Sunday, December 16, 2012

There Will Be Peace One Day

Heart heavy for the families mourning in Connecticut. Neither my mind nor my heart can fathom what a terrible loss like this would feel like. Praying for the families to have, sooner rather than later, a sense of peace that only God can give. Oh Lord, give them Your strength. Wrap them in Your arms, for You hold all hope and comfort.

Come, let us return to the Lord.
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. -Hosea 6:1

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, 18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. -2 Corinthians 4:17

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” -Revelation 21:1-5

One day, folks. One day.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Depravity: What my Walk was Missing

A few weeks ago, I was stricken with a harsh realization; a realization that has been missing from my twelve-year walk with God.


Now some of you are probably thinking, “I have no idea what that means. Explain please?” Well in order to do so, I have to go back to the beginning.

Growing up, I was a really good kid. Obviously I had many bratty moments, as every kid does. But overall, I respected authority, was nice to my friends, didn’t cause trouble in class, etc. I learned something pretty early on about myself – I was different. I had an appreciation of the Bible and a yearning for learning more about God that not many of my classmates had, or at least that I knew about. (All of this to say – I’m not bragging about myself, here. “I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good besides You” –Ps.16:2.) Growing up, I was told by teachers, Sunday school leaders, preachers, and my parents that I was a sinner. When you’re six years old learning about Jesus, teachers sort of sugar-coat how sinful we are; not because they’re bad teachers, but because they don’t want to scare little children. They don’t tell you, “You are DEAD and WORTHLESS without the hope of Christ! You were in the grasp of the DEVIL before Christ came to save your soul!”

You just don’t tell that to little children.

So growing up, I knew I was a sinner. Not just because people told me I was, but because I would look at the 10 Commandments, and think of how I broke so many of them. I reflected on thoughts I had about others or looked at words I had said to my friends, and saw that I sinned. I knew I was a sinner.

I just didn’t fully understand how much of a sinner I was. Until now.

For the past few years, I’ve been struggling with humility. I mean…really struggling. I’ve gotten pretty good at seeming humble on the outside, but when I reflected on the thoughts I had about myself, I knew how much I was not humble. Not that I don’t appreciate their sweet words, but it certainly doesn’t make it any easier when people tell you, “Oh you’re so humble!” Because you know how not humble you are.

It’s been so hard for me to come before the Lord saying, “I am a wretch! I’m a horrible, selfish sinner who doesn’t have it all together and I desperately NEED YOU!”

It’s been hard for me to say that because for my whole life I’ve been a pretty good kid. I’ve been trying to seek hard after the Lord, digging into His Word, trying to be a servant to others, putting others before myself, making myself available to those around me. I had felt like, even though I definitely wasn’t perfect, that I was on the right track, and therefore didn’t need God as much as others did. (You see how judgmental I can be, sometimes?) And that’s when God grabbed my soul and said, “You always need Me. You always need My grace. The only reason you’re a “good person” is because of Me and My work. I love you, and I know you love Me…but you are not desperate for Me. You are not depraved.”

The night that God and I had this little chat, I was overwhelmed with conviction. A few posts ago, I talked about how God’s conviction is a beautiful sword, that cuts deep but overall carves you into the man / woman God wants you to be. Yeah well, this sword cut deep, probably deeper than it ever had before.

I think I finally understand what it means to be taken to the “desert.” It’s finally starting to click.

Depravity was what was missing from my walk with God. Repentance was missing – or at least it wasn’t something I was continually doing. I’m beginning to fully understand how wretched I am, how selfish some of my motives have been. This week, God has been placing things in my life to test my humility. People are looking up to me as a leader, and I am being tested to see if I place the credit on God or myself.

This conviction the Lord granted me at first made me feel really bummed and emotionally / spiritually exhausted…until I was reminded of Romans 8:1. Isaiah 43:1. Philippians 1:6. Psalm 51.

