Monday, June 21, 2010

I have a secret…

…wanna know it?

come closer…closer…ah! too close, a little to close…(ok, that was a shameless quote from Aladdin…)

So, here is my secret. But first, I don’t know if you can handle it, so if you aren’t willing to remain in strict confidence on this, please, don’t read more.


….ok. Now…here’s the thing.


(we don’t know the future.)

I know, shocker, right?!?!?!?! Can you even believe it? WE DON’T KNOW THE FUTURE!!!! Now, this is something some people don’t know yet.

Because, everywhere I look (although, I don’t have to look farther than my own mirror) I see people preparing for the future that they think will happen. I see people seeking out answers for their future. I even see people, in essence, living in their future.

Again, my own mirror.

The bible tells us this, though: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day [is] its own trouble.” (Matt 6:34)

Did you hear that? Tomorrow will worry about its own things. Chill out. Stop worrying about it!!

….but, want to hear another secret?

Thought so. Ok, here it is:

I know what we ARE to spend our time thinking about! I know what we DO know! I even know where YOU can find that, too! (I hope you’re as excited as I am. Because, proverbially speaking, I am jumping up and down in my chair).

Want to know? Yea? So you’re telling me that, since you don’t know the future and you are told not to worry about it, you want to know WHAT you’re to be busying your time with?

cool, I thought so…I’ll tell ya. Actually, I won’t tell ya…I’ll let Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior, Abba, Kinsman Redeemer, Comforter, Teacher, and Director tell you from His Love Letter:

Matthew 6:27-34

“Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, [will He] not much more [clothe] you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day [is] its own trouble.”


Friday, June 11, 2010

what i’m doing when i get where i’m going

I have been thinking a lot about these verses in Matthew 6…

“But seek first the kingdom of God
and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added to you.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will worry about its own things.
Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Matthew 6:33-34

As I have been trying to make plans: in and out of relation to Scotland, the Lord has gently reminded me that that is NOT my job. My part of the bargain is to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.

I shouldn’t be worrying about  tomorrow.
Or the next day.
Or September.

On September 19th, as the Lord provides financially and directs spiritually, I fully intend on flying to Scotland. Once I get there, I know what I WANT to do, but I don’t know, nor has the Lord shown me, what He wants me to do.

Here is what I do know:

First, this trip is a two week (read: short term!) evangelism, outreach, and scouting trip. What does that mean? This means that the Lord has put it on my heart to bring His gospel and His salvation to His beloved in Scotland. He has also given me a desire to see how I, as just one person, could come up alongside His body of believers in Scotland: where is the need? how can it be fulfilled? what is my role in all of that?

One thing that I would love for you to come alongside me in prayer about is a certain outreach that the Lord has brought to my attention. There is a university in the middle of Glasgow that has what is called “Fresher Week” (think WOW week at Poly). This year, it is being held from September 20th through 24th and I am praying about coming alongside a Christian University Union in the evenings doing outreach and evangelism. Pray the Lord directs communication with this group as well as lays it on others hearts the desire to not only tell people that they are Christians but to also share the Gospel as the ONLY way to salvation.

Another opportunity that may arise is a chance to take a train to Edinburgh for a few days to meet the church body there as well as seek out some divine appointments the Lord may have for me. Pray that the Lord would first provide the additional funds for this as well as the direction on traveling alone or with another person during this time.

Second, this trip is one of obedience to the Lord’s calling and direction. He never told me that He would give me an hour by hour outline of my time there. He just told me to go. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m going.

As many of you know me fairly well, you know that underneath my craziness and spontaneity, I enjoy a good hearty schedule with a healthy side of time management and foresight. In this instance, every time I try to open the doors for that to happen, the Lord has firmly shut them. I am learning to not just be OK with this, but to thrive it it. Pray that the Lord’s overwhelming peace would surpass my desire to know and understand and that I would seek to merely please Him in my actions of trust and dependence on Him.

