Open Our Mouths

Monday, January 30, 2012  ::   7 important comments

The weary players walked into the still quiet dressing room. Sweat dripped from each brow. Bumps and bruises adorned bodies and souls. Some required help entering because they were too tired and weak to walk on their own. Some didn't realize a break was needed because habits had pushed them to mindless routine. Energy and focus waned.

During the time-out, each person gave up a treasure dear to their flesh in order to more fully engage in listening to instruction. Quietening hearts and minds seemed key to the needed rejuvenation. Small groups of players gathered to seek wisdom and direction. Individuals spent time alone to listen.

Knowing that the Spirit of the Living God would be their sustenance challenged new depths of dedication. The battle distracted so many from longing to commune with Him. Reading and hearing that He desired to give rest to the weary, to break the chains of injustice, to teach great and unsearchable unknowns, to set captives free, and to build up His church administered hope.

Silence was had. Prayers were prayed. Songs were sung. Hearts were focused. 

The time to return to the fierce battle of living in the world returned. Unity and awakening had spread so intensely within each soul. Hands lifted in worship and voices shouted the great name of Yahweh. The needed break to reenergize, refocus, reunify came to an end. The resolve to fight and open mouths to bring glory to God consumed motives with hope to move to action. 


Thank you, friends.  I love, love, love my church. To fast and pray as a community, and to so intentionally seek God with all of you is a blessing that cannot be described. I'm thankful for Chad's leadership in challenging us to fast, and I'm thankful that so many of you took the challenge to heart. Worshipping Jesus with all of you through fasting, prayer, and singing challenged me deeply. My heart is full. 

Now it's time to put our hands to the plow and do what he is asking us to do! As a church God is asking us to open our mouths. Chad will discuss this more in two weeks, but let's not wait until then. You already know who you should open your mouth to. Is it someone you've seen several Sundays during the gathering, but you just "haven't had time to meet?" Is it the person you sit next to in class? Or the barista that knows your name and how you like your fancy drink? Is it that person that has become such a good friend that you always thought it would be too awkward to bring up spiritual things? Is it the family that lives in your neighborhood with the loud kids? Is it your sister or brother, your mom or dad? Are you going to open your mouth and share love and life through Jesus with someone? 

Let's do it, friends. Let's open our mouths. It is time. The break is over. The feast was eaten. Our friends are waiting.  

Eph 6:19-20 
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. 

A Different Kind of Week

Thursday, January 26, 2012  ::   3 important comments

Last week a friend asked me if I face spiritual warfare during the week of prayer. Based on past experiences, my response was the truth. Because of the intentionality in seeking Jesus, I had never felt like Satan had much room to mess with me during the extended time of fasting and prayer.

And then this week, the battle struck.

You know what, friends? This has been a fairly difficult week for me. Bad dreams, premonition type weirdness about family deaths, lies from my past as far back as High School. So strange. The battle is in not letting any of that junk take hold of me, but it has been frustrating to say the least. I was hoping for the exciting, joyful, face lifted to heaven type of prayer week. Instead it's been a groaning, jaw clenched, "Satan, you DLB, get out of my face" type week.  Through the power of the Spirit and not my own might, my focus continues to be with the topics my community is praying, as well as praying for individuals in my community.

Over the last year or so, God has been speaking to my heart about leadership. The leaders in my life that I have respected and trusted have been ones with a strong work ethic, the ability to go longer, harder, deeper; the ones that I knew if they were asking me to do something that they were out in front and would be there to the end with mental toughness and fortitude. They made the vision clear and gave me tools to be part of accomplishing the vision. In the times of following these great leaders, it never occurred to me the battle they were enduring on my behalf.

I am asking God to build mental toughness in me, to give me the ability to go longer, harder, deeper. I desire to communicate clearly, speak encouragement and challenge into the lives of those I lead, and to consistently and deeply pray for the people God puts into my life. But, above all of those desires, I really just want more of Jesus. I desire to live a life that points others to Him and not to myself.

