Monday, March 29, 2021

The Shift of One Day

(Taken from https://yesterdaysprophecy.com/religious-leaders-plot-kill-jesus/) 

One day can cause so many shifts in people and circumstances. Have you noticed that? On Sunday, the people were shouting, “Hosanna!” but come Monday the religious leaders questioned Jesus' authority and Jesus prophesied the coming judgment. They recognized Jesus' power and how He was impacting the people. Lives were being transformed and they didn’t like it because people were not turning to them for their power and authority. I can’t help but wonder if Jesus thought as He rode on that donkey into Jerusalem, Come tomorrow the religious leaders will be plotting to kill me. You cry “Hosanna” which means “save us!” That is what I am doing! I am here for you! Will you listen? Will you see? Will you believe? 

Go listen to what happened on Monday of the first Easter week. Easter Monday Video

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Why do we have to have Easter stories?

(Taken from learningreligions.com. What is Palm Sunday?)

My friend said to me, "I really like the Christmas story of God loving us and sending His Son, but why do we have to go through that awful story of Easter?" My heart clenched because I get it. The Easter story if you take time to know it, it is excruciatingly painful. An innocent man willingly gives His life to die on a cross. But, here is the deal. Jesus was still the Son of God sent by the Father as He allowed the days to unfold. He chose to do the Father's will that we might live. He gave us the greatest gift we will ever know. He gave His life as a sacrifice to pay our debt of sin. So, as painful as it is to listen to or watch the Easter story unfold. It is our hope.  It is where new life begins. This is why people use little Easter eggs and put things in them. They symbolize Jesus dying, being buried and then rising again. Last year to give hope I recorded the Easter week stories and posted them. Please take time to listen and receive the gift so freely given.

Listen to the first story of Easter week here.


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Confessions of Anger

Have you ever had one of those moments when as soon as it was rolling out of you, you knew you had walked out of love? Now, I am not talking about being loving. I am talking about the kind of moment when you know you are losing a grip on what you know to be good, holy, right, true, and quite simply kind! Suddenly, without warning you find yourself knee deep in offense and whether you say anything or not your heart is no longer walking in love. And if you do say something you realize that if there was a video of you as a human it would depict a not so loving human. I had one of those ugly moments recently. I just snapped. Call it hormones, menopause, frustration, impatience or whatever you want, but it came out of me like a coke bottle that was about to explode. Just typing this embarrasses me. UGH! But, I would be a liar if I didn’t say I acted like this on occasion. I am so glad it doesn’t happen very often, but it happens. It is real in me. I am human. UGH! No, double ugh! I hate evil and I hate it most when it is in me. I found myself leaking tears for several days as I tried to process what in the mess was going on inside me. 

I have been praying for the LORD to give me much fruit in this season of my life. I do not want to waste time and I long to be fruitful. This moment of ugh did not match my prayer life. But, as I prayed and pondered my momentary madness, I realized I had stuffed A LOT! A LOT! And I needed to let some things go. Have you ever done that? I realized that in the attempt to act godly and not be offensive myself, I had allowed some occasions to be pushed down instead of grieving the pain that was caused me. I would tell myself, “Oh, I must forgive!” “Let it go!” “Move on and forget it!” But, the reality is my heart had been wounded and no attempt to reconcile had been made on my part or if it had it was handled in a cavalier, dismissal, or unkind way. It actually took someone being kind in the middle of a confusing moment for me to realize how much my heart had been wounded. How do I as a loving woman of God release it? How do I find healing when one of those that caused the pain died last year and one refuses to even dialogue and honestly if this person did the patterns have revealed that it best that we not engage. I know that I cannot change anyone. But, I have learned that the good LORD can change me. I soon realized that part of my prayer for bearing much fruit just happens to be that He wants to prune some pain in my heart. So, what is a girl to do? I knew I needed a day with GOD alone. I wanted to take the time to just list it all out and then just burn it. 

