Tuesday, October 21, 2014

An Encounter with Jesus

       This past weekend, I attended the Dear: Jesus conference at AHOP (A House Of Prayer) that was put on by Generation Pulse. I prepared a bit before attending the first session on Friday night. I wholeheartedly believed that people would encounter Jesus and would get their "moment" and I would just go to praise and hear a challenging message. That was my expectation. Let me tell you that now, that thought is comical as I reflect on what actually went down.

       I arrived early and talked to my friend Bekah, otherwise known as RedBekah, otherwise known as the best ginger friend anyone could have. Anyway, she asked me the typical Generation Pulse Volunteer questions: 1. Can I pray with you? and 2. What are you expecting from tonight? I answered something like "...for God to reveal something about His character to me. Something that He is, outside of my circumstances. He's doing incredible things in my life, but I want to praise Him for what he is, not only what He does." The service began and the front of the room filled with people. First, we sang "His love is deep" and one of the lyrics was

"He calls us now, His sons and daughters"  

        At that moment, something shifted inside of me. I undoubtedly knew that line was my answer, but how could that be? The lyric was declaring what I am, a daughter, not something He was. But I kept it in my heart and continued through the service. During the response time, a girl came up to me and asked if she could pray with me. About a minute into the prayer, she begins speaking as God to me, "Brittney, I am your Father, and you are my daughter, let me guide you, you are my daughter and I love you." I almost fell over. Through teary eyes I sat trying to understand what this all meant. The night wrapped up and quickly transitioned into a trip for buffalo wings and fellowship.

       So, now it's Saturday and we split into smaller groups to pray for the people of Xenia while walking around the downtown area. It was chilly so our time was shortened to two hours. Each group returned with mixed emotions of feeling encouraged, broken-hearted, and bearing stories of God's faithfulness. We shared our experiences over pizza and there ended up being a praise party, which is not unusual at AHOP! Next, we had a break and then reconvened at 7 that night. At this point, I thought I had had my "moment" and I was focused on praying for some of my friends to get theirs. The schedule was similar to Friday's: Worship, message, response/ more worship. It was a provoking word and I was surely enlightened by it.
       Now, this is where it goes down...People voluntarily began praying over individuals, anointing them, and prophesying. It was amazing! Somehow, I found myself in the center of my closest friends and complete strangers, all with hands on me. (Thanks to Bri DuPree!) Another girl, whom I had maybe talked to twice in my life, held my hands and prayed a prayer so intricate and powerful that I couldn't help but weep. She and my friend Robby finished their prayers over me and everyone said 'Amen'. I reached out to hug this stranger who just blew my mind with her prayer and as we separated, she took my hands again and held eye contact with serious intensity. She said, "You know that song we sang? 'Who makes an orphan a son and daughter?' You are His daughter."  and she walked away as I sat in simultaneous disbelief and awe, thinking someone must have told her about Friday night and then realizing that that wasn't possible. My friends and Alex were just as surprised as I was when I turned around and saw them. OUR GOD IS SO GRACIOUS! He pursues! He is clear and still speaks today. It was the most real God has ever been to me and I'm still struggling to find words to explain it.

        I've had some time to process the events that took place at the conference, and I am in awe even more. I desired to understand more of who God is outside of me, and he showed me I am a daughter...He's telling me that He is my Father! He's so graciously explaining to me who I am so that I might understand more fully who He is! Not only did he lovingly and cleverly show Himself through my initial question, but He focused on my role, who I am. How selfless is our God?!

       God spoke to me on my level because of His grace. This led me to realize that I truly don't know how to be a daughter. I've lived in a broken family my entire life, I'm the oldest, have seen my authority figures in less than ideal situations, and haven't lived with either of my parents since I was 15. I've always felt either distant or in authority over them. I have not been emotionally taken care of. Relationships have been fragile and fickle. But my Father in Heaven is overwhelming me with the news that He knows me and loves me yet. He gives me peace and stability in His Kingdom, unlike my previous homes. He takes pleasure in providing for my needs! He is Abba, my father! His love is furious, jealous, and everlasting!

