Expectant

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“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me, one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from old, from ancient of days. There fore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for he shall be great to the ends of the earth. And he shall be their peace.” {Micah 5:2-5a}

Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas, symbolize this period of hopeful expectation. It is also a very difficult time of year for many because it serves as a reminder of painful unmet expectations throughout life. Yet when we look at the holiness of our Savior’s birth, we can see if our expectations continue to be held captive by our circumstances or our own understanding.

Anything less than an eternal focus will cause us to miss out on all we can expect in Jesus.

The promise breathed through the words of Micah is indeed, God uses the smallest things to bring about the greatness of His glory.

The promise lies in the waiting because our timing is not His timing and He is the one who appropriates the times and season for His hope to be fulfilled through His people. We who live in the already and the not yet… the people of the resurrection, are also those who await the return of our King.

Where we stand is the place where Jesus stands, shepherding his flock in the strength of the LORD. He beckons the ones who are thirsty and desire to take the waters of life (Revelation 22:17); He leads us besides still waters and restores our souls. Yes, dear friends, we stand with Him in the majesty of the name of the Lord and we dwell secure despite our unmet expectations because His greatness covers the ends of the earth.

To read more, visit “The Thread” at www.kingsharbor.org.

ReBlog: The Secret Language of Girls on Instagram

I’m a mom of boys but my heart is big for girls too.

When I watch my boys try to figure out life and navigate friendships on their own, I remember clearly like it was yesterday how similar and yet how different it was for me as a girl.

I love the girls in our  lives and as much as I’m able to, I want to scoop them up and tell them:

 

It won’t always be like this.

You are more beautiful and more valuable than you think.

You are more deeply loved than you will ever comprehend.

You are fully loved and fully welcomed just as you are by the God who made you.

Your identity {who you are} is because of the One who created you —  not because of

anything created or what this world tries to make you.

This post from Time is an excellent read for parents of girls but especially young women and young men.  I love social media and all the advantages and connectivity it brings us. But my heart breaks at what it can do to the human soul if we don’t tread carefully.

Click on the photo…Read and receive it as a guardrail for your heart.

 

Getty Images

Getty Images

Collaboration is My Love Language

The Spring 2014 issue of Leadership Journal magazine is subtitled “Redeeming Failure.” There are all kinds of really interesting articles about lessons learned through failure and how failure is preparation for the next great thing God has in store for us.  One article lists the statistics of the “hard calling” of pastoral leadership. Here are just a few of the encouraging…{cough}… I mean cold hard facts*:

80% of pastors are discouraged in their role as pastors

40% of pastors seriously considered leaving the pastorate in the past three months

For every 20 pastors who go into ministry, only one retires from the ministry

70% of pastors say they do not have a single close friend, and the same percentage say they have lower self-esteem than when they entered the ministry.

Denominational health insurance agencies report that medical costs for clergy are higher than the average professional group

I’m sure if they surveyed leaders in other areas of the church as well, both vocational and volunteer, the stats would also be staggering. I’m a believer that lead pastors experience life, work and all the pressures that come in a completely unique way than any other person in the local church. However many people who lead also share experiences that are euphoric as well as devastating to their spiritual, emotional and mental well-being. I’m sure it’s safe to say that many people who have “left the church” have done so because either they or someone close to them has had a negative experience with or in leadership.

As an only child who never played organized sports, effective collaboration is something I’ve had to learn over time. It’s helpful that one of my strengths is “connectedness” so I’m constantly looking for the big picture and consistently sure it’s always bigger than me. In my years in ministry, I have found collaborating and finding community with other like minded leaders to be an important part of how God sustains me, encourages me and sharpens me for the work and people I’m called to.

That’s why I was super excited to join this community of women on Pinterest dedicated to encouraging and sharing ideas with women’s ministry leaders.  We are just getting started so I’m sure there is more great stuff to come.  In the meantime, I’m grateful because this group is encouraging me to take more time to post on this blog about the many things I’m learning along the way as part of a collective group of people aiming to love and lead others well.

