Finding Two Norths

2011 was the year that YWAM changed everything. 2017 was the year I learned why.

I had a nagging voice in my mind telling me that there was more to living as a Christian than simply being one.

I once was a very condensed person who had a very condensed view of God. I had never gone anywhere crazy or done anything that challenged my understanding of life. I was a stereotypical southern kid who liked the outdoors and longed for adventure. I mocked kids my age who wore skinny jeans and abhorred any type of tea that was not cold and sugary. I had a nagging voice in my mind telling me that there was more to living as a Christian than simply being one. I was discontent, out of shape, a bit insecure, and uncontrollably curious.

Yep, it was utopia. An epic odyssey waiting to happen. To me, at least. There was never an old wizard who showed up at the house with a curled finger, grey hat, and a plan to save the world. Instead, I got a call from a man named Nathan at the YWAM base in Montana. He told me that I had been accepted into a newly created program, called the Endurance Discipleship Training School (EDTS).

The time I spent backpacking with EDTS became a point of reference in my life.

What followed was five months of exploring and growing in very personal ways. The time I spent backpacking with EDTS became a point of reference in my life. Like a compass, it helped me identify that in faith there are two different Norths: true and truer. This concept helped mark my inaugural journey away from home as something not just pivotal, but personal. It was sacred and nobody could convince me otherwise.

For years, church and faith had felt the same; they only happened on Sundays and the rest of the week they were kept separate. In YWAM, every day was church and faith and it felt real.

Discovering unexplored places, having dirt stuck between my toes, and wearing clothes that increasingly got baggier was like a cleanse of my soul. I could walk and talk with God freely and not be worried about what he thought of me. In learning more about Jesus and living in a community that pursued Him, I found a way beyond my previous view of life. This life was not of routines, and achievements, but of genuineness, where the things you have held onto for ages finally slip through your fingers and you are finally able to accept who you truly are.

When EDTS finished, I remember thinking I would only be happy if I could have stayed.  On my flight home from Montana, I told myself I would come back. I would pack up my life and move back out West because that is where my purpose was. But I didn’t. I never could. There was a truth that had been planted in my heart from all those months of traveling. It took awhile to take root but when it did, I came to see that the best way to know (and be known by) other people is to know God intimately. Everything else pales in comparison to watching Him work through mysteries. I dared to believe that Jesus was close to me everywhere. And I found my peace after that.

I cannot soon repeat, or ever forget, the days spent at YWAM Montana, for there, I discovered what it means to truly know God.

My hope is that in reading this, you will understand that valuable things are scarce. That you do not have to be in YWAM, or go back to it, to know God. Going through EDTS a second time would not somehow magically bring me to a closer place with God (although it could). If I learned anything during my DTS experience, it is that a masterpiece never happens twice; the Sistine Chapel is what it is, and there is beauty in just having one in Rome. In the best way possible, I side-stepped becoming the person I had initially thought I was meant to be. I did not choose to follow what was true, I found something truer. I ended up resting in the knowledge of God and his nature which reminds me that my destiny is something not fulfilled by my own will. I do not rely on my own achievements or even my geographical location. I cannot soon repeat, or ever forget, the days spent at YWAM Montana, for there, I discovered what it means to truly know God.

 

What is your North?  If you think it might be a Discipleship Training School (DTS), apply here!

The DTS offers 5 months of growing deeper with God and impacting the world with the gifts God has given you.

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Overcoming Shame

Shame. The word itself causes a physical reaction. The cringing feeling of discomfort. The instant pain of embarrassment.  The, “Oh no! Don’t get too close!”, feeling. It is a silent enemy because there is no clear ability to tell who is struggling with shame from the outside. It is the internal battle between who we are and who we think we need to be.  According to psychologist Brené Brown, over 90% of women experience shame about their bodies. However, other categories of shame include: identity, parenting, health, aging, and the ability to speak out with confidence.

