Tragedy, Comedy, Fairy Tale

"There is no place here for either saccharine, happy endings, or soft-boiled hope. Rather, the gospels record the tragedy of human failure, the comedy of being loved overwhelmingly by God despite that failure, and the fairy tale of transformation through that love." -Frederick Buechner

Ministry School and Mission Trip to India! August 30, 2012

Filed under: Nashville — Misty @ 6:26 pm

In May of 2012, I graduated from Belmont Univeristy! Now, I am chasing my dream and embracing my destiny of becoming a full-time minister and missionary. I love Jesus and he is all I’m after!

Recently, I was accepted into an 8 month ministry school at Grace Center, a church in Franklin, TN. In December, I will also be journeying to India for a Christmastime mission trip with Iris Nashville! I invite you to sow into the kingdom by partnering with me. I am just one tiny life. I’m just one tiny piece of the puzzle, but one life set ablaze can shake the nations–and it takes resources!

I am believing God for the full $6,500 for these 2 adventures!

Please consider supporting me and furthering the Gospel in this way! It will bless you just as much as it will bless me, for it is better to give than to receive. 😉

If you have a preference about which adventure you would like to support (ministry school or mission trip to India), notify me. Otherwise, I will allocate resources as needed. If you have any questions, let me know.

MORE FOR THE READER, LORD! 😉

-Misty

 

 

The Lie of Powerlessness June 26, 2012

Filed under: Nashville — Misty @ 5:09 pm

God continues to show me who I am, which in turn means the displacement of lies. Here’s one I have never given much thought until today: I am powerful.

The enemy has infiltrated the church with the lie that power is bad, dangerous, and contrary to humility. This lie keeps the church in bondage. How do I know it’s a lie? It isn’t remotely Biblical. Look at Jesus, or Esther, or Joseph. All were entrusted BY GOD with great power that enabled them to perform great acts of love, provision, and protection on behalf of the people they served.

Why does this matter? Have you ever struggled with an addiction, codependency, the need to control something, or the desire to dominate? If you believe power is evil and/or you doubt your ability to use it properly, you will avoid and deny power and embrace powerlessness and helplessness-both of which are victim mentalities not conqueror mentalities.

Here’s your freedom. Drink deeply of it: you actually need a healthy sense of power and God wants you to have it.

Powerlessness is a lie that leads people to manipulate externals (addictions, domination, unhealthy relationships, etc.) in order to address an internal need for power and significance. We actually feel shame when we sense a need to be powerful and important. This is another ploy. We were not only created to have dominion over the earth (a power all humans are given), we are also (as Christians) invited to reign with Christ in the heavenlies.

The lie that power is evil and the fear of power are linked to the lie that we are sinners destined to sin, instead of holy sons and daughters destined to holiness here and now on the earth. The embraced lie of powerlessness will have external manifestations such as fear of responsibility and perfectionism (just to name two). Many of us believe that we aren’t able to handle power and that we’ll use it for evil and selfishness. So, we fear power and CHOOSE to walk in powerlessness (which is ironically, and perhaps unknowingly, an act made from our will–our God given source of power). All the while Jesus trusts us and entrusts great power to us! He is calling us to come up with him in power! He, as a glorified human being, walks in the fullness of power, love, humility, and goodness. Not only are we able to walk in power and holiness. We are called to and empowered by the Holy Spirit to do it! A deep revelation of how God sees us and the power that he trusts us with will heal any unhealthy desires for control, power, or domination.

Chew on it! May he pour out more revelation of your identity in Christ! I pray for upgrades in your freedom. YOU ARE POWERFUL, SIGNIFICANT, AND IMPORTANT!!

 

Pressing In June 21, 2012

Filed under: Birmingham — Misty @ 10:38 pm

For several months, I have been praying that God would teach me what pressing in is and how to do it. I’ve also been asking him why he doesn’t give me crazy intimate experiences with him all the time without my having to seek him. He told me that his withholding (or rather reserving of such encounters) was not indicative of a lack of love for me or a lack of him wanting to be intimate with me, but that it was actually because he wanted to teach me how to press in. So, I believe I’ve gotten some revelation about pressing in to share. 🙂

I often hear ministers and worship leaders encouraging the congregation during worship to not stop or change course, but to keep pressing into God’s presence. There’s something about pressing in that has to do with being present and seizing the moment. It has something to do with sitting at Jesus’s feet, stilling our selves, and not moving on too quickly. Sometimes something as small as opening your eyes could kill the moment.