If you are a leader of women in any capacity, I think you’ll find this board helpful and would encourage you to check it out!

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*statistics provided by J.R. Briggs from Fail: Finding Hope and Failure in the Midst of Ministry Failure (IVP, 2014)

My Journey of Worry {New Post on Trochia}

Worry has been a companion of mine for as long as I can remember.

The last few years have taught me how to fight the battle against worry and anxiety by taking each thought captive and living in the day instead of worrying about tomorrow.

I’m hanging with the good people over at Trochia today if you’d like to hop on over and read more click here.

Grace and peace.

What Are You Really Afraid Of?

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I’ve been thinking so much about the verse from Hebrews, “It’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  {Hebrews 10:31}

I never quite understood the magnitude of the simple fact that God is on the throne and no one is exempt from His reign on this earth.  In these United States, in Syria, Israel, the Gaza strip, Iran, Australia, Spain or anywhere else there is life and breath… no one can outrun or side track the scope of His purposes.

The thing about it being “fearful” is that if you KNOW this to be true, this kind of fear naturally or supernaturally (depending on how you look at it) will draw you closer to Jesus and His mind, His ways and His heart than the other.  This kind of fear brings comfort because it brings you into the presence of God. It’s what compels you to be led besides still waters for your soul to be refreshed while you’re walking in the darkest valley of your life.  It raises questions in your head like:

“God where are You in this?”  Because he promises to be found by those who seek him.

“Where are You leading us?” Because he promises to lead those who trust him through straight paths.

The other kind of fear… the fear of man, fear of what people think, fear of whatever situation or mess you find yourself in.  This kind of fear adds chaos and confusion.  It leads you this way, that way… every way but his way.  It sounds more like this:

“What’s going to happen to us?”

“What will they say about us now?”

“Will things ever be normal again?”

The questions in themselves aren’t inherently bad, but where they can take you if you get stuck in them is troubling.  The first set of questions raises our eyes to God while the second set lowers them to ourselves and what’s in front of us.

There is nothing normal about God.  He is extraordinary and is more than you could ask or imagine.

He does not change but he promises you will.

God is so gracious, so loving, so kind and so powerful which is why He is God and no one else is worthy of that position.

If He is worthy of praise, then he needs to be put in his rightful place which is the place that proclaims His ways are not our ways, His plans are not our plans and they are good and hopeful.

It’s a fearful thing to fall in the hands of the living God. So if we believe that we place our whole lives in those hands: our relationships, our marriages, our ministries, our careers, our hopes, our dream and our fears… when that hand brings correction, moves us in and out of where we need to be and towards his purposes for us and this Kingdom we are a small part of… it’s exactly where we need to be.

No matter how painful, how tragic, how hopeful, how good, how exciting and how stretching.

There is no place I would rather be.

I’m Going to Camp!

Annually, 3.6 million cases of child abuse, neglect or abandonment are reported in America. One of these victims dies every six hours due to that abuse.

Fifteen years ago when we started attending our church, our eyes began to open to the foster care crisis in America.  Much of  this stemmed from families we have met that have taken in kids as their own and also our church’s involvement with Royal Family Kids Camp, a camp which purposes to give abused and neglected kids who are currently in foster care one week of their lives. A week with positive experiences in a Christian environment.

Until a few years ago, I believed that religion that is pure and faultless is to look after orphans in their distress, but my belief was nestled tightly in a box.  The box was the adoption box.  What I falsely believed in the depth of my heart was that if I was going to do it right… it had to be done a certain way. That if I was really going to believe what those words meant, it meant only one thing… that we had to adopt.

What I’ve learned since then is looking after the fatherless and the motherless can look a lot of different ways.  I never thought our family was called to adopt until a couple of years ago when Steve went to this camp.  For the first time, I questioned those thoughts and now my perspective has changed. While we still don’t feel called to adopt, what has changed is our willingness to do so and to become more involved in the solution regardless of the outcome.

