Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Passion Re-Ignited

Not long ago, I felt as if I were on the edge, sitting on the fence. One foot was clutched by the hand of satan, who was filling my mind with doubts and fears about this mission that the Lord had called me on. The other was ready to jump into the journey. The little spark in my heart was ready to ignite and it would take something bigger to turn it into a flame. Perhaps I was not yet ready to let go, to ignite the passion, to jump in.

The Lord is faithful. Five months ago He took me off the fence and on a journey almost 9,000 miles away that has completely changed my life. Yet that journey did not begin or end in Chuuk, Micronesia. That journey was just a small part of the big picture and the big journey that the Lord has for me.

Do I sometimes have doubts about where the Lord is sending me? Yeah, satan would love to see me back on the fence. Am I sometimes afraid? Of course. Is God bigger than all of this? Most definitely. And that is what keeps me going.

Yet I am bothered. No, disturbed. I am disturbed and distressed over America. I felt this way when I stepped foot onto American soil five months ago from being in Chuuk, Micronesia for three weeks. It was only three weeks and yet I am hurt! Bothered, distressed, crying out... Yes, I am blessed. I am truly blessed to have the freedoms that I do in this country and I thank God for them. I am so very thankful for everything that the Lord has blessed me with. However, I remember the feelings that I felt when I returned from Chuuk. I was mad at McDonald's, Wal-Mart, short skirts and shorts, tight jeans, the fashion, material things. I wanted to just give everything away. Over the past five months, it seems that that feeling has faded a little and I have enjoyed living an American lifestyle.

I don't know what has happened in the past few days, but that passion has returned. I think it may have to do with a few very great, encouraging girls that the Lord has blessed me with. I think it may have to do with a few challenges along the way. I think it may have to do with seeking the Lord and Him opening my eyes to a few things.

I am not completely sure, but I am sure that it is there. I am not sure exactly what to do with it right now, but it is there - strongly! Ultimately, America is not my home. My home is in Heaven ~ and on this journey on the way, I may live in many temporary homes. Yet it is not final... and I believe with all of my heart that the Lord has something greater! There are great things yet to come, I just know it! My heart may cry over the temporary things of this earth that pain my heart and disturb my soul, but that is just the thing... it is all temporary.

The passion is there. That is for sure. Before it starts to fade, I must feed it so that it can burn more brightly and powerfully than ever before. I must feed it with wood, with solid things. I cannot feed it with water, with those things that are liquid and changing. I must feed it with God's Word, by seeking Him, by talking with Him, by following Him where He leads.

Although where He is leading me this year is not where He led me last year, I am excited. I know that there are little boys and girls like Shawn, Ann, LuAnn, Wilson, Mahlie, Dernes, Winston, Mikey, Mykie, Welson, Jerlyn and Ervian all over the world... and even here in America.

"Now that I have seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead. Now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot let go..."
~"Albertine", Brook Fraser

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

God of This City

There is a battle waging within me. I am torn. The Lord has given me an answer about where He is calling me to be next summer, and it does not match up with my desires. And yet I knew when I was saying good-bye to the Chuukese in the airport... when little Shawn whispered to me, "Remember"... when Mahlie handed me a necklace as a farewell gift... when they stood in a line as we said good-bye and asked me if I was going to come back next summer. I knew it as I smiled and waved to the children who were waving wildly to us through the window. I walked on, trying hard to be strong... but as I sat in the small airport, I just broke.

Something wasn't right and I felt unsettled. I was never going to see those children again? It didn't seem real. It didn't seem as though things were settled. I didn't think that God was done with me there yet. I miss it. I miss it all. I desire to go back there so badly... yet I knew then and I know now that God is calling me somewhere else this summer. Why? Every time that I think about it and every time that doubts fill my mind, God reminds me to just trust Him... and to follow Him.

We all have our stories of God's faithfulness to us. One of mine involves a song ~ "God of This City". As I sit here and listen to it right now, it brings so many thoughts and memories and moments to my mind and to my heart.

"You're the God of this city, You're the King of this people, You're the Lord of this nation... You are. You're the light in this darkness, You're the hope to the hopeless, You're the peace to the restless, You are. There is no one like our God. There is no one like our God. For greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this city... Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done here."

This song was played in the Kurassa Hotel room on Jen's laptop one day in Chuuk. I smiled, knowing that great things were going to be done in Chuuk and that great things were happening, not only in Chuuk but in my heart and in my life.

It was during this song that I raised my hands in surrender to God and to "this city". "Lord, wherever 'this city' is for me next summer is where I want to be," was the cry of my heart. It was during this song that God set me free and it was during this song that, by God's grace, I let go of Chuuk. After this song and after the worship service that I was at where we sang this song, I felt like a new person. I no longer had a desire to go back to Chuuk because I just wanted whatever God had for me.


Three different times now, this song has come on the radio right after or during a time where I was doubting where God is calling me. One time I was actually having a conversation about my doubts, when this song pierced my thoughts. It is as if it is God's way of reminding me of all of the things that happened this summer, of the time when I let go of my desires, of the life-changing experience that God led me on, and of the life-changing journey that He is leading me on.

It is as if God loosened the chains and I have tightened them again. Last year I was terrified of where God was calling me; this year I am yearning to go back. Last year I thought it was impossible for me to go to Chuuk; this year I know that it is possible for me to go to where God is calling me, and yet my desires are not quite lined up with His. Last year I was hesitant to go; this year I am hesitant about what it is that God has for me and where He is calling me to go. Last year when I signed up for Chuuk I thought that I was signing my life away. This year, I believe that every step I take to follow Christ is another step in signing my life away ~ to the One who can take it and change it and make it useful for His Glory... to the One who gives it purpose and meaning... And because of Him, great things are going to be done. There are greater things still to be done here. And until I breathe my last breath, He is not finished with my life.

Lord, may every breath I take and every move I make be pleasing in Your sight. May my life and the way that I live it bring You honor and glory and praise.

"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come." (Revelation 4:8)

May that be the heartcry of my life as long as I live it. I know that greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done... may I believe it deep in my heart so that I can live out this life that You have set before me with not only a willingness, but a passion and a joy and an excitement that can only come when I am living for you and with You...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Hidden Beauty

A complete, colorful double rainbow stretched across the deep blue ocean and over the dark islands in the distance. The white sandy beach next to the lush, deep green of the grass stood in breath-taking contrast. The aftermath of the near typhoon moved the leaves of the palm trees and they swished in the breeze. The small boat speeding over the vast waters of the ocean under the bow of the rainbow completed the scene and I stood in silent awe. It was a painting airbrushed across the sky to perfection as only God can do. This was Chuuk, Micronesia, a group of islands in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Ocean. This was Weno, the main island of the islands. Even more beautiful than the scenery was something else, something easily overlooked, and something easily missed.

I had the honor of going to one of the outer islands, Parem, for five days. It was a beautiful, very primitive, tropical island. One night, I stood at the shore of the clear waters of the ocean as the sun began to set behind the distant islands. The sky and the clouds were at first a soft, fluffy pink. The sky then turned full of vibrant reds and oranges, as if the distant islands were ablaze with a dangerous fire. Then, as if it only wanted to intimidate and show off its glory for a brief time, the sky then turned soft once again as the last ray of sunlight flashed itself behind the islands in the distance. It was a gorgeous sight, unlike any other.
Early one morning, I awoke to the most beautiful sunrise I have ever witnessed. I walked onto the white balcony overlooking the small town of the main island. The ocean was right beyond the palm trees that stood aright in the still morning air. The sun shone right through these palm trees, highlighting them and painting a beautiful scene. I could only stand in awe and with a smile say, “Thank You, God.” It was a portrait painted for me by my Savior and I could not help but stand in awe.

