So you can come along

A girl with stories

Let Me Tell You ‘Bout My Best Friend June 27, 2016

Filed under: Discipleship,His truth,Marriage — Amanda Lynn @ 9:10 pm

Once upon a time, in the year 2004, two girls jumped in a church van and headed toward Miami on an old school Southern Baptist youth mission trip. These girls, 15 and 16 respectively, knew each others’ first names and that was the extent of it.

 

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Their very first picture together, prepared to board the aforementioned church van. Embrace the awkward. She’s on the far left. The other is short & rocking a youth choir t-shirt…”2 Testify”. Bless.

 

On that trip, there were many hours in the van and they forged a friendship based on similarities. What made the friendship work for 12 years and counting are their differences. They stayed friends through high school and even as one headed off to college. E is the girl in the picture below. She was dealing with things lots of teenagers have to face which happen to be far past their maturity level. In the midst of all that, she retained a contagious sense of humor and a joy.

 

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The two girls ended up at the same Southern Baptist university hating when people assumed they had picked the school based on one another. Because, ain’t nobody got the money for that kind of loosey-goosey decision-making. Anyway, it was there that their friendship was stretched and strengthened.

It was also there that E went on one of the school’s mission trips. GO Turkey 2009 was the start of something beautiful. She told her best friend (*spoiler alert* that’s me!) she was paired with this quiet guy who was “so weird” and “would be really awkward to work with.” Turns out, she fell in love with that guy and he was pretty crazy about her from the start. They married in Tennessee during the summer of 2010 when it was approximately the-surface-of-the-sun degrees outside, but they were so superbly happy they didn’t give two figs about the heat. (True story, a mosquito had landed on their officiate’s Bible so he smacked that sucker closed right in the middle of their ceremony…because West Nile.)

 

 

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SO happy!

It was a privilege to stand up in their wedding and witness their lives coming together. There is no way any of us would have been able to predict all the laughter, heartache and victories the Lord would work in and through them in the six years between that day and now. What I can say for certain is the Lord has taught me so much through watching these two lives.

They’ve shown me what it looks like to have long stretches of waiting for answers, for results and to have your faith tested by this daily grind of trusting again and again.

As a single, I get to witness a husband loving his wife straight into the heart of Jesus, pointing her toward grace and repentance because he loves Jesus even more than he loves her. He lays himself down for her in big and small ways. And not to be outdone by a boy, I also get to see a wife loving her husband just a bit less than her love for Christ as she trusts what he says about the Spirit’s leading even when the Spirit leads them into scary, dependent places.

I see a couple who have had opportunity to lose heart in the hard times, who are honest when it sometimes feels unfair. They’ve taught me that asking questions about the timing of children is a tender and sacred place which should be tread lightly upon and respected. They show me the highest calling for a man is not to be husband or father, but to be a disciple who makes disciples and that the highest calling for a woman isn’t to be a wife or mom, but to be a disciple who makes disciples. She will tell you that her husband makes her a better disciple and loves her despite and right through seasons of joy and pain. He’d say he’s no stranger to tough times and can face them with more courage by leaning on her strength.

 

When she could have had a high-paying job in any arena she chose (this girl is uber smart) she chose to serve and not be served. She teaches children in a non-traditional school, some refugees and recently adopted, because she is passionate about righting injustice and seeing marginalized people dignified. He has been working very hard to earn a degree in counseling at a prestigious seminary as he is incredibly invested in the souls of people who are hurting and needing a safe place to be heard and to hear truth.

 

When the Lord called them to live out their hearts for urban ministry, they bought the most amazing old house in a zip code suburbanites find cringe-worthy. They love the children and families of that zip code well. They get to have impromptu Jesus conversations with neighbor kids which start with the kids asking what their tattoos say because…street cred, they have it in spades 😉  #straightouttamemphis

 

If you ask me, I’m happy to tell you, these two have been and will be one of my favorite living gospel stories. They are some of my every day heroes and I couldn’t be more proud to be one of their people.

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So when in St. Louis, head a bit north and find a couple with an adorable puppy who will feed you homemade Thai food while they talk with you about the rich history of St. Louis neighborhoods, community development and ask about what you think about the refugee crisis. I can also promise you that you will leave with a laughing cramp in your side and a sense of genuine encouragement.

 

These folks are the best kind of friends.

