He’ll show up.

Recently finishing up the coordination of an amazing training called Hands that Heal left me meditating on a fact about sex trafficking and exploitation…it cannot be done without Him.  Ok, so before I alienate or peeve non-christian abolitionists, I am referring to myself.  I have no desire to do this without Christ.  He gives me what I need to hear the stories, push through the set backs and to see the “unlovely” as they really are in His eyes…lovely.

Sometimes watching endless documentaries, listening to all the stories, reviewing statistics, listening to the dollar signs add up as to the financial cost of recovery and restoration can let the winds of discouragement and hopelessness settle in.  I view the winds of discouragement that whisper, “it is too much,” “she’ll just trigger and go back,” “the problem is too large,” like that of a quiet tornado.  It sneaks up, whirls around you and leaves a path of destruction and general feeling of hopelessness.

Yet, there is a greater wind that brings a refreshing, courage to go on, restores hope, and dismisses the discouragement…it is the wind of the Holy Spirit and the presence of God.

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.  Deuteronomy 31:8

I even liken the work of restoring brokenness as what Nehemiah went through when trying to restore the wall of Jerusalem.  God gave him everything he needed.  People, supplies and courage.

Nehemiah 4 says starting in verse 10…

“…Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, “The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall.  Also our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work.’ ”

Let’s stop and see the similarities… “there are so many obstacles to reaching and restoring these women and children, including people becoming weary and enemies all around.”

Back to Nehemiah and the answer to all of this, vs. 20

“Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there.  Our God will fight for us!”

God is the one who fights the fight.  He is the one who rescues, saves, and restores.  We are just hands, feet and mouth pieces…it is a partnership with The Healer.  The battle is won.  We must gain our direction, wisdom and strength from Him.  Evil can be too big for human hands alone, BUT because of who we are and who lives within us with can do all things through Christ.

God brings hope and love into the deep places of despair, it is who He is.  There is no place that God cannot reach, that God cannot pull people out from and there is no evil that God has not already conquered.  We must remember that God’s love never comes up short (for the victims of exploitation or for us), it always shows up and certainly never fails.  Worship and get into the presence of God for a refreshing wind…He’ll show up, He always does.

**All scripture references come from NIV

for the sake of the dance

A time always comes into our lives when we are consumed with what needs to be done, work, errands, chores, school work, grading school work (in my case) and the list goes on…it always does because a to-do list never really goes away, right?

When this happens though, the most important things tend to be forgotten or pushed to the back burner.  Here is a thought provoking questions…what happens when you leave something on the back burner and focus on those things that “need” your attention now and always “need” your attention now?  Those things on the back burner, if kept there, will eventually burn and generally it is our relationships that get placed back there.  Especially our relationship with God, seeing as He isn’t in our face daily to ask us when dinner will be ready or is requiring something of us.  Sometimes we need a reminder that relationships are the most important things in life, not to-do lists.

I know this has been me lately, event planning, work, finishing up the homeschool year with my kids, dozens and dozens of daily emails to respond to and oh by the way God… “hi and thank you for today.”

Whenever God and I become “passing ships in the night” and I don’t stop to protect my time alone with him, (which goes far beyond just spending time reading the bible and devotions) exhaustion, frustration and lonelinessImage can set in.  I am talking about sitting down and having a “date” night with the Lover of your soul.  I am talking about not just having passing conversations, but taking time to dance with God in private worship.  If you are married, have children or friends for that matter, what develops more intimacy, passing conversations or sitting down and having dinner together?  Passing conversations are a part of life and needed, but I am talking about something deeper.

I have been focusing on all that needs to be done, including the “dance” steps of my relationship with God, like reading the bible and the list can go on.  Well, tonight in worship I felt the lover of my soul speak deep into my heart and say, “you are focusing too much on the steps and not just dancing with Me.”  Just dance for the sake of the dance, stop focusing on making sure that you are carrying out the right steps.  I am pretty sure that if you are looking towards the One who gave His all just to dance with you, He won’t mind if you step on His toes ;)  Not to mention, when we are looking towards God and allowing Him to lead we naturally follow in His step.

