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Back to the cross again…

tr.v. re·deemed, re·deem·ing, re·deems

1. To recover ownership of by paying a specified sum.

2. To pay off

3. To turn in and receive something in exchange

I’ve been walking through a season of learning about redemption lately. I grew up hearing that I was redeemed and saved once I gave my life to Christ but this year I am learning what that means more then ever. I never realized how wrong my perspective has been at times and what it means to really live like I am redeemed.

We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God constantly. We mess up and God forgives us and saturates us in mercy. I get that message but to actually receive that and live like we believe that is hard sometimes.

We all have a past and have made mistakes. I have a long history of relying on the grace of God meaning…I have sinned big time before. Quite a while back I sinned and screwed up pretty good…or bad I suppose I should say. For the sake of “it doesn’t matter anymore” I’m not going to go into details about it. I talked to a pastor friend of mine, we prayed through it, I asked Christ for forgiveness, and started fresh hoping to never think about it again. I missed out on a key factor though in that process and God brought it back to me.

I got a call from someone who heard a rumor about it and recently they confronted me. I was blindsided by the whole thing because I hadn’t thought about it in a long time. The worst part of it all was when it was brought up to me I was flooded with an all too familiar feeling of shame and humiliation that I once had. Really, I was blindsided by those feelings. Why was I feeling this again when I dealt with it and moved on? I asked for forgiveness, exposed it, confessed it, and put it behind me. What was I missing?

I looked up the definition of Redeemed (as you saw) and number 3 was highlighted to me. “To turn in and receive something in exchange”. I had confessed the sin and turned myself in but I didn’t receive something in exchange. I didn’t receive forgiveness. Sure I asked for it but asking for it and actually accepting it are two totally different things. So, this brought me to a place of self-evaluation and asking God to help me and to show me how to receive his forgiveness.

Not receiving Gods forgiveness is like showing God that what He did for me on the cross doesn’t matter. He died because He knew I was going to screw up…a lot. Even recently I had an amazing opportunity to share about Christ with a new friend who had never met Him. I was sharing all the amazing truths about the cross and how we are forgiven. How God loved us so much that He came and died so that we could really live yet the truth of redemption was not yet alive in me.

Here is what I was missing…

I can’t receive His forgiveness until I receive His love completely.

It’s so hard for me at times to wrap my mind around how great His love is. I can hear the message of His love everyday and yet still it’s hard to grasp. Our minds can’t fathom the depth of it. That means I need God to help give me an understanding of that amazing love. He has to give me an understanding because on my own I can’t do it.

With all of this I also have to continually pursue his character in me and surrender myself to Him daily so that He can work in me.

Ephesians 3:14-20 says: 14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. 20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more then we might ask or think”.

This is my prayer right now. I am not walking in shame from my past but this situation showed me again how I have not grasped His amazing love for me. I am reminded that I must pursue His love. I must always be in a place of seeking to grow and learn more of His love. I also have to walk in a lifestyle of forgiveness and grace, forgiveness for myself and for others. You could say, God’s love for myself and God’s love for others.

Along with God giving me that understanding, having people in my life that love me like Christ has been crucial in me breaking through this stuff. I want to love people like God loves me because it covers shame and humiliation. It makes wrongs right and sets the captive free. Love sets the captive free. If we as Christians are giving away the Love of Christ to our friends, families, and places of influence…not our own love but that “perfect love”, I think we will all begin to truly understand His love in a way we never before have. It starts with me right now, and you if you choose. We have the ability to set the captive free with our love and to release people from the bondage of shame and sin. To love people into the destiny God has in store for their lives. We get the honor of being Jesus to each other. How cool is that?

Jesus,

Help me to understand your love in a greater way and to walk in your forgiveness not just for myself but daily for others. I want to live like I am redeemed, saved, and set free. I want to know you in a greater way so that I can understand more fully how deep your love really is for me. Break through everything I think I know and continue to cover my sin and messiness with your love. I know your perfect love covers ALL. Receiving forgiveness is just a part of learning your love and I want to get it all. I love you Jesus for all you are to me. For your grace, redemption, salvation, and freedom. Lead me to your cross God.  Thank you for your cross…Amen

SING AGAIN

TIME FOR LOVE-EP

It’s time to release another record and with a new record comes a new season in my walk with Christ. I think that’s why my life, moods, interactions, and thoughts become so intense right before a recording project. A new album means it’s also time for growth and change in me.

