Love Recklessly

God has been teaching me to love like He loves. Recklessly. With abandon. Without regard for His reputation in religion.

Our church has a weekly prayer meeting. One night we prayed for North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. The emotion for him and his people that rose up in me was from God Himself. God LOVES him! He LOVES the Korean people! It was completely overwhelming.

While I was in DC at Rise Up we prayed for mothers who lived with the fear of loosing their children because of the color of their skin. Again the emotion was completely overwhelming. God cares about how they feel and what they experience.

Love Recklessly

He was showing me that unless I connect with how someone is feeling, step into their shoes, feel their pain, my prayers can only go so far. By allowing myself to be vulnerable, uncomfortable, even pained I can pray far more effectively.

Jesus didn’t just imagine our situation. He identified with us fully, becoming human and facing every trial and temptation we face. Being Jesus to those around us means we must be willing to do the same.

I thought I was getting this. I was missing a piece. Judgement.

Judging keeps me from loving.

One year ago our community was searching for a 16-year-old boy who didn’t make it home. The roads can be bad and it’s dark so they were out looking within hours. Unfortunately the story didn’t end well. David Grunwald never made it home. His life was ended that night by a group of guys his own age. This senseless, horrific event rocked our community. Rocked me. Entering into the Grunwald’s pain is easy. They were robbed of their son and so much more.

The young men who committed the crimes involved? It’s easy to stand in judgement.

“I don’t know what to do. They’re having an affair.” I heard from a friend.

I immediately entered their pain. I was feeling the betrayal, the confusion, the accusation against them, against God. I prayed for hope and strength, perspective and faith.

Then God reminded me that Jesus loved the adulterer. He loves the betrayed and is close to the broken-hearted, yes. He loves the sinner, too. The one choosing sin – He loves, He died for. How reckless!

He was challenging me. Would I be willing to enter the pain of the adulterer? Would I love them and pray for them? Would I step out of judgement?

What about the young men that beat and killed David? Am I willing to enter their pain? (I’m not suggesting excusing their behavior. They need to be held responsible for their choices. That is a governing issue. I, we, the church, are commanded to love them. Getting there is a big step. Once we get there then we have another question. “What does loving them look like?”)

Judgement quote by Tony Robbins

Judgement takes me away, sets me apart. “I don’t see how you could do that?”, “What are you thinking?”, and worst “I would never”.

Love draws me in. “What has been going on?” “What is causing you pain or pressing you so you feel the need to escape or act out?”,  “What pain have you experienced to make that choice?” or “How can I help?”

For so many situations I can’t get these questions answered. Asking them brings me out of judgement.

When Jesus met sinners He did not condemn them. He also did not excuse their behavior. He did release grace to “Go and sin no more.” He called sin sin. He gave forgiveness where there was repentance. He died to provide the opportunity for forgiveness – before any of us repented.

God work in me to love as You love. To see as You see. Not a love that is blind and says anything goes. A love that sees everything and recklessly loves anyway.

6 Steps to Enter into Rest

I can’t decide what to do.

Worse I decide what to do then don’t do it.

After weeks of this sad cycle I decided to pull out a tool the Lord gave me a few years ago. Key concepts for the word Father, because living with Him is key.

FATHER

  1. Focus

  2. Authority

  3. Thanksgiving

  4. Hope

  5. Encouragement

  6. Rest

Here’s how it went:

Focus:

Father, I want to focus on You. I find myself focusing on tasks, emotions, questions. Worse I find myself avoiding focus with distractions like checking email or Facebook. I choose to focus on You. You are good, gracious, faithful. So, so faithful. You love me. You called me. You say I am enough.

Authority:

I take authority over my thoughts and emotions. I am powerful. I choose what I think. I choose what I do. I choose what gets my time and attention.

