Friday, October 7, 2011

Ding! Round One!

Ephesians 6:10-18 (The Message)
" 10-12 And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.
13-18 Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long."

At the beginning of this week I felt God lay this passage heavily on my heart. And I realized something (light bulb!). My family was in a battle season and had been for quite some time. I was just only now realizing it. Sometimes I can be a little dull-headed!

Since the beginning of the current semester (mid July) we have been facing oppostion after opposition in some capacity or another, either inwardly or outwardly. I started this semester so worn out from the past year that I could feel the enemy breathing down my neck and I had zero energy to do anything about it. A part of me really didn't even want to acknowledge that there was spiritual attack happening because then I would become accountable for it and frankly, I just didn't have it in me to care. So everyday I just took it and took it and took it.

Till one day, faced with what felt like a completely overwhelming task, I just said very simply, with very little drama and emotion, " God, I can't do this. I need You to fight for me. Release your angels to fight on my behalf or whatever it is that You do, I am asking You to do it." And I prayed the scripture, Psalm 46:10, "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations."

Now, what I LOVE about this scripture is the pure authority in it. I know that many times people use this in the context of being still before the Lord, which is good and fine and perfectly applicable, but the true original intent is a war cry from the very mouth of God to the warring nations of the earth, demanding that they stop and submit to His authority. It is saying, "Cease and desist (stop, come to a stand); it is I, God, who will be exalted (placed in rank, honor, and power) in victory; you do not have a chance against me. " (Spirit-filled life Bible footnotes). I love that! It gives me chills inside!

And I love that as co-heirs in Christ and God as our Father, we can stand in that same place of authority in Him and tell the devil and the "warring nations" in our life, " You (relational strife, financial difficulties, temptations, negative thoughts, fear, anxiety, stress, or whatever the enemy is throwing your way), you better cease and desist, acknowledge and submit to the power, authority, and soveriegnity of my God." And so that is what I did. And the very atmosphere of my house changed that day.

So there I was in a place in myself where I felt nothing, had nothing, and wanted to do nothing. I just didn't have it in me to fight anything, much less the adversary of the whole human race! I could barely fight my own five year old to do his chores! But the second I just came simply as a daughter to my Dad, He answered and came in like a flood over our life. A beautiful, sweet, cascading flood over my soul.

And I got this revelation (one of those that you know but now you really know) that our authority in Christ is not in anything other than just simply standing on Truth. It is not in eloquent words, fervent emotion, or some massive spiritual experience. All it took was a moment in my bathroom as I was getting ready for my day. Ordinary. Everyday. Mundane.

I love that we, as ordinary and mundane people, can walk and declare the authority, victory, and soveriegnity of God in the ordinary and mundane places of our life. Washing the clothes, bathing the kids, cooking dinner, going to work or school, meeting with people, paying bills, etc. Wherever we meet opposition to the kingdom of God and us as His children (and Lord knows that is pretty much anywhere), we can declare the authority of God over that situation. We do not have to conjure up a feeling or emotion. We just walk in it. It just is. He is. It is finished.

He is a good God, a loving Daddy to His kids, and He wants to move on our behalf. He wants to rescue us, but He also wants us to learn to stand on our own two feet and grow in our authority in Him. And so, yes, it was a breakthrough. A much needed breakthrough. A give-me-air-to-breathe breakthough. And I thought the end of our story and battle season, but alas, only the beginning. Sigh. At least this time I had gotten some of my fight back. But I will save that for another day.

Be Blessed with the revelation that you are the son or daughter of the most high God of whom all creation stands in attention to, walking boldly in your authority through Christ!

The Griffins

And I will end this post with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite movies...
10,000 points to whoever can guess what movie it's from :)

"This is war, Peacock! You can't cook an omelette without breaking eggs. Every cook will tell you that!" " But look what happened to the cook!"

Thursday, October 6, 2011

And so it begins....

So this week has been a week from hell, I am thinking quite literally and yes, figuratively as well. Starting even earlier with a little thing here and a little thing there (i.e. computer crashing, car window breaking, etc.). Just annoyances at first but then culminating into just more than I thought could happen in one week.