Good friends will tell you what they know about God. Best friends will let you in on the questions they’re asking Him. Being present to those unanswered questions is an unparalleled gift as their sister in Christ.

 

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Counseling 101 March 31, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amanda Lynn @ 5:31 pm

Free of charge, here are my two cents on two years post-grad counseling. 🙂

 

It was a little under two years ago when I walked across a stage and I’m curious if that was when I became a counselor. Or was it when I got my provisional license in the mail? Or was it when I got my first job with the title “Therapist”? Or when a private practice graciously took me on? Maybe it’ll be most official when I finish supervision?

 

I couldn’t tell you when the moment was that I became a counselor. There is something I can tell you though. I have learned more from my clients than I ever did in a classroom. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some academia. There are some things though, that just can’t be learned through a textbook.

 

Something they’ve taught me is to not look away.

To look them in the eye and say nothing. To let the awkward wash over through the windows to the soul and see an image-bearer injured to the point of believing the invisibility the enemy speaks over the hurting. Jesus looked women in the eye.

 

 

They have shown me that counseling is to be present to pain you cannot fix.

A wise woman told me that we learn the most during our suffering. This is where the hard-won battles produce the most fruit. We talked about the tendency to want to “rescue” people right out of their pain when that pain might be the very thing God is redeeming their lives with.

 

 

My words will return void.

These amazing young women unknowingly remind me to keep the Word central because He’s the only Word who won’t return void. The Word will always accomplish his purpose.

 

So, two years in and I can tell you I’ve learned some about what it is to look at pain, to be present to it and to let it do its work. And to stay in the Word, to steep in it so that He overflows and saturates all the dry-brittle and broken places of a heart in need.

 

Ultimately, these last couple years have shown me my own need for a healer. If we’re honest, we know that there are wounds no human can fix. But, praise God, there is a balm in Gilead!

 

 

For the wound of the daughter of my people is my heart broken;
I mourn, and grief has taken hold on me.
Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of the daughter of my people not been restored?

:: Jeremiah 8:21-22 ::

Sometimes I feel discouraged and think my work’s in vain,
But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.
There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.

 

(un)Happy Graduation Day!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amanda Lynn @ 3:54 pm
Do you know a high school senior who is ready to graduate?
So many things are on their minds as the date gets closer.
Here are a few anxiety-causing statements for them that you might not realize.
They’re hearing these often lately.
graduate
1. “What do you plan to do with your life?”
Most are struggling to figure out the present, much less the next 50-60 years. The future is looking both exciting and terrifying for them with all the unknowns.
2. “Welcome to the real world. Are you ready?”
Their world is the real world. What they hear, is that their lives so far have been easy.
3. “Just you wait….”
This impending statement is rarely followed with anything encouraging.
Instead, celebrate how much they’ve accomplished. Let them be excited to explore life as a graduate rather than expect them to have it all figured out as a teenager. Looking back, do you remember having these types of questions asked around your graduation? Try to step into their shoes for bit. They have as many or more questions about life as you do. Instead of being the fifth person that day to ask them, “What’s next?”, give them permission to be the one asking the questions

(more…)

 

Spiritual Time-outs March 17, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amanda Lynn @ 7:40 pm

There were three girls packed into an old a well-loved Honda packed down with all the clothes and kitchen supplies a girl from the deep south could own. The three of them set out to transplant that southern girl in the Pacific Northwest. Along the four-day, cross-country road trip there was a rhythm to the time. Time for music, time for storytelling, lots of laughing, time for prayer and those deep theological questions church girls are bound to ask on long trips.

 

 

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Somewhere around Middle-of-Nowhere, Montana or South Dakota, we read Psalm 130

 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
    and in his word I hope;
 my soul waits for the Lord
    more than watchmen for the morning,
    more than watchmen for the morning.

::  Psalm 130:5-6 ::

 

She asked, “What do you think it means to ‘wait on the Lord’”?

There was a long pause before either of us started to answer. What does it mean?
We offered that it can mean not taking matters into our own hands but trusting that He’ll do what only He can do. Waiting for Him may be to live in a state of dependence on the Lord, waiting for Him to move. Being quiet and listening…?

She who asked is a do-er and needed more.

“But what does that look like in a practical sense, on a daily basis?”

 

Here we are quickly approaching the close of the Lenten season, the season of self-denial. In these forty days of waiting and observing the suffering that precedes the victory, there is a sense that self-denial means accepting we are flawed and needy of something or rather Someone who can save us from ourselves.

