“Never forget what Jesus did for you. Never take lightly what it cost Him. And never assume that if it cost Him His very life, that it won't also cost you yours.”
~Rich Mullins

Sep 25, 2014

See Ya Later!

Well, I'm leaving.................for about ten days. Then I'll be back! To keep bugging you! :D

Tomorrow I go up to Prescott for our annual church Family Camp (YAY!) and then on Monday, I fly to Texas to work the World Show for a farm from Oregon (YAY!!!!!!!!!!!)!! It's going to be busy, crazy, exhausting, and amazing. 

If any of you think of it, I would love prayer over the week I am in Texas. God has really opened a lot of doors for me to talk to others about Him..........lots of different circumstances and hurting people. My prayer is that I would just be filled with love for others, that He will shine through me, and that in spite of my fears, insecurities, and inadequacies, He will still use me to influence these people. My tendency is to be too "careful" - at the expense of saying what needs to be said. I desperately need wisdom and boldness. 

Thank you all so, so much, and to hold you over till I get back, here's a barrage of quotes from my treasure chest!

See you in two weeks or so!!!!!!!

Sep 19, 2014

Just Love

There once lived a man who influenced lives. Profoundly. More than he ever knew or imagined. He influenced them for good.........for God.........he saved lives, was used to save souls, brought hope, and gave others a glimpse at what a real, living, loving relationship with Christ is really like. Against his desire, he became a sort of superstar, and yet he was never fully understood.

He attracted crowds not because of some watered down Gospel message put to trashy music, but because he unashamedly proclaimed the hard truths of the Bible...the truths people need to hear.

He was loved by children because he never expected them to be adults - he took them at face value.

He was accepted by the broken and hurting, not because he was perfect, but because he was willing to show his imperfections and point them to a perfect Savior.

He was truly a living sacrifice.

He was loved...........because he loved.

I was first introduced to Rich's music probably almost 10 years ago, and was instantly captivated by it. For a long time, though, I played it, listened to it, learned about him because that's what my friends did.......and it wasn't until recently that I came to love Rich for him. For his heart, his music, his realness. He had a closeness with God that I envy.......a childlike faith and trust in His promises. 

He loved others. Deeply. He cared about the outcasts. Went to the needy. Loved like Jesus. 

17 years ago today, he died.........and I. Can't. Wait. to meet him someday. To tell him how much he influenced my life....how much his openness about his struggles encouraged me, and how much his love for God spurred mine on. 

But for now, today gives me an excuse to share some of my favorites of his songs, quotes, stories, and concerts. 

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You keep your television on, you surround yourself with friends, but you're scared of God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. Never lose your reverence for Him. God is nothing to be joking about, but perfect love casts out fear.
What I want you to know about God is, He ain't waiting to whip you. All God's wanting to do, right now He's ready, you don't have to wait, because what He wants to do, before you can even get to His house, He wants to run out and wrap His arms around you, take you up and swing you around in the air. He wants to take the ring off His finger and put it on yours. And then He will call to have the fatted calf killed. 
I don't know what He'll do with those ridiculous vegetarians. But He is not nearly as hung up about cholesterol as we are. He knows something is going to kill you, He figures it may as well be something tasty. 
Friends, don't be afraid to go home. The Heavenly Father is waiting. Not because He wants to give you a whipping. Not because He wants to rub your nose in your failures, but because He had a Son who was a composite failure. He had a Son who tried to have this great ministry, had thousands of followers. His Son chose for Himself, He had twelve people on His staff. In three years' time He had managed to alienate every person in one way or another. He died His Father's Son, stricken with grief, so overloaded with guilt that He had to look away, His Father could not look at Him.
He knows what it's like. He wants you to come to Him.

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Psalm 137 starts out: 
"By the waters of Babylon we lay down and wept and we remembered thee Zion for our captors required of us songs, saying, 
'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.' But how can we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?"
Which is a good question because what land have we ever been in that wasn't foreign?
It starts out so beautifully and then at the end of that psalm, the last verse of that psalm is, "How very blessed is the man who dashes their little ones' heads against the rocks." This is not the sort of scripture you read at a pro-life meeting. But it's in there nonetheless.
Which is the thing about the Bible... that's why it always cracks me up when people say, "Well, in 'du du du du du du du duh, it says..." You kinda go, "Wow! It says a lot of things in there!" Proof-texting is a very, very dangerous thing. I think if we were given the Scriptures, it was not so that we could prove that we were right about everything. If we were given the Scriptures, it was to humble us into realizing that God is right, and the rest of us are just guessing.

