Tag Archives: Living Proof Live

The Best is Yet to Come

Is there any way to fully capture the feeling of falling in love?  Any way to adequately describe it?  To really do it justice?  It stirs the soul.  Joy-saturated energy rises up from somewhere inside and overtakes you.  In that moment, you can conquer the world.  You can take on any obstacle.  You can overcome any fear.  You can be fully alive.

I just listened to “Love Alone is Worth the Fight” by Switchfoot from their film and album, “Fading West” and that’s exactly what I felt.  Fully alive, overflowing with that joy-saturated energy.

I always enjoyed Switchfoot’s music: “Dare You to Move”, “Meant to Live”, “This is Your Life”.  Good songs.  Great anthems.  Powerful lyrics.  Strong.  Motivating.

But in the summer of 2014, when I first watched the film, “Fading West“, I fell in love.  Not with the guys (although they are adorable), but with the feeling behind this film.  The breath-taking scenery from all over the world, watching the guys surf monstrous waves, play concerts, interact with fans, each other and fellow bands on tour.  And the music.  Oh, that music.  It lifted my soul.  This was actually the beginning, the spark, of everything that happened in the fall of 2014.  My miracle started here.  If you don’t know that story, you can find it here:  My Story

That particular story concluded on my birthday, 10-19-2014.  And here I am at another birthday.  I always post a blog on my birthday.  Sharing these posts has continued to be a daily joy and I can’t imagine 2017/2018 without sharing a new one with you.

It started in 2014:  Moment by Moment  (all that junk – yep, Jesus redeemed that)

It continued in 2015:  Through Heaven’s Eyes  (what does God see when He looks at us?)

And this was 2016’s installment:  Treasure Hunting  (can we really live every day better than before, or is this as good as it gets?)

And for the entire month of September 2017, all I heard was “the best is yet to come”.  Everywhere I went.  Here are just three examples:

  1. Craig McGlassion of Paradox Church gave a message on 9-10-17 called “Plan for Rain“.  Craig told of hiking the Grand Canyon and finding himself wanting to stop and camp at every turn, so beautiful, massive and enchanting.  Thankfully, Craig was with people who had gone this way before and they encouraged him to keep going because they knew what was ahead.  Every stop was more amazing than the last, and he was thrilled that he listened to them and kept going.  Craig tied that story to our lives today and said, “Our best days are yet to come….  Your best days will always be in front of you instead of behind you….  Don’t be satisfied….  Don’t spend more time reminiscing about what God did than dreaming about what God is going to do.”
  2. I was blessed to be able to attend Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live Simulcast in person in Toledo, Ohio on 9-16-17.  Beth spoke on regaining our vision.  She said that we may have had an “initial vision”, but something happened along the way and we lost it.  Maybe we gained an “unwanted vision” in the process, and saw the darkness in the world and in ourselves, which lead to cynicism.  We wanted our eyes to be opened to good and evil (like Adam and Eve did), but we weren’t expecting to see our nakedness.  We wanted to see grandeur, not gore.  So, maybe we lost our vision.  And now it’s time to “Re-Vision” our future, which may include our original vision, but it will most likely transcend it.  This new vision will probably be harder, but it will also be more meaningful.
  3. And then on 9-24-17, during the first week of the message series called “Leave a Mark“, at exactly 1 hour 15 minutes, Chris Zarbaugh said, “We are incredibly grateful for all the past stories of success and life change, but THE BEST IS YET TO COME.”

So, why all of this encouragement to keep going?  Craig McGlassion put it this way:

“Where are you camping in your walk with God?  When the past of what has been satisfies us more than the future of what could be is driving us, we’re camping.”

Camping.  Yep, I’ve been camping.  Actually, I think of it more as “coasting”.  I’m 46 today and I’m coasting.  If my great grandmother, Willie Katherine Saylors, had lived three more weeks, she would have been 96 years old (February 13, 1908 to January 20, 2004).  So, at 46, if I live to be 92, I’m only half way there.  Coasting?  For half of my life?  Why?

Christopher Cook answered this for me.  On 10-5-17, I received an email survey regarding Chris’s podcast, “Win Today”.  In the process of completing the survey, we were asked to read the story behind his company, which included this statement:

“I was safe and stuck in my very small world, with arms wrapped tightly around every aspect of my life in an attempt to control and prevent further pain.”

Why am I coasting?  Chris said it: “To control and prevent further pain.”  If I stay safe in my own little world, maybe I can protect myself from pain.  But notice that Chris said he did this “in an attempt” to prevent pain.  In practice, it doesn’t actually work.

