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On Becoming People Who Eagerly Enter The Great Exchange

April 18, 2019
By LCA Faculty and Staff

Sometime a few years back my dad offered a kind word of wisdom when he said, “Kimberly, be careful what you give airtime to…”  I had been going through a difficult season and had settled into the habit of speaking, “just the facts ma’am”.  I cannot say that it was even a heart of complaining, (although I can go there too!), but rather a reiteration of the circumstantial facts over and over and over again…

Facts are facts and even Abram faced the facts when he acknowledged that his wife’s womb was as good as dead, and yet, in faith, he believed the word of promise spoken to him that he would become a father of nations!

 

We will all face hardships this side of heaven, and I don’t think my dad’s advice was to deny the hardships in life, but to choose instead to be careful how we process them, and more importantly, how we speak about them.

 

The other day, I read Proverbs 12:25:

 

Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.

 

That resonated.  Facing facts without calculating faith in the Father always leaves me weighed down.  When I looked up the Greek word that was used for, “worry”, I learned that it means:

  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Heaviness
  • Sorrow
  • Depression
  • to bow down
  • and wait for it…..to worship!!!!! Can you even believe that worry is a form of worship?  Ay yi yi! 

 

Every time I choose to reiterate the facts without faith in the Father, my words give creative license to letting the worrisome circumstance become an idol in my life that I figuratively bow down to! 

 

The second part of the Proverb, however, says that an encouraging word cheers a person up!  The word “encouraging” as it is used here means beautiful, pleasant, agreeable, a good report. It is in these sifting seasons of life, the hard things that are beyond our capacity, that we have the wonderful opportunity to lay the facts before our Father, entrusting them to Him and then choosing instead to give airtime to His praise with a heart of deep-felt gratitude as we remember who He is and of what He is capable!

 

Yesterday morning, as I was preparing for a full day of meetings, I read Psalm 81.  The Psalmist writes,

 

Now I heard an unknown voice say, ‘I will take the load from your shoulders.

 I will free your hands from their heavy tasks.  You cried to me in trouble and I saved you. 

I answered you out of the thundercloud and tested your faith when there was no water…

 

Oh my stars, how the Psalmist captured by state of my heart in those few sentences.  In these overload-bearing moments of life, the Lord promises to take the load from our shoulders.  In the moments when our faith is tested because there is no “water”, He reminds us that He will answer and He will save.  So even though I awakened with what felt like a cazillion facts, figures and tasks swirling about in my brain, I could spread them out like water before the Father, and bow before Him instead of the facts.  It is at this humble and bowed down place of trust that I can then offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise.  I like to call this, “The Great Exchange”. 

 

This is the place where we exchange worry, fear, and anxiety for praise.  This is the place where our Father bends down to lighten our load by exchanging beauty for our ashes, joy for mourning and praise for despair.  It is in this place that we fix our gaze above the facts to our Father, remembering that HE is God and then praising Him that we are not!  Yes, it is here, in the moment when we choose to give airtime to praise and thanksgiving for the goodness of God that the enemy is defeated!  (See 2 Chron 20:21 for an amazing story of God’s faithfulness!)

 

At this very moment of typing this post, Spotify just began playing, “Its  Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise…”  I mean, come on!  What a God-wink!  Yes, great are You, Lord!

 

Psalm 145 is an amazing passage of praise – the entire chapter! And it is just the perfect Word to pray (and give airtime to) in order to step into, “The Great Exchange”…

 

 

Oh, Father God,

Our heart explodes with praise to You!  Now and forever may our hearts bow in worship to You, our King and our God!  Every day we will lift up our praise to your name with praises that will last throughout eternity.
 

Lord, You are great and worthy of the highest praise! For there is no end to the discovery of the greatness that surrounds You.  Generation after generation will declare more of your greatness and declare more of your glory.
 

