Friday, September 18, 2015

In Your Not so Perfect Season

In Your Not so Perfect Season


Seasons come and go and much like a new Spring with flowers blooming or a Fall ready for harvest, there is a rhythm and a plan that we can rely on. Sometimes in life I feel like my rhythm is just completely off. I remember thinking as I was graduating high school that I wasn’t ready for the next season because I had no idea what direction I was supposed to go.

 I think my most unforgettable moment of crisis came when I was twenty four. My friends were: graduating college, getting careers, getting married, having babies, building homes, some had even started graduate programs. Meanwhile I was: recently single, living with my parents, and years away from graduating college. Yes it is possible that my choices and my plans had not been given over to the perfect management of God, that out of fear for choosing the wrong path I chosen no path. But the truth is that God had his watchful eye over me, even in all of my hasty decision making, my missteps, my failings, my desert moments and my overwhelming urge to apply for the world’s most useless person award; he was still there.

If you are going to live in a place with little to no climate change, most people would pick a tropical Island, but my life was a cold frost desert of Siberian death. I had no idea that even though my life looked aimless and without purpose that the Master Craftsman was hard at work. It felt more like everyone else knew exactly what they were doing, where they were going and how they we going to get there, while I wandered in my desert.

I am not alone in having a season where either by circumstance or choice I was out of rhythm. The bible is filled with our Heroes of faith that found themselves out of rhythm more than in it.

Abraham and Sarah were unable to have children and God promised them descendants so abundant that they would be like the stars in the sky. Sarah was a little out of season as she gave birth to a boy in her old age. And yet there was going to be no mistaking that God had done a miracle among them.

And speaking of me wandering around in a desert, Moses, did that too. First he was a slave adopted by a princess. He became an important person who then became a murderer, who then ran away to become a shepherd. A shepherd who was then recruited by God to be the leader of God’s people and would take the Israelites from captivity to victory.  Then not many steps after seeing God do marvelous works, they would wander a desert for forty years in search of their Promised Land. Moses’s titles and trials were sometimes circumstantial and sometimes chosen but no title or trial could define and shape him into anything other than the man God was shaping him to be. God wastes nothing. He is in control.

I think we believe a lie that if we don’t produce fruit in every season or in the proper season that we are not productive. I was fruitless in many seasons but that did not mean I was incapable of baring fruit.


It is fall here and while all my other plants are starting to wither and die I have this crazy little strawberry plant that just doesn’t seem to know much about when it is supposed to die, or fruit for that matter. It had no fruit during strawberry season but now all of a sudden it is giving me these sweet little strawberries.

The first thing I noticed about it fruiting in this season is that it stands out by a mile. All the plants around it are pale and withered while this green lively strawberry plant is producing fruit.


The second thing I noticed is that the birds, bugs and critters are not stealing the fruit, it is as if they are completely unaware of it due to it not being the season for it.

The third thing I noticed is that I am over the moon excited to eat these strawberries because I haven’t had a fresh strawberry since the spring, so the fruit in this season seems sweeter and more noticeably pleasant on my pallet.    


This strawberry is thriving in its “not so perfect season”, whether it is the season that is imperfect with unkind storms and trials, droughts and disasters or the plant that is just out of tune with its natural rhythm, it doesn’t matter because the creator of both the season and the strawberry is still on His throne.

  Stop and consider this: That strawberry wasn’t producing visible fruit in the spring because it was developing its roots. Are we so dependent on seeing fruit that we would risk using all our energy on that instead of on something deeper? If we miss our developing moments with God we may become shallow and potentially allow death to take us over because we have no roots. In these seasons of trial and doubt we must focus all of our energy on that which is most valuable; our dependence on Christ, our foundation. Then in the most amazing way when we aren’t even expecting it, we will bear fruit.