Pressing in is oxymoronic. It is simultaneously spiritual stillness and spiritual movement. It can best be thought of as persisting for intimacy. Persistence is directional. It is the focusing of one’s energy and effort in a particular direction for a particular purpose for a particular time (examples: interceding in prayer for a friend, or training for a marathon). Spiritual persistence is dependent on faith, boldness, and comfortability before the throne of Grace. We belong there, but if we don’t really believe that, then persistence (and by extension whatever we would persist for) won’t likely occur. Once we believe we have a place in the father’s presence, that he hears us, and that he responds to our persistence, we can press in (or persist for intimacy) in worship.

A major part of pressing in is pressing through and beyond everything that would hinder or stand in resistance to our intimacy with God (including but not limited to the flesh, distractions, the enemy, lies, apathy, and other people). We shouldn’t be so surprised and discouraged by resistance. Instead, it should ignite the warrior lover within to PRESS IN all the more.

It seems that many Christians settle for mediocre or NO encounters with God’s presence when seeking him in worship, because they assume the experience of resistance as a fact of their identity. In other words, when they feel resistance, they fault themselves and their personal ability to love God instead of remembering that they have an enemy and a flesh. In short, they get discouraged and give up or settle for less. When we choose to do this, we are accepting ungodly beliefs about ourselves and the situation that prohibit us from receiving the love encounter that we so desperately need.

Everyone is capable of persisting and everyone is eligible for intimate encounters with their creator. It is our privilege and joy to press in. So, PRESS IN! And the best part? He PROMISES to reward and respond to those who persist in seeking him.

 

You will want to read this… June 12, 2012

Filed under: Nashville — Misty @ 1:40 pm

The goodness of God overwhelms me sometimes. It hasn’t always, though. There have been many times when I was indifferent, untrusting, or oblivious to his incredible goodness. His goodness, however, isn’t contingent upon my acceptance, belief, or awareness of it. That’s what’s so good about it!

I used to think that God, in his holiness, was very very angry at this awful, disgusting, sinful world. I think I almost even believed (if I was honest) that God liked it when we messed up so that he could take his anger out on us. I actually believed that God not only expected, but maybe even wanted me to fail. He wasn’t really for me. I was too sinful. How could he be FOR someone so sinful? Surely he was, in actuality, against me. It definitely felt like it sometimes.

Thank God, I was wrong. My theology–and I knew a lot of theology–was wrong. As it turns out, God is more loving, kind, and good than I ever thought possible. I would have likely said these words to you even before, but they wouldn’t have resonated deep in my spirit. These aren’t just theological attributes of God that I cling to in my mind and declare with my lips.  It is the very substance of who he is and I have encountered HIM! I’ve experienced his personal love, kindness, and goodness for me. Do you know that he has a portion of his love on reserve for you? He will not give it away to another. He has encounters with his presence, with his heart that he has designed and prepared just for you. He longs for you to receive them. Encountering him will ruin you for anything else in this world. His love is better than life. I would give up anything to receive more of him. He’s that good. He’s intoxicatingly, invigoratingly GOOD! It’s his heart! These aren’t just cliche sayings. He’s more loving, kind, and good than I will ever comprehend in all eternity, but I delight in knowing that he will spend all of eternity revealing more of his heart for me! Yipee!

He really is for us. He never desired for a single one of us to perish. God is love. God is love. God is love, beloved of God. From the moment we came under the curse of Satan until now, God has not ceased, he hasn’t even taken a break from his perfect plan to restore everything that was stolen from us. We are his children. None of us are accidents. Each of us was made and is loved by this God, our Daddy. Now that Jesus has come, his anger against us is gone. Completely gone. It has taken me months to believe this.

He is not angry at you. You are not a disappointment to him. 1 John 2:2 says, “He [Jesus] is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but for the sins of the whole world.” I used to feel like he was so disappointed, so angry at me when I made mistakes. I was doomed to be a failure it seemed. He was judging me, waiting for me to mess up. It was just a matter of time after all, right? No, beloved. That’s the job description of the enemy. If you feel this way, you are listening to and agreeing with the wrong voice. The enemy watches us like a hawk and accuses us of sin. He points the finger at us. This is the accuser of the brethren, but not our God. God pointed the finger at Jesus as he bore ALL sin on the cross. It really is finished. He forgave all of your sin before you ever committed a sin. If you are in Christ, you are a new creation that is no longer a sinner by identity. There is no wrath and no condemnation for you and there never will be. Period. You are a saint, a prince, a princess, a holy one. Holy isnt just how he sees you, it is WHO you are whether you are able to believe that right now or not. When you make mistakes, he loves to pick you up. He delights to dust you off, set you on your feet, smile at you and say, “Try again.” He is more concerned with you learning that you are loved than he is concerned with you learning how to do things rightly. 

