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Author Archives:

Sarah

Is He Savior or Victor?

At certain points throughout generations, some people will be drawn in close enough to realize Jesus as the Savior and agree with Him by grace through faith for their salvation from death to life. These people supernaturally understood sin’s grip that kept them bound to death and lifeless. A knowing of who they were without Him and a longing to be more because of Him crept in deep to their soul, leading them to the end of themselves and the beginning of Him. Faith ignited hope and hope delivered true Peace. Eh 2:14 “He Himself is our Peace.” They then came to know and believe the love He had for them by encountering the blood flow of His forgiveness that afforded them a right standing position with the Father like in the beginning garden walks. This is the beginning of “new life” for the believer because of His sacrifice.

This is beautiful but it is only just the beginning.

Jesus’s death slayed sin rendering it powerless, silenced the centurions making them speechless, split the skies darkening the clouds, and sent shockwaves gripping His followers throughout history for thousands of years. His death did all that so what did His life do?

The resurrection followed the crucifixion, may we never forget it! Life always has the last word.

His awakened life triumphed over death shutting the doors of the grave once and for all. His powerful life brought freedom for where He is there is indeed Liberty, my friends! His contagious life beckoned many to look upon Him as all-powerful, all-commanding, uncontrollable, and unstoppable. His victorious life was a statement as much as, if not more than, His death! His resurrected life screamed throughout the timeline of all people groups from then till now that Victory is not only possible but it is Promised!

Jesus is not just Savior, He is Victor! He may be your Savior in life and thank God He is, but have you appropriated Him as your Victor for life? Because of His death and His life, you can triumph over inner battles, lies of the taunting one, grumbles of mankind,  pressures of this strange world, storms of doubt, and “Goliaths” that attempt to demolish you entirely. You, yes you, can triumphantly face these fights, because He is your Victor!

The way of victory is to remember that you are not fighting FOR victory but FROM it! In Exodus 14, Almighty God invites us to stand still while we stop fighting so that we may see Him war on our behalf with complete victory. We are not victorious because we have the will power to fight the battles but because we have the wisdom to stand on the sidelines and enter Jesus on the field of our battles. He alone is Victor and longs to fight for you! II Chron 20:15 “This battle is not yours to fight but God’s.” Praise His Name! Oh He is more than Savior, He is Victor!

Jesus, would you not only take up residence in our inner man but reign victoriously Lord God over us! Take every temptation to abandon you or doubt you and remind us we are no longer slaves in captivity but sons of liberty! Center our affection on you as our Victory not just as our Savior. Grant us the wisdom to step off the battle field and let You be You, Warrior God. You are worthy of our complete surrender. Excited and expectant we live today knowing Your victory in and over all is the promised plan! Thank you for the reality of Victory not just salvation! images

“Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” II Cor. 2:14

The Golden Thread of God’s Goodness

By: Kalyn Hemphill

When Sarah asked me to tell my story, I could not help but think, which one? I could tell you unbelievable things about growing up with two brothers on the autism spectrum, or about the time a man I loved with all my heart literally shattered it to pieces. I could tell you of the miracles I have seen, embarrassing stories, (like having HPV-a.k.a. warts-on my face from an infected makeup brush,) or talk about my experience working for years in fashion and entertainment in New York and Los Angeles. My life has been a series of crazy stories and events all woven together by the golden thread of God’s goodness. He has proven to me time and time again that

“He works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose,” (Romans 8:28)

That His timing is perfect, and that He loves me more than I could ever begin to comprehend. Instead of sharing one specific story with you, I just want to remind you God’s faithfulness and righteousness through the different scenarios he has taken me through in my life.

In the midst of DEATH, God is good. He offers me a comfort and peace beyond all understanding and a promise that I will see my loved ones who put their faith in Christ, again.

In the midst of SICKNESS, God is good. He encourages me through the discouragement of a weak and fragile body. He is the Ultimate Physician who heals and restores.

In the midst of CRITICISM, God is good. He away takes the sting of harsh words, and reminds me that ultimately, it is only His opinion that matters.

