Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thank You Jesus.

A Graduate of Samford University: the most wonderful place on earth!

Today I turned in my final exam for my final semester here at Samford University. I could not have imagined 2 and a half years ago that I would grow to love a place so much. The Professors I have had the privilege to learn from these past 2 and a half years have greatly impacted by view of the Gospel and my understanding of being a good steward of the opportunities the Lord has given me. I can't imagine a more wonderful place to learn to become a more faithful follower of Jesus Christ. I feel confident one day while in Heaven we will all gather around the throne and worship our Heavenly Father for how good He has been to us, and how He has shared His wisdom and knowledge with us when we haven't deserved it.

Jesus is present in this place, and that my friends is why it is so depressing to have to leave. Yes I will be able to come back and visit, but I will never again have the opportunity to surround myself with this powerful generation of people with the same heart, and goal: "let your Kingdom come God, on earth as it is in Heaven." His presence dwells in this place because that is what these students BEG Him for. They long to feel His presence as they are walking to class, as they worship with other students, and as they turn in their tests. And He alone is faithful, dwelling richly in them, making His presence manifested in the Spirit which dwells inside them. How good He has been to me as a student of Samford University, how good He has been to us!

These past two and a half years have turned my world upside down, giving me a new perspective of walking with Jesus. And I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this University.

He is so incredibly faithful.

Thank you Jesus.


Friday, November 23, 2012

You just want to lay down and die




You know those nights when you just want to lay down and die, go and be with Jesus apart from this world?

Bare with me. This is not one of those emo posts about being suicidal. It is a genuine desire to be with Christ. To once and for all die to my flesh and live with Christ, without the hindrance of this evil flesh. 

It is one of those nights when I wish I could be laying, basking before the Throne of God.

It is one of those nights when I wish with all that is within me that I could be redeemed from my pride and my selfish tendencies. 

It is one of those nights when I wish I could serve better, love better, and be more of who Christ was.

It is one of those nights when I lay in my bed and see the selfishness that has overcome me for the past few weeks.

It is one of those nights when I am weeping on my knees, recognizing my complete and utter dependence on God.

It is one of those nights when I just want to run away from this world, the sin that entangles me in this world, and be delivered to experience Heaven in all it's splendor and glory. 

It is one of those nights when I think of Ecclesiastes saying, "all things are full of weariness; a man cannot utter it; the eye is not satisfied with seeing, nor the ear filled with hearing. What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." 1:8-9

And my heart, quickly loosing sight of the eternal goal of living, says, "what is the point in continuing? I sin against the ones I love. I cannot fully love them. I am incapable of loving them the way I want to be able to love them, when I pray for them I cannot concentrate whole heartedly. My prayers become selfish, focusing on myself instead of on the task. This world is full of sin, I cannot escape, I try and try and try again to run from the sin, knowing the Lord has given me the strength to do so, and yet I fall again, agreeing with Paul in the deepest sense of his words, "So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good" (Romans 7:14-16 NLT). 

And what am I to do? 
How am I to finish this race that has been set before me?
Except, fall on my knees again and again in humility, reminded that I cannot take one step forward apart from the grace of God. 
Calvin says, "In the beginning God fashioned us after his image [Gen 1:27] that he might arouse our minds both to zeal for virtue and to meditation upon eternal life. Thus, in order that the great nobility of our race (which distinguishes us from brute beasts) may not be buried beneath our own dullness of wit, it behooves us to recognize that we have been endowed with reason and understanding so that, by leading a holy and upright life, we may press on to the APPOINTED GOAL of blessed IMMORTALITY."

Therefore, "here is what God's truth requires us to seek in examining ourselves: it requires the kind of knowledge that will strip us of all confidence in our own ability, deprive us of all occasion for boasting, and lead us to submission" (Institutes, 2.1.1-2).

How often I find myself depending upon my own strength. Looking to myself instead of to Christ. 

How often I find myself numb to the ways of God, exuberantly diminishing His power, and relying upon the fatal nature of my repulsive flesh. 

And I am so fascinated by my own ability to perform, or flatter the ears of men when speaking "godly" words, that I fail to see my words are not my own, do not come from myself, and are not meant to glorify my ghastly flesh. 

Time and time again I find myself seeking "most eagerly to be flattered" (2.1.2). 

This I have sought more often then naught. I have been tediously concerned about the details of serving well, loving well, portraying Christ well, all while vainly pursuing my own conceit. And feverishly yearning to satisfy my pride which itches my flesh endlessly, whispers lies without ceasing into my ears, and quenches my thirsty, wicked appetite.

"Nothing pleases man more than the sort of alluring talk that tickles the pride that itches in his very marrow. Therefore, in nearly every age, when anyone publicly extolled human nature in most favorable terms, he was listened to with applause. But however great such commendation of human excellence is that teaches man to be satisfied with himself, it does NOTHING but delight in its own sweetness; indeed, it so deceives as to drive those who assent to it into utter ruin. For what do we accomplish when, relying upon every vain assurance, we consider, plan, try, and undertake what we think is fitting; then-while in our very first efforts we are actually forsaken by and destitute of sane understanding as well as true virtue-we nonetheless rashly press on until we hurtle to destruction? Yet for those confident they can do anything by their own power, things cannot happen otherwise. Whoever, then heeds such teachers as hold us back with thought only of our good traits will not advance in self-knowledge, but will be plunged into the worst ignorance" (2. 1. 2).

