A few days ago I interviewed Brittny, a young woman who is featured in my book Finding Beautiful. We had captured a makeover and photo shoot, and we did a live follow-up interview for the book launch team.
During the interview, we touched on her former sense of worthlessness that stemmed from a difficult childhood.
“When did that change for you?” I asked. “How did God heal your heart?”
“It wasn't all at once,” Brittny responded thoughtfully, “but as I chose to obey God, I realized how much He loved people. One day in high school He moved me to reach out to a friend and tell her about Christ. In that moment, I realized how deeply He loved her, and how greatly He must love me too.”
I was struck by that thought. Brittny didn't experience a massive wave of God's love that instantly healed all her wounds: instead, when she obeyed Christ's tug on her heart, she experienced His character. By following Christ, she began to learn of His heart. I realized how opposite this is within a self-centered society: we often demand healing as if we deserve it, and then decide whether or not to serve God. Yet in the principle of Discipleship, sometimes we simply serve the Master from a heart of love and healing comes as we follow Him, one step at a time.
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.
The word “yoke” in this passage is: to join, servitude, coupling. One of the keys to accessing the heart of Jesus is simply to follow Him. As we step out in obedience, we discover how amazing He is! He is gentle, kind, and brings us rest. Yet the call is not a passive one: we are called to discipleship, and to actively pursue relationship with Him by studying the Word and following His Spirit. Like a team of cattle yoked together, we team up with Christ and walk with Him. This is discipleship: learning of our master as we follow His lead.
I'm feeling compelled to embrace the basics of this place: my first life's goal is simply to follow the Master and learn of Him, yoked up with Christ in everything He gives me to do. We are never asked to walk alone, but always closely yoked with Him as we walk out life together. This call is simple yet profound, and it stands as an open invitation to all of us.
Prayer: Lord, help me to walk with You every day, ready to hear, obey, and learn of Your kindness and love as we move forward together.
Watching the ocean never grows old to me. When I need a quiet afternoon here in California, I'll drive to the beach and park myself on a cliff. There's something mesmerizing in the constant cycle... waves build on the horizon and rise as they approach the shoreline... I watch the process unfold as the white caps burst and roar with furious joy before melting back into the depths.
Life is like this: we go through seasons of stillness, even boredom, and then suddenly we see God stirring as a new thing approaches. The momentum builds, and we watch Him lead us into a season of fresh movement and growth.
I am leaning into that new season today... the beauty of watching God do new things, and the challenge of the “growing pains” that occur as we align with the new season. Like a new wave on the horizon, I feel God's call to different ministries and a fresh way of how things will play out in the new season. It's thrilling beyond words, and sometimes terrifying!
I'm sure you can relate to this place: sometimes a “new wave” is both exhilarating and challenging, right? We watch the new things grow on the horizon of our lives and develop into a fresh season. How reassuring is God's promise of steady help and encouragement during this process!
Do not remember the former things,
Nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.
Isaiah 43:18, 19
May you be encouraged and equipped for your new season! He is faithful to bring us everything we need as we embrace His plan for our lives!
Prayer: Father, help me to see what You are doing in my life, and receive the fresh wave of Your grace and love as I embrace every season You lead me to.
Recently I've been thinking of how God strategically positions us exactly where He desires us to be for reasons we don't always recognize at the time.
“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-1
It struck me that the Lord has very specific “lampstands” where He places us. It might not seem like we are in any place of significance, but if we are in His will, we are there for a reason.
In this picture, the light is being held on the edge of a precipice, and the ship in the distance is receiving the warning because the light is at the right place at the right time. If the light was not there, the ship might be lost.
What is your “lampstand?” Maybe it's the grocery story where you run into someone and tell them about Jesus. Or perhaps is social media where you proclaim the truth of God's love. Maybe your lampstand is your home, where you can create a safe place for your family and then invite others into that place. Wherever it is, let your light shine! You never know who is watching and how your light impacts their journey.
Thunderhead: Write the Vision
I'm a total visionary, and even as a kid I was exploding with creative ideas. I remember making designs with watermelon juice on my paper plate during picnics and using flannel cloth from the rag bag to make prairie-style doll clothes. As we grow, sometimes our dreams become bigger and seem harder to accomplish. If we're prone to creative ideas, it's easy to write them off as “impossible” instead of hold on to that childlike creative streak.
