DRIFT AWAY

Earlier today, before I left to get my tattoo, I was studying a passage in Hebrews 1 for the “Recognizing Jesus” Bible Study. First off, I was laughing at how much I’ve studied Hebrews, what you see in the photos is just one of my Bibles, others have equally as much writing. As I was looking at chapter one, my eyes kept dropping to the first verse in chapter two. Hebrews 2:1 We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. That verse has been on my mind all week because of two words found in it, “drift away.” I have been curious about how other people understand those words when it comes to our relationship with Christ, so this past week I started asking around. I’ve heard everything from a slow separation, like floating on a tube in a lake or even on the ocean, all the way to a hard-pulling type of separation, like being caught in a riptide. The active Greek verb used here lends itself a little more toward the hard pull, pararrhueō, so I tend to believe it’s more like being caught in a riptide. I think that we NEED to see it that way because this drift is more dangerous than we think.

20190816_142259_resizedMartin Luther King Jr. made a statement that I believe tells the danger of this type of drifting, “There was a time when the church was very powerful, in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.” The more we look at Jesus as a “nice guy” the more we lose the weight of what He did and what He calls us to. When we fear talking about Christ to others because we don’t want to offend them, they continue to drift, and SO DO WE. I’ll be honest, I wrestled writing this because I didn’t want to step on any toes, and then God asked me, “Lisa, do you love me?” I said that I did, wholeheartedly, and He responded, “then feed my sheep.” He just quoted one of my favorite passages of John and my heart ACHED as the weight of His response hit me.

We are called to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to a world that will hate us for it. And we need to do it in a way that people feel both the compassion of Christ, but also the submission needed in our relationship with Him. We have a God who loves us more than we will ever comprehend, but we can’t forget that He is our Lord as well. We don’t want to hit people over the head with the Bible, and we don’t want to preach hate, but we need to ensure that people know Jesus is the ONLY way. We need to know and let other know that we must ALWAYS actively pursue a relationship with Him. If we are not actively pursuing Him, we are actively walking away from Him!

20190816_142313_resizedKeep this image in your mind and never lose it; if you are actively pursuing a relationship with Jesus, He’s holding your hand and walking you one way. If you let go of His hand, to “take a break” for a minute, satan steps in, takes your hand and actively walks you in the opposite direction.

God loves you, chose you, and wants you, you captured His heart with one glance. That relationship goes both ways, He wants you to love Him, chose Him, and want Him to be Lord over your life.

Philippians 3:12

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

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COMPARE, CONTRAST, AND RUNNING IN YOUR LANE

554727993_20180922_112352_2766187_resizedSome of you know that I am currently in the middle of writing a Bible Study. It’s on recognizing Jesus in the Old Testament, so lately I’ve been comparing and contrasting Him to different people found in those books of the Bible. A few days ago I was telling a friend about all of this and how excited I was about it when, out of the blue, they told me they didn’t think I was running in my lane. They felt that I was comparing myself to other “more popular” people and trying to be like them. It was their opinion that I should stick to the things I had already proven I could do well. Now I had just heard this quote from Morgan Freeman, “Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t go to for advice,” and since I don’t go to that person for advice, I didn’t give any weight to what they said, but I couldn’t seem to let go of the words “running in my lane.” What does that mean? Do we all have a similar lane, or are they different?

IMG_7834 (2)All of this was running through my mind while I was on my mower today, so I asked God for help. Then I heard Him say, “let me tell you about lanes baby.” Anytime I hear Him say that, I strap on my seatbelt because He’s about to take me on a wild ride.

He brought my attention to the different animals I see while mowing and the lanes each one runs. The praying mantis doesn’t run in the lane that the rabbit does, the rabbit doesn’t run in the lane that the turtle runs, and the turtle doesn’t run in the lane that the bird does. But they’re different animals, so it makes perfect sense that they would do life differently. And then God said, “compare and contrast humans to each one of them.”

IMG_7772 (2)Some people have lanes that are very small like the praying mantis; they walk instead of running and do a small amount of things. Some people have lanes that are very narrow like the turtle; they run at a slower pace and do a few things. Others have wider lanes like the rabbit; they cover a lot of ground quickly and have the drive to do multiple things. And then other have huge lanes like the bird; they zip in and out all over the place at breakneck speeds doing a multitude of things. The key comparison to this is that each one does what they do very well and with joy in their hearts. We have to realize that each person’s call is different than ours, and equally as important!

IMG_7839We all follow God’s call on our lives. We do different things at different speeds and when we are in sync with the Holy Spirit, the joy and pleasure is so thick that it comes through our pours. It’s a feeling that is so contagious, and it’s our job to help people find that in what they do. Do what God has called you to and do it well. Give everything you have to that calling, keep your focus on Jesus and not on people. Run in the lane that God has called you to and feel the immense joy that only He can create in us!

