Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Obedience

Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness (Romans 6:16)?

She walks into the store innocently enough. Her big, pretty eyes shining. You think to yourself, "Aw what a cutie" and then it happens. The cute, brown-eyed beauty goes nuts. You realize that sweet, innocent child is a monster in disguise. There is kicking and screaming, whining and pouting. You've seen her. The cute little beauty who doesn't get her way in the store. All she wants is her way. When asking doesn't work, she resorts to tantrums.

Unfortunately, I am all too aquatinted with that girl. Sad to say there are many days that I act like her. Of course, that would be inwardly. Unlike a cute, two year old, I could actually be arrested for pulling a tantrum in a store. No, my tantrums are inward and mostly directed at God.

Is obedience to God really obedience if it is followed by a tantrum?

We would never look at a child throwing a tantrum in the store and think, "wow what an obedient child". Never. That is not true obedience. Obedience is surrender to the instructions of, in our case, God. Wow, how I get that wrong.

I'm reading through Romans. In chapter six,  there is a lot of "talk" about being dead to sin and alive to Christ, newness in Christ, and living under grace. Good stuff. I'm stuck there because in my heart I have been fighting a battle of flesh vs. spirit. Paul addresses that very thing if you read on to chapter seven. And I suggest that you do.

The tantrums are the flesh making it's debut. When I obey sin and become a servant to sin, it leads to death, but obedience to Christ, that leads to righteousness (Romans 6:18). True obedience is surrender.

It would serve us well to remember this is war. The biggest battle? The battle we face against our flesh. Paul knew that well.

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin (Romans 7:18-25).

Does that prick your heart like it does mine? 

I don't want to live in tantrum mode, following the fleshing and fighting obedience to God. My flesh leads me in that direction every time. My heart longs for complete surrender. 

And so, I look to God, offer my heart, and pray for help to walk according to the Spirit- to die to flesh. 
But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16).

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Let's Catch up: Thriving vs. Surviving

Wow. I've been missing in action for a while. I think I've already mentioned that writer's block has become a close friend. I'm afraid to say that it's so much deeper than that. Discontentment and struggle keep me quiet. Ya know the times when even the journal can't handle me, or my brain is mush, therefore I can't articulate a thought? Been there? This season has me in the latter. My brain is mush. The clutter in my mind has succeeded capacity. The post your are reading right now is an attempt to spill my brain (or process) and catch up with you guys.

Early morning walk
Courtesy of Flickr: here

Have you ever watched the movie Thirteen Going on Thirty with Jennifer Garner? In the movie Jennifer Garner's character is thirteen, wishing she was thirty. Hence the title. She is kind of an outsider in her high school, dreaming of being cool. In the movie the character reads a magazine cover that peaks her interest with a headline reading, "Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving". Wouldn't that peak your interest? Well, she does in fact get her wish and of course it's not all it's cracked up to be, but that's not where I'm going this post. I"m stuck on the "and Thriving" part.

I've recently been discussing life with a few friends. Did I say recently? I mean every day of my life. Some of my folks are in this season of life called twenties, and some of us are in this season single. No, this is not a post about singles. Again, not where I'm going. Others of us are in this season in our twenties, single, and just  straight up confused about life. Pause. I have to say this is also not a whining post, only a post that is processing reality. If this season is not what you season looks like, please show grace in what I have to say about thriving.

I'm not there.

Kinda scary seeing that on the screen. One, I'm afraid you are all, especially those who know me in person, are going look at me after this post is published with pity. That is NOT what I want. Again, I'm processing life. And I would love love love feedback. Are you in my boat, or do you know what it's like to thrive, and can share advise? Two, I'm afraid that my feelings are not justified. There are beautiful things in my life. Don't confuse my confusing feelings with a lack of gratefulness.

Let me clarify where my heart is on this subject. I believe that God created His people to thrive. Yes and amen. Yet, we live in a fallen world. We weren't made for this fallenness. Instead of harmony and peace, most of us, everyday, experience instead the brokenness of this world. I also believe that in the fallenness  we call "life" is joy unspeakable, and a reason (and ability) to thrive. I'm not thriving. It's more like surviving. Doing life everyday, but not fully engaged in my life. Does that make sense?  In my effort to be vague, you may not be following me. The twenties are a challenging and exploratory time for many folk. Sometimes in all the exploring, people are simply searching, but not adventuring. That is where I find myself lately. God has awakened so many dreams in my heart, but I feel like I'm living with my passions on hold...Life is better when thriving, right? The ability to thrive is there to be accessed.