In the midst of FATIGUE, God is good. He literally carries me through the day, and tucks me into bed at night.

In the midst of CONFUSION, God is good. He directs me through His word, which brings clarity and truth.

In LONLINESS, God is good. He eases my empty ache, and draws near to me as I draw near to Him in need of companionship. (James 4:8)

In FEAR, God is good. He reminds me to trust Him and not be afraid. He is my shield, defender, and an “ever-present help in times of trouble.”  (Psalm 46:1)

In HEARTBREAK, God is good. He holds my heart is His loving hands and mends every wound. He wipes away my tears, and promises, “those who sow in tears will reap in shouts of joy.” (Psalm 126:5)

In TEMPTATION, God is good. He always provides a way out and reminds me that I am not alone, for Jesus too, was tempted, but without sin.

In HARD DECISIONS, God is good. He reminds me that obedience to Him, no matter what the cost, is the only path to true freedom. As I trust him, leaning not on my own understanding, He makes my paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

In TRANSITION, God is good. He carries my load, gently guides my feet, and opens up my path one step at a time.

In STILLNESS, God is good. He provides rest and restoration for my soul, and in the solitude I find a peace and calm unlike anything this world can offer.

In CHAOS, God is good. He is a firm anchor in the wind and the storms of life.

In JOY, God is good. He delights in seeing His children smile, and we can feel “fullness of joy” in His presence. (Psalm 16:11)

In EVERY SEASON, God is good.  His mercies are new every morning. His love abounds.  How can our hearts refrain from singing of the majesty and glory of our God? I love the words to the last verse and chorus of the beautiful old, hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness:”

“Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,

Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside.

Great is thy faithfulness,

Great is they faithfulness,

Morning by morning new mercies I see.

All I have needed thy hath provided;

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.”

I love you dear sisters. In the midst of every situation you have faced, are facing, or will face, God is good. Cling to him for dear life and never let go.

Esther’s Table Registration is Open!

If you live in Atlanta, you don’t want to miss this!! Ladies- all are welcome! Mark it down. Learning to celebrate in the midst of… Come hear and share stories of beauty through pain. Wanna seat at the table?! www.estherstable.org

REFLECTION

Something about rainy days in life seems to invite reflection over life. Reflection of all things divine inside everything mundane. The table reminds me to not only sup with Christ but feast on Him as the very meal. The devotionals cracked open with multiple pieces of paper stuffed in them marking years of revelations and remarkable acts of God recorded. The conversations of many around me last night and throughout today over the truth of living in two worlds at the same time. Living with our mind set, fixed without wavering a moment, on the High Places while we operate down here in the low plains. So many thoughts race through my mind today and truths soar into my heart. I love days like today as I sense Him raining and reigning down on me!

As I sit at my fall table this morning surrounded by moving boxes and masking tape, I cannot help to take a mental jaunt down memory lane. You see this season holds much change and celebration in it for my family and I. This change beckons celebration for what is ahead and what has been but also simply for what is. My childhood home sold a couple weeks ago which is bittersweet. My parents will be moving in with us, which is also bittersweet, but more sweet! I am richly blessed with a husband that cherishes my family and a family that treasures my new family name. This is also the commencing season of our first year of marriage! I can hardly believe that we have journeyed this year already together approaching the ever so longed for “anniversary”. Speechless at the pace of God and Life! Tonight is the first logistics meeting for a vision called          Est. Her’s Table ( an experience coming to the women in Atlanta the month of March). When visions break into realities, I can’t help but remember the journey that led me to this point with this team. Once again, I echo with David in the book of Samuel, “Who am I and what is my house that You would have brought me this far?”.

So in the vein of reflection, I feel compelled and convinced to record a few insights, some random and some transformative, that have marked this year of life, change, crisis, counseling, ministry, marriage, and adventure.

Here we go:

There is power that comes from celebration IN THE MIDST OF not just ON THE OTHER SIDE OF trial. Learn to cherish being in the midst of something more than being delivered from everything!