At the simulcast, Beth Moore took a deeper dive:

“We can so protect ourselves from being hurt that we protect ourselves from JOY….  We think it isn’t worth the risk….  Lord, grant us courage to live.  To really live….  Awake me to the wonder of You, finding wonder in the every day….  Wonder cannot be held.  These are moments.  But they are worth it….  We live in the Now and Not Yet.  The world is a mess, but we’re still called to rejoice in it and to love each other with His Love.”

Back on 5-13-17, I received a “Whole 90 Devotional” email written by Cliff Johnson, our Birmingham campus pastor.  Cliff expands on Beth’s thoughts:

“In Ephesians 2:8-10, Paul reminds us to remember not only how we were saved:  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not of works, so that no one can boast,”  BUT WHY WE WERE SAVED, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He has prepared in advance for us to do.”

I have not only been saved FROM something—like death, sin, hell—but I have been saved FOR something.  God actually has moments waiting for me to boldly engage to advance His Kingdom.  For those of us longing for new stories, this truth should be music to your ears.  Although the journey has been painful at times, sharing the story that God has crafted in me through both heartbreak and healing is part of the future He has laid out for me.”

And that future is worth living for.  The Prophet Isaiah said it this way:

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.”
-Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

In 2016, Jon Foreman, Switchfoot’s lead man, did a TED Talk at the University of Nevada called Live Your Song.  Check it out.  It’s nineteen minutes of pure inspiration.  After the first of three songs, Jon encourages us to keep on keepin’ on:

“You matter.  And there is a void in the symphony of life when you are silent.  The pain, the anger, the frustration, the dissonance.  Be brave.  Sing through it.  Be brave and sing the truth, one note at a time.”

Don’t be silent.  We need you.  Fill the void with your song; a song that only you can sing.

And join me in falling in love, letting yourself be overcome by the exhilaration of being fully alive, belting out “Love Alone is Worth the Fight“:

We’re only here for a season
I’m looking for the rhyme and reason
Why you’re born, why you’re leaving
What you fear and what you believe in

Why you’re living and breathing
Why you’re fighting it and getting it even
Let’s go headed down the open road unknown

And we find what we’re made of
Through the open door
Is it fear you’re afraid of?
What are you waiting for?

Love alone is worth the fight

-Switchfoot, “Love Alone is Worth the Fight“, from the film and album “Fading West

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”
– Colossians 1:9-12 (NIV)

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Through Heaven’s Eyes

“If you looked in the mirror and saw yourself through God’s eyes, what are some things you can imagine He’d say about what He sees?”

That was Dan Kopp’s sneak preview to his 9-6-15 message at The Eastside Vineyard Church called “The Lying Mirror“.  In that message, Dan quoted Leif Hetland’s book, “Seeing Through Heaven’s Eyes“:

“We all have a need for significance.  Besides survival, it is the strongest drive we have.  We need to know that our life matters, that who we are and why we are here counts for something.  So… who are you?  And why are you here?

You are God’s crowning achievement, His masterpiece.  You were fearfully and wonderfully made.  You were also purposefully made.  You are here for a reason – to bear God’s image and to establish His heavenly Kingdom on earth.  You are a co-creator with Him, a co-ruler with Him, and a co-lover with Him.  He has chosen you to dance in step with the Trinity . . . In this vast and expansive universe, you matter.  You!  You are loved beyond comprehension.  You are precious beyond words.  You are valued beyond measure.”

Then Dan did something beautiful.  He took that quote, line by line, and gave us God’s Word for each part (click on the red references to go to each verse at Biblegateway.com):

You are God’s crowning achievement (He saved the best for last):  Genesis 1:26-27
You are God’s masterpiece:  Ephesians 2:10
You were fearfully and wonderfully made:  Psalm 139: 13-14
You were purposefully made:  Ephesians 2:10
You were made in the image of God:  Colossians 3:10
You are here to establish God’s heavenly Kingdom on earth:  John 14:12
You are a co-creator with Him (He has given you gifts):  Exodus 35:30-31
You are a co-ruler with Him:  Genesis 1:26
You are a co-lover with Him:  Galatians 5:6
You get to join the dance with the Triune God:  John 17:1-5 **(see below)
You matter!  You are crowned with glory and honor:  Psalm 8:5-6
You are loved beyond comprehension:   Ephesians 3:17-18
You are precious beyond words:  Psalm 116:15
You are valued beyond measure:  Matthew 6:26

God is not mad at us.  He’s not disappointed in us.  He loves us.  He likes us.  He delights in us.  He longs to see us blossom into who He sees we can become.  If we could look in the mirror and see what God sees, would it change the way we live?  Would we stop wasting energy beating ourselves up and instead put that energy into receiving God’s love and passing it along to those around us?

