Posts Tagged With: Holy Spirit

 
 

Learning the Definition of Rest

Lately, I’ve been learning a lot about rest.

What does it mean to rest? It means to cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. But rest also means to be placed or supported so as to stay in a specified position.

I’ve been praying for rest, but I neglected to appreciate the rest he’s given because I was focused on only one definition of rest. And it wasn’t the definition He had in mind. When I thought of rest, I thought of sleep. Of relaxation. I fervently prayed for rest during late nights of homework, hard classes at school, and from annoying conversations. It didn’t seem to happen. I’ve been sick for nearly a month. Everyday I would wake up and I was still just as sick. Still just as tired. I wanted to stop all work. To take a break from everything connected with life. To be honest, at times  I wanted a break from faith, from reaching the campus. I had no strength left. I would wake up early in the morning just as tired and I believed that maybe he hadn’t heard. But he did. Because rest is more than sleep and relaxation.

To rest is to be placed or supported so as to stay in a specified position. God knew what I needed when I didn’t know how to ask for it. I needed more than just sleep, I needed endurance to stay in the position that I’ve been placed in as a light on the campus. He supported me. From the moment I woke up to the time I fell asleep again, he supported me. I accomplished each and every task that was required of me. I was exhausted, but I was at rest.

I wonder if Proverbs 31:17-18 is misunderstood by some.

¨She sets about her work vigorously;

   her arms are strong for her tasks.

She sees that her trading is profitable,

   and her lamp does not go out at night.¨

Many women look at the Proverbs 31 woman and see an impossible standard. I mean, it’s almost like this chick never takes a break…ever. Not even to sleep. And then she gets up and keeps going, full of energy, full of power. She seems so…perfect. She has unending reservoirs of strength. Physically, mentally, emotionally. How is this possible? And why do people tend to see her as woman without exhaustion? In reality, a woman like this is tired, so how is she so strong? Whatever she does she has the strength for, because her rest doesn’t come from sleep. It comes from God. Because of God. She’s tired, but she never takes a break from the fight because God enables her to stay in her specified position.

The parallels about rest in the Bible don’t end with the Proverbs 31 woman. Think about Matthew 11:28 ¨Come to me all you who are weary and burdened (heavy-laden), and I will give you rest.” Suddenly, it means something a little different than it used to. It’s not just about physical rest. It’s God’s promise to be our rock, our support when things are too much for us to take. It’s strength to keep battling the enemy.

Yet again in John 4:6, we see that Jesus was tired, ¨Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.¨ This is the beginning of the story of The Woman at the Well. This will soon be a major turning point in the life of a tired woman and a frustrated town. But it could have just as easily never happened. Jesus could have asked for water because he was tried and never engaged the woman in conversation. He could have decided to just rest. To take a break from it all. The important truth in this verse revolves around the fact that Jesus never walked away from what God had called him to do because he was tired. At first, that seems nearly impossible as well. But it’s not. He didn’t find his strength and restoration from physical rest. He found it by resting in God. He maintained his position because God was supporting Him and he leaned on God’s strength for everything. He did not rely on his own physical strength and abilities because he recognized how frail they were in comparison to God’s. We are reminded yet again in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Our physical exhaustion may be a weakness, but when we ask God for rest, he turns it into a power.

Categories: Bible, encouragement, Faith, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, rest, sleep, stress | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

The Following: Leading Well (Part 2)

Proverbs 14:28 (MSG)

28 The mark of a good leader is loyal followers;
leadership is nothing without a following.

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This is the second lesson that God is teaching me regarding leadership. The verse really speaks for itself, you are not a good leader if you have no followers. It makes a lot of sense, you don’t to talk to people you don’t want to hear speak. You don’t hang out with people you don’t like. You don’t follow people who don’t lead well. Because this next year, everything will be new to me, I will see how many people follow me.

I will post things about Youth camp later this summer, but I wanted to shine a light on the commitment that I made to my youth group while I was there. Each night, we would have a worship session and then the speaker would stand up and give the message. That night, the message centered on this question, will you be able to walk across a graduation and have people say about you, I can follow her because he/she follows Christ. He/She constantly seeks after what God desires of him/her and I know that he/she is going to be on the right track, I know I can follow him/her because of their relationship and closeness with Christ.