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And the rest of it, it's so funny being a Christian musician. It always scares me when I talk to you guys and you guys think so highly of Christian music, contemporary Christian music especially. Because I kinda go, I know a lot of us, and we don't know jack about anything. Not that I don't want you to buy our records and come to our concerts. I sure do. But you should come for entertainment. If you really want spiritual nourishment, you should go to church.
Those people care about you, and you don't have to buy a ticket. If you really want spiritual nourishment, you should read the Scriptures. It'll confuse you to death practically, but you're gonna die anyway, so why not go out doing something good?

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And I'm all the time being asked by people, "How do you feel closer to God?" And I kinda always want to say, "I don't know." When I read the lives of most of the great saints, they didn't necessarily feel very close to God. When I read the Psalms, I get the feeling like David and the other psalmists felt very far from God for most of the time. Closeness to God is not about feelings. Closeness to God is about obedience. It's just as simple as that.

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Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in your beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken.

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I asked my dad one time, "How did you know you were ready to get married?" 

And he said, "Oh, I didn't." He said, "In fact, the only reason I got married was because I wasn't ready. If I had known what I was in for I would have run screaming from the room."

And I said, "So, are you sorry?" And he said, "No, I'm not sorry at all." He said, "I did not understand what I meant when I said 'I do', but I'm so glad I said it. I had no idea that my wife was going to live this long - or what a glorious life she would give me."

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We are not saved because we're good. We're good because we're saved. Never forget what Jesus did for you. Never take lightly what it cost Him. And never assume that if it cost Him His very life, that it won't cost you yours.

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Don't resist the work of God in your life by asking for an easy life. If you live really good, folks, you'll get older.  I guarantee you that, you will get older.  

It's amazing to me to see pictures of my grandparents, when they were kids, and how handsome, and pretty and everything they were, and bright looking.  And then seeing them when they were very, very old, I never would have connected the two.  Life had beat them beyond recognition, in many ways. They had arthritis, they had cornea dystrophy.  Eventually they died, and we all are gonna do that sooner or later.   

And if you live really good, you will be beaten.  If you really try to walk in faith, you will fall.  You will stumble.  If you believe that your life in Christ is one constant spiral upward, then you are badly
mistaken.  And if you think it's heretical to say, then read the lives of the apostles.  Their lives were blemished, their track records were not particularly good.  

If you try to have faith, you will be attacked by doubts you never knew you were capable of.  But you keep on believing, even if you fall, even if you struggle with doubts, you keep on believing.  And if you live a life that is marked by hope, by the belief that God is good, and there is goodness in the world that awaits us, you'll be disappointed.  You'll be crushed, even, sometimes.  The Scriptures say hope deferred makes the heart grow sick. You're gonna have a sick heart.  But you keep on hoping.  And if you choose to love, you will be misunderstood, you will be betrayed, you will be rejected by the people who most desperately need the love you have to offer.  And remember that when you try to
love, it's not like love in the movies.  In the movies, when people are loving each other physically, they always are perfectly fit and tan, and beautiful.  Most of y'all, I've seen you, you don't look like that. 

We are blemished people, and in order to love anybody, in any way, we have to expose that part of us that we'd rather keep hidden.  Our own selfishness, our own fears, our own hangups, and it's embarrassing.  So humiliating.  But you keep on loving.

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That's one of the things I love about life, is how it almost makes sense, and then it just stops, just so, so short of making sense. 

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I think so many of us are looking for that place where we really fit. Where we really belong. And the bad news is that I don't think that there is such a place. I think that part of being human is being alone. And being lonely. I think one of the stresses on a lot of our friendships is that we require that the people we love take away that loneliness. And they really can't. And so, when we still feel lonely, even in the company of people we love, we become angry with them because they don't do what we think they're supposed to. Which is really something that they can't do for ya. So don't be mad at each other over this. Don't be disillusioned with each other just because you feel lonely around each other.

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And never forget that someday you will be dead. Because that's, that's just as sure as anything I can think of. So love each other as much as you can right now. Because this may be the last day you've got to love each other. Don't love each other because you think you'll be less lonely if you do. There's no point in that.