Shame tells us how we are supposed to live and who we are supposed to be while simultaneously revealing our failure to meet those expectations.

Brené Brown defines shame as, “the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.” Shame tells us to put value in what other people think. When we do this, we can lose ourselves in the process of trying to meet the expectations of others. Shame tells us how we are supposed to live and who we are supposed to be while simultaneously revealing our failure to meet those expectations. The result is fear, blame and ultimately disconnection.  Shame tells us we cannot share or change the things we dislike about ourselves. Therefore, the negative things we say about ourselves become something we start to believe.

So how do we overcome the monster of shame?

 

PURSUING VULNERABILITY

Vulnerability is the first step in breaking down the power of shame. This is a difficult step because our culture equates vulnerability with weakness. However, voicing our shame does the opposite, it causes our shame to wither.  It is important to find a small group of people you can be vulnerable with who you can trust. It is good to set expectations with one another and to remember that empathy is key. You should create an atmosphere that is is free from talking down or disqualification. The goal with vulnerability is not necessarily to try and fix one another’s situations but it is to provide a space to openly voice struggles and allow perspectives to change in the process.

ACCEPTING IMPERFECTION

Though imperfection, can cause many people to feel shame, striving too hard for perfection can also cause shame.

The second step in overcoming shame is giving yourself the ability to be imperfect. Though imperfection, can cause many people to feel shame, striving too hard for perfection can also cause shame. According to Brené Brown, the problem of perfection is that it causes an unwillingness to look back at our own actions with understanding and compassion. The solution is to focus on improvement, by focusing on self-worth despite imperfection. Surrounding oneself with a group of people who can affirm and value us as imperfect people also allows change to be possible.  

REMEMBERING YOUR ORIGINAL DESIGN

When we can present our authentic and imperfect selves to the world, that is when true belonging becomes possible.

The third step, and possibly the most important, is remembering who God says we are:  We are; beloved (Romans 9:25), a treasured possession (Deuteronomy 7:6), His child (John 1:12; Romans 8:17), free (Galatians 5:1), redeemed (Ephesians 1:7), restored (1 Peter 5:10; Colossians 1:13), and forgiven (Hebrews 10:17; 1 John 1:9).  When we see ourselves as God does, the opinions of others lose their power to control how we see ourselves, and we can simply be who we are. When we can present our authentic and imperfect selves to the world, that is when true belonging becomes possible.

This blog was based on the book, “I Thought it was Just Me,” by Brene Brown. 

 

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Look Up

A spoken word by Mandie Messerschmidt

I’m Drowning.

Where am I?

I look around and I am drowning in a pool of fear and doubt.

I look to my left and I see the dollar signs that are so closely following me. I panic. How did they find me even here?

Trying to find relief…  I look to my right and see the mirror. The mirror that’s followed me all of my life. The exposure of all my inadequacies; of heart and mind. It tells me that it is my true reality.  It taunts me. It haunts me.

My head begins to spin and my heart begins to race. I’m drowning.

How did I get here? This is not okay.

There is something wrong, surely I’ve come to the wrong place.

People tell me, when you are in the will of God there will be peace… that’s it…  I must have come to the wrong place.
I heard you wrong.
Unless… you… did you put me in this pool that will surely bring the end?

When? Why? How?

Too many questions in my head! I’m drowning.

Where are you? No seriously where are you?!
I thought you were good! I thought I could trust you!

I’m drowning in questions. I’m drowning in doubt. Oh God, if you could only see your daughter now.

When the going gets tough, I know I’m not enough.
The mirror shows me the truth.
Spiritually, emotionally, physically… I’m a weed. There’s no room for growth.

I’m drowning in my doubt. Left, right, left…. (sigh) right…. There’s no place to look.

Where are you?

That’s when You say, look up.

Tears are running down my face. My tears are filling this pool that surely is my fate…
Frozen in this pool of fear and doubt. This is it… there’s no way out.