“When you need comfort, I love to enfold you in My arms.  I enable you not only to feel comforted but also to be a channel through whom I comfort others.  Thus you are doubly blessed, because a living channel absorbs some of whatever flows through it.”
– Sarah Young, “Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence“, October 16th

I want to be that living channel.  I want to absorb God’s love as it flows through me to other people.  But in my own strength, I can’t do it.  And it’s not a matter of trying harder.  It’s a matter of trusting Jesus.  I need to turn to Him, thank Him, and breathe in His gift of life, moment by moment, day by day.  Rest, receive and pass it on.

“My calling is outside of my ability to fulfill it.  Only Jesus living through me can do it.”
– Beth Moore’s 2015 Living Proof Live Simulcast

“Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You”

– Matt Maher, “Lord, I Need You

**If you’ve ever wondered why God created us and why He is Three Persons in One (the “Triune God” or the “Trinity”), check out Dan Kopp’s message from 8-30-15 called “Dancing with the Triune God“.  Dan paints an incredible picture that you need to see with your own eyes.  Take 30 minutes to watch.  You’ll be so glad you did.

Won’t You Be My Love?

“Every woman I’ve ever met feels it — something deeper than just the sense of failing at what she does.  An underlying, gut feeling of failing at who she is.  I am not enough, and, I am too much at the same time.  Not pretty enough, not thin enough, not kind enough, not gracious enough, not disciplined enough.  But too emotional, too needy, too sensitive, too strong, too opinionated, too messy.  The result is Shame, the universal companion of women.  It haunts us, nipping at our heels, feeding on our deepest fear that we will end up abandoned and alone.” – Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, by John and Stasi Eldredge

Wow.  I just finished reading this powerful book.  This is not a “do these 10 things and you’ll be a Proverbs 31 woman” book.  The subtitle really sums it up:  “Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul”.  Sounds pretty, doesn’t it?  Boy, I’d like to think that I’m “mysterious”, because most days I just feel “messed up”.  John and Stasi nailed it.  I am too much and too little all rolled into one.

Beth Moore said something at her 2009 Living Proof Live conference that has always stuck with me:  “Repression will make you sick, rebellion will make you stupid.  We gotta be real.”

The Apostle James says it this way:  “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” James 5:16 (NIV)  

Sharing our hurts is healing and I believe that positive life change only happens with other people.  Keeping it to ourselves only makes it worse, or in 12 Step language, “we’re as sick as our secrets”.  I spent most of 2013 in a Celebrate Recovery 12 Step Study and I learned that genuine confession leads to genuine change.  Telling our story is freeing, on so many levels.

Think of it this way.  If we keep it between us and God, there is no accountability.  We might say, “Hey, He forgives me, we’ll just keep this between us.  No need to get anyone else involved.  It’s a private matter.”  Just one problem with that.  No change happens.  We keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results, the very definition of “insanity”.   But when the pain of changing finally feels less than the pain of staying the same, it’s time to change.

So, here I am with you, my trusted friends, confessing my sin to you.  I am a mess.  I am too much; I am too little.  I am up; I am down.  I am happy; I am sad.  I am carefree; I am frustrated.  I am optimistic; I am pessimistic.  I am kind; I am harsh.  I am manic; I am depressive.  I am intelligent; I am hopelessly stupid.  I am encouraging; I am discouraged.  I am on top of the world; I am in the lowest pit.  I am an eagle soaring high above the clouds; I am Eeyore beneath the rain cloud.  I am free to dream the grandest of dreams; I am tied up in knots.  I am a woman of faith; I am a woman of fear.  I am filled with the love of Jesus; I am bound by the lies of the evil one.  I have it all together; I am completely overwhelmed. 

So much of it comes down to expectations.  Am I expecting too much?  Am I expecting too little?  Do I expect everything to fall apart?  Do I expect that I will be left “abandoned and alone”?  Or do I expect that God will come through?  Do I expect that He will take care of me?  Do I expect that He will never leave me, never forsake me, and that He has amazing people waiting to help me at just the right moment?  If I give in to despair, if I give up, will I miss out on seeing God come through for me?  Yep, I will.  I’ll miss out.  And something will be missing in the world that could have been there if I hadn’t given up.

Toward the end of Captivating, in a chapter called “An Irreplaceable Role”, John and Stasi remind us that we were each made with a unique purpose in mind.  No one else can live the life that we alone were created to live.  You are the only person on earth who can fulfill your purpose.  I love this beautiful reminder of who we truly are:

“You are a woman.  An image bearer of God.  The Crown of Creation.  You were chosen before time and space, and you are wholly and dearly loved.  You are sought after, pursued, romanced, the passionate desire of your Fiancé, Jesus.  You are dangerous in your beauty and your life-giving power.  And you are needed.”

