LSOF: The Carried Burden

Driving down a desolate road last night with my man, we passed a girl walking.
It was about dark, and I saw that she didn’t have a vehicle close or place to walk to at short distance.
I told Mark to turn around and ask her if we could help her.
She looked so scared when we pulled up next to her. She was talking on the cell phone.
I put the window down and asked, ” Do you need a ride somewhere?”
She happen to be talking to her mom on the phone and pretty much threw me the phone saying,
” Please talk to my mom so she can get to me.”
I talked to her mom and told her that there was a gas station we could meet her at a few miles up.
As soon as we got off the phone the girl then asked if we could go back a mile and get her clothes
she had thrown in the bushes. We went back and got them.
I started conversation with her and asked, ” What happen to you?”
She started to tell me about a guy she met a few days ago, who wouldn’t take her home,
she also said, ” I’ve been doing this 6 years and never have had such a scary experience.”
Apparently this man she was with was planning on running off with her. She told me she practically
jumped out of the car.
I couldn’t help but be concerned with her ” line of work”, and I told her that if she ever needed a friend
or someone to talk to where our church was located. She immediately became defensive,
” I don’t need saving, I go to church.”
So I then told her that it had nothing to do with trying to save her. I told her that sometimes we just
need people to listen to us, and to understand where we come from. Sometimes we just need
encouragement.
She then said to me, ” I do want to get out of what I’m doing, I want to be a mom someday,
but it’s good money.”
I then told her about the rainbow. How we all have situations that happen to us in our lives
that make us choose to do certain things, but just like the colors in a rainbow
God can make it maginify tenfold and turn out to beautiful in the end.
She then said to me, ” I wonder if sometimes what I’ve been through, that there was a reason for it. Like maybe I can
help someonelse one day”
I said immediately, ” That is exactly the reason you went through it.”
She looked at me in shock…as if that was the first time she has ever heard that.
We met up with her mom at the gas station who probably said ” God Bless You” to me and Mark maybe 10 times,
and as the girl got out of the truck she said, ” If I ever write a book about my life,
You will be in it.” and she thanked me again and got out of the truck.

I am quite sure God poured a major lesson last night in that situation that happen.

I think we’ve all found ourselves walking on the side of the road in the dark in a sense.
I think we’ve all come to the point that we just found ourselves on a stretch of wilderness,
that we didn’t know why we had come to that point, but we had.

I was listening to two messages today, one from Grace Uprising and Seacoast and this verse was used in both of them:

Phillipians 4:11-13(ESV)

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

I think sometimes we are so ashamed of the burden we carry that it continues to grow until we can’t carry it anymore,
until we have to “throw it in the bushes” until we can get back to it. Until we can deal with it again.

When the girl said, ” I don’t need saving, I go to church.” it broke my heart. I saw it in her eyes that she has been judged
before, and perceived Christians to be that way.
But we as Christians, we carry burdens too…and we have been where she has been in a sense.

We don’t share with others that we are dealing with “something” because we are afraid of being ” judged” even though
we are taught not to judge. We are taught it, yet we believe other Christians will judge still.

I have a friend who is a believer who did something that other Christians may look down at them for, and its something simple
and not a big deal, but there are people out there that would have other things to say about it. I know that,
she knows that.

I am glad I allowed God to raise me. I am glad that God taught me that there are people placed in my life to help carry my burdens, that we are here to help each other. We are here to share in the sufferings, and also the joys.

I wish so much I could have given that girl a hug and prayed with her last night. But I want to believe in my heart
that Jesus was there in that small time. I pray that she saw Him and not me talking to her.

The girl taught me a huge lesson too. She taught me that in the real struggles we face in life, that they are completely meaningless to what God has called us to do. That regardless of what we feel we haven’t accomplished, by doing as
asked by God…we can overcome the world with LOVE.

Thank you to my friend I met last night on the road. If I write a book, you would be written there too…
but you will also be in my heart, and I will continue to pray for you.
Remember…there is a reason you have gone through it…someonelse needs to hear your story one day…
Keep your head up.

