idols, asherah and surrender

I’ve been reading through 1 and 2 Kings lately.  I love these two books in Scripture.  They are so convicting and challenging.  They are full of heroic endeavors, miraculous wonder, and prophetic warnings.  But what I love the most about them is the story they tell about a sinful people and their gracious God.

These two books tell of king after king, and how each authority leads its people to and away from God.  You have kings like Joram who did evil in the sight of God (2 Kings 8:27).  Then you have Jehu, who carefully constructed a plan to destroy the baal worshippers, but did not walk in the law of the LORD with all His heart (2 Kings 10).  {This appears to be the story of many of the kings.  They made strides to devote themselves to God, but they allowed certain sins to remain in their lives and in the land, which led the people away from God.}  And then you have a few precious kings, who act like my personal favorite – Hezekiah.  Of these kings it is written about them that they “did right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father David had done” (2 Kings 18:3).  These men didn’t take any chances.  They were not only devoted to God, but they also took measures to keep that devotion in the land.  They destroyed anything that would turn the people away from worshipping God.

Every time I read about the kings of Israel and Judah, I am left to ponder my own heart.  I rule my own life and my own heart.  I am keeper of my land.  I am the protector of my home.  Where do I lie?  I desperately want to be like the kings who emulated David. These were not perfect men, but they were wholly devoted to God and the sanctity of His worship.

But I fear that I too often fall in the middle.

Sometimes I like to take inventory of my heart.  What’s sitting on a throne in this precious space?  Am I lover of money?  Do I covet others’ possessions?  Have I allowed entertainment to elevate itself?

Even good things can quickly become idols in our lives.  Ministry can quickly bump our devotion to God as we seek success rather than intimacy.  Family, although entirely good, can sometimes distract us from our First Love.  I don’t want to be someone who has mini idols set up in my heart.  I want to be fierce about destroying all that seeks to destroy my devotion to Christ.

I love the Hymn, “Come Thou Fount”.  The plea in this hymn is a constant prayer of mine…

prone to wander, Lord I feel it;

prone to leave the God I love. 

Let your grace, like a fetter bind my wandering heart to thee!

May I be a woman who takes my authority seriously by refusing to allow any Asherah or Idol to compete against the sacred worship to Jesus Christ alone!

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four months

October is here.  The leaves are falling off the trees, leaving their yellow trace all over my front yard.  I love this season.  Life gets one last breath before winter takes it by force and in finality.  I’m so glad that death happens slowly and not with one good storm.  We get to watch the process unfold before our eyes – both in nature and in our existence.

Boulder has been our home for four months now and as I look back, I am in awe of what has transpired in my own heart.  So many things in my soul have been killed.  At the time, I desperately wished that God would just take those things quickly and leave me as (un)maimed as possible.  But like the seasons – and like life – our Spiritual being is formed with time.  We are slowly brought to death, only to be brought back to life.  Though it went unappreciated at the time, I am now so thankful that, like the seasons, death does not come in a fierce blow, but through several storms.

Each storm has called to question my service to God.  And as so much has died within me, so much has been brought to life as well.

Four months and…

  • I no longer stress about paying our rent – I know God will provide
  • I walked away from a potential full-time job – Raising my girls means more than a paycheck
  • I have stopped questioning if we are called here – We are here, therefore we are called
  • I have allowed myself to dream about the Church – I am burdened for this city
  • Discomfort pays frequent visit to followers of Christ – We are not called to comfort
  • Discipleship is costly – He is worth the cost
  • I have abandoned many worldly things – I can now embrace more fully Eternal things

For those of you who have been reading my blog… thank you for allowing myself to process this journey.  I am sure I will have more posts where I wrestle with doubt, insecurity, pain, and heartache.  But I want to make sure that in the midst of giving you an authentic portrayal of my life, I don’t neglect to share with you how good God has been in the midst of this journey!

It may have taken me 4 months too long to realize it, but I am being carried through this life by an amazing Father and an incredibly resilient Friend – the Hope I have is the Hope that brought me to this city in the first place – may God help me live that out daily.

not a hard Master

“How very kind of the Lord, not merely to send us the necessities of life, but even such things as, on account of the weakness of our bodies, or the want of appetite, we might have desired!… We have indeed not served a hard Master.”

George Muller penned that statement after he witnessed God’s amazing provisions in his life.

