Replacing Sunday Mornings

empty-church

Strolling through the articles of one of my favorite sites I found this title–“Replacing Sunday Mornings.”  I was intrigued and the article left me spinning, thinking.  It’s essentially about the millennials, people born between 1981-2000, of whom about 60% have stepped away from the Christian church at some point during their faith journey.  I am a millennial but I did not trek with them in their great migration away from the church.  I have some friends who have, though they may not communicate it as simply.

The article was beautifully written and strikingly thoughtful.  Its relevance rang loudly in my ears, resounding a familiar heartbeat of confusion and angst when it comes to church experiences.  Huni and I have moved away from our local church as we have relocated for full time ministry.  We struggle now to find a local body in our new location that meets our needs.  Through the pain and loneliness of this period I link arms with the millennials and can see through their eyes and reason with their mind as to why one would leave the Christian church in search for something real, something true . . . community, truthful & graceful shepherding, Christ.

I know that so many people have had some really bad and hurtful experiences in the Christian church.  Some people have suffered there or just been disappointed as their needs have not been met.  This is real.  But the thing is, it is not a true, full love that loves Christ yet does not love His bride.  If you have relationship with Christ but not His church, your relationship with Christ is incomplete.  I believe that Christ was not so much referring to a beautifully built building with doors perpetually flung open on well oiled hinges, stained glass windows and a steeple when He talked about “the church” as much as He was talking about the collective body of believers in Jesus Christ–the church, but our Sunday morning and midweek gatherings are an organized entity of the body that we call “the church” and it is real, relevant and important to Him.

I am in a season where, if I lived in a cooler city with more to do, the temptation to replace my Sunday morning would be REAL and I’d have to prepare myself through prayer starting Friday night, not to give in to the temptation to ditch that Sunday morning time in a worship space with other believers.  But I press and Huni and I keep searching.  And I believe that God cares about our faith journey and will lead us to someplace where our needs can be met and we can participate in meeting the needs of others.  So I think you should read this article.  If you are in a similar place, let’s pray for one another.  God desires that we get back and trust Him to take care of us in those spaces.

What about you?  Are you in a good space right now as it concerns your Sunday morning with a local body?  Are you searching or have you left? Praying for all of us, no matter where we are.  Praise God for His grace.

xoxo

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The Spring of Things

the spring of things

I think that spring is God’s way of calling on nature to remind us of the sweetness and beauty to be found in new beginnings . . .

     that is, if we dare to receive them . . .

The cycle rolls ever onward;

22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” ~Genesis 8:22 ESV

We can be seized by the mundane rote disguised as the day to day.

We can drown in our legitimate sorrows and stresses.

Or . . .

. . .we can hope against hope,

(re)set goals,

lift up prayers (even for those situations and people that have been filed away in the “lost cause” pile),

submit plans (tweaked and reworked where necessary) . . .

We can try, yet another day, to begin again.

Even if that means beginning at 1.

After all, spring rains till the ground for some of summer’s most enduring blooms. . .

what I’m trying to say is,

. . . while the earth remains, there is still time to begin again. . .

So, I’m blowing the dust off of the small, black qwerty pegs as I say a prayer for discipline and grace to make a beginning once more.

What are some goals, plans, or works that you’ve set aside and need to return to?  Will you join me?

Wednesdays with Beth: Taking Your Treasure Back pts. 1 & 2

Frans!!!  It’s been too long!  And I have missed sharing with you in this space.  It’s been encouraging to hear from you, encouraging me by sharing that you’ve missed the posts.  Totally unexpected.  Totally sweet.  I’m so totally grateful and so totally humbled.  I have so much to share and share I will, but for now, I want to get us caught up on the latest installments of Beth Moore’s newest series on Life Today called Taking Your Treasure Back. Here’s part one and part two.   Enjoy!!

Wednesdays with Beth: The Calling pt. 2

I’m often reminded of Esther when I think about God’s providence and His call on our lives.  I recently finished Beth Moore’s study on Esther and it was just . . . rich!!  Seriously rich and inspiring in personal life application, seeing God’s providence in my own life and moving into His call on my life.  So, I am enjoying hearing her perspective in this format on God’s call and adding to my level of wisdom as I move forward.

Last Wednesday, August 1, Life Today aired part two of Beth Moore’s speaking series on the call of God on our lives.  This week we get a chance to catch up, in case we missed it, and see that same video again.  You can view it here .  And if you missed the first video check it out here.

Enjoy!!

Genesis 3:1

So, this year must be THE year to get married!  Who knew!?!  I have several family members and friends who have agreed and set a date to enter into covenant with another person this year.  In 2012 I am a part of 5 weddings.  Yep, 5.  The first two of five weddings have already occurred with the most recent being one of my little brothers, thus my mysterious silence for the past two weeks.  The first was for a dear Fran of mine from college.  She’s probably one of the sweetest people I know and I was so honored that she has cherished our relationship through the years so much that she would desire to enter into this covenant with my prayers and support.  So, I figured I’d share what I’ve been up to by sharing some of what happened with the weddings!