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And when Christ has stripped away all of your 'phony-baloney' kind of systematic theology, all of your lame, Protestant kind of stupidity, all of your Catholic hang-ups, when Christ has stripped away everything that we have invented about Him, then maybe we will encounter Him as He really is. And we will know ourselves as we really are. So don't be afraid that your faith gets shaken. Could be that God is shaking you forward, and shaking you free.
And the issue is not which side of which fence you end up on. The issue is really, has to do with, what does it mean to love Christ? What does it mean to obey Him? And I'm not really even sure what that is. But if there is any meaning in the life of Jesus of Nazareth, it is this: that there is a God who created us, and who loves us so much that He would stop at nothing to bring us to Him.
And I really suspect that of all the things we think we want to know, the only thing we really want to know, is that we are loved. And if Jesus means anything, He means that you are loved. I hope you know that.

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But my theory is that for those of us who are too weak to remain single, God gives us a spouse. For those of us who are too hung up to handle marriage, God gives us celibacy. So, pick your weakness. Pick your poison, I guess. But anyway, for those of you who do choose to be in love and stuff, go for it. And I think it's a good thing - I've heard a lot about it.
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The most reiterated command in the whole Bible- you might not know this, but the most reiterated command in the whole Bible is the command to sing. So, I figure when you find a command that is easy to follow and fun to follow you should follow it a lot, because not all of them are that easy. And certainly some of them are less fun than that. 
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I never understood why going to church made you a hypocrite either, because nobody goes to church because they're perfect. If you've got it all together, you don't need to go. You can go jogging with all the other perfect people on Sunday morning. Every time you go to church, you're confessing again to yourself, to your family, to the people you pass on the way there, to the people who will greet you there, that you don't have it all together. And that you need their support. You need their direction. You need some accountability, you need some help.
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Some of us are so afraid that God's not going to look at us. So we're out there doing all sorts of things to get God to take notice, but folks, God notices you. The fact is, He can't take His eyes off of you. However badly you think of yourself, God is crazy about you. God is in love with you. Some of us even fear that someday we'll do something so bad that He won't notice you anymore. Well let me tell you, God loves us completely. And He knew us at our worst before He ever began to love us at all. And in the love of God, there are no degrees, there is only love.
So tonight I'm going to say to you what the angels said to every character in the Bible that they encountered, except for Mary, the mother of Jesus. They said "Don't be afraid." We've got a little while to go yet in this life, and it's a scary thing, but don't be afraid. Be of good cheer. He has overcome the world. And He has chosen to dwell within us. And we ain't all that big a deal, but our Savior is. He will walk with us through this life, and when it's over, He will raise us up again, and take us to be where He is. Not because of what we've done, but because of who He is. Because of the love He has for us.
So go, and live in that awareness... love one another... read your Bible... wash your dishes... make your bed... and don't be afraid.

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Sometimes I am tempted to believe that I am better than anybody because I know Him. And then I remember that uh, I don't know him because I was smart enough to figure out some riddle. And I don't know him because I was good enough to ascend into heaven on my own and shake hands with him and meet him. Of all the things that make God awesome, the most awesome thing in the world that I can imagine from a god is that one who would be holy, and one that would be just, ...and one that would be innocent and beautiful, and would have no need of me...that someone like that could love me is amazing. And that does not make me a good person; but it makes Him a great God!