Our Home is a revolving door of ministry to others but first and foremost a refuge for us and a representation of Him. Create a home of peace and ministry for any that cross its threshold, including you!

Food tastes better eaten under candlelight… with my husband. Dine at a table with loved ones as often as possible!

Wedding Thank You cards are an overwhelming task but a needed one, prior to a year. Start Now!

To delegate in leadership is not the giving away of responsibility but the trusting of God in others to respond and execute.  Trust God in others greater than you trust Him through just you!

Anniversaries to me are more about the years ahead than the years behind. Oh I pray I have exceeding abundantly more ahead with my precious partner and greatest fan! Celebrate and Commemorate whats ahead more than what was!

Sheltering the ones that have sheltered me is a great honor and privilege regardless of selfless changes and schedule accommodations that come along with that territory. It is a gift. Shelter others more!

Dogs demonstrate and model uncontainable energy and unconditional love constantly despite my day’s mood or meetings. They never change. Live with boundless energy supplied by His unconditional and motivating Love knowing He never changes!

Sometimes turning the mind off by playing, laughing and simply being a little girl again is medicine unlike any bottle. Become like children, reckless in hope and unstoppable in joy!

Jesus promises and delivers. Believe that!

Every time the voices of “I never will, be, do…” speak, the voice of “He always will, be, do” screams louder. Silence all voices but His!

Community is gift, a byproduct, an overflow but it should never be a trend, a god, a solicited product to gain. Commune with God first then let Him source and author community!

The heart of God beats through the vehicle of His Church. Be the and Go to the church!

The Bride should gaze more at her groom than herself. Focus on your husband’s attributes not your own insecurities!

Traveling is an addiction. Travel, even if it is in your own city! Get out and See! Taste and see He is alive everywhere!

 

Off to Europe we go to reflect on Jesus throughout this year and all the ones in front of us! No more rain, no more boxes, no more meetings, no more plans, just my husband and I in the Swiss Alps, remembering and enjoying.

Loving My Roots

Have you ever just had a glimpse into your family roots, parents particularly, that leaves you breathless? Breathless maybe from pain, distance or unanswered questions or maybe inexpressible joy, closeness, and gratitude? I’ve had many moments like that spanning the gamut throughout my life as my parents go from humans to heros and vice versa. Recently, before I left for a West Coast trip, I had a “daddy ott” email sitting in my inbox. This is precious for a variety of reasons.

One: emails are few and far between due to the duration it takes daddy to type a word much less a collection of sentences.

Two: technology is still a bit of a novelty to him, its kinda cute.

Three: thought, intentionality, prayer, and A LOT of computer screen face time went into whatever is in my inbox.

Fourth: it is all worth reading whatever it is, minus the political forwards that I open to delete.

 

This one was entitled “ Visions of Grace”. It was days later after I was already settled into my little LA cottage when I opened this email, actually an attachment. I sat on my couch in utter awe of him and worship of Him!

 

As my eyes started skimming, my heart started skipping. Such joy and gratitude enveloped me immediately! Tears rolled as I read years of wisdom, personal insights through fervent prayers, and biblical truth nuggets in the voice of my dad. Many I have heard over the years being in his household but they still take deep root in me, affecting, inspiring, and stirring up Life. He had compiled this conversation between him and our Father over many years and literally has just added to the document from written pen to typed letters as he learned the skill to do so. It was a wide open window into a man whom I call so much more than just daddy. He is teacher, best friend, partner, supporter, warrior, comforter, provider, and the list goes on. Oh let me count the ways I love and know this man!

