Saturday, April 21, 2012

1 John 1:1-4

"That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete."

There are seasons in which God entrusts to us that are so majestically full of abundant works that one would be selfish to hold them within; this is one of those times. I realize that this is text-heavy, but so is the Bible. If you do not care for the works of God and His mighty works being manifest in the Earth,  please continue as I am trusting the Glorious One to change you with this text. If you do care for these things, continue in the same. Either way, I know that the Holy Spirit will shake you because all glory is to the One who has done all of this within me. Let this testimony mix with the sweet scent of the blood of the Lamb to cause you to overcome the great dragon, the serpent of the old, who is called the devil and Satan.

Let me begin with the valley, as every great hill has a base. Spring break, a trip to Florida, seemed to be an escape, a fresh beginning; it was, however, far from this ideal. Driving down consisted of overwhelming bickering and fighting between my parents - my heart breaking with every hateful word spoken. I cried out to God as I cried silent streams from the seat inches away from the source of destruction. I grabbed my iPod to drown out the anger with victorious songs to Victory Himself. I had, right before the trip, updated my songs with approximately 250 songs of pure worship, and I was looking to shuffle through the multitudes now in search for the right song to explain my worship; once I looked at the player while sitting in the car, however, it had only one song on it - Freedom is Here/ Shout Unto God by Hillsong United.

This divinely written song supernaturally appeared as the one and only song on my iPod, for God knew it was the only one I would need as an anthem for the entire trip. Things went from bad to worse as my desperation continuously amplified. Alone time was scarce, so quiet time took uncharacteristic forms; constant meditation on the word, along with prayer and stillness, became essential to remaining whole, as the threats to fall apart circled like a vulture, waiting to devour its prey. My own strength had failed me; my Saviors sustained me. I felt helpless and alone with He being the only solid Rock amongst all failing relationships. He cradled me gently, for He knew I needed the security and peace that only His comforting arms could provide. Circumstances failed me, but His hope inhaled me.

I returned home, unstable in my own balancing act, to uncertainty and confusion. I hadn't understood various acts that I had seen occur within my brothers and sisters at home, and the devil constantly attempted to consume me with lies to separate me from the Body. I, however, reluctantly attended youth group after what seemed to be forever since the last occurrence. Beforehand, I prayed over the night and over families, including my own. I explained my intensifying desire for deceitful thoughts to diminish as well as to see the Spirit move in the night. The following is the testimony I wrote before I went to bed that evening:

"Today I really didn't want to go to youth group. For the very first time in my life, I didn't want to go. I didn't know why, I just knew that I wanted to stay home; I began to make excuses of why I should stay home and not go. Then, 6th hour, my old communications teacher, Mr. Manning, told me that I should come and see him in 7th hour. I went in and he asked my how my weekend was, I said fine. He got really embarrassed and I asked him why. He said that he was at a men's conference during the weekend and he thought he heard my name, so he began to pray for me. I told him how that was actually spot on and how he shouldn't be embarrassed. His prayers stirred the heavens; my over one month long complacency broke two nights after he prayed - last night. Then, I ended up going to youth group - I had a dentist in De Pere, anyway. Before my dentist, however, from 3 to 4, I prayed. I wasn't "feeling" it, but I knew God just wanted me to lift up His name. He told me to simply sing of Him, not to ask for anything else. Then He told me Psalm 68:4. When I read it, I thought it was a good verse and that I should share a chunk of that passage at youth group tonight for encouragement, but it really didn't have a major wow-factor (excluding the obvious, that it was a word from the Lord, thus it's wow-factor is certain). 

The time rolled around for worship to start. As prayer occurred at the beginning, I realized that I hadn't shared the verses and I was bummed, but I figured that there was a reason that I forgot and that I would share at the end. I quickly scurried over to grab my Bible so that I could share later, before the video. We started to sing You Reign by Citipointe Live. God whispered to me, "Brenna. It's 'Your kingdom come; Your will be done. Jesus RAIN over me. Not merely REIGN over me.'" I soaked that in and stood in awe. Then Kirk stood up and said that he had a word: God wanted to heal from tormenting thoughts. Anyone who wanted healing from tormenting thoughts was to go to the front of the room. I stood around the altar with EVERYONE ELSE! We all went up and received prayer. 

