Monthly Archives: March 2010

fire.

NO ONE WILL PUT OUT THE FIRE.

“Tell the forest of the south, ‘listen to the message of God, the Master, says, I’ll set a fire in you that will burn up every tree, dead trees and live trees alike. nobody will out the fire. the whole country from south to north will be blackened by it. Everyone is going to see that I, God, started the fire and that it’s not going to be put out.'” Ezekiel 20:45-47

A friend spoke this verse over me yesterday and it resonated with so many different thoughts. She interpreted the “fire” to be the Holy Spirit and when you read it like that, these words have some serious power. Along with the verse she gave me some more words…

“I immediately saw the fire as a representation of God’s spirit and anointing. Notice, again, the image of trees. Dead and alive. And God’s holy fire burning them up. The holy fire is in You. He has started something awesome in You, and NO ONE will put out the fire. Everyone in your life will be touched by the flame, and it is evidence of God’s community. I think this is an encouragement from the Holy Spirit about your identity. You are a child of the King. His power is burning in you, and regardless of what any person or power or demon or whatever says about you or to you, and despite the way you’ve been treated, you are no less of an heir to God’s Kingdom. The fire is real. Everything else will be burned up by the fire.”

The fire is real.

The fire is real.

What a beautiful picture of encouragement, friendship, community, strength. These words, when I read them for the first time, knocked me off my feet. Do you know what it is like to have people in your life who speak this stuff over you? It is one thing to hear God’s word in a sermon or read about it in a book, but it is an entirely different thing to be individually blessed by the word of God through a brother or sister. It sinks deep within you, it becomes a part of you, you are filled up with TRUTH and the lies disappear.

The fire is real.

exultation.

We were all galavanting, throwing our hands up high, parading in a single file line. Luminous whistles rang from our lips, cheers of bliss and songs of adoration rolled off our tongues. A picture of pure release. The boys were beating on drums, the girls were whistling flutes and dancing with ribbons. We had never experienced such joy.  Yes, yes, yes!

Suddenly we marched right up to a rickety, uneasy bridge crossing a mighty gorge. A spirit of darkness fell upon us. If we fell into the gorge while crossing it would be the end of the light. At such a heavy moment, we lifted our eyes to what waited for us on the other side and decided that we had no choice but to lay our lives down, risk everything we had. We had to cross that bridge to fully experience what was on the other side, the Kingdom of our Living God.

We all, at once, stormed the bridge, grasping each other’s hands, not looking back for a single moment. Just as we all hit the solid ground on the other side of the gorge the bridge gave way. Instantly we were overtaken with refined light. We all collapsed to our knees in complete awe and wonder at the presence of our Father.

It felt as though we were experiencing heaven right here on earth. Living in harmony with the one we love. Oh, how He loves us! Jubilation! Euphoria! Rapture! The freedom we had felt prior to crossing the bridge was infinitely multiplied, we couldn’t even stand in the presence of the Spirit. Tangible love encountered. We were never the same.

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (Romans 12:1-2, The Message)

camaraderie.

It is very common for my mind to come alive at night. The later the better. I have a very bad habit of letting it keep me up way too late, however, it always a time of such wonderful stillness that I can’t find elsewhere. Good is always produced by late night company with myself. It is like the peace of darkness, something about it gives me a very solitary energy. (Maybe because as a child, my mother instilled Psalm 4:8 into my mind?)

stillness.

stillness.

I have  had a great weekend. I traveled up north to Traverse City and Lake City with two wonderful friends, Deborah and Jordan. The weather was fantastic as well as the company. Getting away is always good to say the least. Seeing new, expansive land is always good for my mind. Laughing until my side hurt and trekking through the woods at sunset was pure delight.

sunset.

sunset.

My mind has been very active lately with thoughts on surrender, camaraderie, worldliness, community. I think I am extremely inspired by those around me. Deep thought is transmitting from my community here. It is so refreshing to have conversation about the things that I am passionate about and want to grow in; Kingdom centered dialogue. By having these conversations with the people around me I am able to process things with much more ease. It has been a blessing. I have finally found a truly great community of brothers and sisters.

winter woods.

winter woods.

