Friday, January 31, 2014

Crazy Love, week 1

I can’t sleep. It is around 2 am Friday morning...

I have had about a week of not sleeping well.

That is very unusual for me.

Yesterday, I was mentally beating myself up….for being too opinionated, stubborn,
harsh, direct. I was inwardly attributing all those characteristics of mine to some very specific situations that I could have communicated better through.  I was thinking..”Alicia, you’ve had some fail moments lately. How the heck are you gonna fix them?”

Then yesterday evening,  my husband and I went to one of our church small groups.

I had been really looking forward to this new semester; our last group was really transformative and really energizing for me. So, we went ( this group is a book study on Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love”), and our Pastor began to lead the discussion...

I can’t remember the exact wording or how we got there, but he begin to speak about this scripture I have heard a bajillion times, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

And…there it was.  It took me 2 seconds to receive what will take me 15 minutes to write!

No matter how many times I mess up, no matter how many mistakes I’ve made  (and will continue to make)….

God LOVES me, will continue to love me, has always loved me.  God created AND selected me, and still wants to use me for his purpose (God is all-knowing, so He isn’t shocked by anything I do or will do - which is pretty comforting AND revelatory of His “crazy love” for me). And lastly, I don’t have to take on the burden of “fixing” anything on my own. God is with me. Emmanuel.  God can and will harness all the bad judgments I’ve made, all the resulting consequences, and he will work them out “for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Does this mean I can apathetically sit on the sidelines, uncaring, and distant? No.  It doesn’t.  It just means that God is so GREAT, so perfectly loving, that he allows us to use our free will, allows us to make bad choices, and then gently (and sometimes not so gently) reveals to you the condition(while at the same time, working to redeem that condition).

Do you ever know something…but not REALLY let it sink in? (-:

 Anyhow, My husband mentioned this quote:  “Good judgement comes from experience. Experience come from bad judgement.”  It made me giggle. Because it’s true and because we have all made our share of bad judgements.

But, in closing, this is what I got from yesterday:

- STOP talking. STOP praying. STOP thinking. STOP….

- AND….

- Wait...

- Contemplate on the holiness of God. 

- THINK- let it sink in- about how GREAT God is. 

- Reflect on God’s attributes…that He is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient …holy, set apart, the perfected   standard, eternal, infinite...

- Remember this, all this, before I pray. 

- Remember that GOD in heaven is worshipped 24/7…”Holy Holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come…..”

- Think- let it sink in-  about WHO God is…His identity, His attributes.


And…in doing so, we can truly come before the Lord with authenticity, in reverence,  and in awe.



The one thing I want….

Is to never stop being shocked.

Awed.

By who God is.

-A-



"You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful of comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp your infinite wisdom
Who can fathom the depth of your love
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty enthroned above


And I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you.”


written by Mark Altrogge

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

ALL

I had this internal struggle. It had been ongoing, but I had been persevering through for a few years. 

I did not allow myself to question things for a while.  After all, I was doing what was expected of me. It was the smart thing, the safe thing to do.I  was doing something that could only benefit me…and my family.  It was of no financial cost to me. 

Still, there was a cost. A lot time spent away from my family. An added burden of stress on all of us. 

I didn’t necessarily suffer.  But my family did. 





Just one more year….just one more year….I’m soooooo close!


I just can’t…..I can’t. 






I thought I had named the struggle. Ministry vs School. Pick one dumbie.





But I had it all wrong. 





It was never that. How could I ever name my service to the Lord ministry (in an industry sense)? It was NEVER that…..although I do participate in ministry. But, no, not ministry….all I have been doing is trying my best to be obedient. 

And, all I will ever do is strive to be obedient. Despite misconception, the Lord wants ALL of us to participate in building His kingdom…there is a great need for workers. 





So then, what is the struggle?

Well, you see, it is not ministry vs school thing.  It is an all-sufficient faithfulness to God vs a fear-based, lack of faith in God...  




I confess.




So, I asked myself, “How can I honor God by loving and obeying him above all else, before all else?

Then, I entrusted my struggle to just a few people. 

And I took it all to the Lord myself. I prayed. Listened…




God said to me, “A farmer who delays planting for a year goes bankrupt."





A friend told me that she heard this from God, “ You know my will for you. Now make the choice.”

Another friend encouraged me to look at school, to see if there was an identity attached to it, and consider if it had been taking the place as an idol in my life. Something that I clung to for fulfillment or provision…whether intentional or not. 

And, both, were right. Surely, I do know God’s will for me. He has numerously confirmed it to me, both verbally and through other people. His special appointment in me….


Then, I found a journal entry I wrote approximately a year ago and read a prophetic prayer I wrote.

I came across the first testimony I wrote….and the first promise God ever made me.

People came into my life, brought into it by God. People who needed help, resources, God.  And each time, God gently reminded me that above all the resources, above all the “help,” these people's biggest hope, and help, their saving all-in-all,  was in the grace-filled, all inclusive love of Jesus Christ. 







You know....

I’m not much of a person, in the worldly sense of successful attributes.  I’ve made a lot of bad decisions…..choices. 


Still:


- God has revealed to me the full extent of His love and that revelation has transformed my heart,  changing my life forever.

- I will never label myself, box myself in, or attempt to give a name to the appointments God gives me…never again.

- Before committing to “ministry,” school, or anything else, my first commitment is obedience to God, without hesitation.

- And there cannot be obedience without an all out faith. Faith...in action. Don't just talk about it, be about it (-:


Faith in action means taking risks. Making decisions that others see as unintelligent, or even disappointing, at times. Sometimes, it means acting, even when all of the details aren’t figured out.




