{re}fresh

Tag: worship

A Promise: as good as the Promise Maker

by kerriebutterfield

pinky-promise-by-kennysarmy_flickr-com_5723186334_d6d7728e0c_CC BY-ND 2.0

pinky-promise-by-kennysarmy_flickr-com_5723186334_d6d7728e0c_CC BY-ND 2.0

I had a spiritual breakdown eight years ago. Riddled with disappointment and anger with God for not doing what He promised,  I became  weary of waiting for God’s goodness. I couldn’t pray, or if I did, my prayers were filled with bitterness, sadness, and despair.

In the midst of teaching  others that God spoke, healed and saved, we witnessed our friends die of cancer and we struggled financially. I was  doing the “right stuff’ but things weren’t  working out “right”. It wasn’t until after a traumatic event that  I realized all this and I found myself losing hope.

A few weeks later, home alone with my miserable self, I  heard Papa God say to me, “A promise is  as good as the person who makes it. You believe I am good for others, but you don’t believe I am good for you. I want to give you unshakeable faith in my goodness. I am going to astound you with my goodness so that you truly know that I am good.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Buy the Book. Eat the cookie. Buy the shoes.

by juste buzas

Image by David Lifson
Flickr.com_3418813640_db17f6213e
CC BY-ND 2.0

I was browsing through the cookbook section at my local library’s used book sale when a title caught my eye.  A cookie book.

I pulled it from the shelf.  Instead of a baking book however, it was Joyce Meyer’s book, Eat the Cookie…Buy the Shoes.  I smiled at the misplacement of the book, thinking that a more fitting title for the book’s misfiling could be “Bake the Cookie…Eat it…then, Buy the Shoes.”  I chuckled and turned to find the book’s proper section.

Mid-turn, the Lord spoke to me.  He said, “This isn’t an accident.  Buy the book.” Read the rest of this entry »

What To Do in the Face of Tragedy

by Mike McKinniss

 

Forgive me, but I’ve been thinking about tragedy lately.

In the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 10, a torrential rainstorm dumped several inches of precipitation onto Santa Barbara, CA, in a matter of minutes. Normally, such a violent shower would have done little more than force the shedding of some old palm fronds from their trunks. But this storm came immediately on the heels of California’s largest recorded wildfire, which burned a vast area nearby, including the hills just above the tiny town of Montecito. Denuded of the vegetation upslope, the massive amount of rain in so short a time triggered powerful mudslides, which bulldozed through portions of the village.

Dozens of homes and places of business were destroyed in a moment. At writing, 21 people are counted among the dead and two remain missing in the aftermath.

The torrent of rain and the flash flood is only the beginning of the anguish for people in this seaside community, for a similar torrent of fearful and desperate questions follow. These will likely linger for a long time—probably long after the clean up and reconstruction is completed.

Where was God when this violent storm struck this peaceful community? Where is God now that the event has wreaked its havoc? How could God have allowed such destruction? Could God have not stopped such a tragedy? And what do we do now?

Read the rest of this entry »

Shooting Stars

by juste buzas

Image by Sergiu Bacloiu flickr.com_8282853841_4370aa05a8_CC BY-ND 2.0

Image by Sergiu Bacloiu
flickr.com_8282853841_4370aa05a8_CC BY-ND 2.0

There is no speech nor spoken word [from the stars]; their voice is not heard.  Yet their voice [in evidence] goes out through all the earth, their sayings to the end of the world. Psalm 19:3,4a (AMP)

I’ve always been mesmerized by God’s creation – from the enormity of the night sky to the quietness of the butterflies fluttering from flower to flower in my grandmother’s garden.  Even when I was young, I noticed everything.  Every detail and intricacy of God’s creation.  I felt close to God – I knew Him – as I climbed trees, danced barefoot in the grass or skipped rocks along the glassy surface of the river on my uncle’s farm.

One summer night I was outside alone, watching the night sky.  It was a remarkably clear night.  I stood on the back porch, looking up into the wide Missouri sky and talked to God.  Out of nowhere, a bright streak of light blazed across the horizon and disappeared; a shooting star!  Never seeing one before then, I stood there dumbfounded, speechless, over come with awe.  Love swelled up within me, and I was filled with solemn wonder at the vastness and nearness of God.  I realized, in that moment, that the God who was, and is, and always will be was real. Very real.  I began to praise Him. Read the rest of this entry »

Island Time

by Rob Dunne

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I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope. Psalm 130:5.