I love how GOD pours truth into us or even at us when we are in need of it. Our staff at ASM are working through the book, “Celebrations of Discipline” by Richard Foster as a team building activity for our staff meetings. I chose months ago to do submission and confession because I knew they were the ones I would like to grow in. LOL! Well, I discovered as I studied submission that if I am truly submitting then I am helping myself and those around me to be surrendered to the will of God. Well, guess what! In confession, Foster challenges the reader to take the time to write it all out on paper and take it to someone and confess it. I love it when God affirms something through another that you have planned to do. Foster reminds the reader that the gift of confession releases a dear friend because we become a reminder of God’s forgiveness. “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:23). My girlfriend, Sabrina, used to call this being Jesus with skin on. There truly is something amazing that happens when we confess something and get it off our chest. Suddenly, we are not alone in our darkness. And when you add in someone that is holy and a good listener that wraps you in the cords of compassion and reminds you of the Father’s forgiveness, well, it is quite beautiful! 

 I told Greg, “I am going to list out all the things that are stuffed inside me as anger and then burn it.” I am blessed because Greg listens even when he was the very one I dumped on! He did two things for me that were so good. Neither of us can handle us being in a fight for long. We will make up because we are a mess otherwise. After we both sat and stewed for quite I bit I said, “I am so sorry I just let you have it.” I will be honest I was sitting there thinking, “I don’t want to apologize! I still want to be mad because I am mad!” But, I also know that will not bring healing and movement so out of obedience to what I know is right and good I said it. Then Greg said, “I forgive you!” There it was so simple. He forgave me. I felt it, too, the minute he said it. I confess I sat there for a moment and thought I don’t want to say, “I forgive you!” But, I made myself do it! “I forgive you!” He nodded and we still sat in silence. Sometimes, you just gotta sit in your mess and wait for the emotions to catch up with your obedience. And it did. 
I hate being ugly! I hate unkindness! I hate evil! And I will say this a thousand times over, I hate them most in me! So, I set a date on the calendar and I set the day aside to be holy. It was to be my day to sit and process it all with God. I had to release it more to Him than to a human. I needed a holy work done in me and I most definitely was not the person to make that happen. I just needed to fall flat on my face before GOD and just unleash. I had A LOT OF ANGER in me! You need to know it was not at one person, one event, or one thing. It was A LOT of people, places, and circumstances. I put on quiet jazz got out my spiral notebook. I did not want this in my beautiful journal. This was ugly and it was going to be BURNED! Did you know that in Hebrew the first person that the word repent was used to first describe as an action was GOD? Go look it up (Genesis 6:6). I once learned that the repent in this verse means leave the house, burn it up, and to never return. That is a little terrifying when you consider it was God who first repented! God regretted creating humans when He saw their wickedness. If that does not do something to your heart, then we need to have a serious conversation! I looked up on Youtube the Hebrew word for “repent” and a video came up titled “Five words you should pray in Hebrew.” So, I paused to watch the video. Here are the five words the video provided: 

Hallelujah means “Praise the LORD!” It honors His beauty, power, faithfulness. 

Teshuvah means “repent and return to God.” It surrenders to His forgiveness.  

Tsedek means upright behavior and wise actions. It reveals His righteousness.

Chesed means “loving kindness or mercy.” It reveals His beauty, grace, kindness, and generosity. 
 
Shalom means “peace.” It is meant to be a prayer and blessing. In our heart, life, and world. 

I immediately knew this was of God and that I must use these five words as the prayer pattern for my prayer time. So, I began to praise God for His beauty, power, and faithfulness. I kept this portion short. I wanted to honor Him, but for today I knew my longer portion was going to be in the Teshuvah. I began to write. I can write pretty tiny, and I kept writing and kept writing. I knew many of the things I was putting down I had already walked the path of repentance and forgiveness, but in case there was any lingering anger I wanted to give it over to God. I wrote until I could not write any more. Immediately, I felt my heart feel the tension unleash. I then began to write over and over all of it the five words. Then it was on my heart to write “You are forgiven. You are free!” This was a reminder that it is just as true for each person as it is for me. Then I wrote Jesus over and over. Honestly, there is nothing spiritual about what I was doing in writing the repetitive words. It was more for me to rewrite on my heart the truths that each one embodies, and it felt good to me. It isn’t something that should be considered a model, but more as a confession of what God walked me through on this precious journey of confessing anger. 

