Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
The second night of youth convention was even greater than the first. More laughter, more worship, more change in lives! Saturday night I got the opportunity to watch and pray as hundreds of students came forward to pray for freedom from the “lovers” they had been turning their attention to and trying to find comfort in instead of God. The message was the story of Hosea, the prophet, and his wife Gomer, the unfaithful prostitute, whom he loved and chased. “She decks herself with rings and jewelry and goes to find her lover. But me she forgot.” was the key verse that evening. Those are the words the Lord spoke about Israel’s unfaithfulness. You can hear His heartbreak.
1,500 students were challenged to stop turning to their vices for comfort and solace and instead recognize God’s freedom and love. I watched, prayed and cried as hundreds of students came streaming from every corner of the La Crosse Center to turn away from the answers and fulfillment of the world to God. Students prayed and were changed. They were set free from suicidal thoughts and depression, addictions to pornography, drugs and alcohol and anorexia, bulimia and cutting. God is good and it was wonderful to see Him work so personally in lives.
The freedom found when we stop trying to make our vices stretch to cover our pain is amazing. We admit our tactics and comforts don’t cut it and don’t fix the hurt. We stop telling ourselves the lie that we can handle the situations and trials of life. Instead, we stand in Christ, trusting not in our understanding and ability, but in His goodness and faithfulness. Releasing the lie and embracing the Truth brings miraculous freedom. And the miracle of freedom is what hundreds of students experienced on Saturday night. The relief and joy seemed tangible as students began to worship God with all of their hearts, minds and souls, not just the portions that weren’t busy trying to find a solution and hold it all together.
It was an amazing and miraculous event. I’m so happy I was able to be a part of it.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday I traveled to Madison to be a part of the revolution and on Wednesday at 12:08am the great leaders of Greycoats took the stage. Well worth the travel and wait and exhaustion this morning. I knew I appreciated their music before I saw them, but last night solidified my opinion of them as a truly superb band. Greycoats’ Setting Fire to the Great Unknown is the CD to buy and the concert to attend. They’re based out of Minneapolis, MN and just finished their East Coast tour last night, or this morning rather.
I woke up several times throughout the night with one of their songs rolling through my mind and that brought a broad smile to my face. What a fantastic group.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
That’s what the man on the side of the road with drums at mile 12.5 sang as I ran past him on Saturday morning. The word “ran” in that sentence has a very loose definition, he was sitting at the top of a large hill and I was more… not even jogging, it was a bit more like shuffling by the time I got to him. But I was pleased.
I’ve been training for a half marathon, a 13 mile run, all summer and for those of you who know me, you know that’s a HUGE stretch. I hate running. But, even so, I really wanted to say I’d run a half marathon (I wasn’t foolish enough to think I could tackle the whole). I’d tried training before, but it never worked and then in May I felt like God said, “Now’s the time.” When my friend Rhonda asked if I’d run with her, I agreed.
When I was in DC at the Unplugged conference I was introduced to the phrase “Fall in love with the climb”. The phrase means to love the journey, the fun and the pain and the mess that comes with it. The phrase was so brilliant to me that I wanted to do something physical to represent it. I was already in training for the half marathon and it just seemed to click in. All summer I’ve been trying to love the journey of training for the half marathon. And surprisingly, I have for the most part. When I started I could barely run a mile (seriously, it was bad) and then at the end 3 or 4 miles was no problem.
Through the process I’ve learned things about myself, one of the most important being that I can handle more than what I think I can handle. I’ve learned things about God, like the fact that He is faithful and when we enter into a plan with Him, He will see us through and help us to the very end. I’ve learned things about topography, like there is no place in the world that is as flat as Plover and that if you’re used to running in Plover, running anywhere else seems like a mountain range.
So, what’s the next big challenge? I’m not quite sure yet, but I think it might have something to do with music. Quite possibly leading worship from the guitar. Ooo, that’s scary.
Have you ever known a drummer? Fascinating, isn’t it? They are the King Midases of our time. I’ve been friends with numerous drummers, my brother is a drummer, and now I work with drummers as a worship leader and one thing is true of all of them. Everything that is placed in their hands becomes a percussion instrument. A rhythm is created! It doesn’t matter if it is the dining room table, a shoe, a set of keys, a broken pencil, a water glass or another individual’s head… or their own head for that matter. If the drummer can reach it, it will become the object of tapping and rhythmic creation.