In 2004, I went on my first mission’s trip. Five young adults and I went to the beautiful island of Jamaica to conduct a vacation bible school. Weeks of planning went into the trip. Each moment of the day was meticulously planned out. Our team arrived at the church and quickly finished preparations. As the 10 o’clock hour came and went, we were all dejected by how few children showed up. Did they neglect to advertise the event?

We quickly learned about the concept of ‘island time’. In a nutshell, Jamaicans have two speeds – slow and slower! In the fast-paced world of New England, we expect everything yesterday. We lack patience or tolerance for things that take longer than a few seconds.

Admittedly, it took us all a few days to adjust to this slower pace of life. Personally, it took even longer to appreciate why they live the way that they do. First, it is hot. If you do things too quickly or exert unnecessary energy, you won’t last the day. Second, they are simply more laid back than us.

As a litigation attorney, I am in a profession that requires me to rise early and work late. By the time I get home and eat supper, my mind and body are drained. Making time to be with Jesus can be difficult. Therefore, I find myself getting creative. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m His daughter, not His worker

by kerriebutterfield

I Have a Dream by Elvert Barnes Flickr.com_31921789_53cdaa2154_z.jpg_CC BY ND 2.0

I Have a Dream by Elvert Barnes
Flickr.com_31921789_53cdaa2154_z.jpg_CC BY ND 2.0

We had been living in Australia for 6 months when we visited a lawyer to facilitate buying a house. When we arrived, it was slightly unusual for us, because it wasn’t an “office”. We drove up a long, windy driveway to home perched in beautiful wine country. We knocked on the front door and for the next hour got a tour of a beautiful and amazing working ranch that also functioned as a lawyer’s office. He invited us to sit and have a “cuppa” with him and as he did I could feel my anxiety growing as I was distracted by how much time this was taking. All we needed was to sign 3 documents, but this was taking forever.
As I sat, mentally hurrying him along, the Holy Spirit said to me, “What’s your rush? You need to shift gears and slow down because you are missing out on my agenda.” In that moment, I realized He was talking about this specific situation, but He was also talking about the way I was operating daily. I had become so task oriented that I was missing out on His agenda to love people because I was focused on my “to do” list, not His “to love” or “to enjoy” list. Read the rest of this entry »

More Than Hearing: Soul Life

by Dawn Aldrich

LivingWater

Blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees planted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers… Jeremiah 17:7-8a The Message

One by one, cool mornings gather – sneak between our flip-flopped days. Summer scorched edges line the garden beds and pile beneath the trees. Back-to-school bargains fill our closets and drawers. We trade loose cottons for warm wools and bare toes for socked feet.

I think of all those lazy, carefree summer days gone by as autumn rushes in, clutters the ground and my calendar. Busyness pushes her way into every day, overrunning God’s presence – threatening soul death.

God describes self sufficient, busy people as tumbleweeds in the desert – roaming aimlessly with no roots. But…

God restores soul-life

Those who trust in Him – stick with Him – they are like trees replanted in Eden (paradise), rooted near rivers – “Never a worry through the hottest summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season”(Jeremiah 17:8b)

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be a strong tree, rooted in paradise, planted near living water, serene and calm, bearing much fruit than an aimless, tumbling tumbleweed in the hottest desert.

How?

Ø  God replants us in paradise. Sin uproots our relationship with God, like in the Garden of Eden. But Jesus came to restore that relationship through his death and resurrection. Romans 10: 9 say, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Ø  God supplies us with living water. Like trees, our souls need living water to flourish. Throughout scripture, God refers to himself as the spring of living water. If we stay rooted in Him by reading His Word, (the Bible) and learn to abide in Him – listen, pray, worship, we cannot help but thrive, flourish and bear fruit. God is our source of life.

