March 27, 2006

"Yes, though I walk THROUGH the valley..."

Yes... it is true... we ALL - at one time or another - have a "Valley" or two to walk through. As much as we love those Mountain Top experiences and panoramic views, we will eventually have to travel on and once again make our way through more uncharted territory!

My walk with the Lord has been growing stronger and stronger over the past 15 years. He has guided me through some serious Storms, and led me to many desperately needed Still Waters. He has proved Himself to me over and over... while I am sure I have only proved my need for Him!

Many people are familiar with Psalm 23 - whether they consider themselves Christian or not. The Truth of this passage - and the hope and comfort that it brings - reaches to the very heart of any given trial or tribulation that we find ourselves in. I encourage you study out the life of a Shepherd. Doing so will enrich this passage and breathe new life and understanding.

The thing that the Lord has been reminding me lately - as many around me seem to be going through some Valleys - is that He is the One that guides us through! He promises to walk us THROUGH those Valleys - we are not to camp out there... it is not supposed to be something we settle for! His plans for us are up on those Mountain Tops - but the lessons we learn in the Valleys are invaluable and often times closely related to how much we enjoy the View from the top!

So - if you are finding yourself in the midst of a Valley and feeling alone and scared... let this encourage you! God IS with you... this Valley may not be of His doing - but He is allowing it only because He knows that it will bring about a greater blessing on the other side... up on top! The thing about Valleys is that in the middle of them - things can seem not so bad... but when it is time to climb up on out of it - the going gets tough and we can tire easily and want to give up! However, just when we want to quit... He comes and prepares us a meal - He feeds us whatever it is that we most need at that moment, and then He speaks Love and Encouragement over... and continues to guide us up and out of our circumstances! Psalm 23:6 in the Amplified Bible reads: "Surely or only goodness, mercy, and unfailing love shall follow me all the days of my life, and through the length of my days the house of the Lord [and His presence] shall be my dwelling place."

The Power of Worship and living a life of worship - well - that is another post - but the Lord has been really confirming things to me through songs the past few weeks. I love Ps 23 in the Amplified... and I love how He reminded me of His "Unfailing Love" this week using both song and scripture! May He remind you of that as well!

"You have my heart And I am Yours forever You are my strength God of grace and power And everything You hold in Your hand Still You make time for me I can't understand Praise You God of Earth and sky How beautiful is Your unfailing love Unfailing love And You never change God You remain The Holy One My unfailing love Unfailing love You are my rock The one I hold on to You are my song And I sing for You..." (~Chris Tomlin)


March 24, 2006

Which Jesus Do You Serve?

"...Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church. The blood and dirt on His feet would stain the carpet. But He reaches for the hurting and despised the proud. I think He'd prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd. And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud... I want to be like my Jesus! I want to be like my Jesus!"

Have ya'll heard this song by Todd Agnew?! ("My Jesus") Wow - what a powerful song! I love it! It rings so true to me too!

Here's the deal - a little background on me and where I am coming from...

I was raised in a spiritual, non-Christian home and dabbled in the New Age as a teenager and young adult. I became a born again Christian at the age of 21 and experienced a radical change in my beliefs and goals. I grew in Christ alongside my live-in boyfriend - who soon became my husband. He was a PK and had just returned home to our small town - as well as 'home' to Jesus. His head knowledge proved invaluable and it quickly dropped into both of our hearts. We got 'plugged in' to a great church and life was good. I so cherish and am thankful for those years in that church - because it is there that I was able to build a firm foundation in the Word and Spirit... it is where I learned how to be a Christian, a wife, a mother... We did not know at the time that this 'home' we found should not be taken for granted. It seemed that this is what 'church' was...

Fast forward a few more years and the honeymoon period is over. We were not thinking we had found the perfect church - however we did experience some serious abuse & manipulation, ya know - all that fleshly aspect of church-life that no one wants to deal with or discuss.... We did go through that 'wounded' period (the period where we took on offenses for ourselves - and others - and felt let down by God - rather than man!?) - but praise God we were not released to leave until AFTER God had healed us of those issues. When we were called out of that church (and we WERE called out - by God) it was the hardest thing we have ever done. There was a long time that I was praying to be able to go - and God had said no... but when He finally said "Go!" - we had come to the point where we didn't want to leave. We were in leadership and knew enough (thank You, Jesus!) that we couldn't reveal what we knew, or saw, or discerned, to others... we had to graciously leave, speaking blessings on the church on our way out in order not to cause division. That is a God thing! I mean - honestly - I like words - and I have a lot of them - and for God to shut me up during that time... His Grace IS abounding... and His Love IS Enduring!!! And in His Grace and Love, He assembled a Home Church for us literally within days... and it was not a wounded, rebellious, back-biting gathering - it was mature, loving, spirit-led, Christians who were thirsty for more of God and needing true fellowship with those who would be willing to love them and speak life into each other during a season in our lives that the church (at large) was not offering us. That - to this day - has been my favorite, most New Testament style church I have been honored and blessed to be a part of!

Fast forward a few more years, and we were involved in a Prayer and Worship Center that was more of a prophetic/warfare gathering than a church... that was great - but not where we were called to be. We have tried (I-can't-TELL-you-how-) many churches... we are not looking for perfection - we are looking for a place that feels like "home" again... a place where we feel like we are getting fed and there is a place for us to feed as well... a place of worship and prayer and the Word without compromise, but dripping in Grace. Who knew it could be so hard to find?! We are now attending an organized church again... while I can't say it is 'home' - it IS where God wants us to be in this Season.

So - long story made short(ish) - that is my history. I love the Lord with all my heart and rejoice in His great Love for me... and for you! I think we are called to err on the side of grace and we are called to Abide in Him and have His Words Abide in us... we are called to let His Love so overwhelm and overfill us that it spills out onto others... I believe that there is coming a Shaking to the organized church structurally that has been prophesied for years... I believe it is just now beginning to happen. It's not going to be pretty - things are going to be messy and get turned upside down... I believe the key is to learn to walk in His Love and Grace and to Abide in Him no matter what around us or within us is shaking... He is our foundation and our One Sure Thing! So - which Jesus do you serve?! Me?! I'm hanging with Jesus whose Love spills out... as well as His Blood... "And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud... I want to be like my Jesus!"


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