My Life Verse

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Change of Heart

This post is not about God changing my heart for anything big. It is something about plans I had for this weekend and how God changed the desires of my heart to different plans and taught me a lot through it. I hope it brings encouragement to you in some way, as I'm trying to only write blogs that are inspired by God and lessons that He teaches me as I pursue Him.

So, I bought tickets a couple of weeks ago to go to a chirstian conference this weekend. The conference is Thursday night, Friday 9am-10pm, and Saturday 9am-10pm. When I saw the pamplet for the conference in my church bulletin, I immediately wanted to go based on the title "Open Heavens." My desire is to go deeper with God and Heaven has been on my mind a lot for quite some time. I checked my calendar and I was off work during the scheduled conference. Perfect, I thought! It must be meant to be. (My hours vary with work often so I figured because I was off work during those days, God must have wanted me to go because I was available to go) So, I quickly registered online. I honestly don't even remember if I asked God i fthis is something I should be doing.

Before I even go further, let me explain how crazy to you this week has been. If you didn't know, I am a nanny for an adorable one-year old girl and her parents are a firefighter and police officer, so I work long shifts and my hours are unique. This was the last week her mom was on the night shift, so I had to watch the little girl overnight twice. I worked Monday 6am-Tuesday 11am. Then again on Wednesday from 545am-Thursday 1:00p.m. Then the conference is Thursday night-Saturday night. And I'm going to Knotts Berry Farm with family friends on Sunday. Work a 12 hour day on Monday and Tuesday a half day. So, I don't really get a break until Tuesday afternoon. Are you overwhelmed yet by my crazy, busy schedule? I was stressed before the week even began, as you can imagine. I may be 25 and single, but somehow my schedule gets filled up so quickly and busyness gets in the way of my relationship with God. This brings me to why I am currently sharing this with you and not at the conference that I paid for to be at this weekend...

I actually went last night for the first session and it was good. Worship, teaching, and a personal encounter with God. However, as I was on my way home, I had a desire not to return to the conference this weekend. I wondered where this came from and why my desires were beginning to change. As I got home at midnight, I knew I didn't want to get up early to be at the conference when the next session started at 9am in Santee. I needed sleep and I wanted personal time with Jesus. So, I went to bed with the intention of returning to the conference at 1:30pm today for session # 3. Little did I know I would continue to have a change of heart overnight. Literally.

This morning I woke up, had some personal time with God, went for a run (I'm training for a 5K) and then got ready. The clock kept ticking and soon I realized that I wasn't going to make it in time for the 1:30pm session today. I honestly had no desire to go but I kept questioning myself. *Sometimes, we don't feel like going to something and that is a signal that we really need to be there because God has something great for us and Satan is trying to do all he can to keep us from receiving that (this is an example of spirutal warfare because we are in a spiritual battle as christians). I don't believe this is what I was experiencing though, because I believe God would be revealing that to me by speaking to me saying GO. *Other times, God changes the desires of your heart because He has something else He wants us to be a part of. I believe this is what I was experiencing as I have continued to seek the Lord and hear His voice regarding what to do about this conference. Here are a couple of important things I want you to take note of:

(1) God began telling me after last night's session that I don't need to go to this conference to go deeper with Him. In fact, He can "open Heavens" for me if I seek Him for it.
(2) God was reminding me of how often I become too busy and don't take time to stop and listen to His voice or process things He speaks to me or pray into things He's revealed to me regarding my future
(3) After registering for this conference, I discovered that there are 3 things I will be missing out on because of it- A Night of Surrender (worship night) with Henry Haney, a benefit concert for Zimbabwe that Pastor Gayelee is speaking at, and His Hands and Feet Christian Ministry, which is one of my main communities and fellowships that I participate in and is only twice a month.

After hearing all these things from God, the battle in my heart and mind continued. I didn't want to go to the conference but I did pay for it and again questioned if I heard God previously tell me to go or not when I registered. I wondered if I'm going to miss out on something if I don't go that God might have for me there. Then I remembered the Night of Surrender is tonight and would be good for me. I was torn and didn't know what to do. This is where I'd like to use a lifeline and call a friend. :) I thought to myself, who can I talk to about my dilema that will help me get to the root of it and make a decision? I knew exactly who to call, and she had just the amount of time I needed and words to share to encourage me! (thank you! You know who you are) This woman knows me so well and she's always able to get right to the root of my messiness and speak bluntly (but it's always truth and motivated in love) which is why I knew she'd be perfect! Her response was this Katie, no matter what decision you make, it's going to be good. Both options are good. I think you are overanalyzing it way too much. Stop that and take a deep breath and be still for a moment. Ask God which one is better for you and if He tells you, great! If He doesn't tell you, then do what you want. You can't make a bad choice. Either place you go will have a good outcome for you."  And then we got off the phone and I cried for a short amount of time. I thought to myself Wow, I'm really worked up about something so small? This is so silly. God. I'm sorry. Thank you for speaking to me and using my friend to help get my attention.

