Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No Lone Rangers Here!

I just got back from a "Walk to Emmaus" weekend retreat Sunday night. It was an amazing experience that I will cherish the rest of my life. Emmaus is international so if you ever get the opportunity to go, you really should! I plan on paying it forward and sponsoring a "Pilgrim" myself.

In addition to feeling refreshed, this weekend reminded me how important it is to BE in a community of believers and to SERVE in loving and reaching others with a greater understanding of Christ. The two greatest commandments Jesus gave us are:

“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT)

Life is truly about relationships. Photobucket
We begin with the vertical relationship with God and learn how to better love horizontally as well. We can only love others to the extent we love ourselves. This love flows from God to us and it should flow from us to others. Here are a few questions to ponder:

~Are you connected to a community of believers (a/k/a a church)?
If not, don't wait any longer to find a church family. You can only flourish when you are planted.

~Are you involved in serving others whether at your church or other ministry?
If not, think about what gifts you have that you could contribute and get involved!

~Do you have friends that support you and hold you accountable?
If not, pray that God will show you who these trusting and godly individuals are.

True growth happens in community. God does not call lone rangers. Remember, not even Jesus went at it alone. He had a group of men that no, weren't perfect, but they were walking and growing with Christ. These disciples were there for Him as He was there for them. We need one another.

We were created to be in relationship and we NEED to have healthy relationships that will challenge us to grow in our faith. If you have unhealthy relationships in your life that are hindering your relationship with God, pray about how God would have you deal with them and be obedient. Then, seek to be a healthy connector yourself so others can grow from being in relationship with YOU.

What a blessing it is to be actively connected to the community of God. To all my Emmaus brothers and sisters, "De Colores!"

Friday, January 16, 2009

Playing Catch Up

So I started this year really excited and ready to write down my goals and commit them to the Lord. Can I be honest with you and say that I have yet to do that! Yes, I have prayed about them and feel God's direction, but I haven't written them down and prayed over them. It seems that it takes a week to recover from the holiday craziness, especially since we went out of town on New Year's Day. Then we had things going on the following weekend and guess what? Another full weekend coming up. In addition to all that, my whole family has been sharing symptoms of the cold, sinus or cough. I don't like seeing my babies sick. I'm not feeling well right now, but wanted to write because I was wondering if anyone out there is going through this, too?

We all have periods where we wish we could stop time and stop the world and its craziness so we can "catch up". I'm there right now. There are so many things I want to get done at home and ministry wise, but somehow I have to slow down and be content to "do what I can."

Yesterday, my sister called me as she was looking for certain scriptures in the bible and was wondering if I knew where they were. As we talked, she shared with me how she had been seeking God lately and how refreshed she felt despite of having to deal with some issues herself (she had a horrible fall last week not to mention some other things going on). I was so blessed by our conversation and felt the Lord reminding me of how precious our time with Him really is.

I realized that I can stop time and stop the world and its craziness when I stop to spend quality time with my heavenly Father. As I catch up with Him, He then helps me to catch up with life. I'm sure you know this as do I, but sometimes it's nice to be reminded, especially when He uses those around us we love most to gently nudge us toward Him.

I don't know where you are spiritually, physically or emotionally. Maybe you're being worn down by other things besides sickness, but know that Jesus is asking:

"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." Matthew 11:28-30 (Message)

Now, that's how I want to live...freely and lightly! I think it's time I stop trying to play "catch up" with life and simply catch up with God. Sounds like a plan.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Courage to Go!

Here we are in 2009! Do you sense it? Do you hear Him? I do. I feel that God is calling me to cross over into new territory this year. What about you?

For months God has been ministering to me through the book of Joshua and I'm continually encouraged at how God delivered His children from slavery into freedom, from poverty to prosperity and from homelessness to possessing THE land.

I want us to stop and think of God's dedication to His people. Here were the Israelites whom God had delivered from Egypt with a purpose and a dream to take them into the promise land. Then, the Israelites (not quite your most courageous bunch in the world) couldn't trust the dream God had for them. So for forty years God was patient and faithful to them. He provided everything they needed. Then, it was time. Time for God's dream for His children to come to pass (finally!) and Joshua was the man of the hour.

Joshua called the people together and began to give them instructions on what they needed to do. I like how some of the men responded to Joshua, "We will do whatever you command us and we will go wherever you send us." (Joshua 1:16) What a great attitude to have! God knew they were ready this time to do what needed to be done. Crossing the Jordan River would be the beginning of all that God had in store for them to possess their promise land. They were ready. Are you? Do you trust God's dream for yourself?

Sometimes it's hard to believe God for ourselves. We easily believe and pray for other people and see God work. But when it comes to our own lives or situations, it's more difficult. Even though no one feels your doubt or fear as much as you do, you must remember that this is not your dream, but His dream for you. Dare to believe Him to halt the Jordan River or crash the walls of Jericho that stand in the way. God never gave up on the Israelites nor on His dream for them. He was completely dedicated to them...as He is to you. He has been patient and He continues to be faithful. He has not given up on you nor on His dream for you.

Now do you sense it? Do you hear Him? It's time. No more excuses. He wants to bring His dream for you to pass. Or maybe, He has new territory for you to possess this year. Hear Him calling. Believe Him. Trust Him. May our response to God in 2009 be: "We will do whatever you command us and we will go wherever you send us!"