 

It was like I was sitting at the feet of two best friends in the throne room while I read and read and read…. smiles and tears throughout. Oh I was and still am beyond words to express gratitude for my roots! The leadership, honesty, passion, wisdom, brokenness, and fathering of this dad has shaped this little girl into the woman she is. I could not have asked or prayed for deeper richer roots than what Abba gave me in my dad and mom. This apple did not fall far from those trees, in fact, I dont even think I fell off seeing as how I am living back at home with them. Ha! It is a sweet, rich, full and fruitful life I live but it would be nothing without the roots of my family. Not only are they blood to me but they are home to many. Home in safety, laughter, peace, joy, and wisdom from Jesus to everyone…. If only tweets and FB status lines could house more than 150 characters and hold the wealth of ‘Visions of Grace” for all the world to read. It would change, convict, and compel them! It did me and I know the man who wrote it… and I know the Man that wrote him. I am still ingesting this “email” because it is so much more than hours of typed words on a screen, it is the crucible of years forged into a life worth immolating.

 

I love you daddy, both of You, Abba Father!

( yes I am 30 and still call him daddy, never plan on ceasing)

 

In the capturing words of my newest favorite musician, Johnnyswim, “I love me some home…”

Build Up

Like living stones, we are being built into a spiritual house so we can offer acceptable sacrifices to God. (1 Peter 2:5)

Walking down the hustling and bustling streets of Culver City, right outside of Beverly Hills, I saw a new building being constructed from the ground up. There were loud machines, busy men running around with hard hats, and high studs that would eventually become walls to rooms. I was compelled to stop, watch and listen, not so much “stop, drop, and roll”. Ha, sorry that just made me think of that old childhood adage! Seriously though, it was as if a spiritual sense was welling up within me as I viewed this construction site. I feel like a construction site sometimes. Walls erected, stuff everywhere, emotions loud and quiet,  the excitement of newness, evolving changes, harsh machines around me working purposefully on me, men running around me for who knows what reason, and dust covering a lot. Then in my heart, the Lord said, “  I am at work on your construction site. I am at work in You, beloved one. Your foundation is secure and laid. You may be from dust but you are of Me. I am on & in your scene, hard hats and all. I am crafting beauty out of ashes. You are not merely a project being managed but a building being built. A consecrated sacred temple, actually, being fashioned and beautified where I am dwelling with permanent residence. The Machinery I use may sting sometimes but it is necessary. I am skilled, do not fear. There are finished rooms in you but so many more studs going up for new ones. Exciting reconstruction!” I said to Him, “ Lord you are my dwelling place” and He said, “ you are Mine”.

As I watched the workers floating on soon to be “floors” in between those bare wooden beams I knew that one day those would be filled with people, stuffed chairs, stories, and dinners at unique tables.The construction zone was not forever, it was a means to a good end. It was fascinating to envision what could be from what was or is. What can you make of and in me, Lord? God envisions so much of His Son when He views us, wreck or not. Endless beauty and enlarged rooms for all kind of love, experiences, tears, joys, and eternal fruit production are in store. The Lord said that with living stones, or studs in my analogy, we are being built up into His spiritual dwelling. A place where in all the emptiness He fills every square inch. A place that is constantly being refurbished, decorated, and saturated with His purposes, presence, and peace. A place where His spirit passionately hovers in every nook and cranny of the heart. A place where bareness becomes beauty and brokenness becomes wholeness. Oh I love how He speaks in His Word but even on streets in cities.

“Thank You for building me up on God. You have laid the foundation on and in Christ, now as the walls go up for rooms to be filled by You, remind me of Who it is that will always dwell in me. I permit you to remove walls, move studs around for better security, and construct as You deem best. You have taken up residency within these walls and this skin known as “me”. Thank you Jesus that you are a trusted Craftsman at work accomplishing what You see as fitting. Fill me thoroughly anew O God!”

 

Human not Homeless

This Mother's Day I was able to serve with RED EYE, a non- profit pioneered by my new friend Justin Mayo. What a humbling and eye opening experience it was to drive through the fashion district of LA only to arrive in a section of forsaken streets known as "skid row". Suitcases, grocery carts, abandoned buildings, and hundreds of "homeless" lined streets.


