Friday, May 15, 2009

I went on a date with God today

...He was such a gentleman.

We took a walk and He let me talk His ear off. He showed me how every day He brings the sun into the top of the sky to warm me, sends the wind to sweep away the dirt, brings the rain to wash everything fresh. He let me cry and He let me laugh.

He never interrupted...almost. There were a few times when He stopped me as i started complaining. He quieted me with His words of hope and words of encouragement. He listened but He also steered me in the right direction.

He gave me just.what.i.needed at the He does that, you know. Gives us His time, His love, His patience, His advice, His guidance. You know what I needed? Him. Just Him. And He willingly obliged. And I am so thankful.

so very thankful.

...When was your last date with God? Do you let Him woo you? The thing i realized today was how He is always waiting for us. He is always there, hand extended, waiting for us to take it and stroll down the...street, beach, path...with Him. He just wants to spend time with us. He wants to take us away and spend some uninterrupted time with Him.

My beloved spoke, and said to me: "Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away...."
Song of Songs 2:10

Friday, April 17, 2009

The rain is over and gone...

"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls--Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills."

I'm pretty sure somewhere in my blogging experience I have written about this verse before. It gives me such hope and strength...

We all go through these times. Our lives have a cold and dead outer layer. We feel cut off, fruitless, even as though we failed. You look around and everything you see is dead or unyeilding. There isn't a blossom of new life, there isn't a hope for the future. When you look at the fields yeilding no food, you think "I may starve." When you see the fold and there is no flock in it you think "I'm without purpose." When the proverbial herds from your stalls are gone, you wonder where your income is going to come from...

The danger is stopping there. The danger is just reading part of that passage and going "yes, thats me. I am torn and bitter and hurt and scared." Or something along those lines. It's that initial feeling of hopelessness (think Job). But, what is so beautiful about those times in our lives is that we still have EVERYTHING to be thankful for. We still have EVERYTHING to put our hope in.

Though (things arent going my way, I had to step out of the ministry, I left my job, I dont have a place to live, I just got some bad news, I feel hopeless, I have no direction, I feel overwhelmed, I lost a loved one,...the list goes on) YET
I will rejoice in the LORD.
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The LORD God is my strength...

I was there. I went through months of feeling this way and leaning on these verses to remind me that He is the one who brings joy despite the circumstances. He is the one who gives us hope when everything we physically see is hopeless.

And the best part? This is the verse that He has brought me to:

"My beloved spoke, and said to me: rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. the flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land. The fig tree puts forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grapes give a good smell. Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away!"

Winter is just a season. It is a necessary season that gives the branches and the beauty of the earth a time of rest so that she can come back with full strength in the spring. You look around and see dead and cold and frozen wasteland and then, suddenly one day you see: green grass, a blossom, a singing bird. Winter is over. The dead that you stared at all season long was just a facade to the growth underneath. That hope you held onto through the dry and weary season was strengthening you from the inside so that when spring would burst out into full bloom.

Isn't our God good?

Monday, March 30, 2009

"It's not fair"

Now, I know we joke about this: poking fun of little kids and ourselves alike when we throw fits (lets call it like it is...tantrums). But, I'm going to be honest here, I say this to God.

This isn't one of my shining moments, but I love that I can be truly honest with the Lord and He still accepts me exactly as who I am. Yes, He grows me, and yes, He loves me through every circumstance...yet, it all starts with an "It's not fair!" type of attitude. Then He says "well, ok now Erika, now that we've gotten that out of the way...let me take you through this until you see it my way."

And, trust me, I know from experience that seeing things God's way is so much more refreshing than sitting in the proverbial corner of your mind pouting that things didn't go the way you specifically expected them to (do they ever?)

"For this reason
I bow my knees
to the Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ,..."

He is the One that we are to turn to. Regardless. Tantrum or not. confusion or not. Turn to Him...and dont just turn, bow your knees and put yourself in that place of submission to Him and His will for your life.

"...from whom the whole family
in heaven and earth is named,
that He would grant you,
according to the riches of His glory,
to be strengthened with might
through His Spirit in the inner man,..."

As we come before Him, raw and without direction...pouting, even, and unable to see the "good" in the ends or the is His Spirit that strengthens us. It is His family that we are called into and it is through His abundant glory that we are able to rise up against our flesh.

"that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;
that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints
what [is] the width
and length
and depth
and height--
to know the love of Christ
which passes knowledge;
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God."