Oh, there’s so much more.  Read the book (check your library).  We are needed.  We all have something to contribute.  Expectations can kill us, but hope frees us.  Hope of today, hope of tomorrow and hope of eternity.  Hope lives with Jesus.  And when we live with Jesus, we get to experience that hope.  And if we don’t feel it, we need to ask him to help us feel it.  But don’t wait on feelings.  They’re so fleeting.  One minute everything is amazing and the next minute everything has gone wrong.  But God is still working.  And He still loves us immeasurably.  And He’s fighting for us, as a groom fights for his bride.  I wrote about that in December when I started reading Captivating.  Check out The Beautiful Adventure if you’d like to read more.

I heard MercyMe’s “Won’t You Be My Love?” this morning and it stirred something in me that made me want to write for the first time in a month.  I hope it stirs something in you too.  And if you love it, the whole album is only $9.99 on iTunes.

“My friends are broke and lost
Looking for someone to lead them to my cross
I need your help, I need your help

Won’t you be My voice calling
Won’t you be My hands healing
Won’t you be My feet walking into a broken world
Won’t you be My chain-breaker
Won’t you be My peacemaker
Won’t you be My hope and joy
Won’t you be My Love”

We may be broke and lost, but even in our brokenness, we have something to give.  We are needed.  Our prayers are needed.  They are powerful and effective.  Our lives are powerful and effective.  God is powerful and effective and He wants His power to flow through us out into this broken world.  Our expectations may be unrealistic.  Let’s place all of those expectations on Him.  He can handle it.  His shoulders are big enough.  And, in that freedom, let’s go out and live the lives that we were created to live.

The Face of Grace (Part 5)

The Tyranny of the “Should” left off at “How is it that the Lord loves me so that He sends people like this to me? I don’t deserve that kind of love.”

What do I deserve?  I felt stuck somewhere between Jordan’s Elmo game yelling “Keep trying!  Keep trying!” and Yoda’s, “There is no Try.  There is Do or Do Not.”  Oh, Lord, what “should” I do?

Over the last 20 years, I’ve slowly found pieces to my puzzle, and a big piece fell into place after Beth Moore’s September 14, 2013 Living Proof Live simulcast.  Beth’s 2013 theme was “Under Grace” vs “Under Law” from Romans 6:14 (NLT): “Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law.  Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.”

Freedom?  All I felt was failure after failure, guilty as charged.  But Beth taught that even though sin may increase, grace doesn’t just increase, it abounds (Rom. 5:15).  Abundant grace.  “Drown me in your infinite grace.”  I pictured a teeny tiny “Finding Nemo” clown fish of sin swimming in an ocean of grace.

That picture kept coming back to me all week, and on Thursday, September 19th, I believe  God gave me a picture of how He really sees me.  I drew the picture in my journal, with my limited artistic ability, using stick figures.  Saturday morning the 21st, Jordan Rose came in to join me as I was journaling again.  I showed her the picture and explained it to her.  She was so excited that she wanted to draw it too.  I’ve attached the picture that she drew below.  Here is what I explained to Jordan:

1) God is always looking at us, loving us, never leaving us.  “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”  (Deut. 31:6 & Hebr. 13:5).  Just as the Father watched for his Prodigal Son (Luke 15:20), waiting for him to come home, not so that he could punish him, but so that he could celebrate the fact that he was home.  He’s not angry with us.  He waits for us, filled with love and compassion.

2) I am that Prodigal Son.  I want my inheritance now and I want to go do my own thing.  That is turning away from God, and it leads to one of two things:  (1) I look at my dirty face in the mirror (my selfishness, pride, hopelessness, depression, anxiety, indifference, self-pity, whining, complaining, etc) and, unable to clean up my act, I see a reflection from behind me, like a wavy, distorted funhouse mirror, and God looks backwards and angry to me, or (2) I look at the things of the world, trying to forget about my dirty face and make myself feel better (food, shopping, people-pleasing, perfectionism, being a “good girl”, self-medicating, etc).

3) Jesus took on our sin – our “turning away” from God – on the cross.  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  (Matt. 27:46 & Ps. 22:1).  Jesus had never turned away from God before (he had never sinned), so he felt forsaken as he looked out into the abyss that we see when we turn away from God.  Jesus took on all of the “turning away” of all people for all time, nailed it to the cross, buried it, and rose again, leaving it all behind.  

