Monday, December 30, 2013

My Heart Will Sing No Other Name

Jesus. No other name has been on my mind more, lately. I’m finally beginning to realize how enough He really is. If everyone else on this earth was gone, and I was all alone…yes, He really would be enough for me.

I’m not expecting there to be anything in this post that blows your mind or rocks your theological beliefs. This post is merely an overflow of what has been on my heart, and that sole thing is Jesus. As 2014 arrives and a new season of your life begins, I pray that Jesus would become ever so real to you…more real than He ever has before. Maybe He is your best friend, someone you occasionally pray to, or someone you know nothing about. Either way, I pray that Jesus would reveal Himself to you this year. Trust me, no one will fulfill your longings the way He can. Despite the uncertainty or fear that may be overwhelming your spirit as this new year approaches just around the corner, Jesus can fill your heart with a joy and a peace that is indescribable. I’ve never had a friend quite like Him, and I know I never will. I’m so grateful He is mine, and that I am His.

What does Jesus mean to me? He’s my everything. I don’t even want to think about what I would be if I did not have Him. Yes, for the past nineteen years of my life, I have learned many things about who Jesus is. If you asked me about this majestic Child born of a virgin, I could tell you all about it. If you asked me about all the miracles He performed on earth, all the sick He healed, the blind He gave sight, and the lame He gave strength, I could tell you all about it. If you asked me about His excruciating suffering, His miserable death, and His victorious resurrection, I could tell you all about it. You name it, I could probably tell you something about this Jesus I have claimed to have known for so many years.

But there are some things you can’t learn about from a Felt board in Sunday school. Despite their devoted hearts to the Lord and their fantastic training, there are things that my teachers at the Christian school I attended for thirteen years could not have taught me. Some things, you just have to find out for yourself. Some things, many things, it just has to be between two people. You and God. The Creator of the universe and His creation. The Potter and the clay. The Artist and His most precious masterpiece. The Lover of Souls and the soul He loves. Just you and Jesus. A relationship that no one can have for you.

What does Jesus mean to me? He is my everything. Did I already say that? Well, it’s worth repeating. He is my Prince. As a young woman who’s beginning to think about far-off things like dating, marriage, hopefully having a family one day, dreaming of the days when I’m sitting on my living room floor playing dress up with my little girls and fighting dragons with my little boys, there are times I long for the day when my earthly prince will show up. “When is he coming?” I think. I pray. But then I remember that whether or not my earthly prince ever came, even if he never came to sweep me off my feet like I’ve dreamt of for as long as I can remember, Jesus would still be good. He would still be faithful. He would still be enough. “I just didn’t want to wait anymore – didn’t want to live like I was waiting on anyone to get here. I already have Him…and He is everything” (

Jesus has never been more real to me than He has been these past few months. I felt like I already knew Him. I felt like I knew all about His character, how He interacted with people, how much He loved me, etc. And I did know those things; it’s not like everything I’ve learned these past nineteen years has been a lie! I do know Jesus…but now I know Him in a much more personal way.

Remember when I told you about the car ride a few weeks back? How I finally began to really view Jesus as a man who was so close and not so far away? Well, that picture has been getting stronger ever since. I have a face in my head, eyes I can look at, a hand I can touch (not physically, of course). You might be thinking, “well uh, I think you’ve started to lose your mind a little bit.” Oh trust me, I have! When you fall in love with Jesus, your heart, body, mind and soul all go crazy! When you die to yourself and begin to live in the Spirit of Christ, your whole perspective changes…mine certainly has. And now that I am beginning to really understand who Jesus was on earth and who He is today living inside of me, I am realizing that this Guy really is worth pursuing with everything I’ve got.

I’m still learning. Just like any relationship, it takes a lot of time alone with someone to really get to know them. Oh, but it’s so worth it. It’s so worth getting to know the Lover of your soul, the ultimate Counselor, Friend, and Comforter, and the One who is so wanting to know you. Can you imagine that? Jesus wants to know you! C.S. Lewis said that “When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you’d been the only man in the world.” How cool is that!

Don’t wait another moment. Don’t try and make one more excuse. Stop what you’re doing and go spend time having fellowship with the One who so desperately wants to be with His most precious creation.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Variety of Ponderings

These are just a gathering of miscellaneous thoughts/prayers/insights I have had the past couple of months. Hope they are helpful in some way to you; if not, then just enjoy the read J Have a great week, everybody!

