Monthly Archives: November 2012

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

Hebrews 12:2- Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God

I stood there in the pew, worshiping with the saints. Eyes closed. Heart full. Thanksgiving overflowing. But then a newer song came on, and I was unfamiliar with its words. I opened my eyes to look up at the stage, where the band was leading us in worship. My eyes got distracted. For a moment I lost my focus. Who’s that guy up there? Hmm… is he singing into the microphone? Oh look. That’s my neighbor on the drums. Oh wow, she’s really worshiping. Why is he looking at the team, did someone play the wrong chord or sing or not sing? It must be hard to be up there looking out at hundreds of people looking back at you. I wonder if it’s hard for them if we as the peoples aren’t really into it, or yawning or look bored? I wonder if they have to keep reminding themselves to keep their eyes on Jesus, and just worship Him?

And in that moment of my wondering (or should I say, wandering) the Lord spoke to my heart. “Dear child, why do you take your eyes off of Me?” “I don’t know Lord, I find that I am easily distracted.” And all of the sudden I was reminded of a hymn.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

I wonder how many others of us struggle with this? We get our eyes off our Savior. We turn away just for a moment. We see the bills instead of our provider. We see the struggles instead of the Savior. We look at our lack instead of our More Than Enough. We worry over our tomorrow when He wants us to delight in our today. We stare into the face of the unknown future instead of staring into the face of the One who already wrote our future. We look at our lack and list all reasons why we are so unqualified, instead of thanking Him that He chooses to use the foolish things of this world. We cry out that we are weak instead of giving Him glory that He is strong in us.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

Oh Lord, how I easily take my eyes off of you. How I become so distracted by the things of this world. How I so often carry these worries and fears- and it robs me. It robs me of my thanksgiving. It steals my joy. It weighs heavy. Today Lord, help me to keep my eyes on you and not become so easily distracted. For it is when my eyes are off of you that I loose my faith in what you’re doing and what you’re going to do. Every time my vision gets blurry, will you gently guide me back to you. I choose today to thank you in all things. My eyes are set on you. My focus has been realigned. You are good- help me to never forget that. Amen.

Keep Your Eyes on Him

This is just my heart. Something the Lord is working out in my own life. I pray it is also a blessing to you.

Can I choose to praise Him, even when I am uncertain of what lies ahead? Oh saints, that is when I need to praise Him most.

Can I carry the joy of the Lord with me at all times even when circumstances are less that joyful? Yes, because my eyes are on Him, not on my circumstances. I lift my eyes, from where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven and Earth.

The enemy is the king of distraction, and I have allowed him too many times to distract me from seeing this world with kingdom eyes.

If I walk out of this house today defeated, I will surely help no one. And my eyes will only be on me. But if I lift my eyes to Him, my focus shifts.

I have purpose today. My purpose is to walk in the promises of the Lord. He has called me to be a light in a dark place.

What about when we’re just not feeling it? What if we are tired and weary from battle? What if we are empty and feel the weight of the world? Can we still step out of these doors carrying a joy and offering hope to a broken world?

My God has promised to meet my EVERY need. He has promised to be my portion today. He has promised to hear my prayers. He has promised to be my more than enough.

Why so downcast oh my soul? Put your hope in Him.

Today I choose to spend time worshipping Him, allowing Him to fill me up. I choose to read and believe His Word, because His Word is truth. His Word is more powerful than the sharpest 2-edged sword.

I challenge you today (and myself), do not let the enemy take your peace. Do not let the enemy distract you because your eyes are on your own problems. Let go and worship Him.

Today you will come in contact with many people. Does your life resemble that of joy, peace, patience, and self-control? Is His fruit evident regardless of your circumstances? He sent His Holy Spirit to live and breathe and move inside of you and to help you.

