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Empty Vessel Filled

April 25, 2006


Whoa…when God brings encouragement, He brings it. This week, despite the madness of school and everything that’s coming up, God ministered to me mightily. He’s been showing me so much and helping me to process different things He’s done in my life this semester. Woo!

I received an endearing letter from a sweet sister in the Lord, Emily S.. Distance has kept us apart but it shall not sever the relationship. Something I love about our friendship, as well as so many of my dear friends, is that we are open and honest with one another. O I do appreciate honesty–probably one of the qualities I most highly value. We bear one another’s burdens…regardless of the time between our last conversations; we pick up right where we left off. Priceless. There’s something amazing about the commonality of another believer living in the spirit. Her words blessed me ten fold. I’m encouraged to see her seeking after the Lord ardently…possibly pursuing a life in Cambodia for a time.

I’ve been amazed on numerous occassions when a friendship has been grown in the matter of days due to the grace of God and His spirit drawing us closer to intimacy. I’ve experienced this several times–one time last semester with my friend, Elizabeth. We had two classes together and by the second time we talked after class, we were discussing spiritual warfare. We both knew we were believers–you can just sense it with some people. It’s the Holy Spirit.

Amazingly enough, we’ve been blessed to have another class together this semester and with Dr. Sloan none-the-less. Today we were set free a little earlier than usual so we decided to bake in the sun and chat for a bit. Our conversations always prove rich, insightful, and reflective. Some bits and pieces:

Eating habits have been somewhat of an issue for me. I look back wondering how gluttony took over. I realized it’s monumental root in my life as I began a ministry of fasting. If I was going to fast satan was going to bring on the temptation–and he did. It all came to a head last semester with the espisode of depresson. Talking with Sarah, we discussed how weight gain usually happens in denial and then eventually the person hides behind the weight. God opened my eyes to my need for deliverance from this demon of gluttony. In my depression I could not have power in Christ. However, God brought deliverance with the depression and just recently He has revealed to me my victories in the area of eating. Over Christmas break I began asking the Lord to deliver me from such gluttony. …I suppose it’s not something I’ve really focused on too much other than just asking for God to lead me in it. Honestly, I’ve been more focused on seeking His joy. Well, last week I had to be weighed at the doctor. Not kidding, 15 lbs gone. What? No way. I had to ask twice. The weight has been coming off without my complete awareness. Not that the numbers matter, but God showed me that it is proof of how He’s been working in my life. Elizabeth had said once last semester that God doesn’t desire for us to be overweight, to be ugly, etc. Instead, he wants our beauty to shine, but it must start from within. He wants us to take care of His temple. I’ve remembered that since then and God’s been telling me, “Dyanne, I had to change your heart before your beauty could shine outward. I’ve been dealing with your heart and I’ve been teaching you self-control. It is a fruit of the spirit.” Wow…no kidding. Looking back over the semester, He really has been teaching me self-control. Granted, I still come face to face with temptation and sometimes I fail, but God’s been bringing so much victory. I really felt that God did not want me bound to a diet but to seek Him and ask Him for discernment in what and how much I should eat. Coming under His rule in this area has brought true freedom and satisfaction. God showed me how I was going to food for comfort, in times of boredom, etc. How could I choose food over Him as my source of comfort? The Holy Spirit is the comforter. I’ve backed off on fasting this semester, but God’s shown me that this is a season for such retreat, for He must get my heart in the right place. I cannot be fasting for selfish motives. Dealing with weight issues I would find myself battling my motives for fasting. God’s been bringing me to a place where I will be able to fast again for Him and His work. I’m not there yet, but He is taking me there, for I know that I am called to a life of fasting.

Elizabeth and I also discussed the idea of being Holy. What does it look like? How can you get there? How do you allow God to come in and make you holy? etc. etc. Something God’s been showing her lately is that in order to become holy and pure, she must first be satisfied in Him. For if she is not satisfied, then the dissatisfaction will lead her to sin, trying to fill the void. We must trust that God can and will satisfy these places in our hearts that are empty and longing for more. Once we find satisfaction in Christ, only then can be truly pursue holiness. This is such a simple but profound truth.

We also talked over the mysterious balance between control and free-floating amoeba. Both of us have experienced the bondage to a life of control, structure, organization, schedules, etc., and both of us have swung to the other end of the spectrum, falling into the vice of having no direction and just floating around. Lately God’s been bringing me back to a balance. No more floating amoeba for me. He wants me to have direction and to be responsible but to have freedom in the spirit. We talked over the idea of spontaneity. Living by the Spirit, you will have a life of spontaneity, but it will have purpose. Discovering how to be led by the spirit is key. I need to have flexibility in Him and spontaneity in Him so that I will not miss out on such opporutnities for encouragement or sharing my faith. I’ve seen how He’s been doing such things–i.e. my venture to Austin instead of coming home; this conversation with Elizabeth; etc. Man, life by the spirit never leaves you bored! That’s for sure!

