Wednesday, January 20, 2010

My friend, Katie Bartlett

This Blog was so good.. I just had to "Re-Blog" it.

1Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
2Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,
Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary...

From time to time, my roommates and I have told one another to "just say so!" Implying thefreedom to "be right where you are at" (no judgment here!) and the empowerment that comes from approaching life from the victorious position of being redeemed. (1 John 5:4-5) We have been bought back, brought out of death into life, and set free to live life as He intended: in fellowship with our God. When we hide in our own selves, there is no fellowship. For us to speak what is true about ourselves and God is to speak from the position of being the redeemed children of God. We stand acceptable and accepted because of Christ! Who told you to be ashamed or that you had to have it all together?! It is the "adversary" or the enemy who tempts us to believe this and he has been defeated--powerless towards the people of the Lord. We must remember the Voice that matters most. When we forget we are redeemed and forget to "attend to the steadfast love of the Lord" we feel vulnerable, exposed (experiencing the reality of our not being in control), and afraid to say anything at all. When life isn't seeming line up quite right or the circumstances are unsure, or at the slightest relational discomfort or lack thereof we are quick to forget what He has done on our behalf and who He has made us to be and how He pours out His love into our hearts by the power of His Spirit alone. This is what makes the DIFFERENCE! In these days of our sanctification/transformation into the likeness of Christ we have the choice to LIVE in that reality or to try to live this life in our own feeble resources until the day He returns and completes this beautiful work He has began in us at the moment of salvation. May the reality of our redemption and new life in Christ fall afresh on us:

24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,
that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.
By his wounds you have been healed.
25For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned
to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

FREEDOM to "say so" comes from believing and receiving for yourself that you are redeemed, first and foremost. There is no way to earn or lose the love and acceptance which God freely gives us in Christ. This experience also happens in loving community. As we work out the reality of our salvation "with fear and trembling" He moves from our head to our heart what that really means. Healing comes as we move through this process by faith, acknowledging our fears and feelings, allowing the grace of God to penetrate our faulty beliefs, often through the gracious response of others towards us. Powerful. Supernatural. True freedom comes in taking off the mask of having to have it all together or be independent of God(dying to sin) and being who He has created you to be: a dependent child on Abba, Father (living to righteousness).

I was meeting with a friend this past week and it seems she has discovered what many of us know, but few of us admit. We wear a "protector" around our lives, keeping people and even God at arm's length. She knows she needs to take it off, but it's not easy. Our souls crave to be known, our Spirits cry out to drink deep from the Living Water, yet we choose to stay in what we've been deceived into believing is "safe." The TRUTH? Our God longs to BE our protector! Our Safety! Our refuge! Our HOME, but we must die to the old way of "safe" living, which is not really living at all. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, came to this earth with the gospel message: "I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly." When we operate out of the riches and wealth of Spirit that comes from standing on these realities our life IS different! He satisfies us (Psalm 63) in this dry and weary land of the world. The Spiritual reality becomes our reality and we live in the paradigm of the life of Christ! When we stop searching for a formula and live IN CHRIST we find what we were looking for in the beginning...

Psalm 107
43 Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;
let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD. reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding
and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ,
3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Our direction, our step-by-step, our wisdom and knowledge, if you will comes as we seek Christ and allow His Spirit to be the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls and respond in faith to Him. When we walk as redeemed children in freedom, healing and wholeness, we WILL shine Christ brightly for the glory of His name. I pray that more and more we are a community that "says so" for the sake of His glory and that more may step into a life in Christ.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

awesome testimony

I feel like I should know her but I don't. However, I was extremely encouraged by this story-

Success Stories :: Mandi


Hi, my name is Mandi and I am 24 years old. My family and I moved to California from Alaska at the beginning of my grade school when my grandfather was dying. After his death we found comfort in a local church but I never completely surrendered my life to Jesus or had a personal relationship with Him. At a young age I started dancing and playing soccer. By junior high I was playing soccer at a very competitive level.

I have two older sisters and when I got into junior high I began to go out with them on the weekends and that is when I began to drink. By high school I was well known in my community for soccer but I had a routine party schedule on the weekends. When I was sixteen I got a DUI in a stolen vehicle. This shocked my community, my coach, and it shamed my family. I was let off with just a little probation because the judge didn't want to hinder my future with my soccer and schooling.

My senior year my coach opened up an opportunity for me to play against high-ranked teams and universities. This was a time to be scouted and to experience soccer at a higher level. But inside I had a huge fear of failure so when I was introduced to meth by a friend of mine, I found my escape in it. I started using quite a bit and people saw a change in me on and off the field. I ended up barely walking with my class because of so many days missed, and my personal coach and scouts were fed-up with no-shows and unreturned phone calls.