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I remember one time, Beaker and I were hiking in the Appalachian trail and he met some friends of his and they were all talking about school which I didn't want to talk about because I've been in school for so many years it's not interesting any more....so I walked into town. It was about a five mile walk from the campsite down in...down the trail...down into town...and when I got there, I went in and was having a steak, and this guy started talking to me and we had this great conversation; we were having a good time and he said, "Hey look, it's dark and it's five miles up the road to your campground. Why don't I drive you up there?"
And I said, "Hey, great!"
And uh, so we got in his car and just as we pulled out from under the uh, last light in that town the guy said, "You know what, I should probably tell you that I'm gay."
And I said, "Oh!...I should probably tell you that I am a Christian....and Christians and gays are really a lot more alike than most people think."
And he said, "Well, what do you mean?"
And I said, "Well, I think that gay people are people who desperately need to be loved. And I think Christian people are pretty much the same."
And he said, "Well if you want out of the car..."
I said, "Why?"
And he said, "Well, I'm gay and your Christian."
I said, "It's still five miles and it's still dark....I'm not crazy."
And he said, "I thought Christians hated gays."
I said, "That's funny, I thought Christians were supposed to love. I thought that was our first command." 
He said, "Well, I thought God hated gays."
I said, "That's really funny, because I thought God was love."
And He said, "Well uh, do think uh, God sent AIDS down to punish gay people?"
And I said, "Well, in the same sense that he sends bankruptcy on farmers and presidents on voters......there are consequences for our choices and sometimes we have to bear the consequence of other people's choices."
And then he asked me the big one. He said, "Do you think I will go to hell for being a gay?"
Well, I'm a good Hoosier......and I puckered up to say, "Yes, of course you'll go to hell for being gay." Now folks, I will tell you the truth. I got ready to say, "Yes, of course you'll go to hell for being gay," and when I opened up my mouth it came out, "No,...of course you won't go to hell for being gay." 
And I thought, "Oh my god, I've only been in New Hampshire for one week and I've already turned into a liberal............What am I going to tell this guy now?"
You know there are times when we think we are God's messengers, when we think we are the mouthpiece of God. And God really needs fewer mouths than he needs ears...and there are times when we think we've got it all together. And we meet somebody. And they ask us the right questions. And we get to find out something about God that we learned when we were little because our moms and dads read it to us, and because they took us to Sunday school and we were told over and over the great truths of the scriptures. But we forget them because we get all caught up in how cool we are.
I said, "No, you won't go to hell for being gay any more than I would go to hell for being a liar. That nobody goes to hell because of what they do. We go to hell because we reject the grace that God so longs to give to us......regardless of what we do."
So many of you people try so hard to be good. And you think someday you're going to be so good that God is going to look down on you favorably. Well, let me tell you something. God already looks down on you favorably. 
That's what grace is...not because you have earned it but, because he is a favorable looking God. Some of you people are so afraid that someday you're going to cross that line, that you're going to do that one sin that God will never forgive you of...or, you're going to do that one sin that you've been doing so long...but, you have this feeling that there is a certain number of times you can get away with it and God can look away...but, one time too many and your life is over. 
Folks, God knew you at your worst before he ever sent Christ to die for you. And the good news of Christianity is not that...Christ came into the world to make good little boys and girls. Christ came into the world to take away those sins that you've allowed to come between you and God. It's sad to me to believe...to look out there and see...when you're driving down the road and you see people who are afraid, you see people who are angry, and you go, "If only you knew how crazy about you God was...God has already loved you...if only you knew!"

And so, so many more................... but I'll end there.

Sep 14, 2014

Restored Joy

For the past couple months, I've been really, really down. Struggling with faith, fighting to love and understand love, emotionally unstable, so very down on myself........it hasn't been fun. A dry spell, I've heard it called. Mine would have been more like a wet spell - I cry a lot. And I sincerely apologize to those of you who have had to put up with me.

But I've been praying about it all.....really praying. Begging God to reveal His love to me, to help me understand my faith in greater detail and that that would help me become more content. Quite honestly, I've been self absorbed. Absorbed in trying to figure out what's wrong, trying to figure out how to fix it, realizing I can't fix it, and trying to figure out how or what to pray so that God fixes it.

Time's gone on, and slowly things have gotten better, but I hadn't really realized how much better. The Bible once again has become so dear to me, I no longer feel "fake" having conversations about God with people, I'm more trusting....more content. But I couldn't pinpoint what had changed, or put my finger on what was different.

Then today it hit me.

Someone said something during church that started a series of chain reactions in my brain.....leading me to realize that God did exactly what I had been praying for. And I didn't even know exactly what I was praying for!! Romans 8:26 came so true for me.
"Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."

Over the past couple weeks, God has brought a couple different people and situations into my life that have forced me to share my faith and search through Scripture in a way different from anything I've had to do. For the first time, I've been counseling a dear friend through some very rough stuff....things I've never experienced, and it's driven me to Christ. In order to send her verses, to be able to speak truth into her life, I've had to fully realize that truth for myself. He's put things in my path and exposed me to things (unpleasant things, albeit) that have left me realizing how incredibly inadequate and unqualified I am.....and how perfectly sufficient and comforting the Word is.

And so, slowly but surely, without me even noticing it, God has turned my focus back to Him, restored my joy, and made me so grateful! It's amazing the things that can happen when one gets their eyes off of themselves and onto living for others.

" Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28