Just enjoy the dance.

(And if you want an idea for a great family time…turn up the radio and have a dance off!)

A Full Access Pass

I was sitting down with a nice cup of coffee and decided to read Esther again.  I was stopped halfway through chapter one…at the point where King Xerxes is fuming with Vashti and is asking his advisors about what to do.  It lists the names of his advisors and then a certain little phrase caught my eye… “special access.”  Those men had special access to the king.

Of course, God took off with that beautiful phrase in my time with Him.  Esther had special access to the king, because he loved her deeply.  We have special access to the King of Kings because of His deep, passionate, unwavering, never ending, solid as a rock love for us.  We actually have a full access pass to God because of the sacrifice Jesus made for us, but do we use that pass?

It was given so we’d take advantage of it and enter in constantly- remember God desires relationship.  Yet, our fear, not our sin, our fear of our sin keeps us outside the inner court fretting about what He will say to us.  Better yet, we stand outside His throne room and try desperately to straighten ourselves out, clean ourselves off, fix anything wrong with us before we go in…and we end up in the outer hallway all our lives instead of where we belong…in His presence.

I encourage you today to bask in His presence, He loves you and your issues don’t bother Him.  Nothing is too hard for Him and as we come to a greater understanding of His love for us…those things fade away, the healing comes, and we no longer walk in anything that is less than His great plan for us. His presence has the power to do that.

Time to use the full access pass, you’ll enjoy all the benefits.

Great Joy in Weakness

I personally have been wrestling with weakness or faults in myself.  The weaknesses or faults in other people do not bother me. I seem to have a grace filled heart for others, I on the other hand…grace tank empty.  A while back God showed me how I was living a double standard…I would encourage others and talk to them about God’s great love and compassion and in my own heart would be so hard on myself.  After all who doesn’t like to be perfect, right?  Well maybe there are a few of you out there who don’t mind having faults, but it is something that I wrestle with.  Just being real with you, because real is what we need to be with each other.  I don’t try to pretend to be perfect or act like I am, but I am extremely hard on myself at times.

This is something God has been speaking to me about (because yes, I believe God speaks through His word and to our hearts).  I have been drawn back to the scripture where Paul talks about boasting in weakness because in our weakness Christ is made strong (2 Corinthians 12:9) and I sit there saying, “God, my heart isn’t comprehending this.”

Last night, God showed me what mattered.  I was co-emceeing a benefit for orphans and when we came to the entertainment portion of the evening we had several amazing, well-rehearsed, practiced dance groups.  Yet, the first group to come out were 4 young ladies, two of whom were most likely under the age of 9 years old.  I watched as the two younger ones were very excited to be on the stage, counting their steps (very obviously), they were not in sync with the older two and would spin off in opposite directions.  Their precious teacher was back stage with me watching, shaking her head and chuckling to herself.  In that moment God touched my heart profoundly with how imperfect their dance was (by the standard of the world- not God’s standard) and how it brought Him great joy.  How, we are so imperfect and still bring Him great joy.   How we should be like little children, excited to be before God and bringing our best, whatever it may be and know that it brings Him great joy.  Later that night God spoke to me and said, “it is not your perfection that brings me joy, it is you.” Immediately I thought of the scripture,

“…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Hebrews 12:2

WE WERE AND ARE THAT JOY.  Remember, it’s not the perfect dance that brings Him joy…it’s the dancer.

So maybe, just maybe when Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:31, “Let one who boasts, boast in the Lord,” he is saying that because of God’s amazing, phenomenal, mind-blowing love and who sings over us continually, we should shout from the roof tops “I AM WEAK, I MAKE MISTAKES AND HE DOESN’T JUST LOVE ME ALL THE SAME, BUT I BRING HIM JOY!”

So,will those girls get just as good as the adults with practice?  Of course, but that isn’t the point.  After all, God told us to be like little children.  By the way, the song those beautiful girls were dancing to was Joy to the World.

Ok, God…point taken and received.   I am thankful today for those 4 little dancers :)