Tuesday, July 27, 2010

My Blog Is Silent...

It seems like my blog is silent or has slowed down to a whisper these days even though I really would like to share my heart out on here!  This is truly the hardest part about blogging... while there are many, many things (both exciting and difficult) that I am dying to write about, it is not the right time to do so yet.

In times like these, I am grateful for my friends and my family... for they are always there to listen and to encourage!  Whether I am sharing with a friend at their kitchen table or chatting on the phone with a family member... a sense of gratefulness washes over me.

At this moment in time, all I can say on here is that God has been speaking powerfully to hubby and me.  We need to be still and listen... and that is precisely what we have decided to do over the next few months.  These are exciting times... God is revealing a mission for our family and we sure don't want to miss it!

Tomorrow, we head out for a week of summer road tripping!  We are looking forward to a time of refreshment... a time of seeing and hearing God... a time of discovery!  Throughout it all, our family's prayer remains to be... 

Here I am.  Lord, send me! 

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Answer Is You...

I'm having a l-a-z-y Saturday morning... listening to songs on my playlist and surfing Facebook. The song by Brian Littrell entitled My Answer Is You came on and it's the first time that I've really listened and paid attention to the lyrics.

I'm loving the words... they are so true... especially the line that says: "I want to live my life so differently because of faith..." --- may this be true in the life of our family! Here I am. Lord, send me!
My Answer Is You

There's a world of difference when faith is in a heart
It stands out like sunlight
Life becomes so dark
And when those around me ask me why
I dare to dream
Or why I love or why I sing

My answer is You
My answer is You
You're the hope that my heart is holding on to
Skeptics won't understand
It's strange from the world's point of view
My answer is You

They might find it incredible to believe what I can't see
They might think it's foolish
Or even say it's weak
I want to live my life so differently because of faith
And if it causes them to question, for me to say

My answer is You
My answer is You
You're the hope that my heart is holding on to
Skeptics won't understand
It's strange from the world's point of view
My answer is You

You're the reason I'm alive
For every good thing in my life
My answer is You

My answer is You
My answer is You
You're the hope that my heart is holding on to
Skeptics won't understand
It's strange from the world's point of view
But my answer is plain and it's simple, Lord
My answer is You

My answer is YOU!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Reading Spree

So I've been on a little reading spree these past few days... it's one of my summer goals!  I delved into my second book and finished it tonight.  This time, my good read is Francis Chan's Forgotten God.  Powerful book... much like his previous one, Crazy Love.  

Here are some quotes from it...
I refuse to live the remainder of my life where I am right now, stagnating at this point.  Don't get me wrong: God has already done so much in my life, and I am grateful for it.  I'm just convinced there's more.  There's more of the Spirit and more of God than any of us is experiencing.  I want to go there - not just intellectually, but in life, with everything that I am.
I want to live so that I am truly submitted to the Spirit's leading on a daily basis.  Christ said it is better for us that the Spirit came, and I want to live like I know that is true.  I don't want to keep crawling when I have the ability to fly.
It is possible for us to be doing incredible things for the kingdom yet have people give glory to God rather than to us.  When the Holy Spirit truly moves, God is the one praised.  Jesus is the one lifted up.  Let's pray that God would empower us so radically that we would get no glory.  That people would see our works and glorify God.
Desiring the Holy Spirit means we allow the Holy Spirit to guide us.
The fact is that God is calling.  The Spirit is beckoning.  The real question is will you follow?  Will you listen?
He calls us to do something, a particular thing, and we have the choice to obey or not.  The truly startling thought is that by not submitting and totally trusting the Holy Spirit, I am not submitting to or trusting God.  This is no small matter.
It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are.  But it's absolutely vital to grasp that He didn't call you there so you could settle in and live out your life in comfort and superficial peace.  His purposes are not random or arbitrary.  If you are still alive on this planet, it's because He has something for you to do.  He placed us on this earth for purposes that He orchestrated long before we were born.  Do you believe you exist not for your own pleasure but to help people know the love of Jesus and to come fully alive in Him?  If so, then that will shape how you live your life in the place where you are.
When Jesus calls us to take up our cross, He is doing much more than calling us to endure the daily, circumstantial troubles of life.  The people in Jesus' day were very familiar with the cross.  Having witnessed crucifixion, they understood the commitment and sacrifice of taking up a cross.  It is a call to radical faith.
To submit and give up everything truly is radical and terrifying.  However, when I think deeply about it, walking in my own wisdom, contrary to the Spirit's leading, is even more frightful.
I don't believe God wants me (or any of His children) to live in a way that makes sense from the world's perspective, a way I know I can "manage."  I believe He is calling me - and all of us - to depend on Him for living in a way that cannot be mimicked or forged.  He wants us to walk in step with His Spirit rather than depend solely on the raw talent and knowledge He's given us.
He wants to completely transform us.  He wants to take a timid heart and set it ablaze with strength and courage, so much so that people know something supernatural has taken place - life change just as miraculous as fire coming down from heaven.  He wants to imbue us with His wisdom because He is the "spirit of wisdom and revelation."
God wants the praise for what we do in our lives.  But if we never pray audacious, courageous prayers, how can He answer them?  If we never follow Him to positions where we need Him, how can He show up and make His presence known?
I don't want to merely talk anymore.  Life is too short.  I don't want to speak about Jesus; I want to know Jesus.  I want to be Jesus to people.  I don't want just to write about the Holy Spirit; I want to experience His presence in my life in a profound way.
We need Your wisdom and understanding as we seek to live this life.  Keep us from disbelief, from fear.  We need Your strength to help us do what You are asking us to do and to live how You are asking us to live.  Speak loudly and drown out the other voices calling us to conform to the patterns of this world.
Another great read... lots and lots to digest and pray about... especially at this time when hubby and I are trying to discern what God is trying to tell us to do.