·         Audrey Hepburn

o   A biography written by her son, Sean Ferrer, has sat on my grandmother’s coffee table for many years. Over that span of time, I have glanced at the pictures of the woman whose legacy still graces all of our hearts in some way, but never actually read the book. A few weeks ago, I finally decided to read it. After doing so, I feel as though I am somehow connected to this incredible woman. Something Sean notes about her was her beautiful sadness. Hepburn had a very hard childhood, what with living during the Great Depression and dealing with the psychological hurting of a father who left when she needed him the most. But she did not let that sadness define her. Yes, it was a part of her, but it did not control her future. Though her “humility” may not be the perfect model of what Jesus would want us to be, but there are still many things about her nature we could benefit from, including her sincerity and genuine love for other people.

 “’Take good care of your clothes,’ she would say, ‘because they are the first impression of you.’ So when she appeared, her clothes didn’t’ scream out, ‘Look at me!’ but, ‘This is me…no better than you.’ And she truly believed in that. She didn’t see herself as anything special or unusual, which is why she worked so hard and was always pleasant and professional. Her style was only an extension of who she was, the person we all admired, because don deep we knew that what we saw was not just clever packaging but an honest and 100 percent genuine human being.”

·         Lace: The Weakness of Man

o   Sitting on our beautiful rug in our room, my roommate and I are painting quotes on burlap canvases for our wall. Decorating the canvas with lace, I began twirling the fabric between my fingers and rolling them, making into little flowers. As I was taking these scraps of lace, trying to mold them into the shape I wanted, the lace began to unravel and pull apart with ease. At first I was frustrated, but then as I continued to cooperate with the lace, it began to look more and more like the flower I wanted. And in its own crafty, homemade sort of way, it was beautiful.

 Then I thought of man. I thought of myself.

 We are lace. With the slightest pull or tug of our circumstances, we unravel. We fall apart. Sometimes we see ourselves as mere scraps, worn and torn from the madness of the world. We think, “who could ever love someone as feeble as me? Someone so worthless, so broken.” But then came Jesus. Someone who could glue our hearts back together, perfectly complete and blameless thanks to His gift of righteousness. His blood was the glue, His resurrection the confirmation of the project. But He’s not done with us yet. There is still more molding to be done, more creations to be formed. But yes, one day we will be complete. We will cease to unravel in chaos and confusion and maintain our beauty in the security of Christ. . “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.” (Phil. 1:6).

·         Sunrise: The Faithfulness of God

o   It was around 7:30am Monday morning. Probably about 40°F. The time, the temperature, and the day of the week itself had potential to put me in a bad mood. However, the Lord was gracious and gave me a willing spirit, ready to start the day and see what He had in store.

 As I was walking along the path, constantly adjusting my sleeves to better cover my hands, I looked to my left. There, just like there is every day, was the sunrise. I couldn’t help but thank God for the blessing on a cold Monday morning. He is faithful.

 Even though governments are screwed up and have potential (they don’t always, mind you) to lead us astray, God is faithful. Even when I spend more time on my phone than I do talking with God, He is still faithful. Even though the world is full of sexual impurity, violence, human trafficking, slavery, thievery, resentment, bitterness, and hatred, God is still faithful. And He still provides a sunrise every morning. And even if I can’t see the sunrise here in the US, somewhere else in another part of the world, a person is seeing the sunrise God still decided to give. He still provides little blessings throughout the day like mac-n-cheese, good auditions, and crafting with roommates just to remind you how faithful He really is.

·         Pride: What We Were Not Created For

o   There’s more I could say about this that I’ve learned, but frankly I don’t know if I could emotionally do that at the moment. But remember, you were not created for pride. That’s why it is so destructive, is because it was never meant to be a part of your identity. We were not created to be worshipped…we were created to worship the One who deserves it.

·         The Practicality of Scripture

o   More to come on this in another post!

·         The Car Ride: Seeing Jesus’ Face

o   There isn’t a whole lot to say on this topic except for there is everything to say, I just don’t know exactly how to say it. One Sunday on the car ride back from church, we were listening to Casting Crowns, “Glorious Day”. It’s a beautiful song that I haven’t heard in a while. As I was listening to the Gospel being put to song and listened to all the things Jesus had done for me, I just imagined His face…

 I’m sure everyone has done it. We have this idea in our minds of what He looks like as a man (which, because of our various cultures, we all probably have a false idea of what He looked like. Sorry Americans, but He wasn’t Caucasian). And I almost felt like I saw Him…I pictured what His smile might have looked like, His beard, His eyes, etc.

