Refresh 

Refresh 

“to make fresh again; reinvigorate or cheer (a person, the mind, spirits, etc.).”

When I isolate myself or go through trials, I start to feel stagnant and stale.

Like a pond with no movement. I feel icky, lonely, quiet, and just blah.

Here’s a fun fact: the same way that you refresh a real pond is the same method you can use to refresh your soul (Not with actual chemicals… keep reading).

To refresh a pond, you can add minerals and supplements to treat the water. But for major water changes, its recommended that you drain the pond, add back fresh water, and also add supplements and minerals that help keep the gunk away.

Your soul also needs to be refreshed. (Your soul is commonly described as your “mind, will, and emotions”.)

So, here’s a breakdown of how to refresh your soul:

  • Drain it
  • Fill it up
  • Maintain it with the right supplements
  • Enjoy the process of keeping your soul refreshed
  • Refresh others

1) How to drain your soul: 

There are probably many ways to drain your “mind, will, and emotions”. I drain my soul my praying out loud, writing in my journal, and talking to people that I trust about what’s on my heart.

I find that if I keep it all bottled up, it makes me super anxious, and again, like a stagnant pond.

Healing truly comes with processing what’s on your heart with God and others that give you wisdom.

“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.”        – James 5:16

Also, stop listening to the lie that says “God doesn’t care” or “that’s too small to bug God with”. If it weighs on your heart, I believe it weighs on His, too.

2) How to fill up your soul with living water: 

John chapter 4 in the Bible tells us the  story of Jesus and the woman at the well. There, Jesus tells the woman of “living water” that only He can offer (John 4:13).

The Word of God is symbolized by water. Psalm 1:2 says, “..his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water…”

So, fill yourself up with truth from the Word of God. Let God’s truth permeate every part of your being. As a believer of Jesus, the presence of the Holy Spirit also lives in you. Therefore, you are filled with life. Access that spring of life and let it overflow into your day to day life.

3) Maintain your soul with the right supplements:

We have so many options to pour into our souls. Spoiler alert: not all of the options are healthy for us.

There are options that are toxic to the health of our soul. What things do you use in life to fill that void you feel?

Does that satisfaction really last? (No). So, don’t pollute your soul with those things. That will just keep your pond stagnant and unhealthy.

I would recommend that you supplement your soul with an authentic relationship with Jesus, a Jesus following community (church), knowledge and practice of the Word of God, and a lifestyle of worship.

I know this sounds all nice and pretty, but I’m telling you, it will refresh you from the inside out (please feel free to comment with any questions about the depth of this topic).

4) Enjoy the process of keeping your soul refreshed: 

Refreshing your soul takes work, but there is such peace that comes with a well maintained soul.

You know for yourself how empty you feel when you don’t fill yourself with the right things.

So, I encourage you to refresh your soul with the only water that satisfies, and maintain it with the right things. You will truly be changed from the inside out.

5) Refresh others: 

Proverbs 11:25 says, “…he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”

Last week (2/19/2017), pastor Dan Lord from Memphis, TN shared a great word at my church New Life Church in Fayetteville.

He spoke about “Living with an open heart”, and referenced the refreshment for our souls that comes with refreshing others. Here’s the link to the podcast:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/new-life-church-fayetteville/id1065919667?mt=2&i=1000381412769

Praying for your soul to be moved into action,

~Lauren

Remember

Remember

“to retain in memory; keep in mind; remain aware of”

Sometimes, we feel like God has forgotten us. There are times when we feel alone, or that God is somewhere far away and doesn’t care to be with us (that is a lie from the enemy, by the way). Do you ever feel like your sin has created a chasm between you and God, and you don’t even know how to go back to Him? Does He even want you back or remember you?

Read Luke 15:11-32

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him ; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him .”

Jesus told this parable to exemplify our relationship with God the Father.

So, while we are still far away from God and “dead” in our sins, God remembers us, God sees us, God closes the gap through Jesus, and fully embraces us in our filthy state.

This is beautiful. This is our God.

God remembers His children.