Thanksgiving:

I am thankful for all You are teaching me. I’m thankful I am not who I used to be. The process is longer and harder than I want and I often forget to look at the progress in the middle of the process. I choose to thank You for the process. I thank You for making the process as long as it needs to be for me to be transformed, to take me from glory to glory.

Hope:

Focusing on You, taking authority over my thoughts and emotions, and choosing to be thankful has renewed my hope. You are my hope. You working in me. You so faithful to complete me.

Encouragement:

I encourage myself with Your faithfulness.

Rest:

I rest in Your goodness. Your faithfulness. I rest in knowing I hear Your voice. I rest in knowing whenever I say “yes” it will be worth it, no matter how uncomfortable it may be right now.

There you go six steps to enter into rest.

I still have to walk it out, I still have more ideas than I can do in a lifetime.

I also have hope and peace. I can rest.

 

I’m considering doing a class or webinar about this tool. I would love your feedback, possible interest, and questions.

How do you enter into rest?

Develop Thankfulness

Christmas is coming. The retailers won’t let us forget. It is a fun and exciting season. I enjoy the music, decorations, fun and festivities of Christmas.

I also don’t want to short change Thanksgiving. It’s easy for Thanksgiving to be little more than a day to be with family or friends and eat too much. Thanksgiving as a lifestyle is far more important.

To develop our habit of thankfulness we started a tradition. We record things we are thankful for every day of November. Everyone has to think of a new thing every day. Make it more of a challenge and have everyone think of something no one has said.

Recording our thoughts has taken many different forms over the years.

  • Written on a large piece of paper
  • Drawing what they are thankful for
  • Add a leaf to a tree, a feather to a turkey, or something every day to build a collage of thankful thoughts

Hopefully our thankfulness leads us to gratitude. We can be thankful for something and keep it to ourselves. Gratitude is takes action to express thankfulness. Listing things we appreciate is a good first step.

Ideas to move from thankfulness to gratitude:

  • Send out “Thank you” cards
  • Do someone a kindness
  • Speak up when you have a nice thought or appreciate something
  • Praise the Lord. For real. Out loud.

As you develop thankfulness and gratitude you are preparing your heart for Christmas. Preparing to focus on Jesus. Enter the Christmas season with thankfulness and a proper perspective.

Have you worked to develop thankfulness in you or your family?

What Do I Do with Halloween?

Well, this may be more risky that saying we don’t do Santa Claus – yet here I go!
First things first. I am sharing what I know, what I do and why. I am not telling anyone else what they should do.
Okay, now that that is clear you can choose from the Short Version or the Longer one.
The Short Version
Be sure people can see Jesus in whatever you choose to do or not do for Halloween. Ask about each activity: Does God receive glory for this?
What Do I Do With Halloween?
The Longer Version

Through Christian radio, Christian school and a great church youth group I have gleaned information about the roots of Halloween and the reality of the occult. I would love to include a bibliography, but I don’t have one.

Dark Beginnings
Halloween is a very old festival rooted in superstition at best and pure evil at worst.

The traditions of wearing costumes and trick-or-treating were devised in an attempt to protect people from the evil spirits they believed to be most active on October 31. Some traditions come from ancestor worship, some from various forms of Satanism and Wicca (witchcraft). The hideous costumes were to blend in and not being recognized by the evil spirits believed to be about. The treats were gifts to the dead or the evil spirits so they would be nice to the household, not play any bad tricks.

What we know as a jack-o-lantern was also to ward off evil spirits. There is a legend of someone making a deal with the devil. Then they wander forever with their jack-o-lantern lit by a coal from hell. Some cultures observed Halloween as a night for mayhem, anything goes. For some it is a night of sacrifice – produce, animal and even human sacrifice – to appease the spirits and their gods.

In light of such dark beginnings it’s not too hard to see why some decide to have nothing at all to do with Halloween.

Redeeming
I am all for redeeming things, bringing light to something dark. I do not believe that everything can be redeemed. By Jesus blood everyone can be redeemed, but not every event or activity.