4) When we turn around (repent) and look into the face of God, we are living under Grace, coming back to the Father who loves us.  When we look at our “dirty faces” in the mirror (trying to clean ourselves up) or at the things of the world (trying to fill the hole in our soul), we are living under the Law, turning away from God.

5) Our only job is to turn around.  Turn from the mirror (staring at your dirty face won’t clean it), turn from the things of this world (they won’t fill that emptiness) and turn back to God (only He can clean us and fill us).  “What is the work that God requires?  To believe in the one He has sent.”  (John 6:28-29).  Look to Jesus, thankful that he took it all on cross.  Turn to God and see the Face of Grace smiling back at us.  He’s so thrilled that we’re home.

Click here for Part 6

"Under Grace" vs "Under Law" by Jordan Rose 9-21-13“Under Grace” vs “Under Law” by Jordan Rose (7 yrs old), drawn on 9-21-13

“Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.” Romans 5:2 (NLT)

Redeemed – Part 1

Something amazing happened on September 13 & 14. I’ve been a Christian for 20 years, but nothing like this has ever happened before. I’m trying to piece it all together so that I can write about it here, but there is so much that I really need to do it in pieces.

My friend and I live-streamed Beth Moore’s “Living Proof Live” simulcast on Saturday, September 13th at my house.  During the simulcast, there were a few times where the live stream “stuck” and I had to refresh the screen. Beth was teaching us her “Identity Declaration” (click or see below) and she got to “I am a woman of God, redeemed by Jesus Christ” and the screen stuck. By the time I got it refreshed, she was on to the next point. “Redeemed” struck me and I knew I wanted to go back and watch that part again.  However, we were all headed to the Third Day/ MercyMe concert at DTE Energy later that afternoon, so “redeemed” would have to wait.

Even though I bought the concert tickets for all of us to see Third Day, we were blown away by MercyMe. Bart Millard, their lead singer, has been on an amazing road to transformation over the last couple years and it was exciting to hear his story. He spoke and sang a LOT about redemption and the word “redeemed” kept sinking further and further into my bones. Their music was upbeat and invigorating, their harmonies were beautiful, we loved every minute. It was late when we got home and I was ushering at church the next morning, so we had to get to bed to get up early.

I normally sit with John when I usher, but on this particular morning, the two seats next to John were taken by two other ushers. I’m new to this particular usher team, so they didn’t know they were sitting next to my husband. It was the 10:30 service, so it was crowded and most seats were already filled. I was trying to figure out where I was going to sit and found myself on the verge of a pity-party crying mess. Tears were starting to fill my eyes, but I told myself, “No, you’re not going to do this today. What a silly reason to be crying anyway!” I walked up to where John was sitting and realized that there was ONE seat right behind him and the two usher ladies and I grabbed it. The tears never materialized. 🙂 I sat down in my seat to listen to Chris Zarbaugh’s message, but God had other plans. I started writing and the first thing I wrote was “Jesus redeemed that.”

The next day I received an email survey from LifeWay, looking for feedback from Saturday’s simulcast. Beth Moore told us at the simulcast that she was praying that God would give a specific word to each of the 190,000+ women who were watching. She said that if 190,000 women heard from God and RESPONDED, we could certainly have a huge impact on this hurting world. Here’s what I wrote to LifeWay:

“God spoke! Beth’s prayers were answered in my life. He gave me a word and that word is “redeemed”. I have struggled with so many things for so long: depression, hopelessness, wanting to give up, and I’ve “tried” to do better and be better and I want Jesus to help me, but all of my “tricks” aren’t working anymore. I think wrong thoughts and then I feel guilty for thinking wrong thoughts and it just spirals downward. This weekend God told me “Jesus redeemed that”.

Every thought – Jesus redeemed that.

The guilt about the thought – Jesus redeemed that.

Not wanting to get up and do anything – Jesus redeemed that.

Getting up and doing something, puffing up my ego and pride – Jesus redeemed that.

Doing things to get attention – Jesus redeemed that.

Getting mad at my kids – Jesus redeemed that.

Feeling overwhelmed and anxious – Jesus redeemed that.

Scared to open an email, wondering if I can handle what I’m being asked to do – Jesus redeemed that.

Everything I’ve ever done or said or thought or will ever do or say or think – Jesus redeemed that.

So, I can hold my head up high and thank my Savior. Thank you, Beth. Thank you, Jesus. Glory to God.”

To be continued…

Click here for Part 2.

Identity Declaration from Beth Moore's 9-13-14 Living Proof Live Simulcast
“Identity Declaration” from Beth Moore’s 9-13-14 Living Proof Live Simulcast