Monday, July 21, 2014

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Meet Your Neighbors //

#RethinkHomelessness asked our #homeless friends to write down a fact about themselves that other people wouldn't know just by walking past them. Their answers may surprise you. 

I discovered this for myself last summer when I took the opportunity to get to know some people living on the streets. We have to get over our stereotyping of their circumstances. We really have no clue how they got to where they are without asking. To ask is to care and you'll be surprised how, once we relate to these new friends like people, compassion comes naturally. Any of us could be in their shoes!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Meet Your Neighbors //

Hosanna Wong's Dad was a pimp, until Jesus.
Friends, He isn't a safe-distance God. He gets right down in our situation and touches us.
and we are His hands + feet.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Come Alive //

"This is what You do, this is what You do, You make me come alive."
// bethel music

"Healing doesn't mean the damage never existed, it means the damage no longer controls our lives."
// unknown

I had heard that the School of Power + Love was coming to Madison, WI two weeks ago through a friend and decided to go spontaneously. I wanted to be stretched, edified, and come to know my God more intimately. It wasn't until I was preparing to leave that Jesus whispered that healing was going to come to me while I was there. It had been prophesied over me a month or so ago that I would find complete healing in pouring out on others. I'm only recalling that now, looking back.

For anyone unfamiliar with it, the School of Power + Love focuses on teaching Believers their identity in Christ, providing a safe community to grow with in spiritual giftings and also empowering you to step out in love toward others everywhere you go. I've been learning to hear God's voice for several years and at the school I was able to practice hearing words of knowledge from Him and receive prophetic words from Him as well for individuals I had literally just walked up to and met. It was very encouraging to do these exercises with believers from all over, not just Wisconsin, but the world.

Two women received words of knowledge for me. The first was that dance is a special connection for me with God. Its close to my heart, it draws us close. This is true. Its an expression of freedom for me, a form of worship. The other was that God's theme song, that He sings and dances over me, is "happy". I received this word though I wasn't experiencing it. "Happy, eh, Jesus? Okay. I guess it is time to be happy again in life." Whole, happy Chelsea started breathing again and immediately people noticed. A dear friend said to me as we spoke briefly that night, "You always sound so perky!" That's Christ in me; this new Chelsea coming alive.

The days were long and tiring. That never changed but with each consecutive day I grew more thankful in the face of the length and more joyful in response to the tiredness. Friday afternoon -- our third day of worship, wisdom and walking out -- we were standing as Bob closed our second session with prayer. As he spoke I was overcome and sat down with my hands open on my lap and wept. My hands caught every tear as they fell and Jesus whispered that He had been catching every tear I had cried in every day past.

As I dried my eyes a young man named TJ was passing by me and he stopped to ask if I was alright and gave me a hug. I met his friends Tanner and Izzi and joined them during our break/outreach time. We went to the mall and spent our time loving on each other and others we passed by. TJ and I shared bits of our stories with each other while we ate, we also encouraged each other to step out of our comfort zones and obey the Spirit's leading as we ministered to strangers. In just two hours a couple people in the mall that we had met had come to feel like precious friends and other people from Power + Love that we ran into -- Dionta, a young man from MI, Rick and two of his kids Kira + Kaden, as well as two little girls: Christine, from South Africa, and Phoebe -- had come to feel like family.

myself, Izzi, Dionta + TJ

The Lord's presence is very real to me even in the times that I sense it the least. I've sensed His presence clearly and strongly many times but never truly felt Him before. During the evening worship and session though the Spirit was heavy upon me. I had been saying to the Lord, "Look at Your beautiful Bride responding to Your love!" as I listened to the Church praise Him. I got a picture of a Groom seeing his bride and being undone by the sight of her -- the one he loves -- weeping with joy and unable to look away from her, he's so completely and lastingly lost in love of her. A woman came over feeling led to pray for me. She prayed, "You have such a hunger [for intimacy with the Lord]. You've been hungry for a long time. I'm releasing satisfaction of that hunger tonight. The relationships in your life are going to be impacted by it. God is saying, 'I will never look away from you. Don't look away from Me. Its breaks My heart when you look away. That's when you start sinking. Keep your eyes locked on Mine. You're freed to never have to look away again. I will never look away. I declare intimacy over you.'" The picture of the Groom weeping at the sight of His Bride was burning in my mind. My knees were buckling under the weight of the Spirit. I knew that if I wanted to I could resist it and stand straight, but when your Lover comes near you receive Him!