When I was age 17, I had a dream that felt enormous, but I couldn't help hoping and praying it would come true! I'd always dreamed of singing my little original songs on stage, and I desperately wanted to share my music with my favorite recording artist that I heard on the radio. I happened to meet him one day at a backstage event, and he prayed for me out of the goodness of his heart. Like thousands of other teenagers, I really wanted to meet this man who played the piano and wrote pop songs. After about two years of desperately praying and hoping that I could somehow share my songs with him, a mentor gave me a piece of advice.
“Sometimes,” she said in matter-of-fact tone, “you just need to write your request and lay it before the Lord. If it's meant to be, He'll make a way. If not, then move on with your life.”
So I did: I wrote my request, laid it on my bedroom floor, and prayed. Nothing happened, so I buried the dream for about three years, moved across the state, and stopped writing songs. During that time I had some profound encounters with God and started to pick up music again and express myself in worship to God. One day I happened to be driving through the town I used to live in and noticed that my favorite pop star was doing a benefit concert and dinner in a local church. I decided to go, but I only had enough money for a concert ticket and not the meal beforehand.
A funny thing happened that night. I arrived to the church early and asked to meet with the pastor.
“Do you happen to have a little corner where I could pray?” I asked politely. “I'm coming to the concert, but I don't have a ticket to the dinner.”
To my surprise, the pop singer appeared and to my astonishment he remembered me from three years ago!
“Would you be my guest for the dinner?” he asked, and then he proceeded to walk me to the ticket table and purchase me a ticket with cash from his own wallet. Then he asked me to help him with the sound check, so I sat at the shiny grand piano in a daze, playing one of my little songs just like I had dreamed of doing years before. During dinner, I asked him every single question I'd ever wondered about the music industry. God had seen the prayer I had written down and laid before Him several years earlier, and just when He was about to call me into full time ministry and knew I would need some extra courage, He made my dream come true!
My point is this: God hears our prayers, but there is something special about writing down our dreams and visions. God told Habakkuk,
Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. Hab. 2:2
Time and time again, I've seen God's plans unfold in ways that leave me startled with a sense of wonder and awe, and many of these were dreams that I've written down and laid before Him. It's a beautiful thing.
So if you feel like your head is in the clouds and exploding with ideas, write them down and lay them before the Lord. He knows exactly where He desires to take you, and you might be shocked at how He brings them to pass!
On a side note: I just opened up my non-profit, The Potter's House Creative Ministries! Part of the vision is to host monthly events for the community where we teach both kids and adults to write or draw what God is speaking to them. Find out more at:
The Arizona highway stretched long and thin through the desert mountains, and I was fighting fear as I drove my little RAV4 over the blacktop. I had been booked to speak at a church in AZ, and I realized I was a long way from the nearest gas station! With no cell phone reception among the rocks and cactus, it was a long drive and I had never been to this church before. I flipped through the radio stations to pass the time and could only get one signal: a pop music station playing Walk the Moon's track, Shut up and Dance, a tongue-in-cheek song about simply enjoying the moment.
I laughed- the song hit home, and I realized the Holy Spirit was calling me to rest and just trust Him on that trip. To dance, and let Him lead. Sure enough, everything turned out great. God protected, provided, and there was an opportunity for some special ministry time at the church. To this day, Shut up and Dance makes me smile every time I hear it.
Later, I decided to create a photo to this idea after discovering some Scripture that really brought the concept to life.
"Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him..." Psalm 37:7a
The Hebrew word "rest" in this verse means: "to be dumb, to stop, quiet self, rest, be silent, tarry." I'm one of those visionaries who is constantly chewing on ideas, making sense of chaos, and processing pretty much everything. This specific directive couldn't be clearer: STOP TALKING- and that includes the chatter of the inner mind. Still your soul, Rebecca. Pause. Embrace silence.
"Wait patiently" is a single Hebrew word with a radical meaning: "to twist or whirl in a circular or spiral manner, specifically to dance..." This word is translated into various words in English. For instance, is could mean dance, or it could mean to birth, like Psalm 29:9 which says that God's voice makes the "hinds to calve," and calve is this dancing Hebrew word. Other times it's interpreted as "fear," or even "formed." I'm not a scholar, but this Hebrew word seems to denote a verb of passion, motion, and even creativity.
For me, perhaps this verse is summed up in the lyrics of the pop song where the lover playfully sings this invitation, "Shut up and dance with me!" As much as God loves our business and action for the Kingdom, sometimes the place of rest means silence and a dance of faith with Him- whatever that looks like. Whether you're driving through the Arizona desert or through a difficult time in life, trusting God is the best place to be!