As we wait and discern, our prayer as always remains to be... Here I am. Lord, send me!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

True Religion

I finished reading my newest book --- True Religion by Palmer Chinchen.  It is a must-read... much like Francis Chan's book, Crazy Love!  It truly will disturb you, in a good way! :-)

God has been stirring in hubby's and my hearts these days... and this book has affirmed a lot of those stirrings.  Just this afternoon, we listened to God and as a result, this week 70 children (from the Jane/Finch area of our city) will have snacks and juice at a Christian-based day camp that they will attend.  As Palmer Chinchen puts it... "taking pieces of heaven to places of hell on earth."

I am teary-eyed just realizing how much need there is out there... there is so much that we as Christians can do in this dark world --- to effect change, to give hope!

Here are some quotes from True Religion that gripped me...
~ Jesus never made this life about what He could gain for Himself.  He was never interested in power or control or recognition or fame or possessions.  He was oddly focused on rescuing other people from oppressive regimes, social stigmas, broken marriages, crippled bodies, physical blindness, and spiritual death.
~ Stagnancy will kill your spirit.  The Christian who is not being used by God to change lives, to make a difference for Christ, will dry up, stagnate. Transformation will not happen.
~ God put you and me here to make this world a better place, a more beautiful place.  So whatever the cost, go in the name of Jesus and love people who hurt.  Tell them and show them that God has a better way, a more beautiful way, a life-giving way.
~ The way of the Christ is no ordinary way.  To follow Him, you have to think differently, and you have to live differently.  But His way of thinking will change you forever!  His ideas are not just life changing; they are life-giving.  Being disturbed is not just a good way to learn - it's necessary for transformation.
~ God's people are at their best when they're giving themselves away.
~ Christian spirituality has a clear doing component.  There's work to be done.  Do the work of the cross.  We have a moral duty to physically respond to the needs of hurting people around us.  Jesus made this so clear in His parables, the most poignant of which is the well-known story of the good Samaritan.  Frustrated by the hypocrisy of the religious leaders, Jesus challenges those listening to stop acting so religious and begin doing this thing called love.
~ Physical needs are real needs.  Never miss that.  Jesus was always concerned with how people were doing physically.
~ I don't intend to be harsh, but let's stop being so obsessed with our own pleasure and possessions and start giving our lives away.  All things go.  No thing lasts forever.  But people do.
~ The ship is sinking.  The time to act is now.  Waste no time.  Stop the wanton pleasure and empty leisure and the fooling around.  Get up, get out, and go - God needs you now.
~ Realize this: God created you with a beautiful, perfect purpose in mind.  He intends for you to live a life of significance, a life that impacts people and changes lives, cities and nations.  Begin each morning asking, "God, in what way do You want me to change this world for You today?"  Live that way.  Take every opportunity He gives.  Walk through every open door... and crash through the ones bolted shut.
Powerful words, aren't they?  God is stirring... we are disturbed... it's time to obey!  Here I am.  Lord, send me!   

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Better Heart...

Yesterday, I blogged about my sore heart and ended the blog post like this...
As God slowly guides my sore heart into wholeness once again... my prayer as always remains the same... Here I am. Lord, send me!
Well, I am happy to say that today my heart is on the mend... as God answered my prayer in a very real way.

I will remember today's story for a long while yet... maybe even forever.

As I wrote yesterday's blog post, I was intrigued by the quote from the book True Religion by Palmer Chinchen. It intrigued me enough to make me want to read the whole book. So... off we went to the local Christian bookstore. The book is now sitting right here on my desk ready for me to devour.

After the bookstore and a quick stop for dinner, we decided that we would head to Costco to "look around"... we never usually go to Costco on a Wednesday night. We left Costco with nothing else but dessert so that we could bring it over to my sister-in-law's house to celebrate her birthday.

Upon exiting Costco's parking lot, we saw a woman with a sign --- "Family of 7; can't find work; need food; no money..." something like that. It wasn't the words on the sign that struck me. It was the look of hopelessness on the woman's face. Hubby and I looked at each other and we knew we needed to help her.