Matthew 11:28
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

xoxo
angie

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LSOF: Grasping Humility Part 2 ” The Message”

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I read an amazing book awhile back called, ” Reaching For An Invisible God”- (its a must read for anyone, with questions or without)
There was a part in one of the chapters that told a story of a pastor that was to give a message to a room of people less fortunate in a physical way.
The pastor walked in confident about his message he was about to give, he thought it was simple,
” I’ll just let them know they are victorious where they are regardless of the wheelchairs they are sitting in.”
However, when he gave the message, expecting smiling faces…he noticed that there were only blank stares.
A woman came up to him after everyone had left and said, ” We don’t understand what you mean, we don’t understand it at all.” and she walked away. The pastor was left stunned.
So he decided to try another time, he started to prepare and research, but something just didn’t stick; he found himself in front of those same people with almost the same blank stare they had given him.
Finally he spoke, ” I am sorry, I don’t know what to say, I am confused without a message of victory.”
The same woman spoke up from the audience, ” Now we can understand you, now we can listen.”

I began with this story, because I felt that in order for us to grasp how we can be humble in listening and learning from all messages; is to realize that the person up there giving it is human.
This person gets up in the morning, and he sits down and starts to research the next part of his message.
He has read several books around the room, and he has greek and hebrew translation, as well as concordance by his side. Perhaps, he has commentaries of certain book of scriptures. He has most likely not just one translation of the Bible but two or more. He has spent hours going through every resource possible to prepare a message that is as less about him as possible.
He gets up there on Sunday, after spending 30-hr praying that God’s hand would be on him and help him deliver the words he is to speak. He has had to forget about the car breaking down an hour before, or the phone call he got the night before of his sick relative, or the fact he wasn’t able to get much sleep because the message he was going to give really hit close to home.
Taking a breath he greets and asks you how you are doing, maybe talking about something previously during praise and worship or a conversation he just had with a fellow member.
Regardless, he lets God take the stage through him.

Did you ever hear, ” Always give a penny to the poor, because it might be Jesus in disguise.”?
Well, that was something I was taught as a child. I know now that it can most relate to Hebrews 13:5,
” Don’t forget to entertain strangers for some have entertained angels without knowing it.”

Did you ever think your attitude even listening to the message at church was a test of faith?
We aren’t just there to sit and learn, we are there to take God in. It is a privelage in itself!

You may not quite understand exactly what I mean, because some of us were raised to just ” deal” with the messages. It isn’t about ” dealing” with them at all. It is about loving Jesus enough that you want to hear it.

And whether you realize it or not, what you learn every Sunday is to be applied into your own life. You are to be the teacher of what was taught to you. You are an example just as much as your pastor is.
You are an example of Jesus. Isn’t that enough to want to sit and listen to a message regardless of what its about?

I hear people say sometimes, ” Well, that message wasn’t really for me today.”
Have you ever said that?
And what if I said it was untrue.

EVERYTHING God ordained in our lives was placed by God for us to hear, and if we are hearing it, then God wanted us to!

This part of humility is not just about respect to our God, but it is the difference between being a ” Hold my hand across the street” Christian to a ” I can walk across on my own, but I still need the counsel at my side.” Christian.

What I have learned from the verse memorization that I am doing with the LPM blog is that I no longer need someone to hold my hand for me to ” find” the words God wants to speak to me.

Instead of sitting in your seat on sunday thinking about what you are doing right after service or whatever you may be thinking; I encourage you to force those thoughts out of your mind in the name of Jesus until the service is over.

So you say your church is 2 hrs long with their messages. Do you know that there are some countries that would die literally to just hear the word of God for 30 seconds?

We have as a nation come under the belief that its okay to put God on the backburner. He most definitely does not belong there, or inside a cute little box.

When a message is spoken, we need to be willing to listen, and expectant for a blessing.

Word of God WILL speak.

A favorite website;)

I just wanted to share with you an awesome link to my church:)
Pine Ridge Fellowship
http://www.pineridgefellowship.org

I’ve attended here since 1998:) You’ll get to meet my friend Lauren right away,
since she is the one speaking on the screen:) She’s a good person, with a great heart,
who lived 10 min from me and didn’t know it in NJ! and also is getting married in October:) to another good friend of mine Tom:) He is recently the new student pastor:) of FUSION:)

I’m blessed to know both of them:)

I’ll include a video message from him at the end of this:)

Anyway, check it out: I think you will enjoy taking a look around:)

Be Blessed:)

TOM WYCUFF
THE ANCHOR OF OUR SOUL

LSOF: Giving Up Our Comfort Zones, and Become Secure in Christ

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“ If anyone would come after me,
he must deny himself and take up his cross
daily and follow me.”
– Luke 9:23

I wonder something. I wonder if you are reading this, and sitting in a nice computer chair.
Perhaps, you are sitting in your living room on the couch, or maybe you are not even out of bed…

Are you comfortable?