When you look at yourself, who do you see? Whose decree are you agreeing with concerning yourself? God’s or Satan’s?

He has been for us from the beginning and he will see it through to completion. He loves you more than you love yourself. He speaks more kindly of you than you could ever imagine. He wants you. He longs for you to experience the fullness of his goodness, his joy, and his abundant life that is yours in Christ Jesus. I want to close looking at a passage from John 16:7-11. Jesus is talking to his disciples preparing them for his departure:

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
(ESV)

I won’t unpack all of this in a tiny blog post, but there is something that I MUST share. The Greek word for “convict” means convince. If you have grown up in the church like me, you have probably been taught that one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to convict you of your sins and all the ways you need to improve. Look at the grammar in this passage though. Remember that he is speaking to his disciples (representative of all believers). Note the words I have put in red. For conviction of sin, he says, “they”, not “you”. Conviction of sin is for the unbeliever in order to become a believer. He says judgement is for “the ruler of this world”. Judgement isn’t aimed at people. God desires none to perish (hence, why Jesus gave the great commission). Judgement, his wrath is upon Satan. Beloved, if you are in Christ, neither the conviction of sin nor conviction of judgement are for you! In speaking to his beloved disciples, the only time he says, “you” is when he discusses the conviction of righteousness (or right standing before God). The Holy Spirit’s role is to convince you of your righteousness, your holiness. His role is to teach you who you actually are as a new creation. His role is to reveal the Father’s transforming love in and to you. Telling a Christian over and over where they are messing up will lead to legalism and mere external sin management. Telling a Christian who and whose they really are and how immensely loved they are will change them from the inside out. Which sounds more like the Holy Spirit’s role in a believer’s life?

Beloved, God is good, he is love, and he is for you. I pray you embark on a journey of knowing his heart for you in a deeper way. Thanks for reading. Bless you.

 

Religion and the Arts May 1, 2012

Filed under: Belmont,Nashville — Misty @ 4:46 pm

The day has finally come. As of 15 minutes ago, I am officially done with college forever! At the end of it all, Papa God said he was proud of me. On one hand, I have many mixed emotions. On the other hand, I’ve been in preparation for this moment for so long that it isn’t really emotional at all; it just is.

I am excited and full of hope for the future. I am a promise claimer and I will draw strength from God in the waiting! My time in college has introduced me to my great spiritual poverty, my deep hunger, my unavoidable weakness, and my immense need for grace. I’ve also learned where (or rather to whom) to take my poverty, hunger, and weakness. I take them to Grace himself: my Papa God.

If I had to sum up everything I’ve learned in college (spiritually speaking) in one sentence, it is that God is faithful no matter what. He is also more fun, loving, and kind than I ever imagined…and I’ve barely skimmed the iceberg. 

HE has transformed me from someone who walked in utter hopelessness, self-hatered, depression, condemnation, and demonic strongholds freshman year, to someone who is known for exuberant joy, hope in God’s goodness, and zeal for life! I am learning who I am! I have discovered his great love. I have witnessed his beauty! I am undone. I know that I know that I know that nothing else will satisfy me and that nothing else matters in comparison to him. I’ve learned that to be childlike isn’t just a joy, it is a necessity to know God. It is also my freedom. I have learned that I really am not made righteous by obedience to any law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. I have learned that my ultimate task, my ultimate purpose is to seek God and pursue intimacy with him. I have experienced that God is real, God is good, and God is love.

Yes, Jesus has become my lover, my bridegroom. I call God Daddy and Papa now. I have Holy Spirit constantly living inside of me, communing with me and leading me into all truth. I have gone from being an empty life-sucker, to being someone that blesses others and has something to overflow! Yes, God himself loves to dwell in me!

