Thursday, February 17, 2011

Immeasurably More (part 2)

So I know this is the second post in less than a 24 hr period, but I HAVE to tell you what's happening right now!!

What I shared in the last post is just the story that leads up to this one. This post, this is what I REALLY wanted to share. But God had other plans. :) Anyway, as you already read in the last post, God has been speaking to me through Ephesians 3:20, "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work in us." Well, if you've also read my other posts, you also know that I have set "targets" on people. Setting a target on someone just means I am praying for and believing they will come to believe and know Jesus Christ as their Savior. Seeing that young teen get saved last week got me so excited and pumped for what God is going (and is doing) to do, cause I know it's HUGE. But seeing that girl get saved made me bolder too.

So I have set a target on a third person's back. (we'll call her Kim) Until now, I haven't been putting a whole lot of focus and energy into believing for her to be saved. What's weird/cool is that since December, I've known by the Holy Spirit, that God would get a hold of Kim's life through REC.

Two weeks ago we exchanged numbers and have been chatting every now and then...mostly about wanting to meet in person and hangout. Recently, we've also been talking more at work. I know she believes Jesus is real. But I don't know anything else other than that. So after becoming bold, I invited Kim to church this next Sunday. She said she's definitely going to try but she wants to check us out on our website first.

The same night I invited her, I went home and was playing worship songs trying to figure out the last song I wanted to do for the weekend. I started to play, "At Your Cross" and like usual, I just started worshipping God. Oh man, it's hard to explain or remember how it began, but I felt a big pull from God in that moment to pray in tongues. Somewhere in the middle of praying, I thought about Kim. Then something happened that I've never experienced before, I was weeping over her. Such a strong compassion was just overwhelmed me. The reality that she is lost and desperately needs Jesus sunk into my heart. I strongly believe that God was sharing with me a taste of how He feels for her; His deep love for her. I've never prayed so passionately for someone I know to be saved before.

I looked over at Ephesians's 3:20 taped to my front door and I started praying out loud for Kim and that she'll come to church. "God she's yours! You have your sights on her. Bring her to You, God. Show her Your amazing love and how desperately she needs You. God, she WILL come to church this weekend. All excuses will run out." My faith got so stirred as I repeated "To Him who is able to do IMMEASURABLY more than all we ask or imagine" over and over in my mind. So I said, "God, You can do immeasurably more than I ask or imagine. Well, I ask that Kim come to church this weekend. but not only that, I ask that she gets saved this weekend. I believe it. I believe it will happen because I know what You're capable of. It's up to You to do immeasurably more than what I'm imagining."

I started visualizing where my faith was at and pictured her being in the church after service, crying; just broken because God's love broke through to her. Oh just imagining that brought me so so much joy!!

The story isn't over yet cause of course there's immeasurably more! Haha. After I was done praying for Kim, another of my targets became heavy on my heart. (let's call her Susan) Susan is my Mormon friend. She has had (and still has) a tough life. You can tell that she's constantly weighed down by worry and burned out. Well, we've become friends over the last few months. She and I are trusting each other more and more. She gives me rides home usually a couple times a week and almost always we talk about something serious during the car ride. Recently she lost a baby nephew and the grief that she's going through is SO painful to see. Needless to say, I started crying over her as well. I already have compassion for Susan, but oh man! I felt it so much more in that moment. I prayed saying, "God she's Yours! You want HER! God call her to You. Show her that You love her and want her. Call her by name and draw her close to You. She needs You."

I sang the chorus to "Consume Me Now" which says, "From the depths of my soul, I need You. My heart it calls, I love You. I lift up my heart and I say, consume me now. Consume me now." So I worshipped to that for a little bit, keeping Kim and Susan on my heart while I sang it.

What was weird was that I thought about my other target that I've had for a while and the same strong compassion didn't come up. Don't get me wrong! I have compassion on her, but no crying or deep pain for her. I DID have a realization though...the key to this particular target's heart is through her daughter. And my compassion for her teenage daughter is gradually growing and growing.

So here's the immeasurably more part! Last night Susan gave me a ride home and on the way home I asked her if she would come to church this weekend. She told me that waking up her kids that early can be a challenge when she's doing it all by herself. (she has a baby boy and a three-year-old girl) "But," she said, "I definitely will make an effort." I handed her one of our sermon cards (has the current series on one side and the church info on the other) and told her what it would mean to me if she came. As I was getting outside the car I told her, "Don't feel bad if you can't make it. I understand." She responded, "No, I am going to try and come. In fact, for now, count on me being there." Oh I got the biggest smile on my face!! I told her, "Oh it would mean so much if you came!"

