find myself struggling to think He could do it again.

Today as I was thinking about my struggle, God reminded me of Joshua in scripture. Joshua had seen God work around and through him time after time, but I wonder if while marching around the walls of Jericho, day after day,  he wondered if God would do it again? And then on day seven, after seven trips around the city with trumpets blowing, a blast on the ram’s horn, and the shouts of the people, the walls fell. God did it again!

What I noticed about Joshua as God showed me his story, was his obedience to every word God spoke. Because of Joshua’s obedience to what God said, God was able to use Joshua. Are you wondering if the walls will fall,  or if God’s going to do it again? Yes! God is ready and able to do crazy amazing things in your life and mine; our job is to believe what he says and to obey when he speaks. So, for now as you wait for the walls to fall, what is he calling you to do? Are you to keep marching, start shouting, or be silent? What are you being called to do while you wait?

Learning to live freely & lightly

Have you ever been to a party or a dinner that’s just so incredibly loud that you have to yell across the table to your neighbor, just to hold a conversation? I have, last night actually. It was so full of noise I could barely hear myself yelling across the table and it got me thinking about my busy life. I have been in a crazy busy season lately and to be honest I am absolutely worn out and exhausted. I have so much going on and it starts to feel like my life is the noise of that dinner, crazy loud.

Now let me explain, I, by nature, am a doer. I also, by nature, have never been good at saying “no”.  What happens for me is I say “yes” so many times that I become so overwhelmed and my relationship with God, my family, friends and even my health suffer for it. After a while, my life begins to feel like that dinner – loud. My relationships are a struggle because the noise is too much, just like the struggle to visit with my friend across the table. Maybe for you it isn’t busyness, maybe it’s something else you’re going through that consumes you, causing your relationship with God and others to suffer.

Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message) says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly”.

See, what I’m learning is that it doesn’t matter what consumes you, whether busyness, un-forgiveness, hurt, loss, or fill-in-the-blank, when we consume ourselves with these things, we don’t have room left for God.  He tells us to come to him and he will give us rest, he will teach us how to live freely and lightly. He will show us how to lay those things down so we can truly be filled by him.  I don’t know what your struggle is today, but I encourage you to go to Him, lay those things at his feet and take a real rest. Nothing is too heavy for Christ to carry, hand it over and watch him recover your life and your relationships.

It is well…

Now I don’t know about you, but I personally have a hard time keeping the faith and hope, like that of the Shunammite woman, especially when it comes to my own promise.  Let’s take a look at her story (Read 2 Kings 4:8-37). We see in verse seventeen that she was promised a son, which she gave birth to a year later. Years go by and she joyfully watches her promise grow. Life was good, until one day the boy fell ill, and not just ill, but the Bible says in verse twenty, “he died”.  What a blow that must have been, her promise was dead, I’m certain she was not prepared for such a tragedy.

 Have you ever been through a time when you’ve heard the voice of God, and begin to walk in your promise, only to find it looking lifeless? The second part of John 16:33 reminds us that “in this life we will have trouble”. Sometimes life throws us curveballs, things we never see coming. Maybe for you it’s been a diagnosis, a major financial struggle, children who continue to rebel, marriage counseling that isn’t working, or “the” job you haven’t heard back from yet.

No matter what struggle has come between you and your promise, don’t mourn yet because it’s not over.  We read a few scriptures down (about verse twenty-three) that while the Shunammite woman’s son literally lay dead, she goes on her way saying, “it will be well”. Seriously? Has she lost her mind? Her son is dead, it’s over, let the mourning begin! But no, instead she chose to respond with faith and hope in the promise giver, rather than her circumstances.  Too often I respond the opposite and I put more faith in my circumstances than I do in God’s promises.  You see, the way we react to our circumstances is often the very thing that determines whether our promise lives or dies. Had the Shunammite woman mourned her loss and never went to the man of God, her promise would’ve died and stayed that way.

Let’s read 2 Kings 4:33-34 “So he entered and shut the door behind them both and prayed to the Lord. And he went up and lay on the child, and put his mouth to his mouth and his eyes to his eyes and his hands to his hands, and he stretched himself on him; and the flesh of the child became warm.” He lived! Her promise lived!  I encourage you  to remember that just because your promise may look dead, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

How are you responding? Have you put your faith in your circumstances or in the promise giver?  Let God breathe life back into your promise, despite what your circumstances say, God will always accomplish what he says he will.  “So my word that comes from my mouth will not return to me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.” Isaiah 55:11

I wrote this today in loving memory of a very special lady.  Because you are with Jesus, it is well.
In loving memory of “Gran” Dianne Bowman
August 1, 1946- April 25, 2016