Insert the "how" question.

Here, I could right all the right verses. And it would be truth. I believe that. But that doesn't mean I know how to live it day in and out. I'm learning that there is a lot of depending on the Holy Spirit that I don't do. I look at Paul. He understood, really understood contentment. I look at Jennifer Adams and wonder why God puts up with my whining (I'm trying to leave the whining to my talks with Him, and let you see the less desperate me). I don't know, folks.

And I don't think I am going to try to answer my own question here.

Instead, I'll leave you with words far greater than mine. This is no band-aide mind you, but an active word (Hebrews 4:12).

Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day...Mine eyes are ever toward the Lord; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net (Psalm 25:5, 15). 

Maybe one day I will have a post of answers instead of questions. Nah...




Tuesday, February 19, 2013

In the Silence

新年.走春 回娘家
Courtesy of Flickr: here

 Until recently, I have been quiet on the blog. That has a lot to do with this season of a new job, new town, new church. Life has gotten busy and has stretched me to the max. But it goes deeper than that. My silence has more to do with writer's block. The words just haven't been there. Writer's block is somewhat common for me. It likes to show itself when I need to write the most. Those moments when the air is so foggy and life is unclear my brain tends to follow suit. It would seem that the lessons would be fresh in such seasons, but for me they're more of a mosaic of doubt and confusion. So much so that words rarely follow.

I'm breaking the silence. Not that I feel like I have any great insight I've gained from this season, but I miss writing, and because I think that when the words are the hardest to find is probably when they are the most valuable. 

You should probably know going forward that the new change of location and job has caused a lot of fear to surface. I'm fighting long time battles of fear, insecurity, and doubt. But there is also a sense of God moving in  me and around me, which excites me to no end! 

Passion for more is fully ignited. God has been opening my eyes to a desire to see the church mobilized with the Gospel of Jesus Christ- to see the body taking their rightful places. Where "unreached" is no more. Where injustices are met by the body fully prepared for combat.  Where babies go to bed full. Where life is an option. Where kiddos are loved. Where people have homes and safety.

And yet, there is a very real awareness of the broken state of our world- a realization that the world is indeed groaning for the return of Jesus.

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Romans 8:22-25)

I don't know what's going on inside you mind, heart, and life right now, but I'd love to know.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Stepping into our Places

The world is big; I am small.

On The Road
Courtesy of Flickr: here
Sometimes the weight of that keeps me stuck. I'm paralyzed by weakness. Helpless to make a difference. Overwhelmed by the brokenness. Weak in what I have to give. Wondering what to do when the world's problems are so much bigger than me.

That's where I am. But I can't stay here overwhelmed by problems. There's no purpose in helplessness. Purpose lies in divine direction. No, I can't handle all the world's brokenness. I'm weak. I'm selfish. I'm broken. Even if I did have it together, there is not enough of me to go around. It's safe to say, my shoulders can't handle the weight. 

What the world needs is a Savior. 

Thankfully, we have one. He is bigger than the problems. What weighs me down rest comfortably on His shoulders. When I try to carry the weight, I'm not helping anyone, only leaving myself powerless to help. Instead, I gain strength when I rely on His power to bring change. 

God is His infinite wisdom knows my weakness. He knows my infinity to carry what is not mine to carry. Yet, He gives me a place. He ignites passion and gives me grace to work in that passion. The same is true of all of us. 

What would happen if we all took our places?

You know, getting into step with God. Laying down our lives, picking up our crosses, and following Jesus. Isn't that the Gospel? He laid down His life that we can live. Shouldn't we surrender ours to His causes?

Life is short, folks. We are here for a second and then we're gone. Our brief lives, however, should not be lived in vain. The problems of this world are too big for us. True story. They are not too big for the God we serve. And He, in his graciousness, has given us opportunity to join Him in His work.

What a privilege!

Not to be confused with a weight. God knows we can't do what He is asking of us on our own. We're small, remember? So stop trying. Recognize His hand, join Him in His work, but know where your abilities come from. 