And as we trust that it is Him who dwells in our hearts that guides and directs us, we begin to "rest assured" that what He is doing is so much more than what we had originally wanted. It is through His Spirit we can understand (comprehend, appreciate, envision, perceive) His love. Why does He say no sometimes? Why does He change our courses and move us in a way that we don't necessarily like or wouldn't have necessarily chosen for ourselves? It is because of His LOVE for us...the Love that we are filled with-even FULLfilled with-that we may not even be able to understand. That love that is beyond knowledge but that we, through faith, know is working in us. Its for that reason alone that He changes our course and overrides our human emotions (tantrums).

"Now to Him who is able to do
exceedingly abundantly above
all that we ask or think,
according to the power that works in us,
to Him [be] glory in the church
by Christ Jesus to all generations,
forever and ever. Amen."

Ah, Lord. Thank you for taking my meager ideas and human thoughts and emotions and overriding them. Thank you for being my ALL and EVERYTHING and for knowing what I need before it becomes a thought in my mind. Thank you for cutting off my path when I try to go too far and for extending it and pushing me when I dont want to go far enough. Thank you for loving me and doing exceedingly abundantly more that what i could ever ask or think.

Thank you.

The Lord said "no" to me. He did. And it has taken me weeks of questioning, crying, whining, and throwing tantrums to realize these things. I chose to be honest with Him and He revealed to me His heart. He let me cry out to Him and He heard me. I encourage you to be honest with your Father. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." (James 1:17) Even if the gift isn't what you expected. Even if it's the gift of "no" remember that it is still GOOD and PERFECT because it comes from our Father.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Here before Your altar
I am letting go of all I've held
Of every motive, of every burden
Everything that's of myself

And I just wanna wait on You, my God
I just wanna dwell on who You are

Beautiful, Beautiful
O, I am lost for more to say
Beautiful, Beautiful
O, Lord, You're beautiful to me

Here in Your presence, I am not afraid of brokenness
To wash Your feet in humble tears
O, I would be poured out 'til nothings left

And I just wanna wait on You, my God
Lord, I just wanna dwell on who You are

Beautiful, Beautiful
O, I am lost for more to say
Beautiful, Beautiful
O, Lord, You're beautiful to me

"Beautiful" by Kari Jobes

I love when I read something, talk to someone, or hear a song and think "I couldn't have or never would have said that better myself." The song above is just such an instance. I heard today (and when I say "heard" i mean that i actually listened to the lyrics) and was immediately taken into the throne room, casting every fear, thought, emotion, turmoil...before the Lord of Lords.

It's amazing that the Lord could allow us to be so relational: that another's insight into their life is exactly what you need to hear at that specific time.

Lately, I have been enjoying my times meeting with a few ladies in my life. Taking the time to go on a walk, drink a cup of coffee, meet for a bible study...all of these times have been "purely providential" in the Lord showing me His will in my life. He has been using these women to reveal to me what is truly important: what is truly necessary to focus on and what needs to be tossed to the wayside and left there.

When I go on walks on Monday afternoon, He shows me how being real and truthful with a friend is refreshing. He shows me how, when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with those that the Lord puts in our lives, He blesses us with friends who can truly know you and hold you accountable.

"As iron sharpens iron,
So a man
sharpens the countenance of his friend."
Prov 27:17

When I drink coffee on Tuesday mornings, He reveals to me how truly relational I am. He lets me know that it's OK to not have the answers but that He calls us to listen to His voice and respond. He wants us to sharpen the countenance of our friends and challenge each other to be more that what we are right now. He wants us to reach beyond what we think we can be into what He wants us to be. Sanctification. He challenges me to put others before me and then blesses me with such amazing insight into His plans for me. Then He tells me to calm down, trust in Him, and...

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

And when I meet for bible study, even when I am tired and distracted, His word does NOT return void. Even when my eyes are too tired to stay open, His word washes me clean and challenges me to draw closer to Him:

"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ..." 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

How are you challenged? Who is your walking buddy, coffee 'mate', and bible study partner? How does the Lord use people in your life? Are you willing to be vulnerable with those that the Lord has put in your life? Are you willing to let yourself be real and honest? Who has the Lord put before you?

In the book of Esther, Mordecai challenges Esther with these words: "Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for [such] a time as this?" (Esther 4:14)

I ask you the same question: who knows whether you have been brought into someone elses life...who knows who the Lord has brought into your life...for such a time as this?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"Make good choices!"

I was challenged by a bible study I am doing (A Woman of Excellence) to truly listen to what the Lord was showing me and following His voice. The whole chapter was on obedience. The author, Cynthia Heald, writes "obedience is submission, habitually yielding to authority." She points out how we are always given the choice. The Lord is never slack in showing us the right way, pointing out the right path, leading us with the right directions...yet do we follow, listen, submit...obey?