“Be still and know that I am God!” Psalm 46:10

Lord today I choose to trust You, I am completely dependent on you to meet my every need and to be my more than enough. I choose to keep my eyes focused on you and not on my circumstances. The enemy is a liar and the king of distractions. I choose You today- not in my own strength, but by the power of your Holy Spirit. I ask that you would use me today to bring joy and hope to a dark world. Whatever my mission is today with my family, friends, and strangers, show me. I am yours. I not only say I trust You, but I choose to walk out what that trust looks like. My life is not my own, but yours. Use me to bring glory to your kingdom and to stir up the faith of the saints.

Great love, your daughter.

I John 4:4-  You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

The Last Basket

IMG_3277The sweet prayer ladies at our church gave each of the pastors these amazing baskets filled with goodies and a gorgeous bouquet of colorful flowers. October was pastor appreciation month, and they all signed a card to let us know that they appreciated us. Jon brought it in after work, and I squealed with delight. Literally. Ask my husband. But after a few moments of chocolate bliss, a realization hit me. This is our last pastor’s appreciation day. Not because we got fired, but because we feel like God is calling us to a different area of ministry. We have been in ministry together since before we were ever dating. Almost 16 years. And full time pastors since Hope was born, so 12 years now. It has been all we know. Our kids have grown up in the church with us as their only Children’s pastors.

It truly is a new and strange season. I say strange because for the first time (possibly ever) we drove to church together today to attend ‘adult’ service. Ever since Hope was born Jon has left early on Sunday mornings, and I would bring the kid(s) for service. For the next two months, we are stepping away from Children’s Ministry even though the end of December is our actual final month. By doing this, people begin to go to the others in charge for any Children’s Ministry needs, yet we are still here if they have any questions. It will help with the transition so by January they will have a well-oiled machine and be able to run things smoothly. And it will also give Jon the time to work on things to come starting in January. So last week was our official last kid’s service. Weird.

Hope asks, “So…what are you guys going to do?” Ha! Not totally sure. All the way to church today I kept telling the boys, “Look, daddy’s in the car!” And of course, they all just looked at me like I was crazy- maybe it’s a bigger deal for me, I don’t know.  But it is. It is kind of surreal.

So for now, I savor each day of lasts, because that means that we are going to experience many firsts in the future. Last few months in our house, last time as Children’s Pastors, last few months of living next door to my brother & sister in law, last time as a kids choir director, and there’s one more big one, but I can’t announce it yet.

I know, as our pastor preached today, God is up to something good. Stepping out in faith is scary. We could have stayed in this position, but we felt like God was going to start a new chapter in our lives that looks nothing like the previous chapters. I’ve always loved a good story that had an unexpected twist! It just happens to be our story. I pray that as our kids see us step out in faith, that they too will be people that step out wherever God leads them. Because He is life, and apart from Him, there is no life. I want to be smack dab in the middle of His will, no matter what it looks like.

So for now, that is where we are at, at last! (get it?!)

Lord, I pray that you would help us to be a people that step out in faith. That we wouldn’t stay so comfortable that we would be afraid to take risks. I know that you have placed dreams deep in our hearts. You have an amazing plan and a purpose for everyone reading this. Now show us the steps we need to take to step out of the boat. May our lives bring you glory in all we do! Amen.

If you have no idea why we’re stepping down and into our next chapter, read this: http://celestebarnard.wordpress.com/2012/09/11/fathers-heart/

You are the Light of the World

Everybody has a story, sometimes we’re just in too much of a hurry to hear it. Oh Lord, give us ears to hear.

IMG_7841

It was a cool Saturday morning. My boys each had a friend over. The natives were getting restless, so I decided to get them out for a bit. A quick stop at an estate sale, then off to get some sweet mexican bread (Pan Dulce). The boys enjoyed getting to pick out a couple of delicious breakfast treats. The shop was about a block away from our church. The woman knew little english, but we tried our best to communicate. I asked where they were from and she said Matamoros, Mexico. She asked where we were from (what, do I not look like I’m from here?!) It could be the little blonde haired children with me. I told her we go to church right down the street. She said she went there like three years ago, and I told her (in my best broken down spanglish), you should come back, you would love it. She smiled.

With that, we continued on our journey to the lovely Dean Porter Park. The boys enjoyed sitting on the pick-nick benches, eating the their bread and cookies. Well, until the bees came that is. And off the boys went to play.

