Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A.W. Tozer = Genius

I've been reading the very short book The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer and it's just amazing. This man can WRITE! So today, I'm not even going to try. I'm just going to let you read some quotes from his book that have really impacted me and see for yourselves. Practically every sentence in this book is something you want to copy down, put in a frame, and hang somewhere in your house where you'll read it every day until it sinks in. Oh man it's good. It cost like 4 bucks on Amazon. Buy it. Now.   :) 

"We Christians must simplify our lives or lose untold treasures on earth and in eternity."

"...Faith is not a once-done act, but a continuous gaze of the heart at the Triune God. Believing, then, is directing the hearts' attention to Jesus. It is lifting the mind to "behold the Lamb of God," and never ceasing that beholding for the rest of our lives.'

"God formed us for His pleasure, and so formed us that we as well as He can in divine communion enjoy the sweet and mysterious mingling of kindred personalities. He meant us to see Him and live with Him and draw our life from His smile.

"Our pursuit of God is successful just because He is forever seeking to manifest Himself to us." 

"It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything." 

"Our woes began when God was forced out of His central shrine and "things" were allowed to enter. Within the human heart, "things" have taken over. Men have now by nature no peace within their hearts, for God is crowned there no longer, but there in the moral dusk stubborn and aggressive usurpers fight among themselves for first place on the throne." 

"The way to deeper knowledge of God is through the lonely valleys of soul poverty and abnegation of all things. The blessed ones who possess the Kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing. They are 'poor in spirit'. They have reached an inward state paralleling the outward circumstances of the common beggar in the streets of Jerusalem; that is where the word 'poor' as Christ used it actually means. These blessed poor are no longer slaves to the tyranny of things. They have broken the yoke of the oppressor; and this they have done not by fighting, but by surrendering. Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things. 'Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven'. " 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

10 Years

Today Jarrod and I celebrate 10 years of marriage. It's been an amazing 10 years! I was thinking back on our wedding day and remembering how beautiful it all was this morning. Everything was perfect! The theme of our day was built around a song that Jarrod and I sang together during the ceremony (and if you know me at all, this does not come as a surprise to you!) The song was based on a powerful passage from scripture, Psalm 61:1-5

Hear my cry, O God;
listen to my prayer.
From the ends of the earth I call to you,
I call as my heart grows faint;
lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the foe.

I long to dwell in your tent forever
and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
For you have heard my vows, O God;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.

Our pastor at that time gave a memorable message that day about marriage. He said that when based upon God as the foundation, marriage can be a shelter and a refuge. That truth has stayed with me throughout our years of marriage. Anyone who has been married for longer than a few years knows the truth- life happens. You don't always have those giddy, lovey-dovey, barf-inducing days just following your wedding.

 Jobs are difficult to find but bills have to be paid. 

Doctors tell you it will be difficult if not impossible for you to conceive a child.

When you do conceive a child, you face the difficulty of sudden loss.

Difficulties arise in your area of ministry and you just don't know where God wants you.

After having a family, it's difficult to find any time to get a word in edgewise together! 

Sicknesses come, the economy crumbles, loved ones die...the list goes on and on. Life is difficult sometimes! Marriage is difficult sometimes! 

But through it all, God has been faithful. And through it all, our marriage has been a place of shelter and refuge from the world. 

It's significant in my opinion that marriage is not easy. This fact has vast implications. I recently read the book Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge and found this passage to be such a great explanation of marriage: 

"We all know that loving is hard. Marriage is hard. It is hard because it is opposed. The devil hates marriage; he hates the beautiful picture of Jesus and his Bride that it represents. He hates love and life and beauty in all its forms. The world hates marriage. It hates unity and faithfulness and monogamy. Our flesh is not our ally here either- -it rebels when we put others before ourselves. Our flesh hates dying.

But God loves marriage! The Holy Trinity is for it. God loves intimacy, friendship, unity, self-sacrifice, laughter, pleasure, joy, and the picture of the Sacred Romance that you have the opportunity to present to the watching world. God is with you. He is for you. He commands you to love and he says that with him and in him all things are possible. Not easy. But possible. "

So there you have it- our marriages are often turned into a battleground, but that is because they are set in the midst of a war between good and evil. But as the Pastor said 10 years ago from this day, marriage, when based upon God as the foundation, can be a shelter and a refuge. That's the promise that we've lived by for a decade and we pray that promise over all of you today. Marriage can be a place of shelter and refuge...but the key is that God HAS to be the foundation. A marriage built upon anything less than God will crumble- sure, it might stay together, but it will be devoid of the joy and the unity that could have been. If you have a good marriage and want to make it even better, invite God to take His place at the center of it and see what happens!