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

…Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

Psalm 51: probably my favorite Psalm. This Psalm takes place right after David screwed up and committed adultery with Bathsheba and then had her husband killed. Psalm 51 is about conviction, repentance, and God healing your wounds. I love this verse the most:

Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice.

All of this to say, I’m grateful for God’s conviction. I’m grateful for depravity – being so desperate to be sanctified and made more like Jesus Christ. Grateful for God, the gift of His Son, and His unconditional love for us, no matter how wretched we are.

“The world tells us to be strong and keep our heads up high, but the Word of God tells us that we are never stronger than when we are on our knees before the Father, crying out desperately to Him.”

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 4: School

Thirteen years, this place has been my second home. Tonight, I don’t think I’ll be very good at expressing my love of this place. My school has become so much more than just a place of learning. It’s become a place of fellowship. The Lord has blessed me with a special bond with these people – not just my friends and classmates, but with my teachers. Those teachers are the best examples of humble servants I’ve known.

One of my favorite teachers used to be the CEO of a very big, important company in Belgium. She was near the top of the corporate food chain, and because of that her faith impacted many employees. Her leadership set of a domino-effect of success in that company. For all she knew, she was livin’ the life.

Until she got the call. The call from God telling her to move to the Southeast, USA to teach some high schoolers. She’s been there for about six years and is passionate about her job. The other day in our French class, she started tearing-up over how much she was going to miss us when we graduated. Years ago, she was in the spotlight. She had a huge company wrapped around her finger and was making some awesome pay.

But she chose to be obedient. She decided to leave the life of glory and chose to meet a need in our tiny school, a need for a business/finance/French teacher. Over the years she has instructed hundreds of students and I wouldn’t be surprised if one of them ended up being a financial master just like her. This woman is just one of many teachers at my school who have greatly impacted my life and sacrificed so much just to prepare some high school kids for college.
Meet the Black Box -
Where I've been taking theatre classes at my school for the past five years.
And also where I've laughed the hardest :)
But they have done so much more than just prepare us for college – college is temporary. The teachers at my school helped prepare us for eternity.

They helped us find ourselves. They taught us what it means to be men and women of God. Whether it was Honors Pre-Calc or AP Lit, the Gospel was brought to light. Through the Word of God, they handed us the spectacles to see the world in a totally different way. They encourage us. They pray for us. They love us.

I also couldn’t ask for a better senior class. The Lord has blessed our class with a ton of talent….I mean, it’s ridiculous. Our class has a ton of braniacs, incredible athletes, amazing singers, wonderful artists, etc. With the Lord by our side, our class has the potential to change the world. Or at least, greatly impact it. I totally believe that.

So thank you, Class of 2013, for being who you are. Whether we’ve known each other since kindergarten, have just become friends this year, or don’t even really know each other: you’re awesome. Each of you have made an impact at our school, and I firmly believe I’m a better person for knowing you. I wouldn’t want to toss my cap with anyone else but you guys. You’re the best.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Day 3: Church Family

Four years. That’s how long my family and I have been members of our wonderful church. I don’t deserve the body of believers the Lord has blessed me with. I am constantly being hit with an avalanche of love, and every time I am with them, they continually demonstrate the Lord’s grace and mercy. At the moment, writing this, I’m having a hard time thinking of words to say that would sufficiently express my gratitude. I’m so blessed.

Lake Placid Mission Trip: 2011
To all the church leaders who have impacted my life: Thank you. Whether we went on a mission trip together or merely chatted at the end of service, thank you for your continual display of the Lord’s love. Your smiles always brighten my day! When you see people, you don’t just see them, you see them, and recognize them either as brothers/sisters in Christ or as someone who is lost, who desperately needs what you have. Whether we are very close or mere acquaintances, so many of you have taught me what it means to make disciples and genuinely care for others. I wouldn’t trade that gift for the world. Thank you!
To my Pastor: Thank you so much for loving my family. My father treasures your friendship, and we all appreciate your prayers so much. Your admiration and devotion to the Lord is so inspiring...thank you for letting the Lord speak through you – not just at the pulpit on Sunday mornings, but in every little thing you do.