I begin to drown and I hear you scream,

MY DAUGHTER JUST LOOK UP!!!
I promise I am enough.

I don’t know how but your words wake me from the destruction that so closely entangles me.
And I see that there is only one way out.

Slowly, slowly, slowly my head begins to move.
As my head moves I see the dollar signs fighting their way to me.. I begin to tremble.
As my head moves I see the mirror trying to reflect all that I’ve been… all that I am.

Up, up, up… my head moves up.

And then in a glorious moment my eyes are locked with yours.

You look at me. Grace. Kindness.

I look into your eyes…. It can’t be…. Do I even see love.

I promise I am enough.

My daughter. Don’t doubt.

Moving me into reality.

Moving me into reality, the dollar signs vanish. All debt has been paid.

Moving me into reality the mirror shatters.

All I am allowed to see… are the things you do…. Beauty and grace. A daughter loved and free. I’m not a weed… you blossom me.

Reality. Is. You.

They can’t stand against you.

Holding me you whisper:
I promise I am enough.
I won’t let you drown.
I define you.

Why do I doubt? Why do I think you’ll allow me to drown?

You are enough.
You won’t let me drown.
You, Yahweh, define me.

 

Are your circumstances causing you to doubt God? Are you worried you can’t trust Him?

 

Join us for a Discipleship Training School and learn what it means to ‘look up’ and know that God is for you and He is faithful!

 

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Jesus Didn’t Need the Approval of Others: 3 Ways to Avoid the ‘Approval Trap’

Jesus lived for the approval of one person only — the Father.  Throughout the Bible we see Him breaking down religious expectations and righteously breaking the rules of society while still fulfilling the law. He clearly demonstrated that gaining the approval of man was not His objective.

Salvation Over Reputation 

Jesus was much less concerned with the social status of Zacchaeus and He was much more concerned with the condition of his heart.

In the story of Zacchaeus, we find a rich, chief tax collector in Jericho. He was despised by the Romans because of his dishonest practices and was an outcast in his community. When Jesus was passing through his hometown, Zacchaeus was eager to see Him among the crowds. Though Zacchaeus was a reject among his peers, Jesus chose to call him out of the masses. Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house that night and many people (particularly the religious people) were displeased. It was offensive that Jesus would socialize with such a “sinner.” However, Jesus was much less concerned with the social status of Zacchaeus and He was much more concerned with the condition of his heart. Jesus led Zacchaeus to salvation that day to the glory of God (Luke 19: 1-10).  Jesus took one of the most despised people in town and chose to love Him. He clearly shows us that each individual is worth His love and forgiveness, regardless of who they are or what they have done. How many opportunities do we miss out to share the love of Christ because of outward perceptions or appearances?

Love Over Law

To heal him would be an act of compassion and love but it would also contradict the law.

In Mark 3: 1-6, Jesus visited a synagogue where there were many people. Among them was a man with a shriveled hand. Jesus questioned those around him to see whether it was lawful to heal this man on the Sabbath. To heal him would be an act of compassion and love but it would also contradict the law. The people were silent. In spite of the crowd’s disapproval, Jesus said to the crippled man, “Stretch out your hand.” When he stretched it out, his hand was immediately restored. Though the people had just witnessed a miracle, their hearts grew callous. Jesus chose to demonstrate the Father’s love and he healed a man. Jesus came to bring freedom from the law because he was the fulfillment of the law! Jesus always knew the right place and time to do miracles in order to teach a greater message. As Christians, we often shy away from doing radical things because we are afraid of receiving judgement from other people. What would it look like to put listening to God and loving people over keeping religious traditions?