Just like drummers create rhythm, God creates amazing. Whatever is placed in God’s hands becomes the creation center for something amazing. It is incredible to see a master at work, especially when they are showing their talent with ordinary things. Several years ago I had the privilege to see Stomp perform live. Stomp is a percussion group that uses regular, everyday and often non-functional items to create astounding rhythms. They use shop brooms and sinks full of water and garbage cans and tools and it is wonderful to see them create. It is much more astounding to see God create something amazing out of a broken life. Whatever is placed in His hands, no matter how broken and desperate or how wonderful and strong, He can make it into something Amazing. When lives of abuse and addiction are placed in His hands, He creates amazing victories and freedom to be used and proclaimed for His glory. When broken and jaded hearts are placed in His hands, He can create incredible capacity to hold and pour out Love. When gifts of leadership and teaching are placed in His hands, He can create generation influencers and tide changers. When gifts of compassion and endurance are placed in His hands, he can create phenomenal testimonies of sacrifice and encouragement.
Whoever you are, whatever you have place it in the hands of God and He will make it astounding. What should you place in His hands? What can you give to the Creator of Amazing?
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I was talking with a friend recently and she posed an interesting question to me. She asked if, looking back, I could see God pursuing me all of my life. My initial thought was, “No.” But before the word was even formed on my lips, I knew it was not the truth. The friend I was talking to had become a Christian later in life so I could guess at the kind of pursuit she looked back and saw, but I fully gave my heart and life to Christ when I was three years old. I assumed I didn’t have a magnificent story to look back on and tell of moments He orchestrated for me to notice Him and know that He is real. But in that split second before I answered my friend’s question, I realized the answer is, yes. Yes, I look back on my life and realize that God has been pursuing me the whole time. God’s pursuit of me is different than His pursuit of my friend. God pursued my friend in a way that is similar to a man pursuing the woman he wants to marry. I said that I saw His pursuit of me through most of my life more like the way a husband would pursue his wife after they’re married.
Christianity isn’t about the moment of conversion, when you say that you believe Jesus is the Son of God who died to take away your sins and you ask for forgiveness. Just like marriage isn’t only about the moment a man and woman say “I do.” That is just the beginning. God’s pursuit is evident throughout all of our lives no matter when we come to Christ. Sometimes it is made up of loud and extravagant events like a man trying to get a woman to notice that he is alive and at other times it is subtle, steady and consistent like a husband reminding his wife of who he is. No matter which stage of Christian life you are at, God is pursuing you. There are simply different types of pursuit for different times in our lives and different types of people, but the same remarkable God is pursuing each of us. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of how. How has God pursued you in the past? And how is He pursuing you now?
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
I’ve been reading Jeremiah and Mark in the mornings for the past month or so and last week I read about two similar sets of circumstances with two totally different outcomes. In Jeremiah I read about Old Testament kings who turned their backs on God to worship idols they had created with their own imagination and hands. In Mark I read about Peter who personally walked with Jesus for years and then, during Jesus’ trial, totally disowned Him. Both denied and betrayed God, but the OT kings were carried off into captivity and killed and Jesus told Peter to be the shepherd of the early church and that Peter would be used as a major player in establishing the Church! Big difference.
I think the difference between the two is the relationship they had with God. The OT kings had diminished God and equated Him to stone and gold man-made idols. They had no relationship with Him and therefore felt no remorse until after they were captured and in exile. Peter on the other hand had spent years in Jesus’ inner circle and the Bible says that as soon as Peter realized what he had done he “broke down and wept.”
Peter, unlike the OT kings, was full of remorse the moment he realized that he had betrayed God.
This made me think. Do I only respond when I’m receiving consequences of my actions and I’m in pain? Or do I respond with remorse when I realize my actions have caused God pain? It’s a bit of both. I want that relationship though.
God help me to have the kind of relationship Peter had with You. Help me to love You and know Your heart. Thank you for Your Grace Lord. I love You.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
I just got back from a week as a Jr. High Camp counselor at Spencer Lake Youth Camp. I grew up a mile away from Spencer Lake, my mother has worked in the youth department in our district almost all of my life and have grown up looking forward to camp every summer. I’m not gonna lie; I was terrified about spending a week with Jr. Highers, but it was an incredible week. It was so much fun! My body was exhausted when I came home, but I was completely renewed in my heart. I cannot remember the last time I felt so full of life. What an incredible week! I saw God work some beautiful responses in kids and was able to become friends with the absolutely wonderful girls in my cabin and the guys from our church.