To the small group leaders I’ve had in the past and the ones I have now: Your devotion to us is really incredible, and I can’t thank you enough. I’ve learned so much from all of you and am happy to learn even more in the future. Your wisdom and love of the Word is so encouraging! Thank you for your service, your prayers, and your love.
To my Youth Pastor and his wife: Alright…now the tears are starting to come – shocker ;) I don’t even know how to thank you two. You both have played such a vital part in my life and I hope that when I grow up I will have a little bit of a mixture of both of you in me J You both are such awesome examples of obedience, and words can’t describe how grateful I am for how much you love our youth group. The Lord has used both of you in such mighty ways – I know at least in my spiritual walk with the Lord. Thank you for speaking Truth to us and praying for us. Thank you for always pushing us to be the best we can be – especially the seniors. I know we shouldn’t want to please man…but I hope that by the end of the year the seniors have made you proud! Oh, and thank you for introducing me to chacos!

To my fellow seniors: It’s been an awesome four years! (So far…it’s not over yet!) Thank you for welcoming me into your “clan”, you guys are such a funny, crazy bunch and you’ve rubbed off a little bit on me J To my senior girls: I love you ladies so much. From day 1 you accepted me as if we had been friends for years, and now it feels as if I’ve known you all my life! Each of you has a special place in my heart and I know that God has some awesome plans for each of you. We’ve done some stupid things together but we’ve also done some amazing things…all by the Lord’s grace. Through every tear and every crazy laughing fit, the Lord has gradually knit our hearts together. It’s been so great watching each of you start to grow into the woman God wants you to be…I sincerely hope we can continue that journey together! Thank you ladies for your prayers, your laughs, your craziness, and your love.
El Salvador Mission Trip 2012
Together…We sing. We work. We witness. We pray. We serve. We love.

Thank you for letting me be a part of it.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Day 2: Family

“I love you” was a phrase of which I was very blessed to hear in my household growing up. To this day, family is “knit together in love”, and I’m very grateful. Our family is one that a lot of people don’t understand. Growing up I was sometimes questioned as to why I spent so much time with my parents or why I had movie days with my sister. The only response I was able to think of was, “well…my family and I are really close.” And for that, I am above and beyond thankful.

One my family's favorite vacation spots.

I’m so grateful to have a Dad who still enjoys having tickle fights with his eighteen year-old daughter. To have a Dad who demonstrates a character of strength and perseverance daily. To have a Dad who is a fellow nerd and watches LOTR with his daughters for fun. To have a warrior for a Father: on earth and especially in heaven.

I’m so grateful to have a Mom who genuinely cares for her daughter so much, that she gives her piles of books that teach on what it means to be a woman of God. To have a Mom who is a continual role model of selflessness when her daughter struggles with humility every day. To have a Mom who makes an apple pie just because she feels like it, and because life is good, so why not?

I’m so grateful to have a sister who seeks the Lord fervently. To have a sister who isn’t ashamed to belt out Broadway tunes while doing the dishes. To have a sister who passionately releases herself onto the canvas the Lord has given her. To have a sister whose laughter contagiously fills the room. To have a sister who is a role model…especially to me.

I’m so grateful to have extended family members who pursue the Lord. To have extended family members who are there for us – that have our backs. To have extended family members who make us laugh. To have extended family members who are continually praying for us.

I don’t deserve the family God gave me. But I’m sure glad He gave ‘em to me anyway.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Day 1: Jesus

I’ve decided that in celebration of it being Thanksgiving Break, every day I’m going to write somethng/ someone I’m thankful for. Call it cliché, but I figure that there’s nothing wrong with reminding yourself of all the things the Lord has blessed you with.

First things first – I’m above and beyond grateful for Jesus Christ and the price He paid on the cross. Words can’t do it justice. Even as I’m writing this, I’m realizing that nothing I could say would sound grateful  enough for all that God has done for me…but I’ll try my best.