Centuries ago the church attempted to redeem Halloween by declaring All Saints Day on November 1. If people are going to celebrate give them something worth celebrating.

Martin Luther chose October 31 to nail his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church. This challenge to the church’s teaching contributed to the Reformation. Some hold Reformation Day celebrations teaching church history in a festival type setting.

There are churches and groups today that choose to provide a God honoring alternative to Halloween, often called Fall Festivals or Harvest Parties. Kids do think its fun to dress up and get candy. There are many fun things to do.

The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs is a wonderful example of redeeming something that once was dark. Using a pumpkin as an object lesson Liz teaches about salvation. God chooses us, cleans us up and gives us His love to share with everyone we meet. We carve pumpkins some years. We refer to the parable while we work on our creations and we carve whatever we want, nothing scary or gross.

Our Choices
We have chosen to not dress up for Halloween. My children can and do dress up for theme parties and for fun.

We do not go to any Halloween parties or haunted houses. The idea of intentionally going to get scared is quite strange to me. Jesus died to give us not a spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love and a sound mind. He conquered fear. Why would I invite it back into my life? Or give it permission to enter my children? The enemy is already a thief trying to steal, kill and destroy me and my family. Why help him out?

We live in an area where people do not come out trick-or-treating; it’s too far out, too cold, and too dark. It sort of defeats the purpose of a costume if it’s under your snow suit! I have never had to decide what to do with people coming to my door. If I lived where people came to my door I would not hide. What I would do I can’t say for sure. I think I would have treats, be kind and find a way to share Jesus. My house sometimes has fall decorations, sometimes cheery carved pumpkins but no spiders, witches, bones, ghosts, etc.

“Just for Fun” 

I know there are those who say “It’s just for fun”. Remember Satan is a thief, opportunistic. He doesn’t care if you meant anything by participating in his traditions. He’ll take it. In a way the “fun” as well as all the very cute ghosts and witches help feed the cultural idea that Satan and evil aren’t real.

What better way for Satan to operate? How much opposition are you going to have from people who think you don’t exist or are not a threat? If dressing scary or haunted houses are “just for fun” what’s to say that séances or Ouija boards aren’t? Satan is real, and though defeated, he still has power in this world.
I am cautious of the “not wanting to be left out” attitude. “Everyone is doing it” is a poor argument in any situation. Is this a reasoning you want your children to live by? We are called to be different, set apart. We can’t do that by looking and acting like “everyone”. I want to be living a life that leaves the world feeling left out; in a way that draws them to my loving God.

What do you do with Halloween?
Why?

2 Ways I’m Praying When Life is Busy

Life homeschooling three teens with an infant is busy. Making time to pray can be tricky. These are two ways that are working for me in this season.

1. Songs

Songs are almost always running through my spirit like a soundtrack. In this season certain ones are prayers for things that concern me or I feel the Lord wants me to pray about.

  • Over the situation in North Korea I sing Reckless Love by Steffany Gertzinger
  • For a friend overcoming cancer God I Look to You by Jenn Johnson
  • No Longer Slaves by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser – Verse one for me, verse two for my children
  • Let it Rain – Jesus Culture – for America
2. Typing

On Facebook there are many people and issues that need prayer. I find that if I just type “praying”. I don’t. I may think of them. And I may not.

If it’s something I care enough to type “praying” then I take the time to actually type a faith filled prayer. One I really believe God wants to answer. Then when I think of them again I already have prayed and it’s easier to pray again.

How do you pray when life is busy?

I’d love to hear from you.

Transforming Culture Starts with Me

Jesus, you are worth it all. Every nation every soul.

Jesus, you are worth it all. Every nation every soul.

Let it rain, let it rain. Open the floodgates of heaven let it rain, let it rain.

Let it rain, let it rain. Open the floodgates of heaven let it rain, let it rain.

