Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That…

One of my favorite phrases of the year is “Ain’t nobody got time for that”, it is just perfect for so many situations. But truthfully, it is the cadence that I am running to in this season. Before you think I’ve totally lost it…hear me out.

It is becoming so clear to me how short this life actually is, and how high impact my walk has to be. As Paul pointed out in 1 Corinthians 10:23 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.” Because I want to run hard, completely unhindered after Jesus I have to look at my life through this lens. The fact of the matter is ain’t nobody got time to waste and a part of that is being intentional about where my time, attention, devotions and affections are directed. I know that my life does not look like everyone else’s life I’m okay with that because I don’t want a walk that is average. Mediocrity is my enemy, the coma of comfort opposes my destiny. The stakes are high, but the sight of His face is what I am after.

I encourage you to take an inventory of your life; your day, schedule, checkbook, relationships, and calendar. What is eternal? What is pushing you toward more of Jesus? What is filler? What feeds your soul and spirit?  What is grooming you and preparing you for more? What is sharpening you? Push every hindrance aside posturing yourself to encounter the more of Jesus.

 

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Phil 3:12-14

The long and humble road…

Last night a friend said to me… “Humility can be humiliating.”  

Ouch! I felt the sting of her statement so I took a step back to analyze what truth lied within her words. God is processing me, He is molding me, and quite frankly in this season as He is pushing me so far past comfort, but I realized with the weight of her words what a raw place that leaves me in.Truth be told I want it, in fact I asked for it but man…my soul is freaking out. It wants to act up, to be immature, to run, be offended by the Lord, rebel against the process; all the while God in His faithfulness will not let up. Heart attitudes that have been hidden are coming to light, motives I didn’t know we’re in me are all popping through the surface and I am dumbfounded and a bit embarrassed that they’ve been there for so long without my knowledge.

As God raises up a new standard in my life and I submit to His Word, my flesh is losing it’s dignity. The definition of humiliate is to lose one’s dignity, usually in public which is why I am blogging as I’m processed. In my effort to get the fullness of what God has out of this process I have been in The Word and did a word study on humility. Reading scripture after scripture I felt the layers of my heart being pulled back like an onion. Despite how uncomfortable process can be, despite how much my soul is freaking out because seeing my stuff at face value makes me feel super immature and inadequate; I still want humilty. Proverbs 22:4 says that “Humility is the fear of the Lordits wages are riches and honor and life.” I want the fear of the Lord, I want riches, honor, and life. Moreover, I want to look like Jesus and that is not possible with pride anywhere in me because He is spotless and without blemish walked in both purity and power.

As I continued to comb through the scriptures, I recognized the key to humility is wisdom. James 3:13 says “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” Proverbs 3 says of wisdom that “Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor,” sounds similar to humility in Proverbs 22. I began to see the correlation between wisdom and humility, and in that recognized why my flesh has to stand down, be undignified that I might access greater depths of humility. 

All wisdom is found in the Lord. Proverbs 2:6 says that the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding”. Colossians 2 tells us that all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. I cannot have true wisdom absent of relationship with Jesus. I cannot encounter Jesus and leave the same. In the light of His glory the idols of my heart, everything in the periphery fades. Everything else stands down producing a heart posture of humility and submission to Jesus. 

What does that mean for me and for you?

We have an all access pass to both wisdom and humility…but it will cost everything. 

To access Him in His fullness, to access the depths of the treasures that are found in Him, I have to forsake ALL to find Him. That is why my flesh has to be undignified a bit right now. I have to forsake even good things that my soul has found comfort in that I might meet the Lord in a new way. Because even a good thing can get in the way of what Jesus desires to do in and through me. Proverbs 4:7 says “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” . My Kelly Stone interpretation of that is whatever the cost, whatever it takes, whatever it looks or feels like…get Jesus. Pursue Him. Though it costs all you have, the fruit of wisdom and humility in your life will yield a great harvest of fruit that is desirable and is in season. As you begin to let Holy Spirit process you and filter your heart He will not only purify your heart, but lead you into realms of Jesus you have not yet known. The benefits of forsaking it all to follow Jesus are too numerous to name;  As we come to him in humility and live in submission to His Word, we are molded more and more and wind up looking more like Jesus than ourselves.That is the goal.  

