Thursday, September 26, 2013

Brave Roar

brave - adjective \ˈbrāv\: feeling or showing no fear: not afraid
1: having or showing courage
a brave soldier / a brave smile
2:  making a fine show :  colorful 
brave banners flying in the wind
3excellent, splendid 
brave fire I soon had going — J. F. Dobie
So the question is... Are we brave?  That question can be applied to so many life situations... Should I take the chance on a career shift? Should I let them in? Should I move? Should I ask? Should I tell him/her how I feel? We already know the answer to all of these questions the majority of the time is "yes!" The true question is are we brave enough to do it!?
Last evening we had missionaries from Brazil at our church for an interview (Bennie & Theresa DeMerchant). I don't necessarily feel a calling to a missionary field but I do feel a calling to something greater... And if you think about it we all have that calling to do more for God. I began thinking about my current life situation, it's comfortable, I have a career in my field of study, I make enough money, I get my own corner office, I get pretty good vacation, I live in one of the most beautiful cities I could imagine, my family is amazing and though I don't have a ton of close friends I love them very much... So, what if God drops something into my lap that moves me, challenges me, takes me in a new direction and scares me?  Will I be brave enough to follow his lead?
I've had lots of time to consider getting married and having a family, whether or not I would be willing to move out of my City, whether or not I would be willing to quit my job and uproot my life, sell my house and go for love... And not just whether or not I am willing but I'm a sickie, I fret over things, could I do it without being ill for months? Am I brave enough? To that end I've decided whether I am homesick or not, for love, I would go.  But, to my shame, I've not thought as much about what if God calls me... I suppose it's crossed my mind but I've not thought it all through... All my fears, thoughts and feelings would be the same and when it comes down to it, I would still be doing it for love. I also have to consider how could I do something for myself and another human being and not be willing to do the same, at least, for God?  So I can be brave for human emotion but what about for the Spirit of God?
When I looked up the definition of brave I noticed the usually meaning that I've spoken about above but what about the less common of the meanings?  Would I be brave for God in those ways?  Would I "make a fine show" of my life, have I "made a fine show" of a Christian example?  And if not yet, am I brave enough to begin to "make a fine show" of my life from this point forward no matter what others say about the change?
Of course, we know intellectually all of the answers to these questions should be yes, but I think we have to make it more than intellectual... Pie-in-the-sky, "IF He ever asks, I will... But He's not asked yet..." giving ourselves excuse for non-commitment and lack of action on our own part. We must make the decision to say "yes" to God no matter the question... And once we've made that decision firm within our own minds and are confident so as not to be swayed by the negative opinions of others (if they should arise) we need to be quiet! That's right, I know it's not always comfortable in such a busy environment to silence ourselves but we must... I know when you're in prayer you feel like it's almost disrespectful not to be speaking all the time, like some "prayer police" are walking around rapping the knuckles of anyone not making a grand noise... But that's not the case. I don't have any friends who won't listen to me speak... Nor whom I refuse to listen to when they speak and God doesn't either. Listen, He will speak and He will call you.
Once God has called and you've gone for love there will be a "brave" fire inside! It will be excellent and splendid and it will warm all those who come in contact with you!  You will have a life lived with a brave roar instead of a quiet question.

Lastly I would like to leave you with a few lyrics that seem to fit today's theme... The two songs, along with the Demerchant interview were the start of these thoughts and will remain challenging me, and I hope you!

Everybody’s been there, everybody’s been stared down by the enemy.  Fallen for the fear, and done some disappearing, bow down to the mighty.   Don’t run, stop holding your tongue, maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live, maybe one of these days you can let the light in. Show me how big your brave is!
I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath, scared to rock the boat and make a mess. So I sat quietly, agreed politely, I guess that I forgot I had a choice...  I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything. 
And since your history of silence won’t do you any good, did you think it would?  Let your words be anything but empty!.. Honestly I wanna see you be brave!
(Brave - Sara Bareilles. Roar - Katy Perry)
This post is dedicated to my BFF
& one of the bravest people I know, Teri-Lyn.
Much love!


Thursday, September 12, 2013

That's What I Like! Ask Anyway

Last weekend we had special guest, Stan Cook, at our church... He used to travel around singing with the McGruders (there's a link of one of their old songs.) Brace yourselves for this confession, I still like the music! Haha! Sunday, Stan spoke about a miracle that took place in the bible and how we can learn what it takes to get miracles in our own lives, it was awesome and I wanted to share it with you... Of course, as always, I'll add my own opinion! Ha.