Paying three hundred dollars in what I personally deem "unnecessary" fines. Having a tyre (aka tire) blow. Repair. Next day, another tyre blows resulting in stranded car. Even more repair and lots of hassle. Losing $100 bucks at work "mysteriously" on one of the highest tip nights I've had in a long night. Receiving a "surprise" bill that we are expected to pay without warning. All this just adds up, as it happens literally within minutes and hours of each other at a constant pace. May not sound like much to some, but it really began to wear on us.

But even in the midst of it all, I can honestly say that inside ourselves we remained constant and at peace. Don't know that has ever happened quite like this. Usually, I think at least one of us would have some sort of meltdown (one of us being a little more extroverted in our meltdown abilities than the other, but hey, no need to incriminate anyone here :). After said meltdown, we would then, hopefully, push into some sort of peace with God, etc., haphazardly bumbling our way through it all. Maybe not as gracefully as possible, but we would always make it on the other side.

But I can honestly say this time was different. Night and Day different. Change My World different. Determine Course of Destiny different. And I cherished every minute of it because on a constant basis we found God at every turn and corner. At the end of it all we are both physically exhausted, to say the least, but soulishly refreshed all the same.

With confidence I can say that both of us have learned invaluable kingdom lessons, gained greater revelation and insight, underwent some intense internal change and growth, and most importantly have fallen deeper in love with Jesus and our heavenly Father as He proved over and over again the standard of who He is.

So what are all these lessons, revelations and insights? How are we different within ourselves, which hopefully translates to outside of ourselves? And just what is that standard of the God of the universe that we experienced moment to moment, day after day?

Well, I'll tell you. But not now. Mostly because it's almost 11 at night and I have to get up early tomorrow with a big morning ahead. But also because how can one encapsulate encountering God in just a few paragrahps? I know I can't at least. And so I will lay it out piece by piece, with each turn to be cherished, and every corner to be savored. Starting tomorrow. I promise.

Until Then...


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Eight Dollar Man

Most people my age and older are well acquainted with the Six Million Dollar Man. I personally have never had the pleasure of encountering this iconic figure of my parents’ decade, but I am just old enough to recollect the murmurings and references of such a famous figure of pop culture from days bygone. Those who are younger than me may have no idea what I am talking about.

The Six Million Dollar Man was a superhero in his own right with his body being severely injured after a crash, then being given “bionic” implants in his right arm, both legs and left eye enabling him to have strength, speed and vision far above human norms. How could that not make for a great tv show, right? Uh, yeah sure. Sounds fascinating.

Well I have encountered my own Six Million Dollar Man, except I like to call him the Eight Dollar Man. An iconic figure in my own life reminding me what this life is truly about after all. And instead of a life altering crash this story begins with a normal day at work. A place I have desperately tried to get out of but God has stubbornly refused my advances, reminding me once again that He is less concerned with our “comfort” and more with our character and willingness to be used by Him in any circumstance.

About a month or so ago, I waited on an older man at our establishment on a Friday night, eating dinner by himself. I remember that he ordered the Atlantic Salmon with steamed veggies and a glass of wine. How do I remember that? Well, a great waitress never reveals her secrets. He was a well spoken, well mannered man, dressed nicely in relaxed business attire. He reminded me of the type that would sit in his library smoking a pipe while listening to opera. I don’t know if he does this or not, but in my mind this is how he spends his free time.

As is my job, if a customer initiates small talk I will interact following their lead. And as many conversations do here in Sydney, it followed the normal pattern of “Oh, are you American?” “Why, yes, I am”, with a plastered smile on my face. “What brings you here?” and then I delve into my rehearsed speech of how my husband is attending school here and on and on, to which they ask what is he studying, where does he go, etc. I answer that he is studying at Hillsong College. At that point I get many different responses depending on their belief of Hillsong, which is funny, because it is never based on their belief of God but rather Hillsong Church.