Father, may your magnificent splendor and the miracles of your majesty become our constant meditation. Your awe-inspiring acts of power have everyone talking!  We will tell people everywhere about your excellent greatness! Yes, our hearts bubble over as we celebrate the fame of your marvelous beauty, bringing bliss to our hearts. We shout with ecstatic joy over your breakthrough for us.
 

You are kind and tenderhearted to those who don’t deserve it and very patient with people who fail you.  Your love is like a flooding river overflowing its banks with kindness. God, everyone sees your goodness, for your tender love is blended into everything you do.
 

Everything You have made will praise You, fulfilling its purpose. May we, your godly lovers, be found bowing before You alone rather than facts that cause worry. May we tell the world of the lavish splendor of your kingdom and preach about your limitless power!
 

We will demonstrate for all to see your miracles of might and reveal the glorious majesty of your kingdom. You are the Lord who reigns over your never-ending kingdom through all the ages of time and eternity! You are faithful to fulfill every promise you’ve made.  You manifest yourself as kindness in all you do.
 

You help us when we are fallen and lift us when we are bent beneath our load.  You have captured our attention.  You give what we hunger for at just the right time.  When You open your generous hand, it’s full of blessings, satisfying the longings of every living thing. You are fair and righteous in everything you do, and your love is wrapped into all your works.  You draw near to those who call out to you, listening closely, especially when their hearts are true. We call out to You, Father.   Every one of your godly lovers receives even more than what they ask for. For You hear what their hearts really long for and You bring them your saving strength.
 

God, we trust You.  You watch carefully over us like a bodyguard!  We praise you this day and may we ever remember to enter The Great Exchange with You, giving airtime only to your praise.   Yes, we choose to praise the beautiful Lord of holiness from now through eternity!  In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!

 

Worship Song to Help Us Enter The Great Exchange :)

Bethel Music Moment: Great Are You Lord - Amanda Cook

 

 

On Becoming the Little Flock who Remembers The Rock

April 07, 2019
By Kimberly Oden ~LCA Mama & Co-Founder

On Becoming the Little Flock who Remembers The Rock

 

Have I mentioned recently how much I L-O-V-E the One Year Bible?  I think I have mentioned several times in the past few posts and yet I can’t help but shout from the rooftops what an adventure it is to seek the Lord through this amazing Source of Truth.  Time and again, I open it with a heavy-ish heart and ask the Lord to speak, praying through Psalm 139:23-24:

 

  • Search me O God and know my heart – what is happening in my heart this morning?
  • Test me and know my anxious thoughts – do I feel anxious about anything?
  • See if there is an offensive way in me – do I need to seek forgiveness from someone or offer forgiveness to someone? 
  • And lead me in The Way of everlasting life… (caps mine) – Lord, lead me.  Jesus, you are The Way and The Way Maker, inform my approach and give me your marching orders for the day.  Lead me moment by moment through the Truth of your Word.

Well, this has been the case in recent weeks. Sitting down with a heart tempted to worry and choosing instead to allow the Truth of God’s Word to instruct, correct, exhort and encourage. Even though I leave that sacred time with my Lord with nothing changed in the physical,  I find everything changed with the lens through which I see and the peace-filled stance of my heart. 

 

As I opened the One Year Bible today, I was yet again stunned by the relevance and timeliness of God’s Word!  I will include the passages that I read below and then wrap up with a quick thought and prayer of encouragement :)

 

…no harm will come to the godly…  Proverbs 12:21   [Promise!!!]

 

…Then they remembered that God was their Rock Psalm 78:35

 

Oh how often [the Israelites] rebelled against [God] in the wilderness and grieved his heart in that dry wasteland.  They did not remember his power – how He rescued them.  They did not remember his miraculous signs [how He saved them from their enemies]…52 but He led his own people like a flock of sheep, guiding them safely through the wilderness.  He kept them safe so they were not afraid.   Psalm 78:40-43, 52

 

Jesus speaking:  Can all your worry add a single moment to your life? And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that what’s the use of worrying about bigger things?  And if God cares so wonderfully for the lilies of the field…He will certainly care for you.  Why do you have so little faith?

