Monday, May 18, 2015

Forget God's Will for Your Life

Great... Another big decision. What should I do? How do I know what God's Will is for my life? Should I move? Take this new job? Parent this way or that way?

Like me, I'm sure you have asked these questions. I used to get so stressed about making the wrong choice and being outside of God's Will. However, during my current study, the Holy Spirit is teaching me that this way of thinking simply isn't true.

I think a lot of us need to forget about God's Will for our life. God cares more about our responses to His Spirit's leading today, in the moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today's decisions.  It's easy to use the phrase "God's will for my life" as an excuse for inaction or even disobedience. It's much less demanding to think about God's will for your future than it is to ask Him what He wants you to do in the next 10 minutes.  (Francis Chan, Forgotten God)

This study has revealed so much clarity on how the Holy Spirit guides me in everyday decisions that I felt compelled to share it with you. The big decisions in life don't scare me anymore because it's not about the big decisions at all! It's about being faithful in the little daily decisions that are preparing me for the future.

The Holy Spirit preaches to me everyday as I seek his counsel through scripture. As a guide, here are 4 ways I use to make sure I'm continually walking in God's will.  They are found in 1 Thessalonians, chapters 4 and 5.
  1. Am I sanctified? Being sanctified means to be set apart. So in a sense, do I look different than the world? Am I more patient? Self-controlled? More loving? 
  2. Am I smiling?  Can people tell that the joy of the Lord is my strength even when circumstances are tough. 
  3. Am I praying? Praying expectantly and waiting for Him to answer brings joy to the heart of the Father. He loves us and wants to give us good gifts. Talking with him daily will bring peace to any situation and give you confidence to believe His promises.  
  4. Am I thankful? Do I give thanks in all circumstances? When times are tough, do I thank Him for building perseverance and adding wisdom in my life? Gratitude is the defining characteristic of being a Christ-follower. It all started with the cross and that thankfulness should carry throughout every aspect of our lives! 

As you continue your walk with the Lord, forget about asking the question "is this God's will for my life" and embrace His will for your day. Then you will know that whatever you do will succeed and bring Him glory. 

Until the whole world hears, 
Emily



Thursday, April 16, 2015

Stuck











There is no worse feeling, than that of being "stuck."  It feels like your world comes to a complete halt, and out of the mundane you start to feel yourself spinning in a directionless circle. It's like you're running as fast as you can, but not getting anywhere because of this huge gust of wind that pushes against your efforts. It's exhausting!  You find yourself living joyless, maybe burnt-out, and also a little hopeless. 
 
 I know...I've been there...
 
So,  what's the secret of becoming "un-stuck?" While there is no secret formula,  I think it first comes with realizing that we were not created to live mediocre, boring or dare I say, "safe" lives.   If we are created in the image and likeness of God, how can our lives be boring?!  God tells us in His Word; "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9  Not everyday, with every breath, will be exciting or adventurous. There will be mundane days; this simply means we won't allow the dry seasons to dictate our attitudes and/or our thoughts.   Second, I've learned that I needed to tell somebody what was going on in my heart.  After I confess to God what's going on, I told my husband; because I know my husband truly knows how to pray for me better than anyone else! James 5:16 "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for one another so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
I highly recommend, that you get a champion for Christ in your corner, don't just tell anyone! Tell someone who knows the Word and will speak it over you!

Third, and probably the most important point I'll make;  You find your JOY and PURPOSE in serving alongside others!  There was a long period of time where I went through my "Stuck" season.  I felt that I was barely getting through the day. I was so caught up in my own chaos, that I tasted the bitter tears of lost opportunities; A teachable moment with my children, a coffee date with a girlfriend who was struggling, a listening ear for my husband, or someone who just needed a helping hand. I had to realize if there was a need that I could meet, I should obey and do so joyfully.  Galatians 6:10 "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers."
 

If I'm being honest, this wasn't always easy to do. Sure, there were days where I was just too tired or would rationalize why I couldn't.  But when I did, I had some of the most joyous, rewarding and purpose-filled moments I knew I would've missed, had I not stepped out of my comfort zone. This has also lead me to some amazing new adventures! I challenge you today, to step out in faith and see what God can and will do in and  through you!

Where are you at on this journey? how can I pray for you?

Yours in the Journey,
Shannon :)






Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Naked Truth




What can we learn from the Song of Solomon?




1.       Men are body focused and women are relationship focused. Women have a desire to be chased, cared for and loved. While, men are attracted to our look and want us. Our bodies don't have to be a perfect 10 in order for this to happen because God has created us to connect on all the levels of intimacy (spiritual and emotional), not just the physical.  It's interesting that God created men and women so differently in regards to sex. As with everything God does, it's purposeful. The purpose is for us to focus on how to meet the needs of the other person. For women to get our deepest relational needs met, we need to focus on our husband's need for sex. For men to get their deepest needs for sex met, they need to focus on our need for relationship!