Father grant me not the selfishness of my pride, but tear my flesh away that I may not seek the pleasures of man, but seek alone your Heart, your Glory, and your Gospel. That I may find with sweet surprise, earth but a pathway to the skies. And all my flesh in burning pleas, shall die on its selfish knees. Alone, my heart finds peace to rest, Jesus, alone, my righteousness. And that grace so free indeed it sings, my lips distressed, no words to bless. you my love, my soul's goodness. 

My heart so tempted to seek the pleasures of man, likes here, comments there, what am I seeking but man's approval? O that He may rid me of this flesh, and take me once again to that Pure Holy Rest.

It is a disease, a disease we have failed to kill. It is a disease we have failed to recognize. We FEED off of Facebook and Instagram. Our flesh most triumphantly seeks, longs, desires, appeals for, strives for, and yearns for the quickly vain acceptance of man. Our joy is inextricably attached to how many likes we get on Instagram, how many comments we receive on Facebook, and how many followers we have on Twitter. 

Fight this flesh, no matter what it means you have to do. Legalism is not a way of the Lord, but Jesus said, "If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell" (Matthew 5:29, ESV).

August 15, 2013:
Needing to remember these things as I think of a fallen relationship with my best friend, and am reminded of my imperfect, unworthy nature, hidden deep in the marrow of my bones, and making itself apparent in my flesh daily. Thank you all for the prayers as I grieve this loss.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Intense



Intense.

Perhaps a word people use to describe me often. The feeling is mutual. Sometimes it seems daunting, sometimes it seems accurate, either way it is the Truth.

Intense.

existing or occurring in a high or extreme degree: intenseheat.

True, however, what is it that makes a person intense?
Is it his tendency to say things people wouldn't say? Is it his tendency to awaken feelings or emotions people would rather not awaken? Is it his tendency to answer questions without making someone mad? Is it his unpredictable manner of atoning for the sins of the world? Is it his ability to evoke Truths in the center of our hearts the very place we would not like that Truth to be evoked?

Intense.

strenuous or earnest, as activity, exertion, diligence, orthought: an intense life.

It was and is His tendency to allow the Spirit to evoke emotion, response, actions, feelings, within Himself that people were unprepared for. It was an unprecedented area, an uncharted territory. They knew what was coming and yet they were completely unprepared.

It is the same today.
People don't like being around 'intense' people.
Nonbelievers do not like being around 'intense' nonbelievers.
Believers do not like being around 'intense' believers.

So what's the deal?

There is a passion, a zeal, a Love which Christ exemplified in His life, His preaching, His death, and His resurrection; which people do not want to be a part of. Is it because these feelings create in us a desire to have our questions answered, to have our faith increased, and to have our God glorified? We know the 'intense' nature which Christ portrayed is good, yet we have a hard time knowing that same 'intense' nature lives within us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

A few weeks ago I was talking to my sister in Christ, Kayla, about what it looks like to be a part of an event which isn't necessarily evil, but definitely is not glorifying to God or furthering the Kingdom. We talked about the discipline it takes in our lives for us to obey the Spirit of God, and to shy away from any person, things, or places which cause us to not further the Kingdom. And then I began questioning myself. How often am I spending my time doing something I know is not going to further the Kingdom: watch t.v., watch a movie, sleep more then I should, etc.? And then it began to overwhelm me. Kayla and I continued the conversation by talking about this struggle we have to be in the world and not of the world. If we recognize that we are not of this world, then being in this world becomes more complicated. As it becomes more complicated and we begin to share our complications with others, we realize there are few people who understand what we are talking about.

Why is this so?

We acknowledge that the hearts of the sisters, and brothers we speak to view us as 'over-spiritualizing' things, or being too 'intense'. Which may cause us to turn away for fear of being made fun of.

If what I believe about Christ is True, and I believe it with my whole heart, then I do not believe there is a way to over-spiritualize anything. Everything is spiritual. Everything we do is supposed to be for the glory of God, and I mean EVERYTHING. But we as Christians, especially all of us in the Bible belt, are known for neglecting the fact that everything is spiritual, and that we will one day be held accountable for all that we did for or against the glory of God.

"So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil." 2 Corinthians 5:10

"Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgement people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned." Matthew 12:33-37

And the conversation goes on. We will continue to be seen as intense, unreasonable, extreme, legalistic, etc., but we would rather our hearts stand right before God by the blood of Christ as reflected in the way we lived our lives, then stand right before a twisted and adulterous generation.

May the richness of this word as spoken in Acts, be apparent to us now as we daily battle to acknowledge we have overcome the world:

"You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it." Acts 7:51-53

Yes Jesus is intense.
Yes Jesus lives inside of me.
Yes Jesus speaks clearly to me about my sin.
Yes Jesus is alive.

If Jesus is alive, and he lives inside me, and he is intense, then every part of me according to the grace that has been given to me in having the Holy Spirit living inside of me, is INTENSE. So be it.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Chase's Surprise Party

So incredibly thankful for everybody who helped me plan the surprise and came to the party! It is such a joy to see the body of Christ serve each other. And my dear Chase, what a blessing it is to serve, love, and care for you. So thankful for the opportunity to learn to love and serve you better, we are so undeserving of the gift that has been given to us, but these words about you remain so true.




















Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Heavenly Whisper

I heard her sweet voice, her gentle, soft, loving voice. She reached out to talk to me, to whisper and to yell, words of Truth, of Wisdom I never knew a tiny child could whisper. She was older, probably two years old, healthy but sitting in that precious carseat she spent so much time in. The sound of her voice brought comfort, peace, and a rush of emotions I was not ready to bear with. I knew she had died, but I knew she was alive. Somehow, the fact she was alive again didn't confuse me. It was as if I had been given the opportunity to enter into Heaven again, but then again we were here on earth. Heaven and earth had collided. What I once knew was not what I knew, and what I never knew was what I knew. Nobody else heard her precious whispering voice, but I screamed, I yelled, "YALL ELLA GRACE IS TALKING!!!!" Everybody got quiet and Jasmine said, "this little girl will change the world with that heavenly voice of hers."  I can't imagine a more truthful statement. A perfect reflection of the rapid movement of my heart. Incredibly sanctifying to know she is living and fulfilling the call of God on her life, in Heaven.


The nightmares still come. They still taunt me in my daydreaming, reminding me the possibility of Ella Grace being alive again is impossible. And although this is not a possibility, I will not, and cannot let this convince me the Lord did not allow me to have that dream of her. And with a triumphant voice, I say, O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me (Psalm 131). And to the praiseworthy God, I offer again my soul's love and desire, to worship Him for eternity, with the same Heavenly voice given to my adored daughter, Ella Grace.

Loving His tender hands enveloping hers,
Lauren

“Son,'he said,' ye cannot in your present state understand eternity...That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, "No future bliss can make up for it," not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say "Let me have but this and I'll take the consequences": little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. Both processes begin even before death. The good man's past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of Heaven: the bad man's past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness. And that is why...the Blessed will say "We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven, : and the Lost, "We were always in Hell." And both will speak truly.” C.S. Lewis The Great Divorce

Monday, September 17, 2012

We are beggars this is true.

We are beggars this is true.

We are beggars upon the grace filled wine that brought the redemption of our souls the sanctification of ourselves, and the ability to unite with a Holy Righteous, perfect Father.

We are helpless, worthless, sinners, riding upon the mercy of a justifiably wrathful God, who gives and takes away.

We are nothing more then a bunch of spineless robots following the temptations and ways of the world into a deep pit.

We are unrighteous orphans begging with the scarred palms of our hands for the priceless gift of Love.

We are dried up, broken down, bones, spread before our worthless idols, desiring death instead of life (Jeremiah 8).

We are prostitutes selling our evil bodies to the sins that bind us and chain us to the very bed of lies we desire to escape (Ezekiel 16).

We are hypocrites, longing for the momentarily satisfying, when we have been offered the Eternally Satisfying.

We are liars, promising a Truth we don't live out.

We are drunkards, chugging the bitter, deadly water that flows from the mouth of Satan.

We are lost, every one of us, sliding down the slippery pit, feeling the hands of those desiring to pull us with them.

We fall short of His glory, time and time again.

We are undeserving of this Heavenly gift, we call Jesus Christ.

However, He is freely given to us. Given that we may find life, and live it abundantly, to the tune of his glorious grace.

We are redeemed.

We are free.

We are Loved.

And we stand upon a Rock that is higher then us, we long to be this High for we know it is much easier to pull people up to stand on the rock with you then it is to pull them up from the pit.

We are beggars this is true.
We are Princes and princesses this is true.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Oh hush! Not all of us can afford to be romantic

Oh hush! Not all of us can afford to be romantic. I've been offered a comfortable home and protection. There's alot to be thankful for. -Charlotte Lucas, Pride and Prejudice by: Jane Austen

Normally I would not be quick to quote something from a more secular writer, certainly a writer concerned about the improvement of society, yet also seems to share some biblical truths underlying in a more socially formidable word. Despite my hesitancy to quote a secular writer, I have found a most important subject to write about after watching Pride and Prejudice again.

This quote, was stated to Elizabeth Bennet when Charlotte Lucas was telling her she had decided to marry the man with whom Elizabeth had just denied his hand in marriage, for his lack of decency. But I feel it has more truth today in the Christian circle then most like to claim. And so I pray that on behalf of my sisters gathered around me, this will not be said either by me, or by any of you who choose to marry a man out of comfort and protection.

It was my fear in walking out of a previous relationship by the grace of God that I may not ever be invited into another man's life for the rest of my life. After walking away from this previous relationship and seeing it from the outside I realized my most ardent fears were wrapped up in what I thought to be comfort and protection. He would provide a home, an income, a comfortable way of living what most consider the "american dream." And yet, all my life since I was 15 years old and stepped foot in a hospital in Kenya I had known the "american dream" was not at all what I desired. In fact it became my biggest fear to settle in what people call a comfortable home, and to become ignorant to the need of those outside of this 'first world country'. I had been awakened to a life worth living for in Christ, and yet with him I was picturing myself settling for a life outside the will of God. 

And then it came to me by the spirit inside of me: I shall not fear that which has not yet overcome me nor should I fear that which does not have the power to overcome me.