I can hear the sound of rain coming to America again.

I can hear the sound of rain coming to America again.

These lines are on repeat in my spirit. Almost anytime I tune in my spirit is singing these lines.

These were part of the worship by Lindy Conant at Rise Up in Washington DC. Realizing my spirit is still singing them makes me remember the moments and weep. It also makes me rejoice. God is moving in America in the hearts of His people and the hearts of those who don’t know Him yet.

In the weeks leading up to this event I felt led to start a Facebook group. I shared ways to pray and prepare our hearts for what God was doing through posts and live videos. It was a stretching and rewarding experience.

Rise Up was a historic event for me and for our nation.

Rise Up morning session

Rise Up afternoon session

Each one has a part to play. Each one starts from wherever they are with God this moment, the moment they say “Yes, Lord. Anything you ask.” Each “yes” is another step in the shift of our culture, the expansion of the Kingdom of Heaven here on the earth.

It’s time to walk out the changing of history.

We must rise up. Day after day. Situation after situation.

I’m continuing the Facebook group and opening it up to anyone who shares the passion to rise up with the Lord. I am being transformed so I can transform culture. I will share posts of mine and others I find helpful. I will do videos of things the Lord reveals to me. The rest of 2017 I will focus on being very intentional. It is crucial to steward the seeds God has planted through Awaken the Dawn and Rise Up. I invite you to share what the Lord is revealing to you in this season.

It’s fun how God works. This morning as I prayed and felt I led to continue the group. I saw how it fits with my heart and purpose for my blog. I remembered that I had the goal of creating a Facebook community to encourage you on your journey by October. Up until yesterday I didn’t see any way to possibly make that happen. The idea of taking the group that had focused on praying for Rise Up didn’t seem to fit with my blog. It didn’t seem like it would work. He made my dream happen without me realizing it, just by me saying “yes” to sharing what I felt He was telling me.

How is He asking you to rise up?

Where do you need to take a brave step?

Arise! Shine! Your Time Has Come!

My heart and my spirit are so full with what the Lord is doing I don’t even know how to put it into a post.

So I’m doing something different.

I’m giving you some videos to watch and links to follow.

Rise Up

Register or learn more The Call

Awaken the Dawn! What’s Behind the ‘Holy Spirit Woodstock’ Coming to DC

Awaken The Dawn: The Story

I am traveling from Alaska with my daughters to be part of these events in Washington DC.

The Moral Outcry

If you believe abortion is wrong go to The Moral Outcry and sign the  petition. Share this. I am not condemning women who have had an abortion. I believe they are victim, too. I believe they have been deceived in so many ways. There is grace and forgiveness for everyone, for every sin.

For my sons and daughters, for your sons and daughters.

I will rise up.

What are you seeing God doing?

Will you arise?

Simple Ways to Make An Impact

You say I’m an equipper but how am I doing that? I’m not leading women’s ministry anymore. I didn’t even get a Bible study started. I want to be obedient. I want to be making an impact. I sense I’m supposed to do something big.
I don’t know what it is exactly I want to do or feel I am supposed to do. 

As I was in this place during worship asking God what I was supposed to be doing and feeling I didn’t measure up I watched my son worship with flags and dance. I watched as my son handed his flags off to another young man who had gone up front to worship. I watched as he encouraged this young man to flag, to wave the banners in praise and worship.

You equip equippers. You have taught your son to take what he knows and pass it on to those around him.

Say “Yes” in small things

Serving the Lord, partnering with Him, fulfilling our calling – none of it is as complicated as I often make it. He wants relationship. He wants my yes in small things. Small things add up to big things.

Have the conversation

I just read of a woman who went to Ireland to share the gospel because she felt that’s what God wanted her to do. As far as she could tell it was an unfruitful trip. Years later it was reveal that through a conversation she had with one man he developed a passion for the Lord and was a key figure in a revival in Ireland.