 

Rewind a few thousand years, the people of God-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, were slaves with terribly cruel taskmasters. A hundred years passed and things didn’t give, they just got worse. Two hundred years passed and they continued to grow as a people all the while their brick quota went up and up. Three hundred years and the size of the Hebrew people was terrifying to the most powerful man on earth at the time who decided to try to wipe out an entire generation of Hebrews by killing all the male babies. Another hundred years later, Exodus tells us in those first few chapters that God heard them and was preparing a deliverer.

 

Four hundred years of waiting and all the while from God’s view it was four hundred years of preparation. Those four hundred years of slaving away and groaning for rescue weren’t drowned out by the worship of Heaven. Mingled in those cries of slavery for four hundred years were the cries of a baby boy who survived. What sticks out to me is when the Word says, “Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning and God remembered the covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel and God knew.”  :: Exodus 2:23-25

 

Fast forward and the last prophet spoke the last warning to repent and believe before the sounds of Heaven touching Earth hushed into a deep silence. Four hundred years of silence. All the while, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob saw and knew. He was never far and His plan to be with His people was never off course. They waited on the Lord.

 

Back to the slaves turned newly freed people group in Exodus….their four hundred years of slavery were over. Free at last. God wanted to commune with His people and he spent forty days and nights sharing that with Moses, the baby who lived, to bring His plans to the people. They were free and had good intentions to obey and follow the God of their fathers, except their lack of faith in the plan of God landed them with forty years of wilderness traveling – a time out of world record proportions.

 

 

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Fast forward and the four hundred years of silence were punctuated by the cries of an infant boy. There was another powerful ruler who wanted to wipe out a generation of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’s people by killing all the baby boys. This one survived! This Savior of the World lived decades of ordinary life. He learned to walk, to talk, and continued to grow in the knowledge of God. He was the definition of perfect love and truth. And this culminated in him waiting on the Lord. The timing of his closest friends and followers wasn’t the Lord’s timing. At one point, we see the God of Heaven spending forty days and nights in the wilderness. This wasn’t the same type of time out the people of Israel were given, it wasn’t Jesus’ sin he was wrestling with there. It was mine…and yours.

 

*****

How much time have you spent with a toddler? Two year olds are my absolute favorite. That age where two is more like 2 and a half is where the rubber really starts to meet the road and it’s never more apparent that the most adorable child is a deeply depraved sinner.

 

That probably sounds nuts. “So you love them because their sin is obvious?” Yes and no. It’s more than that. These tiny humans are truth-tellers for sure. They sometimes tell the truths that make their moms and dads red in the face. For example, little Aden or Ava may drop a toy or bonk their heard and then let out a four letter word of which the meaning is a complete mystery to them. When asked why they chose to use a “no-no word” they look you right in the eye, unphased and say, “That’s what my daddy said when he dropped his phone” as they toddle off to find another toy. Honest. Later that same day though, Ava or Aden are found with a sprinkle mustache and are asked, “Did you eat those cookies with the sprinkles?” They look you straight in the eye, pause and say, “Nope” as they toddle off to find another toy. Depraved. And out comes the dreaded time-out chair. In my experience, these tinies come out of time-out ready for a big hug. They see it as they served their time and now it’s over and they’re ready to move on.

 

One of the reasons my love for this age group swells is because I learn so much from them. I see my own patterns of behavior in them. All too often, I put myself in a spiritual time out.
I have to wait on the Lord in His grace to reveal my sin. After the Spirit of God exposes sin so He can forgive it, I confess and then I put myself in a “time out”. Does anyone else identify with this? I need Him in the worst way and yet I think in my confession of sin that I can make myself the judge and jury to decide my own sentence. There is often this period of time following the confession of sin in which I convince myself that I need to deny myself access to God -the very source of forgiveness and grace because I’m punishing myself. I know His grace is sufficient and He has come to give me abundant life, but I convince myself I’m not worthy…yet. As if He needs a cooling off period before I approach Him again.

 

This sort of self-denial only hurts me and is full of self-righteousness. Refusing the Lord’s help and denying myself His presence is the very definition of Hell. The most terrifying thing about Hell is that it is void of the presence of God. It was never meant for me or for you, but when we make the deliberate choice to deny the rescue and presence of the Lord, He gives us over to our choice. With the ultimate sacrifice being that Christ died not only for me but also instead of me, why should I live as if, even for a second, that His presence isn’t where I belong?