And…it kind of blew my mind. To think that Jesus really was a man. A man I could easily bump into in a grocery store or pass by on a street. Oh how much I wanted Him to really be there, standing on the side of the road as we drove back to campus, beckoning me to come to Him with His arms open wide.

I would’ve cried “Jesus!!!” Bolted out of the back seat (who cares how fast the car was going?), sprinted to Him and met Him the fields I have passed by oh so many times. Our embrace would have been like none other I have ever had in my life. I’m a huge hugger; there’s few things I love more. Can you imagine how awesome of a hugger Jesus must be? He is the King of compassion, He is love, He is the ultimate healer…there is no one better. Our hug would be out of this world.

 I imagine I would cry…or just be in so much shock that I literally had no words. I’m sure He would hold my face in His hands - gosh I want to cry just thinking about that – and say some words of love. “My beloved…My child”.

 There’s an old song that came out when I was a little kid, and I can’t help but think of it now. Oh Jesus, please come back. Come back soon. So that you can display Your power for all the world to see, hold our face in your hands so You can tell us, “It really is all going to be alright. You are mine. Don’t be afraid.”

 I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk
By your side

I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face
Is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself
Standing in the Son

I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever
Forever worship You
I can only imagine

·         The Chief End of Man:

o   We’ve all heard it: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Sometimes I forget that this chief end of my life is not just for the end of my life…it is for the beginning and middle of it. Yes, my joy in Christ will be made complete when I am finally with Him face to face (MAN does that get me pumped up right now!), but I am to enjoy Him right now. Jesus is not just for dying…He is for living.

·         A Prayer: I’ve never done this on a blog before just because it’s such a personal thing, but maybe it will encourage other girls to do the same in the privacy of their thoughts. A few years back, I started praying and writing notes to my future husbands. While it might sound a little strange, it’s actually very rewarding to think that God is taking care of your future husband’s heart just as He is taking care of yours, and the idea that you can take part in that process right now is super cool. This semester, my mind has been consumed in thinking about relationships, dating, marriage, etc. So, instead of letting my mind wander (maybe to places I shouldn’t), I’m going to pray for my future husband. As you will see in the prayer below, these prayers don’t have to be eloquent masterpieces; what matters is your heart. And how awesome will it be when you are married and you can you’re your husband, “I’ve been praying for your heart for years.” Single ladies! *insert song here* Try it! You might be surprised of what God will do with it.


Heavenly Father,

            I thank You for Your unconditional love for me. I pray that my future husband would be a picture of that for me and our family. I pray that You would take care of his heart – heal wounds he may be enduring and give him peace and joy. Lord, I want to meet him so badly. I want to meet the person that I am going to spend the rest of my life with, but help me to never forget my first Love. Help me to never forget You. We are only able to love because You have first loved us…never let us forget that. Lord, I pray for my future husband’s spiritual walk. I pray that he is madly in love with You, studying Your Word, and serving Your kingdom. Go ahead and start preparing his heart for our marriage and our family. Let us both be incredibly in love with You before we fall in love with each other. It’s insane knowing that my future husband is around somewhere, doing something, being somebody, and yet I have no idea who he is. But You know everything. You know every step we will make before we take it. You know the number of hairs on our head and You know that we will be together someday. I seriously love You…help me to love You more so that I can in return love my husband in a way that is a picture of Your love.

                                                                                                            In Jesus’ precious name,


·         The Importance of Understanding Spiritual Warfare

o   Dig into this subject! I was listening to an audio of this awesome guy named Colin Harbinson, and he shed a lot of light onto this topic that I, honestly, haven’t done a lot of research on. Look at places like Ephesians and Revelation for more insight. Coming up I might make a post on what I learned from Harbinson and in my own personal study.

·         The Power of the Written Word and the Power of Song:

o   I’ve never been so overwhelmed with this feeling than I have this semester…and it’s been awesome. The fact that our hearts and spirits can be so intertwined to the point where our redemptive acts of creation through our artistic abilities can touch our very souls, maybe even making that touch bubble up to our eyes and tears spilling out…what is more beautiful than that? That all truth is God’s truth, whether it’s found in a Mumford lyric, a ukulele chord, or a poem that you’re hearing for the first time.