 

It’s a beautiful thing.

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 A few weeks ago I read a quote that made me think about repentance in a new light. The gist of the quote was that if we do not walk in repentance we will not see the Kingdom of Heaven manifest in our life; referring to Matthew 3:2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  For whatever reason this really did not sit well with me. I completely agreed with the statement, but I had this underlying irritation at the thought of it. Considering that I have spent the better part of the last six months seeking the Lord about what is keeping me from walking in the fullness of Holy Spirit— I figured I better investigate further. As I let Holy Spirit search my heart I kept hearing “His kindness leads us to repentance” echoing through my spirit. That is when the light bulb went on— repentance is not about how horrible I am or how I fell short yet again, it is entirely about how great God is!

Let’s be honest,  if God wanted to He could snuff us out at the hint of sin. Instead He lures us into the shelter of His love and overwhelms our sin with grace. In fact Romans 5:20 says that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. I love how The Voice translation says it “When the law came into the picture, sin grew and grew; but wherever sin grew and spread, God’s grace was there in fuller, greater measure. No matter how much sin crept in, there was always more grace.”  Somehow this is not the way that I pictured it…think hell fire and brimstone. Not pretty! I often found myself struggling and embarrassed when grappling with my sin and receiving forgiveness. What could be so belittling and intimidating about *kindness* that causes me to turn away from the destruction of sin? I had always seen repentance through the lens of my issues and insecurity not the blood of Jesus, which is pride.

There is no shortage of teachings on repentance, but there are a lot of misconceptions. For so many people both churched and unchurched the word repent conjures up images of psychos with protest signs or religious bigots on a which hunt. In reality, repentance is a changing of a mindset. It really is a beautiful thing. In a sense it is a changing of the guard.  I recognize where I am off base and I confess that to the Lord and desire to walk in His ways. I give up my ways and my control over my thought pattern and take on His ways which are higher, I put on Christ who is my life as Colossians 3 says.

The shame and fear factors are removed when I look at repentance as a routine changing of the guard. As  a little girl, I was memorized by the changing of the guard in Arlington National Cemetery. I was captivated by the fluidity of the well rehearsed movements and the regal nature the soldiers had. They do that daily, it’s routine to them. I would guess that they give very little thought to the movements they make because of muscle memory they just know what to do. When repentance becomes a a regular part of your routine it becomes second nature. It is no longer some huge process honestly you start to do it out of habit. You see where you fell short, you confess it to Jesus, and choose to do it His way…nothing too crazy, just a changing of the guard.

Today, I encourage you to ask the Lord what areas of your life you need to adopt His ways, then do it. This process does not need to be laden with shame and rebellion because Jesus is not scared of your sin; where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. Explore the beauty of repentance.

I used to care

I used to care.

I cared about stuff. I was the girl that watched Paris Hilton being taken to jail on CNN, I knew who wore what to the Oscars, which celebrity was in rehab and why…People Magazine could have consulted me to be up to date on the affairs of Hollywood. I was a pop culture junkie. I didn’t miss a show, read the spoiler alerts, and knew a millions useless facts about people I don’t even know. Oh, but don’t worry my expertise didn’t just end there. I was also a news junkie. I’m pretty sure the 24 hour news cycle was created just for me.  I would watch CNN and MSNBC for hours at a time because I had to be up on things.

Before I knew it, this was my existence.

My days consisted of going to work and coming home to nothing, essentially passing the time until the next work day. I remember sitting on my couch playing a stupid Facebook game (Jesus help me) and coming to the realization that this was what my life consisted of. In that moment I told the Lord  “I need my life to be more than this”.  I could have told him that I wanted more until I was blue in the face but it was when I chose to posture myself differently that I got different results.

It was like an avalanche.

