Winter School

I had the privilege of attending Winter School at Hillsong NYC last week and have tons of great notes and thoughts from Robert and Amanda Ferguson who teach out in Sydney Australia.

One of the things I didn’t account for was on the final night, Robert Ferguson calling on the Holy Spirit.

Now you’re either thinking one of two things:

  1. It’s church, isn’t the Holy Spirit always there?
  2. Oh here we go, this is a charismatic, Assemblies of God thing.

Now let’s be real here. As a Christian I think I’m fairly good when it comes to the Holy Spirit. I like when the Holy Spirit is happy inside of me even when I want to feel sorry for myself some days. I like when the Holy Spirit helps me recall good verses in the Bible at random. I like the Holy Spirit how I like coffee..I’m not a big drinker but I appreciate it every now and then.

When it comes to the Holy Spirit though, for me, it’s really easy to get freaked out.

I feel like I told this story before, so if you have heard it bear with me. I don’t remember how old I was. Younger than 3rd grade I would guess, so about 7 or 8 at the oldest. And I remember that my aunt and uncle were in town visiting. At the time my parents were separated and I remember sitting on the couch in the living room with them, while my mom ran an errand or was outside for some reason. And I remember them trying very hard to teach me how to speak in tongues. I remember as a small child being really confused and almost embarrassed that this was happening. I didn’t get what was happening and I felt like I was disappointing my aunt and uncle somehow by not being able to speak how they spoke.

So that’s my first memory.

Fast forward to about four or five years ago, when I had my next really odd experience with what I still can’t be sure was the Holy Spirit at a gathering outside of my church. I remember being in a dark place, feeling depressed, and raising my hand for prayer. Long story short, I felt this really weird hot dripping egg yoke falling all over my body from my shoulders where strangers’ hands were laid on me to my toes. Once it was over I felt like my entire body was on fire, and sick to my stomach. So sick in fact that I had to leave the gathering before the sermon even started and proceeded to spew my insides all the way to the station where I thought I would be able to take the bus home.

Yay?

So needless to say I still have a hard time with “the Spirit” and “tongues” and all that.

I simultaneously want God to do His thing with the Spirit and am actually scared of what that will feel like.

So I’m at Winter School and Robert is closing the final night in prayer and he prays for the Holy Spirit to come and basically descend on us.

Now it might seem odd to you since hey, I’m a Christian so I should be okay with this, but I start to get sweaty and panicky. I start to think am I going to spew everywhere once it comes? Will I just start babbling? Will I be slain in the Spirit like they show on TV?

Haha. Anyone else?

I recorded both days in the sermon so I don’t remember at what point it hit me, but all of a sudden. Boom.

I kid you not it felt like someone shot me in the heart with a paintball pellet. Like actually it felt like I was hit with something but then it dispersed. Like it cracked open once it hit me. Like a snowball that whacks you in the chest for a second but then falls apart and spreads out.

I don’t know what that means.

It’s not like I started speaking another language or anything at all. I just sort of paused, expecting something weird to happen, but nothing did. Except the feeling that the Holy Spirit punched me in the heart.

I look forward to kind of, figuring out what all of this means in my life. Do you guys have any interesting stories? Am I the only one that is still sort of….anxious about this whole thing? If not, be of good cheer, I’m still sort of bashful about this whole thing too.

 

Jesscbnyc Recommends: All Things New 31-Day Devotional: DAY 1

DAY 1

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I really enjoyed the personality of Milt in today’s reading. The devotional talks about how James Robison was confronted by the man cleaning his hotel room. He seemed really concerned with James and could see how he was hurting. Instead of walking through his day, he took action, and asked James to sit down in his hotel room chair so he could pray over him.

I love Milt’s heart.

I also love that we don’t need a Milt, we need God. The spirit intercedes when we don’t have the words to pray for what we need (Romans 8:26).

I think it’s important to remember that if we don’t have a Milt, we can be a Milt for someone.

It’s also important to remember that the Holy Spirit prays for us and through us when we cannot do it ourselves.

There is no need to walk around tormented. We are called to take His yoke, which is much easier than all that we attempt to carry ourselves.