So that’s the end of my ranting for now. Congrats, college kids, on finishing up finals! If you haven’t taken them yet (like me), then hang in there! Go have an awesome Christmas and New Year’s!

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Pianist

As we were leaving the Great Hall, we passed by the beautiful grand, and she said, “Do you wanna hear that song I was telling you about really quick? This melody has been stuck in my head for a few days.” So she graced down at the seat, the piano ready to receive her and ready to broadcast this beauty that had been enveloping her for so long.

I didn’t realize how transformed I would be after listening.

It was saturated in beauty, but there also seemed to be a sadness in it, which perfectly describes how I’ve been feeling the past month. I have witnessed so much suffering, so much sorrow. But in the midst of the ashes, there is peace that goes beyond all understanding. There is hope. There is grace. There is beauty. There is joy.

I don’t know whether all this was the meat behind the song or not. Either way, it was a huge gift to me this morning. Blessing those ivories with her hands is how she loves. How she serves. How she worships.

She is an example of making beautiful art. The melody of your life you never knew how to say – she can play it. The sorrow weighing you down – she can lift it. The joy that is almost bursting within your soul – she can proclaim it. Through her art, she tells the truth. And that, I think, is what real beauty is.

I’m grateful. I’m grateful that God’s Spirit not only moves through missionaries and pastors, but through chefs and psych majors and pianists. All the things I said above that she can do, of course can only be done through the common grace of God. He is the one to be praised. He is the Master Artist, and she is a student in His class. I am grateful for His incredible instruction, so that His students can release just a glimpse of His glory to the rest of the world.

Listen to some music today. No, not “We Can’t Stop” or Eminem’s newest album. Listen to some classical music, even if it’s not really your thing. Give it a try. You never know, maybe there’s been a message stirring in your heart that you’ve never been able to describe until now. Let this time be your release. To listen. To absorb. To enjoy the beauty. 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

God is Bigger

“Are you in the midst of a situation where, as you pray, you find yourself putting the problem first? If so, you’re starting where you should end. You’re rehearsing the problem, making it seem larger than it is, when what you need to do is rehearse God’s greatness and bigness. Then the problem shrinks to its right portions. Oh, by the way…

As a Sabbath Liturgy, I recommend practicing the sovereignty of God. Today when you pray, start with God. Survey what He has made. Recite what He has done. Proclaim who He is.

And after you have been with Jesus long enough, and feel your courage brimming, and He looks bigger, see if there’s still an Oh, by the way…” –Mark Buchanan in “The Rest of God”

Everyone has a story. Everyone has a past. Everyone hurts. My eyes have been opened to that concept more than they ever had before. College is not all fun and games…I think everyone knows that. Relationships are formed, hearts are changed, and stories are shared…stories, that maybe are just now starting to rise out of the woodwork. While I have told some stories of my own, for the past month or so, I have mostly been the receiver of others’ stories. I am not the same person as when I first walked through the halls of my college…listening to stories will change you.

It has been almost three years since I have picked up Mark Buchanan’s “The Rest of God”, and I am glad I did. That is what I have so desperately desired recently: rest. The rest that goes beyond all comprehension. The rest that stands the test of time even in the midst of a maelstrom of chaos. The rest that only Jesus can provide. That’s what I want.

And I think I might have gotten it.

But there is still a part of me that wishes I had more power. Power to heal the wounds in my friend’s heart who has been through hell on earth. Power to give my friend have hope and joy when she has recently been contemplating suicide. Power to make my friend truly believe that she is beautiful, despite the fact that she feels dirty and violated. Power…to change. To heal. To restore. To make everyone’s problems go away.

But I don’t have that power. Apart from Christ, I am nothing. Apart from Him, I can do nothing.
But that does not mean there is no hope. In The Twin Towers, when King Theoden’s small army is shaking in their boots as they are about to fight the 10,000 soldiers of their enemy, they feel hopeless. But Aragorn encourages a young boy by saying, “There is always hope.”

So I’ve been praying…a lot. But I have focused too much on the problem and not enough of what God can do, who He is. By focusing on the problem, it makes me feel as though I am drowning in it and that it is inconceivable for me to fathom. I think, “Is this a problem that is just too big? Is this hurt just too great?”

