Glory Days

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I’ve often heard the phrase “the good old glory days” tossed around when people talk about a part of their past that they seemingly enjoyed the most. A beautiful part of their story that nothing in their life now seems to compare too. I’ve often thought it’s interesting how even as believers, we often tend to talk about a moment of time in our lives where we experienced a move of God and treat it as if it were the only “glory moment” of our story. For example, those times when we went on a mission trip, or to Bible School, saw someone healed, got a prophetic word, heard a great sermon etc. While those experiences are amazing God-filled memories and movements to be encouraged by. It’s easy to let our lives be consumed with the “remember when” moments and forget that today holds fresh potential for more of the Kingdom to be experienced here on earth.

It’s important to not let those experiences become a holding ground when they were actually designed to be a launching pad. What I mean by this is that we should not allow one experience to become our only experience of God. Our experiences are meant to be an invitation for us and those around us to step into a deeper intimacy with Him. They should make us hungrier for more of God himself.

In Matthew 17:1-8, Jesus took the disciples, Peter, James and John up to the mountain with him and transfigured before them. It says his face shone like the sun and his clothing become white. If that isn’t magnificently terrifying enough, Moses and Elijah suddenly appeared. Peter’s response, is like what many of ours would be. He wanted to stay on the mountain and even offered to build a tent for each of them. Then God the Father spoke in a loud voice, and gave them the command to listen and follow his beloved son Jesus. They fell to the ground terrified. Then just like that, it was over and Jesus was leading them down the mountain to continue His work here on earth.

The thing is, Peter, James and John could have stayed at the mountain forever. They could have set up camp and chatted around the campfire about their experience until the end of their days. However, they would have completely missed both the point and the command that God gave them. They would have been stuck reminiscing about a moment with Jesus instead of continuing on the journey with him.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”-2 Corinthians 3:18

We are not made for just mere moments of glory- we were designed to go from glory to glory. Everything we experience with Jesus is part of him transforming us into the image of himself. What you’ve experienced with God is beautiful, it’s powerful, and it’s unique to your relationship with him. Yet it’s just a taste of what is available for you. We can’t afford to camp-out on empty mountaintops when he has called us to a much greater mission. A great co-mission. Where with Jesus, we are called to continue his reconciling work here on earth and make disciples of all nations. Going from glory to glory as we continue to experience his goodness in different seasons and places and in the process become more like Him. No matter what stage of life we are in, there is so much more to discover in Him.

You are dearly loved,

Rachel Elizabeth

In Stormy Seas

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“Our boat felt so unstable in the middle of the sea as the vicious storm continued to thrash us around like we weighed nothing more than a flea. The same sea that just a few hours ago appeared to be my friend, so peaceful and serene had somehow now become my greatest enemy. Lightning bolts were flashing across the sky and the thunder threatened us with each mighty roar that the storm was just coming closer. I had never felt so small and helpless as I looked at the size of the waves in comparison to our vessel. The same boat I had once thought as safe and secure. As each wave started to lift us up little by little I started to say goodbye to the world I knew. Then suddenly I remembered, my  great teacher was sleeping right below. “Surely” I thought, “if he awakens we may not perish after all”. Sopping wet and shaking violently with fear, I ran down the corridor and opened his door with a forceful hand. “Jesus” I cried out. “How can you sleep when death is at our doorstep?”

He held my hand and gently led me back up to the deck. Calmly he spoke to the sea and simply said “Peace! Be Still!” Then the storm ceased. Once again the sea was peaceful and serene. He looked me in the eye and said “Why were you so afraid? Even though we have been together so long, have you still no faith?” As I looked into those kind eyes with great awe and wonder at he who rules even over the seas, suddenly I realized what he was trying to show me. My  life was never at the mercy of the deadly waters but rather in the hands of him who dearly loves me.”