Beyond the beautiful, breath-taking scenery of these islands is something even more beautiful. It is something that simple passersby will never see and something that many people do not take the time to notice. It is the people who live there. I still remember the faces of many of them vividly. I can see them even more vividly than I can see the colorful rainbow or the bright sunrise or the vibrant sunset. The dark, beautiful complexions of these islanders only highlight the true beauty of their hearts. I came back to America feeling as though I live in a poor nation who has turned all of its blessings of wealth and prosperity into a curse of dread and depression. The joy reverberating from the hearts of these people surpassed all of their dirty, poverty-stricken homes and towns.

I went to these islands with the intention of helping the children learn basic English and to teach them of the love that Jesus has for each and every one of them. And while I did help out with that, it seems the situation got completely turned around. On those beautiful, primitive, tropical islands I got taught some very important lessons by small island children. Walking hand-in-hand through the mountains of the island with a little girl, I was taught how to love. Playing with the children on the beach of the outer island, I was taught how to laugh genuinely and straight from the heart. Throwing a Frisbee with a little girl, time passing away, I was taught how to live and to enjoy life. Yes, I am sure that there is nothing more beautiful about these tropical Pacific islands than the people who live there.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Love Notes from God


So I was listening to the radio today and the speaker on was talking about what a letter from Jesus might sound like. I loved what he was saying and decided that I would write my own. Before I write this, I just want to say that I am in no way trying to put words in God's mouth. I would never want to do that to my Holy God. It is just something that I was thinking about and wanted to share.

Note: "Agape" is a Greek word for "love" meaning "self-sacrificing". It is a self-sacrificial love.
----------

Dear Child,

I love you. I saw you walking with your friends today. You were laughing as if you had no care in the world. When will you let Me join you? I miss you. I wanted to let you know how much I love you, so I sent you a sunset last night. It was beautiful. It had the most vibrant reds and oranges in it. You didn't notice it, though. You seemed to be busy with your studies and with everything else going on last night. I wish that you would "make a date" with Me, though, like you do with your friends. I just want to spend time with you.

I tried again this morning to show you how much I love you by sending you a beautiful sunrise. I sent it as a reminder of My promise in Lamentations 3:22-23 that My mercies are new every morning and that they will not fail... But you woke up too late to see it and rushed off to school and work and play. When will you see Me?

I sent you a beautiful blue sky today, but you didn't take much time to look up to even see it. And when you did, you never did notice it. I also sent you rain today to water your land. You didn't think of it that way and instead complained about it. The beautiful rainbow that I painted in the sky after the rain you did not even see because you had been complaining about the rain. It was even full of your favorite colors, sketched to perfection as only I can do. And I did it for you... because I love you.

There you go... where are you going, Child? I miss you. Please draw near to Me for I desperately long to draw near to you (James 4:8). Do you never hear Me in the quiet whisper of the wind that is blowing past your face? Do you never see Me in the morning sunshine? Do you not ever taste and see that I am good (Psalm 34:8)?

Or are you looking for something more? Was not My quiet birth in the animal stable or My death on the cross not enough for you? I gave you all that I have. Why will you not give yourself back to Me? I want what is best for you and I would love more than anything for you to free yourself of everything else so that I can give you what I have for you.

I know that there are many people in the world who have hurt you with false promises. My promises stand and have stood always and will stand forever. I am faithful (Hebrews 10:23) and I love you with a love that no person has ever shown you or has the capacity to show you. I want to show you that love. When will you notice it?

And when will you stop calling me "the Lord" and "the Savior" and start genuinely calling me "my Lord" and "my Savior"? I long to hear it from your heart.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). Please come to Me, Child. I long to give you the rest that you desperately desire and need. Give Me all your burdens. Yes, just lay them down at the foot of My Cross, where they belong.

Agape Love,
Jesus

Monday, September 28, 2009

Audience of One

I come on my knees
To lay down before You
Bringing all that I am
Longing only to know You
Seeking Your face
And not only Your hand
I find you embracing me
Just as I am
To my Audience of One
You are Father, and You are Son
As Your Spirit flows free,
Let it find within me
A heart that beats to praise You.
And now just to know You more
Has become my great reward
To see Your kingdom come
And Your will be done
I only desire to be Yours, Lord.
"Audience of One" ~Big Daddy Weave

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Consuming Fire

"Be careful not to forget the covenant of the LORD your God that He made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the LORD your God has forbidden. For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God."
-Deuteronomy 4:23-24

Challenge: Is there anything in my life that I have allowed to become an idol, anything that I have allowed to get in the way of mine and Christ's relationship, anything that has replaced my love for the Lord, anything that has caused me to not give over even a small part of my heart or of my plans, anything that is consuming my passion other than Him, anything that is causing our relationship to not be intimate? If so, am I willing to get rid of the idol?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Never Give Up


"Be strong in the Lord and never give up hope. You're gonna do great things. I already know God's got His hand on you so don't live life in fear. Forgive and forget but don't forget why you're here. Take your time and pray and be thankful for each day."


-Sidewalk Prophets "Words I Would Say"

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My Mission is Home

Could I want a good thing so much, yet find out that it's not a God thing? I think that I know the answer to that question that has been swirling around through my mind lately.

Chuuk and the people of it have continually been on my heart. I feel as though I would go back in a heartbeat ~ and give up any of my "material comforts" here in America to go back and spend time with those people and those children again.

Saying good-bye was one of the hardest parts of the entire trip...


And looking back at the pictures, at the memories, at the seashells that the children gave to me when we played on the beach, at the necklace that Mahlie gave me, at the smiles on the kids' faces... Looking back at all of that seems to be even harder than saying good-bye.

However, God has been teaching me that through all of this I could easily become selfish. If it were up to me, I would go back to Chuuk in a heartbeat!

However, God obviously wants me here for a reason... right here and right now! I shouldn't question the Will of God or sit back and wait until it all makes sense. I shouldn't question the ways of my Sovereign God. And I should not wish that I was somewhere else than where God wants me now. And obviously, right now, my mission is home.




I can be thankful for the opportunity that He gave me and I can thank Him for the time that He gave me with the children in Chuuk.

And I can be thankful for where He has me right now. I can use this passion that He has placed in my heart for the place that He has me in right now.

Maybe He wants me to go back or maybe He wants me somewhere else. Right now I know that He wants me here. And it is my prayer that I come to accept wholeheartedly and with joy every part of His Plan for my life!



Lead me to the cross,
Where Your love poured out
And bring me to my knees,
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself, I belong to You
Oh, lead me to Your heart
~Lead Me to the Cross

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Suffocating Soul in a Dry and Barren Land

As you can see, I've decided to change my blog around a bit... and have decided to be a little more honest with it. I get a lot of inspiration from Katie's blog(http://www.kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/) and encourage you to go there and read her words.