When I was all done, I sat and looked at my scribbled mess, and I wanted to create! I wanted to be able to paint a masterpiece for each of those five words. They are mine now. They are deeply embedded in my heart, mind, soul, and spirit as part of my prayer journey with the LORD. I feel as if they are His grand gift to me because I sought Him. He allowed me to find Him in words that brought me healing, power, and yes authority to release and unleash my pain and move more towards joy. I love that He immediately gave me visions for creativity. How like God to provide a creative vision after a time of holy confession. 

When Greg came home for lunch on the morning that I wrote my confessions of anger, I showed him my scribbled mess. He looked at me and said, “Why do you still have it? Go burn it! Do you feel better?” I have a good friend in my Greg. I am blessed. I told him I wanted him to see it and honestly, as I look at it, it is beautiful to me! If I did not confess it then I could not find release from it. It represented the gift of God’s beauty, power, forgiveness, grace, mercy, generosity, faithfulness, and peace to me. 

Have you ever been so burdened? It sure hurts. I am so sorry if you have your own pain, anger, or even sorrow that you bear. I wrote about my journey hoping that you might go to God in prayer and confess it and release it to Him. I pray you find joy and the gift of creative vision so that you may go and bear much fruit. I know I am much better for having done it and I know you will be, too! Shalom y’all! Tara 3/23/21😉

Sunday, March 21, 2021

What is discipleship?

What is discipleship?

My very first memory of someone trying to disciple me happened in my stepsister’s bedroom when I was about five years old. Dorcas, my cousin, was five years older than me and I thought she was the most amazing person in the whole wide world. She could tell stories in such a way that I just wanted to stop and listen. And on this day as I sat on the floor leaning against the yellow flower print bedspread, Dorcas told me that I was a sinner and that I needed to ask Jesus to be my Savior. I was five at the time. I honestly had no clue what she was talking about, but if Dorcas said that I needed God’s forgiveness because I was a sinner then I was going to kneel and pray because she said so. I got on my knees and leaned with my elbows against the bed and prayed what Dorcas told me to pray. I was clueless that this was Dorcas’ attempt to disciple me or to show me how to become a follower of Jesus. I honestly do not even know if she understood that was what she was doing. But this is obviously what she had been told she should do and so she did. 

What does it mean to be a disciple? I feel like my life has little glimpses that later became profound moments that shaped me over time. Each of these little moments added up so that I could understand discipleship. My memory of Dorcas reminds me of the day that John the Baptist pointed Jesus out to his disciples and said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36). And immediately the disciples of John just got up and started following Jesus. One moment, they were the disciples of John and the next they were the followers of Jesus. Did you catch that? A disciple follows the one they want to learn from. This disciple transition happened in part because as Jesus' ministry began, it was time for John's ministry to end. John clearly explained to his disciples he was sent to prepare the way for the Christ, the one to take away the sins of the world. As John's testimony pointed to Jesus, as the true Lamb of God, Jesus started inviting men to be His disciples by asking them to come and follow Him. So, John's disciples stopped following him and started following Jesus.  