Relentless Love

It was Easter Sunday, April 11, 2004, at a small church in our tiny town of Ellsinore, Missouri. My husband, Dustin, and I walked up the stairs and into the church that was so familiar, like we’d done hundreds of times before. Dustin and I had no expectations of the service that day. We were honestly trying to get in and out of the service quickly and unchanged by God. We knew our lifestyle wasn’t one pleasing to God, but pleasing Him, meant a change in the way we lived. And we weren’t ready for that. When we finally made it in the church, we found ourselves on the second row on the right side of the sanctuary (not the best place to sit when you’re running from God, I might add). You see, in the front of the church there are no distractions to keep you occupied: It’s you, the Pastor, and Holy Spirit. I can’t tell you what the weather was that day, what I chose to wear, or who all was there that morning. What I do remember is the tugging at my heart that I felt. I knew I needed to make a decision. As the Pastor began to talk about the Cross and the Resurrection, my heart began to melt as I realized the relentless love that God showed me by sending his Son to die for me. I was ready to change my life now, but I still had an issue. The wonderful man standing next to me, my husband, whom I loved dearly. I had no idea if he was feeling the same way as me and I was too afraid to ask him such a crazy question, but I knew that newlyweds trying to live two different lives probably wouldn’t work so well. In that moment, I began to whisper this little prayer to God, “Lord, I really want to live for you, but I can’t do it on my own. If Dustin will take my hand and go I’ll go too.” While I still had my eyes closed, I felt the gentle hand of my husband wrap around mine and he whispered to me, “I think we should go pray.” My heart was racing as we made our way to the altar, but then realized we had come to pray for the wife of a co-worker of his. See, the Lord had answered my prayer and we came to the altar. It wasn’t just solely for the co-worker’s wife because as we prayed for her, I could hear Dustin’s prayer become a prayer of repentance and then came my prayer of repentance. We gave our lives to Christ that day and made a commitment from that moment on that we would be all in for Jesus. Whatever he wanted to do in and through us, we would allow. We decided that day to follow Him, not for fear of Hell, but because of the relentless love he had shown us through Jesus. I don’t know where you stand with God today, but I encourage you that today is the day of salvation! Don’t wait another minute to follow Him! You will not be disappointed. If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

#fail

So a couple years back I was planning a Young Adult conference, and in my mind, this conference was gonna be huge!! I had the best speakers and band lined up along with great food, and great games to keep us entertained. I  literally spent hours over the course of several months planning and praying about this event, I just knew every young adult in a 30 mile radius would surely show up. I had a pastor from Texas flown in, ordered tee shirts, the whole nine yards. This event was bound to be amazing!! To my surprise and disappointment, the event brought in a whole 25-30 people, and that’s including the band, speakers and ourselves. It was an amazing night for those of us who came, but I still walked away that night feeling like a complete failure as an event planner and frankly as a young adult leader. I felt like I had failed God because I couldn’t even get people in the doors for His event. I really struggled for a while after that, feeling inadequate of what God called me to, whether it were an event or just teaching my small group each week. Thankfully I have an awesome sauce pastor who spoke some wise words one day in a meeting, he said, “you don’t do this for me, you do it for Him (Christ)”. Now he wasn’t specifically talking about my situation but it definitely spoke to my heart about my situation. I realized I was making it about my abilities and I had lost my confidence of what God could do through me. The reality is when I lose confidence in me, I’ve lost it in the one who’s created me.  God knew me before I was even born and He knew what He’d have me do. Who am I to question my abilities? He created me equipped to do what he’s called me to. It didn’t matter if we had 25 people or 500 show up, I didn’t fail because God, the great I AM doesn’t fail. God accomplished what he needed that night despite any shortcomings I may have seen in myself. And furthermore, my heart was 100% in what he told me to do, so that my friends is not a fail. “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” Hebrews 10:35

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A Dream Abandoned

I was listening to a sermon today during my quiet time, and in the sermon he was speaking on “Afraid of the battle”. He spoke about how God calls each of us for a purpose, and we shouldn’t be afraid to go fight for what God calls us to.  As I was listening, God began to speak to me about how we all have things that God has placed in our heart and they’ve become dreams to us. Maybe God’s placed on your heart to open a shelter for the homeless, start a bible study in your church/home or possibly a book you need to write. Whatever it is for you, God speaks to us and places things on our heart for His purpose. The dreams He puts inside of us may sound completely crazy to us and we sure aren’t about to tell anyone about them because surely they will think we’ve lost it!  But can I tell you that you can dream all day long but if we don’t go to work and fight for the dream, we are but merely dreamers for Christ. I personally don’t want to look back someday and see someone living the dream I was created for, and I sure don’t want to miss all the lives Christ could touch through me if only I’d been a doer and not a dreamer. So right now in this very moment, what is holding you back from living the dream God birthed in your heart? I don’t know your situation but I know the I AM and He will provide for you every step of the way on your journey. Trust Him, have faith He will see this through. I want to leave you with this quote from the sermon, “We’ll never have a testimony unless we’re willing to put a sling or a sword in our hand and fight”.  May God’s favor be with you as you take a step of faith and begin to be a doer and not just a dreamer!

“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” James 1:22