–Rachel Elizabeth

Trustworthy of Influence

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I just love reading about Daniel in the Bible. He is seriously THE MAN! He is described as being wise with an excellent spirit, full of the spirit of God and able to interpret dreams  (and those were the words of a queen!-Daniel 5:10-12).

Three different kings promoted him to a place of leadership because of the wisdom and “excellent spirit” over his life. Yet what seems to mark history is not his abilities but rather his humility and integrity. Daniel was unwilling to compromise his covenant with the Lord. To the point he would eat only vegetables in order to not defile himself with the sinful culture around himself. He lived life so blamelessly that other wise-men and leaders within the kingdom of Babylon could find no fault in him. They knew the only way to destroy his good-standing with kings, was to put Daniel in a position where he would have to chose between worshiping God or idols. Yet even when thrown into the lions den,  Daniel remained devoted to the Lord.

Proverbs 22:11 says,              

“He who loves purity of heart, and whose speech is gracious, will have the king as his friend.”

Daniel represents this proverb so well, his desire to maintain his purity of heart in his relationship with the Lord gave him platform for great influence over the kings of the day. Which then influenced the entire nation.

If we, like Daniel want to be godly influences to the nations.We need to learn from his example and firstly be influenced by God. I have come to realize it is far better to be known for good character than great ability. I believe this is because God is far more concerned about the condition of our hearts than He is about what we accomplish. If the condition of our hearts is pure, he can do far more in and through us because he can trust us to carry out his work in a manner that reflects him. Not only does God trust a pure heart, but so do the people around us.

In a world where compromise and flighty character  are common themes in the realms of business, entertainment, relationships and politics.People are searching for those whom they can trust to be a part of their life. When we chose to be trustworthy people, we then have a position to speak into peoples lives the beautiful realities of the Kingdom of God. 

We simply cannot afford to compromise the purity of our hearts to fit into the lifestyle around us. If we want to see the nations know God, we need to be a good representation of him. Our character has the opportunity to be just as great of a testimony  of who God is as the tangible supernatural power of him. It’s the development of godly character that makes us good stewards of what He entrusts us with. Daniel was held in high esteem for both his devotion AND the supernatural work of God throughout his life, and we are called to do the same.

The amazing thing is, you were already made to represent him! Like Daniel, you have been strategically placed with an amazing purpose to co-labor with God and change the world around you. There is a part of the kingdom in you that only you can share.You were made to influence, and the opportunities of what He can do in a willing heart is endless! So let’s be trustworthy of influence, so the world can see God in us!

You are dearly loved!

–Rachel Elizabeth

Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you” -Ephesians 5:14

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My New Year’s Resolution is to become fully awake. This idea started when I realized I’ve been finding it so hard to get out of bed lately. It’s just so cozy, it’s warm and it’s safe. And in some ways, I’m guilty of expecting life to be lived in the same fashion.

Don’t get me wrong, sleep is not a bad thing. We need it! Rather it’s the condition of our souls being asleep that is the real issue. In a culture where it is not uncommon to spend hours binge-watching Netflix, being constantly connected to social media, sleeping the days away and merely surviving work because of the massive amounts of caffeine we intake; Complacency has crept in and is taking over lives.

Now, in moderation these things are okay, but if Netflix, relaxing, social media, sleep and coffee are the only things I look forward to- I need to seriously evaluate what I’m living for. The scary thing about this lifestyle is that while complacency seems harmless, it’s actually deceitful, deadly  and incredibly selfish (Proverbs 1:32). It does not build me up in any way nor anyone around me. In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he compares this to being dead. Yikes! Now, I’m not pointing fingers. I’m so guilty of this too, you don’t normally make a New Years Resolution to get better at something your already good at. However, this post is about inviting you to journey with me in the fight against complacency; to awaken and pursue the abundant life Jesus died to give us.