 

I put distance in my relationship with Him and deem myself unworthy. Instead of offering worshiping in Spirit and in truth, I offer up a lie that I’m not able, I’m unacceptable. And the truth is that He doesn’t need me, but He wants me for sure. He wants the worship I bring. It’s as unique to me as the finger prints I leave behind on everything I touch. It’s important that you know He made a brand of worship for you. They’re ours to bring to the throne with open hands. He doesn’t need them to be complete and our refusing to bring them doesn’t make him one iota less holy. But since He is omniscient and knows you by name, by fingerprint and by worship fragrance…he knows when your offering is missing.

 

See the truth is, we’re not worthy. No amount of fasting or prayer will make us worthy. He is the only One who is worthy on behalf. And in that time where the wounds of sin are vulnerable and I am weak, I give up my only defenses of prayer and the Word when I decide that I’m not able to approach Him. It leaves me open to more attacks and without recourse.

 

The thing is, a time out, for that beloved kiddo was always in the room with a grown up just feet away. It’s not about separation as it is about giving time to think about the choice that was made…with the teacher, mom or dad RIGHT THERE to process it with them. They’re never alone. Just as the people of Israel were never alone those four hundred years, or those forty years or those other four hundred years…there was also our God who sees and knows. Our rescue and reward.

 

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

:: 1 John 1:9 ::

 

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted;

he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.

:: Psalm 34:18 ::

My flesh and my heart may fail,

but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
:: Psalm 73:26 ::

 

 

The Anointed One suffered for sins once for all time—the righteous suffering for the unrighteous—so that He might bring us to God. Though He died in the flesh, He was made alive again through the Spirit.

:: 1 Peter 3:18 ::

 

 

We can deny ourselves rigorously for the wrong reason

and end up pleasing ourselves mightily with our self-denial.

:: Thomas Merton ::

Self denial is saying only, “He goes before us, hold fast to Him”. 

:: D. Bonhoeffer ::

 

On Brunch and a Decade February 15, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amanda Lynn @ 3:23 pm

***Disclaimer: This is full of nostalgia and mostly for my sentimental heart. Read only if you’re not bothered by such things. ***

 

The flight time is a bit longer and the direction is northwest rather than southeast, but the anticipation is the same.

That anticipation of coming home is not to a place, but to people. Ten years ago, we made a home-away-from-home out of a too tiny quaint, outdated vintage, and smelly rustic dorm room in Jackson, Tennessee (U U!). What made it home certainly wasn’t our supreme decorating skills or the fact we were there often (We weren’t). What made it a second home was in that place, we were known and loved. In the years between 2006 and now, that sense of home has been found in a lot of different places and spaces.

 

Most recently, it was found in the pacific northwest, specifically in Portland. Hunner took a job there over summer. Of course, we planned a visit. Promise brunch, and we will come.

 

 

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The clouds cleared and Mt Hood showed itself the day I got on a plane headed to St. Louis.

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Lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote (Just ask Jenny about those if you have an hour.)

 

Once there, we quickly and easily fall into the rhythms that come with a decade of investment. In these rhythms there is courage-giving and laughter that could substitute for crunches (or we’ll say it does). There is is a knowing of when to ask questions and when to just listen. There is a respecting of strengths and challenging of perspectives. There are many books, donuts, lots and lots of tea, and a brunch every day. On this trip, some bucket list items were collectively checked off our lists. The thing about those isn’t even so much about the experience as much as it is about who we experience them with.

 

In honor of it being our 10th year of road tripping together, it’s high time for a trip down memory lane.

These trips are intentional and we like to plan them months in advance to count down to. We have been known, though, to throw trips together in a matter of days if we need to. Here are a few we managed to document (None of us are so great at that part).

 

 

 

2006

October 2006 Missouri (Fall break at my parents’)

 

 

 

 

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August 2008 Georgia (Someone’s engaged!)

 

 

 

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June 2009 Georgia (Same someone  got married!)

 

 

There were several trips to Atlanta in those years where we spent the first part of the year together at the Passion Conference and some summer trips to visit for long weekends. And between those our time was punctuated with the type of calls you schedule. I can’t remember of life decision that they didn’t pray for and weigh out pros and cons with me on. It’s second nature, really.