Running With the Wolves

“My spirit talks, I know my soul believes”

I was exploring Soundcloud yesterday and one of the songs that came up was AURORA – Running With the Wolves. I was talking to some girls from church last week at dinner and explaining that I notice Christian things in the world. It’s hard to explain but all around me, things people say, music, advertisements, etc all remind me of God. It’s like, people might not know that they are saying God things or having God thoughts, but when you are a Christian your radar is on and it’s loud and clear. Anyway, this song was pretty and I noticed the one line “My spirit talks, I know my soul believes”.

I think this is something most if not all Christians can relate to.

What I mean is, when you are saved, your Spirit, the Holy Spirit, talks to you.

In the Bible it says the following about the Holy Spirit:

John 3 NIV:

8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.
Romans 8 NLT:
16 For his Holy Spirit speaks to us deep in our hearts and tells us that we are God’s children.
Matthew 10 NIV:
do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 
20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
In other words, this is a regular song, but the lyrics speak deeper spiritual truths whether AURORA realizes it or not. We were all created with the breath of God, we sometimes speak His truths without realizing it, and in the world you can often recognize God’s word in non-Christian places. I find it really fascinating!
The second part of that line says “I know my soul believes”. I think there are two cool aspects to this. The lyric infers that the singer knows that she has a soul and that her soul has the ability to believe.
In looking up souls in the Bible I found two scriptures I believe apply:
Isaiah 42 ESV:

5  Thus says God, the Lord,

who created the heavens and stretched them out,

who spread out the earth and what comes from it,

who gives breath to the people on it

and spirit to those who walk in it.

Ecclesiastes 12 ESV

7 and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

I picked these out because if God created our souls/spirits then it makes sense that our souls believe in God. God cannot contradict Himself, so if He created something it wouldn’t argue with Him. Granted we as humans have free will–our flesh has free will, our brains have free will, but I still think that our souls know the Truth of God because it came from God. However, we can choose to rot our souls.

Habakkuk 2 MSG says:

You’ve undermined your foundations,
    rotted out your own soul.

While some might say, it’s just a song. Or you’re applying Christian thought to something that’s not Christian…I choose to believe the Truth as revealed in the Bible through disciples and Jesus Himself. If, we were all created by God, by His very breath, then why is it so illogical to believe that even if people are not followers of Christ or believers in God, that they would still have the ability to talk about or feel Heavenly truths, and have Spiritual pangs in their hearts without meaning to.

We all take after our parents. It could be good habits and bad habits. If we are all in fact, children of God, the one true God, it also follows logic that we would even in our day to day humanity reflect our Creator.

I challenge you to look for the fingerprints of God in the day to day–a lyric, a picture, someone’s comment, something in nature, and invention, whatever it may be—and trust me when I say–God is somewhere in it.

Found in the shadow | United in the light

“We have found each other in the shadow and we have been united in the light”

[Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32735289]

Someone shared this video on Facebook today and it blew me away. Two women, each with a skill, each with a weakness, working together to finish a product. I was already captured by the video and then out of nowhere, this beautiful quote: “We have found each other in the shadow and we have been united in the light”.

I’m in awe.

For me this feels like the Christian journey, my Christian journey, and yours. Sometimes you find yourself in shadows. You find out who you are in the darkness. You find out who Christ is in the darkness. You can identify others who are lost in the darkness. And it is God’s hope that we as His people are united in the light, and that us personally one-on-one God are united with Him in the light.

I’m writing to you as I normally would. No preparation, just inspired in the moment, no drafts, no edits, no filters. I want to write a tangent now, just to see what God might want to reveal to me and you. Free form. So here it goes:

God you are good. You are faithful. There are times where we become lost in our own darkness or there are times where the darkness around us becomes too heavy. We become deceived in the darkness because we forget that we have access to your light. You are the light of the world and you have illuminated us all with your Holy Spirit. God I am grateful that you found me in the shadow. We have found each other in the shadow. I am covered in the shadow of your wings. I need never fear the darkness or the shadow because you are always with me. You never leave me or forsake me. You are my God. Though there are seasons where we fall victim to the darkness help us to remember that we have been united in the light of your love and grace. One day when we come into glory with the Father you will banish darkness. Jesus endured the pain of the Father turning His face away. Jesus became covered by the darkness so that darkness would never be known to us. You gave us Your light. We are united with the Father because of Jesus who found us in the shadow so that forever we will be united in the light.  