My Fran, Ayana, and her husband J.R.were married in Charleston, SC on July 7, 2012 at the Charleston Aquarium.  She had a short, sweet ceremony with the Charleston Harbor as the backdrop.  Even though there we were in the middle of the fierce July Charleston heat, there was a cool breeze blowing off from the water, at times so strong that we had to anchor ourselves or be blown away by more than just the love and beauty of it all!  So, here are a few flicks from the day:

So pretty, right?  And again:

Planning a wedding can be so stressful.  And my dear Fran Ayana has waited a long time to meet her special someone, fall in love, don a beautiful gown and mark the start of their lives together forever with a beautiful day.  It was so good to see her smiling and having such a good time that day.

My huni and I had a good time as well.  I was a bridesmaid and that can keep you pretty busy but I was able to hook up with him and have some fun taking a few flicks, being our fabulous, zany selves.  There we are!  The fierce bridesmaid and her hot boo!  (I wanted to write, “the fierce bridesmaid and her fierce boo,” but I figured he might have a problem with me using the adjective “fierce” to describe him . . . .)  :0)

     

Another fun, fun, fun part of the weekend was hooking up with all of the other bridesmaids.  You can tell a woman by her Frans, and Ayana is just so abundantly blessed because she has some WONDERFUL women flowering her life!!

A couple of the women that Ayana chose as bridesmaids, turned out to be women I knew from undergrad–which is where Ayana and I met.  We went to different schools but we were in the same campus ministry and met at a retreat. (this same organization is also where I met my huni!)  So there were some women there who were a part of the ministry, a woman there who I actually went to undergrad with and had no idea that she even knew Ayana and there was a woman there who attends the same church that I do and we had never met until she came to my house for the bridal shower that we had for Ayana!  Craziness!  Sweet, sweet, craziness!

I was also able to see another of my good Frans, Quiana, who was there to witness the union between Ayana and JR.  Please send prayers up for Qui.  She’s getting married in September and if you’re married, ever planned a wedding, or anything associated with the two, you know how pressing and full this time can be.  I’m praying joy, grace, favor, peace, and love for her and her fiance, Josiah, during this time and beyond.  Please agree with me on her behalf.

SO here are the last few flicks of the girls and me:

   

   

Good, good times.  Really.  We had so much fun.  Sweet love, new friendships, good food, dancing, laughing, woooo!  It doesn’t get any better than that!!

Just about a week ago my little brother took a lady by the hand, said some originally written vows, poured out his love and decided to spend his happily ever after with Mrs. Brendalyn Thompson.  The two were married July 28 in Durham, NC and had a nice, contemporary wedding true to their own unique style.  We were all swept away by their ceremony and danced the night away with the happy couple.  I didn’t get to take as many pictures of this event but I definitely wanted to share the few that I have:

Boooooooooooooooooooooooom!!  It’s official!!  Wooooop Woooooop!!!

Big, sincere, loud, congratulations from my heart to both couples.

Seeing two people unite and decide to share their lives together can be one of the most beautiful events to enjoy.  It is sentimental on so many different levels as it is an incredibly important and big decision for any one person to make.  Almost every woman I know wants this.  She wants someone with whom to share all of her life, for the rest of her life.  It’s a holy thing, marriage.  It’s a covenant.  It’s one of God’s many dwelling places and it is an instant ministry through the testimony that it offers its witnesses.  Everyone is watching.  Everyone.  Including our enemy.  It’s no small wonder marriage is so hard.

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and while he slept, He took one of his ribs or a part of his side and closed up the [place with] flesh.

22 And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

23 Then Adam said, This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man.

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence.

3 Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? (Genesis 2:21-3:1)

Ever since Huni pointed it out to me, it has done nothing less than intrigued me that after the man and woman are united, free, naked and not embarrassed, having forsaken all others, moving in complete oneness and in agreement . . . we meet the serpent.  And from the moment he enters the picture, he begins his evil regime to steal, kill and destroy like only he can.

We know what he’s all about so I won’t give him any more shine than that.  I’ll simply say this: After we’ve cried with the couple, laughed with them and celebrated their decision, they really need our prayers.  Actually from the moment we learn of their intention of courtship and all throughout the life of the marriage, they need our prayers!  They need for us to hold them up and support them by speaking truth, kind words, and pouring into and onto them goodness, love and mercy as they move through life together knowing who their enemy is.  And Frans, he is tireless.  So should be our prayers.

Please pray that people would honor God in their marriages, their families and their lives together.  Every time you want to open your mouth to criticize or critique another person’s marriage, pray.  Submit yourself and your loved ones to Christ and trust Him to do the necessary work in you and them.  Don’t let satan use you to disrupt God’s work–whether you agree with it or not.  And Frans, I am talking to myself here!  Wooo!

