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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

Presence

Somewhere over the past few months, I’ve internally shifted into having more of a performance mentality. I’ve tied my identity many times with how well I’m doing rather than simply with who I’m being. I felt myself failing far more often than flying.

As someone who is passionate about identity, this can be difficult to admit. But it just means that I’m still a work in progress, still learning to live out who God has designed me to be.

Have you struggled with a performance mentality?

God began to stir my heart months ago towards a fresh vision about who I am becoming and where I’ve strayed. I heard a singular word. Presence. My heart leapt. This word summed up everything I longed for, everything I’d neglected leading to those moments of feeling the failing. It brought me back to the Source of what matters.

Presence.

Both the Presence of God and the presence of me. Recognizing His unfailing Presence in my life. Placing the fullness of my presence before Him and others I encounter each day. Present in this moment, neither living in the past nor dwelling on the future. Presence full in the here-and-now. Living with the longing to discover how each moment is pregnant with His Presence.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy…” Jude 1:24

It’s always the Presence of God that creates transformative change, that creates life. In His Presence is safety and rest, guidance and strength, cleansing and restoration.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12

It’s always the fullness of my presence that reveals the love I have for God and others. How can I show love if I am not present?

On a practical note, I’ve wondered how this offering of my presence to those in my daily life works. As a homeschooling mom who also writes and speaks and plans – who is the wife and mom and friend – how do I handle the interruptions that inevitably enter my day, pulling my attentive presence from one thing to another? That’s what the past few months have brought me to ask as I’ve pondered this single word, Presence…single, yet not simple.

When the Israelites moved throughout the wilderness, they had only one indicator that it was time to move on: the movement of God’s Presence in the pillar of cloud or fire. They may have stayed one night or several months in one spot. But every morning they looked to the pillar of His Presence to follow His direction. When He moved, so did they. It was simple, though certainly not always easy. Attend to His Presence. Move when He does, but never before.

“And He said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ And [Moses] said to Him, ‘If your presence will not go with me, do not bring us up from here.'” Exodus 33:14-15

I’m not sure I have the precise answer yet to what this looks like practically. But, perhaps, here’s a place to start:

Holding so loosely to my agendas that they’re easy to set down, either for a moment’s interruption or for a complete redirection, attentive to the movement of God’s Presence.

Training my kiddos, and offering the example, of practiced patience. How to wait on someone else to complete their thought or task before pulling them off course.

Stripping away the things that weigh me down, making it easier to move when His Presence does.

Asking: What’s getting in the way of sensing His Presence? What’s keeping me from giving my presence?

Presence. Remembering that He’s here. Remembering to be here.

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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

Stripping Away The Weight

Most mornings we spend an hour tidying up: putting away dishes, making beds, kickstarting the laundry, and decluttering. It’s never perfect – and that’s perfectly okay! But I’m amazed at the difference in our ability to move through the day when the house is in order rather than cluttered and chaotic.

One day, I moved through the living room, duster in hand, and realized I couldn’t even dust completely because of all the clutter that had accumulated. Paperwork, a small box, some pictures, dead batteries, and other random, little things had taken over.

And, finally, these spots bothered me. They’d been accumulating for weeks, but I reached a point where I couldn’t bear them any longer. If I had dealt with them a little each day, they wouldn’t have gotten so out of hand. But I’d ignored them, and, in that neglect, they took over what otherwise would’ve been a beautiful space in our home.

As I cleared and tossed and shredded and sorted, I realized that I’ve let my soul get cluttered lately. I haven’t been diligent each day to strip off those things weighing me down, those things hindering my effectiveness or joy or purpose.

Those things like quick forgiveness…and handing my hurts over to God…and loneliness…and worry…and anger.

“…let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” Hebrews 12:1b

My word for 2016: Press. Press into the moment and the Presence of God. Press on past the excuses I’ve made. Press out worship like an offering of fragrant oil.

This pressing is bringing me into the Presence of God. And it’s requiring of me an awareness and willingness to lay aside those things weighing me down. Like ornaments of the Israelites when they worshiped a golden calf. The calf, which was not merely idolatry. The calf, which expressed how little the Israelites knew of the reality of God. Moses had come face to face with the Great I AM and knew best Who He is. The people formed their own suppositions and came up with a false image of God, based on their preconceptions founded in their idolatrous upbringing in Egypt.