My youth pastor has been doing a series on Wednesday nights called “God Unboxed”, and in that series I have been reminded of so many things I’m grateful for about God. Here are some of those things:

·         God is untamable: He is fierce and powerful

·         God is unrelenting

o   He offers unrelenting hope

o   He offers unrelenting faithfulness

o   He holds us with an unrelenting grip

·         God is unconditional, especially in His love for us

God is seriously just so…awesome. I feel like the more I try to describe Him the more I just sound dumb J I’ll let His Word do the rest of the talking (here’s a gem I found in Isaiah that makes me so grateful to have a relationship with the Lord):


The Lord rejoices…over me?! Over you! It’s crazy. God’s children are in His hands, and He delights in them, with an unconditional, unwavering, everlasting love.

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. –Galatians 3:26-29

Oh Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the new mercies you grant us every morning. My brain can’t even fathom how awesome you are. I pray this blog would continue to be used as a tool to reflect Your majesty and power. This blog is worth nothing if You aren’t behind it, so I pray you would use the Holy Spirit to intercede for me. Thank you for Your countless blessings, including the body of believers of which You have surrounded me. Thank You for Your comfort and assurance but also for Your conviction and Your discipline – You know how much I desperately need it. And thank You for just being who You are, and for Your faithfulness.
In Your precious Son’s name,

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Wise Word from Katie Davis

I respect Katie Davis so much. Not too many years older than me, and by God's grace she is changing the world, one person at a time. This is taken from her blog from 3 days ago. If you don't know who Katie Davis is, she's an incredible young woman who was called to Uganda when she was just 18 years old (my age...thinking of living in another country for the rest of my life starting kinda freaks me out!) She started the Amazima Ministry to help feed and educate orphans in Uganda. If you would like to help their ministry you can go to their website here. If nothing else, please join me in praying for Katie and the hundreds of people she encounters. I also highly recommend reading her book, "Kisses from Katie." Katie taught me how fulfilling and rewarding it is to obey God and go wherever He calls us to go, no matter what the cost.

I watch the tears roll down her cheeks and am devastated for her. I know she must be crying because of the pain of her burns or because of the pain in her heart at the thought of her husband pushing her into the fire. I place my hand on her shoulder and my eyes beckon her to share.

“My stomach is hurting,” she says, and that’s not what I was expecting, “This is the first time I have eaten this week.”

It’s Thursday.

I pray because I don’t know what else to do. Sure, I can feed this woman lunch but after a week of an empty stomach that may just hurt more than it helps, and I can’t do much to change her situation, to relieve her of her abusive husband or her job picking scrap metal out of the garbage heap. I can feed her now but she goes home to 3 starving children and a future that seems utterly hopeless. We pray.

I get a middle of the night text from a dear friend who has been more of an encouragement to me than she will ever know. Her mom’s biopsy results have come back and the tumor on her brain is cancerous. I can barely choke out words to say that my heart is so heavy for her, that we will carry this burden with them in prayer. I am blown away by her strength and feel completely un-encouraging. We pray.

The hurt doesn’t stop. A teenager needs his leg amputated because an infection that could have been preventable is now out of control. A 4-year-old’s arm is permanently damaged because his mom didn’t have enough money to have it casted when he broke it a few months ago. My friend carries the unborn child of her late husband but confides in me that she would rather not. 5 children in our program watch their mother fight HIV which is rapidly sucking the life right out of her. Another friend threatens to abandon her children (again) because she just can’t make enough money to make ends meet and she would rather be apart from them than watch them suffer.

We move them into that little house in the back and we ask for miracles.

13 hearts are growing into women under my roof and need more and more of Mom, more and more of His truth. I sit, erase the to-do list from my mind and will myself to be present, to be available. The gate opens again and again and the phone rings and all these people, they just want to know that they are not alone in their hurt, just want to be heard.

So many hearts to tend.

Who is God on the days when love just doesn’t feel like enough?

