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Old songs, New meanings, and the Sweetest Worship! November 20, 2008

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This year John and I celebrated our 5th anniversary of marriage! It is always a blessing to see what God has done with us from year to year. We had a wonderful evening that night ( August 31st), and John promised something very special was to be expected in the near future. So a month or two later, John suprised me with two tickets to Amy Grant’s 20th anniversary Lead Me On tour. OH. MY. WORD. I just got home today…and knew I had to make time to get here and write about it.

First, I should explain that John was not approved from work to get the time off. The concert was about 4 hours away, so he needed to take a day and a half off, but it didn’t happen! We were devastated for awhile, but I really wanted to go, and he really wanted me to go. After a couple of weeks trying to figure out “the plan”, my sister Ali and I were talking on the phone about how totally awesome it would be if we could somehow go together…(jokingly). We NEVER thought it was a true possibility. The concert was on a Tuesday night, which isn’t the easiest night to figure out childcare. I had a time working that out on my end, so I just never thought to even ask her for the same reason. Well, it’s just like God to work out things that appear unworkable. With fairly effortless ability, things fell into place, and Ali called me the Monday before the concert (at 7:30 am) to say….SHE COULD GO!!!! God, You are too good to us!

The drive was almost exactly a halfway point for us, about 4 hours each. We met at a hotel, grabbed some dinner, and off to the concert we went.

As we waited anxiously in our seats, we were reminded that 20 years ago, we were together with the rest of our family, backstage at Amy’s Lead Me On concert, hugging her, talking with her, hearing her share a story about holding 2 dozen long stemmed roses very tightly for a photo session, and the photographer kept telling her to hold them tighter and smile big and laugh…all the while she was trying not to cry from the thorns that were digging into her arms!!! What great memories Ali and I were able to share about all Amy’s awesome music that just seemed to always be a constant in our house.  We could hardly stand to wait a moment more, when….lights go down….it’s concert time!

Amy and her original band from the Lead Me On tour, put on a rockin, awesome, spirit-filled night! Even though Ali and I knew those songs frontwards and backwards, the lyrics had a totally new and precious appreciation. Ever since our salvation, God has given us these new ears to hear TRUTH, and that’s exactly what we were listening to last night. I am telling you…last night was the most powerful time of worship for us! WHAT. A. BLESSING. There were a few times I became totally overwhelmed with God’s grace and mercy. Just being reminded that although I’ve always loved her music, always loved her, this time it was different. I GOT IT! I UNDERSTOOD! Amy’s passion for Christ was (and is) undeniable. The moment for me that I felt totally broken (in a good way) was when she sang “What about the Love?”. Man. The chorus sings, ‘Somethin’s wrong in heaven tonight, you can almost hear them cry…angels to the left and the right, singing what about the Love, what about the Love, what about the Love of God.’ Each verse was such a great depiction and explanation about the world we live in. The world that may even claim the Christian faith. Oh man, I could write a whole post just on that, but needless to say, it was a very powerful moment in the evening. I got some great pictures and an awesome video of Amy telling a truly inspiring story….

After the concert was over, Ali and I just knew we somehow HAD to see her. We had absolutely no idea how that was going to happen, seeing how we didn’t have a backstage pass, or any “connections”. But, we just decided to wait with the group of people that did have backstage passes, and see what would happen. There was another group of ladies that were also waiting around, hopeful to meet Amy without any official passes, so we got to know them and visited while we waited. We decided to step around the corner for a quick second, because Chris Eaton (her keyboard player from original tour and singer/songwriter) was out there signing stuff and taking pictures. Ali took a picture of him and I, and we hurried back around the corner, only to find the ladies were…..GONE! We both looked at eachother with major sad eyes, realizing our window just closed. We just stood there for a couple minutes, trying to decide what to do. Nobody else was left. We were by ourselves, standing on the “wrong” side of the backstage door. I peeped my eyes through the doors, and I could see the ladies right there! Then I could see Amy talking to a bunch of people. I said to Ali, “come on sis, we are going in!” And we did! I just opened the door, acting like I had permission or something. I think Ali was in shock for a sec…(actually I think I was too). We walked to the end of the line, and the ladies looked at us and smiled, saying they were worried we were going to miss our chance. Our patient waiting paid off!!!