Authenticity over Performance

In Luke 7:36-50, a pharisee (religious person) invited Jesus over for dinner. During their meal, a woman from the city came to visit him. She was a profound sinner and not welcome at the home of a pharisee. But she came anyways. At the sight of Jesus, she fell to the floor, weeping at His feet. As she wept, she washed the feet of Jesus with her tears. And as she washed his feet, she kissed them and anointed them with expensive perfume. The pharisee and his guests were in disbelief because Jesus had allowed such a sinful woman to touch him. However, Jesus was not offended by her sins — he was in love with her faith. Though she could have been publicly shamed for performing such an act, she believed that Jesus could rescue her. From the moment she entered his presence, she humbly knelt at his feet and he offered her forgiveness. She new the weight of her sins but she had faith that Jesus had the power to deliver. Regardless of the social humility she could have experienced, in humble adoration, she emptied herself before Jesus. Jesus, in the midst of dining with religious men, welcomed the woman not as a burden but as a friend and she received forgiveness. Jesus set her as an example to those in the room.

Again and again, we see Jesus doing radical things in the face of people that did not approve of Him or His actions.

Again and again, we see Jesus doing radical things in the face of people that did not approve of Him or His actions. Jesus stirred up society with passion and fire and gave no second thought to the opinions of others. He knew that even if people hated, accused, and mocked Him, He would obey the will of the Father.

By letting go of what others think of us, we can effectively start living out our full potential as kingdom and culture shakers. Here are 3 ways we can follow Jesus’ ultimate example and avoid the approval trap in our lives:

  1. Examine who you are trying to please and whose opinion ultimately matters.
  2. Always look further than yourself. Serve and love other people who are in need regardless of what others may think.
  3. Humble yourself. Strip away your pride and let people see the real you. Be honest with your shortcomings and liberate other people to do the same.

 

In what ways are you letting the opinions of others stop you from realizing the fullness of God in your life and the lives of others?

 

Come join us for a Discipleship Training School and learn how to find your identity in Jesus.

 

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The Crux of Self-pity

Within a rock climbing route, there is often one spot defined as the crux.  The moment of truth.  The technical portion that once one is able to move beyond it, they can be certain no part of the route will be as challenging as what they just passed.  The crux is the critical point of the feature that demands the most of the climber.  As I reflect on the idea of a crux, I am better able to see my current battle: the feature of self-pity.

Self-pity can be easily dismissed by most as a struggle they don’t have, yet I am sure that there are many thoughts we daily entertain which would fall under this category.  I have found self-pity to be perpetually knocking on the door of my mind in small, seemingly insignificant moments. When left unchecked or corrected with Truth, self-pity manifests itself in more critical junctures that affects my perspective on the people and circumstances around me.  The tendril of self-pity sinks deeper into the mind when left to its own devices.

Self-pity is a crux with two spelling variations: “Me” and “I”.

A knock so faint, I barely hear it – the irritation of always finding the garbage overflowing to the floor….so I re-bag the items and clean the mess.  The knock grows louder as situations are brought to my attention of people acting purely out of self interest and harming the group for the sake of themselves.  The knocking becomes more persistent as I dwell on the frustration of seeing people as immature or self seeking rather than self-sacrificing.  And there it is: the doorway is opened and with a fateful swoop “ME” enters the door and sits promptly in the center of the living room in my mind.  Me.  The self-seeking idea that insists, “’I’ deserve more than this, that ‘I’ shouldn’t always be the one mediating, ‘I’ shouldn’t have to parent and lead, ‘I’ should get a break…. I, I, I.”  Self-pity is a crux with two spelling variations: “Me” and “I”.  Both flow fluently through our minds and both find lodging in our hearts.  Both are equally poisonous and spoil how Christ has called us to live.

I find myself, on a route that promises to be incredibly fulfilling, life-giving and maturing, yet hanging on just below the crux.

So, here I find myself, on a route that promises to be incredibly fulfilling, life-giving and maturing, yet hanging on just below the crux.  As I eye this critical point, my practiced understanding of route finding immediately identifies the way to move beyond it:  I need Jesus.  I need Jesus desperately and with all that I am.  I need the richness of God’s mercy to bring this tendril of self-pity to death and bring new life in it’s place.  Self-pity has no place in my heart and mind, and while there are cracks and areas of weakness that it could potentially settle into and take root, I refuse to spread the welcome mat for the destructive vices that would move in with self-pity.