Since that time I have had season after season of accelerated growth. Some of the results that I have seen are a result of the Favor of the Lord, but a lot of them are because I have been intentional. I have intentionally dug my own wells. I have filled myself with The Word, podcasts, books, sat under great teachers and mentors, but most important I have sought the Lord.  As Hebrews 11:6 says, “He rewards those who diligently seek Him”. When I changed my posture and began seeking His face not His hand, I began to catch His heart. Isaiah 55:6 says “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” Christ the Hope of Glory is in me; that’s pretty near so I started seeking Him constantly. I started to live out what I call God “Consciousness”. I stopped having devotions with God and leaving the room as if He wasn’t with me. I stopped praying to someone that was afar off and began speaking to the one that is closer than my breath. I gave Him all access to me.

The shape of my days changed dramatically. I woke up intentionally seeking the Lord’s heart for my day. I had a lot of free time in that season so I used it to my benefit. I still had fun and friends but I realized that padding my social calendar wasn’t growing me in any way. I spent my evenings studying the Bible and praying through it. I had no vision for my life so I sought the Lord’s heart and before I knew it He took me on a journey through The Bible and showed me who I am. As I caught His heart, I caught His heart for the church and plugged myself in.

I became one that prays. Most Americans would even say that they pray if you asked. That’s not what I’m referencing when I say I became one that prays. I became one that prays in the Spirit,travails, grabs Him by the feet when need be, that pulls on the promises of heaven as a part of a lifestyle not just in response to circumstance. It changed me. I took Matthew 6:6 literally, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  Prayer was not ever meant to be poor pitiful me coming to God with my tail between my legs. Prayer is one our duties as a King and a Priest, we are to make intercession to release the resources of heaven. Prayer is to be a cry of victory in the midst of a battle, a declaration of faith, a wellspring of hope.

Seek Him today, do one new thing this week to posture yourself differently before the Lord and track your results. Read the Bible for 5 more minutes, pray 5 minutes longer than you normally do…posture yourself in ways that exercise your spirit and watch the avalanche take shape.

 

Church it up

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Two years ago, a nursing student that spent the day with me and introduced me to a church that has changed my life and become family. Although she was met with great resistance and even the cold shoulder on my end she persisted. How could I have missed this divine appointment? After a month or more of Beth inviting me to “her church” every week I finally had to face myself. Why didn’t I want to go? I realized it was me being rebellious and stiff necked at the mere thought of being tied down and accountable to a body for the first time in years. So naturally I went to church stiff necked and gritting my teeth all the while.

I had bought into the lie that I didn’t need to belong to a church. Excuses flew out of my mouth in mass… “I worked a lot of weekends, my Sunday’s off belong to me, God and me have our own thing, I love Jesus that’s all that I need” and so on… The longer that I was removed from the body of Christ locally and a house of worship the more the excuses mounted. I went to church, but I did it on my terms. Full of self preservation and pride I stayed anonymous, unattached, and still had my security blanket of excuses to keep me company. I slipped in late and booked it out of there in case someone might have noticed me from the shadows of the back rows of the sanctuary. I was pissed. I came to church, why didn’t God meet me. There was a lot I saw that I liked, I even felt like I needed to make this my home, but I lived in fantasy land of yesteryear and compared where I was to where I had been.

Eventually, I got over myself and I have reaped the benefits ever since. The Church isn’t just a good idea…it is God’s idea. Jesus LOVES The Church, it’s His Bride! It is one thing to sit in s church it’s another to come under leadership and authority. It is then that you actually get to be The Church and step into who you are. You can’t be you if you’re not part of a body because you’re called to be The Body of Christ.

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Eph 2:19-22

Be who you were born to be, plug into The Church, take your place and serve Christ the Bride Groom submitting to His Headship  and leadership by submitting to the leadership He has placed in your life.

Who dat is?

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“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Matthew 16:15

Who is this Jesus? 

You see it doesn’t matter who your pastor says He is, who your mom says He is, or even who He has proven Himself to be in your life…who do you say that Jesus is? 

In Matthew 16 Jesus asks His disciples, His peeps, His inner circle, the ones that knew Him in the best, who they thought that He was. 

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Matthew 16:13-19

You see Peter had the revelation knowledge that Jesus was the Messiah therefore he was able to experience Him in His fullness. Who you perceive Jesus to be dictates who He is in your life. When Peter had the revelation that Jesus was the Son of God, he instantly received identity and purpose. When we behold Jesus and have revelation of who He is, we find who we are. In a culture plagued with identity theft by the enemy so many don’t know who they are because they don’t know who He is. Who do you say that you are? Who do you say that He is? 