The fruit that came from the strawberry that was out of season was three things:

Beautifully noticed by everyone as a miracle that makes us stop and question, “How is this possible”? Giving glory to a perfect God who often uses our, off rhythm moments to shine brighter than ever before.

It was protected from predators that weren’t aware of it or expecting it. No enemy we have calculates the miracle of God’s unexpected plans, the enemy sees pain and trail as defeat but we know from the Story of the cross that Christ proved that it those painful moments in surrender to God that can produce a powerful punch.  

And the fruit was desirably delicious! It was set apart for a special and divine moment. It tasted sweeter and was a blessing that was magnified by the waiting.   How great and glorious will be that day that we produce fruit that isn’t just a reaction to a season but is produced by the nutritional feeding of the depths of our being. When we feed our Spirit we will become strong in ways that we didn’t know we could be and do things that defy the natural way of things.

Some apple trees will fruit every two years, one year it will fruit and the next it will hold back, waiting patiently not just so that its harvest is plentiful, but also so it can tend to the nutritional needs of the tree. How sad if we cut down a tree that wasn’t fruiting but was healing just because we couldn’t see the fruit. Yet we cut ourselves down and we judge the process by other trees fruit. We become obsessed with that which is seen and forget the importance of the growth that is unseen. Do not waste your season of growth no matter if it is through trial or triumph. Our primary focus shouldn’t be the fruit but the foundation of who we are. Focus all of yourself on Jesus; On the vine.


John 15:1-17

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.


All we are asked to do is to remain in Him and above all else love, Him and others, He will do all the rest. He will prune, He will develop the fruit, and He will dwell within us. That last part of the verse says “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit- fruit that will last-“

Fruit that will last! How beautiful to bear fruit that will last.

Lord, I ask that we would grow with passion for a deeper connection to you, our vine our source of all things! You are so full of rich love and deep compassion. I desire the greater things Lord, I desire your presence and I let go of my pursuit of the fruit, but hold on to the vine, my true and lasting life source. I desire all of you, I desire your paths, your ways and your thoughts to be intertwined within my very soul. I love you Lord and I am so thankful that you call me friend. I call you the love of my life and I will pursue you relentlessly as you have pursued me. Amen

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Bear

The Bear


1 Samuel 17:33-37

Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, 35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. 36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God. 37 The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.”

 The story of David and Goliath is well known; a young shepherd boy who kills a great Giant in the name of the Lord. But how foolish we are if we think that David’s courage was just a matter of his nature rather than an outcome of training. But the training David received was of a spiritual nature and out of conflict. Have we allowed God to train us spiritually? Through the conflicts that arise, do we learn to fight or do we learn to flee? The beautiful irony is that both fight and flight can teach us and train us about the battle. We never come out of a circumstance the way we went in. But if we flee, even if it is into the arms of our loving God, we will miss the opportunity to learn how to fight. Only by learning how to fight our battles will we develop the courage that says “If God is for me than who can ever be against me?”  

We do not fight alone, nor do we fight the way the world does, and certainly not for the same reasons. It is not for riches and glory that we are to arm ourselves but rather for the glory of God to free captives and demolish strongholds. David fought the Lion and Bear, to free the lost sheep. And Goliath was just another predator aligning himself for the killing of a flock. By the time David had defeated Goliath he had already allowed God to strengthen him through the battles before, to arm him with a confidence that come from seeing God equip us to fight and beat down the enemy. Paul describes this confidence we can have and this equipping God does for us to fight our own battles.

2 Corinthians 10:2-8

I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
You are judging by appearances. If anyone is confident that they belong to Christ, they should consider again that we belong to Christ just as much as they do. So even if I boast somewhat freely about the authority the Lord gave us for building you up rather than tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of it.

 David was not trained in worldly warfare but was equipped with the knowledge of God, to tear down the pretentious stronghold that came against the name of the Lord. As much as the story of David bringing down the Giant is one of physical triumph, it is one of that I believe God wants to give us as imagery of the power we have in him to bring down the giants in our life: the spiritual, emotional, mental and physical strongholds in our life.