Once alive in Christ always alive in Christ, always able to walk away from that which is hindering you from His presence. And faithfully by the power of the Living Spirit inside of me, strength given by a Holy Righteous perfect Father, I walked away from a relationship with somebody who I knew one thing about, he could offer me a comfortable home and protection, and he was "sort of" a Christ-following man. (a great guy, not to take away from who he has become now in Christ, he was not for me)

And on the other side of the freedom in grace in being relieved of that burden, I walked a little further away from the Lord, and then heard His voice behind me saying as I looked to the left and to the right "this is the way. Walk in it." (Isaiah 30:21) and as I began walking closer to the Lord I felt Him painting a better picture for me of what He desired to do with me. And I continued in singleness for a year and a half only going on a couple of friendly dates with men who I felt were madly in love with the Lord. After all, it is their hearts for the Lord which I saw myself being led by, and only if I could see myself being led spiritually by them would I even agree to a friendly coffee date. And alas, many great incredible godly men, but none who would so far as "catch my eye," or resemble the man the Lord had given me a clear biblical vision of. (not to say that they weren't all great guys, they were, just not the one the Lord was calling me to< that was clear)

And then the infamous questions that come to your mind when being pursued by all the wrong guys:

Am I being too romantic? 
- Song of Solomon - definitely not
Are my standards too high? 
- for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure Philippians 2:14
Should I reevaluate my thoughts on singleness?
- I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. 1 Corinthians 7:6-8
- only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. 1 Corinthians 7:17
I'm pretty sure the Lord is going to make it clear.
- The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard: "Thus says the Lord who made the earth, the Lord who formed it to establish it-the Lord is His name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:1-3
What if I missed out on who the Lord had planned for me?
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7
What if it is one of these guys?
Have I made a mistake? 
Have I gotten caught up in this idea that the Lord will draw me to him? 
Have I been misled?
Am I being ignorant?
Am I being selfish?
(you get the picture)

For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

So, with that picture of scriptures answers to all of my selfish questions, I came back to one thing. Jesus Christ is Lord, His ultimate desire for my life is to live it fulfilling the Gospel, fulfilling the Word and Truth of a Savior worth dying for. If He desires my ultimate good for His ultimate glory, then what have I to trust but His sufficient grace and sovereign will? I am a sinner saved by grace alone through faith alone, and that is not by my own doing, but it is a gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)

He knows where I come from and He knows where I am going, therefore I will trust in Him. My gift of singleness went on and on (or so it seemed), and I was absolutely blessed beyond comparison, moving to Uganda alone, moving to the Middle East alone, and moving to Haiti alone, alone with Christ. And in the moments when I wished that I could cry out to my brother, my best friend, and my beloved, I cried out to my One True and most Faithful Beloved, Brother, and Best friend, Jesus Christ. And in this season of singleness I grew more abundantly in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, that I could not have even thought of being with someone. It was what I wanted, to be completely and utterly devoted to my Savior in a way that could not be shaken even if He called me to run this race with somebody else.

And it was only when I had decided Christ was all I wanted and needed that our Father would decide to give me what He desired for me to bring Him more glory. 

So yes this quote remains true, many sisters are trading what the Lord has intended for them for a comfortable home and protection. But I beg you sisters, do not give up on God's will for your life. It is better then you can even imagine. It is more then you can dream for, and it will satisfy our Father in faith, instead of attempting to make what you desire what God desires. Religiousity is a dangerous place to be in. A place where you will not see the face of God for your attempts to be seen by the outside world. 

I only say this because I have been there. I have been in 3 relationships where I would attempt to remain "faithful" or to bring our relationship into the center of God's will, but it was all in vain because it was not what the Lord desired for His glory. I can sit here and pretend and lie to you and say those 3 relationships were 'good' because we went to church together, would talk about the bible every once in a while, and would even pray together when it was most convenient for us (and very rarely) <<"I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth...Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent." Revelation 3:15-16, 19

God our Father, our Maker, our Creator, the One who made us to bring Him more glory and to live a full life, He has also made another creation for us. He has made and called a man to be all that He has desired for him to be. He has created a man, full of the Holy Spirit, loving as Christ loved us, and willing to sacrifice his own pleasures for the sake of the Gospel, for you, for me, for all of His precious daughters and princesses. 

I pray with all of my heart my sisters, that you will see how beautiful the love story of Song of Solomon is. That you may see that it is not a story that has just come and pass, but our Father desires this same story to be revealed in it's own unique nature in our lives. No it won't be perfect, it won't be all that you dreamed it to be, it will be better, because you will be standing in the center of God's will not questioning whether to turn to the left or to the right but knowing that He has called you to that place, and knowing there is no other place in the world you would rather be. It will be obvious whom the Lord is calling you to, and you will never for a moment question whether it is "good," because if the Lord has ordained it, then you know it can be nothing but good.

As I seek the Father's heart more and more I realize who the Lord has called me to, and I realize it is good despite both of our temptations to abide by our sinful flesh. He is redeeming us, making us clean, convicting us, and continually leading us by His good and perfect will. 

And I pray against Satan's temptations to create jealous hearts in any of us, brothers and sisters. Yes, Chase is an incredible man of God, called by His grace to learn to love and care for me, and allow me to serve him in the same way. But I want you to know sisters that the man God has planned for each of you is worth waiting for. It may seem like ages, and it may feel like you will never be invited into a man's life again, but that is one thing you don't have to worry about because you were already invited into the Man's life, the One True Beloved's life, into the bosom of Jesus Christ. And there your soul eternally rests. Whether you will be called to marry or not, you are completely, one hundred percent satisfied by the blood and redeeming love of Jesus Christ.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

Monday, July 23, 2012

Here the road finds its glorious end

by: Lauren Elise





Here the road finds its
glorious end
where memories are
just around the bend
and the Gospel of Jesus
Christ begins,

Where the true fountain
of Life
takes away the
grieving pains of the knife

Satan lost the battle
in fear and strife
for our God is not dead,
but purely alive

When the enemy comes
to kill and destroy
our hearts shall cry out
in praise and joy

For we know the truth
which sets us free
From fear in the
face of the enemy,

Ella Grace rests high
on the mountain peak,
Her little heart,
Christ alone did seek,

In Glorious Light
her songs made new,
they fall softly to earth
as morning dew,

Forever we shall sing
to the King of Kings,
For death surely hurts
but indeed has no sting,

His blood is victorious
raining down on us
It makes our souls
cry out "glorious!"