I have come to a very still place in my soul; I neither awake with extreme excitement nor do I wrestle with discouragement.  I am content.  Perfectly content in the season of life I am in.  Each day brings new joy to me – as a mother, wife, church planter, and child of God.

There are days when I question God’s involvement in my life, but those days have become more frequently submitted to the days when I anticipate God’s involvement in my life.  This has been the result of being brought to the revelation that we do not serve a hard Master.  It is not a sacrifice to serve a God of such insurmountable love and grace.  When He took on my sin at the cross, He did so to gain the Father’s reward.  He saw me as a Reward – something worth giving His life for.  And yet, all too often I do not see my own cross in the same way.  I do not count it all joy when I face trials of various kinds.  Maybe it’s because I esteem my comfort above my God.  But serving God is not a burden, nor is it a sacrifice; this doesn’t mean it’s comfortable or easy, nor that it should be.  However, the way in which we carry our cross determines how we see God.  God is not a hard Master, and whatever I go through for the sake of Christ is not a sacrifice, but pure joy – Joy because of Whom I am living for!

disillusionment

The words spoken by God to Job keep reverberating in the deepest part of my soul…

where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?   who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth and issued from the womb; when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band?      have you commanded the morning since your days began?        Have you entered the treasury of snow, or have you seen the treasury of hail?    can you lift up your voice to the clouds that an abundance of water may cover you?  Can you send out lightnings, that they may go, and say to you, ‘Here we are?’       who can pour out the bottles of heaven?      can you satisfy the appetite of the young lions?    who provides food for the raven, when its young ones cry to God and wander about for lack of food?   have you given the horse strength?   does the hawk fly by your wisdom?      does the eagle mount up at your command?   Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?  He who rebukes God, let him answer it.

I’m silenced.  Somewhere along the way I lost sight of who God is and my own understandings of who I am.  Can I contend with the God who knit me together in a secret place?  How do I question He who knows the depths of my soul, better than I?  My own disillusionment is crushed by the weight of nothing less or more than the fact that God is God, and I am not.  And while the temptation lurks to question God as to why He’d bring me here to “die” – the only appropriate response to Him is utter silence brought upon by the humility that is caused when something small beholds that which is truly great.

 

a courageous life

The problem with our faith today, is we purposely choose to avoid living a courageous life.  We would rather not see God move and live in comfort, than give way to discomfort and see God move in radical ways.  We want miracles, but we refuse to position ourselves to be recipients of them.  As we started our church plant I was most excited to see God provide for us in crazy ways.  I’ve always worked hard for my money, and I’ve left little room to see God really provide in miraculous ways.  My solution to not paying the bills is to get a second or third job.

As a church planter, adding jobs to our daily routine was just not an option.  As we headed out to accomplish our God-sized dream, my husband asked me what I was looking forward to the most – honestly, the miracles, I told him.  I couldn’t wait to see God move in others lives as well as my own.  One area where we needed God to move was our finances.  We needed Him to provide in radical ways.  But the way I live my life is to pick up another job or to swipe my credit card.  I wasn’t about to give up certain luxuries; that is until God spoke to me.   I was never going to see God’s miracles, because I had so many false securities in my life.  Plastic and the job market would rescue me like they always have.  But I knew I wanted more.  I wanted to live a courageous life and see God provide for me in ways I’ve never dreamt or imagined.  So I did the unthinkable… I cut up my cards and CLOSED the accounts.  I refused myself the joys of entertaining getting a second job.  And because I was adamant about stepping out in faith, I put everything on the line.  I truly depended on God.

We have too many security blankets in our lives.  We don’t need God to provide, because we have VISA.  We don’t need God to give us joy, because we have entertainment.  We don’t need God to give us peace, because we find peace in other things.  But I believe that God is calling us to live courageously – to put everything on the line.  I believe that we are called to work hard and not be foolish.  Some of us need to get a second job.  But sometimes we replace Church, our walk with Jesus and our families for that second job.  I believe God wants us to serve Him by living courageously.  We are called to trust God in times of need, not get into more debt.  We are called to surrender our fears and let Him bail us out.  This isn’t easy and the fruit seems minimal at first, but as we do this, I believe that God is going to reveal Himself to us in radical ways.

finally here

Sometimes I think God works in mysterious ways just to remind us that we don’t have Him figured out.  Our move to Boulder has been mysterious indeed, and each day God unfolds a little bit more of God’s grace and goodness.  But I’m learning that it’s not just good because He can does things for us, but it’s good because of who He is.  I don’t expect anything to work out the way I want anymore, but instead I just hold my hands up in surrender and trust implicitly in God’s goodness.

