Monthly Archives: September 2013

Compelled

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flaming loveLast Saturday night I got a very interesting opportunity.  A group of students from my college drove forty minutes to downtown Aberdeen, South Dakota, to do Red Box street evangelism; and I joined them.  Now, anyone who knows me well knows that when I have something important to say, I am far more comfortable writing than I am speaking.  Words flow naturally onto paper for me, but sometimes when I stand up to speak before a crowd, my mind goes completely blank.  Nevertheless, I was encouraged to climb up on the red-painted box, dubbed “Air Time,” and share my testimony.  I raised my eyebrows and replied that I had no idea what I would say, but I clambered up on that box anyway.  As I stood on that box, feeling very conspicuous beneath the light of the streetlamp on the corner, God put words in my heart, words about my search for “something more” in life that led me straight into His arms.  I and the other students got a chance to minister to people and proclaim the love of Jesus to the late-night crowds flocking to the coffee house, bars, and other, less savory businesses lining the street.

“Jesus, I long to be holy
Jesus, I long to be real
In a world of broken people
So many need to be healed”

I now have to tell you that I am not overly zealous about street evangelism.  My tolerance for intoxicated people is not particularly high, I admit.  Over the last few weeks, though, the Lord has been stirring up my heart.  At first I resisted, telling God that children and writing are my “things” – street evangelism is not my “thing.”  But then the Lord asked me a question:

‘Can the world afford for you to have a “thing”?’

My breath caught in my throat and I fell to my knees.  In Christian church culture we tend to get caught up in our “things,” which we like to label as “callings” (because it sounds churchier).  Before anyone takes offense, I totally believe the Lord calls people; every single person on this earth has a destiny and a purpose.  The problem with these so-called “callings” – these things – is that we sometimes use them as an excuse to not reach out to all those around us.  Paul “made himself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible” and “[became] all things to all people so that by all possible means [he] might save some.”  He did this “for the sake of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:19, 22-23).  I want this to be my attitude; I want to reach outside my comfort zone and outside the realm of my gifts to reach people in all different kinds of situations.  I don’t want to find myself in a place where I can’t share Jesus with someone because his or her lifestyle and situation is uncomfortable to me.

“Purify my hands to hold them
Purify my heart to burn with devotion
For You, Lord Jesus, for You”

Jesus’ only “thing” is loving people, and He wants to know if we will make our “things” His thing.  Will our hearts break for what breaks His heart?  Do our hearts break for the lost and hopeless?  It is beautiful to operate in our God-given talents, but we are called to reach beyond the mere extent of our gifts, and I will tell you why:

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

The world is lost and broken in so many ways; everyday people lead lives of hopelessness, perishing in the darkness.  To remain in safety and comfort is our human inclination; but we Christ-followers are compelled by the lavish love of Christ to expand our reach, bringing light into every dark place.

“I’m not ashamed of Jesus
My Lord my Lover my Friend
The power to cleanse and redeem us
Is in the blood of the Lamb”

The truth is that we can all reach out fearlessly and unashamedly.  The Lord told me that if I was not ashamed of Him, I should quit acting as though I were.  The time has come for me to reach outside of my comfort zones, outside of my “thing,” to go forth into the world.  Maybe it is time for you to do the same.  Jesus is calling out to His Bride, “Spread your wings and fly free for all to see; nothing holds you back, Beloved.”

heart-cross

“Oh how the mighty have fallen
Buried in their filthy rags
Father please turn from your anger
My lips will boast of your ways
Cause it’s all in the blood of the savior
It’s all in the love that you have for Your Son
And I believe in Jesus; I believe”

(Lyrics from Jason Upton’s “Not Ashamed”)

I am learning how to live a life free from fear of man; my fear is for my God and Him alone.  The prayer of my heart is that I will jump at every opportunity to share His love with a world that is bound in darkness.  Everywhere I go my lips will boast of His ways.  Nothing can hold me back, for I am compelled by a relentless Love.

(Check out Jason Upton’s song “Not Ashamed”:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2z-XqiK28c)

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His Name is Jesus

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The thing I love most about my relationship with God is that there is always more to know.  I could live my entire life, learning more about Him every single day, and I would still never know Him fully.

WaveOver the past couple months I have fallen more in love with God’s power.  His love, His grace, His comfort, and even His majesty are things I have already fallen in love with, but I suddenly find myself totally taken aback by His raw, unadulterated power.  To merely consider it makes me tremble with a strange mix of elation and sheer terror.  I saw the ocean and thought it had a wild but enticing power; then I thought how much more so that must be true of its Creator.  I have seen roaring waterfalls and thought them powerful until I considered that He who made them must be powerful beyond my wildest imaginings.