It’s funny how that works isn’t it? I am learning about what I am singing about. I don’t ever completely believe what I’m writing until after the song is finished. More often then not I think I actually write from a place of lack. I write what I desperately want to believe is true and with my past two projects it was at the end of the recording process that the message I had been writing about became alive to me and I suddenly just…got it.

This time has been different because I feel like I have not been allowed to finish the EP until I have grasped the message. Over the last few months without knowing it God has taken me on a journey and been doing some amazing stuff in my life that has needed to happen for about three years now.

The new record is called “Time for Love” and I am launching a campaign along with it called “I heart the Church” www.iheartthechurch.com I know it sounds cool right?  The problem is that for the last 2 years after leaving a staff position at a church I grew busy with music and really have not belonged to a community since then. To be honest it wasn’t just music…. that’s an easy excuse.

I’ve grown up in church my whole life. I have seen it all and heard it all and at some point in the last few years I began to completely dislike church. This negative and jaded view had crept in and I couldn’t deal. It got so bad that sometimes I would even get anxiety when I would step foot in a church building or when people would try and talk to me. Talk about a crisis of my faith. For the last 2 years I have felt so…. stuck.

I was driving to church a few months back and thinking about the new record and “I heart the church” when I began to panic because well…. I didn’t heart the church. In fact I couldn’t stand it. I was being a total hypocrite because I didn’t believe any of what I was outwardly representing.

A few days later I talked to a dear friend about it and was totally honest with her. I am so glad we talked that day because she said something to me that began the change in my heart. She said, “Where is the church failing you? What is it not doing for you right now?” I started trying to respond because of course I had a list I was prepared to give her but I stopped. I couldn’t think of anything to say. The church wasn’t the problem. It was me. I was looking at the church in such a wrong light. I had become jaded and indifferent because for so long I was not connected to a COMMUNITY. I know it’s a term we use often in churches and even have movements around it but I truly had lost touch.

You know you have all heard the term “the church is the people not the steeple” but have you ever stopped to really think about what that means? I can tell you one thing…it’s not about the Sunday morning service alone. Yes the corporate gathering is crucial but the breakthrough in my life happened through spending time with the people and through the people loving and accepting me. They were patient and put up with my attitudes and sour disposition on Sundays.

My church is not a church I would have pictured myself at but the people have stolen my heart and that has made me love this church. Every part. Do I agree with everything? No because there is no perfect church. People are messy and if the church is the people then it’s going to be messy sometimes.

When you love someone you look past their imperfections and see with a different lens. You see them with a lens of love. You are able to accept their shortcomings and see their beauty.

To heart the church is to love the people, your community, and your pastors. It’s not about the program or the music or the building. It’s about the people. That’s what matters. We look past the shortcomings of people and put on the lens of love.

I heart the church is for the people. It’s for you. It’s for a generation that is going to miss out on fully experiencing all Christ has for them if they don’t find a community and plug into it. The church IS God’s plan. The church is the hope of the world. The church is necessary. The church is alive. The church is beautiful. The church is hope. The church is freedom. The church is salvation. The church is restoration. The church is acceptance. The church is forgiveness. The church is redemption. The church is passionate. The church is joy. The church is selfless. The church is strength. The church is security. The church is safety. The church is love. The church is…YOU.

I have been trying to write this for the past six months now but could not share about the record until I allowed God to change me.

My heart is that this record will touch a generation that has given up on the church. My hope is that those of us who are in the church will be moved with compassion to reach people and not give up on them. To get out of our seats on Sundays and begin to love those around us. In our families, in our work places, in our schools.

If the love of Christ is TRULY manifest in the church, it will become irresistible.

I heart the church…. do you?

My Head exploding...

My Head exploding...

A SOUND MIND

3:30am and this is the stuff I think about at this time of day so I am jumping right in, might get heavy off the top but hang with me I have a point and a happy ending.

Some times I find myself feeling overwhelmed at the state of the world. There is so much hate, pain, death, destruction, poverty, darkness…you get the picture. I get almost this intense urgency inside because I so desperately want my life in Christ to influence this world. I often feel like like I am not doing enough and though I realize I have dedicated my entire life to Christ’s purposes I get this heavy craziness, overwhelmingly passionate drive in me. I just know that I am not doing enough and it stresses me out!Maybe I am a bit hard on myself but I think we can all agree that we know ourselves and what we have achieved in the past and so when it’s just not happening we have to stop, step back, and evaluate our life.