So many times all we can hear is the giant roaring his curses over the sound of our Lord speaking. But often times it isn’t even the giant that has us bound up it is the world of human doubters all around us. Paul said that by waging this kind of warfare, we do not live by the standards of this world, nor do we fight like it. But what does that mean and what did that mean to David? David had three older brothers fighting in this war, and upon his father’s wishes he took food to them and was also sent to get a report. When he arrived he started asking around the camp about the enemy when he had an unkind encounter with his older brother.

1 Samuel 17:25-29
25 Now the Israelites had been saying, “Do you see how this man keeps coming out? He comes out to defy Israel. The king will give great wealth to the man who kills him. He will also give him his daughter in marriage and will exempt his family from taxes in Israel.”

26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
27 They repeated to him what they had been saying and told him, “This is what will be done for the man who kills him.”
28 When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”
29 “Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” 30 He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. 31 What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.

 If our motives to bring down a stronghold are of riches and glory, popularity and prize, rather than freedom for the captives and glory to God alone, we will find ourselves much like the Israelite army was at that moment. We will be angry and divided by jealously and greed, we will be controlled by lust and fear and doubt. The world fights for riches, honor, even for the love of the king’s own daughter but all David wanted was to free the captives and restore the power and glory to the throne of God. Most men fight in the name of the Lord for the selfishness they so passionately defend. But we are to fight our giants so that the throne of our hearts and others hearts will be seated with Christ alone. David didn’t fight for the earthly crown that Saul so willingly offered the victor, he fought so that he could rip the crown of glory from the enemy and present it to God in front of all of His people. But his brother was filled with anger because his heart was not in submission to God's plans but rather his own selfish plans. And often times the world around us become another obstacle, another voice to tune out, in our pursuit of freedom.

What giant is cursing at you? What fellow brother is calling you names because they cannot see what God sees in you? Will we go back to the sheep? Or will we fight the enemy of our souls?

The course of a nation’s freedom rested in the rocks that David threw at Goliath. A king gave a shepherd a chance at glory because of something in his words and something in the way he commanded himself. And then a king watched as a boy took a victory that by all odds seemed impossible. What giant, Brother, King and nation is watching you? Although no Philistine army is knocking down my door, I have been given the weapons to defeat strongholds that will in fact change the course of history. Will I go back to my few sheep or will I take the rocks that God has given me and defeat the giant?

I had a very disturbing dream last Wednesday. My son was outside in the back yard and behind him was a massive demonic looking bear. His nose was pointy and his teeth were bared. He was growing in size and about to attack. I ran to the window and started screaming at the bear, to get his attention and to come after me instead. It was in this helpless moment that I awoke. No resolution.