Peter knew that Jesus was a teacher, a prophet, and even a healer based on what he saw in the natural. However, when he declared what he saw in the Spirit in addition to an identity upgrade, Peter gained access to the same benefits that you and I have access to as sons and daughters of the Most High God. Your disappointment and disenfranchisement that fuel your bitterness and rebellion have more to do with your view of who God is than who God truly is. Stick with me on this one…you’ll see. 

You’re pissed that God is letting you hurt in this season. Meanwhile He is waiting for you receive Him as your healer. 

You’re disappointed that your dream has not yet been realized. He is waiting for you to have the revelation that He is All in All, the one in whom your dreams are found. 

Yeah, but God is punishing me for my past decisions. No, actually those are called consequences and He is waiting for you to have the revelation of Him as Father, a good Dad that is working everything for your good. 

Well God is jealous and I don’t want to serve a jealous God. He is waiting for you to have the revelation of His love that He is enthralled by you. 

You’re feeling powerless overtaken and overrun by the circumstances of life. He is waiting for you to have the revelation that He is all powerful and that same power that conquered the grave lives in you. 

Jesus is more than enough for all that consumes you. Take Him out of the box that you put Him in today, and ask that the Lord reveal to you who He is and the areas that you have lacked a revelation of Him. 

 

 

Hurts so good

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The way You counsel and correct me Makes me praise You more.  Psalm 16:7

I’ve been in an extended period of chastening. I have experienced the love of Jesus in a way that I never have before. It seems kind of crazy, but it is with all sincerity that I say this season is great. I have grit my teeth and faked a smile through many seasons of uprooting so please do not take my approach to this season as condemnation. The difference is that this go ’round I’ve finally learned that love always calls us up higher.

How could a rod and a staff be a comfort? How could not sparing the rod, not letting me be spoiled make me fall more in love? You see because of His unfailing love the Lord doesn’t leave us how we are. He continues to make us into who we really are and makes us more like Him.

In Second Corinthians 4, Paul talks of being hard pressed on every side. I like to picture a mold of Jesus, (think play dough mold from the ’80’s) pressing in on me making me look like Jesus.  In the thick of it when I am hard pressed on every side, when I feel that rod and staff and the fullness of the chastening it is easy to forget this is love. When I look at discipline and correction through the lens of my issues I miss the beauty in it every time. When I embrace submitting to authority, heeding counsel and letting the Holy Spirit mold me I get the prize; I encounter Jesus in a new depth. The richness of His love rushes into every door we open, some doors only open as we submit to His Lordship and truly let Him rule and reign in our hearts.

I will be honest I find the process incredibly frustrating at times, but seeing those eyes of fire motivate me to wade through the muck that can be my heart. There was a very distinct moment early in relationship with Jesus that He told me how He laid aside all the things that He had desired to do with me to pursue me in the places that I had let my heart wander. Because of that the thought of Him not having full access, or me not having a full revelation of His love in an area of my life makes me incredibly sad. I want Him to have all of me and because of that He will be faithful to keep me operating inside the safety net that is His love. Hosea 3 so beautifully foreshadows the love of Jesus.

Hosea(to the woman):  You’re going to live with me for a long time. I didn’t buy you just for my own pleasure, and I’m not going to cast you aside. But I’m not going to let you commit adultery again. Hosea 3:3

The safety net of His love does not let me wander; it uses correction, discipline, the rod and staff like bumpers for bowling to keep me on track. Being who He is, the Lord allows being within the safety net of His love up to us. It’s a choice to submit to authority. It’s a choice to surround yourself with people that sharpen you. It’s a choice to give the entirety of your heart to the Lord, but as you do He will not let you commit adultery again. In fact, He will remove the names of all the other lovers from your heart. That is where you find the comfort in the rod and staff as the administer His love.

Because the Eternal proves His love by caring enough to discipline you,
just as a father does his child, his pride and joy. Proverbs 3:12