 

[Worry] dominates the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs!  Seek the kingdom of God above all else and He will give you all you need.

 

So don’t worry, little flock, for it gives your Father great happiness to give you the kingdom.  Luke 12:25~30

 

He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Deuteronomy 32:4    [Faith-filled Proclamation!!!]

 

But the rock of our enemies is not like our RockDeuteronomy 32:31

 

Can you see the sweet tenderness of the Father to speak so specifically?  In various books of the Bible in today’s collection, He addresses worry, tells how the Israelites grieved his heart for not remembering His faithfulness, but then recalls when they did remember that He is their Rock! 

 

The Word of God is direct, offering correction and yet tender, offering encouragement all in one sweeping motion…His love for us takes my breath away!

 

I love that the Old Testament reading reminds us how our heavenly Father leads us like a flock of sheep, guiding us safely through the wilderness.  Even though we might not know what is ahead, just like the Israelites, He will keep us safe SO THAT we will have no need of fear!  He promises that, no harm will come to the godly

 

And then can we talk about Jesus’ kindhearted words of compassion???  Our Shepherd, Savior, Protector and Lord calls us His, “little flock”, reminding us not to be afraid for our Father takes great delight in providing for our very specific needs!  Just as our Creator cares for the flowers of the field, Jesus promises that our God, will certainly care for us!

 

Oh, Father God,

How your Word takes my breath away!  Your Word says that your very breath is what brought us to life so why would it be any different today?  Your Word is just that!  Your Word!  It is your breath of life and we praise you that we can turn to your Word moment by moment and you will speak!  And not only that, we can take you, The Word, at your Word!  Father, we do not want our thoughts to be dominated by worry.  We do not want to grieve your heart…we desire to seek your notice in such a way that would cause you to say, “Oh my, Son!  Oh my, Daughter!  You have such great faith!”  We lay all of our burdens at your feet knowing that worry cannot add a single moment to our lives.  You are trustworthy.  You are faithful.  We remember that You are our Rock – our Bedrock!  You alone are our Foundation and your deeds are perfect!  We entrust our future to you knowing that as your “Little Flock”, You know our specific needs even before we speak them!  Jesus, we choose to follow you as our Shepherd.  Holy Spirit. give us eyes to see, ears to hear and minds to remember that we are God’s Little Flock who stand firm on The Rock!

 

p.s. As I was reading and writing in my journal this a.m., these two songs played on Spotify…only God, in His perfect timing, would double His encouragement through song while I soaked in the foundational bedrock of the Truth of His Word!  Y’all!  Test Him and see that He is good!  His Word is relevant and timely and an immediate perspective changer!  :)

 

 

Thank you Desktop Nexus for the use of the sheep pic :)

 

Tags: Faith, Rock, Worry

From Where Does My Help Come?

March 22, 2019
By Kimberly Oden ~LCA Mama & Co-Founder

Our seniors just returned from an amazing trip to Colorado this week.  As Elizabeth and I were looking through the pics, the one above caught her eye and she said, "Hey that reminds me of the verse we were talking about the other day about lifting our eyes beyond the mountain!"  It too reminded me of the conversation and how easy it is to keep our gaze fixed on a mountain before us when traversing a difficult season instead of remembering the Maker of that mountain!

 

Have you ever had a time when the hills of life appear to be the source of your affliction?  As you look at the circumstances before you, they appear to loom large enough to even blot out the sun?!  I remember one such season when Markel was between jobs.  It was beyond hard.  The lack of provision pricked my planner’s heart, wooing me to a place of panic.  I couldn’t sleep.  I grew terse in my communication with my husband and I placed an undue expectation on him to remove the mountain of debt we faced.  Somewhere during that seemingly desert season, the Truth of the matter surfaced in my time with the Lord.  