What if I told you instead of sitting in that computer chair; to stand up and read this post,
Or if you are in your living room; perhaps, you could read this standing on your head, or if you are in bed, perhaps you could read this holding the laptop up in the air…

Would you be comfortable then? Probably not. But would you do it?

My friend had her 28th birthday today; I took her out to Applebees. We enjoyed some major food, and not to forget the Chocolate meltdown..oh yes:)

Music was playing in the background, and she pretty much sang to every song. She has always done that, usually I join in too:)

We found out that night that they were having Karaoke Night. She was ecstatic at first.
But then after each person got up to sing; I saw her enthusiasm fade.
Taking charge, I told the waiter to get the song book, so we could look through it.
Finally, we chose one(after much convincing on my part!) by DJ Sammy, “ Heaven”
I knew she could rock out that song if she tried.
She was anxious, but I told her that I would be right at her side, and she would be fine.
So her name is called, and then the music starts to play.
The music is the fast version, and her voice can first barely be heard over the loud music.
And through the entire song I just could see her face saying, “ Oh no, its not over yet.”
Then it was, and she could have transported herself back to the table, that is how fast she sat down.

She found herself, out of the comfort zone.

Its all about how we react to the “ strange” places we find ourselves in.

My church is doing a message “ Barbaric Faith” based on a book I believe that is by Erwin Mcmanus.

A few Sundays ago, we all got to church. There were 10 chairs, instead of the 400 or so that usually cover the floor.

We all stood surrounded by a wall wrapped in servant evangelism opportunities.
Instead of church that day(one inside a building) we were told to find a table
And go SERVE somewhere in the city until noon.

I chose to go give out free doggie biscuits, at a park in the next city. Some people walked neighborhoods and prayer walked, others gave out free water at Walmart, and some
Even gave out free kites at a park to children.

It was a dreary day, and the park I went to probably only had about 6 dogs there within the time I was there.

But it made me appreciate it so much more of the given “ opportunity” to serve.

I saw a woman with a small dog, and a youth and I felt my anxiety rise
As I went up to her.

I heard my heart speak to God, “ Are you sure this is okay Lord, are you sure I won’t
mess up and make this woman run for her life?”

“ Hi, my name is Angie, and this is Zach, and we are from Pine Ridge Fellowship, and
we would just like to give your dog some treats.”

The woman looked at me, and said, “ I am sorry, but I left my wallet at home.”

A bubble seemed to form in my throat as I added,
“ No, this is just an expression of God’s love, and there are no strings attached.”

I did get to talk to the woman a little more, and found out that she knew someone I did from another ministry. She never mentioned if she attended a church or anything like that, but just the feeling of being able to share with her a little of God’s love,
it did something inside of me.

When I was 17 yrs old and used to serve, it was different, because I did it with my Youth group, and this time around. I never had to ever show up, I could have gotten in my car and went home to sleep.

The point I’m making is, and I think my church did make that day was;
in our comfort zones, we may be able to reach a few people for God, but
our giving is very limited, and more so the response is expected.
Going out into the community, we didn’t know what to expect.

That is where God wanted us that day.

No one forced us to go, we went because we had been shown God’s love by other
similar experiences.

Someone gave their life to Jesus, so that I could serve. A beautiful domino effect.

I know we love our churches, and I know we love to be places where we are comfortable, and people know us and accept us.

But that will not always be so. Not everyone will love us, not everyone will accept us.

We just have to love them anyway, and accept that they don’t accept us.

It is definitely not easy to be out in the “ world”, especially places like our workplace, school, or maybe even in our homes.

But everytime it seems “ hard” to deal with, close your eyes and press harder from your heart.

Something else that might be a good thing to warn about, the enemy likes us in our comfort zones. He can keep a good watch on us there, and know we won’t disturb the destruction he is creating outside of our little bubble.

I have often realized that a lot of the times that I leave my bubble, that I can go out a little ways into the world and find God in such unexpected places, within people, within music, within pieces of art…anywhere.

And I find that as I am given an opportunity to seek that out, I am also given an opportunity to show someone “ who” He is.

We may not have a common God, but we can find something in common with people He loves.

My closest and dearest friends are not “ Christians” by the label.
And I sometimes am a little hesitant in sharing some blog posts with them,
or bible verses. EVEN THOUGH they love to listen.