Third, this trip is for His glory. Regardless of what happens on this trip, it is submitted to Him. The Lord knows why He has beckoned me to meet Him there and what that means-for me and for those around me.

Whether that means Him breaking my heart and sending me back there for a longer stay or just simply going this once and coming back with more of a fervor to serve the Lord here in Morro Bay for a long time to come…I want to remain open and available for the Lord to use this vessel for His glory.

In the meantime, I am going to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness…and leave the rest up to Him! What able hands our Father in heaven has…I am so grateful to be able to cast all my cares upon Him.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

how i got where i am

In March, I had the pleasure of house/plant-sitting for some friends. I needed some time away and in this, I was able to seek refuge each night and even spend a few days just simply seeking and being with the Lord.

At the time, I was desperately desiring to hear the Lord's voice and wanting to know His will for the next season of my life. I didn't know what that looked like, but I had pretty big ideas of what I wanted it to look like...obviously (if you haven't figured it out yet with the Lord) He had other plans!

What I was expecting was the Lord's clear direction.
What I found was the Lord's clear voice.
What I was wanting was answers to my questions.
What I was given was an answer to a question I hadn't thought to ask yet.

I woke up one morning and the first thing on my mind was a date: September 19th.

I didn't know what it I was supposed to take it...what I was supposed to do with it. But it wouldn't go away. All day it kept coming up…September 19th.

So I began praying.

And for 3 weeks, all I did was pray and ask the Lord what it meant: was I supposed to be abstaining from something as a fast until that time? Was that a date that something was going to happen? Was it a date for someone else? A date I needed to do something?
I asked these questions almost daily but also knew that, in the Lord's time, He would make His plan known. That also came in an unexpected way.

I was out on a walk with a friend of mine who has known of my heart for Scotland for quite a while. She had asked me about my time away and what the Lord had shown me. As I was sharing some different things with her, I began to explain to her this enigmatic date I was given.

Without the blink of an eye, she gently responded to my wonderings and musings with a simple sentence:
"Erika, maybe that's the date you're supposed to go to Scotland."

I sat gawking at her for probably a lot longer than she was comfortable with as I slowly began processing this new piece of the puzzle. It didn't make any more sense than the date I was given but just as with that, I knew the Lord was planning and directing each of these steps.

We committed this to prayer immediately and asked the Lord to confirm His perfect plan through His scripture and His ways.

...the next day, one of only two Scottish friends that I have showed up, unannounced, on my doorstep. She wanted to surprise us and flew all the way out here from Scotland to do just that. I didn't want to jump to conclusions, but was elated with the realization that this could definitely be another piece of a puzzle that had quickly become more grand than I had ever dreamed up.

The final pieces to the puzzle came with talking with my Pastors and waiting patiently for the Lord to confirm this calling with scripture. He gave my Pastors some very wise and encouraging things to say as they kept reminding me to commit it to Him and to wait for Him to make the plans.

I kept praying.

Finally, about 5 weeks after the Lord giving me a date, He confirmed His calling with His word. This scripture has meant so much to me through the past 7 years of my life. The first time I was given in was when I had to walk away from being a nanny.

Since then, He has used this scripture to remind me that He desire to call us out from those wintery and hard seasons in life into a spring time that brings forth bud and blossom, fruit and joy.

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!

Song of Songs 2:10-13

This time around, however, the Lord called me into His will and to Himself by giving me one more verse:

"O my dove,

in the clefts of the rock,

In the secret places of the cliff,

Let me see your face,

Let me hear your voice;

For your voice is sweet,

And your face is lovely."

Song of Songs 2:14

With this verse, I felt the Lord telling me, calling me, biding me to come away…to Him. To meet Him in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the cliffs…to find Him in and follow Him to Scotland…

scotland cliffs

I pray the Lord continues to speak to you with His word.  It is living, powerful, sharper than any double-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12) and He is waiting for you to pick it up with the expectation that He WILL speak to you through it, guide you from it, show you His heart in it.

