Category Archives: Spiritual Life

The Beauty of Obedience

Lately, I keep coming across the subject of obedience. Exciting, right? But when I’m reminded of a single word and concept more than a few times, it stops being a coincidence. The more I dug in to what I felt the Lord speaking to me, the more I realized how critical it is to Him that His followers obey His voice. If you will stick with me for a longer-than-usual post, I know you will also see the importance. Writing this out is as much for me as for anyone who might read. It’s an obedience thing.

For a long season of my life I felt the Lord calling me to write a book. I kept putting it off. For years I made excuses but His quiet whispers continually led me back to this task. No matter if anyone read it, or if it was ever published, He simply asked me to finish it. But I allowed many things to keep me from accomplishing it. During the course of the last year I finally finished the manuscript. In that time I have learned valuable lessons about obedience and disobedience that I’m ready to share with you.

Perhaps you are like I was, living in the neglect of a known duty. Something you know the Lord has placed on your heart to carry out, or simply start, but you haven’t done it. For some, it might be that you are living with a destructive habit or sin God has asked you to give up. Perhaps a difficult conversation needs to happen or a leap of faith you’ve been too afraid to take. No matter where you find yourself, I pray these thoughts will strike a chord in your heart and inspire you to take a step into obedience, and then another, and another.

Why We Disobey

At the beginning of June, I started a Bible reading challenge to read or listen to the entire Bible in 90 days. That’s where I came across 1 Samuel 15:22. Saul was told to completely destroy the Amalakites and take no plunder. Instead, he saved the best of the sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Lord. A noble gesture. After all, making a sacrifice to the Lord was a good thing, and part of the religious custom of that day. I’m sure King Saul’s motives were pure. I’m sure he thought the Lord would be pleased with the way he went above and beyond what God had asked him to do. But the Lord was not pleased. He spoke through his prophet Samuel: “Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.”

I realized how often we do this in our walk with Christ. God asks us to do something but instead of simply obeying we do something else. Not bad things. We may in fact, do very good things—making sacrifices. But if it is not what God has asked us to do, it is not obedience.

It is amazing when you read through the Old Testament how many times the Israelites sacrificed great offerings to God, and yet were totally disobedient to Him. The problem was that they considered their sacrifice to be sufficient, and sadly, we do the same thing.

There are three reasons that might lead us to this disobedience.

Pride—We think our idea is better. Whether consciously or unconsciously we assume responsibility to carry out something that the Lord didn’t tell us to do. Perhaps we don’t want to look like a fool to others by fully obeying God, so we allow our pride to get in the way of our obedience. Or, like King Saul, our motive might be pure in doing something other than what God has asked us to do but we just assuage our conscious by side-stepping what He really wants from us, our obedience. For example, perhaps the Lord has prompted you to start a ministry, lead a life group, get on a budget, love your husband unconditionally, stop comparing, or spend time investing in your children. If you fill your time with other activities, even good things, you are not obeying God. You are making a sacrifice.

Distractions and laziness—You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve stopped writing this blog to check Instagram or send a text. Seriously. Distractions—that we allow—and the laziness that controls our motivations are huge barriers in our obedience to God. The problem with distractions and laziness is that although God desires your obedience, it’s not always going to be easy. There are ways to make it easier, (we’ll get to that soon) but a lot of the time, especially when you first start taking those steps toward obedience, it’s going to take work and many of us are unwilling to put in the work. So we do other things that are easier, thinking maybe God will be pleased since we at least did something. I am guilty of this all the time. In my life, I joke that you’ll always know when the Lord has asked me to sit down and write—my house is clean, refrigerator organized, toilets scrubbed, and dusting complete. I am great at doing the other things and avoiding the One Thing—the thing He’s asked me to do.

Fear—Fear of the unknown, of failure, ridicule, success or change. Many cases of disobedience are born out of fear. Believe me, I’ve lived it. We may want to accomplish the calling of God but our fear keeps us from moving forward. It’s too hard and overwhelming. We don’t know where to start. We don’t know what we’re doing. Fear can drive us to “make sacrifices” instead of simply obeying.