My prayer for you today is for your marriage- that you embrace the beauty of loving another person deeply. And if you are not married today and dream that the day will come soon, I am praying that God will bring His dreams for your life to fruition- dreams more amazing than anything you ever imagined. God is good. He provides. He sustains. He heals. He loves. He is our ultimate shelter and refuge. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summit 2


I am so unbelievably stirred and excited about what God has in store for us this Sunday evening at  Summit 2. We're going to have an awesome evening of sharing corporately in worship through music, communion,  prayer, and various interactive stations that will focus on our theme for the evening, "The Journey:Every Step is Praise".

I pray that you will make it a priority to be at the Summit. I pray that you will make it a priority to pray for those involved in leading the Summit and also for all those who will be coming, that God will show us His glory in a life-changing way.

If you were at the last Summit, then you know how strong the presence of God was in our midst that evening. You know how the Lord bound us all together in unity. You know how many lives were changed- chains were broken, hearts were mended, relationships were renewed, and in it all, God received all the glory. This Summit is going to be another night of change. We've been preparing for months- prayerfully choosing the songs, the stations, the scriptures to guide all that is left is to wait with eager anticipation until the evening begins at 6:00 on Sunday.

Please plan to join us. You will be so glad that you did.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Be Lifted High

Isaiah 6
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

As Summit 2 approaches, it is my deepest prayer that we would all come expecting a mighty revelation of who God is. 
That we would stand in awe of the majesty and mystery of God. 
That wonder would lead to worship. 
That we would leave the evening forever-changed and ready to be a source of change in our world. That we could truly say "Here am I. Send me!" 
The glory of God is our heart's desire. Feeling the Holy Spirit moving in our midst, changing hearts and mending lives is our expectation. 

This song encapsulates everything that I want to say so well, so I'll stop writing and let you listen and read through the lyrics. Be lifted high, Lord!
Be Lifted High by Brian Johnson and Tim Hughes

Be lifted high
Be lifted high
For your glory
Be lifted high

You're the king of all the ages
You're the author of salvation
You're the reason why we're singing
For your glory
Lord release the sound of Heaven
Let it rise in every nation
We will join the anthem singing

You're the Everlasting Father
You're the all consuming fire
You're the reason why we're living
For your glory
We will be a generation
Calling down the reign of Heaven
We will join the anthem singing

Be lifted high, be lifted high
Higher and higher Lord
Be lifted high, be lifted high
Higher and higher Lord

Swimming in the Depths

We're back from our vacation at the beach! What a beautiful time we had growing closer to each other as a family and indulging in the beauty of God's creation. Words can't describe that feeling you get when you see the ocean after not having seen it for a while. It's overwhelming to consider the immensity of the ocean and it is humbling and awe-inspiring at the same time to look out and consider that God made all of that and that I play a small, teenie-tiny little part in it all.

Sometimes we need the bigness of the ocean to remind us of how small we really are.

A thought came to me as I was thinking back on my time at the beach and I want to share it with you now:

The moment we can finally worship in spirit and in truth will come when we embrace the knowledge that life never was, nor will it ever be, about us.

As you stand on the sandy beach and see the giant waves pounding the shore, blue sparkling water as far as your vision allows you to look- it is in that moment that you realize just how insignificant you really are, but how significant the God you worship IS. WAS. AND WILL BE.  And how He is the only source of value you have. His heart in ours is what makes our lives mean anything at all.

The ocean also reminds us that life goes on and on and on and the ocean is always doing it's own thing whether we enter it's waters or not. But we certainly enjoy our trip to the beach if we do step into the waters and take full advantage of it's warm moving waters. In the same way, we do have a lot of control over the depth of our relationship with our Creator.We can stick our toe in at the edge and get a minimal glimpse of what a life totally surrendered to Him would look like, or we can run and plunge in to the deepest part of who He is- abandoning self in exchange for life with Him. And to be honest, there is some difficulty in the depths- there is an ever-lurking threat of the unknown. There is effort required. But there is also joy. And beauty. And adventure. And exhilaration.

So are you standing on the shore observing, or are you jumping headfirst into the riches of His depths?