Tag Archives: joy

He Is & Always Will Be: Thoughts from the Spring ‘Fire’ of 2013

ImageMany of you know that I went through a difficult & challenging season in the Spring of 2013, where I experienced a deceptive & dangerous ‘gospel’ first-hand as a staff member of a mega-church.

I don’t believe in bad-mouthing institutions (I use that word intentionally because this was one of those ‘church run as a business/institution’ not as a church kind of situations).

I DO believe in speaking the truth… & the following is what I felt God was saying to me through my experience there. It’s a strong reminder that the Church is about HIM & must always come back to JESUS.

 
“WARNING! Do not align your hearts to the deceptive culture…
that says wealth is your reward for serving Me…
that says comfort is the means to life…
that says Jesus is the way but requires loyalty to a leader…
that says we support orphans but we stay in luxury hotels because dirt under our fingertips ruins our manicured nails…
that says ‘Spirit, come’ & then the clock runs out…
that says we see God but we don’t bow our heads to pray for even 3 minutes in a 3 hour meeting…
that says take a step towards Him, but make sure you are wearing the right shoes… 
that says we welcome you, but only special people can come in & sit at the front…
that says we are the church, but you can only be a part if you do it our way…
that says be a part of us, but first sign your name & serve our leader…
that says Jesus’ words bring life, but we quote our leader more than the Jesus because he’s quippy & creative…
that says we’re here to build the Kingdom but the only empire to be seen is the one that stands empty 5 days a week & shines with the glitz and glamour of high-dollar…
that says it’s all about ‘the reach’ but only to fill empty front-row seats to present a good ‘look’ for the TV cameras… 
YOU SEE, THE CHURCH IS ABOUT ME. I WILL NOT TOLERATE A MAN-MADE EMPIRE THAT ROBS MY GLORY, THAT DISTORTS THE TRUTH IN A GREY JOYLESS VEIL, MAKING ROBOTS OUT OF MEN. JESUS IS MY GLORY. WE ARE & ALWAYS WILL BE. THE SANDS OF TIME BLOW AWAY, BUT WE REMAIN. WE ARE THE BRIGHT MORNING STAR, SHINING OUR GLORY FROM AGE TO AGE. WE REQUIRE SOLD-OUT HEARTS & LIVES, NOT EMPTY WORDS. EMPTY WORDS BRING DESTRUCTION; ONLY OUR WORDS BRING WORDS OF TRUE LIFE.
Reflecting on 2013 today, I find myself utterly grateful for God’s grace & redemption this year…
That despite the fires & trials of life, He is & always will be. 
That through the storms of life, He is & always will be. 
That through the deceptions (though well-intentioned), He is & always will be. 
That when I feel lost & floating, He is & always will be. 
That when I have no idea what’s around the corner, He is & always will be. 
That when life looks different that what I imagined, He is & always will be. 
That above ALL ELSE, He is & always will be. 
That God always speaks truth because He is & always will be. 
I am ever grateful for His truth, His guiding, His providence. Praise be to God & may His Church glorify HIM and no one else.
“Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands & step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.” ~ Oswald Chambers
Here’s to an Irresistible Future with Him in 2014! Be blessed.
Bethany x
 
 
 
 

  

Beyond Barren.

Dark night. Cold water. Treading in the profound sea of uncertainty. My thoughts close-in around me, my voice shattered by silence.

But the following words ring as the utmost truth in what seems like an endless cycle of yearning and longing:

“Sing, barren woman, who has never had a baby. Burst into song, shout for JOY, you who were never in labor; because you’ll have far more children than all those of her who has a husband,” says the LORD. “Clear lots of ground for your tents! Make your tents large. Spread out! Think big! Use plenty of rope, drive the tent pegs deep. For you will spread out to the right and to the left.” ~Isaiah 54:1-3a

This Scripture fills my soul with life and hope, because I know that the words of the Lord do not return empty and void. What He declares will come to pass. (Isaiah 55:11)

Because…

Out of our nothingness, comes His everything. Circumstance isn’t the block upon which our faith is built; we stand on the rock. And even when the road ahead is extremely difficult to discern, we know Who we’re following, and we know that He knows exactly where He is going. And He knows exactly why He’s taking us there.

Out of my desperation, comes His fulfillment. My personal revelation has been: “the greater the preparation, the greater the influence.” A pastor once said the same thing to me in a different way: “the taller the skyscraper, the deeper the foundation.” All that to say, when we are toiling the grounds of dust and desolation and feel like our lives are going nowhere, God is reminding us that He is building us. He is preparing us. He is growing us. Because the more we are like Him, the more people He can love through us. At times, the refining may seem unbearable, but it fails in comparison to the glory that will resolve in the end. (Romans 5:2)

Out of emptiness, comes His abundance. When it looks as if everything is meaningless, useless, and purposeless, He gently whispers that He is working beyond our understanding, planting seeds of His hope and love into the lives of others. And through the seeming barrenness of our lives, He is harvesting cold hearts and breathing new life into them over and over again for the purpose that they might find life abundant (never ceasing to run out!) in Him.

And so…

I refuse to allow the temptation to focus on what I do not have guide my days.

I refuse to settle when I’m called to stand.

I refuse to break, when I’m meant to be molded.

I refuse to keep silent, when I’m destined to shout.

AMEN!

The Aftermath of Goodbye.

I had this moment today where my deepest desire scooted its way to the surface of my heart. All I want is to sit face-to-face with my friends from all the far-off places I’ve lived and learned, and watch as they paint facial expressions with their emotions. I want to listen as they share with me their day-to-day struggles… their joys, their pains. So that I can laugh and cry and celebrate and ponder with them.

Though it’s cliché to say that friendship is something special, something to be held closely, something to be beyond grateful for… I have remembered today that it absolutely IS. I cannot imagine how empty I would feel without my community of friends around the world. And as I contemplate my life… about what I should be doing, or where I should be doing it, I realize all too quickly that none of that matters. What matters is that I have people in my life to do life with. In my case, that may be from distant lands… but nonetheless, I don’t for one second take for granted any friendship in my life. I receive them all humbly as precious gifts from God.

So if you are my friend and you are reading this, THANK YOU. I’ll make my best effort to visit you (yea! that means future trips across the USA, Switzerland, England, South Africa, and Australia to be precise!) to have that cup of tea I’m craving, so that we can pick-up just where we left off.