When you feel far from God, remember this story. He longs for you to return home to Him. Just like a good father would, even while we are far from Him, He “remains aware of” us and “keeps us in mind”.

You are not forgotten. You are not too far gone. You are so loved by Him. Go home to your loving Father, because He is ready to embrace you.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” -Hebrews 4:16

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Romans 5:8

“…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”    -Hebrews 10:22-23

Refuge

Refuge

– Shelter or protection from danger

– Anything to which one has recourse for aid, relief, or escape.

Origin (Hebrew): A place to flee to gain strength and encouragement

This world is always weighing and wearing us down. We get burnt out, tired, and discouraged. We long for the next breakthrough so we can finally be complete and stress free. But is that reality?

No.

The world is always going to demand our time and energy. Naturally we are going to wear down. It’s a broken place that will never fully satisfy us and will challenge us to our core.

So in the meantime, we must find rest among the inevitable chaos.

His Presence is that place of escape. You need the loving arms of the Father to return to when you’re worn out and broken.
His Presence is more than just a safe place, too. We can go to Him for our wounds to be treated and healed, for discouragement to become encouragement, and for weakness to turn into strength.

His Presence is not a pit of self pity or a false reality, but a place to call home, every second of every day. And the best part is: His Presence is in us and around us. So we don’t have to leave what we are doing to experience Him.

Life will always demand our time and energy. But find that Home in Him, right where He has you… And receive peace, strength, and ability to trust Him. There is healing in His Presence, you just have to seek it.

You’re not going to be perfect and have it all together, by the way, but know that He is working on and through you. Seek His Presence, the refuge from the storm; the safe place.
Father, thank you that You are always with me. You know my most inner secrets and struggles and still you love me. Thank you for being the ultimate safe place. Hear my heart, repair my wounds, and train me up to accomplish what you have for me today. Amen. 
Deuteronomy 33:27… The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the every lasting arms. He will drive out your enemy before you saying “Destroy him!”.

Matthew 11:28… Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Proverbs 3:5… Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all of your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding.

Repentance

Repentance

“deep sorrow or contrition for a past sin”

“Of all acts of man repentance is the most divine. The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.” –Thomas Carlyle

I’m writing this as a person who messes up. A person that has told themselves, “That was the last time”, 273,000 times (at least). I know what trips me up, I know where my weaknesses are, I’ve confessed those to my husband, and most importantly I’ve confessed those to our heavenly Father. Over, and over, and over, and over, and over again.

Here’s the deal. A very long time ago we handed ourselves over to the Enemy, in the garden of Eden. We listened to the enemies deceiving words and turned from our Father. This resulted in a cosmic shift; a major fracture in our relationship with the Father.

Number one: We were given the option to worship God. He did not create robots, but instead he gave us free will to choose who or what we worship. This is why the Enemy is who he is… he wanted his own kingdom rather than the Creator’s. This topic of worship is huge. Everyone worships. What? Yes, everyone worships. Worship is not just when we sing praises to God. Worship is when we give our affections, time, thoughts, and life to something or someone. Atheists worship. It may be their job, education, sociological and economical stance, or even their family, but even they worship.

Number two: Everyone needs to repent of something. Repentance by definition means, deep sorrow, compunction, contrition for a past sin, or wrongdoing. I’ll even take it a step further and say repentance challenges us to turn from sin and return to the Father. Why? Isn’t repentance desiring reversal of wrongdoing? Then lets also let that challenge us to reverse our posture towards the Lord and return to Him. Choose to acknowledge the sin, confess it with the intention to turn from it, turn, and be healed.

Right now, take a moment and make a mental list of what you worship. It may not be a golden statue on your mantle, but it may be what others perceive of you. Maybe you worship control, your spouse, safety, sexual gratification, knowledge, health, or financial status. What do you give your money, time, thoughts, and life to? Is our Father even on this list? Okay, pause. Breathe. Listen. No one has the perfect “list”. We all have walked away from God and put other things before Him. Spoiler alert: He knows who and what you worship, and He chose the cross anyway. He knew what He was getting Himself into when he committed to His rescue plan for creation. There is no point where God says, “That’s it! I give up on you, you will never get this right!”. He is committed to your redemption. He has shown you mercy and grace, where you are, as you are.