We came to offer them a day of pampering and beauty revival in many ways. We set up make-up stations, hair stylists, nail "salons", and of course a mall to shop for new outfits. What woman does not love all the above!?  A truth trickled down into my heart that was exposing and challenging as soon as the scene began. Without much thought it was ( and is) easy to categorize "them" as homeless, service projects, or charity causes. But on Mother's Day 2012, I saw mothers, women, daughters, and sisters. God reminded me of their humanness. They are not homeless but human. They have stories, heartaches, longings for manicures and babies crying in strollers but just don't live how and where I do.

As I scanned racks of donated designer clothes with these women, I was moved to see them for who, not what, they are. It was an honor to be their "stylist" for a day. Photographers snapped memories as the day concluded with a RED carpet strut for these beautiful women.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DzjlJ5MY9QQ&feature=youtu.be

M.A.R.T.A.

M.A.R.T.A. is quite the cross section of humanity. Educational, Physiological, but Spiritual even more. Riding the rails to the airport as another morning awoke was enlightening and exposing this week. As like a child, I was over stimulated spiritually as I looked into these people's hallow holes. My eye scanned faces while my heart seemed to ignite with "story hunger". What were their stories? Where we they all going? Why would no one look at me? Do they "look to the Hills from whence comes Help"? Do they know God knows them? Most eyes never met mine on the train, but shifted from seats, to windows, to iphones and back again. It is amazing how much an averted glance can tell you. There was so little significant visible Joy. I was alarmed at what welled up within me as I sat in so much stimulus. Multiple sounds, smells, and sights from the silver edged buildings racing by, heads hung low with earphones tightly fixed, awkward verbal outbursts from a man who probably had not seen indoors or food for days, babies crying, all races side by side though with an invisible partition so as not to encroach, and conversations on cells that still echo in my ears. Stimulus at first, but then, quickly stories. Each of them had a story, a place they came from and one they were going to. With dark colored glasses on, the tears rolled as Love from the Author of stories saturated me. He is in their story too. He is God whether they believe Him, know Him, or see Him. Did they see Him in my face? I so wanted to be a Samaritan not a Levite to them. So prayers of a Samaritan heart began internally. Being still in the stimulus of them I knew again that He was God. My God. Their God. They just didnt know Him yet. I was still in the midst of these strangers shuffling through life, unaware of available Love. Unaware of a God that I'm aware of constantly. I prayed for them with intent and mercy. Praying stillness would enter their visibly fast breaking worlds and introduce them to God. He longs for them to know Him and briefly allowed me the painful privilege of feeling the need in their stead. I prayed for continual heart engagement to what His heart sees, first step towards being a Samaritan in the stimulus of their stories, I guess. Ride M.A.R.T.A. and permit your heart to become a Samaritan.

