Saturday, March 22, 2008

Majoring On The Majors

I saw Jason Upton interviewed on God TV. Something he said has been sticking with me... He was asked something like, what advice would he give young Christians... (and I guess this would apply to "old" Christians too :^)... Now for those of you who are familiar with Jason Upton, you know that his music and worship style is anything but traditional... He is my alltime favorite worship leader. I guess because he is so real, and so unaffected by trends and the opinions of man. He just gets out there and worships his heart out and might be seen by the mainstream as "different". He definitely is what I'd call "deep". So much so that he's sometimes over my head... but his music always touches my heart and I believe it also touches the heart of God.... So when he was asked this question I was very curious how he'd answer... I figured it'd be something deep and mysterious... but actually what he said surprised me. He (basically) said that there are so many mysteries in the Bible that are meant to remain mysteries... and so often we cause divisions over these mysteries when we don't even know for sure what they mean... denominations are often formed because of them... But there are so many things that are NOT mysteries in the Bible. Things that Jesus was very clear about and are not the least bit mysterious. Things we are to obey and yet we often ignore... We need to go back to the Sermon on the Mount and learn how to live the Christian life and not get caught up in all these controversies... " I thought this was good advice! And this "old" Christian is going to take it!

It's weird but right around the time the Lord began to speak to me about this, I had a dream. In the dream someone in the church called the church and was complaining about some really insignificant thing and making a huge fuss about it. (I think it had to do with the Christian flag that was displayed in the sanctuary or a banner or something) and I said by the Spirit, "we need to quit majoring on the minors and start majoring on the majors". Nothing so eloquent that you'd frame it or make it into a refrigerator magnet but I think that in it's simple way, it is profound. And I am seeking to do just that.

Not that we ignore the mysteries in the Bible... Proverbs 25:2 says, "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings." But I think all too often we spend more time searching out the mysteries and ignoring the obvious!

At the Onething conference I just attended at New Years, Mike Bickle taught on the Sermon on The Mount. He called it the "constitution of the Christian faith", the "core values of the Kingdom", the "litmus test to measure our success in this life". He said that our foundational calling is not ministry but to live out the Sermon on the Mount.

It's about our relationship with God and how that is lived out in our daily life. That is our "internal calling". Our "external calling" is our assignment while here on earth. We spend way too much time worrying about that and neglecting our "internal calling" to love God, to have a relationship with Him and to be a faithful disciple of Him. If we make this our main focus, we will fulfill our "external calling".

Our time on this earth is our internship for eternity. We will not be floating around on a cloud playing a harp. We will rule and reign with Christ. We will have assignments then. We need to not content ourselves just to "make it" to heaven but to live our life here on this earth for Him and HIs Kingdom's purpose. If we do, we will be rewarded in eternity. I know we are tempted to think that that sounds kind of selfish to think of eternal rewards. But the Lord talks about it in the Bible. He wanted us to know about it because it was important to Him, so it should be important to us as well...

It doesn't matter if others think we're successful or dedicated...they don't get a vote! It only matters what the Lord thinks. He's not going to judge us on the size of our ministry but on our relationship with Him, our heart of fascination with Him.

I for one was challenged with this. I admit that in the past I have sort of skimmed through the Gospels and although I could quote lots of Jesus's words since childhood, I didn't give them enough thought... but I am going back and re-examining them with new eyes... It's now like "Wow, Jesus actually said that!"

So I want to invite you to join me in re-rexamining Jesus's words, especially in the Sermon on the Mount. I don't want to just know it, I want to live it. That's a tall order, but the Lord doesn't instruct us without equipping us.

That's all for now. God bless... Kayla

Whose Measuring Stick?

Here's something simple that the Lord put on my heart the other day...

Whose measuring stick are you measuring yourself with?

Are we measuring/comparing ourself (and others), our calling and ministry with the world's measuring stick, or with God's measuring stick, according to His word?

So often we tend to look at our lives and feel like failures... Or I suppose some people might look at their lives and feel like a success... But the question rolling around in my head is... What is God's definition of success? What is God's definition of failure?

