Sunday, March 28, 2010

Enough is Enough

"The lyrics for the song 'Big House', which is probably our biggest song, were actually lyrics to a song that the kids in Haiti taught us to sing. If you're a kid living here, you most likely live in a hut with a mud floor and a tin roof. You've got 10 family members sleeping with you. You might even have to sleep in a chair or something. Then one day, you look down the street and see a house. You think, 'I wonder if that's what Heaven is like - a big house with everything we need: a room, a bed and all the food we can eat. Someday, I'll go there, to my Father's house.'"
~Audio Adrenaline

I read these words on the airplane on the way to California. I thought that it was a cool story behind the song and it made me smile to know that children in Haiti sing this song.

Then I took a tour of Los Angeles. I got to see the Walk of Fame, celebrity houses, houses that are famous for being in movies and on TV shows, papparazzi, the famous Hollywood sign, movies being recorded, huge buildings that cost millions of dollars to both build and buy. As I stood on the streets of Hollywood, I basically stood in the center and the capital of America.

I passed huge house after multi-million dollar house. The more I saw, the more my heart sank.

I saw the papparazzi flash their cameras at people... People just like me and you. I saw billions of dollars get put into huge houses with more rooms than one celebrity can possibly use. I saw millions of dollars get put into tours taken around Los Angeles to see these houses where these people live. They may not even live there, but they own them and that is enough to get us excited. I saw the Walk of Fame, where people pay $25,000 to get their name written inside of a star on a sidewalk.

It pains my heart. My heart aches for these people who are caught up in this life of fame and glory and may I add, dissatisfaction. They are constantly striving for more and more. When they reach the top, it is not high enough. I am saying this genuinely. I truly ache for these people who think that this is all there is to life ~ their world of fame and wealth. A little more fame, a little more wealth... Enough is never enough and I do believe that dissatisfaction encompasses the whole place.

It pains my heart. My heart aches for the people all around the world who live off of less than a dollar a day... Not out of choice, but because that is their only option. My heart aches for the over 462,000 orphans in Haiti who could live in the empty bedrooms of the houses of these celebrities in Hollywood. It aches for the over half of the 1.2 million children under five years old in Haiti who suffer from malnutrition, when Hollywood has enough to feed them all.

"I wonder if that is what Heaven is like - a big house with everything we need: a room, a bed and all the food we can eat. Someday, I'll go there, to my Father's house."

It is a cry from a Haitian child's heart.
It is the cry from children's hearts all around the world.
I had to ask myself, "Why?" Why do we strive for this life of fame and glory? Why are we so dissatisfied with ourselves and our lives that enough is never enough? We are never beautiful enough, smart enough, talented enough, athletic enough, rich enough, famous enough, good enough. Why? Who determines whether we are enough?

"I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
-Psalm 139:14

That is what God's Word has to say. Is that not enough? I do believe that it is enough.

My heart is aching. The quote that I read on the plane on the way to California swirled through my mind while I was there, on the ride home, and even now.

"You've got 10 family members sleeping with you. You might even have to sleep in a chair or something. Then one day, you look down the street and see a house. You think, 'I wonder if that's what Heaven is like - a big house with everything we need: a room, a bed and all the food we can eat. Someday, I'll go there, to my Father's house."
This is an injustice... And it pains my heart. Enough is enough.
P.S. I am so very thankful that I had this opportunity to go see these places. I believe that it is another part of this amazing Journey that the Lord is taking me on. I want to thank Emily's parents for flying me out there and giving me this opportunity. Otherwise, I don't think that I would have ever had the opportunity to go. So thank you so much!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

No Greater Love

"And this is the Good News, our God became one of us. And this is the Good News, the God of the Universe became a man to stand in the gap for us."

This past weekend I had the great opportunity to go to a youth conference called Planet Wisdom with Dutton, Mark Matlock, and Dawson McAllister. I have never before been shown the reality and gruesome details of Jesus' death like I have this weekend. It really changes everything.

We paint these pretty pictures of Jesus on the Cross, with a few drops of blood on His face from the crown of thorns. We create these beautiful stain glass windows with Jesus painted on them, His body whole on the Cross. We create these mindsets of Jesus not really having that much of a painful death. "Jesus died for you" ~ Yeah, I know. I have heard it all of my life. "Jesus loves you" ~ Yeah, I know. I have been told that more times than I can count.