Later that day in prayer I saw that image again of that demonic bear but this time instead of screaming at it. God handed me a bunch of rocks. I didn’t immediately know what to do with them and asked. “What are these, what am I supposed to do with them?” He told me to defeat the bear. At first I questioned the method but then I realized I hadn't previously question my inadequate method of screaming at it and telling it to go away, and that was very ineffective. I had a handful of rocks. I asked another question. “What is my bear, what is my enemy?” God just stepped out of the way and one by one, the unmasked bears appeared. They were my enemies, the things my ultimate enemy had sent to destroy me. I took the first rock and I threw it as hard as I could and I said “In the name of Jesus, Who is my rock and my strong tower I defeat you, Financial Problems!” I took another and threw it at another enemy, The Fear of Losing my Family. I threw another rock at Shame, Regret, at Pride, Selfishness, at Jealousy, Laziness, at Health Problems, Marriage Problems, at Strife, Exhaustion, at addiction, Anger, at Cruel Words and Self Hate, and at Lies.
I thought God had given me too many rocks at first but I soon realized that he would give me as many rocks as I needed to defeat these obstacles in my path. I felt helpless screaming at my bear as I watched it trying to take my family from me. But now as I realized the warrior inside of me, I knew that as long as I fought for the freedom of the captives and the glory of God that I could not lose.
My struggles are stronger than me, but my God is mightier than them. David learned that sometimes God’s way of delivering us out of terrible circumstances is not simply to take us out of the fight but to allow us to be trained in those moments for a bigger battle ahead. To equip us, to teach us and to lead us into battle.
Are we fighting on our knees in prayer for our families as much as we are screaming at the wind in frustration? Have we picked up the right cause? Do we fight for the freedom from our sins and the glory for God, or are we just fighting for our selfish rights? David had authority because he was in God’s authority. His enemy had no size other than this, “HE WAS SMALLER THAN HIS GOD” Our enemy is smaller than our God and if we can turn our hearts and ask God to purify us and make us right with him, he will equip us with the stones to throw at our enemy. But God won’t arm us if we are in the mood to throw stones at the wrong target. We tend to lob our stones at those we love and those who need love (and grace) rather than at the enemy of our souls. And even if we have our enemy in our sights, we tend to scream at him in our selfishness and self-protective nature rather than to pick up the stones that God would equip us with if we humbled ourselves before Him.
I often fight the wrong enemy just as Eliab (David's Brother) wanted to fight with David. I find myself throwing stones at my husband, children, neighbors, co workers, friends and basically the whole world, because they offend me or they don't appreciate me, or treat me the way I want to be treated, or respected the way I deserve. I am fighting for me in those moments and God will not honor that self serving fight for rights.  Eliab had been on the front lines, trained and equipped by human standards and here comes little brother who thinks he can save the day. So he throws his stones. How many times have we found ourselves serving the enemies purposes and fighting for the wrong side? Do not be deceived by the enemy and start picking up his stones to throw at just anyone who gets in the way of your pride.   

Be a David who learns how to be a true warrior. With a teachable spirit, a humble heart. A worshiper who seeks God, who does not stray away from the fight but aggressively attacks the Lion and Bear and Giant in the authority of God for the purposes of God.

 Not a Saul: who keeps offering a mighty prize to whomever can kill his giant for him. Hiding behind the idea that someday God will deliver his people.

Not an Eliab : who wants the spoils of victory, who lusts after the earthly prize and claims to be a follower of God, hiding behind the lines of defense and cursing those who desire to fight the giant for God all because of jealousy.

And not the whole army of Israel: who stood and let one man spout out curses to them and their God. While trembling in fear at the might of a deceiver.

The enemy will bring a giant, a bear, a lion, a disease, a tragedy, a conflict, anything he can to make our hearts stand still, frozen in our own inadequacy. But David so boldly proclaimed in 1 Samuel 17:45-47  to the enemy:

45  “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.”

 Are you ready to say this to your giant? Prepare your heart, get it where God asks it to be in submission to him, and he will hand you your stones.

The question isn’t are you ready to start a fight. The question isn’t about beginning to fight because you have already been fighting too long. Most of us are tired from the constant battle. The question is, are you ready to start winning?



Thursday, September 3, 2015


I heard the sounds of hurried steps. I looked around at the columns that held strong a white stone palace. I saw a woman running with long strides. Her dress was white, flowing softly and angelically. Her hair in curls with small white flowers woven throughout. She was adorned with silver and gold cuffs. As beautiful the sight of this Grecian princess, it was the way she moved that caught my attention. At first when she ran past I assumed she was late for something or being chased by someone, because no one would expend that kind of energy unless they had too. But as her face quickly turned back to meet my gaze I saw something I wasn’t prepared to see. She smiled back at me as though she had great news and maybe even a secret that would change the world. But only had time for an excited motion with her hand for me to follow. Then she quickly turned her gaze to the path ahead. She was so excited and so determined to get wherever she was going that all I could do was completely forget what I was doing so I could follow her.