Amy made her way through each group, talking and taking pictures. Ali and I were the very last ones for her to meet. As she looked our way, I could feel the emotions start to stir. It took her just a moment to connect all the info we were throwing at her. Then it hit her. She remembered who we were. She grabbed both of us and gave us a huge hug. She asked us questions about our lives. She grabbed my arm and said, “I remember your young little face!” We told her what God has done in our lives over the past 3 years. We told her about hearing her songs tonight with new meaning, and such a deep passion. She looked at us and said, “you girls have had a rough road…but your mom is smiling down on you now, and she was a wonderful woman.” Tears began to fill my eyes, and I look over at Ali, and the same is happening to her, then I hug Amy and say thank you for sharing that with us, and look at her eyes, and they were as teary as ours. It was a tremendous blessing. The concert itself was just totally profound, but to have the chance to see her and share a few things….well, it was the “icing on the cake” as it goes. Ali and I were (and still are) on this great spiritual high. What an amazing night. What an amazing God we serve.  He didn’t have to orchestrate that for us. He is so merciful. He is so worthy to be praised!

A special thanks must go to two incredibly precious men. My husband John, and Ali’s husband David. They love us sacrificially. They were blessed for us. We are blessed to have them. Thanks be to God! We love you Amy!

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His Mercy Reigns on me October 30, 2008

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God is so many things. Today, I am remembering and praising Him for His mercy. It’s unmerited, undeserved, and for our good. As I reflect over this past year, I find myself drenched by His mercy… reigning on me.

It was last October when I started this blog. The reason behind the desire to blog was a trial that I was enduring. I had encountered several people telling me of my bad luck, and having pity on me. God showed me that this was a perfect opportunity to give Him the glory, lean not on my own understanding, and boast in the cross (Rev 14:7, Prov 3:5, Gal 6:14). And so, that’s what I did. Getting my thoughts typed out here has been a tremendous blessing for me. I haven’t blogged as much as I thought I would…but when I took the time, God revealed so much to me. He drenched me with His mercy, by allowing me to grow, learn, repent, forgive, and rest.

His mercy is still reigning on me. Over this past year, it seems like it’s been one trial after the other…sometimes with the previous trial going unresolved. So many times I have wondered, God what are you teaching me? I struggled with weakness, frustration, impatience, and lack of trust. Then I would pray for help. Help me to be patient Lord…help me to be thankful. Draw near to me as I draw near to You. Help me to trust Your perfect sovereignty. Show me that when I am weak, You are strong (2 Cor 12:10). Remind me that Your Word is true when it says, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9). As you can imagine, as I prayed for help in each of these areas, God would allow a trial to come my way that challenged me to be patient, trusting, kind, leaning on Him and not my own understanding. He has even used my 3-year old to sanctify me by pruning out my unthankful heart. Wow God, I am drenched by Your mercy.

This year I have learned much from my Lord. He’s pruned out sinned and brought it into the light (Job 12:22). He has equipped me on how to proclaim the gospel as a true disciple, unashamed and to please Him, not man (Mark 16:15). He has shown me what is asked of me as a Christian wife and mother (Eph 5, Col 3, 1 Tim 3:11, 1Pet 3:1-7). He has reminded me how important compassion is in our Christian daily lives. He has proven to me that this life IS just a vapor, our bodies will fail us, relationships will fail us, the world we live in will fail us…..but HE will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb 13:5). He has guided me to so many awesome and life changing passages to meditate on throughout my day to day life. He’s kept me faced down at His feet, surrendering, submiting and trusting. He’s reminded me that He’s the one in control, He chooses who’s to be in His kingdom, not man (Selected Scriptures-“Sovereign Election”). Today, I am thankful for my trials and tribulations, for I know it has all been for my good, to Him be the glory! ( Jam 1)

 What a God we serve….His mercy reigns on us!!!!

