Hungry For God

Saturday, August 20, 2005

...Who I Truly Am in Him

Despite what many mothers have said, being pregnant is one of the hardest things I've experienced in my life. I've never imagined or dreamed of being a mother...I've always just thought that I wouldn't have children. Luke always mentioned that he wanted children, but knew that I was still unsure. When I thought it may be something I might want, I was still skeptical. But now...I'M HAVING A BABY. It seemed so far off for a long time, but the closer I get the scarier it is. I am now feeling her kick, we've registered for baby stuff, my body is changing dramatically, I'm thinking of how to care for her, how my life is going to be different. There are so many things that I probably won't do the same...I already don't.

For the last 3 weeks, I've been struggling with this pregnancy. I couldn't pinpoint it. Today God showed me. As I looked in the mirror at my newly dimpled thighs, stripper boobs, and my big flabby arms, pimply face and back...all I wanted was a bottle of wine and a cigarette-a whole pack of 'em. The more I thought of my life as a stay at home mom, the worse I felt. I felt like my whole purpose in life was over. Everything that has ever made me feel worthy is over. I no longer feel sexy in the least...doubt I ever will feel that way again...I won't be using my mind to crunch numbers or analyze data...or to recruit patients (though not much mindfulness involved there anyway). I won't hang out with friends over a few bottles of wine for at least another year...what will I do all day? Who will I connect with? We are moving into a townhome that makes me feel clausterphobic, with no will be the middle of winter just got worse and worse...A friend said to me the other day that other than death, divorce and marriage, the most stressful events in life are moving, changing jobs and having a baby. I am doing all three of the same time. With no family...and though I have friends up here, it's not the same. Thanks for indulging my pity party.

I sat down on the bed and just cried...who am I? Who am I going to be? I feel like I'm losing my identity sort of...and God was reminding me that these things that I get satisfaction from...these things that I allow to define me are fading, they are not eternal...I didn't want to listen though...I just don't want to change anymore! Can't things just settle down and get normal for a while...?EVER?

But, as I lay there on my bed, Luke came over and lay down with me...I was able to share my fears with him and cry with him, and the Lord spoke through him what He has trying to tell me all along...that I am not defined by the way that I look or the job that I have...that my worth comes from Him, that I touch people, that people like me not just for the way I look or the job that I have...the seed has been planted. I've pondered on what I look like to God. I've struggled with that for a few years...I know what it is in my head...I think He is starting to create a reality in my heart.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Contending for the Faith, Part 2

What is God calling us to? Is it too frightening to consider? Are the changes He's calling us to make too radical? Maybe we should be going after those things full-fledged, desiring to be a church (Bride) with a mighty spirit and with a fierce determination to follow God instead of pleasing man. Let's not be hindered by fear of man but instead seek Him at all costs. Are we willing to be abandoned to His will, or are we too afraid to throw away our flesh-bound sophistication that turns others on? Do our words unlock hearts because they flow from the Holy Spirit or are they beautifully and eloquently empty, spoken only for the praise of men?

God seems to be speaking this to me, not in an angry judgemental way, but rather in an exhortation to continue to contend. He's saying, "Come! Come after Me! This way! Don't slow down, don't stop, just keep coming!" The excuses I sometimes make for not spending time contemplating His love, learning about His character, practicing His presence seem quite rediculous considering THIS IS GOD! Is there something in my life that is more important? If I am serious about my committment, I can trust Him to get around all of the legalism that's built into quiet time, and come before Him because I truly AM hungry for more. I can be purposeful about the way I set up my days so as to make sure I am feeding my spirit, I am fanning the flame. One of the scriptures that has so stuck out to me this past week is Matthew 5:6
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be completely satisfied."

I have always known in my head the words, "nothing else can satisfy like Christ." My heart is now beginning to experience that satisfaction as I purposefully set my own mind as flint in His direction, towards His gaze, pressing on for the prize that is surely greater than what this world offers. It is really true - even in those times when I've felt like I've failed, when I'm so distracted, it seems like my time with God was really about doing the dishes...He changes something inside me...He is really working in there! This time is what is fueling my spirit, and strengthening my inner man.

Mike Bickle (fotb) does a series on cultivating a fiery spirit, and when he talks about how to do this, he says it is by setting our cold hearts before the hot fire of God's love. He describes how this strengthens our spirits. Here are some of my notes from that series.