People have opened their hearts to God, we can’t expect that every person we meet that doesn’t attend church, or someone who doesn’t have knowledge of the bible, or whatever, fill in the blank…we can’t expect that they have not had their heart open to God already,
that the seed has already been planted.

Someone may have been sharing about Him for years, but we need to show them love,
and we need to be interested in them, what they are about, and what they believe.
Even if we don’t believe in the same things. Its important to build relationships with people that we most likely would not have if we were given the choice.

Let me say that again, IF WE WERE GIVEN THE CHOICE.

We already have the will within us to go out and help people find God, or at least get to know Him.

You are wasting your life and your talents if you are in this all for yourself.
People around you, they already know what you can do, and what you are capable of,
but SO does God, and He KNOWS you are capable for more,
capable of doing MORE then you even see at this moment.

And it starts with walking away from what you are used to,
regardless of how anxious it makes you.
There are treasures in heaven waiting for us, but let God give you
the ones that He has placed on earth too.

“ This is the Air I breathe” if we took that literal for a moment.
I think of the movie, “ A Walk to Remember” where Landon says that love was like the wind, couldn’t see it, but it surely existed around him.

Love is in the air, a lot of it is. We just have to learn to recognize it, and let it flow from our own hearts. No matter the circumstances.

As April 20th 2009 comes near, I will conclude with the story of Rachel Scott, who died
at Columbine 10 years ago this month. I conclude, and dedicate it to her, as well
as all who lost their lives that day.

I also dedicate it to my friend Val, whose life was completely transformed by God’s love through Rachel. She lost a very dear friend that day.

I read the book about Rachel’s life, and I had a dream once where I saw her, and she asked if I would hold on to her journal. Even though it was only a dream, it had great meaning.

It was like taking the torch and going with it, where she left off, as Christ did the same.

The one thing that gives me chills each time I have thought about it was she wanted to start a chain reaction of kindness even to the moment of her death.

When the gun was held up to her, and the question was asked, “ Do you believe in God?”

and she answered, “ You know that I do.”

I can’t help, but wonder if even that moment she was trying to get that person to think,
that she was trying to minister to them, by maybe making them think in a split moment who she was and what she really was about.

She could have said “ No”, but she defended her faith.

Talk about being out of a comfort zone.

Her killers were blinded by their hate, they didn’t realize how much love
was wrapping itself around them.

Maybe they didn’t get a chance to change, but I wouldn’t doubt that a chain reaction of
kindness changed the hearts of others they knew, who were similar.

When it comes to God, the fight of good and evil is already won. He always wins.

It only takes one heart to change the world.

And it starts with getting up, and taking a look outside at the world around you.

“ You just might start a chain reaction.”

LSOF: Colorblind Faith

I’m sitting here watching CNN about a story on landmines in Afganistan.

The news reporter shares a shot of video with a truck going by some some children on there way home from school, suddenly there is nothing but an explosion of fire filling the video screen.

In the war, our troops are taught all sorts of things; to be prepared for anykind of danger that they might encounter.

In another video clip, it shows the troops being taught how to look for landmines.

They are taught to pay attention to a ” red” wire. If they see it, to avoid getting any closer to it, or anyone around them.

Knowing the color could save their lives, or someone around them.

My best friend Kat, she was born color-blind. She is unable to see blues and greens.

Her son and her husband both have blue eyes. She can only see bright diamonds when she looks into them.

Can you imagine for a moment, knowing what color to look for, but it being impossible for you to see it?
To know what color your loved ones eyes are, and hearing what others say about them, but not being able to experience it for yourself?

She has her own way of deciphering colors though. She uses her wedding ring, and she holds it up to the color she is looking at. She taught herself how to see the colors she can’t see.

I’m looking out at the blue sky right now, and realize how very blessed I am to have been able to see it.

I don’t see it, because someone told me that it was blue. I see it, because I was born to see it, the way God wants me to see it.

In dealing with religion for a moment, to supposed to a real true relationship with God; there are colors that God wants to show us, within our faith. And if religion plays a role in this, if there are a myriad of traditions, and rituals…we may miss the part God wants us to see entirely.

I hope this is starting to make sense, I know its a tough concept, but it has been waring on my heart for awhile.

I have to encourage others to make their ” faith” their own, I actually plead with anyone to.