The Greek word for disciple is mathetes and it means to be a pupil, learner, or student. Please read John 1:35-51, in this passage, we have the example of what it looked like those first days that the disciples started to follow Jesus. Who were the people that followed Jesus? We know that two of John's disciples followed Jesus, Andrew plus one more. Then Andrew took Simon Peter to follow Jesus while Jesus invited Phillip personally to follow Him. Phillip in turn invited Nathanael. I love that there is no set way that any one of them started following Jesus. Each one was invited or told in a different way. Did you notice that each one gave a different title that revealed something about Jesus' character? John pointed to the Lamb of God. John’s former disciples called Jesus, teacher, or Rabbi. Andrew called Jesus, the Messiah and the One Called the Christ and Philip called Jesus the One Moses and the Prophets talked about, Jesus of Nazareth, and Son of Joseph. Nathanael called Jesus the Son of God and the King of Israel. Even Jesus got in the name identifying and called Himself, the Son of Man.

What does this tell you about our invitation to follow Jesus or what might happen as we become a disciple of Jesus? One thing is for certain, our invitation to become a disciple of Jesus will come in many different ways and by different people. For some, it will be by a specific invite from Jesus Himself. Sometimes, people will point to Jesus and emphasize different truths about Him that will cause us to want to go and see for ourselves. I love how our invitation is so personal and so relational. I wish I could talk to each disciple and ask them why it was important for them to know that character trait of Jesus. It makes sense to me that John would tell his disciples that Jesus was the Lamb of God. Jesus is the final sacrifice that all of history had been waiting for. As I pondered this, I happened to notice something that became quite profound for me. As I looked at each name given for Jesus, I noticed that each one represented something unique about Jesus’ historical identity that His future disciples would need to know. This is what I saw:

  • Rabbi… HIS MISSION. He is our heavenly teacher. 

  • The Messiah... HIS GIFT. It is through Jesus we receive the gift of eternal life. 

  • The One Called the Christ... HIS TITLE. No one else holds this title. 

  • The One Moses and the Prophets talked about ... HIS HISTORY (HIS story). God planned for Jesus all along. 

  • Jesus of Nazareth... HIS EARTHLY HOME. This allows us to see Jesus’ earthly dwelling.

  • Son of Joseph... HIS EARTHLY DAD. This allows us to see Jesus’ humanity.

  • Son of God... HIS HEAVENLY FATHER. This allows us to see Jesus’ divinity.

  • King of Israel... HIS HEAVENLY KINGDOM. This allows us to see His kingdom.

  • Son of Man... HIS HUMILITY. This allows us to see His servant leadership. 

In knowing Jesus’ story through His character and different titles that He was given helps us to know His identity and as we know Him, we are better able to know ourselves. We will identify with a character trait that will help us grow in our relationship with Him which will in turn help us grow in our relationship with others.  

Did you also notice the disciples moved to action immediately? John pointed his disciples to Jesus. Andrew brought Simon Peter to Jesus and Philip brought Nathanael. Have you ever had a teacher that taught you something and it stayed in your head for days? And every time you spoke to someone you shared what you heard or learned? When we are a disciple of a teacher, we follow this person because we want to know what they know so that we can be like them. And when we have a teacher that catches our attention, we always want to bring someone along. Just this morning, I met with a young leader friend, Katie, that calls me periodically to meet, and she asked me, “What is God teaching you today?” I was more than happy to share with her that I read a truth in the John C. Maxwell, Leadership Bible that really blessed me. Christian discipleship is about multiplying Jesus in us so that we can multiply Jesus in others. We will do what we can to share what we have seen and heard. 

What if Jesus said to you, “What do you want?” Would you be willing to say, “I want to know where you are staying?” Are you open to respond to Jesus saying, “Come and you will see!” Would you be willing to follow Him? Are you willing to be like John the Baptist, Andrew, and Phillip and invite those around you to know Jesus and share with them what you discover about His name, character, or identity? Can you say you are a disciple of Jesus? WHO should you invite to follow Jesus? 

