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God has not given us a spirit of fear.

“you’re a quitter,” “you’re giving up ’cause you’re not strong enough,” “this is wrong, too,” “it won’t matter; you’ll never be happy,” “because of how God made you, you’ll always be hurt,” “things like love and friendship don’t last a lifetime, not for you,” “they will all leave; you’re going to be alone,” “God can, and will, take things you love away from you so you’ll learn a lesson.”

these are lies the enemy has been feeding me. and yes, I know they are lies, but needless to say, it’s not easy. it’s amazing what fear does to someone. and though I know fear never comes from God, and that He has equipped me to deal with it, I don’t always succeed. fear ruins things.

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Categories: Life Tags: , , ,

no question.

Sometimes in the quiet of my room at night, questions begin to creep into my mind. It’s only in these silent moments after my roommates have gone to bed and I’m looking out my bedroom window watching the twinkling lights of South Lexington that I doubt my calling. It’s amazing how these tiny instants can rule in our lives.

They aren’t that often, truthfully. And they aren’t that significant. But it’s in these little whiles that my focus slips. It’s not that easy, you know, tuning this unredeemed brain of mine to a channel that is set on heavenly things. How can I concede these grains of doubt infiltrate the abundance of confirmation I have received?

It says, ask and you shall receive. And even though I never received that colored Game Boy with Tetris, or that drum set, I have received confirmation of my call. I asked for validation, for affirmation. And it came in many forms: a conversation with my pastor, Unearthed Pictures coming to 608 & me being able to start a conversation with them, even the words of the songs I’ve been writing.

The opulence and complacency I am experiencing in this season is proof all over again. I’ve never been comfortable with comfortable. I seemingly have the dream I should want, especially at only age 23: a job I enjoy making good money, a church family that is more real to me than any I’ve ever experienced, and in the same city as my best friends. What more should a 23 year old desire, besides falling head over heels for a godly man (but I digress………)?

The glorification of my Creator as seen in my life.

And so in those quiet moments, what is the enemy desiring to steer me from? What is the disapproval of my parents keeping me from? What is the fear of poverty beckoning me to desert?

In 7 months, I’m moving to New Orleans, Louisiana.

Veil of things to come.

So I just got home from about 6 hours at church: playing bass, worshipping, listening, eating, cleaning, and learning. I love my church, it is so filled of love and service and giving. But during the financial/vision meeting today, I got to thinking about how much our church strives to be like a New Testament church more than anything I’ve ever been a part of in my life. We bathe everything in prayer, spend oodles of time together, and revolve around home meetings and giving of our time and money. I am so proud to be a part of the body, and am always encouraged when I spend time with my church family.

But all this got me thinking even more about the gospel, how Jesus is seen today, and why God gives us the different passions that He does. I used to not have a heart for missions, and would admit it to your face. I was more concerned with relationships here with those I spend time with everyday, and that is how I shared the gospel: discipleship. It used to make me angry when people were so missions minded that they forgot about growing here. All of that changed when I went to the Dominican Republic. I’ve been on a lot of missions trips, but that is the one that God used to change my heart. I still believe wholeheartedly in discipleship and strive to incorporate it into my relationships everyday, but now I realize how much growing and living together includes talking about our separate passions for missions.

God has been so faithful to me since my decision to return here to Lexington. I found a good job doing something I like in less than a week, am enjoying a renewed relationship with my best friend, and am diving headfirst into some goals for the next five months or so. But I have been struggling spiritually with purpose. I am so long-term minded, and I don’t want to waste the time I have being young and out of school and not tied down. I want to see more than what the Southeastern United States has to offer. It doesn’t help that my best friend from camp just drove to California and back, regaling me with tales of all that’s “out there.” God has placed in me a passion for missions, and maybe more than a week or two. I’m talking a year or two. That’s right – little ol’ Ashlyn who loves sitting on her mac wants to spend extensive time where there is no electricity, much less Internet, doing manual labor and planting churches.

But as for now, I’m going to pray. Pray that God continues to grow my passion. Pray that I will remain open to opportunities. And pray for those who are already gone or going: Peggy in Costa Rica, AC in Cambodia, and the gang going to Africa in May: Erin, Paul, Tracy, Josh, Evan, and Kim.

I’m starting to fully realize the truth of the verse incorporated into my new tattoo: For from Him and through Him and to Him are ALL things. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

this world is evil. just plain evil.

September 11, 2008 Leave a comment

It’s funny how this world works, ya know? Without getting into why God would make the world when He, being omnicscient, knew Satan would do what he did, and just let him run his evil all over the place, I really have been thinking about spiritual warfare today. Maybe it’s because I feel as though I’m undergoing a lot right now.

There’s this book I read the summer before last called This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. It’s about the story of two small town newpaper reporters and a pastor investigating and battling a cult-like New Age group that have infiltrated their town. The crazy thing about it is the spiritual aspect to the novel. There is a very contemporary view of angels, demons, and prayer. The angels and the demons actually fight each other, get injured, battle over the thoughts of people, and even delve into the physical realm to scare or encourage the humans. It was an amazing book and really changed my view on a lot of things, especially prayer. In the novel, angels are given power and strength through prayer and the demons are likewise distracted from their evil tasks.

Without getting into the theology of all this, I was sitting in class today and got a familiar twinge of anxiety in my stomach. The reason is besides the point, but it was about something that I have absolutely no control over, no matter how hard I try. And I started to think about how Satan was trying to get me to worry, to panic, and to try and manipulate situations in order to make myself feel better. Well, sitting in class trying to pay attention to a lecture on telephony, one can imagine how my mind could be consumed with this.

Why do we get attacked spiritually? I’ve always thought that unless you’re doing something right, Satan leaves you alone. So, I’ve been honored when put under spiritual attack. But still, it made me wonder what I’m doing right. Is it my plans to leave Lexington in the near future? If so, Satan knows where to hit me: my fears about my friendships continuing. My fears about losing my best friend to a boy. My fears about being no longer needed by those I have invested in for years and have invested in me. What worth are they if it just all can go away without a fight or even an acknowledgement?

All of that to say this: I used to be told that I have a choice. I can wake up in the morning and choose to by happy. So I’m trying. Thus far today, I have not exactly succeeded, but I’m working on it. Circumstances keep arising telling me to act otherwise, telling me my fears are not unfounded, but I must press on. God is refining me, and the thing about that is it hurts. I don’t call this blog “Refined by the Fire” for nothing. It’s a reminder for me, as well.

Categories: Life, Ministry Tags: , ,