Philippians 3:7:11
But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I now consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ...a righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in is death and so somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Psalm 73:25-26
Whom have I in heaven but you? And the earth has nothing I desire besides you. My heart and my flesh may fail, but my God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever! 

Week of Prayer

Tuesday, January 24, 2012  ::   1 important comment

I've been struggling with what I thought was a case of writer's block. I always have something to say, but I just haven't felt motivated to write a blog. This morning the reason occurred to me.

Over the last couple of weeks, Chad and I worked really hard on writing the prayer guide for our annual week of prayer and fasting. We discussed how much of our heart and soul is poured into the guide. So, what I would normally be writing here was funneled into the booklet.

This year I feel very strongly that the Spirit  directed us as each day's topic formed. I'm praying God shows and teaches us new insights in praying for the world, our city, our church, one another. It's going to be a great week that propels us into the battle that comes with living in this world.

Many of you have heard me say this, but I believe it can't be said enough. This week is not about the week.  As a church we are getting on our knees, focusing, and asking God to do great things among us for His names' sake and His glory among all peoples.

If you don't live in Tucson, please feel free to check out the prayer guide. If you are so inclined, our church would be blessed by your prayers. Or, feel free to adapt the information for your own community.

One more thing...

Last night the women of our church gathered to pray. Thirty-five women showed up. I was floored. And excited. And humbled. To think how much we've grown since our beginnings seven years ago.... oh, it stirs such gratitude in my heart! Thank you for coming, friends. I'm praying for all of you (and for those who couldn't make it) this week.  As I often pray, I'm asking God to teach you great and unsearchable things that you don't yet know about how great He really is! (Jer 33:3)

Moxie Memorizers

Sunday, January 15, 2012  ::   24 important comments

This past week Chad and I have been writing the content for Second Mile’s week of prayer and fasting booklet. Several times throughout last year’s book Hosea 10:12 is referenced. At the beginning of last year, many of you memorized the verse. Do you remember it? If you review consistently I’m sure you do. Many of you learned it in the ESV translation, but I learned it many moons ago in the NIV. Quote it with me if you know it: 
Hosea 10:12  Sow for yourselves righteousness. Reap the fruit of His unfailing love. Break up your unplowed ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes and showers His righteousness upon you.  
Last year during the week of prayer, we prayed this for ourselves and our church. Review it for a minute and ask yourself how you’ve actually applied it over the last year.
Have you sown righteousness or have you continued to live by your flesh? 
Doesn’t the “fruit of His unfailing love” sound sweet? What has it looked like for you to reap this precious fruit? What new ways have you discovered His love for you never fails? 
Have you surrendered your unplowed or fallow ground to Him? What have you done to break up the rocky soil in your life? 
In what ways have you been seeking Jesus? How have you experienced a showering of His righteousness? Are you willing to continue seeking Him as He pours our His unfailing love and righteousness on you? What if it means there will continue to be unplowed ground in your life that needs to be broken up?  
My heart was so encouraged and heavy (in a good way) as I’ve pondered these things in preparation for the coming week of prayer. He has been faithful to work in the ways we asked Him to work. The stories of your lives bare witness to the fact that Jesus is in fact breaking up our fallow ground. I have personally seen people put their heads down to do the hard work of seeking Him and His righteousness.  
Through a season of sowing into Him, a season of rich harvest is sure to come. As I considered these things over the last week, I was humbled, amazed, and excited to realize how beautifully the passage He led me to start the year goes hand in hand with Hosea 10:12.  
Please read it again as a prayer for yourself, Jesus’ church, and the nations. 
Psalm 67  
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make His face shine upon us,  
that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations. 
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples justly
and guide the nations of the earth.
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.
Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.
God will bless us, 
and all the ends of the earth will fear Him
I’m praying this year will be a year of people choosing to follow Jesus for the first time; a year of harvest in ministry, personal triumph, and relational unity. I’m asking Jesus to use Second Mile as a light to our city and a light to the world. I’m asking God to show us what it truly means for Him to bless us so that the ends of the earth will fear Him. 