 

 

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May 2012 Missouri

 

 

 

 

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January 2013 Georgia (Dome that is, for our last Passion Conference)

 

 

 

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December 2013 North Carolina (We ❤ these cabins by the river.)

 

 

 

 

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December 2014 Alabama (Our 3rd trip in 72 hours to Steal City Pops)

 

 

Although it’s cliche, it is so hard to believe it has been ten years.

 

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October 2006 Missouri

 

 

 

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January 2016 Oregon

 

 

Friendships likes these are no small gift. The Lord resides in and moves through these women and I am grateful to call them two prominent members of my board of directors. Here is to ten more years of brunch!

 

When or Who: That is the question

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amanda Lynn @ 2:14 pm

The When:

Kronos: (Κρόνος) a Greek word meaning chronological or sequential time.

As in 9 o’clock on January 20th 2016

verses…

Kairos: (καιρός) a Greek word meaning the right or opportune moment, the supreme moment, signifies a time lapse, a moment of indeterminate time.

As in the timing as determined by God in Galations 4:4-5…

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son,

born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law,

so that we might receive adoption as sons.

If I asked you, “When was your salvation?”, what would you say? Some may have a quick answer. Others don’t. What if we asked John the Baptist, Rahab, King David, or Sarah? Maybe if every salvation in scripture was given “a moment”, it’d be a lot simpler, huh?

The Who:

Jesus Christ of Nazareth

His full humanity and full Diety, his sinless life, willing death, and glorious resurrection making a way for us to be brought to new life by grace through faith in Him alone.

He (God the Father) has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

:: Colossians 1: 13-20 ::

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord

and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead,

you will be saved.

:: Romans 10:9 ::

 

This is what the word says about salvation. Confess His Lordship, and believe in your heart. There are things we see the Spirit doing in those who believe, but this is salvation. No time stamp required nor is one promised.

A marked difference? Sure! A dead soul who was in darkness is reconciled to God and made alive. It’s safe to say there would be some action to agree with that change.

The word does say there are some things we, who are in Christ, will be known by.

Love:

 By this all people will know that you are my disciples,

if you have love for one another.

:: John 13:35 ::

Spiritual Fruit

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

:: Matthew 7:15-20 ::

 

John MacArthur spoke of a Christian being assured of their salvation saying,

Genuine assurance comes from seeing the Holy Spirit’s transforming work in one’s life, not from clinging to the memory of some experience.

 

And Doctor Russell Moore has this to say on this issue,

The point of the gospel isn’t celebrating an experience; it’s believing a Man who is your crucified, resurrected, reigning Life. It’s important to mark dates as ways of prompting thanksgiving. If you know when you met Jesus, set up an Ebenezer of remembrance in your mind and be grateful. If not, be thankful for life in Christ and mark other dates when He showed himself real and faithful to you.

The crucial matter isn’t whether you remember when the Shepherd pulled you out of the thorn bushes. Maybe you were barely conscious. The critical thing is whether you hear His Voice, maybe somewhere out there in the dark in front of you, calling you forward, right now.

 

When it comes to understanding the miracle that is salvation, I land somewhere in with the angels who Peter writes about saying,

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

:: 1 Peter 1: 10-12 ::

 

The angels were created before us, the image-bearers of God, whom He offers grace. They spend time in the presence of God praising Him and yet they long to look into the glories of our salvation. Though grace is a mystery to them, the Word says they rejoice over our God restoring and reconciling His creation.

The Word seems replete with more answers about the Who of our salvation than it does about anything else. I am thankful for God’s grace in letting us in on the mystery of salvation being by the Father’s grace in providing the sacrifice of Christ, His victorious resurrection and that faith in Him alone is saving and life-giving.

As to the full complexities of what it means for a spiritually dead soul, an enemy of God, to made right and called a daughter or son…my limited mind cannot fathom this kind of miracle. Yet, by His grace, I have faith that it is as He says. I am His and no thing, nor anyone, nor any circumstance, could change that. I can know that He operates outside of the concept of time as I understand it. Kronos time makes much more sense to me. 60 seconds to a minute, 60 minutes to an hour, 24 hours in one day. His creation of that time is a gift in and of itself.

Kairos time, however, I’m not about to stake my claim on understanding all that. He alone knows about “the fullness of time”. I accept that the Creator of time itself can see it all and operate outside of it. So, if brothers and sisters whom I love can’t place a “moment” on salvation, is it real? Well, who’s doing the saving?