Steve came back changed and therefore we changed. He has always been a great dad for our kids, but when Steve came home from camp, he came home zealous for other kids and also for finding ways to help dads be good dads.

Part of this change for our family has been a result of our relationship with one of Steve’s original campers.  As a mentor to this young man, Steve has been able to bring him around our home and in doing so, he has become family.  Not in the living with us kind of way, but in our love and affection for him. When he is with us, he is family.  And when he goes, our hearts bleed for him.  You see this boy, is just like my boys.  He loves adventure, he loves sports, he plays legos and loves to eat.  He is kind, he is loving and you would never know that every day he goes home, he wonders how long he will be there for. He wonders when he will get to live with his mom again and if he will see his dad again.  He wonders where he will go to middle school because the future is uncertain for him.

This year I am going to camp.

From July 7-11, I’m going to be a counselor to two little girls and my goal is to love them and let them have fun for one week. We will celebrate their birthdays no matter when their actual birthday is and we will celebrate any other milestones that come up during the week.

I am desperately hoping for laughter, joy and adventure. Mostly I’m praying they will leave believing they have value, hearing they are more precious than they realize and they have hope for their future.

Many of my good friends have gone before me to camp. They say I will never be the same. They say it is the hardest week of your life, but also the best week of your life.

Now that it’s one week away, my heart is filling with anticipation and fear.

Would you mind partnering with me?  Would you send me with YOUR prayers? Will you start now by praying for my girls {and the other campers too}.  Pray I will love them well. Pray I will be patient.  Pray I will have strength.  And pray I’m not a hot mess of tears all week long.  Lastly, pray for my boys and Steve who will be home. Pray for our boy at camp who graduates this year. This will be his last year at camp and I’m praying it will be his best. Pray the God of the impossible will do more than we can ask or imagine for him and for all the other campers too.

If you’d like to donate to Royal Family Kids Camp through King’s Harbor Church, your donation helps send kids to camp, provides their lodging, food, goes towards all the fun activities and gifts they will be sent home with.  You can make a donation here or send a check made out to King’s Harbor Church to me or to KHC Administrative offices with “Suzie Lind/RFKC” in the memo.

 

God Knows, God Sees, God Hears

One of the best things to do when struggling with faith and belief, when needing encouragement and to focus on truth is to remember the promises of God in His word. Write them down. Stick Post-It notes all over your house.  Change your screen lock on your iPhone. Whatever works.

The danger for me has always been in the waiting. Or the not waiting.

There have been many times when I’ve been tempted to move things along, make a decision or rush to judgment as though I could take the situation into my own hands and make things happen.  Turns out I’m not the only one.  There is a valuable lesson to learn from Sarah in Genesis 18.

I’m over at Trochia today writing about the God who has not changed and who’s promises are true and oh so good.  You can read more here.

Becoming Who You Already Are

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I’ve been dreaming about planting tomatoes, so my mind immediately went to raised beds and seedlings when this passage came up in church last weekend:

“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.

You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” {Matthew 5:13-16}

Jesus had barely just plucked his disciples from their ordinary lives with His invitation to “follow me” when He was preaching this first ever recorded sermon on the mountainside.  They had no clue what was in store for them or the world for that matter.  They were just barely beginning to understand who Jesus was. This man who was announcing what he was calling “Good News” about the kingdom. This rabbi who possessed power to heal all kinds of diseases and illnesses - he healed them all. It is written.

As they sat at his feet, hungering to know more, he spoke this over them and He still speaks it over us today:

You are.

This is what I love about Jesus.  He leads us to become who we already are.

The disciples hadn’t done anything remarkable yet. They were just watching, following and learning. Yet even later on when they did certain wonderful things, they were still like you and I… fighting against their old ways and learning to walk in the new. And regardless of what they did or didn’t do… regardless of what you and I have done or not done, Jesus says, “You are.”