Post your verses, friends! I can't wait to read which ones you're learning! 

A Personal Contentment Challenge

Friday, January 13, 2012  ::   7 important comments

1 Timothy 6:6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.

"I want..." and "I need..." often come out of my mouth.

To challenge myself in living with contentment and gratitude, I've decided every time I think or say that I want or need something I will follow it up with at least three things I have that I'm grateful for.

I want a heart rate monitor.
     I'm thankful for the ability to exercise.
     I have a "hobby job" that allows me to exercise in a gym for free.
     I'm thankful for the great shoes I wear when I work-out.

I need to go see the chiropractor.
     I'm thankful I don't struggle with chronic pain.
     Thank you, God, that you carry the weight of the world, not me.
     I'm so glad I have a comfy bed to sleep in that supports my back.

I want to go out to eat.
     God, thank you for an abundance of food.
     I'm so thankful for clean running water.
     I don't have to cook alone. Chad or any of my kids will help me.

See?  Easy and perspective giving.

Last night I shared my thoughts with my family. I think we will all be participating in this for awhile. Please know that I don't think it is necessarily a bad thing to want stuff. Eventually, I will purchase a heart rate monitor. This isn't only to curb my greedy appetite. Creating a deeper heart of gratitude for the extreme amount of abundance in my life is my aim.

You should try it, too. I'm already surprised at how much peace, contentment, and thankfulness it is creating in my heart.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 Be joyful always. Pray continually. Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Linking up with my great friend, Alysa, this week! I sure love that lady!

Ann Voskamp's book is on my reading list. Some women in my life who have read this book highly recommend it. She takes having a heart of gratitude to a whole new level. Have you read the book? How did it reading it change you?

Friends Who Live Radically

Monday, January 09, 2012  ::   15 important comments

I'm finally reading Radical by David Platt. I have issues because if people start saying, "You just have to read this," or "This is the best book ever," I lose interest. Maybe it's because I don't like to be told I just have to do something. Maybe it's because I don't like bandwagons. Maybe it's just pride.

First, let me say, I like the book. He's a good story teller, has wonderful points, and if people took his words to heart the world would change.

But what cracks me up is how people get all fired up like this is the first book ever written on this subject.

Chad and I are so grateful that we were invested in by people who have lived radically for a long time.

David Englehart at New Mexico State University has been used by God to mobilize college students to give their time, money, and lives so that the nations will worship Jesus. He discipled Chad and me while we were in college. For over 20 years, David has kept his hand to the plow and faithfully served God by inspiring students to live radically.

Jeff Lewis spoke at our campus ministry and many conferences throughout our college career. He blew my mind in teaching that God blesses us so that we can be a blessing to the nations. Every time I heard him speak he would say, "I just wish I had more time to get into this." I remember I always thought my brain was going to explode with the information he did have time to share.

A pastor and friend, Tim Johnson, taught me how to love people. Any time the church would gather I would watch him talk to as many people as possible, but Tim has such a love for people that each person he spoke to knew they were loved. People aren't just a number in Tim's church. They are valued. Tim knows how to value people.

In reading Radical I found myself wondering about Second Mile's statistics. Mr. Platt shares wonderful stories of how God is using people in beautiful ways to love people and change the world, stories of many people coming to Christ. As I've continued to read, I've asked God what radical things are happening in my church. Here are a few things that came to mind.

Josie was born at 23 weeks. By all science she shouldn't be here. But she is. She turned four last week. She is a light to all who know her. Her parents proclaim Jesus' miracles in their family to anyone who will listen.