He loves you that much.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

the fullness of joy (#7)

**this is the 7th and final part of my testimony. thank you for reading**

8 years ago, I came back to the Lord.
7 years ago, my heart broke for Scotland.
5 years ago, I was reminded of His life.
3 years ago, I was given new direction.

Last year, refining came by way of fears and trust.

Psalm 16:11 says "You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore."

Last year, I began to deal with griping fear. The kind that paralyzes you, suffocates you, surrounds you to the point of being incapable of battling it.

I can't explain what spurred it on, but it came full force and ran from physical fears (of bridges, heights, mice, etc) to spiritual and internal fears (of losing loved ones, doing the wrong thing, making the wrong choice).

In the midst of a panic attack at a conference last year, I asked for those closest to me to pray. One verse that had been coming up over and over again throughout the conference was 2 Timothy 1:6: "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." As they prayed, I clung to that verse.
I began dwelling on the idea that the opposite of fear are these things: power, love, and a sound mind. I needed that love. It led me to 1 John 4:18 that says "there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear,..." and as I prayed for the Lord to show me how to dwell in perfect love, He sweetly ushered me to Psalm 16:11...and His presence.

I have been asking the Lord since then to continually remind me of His joy and love that casts out fear by letting me remain in His presence.

Circumstances will come up: leaving a job position you love, letting the Lord change the way you minister in church, friends coming and going, heartache, change, pain, confusion. All of these things, in the eyes of the world do not equal "joy" or happiness. But as we navigate our way through the downs and the outs of life, what does equal joy is dwelling in His presence throughout it, holding His hand and letting Him take you through.

Saying "Lord, I don't understand, I don't get it, but I know this is what You have asked of me right now and I'm going to trust You."

And then doing it.

I always find that doing it is the hardest part because the fullness of joy doesn't involve action, it involves dwelling. Dwelling in His presence. Stopping long enough to stay in His presence and not navigate our way through a messy map of emotions and circumstances and lies from the enemy.

In the midst of this year, and of finding His path of life and seeking to understand that His presence is where He wants me, He gave me a verse that held promise in it.

He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it. 1 Thessalonians  5:24

I assumed He was promising to release me of my fears and I was thankful for that. I wouldn't have to worry about whether or not I would lose someone or something or have to deal with pain and hurt. Right? Well, it wasn't long after thought that when some of my worst fears became a reality in my life.

I don't need to repeat them and I don't need to give them more spotlight than they need. They are dealt with and over. But they were real and they happened and I cried out to the Lord, confused about these circumstances in light of 1 Thessalonians 5:24 and Psalm 16:11. He reminded me, hourly, daily, weekly...that He was there and He was in control.

I had to say to Him again "Lord, I don't understand, I don't get it, but I know this is what You have asked of me right now and I'm going to trust You."

I kept reminding myself that He has called me into His presence. I kept trying to run but His Spirit always brought me back. And I knew that I could find comfort there. I could find that power, love, and a sound mind that He has given us.

And joy. I knew that in His presence, I could find joy. Just like He told me I would.

7 years ago, He told me I needed to know what true joy was before I could minister in a place like Scotland.

5 years ago, He began to show me how to cling to Him in undesirable circumstances.

3 years ago, He striped me of my worldly identities so that I could be found complete in Him.

1 year ago, His love proved itself conquering over my fears. I found that His presence is where I need to be, regardless of circumstance or emotion.

3 months ago, He reminded me of His promise that He made 7 years back as He opened wide the doors for ministry in Scotland and laid the ground work for a short term trip there.

He called me, He is faithful, He will do it.

Friends, this is the 7th post of my testimony and I don't have much else to say. I have brought you up to the present time with one important factor that I want to share with you: everything that has happened in my life has been designed and orchestrated by the Lord.
I can't ask to change it, even if I want to, because I have joyfully submitted my life to His very capable hands. If this is something that you would desire: to joyfully surrender yourself to the Only One capable of directing you, then all you have to do is ask. He is willing and waiting for you to say YES to Him. He will do everything else.