Disobedience drives us away from relational intimacy. Just as Adam and Eve hid in the garden after they had disobeyed God, we hide from His presence when we are living in disobedience. My personal relationship with Christ suffered greatly during my season of disobedience. Every time I would attempt to seek the Lord and spend time with him, the reminder of what I hadn’t yet done was so distracting that I began to avoid those intimate times. I was always looking for a new word from God, a new touch from Him. Each time I approached, I sensed His loving, patient, yet firm tone saying: I have already told you what to do. It hasn’t changed.

For me, I’ve fallen prey to all these examples and whether I’ve realized it or not, my disobedience was an act of rebellion against God. Of course, none of us would admit to outwardly rebelling against God, but our actions speak in volumes what our intentions never could. That is why obedience can never come from good intentions. Obedience must come from something much stronger, from the very core of who we are, the thing that beats within us: Our heart.

Why We Obey

God told us himself through His beloved King David: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.”

God doesn’t need us to obey Him. He wants us to obey Him. It’s for our benefit, not His.
Throughout scripture, it is made clear: the only thing God is after is our heart. Not our religion. Not our actions. Not our works. Us. He’s after you. He longs to capture your heart and make you fall in love with Who He is because He knows He’s the best thing you could ever behold. It is out of that love relationship that obedience flows freely, and more easily. Not begrudgingly, or arduous, or out of duty, but from a place of awe and worship at what a magnificent and mighty God He is. Obedience to His voice is the overflow which pours from a life filled with love and devotion. When you start with love, obedience comes much easier.

It was through that love and devotion that I finally began to take steps toward obedience to the calling He’d given me. The intimacy I found with Him dissolved my pride. Falling in love with His heart gave me the courage I needed when I felt doubtful. The sacrifice He made inspired me when I felt lazy. But, best of all, is that His love drove out my fear. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear.” I’ll be honest. There are times the fear is still there, but the difference is that His love outweighs the fear, and drives my obedience. Obedience is the test of whether we live for God or not.

The good news for us: there will always be grace for disobedience. But what we need to remember is there might not always be the blessings that come with obedience.

For some of you, you’ll start today. God has already spoken. It hasn’t changed. For others, you may need to grow your love for Christ before those first few steps can happen. My prayer for anyone is that you will do the thing God has asked you to do, no matter when you start, or how long it takes you.

If we belong to Christ, our obedience belongs to Him as well. If he does not have our obedience, He doesn’t fully have us.

He speaks so He can be obeyed.

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Ghosts in Our Attic

Do you believe in Ghosts?

Last night I woke up to use the bathroom and I heard a strange noise coming from the kitchen. It wasn’t a normal house noise, it was calculated, happening every five seconds or so, like something or someone was tapping on the kitchen counter. Of course it could’ve been a mouse, but when the house is dark, and you’re half asleep your mind has a funny way of playing tricks on you. I quickly crawled back in bed, woke up my husband and told him what I heard. “It’s just my phone,” he said in a thick groggy voice. He probably wouldn’t even remember the conversation if I asked him about it now. I crawled deeper into his arms and tried to fall back asleep.

I don’t believe in ghosts. But I believe in evil spirits. Now, I’m not trying to scare anyone. Good and evil spirits are very real. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt a strange vibe in our house at night. Several times, my husband himself has woken up and prayed over us because of the feeling in the room. I don’t want to scare anyone, but I do want to bring awareness.

I remember the first time I learned how to take care of an evil spirit. I was probably 8, and we were heavily involved in a production at our church called “The Bride.” The Bride was a play about Jesus, God and the church, represented by a little girl. There were angles and demons and actors and dancers and lots of good looking make up to make everyone look real.

Me and my mom were walking down the hall one night and we ran into one of the demons actors. She was scary and I cowered behind my mom. The actor knelt down and told me a few words I haven’t forgotten to this day.