 

Sidebar: As so many of our community knows, I L-O-V-E my One Year Bible!  God’s Word is alive and active and relevant in every season and circumstance.  Test the Person of Truth and see!  I have read the same passages on the same days for over 20 years and yet if I stop long enough to let the Lord, the Word of God, speak, I am stunned time and time again by the timeliness of His revelatory Word!

 

Well, there just so happens to be a verse written by King David that spoke to the heaviness of that moment:

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?

My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth Psalm 121:1-2

 

What I love about this verse, is that the hills are not David’s source of help, nor are they his hindrance – they just are – simply hills.  But as he faces them, he asks himself, “From whence does my help come?”  

 

There is no pause and no hesitation, but a quick reply of this:  

My Help comes from the Lord,

The Maker of heaven and earth.

(Title caps are mine : )

 

I love to capitalize the titles of the Lord as His names are essential reminders of Who He is and what He does! 

HE is my Helper.

HE is my Maker

 

That resume alone is a foundational anchor that spurs me to look beyond the mountain looming in the distance to see and trust my Source of Help!

He is:  

  • My God who has a trustworthy plan – Proverbs 16:9
  • My God who has perfect timing – Ecclesiastes 8:6
  • My God who watches over me - Psalm 121:5
  • My God who will not slumber – Psalm 121:3
  • My God who protects me - Psalm 121:7
  • My Way Maker – Isaiah 43:19
  • My Miracle Worker – Matthew 19:36
  • My Promise Keeper – Isaiah 55:11
  • My Light in the Darkness – John 1:5
  • Yes, He is My God Who can move the mountains in my life!!! - Mark 11:23 

You see when I look back to that difficult season in our family, I can see clearly that Markel never was or ever will be the provider for our family – that is the position and title of our Father God, Jehovah Jireh!  He alone is the only One worthy to be trusted to plan, protect, guide and provide!  My husband is just a beautiful bonus!

 

Father God, our eyes might look to the hills but we don’t even need to ask the question, “From whence does my help come?”, because we already know The One who created the hills, the maker of heaven and earth!  Our Way Maker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper and Light in the Darkness!  Yes, you are our God who can move the mountains in our lives and we proclaim our trust in You to do so in your perfect timing.  Calm our hearts in the wait and remind us with the tangible Truths of your faithfulness.  We love you Father and Jesus, our Person of Peace, we rely on your peace to calm our hearts when a seeming lack of provision in our lives might prick our heart to fear.  I praise you, Jesus, that your perfect love casts out all fear.  Even though nothing may change in our view master of life, Holy Spirit, you comfort our hearts with your counsel.  Be edified and glorified as we rest in you, Father God, as our Source of security…the One who has the divine ability to move mountains!

 

A worship song proclaiming the names of our great God!

Waymaker by Madelyn Berry

Tags: Help, Mountains

40 Days with the King

March 15, 2019
By Kimberly Oden ~LCA Mama & Co-Founder

Beware of the Ides of March vs. 40 Days with the King

 

This morning I pondered the phrase, “Beware the Ides of March.”  I remembered that it had to do with Julius Caesar but decided to do a little digging.  As it turns out, this phrase was made famous by Shakespeare’s play when a soothsayer warns Caesar to be careful on March 15. The ruler, however, ignores the mystic with tragic consequences, namely his death.  This moment in Roman history is also marked as the beginning of the downfall of Rome as three political factions began to rise to replace the vacuum of power that Caesar’s absence left.  One other tidbit that caught my attention was that just a few years prior to Caesar’s death, he changed the Roman calendar New Year from March to January, so if we were still operating under the old calendar, we would be celebrating New Year’s right about now!

 

Ok, so you probably weren’t looking for a history lesson this morning, and to be honest, neither was I.  However, as I pondered the plight of Caesar and how this day is typically marked as a, “Doomed Day”, I began to wonder how the life of King Jesus contrasted with that of King Caesar.  What’s super fascinating and, oh my gracious a cool confirmation that God’s Word is alive and active and sharper than a double edged sword, is that when I opened my one year Bible this morning (March 12th), I discovered that I am at the tale end of the book of Mark that details the resurrection of Jesus! 