There are times when Huni and I get into it and at just about that moment when I am about to totally let my flesh have her way, spotlight, microphone, music and all, I get a glimpse of satan, reclined, knocking back root beer floats, eating hot buttered popcorn enjoying the show.  And I come to a screeching halt———MAD, because I forgot who the real enemy is–it’s not huni.  It’s satan.  How quickly we forget.

We need each others prayers and support.  Please choose to participate in giving God glory, not in helping satan fool us all.

Wednesdays with Beth: Filled to the Measure

It’s Wednesday so that means we get to tune in to Life Today and hear what the Lord is speaking to us through Mrs. Beth Moore.  If you watch the program regularly and have done so for a time, you may have already seen this one before.  I have seen this one and the story she tells in it has been referenced by others who have seen it.  But this video still came right on time for me.

God’s sovereignty and providence is sure.

I had an experience just last week that just seemed so weird but, in the moment, I was so sure that I was being prompted by the Holy Spirit to be obedient to the things He was speaking to my heart.  I wrestled with myself and the personal cost of my obedience all the way up until Monday for sure and then finally, I just decided to let it go and trust God to confirm for me if I had indeed heard Him or if I was just a loon.  And with just the seed planted in my mind that I had misheard and was wrong, acting crazy and unable to hear from the Lord, satan had a field day and really put in work to discourage me.  But God is so faithful, Frans!!!  I know that I have some readers who are not Christian and to them all of this talk compels them to think, “No ma’am, you actually are quite loony.”  But something happens when we engage God through His holy spirit, allow His words to abide in us and we respond to the call. . .   We get to participate in the divine.

Check this out:  http://lifetoday.org/video/filled-to-the-measure-3

Been worshiping to this song since we sang it during church service on Sunday.  One of my faves from Hillsong.  Hope it blesses you.

Anything?

Saw this today in my email from (in)courage.  Got me thinking . . .

Check it out.

Jennie Allen was also featured on Life Today with James and Betty Robison today.  Today she spoke about her bible study Stuck and she had some very relevant insights.

Today was the first that I had heard of Jennie Allen but her current project, Anything, really spoke to me and I thought that you may enjoy it too.

Risky prayer to pray, “God, I’ll do anything.  I’ll give you anything . . . even the very thing of which I am most afraid.”

Or is it?

Are you desperate enough for God to pray that prayer?

Wednesdays with Beth: The Law of Kindness pt 2

Chuckled to myself about those “fights” I have with people in my mind.  I prepare or replay the whole conversation and all the things I’d say to get somebody right,  “Aunt Esther style” . . . giving little thought to how, most often, I’m so wrong. . .

Check it out:  http://lifetoday.org/video/the-law-of-kindness-part-2

Photo taken from google,  jameslogancourier.org

Sisters Praying

So, usually on Wednesdays I write a bit about what Beth Moore is teaching.  Thus far I’ve focused on her series on the family which has been aired on Life Today with James and Betty Robison for the past couple of months.  There was no new part of that series played today, in fact Beth Moore wasn’t on Life Today, today.  So, I wanted to take this time to see if there were any out there who need prayer on behalf of their family?

If I can be honest, but delicate (because some of them may read this and I don’t want to embarrass or shame anyone–at all), I’d like to expose myself a little bit.   If you could know anything about me, you’d think I have it pretty together, not perfect by any means, but a pretty solid chick.  You’d never guess how much I have to overcome daily and how much I have already overcome through God’s grace and love alone.  Why?  My family of origin is quite dysfunctional, broken and in great need of redemption.

It pains me deeply when I think about all of the things my family is ridden with–alcoholism, infidelity,  jealousy, low self-image, domestic violence, drug abuse, pridefulness, lack, depression, illness, adultery, fatherlessness, and the list goes on and on and on.  It makes me very sad because these are people that I care about and who mean a great deal to me, but also because there is a such thing as generational curses and I am having to fight these demons off of me and my children so that the vicious cycle doesn’t repeat itself and satan have his way.  No.  So I pray for my family and I attach the word to them, name by name and one by one.  It starts to get over my head a bit at times and feels like too much to handle, but I have a Father who holds my whole world in His hands.  Surely He can work miracles in my family.

Perhaps there are others out there who’s family can use a little prayer?  If it’s your family or the family of someone you know, I’d love to pray for you & yours and invite you to pray for me & mine.  Please leave your prayer requests in the comments and pray for the person who commented before you.  I’ll personally pray for each prayer request left here, with pleasure.

The family is soil, fertile and rich, ready to receive good seed and a able to produce a wealthy harvest.  It is a training ground for great people to be formed and, often, the roots of  how people develop the type of relational styles they use to engage others everyday.  In families right now, both brilliant people and broken people are being formed.  God desires to reign in homes and families all over the world.  So does satan.  People get ready.  It’s time to pray.