Even as Christians, I believe we have too often adopted a worldly perspective and even have allowed it into the Church... You have the Christian "celebrities" who grace the covers of Christian magazines, some deservedly so, but what does God think? How does He view this? I am not going to pretend to have the inside track on this, but it does cause me to look at what (and who) I tend to admire and to question it...I think when we get to heaven, we're going to be in for some surprises... I read this in the New Living Translation this morning....

In Matthew 19:30 Jesus says about the Kingdom of God..."But many who seem to be important now will be the least important then , and those who are considered least here will be the greatest then."

When this life is history and eternity is now, how many big name ministers devoid of their bodyguards and entourage will be seated at the lowest place, while seated at the seat of honor will be the little old lady who sat in the back of the church, who received no fanfare when she entered the house of God, who prayed diligently for that big name minister and for the people of God and who served faithfully behind the scenes, where no one saw........but Him.

Which of our works will be considered wood, hay and stubble and will be burned up... and what will be considered gold? I believe the wood, hay and stubble vs. the gold, silver and precious stones represent the heart's motive behind the works.

Again- the world's measuring stick vs. God's measuring stick...But on the other side of this same coin- How does our heavenly Father view us? What does His word say? We may not have much of what the world values... money, prestige, fame- but are we known in heaven? And in hell?When the seven sons of Sceva were casting out demons "in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches", the demons answered "Jesus, we know and Paul we know about, but who are you?!" and then promptly proceeded to jump on them and give them a good thrashing... (I always felt sorry for these poor dudes)... I digress....But Paul was known! In heaven AND in hell! Whoa! He was not a rich man, or a movie star, but he was great in God's sight! How are we viewed in heaven? I have to remind myself constantly... man's vote doesn't count in heaven... Only God's does! And guess what? He LOVES us and sent His Son to die for us. We are valuable enough to Him to warrant the precious blood of His Son!

As I was reading in Exodus for the hundredth time, the account of Moses being called, I saw something I'd never seen before... Moses obviously knew he was called... Although he'd been raised as a man of privilege in Pharaoh's own house, somehow he knew he was meant to deliver the children of Israel. But he went out on his own to try to help his fellow Israelites... When he saw one of the Hebrews being beaten by an Egyptian, he killed the Egyptian... The next day he saw two Hebrews fighting and he tried to correct his fellow Hebrews... but their response to him was, "Who do you think you are?" and they proceeded to tell him that they knew about him killing the Egyptian and then Pharoah found out and yada yada yada, he fled to Midian where he hid out for 40 years, watching another man's sheep... A far cry from the favored prince of Egypt! Very humbling. In the world's eyes he looked like a failure. In his own eyes he viewed himself as a failure because when the Lord called to him from the burning bush... guess what his response was? It was the same basic questioning of his value that was used on him years before by his unappreciative kinsmen- He said, "Who am I Lord to appear before Pharoah?" Later after the Lord finally convinced him to go to Pharoah and he reluctantly came before him to present his request, guess what Pharoah's initial response to him was? "Who do you think you are?" Moses' fellow Israelites, himself and Pharoah all measured him with one measuring stick... but God measured him with another..."Who do you think you are Moses?" Wow. So it's not just us whom the enemy torments year after year with the same lies! We are in good company! But thank God we don't have to be limited and hindered by the enemy's lies about our worth and the true measurement of who we are!Obviously God's measurement of Moses was different than man's... For later on it says that God thought of Moses as His friend and spoke to him face to face!

When Gideon was threshing wheat in the basement for fear of the Midianites, the angel of the Lord greeted him this way,“Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!.. Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”” To which Gideon replied,“how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” Again- the Lord obviously used a different stick...God chose David, the youngest of his brothers, whom his father didn't bother to mention when asked by Samuel about his sons. God made the clear distinction that He measured differently than man...And the Bible is full of such examples...So how are we measuring our life and ourselves? Whose measuring stick are we using?

The Bible says for us to find out what pleases God. If we do, we will find it to be far different from what pleases the world... One look at the broken lives mocked in the entertainment section of the news, will show us the legacy of those pursuing the wrong system... A measurement system that may seem right for a while, but in the end will come up short in eternity!

