Ashes

Ashes - the gray between death and new life, fire and new growth. The pause between the living sacrifice, and a purified beauty.
“Therefore I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” Rom 12:1-2
An old friend and fellow youth worker always said, “The problem with living sacrifices, is that they crawl off the altar”. How many times have I surrendered something to the Lord, to later take it back? Or to have Him ask me to surrender in a deeper way or on a new level than before? Countless times!

Recently though I’ve encountered a new level of being a living sacrifice that has left me in something of a conundrum. What am I to do with the ashes after I’ve surrendered something completely to His will?

I echo Jim Elliot early in his relationship with Elisabeth as the Lord lead him to not pursue a relationship with her, so he (Jim) could go to Africa unattached. Despite his passionate feelings for her, he says
“'So I put you [Elisabeth] on the alter’ . . . and as the silence grew heavy . . . ‘And what is to be done with the ashes?’” – Passion and Purity
Jim and Elisabeth still had to see each other and be in each other’s lives for years before the Lord eventually brought them together. They lived with the gray ashes of their desires and dreams in front of their faces - daily  - as they choose to be living sacrifices.

In all cases and in all types of surrender, the Lord brings beauty from ashes (Isaiah 61:3) – that’s what He is in the business of doing . Be it in physical nature when a forest fire rips through and a new healthy forest springs up, or spiritual sacrifice – He brings health and goodness from it. I know that, yet it’s the day in and day out living in the reality of the ashes before the beauty comes, that is the struggle.

I’m learning two major things through this season though!  The first is that when there is nothing left but ashes - He is there! The I Am. That is beauty already! That is peace, joy and purpose!  Strangely (and not!) on the heals of that, comes the desire to breathe life back into the ashes so I can crawl off again. I don’t like this pause and want to interpret what I think could possibly be God’s beauty coming on the horizon and force it into my timetable.

I certainly don’t want to go back to the way I was– I learned my lesson and that part is dead and sacrificed. But I don’t like living with the ashes either. It’s like wanting to pick the bud rather than letting the rose bloom. So many, many, pretty things to distract before the real beauty comes.

Here’s the thing. The devil knows he can’t tempt ashes with the sin or desires of the past - they are still on the altar of Christ’s sacrifice – but he can and will tempt with the almost good enough. Tempt with the counterfeit, surface, pretty things instead of the deep, lasting, beauty. If we’ve been through the pain of the living sacrifice, why in the world would we want to give up half way? Give up just before the sunrise?

 I don’t like waiting as “we’re waiting but our eyes are wandering to all this world hold’s dear”. The waiting in the ashes is as much of a fight as the original altar was! Pretty Things by Tenth Ave North continues
“We are, we are, we’re caught in the in between. Of who we already are and who we are yet to be. And we’re looking for love but finding we’re still in need. It’s only what we have lost, will we be allowed to keep . . . Look at all the pretty things that steal my heart away. I can feel I’m fading. ‘Cause Lord I love so many things, that keep me from your face. Come and save me.”
So what is to be done with the ashes?

I don’t know. I don’t know if anything is to be done with them really. They have to remain so the beauty can rise up from them. Perhaps the ashes are a pause to give us a chance to live and walk out what we have sacrificed. It would be easy if the beauty came immediately – and then I wouldn’t need Him as much.

So if you’re in a time of ashes, remain faithful as He is faithful. The beauty will come in His time. Say no to the pretty things – know they will tempt you! 1 John 2 says that if 'we know Him we will keep His commandments'.  Knowing Him leads to being a living sacrifice, to laying down the sinful desires, as well as ones we think are healthy. So don’t let go of that knowledge in the in-between of the ashes. He who promised is faithful.

*Special thanks to my Papa, who faithfully worked through his own time of ashes. 