I could barely keep up and amazingly enough she didn’t even seem to break a sweat or be out of breath. Whatever it was that she was running towards must be worth a great deal. Perhaps a treasure.  Others started to join the pursuit. I didn’t know their motive, maybe it was fear that something bad was coming or that they would miss something great. Maybe it was the thrill of it all or that others were doing it so they wanted to be part of something. Maybe it was that they had nothing other to do and the curiosity had overcome them too. I noticed that as she ran up some stairs and through corridors, the pursuit of her was more difficult and many of those who were just along for the ride began to lose interest. But her determination to pursue this unseen treasure was unlike anything I had ever seen.

Soon we came to a very large courtyard. A marvelous staircase led up to a beautiful doorway. Many people were sitting all along the stairs, some standing even but she ran passed them all and entered the door.  I slowly walked the steps, enjoying the company of those around me. It was comfortable at the steps, it was easy to want to stay outside and be with others that seemed very content to stay just outside the door. But I had to know where she went and why she was so excited. As I drew closer to the door I could see more people inside. They were singing. It was ominous, it was joyous, it was peaceful, sheltered from any storm. But it was not intimate, it was large and crowded with others who had gathered for the safety and warmth.

Just then I saw just a glimpse of the woman run straight into another room at the very back of this chamber. I followed but when I arrived at the door I noticed a line of people just standing at the door. On the floor a torn curtain lay at my feet. The woman had run into this room but others were acting as though their was still a curtain standing in their way. They would say, “What do you think is in there? I wish I could know how it feels, sounds and looks in the inner court.” I was confused because I could see right into the room and didn’t have to guess but when I looked again at those who were in confusion, they were wearing veils and could not see clearly. They could not even see me as I entered into that inner court.

Upon entering that Holy place I saw the woman run and leap into the arms of her one true love. He spun her around with an embrace that makes all other attempts at embracing seem week. I was captivated by the scene. I watched as he gently brushed away a stray ringlet of hair away from her eyes and embraced her face with both hands. “I have been waiting for you here.” He said softly.  “My beautiful bride!”

In a single moment of surrender as I collapsed to my knees and wept with desire to be that bride. I looked up to a loving suitor wiping my tear and taking my hand. As I rose, I went from the spectator to the bride. The rags of my former life had withered away like a dying plant in the extreme heat of the sun. Underneath it all I was wearing a garment of white. I was pure and in his sight I was so very loved.  

From that moment on I was the bride running to the inner court every day to be with my true love. And one day, in one glorious moment in time I will finally hear the procession music as I walk down the aisle to be completely his.

Church we are the bride of Christ and if we do not know how very exciting it is or how very beautiful we are, or how very loved we are by our king, then we have not been this bride who understands that the veil was torn so that we could enter into his presence. I don’t want to be the bride just outside the door. with her veil that hides who the groom is and hides who his bride is. I want to see his face and hear his voice.  I want to understand how great his love is for me.

 I don’t want to be the ones in the outer court just using my Christianity for a shelter from the storm. Feeling safe from the outside but never knowing my God deeply.

 I don’t want to gather just outside the gate on the very steps of his kingdom. I want to run to him! Every day I want to leap into the arms of the lover of my soul. It is a great treasure, a great prize of unsurpassable glory. There is no other thing worthy of our desire. And on that day when he takes his bride I will not be caught unprepared or unaware, only completely enthralled that for every moment for the rest of my life I get to spend it in the arms of my Lord.  

Matthew 27:50,51

 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.
51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split

2 Corinthians 3:16-18

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate[] the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

 "Father make us see that we are your bride and that you love us passionately. Give us the fire inside our hearts to pursue you every day and in every moment. Let our hearts be filled with youthful expectation and mature adoration for your love. We need our eyes to be unveiled so our hearts can leap again at the sight of your glory oh God. I love you so much! Amen"