Sam and I had the opportunity to visit some of the waterfalls in Glacier National Park in 2007.  (And no, I did not take this photo!)

Sam and I had the opportunity to visit some of the waterfalls in Glacier National Park in 2007. (And no, I did not take this photo!)

I love to talk about the love of God, about how Jesus sacrificed Himself out of pure love for each and every person on this planet.  Sometimes, however, we think of Jesus or even of Christianity as meek, mild, humble, and full of love and forgiveness.  All those things are true, but there is a whole other side to it that we tend to set aside because it is just too overwhelming to consider: the matchless power of the King of kings.

‘“Behold, I am coming soon!  My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”  (Revelation 22:12-13)

In this statement, Jesus is not describing Himself as someone who is meek and mild.  He is not saying that he is coming like one who has a bag of candy and passes it out to the “good” kids and withholds it from the “bad” ones.  No, He is describing Himself as a Warrior-King coming to pass judgment on all things – freedom for some and a fate worse than death for others.  He will come one day “in a cloud with great power and glory” (Luke 21:27).  He was given “the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).  That is power uncontainable and unfathomable.  That is my Jesus.

Crown of thorns

The Warfare of Prayer

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Someone once told me that I was a prayer warrior.  At the time, I laughed.  And up until a couple weeks ago, I still laughed.  You see, in my mind I had a definition of what a prayer warrior was.  A prayer warrior is one of those people who pray out loud really well, whose words always come out right, who always says just the right thing, and who makes prayers sound beautiful, almost like music.  Or so I thought.

My definition of a prayer warrior was partially correct: there are people who use the powerful tool of prayer in that way.  I know a lovely young lady who prays like that; every time I hear her pray, I feel as though I am drawn right into the loving heart of God.  To a degree we all need to pray like that, but she does have a special gift of prayer.  But, as I said, my definition was only partially correct, or rather, only partially complete.

The problem with my definition was that it incapacitated me.  When I pray out loud in front of a group of people, sometimes my mind goes completely blank, which often doesn’t allow the passion and sincerity in my heart a chance to be released fully.  (It is an area I am still working on with God.  Someday every word He puts in my heart is going to make its way into the world.)  I am more of a writer than a speaker; when there is something important to be said, I like to have time to collect my thoughts fully and turn them into concise, poignant statements before I offer them to others.  That is just part of the way God wired me, and it is a great thing; it makes me a wonderful writer.  However, because of that, I couldn’t possibly imagine how I could be a “prayer warrior.”

This is how most of us feel about our weapons – bewildered

Don’t get me wrong – I have always believed that prayer is a powerful and effective tool of faith, and I love to write out prayers during my journaling time.  I just never thought of myself as being a capable prayer warrior, so I excluded myself from that seemingly lofty category by giving it too restricted a definition.  In short, I was allowing a lie to stop me from efficiently wielding the power given to me.  After all, a sword in the hands of someone who can’t use it won’t make much of a difference.

Aragorn holding AndurilYet, if you give a sword to someone who knows how it is used, to a warrior, it becomes a mighty weapon, an extension and increase of strength.  By denying that I was a “prayer warrior,” I was simply denying myself the strength given to me by the King of kings.  A warrior without a weapon is as ineffective as a sword in the hands of he who cannot wield it.  Whether I like it or not, I am a warrior.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  (Ephesians 6:12)

As sons and daughters of the Lord of Hosts, we have warrior status.  We have been rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of light by the blood of Christ (Colossians 1:13-14), and we need to begin taking our role as warriors and guardians of the faith seriously.

“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit that lives in us.”  (2 Timothy 1:14)

Because I am a warrior, I must learn how to use this weapon of prayer.  Having been covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ, my prayers “are powerful and effective” (James 5:16).  The Lord has been encouraging me to begin setting aside specific time to pray for friends, for family, and for any other thing that He brings to my attention; and then to sit back and watch as it allows chain reactions of His power to be set off in my life and the lives of those around me.  We are engaged in all-out warfare with the powers of evil, and we cannot continue to fight weaponless.

"A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight!"

“A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight!” – Aragorn, Return of the King

“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.  The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.  On the contrary, they have the divine power to demolish strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

So take heart and take up your weapon, prayer warrior.