Be faithful

Washing dishes. Doing laundry. Giving your best at the same old job. It may seem a futile effort, certainly not of spiritual much less eternal importance.

How we treat our responsibilities matters. People are watching. They are touched by our example of doing all things to the glory of God. Us loving well, staying faithful, being patient, having peace.

We are all called. That doesn’t mean if we’re not Billy Graham we’re missing our calling. We simply do what God has placed before us for His glory and He is pleased. I’m saying simply, not easily but I think that’s another post.

What has He placed in front of you?
What everyday things you do please the Lord? Ask Him.

Why? is the Wrong Question

There are so many things happening right now that make me want to ask “Why?”

  • Global threat of nuclear war from North Korea
  • National hurricanes and forest fires
  • A family in my community lost their five daughters in a house fire
  • A friend had to put down their beloved dog

All these things and so many more can cause me to look to heaven and ask “WHY?” It’s fine to ask why, it’s almost involuntary.

Why is the wrong question. It’s a distraction. It is disempowering.

Why keeps us stuck when we don’t get an answer. And when we do.

When we don’t get an answer we stay stuck:

  • trying to reason it out
  • in bitterness over not getting an answer
  • using mental energy of continuing to ask

When we do get an answer we can:

  • go back to being comfortable
  • go back to not thinking about it anymore.

While we may feel comfortable we’re still stuck.

God did not design us to stay comfortable. He wants us to be at rest in Him not comfortable in our own reasoning. Resting in Him is always on the move expanding His Kingdom, spreading peace, hope, and love.

I can and do ask why. If there isn’t something I can do different then I move on to the next question.

The better question is “What do I do now?”

  • Pray for North Korea to be saved. God wants none to be lost. Agree with Him that Kim Jong-un can be saved and lead his nation to salvation in Jesus Christ.
  • Pray, give, help. God has different answers for each one according to their gifts and situation.
  • Believe in the goodness of God. Ask for ways to shine His light in the darkness.

Do you ask “why” when hard things come?

Try asking “What do I do now?” How different does it feel?

Getting to the Root of Feelings

I feel sick inside.
I have for days.
I’m working on a project very dear to me.
Something I feel God calling me to.

But I feel sick inside.

I am finally learning at past 40 to pay attention to how I feel and that how I feel physically and emotionally are connected. Maybe that’s blatantly obvious to you but I didn’t know that, not in experience anyway, not for me.

In learning to pay attention to how I feel I am also learning to take the time to figure out where the feelings are coming from. God told me this project would stretch me. The good news with that is He will show me a part of Himself I have not known before that He couldn’t show me without the stretching.

My spirit is excited.

My soul is uncomfortable.

So this sick feeling has been bothering me all week. I’ve taken moments here and there to reflect on why I’m feeling this way.

I want people to like what I’m doing, for it to make sense, for it to make an impact. In part I am nervous that none of those things will be true.

What struck me yesterday was that I have gotten feedback that all of them were true and I felt sicker than ever! What is wrong with me?!

God why do I feel this way?
Remember what I told you about this project?
Yes. I cared too much about what people think so that’s part of what the project is about. I commit to run every idea past You. Doing what You lead me to do not going after production or impressing anyone. But what about feeling worse after getting good feedback?
There’s one you’re trying to impress. One who can’t even see your work. Since you’ve made that one most important all the other feedback is empty. Including Mine.
Ouch! Papa, I’m sorry. You approve and say I’m enough. Praise from any person doesn’t matter. Sometimes not getting it hurts, though.
It does.
I grieve the hurt of not getting the feedback from one and rejoice in the feedback from many. Especially You.
You’re learning to serve an audience of One.
Is there anything else You want to say to me?

I see your hurt and I care. I’m proud of your growth. Your “yes” to stretching.

Is there an area God is stretching you? Have you asked Him what He will be for you there?

Is sorting out your feelings natural for you? Do you struggle through like me?