So here is a bit of what I have learned so far…

Ephesians 5:14 

“Awake, O’ sleeper” – Even though the sun may wake us up for a moment each day, it’s our choice to respond to it with wakefulness or roll over and go back to sleep. In the same way when we encounter God, we chose if we want to awaken to Him or face the other way. When we say yes we become more aware, of our surroundings, ourselves and others. Since wakefulness is a state of the mind that the body then responds too. In our faith it starts with the renewing of our minds that everything is then affected by. This means spending our time pursuing things that don’t dull or distract our minds but instead increase our sensitivity to what God wants to do in and through us. So we can keep saying yes! The way we live our lives is the fruit of what we treasure in our hearts, and our minds are the gateway to what we allow to penetrate our hearts.

“Arise from the dead…”- Arise means to “rise up”. What we become aware of when are awake we then rise to act upon it. Yet we can’t do this alone. Isolation is the greatest influencer of complacency. When we have zero accountability, it’s easy to have very little motivation to grow. We were designed to be part of an active body. Unless we are functioning part of it, we won’t get very far. This means going beyond just attending church on Sunday, it means being the church. It means putting in effort, talking with and encouraging the body of believers that surround you.
Sometimes it’s easy to blame others for your lack of positive friendships. Feelings of bitterness or hurt can keep us on the outside. However being alone is actually far more dangerous than the risks you will take to find and develop friendships. If you don’t have many friends, start being the friend you want to have and similar people will be attracted to you. Pursue the people you want to be like! Ask to sit with them in church, ask them for coffee and intentionally connect with them. People are more likely to be honored by your pursuit than put off by it. You need the body, and it desperately needs you!

“…and Christ will shine on you”- Like a plant that is positioned under the sun will grow, when we chose to be awake we position ourselves under Jesus’ light. We are inviting more of Him into our lives and He honors it with His very own life-giving and glorious presence. It both refines us and makes us an effective witness of who He is. As our relationship with God grows so does our understanding of purpose, calling and our value! For the light of Christ reveals to us who we are and what we were created for.

Once we have a taste of our true value and potential it’s hard to hide in our complacency any longer. What was once safe and cozy will feel constricting and limiting. What we desire changes as the conditions of hearts go from asleep to awake as we walk in the knowledge that we have so much to offer! No longer do we want to hide what God has deposited in us, because we know it’s an essential part of God the world needs to see!

So , this year would our hearts come fully awake and rise up together as dearly beloved children of the light!

You are ever so loved!

–Rachel Elizabeth 

Fully Awake

Salty & Full of Flavor

“You are the salt of the earth..” (Matthew 5:13)

I don’t know about yours, but my grandparents are notorious for adding loads of salt to every meal. They started off just like everyone else with a moderate amount, but that significantly increased over the years as the desire to taste their food to the fullest grew. At least, I think that is how they justify it! Either way, we all can agree that salt brings out the true flavor of food.

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In the same way that salt brings out the flavor of our food, when we encounter Jesus, he brings out the true expression or “flavor” of who we were created to be in us. And it makes us thirsty, ever so thirsty for more. For a water that only He can supply, a beautiful river of life and love than flows forth from His hand and quenches even the driest soul. You were created to be that salt for others- drawing out the the thirst for something deeper that is inside us all and revealing the true flavor of who they were made to be.

Simply by walking in the truth of our identity as children of God who are dearly loved, healed and redeemed, we become more attractive to a world that is in desperate need for all of these things. A world that is crying out for a Father, to be loved, healed and restored. You have the potential to carry what the world needs inside of you. So embrace the salt and let God bring out the flavor in you, it’s beautiful, bold and it increases the thirst for God in those around you.

You are ever so loved!

Rachel Elizabeth

 

 

Account For Your Ability

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Accountability is a word that gets tossed around often in the church. Especially in regards to relationship. I’ve personally been encouraged time and time again to find an “accountability partner”.

However, this idea became less and less enticing the more I pursued it, because my understanding of accountability was so jaded. I used to believe asking someone to keep me accountable meant having my own confession booth. I would confess all my failures to them, and then the fear of them knowing my failures would keep me from doing wrong. I started to avoid these kinds of relationships because really, who wants that?