How have we formed our own false images?

After the golden calf came the stripping. At first, they merely laid aside their ornaments. But God commanded that they be cast away. Removed completely. Not just tucked away to be put back on later. But mercilessly stripped away. This stripping away…it requires recognizing the weight that slows us down and the sin that clings, entangles, and trips us up.

God’s Presence moved in a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. But, before they could be ready to follow God’s Presence any further, the Israelites had to remove their ornaments, stripping away the weights they wore.

If I want to be ready to stay with His moving Presence, I must be stripped down, ready to move freely. I have to be willing to ask myself the sometimes difficult questions: What is weighing me down? What’s tripping me up? Am I willing to release it so I can follow God’s Presence more closely?

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Finding God Everyday Now Found Blog

Obedience is Exciting?!?

Today’s guest post is written by Kendra Hunt, a warm, wonderful, welcoming friend whose depths of wisdom and love never seem to end. Through life’s everyday circumstances, and often a touch of humor that lifts the spirit, she cuts to the heart of what a day-to-day relationship with God looks like lived out. I pray you’ll be blessed by the message she’s brought to you here! 

 

A few years ago I was chatting with a friend who’d come to my home for a visit. We both had little kids who seemed always to be at our feet. Conversation was sporadic at best and we could count in the course of a night the number of sentences we actually completed. It was the end of the year and we were discussing the church-wide fast for January.

We would start a sentence and then change a diaper, start a sentence and then fill a sippy cup, start a sentence and then dart to save a little one from falling off a chair. Do you see a pattern? It is amazing that I remember anything from that night, but I do. I distinctly remember my friend talking about what God had put on her heart to fast – and she was excited. What?

How could she be excited about depriving herself of something??

She multitasked while sharing her excitement to live in obedience regarding what God was asking of her. It was strange and yet very enticing. The conversation got me to thinking about obedience. So many principles in the Bible are vastly contrary to popular culture. Who would think obedience to an invisible God would be exciting? The thought of giving up something you are very attached to, such as sugar or social media, or worse, chocolate, was not something that would seem exciting.

As I continued to think about obedience, I imagined a puppy, a family’s treasured pet. Have you ever seen a puppy when they have been disobedient? They hang their head and tuck their tail down. They stay at a distance, scared of the discipline that may follow their disobedient behavior, like a shadow attached to a kid playing in the sun.

So what does an obedient puppy do? Why yes!! They are excited. They wag their tails and come close to you, waiting for a pat on the head or a rub behind their ear.

Obedience is exciting because, when it is done from a heart of love, it brings you closer. Obedience strengthens a relationship and draws you closer to the one to which you have subjected your will. 

Obedience from love opens the door for God to do a transformative work in your life.

The apostle Peter gives instruction in the New Testament telling the people to continue to be obedient, even in their suffering. He reminds them of their hope and tells them that obedience will multiply their grace and peace.

“God the Father has his eye on each of you, and has determined by the work of the Spirit to keep you obedient through the sacrifice of Jesus. May everything good from God be yours!” 1 Peter 1:2 (The Message)

Obedience is exciting because it brings you nearer to a God whose number one desire is for you to be close to Him. He sent His son to live a life of obedience so that you could be close to Him.

“By the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” Romans 5:19 (KJV)

Don’t be fooled by the world and its message that living for God is living a life that is not fun and exciting. Obedience to God is exciting in a way the world will never know.

 

Kendra Hunt picKendra’s boys say that she spends her time making dinner and wrestling them for hugs. Kendra spends the rest of her time as a full-time mom, a full-time pastor’s wife, a part-time accountant, a ladies group leader, a PTA board member, and the director of the mentoring program for Gateway Church’s NFW campus. She is also the author of Encouragement Between Loads of Laundry, a hilarious, yet poignant collection of inspirational devotions for women. While Kendra doesn’t even enjoy making dinner, she is proud that it is first on her boys list! The rest are just details!

Get your copy of Kendra’s book here! Available for Kindle and in paperback.

 

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