After this I decided that I'm not going to go to the conference today and I am going to go to the Night of Surrender and that is my final answer! Haha. Why? Because that is the desire of my heart, which changed overnight. And, because I want to. *You see, God delights in giving us the desires of our hearts. But I still felt a struggle with this decision. (Really, even after all this? YES! The enemy never stops working, but God is always there and all we have to do is get into His Presence to receive His persepective) I couldn't believe that I literally posted on facebook "sad to be missing A Night of Surrender and HHFCM but I know God has something amazing planned for me at the conference" *Maybe God's big thing was teaching me this lesson that will be helpful in the future when it comes to other things that come up in my life and decision making. How could it change so quickly? I also found I was mostly concerned with what other people would think of me (this is a weakness of mine). The Lord reminded me that I'll never see the people at the conference again so I don't have to worry about that. And really, the truth is, God doesn't make sense. So, if I, or anyone is trying to be logical about this change of heart I've had overnight, I/they won't understand or agree with it. I'm still learning (as it clearly took time today to discover all this and make a decision) how to let go of what's logical and live in what's supernatural. But, I'm so thankful that GOd is teaching me all of this. I want me life to be led by the Holy Spirit and not logic. Here are some lessons I learned from all of this. I hope it brings you encouragement, too.

(1) Listen and obey God's voice, no matter if it's logical or not. (it won't be logical) haha I guess no matter what
(2) Ask God if you should do something before you do it
(3) God will use whatever goes on in your life for good even if you go against His will (I know last night had a purpose and today I gained so much from this experience)
(4) Don't get caught up in the busyness of life. Take time to stop, breathe, be still, listen, and process with God.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Stepping out in Faith

Yesterday I went to Starbucks on my break at work. I sat down next to a woman and man chatting about polictics. I had my head phones in listening to worship music, but could still hear them. A little while later, the man leaves and the woman moves to where he was sitting, which happened to be right beside me. It was on one of those bench things that have two tables next to each other. I looked up and tried to make eye contact because I really sensed the Lord wanting to do something and I felt His heart for this woman. (Earlier in her conversation with the man she mentioned being anti-religious and the man did as well and of course that is what caught my attention)

This may surprise some of you, but I'm also anti-religious. I do consider myself a christian; however I prefer to be called a follower of Jesus Christ. After all, christians do believe in the Bible and the main person in the Bible whom we study is Jesus himself. And we do base our faith on Him dying and raising from the dead. I want to acknowledge this because it is important in the motive of my heart in stepping out in faith and representing Jesus and His love for people. Although I've been a christian my entire life, and was born-again 4 years ago, in the last couple of years my life has been transformed by the love of God and I've come to a greater understanding that it's not all about the "spiritual stuff" on the to-do list, but it's about loving Jesus and loving others. Afterall, that is the first and second greatest commandments in the Bible. "And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. The second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these" Mark 12:30-31

Anyways, so I didn't even have to do anything because this woman quickly felt comfortable talking my ear off. :) Having my headphones in wasn't going to stop her! hehe She began sharing how she knows you can hear all conversations at coffee shops even if you try not to, and she shared how she always talks politics with that guy and so forth. Then somehow she began to share her life story with me. It was incredible. She's 39. She used to be way up in the executive world as business woman. She broke up with her ex-boyfriend 6 years ago and never really dealt with it because of so much stuff and quick transitions. She had a stroke 5 years ago. And that followed by a minimum of 5 blood clots. The doctors told her she is the second patient who has survived such a stroke in the 27 years he has been a doctor. She is literally a walking miracle. She had to re-learn how to use both arms and fine motor skills. She had to learn how to walk again. She had to basically start over due to such tragic health issues, which came about so suddenly and unexpectedly. She shared what she gained from it- a new perspective on life, to not take even one moment for granted, to have a good attitude and be thankful. Then I asked her what her biggest challenge was from this whole thing as well as her biggest current challenge. She said the hardest thing for her was she felt like she lost a big sense of her identity. She used to exercise very often and be in great shape. She can't even get on a tredmill because her core is "messed up" as she described how she can't walk more than 50 feet because her left knee is in such horrible pain. That was her biggest challenge as of now. (Can you imagine going through all of this?!? Or listening to it. I felt God's heart for this woman and also felt He saved her so He must have a big plan for her life) And this is when the opportunity arose for me to step out in faith...

 I told her that I heard them talking anti-religion and although I am a christian I am also anti-religious. I simply told her that the last couple years I came to understand more about Jesus His heart only love. I said, I believe that God is able to heal her knee and asked if she would be willing to let me pray for her. I shared how I prayed for a blind man in Africa, whose sight was restored, and I've seen people with different lengths of legs grow out to be the same length simply through a prayer. She was in awe and said sure. Then I asked if I could place my hands on her knee that has had the pain and she said yes. So, I began to pray and ask that Jesus touch her and heal her knee and I commanded all the pain to go in the name of Jesus. (It's really that simple!) I also thanked God for letting me meet her and for her joy and great attitude. After praying, I asked her how she felt and she said a little better. I then asked her if she felt anything while I was praying for her and she said "I actually felt it tingling while your hand was on it". I was so excited because this is a sign of the Holy Spirit which meant that God was doing something in her knee while I was praying. She kept saying, "that was so bizzare". haha Then I asked her how she will know if the pain is completely gone and she said when she leaves and walks on it. She didn't do that before I left but I walked away believing her knee was completely healed. I thanked her for letting me pray for her and said that I just love Jesus and want people to see His love through me and she said "I can totally see it in you". I asked if I could give her a hug and she said "yes, of course, you're so sweet" and then I went back to work.