In all my life
I will find joy
not without suffering, but I shall know
he can't destroy,

My soul, my heart
finds rest,
In God alone
peace and righteousness,

Heaven seems too too
far away,
for Christ my Lord says,
"Lauren you must stay,

You must share the
Good news with all the world
then you shall come
when the trumpets sound
and hear Ella Grace
singing praises loud

When you appear before
my glorious throne
you shall know you rested
in the Father alone"

"I am unable" my soul
cries clearly

"My beloved my strength
is always with you
you cannot without me,
but you have been made new
so now I am with you
through and through

The valleys will seem deep
long and dry,
but my mercies shall
make living water satisfy,

When you feel lost and weary
remember the cost,
which paid your ransom
so you shall not be lost,

Satan's hand reaches far
but only as far as I allow
because in the end
he will still bow!!!!

Grace alone moves mountains,
by that Grace you speak,
So wherever I take you,
my face shall you seek.



-Lauren Elise

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Your Days Here Changed Everything

"My endurance has perished; so has my hope from the Lord."

Ella Grace, your days here changed everything. A Gospel Centered Desire: to be a Mother



To have everything changed.
Your entire mindset switched.
A new love, a new desire, a new longing enhanced by the Truth that she is His.

To hold a child, know she is yours, and just as much His.
She lays sweetly upon my chest, breathing perfectly the breath the Lord has given her. Breathing the Gospel upon the hearts she touched. The softness of her hands, the sweet bubbly cheeks that so perfectly portrayed the beauty of Christ. Her hands were so tiny, but so full of life, so full of joy, so full of a perfect portrayal of love. They were perfect in every way. They held my hand in a way that can not be redone. Her feet, so longing to walk, to crawl, to be able to do all her sweet heart desired to do.

To feel the love of a mother towards her child, o that perfect love, such a reflection of the love the Father has for His children. To repeat it would be impossible, to attempt to create it would also be impossible. The memory is to sweet to let go. Do I have to let go? no. So why is the memory of that dreadful day in the hospital the strongest memory of them all? Why is it so easy for me to go back to the moment she passed away, and I began to scream? Why is it so easy to go back to the moment I held her lifeless body? Why is this awful memory the memory that repeats in my mind all day long? What is He trying to teach me? Why can't I grasp the memory of her laying perfectly on my body as she was soundly sleeping? Why is that memory running away?

I can go immediately back to walking out of that evil place, attempting to catch my breath and falling to my knees in front of many Haitians wondering why this white girl was weeping, and on her knees. I can go back to carrying her lifeless body into the orphanage, knowing she was never going to come back. I can go back to sitting in the school room in that precious rocking chair I had made so that I could rock her to sleep. I can go back to rocking her lifeless body for hours, but I can't go back to her sweet life-giving smile. I can't remember unless I see pictures. I can go back to singing Amazing Grace while gathered around the place we would lay her shell, but I can't go back to sharing chicos with her in the kitchen. I can go back to handing her body to her careless earthly father so that he could put her in that disgusting box, but I can't go back to 3 am awaking to her beautiful cry and loving her with everything within me. I can go back to the dirt falling like knives upon the place where her body lay, but I can't for a moment remember feeding her ounces upon ounces of formula, praying she would become healthy.

I want a child to hold. I want a child to love and touch and be reminded of His love for me. I want to care for a child, to cherish and raise a child in the way of the Lord. I long to be a mother again and to know the Lord has entrusted to me a role I cannot complete without His strength and mercy within me. The truth is, I want Ella Grace. I want her tiny frame to be wrapped in my arms. I want to kiss her, to cuddle with her and to be with her. She was, and is, and will never be again. But she is more alive now then she has ever been, and she has made me want to be a mother more then I could have ever imagined I would want to be a mother.

There is absolutely no love like the love a mother has for her child. There is absolutely no way to make a mother feel better about her sick child, with everything in her she longs to help her child, to make the pain go away, and to love that child until she feels better. There is absolutely no way to explain what makes it okay that an 18 month old child has just passed away from something that was preventable. There is absolutely no way you can tell me death does not sting. There is absolutely no way that death can ever not be painful for those still left on this dreadful place we call earth.

Or is there a way? Is there a Hope? A Hope beyond all we can imagine, a place which consumes the souls of those who trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior? Is there a place we can truly call freedom? A place we can truly call Beautiful? A place where all the children are painless? Where no more tears are cried, where no more is death felt?

There is. There is a place we call Freedom, a place where Heaven is all that we could ever desire perfectly wrapped up in God, and His glorious mercy and grace raining down on us endlessly. A place where we are so near to our Father that all of the fears and pains of what is to come, or what has been are wiped away. We will finally see as He sees the good and perfect plan He had and has for our lives. We will see the unrelenting joy deep in the Light of our hearts.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.