I switched between crying and laughing. Deliverance and power over the thoughts and desires that have haunted me since before I can remember was released. Then, I knew worship would be wrapping up soon and I wanted to share the word I had before. I grabbed my bible to re-read what followed verse 4 since I hadn't previously. It was SPOT ON! I walked over to Kirk and told him that I had something to share before he prayed. Worship ended up continuing, and we decided that we were going to worship for the remainder of youth group because God was moving and we would move with Him. I shared the verses and how we should sing You Reign again, thinking about You RAIN, and we should dance. We did.

The rest of the night was glorious. Two prayer requests came forward and God continually spoke words from His Word from my lips as I prayed. Then, I took my friend home. She explained what she was going through; it was exactly the situation I was in two years ago when I was saved. She's having a hard time balancing friends, wanting to know everything now, and not feeling heard amongst other Christians. She also said how she wanted to speak in tongues. I thought, "Well perfect, I want you to as well and so does the All-Powerful Yahweh." We got to her driveway and right as she was about to leave, I firmly told her that she was going to the receive this gift and that I will pray for her right now. About 15 minutes later, that girl was speaking in tongues! I explained to her that it is just like a language and that you need to work at it. Then she told me how she had told another girl about her desire earlier that night and the girl told her to keep praying about it. When we knock, the Faithful One rushes to answer. Hosanna in the Highest!"

The following weekend I, once again, did not attend church; I had a state competition in La Crosse that I had to attend. The time brought a disgust for the world as the consumption of those desires engulfed the ones surrounding me whom I love. As the fight for the truth began to wear me down more and more, once again forcing me to rely fully on His strength, exhaustion set in. My Father, God graciously provided time slots of alone time in which I was able to bask in His presence amongst the chaos, providing the much-needed springs in the dry land. Then, on the ride home, I had begun to listen to my iPod. On shuffle, the random songs appeared, one after the other, as tears silently rolled from my cheeks - I was spent. These "random" songs, however, were far from that; song after song came on, each from All Sons & Daughters explaining, through song, my exact heart's cry in that moment. 

Suddenly, my best friend from elementary and middle school (with whose friendship withered after my salvation) turned around in her seat and began to pour out her heart to me. She explained her life, knowing that I would enjoy hearing of it since we had been basically separated for a couple of years. As she continues, I interject things going on with me, such as my fighting parents and exhaustion. Out of the blue, another girl comes in to the conversation, explaining how she is having an extremely difficult time with her ever-bickering parents. All in all, Glory shown through as God gently revealed His all-consuming Father Love, and I prayed for each girl. I return to my iPod and what song is flowing through my headphones? I Am Set Free by All Sons & Daughters. Indeed, I am set free. 

The following Tuesday, youth group came once again. I found out that the previous gathering had been relatively uneventful, excluding the never-failing Love of God that swoops in. I, as routine, prayed over the night and asked for the Presence of God to fill the sanctuary. Inviting the Holy Spirit to come, my plea carried on even as I left the room. That night, once again, God moved radically and the night, once again, resumed as a full-blown worship night. This radical event enforced what had previously been declared amongst our youth group as well as within me: Immanuel is with us.

One night that week, I began to read James, for I had previously been discussing the book with one of my sisters in Christ. I read through and got to the verse 5:16. I acknowledged the power of my prayers, yet after reading verse 17-18, decided to trust God with something other than someone's life: rain. I asked for it to pour to display His undoubting Glory, once again. That night, I awoke in the middle of the night for something loudly radiated through my room: the unmistakable sound of a downpour. 