I walked to my door and just before I closed it, I looked back at her. The car light was still on and she was reading the card I gave her with extreme interest. AHHH!!!! I closed the door and started thanking God!!

Do you realize what this means!?! TWO!! TWO of my targets are coming this weekend!! And I'm putting my faith out there and calling them both saved this next Sunday!! God is going to move this next weekend. He won't disappoint because there are (at least) TWO women that will be there who He's going to forever change their lives! AHH!!! Praise God!

Okay, so a switch in gears. A little bit ago, I posted this on Facebook, "When leading worship, someone's soul is more important than another's approval. And fear cannot be present in the presence of God." I posted this right after I got done praying for Kim and Susan. What brought it up was I struggle during worship sometimes because my focus becomes, "I need to prove I'm a good worship leader." Whether that be because last week I messed up or because there's a friend visiting for the first time or because I'm in front of a new crowd of people, that thought always creeps in and threatens to take my focus off following God's Spirit and onto making a moving worship time because I want approval. One of my favorite verses is Galations 1:10, "Am I now trying to win the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, then I would not be a servant of Christ." This verse always keeps my motives in check. Another things that creeps in at times is the fear that I will mess up or do something wrong and ruin worship. So whenever I'm afraid, I remind myself, "Perfect love drives out fear." (1 John 4:18)

When I was praying for Kim and Susan, my love for them grew SO much!! Their souls became more important than someone else's approval. Then it suddenly sank in...why would I worry about approval when someone's soul is at stake? Why would I get my focus onto myself and be so selfish? There are people in the crowd that need Jesus!! THAT is more important than ANYTHING else. I cannot afford to get my focus off God during worship as He's leading me and telling me where to go and what to do just because I'm afraid of what people will think if I go for it. "Perfect love drives out fear." My love for people needs to be perfect as God's love is perfect so that I can confidently lead them into the presence of God without a hint of fear!! It's the same for anyone who is ministering. Your heart for who you're ministering to MUST be of love for them or fear and doubt will creep in and you will be rendered ineffective in that moment because your focus changed from them to you. If you have a problem with being afraid, ask God to either show His perfect love for you or for His people. If you're afraid to trust God, you need to realize that His love for you is perfect. If you're afraid to serve God, you need to ask God to show you His heart for His people and the lost so that His love will be made perfect in you. Then their NEED will be WAY more important than your "need" for approval.

Amen! I think I'll end on that. Love you all! Be bold and be blessed.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Immeasurably More (part 1)

About a week ago, I went for a walk to the store about 10 minutes away from my place. Usually every time I go on walks, it turns into prayer time. This time, however, I was silent for the first part of the walk even though I KNEW I needed to say something.

Have you ever had that happen to you? You KNOW you need to say something to God, but you either don’t have the words or you’re in such pain, you can’t speak out loud? I sure have…it sucks. From experience, I know that the longer I’m silent, the less likely I am to say anything at all. Then the moment for me to bear my heart to God leaves.

Anyway, I decided to just tell God how I feel. I told Him how I know I’m close to Him and that I love Him, but that the pursuit of His heart is no longer in existence. The desire was there, but no action came with it. I also shared my feelings of inadequacy for leading a worship team on my own. In addition, I felt like everything I was doing was mediocre. And I KNOW that I KNOW I’m called to a life FAR above mediocre. So I told God how desperately I wanted to see Him move in a bigger way and how I want to pursue Him again.

For me that was a breakthrough moment. I’ve been reading my Bible more lately. (Usually my flesh wants to pray and worship but avoid my Bible) Because I’ve been studying my Bible more, God has been showing me some crazy stuff that eventually I need to share with you because it’s so heavy on my heart for the people I’m close to and love. But since I’ve prayed that prayer when I was on my walk, I’ve already seen God begin to answer it.

Last Sunday, before the team prayed before service, Pastor Jason told us that God has been telling Him, pressing him to dream bigger for the church. He shared with us Ephesians 3:20 which says, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us.” PJ challenged us all to meditate on that verse and raise our expectations and make the things we ask God to do to be BIGGER.