Seven college students went to east Asia this summer to tell fellow college students about Jesus. They raised a lot of money to go. Some gave up jobs. Some dealt with unhappy families because of their choice to go. They saw sweet fruit of their labor, but what is really awesome is how their hearts were changed. The world is a smaller place and God is so much bigger to them now.

Yemi used to live in an orphanage in Ethiopia. Her parents went through hell on earth in the process to bring her home, but they stayed the course. Yemi is a firecracker to say the least. Her mom and dad continue to talk about caring for orphans. God has changed their lives through adoption, and their journey in loving children in distress has just begun.

Three years ago Jen gave her life to Jesus. Just three short years ago. She and her husband have committed themselves to radically follow Jesus, both are being discipled, and will be leading their own community group starting in February. They have decided to radically change their lives and align themselves with whatever God will have them do.

What about you? Have you considered following Jesus?  If you already follow Him, how has your way of life changed? Have you contemplated what Jesus meant when he said to take up your cross and follow Him? What does it mean to you when He says whoever wants to save His life will lose it, but He who loses His life will save it? Are there people around you who boldly live for Jesus? In what ways can you encourage them today? 

Matt 5:41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 

Luke 14:27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 

I John 5:3 This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome. 

For further reading on living radically please consider The Barbarian Way or The Unstoppable Force by Erwin McManus. 

Praying for My City Reposted

Sunday, January 08, 2012  ::   Be the first to leave a comment!

**One year ago today tragedy struck Tucson, AZ. I remember getting the call from my friend Angela to turn on the tv, that something horrible was happening. It all seemed so unreal. Healing still needs to take place in this city, but not just because of the shooting that happened January 8, 2011. This city needs Jesus who is good, kind, loving, compassionate, a Healer, a friend, a righteous Judge. The call in the city is to never forget the tragedy, but I pray we never forget that Jesus asked us to love people as we love ourselves, to lay down our lives for others, to go the second mile to serve others for the glory of God. 

I wrote this post last year at this time and felt it was appropriate to share it again.  I also wrote this post if you are interested in reading more thoughts about the shootings in my city. 

University Medical Center Memorial

Our local hero, Daniel Hernandez. Morgan wanted to talk to him. She said, "Last night in your speech you said you aren't a hero, but I think you really are." He gave her a big hug. Such a sweet personable guy. We should all be praying for him because as the chaos and attention subsides, he will probably have some very difficult images and memories to process through.
There are so many signs, flowers, candles, stuffed animals, and variety of other articles people have placed to show their respect and support. A picture cannot capture the intensity of it all. If you live in Tucson, please go, pray, and experience what is taking place in our city.
Congresswoman Giffords' office at Pima and Grant

We made this sign and the kids lit a candle.
We were at both memorials for about an hour and a half. They were mostly quiet, but asked questions as they needed. They each shed a few tears. Morgan was frustrated that some of the signs didn't seem to be relevant. Esther immediately noticed a statue of Buddha and a sign about Mother Earth. Kyle told me that the energy around the memorials was very sad and heavy. Carah cried and held on to my side a lot of the time. We prayed together for the victims' families, for Congresswoman Giffords, for the other people who were shot and are recovering, but we mostly prayed for our city. I love hearing my kids pray for Tucson.
The Israelites were living in we are. The world isn't our home. It is full of darkness, pride, selfishness, corruption. But, we seek to escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires and live for Jesus. As we do this, we seek to prosper our city, to pray for it, to live in such a way that the city and its people benefit. This tragedy has spurred me on to urgent prayer for Tucson, but God has also used it to convict me of the fact that I should be praying with fervor and urgency consistently. I hope and pray that we do not experience grief as a city like this again, but I know that God's sovereign plan will be accomplished even through the evil intent of a murderer. Take time to read the passage below and ask God to remind and teach you about living as a passionate exile, one who seeks to prosper the city you live in to the glory of God and for the sake of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Jeremiah 29:4-14 The Message
This is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel's God, to all the exiles I've taken from Jerusalem to Babylon:
5"Build houses and make yourselves at home. "Put in gardens and eat what grows in that country. 6"Marry and have children. Encourage your children to marry and have children so that you'll thrive in that country and not waste away. 7"Make yourselves at home there and work for the country's welfare. "Pray for Babylon's well-being. If things go well for Babylon, things will go well for you."8-9Yes. Believe it or not, this is the Message from God-of-the-Angel-Armies, Israel's God: "Don't let all those so-called preachers and know-it-alls who are all over the place there take you in with their lies. Don't pay any attention to the fantasies they keep coming up with to please you. They're a bunch of liars preaching lies—and claiming I sent them! I never sent them, believe me." God's Decree!10-11This is God's Word on the subject: "As soon as Babylon's seventy years are up and not a day before, I'll show up and take care of you as I promised and bring you back home. I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. 12"When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen. 13-14"When you come looking for me, you'll find me. "Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed." God's Decree. "I'll turn things around for you. I'll bring you back from all the countries into which I drove you"—God's Decree—"bring you home to the place from which I sent you off into exile. You can count on it.