It had since been five weeks since I was in Florida so much had God shifted and changed within me, but I was in no way prepared for what was about to come. I viewed a move of God like never before at this night's youth group - a purifying-and-refining gold moment. The following is a recount of the night:

"I went in early to have a worship time with the girl who previously gained the gift of prayer language. My heart was heavy and my Spirit stirred as I prayed over the night. Various words became repetitious in my desires as well as my prayers such as revival and families. Additionally, I laid out my desire to see each person fall, one-by-one, to their knees in worship and adoration in the powerful Presence of the King. I also deeply felt as though we were to realize the sanctuary is holy ground and enter it as though walking right in to the Kingdom of God. Two hours of prayer and worship later,  I found Kirk and explained to him about my desire to pray before entering the Sanctuary for it is holy ground. He explained that He also agreed that we should pray and he felt God speaking that to him earlier in the day as well. 

We entered into prayer as a group, none of us able to suspect that this "prayer before entering" would turn into two hours and fifteen minutes of crying out. God surpassed my understanding, once again, as Kirk prayed for revival, Lisa prayed for families, and each person fell to their knees, one-by-one. My heart changed and shook that night - my heart's cry for my school awakened and refreshed with a new sense of urgency and flame. My entire outlook erased and re-written to more accurately read as the Word of the Living God reads."

Needless to say, this last month have been nothing short of extraordinary. I pray that this text is full of grace, seasoned with salt, and mixed with faith so that it blesses you as it has blessed me. My heart longs for you to know the intricate Love that the LIVING God has for you. I know not where your relationship with God stands, but I do know that His mercies are new every morning. I recognize, with immense joy, that this is only the beginning for me as I look at these prior words in awe of the One who wrote them on my heart and in my life book, knowing that the rest is up to Him as well. He wants you to hand Him the pen so that He can do even greater things that these; is He your author?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Red Sea

With these Egyptians in the way, you say it's hard to see the light
Well this wouldn't be the case If you'd realize it's not your fight
Quit standing in the "helplessness", crying out to be moved
Get going and know that His glory shall be proved
He is stirring up the waves with His mighty hand
So be still and walk in peace on this dry land
He shall not forsake you nor leave you without protection
For His direction casts out rejection as you choose objection instead of reflection and projection of His glorious affection because you're used to convection and correction to merely pass inspection as opposed to Perfection's injection of His selection of you. 
So stop wailing and moaning about the hardships endured
For He knows that only through this will you be reassured.
Reassured of His presence and ever-surmounting peace
This all-consuming Love that will surely never cease.
The lands will praise the King of Kings from this; rest in truth
Stop believing the lie that your defenseless from youth.
The manna shall be plenty, yet the journey may be long
Prepare for what's ahead and humbly kneel in reverent song.
Worship shall pour forth regardless of season
Now have some faith and ignore foolish reason.
For in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God
Take, therefore, this word and stand tall with your rod.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Revelation 3:16

I'm so fed up with this complacent Christianity
thinking I get heaven simply from sanity
Assuming I'm saved because I liked a page
therefore excusing my occasional rage
I call out when I'm hurting and in need of Him
but there's no way He's there when I'm hittin' the gym
He's the God of my life on Sunday in church
but the darkness of my heart, He can not search.
I know John 3:16 and the message it sends
but what happens when He tells me to surrender my friends?
Hold on. Hold up. Are you telling me
that Jesus is calling for more of thee?
I gave Him my word. I said the prayer.
Don't try to tell me I'm still goin' down there.
That's the reason I'm here, the reason I plea
I can't go to Hell, I thank God, you see?
Oh, really? Cause in between the love, hatred I saw
Spitting harsh words from the "caring" jaw.
All I know is this, lukewarm is out. 
The only way in is His name to be shout.
This isn't a with status or even a tweet
He wants you're all; to make your heart beat.
So give up your false thoughts that you're goin to Heaven
for we all know this idea is merely a leaven
lighting the idea that you can keep your life
and still avoid eternity of pain and of strife.
So today is the day, will you give Him you're all?
Are you sick of sitting and ignoring the call?