It seems as though there are way too many things on my mind and on my heart to even begin writing it out. It has been almost a month since I walked off the airplane from being in Chuuk, Micronesia (8,000 miles away from home) onto the soil of America. There really don't seem to be words to describe how I felt about this. I was exhausted from the long hours of traveling, yet excited to see my family waiting for me in the airport.

I think it is just now hitting me that the trip is over ~ the long nights on the beach playing with the children, the great hospitality of the people of this small island, a little girl named Jerlyn teaching me Chuukese words and phrases, long hours of camps playing games, making crafts, teaching them Bible stories, teaching them English, the dance lessons from the children and adults in the church's pavilion, the love and gratefulness of the people...

America is different and for many weeks I experienced a culture shock. The clothes worn by teenage girls in America were so different from the long, beautiful, hand-made skirts worn by the women in Chuuk. The gratefulness and hospitality of the people of Chuuk puts to shame our stingy, ungrateful and selfish hearts. I suppose my eyes have never been opened this much.

We are a blind and complacent country. I am speaking to myself, and it saddens my heart. It is as if my soul is suffocating in this dry and barren land.

I can still see the children as they reached their little hands into the cooler to get out a bottle of water or whatever was available. There was one day where we had no water at all. I didn't hear a complaint from any of the children on the hot, exhausting day.

I can still see the big smile on Jerlyn's face as, another day, she carried my water bottle on our entire two-hour hike through the mountains of the island, joyfully. After asking her if she would like me to carry it or if she would like any of it, she said with a big smile, "No" and continued to walk beside me, hand-in-hand.


I can still see her sweet face as she tried to teach me words in her native language... "Now you say..." and she would tell me a phrase and ask me to repeat it. She was very patient with me and laughed joyfully at my mistakes.






I can still see Shawn, Mahlie, Winston, Welson, Wilson, Stevee, Esra, and the others as they played with us on the beach ~ joyfully and without a care in the world... as the sun began to set behind the distant islands and the sky turned a vibrant red, then softer, then dark.


I can still see the joy and excitement in little LuAnn's eyes as she saw me and sang out, "Molly, Molly!" I can still see the love in little Ann's eyes and the joy in Ervian's.

When I come back to America and all I can see is the true poverty of our hearts ~ the dry, yet content, state of the way that we are living... I experience an intense battle in my heart. I do not want to live like this. And I believe with all my heart that I don't have to.

Those children taught me what it really means to love... What it really means to live life with passion... What it really means to laugh with genuine joy.

I don't believe that I could have ever blessed or changed their lives as much as they have blessed and changed mine.

And I believe with all my heart that there are great things still to be done ~ here and anywhere that the Lord leads me... and you.

"I can do everything through Him Who strengthens me."
-Philippians 4:13

Monday, August 10, 2009

Nothing is Impossible

So it's been quite a while since I've updated... but God has been teaching me so, so much lately! As Sanctus Real's song, "Whatever You're Doing (Something Heavenly)" quotes:

"Whatever You're doing inside of me,
It feels like chaos, yet somehow there's peace.
And though it's hard to surrender to what I can't see,
I'm giving into something heavenly."

God has been teaching me so much about myself lately. It is a very painful and stretching process, but yet at the same time I know that there is no other worthwhile way to live then to live striving to bring honor to God and His Holy Name.

I just recently came back from a three-week long missions trip about 8,000 miles away from home. As I write that, I almost can't believe my own written words. I would have never, ever, ever even considered doing something like that! Ever! I had so many fears before leaving that I thought were going to take me over... I felt like giving up and deciding not to go. I knew, though, that God had called me on a Mission ~ and I didn't want to miss it. Looking back, I am so glad that I went and answered the Call. It was probably three of the most stretching and draining weeks of my life, but I would so do it all over again.

I didn't come back on a spiritual high. I didn't come back feeling as though I had just had a mountaintop experience. I felt drained - emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I had a lot to process and, at first, I was too tired to even try to process it all. I am still processing everything and God is still teaching me things from it.

One thing He has been teaching me is that nothing is impossible. He asked me to do something impossible for me to do ~ so that He could show me how possible He is! He is awesome! He has been showing Himself to me lately in so many ways... and I think it's because my eyes are opened more to Him. It is so easy to fall into complacency and the rat-race of this culture and become blinded to Him and His Beauty and His beautiful plan and design! When I come to understand even a small part of it, it blows me away. Plain and simple, He is just awesome!

God has huge plans for each and every one of us. All we have to do is follow them. The road may be hard, but it is all so much more than worth it. There is always, always something to learn and no one is perfect... but living life for Christ is just unexplainable... Getting to know Him is just beautiful... Letting Him teach you things about yourself is a challenge, but very humbling... Living life on the straight and narrow is hard, because it's easy to get off balance ~ but nothing -NOTHING - can separate you from the Father's Love... and falling in love with the Father is unexplainable. I don't deserve to be able to get to know Him, but He loves us so much that He even wants to get to know us! It's just not comprehendable for me... but I suppose I don't need to completely understand God's Will to follow it! If so, I could be sitting around for quite a while, waiting around for every last detail to fall into place!

"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
-Romans 8:38-39

"I can do everything through Him who gives me strength."
-Philippians 4:13

Could you imagine what this world would be like if we all really, truly believed that?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Learning to Submit Control

God has been continually showing me so much about myself lately. It seems to all go back to this one thing. To be blunt, I am a control freak and it is a horrible thing.

I seem to quickly acquire this mindset of doing things "my way and in my time" whenever something goes wrong or whenever something needs done. Add to that my somewhat obsessive personality of setting my mind to something and needing to see it through, and you see how horrible of a thing this can be. I seem to neglect the things that are really important because my mind is consumed with less important, sometimes worthless, things that I seem to think I need control over. And I wonder why I can't make simple decisions very quickly...

Perhaps the underlying problem of all of these "little" problems is my control. And that is exactly the problem - "my" control. The truth is, I have no control. I have no control over my next breath, let alone changing the world.

It is true that I have high dreams and aspirations, but if I am unwilling to yield control over to God (or better said, let Him have the control He already has as God) then those dreams and those plans will never come to be in God's way. I want God's dreams for my life and I want those dreams to be carried out God's way. So if I really want this, then why is it so hard for me to let go of "my" control?

God has been reminding me through this of the correlation between Christ and the Church and the husband and wife relationship. If I cannot submit to God in the little things now, then how am I ever going to submit to my future husband? Just because I make a committment to a man does not mean that all of my control problems will go away. If anything, they could become even bigger if I don't cultivate a submissive heart in myself... beginning now.

Behind all of this is a fear - a fear of submitting control and not knowing what will happen as a result. It is a fear that can easily entangle minds and hearts and leave people living less-than-holy lives as they live them their way, in their time. It is sometimes not until something happens in our lives that is truly not in our control that we realize we really have control over nothing when it comes right down to it. And sometimes, we never learn.

I want to be one who not only learns of my problem with control, but learns how to deal with it. And I don't want to just learn how to deal with it, but I want to learn how to cultivate a submissive heart. I think that one of the most beautiful things is a woman with a willingly submissive heart. No, not one who lets anyone and everyone walk all over her. Not one who offers submission blindly and not one who silently suffers an abusive relationship.

God's Word does not view submission as a weakness, yet rather as the divine plan of God.

"Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."
-Ephesians 5:24-27

My little sister asked me today who President Obama is. After telling her that he is the leader of our country, she sincerely said, "I thought God was". What a lesson to learn from a child and how right she is! Now if only I would allow Him to be the leader of my life... and in every area cultivating a submissive heart in the right way, beginning now.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Life - Beautiful or a Huge Mistake?

Life is definitely a special gift that God has given each and every one of us. He has also given us the bittersweet gift of freewill along with the gift of life. Bitter, because we often make choices that dishonor our Holy God. Sweet, because we have the ability to choose between right and wrong.

Life is such an unpredictable reality. It is something that a lot of times we do not know how to use properly. It is something that we sometimes wonder the purpose of. It is something that can end at any given time. And it is something beautiful that was given to us by the Holy, Almighty God.

"...the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being."
-Genesis 2:7

We only have life because God breathed it into the first man!

"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."
-Genesis 1:27

We are created in the image of God!

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
-Psalm 139:13-14

God created us and knit us in our mother's womb. And He did not just throw something together and call it "good enough". He carefully shaped and knit us into wonderful creations, created in His very image.

We are sinners before birth, yet Jesus died for us so that during this lifetime we can accept His free gift of Salvation. Because of His life, we have a Perfect example. Because of His death, we are offered Salvation. Because of His Resurrection, we have hope in a beautiful eternity with Him.

Yes, we are dirty, detestable people because we are all sinners, no matter what we have or have not done. Yes, we deserve unquenchable wrath and destruction. We were born enemies of God. However, we have hope:

"...God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time."
-1 Timothy 2:3b-6

God desires that we all are saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Jesus is the mediator between God and us so that we do not have to experience eternal damnation and wrath for our sins. It was all poured on Jesus Christ so that those who accept Him and ask Him for forgiveness will be able to be seen as righteous before God, through Jesus Christ.

What a beautiful, beautiful portrayal of Love. And what an incredible reason to live this life for the glory of the One who lived and died for me and for all of us.

I guess the value of life all depends on our perspectives - we either view ourselves as being born as mistakes or we acknowledge the fact that we were born beautiful creations of the Almighty. And that perspective, along with whether or not we have accepted His gift of Salvation, greatly effects the way that we live our lives. And all because of One, we have hope.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Learning More & More Every Day...

Well, I have been learning quite a lot lately. God taught me some more about perseverance over the weekend... and not just perseverance, but perseverance with the right attitude. I seem to miss that part sometimes! He also taught me the value of family and spending time with them. Sunday was my little sister's birthday and I am just so thankful to God for her!

Evangelism
In Sunday School my teacher is using material from "Way of the Master" from Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron as the material for the class. Sunday morning my eyes were opened to quite a lot. Charles E. Hackett says, "A soul at the altar does not generate much excitement in some circles because we realize approximately ninety-five out of every hundred will not become integrated into the church. In face, most of them will not return for a second visit." Why is this? A huge reason is because they are receiving the wrong Gospel. A lot of them receive the Gospel message of "Accept Christ and your life will be filled with love, joy, peace, and lasting fulfillment!" And then when they face trials and hardships, they "throw off" their faith because it is not what they were told it was or what they expected it to be. The truth is, God offers us Salvation because of His perfect Sacrifice on the Cross - Jesus Christ. We have broken His law, and therefore we should be condemned. However, through Jesus Christ, we can be saved from the wrath that we deserve and restore our friendship with the Almighty. What an amazing truth! It is so sad that people are teaching and being taught a thwarted Gospel. It is our job as followers of Christ to obey Him and teach others the true message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:19-20).

Truth
My pastor's sermon was on Truth and more specifically, on absolute truth. He elaborated on twelve points of absolute truth in this culture today (despite its claim of relative truth) that were eye-opening:

-You can't know what is just unless you know what is unjust.
-We know intuitively that some things and people are better than others.
-We treasure progress and say that some things are getting better. How do we know what is "better" if we have no absolutes and no standards?
-Everything can't be relative. We'd have no standard or reference point.
-Moral disputes demand an objective standard outside of the dispute. There must be a moral objective standard. We don't invent laws (scientific, mathematical, spiritual, etc.); we discover them.
-Universal moral guilt shows that there's truth in a universal moral law.
-Why do we choose duty over instinct if there are no moral absolutes?
-Why do we all find some things evil?
-The same basic moral codes are found all over the world.
-Truth transcends culture.
-Beliefs cannot change a fact, no matter how sincere. You can be sincerely wrong.
-Being raised in a given culture or belief system doesn't make those beliefs true.

It is obvious that Truth does exist. To say, "Everything is relative" is contradictory. Whoever made that statement is implying that they believe in absolutes; they have stated an "absolute" statement. Our world today may claim to believe in relative truth ("what you believe is true for you, but not for me") but it lives as though it believes in absolute truth. It is contradictory and makes it even more clear that Truth does exist.

As my pastor said, "We're not here to wrap the culture around Jesus. We're here to wrap Jesus around the culture and change it for His glory."

Identity
Tonight I lead Bible Study on identity. I challenged myself and the girls to think about where we place our identities and then to imagine that thing being stripped away from us. Where does that leave us then? If our identity is in anything but God, it is fleeting. God is the only One who does not change and who will never be taken away from us if we have accepted Him as our Savior. So, who am I?

Am I:
What I do? What happens when I fail or when what I am striving to accomplish does not work out the way that I had anticipated?
What I look like? Beauty is fleeting; what then?
Who I know? What happens when they move on or when they let me down?
The fleeting pleasures of this world? How long will those "pleasures" last and do they offer anything more than temporary satisfaction?

We will live according to where we have placed our identities.

We will:
~Strive after it
~Live for it
~Pursue it
~Be passionate about it
~Consume our minds and lives with it

Why wouldn't we? It is our identity! Exodus 20:3 tells us to have no other gods before God. Have I created other "gods" in my life that I place my trust and my identity in? They will only fail me. There is only one God. And when I place my identity and my trust in Christ and in Christ alone, I will find true life.

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
-John 10:10

Satan is our identity thief. Jesus is our Life Giver. And Jesus has come that we may have life, and have it to the full!

After honestly asking myself this question, I realized that I have placed my identity in things that I would have never thought that I would. After honestly searching my heart, I realize that I have placed my identity in the wrong things without even realizing it.

Only God can give Life. And He is the only one who will never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6)!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Living Life in the Hands of THE Life

Well, I didn't post last night, but yesterday, once again, I learned some things from Life Action. Ryan Loveing was talking about how the future of our nation and the future of our churches are in the hands of my generation. He had all of the youth in the congregation stand up to emphasize the truth that the future is in our hands. That definitely made me think about what I am doing while I am here to further God's Kingdom and what kind of legacy I am leaving behind. Do I truly realize the impact that I have - either good or bad - on humanity? I may be a single life, but a single life - when serving and following and obeying God - can and will go a long way.

Wesley was talking a lot about forgiveness to the youth last night. He was saying that forgiveness is a choice, not an emotion... And that is why we can forgive in spite of it hurting us and in spite of any emotions we may feel. He was saying that we can never be more like Jesus when we choose to forgive and we can never be less like Jesus when we choose not to forgive.