The whole team was stirred, excited and motivated to believe and expect bigger things for us to do. That service, God was in the room. During the sermon, something was different about how PJ was preaching. You could see that God had something specific to say through him. As a result of God moving, we had our first salvation. AHHH!!!! Some of us were in tears because we know it’s just the beginning and we’re so overjoyed.

I told a friend about how we had our first salvation and he responded, “many more to come.” He’s right! There are MANY more to come! “Immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine.”

I can feel us gaining momentum every week. It has started out real slow and to the team, we are all itching for God to do SOMETHING through us. We all know God is going to do great things through us and want it to happen now! It can be disheartening putting in so much work every week, since September, and not see much movement. But now we know, we know, we’re gaining momentum and God is going to start to do crazy stuff through REC.

The next day, I wrote out Ephesians 3:20 on a piece of paper and taped it to my front door. I spent time just reading it and saying it out loud and letting the meaning and power of that scripture sink in. Imagine if that’s where our faith is at everyday!! That God do “immeasurably MORE than we ask or imagine!!”

So what are you asking God to do? Where are your goals set? How high are they? Are you living a mediocre life? Or a life that is at a lower standard than you KNOW you are to live?

I know, oh believe me I know how scary it can be to put your complete trust in God. I know that you have seen disappointment; that you’ve been let down. I know it can be painful to even ask God to do something big for you. I know people may have told you that you can’t do it. Oh how I know how hard the road can be to walk out the extraordinary life God has asked you to live.

But pain is NOT a “no.”
Disappointment is not a “no.”
Falling on your face is not a “no.”
Failure is not a “no.”
Loss is not a “no!”
Sacrifice is not a “no!”
Obstacles in your way are not “no’s!”
Unmet expectations are not “no’s!”
Persecution is not a “no!”

Pain, disappointment, falling on your face, failure, loss, sacrifice, obstacles, unmet expectations and persecution are where God comes through for you and shows you His POWER; That NOTHING is impossible for Him! All those places are where He shows His great love for you and rescues you again and again.

I do not understand why sometimes it takes a while for God to move. But I know His timing is perfect.

I do not understand why sometimes doors that we thought should’ve been open and closed. But I know His ways are perfect.

I do not understand why sometimes it seems where God is leading us seems to be going backwards. But I know His wisdom is incomprehendable.

I do not understand why sometimes when we need God the most, He feels so far away. But I know His love for us is stronger than anything you will ever encounter or fathom.

When it comes to doors being closed, even when we prayed and believed for them to be open, God cannot be told to do something and how to do it. I know for me, I knew I was to be a worship leader since I was a young teenager. I thought I was supposed to go to Hillsong and learn to be a worship leader there. No. The door was shut. I thought I was supposed to go to the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. No. The door was shut. I thought I was supposed to go to YWAM in Hawaii. No. Another door shut. I thought I HAD to go to some school to learn how to lead people in worship. I searched and searched for one but every single one had its door closed to me. The only door that was open was to intern at Life Christian Center under Pastor Jason and serve the church. Then I was unexpectedly made the worship leader for the youth services. There God was training me and showing me what it takes to lead a team. Next I learned Pastor Jason and his family was moving to Boise. Why God had held me back and said, “no” all those times made sense now. I didn’t need to go to a worship school…because God was training me up on how to worship Him and lead people into His presence right where I was. Suddenly my dream was sitting on my lap and all those closed doors made sense. The road God wanted me to take to become a worship leader was COMPLETELY different than I expected or could even come up with.

That may also be the case with you. You’re asking God, “God!! I thought you wanted me to be an actor (as an example)!!?? But You just shut the door in my face!” and God is saying, “Yes, I know. I don’t want you to go that way. Follow me, I’ll show you the way.”

So trust Him and follow Him. Stop expecting God to do things a specific way. Just expect God to move.

One last thing before I end this entry: If you’re afraid to believe God will do “immeasurable more than we ask or imagine,” then remember this verse, 1 John 4:18, “Perfect love drives out fear.” When you realize how deeply God loves you and what you mean to Him, your confidence that God is ABLE and WILL come through for you will be unwavering.

Love you all,

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Creative God = Creative People

Today I decided to write letters to those who have written letters to me. (Yes, I'm aware that some of these letters are WAY past due) I could only find five stamps. Two of them go to my sister cause out letters are usually four or five pages long. (I love that girl!) So I wrote letters to my Grandma Roake, my high school worship teacher (there was a praise and worship class at my school) and my high school art teacher.