My youth pastor posed this question, and what I heard was a call for leaders to rise up in the youth group. I stood. It is a big responsibility to have an entire youth group looking up to you and watching your actions to see if Christ is evident in your life, but for a while I could hear God calling me to do something more with my youth ministry. The teens in the youth group were being poured into, but it was hard to tell if they were pouring anything out. It was time to start a revolution, beginning with me, because I was willing to let God use me to change the church attitude both in myself and in others. I asked for accountability, because if I’m leading, not only do I need people following but people alongside me to point out things in my life and bluntly tell me; Mackenzie, if you carry this on any longer, you are going to be leading people into sin.

I’ve been gone for most of the summer, and I haven’t had a chance to notice if my commitment had produced any followers. I may not ever see the people who seek after Christ because my relationship with him changed them. I hope I will be able to look back across the graduation stage and look back at people who have followed me as I followed Christ and know that even as I step out into the real world, I will continue after what he asks of me with all I am, no matter the cost.

I want to be able to lead the people at my school this next year and the people in my youth group this summer and for the rest of my high school years, and if I notice that I have no followers, I know it’s time to back off and let someone else do the leading, while I follow.  With Christ at the center of everything I do, I want to lead people to walk in his ways, and get up people out of the pew and onto the road. If you always live your spiritual life in one place with no risks, you’ve never really lived at all. And besides, I need some followers. You can’t lead if no one is following.

Categories: Change, christianity, Church, communication, encouragement, Faith, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, leadership, learning, life, people, purpose, School, students, summer, teens, Trust, Uncategorized, words, youth group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

I’ll Be With You: Leading Well (Part 1)

Exodus 3:9-18 (MSG)

9-10 “The Israelite cry for help has come to me, and I’ve seen for myself how cruelly they’re being treated by the Egyptians. It’s time for you to go back: I’m sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the People of Israel, out of Egypt.”

11 Moses answered God, “But why me? What makes you think that I could ever go to Pharaoh and lead the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

12 “I’ll be with you,” God said. “And this will be the proof that I am the one who sent you: When you have brought my people out of Egypt, you will worship God right here at this very mountain.”

13 Then Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the People of Israel and I tell them, ‘The God of your fathers sent me to you’; and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ What do I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, ‘I-AM sent me to you.’”

15 God continued with Moses: “This is what you’re to say to the Israelites: ‘God, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob sent me to you.’ This has always been my name, and this is how I always will be known.

16-17 “Now be on your way. Gather the leaders of Israel. Tell them, ‘God, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, appeared to me, saying, “I’ve looked into what’s being done to you in Egypt, and I’ve determined to get you out of the affliction of Egypt and take you to the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, a land brimming over with milk and honey.”’

18 “Believe me, they will listen to you. Then you and the leaders of Israel will go to the king of Egypt and say to him: ‘God, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness where we will worship God—our God.

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For a long time, I’ve been behind the scenes working for Christ on campus. I’ve been there, I’ve led in my own subtle mannerisms, but never noticed a big group following behind me, or was ever entrusted with the care of their spiritual growth.  I prayed, was outgoing, witnessed, all of this leading in its own way, but never truly led. This next year, I have the chance to lead. From what I have heard, I am a very possible candidate for a leadership position with Fellowship of Christian Athletes. You have no idea how excited this has made me. I get my chance to lead people. People will look up to me and I’ll challenge them in their faith. More witnessing will happen and the school will be turned upside-down because of the call he has placed on my life. But I’ve never truly led.

The reality of this hit me one night and I was suddenly asking myself, “How is it possible that I could be leading others?” I wondered what I would say to get their attention. How I would say it? I planned out all the things I wanted to get done and everything that needed to be done. And I was suddenly overwhelmed with the thought of leading actual people. Even more so, people my age and older than me. Of course the cute Christian girl praying at her Dad’s college meetings is enough to inspire a Christian college student, but not lead them. I’m not teaching Bible Stories to five-year-olds either. After moving, I hardly had any friends. In middle school, I integrated with the “outcasts” of middle school society and felt a whole new way to stand up for what I believe in , from a bunch of atheists who hated god, a bunch of skeptics who didn’t think he existed, and a bunch of hurting people who couldn’t accept a God who had never done anything for them and allowed them to feel pain. My faith dwindled and then grew as I was able to tell them what they needed and was able to stand apart from them, but allow a safe-haven for them even though I believed in something different.

I was still left out sometimes, most being of the popular Christians crowd.  As the two groups of us moved further away from each other, a fear began to grow inside of me that kept me from going back and finding Christian friends. It was a fear of rejection. We were only 3rd and 4th graders when we met. I didn’t know one person my 3rd grade year who had  felt what it was like to be new someplace and have no one to welcome you.

