Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saying YES to a Calling

Have you ever felt like God was pulling on your heart so hard that He might pull it straight out of your chest? Well dear friends…this has been the feeling of my heart for the past few weeks. Let me entertain you for a few moments with the backstory of what I am affectionately calling my “heart condition”.

A few weeks ago I gave a message in our Middle School Ministry services, to our church’s 6th through 8th graders. The theme of our message series was called Unwrapping Christmas – all about digging into the cultural details of what was really happening in the first-century Jewish world that Jesus was born into.

The part of this message that wrecked my heart came through this verse:
“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
(Luke 2:14)

Through my study I learned that the Hebrew word for peace is more literally translated, not as the peace that we associate with war-free times, but as complete fulfillment. In other words, when the angels proclaimed that the coming of Christ would bring peace on earth, they did not mean that He would bring forth a world without war or destruction. Rather, God was proclaiming that the coming of Christ would bring complete fulfillment to the earth.

In the midst of the Christmas season, where gifts and tangible objects are at the forefront of our attention, we try to find our fulfillment in all the wrong places.

Think about it: When’s the last time you were COMPLETELY FULFILLED by your iPhone? Or your car? Or your house? Or your newest gadget?

I can help you with that one….never.

We have never and will never be completely fulfilled by the things of this world. Complete fulfillment…peace…can only come from Jesus Christ – His presence in your life.

So what do we do with this new-found knowledge of peace?
We act.  
We ask for less.
We expect less.
We desire less.

And we serve - serve others.
People we know.
People we don’t.

Why? Because that’s what Jesus did. He served us with his life by leaving His Father in Heaven, coming to Earth, and dying on a cross for our sake and our sake alone. 

Where does my “heart condition” come in?
Well… my husband and I are expecting our first child this coming April - a blessing that we have been praying for and are so excited about. And just like any new blessing, there are hardships that we are preparing to face with this little addition to our family.

One of those hard conversations that we have been having revolve around our financial budget and just how we are going to make it work with another mouth to feed and all the time and attention a baby needs and deserves.

Sparing you the not-so-fun details… we have absolutely no idea about how God is going to help us make it through this time of financial change in our lives. Literally… no idea.

And for the past few days this fear-of-the-unknown has plagued my heart and my mind for hours on end. I kid you not – I have lost exorbitant amounts of sleep and sanity worrying about how my God will provide for me – knowing that he WILL – but wondering HOW? My heart has ached to feel financial security.

And the final answer is this… it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter how He provides or even that He does provide.

What matters is my hearts willingness to follow Him wherever He leads me; To the ends of the Earth, through the valley of the shadow of death, to unknown places – just follow.

If I find myself and my family with our finances completely depleted…then I’ll be in the company of Paul when he penned these words:
Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead….. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  
(2 Corinthians 1:9; 4:18)

My personal conclusion and my charge to you is this:
Say YES to the calling. No matter the price. Regardless of what you have to give up. Just say ‘yes’. And God will see you through. You won’t know how. I don’t know how.

But I know that the only way to get over my “heart condition”… to have true peace… complete fulfillment… is to embrace the calling that God has called me to. 

All My Love,
~ Susan Lowry

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Everyone Has A Nineveh

The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish…
~Jonah 1:1-3a

Modern day Nineveh isn’t the loveliest of places, but it is nothing in comparison to the ancient city of Nineveh which stuck terror into entire regions. 

Modern Day Nineveh:

As the capital of Assyria, Nineveh sat along the eastern bank of the Tigris River.  At the time of Jonah, this city, which was referred to as the ”city of bloodshed” in Nahum 3:1, was considered to be one of the most powerful and unforgiving cities in the entire region.

Let’s answer the following “Why’s” about this Biblical story:

Why run?
There could be any number reasons that aren’t found in the direct Biblical text as to WHY Jonah ran away from where God was calling him. However, God did give us insight into the city of Nineveh when he talks about its treachery in the book of Nahum, specifically in verses one through four of chapter three.

Knowing what a scary place it must have been, especially for a prophet of God, it is easy to see why Jonah’s immediate inclination would be to run. Going to Nineveh would likely mean being mocked, treated as a fool, attacked, and even possibly killed. 

Why Tarshish?
Many scholars believe that Jonah fled to Tarshish because the city was considered in that time to be towards the end of the earth, and was literally as far east as you could go. The city of Tarshish sat on the coast of today’s Spain and to Jonah looked like his best option for getting away from the city of Nineveh

Why us?
As we read this story of Jonah, we see a man who hears from God and runs the other direction. It sounds so silly doesn’t it? Yet…we do it every day. We run from things that make us uncomfortable and things that frighten us. Dear ones, we can’t let ourselves be led astray by our fears. In fact, 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind.

Hear this: everyone has a Ninevah – a place that we feel God calling us to. We have two options in the midst of a calling: to answer or to flee. Beloved if there is one simple plea that I can make with you today, it would be this: Do not fear and do not flee! Answer the call. Take the challenge. Go to Nineveh.

I promise that God will not forsake you or leave you, and that you will feel his presence even more in the midst of your obedience.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Changing Our Filter

As I type this I am riding in a van home from a family vacation – totally exhausted & a bit loopy, but nevertheless, with a word on my heart from God…. to change my filter.

For those of you who know me, you know I’m a lover of all things tea & coffee :) So, I have a lot of experience with filters. However, for as much as I change my coffee, tea & even water filters, I have a burden in my heart to take a really good look at my “life filter”.
Everything we do and see passes through a filter before it reaches the place where our brain determines it’s worth. Our filter can be made up of our experiences, our trust, our personality – so many things. For the most part, I believe that our filters are made up of our emotions. If we are in a good mood – we will filter everything through a positive light. If we are grouchy – everything get’s filters more suspiciously. If we are tired… well, you get the idea.

Ask yourself this question today: What in my life would change if I started to filter things through a Godly filter? What would that do to my relationships? My conversations? Our lives?

Let me challenge you today to begin using your God filter – to filter everything you do, see and experience through a lens that points back to eternality and supremacy of God.

Praying for you dear ones.


Monday, January 2, 2012

Faithful with little...

At the moment I write this, I am watching Louie Giglio give the opening prayer at Passion Conference 2012…

And as I was watching this opening, one thought kept flashing through my head like a scrolling marquee: Why does he have such favor with God and men?

I’m serious…that thought, in many different forms, just kept rolling around my mind – Why this man? Why so much favor? Why does he get to do what he’s doing? What has he done to be where he is and be able to speak to so many about the love of Christ? Why him?

And I felt God reveal this verse to my heart: Luke 16:10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

It was as if I heard God whisper to me… “Be faithful with little.”

A screaming whisper. A still small voice.

Wow… I can’t describe my heart right now. I simply plead the same thing of you. Be faithful with little. Pray for me. I’ll be praying for you. 

Passion 2012 // ACCLIMATE