And He who was seated on the throne said, "Behold I am making all things new." Also He said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." And He said to me, "it is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God, and he will be my son." Revelation 21:3-7


"The fool says in his heart, "there is no God." Psalm 53:1


He has made my teeth grind on gravel, 
and made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, "my endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the Lord."


Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!


My soul continually remembers it and is BOWED DOWN WITHIN ME.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:


The steadfast love of the Lord NEVER CEASES,
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
Great is your faithfulness.
"The Lord is my portion," says my soul,
"therefore I will hope in Him."


The Lord is good to those who wait for him.
It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.


Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him;
let him put his mouth in the dust-
there may yet be hope;
let him give his cheek to the one who strikes,
and let him be filled with insults.


For the Lord will not cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for He does not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men.
Lamentations 3:16-33









Sunday, July 15, 2012

Thwarted Plans


A Post from Chase-

There was something off-ask my friend Surf.  As he picked me up to go to the airport I shared with him my feeling- "dude, something is going to go wrong."  Maybe it was fear- I was going to Colorado to see Lauren and her family who I hadn't seen in over a month.  Maybe God was trying to prepare my heart; but all I could imagine was that He didn't want me going on this trip-doomed! I was going in blind to His Will and little did I know what He had in store.

My flight was delayed 30 minutes from 4:30 to 5 p.m.  So as I sat in front of my gate waiting here comes this guy high-tailing it to the desk.  Amused, I watch him flail his arms wildly, stare intently at the United Employee, and then almost do a hop-step victory dance.  He wasn't American- maybe Indian or Middle Eastern I thought.  Well I waved at him-don't know why- just thought I'd share in his victory not knowing why he was so happy. Departure wasn't for another 20 minutes! Sure enough, the dude sits two seats down from me and immediately starts talking. He thought he had missed his flight! Someone forgot to give a brother an update.  My Spirit jumped inside of me as I found out he was Saudi Arabia.  And yes, his name was Mohammad.  For those who don't know me (prob. alot of you since this isn't my blog) God has been working over the last year instilling in me a heart that is burden for Muslims.

Mohammad (We'll call him Mo) has spent the last 9 months at U. of Alabama studying English.  His English was decent with a strong Arabic accent, good enough to carry a conversation.  Immediately, you could tell Mo was friendly.  I don't know why he chose to sit by me-but I was glad that he did.  As it was time to dock the plane-I asked him his seat #. He was two seats directly behind me.  This was the moment when I think my eyes were being opened, and I prayed God would allow us to talk on the plane.  We both sat down in our respected seats as the plane began to fill up.  As the plane was almost full- I looked back to notice Mohammad and I were the only two people in the plane without someone seated next to us! Okay God- really? The last person boarded and sat next to Mohammad.  Praying for boldness, I asked Mo if he wanted to sit next to me and he quickly followed suit.  For the next two hours-  he would share about his Islam beliefs, I would listen.  Then I would present the Gospel, and he would listen.

I'm unworthy.  "Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people" (Deut. 9:6).  I don't know why the Lord allowed me to be apart of the conversation I'm about to detail. I'm the worst of sinners.  But it quickly became evident that God had purposefully orchestrated Mo and I meeting. I'll highlight some of our conversation.

Mo could not see how a Just God can provide equal forgiveness to all people no matter how many good or bad things.  In Islam, he said, If God was a boss "he would pay most money to the hardest worker, some money to the somewhat hard worker, and no money to the worker who did nothing...but Christians..your God gives them the same, how so?" GLAD you asked Mo. Jesus actually talks about that in Matthew 20! I told him the parable of the workers in the Vineyard. He understood, but could not see how a loving God could kill his Son to provide the free grace.  Great Question- wait this time I don't have a good answer? Thankfully I was able to get enough out of the way for God to orchestrate this conversation.  His question led us down a path talking about the Glory of God. The glory of God led me to asking him which God would receive most love and affection from people(and ultimately most glory).  A God who has to extend mercy based on the Human and his performance? Or a God who is not bound to the performance of humans and can offer full eternal salvation to the sinner?  

Mo wanted to know more about heaven and as he would say "the fire."  He shared with half excitement how Allah will reward people based on how they handle trials during there time on earth.  For ex. if a man waits to have sex before marriage, Allah will grant him more virgins in heaven. But at the end of the day- Mo shared his fear that he DOES NOT know his Eternal destiny. I was shocked, not by the truth of his statement but how often he kept repeating it.  Was Mo searching?  I want talk about everything question I had for him on this- but it did lead us to the Idea of the presence of God, heaven, and the joy of  simply knowing and being known by God.  This.. this is what captured Mo's heart!!  Joy! Joy is what lead us to his grandfather.

I had heard/read that God was using Dreams to reach Muslims.  But I had never first hand heard it from a Muslim themselves. What I was about to hear, humbled me against the weight of God's glory.  Mo shared how Grandfather died last year, but the last 3,4 months of His life he had a recurring dream.  "A man who's face was beautiful, whole body bright, who stuck out His hand to grab for my grandfather."  Grabbing the hand, his grandfather would say he didn't care where they went.. he just wanted to be with this man! "He was free and happy."  From my inmost being I was shouting "Bro- don't you see you?? The man was Jesus!!"  I couldn't believe what I was hearing.  I listen to Mo a little bit longer before I made my plea.  