When Ben and I decided to move to Boulder we thought God would open radical doors to confirm His will.  Instead, doors shut.  One door after another slammed in our faces.  We couldn’t find a place to live.  Ben couldn’t find a job.  Our insurance had run out, and to make matters worse, I was in the middle of my third pregnancy.  The worries began to pile on as each door closed not only made me question our calling, but made me face the reality that we were about to be very poor, jobless, homeless and adding a new child into this mess.  The week before we were supposed to leave, and Ben’s last week at the Church, we received a phone call – Ben got a job and he was going to be starting June 6th.  One prayer answered, but still, no home.  The last day on Ben’s job at the Church, he preached on the cost of following Christ.  It was an easy message for him, because it came directly from his own experience over the past month.  He was preaching on the fires of tribulation and his clothes were still on fire from what we were going through.  At the close of the message a woman approached him and asked him where we were going to live… ummm- we don’t know.  All we knew was that we had felt God calling us to Boulder in June and that Ben had a job lined up.  Then she handed us the keys to her place – it was vacant for two months and it was in central Boulder.  We got to live there rent-free for two months.

God has taught me that His path is not always easy, but He travels it with us.  A week later, I was given a job where I would be able to work from home.  We are planting a Church, and we are going to have to work harder than we have ever worked in our lives.  And yet, here we are, in Boulder.  While I was busy looking for homes and driving to Boulder twice a week to search out places, God was lining up a place for us, rent-free.  While I was busy filling out applications for Ben, God had a job in place – no application needed.  I have learned to not try to force things.  I do my part and I sit back and let God direct my steps, after all, I have said all my life, that I am traveling on the narrow path.  Well, if this is true, then I guess I better be willing to accept God’s path for my life instead of my own.

I still ache to see our Church start.  I long to meet people and get to be a witness.  And I desperately desire for God to give me boldness and Divine encounters!  This is what I desperately desire more than anything.  This is why I left my family and comfort.  This is why we came to Boulder.

the beginning

My Journey of Planting a Church is somewhat emotional right now.  Today I look around at an apartment that is the first place that has felt like home to me since being married.  I think about packing it up and closing the doors.  It’s difficult right now, because I really like where I live.  I feel settled.  Comfortable.  Pleasant.  And yet, I know that we are about to leave.  We are going to move to a very uncomfortable place, and I am sure that I don’t know even the half of it.  Boulder is so unsafe to me.  Vail is so safe.  Boulder is so foreign.  Vail, I get.  I feel like Boulder is an unreachable endeavor and God is saying, “Go!”  Everything in me questions that small voice.  Go where?  Go to a place where other church plants have left?  Go to a place that hates Jesus?  

I am leaving what I love for what appears right now, to be nothing.   We are leaving the comfort of stability, to live off of what?  Faith?

Faith is hard.  Right now I get that.  My physical surroundings are speaking to me louder than my faith is.  Why leave this?  Why go?  Is Boulder even ready to hear the Gospel?  Will our journey be in vain?  I’m leaving everything- my family, my home, our jobs and a church that we have labored for intensely.  We started the youth group, are we supposed to just pass it off now?  We wept over the schools and what could become a mid-week service for high schoolers.  We prayed for those who do not know, that they might come to know.  Am I supposed to be happy about leaving all of that?  Our youth group is finally a group.  They love Thursday nights, and I love seeing their faces.  Do we just shut the door and walk away?

And what if it doesn’t work out?  Where do we go?  Do we go from church planter to youth pastor again?  I don’t think we will ever be able to go back.  The decision is so final, so definite.  We don’t get to be wrong about it, do we?

I ask for confirmation.  And though we have received some…  for me, I still need to hear that still small voice.  That’s how God speaks to me.  That’s when I know it’s Him.  It’s that pull in my heart that is slight, but severe.  That’s all I want.  That’s all I need.   I cannot help but beg for it, because we are being forced to do nothing but walk in faith.  And as we walk, I feel my heart walking away from something and into nothing.  The Israelites mean something to me now.  They left slavery and though it seemed good, as they entered a land of nothing – they doubted.  I don’t want to live like that.  Moses tells them in Deuteronomy 2:7, “You have lacked nothing.”  I know that this is also true for me.  I have truly lacked nothing!  And I know in my core, that as I go, I will lack nothing.