When a tomato plant begins to fruit, the little yellow blossoms develop green buds that grow until full size. A little water and a lot of light ripens the fruit and as the light shines, the fruit gradually goes from green to red, from hard to soft, from sour to sweet… to the way it was always intended to be enjoyed.

But here’s the truth: In it’s budding, green and unripened state, a tomato is still a tomato.

It never stops being a tomato. The more it is exposed to the light, the more it becomes what it already is. The more it is exposed to the warmth and the radiance of the sun, the sweeter and juicier it becomes and the more it enhances the salad it’s tossed into.

Next time you slice up a yummy tomato, drizzle a little oil on it and don’t forget the salt! As that sweet taste of summer takes hold of your taste buds, let it remind you of who you already are.

For by grace you have been saved through faith.

And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” {Ephesians 2:8-9}

 

Cease Striving

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“Cease striving and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10 {NASB}

 

I didn’t sleep well last night.

I crashed out on the early side, not sure why I was so tired after two days away.  Then I woke up in the middle of the night with all kinds of anxious thoughts consuming my mind.

Things to do.

Bills to pay.

Deadlines to meet.

Expectations of others to be met.

It was hard to get back to sleep and once I did, a little love woke me up with a need to be close.  To be held and comforted with the assurance of knowing he is not alone.

Then I came across this today.  Cease striving and know that I am God.

Today is Good Friday and this verse came at me with a weight of glory, reminding me my striving, my worry, my anxiousness bears no fruit and dims in the shadows of the cross.  As he hung there and the hyssop branch reached his lips, the Son of God breathed is last breath and said, “It is finished.”

It. Is. Finished.

My unproductive striving that leads no where but to sleepless nights has no place in life that lives with these words in place.

It is finished means, cease striving because the finished work of Jesus means all my little worries and fears have no place in a life led by a God who can bring a whole world into existence with a few words.

It is finished means, I hang on to Him, the One who hung on the cross because if He is exalted among nations, in the earth, why shouldn’t He be exalted in my heart and in my life.

Cease striving.

Know He is God.

 

 

Photo Credit: Creationswap

 

Yahweh: The All Encompassing God of the Universe

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Yahweh: The personal name of God.

The only name He gives Himself. It means the self-existing One.

“The name conveys the concept of absolute being, the One who is and whose dynamic presence works on our behalf. It conveys the meanings of “I am who and what I am, and I do not change.  I am here with you and for you.” ~ Warren W. Wiersbe

The One who was, Who is and Who is to come.  Your circumstances may change, you may be on the highest mountain or in the deepest, darkest valley. Regardles… He. Does. Not. Change. And neither does his commitment or promise to you.

He is the creator and sustainer of all that exists.

The Alpha and the Omega…The Beginning and the End.

Yahweh – Jireh: The LORD will provide and see to it. {Genesis 22:14}

Yahweh-Rophe: The LORD who heals. {Exodus 15:26}

 Yahweh-NIssi: The LORD our banner. {Exodus 17:15}

Yahweh- M’Kaddesh: The LORD who sanctifies {Leviticus 20:8}

Yahweh-Shalom: The LORD our peace {Judges 6:24}

Yahweh-Rohi: The LORD my shepherd {Psalm 23:1}

Yahweh-Sabaoth: The LORD of hosts {Psalm 46:7}

Yahweh-Tsidkenu: The LORD our righteousness {Jeremiah 23:6}

Yahweh-Shammah: The LORD is there {Ezekiel 48:35}

The same yesterday, today and forever. He is eternal, true, good and loving and in Him all things hold together.

When you sing, speak or shout “Hallelujah”, know that means “Praise Yahweh.”

In your hallelujahs of joy and your broken hallelujahs… He remains steadfast, secure and strong.

Sing it. Shout it. Cry it out.

Whatever you need today… because the all encompassing God of the universe is here.

Present among us.

He sees you and He knows YOUR name.

Hallelujah.

 

 

*Names of Yahweh resourced from Warren W. Wiersbe, Jesus in the Present Tense.