 

******************

There they were, in a moment thick with anxiety and hanging on a question that begged for grace.

She looked at her sweet friend and asked, “Are we friends?”

Uh…yeah? (*I guess we’re changing the subject*)

“Well, when did we become friends?”

Um…sometime last year?

“I’m saying what really matters is we’re friends now and we both know it.”

 

We’re all about God being relational and the author of relationship himself. “It’s a relationship, not a religion. It’s a relationship with a person.” Gotcha. Well, most of my relationships don’t have a moment. Some do. (I realize people and God are not the same, but people are the only other relational example we have.)

Wherever we land on this, the questions we ask should all point back to the Who of our salvation. And I do believe the questions we ask of our brothers and sisters should be with the motive of strengthening and/or encouraging them.

 

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.  And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.

:: 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15 ::

 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

:: Hebrews 10:23-25 ::

 

So, we ask questions. “Who is God to you? Who were you before you trusted Christ? Do you see Him loving and living through you? What fruit has grace produced in your life?” Challenging our brothers and sisters is one thing, but we must always point each other to the entirety of the Word and not only our personal convictions.

 

This is why we pray and ask the Spirit to guide us. This way, we don’t assume the Spirit’s role. More often than not, trying to play the Spirit for others will lead to well-intentioned legalism and/or fear-mongering. I need my sisters in Christ who’ve walked the path ahead of me to point out when I’m getting a little too big for my spiritual britches. This must be why the Word says to pray for one another and to pray continually. I sure need it!

 

Then, as we encourage one another in testimony-giving, let’s remember HE is the Word of our testimony. This Lamb of God. This Jesus, who is known by the name “The WORD of God”. The Word who always was and then came in flesh and dwelt among us. The Word who breathes life and will end the enemy of our souls with the same breath. This is the testimony that overcomes, this eternal, living, active Word.

 

I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

:: Revelation 12:10-11 ::

 

Here’s To You January 2, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Amanda Lynn @ 11:07 am

2015 was a year full of learning, change and opportunity. The Lord gave me a place to practice counseling in a private setting with two amazing mentors. When I started grad school, I knew for certain I was supposed to be a counselor. I also thought I knew for certain I’d work with “anyone except adolescents”. HA!

Since I’ve walked across that stage and turned my tassel to the other side, that’s 99% of who I’ve worked with. And they are 99% of why I love my job! So this is for you, my girls.

 

 

To you brave 13 year olds,

To you resilient 14 year olds,

To you hilarious 15 year olds,

To you hopeful 16 year olds,

To you freedom-seeking 17 year olds,

 

Here’s to you…you made it through another semester!

This is for you to read when the parents decide that your life is about to split in half. When the friend you trusted with your secret uses it like ammunition. When the images say you’re not enough or you’re too much. When you can’t, for the life of you, figure out how to be “their happy girl” again. When no one believes your story. When you’re on the bludgeoning side of the rumor mill and you can’t slow it down with the truth. When the people who tell you to change your shorts never ask how you’re really doing. When high school makes it hard to see “real life” because this is your real life right now.  When lie after lie comes at you with words that sound so much like truth. When your old habits of causing yourself pain seem like the only outlet for the pain on the inside.

 

I’ll be here. I’ll be here standing guard. It’s an incredible privilege to be here because your identity is precious as it’s being shaped by what you’re seeing and hearing. I’ll be here as many times as you need to hear your life has eternal worth and needs to be lived, not just survived. Because too many don’t survive to really live. I’m here because we lose more of you to suicide than to cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, and lung disease, COMBINED.

 

It’s a privilege because your trust is not something I take lightly. I’m here because I know how fragile things are…how fragile we all are if we’re brave enough to admit it. It’s important to be here to tell you the voice in you saying, “there’s got to be more than this” is absolutely right! There is a person behind that voice and He has so much more for you!

 

So thank you. Thank you for letting me carry your secrets. Thanks for letting me celebrate your hard work with you. You earned each one of those Twizzlers, diet Cokes, dance parties and hair flip moments. Thanks for letting me sort through and find the Truth with you. And you know the truth if you don’t remember anything else…You are seen. You are heard. You are known. And you are valued. Always.

 

 

P.S. I know this cheesy stuff makes you roll your eyes so thanks for putting up with it.