Monday, September 24, 2012

"The Call"

Maybe it's because the new season of Survivor has started that I'm having some flashbacks to a very exciting time in my life.  If you have ever had a dream, you may understand my excitement when, after so many years, I received a call from Survivor casting saying they were interested in interviewing me as a cast member for the show.  I had no idea where the show was going to be filmed and I had no idea what was in store for me the summer of 2007.  I journaled my experiences in auditioning throughout the years and even journaled my experiences in China. 

In the coming weeks, I will share different journal entries with you.  Today I wanted to share the entry with you from my 2007 journal the day after I received "the call"...

March 9, 2007
 

Thank you Lord!! I’m stunned and excited – after five long years, my prayer is being answered about Survivor! I am stunned only because I guess I had just recently let my dream go – and had just pushed it away from my grasp. I wasn’t really even thinking much about it, Lord. But yesterday, in the car on the way to Target, my phone rang. It was a private number and I had a fleeting thought “Maybe that’s them…nah!!”so I answered. And she said “Hi, is this Leslie? This is Survivor Casting” and I about ran off the road! I had to pull over – my entire body was shaking.

They want me to send them an audition video because they cannot find one for me for some reason (which is strange because I have sent one every six months for over five years!) so I sent them one that was made last year in 2006 from a listener at the radio station.  They said they like my application a lot and asked me lots of questions about my faith.  I really liked the girl I talked to - she was super sweet.  I'm already praying for her.

Dear God, I need you to please help me to stay focused on YOU. I get so excited in my flesh – I mean, this is a dream that I have had for so long and it’s easy to focus on it. Please help me not to – but to get on my knees even more now – directly in front of your throne. I am absolutely helpless without you. I desperately need your Spirit to fill me completely – to give me words to speak, help to get through my day, God I will need you to give me every single word that comes from my lips – help me represent you well! 


I know that this is for Your glory, God – all You. Please help me. Please give me a confidence and conviction to be everything you want me to be. You are right now whispering in my heart, “Do not worry about what you will say – I will give you the words” and I know the reason you are telling me that is because you do not want me to worry – but to focus on YOU during this time of my life. That is such a wonderful and scary test for me – to stay focused during a time that is so tempting to get wrapped up in the “details” of the fulfillment of this dream. I don’t want anything that YOU don’t want for me, God.
 

I want to speak truth about what a true relationship with Jesus Christ is. I will be a fool for you, Lord – and I know You know my heart is true in this. Open those doors, God and give me strength to walk through them in Your power!
 

THANK YOU from the bottom of my very grateful and humbled heart, God. Help me to use this story to inspire others to keep trying…to never stop dreaming and to believe. I know that you are giving me this opportunity to do just that. I pray you will not let me get in the way. God, I need your Holy Spirit to completely penetrate every area of my life. I pray this in Jesus’ name – Amen!!

I still get chill-bumps when I read this! How cool to finally see that the dream I had for over five years was finally coming true. I knew once they called that I was going to be selected, but I can’t explain it any other way except to say that I just had confidence in what God was doing. I had so many years of dreaming and praying that it just seemed natural at the time. As I look back, I realize it was not natural at all. It was completely God, supernaturally allowing this to happen! I’m so grateful. I always will be.

I knew in my heart that He had prepared me for this time and my husband and I were in agreement about it. I read through Esther and realized that God can use a woman of His for mighty things…for such a time as this. I knew in my heart of hearts that I was going to honor God, but the thought of me getting wrapped up in the “details” scared me. I know how weak I can be in my human nature. I also knew by this time how strong God could be through me, if I only would allow Him.

Truth for Today:

Esther 4:14 “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Spoken to Queen Esther when her Uncle made her realize that perhaps she had been promoted as Queen in order to bring deliverance to the Jewish people. God prepares us and then sends us out. We must be ready...”for such a time as this”).

Here's the audition video I sent them:


Thursday, September 6, 2012

I Don't Want it to be Real!

My husband and two oldest kids decided to take a trip to the beach one weekend a few years ago.  We had a great time - went to the beach, slept in, ate seafood, shopped and visited the aquarium. I felt like a little kid again at the aquarium - it was absolutely one of the most amazing things I had done in a while.

While we were going through the tunnel with all the sharks, we came across this strange looking shark who was literally just plastered to the glass just above our heads and we just cracked up laughing because it looked like he was doing it on purpose - everyone was taking pictures of him and he just seemed to be smiling and soaking in all the glory. That's him you see in the photo!

I suppose he looked a little scary though, and as a little 5 year old girl strolled through the aquarium holding her daddy's big hand (ok, squeezing it until it turned pale white), she said "Daddy is it real?" He answered "Yes, honey, all of them are. Isn't it amazing?" In her innocence and fear, she cried out "No, Daddy! I don't want it to be real!" as if that would change it all and make everything become unreal. I still see the look on her face - absolute fear was written all over it and she was doing something I do quite often in life - denying the truth to make herself feel better.

Ever wish something wasn't true? Me too. I think we all do that. I've heard the saying (and have even said it many times) that "ignorance is bliss" because knowing something is true not only means we have to face that truth but also act on it. It's easier to bury our head in the sand and continue in life just the way we always did. It's easier to say "I don't want it to be real!" and just walk through life oblivious.