“You don’t have to be scared. All you have to do is say the name of Jesus and tell me to get lost and I have to obey.”

She went on to explain the power behind his name and how all demons, real and fake, were not anywhere near as powerful as Jesus.

I like remembering that. I like knowing that even if there are ghosts in our attic I have the power of getting rid of them with just one word. One Name.

I know I’m not the only person who’s ever experienced this. Share your thoughts on your own experiences and let us gain the boldness and power to protect ourselves, and our families from the attacks of the enemy.

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What Are You Waiting For?

I’ve learned a lot about waiting in my short life span of 23 years. But the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that in the waiting God can be trusted to bring about the best possible outcome. Maybe it won’t be the outcome you expect, but we can trust, that whatever it is, it is the best for us.

When I am struggling to trust God in something it helps me to take a look back on my past to see how God came through in other areas.

I can remember the first time I really learned to trust God with the outcome of a certain situation. I was raising money for a leadership trip overseas. I wrote support letters and saved all I could, but I was coming up short. Very short. It looked like I wasn’t going to be able to go. So I prayed and made the decision in my heart that if I was supposed to go on the trip, the money would come. Two days before the money was due, my uncle Paul gave me a check for $2,000. It paid for my trip in full with more than enough left over so I could help a friend with his money as well. God came through. Yes, it was at the last minute but sometimes I think He gets a thrill out of sweeping in and rescuing us when it seems like there’s no hope. That way, there’s no mistaking who gets the recognition for making it happen.

Another friend of mine tells the story of how she and her husband couldn’t get pregnant. For seven years they prayed and tried everything to conceive but nothing happened. When they gave the situation up to God and decided to trust Him with the outcome, they ended up pregnant, two weeks after a pastor prayed over them to conceive. My friend tells me that during those seven years she ministered to many people bringing them to Christ. If she had been a mother earlier, maybe those people wouldn’t have followed her in prayer to receive Christ.

So, what are you waiting for? Most of the time it is in the waiting that God teaches us to trust Him. The problem is we might miss the lesson because we’re too caught up in what we think is best.

What are you waiting for? Think back over your past and recall those times God came through for you. Has He ever let you down?

What are you waiting for? Do you need to drop your worry at His feet and decide in your heart that whatever it is will happen if it’s what God wants for you?

What are you waiting for? “We know that God works all things for the good of those who love Him…”

What are you waiting for? Trust Him.

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Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast

Last week we took some vacation time and headed up to Colorado. There’s nothing quite like the crisp cool air and the mountain range scenery that puts you right at ease. There’s also nothing quite like a 17 mile hike–remind me next time that when I go on vacation, I need to actually go on vacation. But that’s a whole other blog post.

Cody, our friend Troy, my brother Jacob and I embarked on the trail early one morning. The air was cool and I was wearing a jacket, but it didn’t take but five minutes of walking up steep ravines with a 30 pound pack on my back to work up a good sweat. The jacket came off and I settled in for who knew how long!

After about two and a half hours of walking I was getting pretty tired. I was at the back of the group, a good two to three minutes behind the leaders. Cody of course stayed with me and as we were walking up a rather steep climb he said something that stuck with me.

“Take your time. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.

Interesting. As I made it up the mountain and around the winding trails I thought about how true that phrase is for life. For someone who tends to always do things fast, it was a great reminder for me that slowing down and making sure each step counts, is actually a better way to live than trying to rush through everything. I drew a parallel to almost anything I could think of that people deal with in life and this phrase fit them all perfectly.

Training for some big race? Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast. You have to work up to your goal over time. You can’t just run as fast as you can and expect to condition yourself.

Single and wising you weren’t? Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast. You can’t just start dating the first guy or girl that comes along because you don’t want to be alone. Take it slow and figure out who you are first.

Writing a book? Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast. Writing is a process of discovery. If you try to rush into it you may miss something vital to your story.

