growing closer to god

The Love of the Cross

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I recently had the opportunity to share at our Good Friday service about what the Love of the Cross  means to me and how it has affected my life. Below is what I shared.

When I think of the cross, I think of God’s love for us. The love of the cross involves God giving things only He could give and paying a price none of us could understand. I love my children beyond anything that words can explain. I would give my life for them. It is not likely that I would willingly give them as a ransom for others. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave his only son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” When I think of the love of the cross I think of the nature of what the Father gave and why He gave it. I can’t even imagine what that must of been like to give His son for our ransom.

When I think of God’s love, I think about His love in my life. God so loved me that He gave His Son so that I could have everlasting life, now, and in the future. That understanding changes my whole perspective and it impacts the way I think and feel about myself and others. For me, it is about a relationship. The love of the Father put Jesus on the cross so that my ability to freely relate to the Father could be restored. Because of my restored relationship with the Father, I stand here today, loved beyond measure and understanding, a completely different person than I once was. I have found where my value and worth come from. I am a daughter of God. Without Him, my significance would be limited, but with Him, I am more than enough. Because of Jesus, no matter what I go through, I know the Father is there and will see me through. And since Father God loves me with an unconditional and unwavering love, who am I to not love and value myself and others? His love has taught me what true love is and what it means to be valued. His loving kindness moves me to want to grow, to be transformed, and to become more like Jesus. The love of the Father as exhibited in the cross, makes me want to love others the way He loves me, and to help other people understand their value and worth before God.

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A Revelation of the Journey

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I started seeing my life as a timeline through the Lords eyes…

I think we all know that God is sovereign and that he knows the beginning to the end. However, I don’t think we always personalize it to our own lives and in each season of our life. I always knew that God knows it all and has a plan for my life. What I failed to see is how he has crafted the seasons and flow and path of my life as well. Like mile markers along the road or pages in a novel, my life has been laid out before me. Sometimes when I read a book, I like to jump around in the chapters. Go back and reread a section, jump forward to see how the story ends, I have often lived my life like this. Dwelling on the past, and worrying or fantasying about the future. I used to spend too much time looking forward or looking back. It caused me to miss many of the now moments that will never come again. Recently, I have come to have a new understanding of living in the now, trusting God with my future, and handing him my past. I am still in this process of letting God lead my life and walking in step with him. In the past, I have mostly either dragged my feet or ran ahead. Walking in step with him for me is like a dance, learning the steps, letting God lead, stepping in time with him and the music. This is a journey of revelation for me. I am not always the best follower in dancing and in life. You can just ask my hubby. But I am getting better day by day, and on some days, focusing on getting better moment by moment.

I used to spend too much time looking forward or looking back…

This particular revelation of the journey and seeing my life like a time line started in December 2013. I had been in a season of rest and the Lord said to prepare myself for the upcoming year. Then in January 2014, I felt the Lord asking me if I was ready. I didn’t answer, but the Lord continued. Soon I am going to ask you to take a leap of faith, and when I say jump, you really need to jump. I had heard similar things from the Lord before, so I began to prepare my heart. Going into that year, I had many things on my heart that I was trying to sort through and figure out. I was reading the Circle Maker by Mark Batterson and desperately wanted to see my faith increase. I was desperate for a move of God. I told the Lord that I would jump when he asked me to, but I asked him to make it evident that it was Him. I read about all the miraculous things that happened for Mark in his prayer walks and wanted more of that kind of “appointed times” for myself. Around that same time, I was serving as a youth group leader in senior high at my church. That year, they were planning on going to Haiti. In one of my last posts I shared about that journey. Going to Haiti was one of the points on my timeline for 2014. The point when I said yes I would go and then the point when I actually went. Another point on the timeline is when I went with a group of friends to see Dutch Sheets in Washington DC. It was an amazing night, and by happenstance, Dutch agreed to pray impartation over us (he rarely prays for people one on one these days). Upon leaving the church where he was speaking, I realized that it was one of Mark Batterson’s churches that I had just read about it his book. Wow. What a coincidence. But, no, not a coincidence, but an appointed time on my timeline from the Lord. This was the first moment that my eyes were beginning to open to the fact that I was walking on a path that God had laid before me since the foundations of time. Now I know you must be thinking, you had not realized that before? Well the answer is, I knew it in my head, but had not felt the significance in my heart. I was beginning to feel the significance. Also that year I went to Morning Star to a woman’s conference. I stood there on that property and read about their history. The Morning Star property use to belong to the PTL club from the eighties. I had watched the PTL club when I was twelve and first becoming hungry for more of God and now here I stood at the age of forty on the very property of the people I watched when I was twelve. It was another meeting of the moments on my timeline. Once again, I was feeling the significance in my heart for how God has laid out my path. At this point, I started to watch for the mile markers on my path.

