You Want Me to Give Up What?!!

Hungry Girl

To many people, fasting sounds extreme and old school. I personally LOVE food and thank God every day for a fast metabolism so I never have to diet or deny myself of a sweet or fried food. So fasting to me even sounded like torture.

 

I fasted for the first time in the spring of 2011. I was an actor in the Easter production and was excited to pray for 21 days through the Daniel Fast for the production to make a huge impact in the lives of thousands. In my personal life, I was also knocking down heaven’s door for spiritual, emotional and physical healing for my deep wounds from sexual abuse and sins in my past. I’m not going to lie, taking away all my favorite foods and having to deny my flesh every day was painful and eating organic was not cheap!

 

I still shudder at the thought of eating a plate of beans and rice, but God did not ignore my sacrifice and constant prayers. Not only did we hear about countless numbers of salvations and life change from the production, but the day the fast ended I was healed! Since that fast I have been free of a stronghold that held on to me since I was 14 and my marriage has never been better. I’ve been able to forgive people from my past and to forgive myself. The physical issues I faced that not a single doctor could fix were healed in an instant without any medical reason.

 

Now I’m not promising if you fast, God is going to be like a genie and answer your every wish. But I will promise you that if you fast, you will undeniably feel God’s presence and nothing is sweeter than that. Listening to God’s voice is a heck of a lot easier when you tell your stomach to shut up! If you don’t have a specific prayer need right now, lucky you! You can still fast and knock on heaven’s door for other things, like getting to know God better or for revival to break out at church this Easter. Pray for the lost to come pouring in the doors and be changed forever. Pray for the tech, actors, singers, dancers, etc that will be preparing for the weeks to come. I can’t wait to see what God’s going to do in this 40 days of prayer and fasting in your life and in our church.  Nothing awesome happens in the comfort zone, so step out and try a fast!

The Not So Joyful Giver

 

As the Heart for the Harvest Offering was approaching, God had really been working on my heart and challenging me on what it means to be a joyful giver and to completely put my faith in God for my family’s finances and future. As with most people, I was worried about the economy, Christmas gifts, tax season, and in the midst of this we were still trying to sell our home, in a horrible housing market, at a bad time of year all while praying about becoming parents to a second child. Not exactly a great recipe for a joyful giver.

 

God opened my eyes to this while I was reading in Exodus about how the Israelites came together and gave a free will offering to build God’s Tabernacle. There was no arm twisting or guilt, but the people gave so freely and joyfully that Moses had to tell them to stop giving! I can’t ever imagine that happening in our culture today. So why is that? Why do I dread seeing my bank account go down every time I give my tithe and special offerings?

 

The more I searched my heart, the more I realized it’s because I don’t truly trust God to provide for me and my family. The Israelites literally had nothing when they left Egypt and had to fully rely on God for the riches He gave them. Everything from Pharaoh releasing the Egyptians to the manna and quail he rained down. They had no issues giving freely back to God because they knew without a doubt that God was their provider. All of my life I viewed the paychecks I received not as manna from heaven, but as a direct result of MY hard work and skills. Now that I have a child, I look at our bank account even more carefully; constantly worrying about not having enough of a cushion in case something bad happens now that we have another life to take care of.

 

But the truth of the matter is that God is Jehovah Jireh. God’s math is not like our math. 2+2 does not always equal 4 in God’s realm.  So even though I may still fight my flesh with my finances some days, I now rest in knowing this…

“25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[a]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6: 25-34

So what is holding you back from being a joyful giver? Is it fear or doubt? I challenge you to let God search your heart and help you release the bondage money may have on your heart. It may not be an easy process, but when you weed, you have to start at the roots.

Are You a Peacock or 007?

During Pastor Chris’ first message of the Gameover series, he said something that really made me look in the mirror and reflect on myself as a Christ follower. He described Christians as one of two types; a peacock or a 007-agent. In case you missed this amazing message, to peacock means to strut or show off. As Christians, we are supposed to live outwardly transformed lives with Jesus’ love oozing from our very beings. We are to “peacock” all around town and everyone should be able to label us as a Christ follower.  A 007-agent Christian hides their identity in Christ from others. They act like a secret agent roaming this world, trying to blend in.

When I looked in the mirror, I couldn’t honestly say I’m a peacock. Sure I peacock around other peacocks…that sounds weird…but when I leave church and hang out with my lost friends, I turn into 007. You see, I’m a people pleaser who never wants to ruffle any feathers. Luckily, there is a cure for 007s like me: immerse yourself in His Word.

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The more you immerse yourself in His Word, the more you will feel comfortable peacocking around East Tennessee. He’ll open your eyes to see the world as He sees it and He’ll open your heart to feel what He feels. So crack open that dusty Bible and spread your wings friends.