Now don’t get me wrong, I think having people in your life to walk through the hard stuff is important. However I have come to learn that having accountability is so much more than a time of confession. It’s a relationship where you ask someone to account to their ability. Yes the failures, but also the victories!!!

This means instead of just having people in our lives to confess our worst too, we need to have people around to encourage our best. Instead of conversations that bring guilt and shame, we need to start speaking life and identity over one another.

When we encourage one another to step into our God- given dreams, destinies and desires, it gives us motivation to flee from what holds us back. Suddenly we want what is better instead of being stuck in what is familiar. It’s amazing what happens when you surround yourself with people who believe you will overcome. Who believe that God has good things for you. It’s both inspiring and contagious. You can’t help but begin to believe it too! So guys, seriously, let’s start accounting for our ability in our relationships. We all know we become what we believe about ourselves.So let’s believe the best for ourselves and one another!

You are ever so loved!

-Rachel Elizabeth-

Seeds & Soil

“Read your Bible and pray everyday and you’ll grow, grow, grow…”

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Do you remember that good old Sunday school tune? For those of you who haven’t heard it…come talk to me, I’ll sing it for you. Just kidding, but really this song speaks the truth! The time we spend in prayer or reading our Bible is meant help us grow. However, I often find myself reading the Bible just for the sake of reading it. Instead of truly capturing the heart of the message and understanding what it means for my life.

Jesus describes this kind of attitude as not just a bad habit, but a dangerous condition of the heart. You can see this as he explains the parable of the sower to his disciples.

“Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart….As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty”- Matthew 13:18-23

To sum it up –whatever falls onto good soil, will grow. That is why Jesus is emphasizing the importance of the Word being planted in the right place. God will deposit the seed into us, but we determine how deeply it will become rooted in us. The quality of soil determines the quality of the plant. If our hearts are dry, nothing can grow and our seeds will be taken away from us. So what does it look like to have “good soil” in our lives? Jesus compares this good soil, to a heart that listens and understands.

What is significant about a heart that hears?

When we position ourselves to listen, we are demonstrating an openness to what God wants to reveal. It is an expression of humility and desire to increase in the knowledge of God. I believe this is an important posture in our relationship with God. Sometimes, it’s easy to treat God like we would a diary. A place to pour out our emotions and feelings, and expect nothing in return. However, God is not a distant being who doesn’t care about your life. He is our Father, and he wants to be more than a listening ear. Conversation is a key component to any relationship. Conversation builds intimacy while monologues rob one person of a voice. If you spend all your time talking at God, then your relationship is built on the expression of your own heart and emotions. Therefor your relationship with God becomes a reflection of what you feel in the moment. Our hearts can so easily deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9) so it’s important to build your life on what He says instead of what you feel.

Why is it important to understand?

Understanding adds substance to our belief in God that goes deeper than just a mere decision in a moment. Understanding takes a conscious effort. How beautiful is it when someone takes the time to understand us? We can never totally understand a person, unless we know their heart and history. It’s the same thing with God. There is so much to learn about what He has done and what He is going to do. When we grow in our knowledge of Him, the natural outpour is an increased faith because we know His character. If we don’t understand Him, we will never trust him.
When we take time to understand God, we are placing value on our relationship with Him. Time is a hard thing to spend, often harder than money; it always feels like we don’t have enough. God must have thought so too because He laid down His life in pursuit of our hearts, so we will not be limited by time in our relationship with Him. He wanted more than a lifetime relationship with us, his desire for us has always been eternity. Death will never do us part from Him.

You can always tell what someone treasures by the way they spend their time. The more time spent with God, the more we come to understand His ways. You will never understand what you don’t experience. I would encourage you to take the time to become fertile soil for the Lord to plant seeds of truth. Listen and take the time to understand God and His word, and you will grow!

You are so loved!

-Rachel Elizabeth-