It was at this point that he responded with, “I have always wanted to go there.” Explaining that he has watched them on tv, but was never sure how one attends, to which I responded that all you have to do is show up and we would love to have him, etc. Now, I have invited many people to church and received many interesting responses (do you have to pay to get in, can anyone come, etc.). So this was still nothing too unusual. Throughout the rest of his meal we small talked here and there as I went about my duties serving him and the surrounding tables. At this point he formally introduced himself to me, shaking my hand. We talked about his job, where he was from, where he has traveled, etc. At the end of the meal, he thanked me profusely, gave me a tip, and was on his way. Nothing grand, nothing out of the ordinary.

A week or so later, I saw this man while “window shopping” with my family at the local shops. Not knowing if he remembered me but feeling the need, I walked up to him saying hi, reminding him who I was and how I knew him. He said, “oh yes, I tipped you five dollars.” I remembered what he ate, he remembers what he tipped. An interesting relationship servers have with their customers. I asked how he was doing, introduced him to my family, etc. He inquired if I was working that night, to which I answered yes, that I was going to go in a few hours. He commented that he wouldn’t be going that night, but spoke of why he enjoys our particular restaurant, etc.

He asked again about Hillsong Church to which I invited him again, telling him the times of services, etc. He reiterated his question of what does one do to get in. I reminded him that all he needs to do is just come, that we are more than happy to have him, and there is a whole host of people waiting to help him with whatever he needs. We finished up the conversation and my family and I went on our way, thinking how interesting that our paths would cross again like that, and is God up to something.

I went on to work that night with not much more thought to the situation when lo and behold, I spied this Eight Dollar Man across the restaurant once again eating dinner by himself. I then spent a good 10 minutes trying to decide whether to go over and say hi or not. I mean, I don’t want to seem like a stalker or anything and creep the guy out, but I did want to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Was this a case of a lonely man searching for God and responding to a caring individual? Or did the earlier conversation only wet his appetite for Salmon again? I truly didn’t know.

He was not on my side of the restaurant so I really had no reason to “happen by” his table. Not to mention Friday nights at our restaurant are too busy to just be moseying around without accomplishing something purposeful. I had pretty much decided against it but then I just stopped and prayed in the kitchen. God, if this is You, then enable my path to cross his and I will step out and say hi to him again. I proceeded to busy myself with the demands of my job when on my way back to the kitchen, guess who stopped me? That’s right, Eight Dollar Man. On his way to the restrooms, which did happen to be right by my side of the restaurant. God works in mysterious ways, eh?

We interacted in a small amount of small talk and that was it. He was on his way and I felt a huge amount of relief. Relief for not missing out on an opportunity from God. Relief that I would not be mistaken for a creeper. And relief that I fully believed at this point that yes, God was indeed “in this”.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. It is a Friday morning not unlike many others. I had a College Wives Girl’s Night planned for that evening. I had specifically taken off work for this, picked up an extra shift that week to cover missing that night and I was really looking forward to hanging with some of my girls. I had big plans for this day. Little did I know, God had even bigger plans, all starting with eight dollars.

After paying rent that day we found we had only eight dollars left in our bank account. Not an unusual event here during this season of our life in Sydney, Australia. But this time we still had needs left that required money. At the thought of another year in this state of circumstances just seemed a bit too much for us that day and so after a time in prayer with each other and God, crying out for breakthrough and provision for what was still needed, we continued on with our day.

Brandon and I found ourselves “window shopping” in the same shop that my family had met Eight Dollar Man in. For the first time in a while I thought of him (the Eight Dollar Man), wondering if he did indeed make it to any services at Hillsong Church, how he was doing, would I ever know if inviting him ever made a difference.

A few hours before I was due to party it up with my girls I received a phone call from work that they needed someone to come in and cover for another server. Now, like I said, I had my plans for this evening and normally there is no way I would let work interfere with something like this, but as soon as they asked I knew I had to say yes. My bank account gave me no other choice, not to mention something in me rose up that God was ordaining this. I assumed maybe I was going to get a huge tip or something grand of that nature. But once again, God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

I went in to work praising God for His provision and giving me opportunities to access that provision in our lives, ready for anything that He might do. Now, I want to pause right here and say that we have seen God do outright miracles in our life, especially since we have been in Sydney. I mean outright miracles. Things that are unmistakable, have carved an utter confidence in us that God is indeed on the throne and is our Provider in every sense of the word. I have no doubt in His provision for us, but sometimes I do have to adjust my mentality of what that means and looks like. Provision covers so much more than getting what we want. It covers what we need, and very rarely do we as His children ever know what we need.