** Photo Complimets of Christine Britten - Yellowstone National Park - Volcanic Ash - for all of our adventures together! :) 


New

Never used, brand new, tags still on, new life, new birth, newness, new again – re new. There is something so beautifully innocent about newness, youthful exuberance, a hesitant uncertainty, a blissfully unaware, a purity, a simplicity, a long lasting impression or memory – a first.  Precious and of great value – but newness doesn’t last for long – ever. Perhaps there is more treasure and beauty in maturity, in knowledge of the old, or the complicated, the dirty or shameful. Perhaps to fully appreciate newness, or re –newness we must first glimpse the old to grasp the beauty of re new. Perhaps newness is grace, a situation redeemed, a second chance. For those are the times we really appreciate the lasting newness only found in Him.

5 Minute Friday Prompt: New. Join us for 5 minute Friday's at the Gypsy Momma's blog where we write simply for the sheer joy of it!

Out of a Far Country

Next on my list to review from Blogging for Books is Out of a Far Country by Christopher Yuan and Angela Yaun. (I get free books to review from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group - feeds my reading habit!) It's a true story of a mother and son and their journey through homosexuality. An unusual non-fiction story that reads like fiction - Out of a Far Country is a smooth but gripping read.

I personally loved this book as it balances the homosexual issue and Christian faith very well. It has a strong presentation of biblical truth while bringing it to a personal level as the mother struggles to accept a homosexual son and that son wrestles between an orientation and a faith he doesn't understand.

This book was very helpful in opening my eyes to better understand the homosexual/faith debate. The biggest thing the book shows is that the balance for heterosexual and homosexual orientation is not one or the other but a call to holiness for both. As in the opposite of homosexuality is not heterosexuality but holiness.

Out of a Far Country is a great, balanced book - a real testimony dealing with faith, homosexuality, and AIDS in modern day America. Check it out.

Snapshots of Summer 2011

Hello Blogging World! Hello Friends!

I have missed ya'll this summer! This past weekend ended a 3-month stretch for me of being on the road and going from one event and festival to the next. Most of the traveling was for my job but some was for pleasure!  The end result was I was only home on average for a week each month and taking a class on top of it left no time for blogging! Something I hope to remedy as soon as I catch my breath!
Here a few snap shots from the summer :)

The summer started first week of June with a last minute, unexpected, business trip to Oklahoma and a teen leadership camp there.  A co-worker and I had the privilege of shadowing and learning from this group as we plan to kick off our own teen leadership camp next summer in NY and PA.
Super Summer OK

Flying into Dallas for the camp in OK lent me the incredible opportunity to see my roommate from CO last fall. :)

Using up vacation time - road trip down the east coast to see many old friends!

Coordinated my first themed vintage wedding!


Mini Focus Alumni reunion at a classmate's wedding - singing Holy Holy Holy with tears in our eyes - beauty in community!

FLI Alum in a bookstore is like alcoholics in a bar! Our favorite or not so favorite books from the semester!

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.' "

Summer wouldn't be complete without all the car repairs - trying to patch my muffler till I could get it to the shop!

First fruits on my garden

Hattie Village Youth Overnight - Hope to be involved more next year!

Kid's Camp - My Counselor's in Training :)

 Best part of Camp - time to connect and work with my siblings that came to help for the week!

Going for the world record of the the Largest Game of Twister at camp!

Bible Study/Small Group cook out

First Summer Festival with Co-worker and friend

Another pic from the first festival

Festival number 2 - Flash Mob! (First time ever coordinating one of those!)

Escape for time with the Lord - in a nearby state park

Teen Camping Trip and a few little ones to add to the fun!

Last event of the summer - reffing the Tug of War contest

And some how through it all the Lord provided the means to take an 5 week English class so I could keep up with college over the summer - first time I ever wrote a final paper tenting and camping!

As the summer winds to a close I hope to have more time to blog again! I've also been asked to start contributing to Young Ladies Christian Fellowship so look for blogs over there as well!


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About Me

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I'm a fun loving, people person, with a passion for ministry and the Lord. My greatest desire is to see people come to realize who they are in Christ and how that effects every area of their relationships and lives.I want to know Him more.