Category Archives: Praise and Worship Music

Unmasking the Need

In the spring of 2013, I was running my usual route on a cool jungle morning. Unspoiled mountain views surrounded me — their beauty a constant source of awe.  That day however, my thoughts couldn’t appreciate the scenery because of the chaos in my mind. Thoughts of worry, doubt, and fear fought for dominance in my heart. Each emotion finding its root in the new path God had recently asked me to walk.

After two and half years of missionary life in the jungle, God was calling me to leave.  I had no clue why. Life in the jungle had been a struggle at first, but now I loved it and couldn’t imagine leaving it behind. I wanted to stay. I didn’t want a new calling.

But it was here, and I ran that day hoping that God would somehow change his mind and let me stay. My headphones pumped worship music in my ears. I needed some peace; I needed confirmation. The music shifted from Chris Tomlin’s lilt to Lecrae’s dominant voice. He rapped a portion of scripture I hadn’t thought of in a while:

Then He said to me,
Prophesy to these bones and say to them,
Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!
This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones,
I will make breath enter you,
And you will come alive.
So I prophesied as I was commanded.
As I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound,
And the bones came together, bone to bone.
And I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them,
And skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
Then He said to me,
Prophesy to the breath,
Prophesy, son of man, and say to it,
Come from the four winds of breath and breathe.

As Lecrae spoke these words, I heard God clearly say, “I’m calling you to be an Ezekiel. I’m asking you to breath life into those who are dead. The mountains of central Appalachia are your Valley of Dry Bones.”

Tears flooded my cheeks as I finished my run. I went straight home and looked up God’s moment with Ezekiel (Chapter 37: 1-14). I was overwhelmed by the obvious connection to God’s new direction for us and these verses.

God first points out the absurdity of bones living again – a thought that crossed my mind, too. The people of central Appalachia are steeped in generations of “death” like drug addiction, poverty, dysfunction, and extreme hopelessness. How can I change any of that? It seems nearly as impossible as dry bones coming together again.

Then God asks Ezekiel to prophecy – to speak words of life, to encourage, to offer hope. He does and the bones begin to move and reconnect. God again asks Ezekiel to speak, and he does. Muscles and flesh start forming over the bones.

At this point, there are bodies who’ve gone from dry bones to bodily forms. Yet, there is still no life in them. God tells Ezekiel to call the four winds to come a fill the bodies with breath – with life. Those four winds come from the North, East, South and West. Again, I reminded God of my limited abilities. He pointed out that the four winds represented the people He would send from all over the nation to help Keith and I in this ministry. I don’t know who they are or where they live, but I know that will come alongside us to watch an army of teens sold out to Christ rise up from a pile of dry bones.

And just like Ezekiel, I stood in awe of what God had promised. I relinquished my need to stay in the comfort of my current life. I opened my hands and let go of the expectations I had, and I said, “Here I am God. Send me.”

I rarely speak about the nitty gritty of my family’s missions journey. Most writings about this part of life is masked. But today I can’t mask where I am; I cannot pretend my heart doesn’t ache to do the work God has asked me to do. Almost two years have passed since that morning run, and we are still working to get there. Still working for the chance to meet the teens that need hope. We can’t even begin to minister until our budget is fully funded. My heart hurts today for the kids that need us there today – not six months from now. My heart longs to speak life to the middle school girl who’s trapped in sexual abuse or drug addiction. If only there was someone there now to tell her of the hope of Christ, so her dry bones can live again.

Friends, I want to be that voice! I want to be there today! The word of God says that you have not because you ask not, so today I’m asking. We need people from the “four winds” to partner with us financially, prayerfully, and even physically. Today, I’m only asking that you do one thing. Take a minute and pray about what God might have you do to help us reach the valley of dry bones.

This song by Lauren Daigle has become my heart’s cry. Everyday I stand on the promise that God will make that valley an army for Him, and He will use us to do it. If you have a second, take a moment to listen to the words and prayerfully consider if you can partner with us to reach the teens of Central Appalachia. We would love for you to join us!

‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’”

–Ezekiel 37:12-14

 

Spiritual Sprint #2: goals

noun – the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired resultFemale-Runner2

Each day before I step out the door with my running shoes on, I map the running route in my mind. I determine to not stop running until I reach the end of the predetermined route. In short, I set a goal for distance. Oh, I have goals for pace and overall time set in my mind as well, but in the end it comes down to finishing the route.

Why? Because I know myself.  Let me clue you in on my first mile inner voice.  It goes a little like this…

“Wow, this is hard. Maybe I should only run just one mile today and give my body a rest. What’s the deal with being so tired already?! I mean yesterday, I ran three miles, so I can just run one today.  What’s the deal with these running shorts?! Ugh, why does one leg keep riding up? I cannot run my distance having to adjust these shorts every 30 steps.  Shoot!  I forgot to send that email. Now I really have to run only a mile so I can get back and do that!”

But then the voice of the pre-planning speaks up: “Uh hum! You said you’d run until this you reached the end of the park today. So you aren’t stopping until we get there!  Got it?”

I keep going past that first mile and don’t stop.

One would think that the first mile brain battle would ease up eventually, but so far it hasn’t. The same brain battle occurs spiritually for me too. That’s why I’ve taken to setting short-term spiritual goals as well.  I map routes for the week, so that I can push past the spiritual “first mile.”

My weeks never look the same as far as activities that will occur and responsibilities that need my attention. One week, life starts at 7 AM and ends somewhere around 9 PM each night.  Other weeks are wide-open with no obligations other than an occasional meeting.

Scheduling times for spiritual nourishment are a problem in either kind of week, so I’ve taken to setting goals for each type of week. Goals can range from getting up earlier for quiet times or listening to only praise and worship music for the week, or maybe a week of prayer journaling. The point is that as my life’s weeks change, my goals change, but in either case, the goal setting happens before the week takes over.

Why? Because I know myself well. My inner dialogue loves to sneak attack me and convince me that skipping one element of my predetermined weekly spiritual goals won’t really affect my life much. Unfortunately, I sit and listen to this voice on too many occasions. But just like my running goals, I have learned to fight that “first mile voice” and keep reaching those goals, both physically and spiritually.

The next time your inner manipulator starts talking, trying to convince you that skipping time with God for just one day isn’t so bad. Remind him that you’ve set goals and made a promise to yourself. Then keep them!  Soon that first mile critic won’t bother talking so much!