Anyone whose heart was burning, knowing the Lord had specific purpose for them was invited to the front of the sanctuary. I wasn't going to, but the Spirit nudged me, so I went up with many others. As soon as I got up I surrendered to the weight of the Spirit upon me, kneeling with my face on the ground. He had promised a present satisfying of the years of hunger I'd had for knowledge of Him, nearness to Him, the sound of His voice and an intimate understanding of His heart, but I knew it was also going to be a continual satisfying of that hunger in every day to come. From all the days in my life past,  I know that when I'm alive in Him and compelled by His love, purpose to pour out in and direction to walk in always comes. Under His presence I couldn't open my eyes and could hardly move, it felt like the rest and peace of a deep sleep except I was awake. Praising Him and agreeing in prayer as others somewhere around me were prophesied over and blessed with calling and empowerment I asked Him where He wanted to "send" me. At that time a calling was prophesied over me. I don't know this because the person speaking was looking at me or because others around me were, I was flat on my face and unable to move so I couldn't see if this was the case or not, but everything he said resonated in the depths of my heart and made it burn and I shook with humility and joy and thankfulness as Love touched me. I rolled onto my side gently, as though rolling over in my sleep, and I don't know how long I was resting in the Spirit there on the ground but when I was able to sit up again I did. A young lady knelt down by me right away and asked if she could pray for me. I said yes. She asked what for and I said, "Ask Him, He'll tell you. He will tell you." He did and her faith was encouraged as she received her first very accurate word of knowledge. Essentially, my broken heart was healed and whole, every bit of it, I was receiving the love and purpose of my God freely and she got a picture of chains on the ground beside me [no longer attached to me].

The remaining time that we had in Madison was lived to the full. Countless people spoke over me that my face was radiant with Jesus, that I shone bright, that the beauty of Him draws people to me, that they could read peace and love and joy all over me. "Praise Jesus! Praise Jesus! That's not how I arrived here." Unable to believe it one man asked me what I meant and I said I had come with a heart that was broken. "I never would have thought you were broken hearted! It's finished, darling!" Amen.

"Pull me a little closer, take me a little deeper, I want to know Your heart. Because Your love is so much sweeter than anything I've tasted, I want to know Your heart. We will see the look on Your face and we will hear the tone in Your voice and we will be changed as we behold You."
// bethel music

Monday, July 7, 2014

I knew her //

The little girl Chelsea, who had long brown hair and bangs, who snuggled kittens and held her baby brother proudly -- I knew her. The long-limbed Chelsea who was constantly sketching and begging for a dog -- I knew her. The self-taught high school Chelsea with pulled-back frizzy hair and stacks of filled journals -- I knew her. I knew the Chelsea that hungered for righteousness so much she was willing to move across the country to attended a discipleship program when she was just seventeen. The Chelsea who was terrified of the vulnerability of traveling alone but within two years of her first plane ride alone was flying half way around the world to visit orphanages in India -- I knew her. I knew the Chelsea who worked in an office and homeschooled her siblings, the Chelsea who bought a Little House and remodeled it, the Chelsea who helped to lead a mission trip to Denver and led a small group for Junior girls. The invested-in-the-journey, held by Love Himself, full of peace Chelsea who had a best friend named Zachary -- I knew her. Growth and change occurs with age but nothing has so altered my life before that I no longer understood the woman who was left after the fact. Heart break changes you. I'm not the same woman I used to be. I'm still figuring out this new Chelsea.

Identity has been on my heart, in my prayers, echoing in my mind. I had grown up into a lifestyle of uninterrupted abiding in the Lord. The break up really didn't change that, the months of silence didn't either. The Lord was leading me through faithfully, navigating the way to His best in every situation. He had been hearing my prayers. He knew my need and promised His provision was coming. The day His best meant letting go and moving on from Zachary was the day my abiding was interrupted by pain. Fear and doubt and hurt questioned the Love that I'd only ever seen to be unfailing and good all my days, through the messiest of messes and the hardest of times. I really hadn't had someone else's choices change my life so directly before and I didn't understand it, didn't get that there wasn't a safe-guard against such uninvited alterations. Jesus revealed truths to me about the harmony to be found between free will and His unchanging nature in that time and here's the thing that caught me by surprise: when God's best for you is a person who chooses differently and it changes everything -- including you -- God has a new best for the new you.

He has met my needs with exceedingly good gifts, true comfort and clear paths. I haven't healed fully yet. When I do I will have the fearlessness and faith-led feet that the Chelsea who had never been broken had. This new me is a mystery because she is all that I knew myself to be before but she is dead. Jesus is breathing new life into these bones though. Bits and pieces of me are coming to life. The Lord is taking His time, there's no rush on deep healing. I'm not far off from the wholeness and fullness of life that restored-abiding will bring. It's going to be exciting to see who this new Chelsea turns out to be, this woman The Lord is making me into.