Let ’em know, we gon’ rise, we gon’ shine.

“Do you think Jesus is better off with you as one of His followers?”

That’s what my The Gospel of Mark Bible study just asked me. Like talk about a loaded question. If You had asked me when I started this study, my answer would have been different. My walk with You has changed so much since then. I stopped carrying all that baggage around, ya know that guilt, shame, all the hot mess. It’s a whole lot easier to walk when you’re not carrying baggage. And my hands are open and free to help others now too.

The pastor reminded us yesterday that the Promised Land is wherever You are and we belong to Your Kingdom. He said the Kingdom of God is present now and we are part of a greater Kingdom than anything this world has to offer us. He continued preaching with even in the battles, there is still a sense of victory, so keep laboring. Even when we don’t see the Heaven advances, there is still a sense of victory, so keep laboring. The war has always been won, we’re on the winning side, the deck is stacked.

This was a continuation from last week’s message. Where he said we are ambassadors of Christ. We need to act like we’re members of another Kingdom. He said we are not the warrior, You are. We can’t force others to follow You, even though I tried once, totally failed. I just wanted my friend to know the love and grace that I know, but I said the wrong thing and sent her running scared. I was like 15, my heart was in the right place, but boy my words were out of order. The pastor said we are called to communicate the message of the One who sent us. Now that I spend actual time in the Word, studying, my words are more clear. I have been given authority now.

The pastor always ends the service with Matthew 28:18-20 which says: Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” The fact that You gave me, of all people, authority to make disciples kinda blows my mind. Like who even am I? Oh that’s right, I am a child of You, God. I am Yours. I am blameless. I am holy, righteous, and free (instantly singing Blameless by Dara Maclean in my head now). I belong to the Kingdom. Lord, You fight for me. The pastor said the same grace that brought us to the Kingdom is the same grace that keeps us in the Kingdom. This cannot be taken from me. No matter what I do, because it never depended on what I do. It only depends on You, God. You are the One who sent me. You are the One calling me. You are the One fighting for me. You are the King, the One True God. I am a disciple maker because You are the disciple keeper.

So, here is my prayer today. I pray that I continue to make disciples. I pray that I keep laboring. I pray that I keep studying, growing, and walking with you. I pray that I repent and keep my eyes focused on you daily. I pray that I remember whose I am. I pray that I remember who you are. Thank you for unpacking my baggage. I pray I help carry other’s baggage to the cross too. I pray that I am your hands and feet. I pray I never stop moving forward for your kingdom. I pray I bring chairs to the table. Thank you for fighting for me. Thank you for the grace you have extended me. Thank you for calling me. Thank you for saying my name. Thank you for putting my name in the book. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Your arms spread wide where mine should be, You changed my destiny.

Once upon a time there was a little girl that carried her Bible around everywhere. This little girl with the prettiest curly brown hair that anyone’s ever seen. This little girl invited her friends to Church in the backseat of her parent’s car on the way home from cheer-leading. This little girl showed her parents her Bible when they had an argument and told them the Bible says to love each other. This little girl who went to take a tour of the new Christian school she was going to first grade at and decided she wanted to be a missionary right where she was and spend her life serving You, God.

This little girl who decided in the middle of worship one Sunday morning in the second grade that she wanted to take that walk down the aisle. This little girl felt the Holy Spirit, ran back to her mama, told her she wanted to be baptized, and she knew exactly what that meant. This little girl did not wait for the invitation at the end of the service. This little girl grabbed the children’s director and went straight to the alter to lay her heart down, right then and there. At the beginning of the service. While everybody was still just a singin away.

This little girl who spent summers at Church camp, rededicating her life to You because she wanted more and more of You, God. This little girl grew up and got sassy. This girl used the word whatever so much her mama had her say Philippians 4:8 which says: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. 

