Saturday, May 30, 2009

Flesh vs. Spirit


Sometimes I wonder why it is SO hard to live the way Christ would have me live. To make choices daily that line up with His Word. To treat people the way He is commanding me to treat them…with love & forgiveness, with grace & mercy.

It is just so, so hard.

Why?

Romans 7:18-19
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.”

Galatians 5:17
For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”

These scriptures encourage me.
They remind me that I should not be discouraged. I shouldn’t feel like it is just “too hard” to live the way the Lord asks me to live.
Of course it is hard…it goes completely against what I would “naturally do”.

But, as a Christian, I have the Holy Spirit in me.

Galatians 4:6
Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."

Ephesians 1:13b-14
“Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory.”

So why does it feel like my Spirit is fighting a losing battle with my flesh (sinful nature) most of the time?

Maybe because my flesh is getting fed a whole lot more than my Spirit!

It’s like “operating in the flesh” is my human “default mode”. It is so easy to go there. To live exactly the opposite of how I have been commanded to live. Of course it is….because it’s effortless…it comes 100% naturally.

For me, it is only when I am filled up, through time spent in the Word, prayer & worship, that it feels like my Spirit has a fighting chance.

But it is a CHOICE.

It’s a choice in how I’m going to spend my time…

Will I spend my time feeding the flesh?

It’s incredibly easy. For crying out loud, this world is like an “all-you-can-eat” buffet for the flesh…24 hours a day!

Or will I spend my time feeding my Spirit?

If I’m going to feed my Spirit, it’s going to involve making some choices that may not sound like “fun” to begin with.
After all, if I’m feeding my Spirit…I’m starving my flesh. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if my flesh is starving, it’s probably gonna growl…pretty loud sometimes!

In my own life, I may need to get off the computer and spend more time reading God’s Word.

I may need to get off the phone…drop down to my knees…and spend more time talking to the only One who really wants to hear everything I have to say.

I may need to turn off the TV for a while, and crank up some worship tunes. Lifting my hands to Him in worship as a physical sign of surrender…and allow Him to have His way with me.

Do I do all this to “impress God”? To be “good enough”?

NO.

I do it because I need to be filled up. That is the only way I’m going to have a fighting chance at beating down my flesh, and living according to the Spirit.

And when I’m living according to the Spirit…that is when true freedom, joy & happiness come!

That is when I’m living life to the fullest!

That’s when the fun really starts!

That’s when I actually start bearing GOOD fruit…

Galatians 5:16-24
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.


The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires
.”

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

meet Toby


I’m taking a quick break from puppy-proofing my house to introduce you to Toby.

Our sweet new boy.


We don’t actually bring him home until Sunday the 31st…it is SO hard to wait!!
Of course, not having him home yet doesn’t prevent me from having lots of pictures. We have paid him a few visits already, and he just keeps getting cuter & cuter!!

He is EVERYTHING we have been praying for.

And incidentally (or not), Toby is a Hebrew name that means “The Lord Is Good”.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

checkin' in


It's been a while!

Just poppin' in to say HI to those of you who've been wondering where I've been. I'm still around. :)

I have been without my computer for the past week. Painful AND exhilarating...all at the same time!!

I have lots to share...not sure where I will start. New post coming soon!

Have a BLESSED weekend!

Friday, May 8, 2009

I Am Ready


Next weekend I’m going away for a few days with some sweet girlfriends…I can’t wait!

Each year, a handful of the ladies from our church go to a wonderful retreat in Ocean Shores, Washington. It is such a sweet time of worship, teaching, and just hanging out with the girls.

Each year that I’ve gone, God has met with me there…and I have been so blessed!

I know that God can meet with us anytime…anywhere. But I guess there’s just something about setting aside a couple days to focus completely on Him. Getting away from the daily routine, and just quieting myself before Him. Asking Him to speak to me...and actually taking the time to listen.
I have yet to be disappointed!

This time last year, I was at the peak of my career as a children’s photographer. I was busier than ever. I had lots & lots of amazing clients who trusted me year after year to come into their homes and document the lives of their children. I felt like I had
“made it” in the world of professional photography…and I was enjoying
every-single-thing associated with “making it”.