But nothing is too big for God. Corrie Ten Boom said, “There is no pit so deep, that God’s love is not deeper still.”

So for those of you who are hurting, feeling as though you are drowning in a tsunami of suffering with no escape: do not lose hope. You are not only in the pit – Jesus is sitting next to you in the pit, even if no one else here has climbed in the pit with you. Pray for someone to come who will leap into the pit, sit next to you, and sit in the mud with you. Who will pray for you. Who, when not knowing what else to say, will say, “Gee…it really sucks down here.” Someone who will cry when you cry, and will make you laugh when you really feel like giving up. You are never alone…never forget that.

“Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually.” –Psalm 105:4

And for those of you who are that other person in the pit, feeling powerless in not being able to take the pain away from your friend: don’t lose hope either. Pray for Jesus to give you His eyes, His heart. Be OK with not having the right words to say, because maybe you were supposed to be silent anyway. Listen. Sometimes listening is more of a remedy than words. Turn to Jesus for strength first. Pray for wisdom; God will give it to you if you ask for it. Pray over your friend and read them Scripture. Instead of trying to figure out things you can do for them on your own, ask them, “What can I do that will help? What can I do to make this just a little bit more bearable?”

“But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” –James 1:5

Whether you are the one with the burden or you are the one next to them bearing it, keep praying. But pray in a way that reminds you that God is bigger. God is bigger than all this crap in the world. All the hurting, the suffering, the persecution, the lies, the betrayals, the human trafficking, the rape, the murder, the adultery, the divorce, the war – God is bigger than all of it. Praise God for that. Remember who He is. He is loving, He is healing. He is compassion. He is almighty. He is the strongest of strong, the mightiest of warriors, and He lives in you

Friday, October 11, 2013

More Tips for College Students

More goodies I have found along the way:

  • ·         Don’t have a lot of (or any) unhealthy snacks in your room…you will it eat it all. Really quickly, at least, if you’re anything like me. J And don’t eat if you’re not hungry. I think I developed this thing in my mind where I tell myself I’m hungry so I eat and then I find out that I actually wasn’t that hungry so I just basically wasted good food and made myself feel disgusting. Also, set aside one day a week where you have that amazing dessert they serve at the cafeteria that you are tempted to eat at every meal. My love is vanilla ice cream with orange juice and sprite… it sounds weird BUT IT’S DELICIOUS OK. That is my treat every Sunday, and I won’t let myself have it any other time except then. Keeps the whole “discipline” thing going J

  • ·        It’s OK to be homesick. Don’t be ashamed of it. Before last weekend when I went home, I was really missing my family and especially my school friends/teachers for the past couple of weeks, and I think it welled up so much to the point that I finally had to just cry to someone about it. That someone ended up being my RA, one of the coolest chicks ever (if you have an RA, one that you trust, take advantage of that. Get to know them – they might have some nuggets of wisdom for you). Sometimes you just need a good cry, and don’t be ashamed of it. I’m really bad at being vulnerable…really bad. Well, at least with new people I don’t really know yet. I constantly have a smile on my face; don’t get me wrong, most of the time the smile is genuine just because I’m a happy person. But sometimes the smile is a lie. I’m not saying you should be transparent to every single person you talk to…that could lead to a very violent conversation J But when you’re with someone who you can be transparent with, take off the mask. Don’t be afraid to be who you are.

  • ·         James 1: be doers of the Word. My psych professor has brought up James on more than one occasion, and I figured that since James 1:22 is one of my theme verses for the year, I should take the time to go through it again. It’s full of really practical things to do in your Christian walk, and practical is what I really need right now. This passage has spoken to me now than it ever has before:

“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.” –James 1:22-25

I may be wrong, but this is what I believe God is teaching me from this passage: when we walk away from the Word and don’t do what it says, we forget our identity. We walk away from the Holy Spirit intervening in our lives, teaching us how to be more like Christ. Our minds are limited and forgetful, so unless we put the words into action, we forget who we are in Christ. When we read or hear a passage of Scripture, think “Hmm…that’s nice” and walk away, we have potential to forget it all together, dodging yet another opportunity for sanctification. Because of this, James is telling us to be intentional with the Word of God, not just passive receivers of it. When we walk in the freedom of the Word (“law of liberty”) and are intentional with the Word (effectual doer), then we will be blessed because we are walking in obedience. This is so easy to say…but are we actually going to do it?