There were only a small handful of families out, but one family in particular caught my eye. I quietly observed without looking like a stalker. The couple looked tired. The woman yelled often at her three small children. I could hear the rage and turmoil in her voice. My eyes met the mans. They were empty; shallow. I wonder what their story is? I watched the woman with sad eyes cover her face with her hands with a look of defeat. Yelled again, overpowering the small boy. Her voice had the power to wake sleeping birds in the neighboring tree nearby. And the small child cried. It was a cry of fear and sadness.

This is where my heart shifted. My heart is extra sensitive to kids being mistreated. Because of my own scars I bear from childhood, it is my natural instinct to rise up against the injustice of a child.

But something shifted in my vision. I saw past the empty man who showed no response to his surroundings. I looked past the woman shouting uncontrollably at her children. And I saw. I saw two broken people that looked as if the pain and suffering of this world was almost too much to bare.

In the past, I might have shaken my head as I walked by, as if to say, “You evil lady, don’t you know you’re hurting them by your overpowering shouting?!” And what would that have done? Would that one judgmental moment make her realize she needs Jesus and that her life is spiraling out of control? We both know the answer to that. She would have continued to sink down that same self-destructive path and those precious children would be no better off because of my self-righteous judgement. It’s the attitude that says, “Surely, I’ve got it all together, but you, well, you’re a mess.” Might I say that we are all a mess at times and in desperate need of a Savior?

I walked up to the table. I can only wonder what they were thinking. Surely the woman who has it all together has come to condemn. “I hope this doesn’t sound strange,” I said, “but I would love to invite ya’ll to our church.” I felt the Holy Spirit on me so strongly, that I thought my heart might burst. I felt compassion for this family instead of judgement. This family. Broken before me. I gave them the details- time, address, etc. And that I felt like God was going to do something in their family. The woman offered a polite smile. The man repeatedly thanked me. And I walked off. Even if they thought I was crazy, it’s okay. People thought Jesus was crazy.

As the woman and children got up and walked past me, the man stopped. “Tell me again where your church is?” I tore out a piece of paper and wrote the address with some more detail. The man looked at me with tears welling up in his eyes. “You see, my family and I have been separated. My wife and our children are living with her mother, but her mother won’t let me stay. Coming to the park is the only way I can spend time with my children. I have no job, no money, no car. Sometimes I sleep on these park benches. Last night I slept downtown at the shelter.” I handed him the only cash I had, which wasn’t much. He said, “Oh no, are you sure?” It was the first and only time a homeless man asked me if I was sure when offering money.

Then he asked me if I would say a blessing for him and his family. “Sir, is it alright if I pray with you?” “Oh yes, please, I would like that.” And we prayed. And at that moment, I saw it for what it was. Holy. I was once again reminded that we are standing on holy ground. We prayed. I offered hope. To me, it was just a few moments out of my life, a few dollars, and a prayer. But to him I offered hope from a God who sees; a God who loves; and a God who cares.

God saw this family for what they were. Not with eyes of judgment and distaste, but  with the eyes of a loving Savior, who offers nothing short of hope to a dying and broken world.

You my friends are filled with hope. The hope of a Savior. You have the power inside of you to pour out living water to a hopeless generation. You don’t have to go far, and you don’t have to be something that you are not. It’s in you. The power of the Holy Spirit resides in you, living and breathing. The world already has  judgment. It’s easy for me to judge. But God, in His infinite mercy asks us to change the way we view the sinner. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). See them for what they are- broken and desperate. They know anger, pain, loss, and judgment. My goodness, their cup is full of that.

Offer hope instead of judgement

Matthew 5:14-16- 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Don’t try to be someone that you’re not. Be exactly who God has called you to be- a light in a dark world. Not sure what to say to someone? Invite them to church! Offer hope to a hopeless generation. And watch God change our city, one family at a time.

Freddie, this is dedicated to you. I hope and pray I will see you at church today, because I believe God is doing something in your family.  Amen.