After graduation I crashed my friends car while drinking and driving and ended up In a 30 day rehab. Here is where I realized I had ruined everything I had been working my whole life towards. When I got out of rehab I quickly got back into my addiction. I worked and tried to go to junior college but I couldn't do either without being high. My addiction had spiraled out of control and because of being untrustworthy I wasn't allowed in my family's home or allowed to see my niece who I love dearly, and I lost my job of two years. Without many options open to me I moved in with a guy friend not realizing the severity of his drug addiction. It was here that I saw things I wouldn't imagine in my worst nightmare and I met the kind of people I didn't know existed. I remember being up in my room crying. It wasn't like a normal night of crying feeling sorry for myself. Something within me was crying out. For the first time in my life I felt the presence of God. In my complete broken state God spoke to my heart and I knew that He loved me and somehow my life was going to change.

Right after that I ended up in jail for 45 days. In jail I reunited with my family and I dedicated my life to Christ. My parents heard about Teen Challenge and by the grace of God I was granted my release to go to the program.

People always ask me what it was like in Teen Challenge. I tell them it was a year of getting to sit at the feet of Jesus. In the presence of Jesus there is healing, hope, restoration, and one can begin to dream again. At the end of my program God began to speak to me about missions. I heard about Y-WAM (youth-with-a-mission) and knew that I knew this was where God wanted me. It seemed impossible because I was on felony probation and had pretty much no money. However, God opened up door after door and did miracle after miracle. Shortly after I was done with my program I found myself on an airplane to Kona, HI where I would train for three months before going overseas. I ended up going with an amazing team to Australia and American Samoa.

I came home after my time overseas was up and began to seek God for what he had for me next. I currently am an intern at my church at Calvary Christian Center. I work under our Youth Pastor with student ministries and oversee evangelism. I was privileged to help lead a group of our students to Ecuador this past summer in South America. I am also currently getting certified as a chemical dependency counselor.

For me it is extremely humbling to look back at what God has done in my life from that time he spoke to my heart when I was completely broken in my room crying, up until now. I have been so blessed to see different parts of our world and God's unchanging heart for the nations. No matter where I am I am a missionary, because people are everywhere that need to know the love of Christ. I love Jesus and can't do justice with words for all he has done for me. God Bless and dream big!!!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Still Learning Day by Day...

It's been a long time since I've blogged mainly because I am so incredibly busy. However, I want to take a minute and really, record a revelation the Lord has blessed me with today. To give you a bit of a background, I have really struggled this semester with trying to understand how we have a Holy Spirit in us yet sometimes choose a life of sin. Many of you know about the situation from Kamp and then even an experience from a friend in my life that just lead to a wrestle for me with the issue of salvation and if the Spirit really resides in people who live such a completely different lifestyle than what the Lord instructs us to. I am not questioning any particular person's salvation but to be in a Social Work career, I feel it very necessary to discern what exactly a life with the Spirit looks like. I have been hurt by lies, manipulation, and disadvantages over me mainly because I believe the truth people speak about themselves but even more so, the Lord. Why wouldn't we want to believe what is said to be true? So, I wrestle with this not because I think one sin is bigger or worse than another, not because I want to know who is really saved or not, not because I want to look better or think of myself better, but because I feel it is essential for my career and lifestyle as a believer.

Today I read the story of Ananias and Sapphira that can be found in Acts 5. After the Lord ascended into Heaven, the Holy Spirit came down and filled not only the place, but the people who resided in the room (Acts 4:31). The believers began to share everything they had with one another. However, Ananias and his wife gave only a portion of the money they received from a piece of property they sold. "Then Peter said, 'Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn't it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn't the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God." At these words, Ananias fell dead. Then his wife was questioned and caught in a lie. Peter said to her, 'How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord?"

This is what I took from this: Believers (those who have confessed and believed in Christ and been filled with the Holy Spirit) can lie to the Spirit, essentially to God, and live a life of hidden (from men) sin. But, I see the results here to be serious. Also, in 2 Peter 2:20-21: "If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them."

It is true that we are sealed with Him (the Holy Spirit in us) till the day of repentance. Yet, we are not to grieve the Spirit. The Spirit is grieved when there is a breach in relationship to either God or people. Sin pains the Holy Spirit. (see Eph. 4:25-32)

This may have made no sense to you but it reveals a new perspective for me to look at when it comes to sin and the Holy Spirit. Above it all, it brings me to seriously ask myself this question:
How important is it then to care more about the Spirit's grief than my own? I am praying for that to really sink in for me. I know that many people have different opinions on this subject but I just wanted to journal out my thoughts. I want to be sensitive to the fact that I cannot and will never be able to completely understand the Holy Spirit or the lives of others.