Friday, August 26, 2011

Cheerleading Friendship

By the time David had finished reporting to Saul, Jonathan was deeply impressed with David—an immediate bond was forged between them. He became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be David's number-one advocate and friend. (1 Samuel 18:1)
He loved David more than his own soul! (1 Samuel 20:17)

True Friendship… here a picture is painted.
Two unlikely friends – Jonathan, the young Prince of Israel – David, a poor shepherd boy, but God’s anointed as the next King of Israel.
Do you think Jonathan didn’t know that in the usual lineage of Kings’ successors he should have inherited the throne? Don’t believe he could have been that na├»ve… is father, King Saul, pretty much shoved it down his throat everyday that David lived and breathed. Saul tried his best to kill David – envy and anger ate at his soul from the moment God’s hand of favour left Saul’s life. 
But Jonathan’s deep love for David transcended the mind of his worldly father.
Jonathan knew God’s anointed, and would not rest until David was put in his place as King. Even risking (and eventually losing) his life, Jonathan knew the honour and favour of God that would come from protecting the future King.

What would happen if we understood friendship like that?
What kind of honour, favour, and blessings would be bestowed upon us, if we – instead of seeking our own success in life – instead built our lives around encouraging and pushing others forward.
What selflessness would abound!
What a better world we would have!

Years later, after Jonathan & David are long dead, a man named Jesus Christ – the son of David – came to show the world true love like that only even more powerful! He was the Son of God and his love took him to a horrible cross, he died and overcame death and all our troubles and fears.

The Bible says we are the body of Christ… this means we are connected. 
As a body, how can we function without each other?

I have a couple of personal stories to share about this…

I have the privilege of working with one of my best friends – Elsbeth.
We have a unique friendship. A true Proverbs “Iron sharpens iron” relationship.
I love her to death – she loves me – we get on each other’s nerves – we are very much sisters. J
Yesterday at work I was in a bad mood about something (I even forget what it was now) and I was letting it hurt our friendship, (though I was more to blame, on this one).
I returned from a lunch break (to just get away) and what’s the first thing my dear friend does?
She chooses that moment to come up, massage my back, and pray for me.
It was such a sincere moment, I felt so convicted.
Isn’t this how God treats us?
In our moments of weakness, negativity, and pain… He loves.
The bible even says “While we were yet sinners, He died for us.”
Such profound love is only capable through Jesus Christ.

Another thing about the body – we are called to be advocates and cheerleaders for each other.
An advocate is one who speaks for another.
This is the selflessness I mentioned earlier – for who is more unselfish than one who puts others first at the risk of promoting others before himself?
This is not something you see often in our world today.
We seem obsessed with being first and climbing the ladder to success.
The thing about this is that we usually trample someone on the way up!
How is hurting and pushing down helping to build the body of Christ? 

As a member of the body of Christ, we are called to be different from the world!
In this race we call life, we are all called to be runners AND we are all called to be cheerleaders!

A cheerleader is one who believes in their team even when they are not at their best. They are constantly encouraging and uplifting the spirits of their fellow team-mates.
A cheerleading friend is a true friend.
A “Jonathan” type of friend.
One who is willing to put aside all his selfish desires and pray, lift up, and encourage his friend to succeed in his calling.
I know what you’re thinking. You wonder if you start to put others first, what will happen to YOUR dreams and desires? Doesn’t God have a calling on your life too?
You bet He does.
But will He honour you for a sacrifice and a pure heart to see your friend succeed in His calling?
You bet. J
Besides… Jesus said: If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

Another personal story.
I have a few AH-MAZING friends who demonstrate cheerleading friendship to me by consistently believing in me (even when I don’t believe in myself) and encouraging me on in everything I do.
I love them so much, I hope someday I can be there for them as much as they are for me.
Tonight I got home from work and felt a lot of fears filling my heart (I won’t get into that because this is not the point of my story).
I texted my girls and asked for prayer – and one in particular called me out and encouraged me to fight back the enemy’s lies by quoting the word.
Another encouraged me by saying “perfect love casts out fear”…
After a good long talk with Jesus and quoting a LOT of scripture, I texted them back.
With so much love, my beautiful cheerleading friend simply stated that she loved me, couldn’t stand to see the enemy keep me in a foothold, and that’s what she was here for – To build and encourage the body of Christ.

You see, a cheerleading friend will speak into your life and lovingly state: 
"If YOU are winning, then I have won."

I want to leave you with one last thought on cheerleading friendship.
One that I believe is key to everything I just talked about.

Remember Job? He had problems… and he had friends who were slightly less than encouraging.
But God honoured him for his faith.
Look at this:
And the LORD restored Job’s losses when he prayed for his friends. Indeed the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. (Job 42:10)

So friends – wherever you are tonight. Whatever struggles you face. Whatever lies the enemy has you ensnared in…
Take heart – have faith in a very real God who loves you enough to send His Son to display true love for you.
Then turn around and begin to PRAY for your friends…
God will bless you beyond your wildest dreams.