All the days of my life, the greatest dream I have is to stand before the Lord and offer Him a gift of obedience driven by love. A “love offering” if you will.










God is calling all of me. (and all of you).  He has given me a special love of the unplanted and newly planted church. He has given me a vision of His Kingdom and the role worship plays within that.   He has given me a passion for loving and ministering to the unloved and unsaved. And...He has given me a desire to protect and disciple His beloved into a personal, praying, all-surrendered, worshipful relationship with Him. 

And, within all that, I am simply a worker. An humble servant of the Lord. A worker, who is endowed with gifts intended to build the kingdom of God and to usher all His beloved into His holy presence. 





Call it what you will….worship leader, church planter…..ministry…..lunatic.....(-;




Faithful, I will be. Despite the circumstances and despite the spurts of discouragement, I will remain all in.


And I know…

that when I follow God,

everything else will balance out. 



I'm making the choice.  Im allowing God to use all of me, with nothing else getting in the way. No more idols…no more distractions. 

I’m making the choice to be a stabilizing presence in my family - to protect,love and nurture the beautiful family God has blessed with me with. So help me God.


Blast from the past:



...As a young woman, I prayed for a family that loved all of me. A warm, safe place…a consistent place….a real home. 

At the time, I thought it was a superficial prayer. But now I see that God has given all of that to me. 

He has given a child to the barren…and a home to one once broken. 

He loves all of me and in return, I give all of me.


Counting myself blessed,

Alicia

"You are my strength when I am weak,
You are the treasure that I seek,
You are my all in all," ( All in All, written by Dennis Jernigan).



Thursday, January 23, 2014

Fire in my Eyes

****  I originally wrote this January 29, 2011. I found this in the drafts section of my blog…..And I read this and was really just…moved. *****



This Sunday, I will be leading the whole worship part of the service. Choosing the set list, directing the practice, praying…arranging….everything.

This will be my first Sunday. I've done Wednesdays before...but never Sunday.

I'm really excited. At first I thought I would be nervous, but as the weeks went on, I just became even more and more excited. Excited that I get to pick songs more attuned to my vocal comfort level is one thing.

But this is something I actually prayed about several years ago. I even remember when I was praying, because at the time, I was only providing background vocals for our worship team, twice a month.
And I loved it! What a great learning experience! We had two amazing worship pastors who had a very defined role in changing the way I viewed worship, church, "religion", and love. I have always felt so blessed to kind of , unofficially, be mentored vocally and spiritually by these two.

As a year or more passed, I begin to pray that I would be able to sing lead...just one song, perhaps. Weirdly, before that, I had no desire at all to ever be in the forefront...EVER! I was so comfortable where I was.

And almost a month after I begin praying, the worship pastor had the backup vocalists sing an offering song. I think I was about 30 weeks pregnant about the time. And after that..." I dared to pray that one day, I too, would get to lead an entire set. After all...nothing is impossible for God, right? Right!

Anyway...fastforward a few years. Our worship pastors moved on to another calling and for a short while, their brother took over. While this was only intermittent, it served such a great purpose, for all of the remaining people who served on our worship team.

I suppose that I didn't realize that I had grown so comfortable, "in my box." Singing only at certain times and in a certain way. So when our interim worship pastor, told me he wanted me to sing as much as possible, I felt like I was going to have a heart attack. IN fact, one day, he surprised me on Sunday and had me sing lead on a song.

I remember going to the bathroom beforehand, feeling slightly confused and sooo very nervous. I was telling myself, "Alicia, is this really happening. Sure you prayed for this....but you don't have an amazing voice. You don't even have great voice. You are ok at learning your back up harmonies....but you really don't know how to do this...."

And then, I told myself, " But you did pray for this. And God answered, so you really have no choice but to do this - the best that you can. After all...its not a competition. It's not a performance. It's worship, and the only thing that matters is a heart after worship, an intentional heart, and obedience to God and to the ones He has appointed over you."

And all of a sudden, my nervousness disappeared. And after the interim worship pastor left, I  pushed even more. And more. And more out of my comfort zone. 

ANd then all of a sudden, I was leading songs, assisting our worship pastor once a month and when he was out of town….and continuing with background vocals as well. And not only that. Words were revealed to me. Entire prayers were spoken. Straight from God's mouth to mine.

Yes me...the person who simply did not pray out loud.

Amazing.

But what is amazing is this. 3 years ago, I was listening to a song, Waiting for the Rain, by Misty Edwards. All of a sudden, a picture of me singing that song, on stage, came into my head. 

And this Sunday, I am actually singing this song. 

Today, as I am preparing for tomorrow, I know only one thing. Regardless of the insecurity that threatens me at times, regardless at the striking ordinary-ness of my voice, regardless of how many people are there, regardless of how I think tomorrow should go.....

Regardless of this…


All I really want is to hear His voice. To shine with His love. To speak, with Fire in my eyes.


God.

You have shown me Your love. Clearly.

You have brought life back into death…even before my very own eyes.


Fill me with so much love for others that my heart breaks into pieces...

Show me how to show your love to the ones who do not know love...

Show me my own selfishness, which keeps me distracted from what you called me to do...

Show me how I am so corrupted by everything around me; How the luxury of my own world consumes me and hardens my heart...

Show me the ones who claim they know you, but are only lying snakes, spewing nothing but hate...

Show me the ones who claim they know you, but are slaves to their own agenda, whether personal or political…

Show me the ones who claim they know you, but are masters of smooth talk and deceit...

Keep me from falling prey to them…

Give me words to speak; your words are an arsenal for my own protection. Give me wisdom to understand your words…. an open heart to hear you…



But mostly...break me for your purpose. Remake me for your glory. Show me YOUR way.
not mine.
not the world's,
but, Yours.