I knew when you when you were in the womb…

I started seeing my life as a timeline through the Lords eyes. When I was in my mother’s womb, when I was four and full of wonder, when I was twelve and watching the PTL club, when I was twenty-five and a mother of three in the middle of depression, when I turned thirty and had a life changing encounter with Jesus. When I was forty at Morning Star. And even right now as I write this very blog post. I began to be changed forever. I had revelation as God began to speak. “See…. I knew. I knew when you when you were in the womb. I knew when you were twelve that you would be standing at Morning Star when you were forty. I knew when you were four and wanting grand adventures, that you would begin to go on mission trips in 2014. I knew what I was doing.” I began to trust the Lord whole heartily. I began to feel how important I am to him and how much my Father God loves me. It took my obedience to him, to a whole new level. I had asked him to make it evident to me that it was him when he asked me to jump, and he had. So when he asked me to “jump” and take a leap of faith I was ready to say yes. When the jump meant changing lanes in my life from real estate to ministry, I said yes, even though it was confusing and a hard decision, but I trusted him, because I knew that he knew best. Since 2014, I have had many encounters with the mile makers in my life. I have had many confirmations of God’s promises over me. I have changed lanes from a career in real estate to becoming a life coach and prayer minister in a remarkable time frame. Only God could have opened those doors. Only God could have laid this before me since the beginnings of time. I am still learning about my path and God’s sameness. The same yesterday, today and forever. I am still learning about his sovereignty.

God is not a respecter of persons…

At my current mile marker, I know I still have a lot to learn. This chapter of my novel has been full of learning. It has been exciting, refining, hard and sad at times, but full of adventure. I have been to Haiti, England, and Cameroon. I have been to the deep places in my heart where it was painful to go. I have had moments of pure unadulterated joy and freedom. Looking at my story so far, I realize just how much God has used all things to make me who I am today, the good choices, as well as the bad ones. It has made me realize I am worthy and free because I am his child. It has made me realize I am never alone because he is always there for me and has always been there with me. It has made me realize that I am loved because my Father God loves me unconditionally. It also makes me extremely excited about where I am now and where I am going in the future. This journey has taught me to rest and have peace. And on the days where I can’t find peace and rest, it reminds me of who I am and where my help comes from. It truly has been a revelation because these things are now in my heart. God is not a respecter of persons, so if you are missing the moments by focusing too much on the future or the past, ask God for revelation of your journey and who you are. If you are feeling unloved, insecure, afraid, alone, misunderstood, unworthy, depressed, anxious or just plain tired and exhausted, ask God for the revelation of how much you mean to him and how loved you are. Your life has significance. Your life is important. YOU are important. YOU are loved. YOU are not alone. God has all of your answers, he will be there for you, simply ask and listen.