My weeks at Spencer Lake Camp have been filled with defining moments in my Christian walk, amazing times of spiritual clarity and so much fun. This year was no different. Spencer Lake did not disappoint. What a great opportunity it was for me and I am so grateful I was able to go.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Sunday, June 29th marked the end of our series on faith in Kids Rock. For ten weeks the kids had learned about faith through CS Lewis’ book Prince Caspian and parallel Bible stories. Each week the kids got a new memory verse about faith. From the beginning we let the kids know that if they memorized all 10 verses they would be able to be in a special coronation ceremony. I had parents coming to me saying that their son kept talking about being knighted and daughters were memorizing their verses so that they could become queened. Towards the end Marlene, our Kids Rock director, and I had kids calling us to say verses to us over the phone. Every time I came to church kids attacked me with verses they’d memorized. It was great!!!
Last week, at our coronation ceremony we had about 8 girls become queens and 3 boys become knights in God’s Kingdom. It was great to hear these kids speaking the Word of God.
God let faith rise up in these great kids. Bring those verses back to their minds, just when they need them. Thank you Lord for Your Faithfulness.
Friday, July 4, 2008
I love the 4th of July! I love our country and this special time to remember our independence and freedom. It's a beautiful thing. And that is wonderful, the remembering, but my favorite part of the remembering is the "rocket's red glare" part of the celebration, the FIREWORKS! My favorites are the ones that create a huge waterfall of sparkly copper light.
Last night began this year's fireworks tour. Started in Appleton this year and it was an amazing show! So great with a new special light blue color and a light green aqua that were lovely. Tonight we'll continue the celebration in Waupaca and tomorrow the fireworks holiday extravaganza will bring it on home to Stevens Point. Looking forward to the RedPoint grill out and then of course the fantastic fireworks at the river front. They're supposed to be even more incredible this year because it's Points sesquicentennial. Here's to a phenomenal 4th weekend! Enjoy!
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
I just got back from an incredible trip to
I wish I could share every bit of information I got because it was so enriching and challenging, but I’ll limit myself to my favorite part.
Jud Wilhite, pastor of Central Christian in
“Fall in love with the climb” was like flowers opening in my mind, like amber sunshine on emerald green leaves with the dark grey rain clouds in the sky, it took my breath away. Love the journey. There’s never a point where it’s going to suddenly be easier, where there won’t be as many troubles and if we did reach that summit, we would soon grow tired of it and create a new goal, so love the mud and the junk and the pain and the fun and the moment, love the climb.
This is something I want to embrace with my life.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about influence. Much of the time, we don’t even recognize the things that influence us. And that can be dangerous. I mean I used to say, “I will never wear leggings, they are so 80’s.” And then without a conscious turning point I found myself the somewhat humbled owner of three pairs of leggings. How did that happen?! I was so dead set against them and now there they are in my closet. Influence. Over a period of time the barracades I had set up against the evils of the leggings were worn down by their incessant appearances in advertisements and fashions I saw on tv and in magazines and in stores and on friends. And I, once a staunchly opposed to the leggings craze, found myself not only liking them, but owning them!
Ok, so leggings aren’t really causing a major break down in society. That was probably not the worst influence. But what about all of the other things that we are influenced toward day in and out? This is something I find myself thinking about a lot. Especially in regard to kids. What is the lead character in that television show influencing kids to think is right? What quality is that ad influencing kids to hold in high regard? What information is that movie influencing kids to take as moral truth? It’s not all bad by any means, but it’s not all good either. We’ve got to be aware of the influences that are all around us and our children. We need to know how to recognize these influences and not just be undiscerning consumers of media. Instead of just taking in whatever is set in front of us, we need to be able to identify positive influence and reinforce it or identify negative influence and react appropriately. Hmmm… easy to say, harder to do, but worth the effort, right? Let’s keep thinking about this.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Wonderful! Pastor Dan, Nathan and I were all at District Council for Wisconsin/Northern Michigan District of the Assemblies of God the first half of this week and it was wonderful! It was well planned and fun and artistic and a spiritually great event. Even the business was blessed by an atmosphere of peace and joy.
