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Tag: break through

Immanuel, God With us: How “With” is “With?”

by Wendy

Seal Your Mouths  by Brook Rosemary flickr.com/photos/indigotimbre/46141712

Seal Your Mouths
by Brook Rosemary
flickr.com/photos/indigotimbre/46141712

The dentist’s chair was the last place I wanted to be. A piddling annoyance for many, the dentist represented far more trauma for me. Vivid pictures swirled in my mind of childhood cavity-fillings without anesthesia, and the more recent “time-I-almost-died-in-the-hospital”: a near-fatal bacterial infection had invaded my system after a broken tooth and a six-month cleaning.

Four years later, I was still terrified.

I cringed in the chair and tried, hard, to imagine Jesus near me. Anywhere near me. Even in the same building. In that moment, no amount of “with” seemed enough, and nothing convinced me – not Scripture, not worship songs, not frantic prayer, nor even hand-holding by a concerned dental technician.

Immanuel, God “with” us, just didn’t cut it, and I sputtered in exasperation.   Exactly how “WITH” was “with?”

The drill whined, and I clenched my jaw, my fingers, and my toes. Eyes wide, my mind went into overdrive, forcing facts into the front of my brain.

“OK Jesus, where are you?” I forced a deep breath, and tried imagining somewhere Jesus might be. Not just a distant force, I reminded myself, but someONE right here in the room. Someone strong and protecting.

What if Jesus was really THERE, in the room, at the end of the long chair…

…wiggling my almost-numb toes.

What? The surprising image popped into my brain. He was wiggling my toes loosening my tension, changing my view and jostling me out of my terror. I giggled silently as the picture gradually emerged and I realized how stiff I was. I flexed my hands, my fingers, my ankles. In my mental picture, Jesus smiled as I wiggled each limb, reassuring me that this was no dangerous visit. I would not die, the pain would not defeat me, and the fear could leave.

Somehow, I couldn’t be scared and grateful at the same time. (That much is objectively true: anxiety and fear both emanate from the same part of the brain, I’m told). I breathed, and stopped chomping vice-like on my physician’s hands.

Christmas was long-gone, but Immanuel was apparently still very much “with.” He didn’t come to leave us alone, but to stay amid our darkness, our fears and instabilities, our joys and blessings, and our anger and pain. He is huggingly close, holding our hands and our hearts and overcoming all manner of evil.

Immanuel, God WITH us. It’s not just for Christmas any more.

In the Moment

by Wendy

liveinthemoment

 
 
“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
Luke 12:11, NIV

 Our maestro dispensed with pleasantries and quickly launched into deep waters. We sat on the edge of our seats waiting for downbeats and singing. Instead, we got profundity. “We really want to have that magic happen in performance,” he said too casually. “Too often we get there in rehearsal and then ‘mail it in’ for performance. Let’s try to stay in the moment so we can achieve that magic in performance.” Uh huh. Or something like that; I only half-heard his comments.

Singing… I was waiting for the singing.

We sailed delightfully through his signature composition, giddy when we finally heard the whole choir together for the first time. Eagerly we dashed into the second piece, expecting the same. Instead the conductor hop-scotched through measures and phrases, endings, beginnings, verses. Where was our start-to-finish?   Confused, I waited for another chance to hear the whole.

It never happened. How unsatisfying.

Taking a deep breath, I chose to trust our composer-conductor’s wisdom, but it wasn’t until after the concert that my pondering revealed the underlying pervasive challenge. It resonated then and still reverberates now as I hear from Jesus, as I speak and train, and even as I write.

How do I NOT peak too early? The first thoughts are brilliant, but the repetitions? Not so much.

How do I communicate the right words at the right time, until we all arrive at that perfect moment of understanding—that place of revelation and “aha!”—together?

I tussled with that same question once more this spring, just before I spoke at a conference. I wanted to make all my points and craft the impact “just so,” but after hours of trying, I couldn’t nail it down. Frustrated, I slapped my pen down on the table and ranted at God. “What?!” I demanded. “What is it? WHY can’t I get this down on paper?”

“In the moment,” God replied. I was instantly transported back to the concert and the maestro. Perhaps his helter-skelter approach to the rehearsals was not so random after all. He pressed the point, never allowing us the security of a concert program. Instead we had to wait and listen until he announced each piece. And here I was, waiting for my Conductor God to tell me the order of the program. And. He. Wouldn’t.

“Gah!!!” I spurted, exhaling as my shoulders sank. “You mean I have to face that group with no idea what I will say? No script? No outline? Nothing??” His silence confirmed what I suspected. Staying in the moment meant knowing my subject (or my music) and creating from what the Creator showed me. He knew where I was going and I had to trust He could get me there. It was definitely NOT the answer I wanted, but it was all He offered.

Plans in hand, would I trust Conductor God to direct my words?

“In the moment,” God said again. “The ‘magic’ will happen when you don’t anticipate, but stay in the moment.” Like the electric choir performance with a confident conductor, this conference talk would only work if I knew my topic, waited for my cues, and followed the Master.

Closing my notebook, I took a deep breath and stood in front of the audience, confident that I was, for once, truly “in the moment,” and He would not disappoint.

To learn more about Wendy, please visit our Contributor’s Page.