He proceeded to tell me how His grandfather died with a smile on his face.  For his culture that was unheard of..most likely because they lack peace of their Eternity. BUT his Grandfather had a smile, the same smile Mo told me he had when he talked about the man in his dream. Mo himself lit up when talking about his Grandfather- as if he can taste the same joy his grandfather.  He repeated "Chase(in his accent), I just want to have what my grandfather had.  I believe he is with Allah now."  He then opened the door WIDE OPEN- "I don't care who it is that gets me there..whether its Mohammad, Jesus, whoever.. I want to know the joy my grandfather had."  Shocked, I made my plea to the Man Christ Jesus.  I couldn't think of scriptures at this point, I was nearly tearful.  My heart was pounding and I could only speak from the enabled Spirit inside of me.  He is Jesus! He is the one who extended his hand to your grandfather.  Who provides inexpressible joy to soul.  He is the one who extends His hand to you Mo, to me.  To give us life and peace, both here on earth and all eternity in Heaven. Can't you see Mohammad? He desires to give you what he gave your Grandfather!

I can't write and tell you that Mohammad is now a Christ follower.  That would be a selfish lie from the gates of hell.  But from the beginning of our conversation to the end-he had clearly opened a door in his heart for the Gospel to invade.  A door that I will be on my knees praying God walks through till my brother knows Christ Jesus the Lord.  Mo shared how a group of poor people came to his grandfather's funeral and would not leave.  When Mo's father confronted them- they shared how their Grandfather had given them a great amount of money a few months earlier.  His grandfather met Jesus a few months earlier.  Is this not what we believe? Like the parable of the Hidden treasure, Once we have tasted the treasure of heaven "in our joy [we]go and sell all that [we] have"(Matthew 13:44). Mohammad and I exchanged numbers and FB info, he will be coming back to Bham (where I go to school) occasionally in the fall.  Pray for His soul. 

My delayed flight out of Birmingham forced me to miss my connecting flight from Houston to Denver. Thankfully I went stand-by on a flight later that night and then flew from Denver to Steamboat the next morning. Being in God's beautiful Creation and spending it with someone you cherish has made this week unforgettable.  Sure, I would have loved getting here earlier like planned.  But after meeting Mohammad, I'm glad God didn't have my plans in mind. If our flight left at 4:30, Mohammad would not have made it.  
For thinking I was doomed from even making this trip; I think God's been gracious.  
Psalms 33:10-11.

Humbled,
Chase Inman

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Faithful Sovereignty of a Perfect Father

I sat on my dorm room bed. I was burdened, lost, for a brother I did not know, but knew I was supposed to be praying for. I felt the cry of his heart to know the Lord's will. I felt the burden of his soul to be placed again in the peace and comfort of the Lord's presence. I felt as if my body could not get low enough, as if the Lord's Spirit was so much upon me that I could not even bear to look upon His face. I was still human still frail still weak, but very much in a Spiritual realm. Very much a part of the only True World in which we live. The Spirit inside of me and the Lord surrounding me could not have possibly been closer together unless I had actually been in Heaven. And for a moment, for a quick second the rest of the world could fade. I could dwell in the presence of my Father. I could live in perfect harmony with my Creator. I could be completely content in my whimpering soul because I knew He was there. Despite my desperation for the emotional, spiritual, and eternal state of my brother's soul, my soul still rested in Him. And in that moment He whispered words to me that I shall never forget. Words that I never wanted to have to speak to anybody. A word that was meant for my brother that the Lord had faithfully called me to pray for in the last couple of months.

It was a word I knew he didn't want to hear. It was a word lost in the crowning glory of who God is and what He does when His servants ask Him for answers. It was a word given to the cry of a desperate soul. And He said, "my daughter, you have felt your brother's suffering, you have felt his anxiety, you have labored in prayer for his desperate soul for the past couple of months, and now I ask you to step out in faith. Now I ask you my love to speak the impossible. Now I simply urge you to listen to my command word for word. I urge you my beloved to tell you brother this when you see him tomorrow."

Everything within me longed to escape. I wanted to run back to my flesh, and escape from the obedience the Spirit within me was calling to my earthly body, mind, and heart. Not knowing that what seemed impossible, unacceptable, unreasonable, and idiotic, was truly remarkable, miraculous, and sovereign.

It seemed to be a normal day, that spring morning as I waited eagerly to meet with my brother and friend, William. We sat in the busiest area on campus talking about what was going on in each other's lives. And then I noticed him walk in. My brother, my faithful brother walked in front of me to stand with a bunch of friends, as the Lord had so sovereignly spoken, there he was waiting to hear the word the Lord had spoken to me. In my fearful flesh I dreaded walking up to him, and in my fearless soul I longed to walk up to him. My anxiousness soon became apparent as my brother William asked me what was wrong. I could only tell him I had something to tell our brother that was standing close to us, but that my flesh was literally hindering me. It seemed simple to William, "just do it, what's the worst that can happen?" But it was indeed much more complicated then that. It was a "just do it" to William, but to me it was a "what if he thinks you are an idiot? What if he doesn't believe you? what if he thinks you are insane? What if you actually have lost your mind? What if you made this all up? What if it wasn't actually what the Lord was telling you? What if you are wrong? What if he tells everybody about this? What if everybody on campus thinks you are insane?"