The neat thing is that I haven't stepped out in faith like this on my own without being part of a ministry (like His Hands and Feet Christian Ministry) or out on the mission field when we are required to step out in faith and offer prayer for people. I knew that my stepping out in faith was not limited to a "missions trip" and I also knew that God's desire is for people in America just as it is for people in Africa to know His love. And I know that I carry His love. So I can walk in confidence that God's love will shine through me like it did yesterday towards this woman. And, the biggest thing that was hindering me from stepping out in faith previously like this had been fear of man. I was worried that God would not meet me when I asked for healing for someone and they wouldn't get healed. With that fear came something even deeper. I was concerned that if I stepped out in faith and prayed for someone, they didn't get healed, now they would perceive God the opposite of what I was intending to perceive Him as. They might question why God didn't heal them. They might be more closed off to God. But then God reminded me that it is not my responsibility how people respond to their situation and healing towards God. I am only responsible for stepping out in faith and obedience, trusting God to meet me where I'm at. And, shining His love through that because everything must be driven from love. And, that day, the Lord was faithful to meet me and show up. And this woman did receive a glimpse of His love through my willingness to step out in faith. Praise the Lord!!!

I share this story not to make myself look great. I share it to make God look great. "If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord." 2 Corinthians 10: 17 I want to show you that God so much bigger than we make Him out to be and His desire is to heal people today and He is able to do that! He is moving in power!! "for the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God's power" 1 Corinthians 4:20  I've seen Him do it and it is so exciting and real. I hope this encourages you to step out in faith as God directs you to share His love to someone, however that may be for you.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Do not worry.

WORRY does you no good!!!

We are instructed not to worry from Jesus himself in Matthew 6:25-34. This morning God led me to this part of my Bible and I felt so encouraged as I sat and soaked it all in. Sometimes I think we can know a passage like this in our minds but not in our hearts, which is why there isn't true transformation. Although we might have the scripture memorized, we don't actually live according to it. Recently I heard a song by Sanctus Real titled "Promises" that reminds us to hold on to the promises of God. (see youtube video below to listen to it) When we truly hold on to the promises that God gives us through His Word, our hearts, minds, and lives will change. God didn't give us His Word to simply check it off the to-do list, but to help us, strengthen us, encourage us, and build us up. Join me in holding on to the promise of not worrying. I will share a couple of scriptures and words from my Study Bible that have encouraged me and I hope they do the same for you.

Before I go any further though, I have to confess: I am a worry wort. I try not to be, but to be completely honest, I often worry about many things. Even though I've had many opportunities to trust God and learn how trustworthy He is so there is no need to worry, I still choose to worry sometimes. But since turning 25, I really feel like something shifted. I am a new me! haha I do not want to affiliate with "the old Katie" anymore. Therefore, I'm professing that I am not going to be a worry wort any longer. I am going to trust God because He works all things together for my good and He is trustworthy.

"Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." Matthew 6:33

"So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:34

"Don't worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7

Below are the notes from my Study Bible regarding worry:

7 Reasons NOT to worry:

1. The same God who created life can be trusted with the details of your life.
2. Worrying about the future hampers your efforts for today
3. Worrying is more harmful than helpful
4. God does not ignore those who depend on him
5. Worrying shows a lack o faith in and understanding of God
6. Worrying keeps us from real challenges God wants us to pursue
7. Living one day at a time keeps us from being consumed with worry

*Because of the ill effects of worry, Jesus tells us not to worry about those needs that God promises to supply. Worry may (1) damage your health (2) disrupt your productivity (3) negatively affect the way you treat others, and (4) reduce your ability to trust in God

*Here is the difference between worry and genuine concern- worry immobilizes, but concern moves you to action.

*To "seek first the kingdom of God above all else" in your life means to put your thoughts with his desires, to take his character for your pattern, and to serve and obey him in everything. What is really important to you? People, objects, goals, and other desires all compete for priority. Any of these can quickly become most important to you if you don't actively choose to give God first place in every area of your life.

*Planning for tomorrow is time well spent; worrying about tomorrow is time wasted. Sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference. Careful planning is thinking ahead about goals, steps, and schedules, and trusting in God's guidance. When done well, planning can help alleviate worry. Worriers, by contrast, are consumed by fear and find it difficult to trust God. They let their plans interfere with their relationship with God. Don't let worries about tomorrow affect your relationship with God today.

I want to conclude with something I've heard many times and I'm not sure who to quote, so don't give me credit. It gets me every time and reminds me how worry really does us no good!

"We often worry about things that don't even end up happening"