By the rich mercy of God, I have been united with Christ in his death and resurrection, through which I can anticipate and take joy in the life that WILL come forth from this open hearted cry to the Lord. This crux of self-pity will not be a technical feature by which I allow myself to be defeated and thrown down.  No matter the number of times I lose my focus, or my grip weakens and fingers begin to slide off of my place of progress, or legs begin to shake in fatigue from fighting upward, I will look at this crux of “Me” and ask Jesus to raise my eyes higher still.  I believe that through His rich mercy, I will walk in new life and later on find myself looking down at the crux in joy of having overcome it. Then with a deep breath I will continue to climb upward.

Some of my favorite routes are such because of the crux…

There are some climbing routes where the crux is at the beginning, some the middle and others the end.  Some of my favorite routes are such because of the crux, and I choose to climb them over and over until the crux is no longer the sticking point that still causes my adrenaline to race or my mind to fight for a way through it.  With practice, your body knows the demands of the crux and it no longer causes you to exert tremendous amounts of energy to move through it.  The practice of moving through the crux includes dismissing affirmations of others who see your efforts and chide others for their neglect.  Moving through it means that we consistently choose to act through the foundation of God’s love and servitude – who did not come to this world to be served but to serve and give His life as ransom for many (Mtt 20:28).  Will we choose to be conformed to the image of Christ even in painful acts of servitude, which require carrying our cross and dying to self, just as He bore all of our iniquities on the cross that we might have life (1 Peter 2:24). We have a choice to climb and persevere through the route, regardless of how many times we fall back down while attempting to move through it. We have a choice to be a victim or valiant.

I choose to be hopeful that while the crux of self-pity will still exist within my life, it doesn’t have to be a taxing and extremely challenging endeavor to climb through.  I will be able to look at it with victory already shining in my eyes because Jesus has delivered me and He will yet again.  The faithfulness of Jesus far outweighs the anticipation of the crux that presents itself.

 

FINDING YOURSELF STUCK AT A CRUX THAT’S KEEPING YOU FROM WALKING IN THE FULLNESS OF THE LIFE JESUS PROMISED?

COME JOIN US FOR A DISCIPLESHIP TRAINING SCHOOL TO LEARN HOW TO LET GOD HELP YOU THROUGH EVEN THE MOST DIFFICULT ROUTES. 

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Can WE change lives?

Reaching out.

In the past 6 months, I’ve seen this phrase play out in Scripture repeatedly. In Luke chapter 8 Jesus was on his way to the ruler of the Synagogue’s house to heal the ruler’s deathly ill daughter. As they rushed through the crowded streets to reach the young girl, there was a woman who sought out to find Jesus. She had been sick for over a decade, and as she saw him she reached out for his cloak. This was an act of complete faith. She believed that merely touching the Messiah would bring her healing – and it did. As soon as she touched him, she was healed. Jesus then sought the woman out of the crowd, knowing that someone had touched his cloak.  This story shows us that in the middle of all the busyness, Jesus stops. This woman would have been just as in awe of Him if all she received was healing, but Jesus stopped to acknowledge her, to call her daughter, and to tell her that her faith has made her well.

Reaching out, in its most vulnerable form is sticking out your hand and waiting faithfully for someone to grab ahold of you.

Before my involvement with ministry, my definition of “reaching out” would have been casually saying “Hey I’m here if you need to talk!” But let’s be real, that’s an invitation that, unless said genuinely, is hardly ever taken up on. In the past year and a half, my definition of reaching out has been redefined. I would define it as a bit more literal. Reaching out, in its most vulnerable form is sticking out your hand and waiting faithfully for someone to grab ahold of you.