And then it was lunch time. My flesh walked boldly away from my faithful brother waiting to hear from the Lord, and the Spirit inside of me beat my flesh from the inside out. I sat at the cafeteria table wondering what was going on. I stared at my plate full of food, with my stomach completely void of an appetite. How could I begin to eat this food as if nothing is wrong with me right now/? THERE IS SOMETHING ENTIRELY WRONG WITH ME. I wanted to scream I wanted to cry. I wanted to go back to that moment and completely redo it. I wanted another chance, another opportunity for obedience. And yet the time was clear, I had one opportunity and I gave it away. I had to quickly get to class. But I kept asking myself, "where am I? what have i done? What am i doing? why did I do that?" My final class for that day was miserable. I couldn't pay attention. I knew I needed to go back to my dorm and get in the presence of God again before it was "too late." But I promised my friend Virginia I would go rock climbing with her that afternoon. While driving to the rock climbing place a song came on called "come away" by Jesus Culture. And then it hit me. The Lord had asked me to step out in faith into this unknown. ANd yes it was true, I didn't know what was coming. I didn't know if it meant rejection, failure, oddness, or persecution, but that did not stop Him from asking me. So what was I thinking? Immediately my heart cried out for the Lord, for the Sovereign Lord, the one in whom I gave my life to. The One to whom I said, "i will die for your Name."I wanted Him, I didn't want that selfish fleeting idolatry called, "likeableness, or popularity." i wanted Him no matter what the cost was. And so He took my heart, the place where my soul dwells. He picked it up in all its grossness, its wickedness, its vileness and He said, "my daughter, I have you in the palm of my hand, you have been made new, you have been washed have been made clean, and because I love you and my grace is sufficient for my power is made perfect in your weakness, I am going to give you another opportunity." Then I received a text from my brother telling me that William had told him I had something I needed to tell him. We arranged a time later that evening to meet so I could tell him.

It was around 8:15 that evening that my brother and i decided to meet on campus. As we sat down on a bench in Ben Brown I said, "I just have to straight up tell you what the Lord has told me to tell you instead of continuing to delay and not tell you." And after telling him exactly what teh Lord had told me to tell him i sat there wondering what he was thinking. After many "wows" on his part, I looked at him and told him i did not expect to hear what had been going on or what is going on, but that I knew that if I did not tell him that i would literally explode. But he felt the Lord quickening his heart for him to share with me what had been going on. After a while we realized how truly sovereign the Lord was in His timing, and how faithful he was in providing an answer to his prayers. It turned out that the night before when I was on my bed distraught with burden for his soul, he was also having the worst night he had had in praying about that specific thing. What a blessing to see how the Lord had connected our Spirits in such a miraculous way, that I would seemingly be able to carry a part of his burden for him, and fellowship with him in such a life-giving, life-altering way.

And I don't know what the Lord has planned for my life and for his life, but I know that the Lord works in very mysterious ways, and He is faithfully speaking to and through His people.


But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.b 16But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:
17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servantsc and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
22“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. Acts 2:14-24

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What if

We sit, peering out into the great unknown wondering if that Great Unknown can be known to us.

He seems far off, maybe too far off to even begin to reach, yet we long for Him dearly, expectingly, hesitatingly.

What if He could live here with us like He had always planned? What if there were no more tears no more pain, no more suffering? What if it was as He always had pictured it to be? Would we be satisfied?

Can we desire the very thing by which we have been given life, and actually miss Him when He speaks to us?

What if this whole world were filled with people who thought and acted like we do? What if we did not have to choose daily who we would serve?

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15


What if we lived in complete harmony with the one we desire more then life itself? Then we would be truly living.

He is the way, the truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. John 14:6


What if in every circumstance in our lives we would be constantly thinking of who He is, what He has done, and what He is doing?

Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God--truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:23-24


What if we woke up every morning longing to be taken to the cross to sacrifice once again our earthly bodies, our earthly minds, and our earthly hearts, that our soul may again be reminded of its eternal dwelling place?

For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immortality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. Colossians 3:3-5


What if I had not obeyed the Lord's will to send me to Haiti, and I had in turn decided to remain in the comforts of my "American life"? I would have remained comfortable. I would have remained in disobedience. I would have continued living comfortably, not feeling pain and suffering for all they are worth. I would not have felt this distance from the Lord in a good sense, but would have felt as I did exactly one year ago when i decided to not act in obedience to a word the Lord had given me to tell to my brother.

And I never ever want to be there again. It was as if the Lord had flicked my weak, frail, human body off of the palm of His hand. As if I had fallen deep into the quick sand that keeps on chaining our souls. As if Satan himself had punched the Spirit in the face and said, "you see, you are not worthy to her." As if my selfish fleeting body had triumphantly decided to disobey the crying of the Spirit inside of me. As if my soul was banned from the presence of God.

And all those as if's were felt but not true. He still held me, He still holds me. I was in disobedience but the Lord had not flicked me off of the palm of His hand. For it says, "behold I have engraved you in the palms of my hands" (Isaiah 49:16). An engraving is permanent, unchanging. So no matter how far away from the Lord I felt last year, and no matter how far away from the Lord I feel now, His grace is still sufficient, for His power is made perfect in our weakness. And His power suffices, and replaces our weakness when we feel we cannot go on.

I can scream at Him all day long, "God doesn't exist, He is not alive, He is not here, He has died," but that does not change the fact that my soul still screams, "God you are Holy, you are Alive, You are here, You have not died, and you do not sit on a throne completely uninvolved in our lives." He is sovereign He is good, and His mercy and grace extends to all of the sinners, the least of the least. Praise be to Him for rescuing our unworthy souls from the pit of despair.