Passivity Gets You Passed

Have you ever been sitting and thinking when you realized that you’ve let your faith get stale, that your light has grown dim, that minimal fruit is being produced from your life? If I were to sit down and talk to you, I am almost positive that you would tell me this state of mediocrity didn’t just appear overnight. It’s true, actually. Whenever we fall off the wagon of faith and intimacy with Christ and obedience to Christ, it is seldom an immediate occurrence. That is to say, we can actively live passive, sluggish, lethargic lives that lead to a status of discontentment.

While this conversation could go several ways, I would like to hone in on how prayer and connection with the Holy Spirit directly effect our lives. There are several passages of scripture in the New Testament that talk about how God answers when we pray, how that we must pray, how that our motives must be pleasing to God as we pray. Check out the following scriptures before I continue:

Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

1 John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

Each of these scriptures provides a pattern of prayer where an exchange takes place after the believer takes the necessary step towards God. The thing about prayer we must always realize is that it is an active dialogue that engages God, not a passive thought process that assumes God knows. Is God all-knowing? Absolutely! Thus, prayer does not magically allow God in on our deepest desires, biggest problems, and most critical petitions. Prayer does, however, compel the believer to be active, to make a confident request of heaven based on who God is!

Have you ever been so focused on not complaining, not worrying, not mumbling, and not becoming overwhelmed so that your life is in agreement with Scripture? I have. While this is good, we can become so focused on NOT doing the negative things that we forget to enact the parts of scripture that bring forth a response from God. Take a look at Philippians 4:6-7. While this passage tells us not to be anxious, it also emphasizes the necessity of prayer–making our requests known to God and thanking Him for his answer. Do you see? There is action that must take place on our end.

Fairly recently God spoke to me about becoming more active in prayer, more intentional with my faith, and more expectant of His answers. I learned from the Holy Spirit that when I am not active in prayer and faith that I am being passive. Notice in the scriptures I listed that the pattern is: (1) person prays with proper motive and according to the Word and (2) God undoubtedly responds. When I am a passive believer, I am passed when “answer time” comes around. I cannot in all sincerity expect an answer when I have not made a request–according to God’s pattern of prayer.

So today, take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit how you can be more instant in prayer and active in faith. Whatever His answer, be willing to obey, let go of old habits, and live in the joy of fellowship and answered prayers! There is nothing that increases faith more than answered prayers and heightened awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence! Let’s commit to letting go of passivity and grabbing hold of a passionate faith.

Cheers to a sweet prayer life.

Xx,

-AMG

Advertisements

Grace for a Lifetime, Grace for Today

 

grace

I didn’t clean the bathroom. Maybe the baby wouldn’t have gotten sick if I had washed his hands after coming from the mall…two weeks ago. I’m not attractive to my husband anymore. I feel so badly that I missed her birthday party—some kind of loyal friend I am. How did I not know this song was on the worship set for this weekend? The laundry is piling up and it’s your wifely duty to make sure there are always clean clothes. Dinner should have been done earlier tonight. I shouldn’t be a stay-at-home mom—I’m smothering my kid. I shouldn’t have started working again—I’m neglecting my kid. It’s so selfish of me to even be thinking of going back to school. Why do you need time for yourself again? You’re a minister and you should really be at every bible study. Worship is your thing, so why aren’t you feeling God’s presence in service right now? Literally, there is something wrong with you for spazzing out like that—you’re a horrible person…

This is the kind of running dialogue I have battled with countless times. Honestly, it’s a battle that I have not always emerged from victoriously. I have not always taken control of this internal interchange in order to speak truth and life into my identity. And although I pretty well know the words to speak in order to counter this life-draining dialogue, I usually don’t have the strength to do so…because I sometimes fail to embrace God’s grace over my life.

In my experience, God’s grace creates margin in our lives so that we are able to live with boldness, freedom, clarity, and power to carry out purpose. Think about it. When was the last time you had a really rough day and the negative, accusatory thoughts ricocheted from one side of your heart to the other? Were you able to gain clarity and security and peace outside of the remembrance of God’s grace for you? I greatly doubt it because of the truth found in Isaiah 26:3. It says, “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.”