I for one want to use the right measuring stick!

That's all for now. God bless! Kayla


What is the heart of the matter-really? So often I struggle with things... circumstances, people... and I feel the Lord is asking me... what is the true nature of my struggle? Is it really the person? Is it really the circumstance? Yes, people disappoint and circumstances may hit us square in the face and be truly tragic but I think what the Lord is getting at with me is, what is my response? A lot of times, the anger,the doubt, the fear or the frustration that rises up in me point to deeper issues in my heart. Like- do I really trust Him? Do I really believe that His ways are higher and better? Do I really beleive that He loves me? I am realizing that although the Lord does hear our cries for help and He delights in rescuing us from situations, He still is most interested in our heart... I beleive that's why He allows difficult situations in our lives... So often we think- if only this situation would resolve itself or this person would act right I'd be happy... Would we really? It's time to quit blaming and to start examining our own hearts where the real problem lies...

I've seen so much tragedy lately and I think- Lord, keep our eyes on eternity, on Your Kingdom and purpose and glory. May we live for eternity and not for the moment. I want to be rooted and grounded, trusting in Him... so no matter what comes my way, I won't be tossed to and fro by circumstances and people's opinions.. I don't want to be up one day and down another... I want to be unmoveable, steady, grounded, settled... in Him.

Jeremiah 175 "This is what the LORD says: Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD.6 He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.8 He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."

Matthew 13 says 18"Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:....22The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. 23But the one who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man who hears the word and understands it. (faith) He produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown."

Ephesians 3 says 14 "For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."

There's a song that I heard at IHOP by Misty Edwards that is my favorite right now. It talks about our relationship with the Lord and how we are a dwelling place for Him... How our relationship with Him is like a garden. We are His very own locked garden. What's going on the inside of us, with Him, is what needs to affect us, not what's going on on the outside... Again- Unmoveable! The lyrics get to me every time I hear them...

Garden by Misty Edwards

Here alone have I prepared a place for You

Here it's You and me alone God
You and me alone

You've hemmed me in With skin
All around me
I'm a garden enclosed
A locked garden
Life takes place
Behind the face

I'm no longer my own
I'm Your garden (repeat)

I don't want to waste my life
Living on the outside
I want to live from the inside out
I don't want to waste my time
Living on the outside
I want to live from the inside out

So come into Your garden

That's all for now. Ya'll have a blessed weekend. Kayla

Do We Know What We're Asking For?

I listened to a teaching CD today that I've had in my car for a while but have never listened to before. I was deeply stirred in my heart. I want to keep my heart stirred and for this to not be an isolated incident. I want to meditate on this thought for a long time and for this seed to not be temporary, eaten by the birds, choked by the weeds or burned by the sun... I want it to go deep into fresh, fertile soil and to take firm root in my heart.

This is what is stirring in my heart. A question that I am having to ask myself-- Do I really mean what I am asking of the Lord? Do I even KNOW what I'm asking Him?

For example: I say- "Lord I want to be like Jesus! Make me like Jesus!"

Okay- Let's take a look at Jesus.... He, the second person of the Godhead, left His enormous throne, seated at God's right hand, surrounded by thousands upon thousands of powerful angels- to become a helpless baby... Not able to take care of Himself, dependent on His mother to be fed and His earthly father to protect Him... He emptied Himself out and made Himself of no reputation. He was continually misunderstood and rejected and overlooked and eventually killed. How often, in our quest to be like Jesus do we say- "Hey, I really really want to be misunderstood. I REALLY dream of being of no reputation. Wow, that'd be so cool!" I don't think many of us do. God does put a desire in us to be great... but in our quest to be great, how many of us focus that pursuit on this 70 year or so span on planet earth and not on eternity-greatness in the Kingdom? What does that entail? Here's a clue-

Mark 10: 31 "But many who are first will be last, and the last first."

We cry out to be fruitful-"Lord, make me fruitful! I want to raise the dead! (to glorify Your name of course!) I want to preach and the multitudes rush to the altar (and I'll be real humble Lord on the platform while I'm doing it- I promise Lord!). Yes Lord, that's what I truly desire. Make me fruitful!"Do we know what we're asking?