We are each given a passion for the causes of Christ. I believe that. There are too many broken places for one person. By stepping into our place- following the leading of Jesus in our lives- the lost will be saved, the broken redeemed, the hungry fed, and the slave set free. 

There are many passions fighting for attention in this heart. So, I stay close to the heart of Jesus. 

Where now, Lord? 



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Be Their Voice

A voice for the voiceless

37/365
Courtesy of Flickr: here

Do you feel the weight of the voiceless? 

When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and he cried out with a loud and bitter cry. (Esther 4:1).


Here the Jews stood on the verge of extinction, and their fate lay in the hands of young queen, an orphan queen. Sounds like God, right? His choice of deliverance is rarely what we would choose, but always more exciting than our feeble solutions. If you know the story of Esther, you know that her presence in the palace, the favor she had with everyone, was one God directed step after the other.  You can't make this stuff up.


The king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.
(Esther 2:17)

Esther was the one voice for a nation facing total destruction. No one would be allowed to survive. The Jews were facing extinction. The orders were out. Can you imagine? In some ways, it would seem that Esther would be safe. She lived in the palace and the King had already showed favor toward her. Could she keep her silence and avoid death? Would she keep silent with her nation facing death?

“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this? (Esther 4:13-14)”

Ladies and Gents, there are a lot of issues we could be silent about. We could go on with our lives, safe, avoid the risk, and live comfortably. Like Esther, we have a choice. It seems safer in silence. I get that. It takes a whole lot of courage to stand before the King, or in our case, injustices of today. Death mocks us. Pride intimidates us.  Fear Paralyzes us. Satan and his crew run circles around us, create chaos in us, and decorate our feet in shackles. 

But God....

He raises up His people. 

He calls for voices. 

Esther was a voice for a entirely voiceless people group. God placed her right smack dab in the middle of the kingdom at the perfect time to save His people. You and I were born into this time in history, like Esther, for our such a time as this. There are too many people without voices today. I am not one of them. 

Boys need heroes. 

Girls need freedom. 

Kids need homes. 

Babies need life. 

Broken bodies need protection. 

Lost lives need Jesus.

I believe we are gifted for the issues we see today. You and I were designed for this moment in history. God saw the grand scope of history and decided that Jennifer Adams should be in her twenties in the year of 2013. And here I am. That's how He works, but not without reason. He never plans/ works outside of His purpose. 

My plea is that you would seek God for the voiceless, and your place in their plight. 

Why has he put us here, but for such a time as this?


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Even on the Stormiest Nights

And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus (Matthew 14: 28-29).

Storm over Shady River Marina
Courtesy of Flickr: here
Lord, bid me to come. Isn't that what we all pray, as Christians. Our hearts cry to be used of Him, to be near him, to experience the adventure of life on the edge with Him? Peter watch from the ship as the waves beat against the vessel. Howling winds made their threats. Fearlessly he inquired of a miracle, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come. Jesus was in the waves.

Can't we see that now. Jesus in the storm. Jesus working behind the scenes of poverty, of social injustices, of   abandoned orphans, of substance abuse, of broken marriages, and of shattered homes. We fearlessly make our plea, Lord, bid me come- I'll follow- Use me. These are noble, heartfelt cries, falling at the feet of Jesus.  He hears. He replies, Come.

But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me (Matthew 14: 30).

We've been there, haven't we?

After fearlessly leaving the boat, eyes on Jesus, we suddenly lose our cool. Being afraid, we start to sink. We're in Kingdom work. Our hearts are on fire with the Gospel, and the plight of the broken. Yet, we take our eyes of Jesus. It becomes about us; it becomes too hard; it becomes a "job"; it becomes frustrating; it becomes a task to scary or it becomes           . We lose sight of the mission- the heart of our causes.

And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt (Matthew 14:30).

It happens folks. Fear. Spiritual attack. Doubt. But Jesus...is there any other name by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12)?...At that name the world stands still. Waves obey. Let's get back to the basics.

January will be a new start for me. An exciting, scary, and sometimes paralyzing adventure. I could hide in fear. Believe me, I have it in me to do just that. But Jesus stretches out his hand for me, just like he did for Peter. Doing God-size things for His Kingdom is scary. Always. Let Him calm those storms of your heart. Step out of the boat, and keep walking. Don't take your eyes of the power of that sweet name and the person behind it. Let's be brave. In faith.

And all God's children said..."Amen".