If we are honest with ourselves, repentance is a constant action and prayer. Acknowledge when your back is to the Lord, and make a conscious effort to turn around. Let me tell you a quick story. The Lord gave me a cool illustration for this. A few months ago I decided to go for a walk outside by myself. I began walking with my back facing our home. After just a few minutes, I felt anxiety rise up in my chest. I realized how vulnerable I was out there by myself. I felt very alone, unguarded, far from my home, and frankly, like a panzee. I quickly turned around ready to return to safety, only to see how close I actually was to the house. It was there all along… safety was close by, I just had to turn around and see it.

Sometimes we feel very far away from God because of our sin, or because we aren’t the perfect Christian we all pretend to be, or because we have never given Him the time of day. Regardless of where you’ve been or where you are right now, turn, and see the Father, our Home, waiting right there for you. Run home.

This leads me to the parable Jesus told of the prodigal son. Prodigal is a fancy word. It means wasteful and reckless. This parable is found in Luke 15: 11-31. From the NIV it reads,

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Talk about mercy, grace, forgiveness, and celebration. This is the picture our God and His love for us, and it’s overwhelming! Let us “come to our senses”, return home, and celebrate the goodness of our Father.

Notice He says, “But while he was still a long way off…”. Pause with me for a second. Even when you are feeling so far from God, He has compassion on you, and longs to celebrate you returning home to Him. Don’t let the enemy convince you that you’re too far gone. There’s no sin too deep, no life too screwed up, and no heart too hardened for God to heal.

He hears every prayer and knows every heart. Repent, be healed, and spend this life with the peace of Christ within you. God loves to transform lives and to see his children filled with peace and joy.

Jeremiah 15:19 “If you repent, I will restore you…”

Revive 

Revive 

“to restore life or consciousness; to live again”

“Re-” means again

“Vivere/Vive” means live

To live again, means there was life at one point. But something happened, causing death, separating the initial life and life again. For this to make sense, you have to realize the condition we are in as human beings. In the Garden of Eden, man chose evil, sin and death entered the world, and our righteous standing with the Father was broken. Humans are born into this world with that sinful nature, lacking right standing with God. Some day we will experience death and the end of this life. But through Jesus Christ, God revives the repentant here and now. He revives our heart and spirit until we reach life after death and eternity with Him.

Isaiah 57:15b “…I (God) live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.”

Contrite: “filled with a sense of guilt and the desire for atonement” Contrite means repentant.

So a person who is aware of the condition of their heart and spirit and desires to live this life as we are designed to is in the “perfect condition” for God to step in and revive them. When we realize that nothing else in this world is filling that gap, that need, that desire for LIFE… let us look to the message of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2: 1-10: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air (the enemy/Satan), the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

The Bible says that we were dead in our sins. (Eph. 2:1).

Dead: “no longer living; deprived of life”

This is the condition we are born into. When something is dead, it cannot bring itself back to life. It takes an outside source to revive it.

In John 14:6 – Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus Christ is the only way to true and eternal life. He takes us from our dead, deprived, and broken state of living and does what we could never do on our own: He makes breathes life into us here on earth with hope and the Holy Spirit, and provides eternal life after death. Not because we are “good” human beings. But because God is rich in mercy and love and sent His Son Jesus to be our Savior (John 3:16). He’s our Creator, our Designer, our Heavenly Father. He desires to revive us. He IS the hero that steps in and helps us turn our life around.

Most importantly, He is Holy. He is not our genie in a bottle. He is the glorious Creator of the universe with all power. He doesn’t revive us to let us go back to our depraved state. We must turn and give him our everything, because He is truly worthy. Jesus is a big deal. What He did here on earth is more than a historical fact. His death was the perfect sacrifice so we can be revived and so our relationship with the Father can be restored.

For us, it starts with realizing the condition of our heart, life, and world. We are functioning in a fractured version of what God originally created. But, God has provided a way to life again (Jesus).