1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

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KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME

The other day, while taking a break from studying, I watched the movie “The Shack.” This is not a debate of the content of the movie, I just found myself struck by a specific scene. The character Mack is on a boat when things go awry; the boat starts to sink and while he’s panicking, Jesus comes to him on the water telling Mack to get out of the boat. Mack starts to but is afraid and then Jesus says something like this to him, “Trust me Mack, keep your eyes on me, I won’t let you fall.” It’s also the scene that created the title song by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, “Keep Your Eyes On Me.” Yes, it’s only a movie, but it brought back all of the times Jesus has words like that to me.20190802_110248_resized

While I was mowing today, it was all I could think about. The closer I got to the water, the more those five words grabbed a hold of my heart. When I have small minute changes to make it’s really easy to keep my eyes on God, but when the wind and the waves are gripping me for a major change or decision, I struggle making Him my focus. How about you?

I know that God is faithful. I know that He will never leave my side. I know that He will not let me be destroyed. Yet sometimes I still believe the lie that He only saved me because He felt sorry for me and therefore, I have to take care of the rough stuff on my own. Can you hear the insanity in that statement? God has called me to intense study and deep writing for the next few years. I have battled through the struggle of not feeling good enough to do what He’s asking, and I thought I was good to go; then my stamina and willingness to see it through was challenged. I felt myself crawl into my turtle shell and I took my eyes off of Jesus. Satan almost got me, but God…

Jesus picked a movie out of a large stack of choices that would launch me back into His loving arms. I could feel Him reach out, lift my chin up, and whisper, “I’ve got you baby, KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME. I chose you for this, I built you for this, and I am strong enough to carry you to the finish line!”

20190802_110239_resizedWhether you are being called to change jobs, rebuild a broken relationship, adopt a child, battle an addiction, write two complex Bible Studies, or any number of tough things, KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ONE WHO LOVES YOU MORE THAN YOU WILL EVER KNOW! If God has called you to it, then He built you for it! Follow His path, His guidance, and His direction, knowing that His will is being done.

DO NOT LET ANYONE TELL YOU DIFFERENTLY and I mean ANYONE!

Not today satan, not today!

GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME. ALL THE TIME GOD IS GOOD!

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 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.

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IN NOT OF

On Wednesday, we had a neighbor come over to talk to my husband about a small section of tree line that separates our properties. He had a crew there working on his side and wondered about cleaning some up on our side. My husband said yes but didn’t make his expectations clear. The area in question, at one point in time, had a few dark purple lilac trees, however, it was being overrun by sumac and mulberry trees as well as grape vine and wild raspberry. My husband and I assumed that they would leave the lilac trees and clean everything else out. The workers, not knowing the expectation cut down everything leaving stumps that are too high to mow over. So, while they did a tremendous amount of work, they created a tremendous amount for my husband and I to take care of this weekend; we’re not sure how we feel about this.20190726_100551_resized

Our one neighbor is now very pleased to be able to look down to the lake without an obstructed view. Another neighbor, however, is not so happy. He preferred to have his view of our property blocked and liked the privacy that the trees provided. Now what do we do? We have one happy neighbor and one upset neighbor.

And then God spoke…

“Why are you so worried about what THEY want? What about what YOU want? WHAT ABOUT WHAT I WANT? If you spend your life trying to please them when will you have time to please me or yourself? I want you to draw them closer to me with LOVE not willpower. You do that by becoming more like my SON. What would He do in this situation?”

He would love them both equally from the inside and not with material things. He would always point to the positives and never thumb His nose at them the way I want to right now. He would give security to one neighbor by saying I have your back but let’s spend more time talking and less time hiding, and He would smile at the other encouraging them to enjoy the view of His creation. He would be a friend to their desires, not a slave to their demands. He would live in this world and not become of this world.

20190726_100601_resizedOne of the speakers at Camp Meeting, Dr. Scott Daniels, said this, “Jonah had no problem submitting to God’s wrath, but he struggled with God’s grace.” My job is to show the grace of God to both neighbors, not my personal wrath. Wrath is easy, grace takes work. Where does God’s grace need to come from you? Are you willing?

Sometimes it’s a struggle to understand, but oh how I LOVE this journey of IN NOT OF God is taking me on!

Proverbs 22:11

One who loves a pure heart and who speaks with grace will have the king for a friend.

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HE SEES YOU

We have a rogue deer that seems to like the various plants in our yard, and she set her sights on my lily trees. Normally I would have about twenty to thirty blooms here, but she chewed the tops off all of the plants eating the blooms before they had a chance to open. There was only this one lone bloom that managed to avoid her teeth. So, as I sat down to write this, my thought was to talk about how we are called to stand tall in the midst of life’s storms. Have you ever had God just turn every thought you have completely upside down?20190718_084333_resized

As I started to gather my thoughts regarding standing tall, God spoke, “If this bloom were a person, what do you think they would be feeling?” They would probably feel pretty scared and lonely, maybe even forgotten or overlooked. “Do you ever feel like that?” God asked. Yes, I do from time to time. Usually when big changes or upheaval happen, there seems to be a moment when I feel like I’m invisible and on my own. God’s response blew me away, “What if I told you that it’s in those moments, I’m holding you the tightest?”