Be Blessed My Friends,

Leah

Stop Waiting to Slow Down

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So having the flu or being sick at all pretty much sucks. I have been sick this past week and that has made me realize just how not in control of life we really are. It has also given me a significant amount of downtime to think about life and how much of it that I sometimes take for granted. It made me think of how I look at life. A few weekends ago, Leif Hetland came to our church and talked about the Father’s heart and love for us. He also talked about our viewpoint in life. He did a great visual using two chairs. Chair one being the kingdom view of life, with the focus on being what God is doing, and chair two being the soulish view of life, with the focus being  what God is not doing, how we feel about something or what the enemy is doing. It really impacted me. How often do I sit in chair one versus chair two?  How often do I have a small, selfish soulish view instead of a kingdom view? I have thought a lot about it this week in between, the coughing, the running nose, and well you get the point.

While trying to accomplish things from the couch and with a foggy head, I asked God to help me have a kingdom view. I was looking at our bills and trying very hard to remind myself that the Lord has a different perspective than I do.  One of the bills is rather large for us and is due in two weeks. After praying, I just felt the Lord say call them and ask for help. So I did. The lady who answered was very kind and immediately said “oh we can absolutely help you out. How about a four month plan to pay it off?”  I said yes and was on and off the phone within five minutes. I just sat there for a moment and just chuckled. Maybe things don’t always happen in my timing or how I want them to, but God has a plan. If I sit in chair one with him and ask about his kingdom view, my life has a lot more peace and rest in it. Maybe the biggest problem in my life is not my bills, raising kids, work, or figuring out my priorities list, maybe my biggest problem is spending too much time in chair two, with the small and soulish view of life, and trying to figure it all out on my own.  Maybe if I slowed down and spent more time with the Lord and asked for his kingdom view, I would spend less time worrying and feeling life’s pressures. I hope, from here on out, it doesn’t take the flu to slow me down enough to rest and visit with my Father in the Kingdom seat. From now on, I hope that I don’t wait to slow down. I hope that I take the time to rest and to spend time with the Lord in the Kingdom seat.

If you are stressed, worrying, or feeling life’s pressures, take a deep breath. Don’t wait to slow down, stop right now and ask for the Lord’s kingdom view.

Be Blessed my friends,

Leah

What Do You Worship?

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The Bible tells us to not have any idols before us. (Exodus 20:4-5) But what do we think about
when we talk about idols? A golden calf? A carved stone image? How about our jobs, careers,
spouses or children? What about our money, our home or even our favorite sports team? We
probably don’t think of it this way, but all of these things can become idols in our lives. So today I
want to ask a question…   What do you worship?

-Everyone one of us worships something.

What do you worship? Seems like a simple question, but it really isn’t. We all worship
something, whether we acknowledge it or not, we all worship something. Do we worship the
Lord? Or is it something else that gets our time, attention and our faith? Is it our job or career?
What about our spouse or finding the love of our life? Seems like a strange think to think about,
but if our spouse or love interest comes before God, then somethings is amiss. Maybe it is the
thought of getting ahead or even material things, like a new car or a bigger house. All of these
things can become an idol in our hearts and lives. Even our giftings, talents, and skills can
become an idol if we rely on them more than we rely of God. Every one of us worships
something. If it is anything but God, it will eventually consume you and leave you empty.

-True worship flows from the heart.

True worship flows from the heart. If we are worshipping something other than God, then it
shows that our hearts are not right. Maybe we have been disappointed, discouraged, confused
or hurt. Maybe we have been through hard seasons and have resorted to depending on
ourselves and other things to get us through. It can be tempting to turn to our own devices to try
and fill what is missing from our hearts. We may have even turned to the Lord, asked for His
help, and for Him to refine us. But when the refining begins we may find that all of the stuff that
starts to surface out of our hearts is very messy. We may want to run because all of that stuff
coming out hurts. However this is not a time to run, it is a time to hold on and allow God to enter
your heart through those hurts. If you keep running, eventually those things in our hearts will
continue to surface again and again until we turn them over to the Lord. Instead of running,
press in and let God heal those wounds and refine you into what He has called you to be. Press
into your relationship with the Lord. Worship Him through the process. Let your worship be a
measure of what is happening in your life. Worship reflects what’s in our hearts. Worship reflects
our relationship with the Lord. Worship is a lifestyle. What is your lifestyle reflecting? An up
close and personal relationship with the Lord? Or an up close and personal relationship with
idols?