We must remember that there is grace for living as long as we remain connected to the one Source of our peace, joy, and ability. The ironic thing is that while there are multiple versions of guilt-inducing thoughts and emotions there is only one version of grace. We gain access to this grace through Christ. And simple as they may be, we must revisit the truths of scriptures like Philippians 4:19 that remind us of our ability in Christ as business women, wives, ministers, athletes, missionaries, mothers, and friends.

There is enough of you to go around—as long as you are doing the right things in the right season. Sometimes I struggle to grasp this reality because I forget who I am in God, I overlook the truth that He has crafted me, equipped me and strengthened me for every good work (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). I also sometimes forget that a lack of ease in a season of my life does not mean a there is a lack of grace being extended to me. In the moments when I feel weak, I tend to notice that my posture is not conducive to placing me in view of the grace being poured out…right in the middle of my toddler’s poop explosion. When the posture of our heart is focused on the challenges at hand and not the gift of grace, we essentially open the door for the chatter of that critical voice that causes us to be unsure again and again.

Let’s be real, the voice of guilt is usually over exaggerated. No, you did not respond well to your husband’s innocent question about how to thaw out the Cornish hens (you are the one obsessed with Rachel Ray, remember?). But, this also does not make you the worst Christian wife in the history of all wives. In the moments where guilt tries to cloud our perspective concerning our identity, we must remember to take these thoughts captive and choose new thoughts that align with what Christ has already declared over us. However, if we choose to engage thoughts and emotions that disregard the truth of who we are in Christ, we give guilt what it wants: the power to stifle us from doing and becoming.

On the other hand, it is grace that empowers us to become who we are destined to be. It is also grace that empowers us to do what we were made to do. Therefore, when we wallow in dark, cavernous places that were never meant for us, we forfeit our destiny for lies that can always be combated with eternal truths. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” This scripture is a wonderful reminder that each of us was created on purpose and for a specific Kingdom mission.

God did not make a mistake when he prompted you to take the lead as the teen pastor.  He did not misspeak when he instructed you to quit your job and build your company. Sister-friend, the Father knew exactly what he was doing when He blessed your womb with a fourth child—giving you four little ones under four years old. Maybe you are having a hard time coping with a divorce…the Father still says that you are of great worth and full of purpose. Regardless of the season of life we are in, there is always grace to fulfill our purpose.

Over the last two years, as I have grown into my role as first-time mom, I have had to rely on grace in a whole new way. I am reminded of a time when our son, Ayden Michael, was about six months old. It had been a long day of stay-at-home mommy-ing and I was exhausted from the inside out. The day was not over, however, because I was scheduled to be the guest worship leader for a church’s anniversary celebration. Not only was I tired, but I was also out of practice (having been on maternity leave and all) and out of confidence. Nevertheless, I put on my brave face and led worship. It went well. But all I wanted to do after the service was run to my car (baby carrier in tow, of course!) and ball my eyes out. I drove home tearfully that night and for the next few days I beat myself up about how inadequate of a job I had done at leading worship and how weak I had become. At what seemed like the culmination of this internal struggle, I received a text from the guest pastor who spoke the night of that church’s anniversary. This particular pastor is a very well-known church leader who I know personally and is a father figure in my life. As such, I tried my best to put on my best church smile that night so that I could fool him and everyone else.

Epic fail. He told me that he could sense that something was not right with me. So, after “thanking” God for bursting my bubble I explained my mommy woes and feelings of insecurities. His response to me that day was so simple, yet so profound. It has changed my approach to every hardship, trial, and difficult season. He said, “You have to learn to rest in the grace that God has already provided.” What a breath of fresh air that was for me. In that moment, I felt the Father affirming me, mildly rebuking me, and maturing me all at once.