Eph 6:10 describes the weapons of our warfare as being mighty in God. But, we have to be strong in the power of his might before we can we mighty in battle. It's more than intellectual knowledge about the right words or scriptures to use. Weak passive spirits cannot take on the powers of darkness. Many people go right to Eph 6 for the weapons of warfare, but might skip the first part of Ephesians 3 that tells us how to get strong in His might, how the Lord builds might on our inner man. Here (Eph 3) Paul prays that we would be rooted and grounded in His love, that we would know it experientially - this comes from sitting in His presence, from contemplating this God-Man Jesus, from intimacy with Him. THEN we can put on the armor with some authority in our words. The time spent with our hearts before God effects the way we respond, it opens our spirit to the Holy Spirit, it builds might in our spirits.

MB shares the story in Acts about the men trying to cast out demons using "this Jesus whom Paul preaches." The evil spirit replied to them, "Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you? Then the man in whom the evil spirit dwelt leaped upon them, mastering two of them, and was so violent against them that they dashed out of the house naked."
Acts 19 11-16

Paul was known in hell - what kind of men scare demons? What kind of men are known in the spirit, not so much in the natural...a weak man in the natural, but a mighty man of the spirit!

Let us be a people who seek Him fiercely, who hunger for this type of strength in our own inner man, which comes from knowing His love experientially. Let us not dwell constantly on pleasing man, but on knowing God.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Contending for the Faith

Jude 3 "Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. But I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort you to contend for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints - the faith which is that sum of Christian belief which was delivered verbally to the holy people of God."

For the past week or so, the Lord has really been showing me what it means to contend for the faith...this burning desire to be in His presence has urged me on to pursue time alone with God, to sit before Him even if I don't feel Him, to become routine and purposeful in my pursuit of holiness, or the knowledge of God, of the understanding of who He is and in experientially knowing of His love.

At Bluer's women's group this past Sunday, Patsy mentioned the importance of fighting for the things we seem to be given - such that when the Lord has given us a gift, like a new building, or a desire to pursue Him, we can't just sit back and wait for everything to fall into place, we must work at it, we must pray for it, we must trust (and believe me, that IS work!). This rang true in my spirit as I related it to my spiritual journey the week before. The Lord has given us gifts - even the desire to know Him is a gift of God...and if we do not pursue these things they can go away or diminish or turn a different corner than what we've hoped for...I have first hand knowledge of this...But if we fan into flame that gift which He has given, we will find that it does grow, maybe not on our own timetable, but every second that we have fed our spirit on His holiness is worth something special in God's economy.

II Tim 1:6 "That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the gracious gift of God, the inner fire that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands (with those of the elders at your ordination)."

Our pastor opened in his message this past Sunday with this exact scripture...and then spoke on contending for the faith!

To contend for the faith requires action on our part to not just sit back and let the passion burn out - we need to RESPOND to it. Part of this contending for me is to not be offended when His timing is not in my time frame...I find myself in compromising situations in my faith, and I get angry with God or myself. I give up, or I allow myself to be completely drawn to something that does not feed my spirit on His goodness instead of reaching out to Him, asking Him to show me what it is He would like to work out in me by placing this obstacle in my path. How I long to always respond with an, "I love you still!" even when I am at my worst.

The other part of this contending for me is turning down others, foregoing other activities - even if it's just cleaning the house or doing laundry - to be with God, to pray or journal or meditate on His word...even if I don't feel anything at all. The Lord seems to be calling me to do this, and it's one of the hardest things I have ever tried to do...and other people start to think you are crazy...

Matt 11:12 "And from the days of John the Baptist until the present time, the kingdom of heaven has endured violent assault, and violent men seize it by force, as a precious prize - as a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion."

I remember the first time I heard this verse and the idea of "spiritual violence" and I could not associate the term violence with God, but it seems to make a lot more sense pursue as a precious prize as a share in the heavenly kingdom is sought with most ardent zeal and intense exertion...

This week already I have been able to experience contending in terms of hanging on to Him, pressing in to Him, and seeking those things that are of Him even if my world seems to suck, turning down dinners and TV and laundry. I can tell the difference in the way my spirit receives Him, in my perception, in the way He calls me to pray, and I know this is a result of purposefully setting myself before His fire, seeking out His spirit..even if I don't feel anything at the time (which is most of the time), He still knows...and even if there is not some amazing experience 10 years down the road, I am finally at a place (I think) where that doesn't matter anymore...I am not doing this for me.