Ø  God requires we rest and worship. Even God rested. At the end of creation, he looked around at all his work and said, “It is good” and then, he rested. He saw how good rest was and He required it of us: “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (Exodus 20:8). It was still important to God in Jeremiah’s time:

“‘This is God’s Message. Be careful, if you care about your lives, not to desecrate the      Sabbath by turning it into just another workday, lugging stuff here and there. Don’t use the Sabbath to do business as usual. Keep the Sabbath day holy, as I commanded your ancestors’ ” (Jeremiah 17: 21-22).

In our fast-paced, cluttered, 24:7:365 worlds, let’s be mindful to keep our souls rooted near the spring of living water where soul-life flourishes in perfect rhythm between work, worship, and rest.

Prayer:

Father God, make us mindful of you throughout our busy lives. Tug at our hearts to slow down when we’re entangled in the demands of the day. Help us to carve our time alone with you so that you might fill us with soul-life that comes only through the infilling of your precious Holy Spirit. 

How Does One Get Ready for the God of the Universe?

by Mike McKinniss

"Quiet and Calm" by nate2b used under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Quiet and Calm” by nate2b used under license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him (Psalm 37:7a).

I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been advised, as part of a congregation, “to prepare my heart for worship.” In most instances, this came to mean something like, “Everybody quiet for, like, 15 seconds, at least. This is church and its supposed to be serious business, you know.”

We would all dutifully bow our heads and observe a moment of silence, not unlike we used to do in grade school after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, a moment designed, I suspected, to give the teacher a moment of peace. Then, because you can’t lead with a downer, the worship band would rip into a full-blast up-tempo chorus to get us all moving and shaking in the Spirit.

The juxtaposition was jarring, and I began to wonder what this “preparation” was all about. Or, at least, I wanted to be able to prepare rightly. What did it mean to come to worship? And how does one get ready for that?

I decided to take on for myself a little experiment. Barring a catastrophe, I made every effort to get into the church sanctuary five to ten minutes before the service started. Often enough, this meant eschewing pre-church conversations with good friends and finding my seat quickly upon arrival. Once seated, with the hum of people still exiting the early service (to arrive early to the first service would have been too much), with the buzz of others still coming in, with the purposeful commotion of musicians up front getting their gear situated, I would quiet myself.

My goal was to focus on one thing. I had come to church that morning not for great sounding worship, nor for a positive and inspiring message, though I liked both of those things. I was not there to see friends, though we would likely go to lunch afterward and enjoy one another’s company. I was there, rather, to meet with the living God, who raised Jesus from the grave and promises to do the same for me, as a son in his family. I was there to encounter the Lord of creation, who is making all things new. I was there to be with Jesus, who is actively working to put all God’s enemies under his feet, even and especially death.

I found I needed this preparation. Why? Because it was so easy to sing along with everyone else, and think about whether the guitar is out of tune, or I am. Because it was so easy to listen to another sermon, critiquing the style and delivery, or, frequently, to not listen at all. Because there are literally hundreds of other people around me who have interesting faces and clothes and hair. Because it is too easy to come to church and miss the thing I need most there.

So I would prepare by asking the Lord to send his Spirit into the room. I would invite God to come to church and do whatever he wanted to do. And I would say to him, “Please, God, don’t let me miss it.”

Invariably, I discovered I was indeed prepared. I knew why I was there in the sanctuary with hundreds of other worshippers. I was confident and expectant that the Lord had heard my prayers and that he would show himself that morning.

And then, most times, having been duly prepared, God would go and do something completely unexpected and surprise us all.

The Shoe Rule

by Dawn Aldrich

shoes

“Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5

We never made taking our shoes off before we entered our house a hardened rule. Maybe because my parents never enforced a shoe rule on me when I was growing up. But I do remember the households that did have a shoe rule.

Grammy had a shoe rule even though Grampy overlooked it all the time. She had rules for just about everything and it showed. Her furniture was covered in plastic, her rugs had plastic runners, her lampshades were even covered in plastic. With all that plastic, I’m not sure she really needed the shoe rule. A good broom or vacuum should have been sufficient. Maybe Grampy thought so, too.

My aunt’s house had a shoe rule. We were greeted with “Hi there. Take your shoes off and c’mon in.” Her house was more inviting since I could actually feel the carpet underneath my feet and the fabric of her couches on my legs.