We turn the car around on the other driveway and we see a man with a similar sign --- "Looking for work..." --- turns out he's the woman's husband. We head back into Costco with our kids in tow and we dashed around the store filling up our cart... the store was closing in 15 minutes and we wanted to get enough food to at least last this family for a week. We left Costco for a second time this evening... but this time, we had a full cart.

We go back out to the parking lot to meet up with this couple... chatted for a little bit. I told the woman that it was definitely God who sent us as we never go to Costco on a Wednesday night. She told me that she's been "begging" all day and no one stopped to give her anything. She said she was praying to God all day... she thanked us and told us that we made her day!!!

Wow! What an amazing day it has been... my heart is full of thanksgiving to God for using our family in this way today. My prayer is that He will use us in similar ways again!

Joe and Abby --- that's their names. I pray that they have seen Jesus in us tonight. That they will go home to their 5 children and tell them that there is a God!

As I sit here typing away... I look down at my new book, True Religion. Guess what the tag line for the book title is? It is... taking pieces of heaven to places of hell on earth.

I think God gave us an opportunity to do just that tonight. Thank you, God!

Here I am. Lord, send me!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Sore Heart...

My heart is sore these days... there are many questions hubby and I are asking each other lately that is making us wonder if we are in the exact place where God can use our family to our fullest potential.  While we are loving and serving God with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength; at the place where we serve God right now, the spark seems to have vanished.  

Yet, on certain days... I see a glimmer of that spark.  Like yesterday when I spoke to a woman who is a single mom; struggling to make ends meet; thanking me over and over again for the help that was provided for her; telling me that God will bless me for my efforts... it's during moments like that when my heart grows even more sore.

Difficult days... tears fall often... all I want to do is live for Jesus.

As hubby and I ponder on questions... sometimes getting an answer and sometimes not, God is still good.  In my blog readings the past couple of days, I came across two posts that have been incredibly encouraging.  One from Carey Neiuwhof and another one from Ann Voskamp.

Here are some snippets from Ann's blog as many things written on there truly spoke to me, in fact that is where the title for this blog post comes from. So... here are some things that jumped out at me:
I don’t know why He just won’t tell me straight out what is the best use of these days and is there anything that lasts and where is my place in the world? This heart sloshes its ache.
“I believe God wants us all to live bothered by things around us that are not right… Possibly the most important indicator of true religion is the desire to love and care for people who hurt." from the book True Religion by Palmer Chinchen
My heart hurts. Does it hurt over the right things? Does it hurt in triplicate for the eternal or does it only hurt for things that are like straw to Him? Am I bothered by the pain in this world? Or just the pain in me?
I answer Jesus. But I’m only going if I know that you are going with me and this is about you and your one life.
Offering pieces of heaven to heal the sore of this earth and together we'll heal.
As God slowly guides my sore heart into wholeness once again... my prayer as always remains the same... Here I am. Lord, send me!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Heart, Soul, Mind and Strength

So... another round of layoffs happened at my workplace.  Essentially, all that transition work I've been doing for the past month has been thrown out the window because my job share partner was laid off... :-(  I am sad... for my friend... but I also know that God's ways are higher than our ways!  Something better is out there waiting for her.

So... this does not necessarily translate into back to working more hours for me, but it does mean that I have to "pitch in" during these summer months in order to get a new norm in place for September.  My boss knows of my desire to keep my weekly hours capped at a certain level and she respects that, for which I am truly grateful.

My boss and I... we've become friends over the years.  When this latest round of layoffs happened, we chatted for a bit about it.  As we were brainstorming ideas on how to get our workload done with less people... she said something very interesting to me.  She said that in this day and age of economic uncertainly, there isn't a job that's secure anymore. One where we can sink our hearts and souls into knowing that it will be for long-term.  It might just be better not to get too attached to our jobs... just treat it like it is --- a job!  We don't need to give ourselves away for it...

Automatically, my mind went to the verse in the Bible from Mark 12:30 (NIV) where it says: 
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
Opposite to what my boss and I talked about, we are to sink our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength into loving God. What does that mean exactly, I asked myself? I think that once we stop loving God with our ALL, we start to lose the spark... we lose sight of the reason of why we serve Him in the first place... we become selfish and self-centered... we forget to give ourselves away for the Kingdom of God. Sad, isn't it?

I am reminded of the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan that I read this past Christmas. This book describes how we should be loving God... in a crazy kind-of-way... in a Mark 12:30 kind-of-way! My prayer is that I will continue to grow towards having that crazy love for my Heavenly Father; that I will have a whatever-it-takes attitude when it comes to serving Him; that I will "not become weary in doing good"... knowing that "at the proper time I (we) will reap a harvest if I (we) do not give up." (from Galatians 6:9 NIV)

Help me, God... for many times I do not have what it takes to love you with that crazy, out-of-this-world kind of love!