The truth is, Jesus died for me ~ a painful and gruesome death. Crucifixions were not taken lightly. Jesus was not even recognizable as a human at that point. They - no, I took the whip with its pieces of sharpened bone that pulled at Jesus' flesh and ripped it out. It was my sin that He was dying for, my sin that caused Jesus to have to go to the Cross. It was as if I stood by and watched the scene in mockery. My sin is what drove the nails into Jesus' wrists and feet. It is as if I spit on Him and I mocked Him as He hung on that cross. It is as if I stood by as He was breathing shallowly and quickly, trying to get any breath that He could.

It as if I was right there and I heard Him say, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." (Luke 23:34)

There is a detail about this story that captures my heart:
"Arriving at Golgotha, the place they call 'Skull Hill,' they offered Him a mild painkiller (a mixture of wine and myrrh), but when He tasted it He would not drink it." (Matthew 27:33-34, the Message)

"But when He tasted it He would not drink it"... But He was in so much pain... so much agony. Why would He not want to take a small painkiller? It is believed by some that Jesus did not want to take it because He had to experience the full extent of our sin.

He was put to so much shame. He was mocked and spit on and laughed at and whipped. He made Himself of no reputation among men. He was humble.

"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not." (Isaiah 53:3)

No one knows sorrow the way that Jesus Christ knew sorrows. And "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). He understands. And He did it all for us.

There may be skeptics. I was skeptical of Jesus Christ's love for me at one time. But nothing - nothing - can take away the depth of Christ's love for me and for you (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing can take away what He went through on the Cross for each and every one of us that proves His love to us in such an incredible way.

As Dawson McAllister said, it is as if He looked at the pain of the cross, looked at us, looked back at the pain, and then back at us and said, "There is no way that I am turning back. No way." He made His decision while on the Cross. The question is, Have we made ours?

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." -Hebrews 12:2

All for us. All for you. All for me. There is no greater love.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Beautiful Sacrifices

Does God ever ask you to sacrifice something that is near and dear to your heart?

I am thinking of the story of Abraham and Isaac tonight. The Lord asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, who was so dear to his heart. It is through Isaac that the many descendants whom the Lord promised Abraham would come. It is easy to think that Abraham had no feelings, as if somehow those in "Bible times" are exempt from anything that we feel today.

No, I cannot imagine the anguish in Abraham's heart as he traveled for three days - without turning back - to this place where the Lord wanted him to sacrifice his son, Isaac. "On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance." (Genesis 22:4) I cannot imagine the hard time Abraham must have had when his son said to him, "Father?" (22:7) and questioned his father on where the sacrifice was. I cannot imagine how Abraham kept himself from doubting when he replied, "God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son." (22:8) I cannot imagine for the life of me how Abraham must have felt as he took his son and tied him down to the altar and reached out his hand with the knife to slay his son.

All for the Lord. All for my God. All for Him, as His servant. He is who I am living for. I believe. I trust. I love. All for the Lord. All for my God.

I really do wonder what was going through Abraham's mind as his arm was in midair and the knife was perhaps just inches from slaying his son, with his own hand.

Whatever was going through Abraham's mind, his thoughts were pierced. "Abraham! Abraham!" (22:11) The Lord was speaking.

"Here I am," (22:11) Abraham replied. Here I am? Even still, Abraham was faithful and willing ~ a true example of a servant of the Lord.

"'Do not lay a hand on the boy,' He said. 'Do not do anything to Him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son.' Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns." (22:13) This is amazing. This is what makes my heart skip a beat.

It was the sacrifice that Abraham was looking for; the sacrifice that he told his son that the Lord would provide.

"He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son." (22:13)

It makes me wonder. It really makes me think and evaluate my life. What is near and dear to my heart? What am I not willing to give up? Where am I unfaithful and unwilling and untrue?

This past summer I thought that I was giving up my summer to go overseas to serve the Lord. I was terrified to give up my family, to give up what was comfortable, to give up my home, to give up my normal life. I gave it up and it was all returned to me tenfold and more. It was the best summer of my life.

Sometimes the Lord asks us to give up things that are most precious to us. It is then that our faithfulness to the Lord is tested most. It is then that our love and our obedience and our willingness is tested. It is then that our hearts go through the fire. It is painful at first. It is terrifying. It is heart-wrenching. It is good.

Greater things have yet to come and greater things are still to be done. I believe... I believe in You, God.