Little did I know what God had in store for me that weekend…

He spoke to me. He asked me to give it all up. To leave my photography career behind. He had something else for me.

And when I doubted that I was really hearing from Him correctly. He confirmed it.

He confirmed it through the words of the speaker that weekend…it was like she was speaking straight to my heart.
He confirmed it through a prophetic word spoken over me by a close, Godly friend.
He confirmed it over and over…and over again.

I remember sitting there just before the last session ended, with two of my closest friends on either side of me. They knew what the Lord was asking me to do, and He was using them to provide comfort and support in that moment.
The pastors’ wives had been called up to the front to be prayed over.
Times Two (an incredible & ANOINTED local band) was singing the most beautiful song over these precious pastors' wives. It was called “Blessings”.

“Blessings” by Times Two

“My blessings are on you
My blessings are on you
Receive My blessings dear one”

I just sat and soaked it in.

I cried.

And I prayed.

I asked the Lord to go before me. I knew He would have to because I had no idea what I was going to tell everybody.

Deuteronomy 31:8
The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."

I just “knew” people weren’t going to get it.
He was asking me to give up a successful career…for “no apparent reason”.
Because He had something “better”. But I didn’t know what. And that is really hard to explain to people…that’s really hard to explain to myself!

On my way out that day, I stopped by the back table to buy a copy of the CD with the “Blessings” song. {I had a feeling I would be desperate to have that song sung over me quite a bit in the coming months.}
I told the band member behind the table that I wanted their CD with the “Blessings” song on it. She pointed to the CD with the purple cover and said, “it also has the song ‘I Am Ready’ on it”.
I remember thinking, “I wonder why she would say that? I've never heard of that song.”

When I was finally alone in my car, I popped the CD in and went straight to the blessings song. After having that sung over me a few times, I thought I would listen to the “I Am Ready” song she mentioned.
I skipped to it and I was half-listening to the words as I was driving. Then, all of the sudden, the words caught my attention. I had to start the song over to make sure I was hearing right…

“...so take my strengths and talents, before I change my mind”

I bawled…again.

“I Am Ready” by Times Two

“Jesus, I am ready
I’m ready to surrender
All that I have worked for
And all that I’ve dreamed of”

“Cause I know I can trust you
I am confident, Your love
Is everything I’ll ever need
Your love will be enough
I am ready
I am ready”

“So take my strengths and talents
Before I change my mind
You can even take my weakness
Take anything you find
Lord I’m saying use me
Let Your Glory be defined
In my life”


As if I didn’t have enough confirmation already? Thank you, Jesus!

Needless to say, I listened to that song over & over as I went forward in the months to follow.

I’m not gonna lie.
It was hard.
It took six solid months of working my tail off to phase out my business…and not just “to finish”, but to finish well.
Not everybody understood, but every single one of my clients was gracious and wished me the best…even if they didn’t understand.

And guess what? I don’t have a neat and tidy way to wrap this up for you.

I can’t tell you exactly what it is that the Lord is calling me to do now, because I’m still waiting to find out.

I believe that not one moment has been wasted, but that He is slowly growing me and preparing me for “whatever it is”.

In the meantime, He has freed me up to enjoy more time with my children while they are still young.
He has provided me with a season in life where I can sit at His feet for hours at a time if I choose…just praying, worshiping Him, and studying my Bible.
He has freed me up from an incredibly busy lifestyle, so that when a loved one is suddenly walking in the midst of a very dark valley, I can be there for them…completely.

I BELIEVE that the Lord has an amazing plan for my life up His Holy Sleeve.

Amazing by the world's standards? Maybe not.

Amazing by His standards? Absolutely.

For now, I am standing upon this scripture…

Luke 1:45
“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"


(By the way, if any of you local girls are interested in going to the “Girls’ Getaway” in Ocean Shores next weekend, May 15-17th , email me!
I’d love to get more information to you!! :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

h u n g r y



"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled."

Matthew 5:6 (NIV)

Friday, May 1, 2009

gettin' equipped


Ephesians 6:13-18

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes,
you may be able to stand your ground,
and after you have done everything, to stand.
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist,
with the breastplate of righteousness in place,
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith,
with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.
With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.


(Sorry about the strange background sounds coming from my video camera -
apparently it could not decide where it wanted to focus. Oh well! :)