Parenting a toddler? Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast. You’re probably not going to see the fruit of your labor right at the beginning, but over time, with lots of hard work, prayer and probably tears, as you commit your children to God you will see what they will become. I’m not a parent, but I am a daughter.

Waiting for a job? Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast. Listening to God’s direction and being patient is the only way to make it through this seemingly dry spot in your life. It might also be the time when God is trying to do the most in your heart as you trust Him with the next step.

Dissatisfied with your life? Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast. Like me on the mountain trail, we have to make sure every step counts. Don’t fall for the quick gimmicks. Nothing in life worth anything happens fast. Put in the hard work, follow God’s direction and overtime you will walk into your purpose.

What about you in your current stage of life? Do you need to adopt the motto that Slow is Smooth and Smooth is Fast? You never know how it might help you make it up the mountain of your life and come to the other side to the beautiful view that awaits you.

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Please, Tell the Truth

When I was younger I told a lie. Ok, so I told lots of lies and most of those lies were told so I wouldn’t get into trouble. The problem was, every lie I told got me into deeper trouble when the lie was found out. Because the lie is always found out. The truth always has a way of surfacing given enough time.

You know that feeling you have when you tell a lie? It’s almost as if you float out of your body and watch yourself. You get this quick sweaty feeling all over your body and your heart rate picks up a few notches. You wait, holding your breath to see if the lie was a success and when you realize it was, you want to let out that breath, but can’t. You end up holding that breath for weeks, maybe years, you hold it for as long as the lie lasts because you know at any moment it could be found out and then it would all be over.

I remember the way it feels when you finally decided to tell the truth. You let that breath go and this enormous weight lifts off your shoulders. You realize life on the right side of truth isn’t so bad and you ask yourself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

The truth is always the best rout to take. Even if you think a lie will save you from trouble or embarrassment, imagine the trouble or embarrassment you’ll have to face when that lie is found out. Because the lie is always found out. The truth always has a way of surfacing given enough time.

Please, tell the truth. It’s the right thing to do.

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The Power of Community

“Community is the catalyst for life-change.” I stole this quote from a good friend and co-worker, Robert Davis who is our LifeGroups and Missions Pastor. He couldn’t be more right.

I started a life group over three years ago in my little one bedroom apartment. People came and people left, but the ones who stuck became the core of our group. We’ve been together for over three years and the relationships we’ve built have been life-changing. I met and got to know my husband through life group. Another couple also met and are now married due to the group. My best friends are in the group, but we didn’t start out as friends. It took time, patience and intentionality to grow into what it is now.

One of my favorite stories is about a guy named Kelley. When he started coming to the group he was sporadic. He’d come one week and then we wouldn’t see him for the next three. Kelley suffered a seizure and because of that his drivers license was taken away. Not being able to go anywhere on his own, his parents started bringing him to life group every week. We began to build a relationship with Kelley.

One week, I asked if he would lead the group. He was hesitant telling me he’s never really done anything like that before. I told him it would be ok, and to pray and ask God to show him what to share. The next week, Kelley came with an amazing lesson. Later, he shared with me that it had been the first time in a long time to open his Bible to get ready for the lesson. Since then, our group has been able to hold Kelley accountable to reading his Word and growing in Christ. Kelley is now starting his own life group at our Yukon Campus where he lives!

Community is the catalyst for life-change. God used our relationship with Kelley to mold and shape him as he molded and shaped each one of us.

I encourage you, if you are not in some kind of Biblical community, find one! I know it can be hard to find the one that fits, but when you do the life-changing benefits far out-weight the search.

Community changes lives. Are you living in community?

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Building or Breaking?

BuildingWhich one are you in?

Over the course of my 23 years of life I’ve discovered our life will always fall into two categories: Building or Breaking.

Building—This is when things are fun! Opportunities seem to knock on every door and every window. The direction of your life seems laser focused, and you wake up with a sense of joy and anticipation for the things to come. This is when you are building toward a goal, or vision that God has placed in your life!