I wrote to my Grandma first. Lately I've gotten to witness what an amazing woman of God she is. :) Second, I wrote to my worship teacher. She has been a great support to me. Plus, she just had her first baby! (congrats!) Thirdly, I wrote to my art teacher, Mrs. Butt. (yes that's her real name) She's quite the character and has a lovely sense of humor. (I would too if my name were Patricia Butt!) For the sake of order in the class, all her students called her, Mrs. B.

For Mrs. B's letter, I started off just sharing a general overview of what I've done since graduating high school, focusing more on my art accomplishments and growth. Half way through the letter, I told her how I'm the graphic artist at River's Edge Church but how I don't want that position for long. I don't enjoy graphic art as much as I thought I would. I'd rather use my hands to create art, not a computer.

What I wrote in the letter next is what I really want to share with you. As I was writing this, I found myself SO passionate about what I was saying!! So here's what I wrote to Mrs. B:
"I do, however, want to create art to hang in the church. :) I want to be able to minister to people though my art. But I do not want it to be like the traditional Christian art you see today. Lately, I've been exploring and creating abstract art. What I really want is to create art that is creative, excellent, glorifies God and appeals to the saved and unsaved.
"The church used to be the place where everyone would come to because churches had the most beautiful buildings, artwork, music, plays and education. The church used to be copied by the world because what the church did was so beautiful, creative and excellent. But now, the church is either trying to copy the world, or the church creates and produces things that will only appeal to Christians. Yes, there are exceptions, but overall, this is what I have observed.
"Imagine, if once again, people of all backgrounds flooded to the church just to see what we have produced or created. We are sons and daughters of God and His Spirit lives inside of us! The God who created the universe, who formed the earth, who crafted mankind, lives inside of us! We have no excuses to neglect that God-given creativity inside of us. We as Christians should be making the most beautiful, majestic, excellent and creative works or art, not the world!
"So I'm praying and believing that the church I'm helping pioneer, River's Edge Church, will be just like this and that God will use me and what talent He has given me to help start it. Not only start it, but to inspire other artists to do the same. (okay, warning: about to be brutally honest. Realize I mean no damage or harm, I'm just speaking the truth in love) I've been to many churches where the drawers, the painters, the potters, the actors, the dancers, the song writers and many other artists were neglected. They had no place or purpose in the church when it comes to their gift. (I'm talking about overall, cause there were a few exceptions) As I have been asking God what He wants me to do through my artistic ability, I've come to realize that many, many other artists in the church are wondering and asking the same thing.
"So, that's what's been on my heart lately. Haha. Hope you're doing well.
Matthew 25:14-28 tells the story about the three servants that received talents to manage while their Master was away. Two of them doubled the amount given to them. One buried his in the ground where no one could get to it. When the Master returned, He was greatly pleased with the two servants that doubled the amount given to them. The Master, however, was furious with the servant who returned the talent he was given in the same state and the same amount as was originally given to him.

I know talents back then was a measurement of money and not talent like we use talent normally. But I KNOW that there are Christian artists whose talents are being neglected. For musicians and singers, they have a place to use their talent in the church. But what about all the other artists? I would hate if all those other artists in the church did nothing with their talent and just hid it away. Or if the only place artists felt they could use their talent was outside the church, in the world.

There's a song called, Same Power. The lyrics say, "The Same Power that conquered the grave lives in me." Well, it's also true that the same power that created every natural thing you see and don't see, lives in you as well. "We have the mind of Christ." Which means we have His creative ability.

If you are an artist or you know an artist, realize that ALL of us have a God-given purpose and God-given creativity that can be used inside and outside the church. We as artists need to seek God and ask how we can use our talent to glorify Him and to minister to both Christians and the lost in a beautifully excellent and creative way.

For me, I'm going to create God-inspired art that can be hung in the church. But I'm also going to go out in the community and show my art there as well. Last week I got accepted to show my art in a popular, local bar for an art show. Unfortunately, after I got accepted I didn't feel peace about it because I don't have enough pieces and it's just not the right time. Yet, I know now that my art is good enough for the community to want to show it off. (Who cares if it's in a bar or strip club or where ever!!?? Those people need Jesus!)