Amen.

New shell

A few weeks ago I had an image that was perfect.

I was sitting on the bus, as I usually do as a commuter, and I remembered being a child. I remembered being down the shore at the beach, and getting hermit crabs. I remember they smelled pretty weird, I remember getting cages for them, I remember the wet sponge we would put in their cage, and I remembered the shell. I remembered the shell because when you have hermit crabs you realize that sometimes they run around naked. I’m serious. They take off their old shell and they look for a new shell. And it was in that moment, that I realized in this season of life, however long it might end up being, I am running around naked looking for my new shell.

What I mean is, there are times in life, where you realize your “shell” isn’t big enough for you anymore. You have grown too large to fit this “old shell”. And sometimes you feel exposed. It might sound ridiculous but I identify this as being a naked, streaking, hermit crab. Running around sometimes, looking for the next place. Now this could be a new job, a new relationship, or this could simply be running nakedly around but not having any idea where you are going. You know you don’t fit where you are, you have an idea of what God might have for you in the future, but it isn’t ready for you yet. You have grown uncomfortable in what no longer fits, but your new shell is not ready. RIGHT? I can’t be the only one streaking around here.

The best possible thing I did when writing this just in this exact moment was look up Hermit crabs on Wikipedia. Get ready for this!:

As hermit crabs grow, they require larger shells. Since suitable intact gastropod shells are sometimes a limited resource, vigorous competition often occurs among hermit crabs for shells. The availability of empty shells at any given place depends on the relative abundance of gastropods and hermit crabs, matched for size. An equally important issue is the population of organisms that prey upon gastropods and leave the shells intact.[6] Hermit crabs kept together may fight or kill a competitor to gain access to the shell they favour. However, if the crabs vary significantly in size, the occurrence of fights over empty shells will decrease or remain nonexistent.[7] Hermit crabs with too-small shells cannot grow as fast as those with well-fitting shells, and are more likely to be eaten if they cannot retract completely into the shell.[8]

As the hermit crab grows in size, it must find a larger shell and abandon the previous one. This habit of living in a second-hand shell gives rise to the popular name “hermit crab”, by analogy to a hermit who lives alone.[9] Several hermit crab species, both terrestrial and marine, have been observed forming a vacancy chain to exchange shells.[10] When an individual crab finds a new empty shell it will leave its own shell and inspect the vacant shell for size. If the shell is found to be too large, the crab goes back to its own shell and then waits by the vacant shell for anything up to 8 hours. As new crabs arrive they also inspect the shell and, if it is too big, wait with the others, forming a group of up to 20 individuals, holding onto each other in a line from the largest to the smallest crab. As soon as a crab arrives that is the right size for the vacant shell and claims it, leaving its old shell vacant, then all the crabs in the queue swiftly exchange shells in sequence, each one moving up to the next size.[11] Hermit crabs often “gang up” on one of their species with what they perceive to be a better shell, and pry its shell away from it before competing for it until one takes it over.[12]

I’m sorry but I could just about FALL OVER dead after reading this! Hermit crabs sound a lot like you and me. And I think God is hilarious for showing this to me. Don’t you?

If you need me to beat you over the head with what I’m talking about here you go:

– “Since suitable intact gastropod shells are sometimes a limited resource, vigorous competition often occurs among hermit crabs for shells.”

Aka sometimes there aren’t very many shells compared to hermit crabs who need them. Okay?????? So this explains why sometimes we are all a little insane. We, at various times, are cramped in our current space. We’re ready to jump. God you want us to move across country? Great I packed yesterday. God you want me to break up with that person? Great I’ll do it, where’s the next one? God I’ve been faithful to my unsaved spouse for 30 years and you want me to stay? Great when are they finally coming to church? God you want me to be a preacher? Great, when can I start? The list goes on guys. But to be real, it can feel like there’s a lot more cramped people than new places to run to. C’mon now. That’s good! That’s the truth right there. There are many want-to-be writers, there are many singles wanting to be married, there are many aspiring musicians, there are many single-mothers who just want their boyfriends/husbands to finally give in and go to church. The list is endless. And yet, you can often look around in your life, and feel like there isn’t any room for you. The “shells”, so to speak, have been occupied. You can feel like you got your revelation too late, because like the childhood game of musical chairs, all the seats are taken, and you are still naked! Or the vultures of life could have destroyed the shell you thought you were going to get. This could be a fiancé who broke off the wedding, this could be a job offer that fell through, this could be someone who stole your husband/wife and your marriage through adultery. I don’t know. But regardless you can feel like you are exposed, and shell-less. But let me remind you and my own often naked heart that God didn’t make you to live in competition. He provided more than enough “shells” for all of us. So if someone else is getting married, or someone less qualified got your job, or someone is the worship leader but you’ve been humbly serving for years, just know there are plenty of shells to go around. We don’t have to fight for our space.