Have you ever found yourself laying your head on your pillow at night and thinking back on your day and you then realize how much time you maybe wasted? Or maybe you didn’t achieve a goal you had set up for that day and the reason you didn’t achieve it isn’t because there wasn’t enough time, it’s because you grew distracted with something else that was not nearly as important as that goal. Well if you’re like me when this happens you end up out of bed, WIDE awake at 3:50am, and having a mental overload.

Tonight has been different though then before because God has spoken a small but SO true and powerful revelation to me. I want to share it with you.

Last week some time in conversation my brother read a scripture to me that I have heard a hundred times before I’m sure but the translation he used was slightly different. Well tonight as I was basking in my introverted, self focused, and stupid thought process I believe it was the Lord who brought this scripture to mind. Here it is: 2 Timothy 1:7 “7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Now the translation I learned first and grew up with says, “power, love, and a sound mind”. Well here is Aria’s shining light bulb moment. A sound mind is achieved with self-discipline. A sound mind IS self-discipline.

So if you hadn’t picked it up yet, I have not really had a “sound mind” which then means I am being forced to look at my life and my “self-disciplines” or lack there of. OH MAN! Not the “D” word! There is no getting around it, influence and effectiveness come with discipline. I am learning you can’t just be disciplined in some areas. If I want to be effective I must be disciplined in ALL areas of my life. I think what discipline really boils down to is simply denying yourself. It’s living the fasted life. It’s waking up early enough in the morning to give God the FIRST portion of your day. I mean that’s the principal in tithing too right? Giving God the first fruits of whatever it is. How about real seemingly practical issues like carving out time in your day for fitness or eating healthy and taking care of your body? It’s important to be healthy and that means often times we deny our flesh and only put things that are good for us in our bodies. We don’t always zone out right away in front of the TV when we get home but we do the stuff around the house that needs to be done. We get in bed at a decent time (unlike me right now) so our bodies are rested and minds are sharp and alert.

So often I think we ignore or don’t give proper priority to these seemingly minute issues but ALL of it matters and essentially it effects our effectiveness.

I do think that I accomplish a LOT in a day or a week but I feel the challenge to step it up and push for MORE discipline and believe that when I do I will increase my influence and achieve an amazing spirit of power, love, and a sound mind.

Love to you All…

polaroid heart

Hey friends!

I have received your emails and calls asking for a recap on the tour and I apologize for taking almost three weeks to get things rolling. In all honesty it has taken this time for me to really process all that God did and all that we encountered on the road this time. I know I can say God blew us away and moved in a way that left us all speechless and humbled.

As I am finally sitting down here to write this I am finding it very difficult to even know where to begin. There were so many special moments, conversations, times of prayer, laughs, moments of victory, times of stress. I think best to share what I learned first and see where it goes from there.

It’s in the times where we feel the most “nonspiritual”  that God can really use us. God showed me a new side of His grace I had never scene. In our weakness He is strong…so true. He never failed us once. Every time we began to minister we felt so unprepared and yet every time God came through and saved the day. Sometimes I think He allows us to be in that state so He can work and we are empty. As the tour ran on we became more and more comfortable running on empty and relying on His spirit. Most of the time I didn’t completely know what God wanted us to do at a particular event until we on the stage half way through worship. We grew comfortable with that. Going into the concert or service believing God to come through and He did..every single time. Now understand I am not saying you shouldn’t prepare because i believe strongly in that…I just believe God operated this way this time to teach us a new level of trust.

This trip was also a time of clarity for the team. God began to speak to us on this tour and began to give each one of us the same word and vision. A NEW word and NEW vision. We saw what we are made of and more importantly where our passion and hearts are. Where does our passion and hearts thrive? THE CHURCH. This team or band or ministry or whatever you want to call us exist for the church. God gave us our mission and purpose and made it so clear it was undeniable. We have embraced it now and are running with all we have into the calling that Christ has placed before us. We are to be a resource to churches, to serve, to love, to hold up, to strengthen, encourage, inspire, and to help reach their cities for the Lord. I will be vulnerable with all of you. We have gone back and forth on who we were trying to reach. Who God has called us to reach. As music is our driving force we constantly have voices in the music industry telling us to go one way or another. People telling us how to make it big and become a famous christian artist. Telling us where we will be most successful blah blah blah. Well we will not be divided and swayed. We exist to be a part of the local churches all over the US and I do not care if we are ever famous or rich. I am moved by the kingdom of God and simply want to be obedient and run passionately with the call God has given me. I don’t want fame, I want influence.