I had to learn through the deepest wilderness who God really was to me. It was horrible. I was in the wilderness of ” false prophets” before I would begin to see God the way He wanted me to.

Are you the sort of person that ever says, ” My Pastor said this..or my Pastor said that…and that we should do this…or we should do that…”

Yes, we do learn about God through Godly people, BUT we have to remember that talking about them more than what God SAYS; it places them higher than God.

I didn’t really know anything other than what my parents, or my church taught about God. My Pastor and his wife taught me so much over the years; but it was more of what they TOLD me I should believe instead of me KNOWING the WHY I should believe it.

Because I didn’t BELIEVE God for HIS Word; Because I didn’t know it in HEART knowledge but only MIND; I missed out on the true color of salvation, I missed out on knowing the actual color of Jesus’s blood.

I created a landmine for myself, and I stepped right in it; because I didn’t recognize the color. I didn’t recognize the color of danger in front of me.

We have to have knowledge that we need to see life in the color God wants us to. We have to acknowledge the traffic light in front of us; and GO only when its green, and so on.

And when the Holy Spirit, that is also that still small voice inside us tells us to STOP to NOT GO ANY FURTHER; we need to heed that warning; and PAY ATTENTION!!!

I fell into the religious trap, because I knew when there was warning when my church told me, but I didn’t know when I was all alone, on my own, 25 miles away.

Eventually, this faith I had; which now I look back on it, was a make shift idea of what I thought, ” Faith” was; it wasn’t enough to save me. I had fallen victim to who I THOUGHT God was, and there were people who took advantage of that.

I would constantly here these ” people” tell me that I was worthless, and that I couldn’t be used by God, because I wasn’t a Jehovah Witness, they told me my blog was evil, and that the people in my life were evil, and of the world, and that i needed to break my association with them. They told me my favorite things such a Precious moments, and my angel figurines were ” Spiritualistic” and that I had to get rid of them…

I had fallen into such a deep pit, that the only way I could escape was through fire, figuratively speaking.

I ended the relationship with this religious cult, and they did all they could to mess with my life after.
I ended up losing my job, and being forced to move from the area. God physically removed me.
What Satan tried to use for EVIL, God used for GOOD.

I have an amazing job now, and I am back close to my home…I back close to my church.

But what I am trying to share with you here is, so many times you hear God placed into a box.

I love what Beth Moore quotes in Believing God, ” You say you want to send your kids to a Christian school to learn a little something about God, but what if they just learn that God is a little something?”

If you are an adult who teaches about faith, or mentors others; I am sure you know that it is very serious to make sure you don’t ” influence” others in such a way that doesn’t make everything they learn from you not, ” Biblically” sound.

I have been taught for the last 11 yrs the right and wrongs according to the Bible, but I was taught according to the Bible by what my Pastor and his wife taught me.

That was my fault. I should have opened the Bible and saw for myself.

It was actually a prayer someone prayed for me, to make my faith my own. But I don’t think they had any idea how that would come about.

If it wasn’t for facing the false prophets…I would not have found myself so deep in the wilderness that I would have no choice but to hear God’s voice Himself.

I let myself doubt a little of what I was learning, and then it took off like a tidal wave.

So today, instead of thinking back to the message you learn from church, or your favorite bible teacher, or maybe even some radio host…think back to what YOU know about the Bible, about God, and about His story.

There is so much He wants us to see, that unless we allow ourselves to see Him, without the help of holding someone’s hand…we will never get the full measure of.

Start by looking at the blue sky…and then go ahead and read Genesis.
and then go here…
” For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever shall live in Him,
will not perish, but have eteral life.” (John 3:16)

“The journey is long, and it doesn’t matter what it takes to get there, as long as you get there.”

This is something my very dear friend said to me yesterday, and it holds a lot of truth.

There is always hope. There is always love. There is always God.

And there are always second, and third, and zillionth more chances…to get it right.

John 9
True Blindness
1-2 Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?” 3-5Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”

6-7He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man’s eyes, and said, “Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “Sent”). The man went and washed—and saw.

8Soon the town was buzzing. His relatives and those who year after year had seen him as a blind man begging were saying, “Why, isn’t this the man we knew, who sat here and begged?”

9Others said, “It’s him all right!”

But others objected, “It’s not the same man at all. It just looks like him.”

He said, “It’s me, the very one.”

10They said, “How did your eyes get opened?”

11″A man named Jesus made a paste and rubbed it on my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ I did what he said.

When I washed, I saw.”