Just Look...

Just Look...

Sunday, March 13, 2016


Tonight feels so very heavy. This year has felt full of tragedy and heartbreak, collectively, for our community. In the past month, my heart has hurt deeply for students and former students, for coworkers, for friends, for church members. Last week the death of Joey Feek, though I didn't know her or any of her family personally, weighed heavily in my mind. Loss and impending loss have hovered all afternoon and evening, covering us like a thick haze. I can't quit thinking about daughterless parents and motherless children and wifeless husbands. I can't quit thinking about teenagers who feel unloved and unwanted, who are failed by the system, who just need one thing to go right. I can't quit thinking about little guys and little girls who are abused by the people who are supposed to tenderly care for them. 

In light of all of this, and in case someone else is struggling this weekend, I wanted to share my notes from the Abundance conference. Skim through or read carefully, but let the words seep in because you might need them more than you even realize, as I did.

"King of the World"
Natalie Grant (not to be confused with AMY Grant) did a concert on Friday night. She sang lots of beautiful songs, but one absolutely captivated me and I know it was because I am living right in the middle of what she was talking about in the song. I am especially in need of this song every time I think about the impending Presidential election, because quite frankly it is scaring me absolutely to death. The chorus goes like this:
"When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you're the one who holds it all

When did I forget that you've always been the king of the world?"

Annie Downs
Having a full life doesn't mean you have an abundant life
Abundance is plentifulness of the good things of life
Acts 16
Lydia is a woman probably much like us. On the Sabbath, she was sitting with her friends by the river. She had a job-- a dealer in purple cloth. She had a household, she had houseguests. She had religious practices and a full life. However, something was missing for her. When Paul told her about Jesus, she couldn't resist.
Verse 40
Stuff and friendships and a job you love and a house to take care of and religious practices aren't enough. Jesus brings abundant life.
John 10:10
How is it abundance when we don't have everything we want?
It's about Jesus changing how you see what He has already given you.
He gives you new eyes to see what you have.
Luke 2:36-- Anna
If you want the abundant life, stay here because He is here.
Don't ignore the places of hurt and pretend your life has given you everything; it doesn't have to be. But it can be abundant because it's about Jesus. When the hard days come, you can still go to bed happy and know that He is still good.

Curtis Jones
Luke 8
If all that we preach and read isn't true in both the glory and the grind, then it's not true.
If it's not true when you're shattered AND when you're healed, it's not true.
John was faithful when the rest were not. 
There's nothing done in the kingdom that is not based on simple, unseen tasks.
Jesus tells us to pray because He knows what's coming for us.
John's glory and grind
Crucifixion and empty tomb
You need a Theology of Yes-- to believe we have a God who loves saying yes to us
We will have a moment where we will make a request and the answer will be no.
Jesus shows it's possible to have a theology of yes, I don't know, and no bc HE did.
In the Garden, He heard no.
Bc Jesus drank from His cup, when it's my turn to drink from MY cup, I'm going to survive. 
We can be faithful and faithfilled people.

Natalie Grant
We learn more about the character of the God we serve in the storm than we ever do on the mountaintop.

Hosea 2

Lisa Harper
Acts 12:12
Jesus touched the leper while he was still hideously disformed, filthy, and legally untouchable.

Lysa Terkeurst
II Chronicles 20:2
Three armies were coming against Jehosophat.
It's possible to hold so tight to Jesus that you have a reaction that surprises you.
Reactions determine so much about the future trajectory of what God wants to do in your life.
If we can learn to have better reactions, we will eventually have better relationships.
Verse 3-- Alarmed, J resolved to inquire of the Lord.
His name is bookended in two realities-- alarmed and resolved.
Feelings, while wonderful indicators that something is at hand that must be addressed, are poor dictators.
God gave emotions for us to experience life, not destroy life.
Resolved means he had already predetermined the first place he would turn when something happened.
He resolved to inquire and proclaim a fast.
Every day is a daily feeding of that resolve if you give your thoughts to the Lord.
You must exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world.
Wherever I apply my mind first is going to saturate me most deeply. When I get squeezed, the Lord is what's going to leak out if that's what we have saturated ourselves in.
Desperation leads to revelation.
Verse 5- we don't know what to do, but our eyes are on you.
We stare at the problem and magnify it while God is saying fix your eyes on my presence and my promise.
The more we press in, the more we magnify God.
Verse 15-- the battle is not yours, but God's
I will honor my God in this moment.
My job is to be obedient to God.
When you don't know what to do, get into God's word and let God's word get into you.
God's job is to figure out everything else.
Verse 18- he bowed down with his face to the ground and they worshipped the Lord
Not worship FOR my circumstances, but in the MIDST of them.
When is the last time we have been in that posture?
Proverbs 11:2 humility opens the door to wisdom
Pride says I'm going to numb myself and I can handle this
It's not true
In humility before the Lord, saying I don't know what to do but asking Him to let us worship
If I respond in pride, it's my right to be right
Pride and disgrace always hold hands, humility and wisdom always hold hands
Verse 21-- he gets his battle strategy
The highest form of power is found in praise, not in strength and weapons
Verse 24-- looked toward that vast army and saw only dead bodies lying on the ground
Verse 29-- and the fear of God came upon all of the surrounding kingdoms when they heard how the Lord had brought victory

***I came home this weekend with two major takeaways. There was a recurring theme at this conference of getting into His word and into prayer. This goes perfectly hand in hand with what I feel like our new Pastor and his sweet wife have been modeling for us at South Cleveland. I was deeply convicted when Lysa Terkeurst said that she always checked social media and email and voicemail every morning before spending time with the Lord until she realized that, when squeezed, whatever she had saturated herself in is what came out. Her phrase, "You must exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world" just about knocked me over. I am making a vow to spend more time in His word and in communion with Him. This is an area I have struggled with for as long as I can remember and there just isn't an excuse. The other message that struck me deeply were the reminders about reaction and perspective. I am probably the world's worst about tunnel vision, about seeing my surroundings through my human eyes instead of allowing God to show me His view. That is something else I'm going to focus on over the coming months.