I was all ready to send a composite photo but decided on a very different creative direction this week, because I believe the message of the moment is more important than just sharing "cool art!" I was in prayer a couple of days ago and the Lord impressed this image on my heart of a fork. It wasn't your average silver fork-- it had extra prongs for picking up specialty hors d'oeuvres. Immediately I realized that God is enlarging our hearts to contain what He has for the next season. Just like this fork has to be extra large for serving foods that are timely, special, and strategically placed within a meal, He is preparing us for very special things to unfold in our journey. It was a funny little image but totally true for my life, and I think it could be for someone else's too!
Often we want and expect God to do great things in our lives, but in reality we are so unprepared for them to happen! In His graciousness, God molds and shapes our hearts to be ready for the next step. David realized this when he penned Psalm 119:32.
I will run the way of thy commandments when thou shalt enlarge my heart.
The Hebrew word for enlarge, means “to broaden, make room, make open wide.” Our Father is so wise and good with our hearts! When we belong to Christ, He actually makes room in our heart so we can handle the beauty of His plans. There have been some things God has asked me to do that have been very difficult, and others that have nearly overloaded my nervous system with excitement! For each time, I have needed God's “enlarging” of my vision, dreams, and trust in Him in order to handle the task, battle, and responsibility of the assignment.
I believe that God is using this time to sharpen and fine tune our hearts so that He can entrust us with what is to come! Sometimes that means dealing with attitudes and emotions that remind me that it's time to "clean house" and realign with the character of Christ. Other times it means letting go of things from another season that aren't meant to fit into God's plan for this season. It could even mean spending extra time in rest and prayer so that God can download His plans for my journey. I'm choosing to lean into this process because I'm SO EXCITED for what is to come! What does "enlarging" look like for you?
Prayer: Lord, enlarge my faith, trust, and vision so that I can see clearly and accurately and be ready for what is to come!
In the Book of Revelation, we see the prayers of the saints coming before the throne like sweet smelling incense before the Lord, and heaven responding to this perfume. I wanted to capture a bit of that idea, and also remind us that 2019 is a great time to allow God to fully open our hearts to the place of deep worship again.
In any relationship, an open heart is so important. You can't work or communicate well with a person who's heart is closed to you. When things happen to strain a relationship, sometimes our hearts tend to close out of self-protection. God is the same way-- sometimes our hearts get hurt or we are disappointed by life, so our hearts are a little bit less excited about our relationship with Him. Yet God is constantly there for us and with us. His love never changes, and He's as excited about us as ever! Nothing can separate us from His love.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38, 39
As we start 2019, let's ask the Father to fill us with His love like never before! Let's bring before Him everything that's on our hearts, and ask Him to heal, restore, and refresh us so that we can open our hearts fully to Him and enjoy His love fully. From this place of worship, mighty things happen that change our world as we worship the King!
Prayer: Father, I love You. As I begin this new year with You, show me if there's any area in my heart that has become closed to You. As I bring my heart to You, please refuel it with passion so that I can worship with heart fully abandoned to You!
The term means: innovative, fresh, unusual, unprecedented, inventive, pioneering, radical. I created this picture with the idea of the ground being ready, even before the shovel actually starts to go to work. The soil is loose and soft enough to be worked, and it's time to start tilling. 2019 is a great year for "ground breaking," new things!
There are so many seasons in our lives. Sometimes we invest into something that doesn't produce the harvest we hoped for, and it can be disappointing. I remember one year where several of my ministry project failed, and I was frustrated,because I really believed I was obeying God by investing in these ways. During this time, God gave me a powerful picture of how to process this disappointment...
One day I was driving through Arkansas and noticed fields of golden wheat whose heads were hanging low with the weight of the grain. On closer look, the grains were bulging and starting to turn brown, like the wheat was starting to turn bad. Someone told me,
“Every few years, the farmers will grow a field of wheat, and instead of harvesting it, they'll let it over-ripen and then till it back into the ground as natural fertilizer. Instead of an immediate harvest, he nutrients of the crop is invested into the next season.”
This made so much sense to me, and I realized that God did the same thing in my life. Even though my creative projects hadn't reached the “harvest” I was hoping for, they carried a lot of learning lessons, and I was able to apply what I'd learned to the next season and get a “richer harvest” because of it.
God cares about the “soil” of our hearts-- even enough to give us seasons that produce less harvest than we hope for so that we can be more fruitful in the coming seasons. I pray that we'll be able to run after the Father and dream His dreams this year-- whether it's sowing and receiving a huge harvest, or learning valuable lessons that prepare us for what's coming next.