Detox Delight

Saturday, January 07, 2012  ::   1 important comment

I forgot that when the kids went back to school and Chad left to study, the house would be quiet, meetings would be sparse, and my head and heart would experience loneliness.

Over the holidays, I indulged. Physical and spiritual discipline were not at the top of my priority list. As a family we rejoiced, celebrated, played, and experienced fullness in Jesus and love from each other, and as a result, contemplation and restraint flew out the window.  Taking this month, and maybe the next, to refocus through specific fasting and prayer is what my heart needs.

But, starting this last week was not easy. At all. I was reminded that I'm clearly not as awesome as I had hoped.

Second Mile's annual week of prayer and fasting begins on January 22nd. This year I want to be very focused on day one. I don't want to use any part of the week to get ready for the week. I'm using January 2nd-21st to prepare my heart for the intensive week of praying with my church family.

And, I'm so glad I'm starting this process because like I've already stated, I'm just not as awesome as I had hoped.

This week I experienced loneliness. I pouted. I said extreme statements like "fasting is stupid" and "I'm going to do what I want, when I want." I missed my family so much. There was a big cloud hanging over my head that had nothing to do with hormones. And I squandered a lot of time.

Whew. I'm glad it's gone...the week and the cloud. This last week of physical, emotional, and spiritual detox was necessary.

I'm writing all of this as an encouragement to my Second Mile friends to get your heart ready for the week of prayer. Don't wait until Sunday, the 22nd. Start now. Take it from my experience...we are not nearly as awesome as we think we are.

To those of you that don't attend Second Mile, take at least a week this month to set aside to pray. Set aside each day with something specific to focus your prayers. Our prayer guide will be posted online and I will add a link so that you can adapt it for your church and/or pray with and for us.

Looking forward to the great and unsearchable things God will teach us gets me excited. Enjoying the glory of God's presence in our lives gives me motivation.

How are you preparing for the week of prayer and fasting? Have you considered setting aside a week to fast from something you love to pray and seek Jesus? What is something you depend on that God may be asking you to do without so that you can truly experience Him? Are you anticipating hearing from the Spirit as a body while we seek Him together?

Hosea 10:12 
Sow for yourselves righteousness. Reap the fruit of His unfailing love. Break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes and showers His righteousness upon you. 

Jeremiah 33:3
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know. 

A poem by Kyle Haynes

Thursday, January 05, 2012  ::   8 important comments

**Kyle gave me permission to post this poem. I know I'm biased, but I think it is a pretty great poem, especially for a 6th grade boy. He is such a joy to Chad and me! 

Pressing on---Moxie Memorizers 2012

Sunday, January 01, 2012  ::   31 important comments

Have you used the last week or so to reflect on 2011? To be honest, looking ahead is much easier for me than reflecting, so I've forced myself into some discipline and thought about 2011.