In Thailand, I experienced reaching out in a way that shook me to my core. While working with the Ruth Center, a ministry committed to investing into the elderly in the slums of Bangkok. Towards the end of my two months in Thailand, I prayed that God would break my heart for what breaks His and that he would allow me to see the Thai people with his eyes. The following morning, I’d almost wished that I hadn’t prayed so boldly because God fulfilled my request in a very real way.

We stood frozen for what felt like hours, hands shaking and hearts breaking for the practically dead woman lying in front of us.

It was a normal day of ministry where we went to the slums and would talk with the elderly people living there. When we were there, my translator pointed to a small shed, telling us that there was a woman there that we could choose to either go see or to keep walking to the next house. I looked at my friend Carly, and without words we both knew that we needed to go see this woman. As we climbed over piles of metal scraps and garbage to this tiny shack, we questioned how it was even possible that someone lived there. We approached the opening of the shed and laying on the ground was a woman. She was naked and frail, her skin was dry and she laid on the hard wooden ground, covered in her own feces. We stood frozen for what felt like hours, hands shaking and hearts breaking for the practically dead woman lying in front of us. In that moment, we had no idea how to pray. We had no idea how to tell this woman that there is hope in Christ and that he wants to save her.

On my own I would have left and run the other way out of fear from what I’d seen…

In one moment I was outside of the shed looking in, and in the next I was on my knees next to her. I tried to give her water but she couldn’t sit up, she choked the water right up and laid coughing in front of me. Out of a total lack of words to say, I grabbed her hand and her blind eyes seemed to have looked right at me… But it wasn’t me that she saw. I believe that the woman saw Jesus that day. On my own I would have left and run the other way out of fear from what I’d seen, but praise Jesus that He is better than I am. He stepped in using my hands and feet to tell this woman that she is loved.

Since this day, the image of her hand replays in my mind. I dream of her and instantly grieve because of her need for Jesus. In studying the Word, God has shown me that this woman is a picture of the condition of which He sees His lost children. He has challenged me to look at the lost in the same way. At some point in each of our lives, we have all been in the condition of this woman in the slums. We are no better than the homeless man down the street, the murderer in prison or the prostitute on the corner because without Jesus we are all in the same condition of spiritual bankruptcy. We are lying in feces, frail, exposed, and absolutely blind without Him.

So what do we do about that? The answer is not all that profound. It’s actually pretty simple. Our response to humanity’s condition without Jesus should be to repeatedly fall face down on the ground in prayer and boldly ask God to show us how He sees His lost children.

Our Father loves us by giving us His time, by the touch of a hand and by speaking truth over us. There are lost people everywhere, some of them are in shacks tucked away behind garbage and others are right in front of our very eyes… Knowing this, we are called to love simply and to know that we are simply loved.

Lend somebody a hand, pray for a stranger and know that God will use the ways you reach out to restore hearts.

Wanting to see lives changed but realizing it’s not possible in your own strength?  

Come join us for a Discipleship Training School to learn how God sees His lost children and then watch as He works through you to restore hearts.

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Is Following Jesus Supposed to be This Scary?

…this has probably been the hardest and most uncomfortable process that I have ever willingly engaged in.

As I learn more about who God is and who I am, I release more and more control of my life. While this is liberating, and I am becoming more of who I was created to be, this has probably been the hardest and most uncomfortable process that I have ever willingly engaged in. Letting go requires trust. Although I do believe that God can at times gift us with faith, He most often draws us to Him through experience and through choice. No miraculous feelings, just one soul choosing to grow ever closer to its Maker as they journey through life in this world together.  

Right now, there are still many areas of my heart where trust still hasn’t been grown by experience. So, I am scared and I worry. Each time God comes through. But, each time I am also presented with the opportunity to choose to trust Him, whether I feel that trust of not. Through this process, I have experienced more anxiety than ever before. Our culture seems to think that all good things come naturally. This idea has seeped into our spirituality and it leaves us doubting that God is good and that He is with us when things get hard.