Ephesians 1:13 “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. ”

How does this apply to every day life?

Even though we live in a world where sadness, anxiety, worry, stress, death, and confusion exist, we don’t have to surrender to the ways of his world…we have life inside of us as believers in Jesus Christ. Because of what He accomplished through the cross and rising from death, we have hope. The only thing worth worrying about in life was taken care of by Jesus. Sin and death were defeated, and He is sitting on His throne.

So, I don’t have to go through my day wrapped up in anxiety about ____, because I know that God is good and He has a plan. God is not surprised by our stresses and struggles. I like to think that we are working on our testimonies constantly, and God is going to use every persons story for His glory.

Yes, the enemy is still at work in the world, but the enemy doesn’t win when all is said and done, and he knows it. The enemy would love for me to spend my life worrying about petty things, rather than surrendering those things to God and letting the peace of Christ rule in my heart and mind.

Surrender you life to Christ, He is who He says He is, and you don’t have to stay dead. When you put your faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit then lives within you as your Helper and Comforter. Pray for heavenly perspective on your life, see that God has breathed life back in you, and who do you know that needs life again?

Romans 8:10-11 “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness (right standing with God). And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”

The Seed

The Seed

In 2012 I attended the Passion Conference in Atlanta, GA while involved in the college ministry at my church. This event had great speakers like Louie Giglio and Francis Chan. Worship was led by Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Kristian Stanfill, David Crowder, and even Hillsong. The conference was held at the Georgia Dome and there were over 40,000 people present. It was epic.

During the conference,  I asked God to “give me a word”, hoping that I would have some revelation. Instead He gave me a seed. That day I was handed a black and white sticker with the word “restore”. I didn’t think much of it at the time, in fact I was kind of disappointed, but I put it on my journal, knowing that God may use it.

You need to know, I’m a words person. I’ve had a dictionary app on my phone since it became an option. If you need a synonym, let me know, because I would love to find you one.

Little did I know that The Lord and that word would inspire me and eventually this blog idea. I love word studies, where you take words… and study them. Classic. And let me tell you something about words. Some of them have prefixes, which have their own little meanings. “Anti-” meaning “against”, “Fore-” meaning “before”, “Non-” meaning “not”, “Sub-” meaning “under”. I think you get the point. Well, “re-” means “again”, hence words like redo, renew, refine, and restore. Boom. Lauren has just fallen in love with the word “restore”. It captures the purpose of Christ. To ultimately restore our relationship with the Father… a second chance.

Over the next few months, God began to reveal Himself to me through specific words. These words seemed to jump of the page of my Bible or journal with such deep meaning and weight. Each word captured a small part of the Kingdom and the Gospel in it’s own little way. I also began to notice a pattern with these words: They all started with “r” or “re-“. The theme became something my heart took note of, and I began making a list of these “r” words. (footnote: I’m also a habitual list maker. It’s a problem).

It didn’t take long for me to recognize the prefix “re-“, which when placed in front of a word generally means “again” or “redone”.

Imagine an old, rusty, beat up pick up truck abandoned in a salvage yard. It’s dead, no longer functioning as it was created to, it cannot fix itself, and there is no hope for it. The only way for it to return (ha, re-)… return to its prime, is for someone who knows everything about it to come and do some serious work. Someone who knows it’s very in’s and out’s, is willing to do the hard work that is required, visualizes what it was originally created to be, and has a passion to bring it back to life. Jesus, you may now enter the scene. This is us. This is the redemption story of human nature. The Bible says we were dead in our transgressions sins. When someone is dead, can they bring themselves back to life, or are they helpless? Spoiler alert: They cannot bring themselves back from the dead, unless they are Jesus.

Jesus came to to rescue us, to give us a chance to be redeemed,  to restore us, and restore our relationship with the Father. His perfect sacrifice and conquering of death provides our second chance, our chance to re-do what was undone with the fall of mankind.

The seed given to me that day was meant to grow and turn into something much more. One word study at a time, I pray that God’s heart and the Kingdom would be revealed to every reader.