Breaking—This is when things are painful. Sometimes it feels like NOTHING is happening and nothing WILL happen for the rest of your life! You don’t feel like you have any real direction, and sometimes it feels as if every breath takes effort. If you’re smart, this is the place where you cling to God with everything in you. But sometimes it’s the place where your faith feels like it’s hanging on by a thread!

I’ve experienced both seasons of building and breaking. Right now, I’m in the building stage. But here is a truth that you should never forget: Without the breaking season of life, the building season would never be possible!

Share your thoughts on why that is! What season are you in right now?

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Lost Virtues–Truth

In our day and age, truth is a lost virtue. No longer is there an absolute truth. Truth is more of a relative term, to mean anything the believer wants it to mean. If it’s truth to them, than it’s truth. Blue Pen

Truth–noun: the true or actual state of a matter; conformity with fact or reality; agreement with a standard or original.

When we look at the word Truth, we see that it’s meaning points to something. It must point to a standard or an original idea, item or origin, otherwise, why would we need to measure for truth?

An example would be to take a blue pen, that is the original item before us. The truth of the matter is that the pen is blue. You can’t say that the pen is red, because that would not be true. However, many people, especially from my perspective in working with students, will try to argue that the pen is red. Why? Because they don’t want to believe in an absolute truth.

Taking the meaning a bit deeper, let’s use the Bible for our standard of Truth. Hopefully if you are a Christ-follower this is what you use for your standard of truth. But sadly many professed Christ-followers would admit that the Bible does not represent absolute truth for them. Truth is truth. Truth is not what you make it. Unless of course you’re believing lies.

There is a whole other angle we can come at with this subject. Many of you know my passion for truth as it pertains to freedom from insecurity. To know and believe the truth about yourself is to be free. The truth really does set you free, as the Bible says. But knowing truth, and believing truth are two separate things. Do you know the truth of who you are and who you were created to be? Do you believe that truth and are you walking it out in your life? Or are you stuck, with lies blurring your vision of the truth? No wonder we struggle so much with believing truth! We first have to believe in an absolute truth before we can believe the truth about who we are.

Truth is a lost virtue. But we desperately need truth! What can we do to get it back?

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Freedom is a Paradox

Are you free? I guess that would depend on how you look at the question. If you live in the United States, you would the_bird_cage_escapeanswer that question with a yes, since it is a free country. But even then, would it really be true?

What I’m talking about is personal freedom. Freedom from our personal addictions, freedom from our vices, freedom from our insecurities, freedom from those things that hold us back. I’m afraid a lot of us would say that we are not free from those things. But even if we were, would we really be free?

I guess that depends on how you look at freedom. What does it mean to be truly free? Is there even such a thing? You see, freedom is a paradox. The more liberated you become of something, the more controlled you will become to something else.

Take these ideas for example:

  • Let’s say you’d like to win freedom over laziness. To win freedom over laziness the more controlled by discipline you will become.
  • What about self-indulgence? If you want freedom from self-indulgence, you’ll have to become more enchained to self-control.
  • Instead of being a slave to sin, we have to become slaves of righteousness.–Ro. 6:15-19

Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey? –Ro. 6:16

So which is it for you? Are you free in the freedom that brings life, or are you enslaved to the things that you obey?

Freedom is a paradox.

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Which Side of Need Are You On?

NeedI heard a great message yesterday from a pastor at HillSong church, in Austrailia.  He asked a great question that I think many of us need to realize for ourselves:

Which Side of Need Are You On?

He explained that there are two sides to Need:

Needy and Needed

Are you a needy person. Do you live your life with the attitude of “what can people do for me?”

Are you a needed person. Do you live your life with the attitude of “What can I do for others?”

As mature Christ-followers it’s time we see ourselves as people who are needed. We are ministers first and foremost, no matter what organization pays our salaries. We are here to be used of God to meet the needs of others.

Which Side of Need Are You On?

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