Or is it?

I used to think it was easier to pretend God wasn't real. That hell was some made up place and evil was something I could elude. But once I was faced with the reality that there is a God, I am accountable to Him, there is a hell and evil is unavoidable, I realized I had some decisions to make. Instead of wishing it all away and living in denial, I finally realized that ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is a choice I made. And it was not doing me any favors. So I started to search for Truth in the pages of God's Word - and I found it.

According to Romans 1:18-20, "God shows His anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because He has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made they can clearly see His invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God."

Then it goes on to say (vs 21-22) "Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship Him as God or even give Him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused."

I see so many folks trying to figure out God outside of the Bible, with supplementary writings by people who claim to know Him. Everyone wants a god on their terms. It reminds me of people who look for the perfect diet that allows them to eat whatever they want and not exercise.  Hello?!  Not gonna happen. It takes discipline, hard work and a healthy diet, no way around it. Everything else is a deception that usually takes our money right out of our pockets and even if it works for a little while, eventually, it will fail. There are no short cuts.

Then there are those that respond, "I don't want it to be real" and just say there is no God at all. If the sky is blue but I would prefer it not be blue, but green, would that change the truth that it is blue? Just because I say it's green does not make it so. It just is what it is.

God says "I am." He is making Himself known to us, and our denying He's there is not going to change anything at all. We must confront this at some point in our lives - every one of us. Pretending it is not an issue will not make it go away - it will only "suppress the truth by our wickedness" and I believe the wickedness that suppresses the truth that the bible speaks about is our stubborn, hardened hearts.

My prayer is that we all open our hearts and minds to the Truth of God's Word. I pray that hearts will be softened and penetrable. I pray we will all embrace it, learn, grow and walk in the freedom of knowing that God is real and He desperately desires a relationship with us through His Son, Jesus Christ's, sacrifice on our behalf. I pray we will take His hand, walk through this life and instead of saying "Daddy, I don't want it to be real" that we will say "Daddy, thank you for telling me the Truth - now show me how to live my life, holding tightly to Your hand."

Proverbs 14:8 The prudent understand where they are going, but fools deceive themselves.

If you need to know more about how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ, please visit www.christianityexplored.org



Sunday, September 2, 2012

Our Greatest Gift to God

"I need you to clean your room, please."  Simple enough, right?  Well, not so much with a teenager sometimes. 

I asked my daughter to clean her room awhile ago, but instead, she decided to walk the dog, make cookies and empty the dishwasher.  That's awesome, but the room was still a mess.  So when I decided to confront her about her messy room, I had her pointing out all the things she had done as a defense as to why her room was not clean.  I also got the old, "You don't appreciate me!  Here, I've done all of these things and you didn't even care - you just want me to clean my room!" 

Oh, no she didn't!  Please tell me she didn't go there.

I swallowed hard and as lovingly as I could muster, I replied, "Well, I didn't ask you to do all of those things!  And even though they are wonderful and I do appreciate what you did, you still disobeyed me by not doing what I actually asked you to do!" 

As soon as it came out of my mouth, my heart sank as I realized immediately that God could say the same exact thing to me at times.  He asks me to do something specific that would require much of me and may be out of my comfort zone. Instead, I lead a Bible study, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or do some other work to try to please Him (usually something He hasn't asked me to do). But I neglect the one thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt He is asking me to do.  The one thing that requires a great deal of discipline.  The one thing that scares the dickens out of me!

Then, in my prayer time, I feel His Spirit gently ask me why I neglected to obey Him and I find myself doing exactly what my daughter did...I make excuses.  "But God!  Didn't you notice when I lead that Bible Study?  What about the soup kitchen - did that mean nothing to you? Aren't you impressed with me, God?  Don't you appreciate me?!"  I then hear Him whisper, "I desire obedience over sacrifice, my child."  How do I know He whispered this?  Because it's in His Word.  1 Samuel 15:22 says,
"But Samuel replied, 'What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, or your obedience to his voice? Listen!  Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams."
Works are not what He wants from me.  And as long as I'm continuing to disobey Him in an area of my life, I'm living in disobedience - no matter how many other "good" things I pile up.  I'm not sure I ever truly understood that until this situation with my daughter happened.   Sometimes I think God gave me children so I can get a glimpse of how incredibly hypocritical I can be in life!  As I am disciplining my children, He is showing me a picture of myself more often than not.

Is there an area of your life where God has asked you to obey Him, but instead you are working your tail off trying to impress Him in other ways, hoping He will forget all about the "other thing" He asked you to do?  Hey, I get it - we all do it (whether we admit it or not) - but I would venture to say that we will be stuck in a spiritual rut until we obey Him in the one thing we think we could never do. 

It's time.  No more excuses!  God wants to bless you!  But He will hold back His full blessing until the obedience comes.  Blessing always follows obedience.  He will give you strength and power to do what He is calling you to do. Don't waste another moment living in disobedience.  The thrill you will feel once you decide to obey is so worth the effort!

John 14:15 "If you love me, keep my commandments." - Jesus







Got Questions?

GotQuestions?org