A Heart Set Apart

I have been anticipating this blog entry for several days now. The excitement, the expectation at this time, this very season of our lives, is almost tangible for me. I get a bit of a tingly feeling, flutter in my soul to think about what God is doing. I can't see it, or hear it, but I sense He is allowing the next best thing to unfold. For several years now, Ryan and I have struggled, walked and at times, crawled through some very dark moments. God placed a call upon our hearts for ministry a long time ago, but we were hesitant in answering it right away. When we did, we were helpless, completely at the mercy of His will because we knew deep down, the time was ours and He had a ride ahead for us! Little did we know the twists and turns that ride would take, but oh, how He has taught us, walked with us and carried us through! The joys of seeing the fruits of our labor for the Kingdom, and the agony of watching what we thought were best laid plans crumble right in front of us. Do you know what resounded in my heart, in my soul, through my joy and through my sorrow? God Is Good! No matter the circumstances, no matter what we saw happening in our own perspective, He came through. He delivered, He provided, He comforted, He restored.

Next Sunday, October 13, we find ourselves once again in a position to begin a new season of ministry with The Crossing Church of Springfield, Missouri. I can honestly say, looking back over the last two years, seeing the hard work, the painfully hard work we had to put in to endure what we thought was a "wilderness", waiting for God to provide the worship ministry job Ryan had been wanting so desperately, wondering how many more closed doors we would have to face......somehow, beyond what we could see, God had a plan then, and He has a plan now. Yes, it is hard not seeing it in its entirety, but where would the lesson be if we could? God has His reasons, and it is usually because we have a lot to learn. How often we find ourselves being such poor students.

Today I found myself studying the phrase, this thing that came to mind, "to be set apart". We are to be set apart. In its purest definition, the Hebrew word 'kadosh' translates to holy or sanctified, the Greek equivalent is 'hagios'. Important to note in the understanding of this phrase "to be set apart" is that we cannot choose it, God must designate it. Did you get that? Let's break it down to better understand what exactly it means to be "set apart".

First, through Declaration. He calls us to a specific vocation, to live in a certain region, to marry a certain someone, and so on. Whether you want to recognize it or not, there are elements in your life that you have been called to right now. What is probably making some of you question this right now, is the fact that you are unsettled where you are in life and in fact you are feeling a nudge in your gut that this is the moment when you realize you can turn it around. You are much more than you allow yourself to be, and God has a great purpose and plan for your life. Don't put it off, I encourage you to begin finding the path He has for you. Don't give up, go after your dream, follow your calling!

Second, through isolation. I have experienced the necessity of this more than once in my life. The greatest hindrance to our walk with Christ, growing my fully and completely in Him is how busy and distracted we've become. There is something to be said for stepping away, giving up some of the things in our lives and being still, being quiet, meditating on Him. It is hard to be quiet, to listen for long periods of time. In this day and time, there's such a push for everyone to make their voice heard, rise above the hum of all the other noises going on around us. Have we ever stopped to consider our best form of preparation for being "set apart" is to be alone with God? So I encourage you today, take time out of each day to be quiet, be still, listen. God has something to speak to you and you don't want to miss it. Find time to get away for a retreat with your church, and leave all of the world's distractions at home. Be filled with Him. Know Him more.

Third, through Dedication. We have opportunities time and time again in our lives to dedicate a number of things to God, as an act of our commitment to be set apart. We have witnessed this as we have joined with churches in building and dedicating new structures for ministry, the dedication of our children and witnessing the dedications of so many children in our church families, mission trips and missionaries commitments to service, the blessing of new homes, and the list can go on. We make it a point to physically commit what is important to us and as a result we have a tangible reminder of a very spiritual decision we have made. This is a powerful tool we can use to teach the love of God to others.

Fourth, through Commemoration. The decision to remember something before God, a prioritization and action. Committing to pray without ceasing for God's will to come alive in someone's life, asking God to fulfill the promises He's made in the Word, specifically asking God's presence be made known in and through a difficult situation in someone's life and giving Him glory at a time when someone else may be experiencing God's abundant blessing.

(Scriptural Concepts: Set Apart, "P'nei Adonai: Resources for walking in the presence of God", http://penei.org/concepts-set-apart.shtml)

By choosing to live out this phrase, "to be set apart", we can live a more abundant life, the kind of life God has always intended for us to live. God uses people, events, dreams, visions and even His own quiet voice to remind us we are to be "set apart". This past weekend, I experienced an awesome example of this, seeing our church come together selflessly and raise the funds needed for our missionary friends in Nigeria to build a well. A well that will not only provide water for the physical thirst of those who come to their church, but "living water" for a spiritual thirst to know the love of Christ!

We are to be set apart, we are the light of the world, and we have an amazing opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people we pass by every single day. Don't miss it!

Hebrews 12:14 NLT Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord.

1 Corinthians 6:19 NLT Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself...
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