Do we know what Jesus said needed to happen in order for us to become fruitful?

John 12: 24 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.25"He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal."

So when opportunity comes along to die to self, to be unoffendable even when we've been Christians a long time and have seen so much, have been disappointed so many times- do we embrace that death? (I'm talking to myself here and not liking my answers) As Derek Loux said (in the CD I was listening to), death hurts! Even if we realize that we need to die, and we recognize that we're in an intense season of dying to self, that realization doesn't keep it from hurting. He said, "if someone starts stabbing you, you don't say-'Hey. I'm being stabbed! Okay, I'm aware of what's happening. That's cool. Because I'm aware, it doesn't hurt as much." No way! Ouch! It HURTS! Being aware makes us know better how to talk to God about it, but it still hurts!

But it has purpose... Jesus had to die to be resurrected into abundant, victorious LIFE! Wow! We get that too! But first, we have to die!

But all this death would be depressing if it wasn't for the love of God. Why would we die, just to die, for Someone unless we loved them and gained so much in doing so? It's the revelation of His love and Him laying down His life for us, that motivates us to lay down our life for Him. It's the abundant Life of that glorious Person named Jesus that results from the laying down of our lives that makes it all worth it.

If you've been a Christian for any length of time, you've heard all of this before...taking up our cross, dying to self, etc. We probably all have this truth tucked in the back of our minds, ready to pull out at any given moment, but I am realizing more and more that I've not truly "gotten" this. It's forming in my heart and I pray as I said earlier that this seed goes deep. But this is our purpose and journey on this earth. This is a daily choice. The world is so in us, even as Christians, even the church, that somehow we're still doing a whole lot of "saving" and not a whole lot of "losing" of our lives (although we may find a spiritual sounding justification for it). We say the right things, we know the scriptures. But until our sojourn in this earth suit is over and we step into eternity, this is to be our life- daily taking up our cross. It is not just an idea or a nice concept- it's the reality of the normal Christian life. There's no way around it for ANY of us! We can't dance around this truth, touching on it here and there when we find it convenient...! We cannot avoid this door of death.

I'm not trying to get into condemnation, but sometimes I have these illuminating moments of revelation where I really see how high the mark truly is- and I see how much I have just "settled" for less and grown comfortable there. In those moments I realize that I have to say to the Lord- "Jesus, if I'm honest, I guess I really don't want to be like You after all! Please help me to be willing. Please reveal Your love more so I can."

Romans 8:17 "Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."

I have not really ever suffered like some have. And I admit that I'm not itching to... (are any of us?) But I do believe (as a song I heard says) that this is " inside outside, upside down Kingdom where you lose to gain and you die to live." I want to, not just live, but to really LIVE! As Paul said, "to live is Christ, and to die is gain". He is our Life! Oh and what life He is too!!! Look closely at these lyrics.

SERVANT OF ALL by Misty Edwards
"...Show me how to go lower.
For in the depths I will find You
While I am serving my brother.
I want to be with You where You are.
I want to be with You where You are.
I want to be with You where You are
You're the Servant of all.
I am in love with a King who became a slave.
I'm in love with a God who is humble.
You've got to go down if you want to go up.
You've got to go lower,If you want to go higher and higher.
You've gotta hide and do it in secret
If you want to be seen by God.
It's the inside outside upside down Kingdom.
Where you lose to gain, and You die to live.
It's an inside outside upside down Kingdom
Where you lose to gain and you die to live.

"Lord, reveal Your great love for us, that caused You to come to earth to die for us. Root us and ground us in that love and make us willing to be willing to die in order to live! You are Life! You are everything we need. The glories of Your presence and Your fellowship compare to nothing created. Remind us of the priceless value of this eternal, imperishable seed that we carry in these temporary earthen vessels. Why do we so often value and try to save what is perishable and ignore and neglect what is eternal? Open our eyes! Wake us up to reality! Jesus- You are everything! Nothing else matters but You! Remind us. Help us to fall in love with You again. And may we ask, knowing full well what we are asking- Make us like Jesus! For there alone is LIFE. Amen."