Living what I Believe,

Lauren

So long self… October 14, 2008

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Well if I come across a little bit distant
It’s just because I am
Things just seem to feel a little bit different
You understand
Believe it or not but life is not apparently
About me anyways
But I have met the One who really is worthy
So let me say
So long, self
Well, it’s been fun, but I have found somebody else
So long, self
There’s just no room for two
So you are gonna have to move
So long, self
Don’t take this wrong but you are wrong for me, farewell
Oh well, goodbye, don’t cry
So long, self
Stop right there because I know what you’re thinking
But no we can’t be friends
And even though I know your heart is breaking
This has to end
And come to think of it the blame for all of this
Simply falls on me
For wanting something more in life than all of this
Can’t you see

Don’t feel so bad
There’ll be better days

 

 

Don’t go away mad (but by all means)
Just go away, go away

 **Mercy Me**

I love these lyrics. It’s like they watched my life before I was saved, and snuck inside my heart since I’ve been saved to understand my new desires. But that’s the amazing thing about the power of God’s transformation in our lives….it’s always radical like this! We are all different people, and diversity throughout the Christian faith is a certainty….but old self dying and new self being born is alike. It’s awesome. It’s humbling. It’s exciting. I am singing at the top of my lungs today…so long self!

Applying His Word October 12, 2008

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This passage has been running through my heart and mind ever since a dear friend shared it with me. It’s incredibly applicable to my life. Today, I am meditating, and resting in this passage of His Word. Hope you are too!

The context of this passage is Paul writing to the Thessalonians, after he had sent Timothy to report on how their church (which was infancy in stage), was doing. The news was mostly encouraging, however there were some important misunderstandings concerning his teaching’s of Christianity. Paul devotes part of the letter to correcting these errors, and exhorts the Thessalonians to purity of life, reminding them that their sanctification is God’s will for their lives.

 

“But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed— God is witness. Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.

For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.” (1 Thess 2:4-12)

Applying His Word,

Lauren

Who is The Judge? September 12, 2008

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Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)

“You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat.” (Romans 14:10)

As believers and followers of Jesus Christ, we may come into conversations where “you are judging me” can be directed at us as we proclaim the Gospel. I have really had to pray at times when this attacking verbage has been thrown my way, because sometimes I want to waiver and apologize. But if I stop and consider the motive of my heart, the answer becomes clear. I am not judging, in fact, I’m really not even criticizing. Any time these words have come on me, it’s because of my confidence and obedience in God’s Holy Word. I see people around me that only find joy in temporal things…things that waste away. While finding joy in things of this earth can be okay, depending on what it is, it shouldn’t be the only joy. I don’t judge them for that, but I try to encourage them in (the spirit of love) about the joy that is eternal and everlasting…. Jesus Christ. I can be extremely empathetic because I was there just a few years ago. I understand when people complain about life, gossip and slander others…(maybe even loved ones), and live without hope. I UNDERSTAND. So, I would never dare judge someone’s life. I believe the journey that God allowed me to go through was for a specific purpose. And the people God is constantly placing in my life have this same reoccuring theme that was the theme of my former self. It makes sense to me. He knows someone like me can relate to them, share my testimony and radical transformation. He has given me the burning passion for evangelism. He knows how excited I am to share the Gospel. He also knows I’m still a baby Christian, and I am learning how to use my spiritual gift in a way that is MOST edifying. It’s a process of growth….sanctification…..and one day I will be perfected in Glory when I am standing on the golden streets in heaven. But because I am part of the fallen human race, I will stumble along the way. I am learning more everyday through God’s amazing and life changing Word…and I am always grateful that I worship a God of grace, not of law!