A Call to Joy

Want Him to wash over you like a shower with these thoughts. Cleanse and Refresh with these ideas. Let Him hug you.. stop trying to hug yourself… Let Him embrace you with Himself and in His Word. 1. Present your Request but Release the Outcome Phil 4:6-7 - Produces true Peace II Thess 3:16 - "I AM interested in your response now as much as or more than the situation later", says the Lord. 2. What God requires, He provides. -Heb 13:20-21- equipping for every good work -II Cor 9:8- ALL is supplied -I Thess 5:24 He will DO IT -Heb 12:1-2- Faith is authored not mustered. 3. Are you a woman of lavish or lack? Which do you focus on? Always two sides to the day… Cup is half full or empty… Is your cup viewed BY YOU as full or empty? What do others say of your cup? - I Tim 6:17-we have been given richly all things to enjoy - II Peter 1:3 all things pertaining to Life have been granted- there is nothing missing. - Ps 34:9 lack nothing - James 1:4-lack nothing 4. Consider Him and all that He has done for you! Heb 12:3; I Sam 12:24 -Ps 40:5- MANY are your works toward us -Ps. 8 You consider me- are mindful of me! Am I mind FULL of You? -Brag on God… tell of His praises// His wonders works Be women talking of what HE HAS DONE not what HE HAS NOT DONE… What is on your lips? 5. Attitude of Gratitude- Rejoice Always and again I say rejoice! -I Thess 5: 16-end This is His Will- rejoicing! -Phil 4:4 6." At your wits’ end I AM just beginning"… Ps 107:27 ( read the whole chapter... He created the storm in order to still it!) - what space you cultivate He will fill…. give God space to still you, don't fill yourself!!! - Only to the degree we vacate will He fill and overflow the capacity 7. Live with Eagerness not Effort. -Is 26:8 eagerly waiting for Him… -Is 64:4 He moves and acts on behalf of those who wait for Him! -Ps 5:3- lay out your needs and expect a Great God…. Hezekiah in OT laid out the scroll ( details of the kingdom) and pled with God... lay out the details of your day and heart... He listens! 8. " I lift you never weight you" says the Lord. Do you feel heavy weighted or light and lifted? - Ps. 3:3 He is the Lifter of our head! -Matt. 11:30 His Yoke is easy and His burden is light! 9. “I enter into you so you enter into them” says the Lord. - Rom 12:15- rejoice with those who rejoice… singles celebrate marriages! Relinquish any and all selfish gain or pity- BE IN and ABOUT others! So rewarding.... - Mourn too…. - Paul said Be all things to all people… I Cor 9:22.. use discernment with others…. Be out of yourself enough to be into them! 10. CHOOSE JOY! "For the Joy set before Him, He ENDURED!".... Heb 12:2 Joy is a Choice regardless of your cross! Neh 8:10 The joy of the Lord is your strength! Ps 16- Be in His presence constantly… fullness of joy is there! Gal 5:22- We have the Spirit and walking in Him the fruit He produces in and through us..JOY! James 1:1-4- CONSIDER IT PURE JOY.....Endure.... you will lack nothing but gain everything! J.O.Y. acronym (thank you Rachel, I love you... thank you for modeling this and giving this acronym to me!) JESUS IS THE TARGET NOT YOU Jesus is the Target -ONLY JESUS not us or anything else…. Is He your AIM? Not only the highest but only Aim??!! - Look to the Hills from whence comes my Help-Ps 121:1- songs of ascent... 15 Psalms for each step into the temple- ascend into His presence! HOW TO MAKE HIM TARGET? 1) Women: Surround yourself with people who do!! Do life with Joyful Women who JESUS is everything to! I love the women in my life I am shoulder to shoulder with... I choose them and they me because we are ones of Joy. Rachel, Katherine, Anna, Aimee, so many others... Love my life for many reasons but the women in it is one of the main ones! ---mention His name more than yours or anyone elses Ps 71:23 Ps 145:21 Ps 34:1 Ps 40:9 Phil 2:9 highest name Deut. 11:19….says…Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home doing laundry, dishes, cleaning or watching cartoons with them, when you drive your mini van down the road, working at a computer, waiting for your mate, excersizing, eating your sandwich, talking with your friends, when you lie down or collapse into their bed at night, and when you get up with your coffee in hand. 2) Word - Living is written word. "The Word became Flesh". John 1. ---PROVERBS 23:7….WHAT WE THINK IN OUR HEARTS, SO WE ARE. 2 COR 10:5- destroy speculations against God and His truth And bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ COL. 3:2 Set your mind on things above --Horizon Thinking not earthly "horizontal" thinking!! Ps 61:2- when I am overcome and overwhelmed lead me to the Rock higher than I.... ---GARY SMALLEY----20,000-60,000 thoughts a day....more than half are negative... That is NOT our STAT as a believer! Have optimism Reign in you. Exchange lies for Truth. 3) WORSHIP Start the day with worship music... Flood your mind! BE LOVED- Christy Nockels ( I have saturated myself in this one lately) The Tree- Christy Nockels establish her song OPERATE IN OVERFLOW not OVERDRIVE Luke 6:45 abundance produces action…. John 15 Abiding produces fruit… intimacy vs activity Rom 15:13 OVERFLOW with hope! Ps 119:71 OVERFLOW with Praise! I John 4:19 We do because He did! We obey out of overflow not obligation! The more you rest in belief of Him the more you oveflow! HUMAN BEING not HUMAN DOING YOU BRING ALL THE GLORY TO GOD - II Thess 2:4 – we are His glory - IS 43:7 created for His glory - Rom 8:18 His glory trumps our pain - I Cor 10:31 Do all for the Glory of God When Jesus is our Target and we are operating in and out of overflow God is getting and giving glory! Joy is experienced and expressed… It is contagious! Draws people to you and to Him!!! We have been radically called beyond our circumstances to JOY! Though sorrow may last through the night, joy comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5 Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. Psalm 126:5 NIV James 1:2-4 PURE JOY THROW A PARTY! Be constant CELEBRATORS... I love being a celebrator in Life.... Just like a shower can cure almost anything, so can a party! -- Sarah Ott I Peter 5:10