Another aspect of our conversation included the season of healing. God must take you through seasons of healing in order to dig up junk. Until you can lay your burdens down before Him then you will not be able to pick up the burdens of others because it’ll just be too much. I see how this proves true in my own life. Last semester I had nothing to give. Dry. Empty. Lame. Hurting. Just where He wanted me: broken. Through the process of deliverance with several things–and my long two year journey of healing, He’s bringing me to a point where I can begin to carry the burdens of others, lifting them up in prayer. Granted, I still come empty many times–but God’s ever-sufficient grace pours out heroically. This semester I’ve been catching glimpses of what God wants to do and different ways that God wants to use me as His tool. He’s also continued to humble me, making me realize that it has nothing to do with me. It’s about knowing Him and making Him known–but not about how great my ministry can be. Who cares if He even uses me to reach this person or that person. As long as they know You, Lord! That’s all that matters. That You may receive the glory and praise and honor You deserve! Amen!

Talking with Sonia yesterday, she asked me a question I hadn’t really thought about before.

What does it look like when you are more receptive to hear from the Lord?

Thinking over this I realized that it’s when I am not focused on myeself– when I am walking in the Spirit and my focus is on Jesus. Otherwise I am too focused on myeself, my hurt, my desires, self-pity, etc. that I cannot hear from the Lord and see what He is wanting to do.

Running today God brought it to my attention that my prayers were very scattered. I needed focus. Listen. This is all He said to me. Okay. He wanted me to listen to Him and receive a focus for my prayers. Sometimes that’s all we need to do is stop talking so much and listen. What is His heart saying? What is He wanting you to pray for?

Elmer’s a sweet, gentle and friendly man in his 40’s or 50’s [I’d say], working in the custodial department for A&M. We’ve gotten to know each other this semester through the parking garage as he comes to collect the trash in my booth twice a week when I work. Tonight I was blessed enough to have Macie come out and bring me some sirloin steak Benji had cooked along with some grilled veggies. I had talked with Elmer earlier, discovering that he will be working through the weekend. He has no plans for Easter. God tugged at my heart–I couldn’t ignore it. When Macie arrived I ate part of the dinner and then called Elmer to come over. I gave him the rest and Macie and I invited him to come see The Messiah. He’s precious, “Should I wear a suit?” No phone to call him on, we hope to see him Saturday. Elated, he whistled while he worked the rest of the night. Custodial work is wearing. Truly. I was analyzing why it’d be so taxing because ideally the job is simple, but that’s it: It’s simple–monotonous, no intrinsic value, poor wages, terrible hours, dirty work, no appreciation. This could be read on Elmer’s face, but only when I asked him questions like what he was doing over the break, or if he had plans, or if he had a phone I could contact him on. The phone’s out of service, I venture to wonder if he has any family, and he more than likely has little or no vacation time. It amazes me that he’s as joyful as he usually is. He goes to church, so he might be a believer. I don’t see how anyone would survive such a job without God’s joy. Man, Lord, I hope he comes Saturday. I think everyone would be blessed by his presence and I think You would bless him.

Reading in The Call by Os Guinness, I was reminded of the “Audience of One.” …Another step in overcoming insecurity. Realizing that I only have an audience of one: God. No need to worry about other audiences. That goes for the things I strive for as well due to others’ expectations. Knowing my one audience and living for Him helps conquer the issues of insecurity and expectations. Talking with Sarah last night she said something to me that stood out. I’m always saying I’m not a performer. She questioned, “Do you think that you’re not a performer because of your insecurity? Do you think you could actually be a performer [referring to flute and speaking and even singing] once God delivers you from these insecurities?” Honestly, these are questions I’ve chewed on for awhile and was reminded of when she spoke them out. In all truthfulness, yes, I probably can be and a will be a performer if God wants to use it for ministry in some way. I love that this is all a process and I can be confident that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ. Amen!

Lord, You are risen! May we not forget that! You are alive! Amen! Selah!

Matthew 27
The Death of Jesus
From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. 46About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi,[a] lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”[b]

47When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

48Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. 52The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

54When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son[c] of God!”

55Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

Matthew 28

The Resurrection

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

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