  • God strengthened my heart for leadership. He's drawn me deeper into considering the heart of leading, the task of leading, the difficulties of leading, the rewards of leading, and worship through leading. He challenged me to step it up and not coast in leadership. Ps 78:72 And David shepherded them with integrity of heart. With skillful hands he led them.

  • 2011 was a good year for communication and intimacy with my family. As my kids get older our relationships only strengthen. Yes, they are wanting more independence, but Chad and I are diligent in communicating with them that their own desire of independence in life and thought does not have to mean independence in relationship. Our conversations deepen, our desire to explore truth together increases, and our heart to take on adventure together grows. I love my family more and more and more. Proverbs 18:2 A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in airing his own opinions.

  • God challenged Second Mile in some giant ways that I hope to continue to process. Through the book of James, the Spirit convicted us like never before to take care of people in distress, to move beyond culture, comfortability, and politics and do something to bring relief to humanity through the power of Jesus. It is a slow process to say the least. But He asked us to trust Him and jump, so as a church, we are training ourselves to believe Him. Hosea 10:12 Sow for yourselves righteousness. Reap the fruit of His unfailing love. Break up your unplowed ground. For it is time to seek the Lord until He comes and showers His righteousness upon you.  

I'll leave the list there for now. I truly hope you will take time to reflect on what God has done for you this year. Sharpen your discipline of remembering. It will lead to gratitude, to worship, and to deeper faith in Him. 

One of the main reasons this quote is true is because of Moxie Memorizers. Thank you for the accountability. I haven't memorized scripture so consistently since college. In looking through my memory pack of the new scripture I took in this year, my heart beats a little faster. When you posted your scripture twice a month, my heart felt so full. Thank you! Thanks for sticking with it. Thanks for jumping back in when you missed a month or two. Thanks for believing that God will change your life through the power of His word! 

I'm starting this year with a prayer. I have to laugh a little because I've been reading this passage so much over the last week that I have it roughly memorized. It's good. I'm praying this for me, for you, for my family, and for my church.  When I read a basic commentary of this passage, the first statement was "a prayer for the expansion of Christ's kingdom." Yes, please!  I'm praying this for me, for you, for my family, for my church, and for the nations.

Psalm 67
1 May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make His face shine upon us,

2 That your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.

3 May the peoples praise you, O God;
May all the peoples praise you.
4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples justly
and guide the nations of the earth.

5 May the peoples praise you, O God;
May all the peoples praise you.

6 Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.
7 God will bless us,
and all the ends of the earth will fear Him. 

Isn't it beautiful, and hopeful, and encouraging? This is my prayer for the coming year. 

What about you? What passage you are memorizing? Are you continuing something you've already started? 

Here is my challenge/encouragement to those of you who started out with us last year, but didn't finish: 

It's time to pick it back up. Stop making excuses. Your life may be hard, but it isn't too hard for you to avoid meditating on His word. Quite the opposite, actually. His word in your heart is a lamp for you feet! Your life may be busy, but if it's too busy to practice spiritual disciplines then it's too busy. It may be really difficult for you to memorize things. But, suck it up! You can take in two verses every month. If you keep saying, "I can't" then you are already defeated. At the very least, start saying, "I'll try." If you started out last year, but just fizzled out, then ask the Spirit of God to empower you with the fruit of the Spirit which includes self-control. Sometimes discipline does include "just going through the motions." But, let me assure you that our God is big enough and His word is powerful enough to transform your life even if your heart isn't totally present. That's when discipline gets down to the nitty-gritty of its definition: doing something even when you don't want to, will-power, staying the course.

If you are new to Moxie Memorizers, welcome! If you would like some help, please read this post and this post. It will help you get started. Also, feel free to email me if you would like some more tips and/or encouragement. 

Again, I'm so thankful for all of you! Ok, ladies and gentlemen (any guys brave enough to join us this year?), post your verses!