All these little things started coming to mind: those time where you hear in the back of your head "you shouldnt be doing this..." yet you continue in what you are doing? Those moments when you know you are fuming with unrighteous anger and are telling yourself "just stop and give it to the Lord. Pray. Get into the Word." and yet, you continue to seeth? That moment when you choose to (watch a movie. watch tv.listen to music.go hang out with friends.go the a youtube video.fill your time with unnecessary busyness) instead of ( the word.enjoy fellowship.have a good quiet the laundry.clean your family)? I know i'm not the only one.

So check out this parable. I had never read it before...or atleast not with the idea of obedience underlying within it:

"But what do you think?
A man had two sons, and he came to the first
and said, 'Son, go, work today in my vineyard.'
He answered and said, 'I will not,' but afterward
he regretted it and went.
The he came to the second and said likewise.
And he answered and said, 'I go, sir,'
but he did not go.
Which of the two did the will of his father?"
Matt 21:28-31a

Lord, forgive me for those times that I do not make good choices with my time, resources, and life. Forgive me for telling You that I will do your will and then foolishly turn and do otherwise. Give me the humility to turn from my ways and seek solace in your arms. Thank You for Your mercy when I recognize my willful disobedience and seek to change my ways. Father, when I hear Your voice, may I be bold and brave enough to listen and do according to your will. When I am given the choice, as you so graciously lay them out in front of me, give me Your Spirit to guide my actions. Thank you, Lord, for choosing me. Thank you for choosing to have a relationship with me and for giving me the chance to work in Your vineyard. Amen.

A bit of encouragement. I have humbly realized that when I try to "do good" on my own, nothing good comes out of it. I end up drained and worse off than when I made my resolve. There is nothing good in us that can help us be a blessing for the Lord. It is Him living in us that causes us to make any kind of "good choice" in our lives. It is our willful surrender to His Spirit that gives us a fighting chance to choose the right answer...go in the right led down the right path.

Philippians 2:13 says "...for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure."

He is the one doing the moving in us. He is the one giving us the chance to change. And get this...He does it for His good pleasure. He gives us the will to that He can delight in us! How amazing is that?

A little bit more:

How many times have I said "make good choices!" (to you, maybe?) with the intention of using a cliched quote to brighten one's day...get a smile...but never with the thought that that person would actually truly listen to me and "make good choices?"

I never thought I would find those words profound. Or even use them as an exhortment in my own life. I mean, how often have you gone through your life using some catch phrase without stopping to think about how it affects your own life? Hmm..well, for me, that all changed with this bible study. I realized how much I need to take into account the words that i say to others and truly live them out in my life. For me, it was being obedient to the Lord in the choices i make....what is it for you?

What choices is the Lord asking you to make this week?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Hello again...

It's been a while. Sort of. You might say its only been 10 minutes since my last blog. But, well, to be honest, that blog was written quite a long time ago and I *whoops* forgot to post it! =)

When I originally began "blogging" my heart behind it all was to post devotions, encouragements, exhortations, and the like with the intent to edify those who read it (I know there are at least 5 of you...).

When I wrote those blogs down \/ there, I wrote from personal encouragement, growth, and struggle. My intent all along was to be real. It still is my intent.

But it seems that every time I have thought about what to "blog" about recently, all I think is "i've got nothing." And that's really been bothering the Lord not moving in my life? Is He not revealing Himself to me? What is holding me back?

Hah...oh, wait. Its me, isn't it? Isn't that always the case? The bible says: "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you." Deut. 31:6. God doesn't leave us. He never stops moving in my life. Heck, He never stops moving my life! He consistently reveals Himself to me and His love for me is never failing. So what is the key ingredient missing?

...My reaction.

Why have I had "nothing" recently? Why has it been that I haven't had anything to write about? I feel like the Lord has shown me this: I haven't been reacting to His Word. I haven't been allowing Him to come into my "sheltered existence" and truly begin to tear away at my flesh. Or, maybe I've just been too scared and intimidated at what might happen if I let Him in...

He is offering me something bigger than a mansion, more tasty than a chocolate cake, more valuable than a diamond, and warmer than a down comforter. He is offering me communion with Him and it is up to me to accept it. I have His eternal and unending promise of salvation. Do I want a life of communion with Him? A chance for Him to shine His Light into my darkness and allow that light to chase out the things that are clinging to the hidden corners of my darkened heart?


So there is my heart. Yes, the Lord is prying my heart open yet again. No, I dont feel as fragile as I did three/four months ago. Yes, I know the Lord is loving and forgiving and able to break through my poorly wrought facades day after day. No, I dont compare Jesus with chocolate (atleast, not fairly). and, YES, I'm finally ready to be vulnerable again with the Lord.

Here I am, on my knees,
giving you glory.
Take this gift of my praise,
Lord take all of me.
Speak to my heart,
I am listening.