Bold Promises.

 I love this. He speaks straight to our hearts so as to give us understanding.

“‘I am the LORD,’ he says, ‘and there is no other. I publicly proclaim bold promises. I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner so no one can understand what I mean. And I did not tell the people of Israel to ask me for something I did not plan to give. I, the LORD, speak only what is true and right.'” ~Isaiah 45:18c-19

The Television.

For the longest time, I’ve been an avid television viewer. On summer days as a child, I would dive for hours into the world of Laura Ingalls Wilder in “Little House on the Prairie.” How I loved to experience life through Laura’s perspective…as she roamed the woods, played in the creek, and swooned over Almanzo–her crush, and later, her husband.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve developed a definite taste for Turner Classic Movies. I love exploring ages of the past by watching classy actors and actresses sing, dance, and act. When I was in high school (specifically in my senior year), I would come home from school, and the first thing I would do is grab a snack and then head downstairs to watch my movie for the day. It could have been a classic with Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, or Audrey Hepburn–just FANTASTIC. However, not only would I watch the one movie, but I would watch television for at least 2-3 hours before going to bed–sometimes while doing my homework. Television became part of my lifestyle, and as I spent more time watching, it squeezed out the time I could have spent in the Bible, in prayer, volunteering, or really anything else productive!

It wasn’t until I came to college (WITHOUT A TV!) that I realized how much time I had been wasting every day. When I started out the year here, I thought I would have MAJOR withdrawal from the worlds I had been entering through the television screen everyday. However, I’ve found an amazing freedom in time that I never thought I’d be able to have.

Instead of spending time watching how others live their lives, now I have the opportunity to FULLY live my own. Instead of spending hours of my life observing through a screen, now I have an unwritten opportunity for God to create His script for me. I have so much more awareness now for the opportunities around me, including such things as fully engaging in my homework and blogging.

Now, of course, watching the television isn’t harmful in itself. However, I found that I was watching it in excess; and, instead of searching for places to grow and serve, I spent so much time in the comfort of my recliner chair at home. I NEVER want to go back to a “recliner” type of life. I know that God will be able to use me SO much more by my being engaged in life instead of being an observer of it.

Each of us has our own distractions. I encourage you to ponder what in your life may be preventing you from fully living, and especially what is hindering God from using you FULLY. He longs for us to surrender those blinders so that He can show us His vision for us so clearly.

Second Semester Snapshot.

This semester has been wonderful so far…even though I’m in the midst of midterms. Those are a little less than enjoyable. But, after this week, I’ll be headed on Spring Tour with the Concert Choir. I can’t wait for this upcoming time of ministry with such beautiful people, including some new Cuban friends.

As I ponder the past few months since Christmas, I have experienced some of the greatest joys–and they have come from some of the most simple things.

For one, I got to celebrate my mom’s birthday over Skype. I had the privilege of singing “Happy Birthday” with my dad and brother, and was able to help blow out her candles. 😉 I can’t even BEGIN to express my thankfulness for Skype, and how it makes me feel so much closer to loved ones!

Also, we’ve experienced a few snowfalls here in Springfield! They have been beautiful, and one even allowed us to have a day off school. That was a gift. During one of the snow flurries, I was walking with a dear friend, when a PERFECT snowflake fell on her jacket. If God puts so much detail into such a small snowflake, how much more He delights in every detail of our lives!

Also, my DADDY came to visit Springfield at the end of January! It was so exciting. He told me he was coming the day before he arrived by plane, and it was one of the sweetest surprises I’ve ever gotten. We visited the Butterfly Palace in Branson, bonded over meals…it was just GREAT. We had the privilege of traveling to Neosho to hear Koy Chhim speak about Teen Challenge Cambodia–a center so dear to our hearts. It was incredible hearing Koy’s passion for the hurting individuals that he ministers to. While in Neosho, we also got to spend time with Pastor Jim & Kathie Lowans. Such inspirational individuals.

Having my daddy come visit made the long stretch from Christmas until summer MUCH more bearable!

There have been many more beautiful memories formed this past semester with some lovely individuals. I’m so thankful that I’m able to be in the company and accountability of these friends…and many other wonderful people.

I feel so blessed. 

Take a moment to reflect on the blessings God has showered your life with the past few months.

Reputation.

What the Lord spoke to my heart on Sunday morning before going to church:

Do not focus on trying to save your reputation. For it’s only when you give up your life and offer it to Me that you will FIND true LIFE. Impressions are fading, they do not last or compare when measured up to the identity I offer you in Me–where you are FREE to be fully in Me, not fully lost and dependent upon your own strengths, desires, and pursuits. Surrender to My love, My power, My Holy Spirit–for only when the Spirit controls every aspect of your life–including your pride–will you be fully satisfied in Me. So give me your pride–that selfish ambition. It is not until you ABANDON your desire for a good reputation that I will make My own reputation GREAT through you. I will shine through the deepest areas of insecurity and allow My glory to envelop you. Your life speaks not as a testimony of what you have done, but as a testimony to My grace and My faithfulness flooding your life. Allow what I see about you to permeate your highest and lowest ideas about yourself. For, you are not your own. You are Mine. And I will make you a greater testimony for Me as you abandon your need for greatness. Seek My presence, and I will pour out My glory.

“Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” ~Galatians 5:25

Faith.