2.     Sex starts in our heads. We get distracted easily. As queens of multi-tasking, the bedroom isn't the place for this. We actually need to try hard to stay focused. We see this demonstrated in the Song of Solomon when she keeps focused by talking about him, his body, his work, his reputation, and reflecting our their dating days because for her, it was now she kept her head in the game!

3.      Invite God into your bedroom. Pray and read scripture as part of the experience. (On a side note, I've tried this and it hasn't failed me yet!) Making love is a journey toward intimacy. It's learning together, laughing about the mistakes and awkwardness and enjoying the uniqueness that you've created together. Remember that God created marriage to express his love through a human relationship. Love, to be expressed through bringing total union of the physical, emotional, and spiritual. 

Until the whole world hears, 
Emily




Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Practicing Real Love






The beautiful d├ęcor!
 



This past Saturday, over 100 women gathered together at our church for the  annual GEM Conference.  This year's speaker was Bianca Olthoff and our special music guest was Moriah Peters.  This year's theme was entitled "Authentic."
 
"Authentic" was the vision from a group of courageous, and bold women who felt an overwhelming response from last year's conference, that there was a desperate need for authenticity. As a team, we each committed to memorizing (I challenge you to do the same!) 1 Chron. 29:17 which says: "I know, dear God, that you care nothing for the surface, you want us, our true selves, and so I have given from the heart, honestly and happily." This verse became our hearts, it became the backbone for this year's conference theme, and then we became INSPIRED!
 
fun group selfie!
 
The truth is sisters, we all crave authenticity in our relationships.  There is something in our spiritual DNA that has a longing to be real with ourselves and others. We also want to know that we're not alone in our struggles! But know this, your story matters! Bianca shared with us, that when we are free, we have the obligation to free others. The way we free others, is to share our stories! The very cool thing about this, is scripture encourages us to do so! Here is one verse my dear friend, Kris, Shared with our team; that stuck out most to me:
1 John 3:18-20: "My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality.  It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it."
 
(L. to R.) Kris, Bianca, and Tiffany
I LOVE THIS!!  How many of us have dealt with the evil, debilitating self-criticism? The antidote is found in practicing REAL love; or  AUTHENTIC love! Ladies, I encourage you to practice the authentic love, share your story and see before your eyes, how God uses that to free others....and yourself!
 
Yours in the journey,
Shannon :)
 

girlfriend selfie!
Moriah Peters rockin' out!
 
 










 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Authentic Faith Leads to GEM

The definition of faith is clear. It's confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. More than that though, it's our identity. Our is faith is who we are. Everyone puts their faith in something and it's that faith in something that defines you. Of all things, I could put my faith in, I'm glad it's in the One who is always faithful. 

I've been studying the book of Hebrews, which is one faith-filled book! As the Lord's Word always does, it got me thinking about the strength of my faith. Some have called chapter 11, the "hall of fame" of the Bible. Rightly so, I guess, but I would venture to call it the "hall of God's faithfulness". It's the story of what God did through normal people, like you and me. I often wonder if my name would be among those listed in this famous chapter. Not so that I would receive glory, rather that my life would be a life lived in surrendering obedience to God. As I read the names, I am captured by their legacy.  They are not remembered for their mistakes or misjudgments, but by their actions toward the one in whom their identity comes from. 

When we know who we are and where we come from, we behave differently. There is a new found purpose and passion. It's the hope that sets us apart. And because we are confident about who our Creator is; we can approach his throne boldly! When our faith in God becomes who are we, there is no longer a separation of identities. You can't be one way here and another way there. You're all in! That's what pleases God. Without faith it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6) Additionally, faith without action is dead. (James 2:17)

Having authentic faith isn't about having it all together, quite the opposite in fact! It's about letting others see God's faithfulness in our imperfections. He chooses you time and time again to work out His Will. That's why our lives are a testimony to his greatness. We need each other because our faith is built stronger when we see other people's actions of faith. That's why chapter 11 exists, to strengthen our faith with the legacy of others. As our faith grows, our identity grows and our confidence grows. As our confidence grows, our actions become more pleasing to God! That's a cycle I want to be a part of! Come with me! 

Finally, let me encourage you to attend the GEM Conference at First Assembly on March 21st. GEM stands for God Enriching Moments and it will deliver one of those, for this I am sure. As you continue to walk in faith, discovering your true identity, I pray that you would savor the God Enriching Moments in your life. And as you do, your faith with grow!

Until the whole world hears, 
Emily