But, that’s a lie.

Love doesn’t always feel good and it doesn’t always come easily.

If you look through the pages of the Bible, they are filled with examples of people choosing to trust God (or not) in very hard situations. Trusting Him is a guarantee that your life is in the hands of the Living God – who, out of love, sent His Son to die for you. But that’s not a guarantee of ease or a feeling of security. Love doesn’t always feel good and it doesn’t always come easily.

If you are feeling fear or anxiety in the face of an opportunity to relinquish control and trust God, whether that be with transition or relationships or anything else, let me encourage you…DO IT. He will be there. He won’t leave you, even if it hurts in the process.

 

Feeling anxiety over areas of your life you know God wants you to trust Him with? 


Come join us for a Discipleship Training School and build a solid foundation of trust in God that will help you through whatever difficulties life brings.

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Are You Willing To Pause If God Asks?

As I entered into 2017, I felt the Lord ask me to work on one thing this year:  to PAUSE. Pause is defined as “a temporary stop in action or speech” and while it’s easy to hit the pause button on my phone or computer… I’ve learned that it is REALLY hard to hit the pause button on my life.

If I’m being completely honest with you here, I entered 2017 with a lot of wants. I want to live closer to my family. I want a cozy home with a warm fire place. I want a job and a degree. I want to travel and see the world.

This question hit me like an arrow to the heart because I’m so quick to choose the world over the One who created it.

While I sat on my flight back to my life in Montana, God told me to stop and pause. In that pause, he asked me “Molly, what do you want more? Me or the world?” This question hit me like an arrow to the heart because I’m so quick to choose the world over the One who created it. These desires that I have are not bad (I’d say they’re pretty normal), but the one thing that each of those desires has in common is that they are linked to some sort of comfort.  I spend over sixty hours a week in His Word and still I find myself choosing the comforts of the world rather than the promises my Father has given me to be my comforter, my refuge, my peace and my stability.

The Lord gently revealed to me what was in my heart – my idolization of what I do not have and my inability to wait patiently on His promises. The reason that this is so convicting is because I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. I have seen Him heal broken bones, I have seen him grow out legs, I have seen Him baptize people in His love and I have seen Him speak to the hearts of people in Thailand who were seemingly unreachable. Through this heart check, the Lord asked that in my momentary pauses, I would look back on where He has been faithful and I’ve found that this list is never-ending.

I want to live in confidence that because He has been faithful, he will continue to be faithful.

The ways that I’ve seen God’s faithfulness in my life have left me with one desire that triumphs over them all and that desire is for more Jesus. I want to leave each week thinking, “Man, Jesus, you are SO much better than I thought you were!” I want to see the tiny glimpse of His plans that He’s revealed come into full picture. I want to live in confidence that because He has been faithful, he will continue to be faithful.

So as I pause, as I stop and take the time to listen to my Father, I am reminded that He is the King of perfect timing and His plans are seriously so much greater than mine. He restores and redeems. He is light and life. He is sustainer, creator, and friend. He brings reconciliation and forgiveness.  He is worthy of my life and my time.

He is DEFINITELY worth pausing for.

Are you in need of pausing your life to spend time focusing on God?


Take a leap of faith and join us for a Discipleship Training School to spend 5 months discovering how worthy God is of your time and attention.

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How Do You Figure Out What To Do Next?

“Lord, you are my portion and my cup of blessing; you hold my future. I will bless the Lord who counsels me – even at night when my thoughts trouble me.” – Psalm 16:5,7 CSB

As a people who have been redeemed, a people who have embraced the turn from one way of life to another, I find it odd that Christians (myself especially) seem to be no less averse to change and transition than the rest of the world. The fact that people can change, not just direction but literally become a “new creation” is to me, one of the greatest gifts God gave us apart from himself. A.W Tozer says it so beautifully: “yet as much as we may deplore the lack of stability in all earthly things, in a fallen world such as this the very ability to change is a golden treasure, a gift from God of such fabulous worth as to call us to constant thanksgiving.”