What I felt the Lord speak to me tonight at Reviving Prayer:

For so long, you have prayed a distorted prayer to Me of rationalizing your faith in Me and what it would mean for you if I didn’t come through. You have allowed your doubts to surpass the glory of My presence which is meant to lift and free you to experience the deepest measure of faith in what I can do. I am restoring you. I am clearing your vision so that you no longer walk by what you can see, but rather by faith in My power and in My character that will always care for you completely, truly, without condition. Faith in Me does not depend on what you can work to offer Me but rather what you can relinquish from your control. What you can surrender to Me in order to rest in the security I offer you so freely. Don’t rationalize My power. Allow yourself to be softened by the testimonies of My power, but don’t be limited by those testimonies. For greater things will come through Me. My power is not exclusively defined by what I have done in the past, but is expanded to what I will do. And I will use you to be a vessel of My healing, a vessel of My miracles–as you surrender your distorted prayers and instead seek the faith that makes you right with Me. Not what you have done to earn it. Rest, rest, rest in what I have done for you.

Your Presence is Heaven.

Let this song speak to your heart today. It sure has been speaking to me lately. May we seek the Lord’s presence so greatly, that we truly believe there is NOTHING like it to satisfy our deepest longings. Because there truly is NOTHING that can satisfy us like the Lord’s presence.

The Weather.

It both humors me and frustrates me that most human conversations seem to revolve around the weather. When asked how we are doing, we utter a quick “Good!” or “Well!” (depending on our attitude toward proper grammar for the day). Then, we discuss the weather. It’s the proper thing to do. Is it going to snow? Is it going to rain? Are you cold, hot, just right? This is a conversation of comfort. I cannot count how many “weather conversations” I have had with those around me this month–or even this past week.

However, I do know where this conversation branches from (at least for me). A place of low involvement, no confrontation, and little investment. Everyone can agree on the weather. And because the temperature changes from day to day, we never have to worry that we’ll STOP having something to talk about. In my personal opinion, this shallowness of thought is preventing us from TRULY getting to the root of sharing what God is doing in each others’ lives. 

What if instead of commenting on the weather, we asked each other what God has been teaching us lately? Just as the weather changes from day to day, so our excitement for the Lord should INCREASE and be fresh–something we can always talk about.

I believe the enemy is in the business of ISOLATION. He desires so strongly for us to stay away from others who can uplift us, encourage us, and build us up in the Lord. He wants to make sure that our struggles seem unique, and our situation impossible to escape from. Yet, God’s desire is for us to be SHARING our testimonies with those around us in order to bring His light and His glory.

Revelation 12:11 states, “And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die.”

Wow. What POWER our testimonies have. Yet, so many times we invest our energy into maintaining our image, tightly grasping our issues and struggles. Unwilling to let others see what God is doing because that may reveal our weaknesses. And, in our society, weakness is discouraged so highly.

Yet–WOW! God’s power is made PERFECT in our weakness. How can we give Him the glory He deserves if we don’t allow His strength to fill the emptiness of our weakness? This requires vulnerability, openness, and the willingness to share our struggles with others so that they can pray for wholeness in Christ–that God’s glory be revealed through those places we would most prefer to hide. As God works His glory through every area we are so weak in and shows His strength, we are meant to PROCLAIM His majesty and the work of His hands–not hold tightly to where we’ve been. 

The enemy’s push for us to be isolated can be so effective. His intent is to re-chain us and allow us to believe that our weaknesses have no hope of being used for God.

But that is A LIE OF THE ENEMY.

John 8:36 proclaims, “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”

Let us believe this truth. Let us allow this truth to sink down deep into our heart and soul so that it changes the way we live. Let us not be afraid to ask how others’ faith journeys are leading them closer to Christ’s heart. Let us not be timid to share what God is revealing to us. Let us not stay hidden, but let us share the Light.

~~~

So, is it going to snow tomorrow? I’ve heard it’s supposed to. As long as there isn’t ice, I’m excited about the snow! 

While it’s perfectly acceptable to discuss the weather, let us NOT be limited by shallow conversation which prevents us from sharing more, reaching deeper, and becoming more unified in Christ.

Sufficient.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” ~2 Corinthians 12:9

Wow. What a concept to ponder. God’s power is perfected in our greatest weaknesses. When we feel the most powerless, that is where God can work His glory in us. When we rely on our own power to make it through life, we posture that we are self-sufficient and able to handle the demands of the day on our own. Yet, we undoubtedly fail. Our strength is not complete. And we must run to the Father who is not only present with us during our times of weaknesses, but He redeems our weakness to reveal His glory.

But the question is–are we believing that God’s grace is sufficient for us? Sometimes, it is so difficult to accept the grace which God so freely wants to give us. Hence, we carry our own burdens. We take on our own struggles. We are shamed by our weaknesses, and we allow the enemy to speak words of discouragement over our lives. 

Yet, as we recognize our weaknesses, we should not feel discouraged–but encouraged! God takes our weakest parts and infuses His strength into our inability to make it on our own. His grace is SUFFICIENT. And this should change the way we live our lives. If His grace is sufficient, then no guilt or shame need reside in our hearts for what we have done. For, God has REDEEMED our hearts, RESTORED our vision, and given us a SONG to sing of His faithfulness. No longer do we need to live bound up by the chains of our weakness, for as we surrender them to the Father, He makes them into the GREATEST beacons of His glory–allowing them to shine brightly as testimonies of what ONLY He can do.