First, the story: basically Jesus and his friends were invited to a wedding and whether it was cost, poor planning or some other reason, the hosts of the wedding ran out of wine.  Jesus' mother found out and ran to Jesus, unlike the others she knew who He was and that He could make ANYTHING happen. (Jesus had not yet performed any miracles.) When Mary told Jesus the wine was gone she got quite an unexpected response, Jesus had always been the most respectful and loving boy to his parents and wouldn't dream of disobeying... There was that one time they thought He was lost but He just assumed His parents would know He would be in the temple and He came home without question or whimper when His parents asked... This time, however, Jesus told His mother no, he wasn't ready to "go public" shall we say.  I'm not sure if it was Mary knowing He would not refuse her or if she was just full of faith but she seemed to completely ignore Jesus' apprehension and told the wedding servants to "do whatever He tells you." So, Jesus told the servants to get all the empty water jars in the place, fill them with water and bring them to Him. The servants did what they were told, although I'm sure it wasn't easy, those pots were heavy on their own and they had to be carried to the well, water drawn up from a deep well, poured into the pots and carried back, still, the servants completed the task. So, when all the pots were filled Jesus prayed and alakazam the water was turned to wine, not just wine, but according to the officials who were there, the best wine of the night! (John 2)

Rev. Cook told us his favorite parts of the story and how we can apply the steps to our own needs. First, Jesus was invited to the wedding... So we need to invite Jesus into every day and situation in our lives, just like the water would not have been wine if Jesus wasn't at the wedding we will not get our miracle if we haven't invited Jesus into our situation. Second, do what He says, when Jesus asked the servants to fill the pots they knew it wouldn't be easy, it didn't even make sense, no one wanted water, they wanted wine... But we don't read that they even questioned, there was no "why?!" Or "awe, but it's hot out, I don't want to drag a pot all the way to the well and back twice as heavy with water!" They just trusted and did what they were asked... We need to just trust God, do what we know He has asked of us and trust He will change out obedience into open doors of miracle! Stan also made the point of Jesus using water pots not wine skins, he thought the reason was most likely just because the pots were empty, available and close by... Jesus uses things -and people - that are close to Him so we must stay as close as we can to Him if we desire to see His work... The empty pots also remind me of a story of a woman with one pot of oil and a preacher who passed through he town told her to collect empty pots from all her neighbours, no specifications on size, cleanliness, color just empty pots and she would have oil to fill them all and to continue to fill them when they were used again.. The woman obeyed and they were filled, but you need an empty pot before it can be filled - much like people - we must empty ourselves of our own will and agenda in order to be filled with His Spirit!

Rev. Cook said his favorite part of the story wasn't that we can see steps on how to see miracles come to pass in our own lives, however, it was that Jesus said it wasn't time, but because his mother insisted and the people obeyed He made it time and gave them a miracle anyway! So that tells us that sometimes, even if timing is off, when we are persistent, we obey and trust, He will give us a miracle! I must admit, that's a pretty good point, I even get excited at the thought that we don't have to just accept bad timing, miracles can happen anytime; still, it's not my favorite part of the story... My favorite part of this story is that the miracle wasn't even a need and Jesus still came through! I mean, really, think about it, what's the worst that would have happened if Jesus had done nothing? The hosts who didn't plan things well enough would have been a bit embarrassed? Someone couldn't have had their fourth glass of wine? They would have had to drink the water? Oh no! Hah! The fact that Jesus performed a miracle that wasn't need-based once again confirms that He cares so much for us. He understands that sometimes even though we know our current situation doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, even though we know how unimportant it is, we understand this current inconvenience won't be remembered even by us in five years from now but it's still a concern presently for us and because of that He makes it a concern for Him.  The fact that Jesus performed this miracle proves that it's okay to ask Him for help with any concern of ours, even if its not an eternal one, even if its not earth shaking or even that important to others... It proves that we should talk to Him and ask for His help about and in every situation! Hey, if it was good enough for Mary, it's good enough for me!