"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'"
-Matthew 18:21,22

Jesus doesn't say: "Forgive, except for this..." or "Forgive, but if she does this...". Jesus says to forgive much! How willing am I to forgive someone who has hurt me in a huge way? How willing am I to confront someone to sincerely ask for forgiveness? How willing am I to push past my pride of worrying about them thinking that I am admitting to being right when they are "obviously wrong"? The truth is, it doesn't matter if they are 99% in the wrong! Jesus cares about my 1% and I must choose to humbly seek reconciliation and forgiveness.

Today was their last day here, so tonight some of us and some of them got to spend time together before they left. It is sad to see them go, but it was great to have them back again!

It seems that today I learned how to live out some of the things that God has been teaching me lately. I had a really great day and I am excited to be living life knowing THE Life... and to be living it in His Hands.

"...to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen."
-Romans 16:27

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Learning the True Gift of Singleness

Tonight at Life Action the guys and girls split up. The guys stayed with Wesley to talk about Biblical Masculinity and the girls went with Margo and Sarah to talk about purity. It was really encouraging to be able to talk with them. They brought in a dozen roses and with one of them Sarah tore the petals off one by one as we listed off different ways that we can give pieces of our heart away or that can mess with our emotions. Flirting, Facebook, texting, our thoughts, fantasizing, movies, music, holding hands... The list can go on and on because for one girl certain love songs can cause her to fantasize while another girl can listen to them and not be effected at all. It all depends on the girl and we know what causes us to stumble. As the rose began to lose most of its petals, Sarah asked us the question, "On your wedding day, do you want to give your husband something that looks like this? Or do you want to give him a full, beautiful rose?" I loved how they made the correlation between the rose and my heart.

Margo talked a lot about how the single years should not be taken for granted, because I will never get them back. I should set goals for my single years because I am more free to serve God in these years than I will be if I get married. My ministry will be totally different and my life will change in marriage. These single years bring great opportunities and I can't wait to see what God has in store.

I think the biggest thing that I learned tonight was something that was very freeing to me. Margo was talking about making up a list of the qualities that we want in our future husbands. She suggested that we make up a list of everything - physical traits, personality, qualities, what kinds of things you would want to do together one day, etc. Now this is something that I have been skeptical about. There are people who say that I can't do that, I'm looking for a perfect guy, I'll never find him, You can't give pieces of your heart away - the Bible doesn't talk about that, Your standards are too high... I began to believe those words. It wasn't until many reflections back on those conversations and many talks with God that I realized how wrong those words were. If a guy comes along and tells me that I should lower my standards because they are too unrealistic, then that guy does not respect me. I am free to be the young woman that God has created me to be. I am not living for guys - I am living for God. I am not even living for my future husband... There may not even be one in store for me. If God blesses me with one, then great! And if not, then I know that He will have other great things in store for me.

God has placed such an excitement and a joy and a peace in my heart that I cannot explain or contain. HE is the greatest lover of the universe. HE should be my focus. HE is all that I will ever need. A marriage relationship is a reflection of the relationship between the Bride (God's people) and God Himself. The purpose of marriage is to reflect that relationship and to serve one other. My single years are a great gift to be used for His glory - not to seek out or be anxious about guys.

God is all that I need and I am free to be who He has made me to be! What a freeing and exciting thought with great possibilities behind it!

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."
-Proverbs 4:23

Monday, May 11, 2009

Learning to Live... Knowing The Life!

Well, Life Action seems to again be proving challenging for a lot of people at my church, including me. I know that there are things that I need to change in my life. Being around different people who have the same goal and are serving and worshiping God with their lives is such an encouragement. It pushes me to want to get out of the routine that I can so easily fall into and serve God in ways that I've never done before.

Wesley was talking a lot about relationships tonight. Something he said that caught my attention was the phrase that if I am not content being single, then I am never going to be content with a boyfriend or a husband. I will always have that discontent and then look to other things to try to make me content. Being a single young woman, this phrase grabbed my attention. Am I truly content with being single right now? If I am not content with where God has me in the different seasons of this life that God has given me, then I will not be content somewhere else. Maybe for a little while, but it won't last. I will only find true fulfillment and satisfaction in life when I am living it for God - when I am following His plans and His dreams for my life and not my own.

He also brought up the point that I must be the kind of girl that the kind of guy that I want will want to pursue. In other words, am I the kind of girl that a Godly guy will one day want to pursue and value? I cannot ask of a guy what I am not willing to give in return. Relationships are not 50-50. They are 100%. There is no meeting halfway. I must take care of my part (which is 100%), even if it costs me my "rights", which I do not have anyway.

Life living in His hands definitely brings great joy. Yeah, there is a cost. No, it's not always easy. It's hard sometimes. Yet I know the Way - why would I ever try to find Someone or something else? I know the Truth - why would I ever want to walk away from Him? I know Life! And I don't deserve Him!

It is a great honor, really, for the Holy Spirit to convict me of things in my life that need to be changed. God does not just let me "sit on a shelf" or "discard" of me after I make mistakes. He lovingly and sometimes persistently knocks at my heart and reveals to me what I need to change. It is a painful process sometimes, but the end result is indescribable. God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, the Greatest Lover of the universe, the Holy One... wants to change me.

Am I resisting it? Or am I willingly and obediently responding to the Lord's prompting on my heart to change what needs to be changed?

"But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don't worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ."
-1 Peter 3:14-16

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Learning...

Well, I learned a lot today. A group called Life Action is back at our church for four days this week. They came last year and I was so challenged by their messages. This morning Ryan Loveing was talking about the legacy that we are going to leave behind. All of us are going to leave a legacy - but what kind? I want to leave a legacy of love. I don't want to be remembered for myself and everything that I have done. Rather, I want to be remembered as someone that Christ shone through and who showed His love to everyone. I want my life to be used for His glory. I want to "live a life that will be missed"; yet not for me, only for God. I don't want to live a life speaking one thing yet living another way. Am I living a life before God and others that speaks His Name? What kind of a legacy am I leaving?

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."
-1 Corinthians 9:24,25


Wesley Chambers, the youth leader, was talking about a lot of different things this morning and tonight. A few things really grabbed my attention and made me think. One of those things was value. What do I value? The things that I value will take my time, my energy, and my efforts. I will give my love to those things which I value most. Am I allowing anything in my life to be of greater value to me than God and my relationship with Him? It is a painful thought when I answer it honestly.

Something else that stuck out to me was "big cost vs. complete loss". Following Jesus does cost a lot and He tells us to count the cost (Luke 14:28-33) before we choose to follow Him. He wants our all and He wants us to give up everything (Luke 14:33) so that He can give us the best life that He has for us (John 10:10).

"Then he said to them all: 'If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.'"
-Luke 9:23,24

"What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"
-Mark 8:36

Am I willing to give up everything so that I don't lose even more - my soul? It is either a big cost or a complete loss and it is my choice. It all comes down to life vs. death. And whether I know it or not, I choose either one of them by the way that I live. There is no way around it because eternity is a reality.

Am I a servant of Christ or a slave of my desires? Am I a willing servant of Christ and an obedient, willing slave of righteousness (Romans 6:16)? Or am I a slave of my desires, which lead me into bondage and death? It is my choice...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Learning to Have One Focus

Today God taught me something that He has been trying to teach me for a long time. I hope that I get it this time. I learned today that a lot of times I fill my life with things that are not important, that are unnecessary, and that take my focus off of the things that are the most important. This, too, goes along with everything else that God has been teaching me lately.