– “Hermit crabs with too-small shells cannot grow as fast as those with well-fitting shells, and are more likely to be eaten if they cannot retract completely into the shell.”

AMEN. Again. AMEN. Okay everyone. So we are all on this journey. We all have different timelines. And yes..it totally..excuse my French..sucks sometimes. As a single woman it sometimes pains my heart and womb to see people getting married or having babies. I don’t feel anywhere near that some days. But rather than dwell on what other people are living, what their “shell” is. I need to dwell where I am. Where God has me. I can’t force myself to grow any faster, just like they can’t force themselves to be unfit for their “shell”. Their shell fits right now, and mine doesn’t. I can’t make a new shell appear out of no where. Everything has it’s time, am I right? Rather than let the vultures of life i.e. jealousy, comparison, fear, etc. eat us alive we need to trust that in the season where we are too big for our old life, old dreams, whatever. That we are covered by God. We might not have our own covering, but He is forever covering us, His children. It’s scary to think that we’re half in, half out of a place that no longer fits us, and exposed in some way. But in this time where things don’t quite fit, we need to remember that we are still covered by Him.

– “When an individual crab finds a new empty shell it will leave its own shell and inspect the vacant shell for size. If the shell is found to be too large, the crab goes back to its own shell and then waits by the vacant shell for anything up to 8 hours. As new crabs arrive they also inspect the shell and, if it is too big, wait with the others, forming a group of up to 20 individuals, holding onto each other in a line from the largest to the smallest crab. As soon as a crab arrives that is the right size for the vacant shell and claims it, leaving its old shell vacant, then all the crabs in the queue swiftly exchange shells in sequence, each one moving up to the next size.”

I think this is so cute. I love this whole idea because I think it shows the power of being “naked” together. I think this is why the “church” as a body of believers exists. We are all exposed at different times and in different seasons. There are older people, who have lived in their “shells” for years, and younger people who are constantly growing. We need to stop camping out as Christians in our old shells just because it’s comfortable. Let that sink in for a minute. Stop reading. Okay ready? We need to stop staying in our old shells. This might mean, opening your home to a family who can’t afford their apartment anymore. This might mean, inviting that person you don’t really like to hang out with your friend group. This might mean elevating someone in your volunteer group to a higher position, even your own, because they might be better than you at it. Shocking right? I love this image of silly little hermit crabs, naked, in a line from big to small, waiting for people in their group to find a bigger shell, to have some more space, to live more comfortably, to have an opportunity because everyone left what they used to have behind. We can’t grow if there are no vacancies, people! Make some space.

– “Hermit crabs often “gang up” on one of their species with what they perceive to be a better shell”

Just stop, God. Just stop. Hello ladies. Does any of this speak to you??? I can’t even begin to tell you how this punched me right in the gut. I’ve often felt in girl groups to be on the outs. What I mean is, I’m not the one asked to be in pictures, I’m not the one invited to everything, I know what it’s like to feel unwanted even in a group of Christian girls. We all have. I can only speak as a woman, but there are times we can be both the victim of this and the perpetrator. You can judge a girl by her “shell” if she’s prettier than you, or more successful than you, or the guy you like at church likes her instead of you. I’ve seen this way too much with girls/women. You do not have to gang up on someone for having a better shell than you. Whether physical or situational (job, house, husband, kids, etc) as a mature Christian woman you should not be someone who gangs up on another woman. It’s not us versus them, it’s not you versus me, it’s He and it’s we (as a sisterhood). And that’s it. I want a new shell, you might want the same shell, but it doesn’t mean we need to cat fight for it. God is more than able to supply all of our needs and He’s not up there taking bets on which one of us will win the fight. Capiche?