-Worship reflects our relationship with God.

If you are unsatisfied, discontent, discouraged, disappointed, or just plain weary, maybe it is because your worship is going to the unsatisfying things of life. Maybe it is time to yield your own will and submit to the Lord’s will for your life. Just do an about face, and let God lead you, instead of leading yourself. Don’t wait. Do it today. Don’t wait. Do it right now, right where you are. Just start by saying, Lord I need you, and I need your help. Start with small steps. Ask Him to lead you daily, then make time everyday to seek the Lord’s even if it is just for five minutes. Ask Him to heal your heart and let Him. Ask Him to reveal the idols in your life and to help you remove them. Tell him that you want Him to be the Lord of your life. Ask others for help and build Godly relationships. And remember that we all are a work in progress and that the Lord is faithful to complete the good work He has started in you.

Be Blessed My Friends,

Leah

A Little Longer

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It has been a little while, but I am jumping back in with Poetry Tuesday. This week’s Poetry Tuesday feature is A Little Longer by Jenn Johnson and Bethel music. I love this song. I often think of how we approach the Lord this way, asking what we can do for him when he just wants our company. Enjoy this weeks post and be sure to check out the video as well.

Be Blessed my friends!

A Little Longer

VERSE:
What can I do for You
What can I bring to You
What kind of song would
You like me to sing
‘Cause I’ll dance a
Dance for You
Pour out my love for You
What can I do for You
Beautiful King

CHORUS:
‘Cause I can’t
Thank You enough
‘Cause I can’t
Thank You enough

VERSE:
What can I do for You
What can I bring to You
What kind of song would
You like me to sing
‘Cause I’ll dance a
Dance for You
Pour out my love for You
What can I do for You
Beautiful King

BRIDGE:
Then I hear You say
You don’t have to do a thing
Simply be with me and
Let those things go
They can wait another minute
Wait this moment
Is too sweet
Please stay here with me
And love on Me a little
longer
‘Cause I’m in love with you

BRIDGE 2:
So I’ll wait here at Your feet
It’s where I want to be
Your voice I’ll follow
Jesus You are
Everything to me
And I’ll pour out my life
Worship at Your feet
Love on You a little longer
‘Cause I’m in love with You

 

 

Our Deepest Fear

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This week’s Poetry Tuesday feature is the poem I talked about in my last post “Our Deepest Fear” by Marianne Williamson. I love this poem, it is one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Be Blessed my friends.

Our Deepest Fear 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about
shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone
and as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give others permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

The Power of Transparency

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When I was in my twenties, I was afraid to let people see who I really was. I thought if people found out about the real me that I would be judged, turned away, or even made fun of. I was worried that if I put away my mask and my pretending that I would be left all alone. I was locked and chained into a life of pretending. I was held in bondage by fear. The fear of rejection and the fear of who I truly was. After all, what if she were not enough? What would happen if I showed my true self and was left with nothing? So for years I pretended, put on a mask and let the fear of being found out rule my life.

-It had escaped me that the very thing I feared most would be what set me free.

It had escaped me that the very thing I feared the most, being real and transparent, would be the very thing that would set me free. Free to be me. I have a group of friends and we say that a lot. Free to be me. It is worth repeating and that is what transparency did for me, it set me on the path to freedom. My path began around the time I first heard the poem “Our Deepest Fear”. If you have never read it, then I highly recommend that you do. It’s about being authentic. It’s about being transparent. It’s about being all the God has made us to be and letting our own light, and God’s light, shine through us. I still remember the first time I heard it. I cried. I wanted that. I wanted to be all that God had created me to be. I wanted to be real and to stop pretending. Then I made a decision that changed my life. I would start to do my best at being myself. I started taking steps of faith. I prayed and first asked God who I was. I started being completely real and transparent with myself and with Jesus. He loved me enough to save me, so I figured it was a safe place to be transparent. As I started my journey of transparency with him, I begin to laugh at myself for not doing it sooner considering Jesus knew everything about me already. Time went by and I began to become more comfortable being “real”.