Theologians argue that Hagar is the first one to come face to face with a visible Jesus. And it’s in her most alone moment that this happens. Hagar is the maid servant of Sarai and ran away from her when she began to be mistreated. Jesus finds her in the desert, alone and afraid. He tells Hagar to go back, He knows what she has gone through, and He knows what’s ahead for her, and He will be there with her just like He has been all along.

No matter what desert you find yourself in, Jesus is right there with you. He knows what you’ve gone through, and what you are headed for. Follow His plan knowing that He will never leave your side. You can do ANYTHING He is calling you to because… HE’S GOT YOU!

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You are NOT overlooked! You are NOT forgotten! You are NOT alone!

You ARE loved! You ARE chosen! You ARE protected! You ARE His!

But more than anything… HE SEES YOU!

Genesis 16:17

She gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me.”

#RecognizingJesus

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CELEBRATE THE THORNS

Last Saturday my husband was really busy, so after I mowed the lower field, I mowed the upper field for him. His area has mulberry trees and wild black raspberry bushes, and wild strawberries throughout it. Since those fruits are becoming ripe, I decided that would be my payment for mowing; don’t judge me, you know you would do the same. There was no rain this past week which means the lawns don’t need mowing, so last night after watering the garden, I rode the tractor around looking to see what other work needs to be done today and tomorrow. And since I was in the upper field again, I decided to grab a handful of fruit to enjoy.

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And God spoke…

“When the raspberry bushes grow where you don’t want them to, you curse them because the thorns bite at your flesh while you work. But when they grow in an area that’s not in your way, you celebrate them and enjoy the fruits of their labor. Why do you treat me the same way? When I work on you in areas that create a light change, you celebrate the fruit of my labor. But when I challenge areas that create a major change you get angry because my shaping and molding feels like a thorn in your flesh. When are you going to celebrate the thorns as much as the fruit?”

OUCH!!!!!!

He was right! I have a tendency to shout from the rafters about the sufficiency of God when He makes minor shifts in our relationship and I bask in the glory of the work He did in me. But when He moves mightily in my life I become like Jonah and run for the boat that’s headed as far away as I can get from Him because I’m not ready for the growing pains our relationship is about to go through. And then after it’s over, all I can talk about is how much that sucked to go through. I think it’s high time I learned to celebrate the rough stuff. How about you?

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God is teaching us each and every day. He takes the things that the world intends to break us, and He uses them to strengthen us. He takes the things that we enjoy doing and teaches us how to use them to further His kingdom, and He takes the small everyday mistakes we make and shows us how to respond rather than react. And He does all of this because HE CARES FOR US! He’s not a tyrant looking for a reason to push us around. He LONGS to have deep and meaningful relationships with us. HE BELIEVES IN US AND IT’S HIGH TIME WE START BELIEVING IN US!

GOD LOVES YOU TOO MUCH TO LEAVE YOU WHERE YOU ARE!

BELIEVE THE GOSPEL!

CELEBRATE THE THORNS!

Isaiah 64:8
Yet you, Lord our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are the work of your hand.

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CALM AMIDST CHAOS

Sometimes when people hear my weekly schedule they either think I’m lying, or I’m just nuts. It seems chaotic, but for me, it’s pretty calming. I have three discipleship groups, a Bible study group, a small group, an office manager position, Scripture study, devotional and study writing, pastoral counseling and coaching, laundry, grocery shopping, mowing the lower field, cleaning the house. Throw in my hobbies and love of flowers, painting, and photography, as well as lunches and coffees with friends and mentors and you have what seems like a pretty full schedule. But I LOVE it and it’s calming to me. Some would say I don’t have any leftover time, but I do. My husband and I spend quality time with each other several nights a week and we do home projects together every week.

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I think what makes it calming instead of chaotic for me is the knowledge that I GET to do this and God has made a way for ALL of it to happen.

 I learned a long time ago to trust God’s direction in my life. Yes, I wrestle with Him from time to time, but I do trust that He is leading me in the best possible way. Being able to let go here brings a calm to my chaotic life. In doing this, God has given me the desires of my heart and He has called me to go deeper. Deeper in my walk with Him, deeper in my relationships with others, and deeper in my study of Scripture and writings. Deeper requires intentionality in the midst of the chaos. I LOVE Jesus, my life, my job, my friends, my husband, and my family. Because of this, I can be at peace with the pace that God has set for me.

 Can you be at peace with the pace He is setting for you? Is He calling you deeper? Is He calling you to more? Will you go or will you quit? DO YOU TRUST WHAT HE HAS FOR YOU?

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So, what does God call us to? In it’s simplest form I believe that God calls us to love, be loved, feed and be fed. When you break down my schedule in that perspective, that is exactly what’s happening. I’m not always the teacher and I’m not always being taught. There is give and take in my schedule. CHAOS OR CALM, THE CHOICE IS YOURS!

 

God does not call us to be “busy,” He calls us to be PRESENT! He calls us to be A present to others and He calls us to BE present with others. Join us on this PRESENT journey, it’s the ride of a LIFETIME!

2 Corinthians 12:15

So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less?

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