I have been reading through the book of Revelation. I’ll be honest, even after reading several commentaries and looking up lots of Greek words, there are parts of it that I just can’t quite wrap my mind around. I think this is ok. How marvelous to serve a God who is so much more magnificent than I can even comprehend! What I have noticed though is that through all of it, a few things remain constant regardless of tribulation and destruction.

God is on the throne. All the angels and all elders and all the saints and all the believers are gathered at His feet. And they can’t stop worshiping Him. They can’t stop worshiping Him. Forever.

And so this week life is hard and it is heavy. Because I love so many and I want them to know Him and I want Him to heal them. I want the hurt to be over, but I know that one day, it will be. And in the mean time I just ask it, I beg it, that we would be people who cannot stop worshiping the Lamb who is worthy. That through the hard and the struggle and the moments that just seem so hopeless we would cling to the hope that He’s already won and our only response would be adoration and praise.

Eyes on Him.

Because when our love is not enough, His was. His is.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” –Revelation 5:9-12

Friday, November 9, 2012

Faith's Checkbook Fridays

Happy Friday everyone! Hope everyone had an awesome week and has a peaceful weekend full of joy and rest! I haven't done a Faith's Checkbook in awhile, and I stumbled across this one last night so I thought I'd share it with you. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 is one of my all-time favorite passages so I'm glad my man Spurgeon touched on it. Enjoy!

And please remember to pray for those affected by Sandy!

November 8: The Magnitude of Grace

2 Corinthians 12:9

Our weakness should be prized as making room for divine strength. We might never have known the power of grace if we had not felt the weakness of nature. Blessed be the Lord for the thorn in the flesh, and the messenger of Satan, when they drive us to the strength of God.

This is a precious word from our Lord's own lip. It has made the writer laugh for joy. God's grace enough for me! I should think it is. Is not the sky enough for the bird and the ocean enough for the fish? The All-Sufficient is sufficient for my largest want. He who is sufficient for earth and heaven is certainly able to meet the case of one poor worm like me.  Let us, then, fall back upon our God and His grace. If He does not remove our grief, He will enable us to bear it. His strength shall be poured into us till the worm shall thresh the mountains, and a nothing shall be victor over all the high and mighty ones. It is better for us to have God's strength than our own; for if we were a thousand times as strong as we are, it would amount to nothing in the face of the enemy; and if we could be weaker than we are, which is scarcely possible, yet we could do all things through Christ.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Conquering Stress

If there was one chief thing I’ve learned that greatly impacted me during my high school years is to not stress. Stress…sucks. Maybe not the most polite way to describe it, but that’s pretty much how it is. It doesn’t just “suck” in that it stinks and is not fun, but it sucks in that it sucks your energy, your peace, and your joy.  So…don’t stress. Simple, right? Well, it’s much easier said than done.
The other day I found a quote from John Piper, and it sort of changed the way I look at stress; stress is an act of selfishness. I guess I always knew that, but I never really processed it. Here’s the quote:
“Whenever your heart starts to be anxious about the future, preach to your heart and say, ‘Heart, who do you think you are to be afraid of the future and nullify the promise of God? No, heart, I will not exalt myself with anxiety. I will humble myself in peace and joy as I trust this precious and great promise of God—He cares for me.’” –John Piper
When we stress, we dwell on our failures. We dwell on the “what if’s”, which can be very dangerous, if we let them be. What if I fail this test? What if I can’t mend this relationship with my friend? What if I don’t get this done? What if I don’t know what I’m going to do after college? What if this, what if that. Folks, the “what if’s” don’t make things any better. They only make you drive yourself crazy.
But when we do not stress, it becomes an act of humility. It’s us our knees before the King saying, “I don’t know how today, tomorrow, or the next five years are going to turn out, but I’m trusting in Your sovereignty and Your provision. You are in control, and I’m not. You have promised me all these great things, and You never break Your promises.”
Basically if I could sum up this post in one sentence it would be this. Stressing is us fretting about what we cannot do; not-stressing is trusting in all that God can do.
When I think of passages on stress, these are the ones I think of. I highly recommend writing these down and putting them somewhere that you see often so that you can continually remind yourself to not stress (bold added by me).
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7
 19 Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21
26 “Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. 32 “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. 33 But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 10:26-33
This passage really struck me. Why? Because when we stress and complain to our friends/coworkers/family members of how stressed we are, we are denying God’s power to make the impossible possible. We’re saying, “Well, since God can’t take of this, I have to figure this out all by myself, and it’s hard for me to handle.” We don’t have to be in charge of our own lives! In fact, let’s not be! Life is so much richer and more joyful to live when all its complexities are in the hands of our Savior. 
25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:25-34
So looking at these passages, here are some points to help us with stress. (Note: This post is not just for you. As I’m writing this, I am preaching this all to myself. It’s something I struggle with daily, and even right now as I’m concerned about a project due on Monday that I have very limited time to complete. I think stress is something that everyone will struggle with the rest of our lives. Thankfully we get better at it the more and more we trust in the Lord, but stress, I think, will always be hovering in this fallen world we live in. But thank goodness for the truth proclaimed in Romans 8:37, “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” Stress may be a strong force that’s hard to overcome, but our God is so much mightier than all the stress and worry and anxiety in the world. Why worry when the God we serve holds the entire universe in our hands, much less things like our grades in school or our finances? We serve a great God folks. Remember that.)

