Monday, February 23, 2015

input and output

mark 7:1-20

it’s an issue of the heart. it’s not what you put into you. it’s not the traditions, the externals, the legalistic rituals that poison you. it’s your heart. it’s what’s already in there. sin is so much more than what you do. what you do flows from the sin that’s in us already. it’s deep and cancerous. it requires spiritual surgery.

that’s why we depend on the work of jesus. that’s why we need the holy spirit.

now, the counterpart to this is that it still matters what you put into yourself. your religious actions and practices don’t make you right before god. your faith in jesus makes us righteous and clean. but what we do affects our hearts. and jesus is aiming at the heart.

he wants our hearts.

once we have established that he cares about our hearts more than our actions, it leads us to the externals. why?

our actions affect our hearts. our relationship with him.

our input affects our output.

if you don’t meditate on the word of god, you won’t know god’s voice in your heart. if you don’t surround yourself with community, you won’t experience god’s love for you through the local church and his bride. if you don’t worship the lord, you won’t remember and have the faithfulness and peace of the lord resonating from deep inside you and overflowing into praise. these things don’t save us. but these things do affect us. 

this is the difference between traditions and disciplines. traditions keep god at a distance and trick us into thinking we can save ourselves.

disciplines come from loving the lord and doing whatever we can to know him more and more, knowing deep down that what we do with our bodies and our lives deeply affects our hearts and relationships with him. 

and as we know deeper and deeper. as we experience him more and more. our lives are radiant. our actions are different. a transformed heart leads to a transformed life. your behaviors flow out of a deep reverence and love for your father.

you read because you love. you love because you read. you worship because you know his joy. you know his joy because you worship. 

it’s a beautiful cycle. the love for the lord inspires a longing and desire for more of him. and our lives change and flow out of that. this is following christ. this is picking up our crosses. this is true love!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

don't stop risking now

what's up.

i guess it's been another year. a little longer. february now haha.

what a crazy year it's been.

i became a worship leader at rockharbor church. i finished worship academy. i went to uganda and did amazing things with amazing people. i got married to thuy. i've been built up. i've been let down. but through it all, my god has been faithful and with me in every single moment.

i can't believe i'm here. i can't believe that this is my actual job. to be able to lead people in worship and work in the church. it's a dream come true. it's what i wanted for so long. my first day on the job, nick fox and some other good friends had a worship time in the office. i sat on the floor and wept as i was overcome by how good my god was to me. i had a picture of him holding my hand the whole time that i was waiting for an answer from him. i couldn't stop. i was just overwhelmed by my father's love. i've always known that my father loved me but in this moment, i was overcome by it. 

gary read a scripture over us in that meeting. a scripture that i will always remember and one that i've been praying over people all year. psalm 91. "he will cover you with his feathers. he will shelter you with his wings. his faithful promises are your armor and protection." and it goes on. this is my god. the god who protects me and fights for me.

nick said something to me that day. i'm still holding onto it now. something that i can't stop holding onto. because if i don't hold onto it, i'll stagnate. i'll lose my zeal. i'll stop depending on god. i'll get comfortable. he told me, "don't stop risking now."

we finished academy. we made it through. the long mornings and the afternoon sessions. the lunches and the talks. i'm so proud of the people that i got to journey with those months. god's taken us to different places and is continuing to work in different ways. subtle and extreme. but i'm so thankful to have been able to journey and be loved on by those people. to see faith in action. 

speaking of faith in action, we went to uganda! i don't even know where to begin. god came through! i was able to raise all the funds needed and actually went over! we landed, we held worship nights, we prayed with the local church, we ministered in the villages, we brought health care, i counted pills in the pharmacy, i got sick, like really, really sick, we made amazing friends, we almost got crushed in a sea of thousands of people, we got really sweaty dancing for hours on end, we heard the gospel shared in a bunch of languages, we visited prisons, we heard people sing, and it was amazing. i can't believe that i got to do all of that with such great people. i will always remember.

and then a week after we got back, i got married. =] i'm seriously married to my best friend. i don't know who else i could have ended up with that gets me as much as she does. we fight. of course we fight. but god is so faithful and good to us and humbles me so much so that i can love thuy better and better each day. and she's grown so much too. she's graduated from nursing school. she's passed her licensing exam. and now she's working at st. joseph's hospital in orange and is 2 months in! it's so crazy. 

god has been so faithful. i can't stop praising him for how amazing he's been to us.

looking back on my old posts, though. i'm so glad that i learned how to praise him in the unknowing and the doubt. i'm so glad that i learned how to sing in the middle of the hurt and the pain. it is the foundation, the faith, that i sing praise with now. my god is good through the trials and through the blessing. my god has always been worthy of my praise and will continue to be worthy no matter what happens in our futures!

so that was a tiny little glimpse into this amazing year. and here we are in february. 

sitting. praying. considering. meditating.

i need jesus. i need you lord. more than ever before. every day i need you more. here we are looking into the future. looking into the unknown. am i called to stay here forever? are you leading me elsewhere? i see the things that you've put on my heart, lord. i know the things that you've set on fire in me. i can't put them out. as much as i try, the people in my life won't let me. they know that the spark was yours. that's why they won't let it burn out. they won't let me settle. 

they won't let me stop risking.

here's to risk. here's to an increased faith and dependence on the living god. here's to stepping out to see him move in ways that i could have never even dreamed or imagined. here's to an increased capacity to trust in him so i can show others how to trust in god. here's to the kingdom and the adventure of the unknown. but also the assurance that god is with us as we go to make disciples. to train believers in the faith. to send them out and do the same. 

i want to see the kingdom. i want to see a movement. i want to see a kingdom movement. 

the amazing thing is, it's already happening. it's been happening before time began. god knows what he's doing. and it's so amazing that we get to come along with the father and be a part of what he's doing. =]