Saturday, July 22, 2006

Prayer Like Never Before

Lately I've been spending more and more time out in the country. From going on random drives, to visiting friends, to simply having dreams, this "country idea" is doing something deep within my heart... but I don't quite know what the complete picture is yet.

The recent weeks I've spent in the Iowan country, I'm not necessarily even doing anything, but I've enjoyed not doing anything more than I could ever explain. I've always been captured by GOD's beauty and loved being in His incredible creation, but I'm also always doing something while I'm in the center of nature. When I was growing up, we'd take family vacations up to Northern California or Colorado, and during those countless trips, I'd always have something to do; go snowboarding, hiking, biking, swimming, build a snowman, climb a tree, snowmobiling, throw rocks at squirrels, go boating... the list goes on...

The second I would find myself plopped back down on the log in front of the campfire or back on the couch in the condo, two words would leave my mouth; "I'm bored."

Don't get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having activities to keep yourself busy while in the middle of nowhere, but how many times would I stop, look around, and take in everything around me?

Once? Twice maybe? My activities took front seat to praising GOD while submerged in His own masterpiece.

Over the past 6 years since becoming more serious about my faith, I always make sure to set aside at least an hour of my annual Colorado trip time to sit on top of the mountains and gaze out into the landscape, painting pictures of His craft in my head. Yet, even during those times when all I want to do is be worshiping, my "to do" list plants itself in the front of my mind.

I don't like that I always feel like I have to be doing something. Can't I just sit and not feel rushed? Can't I just sit in His presence without having constant thoughts shoot through my head? In the city (and the suburbs) there is always so much going on around me, it's almost impossible for me to ever just sit and not feel antsy. Even when laying by a pool, the things I "need to get done" enter my mind.

But something is happening within me... and even though I don't know how exactly to explain it, I absolutely love it.

Dreams about sitting in the country while doing nothing but listening won't stop... I'm finding myself purposely driving out into the middle of no where to sit and wait... for what? I don't know yet, but I have some ideas... I'm getting caught up in a beauty that I haven't seen before... having the ability to immerse myself in these random places without distraction and interruption is like nothing I've ever experienced before... all I want to do is sit in a field... weird? Quite possibly, but it's proof to me that He's changing the heart within this messed up flesh.

Just thinking about driving out to the country gets my heart pumping... leaving the chaos of a city looks like gold to me right now...

With all this, I'm being called to take some [insane] steps of faith in my prayer life. Scared? No... terrified.

But it's coming from the LORD, so it's the most beautiful terrified ever.

(He spoke this today... "God answered his prayer, and the angel of God appeared once again to his wife as she was sitting in the field...")

Monday, July 10, 2006

No Fear

A friend and I were talking last night about the big dreams and visions for our lives.

It's amazing how many of these big dreams GOD has planted within each of us. But something we realized is that they're all incredibly unrealistic according to the world. We know that through Jesus anything is possible... what is impossible for man is possible through Christ... but then why are we still sitting around only dreaming about these visions?

Are they truly just that, only dreams?

My friend talked about one of his dreams being to open a 24/7 prayer center somewhere... that ain't just a dream. That's GOD. That's big. That's definitely a GOD-sized dream. The LORD has planted that seed deep within my friends heart... and I'm excited to hear about his passion for that vision. But he's stuck on what to do with it.

As for myself, for a while now I've had a dream of selling almost everything I own, packing up a car, traveling to each state spending 2 weeks in a specifically prayed out city, with the intensions of meeting people and pouring out Christ's love on them. In no way am I talking tracks... yes, sharing the gospel would (will) occur, but only when GOD speaks His Words through me. This can't just be a dream... it seems too big. Selling all of my stuff?! Dang. As of right now, I can honestly say that it would be extremely difficult for me to do that, but I pray that if this truly is a GOD-sized dream, my heart will one day be more than willing to give away everything I own. I do long for that day...

It seems that our hesitations to chase after these visions, come down to one thing: fear.

Fear of failure. Fear of disappointment. Fear of being wrong. Fear of being alone. Fear of not being provided for. Fear of death.