All of this to say that. 1. I hope one of these resonated with you. 2. We are all exposed in some way. We are all nakedly running around waiting for God to answer some prayer. We can choose to be covered by Him, or be running for cover in “shells” that are not the right fit. I pray that we begin to be comfortable standing under His wings, totally naked, knowing that He is always working on our behalf and He will not keep pouring Himself out into old wineskins, old shells, when He made us for more. He made us new.

The best is yet to come. Our best from Him, not your friend’s best. Or your co-worker’s best. Or that person you envy on social media’s best. God has His individual and unique best for you. And the best is yet to come. Will you wait?

Innerancy vs Infallibility

Hey guys,
Last week I started my first night class through my church, Hillsong NYC: “Theology: Faith Foundations”. I’m pretty excited to learn more about the Bible, my faith, and basically how to be a better more well-informed Christian. After we were done with our class we were given some homework. The assignment was to define the terms Innerancy and Infallibility and decide which one we agree with. I thought I would challenge you guys to look these terms up too, and see what you think. I’m going to share my thoughts on the assignment below:
The word inerrant means to be incapable of being wrong and the word infallible takes the same idea a step further to me by adding a relationship aspect to it. By using synonyms to define it like trustworthy, accurate, etc. it seems to me that infallible is much more relational than the cut and dry right/wrong of inerrancy. In a lot of ways they seem like two sides of of the same coin. 
 
I believe the Bible is infallible meaning it is trustworthy. It runs the scope of many different well-respected authors and the accounts of historical events and miracles are similar. It’s not like the Bible argues and conflicts with itself and authors had vastly different accounts of how an event happened. I am comfortable with the relationship of a person to their Bible because it is still speaking to us and teaching us through the Holy Spirit. We aren’t solely relying on our own knowledge or view of what we are reading, we have help from God himself and in that sense it is trustworthy. We aren’t relying on what people said years ago to teach us but we are allowing the Helper/the Holy Spirit to minister to us and reveal knowledge to us through the Bible. I think it is possible that there could be errors in details like, perhaps, geography, but these are not crucial facts to the Christ’s teachings. I recall hearing years ago in Church that there is primary and secondary doctrine. I think this is somewhat the same thing. Meaning, there are things that are fundamental to Christ in the Bible i.e. virgin birth, salvation through Christ alone, the Trinity, Christ’s death and resurrection, etc. These things are incapable of being wrong because it would rip apart our whole belief system if any of these things aren’t true. And then there are other things like what version of the Bible you read or if you believe in being dunked in Baptism or sprinkled. 
 
The Bible even says in Matt 23 that there is a sort of distinction between matters in levels of importance:
 
“23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. 24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.”
 
I still find the comparison a little confusing but based on the definition alone I think I lean more towards infallibility. 

Monday Inspiration 4.6.15

Hebrews 10 MSG

11-18 Every priest goes to work at the altar each day, offers the same old sacrifices year in, year out, and never makes a dent in the sin problem. As a priest, Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! Then he sat down right beside God and waited for his enemies to cave in. It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some very imperfect people. By that single offering, he did everything that needed to be done for everyone who takes part in the purifying process. The Holy Spirit confirms this:

This new plan I’m making with Israel
    isn’t going to be written on paper,
    isn’t going to be chiseled in stone;
This time “I’m writing out the plan in them,
    carving it on the lining of their hearts.”

He concludes,

I’ll forever wipe the slate clean of their sins.

Once sins are taken care of for good, there’s no longer any need to offer sacrifices for them.

I love Jesus. I love God. I love that my sin and inadequacy was mercifully wiped away through Jesus’s crucifixion. No longer do I have to be a slave to religion and perform sacrifices as people did years ago. I have Jesus. His blood atoned for my sin. I love the picture the Message version presents by saying God didn’t rewrite rules for us like He did on tablets with the 10 Commandments. Instead, He wrote the plan IN US. Jesus died for us. He covers us. The Holy Spirit lives in us. It is written on our hearts. The very Word of God and the resurrection power of Jesus is written inside of us once we accept Him as Lord over us.

In the wake of Easter Sunday where you are reminded of this miracle, I am so grateful for the Good News and the endless, immeasurable love and peace I have from knowing who’s I am.

Be blessed.