So hey, what is it that's on your mind but you've refused to "bother Jesus with?" Tell Him! Ask for His input and Help... An if you don't get an answer right away, just obey and ask again, you never know, you may just be an empty jar away from your miracle!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

How do I know? - The Calling

I read a blog post from (in) a friend posted a link to the other day and I loved it...  It was about God calling you... I found interest in it mostly because it applied to things I've been feeling lately, things I felt God may be doing in my life and fears I've been experiencing... Yes, I fear sometimes, SHOCKER! Anyway, I've been able to talk myself out of most of my fears but I am the kind of person who doesn't like making mistakes -when I was a toddler my mother would sit me down to colour and at the first and slightest mistake outside the lines would ruin the picture for me, I would grab the crayon as tightly as I could, press it to the paper as hard as I could and scribble all over the page - carried over into adulthood (that whole "adult" thing still seems strange when I put myself in that context) I like to try my best to "know" before I "follow" through.  I like to "know" something is God's leading not just my hoping... I like to "know" I can handle the responsibility before making the decision...  But I think the "knowing" part has been the most difficult for me... And if I can't "know" for sure then I'm afraid.
So, as of late, I've been getting the impression that God is starting something new for me, opening up some doors and setting me up for a new season... It's all exciting and I'm thankful, it's been a long time coming but fear tempers all of my excitement and I find myself wishing I was one of those care-free "let's go" sort of people.  Here's the thing, I'm not, God didn't make me that way and even if he had I'm not sure the circumstances of my life would have left me that way and when it really comes down to it, I like the way I am... I like that I am analytical and can usually figure things out and make good choices (usually.) It's just those times when I want God to be the one making the choice with no input from me, none of my own wishes getting in the way of me "hearing" what He wants, I often think "wouldn't it be nice if He just said it out loud..." Then again, that would be terrifying in itself, and would I even know or would I assume I was going insane? I'm always left with the question "without the audible voice of God how do we know He is calling?" Well, I think, and not on my own, I've found the (or at leas an) answer.
PAY ATTENTION!! God speaks softly, we all want a roar - maybe because that's what we are used to from our families, bosses and media - but that's just not how He chooses to speak... "...a still small voice. And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle..." 1 Kings 19:11-13
So if we can't hear His roar how do we tell His voice... First, we have to be quiet... Not just ourselves, but turn off some of the other voices, whether people or media or music, turn off anything that will take your attention away from listening for the whisper.  Second, be patient... God probably isn't going to speak the first time you've ever listened for Him, I mean He may and if He so chooses that's great but usually He makes sure you're sincere about listening and not necessarily because He doesn't know but sometimes to make sure it's as important to us as we think, the Bible instructs us to daily bring our concerns to Him, to keep knocking and He will answer, to pray effectually and fervently and it will avail something. Third, God will never speak in conflict with His Word (the Bible) so if something is leading you away from Him in any way, you can be sure He's not saying "Yeh, right there, that's the road I want you to take!" and sometimes fear is a good time, the Bible says in many places we should do things in fear and/or reverence, that's because it makes you careful... And when you're careful you're less likely to make huge mistakes with your life!  So if you're still not sure, wait, no rush, if God is calling you, He will keep on calling you in the same direction, He will give you confirmations and make you confident in His voice, He does know all of this is a learning process and He wants you to grow so He will teach you!  I'm still learning too, that's why I was so happy in reading that (in)courage blog post I mentioned earlier, it was God confirming He was speaking... That why last night in Bible Study I was so happy to hear my pastor teach (which I am using below) how to know when God is calling... It was confirmation.  God is so willing and patient with us, we just have to return the favour. 
Once you've heard the whisper you must make sure it's Him... And it's quite simple actually, the Bible says His sheep will hear His voice... Not maybe, they will... And how do you know you're His sheep? Well, the "PAY ATTENTION" paragraph is a start... But you love Him, it's not love like we think of today it's deeper... The Bible says we can tell those who love Him because they do his commands John 14:15. So if you are following His word, praying and listening, you will "hear" His voice. The Bible goes on in the same scripture to say He "knows" us and that's not "know" as in "yeh, they look familiar" but as in "I love him/her, we are like brothers/sisters, I can tell him/her anything, we're so close, we have a relationship." So because you're His sheep, you've spent time building a relationship and He knows you, and in return He allows you to know Him.  If you spend enough time with Him you will get to "know" his voice. Lastly that scripture says and they follow me. He will speak when he "knows" you enough to trust you will follow Him; you will "hear" his voice when you have spent enough time with Him to "know" Him. 

Listen, Time, Consistence, Love, Careful, Bible, Know, Follow