I have come to the realization that I am never alone. Lately I have been very conscious of who I am surrounding myself with. I have felt a very strong sense and need for friendship and love, even physical comfort– hugs, smiles. For a while I had this fear of being alone… like I couldn’t stand the thought of just being with my own company. Not only have these needs been met by the love of friends around me but also by the peace of the Spirit. I look no further for company outside of myself. It is amazing to see that transformation and defeat of fear within myself. In Your presence all fear is gone. And that is where i want to constantly dwell.

peregrinate.

peregrinate.

“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.” (matthew 6:33)

*all photos by deborah panes.

friendship.

big smiles.

big smiles.

i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
ee cummings.

sunshine.

In light of the few days of beautiful sunshine here in Grand Rapids, this disconnect has been burning in my heart. I love what Rob Bell has to say here….

“Many people live in air conditioned houses and apartments.

We alter our air with electric machines.

We spend vast sums of money and energy to change our air. And we drive in air conditioned cars- the 8 percent of us in the world who have cars- to air conditioned schools and offices and stores with tile floors and fluorescent lights.

It’s even possible to go days without spending any significant time outside.

And it’s still considered living.

It’s easy to go for weeks and maybe even years without ever actually plunging your hands into soil. Into earth. Into dirt.

But this car- this is the one, the one with the space for my cooler and the kayak that I don’t own. This is the car that will change things.

Massive amounts of money are spent convincing us that this particular auto-mobile will give us access to the mountains, streams, and deserts that we are unable to access at this moment. And when we make that trip, in that car, the one from the commercial, we will be connected with the earth. With our home.

We see this disconnection in the relationship between our sleep patterns and the invention of electricity. Prior to the lightbulb, people generally went to bed when the sun went down and woke up when the sun came up. With the invention of electric light, sleep habits became less and less regulated by the rising and setting of the sun. As a result, people today get far fewer hours of sleep a night than people did a hundred or two hundred years ago. We even have third-shift jobs in which a person works through the night while it’s dark, and then sleeps through the day while it’s light. All of this affects our connection with nature. Where once the rhythm and flow of life were dictated by the rhythm and flow of the earth, we now live relatively independent of these forces.

We struggle in our connection with the earth, in our connections with each other, and with being connected with ourselves.

But it wasn’t always like this.

In the first chapter of Genesis, when God creates the first people, he blesses them. This is significant. God’s blessing is the peace of God resting on people. The story begins with humans in right relationship- in healthy, life-giving connection- with their maker. All of their other relationships flow from the health of this one central relationship- people and God. They’re connected with the earth, with each other. They’re naked and feel no shame.

And then everything goes south.

They choose another way.

And they become disconnected.

And this is where you and I come in. We were born into a world, in a condition, of disconnection. Things were created to be a certain way, and they’re not that way, and we feel it in every fiber of our being.” (Sex God-Rob Bell)

anniversary.

One year ago today was the very first day of lectures in New Zealand. These were my thoughts on March 2, 2009…

“I have never in my life felt such peace in a place. The time to be alone and with God is truly amazing. After the first day of lecture prep I have grown so excited for the journey ahead. I am so hungry but don’t feel the least bit rushed or anxious like usual. The girls here are so incredible. I get chills when I think of all the different stories of how people ended up here and yet we are all here at the root of the same reason. Jesus Christ. He really has something so huge in store for us all as a group and as individuals. I have never been so excited to pursue relationships with the people here. I am already learning so much and feeling God work in me. Amen. I am so thankful for this place.”

This has been a season of remembering and reflecting. I seriously can’t believe an entire year has passed since this moment. God is so faithful. So much change and growth happened over the course of the past year and I am so excited to see what is yet to come. Lately my mind has been trying to relive some of the memories that have shaped me. It is really cool to see what God is bringing up- and relating it to today. Yes.

I also feel the need to mention friendship. I am so blessed! I am completely blown away by the embrace of all of these wonderful people here in Grand Rapids. What an answer to prayer.

amigos.

How great is the goodness you have stored up for those who fear you. You lavish it on those who come to you for protection, blessing them before the watching world. (Psalm 31:19)