The "things" in my life can keep me from serving God and others, from loving Him and others genuinely, from tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit to do great things for God, and from persevering toward the things that God has for me. A lot of times I miss what He has for me because I am too busy looking for it.

Today I realized, once again, that I need to re-prioritize my life and let God be number one again. In the midst of trying to serve Him with all of these "things", I have neglected my relationship with Him. It has caused me to become stressed, exhausted, and burnt out. Only in Jesus Christ can I be refreshed. And oh, how grateful I am for that!

I need to learn to place my focus in the right place: on the One who lived and died to reconcile me to the Father. And I need to learn to keep it there.

My time, my energy, my emotions, my spiritual gifts, my talents, and my relationships should all be used for God's glory. If I am filling my life up with things that "hinder" my relationship with God and everything that He has for me to do on this earth, then I am wasting my life.

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."
-Acts 20:24


My life is not even my own (1 Corinthians 6:19). Why try to live like it is?

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."
-Hebrews 12:1

If I focus on Christ, everything else will fall into place as I wait on Him and actively seek His will. This may mean I must give up some things that seem "important" to me or move on from something good to pursue what is best. However, I know that it will be worth it. A life focused on the Father is never a wasted life.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Learning to Persevere

Today God taught me a lot about perseverance....

"You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised."
-Hebrews 10:36

This goes along with everything else that God has been teaching me - the immeasurable power of the Holy Spirit inside of me to accomplish the impossible, how to serve Him and others even when I don't feel like it, and how to love Him and others genuinely.

1 Corinthians 13:7 says of love, "It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. "

This journey with Christ is worth every step. Persevere! He is all that I have and all that I need when it comes right down to it... and when challenges and discouragements come, I need to persevere with His strength. It is all for the Kingdom of God and for His glory!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Learning to Serve

I learned today that serving Christ is often done through the "little" things that often get overlooked - like spending time with family, going out of your way to do things that no one else will know about, investing your time, energy, and emotions in the lives of friends and family, doing things for others that you don't necessarily "feel" like doing, etc. These things don't go unnoticed because God knows about them and that is more than enough. I have to ask myself what my motives truly are when I do something for somebody; am I motivated out of selfish ambition or a love for others and for God? Do I live to serve and please the Father? And an even harder question than that is do I live to please God, while still a little part of me lives to please others? If so, then I really should evaluate my heart's motives and intentions. If I am doing anything out of selfish ambition - whether I am "serving God" or not - then how can it please Him?

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven."
-Matthew 6:1

God is also teaching me that if He is calling me to serve Him in a certain area, then I am not too young or too unqualified to serve Him in that area. Philippians 4:13 says that, "I can do everything through Him who gives me strength." That "Him" is the Holy Spirit who is "able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (Ephesians 3:20).

Charles Stanley's devotion actually reminded me of this, at a time when I really needed to hear it today:

What is God calling you to do that is "far more abundantly" beyond all that you think you can achieve? Stop making excuses and get to work! Within you lies untapped potential--not your own strength and abilities, but the Holy Spirit's unlimited might. His power will be unleashed in response to your acting on faith.

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
-Ephesians 3:20,21

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Who is HE?

So, what have I learned today? One thing I've learned is the discouragement from the Enemy that seems to always come when you are willing to obey and learn from Christ. It seems to never fail - yet neither does Christ's love. That is one of the most comforting and humbling truths! I am so forever grateful that God's love never fails me. First Corinthians 13:8 says that "love never fails". God is love and God never fails.

"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him."
-1 John 4:16

"Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."
-1 John 4:8

Those verses just make me think "wow"... And God is not only love, but He is holy. His holiness encompasses every attribute of Him. His love is a Holy Love. He is so perfect and awesome!

Something else that made me think today is a devotion that I read from Charles Stanley. He was talking about how he used to consider the Holy Spirit an "it" - until a doctoral student at the seminary he was attending directed him towards verses in Scripture that made Charles Stanley realize how wrong his view had been. They also made me realize how irrelevant I have made the Holy Spirit - how I have reduced Him to an "it" and pushed Him to the side. I encourage you to read the following verses, as I did. They really changed my view...

"...but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."
-1 Corinthians 2:10,11

And as Charles Stanley puts it, He "illuminates the truth for us."

"Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as He determines."
-1 Corinthians 12:7-11

The Holy Spirit determines the spiritual gifts that all saved people are given.

"I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me."
-Romans 15:3

Paul refers to the Holy Spirit's love in this verse.

"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."
-Ephesians 4:30

And he warns against grieving Him in this verse.

"And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you."
-John 14:16,17

"But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you."
-John 14:26

This same Holy Spirit comes to dwell inside each and every one of those who accepts Christ's gift of Salvation. He is a Counselor (John 14:16, 26), a friend who sticks closer than a brother (Proverbs 18:24), the Spirit of truth (John 14:17), One who loves (Romans 15:3), One not accepted or known by the world (John 14:17), One who is Holy (His Name!), One who knows the very thoughts of God (1 Corinthians 2:11). He is dwelling inside of me! Wow, what a realization! Sadly, I so often "dwarf" the Holy Spirit into an irrelevant "it" - when HE is so much more!

When God puts these things into perspective for me, I realize how so much I have... My fears and the Enemy's discouragement are nothing compared to what I have in Christ! I have the Holy Spirit, who is as much as a "He" as God the Father and Jesus Christ. He is part of the Trinity and very much a part of my life. I just need to allow Him to work in me and teach me and lead me.

Also - if the Holy Spirit is not known or accepted by this world and He lives inside of me, then it is only normal that I be not "known" or "accepted" by this world, is it not? Just something that made me think...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Learning to Love

Well, it has been quite a while since I have last posted on here! I have decided to start something new on here. It is my goal to learn something every day - whether it be something new or something that God has re-taught this stubborn heart. I thought that posting every day on here would be great for two reasons: It'll hold me more accountable and I can share what God is teaching me with all of you! I hope that you will follow along with me on this. I want you to know before I start that when I say that I want to learn something every day, I don't mean that I want to learn new things about God that no one else knows. God's Word holds all of the knowledge of God that we will receive and all that we need to know. If God "tells" anyone anything that is either contrary to God's Word or not recorded there, then I do not believe that it is from God. It is my desire that God will teach me things that are already in His Word. My heart is often stubborn and there is so much that I do not know and so much that I need to relearn... Feel free to comment and follow along with me...

To start, I thought I'd share with you all what God has been teaching me recently. He has been teaching me quite a lot. It seems that when you are open to His teaching, He just pours out His wisdom! A lot of times the things He teaches me are not always things that I want to learn, especially when they're about me and things that I know I need to change about myself. He seems to be doing that a lot lately.

-He has been teaching me a lot about love. He has been revealing to me that my love for Him is shallow at times. As my friend said, if I was really in love with God, I would want to be talking about Him all the time. She also brought up an interesting point: If a guy were to tell me that he would die for me, us girls would think that that is the most romantic thing ever. The truth is, Jesus has died for me. Why do I so often find this amazing truth irrelevant to my life - when really, it transforms every area of my life?