Most Eastern countries hold fast to a shoe rule, like Japan, Korea, Turkey. Even Sweden adopted the shoe rule. In these countries, besides the practical mean of keeping the house clean of dirt, bacteria, and toxins, it has become a gesture of respect and politeness to discard your shoes before entering the home.

I guess I understand the need for a shoe rule. It does keep the floors and furniture cleaner and even softens your steps inside the house. Myself, I prefer to go barefoot inside, especially in the warmer months, or to wear slippers in the colder months. But, I don’t enforce a shoe rule on anyone who enters my home if it makes them feel uncomfortable (unless they’re tracking in heavy dirt or snow). I mean, what if they have holey socks or smelly feet? What if they don’t want to bare their tootsies? I let them be.

God had a shoe rule. When Moses walked up to the burning bush in Exodus 3, God ordered him to take off his sandals for the ground where he was standing was holy ground. It held the presence of Almighty God, the great I Am. By taking off his shoes, Moses signified his reverence, respect, and submission to God. It was a solemn pause and preparation before coming into God’s presence. It wasn’t man’s law. It wasn’t a matter of keeping God’s house clean. Rather, he recognized who God was and acknowledged Him as the Almighty.

Today, shoes are an expression of who we are. The can be sensual, exotic, practical, or comfortable. In short, they reflect our mood, our wealth, and our place in society. To God, none of that matters. He doesn’t care if our shoes are of the finest, imported leather or the crudest, man-made plastic. He just wants us…plain…simple…bare. He wants us to come into his presence unencumbered, unadorned, without distinction.

I Am is calling your name. Go to Him. Kick off your shoes. You’re standing on holy ground.

Letting Go: a Hard Sacrifice

by Dawn Aldrich

lettinggoIn the silence I willed my aching feet up the step ladder one more time. My weary heart sank as I dunked the paint brush deep into the sunny yellow paint. One more step. One more stroke. Just. one. more.

Twenty-five years prior and five months pregnant with my daughter, I jumped up the rungs of that ladder feeling ten pounds lighter than today. You see, then I was painting God’s gift to us–the house I longed for…prayed for…every time I strolled by. It was the perfect gift where my husband and I raised our two children, entertained friends and ministered hope. It was a true desire of my heart that God wrapped up with a shiny red bow long ago.

And now? Now, God has asked me to let it go, to change course, to release it all.

With every coat of paint I rolled over sweet memories hidden inside my heart. The weight of all the sacrifice ahead grew heavier with every stroke. How could I release this perfect gift? How could I let it go and allow strangers in? Would they know how precious this house has been or would they just consider it a place to hang their hat?

But then God whispered, “I have bigger plans. There’s something more. There’s something new. Let. It. Go.”

You see, I’d been white-knuckling this house –wrapping my fists around it and hanging on with all my might as though without it I’d lose my true identity; like it was my source of blessing rather than the blessing.

So God reminded me that He was my source–is my source–and this house was but a very good gift. Now He is asking me to let it go; to sacrifice something very good for something even better.

In the midst of hard sacrifices, God calls us to worship; to refocus our attention off of ourselves and onto His goodness; to offer up our thanksgiving for His faithfulness in our past and thanksgiving for all His promises for our future.

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

So, right there on that ladder, I transferred my focus from myself to God’s goodness and worshiped God with every roll of the paint, thanking Him for the life lived between these walls and the family He helped us raise. And then? My attitude changed. I realized God wasn’t asking me to give up something very good for something even less, but rather to release the hold this home has had on my heart and to prepare for change.  Something better. Something lovely and freeing and full of His hope. Because that’s how God rolls.

The paint dried and every surface reflected the Son just right. We staged the rooms in picture-perfect-excellence and manicured every corner of the yard. It was time to release the gift and let strangers in.

Have you ever been asked to make a hard sacrifice? If so, was it easy to release that something? How did God use that sacrifice for His glory?

Precious Lord, thank you for the blessings. Thank you for the years of family memories and your faithfulness in providing all our needs every single day. Now we release these treasures back to you. We freely offer your gifts as a sacrifice of praise to use as you see fit. Prepare our hearts for the next chapter, the next adventure, the next new thing. Help our eyes to stay fixed on you.  Amen.

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