I used to have vision for death and hate. Now I prophesy life into others. I used to feel only rejection and pain. Now I love and honor others. I used to be serious and sad. Now I’m playful and help Daddy bring others into relationship with a playful God! I even used to wonder if I was supposed to be at Belmont and would angrily ask why God had brought me here. Now, I am certain that I was supposed to be here and THANK God for it. He redeemed the difficulties and transformed me and my life! Yes, God is faithful. Yes, God is good. No, God has never left me or abandoned his desire for me. He had a plan for me all along that I wasn’t able to see through my small, wounded, insecure, untrusting eyes. Now, I know better. Even in the face of total darkness, hurt, and fear–God is always close and is at work for my good.

So, I walk with my hand in his up the mountains that lie ahead. I am my Daddy’s girl. I want to be a walking desperate, laid down lover of the man Jesus. I can honestly say that I want his heart and his love more than anything else in life. And I have 24/7 access to those. How can I be depressed? What can separate us? What can stop me? Yes, it is a beautiful thing when a girl meets God and lets him in. It’s only glory to glory from here on out! Upward and onward, blessing and increase! That’s what awaits me. That’s my inheritance now and always. I’m excited for the adventure and the increase of faith, hope, joy, love, power, and intimacy!

My final paper, which I just submitted, was about the intersection of faith, the arts, and my calling. It was a nice finale as a Religion and the Arts major. I’m sure that I will be doing several different things in the future and that I will have a multifaceted calling, but this quote from my paper expresses a prominent desire of my heart. I will pursue this vision on the mission field, particularly with the poorest children on earth: “A proper vision for the arts cannot be had without a proper vision of spirituality both at work in humanity and in our world. While pockets of the west are into exploring spirituality, most westerners are still unaware or unconcerned with an actual spirit realm. The arts hinge on a spiritual reality. If that reality is unrecognized, there will be a misshapen and incomplete view of the arts. If that reality is embraced, the arts become not just an expression of the human imagination, but a medium for pursuing human wholeness, healing, and restoration.”

Let’s do it, Jesus! Here I am, send me! I ask, Papa, that you go with me and be ever so close to your daughter! I boldly ask that I as a human would experience your intimacy in unprecedented ways. You are life.

 

Barabas April 4, 2012

Filed under: Nashville — Misty @ 10:25 pm

It is the week leading up to Easter once again! With each year that passes I am more and more grateful for all that Christ purchased for me on the cross and for everything the resurrection means for us today! With each year that passes, I truly love him more. This is a reflection, a new revelation on Barabas and the Father heart of God.

Whenever I hear the crucifixion story, I get mad during the portion of the account when Barabas, the murderer, is set free while Jesus, the innocent, is crucified (Matthew 27:15-17). The injustice! That’s just not right! What were they thinking? That doesn’t even make sense! He was guilty, he should have been the one to pay, not Jesus. Duh.

But wait. Isn’t that our story? The guilty one is set free–completely and totally free–while Jesus, the spotless one, takes his place. Barabas is an image of us. The Father declared us NOT GUILTY while Jesus received the punishment we were in line to receive. What an exchange.

All of this also tells me something about the position of my heart. My response, my utter indignation reveals that I value justice over mercy. Daddy God values mercy over justice. This isn’t to say that justice is not of God. I am giving my life to Isaiah 58 justice! The point is that I respond to the freeing of Barabas with anger, outrage, disbelief  because the guilty one goes free. This response is less like God’s and more like Satan’s. That is surely not how Papa God responds. He showed us illogical, foolish, extravagant mercy through trading places with us. God’s love is so big! I’m so grateful he didn’t respond to us the way he should have. I’m so grateful he didn’t give us what we deserved. I was so unworthy, and yet he took my place, bringing this daughter to glory. The only response we can have is love and gratitude.

What can I say?

What can I do,

but offer this heart, oh God

completely to you? 

 

Supernatural God in Unexpected Places March 15, 2012

Filed under: Belmont,Nashville — Misty @ 4:47 pm

These are the days I love being a student.

It is amazing how many individuals there are in history that I’ve learned about in my non-religious studies that have seen visions and have had life-chaning God encounters! Our supernatural God turns up in unexpected places! haha He even pops up and reveals himself to me in my secular studies. The world can’t hide him even if it wants to! It may not want to talk about a supernatural God, but he’s just a part of people’s biographies whether they want him to be or not (and I WANT him to be!). YAY! Take this one for example. I’m studying 12 step programs for a social work class and stumbled across this while reading about the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous! What?!?!