 

I mean, just three days before the Ides of March, and three days before this blog will post in our Friday Forecast, the Lord saw fit to provide a platform to share about the third day! (Namely, the resurrection of our Most High King!)  I mean, think about the contrast! On one hand, we have Caesar who was a Roman king that would be assassinated.  He was given a warning that it might happen and yet didn’t heed the warning.  Even on death’s door, he apparently proclaimed to his soothsayer that he had made it to the Ides of March, to which the seer responded that the day had not yet ended.  Then when he died, his kingdom crumbled. How sad...

 

On the other had, we have an eternal King who willingly disrobed his holy, high and royal garments in order to come down to earth and live as a commoner for the sole purpose of our salvation!  He too knew that his death was imminent however unlike Caesar, he didn’t ignore that knowledge, but used every moment He had in order to live a life worth following!  And unlike Caesar, His death wasn't the final stop - He rose again on the third day!  His death didn’t cause the downfall of an earthly kingdom but ushered in the gift of salvation, creating a way for ALL to enter the eternal kingdom!   What?!  The death and resurrection of Jesus did not create a vacuum of power but actually WAS the power that conquered death once and for all!

 

If you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, I want to share a few compelling things. First, did you know that for 40 days following his death, Jesus appeared 12 different times to groups of people ranging from one to 500!  Secondly, his life, death and resurrection actually fulfilled over 300 prophecies spoken about him!  Just wow!!! (See fascinating facts below for more!)

 

Unlike Caesar, Jesus willingly left his royal throne in order to become a blameless blood sacrifice so that we might be able to receive His free gift of salvation!  You see, the bottom line is that we are all sinners – Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin is death. God is so holy, so set apart, that He cannot even look upon sin.  In the Old Testament of the Bible, the Jewish people sacrificed animals for their sin so they wouldn't have to die. With the death of Jesus, however, there is no more need for these sacrifices. He IS our sacrifice! 

 

God initially created us sinless but then sin entered humanity through choices of Adam and Eve.  I mean the Lord could’ve created us like robots who were forced to follow Him, but He loves us SO much that He gave us a choice => and the choice is simple - it was to CONFESS that we are sinners, BELIEVE that Jesus was actually the Son of God who lived a sinless life and sacrificed himself as an offering to God on behalf of our sins, representing all sin, past, present and future, and lastly RECEIVE His free gift of salvation by placing our faith in Him!  Jesus essentially bridged the gap between us as sinners and our holy and Most High God! 

 

Years ago when a friend shared this Truth with me, I faced a decision. I felt like I was at a crossroads…I could appear foolish and place my faith in this new-found Truth (Jesus) or I could remain in my logic-based uncertainty that this new-found revelation had unearthed.  I made a decision that day to place my faith in God - the Author and Creator of all things - the one God that did not require anything of me - no religious to-do's.  I simply had to confess that I was a sinner and accept His free gift of salvation of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and I did just that!

 

I am pretty certain that most of our community of readers have accepted this gift, but if there is just one of you reading right now that has not, I wanted to make sure you had the knowledge, wisdom and revelation in order to make a decision whether or not to accept the gift.  I desire to see each of you on the other side of heaven when the Lord decides to bring me home.  Here is a prayer that is similar to what I prayed the day I accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord.

 

As we go through the day this Ides of March, may we remember that we serve a risen King who is victorious even over death and that if we have accepted him as our Savior, that we too can boldly walk this earth fighting FROM a place of victory verses FOR it.  It’s already done.  40 days with the King proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the cross was enough!

 

Just The Cross – Influencers Worship
This song was just released  - so amazing!  LOVE timestamp 3:30!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fascinating Fact

A number of years ago, Peter W. Stoner and Robert C. Newman wrote a book titled, Science Speaks. The book was based on the science of probability and vouched for by the American Scientific Affiliation.