Breathing Lesson

by mandyade

Worship

A time is coming and now has come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. John 4:23

People respond to love. We are created for this purpose- to worship as a response to unimaginable love.

As believers, we are a new breed of people; true worshipers, as  Jesus calls us. He said that the time has come for this new breed to worship and know God in the way we were created.

There are times when we may struggle to worship; pain, disappointment and other distractions may block our gaze from seeing God who is good. If we don’t see that God is good we will not be able to worship Him in truth. We will attempt to worship Him for other reasons–to appease Him and earn His pleasure or to appease our own conscience.

But true worship is a response. It is never self-generated. He first loved us long ago, while we were in our worst state. And He first loves us now and everyday- even in our struggles. His love for us doesn’t change. He is always the initiator of goodness- not us. Our worship is always a response to Him. If our hearts can’t grasp His love we are unable respond in worship.

True worshipers are those who see what God has done and put it before their eyes. When our hearts see His love, worship becomes like breathing. We breathe in His love and goodness and we exhale our worship. We cannot live without this breath.

There are times when we may struggle to worship. These times affect every part of our lives since we are not breathing properly. We struggle to worship when we forget to look at His goodness. Even in the darkest night we can worship as a response to His goodness, since He is always good and no darkness can quench Him.

“Even in death the righteous have a refuge.” God is still good even when the enemy presses in hard.” (Prov 14: 32b)

To help you thrive in worship:

1. Give gratitude space in your heart. God continues to be good to you & others even when the enemy tries to disfigure life. Turn your eyes toward His goodness and do as the old hymn says- ‘count our blessings name them one by one’. When gratitude comes- worship will well up as a response to God. List His kindnesses toward you until you feel worship come…

2. Breathe in His love- Exhale your worship- Repeat. God loves you now and is good to you today. He always loves first- even when we are too weak. You don’t have to love Him first- all He asks from you is your response to His love.

To learn more about Mandy, please visit our Contributor’s Page.

 

 

Love is Always Worth the Fight

by Dawn Aldrich

I ran across this story told by Christina Norton on Facebook a few weeks ago. Since it portrayed breakthrough so beautifully, I asked her to share it with us. May you be inspired and challenged to love hard. 

lovehard

We decided to up our exercise game.

Day one. Luke sat out.

Day two. Caleb raced me to the TV. Couldn’t wait to start. Awesome. My six-year old, Luke, planted his pouty self on the couch and picked up a video game. He sometimes struggles with anxiety and for some reason he was afraid to try this new thing. Fear gripped him… hard…bringing tears to his eyes and a quiver to his chin.

After thirty seconds of inward deliberation I gently, but firmly, told Luke to stand up and come to me. He did, tears spilling over, quiver becoming a whimper. I bent down and eye-to-eye told him this is part of school and I expected him to participate. No participation, no video games. His little hands covered his face as a sob escaped his throat.

I stood behind him, my arms wrapped around his, my hands gently grasping his wrists, as together we shuffled to the left, raised our hands, then shuffled to right, over and over again. We punched it out, Luke crying and jabbing the air, picturing my face in front of his, I imagine. Front kicks and back kicks and football sprints and bicycle spins and Luke sobbing, “But I’m the littlest one in the family! I want to stop!”

Heart squeezed and ripping, with great love, I told Luke he was doing amazing; that he COULD do this; that he had nothing to fear; that he is an overcomer, a winner, a champion, a warrior. He said he wanted to sleep. I said no. I pushed him harder, I loved him harder, I fought for him harder.

And you know what happened?

The tears stopped. He started to smile. A giggle bubbled up from where a sob had once been. He gleefully began jumping around. I stepped back, watching the transformation. I teared, I smiled. I inwardly cheered my heart out.

We have a choice: Will we break or will we break through?

Love doesn’t enable. Love doesn’t take the easy way out. Love doesn’t cater to fear. Love doesn’t quit. Love is patient and kind, yes, and gentle. But love is also strong and bold. Courageous. Fearless. Powerful. Transforming. The easy way out is no way out. It’s a way into bondage. Love does not go quietly into that dark night. Love rages, rages against the dying of the light.

Love is always worth the fight.

JohnChristinaNorton2

John & Christina Norton, Hope Immanuel Mission (HIM)

Christina and her husband, John are founders of  Hope Immanuel Mission (HIM), an inner city outreach aiming to provide food, clothing, and eventually shelter for the needy. It is their goal to bring the Kingdom of God to the streets. Most importantly, they aim to share the love of God with all those they meet–by meeting and loving others right where they are. John & Christina have hope because God is with us! Their mission is to share this hope with others.

To help support their family and ministry, they sell Mission Coffee. (“We always knew coffee would help save the world!” they say.) They offer the following roasts: Boldness, Fearless, Victory, and Freedom. Each bag is $10 and can be purchased by contacting theym by phone (860-463-1050), email (norton227@yahoo.com), or Facebook (www.facebook.com/johnandchristina.norton). Their website will be up and running soon, and at that time purchases can be made online as well (www.missioncoffee.net).

by Rob Dunne

father_son_hugging

“The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7 As we took our seats in the newly built Sanctuary, hundreds of voices had already joined in near perfect unison to worship the God of […]

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