All you need is Love

In Montgomery Alabama there was a myriad of high school girls and leaders waiting on me as I drove in with tissue box clutched, a raw rudolph nose, and a thermos of hot tea in tow. I was praying and believing for the miracle of II Cor. 12- for in my weakness He was going to be strong. He had to be... there was nothing left in me. "Faithful is He who called and He will do it"... well I was banking on that! With the worst cold I have ever had on a speaking engagement of this size, I walked up the stairs to stand with two trembling feet on a stage facing the eyes of hundreds, praying His word to move in power. There was more pleading than preparation and nerves than notes... but "for such a time as that was I appointed". I sensed that He was deliberately setting the stage to show up and show off. So sickness and all, He set me aside that He might be glorified indeed! The theme of Mark 12:29-31 rang out loud and clear that weekend! I John 4 expounded the greatest commandment in even further depth. Part 1: The story of love- we all have a story of love, or should I say lack there of, that beckons us deeper into Love's story. I shared my broken but beautiful ( I am learning) bow-less story on the eve of night one. Oh I am grateful to Christ for allowing me to wait on earthly love that I might taste of His in the rich way, only pain could have fostered for me. Part 2: To LOVE the Lord with ALL faculties is to live IN Love....In love with Love and the way you are loved. I John 4:19 sums it up: We love only because He first loved. FREEDOM! True love even for the Father is not and cannot be manufactured. So one has to look at Love and fully enter into it before an extension of love is given. To be consumed and awed by His love for us, this unexplainable agape fervor, is to then have agape authored in us back to Him. Wow! Part 3: To love others you must first love yourself. Here in lies the great challenge! Do we really love ourself? Self centered, at times. Self protective, often. Self aware, constantly. But self love- true love of who, why, and how He made us with gratitude in the DNA of that love? Umm, I dont think so. This is what He longs for us to learn... "love you the way I do. Get over yourself, stop thinking of your largeness or smallness. Just permit yourself to forgive and love you with the ardor I have for you period. To reject this is the height of arrogance." To say that you are unlovable to the King who died in proof that you are is a height you dont want to climb. So like Paul said, "I am what I am by the grace of God" and like David reminds us " The King is enthralled with your beauty"... We know that He adorned us with His image in mind- that is enough to say, " I love you, cause He does". This out of body, beyond explanation, so good that it is truth kind of love invigorates us then to love others with abandon. Loving others is a byproduct of the seamless devotional flow from the Father to us and up through us back to the Father. These high school girls and all of us in the sanctuary that day encountered Love, never to be the same. True Love is not a transaction as much as it is a transformation. I was an eye witness this weekend. The eternal fruit of love is still blooming in hearts all over... mine included. Despite a deep need for rest and recovery, my spirit had communed with Love in one of the sweetest ways lately due to my utter need of Him. You see, to love God deeply is to need Him greatly. I taught on Love, but He wanted me to ultimately be a student of it. So I learned of Love this weekend I say instead. Humbled and in love with Love, I crawled into my crisp white hotel bed when all was silent, still with tissues near by, and let the tears fall with exhaustion and exhilaration in each drop. He fills up and pours out so uniquely through us if we merely step aside...The sickness removed me to the degree that He was the only one able to do all that He had envisioned. His Word never returns void but always accomplishes what it was sent out to do. Truly all we need is Love.
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