 In moving from one thing to the next, our instinct is to know what it is we are moving towards.

I love lists. I love spreadsheets. I make rough-drafts of my grocery lists, and then re-organize them by the path I naturally take through the store (always counter-clockwise) so that I never have to double back. To say that waiting on God for direction isn’t something that comes naturally to me is a slight understatement. Transition seems to be a somewhat innocuous word that brings with it some rather frightening terms: Calling. Vision. Destiny. Fulfillment. Purpose. In moving from one thing to the next, our instinct is to know what it is we are moving towards. What’s my destination? It’s so easy to relate to David and the above psalm. Who hasn’t been kept awake at night with thoughts of “what next?” We can’t think of it without thinking about what we are meant to do, who we are meant to be, what our purpose on the earth is. This is heady stuff, the stuff that keeps you up at night. So how do we move forward?

My mother-in-law said something to me once that forever changed the way I make decisions. “The will of God is not a tightrope. It’s a field.” Doesn’t something inside you just immediately breathe deeply at those words? Sometimes, it’s the amazing stories of faith that have left me paralyzed on that tightrope. I remember once hearing about a missionary who realized they had a birthmark that was the exact shape of Africa. They walked into their destiny knowing they were physically marked for the work God had created them to do. I remember studying my own birthmark, willing it to look like somewhere, anywhere. It looks like I dripped chocolate ice cream on my leg. Drat.

What if I started to replace this almost-mythic idea of destiny as a destination, with obedience as a daily way of life to a God I can fully trust with my future?

I have found that transition done well in my life has looked less like a miraculous intervention and more like simple day-to-day obedience. I believe and love those incredible stories, but what if, instead of falling asleep begging God for a letter in my mailbox (preferably on Heaven’s letterhead) saying, “Dear Melanie, do these things in this order. Everything will be okay. I love you. Xoxo, Jesus” I woke each morning with the thought, “Jesus, how can I be obedient to you today? How can I trust you more?” What if I started to replace this almost-mythic idea of destiny as a destination, with obedience as a daily way of life to a God I can fully trust with my future? I believe in goals, I believe in knowing where you want to go and having a plan to get there. I’ve just been challenged lately with whether I’m trusting God with that path. Sometimes to climb a mountain, you have to walk the switchbacks.

I had a teacher who once said (and I’m paraphrasing), “When you get to those points in your life where you don’t know what you’re supposed to do next, go back to the last thing you’re sure that God said and check to see if you’ve been obedient to that.” Perhaps the next step in your life involves laying something down before you can move forward. Perhaps there is someone you need to extend forgiveness to. Perhaps you simply need to stay the course and complete a difficult season well.

He’s not going to promise us abundant life and then make it nearly impossible to find.

God is so faithful. He knows how to get you where you need to go. He’s not going to promise us abundant life and then make it nearly impossible to find. He’s not being coy. It’s likely that if I am feeling stuck, the problem is with me. With my desire to see everything as perfectly linear and to make the will of God follow a tightrope or fit on a spreadsheet. There’s so much room in his will to be who God created us to be. Frederick Buechner (whose thoughts on calling and vocation are so much better than my own) said, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” If that’s true, then the options in that are endless, and perhaps none of them are “wrong”. What do you love? How could you use it to benefit someone else, and see the Kingdom of God expand?

Buechner also says, Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”

Psalm 16 goes on to say, “Therefore my heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; my body also rests securely. For you will not abandon me to Sheol; you will not allow your faithful one to see decay. You reveal the path of life to me.”

In the middle of a difficult transition? Or trying to figure out what’s next and what your purpose is? Come join us for a Discipleship Training School to spend time learning about God and His plans for you!

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