My story turned out for the better, I stepped outside my comfort zone and the haze of lies the Devil had fed me to keep me away from the people who might help to grow and encourage my faith the most. The Christian people like me. Of course, the giant gap remains between my group of lesser on the popularity chain to greater on the popularity chain. I feel like I can’t relate to  Christian people sometimes. These people have always had Christian friends, they always seemed to be accepted by everybody. I haven’t. So it was this that I came to that night. That I had a chance to lead the people I had been afraid of and bridge the gap between my group and theirs. Where do I begin? What do I say? They won’t listen to me! I’ve never led anyone before. Near tears, God spoke to me. He said “I’ll be with you, believe me, they will listen to you. I gave Moses the words didn’t I?” . I remembered this passage and read it over and was so overcome with joy.

That night he promised me that he would give me a full training in how to be a leader. I know it will make me better equipped and a better leader than any “how-to” book on the market or any year-long seminar. He’s the best leader there is. I love how he gets irritated with Moses. He says that he will be with him through everything, that he will give them the words and the victory, yet Moses doubts God. My favorite line is one I’ve said myself many times, ““But why me? What makes you think that I could ever _______________________?” And every time God answers me,  “I’ll be with you.” He’s with you too, whether it be leading an entire body of Christians or overcoming the initial shock of something extravagant he asks of you. He says,  “I’ll be with you” and proves it to be true every time.

Categories: Change, christianity, Church, communication, God, God, Holy Spirit, Jesus, learning, life, prayer, teens, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Learning to Listen

I’m a chatterbox. There is the plain truth in black and white. If someone asks me how I am, I’ll tell them. They will hear much more about my life than they ever wanted to. It’s comical really. But I also have a tendency to be a chatterbox to God. I talk and talk and talk about my problems. Why this, why that, I wonder about this, I wonder about that, on and on and on. It’s good to pray. It’s good to talk. But sometimes all the talking drowns out what the other person is trying to say and you miss something important. When my mouth isn’t moving, there is something wrong with me physically. When my heart is talking, there is something wrong with me spiritually.

Why is there something wrong with me spiritually? It’s because I’ve completely ignored what God is trying to tell me. I’ve interrupted and kept talking. “Be still, and know that I am God.” For me, God is trying to tell me in that verse to stop being such a chatterbox and just quiet down and listen. He is God! He holds the entire world and my problems are nothing compared to him. One of the first steps toward having gentle and quiet spirit is to be quiet. Many of my friends are quiet people. That leaves me to do most of the talking. But when me and another friend both like to talk, it creates serious communication issues. You try to talk at the same time and all the words are jumbled together. When you tried to say “my fish is sick” and they tried to say, “I bought some tuna” you wind up with something like “my tuna fish is some stick”; not at all what you were trying to get across. It’s the same thing with God, though with a not nearly as funny outcome.

When you talk so much you can’t hear God, your almost saying “what I have to say is so much more important that what you have to say, therefore you must listen to me before I’ll hear anything from you.” It’s a detrimental spiritual disease called selfishness. It grows in your soul and has to be weeded out by a professional gardener; otherwise, it spreads and you think you are entitled to everything because the world revolves around you and what you want. This is what I’ve done when I needed to listen to God. Because I don’t, I wind up completely and utterly confused and lost. Because I don’t focus on his directions, I lose sight of the way he wants me to walk. Being quiet takes practice; it takes vigorous spiritual exercise to listen. When all you want to do is tell God about your problems, you forget that he is trying to tell you how to fix them. Spiritual chatterboxes don’t make strong Christians; they make confused Christians who have a selfish slant to their lives.

Praying is a wonderful thing. But prayer is a conversation, not a journal you’re keeping. With prayer, you talk to be heard and you talk to be answered. Spiritual talking is almost like a cheat prayer. You just talk to talk and whether anyone responds isn’t your concern. Each trial we face in our lives, is for us to learn from, whether we want to learn or not. The trials build up our faith and the more you learn from it, the stronger you faith becomes. But how much you learn depends on how much you listen.

Categories: Bible, Change, chatterbox, christianity, communication, converstions, encouragement, Faith, garden, God, God, hearing, Holy Spirit, Jesus, Journals, learning, life, listening, love, people, prayer, reality, relationships, selfishness, speech, Thoughts, Trust, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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