A side note: if you are reading this and you find yourself without friends (my heart weeps for you) – remember there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother – His name is Jesus. He loves you more than life.
And then start asking Him to send you people who will be an encouragement to you as you are an encouragement to them.
I pray you find a real friend you can build up and be a “Jonathan” towards…

Something I’ve been learning – in regards to Job’s prayer for his friends.
If I pray FOR my friends and they pray for me, we often get answered faster than if we pray selfishly.

Try it. I bet you won't be disappointed. J

This blog is dedicated with much Love to: 
My Cheerleading Friends & Family. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Song on Repeat - You Are More (Hillsong Live)

Popping my head out of a writer’s den to send out a “song on repeat”… I’m busy these days getting everything prepared for my church missions trip to Haiti. September will be a life-changing month for me and my church team. Please pray for us for finances, health, safety, and that we will be able to do all that God wants us to do there.
Now by “writer’s den”, I mean that I have been working on some writing in preparation for the kid’s program we’ll be doing for the kids in Haiti. Please pray for me as this is something I’ve never done before. J

Now, the song…
Earlier this week I told you about my desert experience this summer.
Well, in addition to the desert I have felt that I’m in a time of waiting… a test of patience & endurance.
Today as I went through my work day and then the million things I had to do after work, I felt as if – for the first time in a while – that Jesus was right there, helping me through my day. He’s so beautiful.
This feeling was confirmed tonight when He – who knows exactly how even the simple things in life make me happy – gave me a bottle of cotton-candy scented nailpolish (yes, it really is!).
I know… you’re thinking that’s silly. But Jesus really does give me things like that! Ask me for the story next time you see me, and I’ll tell you how Jesus gave me that little gift – as worthless to the world as that may be, it was exactly what Jesus knew I wanted. J

But here I am rambling about nailpolish…

The song…

He is more.
There are times in life when we can’t always see Him or understand what He’s doing, cuz everything is in His timing.
No matter what season you’re in, whether it’s a waiting season – waiting without knowing what’s next, but relying on the confidence that your God is able to carry you through. Or even if you are just in a season of growth, change or stepping out in faith into the unknown.
Whatever your season, fix your eyes on Him!
Whatever He's taking you thru right now, KEEP GOING! 
Nothing worth having comes easily. 
Everything in this song fills my heart with a new hope and excitement to see what's next. 
It's an anticipation aspect... Jesus is just waiting to show us more, but first we have to trust Him. 
Listen to this song tonight and remember who He is…
remember the Man who knows everything about you.
Even more than you do.

Jesus, you are more than my words could ever say.
You are Lord over all my days
I will see this season thru
I will fix my eyes on you… only You.

Happy Sunday tomorrow everyone!
May you seek His presence constantly! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Desert Inspirations...

Dry times… we all have them.
Whether it’s because you’re too stubborn to accept what God is trying to do in your life, or if you just simply can’t see the sunshine anymore.
You know He’s still there. But for some reason you can’t bring yourself to believe that there’s a silver lining in that cloud.
Sometimes the desert and wasteland is so long, so hot, and so tiring that we would give anything for just one drop of hope in our thirsty hearts.
If you feel like this, you’re not alone.
But He loves the world… so much.

Times are dry. You are thirsty. You haven’t seen the sun in days – perhaps weeks or even months. It’s cloudy, but the clouds do not release the rain you crave… all they do is hinder your focus.
You’re starting to lose hope.
It’s hard to choose to believe that your beloved Jesus is still there.
But let hope arise and darkness will tremble in His holy light…

A prayer in the desert – a heart’s cry from a throat cracking with tears. Your only sustenance is tears. And half the time you don’t even know why or how you got here.
But in the end you find something else sustains – His Love.
His love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.
So when all else fails and all you see is desert for miles around you… reach out a weary hand and grasp firmly the waiting hand of the beloved.
His grace sustains. His love is water to a soul craving life and hope.
Hear the voice of the beloved calling you out of the wilderness.

The LORD will guide you continually,
      And satisfy your soul in drought,
      And strengthen your bones;
      You shall be like a watered garden,
      And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Isaiah 58:11

This has been my season.
But as of tonight I refuse to believe the lies that the enemy of my soul would have me discouraged by.
This is my honest unguarded moment to my readers…
I was wrong, and I’m sorry I gave up on His dreams for me for a little while.
A desert is exactly what it sounds like… but I am not deserted.
My Beloved, Jesus is a well – living water.
So here I am… believing. Waiting. Yearning for more of Him.
Dreaming again and living a life of faith in a God bigger than my circumstances.
A slap in the face with truth, is better than lies with a kiss…
Or as Proverbs says…
Wounds from a sincere friend
      are better than many kisses from an enemy.  