Friday, March 5, 2010

This Crazy Beautiful Journey

Summers... They always seem to hold such amazing moments. The first day of summer... There seems to be no day quite like it! A few months of endless possibilities seem to await me ~ sleeping in every day, spending all the time in the world with friends and family, having nothing to do, just being bored. That is what my summers were like even two years ago.

Yet last summer, things completely changed. I did not want the first day of summer to come because I was terrified of the Journey that the summer held. I was going over 8,000 miles away... On an airplane across the ocean, over the open waters, through time zones. I would have never dreamed that I would be doing this. And yet as I sat on the airplane and looked out the window over the ocean and the white caps, I was overtaken. I can still see it. I can see the islands far below me, small dots, places where I have never seen and yet places where the Lord was calling me. It was beautiful. The landing strip on the island that we stayed on was short... Rainy weather could be a hazard. It had been raining before this. We prayed and the plane landed safely.
I took my first step onto the island and I was overtaken ~ at first, by extreme heat. I was actually having a hard time breathing at first because of the stuffy heat... I even asked someone if it was going to be like this the whole time. Yes, God sure was pulling me out of my comfort zone. We walked through immigration and on through the small airport. It still feels like yesterday. There were a crowd of people waiting for us on the other side of the glass windows. I was wondering what God had gotten me into.

I had no idea what He was getting me into as they smiled at us, said hello, and gave us gifts of lei's.

I had no idea that I would never experience life the same way again.

And that is why I am excited. Summers hold a wonderful story. I don't know what it is about them, but they are just wonderful. There is something beautiful about the sun shining down on your face. There is something beautiful about the heat ~ at first it may be hard to get used to, but then you do and you realize the true beauty of the place and of the atmosphere.

I am so excited that the Lord is sending me back to an island country where the heat is extreme. It may sound crazy, and it is... But that is okay. I am okay with crazy. Crazy is where this whole change began. Crazy is what shapes this Journey into an adventure of a lifetime.

Jesus, thank You. Thank You for this wonderful Journey You are taking me on. It is sometimes very hard... And yet it is through the hard times that I realize how weak I am and how strong You are. Thank You for helping me to trust You and thank You so, so much for calling me even when I was sometimes unwilling and so afraid. Thank You for second chances and thank You for loving me.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


So, the Lord is doing it. He is doing what He has promised me He would do. Why does it sometimes take so long for me to have faith that He will do what He promises? Why am I so surprised when He answers my prayers? My faith seems shallow when I am surprised that such a huge God does the amazing things that He does.

Do you ever have "God, You are just awesome!" moments? I have had quite a few lately. Support for my brother and I's trip to Haiti has already been coming in. With each envelope that I receive, I smile. With each person I receive one from, I send up a quick, "Thank You, God!" It is just more confirmation to me that He is calling us to Haiti this summer ~ and I must trust that He is going to get us there. My faith would be shallow if I did not believe that such a huge God could provide what is needed in order for His Will to be carried out. Last year I did not trust God completely and it left me with not enough support, which caused me to have to pay in once I returned home from the trip. This year I want things to be different. If last year's trip really changed me the way that I believe it has, then this year I will approach things differently.

For all of you who helped H2O out on Sunday ~ we raised around $60 for Haiti! And that was just our first try! I want to thank all of you who bought a water bottle, who gave just because, and who stopped by our table to talk! It is such a blessing to see the Body of Christ working together. I want to thank each and every one of you who have given to our missions trip and who have given to people in Haiti through H2O. It really means so much more to me than you know. God provides through people like you so that we can go on this trip and I want to thank you... And God provides for people who need it through people like you who give it! May God bless you for it!

Sometimes I just get this overwhelming sense of awe... at God and who He is and what He is doing. I do not deserve any of it. I do nothing to deserve His Grace, to deserve His blessings, to deserve a relationship with Him. And that is why it is so beautiful ~ none of it is attained by works! None of it is deserved. Life is not fair and that is the beauty of grace. I do not deserve any of this.

Lord, I am captivated. Hold me here... forever. May I never forget; May I always be in this place where I am captivated by who You are and in who You are shaping me to be. I will never do enough to repay the great debt I owe You and I will never be enough to deserve Your love. And that is why I am captivated. Even though I am not enough, You still love me and save me and draw me into a relationship with You anyway... because YOU are enough! ♥