There were so many amazing churches we had the privilege of spending time with and ministering in. So many awesome Pastors and leaders we got the honor to fellowship with. God joined our hearts with there ministries and churches and gave us a passion for their people. SO COOL!

I want to thank each one of you who prayed for us along the way. Your prayers sincerely impacted us and many other lives as well. Thank you to those who have and who are continuing to support us financially. Your contributions have stretched beyond and touched thousands of people now.

WHATS NEXT?

We are going to be hitting the road in September again for another  mini tour down through California again. I will update you as that gets closer.

We will also be jumping back in the studio soon to record our next project “Time for Love-EP” . We are excited to bring you brand new songs that have been written for the church and your congregations.

God is on the move and we are excited and so humbled to be a part of His kingdom. May we all continue to walk in His grace and love.

Love to you…AA

To watch some footage from the tour please log onto our youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/ariaanaforian also we launched our new website http://www.ariaanaforian.com

Follow us on twitter too! http://www.twitter.com/ariaanaforian

Picnik collage

Hey guys,

Tonight I have been reading in Hebrews again. Hebrews 11…God has been reminding of some awesome truths and I wanted to take a minute and share them with you all…

The guys and I have been under it these last couple weeks. Financial pressure, relational pressure, career pressure its been hittin us on all sides. In the midst of it we have been SO busy (which is great) with the music ministry. Everytime we have ministered together we initially come in with this heavyness on us but God has continually come through and graced us to do what He has called us to do…he has used us while we are empty…incredible.

It has seemed hopeless at times though. Like we are all in this place of weariness and having to push just to make it through another week or event. It’s like I have been watching us all take a beating and then get back up and keep going. Sure you may say “well hey you guys are pushing through” but tonight as I was reading in Hebrews I realized somthing so important. God doesnt want us to just get back up, He asks us to take a step further and fight back. How do we fight back? Faith…pure and simple faith. After the beating we get up and we raise the shield of faith and we go to battle.

I think we so often get buried in the chaos of life that we drop our defenses and put up with being knocked around. We begin to lose passion for the the things we once were so passionate about. For me and the guys its the music ministry that God has called us to. We all know that we are called and we are all so passionate about being used by Christ but somehow in the midst of life we had all become jaded and frustrated with our lives. We begin to doubt God and question the word that we so clearly knew He spoke just a while ago.

Well tonight it ends there. I began to pray today about the state of us all and God brought me back to Hebrews 11 and called me out. He reminded me personally of all the times He has not failed me, the times where he rescued me, the times where he blew me away with miracles.

Hebrews 11 says:

1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 2 Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

4 It was by faith that Abel brought a more acceptable offering to God than Cain did. Abel’s offering gave evidence that he was a righteous man, and God showed his approval of his gifts. Although Abel is long dead, he still speaks to us by his example of faith.

5 It was by faith that Enoch was taken up to heaven without dying—“he disappeared, because God took him.”[a] For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. 6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

7 It was by faith that Noah built a large boat to save his family from the flood. He obeyed God, who warned him about things that had never happened before. By his faith Noah condemned the rest of the world, and he received the righteousness that comes by faith.

8 It was by faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going. 9 And even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise. 10 Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.

11 It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed[b] that God would keep his promise. 12 And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.

It was by faith! These words are reminders of the faithfulness of our amazing God.

So I ask you now, where are you at? The economy is overwhelming right now, the world is more chaotic then ever, wars are raging in the church, people are losing themselves in darkness…its a hard time to trust. Maybe instead of focusing on whats happening right now, it’s ok to reflect back on the amazing and miraculous things Jesus once did in your life. If He is unchanging then what makes now so different…so impossible? It’s not! He is still here, faithful, loving, and ready to rescue you. Look past the circumstance and straight into the faithful loving eyes of Jesus. He has been faithful to generation after generation and He is our refuge and our fortress…HE WILL NOT FAIL…Psalm 100:5 says, “For the Lord is good, His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to EACH GENERATION… that means He is always going to be here and be everything you need.

This really helped me breakthrough where I was feeling stuck. We are fighting not just getting back up and I know God has an incredible journey ahead for us with the tour and everything else. I believe this for you as well…i pray this for your life…

I would love to be able to pray and stand with you…wherever you are at in this…send me a message on facebook or to manager@ariaanaforian.com

Be blessed and be praying for us! Tour is coming up starting April 23rd and we need your support while we are away…

I end this post with the chorus to my song “All that I know”…

“Trust in all, you’re gunna save the day, cause some things just never change”

Love to you…