We live in the greatest country in the whole world. I'm not trying to be some ignorant proud American, but seriously... the US is freaking awesome. Overall, we have pretty easy lives. We have freedom that a lot of other countries don't have. We're able to talk about Jesus in public. Carry around a Bible. We can wear whatever we want (which by the way isn't always a good thing...). We can get an education. We can travel to almost anywhere we want. All this stuff is great, but is it hindering us from going forth with our "unrealistic dreams"; our GOD-sized dreams? You'd think that because of this freedom we have, we'd run after anything and everything our hearts desire, but instead we've become consumed with being realistic and reasonable. Everything has to make sense and have a formula. We have forgotten Who our Creator is. We have forgotten what He is capable of. We care too much about what other people think of us. We care too much about money and material items. We only care about ourselves... we have to make sure that WE are going to be alright.

We're scared to step out and do something that puts another person first. We're scared to step out and do something that may not be stable. We're scared to let our family and friends down. We're scared to walk in a direction where the end result isn't clear.

So I ask you this...

What would you do if you had no fear?

Stop for a second and seriously think about the things you would do. GOD has planted those "crazy" dreams in you for a reason... but we're too scared. Maybe it's not the right time for some of those dreams, but will you ever allow that time to come?

Will you ever one day actually say "yes" to His visions? What is it going to take? How do we get there? What do we have to let go of?

I pray that one day we are able to live the life we were meant to live. To live completely and utterly for Jesus Christ. To stand up in His promises, grasp these dreams that the world tells us are "ridiculous", and run whole heartedly towards GOD with them, screaming "YES!"

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

The Desert

Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increaseand may enter and possess the land that the LORD promised on oath to your forefathers. Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you. Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in his ways and revering him. (Deuteronomy 8:1-6)

Those "forty years" are a constant in our lives. At least for myself, I haven't had just one "forty year desert" experience, but more than I could ever count. And surprisingly, I love that.

Finding myself in that "desert time" [for whatever reason it may be] is always nothing less than difficult and painful... yet there is so much beauty within those deserts. Feeling like I'm going crazy, or a constant flow of tears, or even sometimes the lack of tears, and just complete confusion... my own time in the dusty wilderness leaves me with these symptoms. I will feel unsure, unmotivated, stubborn, disconnected...

Incredibly enough, the one thing I'm never able to lose sight of or deny, is the constant Love poured over me by the only One who is with me every step of the way. Even the moments where I feel that I'm completely alone, He will press His never ending Love on me more... something that brings tears to the Father's eyes is when one of His children feels alone in the world. It breaks His heart. When I see a family member or friend feeling alone or unloved, all I want to do is pour my love into them even more. So just imagine how much more Love your Creator will pour on you when your heart is broken.

Moses reminds us why we enter these "desert times"... why God will allow us to be in a period of uncertainty. The middle of the desert is exactly where the LORD wants us... why? Because it's exactly where He is able to call us back to Him. He absolutely loves seeing you run after Him and call His name... He adores it. The desert is a place where He opens eyes to His mighty power and His never ending faithfulness.

"Even in the midst of your wondering, I Am here to provide. I Am here to protect. I Am here to remind you of Myself."

When we are madly in Love with Jesus, not only is His name imprinted on us, but His heart and commands are placed within us. The desert begins to wash away the old, and instill with us His Words. Finding our way out, our heart is renewed and each time we leave the sand, it can become more and more clear as to what we are chosing to live for... or ever more so, Who we live for.

As important as these deserts are for us, I'm excited to say that I'm in the process of walking on solid ground again. I would never change the most recent desert I've been going through for anything... yes, it's been hard and saddening, but totally worth it. He's captured my heart again, and I can't help but fall more and more in love with Him.

To weep in order to see clearly again? To stand in confusion in order to discover direction? To feel pain in order to be reminded of God's promises? To be "alone" in order to know God?

Yes. I say yes.

"If God can accomplish His promises in this world through a broken heart, then why not thank Him for breaking yours?" --Oswald Chambers--