-Instead of being judged and rejected, I found myself being loved.

Then one day I was put to the test. A good friend of mine called me. She was going through some struggles and was about to make a bad decision. She was unhappy in her marriage and was sharing her struggles with another man. “He is just a good friend” she said to me. I told her it was dangerous to be sharing her struggles with a man other than her husband and that she should end the relationship. She restated that he was only a friend and wanted to know why I felt so strongly that she should end the relationship. It was in that moment that I felt the Holy Spirit rise up in me. I had a decision to make. Should I tell her the truth? Should I be transparent? I felt the Holy Spirit say tell her. Tell her your story. You see,  just a couple of years before this, I had an affair. He was our best friend and when my marriage was in trouble, I turned to him for help. We talked. We shared our struggles. And then, we fell into sin. It was hard, but I shared my story with my friend. She was the first person I had talked about it with since it all had happened. I was shaking on the other end of the phone because I was so afraid she would judge me. Instead she cried. She cried and then came over to my home and hugged me. Then we prayed for her and her marriage. She ended that relationship, talked to her husband, and worked on her marriage. After that, we became best friends. I had never really had a best friend like her before. I had friends, but I had always kept them at a distance. I was completely transparent with her and she loved me more than any friend I had ever had. I couldn’t believe what was happening. I had shared my biggest, darkest secret with her and not only had she loved me in spite of it but more because of my sharing it with her. It was a life changing experience for me. Since then, I have shared my story and my struggles many times. It has almost always been the same result. Instead of being  judged and rejected I have  found myself being loved and have had many people come along beside me to help instead.

Those experiences have made me realize just how much power there is in being transparent with one another. Now, we should be spirit led. I am not saying to be an open book all the time, but with those that God has put in our lives, we should be real. Everyone should have a place and relationships where they can be completely open, transparent and authentic with one another.

-There is power in transparency

There is power in transparency. Being transparent takes away anything the enemy has on you. It’s like telling the enemy to shut up. My Father already knows everything there is to know about me and Jesus paid the price for me. Being transparent sets you free. Free of condemnation, free of guilt, free of the fear of what others may think and free of embarrassment and shame. By being real and showing who we really are, the good, the bad, and the ugly, it creates an atmosphere for truth. It creates a place for others to be transparent and to be encouraged. Our own transparency helps us to not be judgmental but instead look at others through eyes of love and acceptance. It helps each of us to come along side and be there for one another.

Some of the effects of transparency:

  • Leaves no room for secrets and sin to hide
  • Removes the enemy’s footholds
  • Removes feelings of being alone
  • Gives you freedom to be yourself
  • Releases joy as you lay down your burdens
  • Develops an atmosphere of truth
  • Develops trust
  • Builds authentic relationships
  • Fosters unity
  • Develops spiritual community
  • Gives a place for accountability
  • Gives a place for helping and nurturing one another
  • Encourages others
  • Builds confidence
  • Strengthens our walk with Christ
  • Strengthens our walk with each other

I want to leave you with this. I almost always find that when I start sharing about my life, past hurts and things I struggle with, that others join in with their own struggles and stories. I have shared ugly things about my past and even my current struggles and instead of people turning me away or hating me, they have loved me more. It has also given them a place to share their own struggles and weaknesses. I think God wants us to start taking that leap of faith to be our true selves. To share what we have been through. To share what we struggle with, our fears, our hopes, our dreams, and ways we fall short with Him and each other. It isn’t always easy but, I believe, it is always worth it. I believe this is one powerful way that we move forward in our walk with Christ and with each other. Be Blessed my friends.


 

James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Colossians 3:9-10 Lie not one to another, seeing that you have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

John 8:32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.