·         Are you living for yourself or for the Lord?
·         When you're looking at the big picture, is what you're worried about really worth stressing over?
·         Do you know the great things God has promised you?
·         Are you focusing on your weaknesses or on God's strength?
·         Are you rejoicing in the Lord?
·         Are you constantly lifting up prayers of thanksgiving?
·         Are your treasures set for the temporary or the eternal?
·         Do you have faith that God is in control of your life?
·         Do you believe that life is more than whatever you're stressed about?

 One last verse that I always find to be really encouraging, not just when it comes to stress, but anything else in life:
9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Even when we feel as though we are at the end of our rope and we’re stressed to the max, God uses everything we cannot do and does it. That’s so powerful! Even in our weakness, God makes us strong.

Don’t fret about what you cannot do, but trust in all that God can do.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cool Quote from John Piper

Saw this on the Desiring God website...their blog is AWESOME.

"When you take your stand on the finished work of God in Christ, and begin to drink at the River of Life and eat the Bread of Heaven, and know that you have found the end of all your longings, you only get hungrier for God. The more satisfaction you experience from God, while still in this world, the greater your desire for the next. For, as C. S. Lewis said, "Our best havings are wantings."

The more deeply you walk with Christ, the hungrier you get for Christ . . . the more homesick you get for heaven . . . the more you want "all the fullness of God" . . . the more you want to be done with sin . . . the more you want the Bridegroom to come again . . . the more you want the Church revived and purified with the beauty of Jesus . . . the more you want a great awakening to God's reality in the cities . . . the more you want to see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ penetrate the darkness of all the unreached peoples of the world . . . the more you want to see false worldviews yield to the force of Truth . . . the more you want to see pain relieved and tears wiped away and death destroyed . . . the more you long for every wrong to be made right and the justice and grace of God to fill the earth like the waters cover the sea.

If you don't feel strong desires for the manifestation of the glory of God, it is not because you have drunk deeply and are satisfied. It is because you have nibbled so long at the table of the world. Your soul is stuffed with small things, and there is no room for the great. God did not create you for this. There is an appetite for God. And it can be awakened. . . . "(A Hunger for God, 23)
Take a huge bite out of what God has in store for you. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Beautiful Sword

My apologies for not posting in awhile – trust me, there have been many times where I had something I wanted to share, but I just never got around to posting it. Sometimes I forget how crazy, chaotic, and stressful the month of October can be. And in the midst of trying times during the commencement of my favorite season, I am reminded of the Lord’s goodness, especially through the small things. This past weekend I spent a marvelous four days with wonderful people. It was a weekend of laughs and delicious pizza and good theatre, and it was awesome.