I realized that I had spent days demeaning myself and my gift when there was grace being extended to me. I had allowed the accusatory voice to paint a picture of my Father turning his nose up at me in disdain when all the time He wanted me to receive His grace! How many days have we spent unaware of grace? How many times have we been overwhelmed, overburdened, confused, disappointed, or ashamed and neglected to accept this wonderful gift?

Yes, there was grace extended to us when we first received Christ, but there still remains fresh grace for us. Day in and day out. One way we can become more aware of this reality is to make time to get into the presence of God. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” This is a clear invitation to us, the daughters of the Father, to slow down and bring all we are to Him. Whether in good times or bad times, there is grace that helps us press forward into purpose and freedom from here to eternity. Even still, it is necessary for us to learn to be still and create margin for awareness of the grace that has been provided for today.

Sing the Song He Gives

Two weeks ago my husband surprised me with a trip to Cancun, Mexico for my birthday. For months I thought we were going to Florida for a few days of fun in the sun. I never saw this surprise coming, so BIG kudos to hubby for such a special trip 🙂 While we were in Mexico, I took care to observe things closely because I enjoy having vivid memories after an experience is over.

We stayed at cute little place near the neighborhood where the locals lived. I loved this area because we were able to experience Mexico in a completely different way than we would have if we had stayed in the resort district. While on our trip, I took notice of:

  • The uniforms the children were wearing as they left school for the day.
  • The housing conditions of the locals in under-developed communities.
  • Stray dogs on several streets.
  • The abundance of white compact cars used for taxis.
  • Shoe-less children who walked through restaurants to ask for water and to sell little trinkets.
  • The beautiful reef replete with colorful fish.
  • The generic store names.

I noticed many other things while in Mexico, but what stood out to mewas the song of the birds. They sang quite uniquely to the birds I hear in the states. Where the birds in the states sing more sweetly, softly and intermittently, the birds in Mexico were more boisterous, consistent and deliberate with their songs. In both cases, the birds sing the songs they were created to sing—the song God gave them.

I highly doubt that the birds in Cancun are apprehensive to sing their song because they esteem the sweet, melodic songs of American birds as better than theirs. Additionally, I don’t believe that the American birds take a vow of silence because they don’t have the vocal capacity of the birds in Cancun who sing boisterously.

There are times as worship leaders when we can question the value of our gift on the basis of the strengths of another worship leader’s gift. This decision to compare ourselves to another can prove detrimental to the development of our craft as well as our ability to confidently complete the assignments we are given to lead worship. When an assignment is given to you, only YOU can complete it the way God intends. It wouldn’t matter if Chris Tomlin himself walked onto the stage. If it is your assignment, if God has given you the prophetic or spontaneous song for that moment, it wouldn’t matter if Stephanie Frizzell or Jenn Johnson came to take the mic.

We must learn to cherish the gifts God has given us. We must take ownership of the songs and melodies He has given us so that we can steward the moments He provides for us to share them. Yes, it is important for us to have mentors and coaches and models in our worship leader ministry function. However, when it all boils down to it, there is no one who can reproduce the sound God has placed in your heart. It’s time to start believing that He wants to use YOU for His glory! What a privilege!

Cheers to singing the song He gives us.

Xx,

-AMG

Finding Your Destiny

A friend of mine and I were speaking with a young lady not too long ago who communicated to me how she was facing a dilemma. She was sure that God was leading her to surrender more of herself to Him. She was also sure that she desired to have more of God, more of His presence. However, the dilemma was found in that she did not know what this looked like—or how she would reach the destiny God had for her.  After all, there were so many options to consider. Would her destiny take shape via traditional means of college and a career in the secular arena? Would she end up in full time ministry? If so, would her ministry function be what she currently enjoyed doing in the ministry? How could she reach her destiny with fears, insecurities, and perceived sense of inadequacy? Would God give instructions openly or in the personal time spent with Him? She wanted all of the answers, all of the gifting, all of the prophecy, all of her destiny right in that moment.

Don’t we all?