-God has been revealing to me that my love for others is often shallow as well. If I was really concerned about them and if I really loved them and cared about them, I would be alarmed and even horrified about their eternity. A while ago I read a letter from an atheist to Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron (http://www.wayofthemaster.com/) basically saying that if we Christians really believe that hell is a real place and that many, many people are going to perish there forever, why aren't we doing something more about it? He brings up a painful and convicting point: Why am I not doing something more? No, I cannot save anyone... but I can obey God's calling on mine and every Christ follower's life: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19,20)

These are things that the Holy Spirit has really been convicting me of lately. The Enemy knows this and has been attacking me with discouraging thoughts, but God is so much more powerful than any of the Enemy's schemes. It is my prayer that I will not let what God is teaching me to "sit on a shelf" but rather use it for His glory. That is the reason that we are here!

"Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know. But the man who loves God is known by God."
-1 Corinthians 8:1-3

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Going Through the Motions

So, how’s life? Really, how is your life going right now? Are you just going through the motions of everyday life or are you living your life in practical, purposeful ways for Christ?

I don’t know about you, but I know that I don’t want to just live my life going through the motions of following Christ – going to church, going to youth group, going to Bible studies, reading God’s Word, praying, etc. While all those things are great and essential to a growing and active relationship with Jesus Christ, I don’t want to just go through the motions with those things. I don’t want to go through life not knowing what my meaning is or what my purpose is in this world. I don’t want what this world tells me about what life is all about. There has got to be something more.

Thankfully, God’s Word tells me that there is something more. There is something more to this life than just existing and “going through the motions”.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”
-John 10:10a

The thief – satan – comes to steal and kill and destroy our lives, our dreams, and our futures. His plan will leave us broken, empty, and destroyed. A lot of times satan subtly and deceivingly works through this world that we live in by telling us lies about ourselves, our identities, and what life is all about. Satan is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).

Thankfully, the second part of this verse tells us that we have hope.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
-John 10:10b

God’s plan is far different from satan’s or this world’s plan for our lives. God’s plan is for us to live purposeful, meaningful, joyful lives. God’s plan is not to harm us, but rather to prosper us and to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). God’s plan is to give us eternal peace and fulfillment. He is ready and willing to make these plans reality; are you ready to carry them out and live them?

Are you existing or are you truly living? Are you a drifter, just “going with the flow”? Or are you a passionate pursuer of God’s dreams and plans for your life?

Are you just “going through the motions” of a walk with Christ? Or is your life a true reflection of the One who created you? Take a close look at your life right now. How is your relationship with God? Is it real? Is it passionate? Is it powerful? Is it purposeful and meaningful? Does it transcend into every area and part of your life, or are you holding back?

Changing things about your life can be dangerous, but I have come to the conclusion that safe is even more dangerous. If we are “safe”, living in our own comfort zones all of our lives, not pursuing anything outside of this life, then that to me is a dangerous thing because of the lack of purpose and meaning in that life. However, if we are pursuing God and His dreams and His plans for our lives and living our lives purposefully and meaningfully, we will live radical, dangerous, exciting lives for Christ. And as painful or dangerous as it may be, every moment of it is worth it because it is not just for us or for this life. It is all for the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom and its effects will last into eternity.

I believe that God calls us to so much more than what most of us believe. God’s Word tells us that “just ok” is not enough. Jesus tells us in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (italics mine). Our lives should humbly yet passionately radiate the love and power of Christ. After all, He came so that we “may have life, and have it to the full”. I encourage you to live in the brilliant light of eternity and not just in the shifting shadows of this life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Welcome to the Real CTU

Welcome to the Real CTU
http://www.dare2share.org/

Question...are you bored? Do you wake up and sometimes wonder how you will be able to bring some excitement into your life? If so, I don't think you're alone. Back in the day folks filled the hours with now forgotten things like 'the outdoors' and a really novel concept called a 'book'.
But now we have 5000+ channels of comedy-animal planet-discovery-food-home shopping-MTV-you can learn Japanese in 30 days type stuff going on.

If that's not enough, you can pretty much enfold hours of entertainment with compelling text message sessions that go like this:

?4U
SUP?
WRUD?
NMU
GG
L8R

Or...you can spend hours on Facebook while also checking your MySpace while downloading tunes and seeing what other movies Robert Pattison has been in.

Like I asked...are you bored? Maybe that's why the smash hit TV show 24 is now in its 7 th season? Watching Jack Bauer and company throw down terrorists and save the nation seems to never get old - and it seems to be the way a lot of people spice up their lives.

And of course there's nothing wrong with that. Unless of course you are sitting on the sidelines bogged down in a swamp of self entertainment when you actually should be carrying out one of your callings in life.

What calling? Well to be honest, it's a lot like the recently disbanded CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit) in the show 24 . Here's the way it is described:

For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12 ).

Sound like terrorism to you? The 'Evil rulers' and 'mighty powers' mentioned in this verse are demons who are serious about taking spiritual terrorism to a whole new level. They aren't satisfied with destroying physical life, they want to claim eternal souls to join them in eternal torment.

And like Jack Bauer and the other former members of CTU that have banded together outside any official government agency to continue the fight against an impending terrorist attack, we all have a critical part to play in this battle. We can't afford to have anyone sitting out on the battle at hand. That's why we were given these orders:

Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil (Ephesians 6:10 -11).

We are human, but we don't wage war as humans do. We use God's mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

Can you see what's going on here? Part of the reason God left us on this earth after we trusted Christ was to take on the terrorism of Satan and his band of spiritual 'insurgents.' And you really don't need to look around much to see the damage they inflict every day. Poverty, homelessness, injustice, broken relationships and hatred in the human heart are just of few of his weapons.

But we can fight back. And we need to fight back. The problem is that we are often more concerned about updating our status than we are about the status of hurting and enslaved people all around us.

My encouragement to you is to get active in the battle for eternal souls. Pray each day for victory in your life through the Holy Spirit. Put on God's armor for protection, then go out and boldly go where few Christians have gone before.

And remember, one of your most effective weapons is the gospel message of Jesus. The good news that people can be set free from sin and secure a place in heaven simply by trusting in Jesus Christ alone is the equivalent of an air strike on Satan's Kingdom.

Remember also - being effective in the spiritual battle is a moment-by moment practice of living according to God's Word, in His power, confidently facing an enemy already defeated by the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and fearlessly sharing the gospel no matter what the cost.
If this becomes the pattern for your life, I absolutely guarantee the word boredom will never enter your vocabulary again!

Head: What you need to know about this truth
Christians are called to engage in spiritual warfare, and to do so we must live according to God's Word, in His power, confidently facing an enemy already defeated by the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and fearlessly sharing the gospel no matter what the cost.

Heart: What you need to feel about this truth
If you are feeling bored with life, you have a choice to feel excited about joining up with God's counter spiritual terrorism unit.