Tara Rye/3/19/21

Ruined and Useless

(Praying Lion by Tara Rye 2016)

What is your talent?  How do you create or serve others through your talent or gifting? In middle school, I just knew I wanted to grow up to become a famous artist. I took art and quickly became dear friends with my art teacher. I drew all the time. I would practice drawing for hours every chance I could. But, one day I heard that you have to die to be famous or really make an income. This sobered me up and caused me to believe that my art gift that gave me so much joy was just a hobby and I should spend my time developing my other talents. Once I started college I left my art behind. I no longer had time to spend hours drawing or creating even for the fun of it or atleast that is what I thought. I thought I needed to spend hours growing other talents and gifting that seemed to rise up as more relevant. 

This reminds me of the moment when Jeremiah was asked to bury a linen belt in the crevice of rocks (Jeremiah 13:1-11).  He left it there for many days before the LORD told him to go get it. When Jeremiah returned to get it, the linen belt was ruined. It had been destroyed by abandonment, disuse, and no care. I realize that God used this as a lesson to Israel to illustrate the importance of their relationship with Him. Israel had walked away and abandoned God and His commands because of their own stubborn pride and pursuit of false gods. Their lack of care in their relationship with God rendered them useless to God. 

This made me think about my art talent. I finally picked it up twenty years later. My heart and mind was of a mature woman, but my artistic skill was of a high school artist. Literally, my skill, talent, gift was only as mature as what I had put into growing it. I had to invest time for it to mature with me and for it to grow into its gift. 

Isn't this true in all things? In my relationship with God. I need to spend time knowing Him and letting Him know me. This is where transformation can take place and spiritual maturity is born. This can only happen through the intentional habits of prayer and being in the Word of God. In my relationship with Greg, it is the same. If I ignore him and do not listen to him or talk to him then we struggle and that makes life hard. As a leader, I learn about leadership to help me to know what to do so I can mature in my leadership. Why study leadership if I am not going to apply it? In each of these, I realize it requires the gift of presence, investment, care, and use for growth to happen. I don't want to put my relationship with God or Greg in a situation where it is useless. I don't want to do this in my leadership either. I learned the lesson the hard way with my art. I am still trying to mature it, but I can feel the brunt of time and lack of use everytime I sit down and try to create. I am not as malleable as I used to be. I learned that the quicker I apply the lesson the steadier I am in growth. The more I delay then the maturing phase takes longer.

Is there a gift or talent you have put away that you might need to pull out and put to use? Is there a truth or leadership skill you know, but have not put into practice? Have you pushed a person aside you need to draw near to? What about God or His Word? What are you doing to mature in your walk with Him? Do not let these go into ruins because of lack of use or being cast aside. Pull them out and start using them again. You might find like I did with my art. I had forgotten the joy I received in doing it.



Thursday, March 18, 2021

Walking in Discipleship: Jesus Calls His Disciples (John 1:35-51)

This particular story has always been a profound blessing to me. I love it because I see that when it comes to discipleship that it is meant to be unique for each person. Sometimes, we might call out a character trait of Jesus, and sometimes He might call out a character trait in us. We are uniquely and divinely called and in our calling, we are uniquely and divinely inspired! Check out what happened when several of the disciples started to follow Jesus.

Generosity is a noble character

Sometimes I do not want to be generous! I think the place it is most hard to be generous is when my emotions don't agree with a person or circumstance. I can get so caught up in my emotion that I forget the gift of generosity. I think we often view generosity as what we give financially. But, honestly there is so much more to a generous spirit. A generous spirit takes time to consider the other person and how to bless them in the moment. This can be in presence, words, deeds, or gifts. I love that this verse in Isaiah challenges us to be intentional in being generous. Recently, I was really mad at my husband and emotionally I felt disconnected and frustrated. He approached me in a playful mood and I did not want to be generous in mood or sport, yet God reminded me of a noble woman being intentionally generous. It was my choice to be generous with my heart and person. God would not make me, but I have learned that when I choose well and give generously blessings come back on me. So, I chose to be generous of spirit and to my surprise once again for the thousandth time, my mood changed and we enjoyed a blessed evening. Have you ever been challenged to be intentionally generous? Where might you need to choose to be generous today?