Diane de La Santos, director of City on a Hill Milwaukee, gave an incredible presentation on the ministry at City on a Hill. Larry Liebe was elected as the new district superintendent, Steve Tripp was elected as the new director of Youth and Christian Education Ministries and Jon Brown was elected as the new assistant director of YCEM. And all of it was immersed in and completely filled with God’s Spirit.
I am blessed to be able to be a part of such a wonderful fellowship as the Assemblies of God and to be a part of the wonderful WNM District! We have great leaders and great pastors that know how to listen to and follow God.
Thank you Lord. Bless this transition time as our district officials and staff move into their new roles and give them wisdom and peace as they face new challenges and opportunities. Thank you Jesus for your Sovereignty and plan. I love you and praise you! Amen.
God bless the WNMD!
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
These are some thoughts shared with our congregation on Sunday about the first Palm Sunday when Jesus road into town on a donkey in
“I wonder what he saw when he looked in their eyes that day.
“Do you think that when he felt the excitement of the crowd he thought of the crowd he would see at the end of the week too? Do you think when He heard people shouting blessings and “Hosanna!” That he heard a different crowd shouting “Crucify him!”?
“And when they looked in his eyes what do you think they saw? (pause) When he looked in their eyes I think he saw his mission, his purpose, his reason for it all. I think when they looked in his eyes they saw goodness, they saw God, they saw Love.”
Praise God for His amazing love and sacrifice.
I love you, God!
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
I started thinking last night more about words and their creative power. God spoke the world into existence. Jesus was the Word become flesh. It’s our prayers that bring about change, our communication, our words with God. I was reading in Ezekiel this morning about the valley of dry bones being brought back to life. God spoke to Ezekiel and asked Ezekiel to repeat what God said and when Ezekiel spoke God’s words the bones came together, flesh and tendons formed and then the breath of life came into the bodies!!! Through the spoken word.
Our words have the same power, to bring death or give life. God can create and bring life through our words. I want to be a Word of Life bringer.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
I had a fantastic idea shared with me today. God gives us the gift of anxiety as the Holy Spirit’s nudge and reminder to pray. This just hit me as one of the most practical ways of looking at and dealing with anxiety. I heard this four hours ago and already I’ve used it. I think this could be a remarkable tool in my life. Transforming worry into prayer. Transforming worry into a reminder to pray for that specific situation! What a wonderful idea! Instead of spending my time in worthless fret I can spend my time building and conquering things with God! This is incredible! You try it to and let me know how it goes.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Last week when visiting NCU with my brother I got to go to their chapel service. Mark Batterson, the speaker for that morning, shared something that caught me off guard. In Isaiah God says that as high as the heavens are from the earth so are His ways from our ways, His thoughts from our thoughts. Mark Batterson shared that our universe is currently thought to be 13.2 billion light years long.
This is stunning, sobering, humbling and faith building to me. I’ve been praying to better understand the fear of the Lord and this helps me to understand in a stop me mid-thought way. His thoughts are 13.2 billion light years bigger than mine. He’s got a greater scope than I can possibly imagine.
My grandest thought doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of God’s thoughts. If it’s not His thought that He’s given to me, it falls 13.2 billion light years short. In my times of defeat and frustration I am humbled and my faith strengthened as I look at God’s wisdom compared to mine. For the last week whenever I’ve come up against something seemingly frightening or too big I’ve remembered God, who called me and continues to put my days together, thinks 13.2 billion light years bigger than I do and my trust and hope is in Him.
God, forgive me for the times I’ve reduced you to human levels, the times I’ve thought of you as just a really smart human. Forgive me for the times I underestimate you. God help me to do this less and less and have faith in you more and more.
So just remember 13.2.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Sunday night I watched as my little brother took his first steps. Yes, my mother and I watched as that 6’3” 18 year old boy, armed with only an overnight bag and winter coat broke into the world of walking on a college campus!!! It was awesome! The next day my brother, Craig, let me tag along with him on his campus tour of
What a great school! NCU has a beautiful, unique campus in the heart of the city and wonderful people! I loved the atmosphere and community I felt in the hallways and skyways and classrooms and offices. I got to go to their Monday chapel. It was exhilarating to worship with so many college students and faculty and pastors visiting the campus. The guest speaker was a pastor from DC who’s ministry and communication is gripping. I felt such connection there. I loved my school (Rock on Palm Beach Atlantic!), but NCU has a special familial quality, a familiarity that I greatly appreciate. Yep, the warm fuzzies about a place I’d never really been before. Yes, it was great.