Lord God, thank You for Your Word. It encourages me and guides me more than anything I have ever known. Thank You for filling me with Your Holy Spirit. Empty my heart of any selfishness, pride, personal gain or agenda, and in exchange place humility(godly wisdom), patience, self-control, love, joy, peace, and above all to do everything in life for Your glory. Keep drawing me closer to You. Thank You for a week that’s been filled with clarity, growth, forgiveness, humility, and perserverance. Thank You also for giving me my husband. I know You are working something awesome in his life and mine. Thank You for filling the desire in his heart to be such a rock of support and love to me. He is a tremendous gift from You. Praise You! Amen.

Resting in Him September 11, 2008

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I’ve got a lot on my mind today. It’s easy to get burdened, depleted, defeated, and overall drained from the things of this world. But in the midst of my storm, I will rejoice because I know the freedom to be resting in Him.

 “Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalm 73:25-28)

Life is hard, but GOD is good. That was Pastor Byron’s sermon title that tied in with this passage. He went on to give us a list of mistakes we make in life. First, that our focus in life can become escaping from our circumstances instead of benefiting from them. We MUST make room for pain in our lives so that we can be taught and grown by GOD. We turn into bitter people if we don’t allow trials to be what they are intended to be by God. We MUST examine our hearts. Bitterness removes our usefulness, our tenderness, and our ability to serve God and others. We become self-absorbed. Every conversation becomes about us, our pain, our problem. We are constantly looking for pity, validation, attention. We should be ONLY worried about the glory of God. We need to remember that it’s not about our circumstance changing (because it very well may never change), but about us(our heart) that changes.

Dear God, I thank you for the comfort and Truth Your Word provides. You are my rock, my refuge, my hiding place. Jesus, I am resting, …in the joy of what Thou art. I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart. Heavenly Father, I have a teachable heart….You are the greatest life teacher there is…..teach me! Take my heart and prune out my sin, mold me in Your image. O Lord I am eager to see you, to not be in this world anymore….but as long as You will have me here Lord, guide me on in true righteousness. Tonight my sweet God, I am resting in You, and relying on Your perfect counsel. Guide me in a manner that is worthy of You. You are ALL I need, You are all I have. O God, You are precious to me. I am grateful to be Your daughter. You are forever my resting place. Amen.

In Not of August 21, 2008

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These are powerfully bold words from a group that I really love, Avalon. The song is extremely convicting and compassionate, so I decided to put the lyrics and video so you can read along to this moving song for a world in need….

 

I hide me far away from trouble
The world outside me grows darker by the day
So I promise to stay here close beside Him
Surely God would want His children safe
Then reading, how my eyes were opened
I find that He is leading us out into the world
Into the middle of fallen saints and sinners
Where a little grace is needed mostCHORUS
Come take the Light to darker parts
Share His truth with hardened hearts
We are not like the world but we can love it
Come bring the Hope to hopeless men
Until the lost are found in Him
He came to save the world
So let us be… in it, not of it
Wait a minute
If we say we love them, why are we not in it
Why we run and hide
Entertain a stranger
Maybe entertain an angel
The danger is if our worlds don’t collide
CHORUS

We’ve cursed the darkness far too long
We need to hold the candle high
We have to go and right the wrongs
We need to touch the world with love
With His love

 

Meditate on this! July 21, 2008

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Thus says the LORD:”Cursed is the man who trusts in man
   and makes flesh his strength
,
   whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
  and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
   in an uninhabited salt land.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
  whose trust is the LORD.