Hands: What you need to do about this truth
To be effective in spiritual warfare, you must put on God's armor. Check out this Soul Fuel that explains the armor in more detail: http://www.dare2share.org/students/soldiers-on-your-feet.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Insignificantly Significant

So today at church we watched a DVD Presentation by Louie Giglio that was just amazing. It really put things in perspective for me. He was talking about the indescribable awesomeness of God. He showed snapshots of pictures from NASA of galaxies and things and it was just amazing. One picture that really captured my attention was this: http://www.nasaimages.org/luna/servlet/detail/nasaNAS~12~12~64158~168551:The-Infrared-Helix--Expanded-View



He kept saying, "Okay, now we are going to go even farther out" and each time he'd show a picture of something even more amazing. Finally, he said, "Okay, now we are going to go far far far out" and a picture of Jesus hanging on the cross came up on the screen - and everything got quiet. The same God who created all of the universe came to this little speck called earth to DIE for ME and for YOU. The same God who breathed life into the galaxies and into the universe breathed life into ME and into YOU. The same God who commanded the amazing universe to come into existence spoke the words that commanded ME and YOU to come into existence. That same God cares about the little details of MY life and of YOUR life. It is something that cannot completely be grasped by the human mind, yet it is truth.The last picture Louie showed completely blew my mind: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/album/exotic_collection/pr1992017a/



Some call it an "x", but that is clearly a picture of a cross in a galaxy called the Whirlpool Galaxy. Looking at these pictures, how much more proof do we need that God is real, that God is powerful, that God is holy, that God is mighty, that God is beautiful? And then looking at the cross everything turns around as we see Jesus at His most humble state, dying on that cross for YOU and for ME - just because He cares about and loves each and every one of us.



"When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?"
-Psalm 8:3-4



"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

-Philippians 2:5-12



I come to the same conclusion that Louie came to: we are so insignificantly significant.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Here I Am

I wrote this devotion tonight for M&M Ministries and I thought I'd share it again. This is something that the Lord has been reminding me of over and over again and I hope that it makes you think as you go about your daily life this week.

Here I Am

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up."
When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!"
And Moses said, "Here I am." (Exodus 3:1-4)

Moses was a great man of the Bible. He led the Israelites out of captivity from the Egyptians and into the land promised to them by God. This was no small task. The pharaoh of the Egyptians was a very hard man and Moses was not good at speaking. When God spoke to Moses through the burning bush, at first Moses’ reply was, “Here I am.” However, when God explained to Moses what He wanted him to do, Moses questions God’s calling. He doesn’t just question God once or twice. He questioned God four times about what He had called him to do. And finally, He says, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” (Exodus 4:13)

Can you relate? Does Moses’ questioning and attitude describe your own towards God? You may be open to what God is calling you to do. “Here I am, Lord,” you say. “Use me as You will and I will follow You. Here I am.” Do you have that same attitude when God reveals to you what He wants you to do? Or do you say, like Moses, “Lord, You can’t possibly send me to do that. I’m just not good enough. My weaknesses are too great. I will fail You. O Lord, please send someone else to do it.”

How open is your heart really towards all that God has for you? Are you willing to follow Him with whatever He calls you to do? Moses questioned God many times on what He was calling him to do. He even asked God to please send somebody more qualified.

Something to always remember is an old quote that I have heard many times. God doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called.

Are you willing to not only say to God, “Here I am”, but also to embrace all that He will call you to do? When your heart is open to God’s callings, He will do amazing things in and through you to advance His Kingdom. When God calls you to do something, He doesn’t make a mistake and accidentally call the wrong person. God knows you more than you know yourself. He not only knows your heart, but He knows your weaknesses. Yet He says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

Here I Am - Downhere

Sometimes Your calling comes in dream
Sometimes it comes in the Spirit's breeze
You reach for the deepest hope in me
And call out for the things of eternity
But I'm a man, of dust and stains,
You move in me, so I can say

Chorus
Here I am, Lord send me
All of my life, I make an offering,
Here I am, Lord send me
Somehow my story is a part of Your plan,
Here I am

When setbacks and failures, and upset plans
Test my faith and leave me with empty hands
Are You not the closest when it's hardest to stand
I know that You will finish what You began
And these broken parts You will redeem
Become the song that I can sing

Chorus

Overwhelmed by the thought of my weakness
And the fear that I'll fail You in the end
In this mess, I'm just one of the pieces,
I can't put this together but You can

Chorus

Here I Am, all my life an offering to You, to You
Somehow my story is a part of Your plan
Here I am

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You can go directly to the song by this link: http://musicremedy.com/audio/index.cfm?FuseAction=ShowAudioPlayer&AudioId=25367&Quality=5

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Brand New Day

I wrote the following for M&M Ministries, a music/devotional ministry through email that my friend started that I took over for her. Basically, I write a devotion and then provide lyrics and [usually] a link to a song that goes along with it. If you would like to be a part of it, please let me know and I'll add you to the list to receive the devotionals. I used "Brand New Day" by Fireflight for this one.

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So it’s a brand new year. It’s a time to set goals, to dream big dreams, to believe that God can do more this year than you could possibly imagine. It is a time to embrace the year ahead, filled with its potential challenges and blessings. It is not only a time to reflect on the year behind you, but also to look forward into the year that lies ahead of you and to think about what you want to make different about this year. It is a brand new year and a time to start anew.

But not only is it a new year, but it is also a new day. Every day is a brand new day, filled with brand new opportunities, blessings, and God’s mercies. You may have messed up yesterday. You may have huge regrets. You may have made big mistakes. You may have said something that you wish you could take back. You may have done something that you feel you cannot forgive yourself for. Someone may have done or said something to you that you feel you cannot forgive them for. There may be bitterness in your heart against God or someone else for something that happened in your life yesterday, last week, last year, or years ago.
However, there is no need to look back and hold on to the harmful things that have happened to you in the past. There is no reason that you need to look back and hold on to the regretful decisions that you have made yesterday.

Today is a brand new day.

“The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning.”-Lamentations 3:22-23 (NLT)

God has a promise in His Word that is neither brand new nor growing old. This promise has stood since the beginning of your life and will continue to stand at the end of your life and in to all of eternity.

We just have to choose to embrace it.

If we would embrace the faithfulness and mercies of God that He promises in His Word, our lives would be free. Our hearts would be full of joy. I think that so often we forget that God promises that His mercies never cease and that they are new every morning. He promises that He is faithful and His faithfulness never ends. Will you choose to embrace that and allow Him to free you of any bondage that your heart may be in? Will you choose to let go of your past mistakes, regrets, pain, and bitterness and move on, knowing that those things are what are shaping your life and that you can use them for the glory of God?

What will you choose? It is a brand new day.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Goals

I haven't posted on here since October! However, it's a new year and I am hoping to update this more often. Most likely not every day, but hopefully more than I have been.

So it's the new year and I have set some goals for myself!

-Do Hard Things

It is my goal this year that I will do hard things for Christ, that I will stand up for Him in bigger ways than I ever have before, and that I will follow His lead wherever He leads me - perhaps farther out of my comfort zone than ever before.

-Keep it Simple

It is also my goal this year that I will make my life more simple. It is my goal that I will have a more childlike, genuine faith in Christ. I have learned in great ways this year that it is easy to get so deep in your faith that you begin to defend yourself more than (and instead of) God. It is my goal this year that I will defend God more than myself and that my life will be simple and my faith will be genuine. I don't want to get this confused though; "A simple man believes anything, but a prudent man gives thought to his steps." [Proverbs 14:15] I don't just want to believe whatever I hear. I want to be prudent about it; not simple-minded. There is a huge difference between a simple and a childlike faith.

This year, it is my goal to completely hope in Christ, believe in things that only God could accomplish, and dream "impossible" dreams. And it is my goal to carry out that hope, that belief and trust, and those dreams by achieving all that God has purposed for me this year. It will be challenging, but it will be worth it. It is always worth it to serve my Lord.