For me, I've got some new things that are “ground breaking” in my world! They are new and exciting, and a little scary! I 'm choosing to trust that God will use EVERYTHING for His glory in this new season... and even things in the past can become “fertilizer” if I ask God to help me learn and grow in wisdom so that I can have a better harvest in what is coming. Like this picture, I'm trusting God for good soil as I sow into His new season!
Prayer: Father, please take every piece of my past- the blessings and the hardships- and use them for your glory. In 2019, may there be many new groundbreaking moments that happen by Your leading!
While praying over the new year to come, I saw an image in my heart and decided to create it. I saw a branch with golden keys growing on it, just as fruit would grow on a tree, and knew the title should be “Tree of Life.” The keys represent wisdom from the Lord, just as we call answers to a difficult situation, "the key."
Scripture speaks about the Tree of Life in several places: the beginning, middle, and end of the Bible. I found it a fascinating study and a great place for us to look at as we prepare for a new year!
The first mention of the Tree of Life is in the Book of Genesis when God placed the sacred tree in the Garden of Eden for His children to eat, but they chose the forbidden fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil instead. The last is reference is found in Revelation as God promises to reinstate access to the tree for those who obey His commandments. (Genesis 2:9, 3:24, Revelation 22:2) This makes a good history lesson and future promise, but what can the Tree of Life offer us today? In the middle of Scripture, we come to four references that can apply to us right now.
As we prepare for the year ahead, let's ask the Father for the keys of wisdom for our journey!
Father, I ask You for the wisdom that You have promised. Please show me how to RECEIVE the keys You have for my life and BE a source of healing and life for others!
Merry Christmas! In the midst of the season of giving, I've been thinking a lot about the kind of gift Jesus likes...
Sometimes people tell me, “Oh Rebecca, think what you could do with a huge crew and a million dollar budget for your films! You could accomplish so much more for God's Kingdom with your talent.” It's natural human reasoning to think that, but only if you believe that talent is a gift that pleases God.
The truth is, God doesn't need our gifts. I believe God is not interested in my talent-- He's interested in my heart. He doesn't anoint talent: He anoints obedience. Obedience is the seed that grows great faith. (In fact, the things He chooses to use are often the things that I think are the most ridiculous or least “talented!") This is why we are called to surrender our gifts and talents to Christ-- because without the component of obedience, they are unusable in the Kingdom of God. No matter how “talented” we are, He looks for a heart that follows hard after Him and puts Him first. God wants to do amazing things with people who choose to say "yes" to Him!
Last year I was working on my first film about the Celtic saints, and I couldn't figure out why on earth God was asking me to do this film! There were so many other people who were more knowledgeable, skilled, and better funded than I for this project. I tried to figure out if there was something in my skill set that qualified me for the task, and I finally shared my question with my prayer team,
"Why is God calling ME to do this film?"
One of my prayer partners responded,
"Because He knows you'll do it."
I laughed-- God wasn't giving me this assignment because of my skill set, rather, He was calling me to do something so big that He would get the glory... because I had very little to offer other than simple obedience. God is simply not interested in our talents (although I believe He honors those who refine their craft) but what He really wants is our obedience to dare to follow Him into adventures of faith!
The beauty comes when we learn that God wants to partner with us in creativity, and that He's able to co-create with us in ways that defy imagination. Repeatedly I've watched Him rearrange weather patterns in order to stage the perfect conditions for a film shoot. Sometime He brings people into place just a few hours before a shoot, including the costumes, props, and skills that are just right for the scene. One time He sent a stunt choreographer for a pirate scene in Alaska just when we were shooting a “fight” scene-- this man just happened to be visiting the church I was speaking at one Sunday morning and heard the call for extras that afternoon. Other times He puts rainbows in the sky in a perfect place, or sends a weaver to donate a special length of hand-woven cloth to the film shoot. At times, I've felt angels on site while filming.
Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing." John 15:5
This Christmas, I challenge you to give your life to Christ as a gift, surrender all your talents and dreams to Him, and then follow His lead. He might just use you and a camera... you and a laptop... or you and an idea no one has ever thought of before to change the world. You never know where life with Jesus will take you!
Prayer: Lord, I surrender every gift, talent, resource, and idea to You. Show me how to follow You in the mundane things, and help me to trust if You ask me to take a leap of faith to pursue Your call on my life!