Friday, June 24, 2011

Freedom

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

This week has been interesting. Monday was a super encouraging day. I met up to with a friend and her mom to help out with a ministry that makes food for the homeless. We talked while we made peanut butter sandwiches. I was able to tell them what is going on in my life and the ups and downs I have been having. My friends mom spoke truth and encouragement into my life. She asked me do you have a fear of control when it comes to your family? Do you struggle not being in control of the situation in regards to my brother? I realized I do have a fear of control. I have no control on what is happening and can't change it. She was telling me that releasing the situation over to God is so freeing. When we don't surrender, in a way, we are saying we don't fully trust God and don't think He is capable to control the situation. It was a good wake up call to surrender and trust God. That night I went to a ministry that goes to pray and worship with sick kids, people with cancer, hurting, etc. I haven't been in a really long time but had the night off and felt the need to turn my focus off myself and my family and be able to love on others. Before we go out we always have a time of prayer to prepare our hearts. There were only 3 of us going that night and so we were able to spend more time praying for each other and our night. They asked me how I was doing. The woman that leads the ministry told me that I seem to carry the presence of peace with me and went on to explain that as Christians we all tend to carry a different presence with us. It was encouraging to know that I carried a sense of God's peace and had been encouraged that day, but in the depths of my soul I was hurting and worried about my brother. They both prayed over me and as we prayed, the woman asked me to picture my brother and ask God where He was in relation to my brother. I saw my brother surrounded by a huge cloud of God's presence. It was so encouraging that God reminded me that my brother is not alone that God is surrounding him and loving him. :) After our time of prayer we went to visit a friend's mom who was diagnosed with cancer around March. We worshiped and prayed with her. In what seemed contrasting to the situation of cancer, I just had an overwhelming sense of joy for this family and knowing that God was working. I totally saw God working that night and left even more encouraged. 
           Even though I had a day of encouragement on Monday this week I have felt lonely and a struggle. Honestly, I don't even know fully why I feel this way. I lack motivation to be exercising which is more then just working out but a time that I clear my head, listen to worship music, and talk with God. I have just felt alone but allowed myself to wallow in it this week. I am struggling to keep pressing into God. This time with my brother situation and my struggles I don't want to push Him away and feel numb, but I want to press into Him. I just feel like it is a fight though this week. Also, I have been pondering where my community is. I would love to just live in community with people all the time that encourages and strengthens each other to follow Christ wholeheartedly. I think I have just felt distant from people this week and so I have a longing for community. I love Circles and Rock Harbor, but don't know where I belong exactly ... I am just rambling at this point. I really don't know what I feel and why. 
        This morning my friend invited me to go to a Bible study at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa. For some reason I really wrestled with going. Last night I kept thinking well I have had a long week and I would love to just sleep in, but I felt like what else was I going to do in the morning once I woke up. I thought maybe I would just check it out. Well, it ended up being exactly what I needed to hear. The talk today was all about Freedom. She asked us do you really know that Jesus loves you, all of you? Do you not just know in your head that He loves you, but in the depths of your soul? I sat there questioning if I really did. She continued to say that the desire to satisfy or fill our lives with other things besides Christ shows we are lacking in knowing His full love for us. It is the power of His love that will set us free! The disciples were not radical followers, but followers of Christ that were radically changed by His love and transformed in the process. When we fully grasp the love Christ has for us that brings us to freedom and transformation. We should look like radical authentic followers of Christ that are transformed by His love. It was such an awesome message! I feel like God keeps bringing up freedom and love in my life.  This is what we have been talking about at Rock Harbor. I want to live in a life of freedom and transforming love, but I am not quite there yet. I know God is working. It has just been tough recently. 

 God break down whatever is holding me back from freedom! I want to surrender the doubts, loneliness, and fears, and let You consume my heart with Your love. I want to be so consumed by Your love that I am transformed and become a 'radical' follower. I want to live in freedom. God I ask that You will break down walls holding me back from full surrender and giving up control. I want to trust You! I want my identity and life to reflect You! Please fill and consume me. May Your Spirit reign in this place, that there may be freedom!! 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Identity

The last few weeks I have been realizing how much I put my identity in what man thinks of me verses who I am in God. A couple weekends ago I was around several people that I struggle standing up to and tend to be manipulated by. I hate conflict and I hate people not liking me or being mad at me. A part of that fear leads me to allow manipulation and not stand up for myself. I want to trust people and think that they would not treat me in a manipulative way. I know I have always struggled with this but I feel like God wants to bring this to the surface of my heart and bring healing and freedom in this area. It is a hard lesson that I think will have to continue for awhile. The same weekend I was struggling through being around difficult people, Darrin spoke on freedom over idols. That message spoke right to me and I felt like "Okay God I get it..." I realized my idols are acceptance, approval, and fear of man. I loved how Darrin brought up that we need to walk in the Spirit and that giving up our idols and following him doesn't happen over night. We need to continually surrender. I want to be so grounded in who I am in Christ. I am his daughter, beloved, vessel, and bond servant. I want to be used by God. I want to be done with living a life in fear of man and what they think of me. This keeps me at times from sharing who I am in Christ, and sharing the gospel and hope to other people, especially people I work with. I want to be a humble but bold vessel for the Lord.

God please help me to continually lay my idols at your feet and surrender myself before you. Abba, give me strength and confidence in You. Help me to learn to hear your voice clearly and to follow you with all that I am :)

Another thing I have noticed lately is how awesome the Old Testament is. Growing up in a Christian environment, I heard the Bible stories many times. I never really dove into and read the Old Testament that much. Recently, I have been reading the stories of Joshua, Gideon, Sampson, Saul, David, Ruth, Esther, and Samuel. Now that I have been reading them I noticed how messed up, raw, and real these people were. I always tended to hold these people on pedestals as the heroes of the Bible. I realize now they are just like us today. They struggle, doubt, disobey, and question but God wanted to use them. He loved them and did not stop pursuing and using them. He even considered David a man after His own heart when we could look at David and consider him a murderer and adulterer. I also loved that even though Gideon need continual reassurance from God, he did step out in obedience and God continued to reveal Himself to him. I love that even though we do stumble and fall, God will continue to pick us up and use us. We need to have hearts of repentance and surrender and to walk in the Spirit. Thank you God for Your forgiveness and faithfulness to us and for using us to further Your kingdom!