This girl kept growing up. This girl twirled a flag while covered in glitter under stadium lights on a football field. This girl participated in state and national competitions. This girl became president of the club that gave her friends and a safe place in high school. This girl got inducted into the National Honor Society. This girl received an award for character and service. This girl graduated high school with honors. This girl went off to college and turned into a woman. This woman signed up for recruitment all on her own. This woman was extended a bid from a sorority that inspired her to impact the world. This woman found out who she was and lived with purpose. This woman met the most amazing, grace filled, forgiving people in that sorority. This woman became president of that sorority. This woman graduated college. This woman took a job in a group home for teenagers for the next two and a half years. This woman thought she would be doing the teaching, (and she was teaching, so so much, they don’t call her Miss Extra for nothing) but this woman was also learning so so much from You, God.

Inside of this woman will always be this girl who makes so many mistakes. This girl ran from You. This girl questioned You. This girl doubted You. This girl was a hot mess. This girl hurt people. This girl lied because of her pride. This girl felt shame and guilt. This girl grieved.

But there was always You. It was always You, guiding her. When this girl ran, instead of giving up, You kept the light on for her. When this girl questioned, instead of getting angry, You answered. When this girl doubted, instead of turning her away, You held open arms. When this girl was a hot mess, instead of getting even, You forgave her. When this girl hurt people, instead of hurting her, You taught her how to make it right. When this girl lied because of her pride, instead of shaming her, You gave her grace and truth. When this girl felt shame and guilt, instead of pushing her, You gave her the space she needed and the most gentle kind of fatherly love she had ever known. When this girl grieved, instead of telling her to get over it, You drew her close. When this girl made unthinkable mistakes, instead of locking her up and throwing away the key, You laid down Your life for her.

This girl and this woman want to spend every waking second getting to know You more, God. She wants to serve You. She wants to love the way You love. She wants to extend grace like You. She wants to point everyone she meets to You. She wants to keep reading those red letters every day. You wrote her the most beautiful story filled with love and joy and peace. You gave her a life better than she could ever dream of. Your pursued her. You cherished her. You made her feel worthy. You loved her. You brought light to her dark places. You showed her how to share that light. You gave her the freedom to choose You.

So, here is my prayer today. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for designing a life I love. Thank you for writing my story better than I ever could. Thank you for knowing what’s best for me. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you grace and forgiveness. Thank you for pursing me and for your gentleness. Thank you for chasing after me. Thank you for laying your life down for me. Thank you for your glory. Thank you for red letters. Thank you for freedom. Thank you for opening and closing the right doors. Thank you for starting and ending chapters right when needed. Thank you for cleaning up my mess. Thank you for Holy Spirit filled moments with you. Thank you for accepting my heart. Thank you for knowing every hair on my head, every mistake, every terrible thought, every smile, every tear, every moment of my life and loving me still. God, I want to spend my life dedicated to you. I want to spend my life in service of you. I want to give you all the glory. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

You made a way, where there was no way.

I started reading You Were Made To Make A Difference. I picked it up in high school but never seemed to finish it. And because You’re timing is so good, now is exactly when I was supposed to be reading it. The first part opens with: “You were made to belong to God.” Like my heart screamed: YASSSSS! At the conclusion of that first chapter it says: “As you get closer to God, you will start to see yourself the way He sees you. And He will show you all the things He has equipped you with to make a difference. Then, as you continue to get to know and follow Him, He will take you to the people who need exactly what you can give.” Again with the heart screaming: YASSSSS!

During that first chapter, it said to get our my Bible and read Acts 1-12 and at every event to pray for You to do it again. I immediately thought of something I heard on the radio last night: “Let God exceed your expectations.” 

Right in the beginning of Acts 1:8 You give us what we need. It says: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” We get to be a witness to all You’ve done and we have the privilege of telling those around us about it and sharing Your goodness with them. Like seriously, how cool is that?

So, this is my prayer. Lord, I am nothing without you. Only you could write this story. Only you could make this happen. Only you could do this, again and again and again. Only you move the mountains. Abba Father, I have seen miracles only you could have done, and I will see you do it again. Thank you for letting me see you work. Thank you for letting me share in your work. Thank you for letting me tell others about all you’ve done in my life. Thank you for breaking my heart for what breaks yours. Thank you for preparing me. Thank you for equipping me. Thank you for working in me and through me. Thank you for walking with me. Thank you for talking with me. Thank you for the ache to know you. Thank you for the promise of Heaven. Thank you for whispering your plans to my heart. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.