       At the conference, one of the girls mentioned a dream she had about a church needing $48,000, yet when a man offered them an exceeding amount of $700,000, they replied with a cry for only the $48,000 that they needed. They only expected what they needed. This weekend, I needed $48,000. And God gave me $700,000 the first night and $700,000 the second night. We must raise our level of expectation because our Father is willing and able. He gives us more! I am rejoicing. This weekend absolutely changed my life. I am eager to serve a mighty and victorious God!

*Galatians 4:1-7 was the passage that I opened my Bible up to the following Monday:

Sons and Heirs
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave,[a] though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles[b] of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sentthe Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This is sort of an oxymoron.

   It has become nearly impossible, as of late, to scroll through social media feeds such as Facebook and Twitter without seeing a link to a blog post or online article. Your aunt Deb posts "20 Books to Read Before The Movie Comes Out" and then there's the single friend who posts articles publicly trying to justify her relationship status, and finally, there's the angsty but equally motivating article "Name Something the Church is Doing Wrong."
   We all know these posts fairly well. I am guilty of posting the ones that make me think and I definitely encourage my friends to read them. There's something to be said for posts that motivate people to action, or inspire people. This is not a bad thing, so that's not where I'm going with this. That'd be annoying.
However, with so many being posted (And my terrible self-control when it comes to reading them), all of this advice is starting to get jumbled in my head. It's time to take a step back.
   This is a constant struggle for me, but I want to make light of the fact that most of these articles/ blog posts are hinting that there is a 'best way' or an 'easiest way' to do things. I'm not so sure that that's the truth.
Seeking wisdom is just part of life, something that we do naturally. So, when an issue we're encountering is all wrapped up in a nice little blog and posted on the internet for easy access, why the heck not? Well, that's a valid point, but I think our immediate acceptance of these blogs as truth becomes a tricky thing to discern.   To start, most of the posts contain some sort of list, or number of things you must do for blankity blank blank to improve. It's never that simple. Each of our circumstances, though often ubiquitous, are unique and rarely clear cut, or black and white. No easy answer or list of things is going to be designed specifically for your life. Sure, use these posts as a general guideline every once in a while, but don't let them rule over your decisions.
    In fact, when you try to implement these things in your life and you fall short of fixing the blankity blank blank, then what? In light of the advice given, we have failed...yet again. Comparison is already biting at our ankles trying to break us down, and yet we stand feeling inadequate, just trying to get things right for once. Oh, to just be able to do something the correct way. The best way. Then I would be happier, more successful, less burdened, less judged. Friends, that is false. What does 'the best way' even mean? That is a concept so fickle and subjective and we let it overtake our lives in a heartbreaking amount of ways.
   Now, here's where I apologize for not having an easy solution for this problem. But I do have a few suggestions. Go to people in your life for advice. Like you know, you have 'your people' (Shameless Grey's Anatomy plug). They know you, they know your life, they understand what's really at stake. Trust them to provide real and honest opinions. It's much more personal than suggestions given to you via a random author half way across the country who doesn't know your first name or even your favorite color, for Pete's sake. My other suggestion is to simply seek God. Take Scripture as absolute truth and pray, everything else will fall into place, and you just have to trust God's faithfulness. Man's empty words will contradict each other when they try to reveal 'the best way' to do something. God's living, breathing, inspired word will absolutely guide you. Sometimes it takes a while to get to a point of clarity with God, but be relentless in pursuing Him. Flee from settling for what some blogger advises you do with your life. Overall, seeking God makes everything more approachable and a whole lot simpler. Our minds are quick to try to fix things. We even recognize how much we need change, and then we try to do it ourselves. This task will bring exhaustion, overwhelming anxiety, and defeat rather quickly. What if we just let God work and actively pursued His spirit? What if we didn't feel that grandiose feeling of inadequacy, that pressure to get things right?

Remember God is for you, even in the little things. Strive to do things for His glory, not just for the sake of doing them 'the best way.'

Feel free to share your thoughts! Thanks for reading this whole entire thing. Here's a virtual pat on the back!