I've also prayed and made drawing and paintings that were meant for individuals to minister to them. I know as I do that more, I'll become better and better about ministering, encouraging, loving, and telling the truth in love to people through a picture instead of words.

If the pastor at your church isn't open to having different forms of art used to minister to people, then pray for God to help him become aware of the artists in the church and be patient. As you wait, you can still minister to people one on one through your talent.

If you know an artist in the church, I encourage you to share with them the heart of this message and let them know that God sees them and their gift and He wants to USE them. They have a place in the body of Christ! Gifts, talents and all!

Love you all! Thanks for letting me share my heart.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Have A Laugh...At My Expense

Since my past few blogs have been heavy levy, I decided to post some fun stories of rather humorous events that have taken place since I've moved. Realize though, I'm famous for my lame sense of humor. So if these stories don't make you laugh, then I'm not hurt by that. I'm very aware I'm not called to be a comedian.

So...this is the first time that I'm living on my own. With that territory, comes lessons that you just have to live to learn. I have two stories in mind where I definitely....maybe, learned my lesson. :)

One morning I was wanting to eat oatmeal. I put the pan on the stove with the right amount of water to boil. While the water was heating up, I got a phone call. The person on the other line was asking me questions, forcing me to put more attention to their questions than what I was doing at the stove. So, without thinking, I added the oatmeal before the water came to a boil. I realized my mistake fairly quickly but decided it should be okay. Shortly after, I was off the phone and was able to focus more on what I was doing. However, what I didn't notice was that smoke was coming out from the pan. Suddenly this loud, sharp beeping started blaring through my apartment! You should have seen my face! I wish that I had seen my OWN face!! I jumped, my heart in my throat, beating a million miles an hour and my eyes were wide open in panic. I must have stood there for half a minute in fear and panic before I realized the fire/smoke alarm. I was scrambling through my apartment trying to find it. I found it on my ceiling in my "hallway." So I scrambled on top of my short table by my couch and was desperately trying to turn it off ASAP!! My fingers searched and search but could not find an off button. Nothing on the face of the alarm was turning off the source of my wild panic. So I tried the sides, pulling and twisting. Then POP! The whole unit fell out of the ceiling into my hands. The beeping stopped and I stared at the alarm dumbfounded. I didn't know what to do about the now gaping hole in my ceiling, so I just threw it on my couch. If I had my way, I would've taken my pink-handled hammer to it to destroy the thing that almost gave me a panic attack. So...I went back to my oatmeal. It was seemed done, so I plopped down (my heart rate was about back to normal now) and started eating it. GAG!! The texture was a thick paste...and what it felt like was what it tasted like. It was like eating edible glue. Yet, I ate it all. (so I didn't feel bad for waisting)

I'm a little more careful and attentive when I cook oatmeal now. :) My alarm however, stayed on the couch for almost a week before I put it back in the ceiling...where it threatened to go off at my slightest cooking mistake. (Which it has...sadly, often)

The second story still makes me laugh. After a night out with the REC team, I had leftovers. (Salmon and corn) The next day, I was eager to eat my leftovers. I preheated my oven to 300 and planned on just heating it up for five minutes. Well, I thought the take-home box was made of plastic. I thought to myself, "Plastic can last five minutes!" So I stuck the whole box in, lid and all, into the oven. Two minutes later, I decided to check on it. My heart did a back flip in my chest when I saw what had happened. The lid had melted on the rack and was drooping down between the metal and threatening to drip onto the oven floor. The sides of the box were warping and melting, on it's way to becoming a big, black pancake. I FREAKED OUT!! I immediately called PJ. As I was explaining what I had done, I was using a steak knife to peel the lid off the rack. He was freaking out a little too..."Becca! That's not plastic! That's Styrofoam!! You are NEVER to heat Styrofoam in the oven or microwave!"

I managed to get the whole box out in one piece. The food...was perfectly heated. My thinking was, "Well, it didn't melt into the food. Why not? I'm gonna have my salmon and eat it too!" So I did. Later PJ freaked out again saying that the toxins from Styrofoam can be poisonous. Opps...

But no worries. :) Nothing happened. Even my oven didn't get damaged or ruined. Needless to say, though, I learned my lesson. Eat your leftovers on a plate, even though that means more dishes.

Hope you at least smiled at my stories. :) Thanks for reading.