And then this afternoon I spent another lovely time of fellowship with my girl Mele, who I’ve mentioned about before. Over some chai tea and hot chocolate, we shared a time of confession and of encouragement, which we both really needed. To preserve confidentiality, I won’t give details, but Mele and I discussed spiritual testing, and how hard it can be. I think a lot of people believe that “hard times” solely come from your circumstances, but I know for a fact that hard times also come from internal, emotional stress and conviction. Mele and I encouraged each other with some of the following verses (the first one being the verse that sort of brought up the conversation):
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.
-Psalm 139:23-24
This was the verse that brought up the conversation. It’s a great passage, and one I think as Christians we should continually pray for. So often we pray for things we need and want, but what we really need is for God to conform us to the image of His Son, and with that comes humility and conviction. But when we pray this prayer, and ask for the Lord to test us so that we might be stronger in our faith, we have to remember that God will bring that testing, and it won’t be easy.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
-Romans 8:1
I love this verse, because it’s so hopeful and encouraging. When you are a child of God, the Lord brings you conviction, not condemnation. It’s a wonderful thought. When we feel guilty for doing something wrong, the Holy Spirit convicts us, not condemn us. We don’t need to continually beat ourselves up over our mistakes when the Lord has already forgiven them. We can learn from our mistakes, and move on. That is the beauty of the Lord’s forgiveness and conviction.
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
-Hebrews 4:12
This last verse was sort of the finale of our conversation. When you first read this verse, it sounds pretty painful. This is not a blunt, weak, wimpy sword we’re talking about, here. This thing is intense. God’s Gospel is not this light and fluffy Sunday school story. Yes, while it is a beautiful and hopeful message, to many it is also harsh and offensive. And that is why God’s Word is so awesome. It tells you like it is. It encourages you. It breaks you. It breaks you to the point where you are on your knees, in the most humble position you can be in. God’s sword is painful, bringing conviction that we (most of the time) don’t want to hear. But it is also a beautiful sword, because while it brings powerful and painful conviction, God is using the “double-edged” sword to carve us into the man/woman He wants us to be. When we go through internal struggles, God is slowly but surely etching His name upon our hearts. That is a glorious thing. And while it temporarily sucks to be convicted of your complaining attitude, your hateful thoughts, or your insincere actions, even when you feel you have noble intentions – in the end, God is using it for your good (Rom. 8:28) and His fame, so that by the time we are met with Him in glory, our hearts will be carved into something that looks similar to His.
I think pictures of sunsets/sunrises are just gonna be my new thing for this blog.
Now every time I see one, I can't help but thinking of how awesome God is.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Scorched Places

I love how God reveals things; I found this the other day and thought it contributed very nicely to the “Waiting in the Desert” theme:

Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways,
As a nation that has done righteousness
And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God.
They ask Me for just decisions,
They delight in the nearness of God.

And the Lord will continually guide you,
And satisfy your desire in scorched places,
And give strength to your bones;
And you will be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

-Isaiah 58:2, 11; LOVE.IT.

Let us seek God and delight in His ways.
Let us delight being near God.
Let us allow the Lord to be our Guide.
Let us allow Him to satisfy us in our scorched places.
Let us allow Him to fill us with unfailing, living water.

And a reminder for all of us for tomorrow: let us keep the Sabbath holy, and to not delight in ourselves, but in the Lord, and who He is.

If because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot
From doing your own pleasure on My holy day,
And call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable,
And honor it, desisting from your own ways,
From seeking your own pleasure
And speaking your own word,
Then you will take delight in the Lord,
And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
-Isaiah 58:13-14
Let us honor God’s holy day, so that we may rest in Him.
Let us not seek pleasure in things of the world, but of the Lord.
He is the Living Water in our scorched places.

When You said, “Seek My face,” my heart said to You,
“Your face, O Lord, I shall seek.”
-Psalm 27:8

The ocean always reminds me of the Lord's goodness; the Living Water.