Well, as my friend and I were sharing insight with her, a profound truth was brought to light. I can’t remember whether my friend or I shared this truth (which isn’t all that important)—but it resonated with me. The profundity was this: As believers, our lives are not about reaching one destiny on earth. There are several destinations along the way at which times God will give us assignments, prune the fruit of our hearts, use us in big and small ways, and show us more of who He is. As He is our Guide, our responsibility is to respond with an affirmative, “yes, Lord.” The truth is that we will not reach our final destination until we see Christ.

It is also true that God will give us glimpses into our calling and the work He has for us to do in the earth. Still, we must be careful to follow Him, because the ideas we sometimes have about our ultimate destiny on earth is much smaller than what God has in mind for us to do. Thus, we must remain open and willing servants so that we can experience the God of Ephesians 3:20! Also, as you journey with Christ, don’t forget to celebrate your arrival at each destination. I know I am sometimes guilty of being a big-picture person so much that I do not celebrate each season I have entered and exited by grace.

So, let’s make a new commitment today to give thanks for every destination along the way—great or small. Remember, our final destination is found in the hope of Christ’s appearing. So, rest in His grace, keep pressing into God knowing that your steps are ordered! Not one step will ever be wasted, friends, even when you don’t understand the season you’re in or the path you’re on.

Cheers to trusting God and remaining patient.

Xx,

-AMG

Passivity Gets You Passed

Have you ever been sitting and thinking when you realized that you’ve let your faith get stale, that your light has grown dim, that minimal fruit is being produced from your life? If I were to sit down and talk to you, I am almost positive that you would tell me this state of mediocrity didn’t just appear overnight. It’s true, actually. Whenever we fall off the wagon of faith and intimacy with Christ and obedience to Christ, it is seldom an immediate occurrence. That is to say, we can actively live passive, sluggish, lethargic lives that lead to a status of discontentment.

While this conversation could go several ways, I would like to hone in on how prayer and connection with the Holy Spirit directly effect our lives. There are several passages of scripture in the New Testament that talk about how God answers when we pray, how that we must pray, how that our motives must be pleasing to God as we pray. Check out the following scriptures before I continue:

Matthew 7:7-8, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

1 John 5:14-15, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

Each of these scriptures provides a pattern of prayer where an exchange takes place after the believer takes the necessary step towards God. The thing about prayer we must always realize is that it is an active dialogue that engages God, not a passive thought process that assumes God knows. Is God all-knowing? Absolutely! Thus, prayer does not magically allow God in on our deepest desires, biggest problems, and most critical petitions. Prayer does, however, compel the believer to be active, to make a confident request of heaven based on who God is!

Have you ever been so focused on not complaining, not worrying, not mumbling, and not becoming overwhelmed so that your life is in agreement with Scripture? I have. While this is good, we can become so focused on NOT doing the negative things that we forget to enact the parts of scripture that bring forth a response from God. Take a look at Philippians 4:6-7. While this passage tells us not to be anxious, it also emphasizes the necessity of prayer–making our requests known to God and thanking Him for his answer. Do you see? There is action that must take place on our end.

Fairly recently God spoke to me about becoming more active in prayer, more intentional with my faith, and more expectant of His answers. I learned from the Holy Spirit that when I am not active in prayer and faith that I am being passive. Notice in the scriptures I listed that the pattern is: (1) person prays with proper motive and according to the Word and (2) God undoubtedly responds. When I am a passive believer, I am passed when “answer time” comes around. I cannot in all sincerity expect an answer when I have not made a request–according to God’s pattern of prayer.

So today, take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit how you can be more instant in prayer and active in faith. Whatever His answer, be willing to obey, let go of old habits, and live in the joy of fellowship and answered prayers! There is nothing that increases faith more than answered prayers and heightened awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence! Let’s commit to letting go of passivity and grabbing hold of a passionate faith.

Cheers to a sweet prayer life.

Xx,

-AMG

 

P.S. If you would like to help donate to get me into the mission field of Ecuador this summer to help to actively disciple others, please visit gofundme.com/ashleymariegray