Thanks to the sincere friends who stood by me through this desert. I can’t promise I won’t need more encouragement… but this is my heart’s cry tonight that you would read this and understand where I’ve been.
I’m thinking of love like a fire… did you know that when you’re at your driest time, that’s when the fire can catch the easiest?
Perhaps that’s why He leads us through the desert times… so we can be better prepared for the fire that will refine us into who He created us to be.

Just some thoughts I had this Monday night… J

One last thing to leave you with… a voice of truth.
He knows me, He knew everything in my life would happen before I did.
And He still WANTS me!
and you too… don’t give up! Ok? Let His love sustain you.
 The Message:

The song: 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Loving Monday...?

Loving Monday…?


So today Monday changed my mind…
Here’s how it started.
Yesterday at church my amazing Pastor John Finochio preached a message called “MyCrossroads”.
It was basically about who we are as a church and how we need to BE the church Monday-Saturday and then we just have a family gathering once a week – that’s Sunday services. J
Sunday’s are made for the best of times with people who love you and support you. Your church is meant to be family. A community extended from your immediate family. A group of people to laugh and cry with you thru life.
But I’m not writing this to include a re-cap of PJ’s sermon (amazing as it was), I simply want to state that Mondays do NOT have to be the dreary, mundane, dreary, slowest, “need-my-coffee-NOW… or ELSE”, kind of days that we all dread.
I don’t really know how to say this, (I’m tired, and writing this fast, cuz when else is a better time to post this… but a Monday? J)
So here’s my thought…
If church on Sunday is really all it’s supposed to be, and meeting with your spiritual family is really uplifting and God uses that time to fill you up and give you excitement for another week of “being the church” out there in your homes and jobs…
Then WHY are we buying into the depressing lies of MONDAY?
It’s like we just had the best Sunday… we had a great worship service, maybe you cried when Jesus showed up for you (and He usually does that, you just need to look for Him)… then Pastor gave a great sermon. Maybe you even went up for prayer afterwards.
So if his sermon made such an impact on you and Sunday was such a great day of friends, family, fellowship… etc. etc. etc.
Then WHY is it that Monday morning it takes more than one cup of coffee to get going?
Why does the sunshine mock (no beach days for you, you have to go to work!) and the snooze button get hit again for just 5 more minutes of sweet sleep?
I ask all of this, cuz these are questions I battle every single Monday of my life!
If you are a Monday-dweller like I am, then this blog is for you.
If you are not… well praise the Lord! 
(please comment on this and teach me your optimism!)
I have lived in a Monday state of mind for a while now.
I have the best church… I would rather be there than anywhere else on this earth… it’s not the building, it’s the people and what we’re working towards. The dreams God is giving us. J
But for some reason every Monday I have woke up frustrated with life for some reason or another.

But today I got thinking… why all this negativity?
Shouldn’t we be MORE refreshed… built up… encouraged… full of life?
Shouldn’t Mondays be the day that our hearts are still reverberating from the great church family time we had the day before?
(and hey… if you still don’t get what I mean by church family, I would LOVE to tell you exactly what church family means to me, but can’t explain in this particular post. E-mail me? J )
Shouldn’t Monday be the day we jump in with both feet – no coffee needed – and really just give it all up and serve Jesus with a new passion and love that is rarely seen in this generation?
Why can’t Mondays be that way?
Oh I can hear you cynics… you say this is crazy… you say church is just a social gathering… perhaps your cynical nature makes you want to agree that Mondays are mundane and we should detest them as much as anyone in the world.
But listen to what Jesus said…

“…Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

So basically, Mondays will come… of course there is a possibility they may be exhausting… and perhaps you’ll even feel like giving up.
But see! Even tho we have troubles, HE has already overcome them!
Even if everyday was Monday, we don’t have to be just slumping through life trying to make it to the next weekend, because with Jesus in our lives we should be over-joyed to be living out a troublesome Monday just for the pure fact that He loves us.

So dear friends… don’t get caught up in what this world wants you to think about Mondays (like I have so many times).
Don’t let the enemy of your soul rob the joy that was imparted to you on Sunday just as soon as the Monday sun rises.
Don’t press snooze that extra time and grump  your way through yet another work week.
Live life above the ordinary.
Choose to focus on Jesus and who He is… instead of yourself and who you are and where your life isn’t headed.
Lift your eyes a little higher than your circumstances and then just simply let God be God and lead you through a week of living for Him.
Not easy… but here’s something to remember.
A play on words, if you like…
Yesterday in church my pastor said the word “RE-member”… you are a member of the body of Christ. On Sundays you RE-member yourself to the body (as opposed to dismember… and that sounds painful).
On Mondays, I think we should learn to REJOICE!
I mean by this, we should make an effort to RE-Joy ourselves in our circumstances.
Joy is not being happy all the time… it’s focusing on who God is and the love we have for Him in spite of what surrounds us.
I’m still learning this, but I hope my Mondays are better because of this little Monday thought. J

Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s almost midnight and my Monday is officially over.
Bring on TUESDAY! J J J