Put Down Those Capes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a new mother, I’m still trying to find a balance in my life. There are so many roles I play: child of God, mother, wife, employee, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, small group leader, actor, maid, cook, and the list goes on and on. Each area calls for my attention and time and I admit I am a bit of a perfectionist. Just give me a cape and a tiara and I can accomplish anything.

As 2011 came to a close, I found myself exhausted and drained from trying to be perfect in every area of my life. As I looked at my life I felt as though I had fallen short in every single area. My house was a complete mess, I had turned to fast food and frozen dinners for our family meals most week nights, I had no energy or time to spend with my husband, I had a membership at the Rush that I hadn’t used since April, I had to turn down acting roles at church, I couldn’t keep my head above water at work, I hadn’t talked to my mom or dad in a month and I haven’t had a quiet time since Jameson had been born.  As I spill to my dear friend Connie Gillette about my frustrations and failures she made a statement that hit me smack in the head, “perfection is in heaven”. Here I was running myself to death trying to achieve perfection in every area of my life when it would be impossible to achieve.

Looking at 2012 I now know I’m going to fail probably at most goals I set for myself. But that’s ok! It’s more about the journey of trying to achieve them because that’s where the growth comes in. It’s about the relationships more than the tasks. If I have to pick up Panera so I can spend less time cooking and more time playing with my son and having my quiet time with God, that’s ok. If I have to wear my fat jeans because I didn’t do laundry the night before so I could spend quality time with my husband that’s ok! I also need to set realistic goals and not try to be like someone else. My house will never be spotless, I probably will never sew my children’s Halloween costumes and I won’t always be able to bake homemade cookies because I’m not a stay at home mom. Instead of stubbornly trying to pretend that I can do all these things on top of work a full time job, this year I  WILL set my cape down and retire as superwoman.

If you have a similar personality or experience, I hope this blog gives you a sense of peace to not have to attain perfection. God came to earth and died on a cross for us so we wouldn’t have to feel this sort of pressure. All you have to do is graciously accept that gift and live your life the best you can, knowing it’s ok to fall short and it’s expected. Oh and laughing at yourself also helps 😉

Cutting Teeth

Cutting Teeth

Watching my 10 month old child cutting teeth reminded me a lot of myself during spiritual growth moments.  Silly…yes…but true!

All parents will roll their eyes and thank God that their child is past the teething phase after you have experienced it. There’s enough drool to fill a bathtub, your child screams at night and really there is not much you can do to ease the uncomfortableness.  Teething however is just a growing pain we all have to go through to become more mature and to equip us for bigger and better things.

Spiritual growth moments are just as uncomfortable if not more so than physical growth moments. You can’t grow if you don’t step out of your comfort zone. I’ve been through several, from leading a small group of 8th grade girls, going on a mission trip, to even working on staff at a church. All those moments were a big step out of my comfort zone and I had to “cut teeth”. Each time however, I came out of my teething moment stronger in my faith and more mature in my walk with God.

The most recent tooth I cut was this past weekend during the Miracle Offering. My husband and I prayed separately on what God wanted us to give as a household and we both came back with the same exact BIG number. We spent weeks going back and forth thinking, “Isn’t that number too high for us? We have a newborn and are barely making ends meat as it is!” But the same number kept popping into our heads.  Finally the moment came when we had to write the check and drop it in the basket. My hand hasn’t shaken that hard while writing since I took my SATs!  As soon as I released the check, it felt like a huge boulder had been lifted off my shoulders. God had used this to release the hold that money had on me for years.

Cutting teeth and growing spiritually isn’t always fun and is NEVER comfortable, but the end result is always for our good. I would much rather be eating filet mignon than mashed up peas!

One Little Word

Ok let’s just be honest. Everyone, including me dreads serving from time to time. There have been many times when I have wanted to play hookie from a drama practice or meeting because I was tired or I just wasn’t in the mood or I had things I personally wanted to do. [Insert gasp here].

Lately I’ve been really praying not only for myself but for the worship ministry volunteers as a whole about this mind set. Why do we start hoarding our time from serving? Why do we feel so negative about serving?

For me, the answer was to change one simple word in a sentence. Instead of saying to myself, “I HAVE to go to that meeting” I now say “I GET to go to that meeting.” How many times have you heard yourself say “I HAVE to go to church all weekend and sing” or “I HAVE to go to a prayer meeting”? It may shock you if you really think about it. Just imagine how it would change your attitude about serving if instead you said “I GET to go to church all weekend and sing.”

1 Peter 4:9-11 says

9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

God gave us these incredible gifts whether its singing, acting, playing an instrument, dancing, etc. for us to use to touch others’ lives. We should see this as an honor and blessing and we should serve like we are serving God himself every time we show up. Changing this one simple word also helps us tame our pride. Saying “I get to” humbles us greatly. Remember, we are not needed for God to accomplish everything he wants to get done. He just gives us the privilege of being a part of His plans.

Now being human I admit I will still grumble every now and then, but now that I am more conscience, I will always try to change that one little word to make a BIG difference in my attitude.