So there I am at work, serving my tables, offering smiles, dealing with disgruntled customers, and whatever other task lay before me, all with an unshakeable confidence that I would see God move. When out of nowhere, there is Eight Dollar Man eating dinner! He stops me with a huge smile, I sit down and say hi, shake his hand, and ask how he is doing. He asks about my kids and husband, if everyone is doing well, then he tells me that he did indeed attend a Hillsong Service! I couldn’t believe my ears… he actually went. And not once, but twice!

This lonely, older gentleman, who eats dinner all by himself, wanting to go to church but just not sure how, actually went. All because a young woman, all the way from the other side of the world, who has grumbled most of her way through this job, with nothing to offer in and of herself, invited him. God is truly wondrous! I told him that I hope he would comes back to church again and that if he lets me know ahead of time then Brandon and I would be more than happy to meet up with him so he doesn’t have to sit alone. His face lit up at this and he said that he would truly like that.

I walked away from our conversation in awe of God. I felt a complete sense in my spirit of God saying, “Provision? I’ve got your provision. To provide for you is nothing for me. This is so much bigger than your provision. Lives are at stake. I knew then that He used the eight dollars in our account to cause me to go to work that night. To deter me from the plans that I had made for my night. And I was grateful for the eight dollars. I was grateful that He had allowed us to be in a position that would propel us into what He is doing. And I knew that I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing, with exactly what He wants in our bank account because it is nothing to Him to turn those numbers around over night.

So will we ever see him again? Will we ever sit with him in Hillsong Church? Will I ever have the privilege of seeing him come to know Christ? I don’t know. But I do know this. If all we have is eight dollars to our name for the rest of our life, but He is using those eight dollars to position us for His kingdom then so be it. I would rather have eight dollars and reach people for Him then have eight thousand and be utterly useless to the kingdom of God.

And that is why he is our Eight Dollar Man, a superhero to our personal faith. Inspiring us to live above the norms of life, to do away with apathetic attitudes, reminding us again of why we are here and what we are to be about even in the most unsuspecting of circumstances. Nothing puts it better than the words of God himself in Matthew 6:30-33, “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (The Message)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Just a Thought...

Sometimes I get the feeling that God is speaking and I am just not hearing. Or maybe I am hearing but not understanding. His word says, " Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me." (Ps. 42:7) I don't fully know what that means except that I always took it to mean that the depths of who we are, the person that we really are, the soul of who we are is what hears and responds to the depths of God speaking to us. That He speaks to the parts of us that we didn't even know existed or were even possible to exist. And that if we really want to hear the heart of God, really, really hear, we have to quiet ourselves so that our depth can hear His depth. And that is why so many times we can feel or sense God at work but not quite grasp what is going on. Our depths are sensing it, but can't seem to make it's way to our shallow, easily heard sphere.
There is a level of God known easily by man, revealed to us in a plain way. But there is so much more to Him than just what is seen at a glance or felt in a moment. There are depths and mysteries, and secrets that we can't even fathom to be real. And sometimes I can feel Him speaking and stirring in me. And I get so frustrated b/c I can't seem to tap into it fully. Can't seem to get that clarity on it that I so desperately want and need. I feel my "depths" churning within me. And when I feel that churning,that movement from deep within, it would be in my best interest to quiet all aound me so that I can hear what this voice of the Deep is saying to me. Because I believe that He is speaking, always speaking. It is just a matter of whether we are listening or not. And He has this way of pulling things from our depths that we didn't even know were there. Feelings, thoughts, longings. And He draws those out of us because, left on our own, we would bury them deep within never to see the light the day again.
I know there is more to this verse. I can sense it, feel it.
May I quiet myself, my chaos to hear what You are saying. And may I learn to not stop until You are done.