That's all for now. Until next time. God bless ya'll! Kayla

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Hallway

I like categories, labels, titles… like...where am I Lord? Which season is this? Am I here or there? I’ve come to the conclusion that perhaps I’m neither here nor there!

I’ve been hearing several prophetic words about ‘transitions’. I can relate, but what are we transitioning to? There IS the sense of change in the air, yet I’ve felt that for quite some time… I’ve become accustomed to it, perhaps have grown tired in it and have lost the sense of anticipation… At first waiting expectantly… then waiting… waiting… waiting… sigh… waiting… yawn…waiting…

I am reminded of the ten virgins in the Bible. They were waiting for the Bridegroom. Some grew tired, they were lulled to sleep in their waiting… then when the transition began, they were dull, sleepy, unprepared, and they missed Him!

I once heard a teaching about being in “the hall” of transition. In a house, you have many rooms… You have the kitchen, where people gather and eat. You have the living room where they sit and fellowship. You have the bedroom where they rest. Then you have THE HALL…. What do we do in a hall? Do we sit down? There are no chairs in the hall… There isn’t a bed in the hall… There’s not a stove or a table in the hall…Compared to the other rooms, a hall seems kind of pointless. But wait! It does have a purpose… it is to get you from Point A to Point B. There’s no escaping the hall. If you want to get from the bedroom to the kitchen in my house, you must access the hall… The chairless, empty hall. I never sit in the hall… I keep moving… It is a necessary passageway… I guess it would be kind of abrupt to walk out of my private bedroom into the very public kitchen… The hall sort of gives me time to adjust… I enter the hall with purpose, not just to hang out or to rest, I am moving towards something…Transitioning...

So having said all of this- I have to the conclusion that I am in the hall… And I have been for a very long time. All I know is that it must be a very long hall! My husband and I have at times become discouraged and disappointed that we are still in the hall. Discouragment often hangs out in this hall... Confusion also.... I have wondered at times if the enemy was in this whole hall business. Perhaps he even built the hall! He certainly seems to prolong it at times…

Although I know that everything in our lives is Father-filtered, our enemy has certainly whispered in our ears that this hall will go on forever… We might as well SETTLE down here, lie down, give up and stop moving…

But NO! The hall is meant for movement. You must not stop moving in the hall. That's what it's made for! And the hall eventually does lead to some place else, IF we don’t stop….

We are NOT meant to be here forever….But at times we MUST be here...However, there is something very good about this hall after all…. God is here. There are fewer distractions in the hall. It is here that the Lord teaches TRUST. He whispers to those of us in the hall, "Will you trust Me?” When we don’t see the end, yet we wouldn’t ever want to go back to where we were before- will we still trust Him? Is He trustworthy? Now to this I have a definitive answer- YES! Absolutely, completely, totally- YES! We may not know where this hall is leading us, but we do know Who is with us, Who loves us, Who won’t disappoint us and Who has a great plan for our lives-beyond the hall and even IN the hall! A better plan than we could ever ask for or imagine. He is the Master-builder of this house. His ways are infinitely higher than ours. And He is our Hope!

I want to finish this post today with the words from a song that I wrote several years ago when I was in another darker “hall”. Sometimes, in the hall, all we can know is that He is good. He is true….but friend- that is enough!

“When my dreams are passing by,
And disappointment steals my song
I don’t understand Your ways
And I doubt all that I’ve known
Just one thing, I know to be true… Is You

When my plans have come to nothing.
Hope takes flight and clouds my view
When I don’t feel so special
And my thoughts become confused
Just one thing I know to be true…. Is You

You are true, You are true. And my hope is in You
You are righteous, You are just. In Your word will I trust
For Your love won’t let go. And that’s all I need to know.
You are true… Lord… You are true.

Only You can satisfy, in this world of constant change
Seasons come and go but I
Know Your word remains the same
Just one thing I know to be true… Is You

You are true, You are true. And my hope is in You
You are righteous, You are just. In Your word will I trust
For Your love won’t let go. And that’s all I need to know.
You are true… Lord… You are true.”

That's all for now! God bless. Kayla