 

It set out the odds of any one man in all of history fulfilling even only eight of the 60 major prophecies of the Messiah fulfilled by the life of Jesus.  The probability that Jesus of Nazareth could have fulfilled even eight such prophecies would be only 1 in 10 to the 17th power! That's 1 in 100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000.

 

He gave this analogy to comprehend the significance.  The probability of the fulfillment of these 8 prophecies is the same probability of this:  

 

1) Fill the state of Texas with 2 feet of silver dollar coins 

2) Drop one gold dollar coin into all of the silver coins

3) Blindfold a man

4) Tell him to reach down one time and pick up the gold coin

5) The chances that he will pick up the one gold coin amidst the cazillions of silver dollar coins covering the state of Texas in that one attempt is the same probability that only 8 prophecies of the Messiah would be fulfilled through the life of Jesus!   

 

 

The Marigold Effect

March 08, 2019
By Elizabth LeBlanc ~LCA Mama & Principal

    I have a friend and mentor named Phil. We call him Farmer Phil in my family. Farmer Phil has a small farm in Milton. Despite the development that has happened around his farm, it is the most peaceful place I know. It is a sacred place that has brought people closer to each other, to the land and to our Creator. 
    Phil understands community. He has created a place that people can gather and be themselves. He has cultivated a place where people can be who they are and where they are. When Phil speaks about gardening, I find that I usually understand about half of what he says. He has so much knowledge in his head, heart and hands that it is difficult to keep up. He knows how he wants things done on his farm to yield the most from the land. 
    Phil taught me the concept of companion planting. That is where you purposely plant certain vegetables and plants near each other. When done correctly, these pairings allow both plants to improve their growth. One example would be garlic. If you plant garlic near rose bushes it repels bugs and fungus from attacking the rose bush. 
    Another example is the marigold. The marigold protects many plants from weeds and pests. Planting a hardy marigold next to a vegetable plant helps the vegetable to grow. It helps it to grow strong and healthy and protected by the marigold’s presence. How amazing is that? 
    There are unlimited applications to this in life. We need the marigold effect! We need people that are planted near our students encouraging, supporting and helping them grow. We need marigolds near our teachers. We need marigolds near our families. We need to be marigolds to each other.

    Phil has a clipboard of papers in his barn where he plans out what crops he will plant where. He plans out the rotation of crops over the upcoming years. He has a systematic, scientific, intentional plan for yielding enough vegetables to keep his CSA customers eating healthy food year round. This does not happen by accident. He does not grow beautiful, healthy and pesticide free food by hoping it will work out. 

     Farmer Phil and this visual fo the marigold effect is such a picture to me of many of our core values here at LCA!  We can go through life on our own, not engaging in the Body of Christ and miss out on the benefits of "being with", but we would miss out on so much!  The idea of developing trustworthy relationships so that we might learn to lead by choosing to follow is essential for deliberate discipleship to unfold!  This is one of the big whys of LCA!  One of our "what ifs" at the beginning was, "what if there was a school where deliberate discipleship unfolded right smack dab in the midde of the school day?  Not just in chapel or small group time, but right in the classroom with teachers who have a heart for discipleship?!  I am so excited to be a part of a ministry where this unfolds each and everyday!  (Can you tell?!)  The bottom line is that we cannot simply hope that we will grow or assume that the people in our sphere of influence are thriving. We need to be systematic, scientific and intentional in thinking through our marigolds. It is so good to stop now and then and ask, "Do I have a mentor? Someone who has walked ahead of me in life who can speak Truth over me? Do my children have that? Spouse? Who are the people who are encouraging me to grow just by their simply presence? And am I doing that for someone? The marigold was created to be a helper, to provide encouragement, to be a good friend. So were we. 

 

My children, our love should not be just words and talk;

 it must be true love, which shows itself in action.

1 John 3:18

 

#TrustworthyRelationships

#DeliberateDiscipleship

 

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Recent Posts

4/18/19 - By LCA Faculty and Staff
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3/22/19 - By Kimberly Oden ~LCA Mama & Co-Founder
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