 He is like a tree planted by water,
   that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
   for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
   for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

 The heart is deceitful above all things,
   and desperately sick;
   who can understand it?
 “I the LORD search the heart
   and test the mind,
 to give every man according to his ways,
   according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17:5-10 )

We were reading over this passage at church yesterday, and it just grabbed my heart and soul! I need to meditate on scriptures like this one ALL THE TIME! It reminds me of so many things. First, that GOD commands us NOT TO TRUST IN MAN. In fact, it says “cursed is the man”…pretty powerful statement there. You think God means it or what?!? For those on this earth that put there trust in man and not God, justice will be His in the end. This also means ourselves. We read at the end of the verse that the heart is sick and deceiving, who can understand it? Second, that our trust should always and only BE IN GOD. When we have reverential fear (i.e. trust) in God, we produce fruit, whether we are in a difficult time (drought) or a joyous time (plentiful green watered tree by the stream). We know God is always there for us, is a Sovereign God, and we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. ( Romans 8:28 )

No matter what or who you believe in, God knows all of our hearts, and will have justice on each one of us based on our hearts, not our deeds (good or bad). So, if you say you love God, trust Him with all your heart, never trust man, understand that your heart fails you and cannot be trusted, and love God by obeying His commands! I pray that this passage will mediate in your minds all week long. Be blessed!

Trusting God,

Lauren

More than Love July 18, 2008

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In this world that we live in, so many people claim to know God.  Some of the claimers say they are Christians, some say another religion, but insist it’s the same God. Most everyone says, “God is love”. And He is….but He is so much more.

In fact, God’s character is vast, and love is just one attribute. If you claim to know God, did you know that He is all of the following?…..

God is: Wisdom, Infinitude, Sovereignty, Holiness, Trinity, Omniscience, Faithfulness, Love, Omnipotence, Self-sufficiency, Self-existence, Justice, Immutability, Mercy, Eternal, Goodness, Gracious, Omnipresence

Wow…what a GREAT God we serve! That’s who God is…..and He’s the only God out there. He isn’t a God of many religions. He’s the God who made the heavens and the earth, the Father who sent His son Jesus Christ to live such a meek and humbling life, to be here as a servant and ultimately give His life as a ransom for those who believe. (Matthew 20:28 ) (more…)

Happy to be Narrow May 16, 2008

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“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

I’ve been wanting to write a post like this for a very long time now. The theme has been in my head for months and months…the theme is my life. The theme is Christianity. The point is Christ and Christ alone.

Evaluate your heart:

If you are reading this, and claim the Christian faith, do you find yourself on the narrow road, looking to enter the narrow gate? Does the word narrow have some negative or degrading undertone in your perspective? Do you find happiness and joy when you someone refers to your beliefs as narrow?

I’m so happy to know narrow, to love narrow, to be narrow. God’s given me such perspective over this concept. Of course, I didn’t always believe this “hard core”…but that’s because I wasn’t saved. I definitely believed Jesus was the way, but never truly considered the whatif scenario for those who lived “good” lives, but believed something else. The fact is that the Christian faith is a very harsh reality, and not one that many want to really think about. So, many people don’t. They all just go about their lives, and “live for today”, and “live for themselves”, but aren’t considering eternity. One thing is certain about life…..we will all die. It’s a fact. Most people don’t want to think about it. And, although I don’t feel ready to go right now, I am excited to go Home. I know where I am going, and it’s through the narrow gate. And it’s because of God’s grace, through faith, and not of my own works, but a gift from God, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9)

I’ve been hated on for declaring the narrow road. I’ve been called judgemental, a bigot, and close-minded. I would say to those people that they just don’t know who God really is. They wouldn’t say such things if they sought His Truth found only in the Bible. They would have the same understanding and peace that comes from knowing the one and only true God, and living out what He has called us to be, disciples.

The persecution of believing God and living His narrow path is one that I welcome. He has called me to be an ambassador for Him and a loving disciple of Jesus. I am alive by God’s grace, and will spend eternity with Him and all the other fellow “narrow believers”, and I count it all joy!

Consider this:

Don’t take my word for it, Take The Word……MANY enter through the wide gate, which is EASY, and leads to destruction. Are you going through life with ease, just “livin”…carefree and “acceptance equals love” type of mentality, or are you living a disciplined, obedient, God-centered life, seeking the Truth found in the Bible, all for the purpose to be His glory?

Walking Narrow,

Lauren