  • ·         Be a friend to others. A couple of weeks ago, I heard a sermon on David and Johnathan and what it means to be a good friend…it was a great sermon. Nothing Earth-shattering, just a beautiful story of the Bible’s greatest friendship and how we can apply it to our lives. In a time when a lot of college kids are starting from scratch and forming brand new friendships, these tips are great to know. According to this pastor, a good friend is:

o   Someone you go to after Jesus (you should always go to Jesus first J)
o   Someone you don’t lie to
o   Someone you would do anything for
o   Someone to cover for you
o   Someone you can think out loud with (and not be judged)
o   Someone who will tell you the truth
o   Someone who believes in you and will tell you so
o   Someone who will defend you
o   Someone who knows they’re appreciated
o   Someone who keeps the right stuff between you two (aka Jesus)

If you’re a college freshmen, relationships are still relatively shallow, so there’s still a lot you don’t know about your new best friends. They might be crying for help on the inside and they’re just waiting for someone to come and just listen to what they have to say. Keep confidentiality; keep their stories safe (on top of all the stress of college, the last thing anyone needs is gossip and drama. Can I get an “amen”?!). And when you do you help a friend out, don’t say “Check! I’m a good friend!” Your love for your friends should be an overflow out of your love for Jesus, not a task that you check off your to-do list. Don’t counsel someone for the sake of making yourself feel good but for the same reason Jesus sought you out – because He selflessly loves you.

  • ·         Put away your stupid phone. During chapel last Monday, our Chaplain talked about how our addiction to our technology has made us dehumanize each other. It sounds harsh, but it’s so true, and I’ve never really thought about it that way. When I’m eating lunch with a friend, and in the middle of their story I check Twitter on my phone, that is an act of disrespect, is unloving, and it dehumanizes them…that’s a big deal. Most people would say “ok, ok, yeah I agree that it’s disrespectful”, but I think most of us would get defensive if someone called us out on dehumanizing someone else…it just seems to go too far. But it doesn’t. It’s the truth. When I choose to look at my phone rather than talking to someone during the awkward elevator ride, or look at it in the middle of sermon/discussion/class lecture, I am not only disrespecting the opposite party but I am also degrading their value. So put the stupid phone away, look up and out, and really see the world. Sorry to pull the Jesus-card, but Jesus didn’t have devices to distract Him from seeking to serve others. I pray Jesus would give us His eyes to see the world and for Him to fix our eyes that have been tired and glazed over from looking at too many social media updates.

  • ·         Have fun. This is really easy for most college kids…sometimes a little too easy. But this is mainly for those like me who are obsessed with getting good grades and “doing their best” to the point of spending hours in their room or in the library with their nose in books. Don’t get me wrong: WORK HARD. Don’t waste the money you or your parents have spent on goofing off all the time. But reward yourself after a hard week. Take the time for rest. Go have fun with some friends. Take a chill pill. The ultimate end that you are trying to achieve is not walking across the stage getting your degree – it’s heaven. Act like it.

  • ·         This is a given, but spend time with the Lord. Make time for it. The whole “I’m so busy” excuse doesn’t work…we are going to be busy for the rest of our lives. I know it’s hard to take the time, but with a lot of prayer, an earnest heart, and God’s grace, you will eventually get to a place where you want to have a quiet time. You want to pray and you want to get into the Word because life simply isn’t fulfilling without those things. When I take the time to pray for an extended period of time, to just sit and be still, I find that it has an impact on the rest of my day and how I treat others. Try it…you might be surprised what God does with you.

Hang in there college freshies! Keep going!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Homesick for Heaven

My heart has been very heavy the past couple of weeks. Not nearly as heavy as others on my campus, but heavy nonetheless. Over the summer, a rising junior that attended my college died as a result of a hiking accident. When I heard the news back in June, of course I was saddened, but since I knew nothing about him, there wasn’t much else to feel.

Until now.

A couple of weeks ago, my college held a memorial service in his honor. Finding words to describe the service is really was beautiful. Thanks be to God that I have only been to a couple of memorial services, but this is one I don’t think I could ever forget. There was deep, deep sorrow, but that sorrow was founded on the solid rock of Jesus. Therefore, there was joy in the sorrow. It was incredible to witness.

The life we celebrated and mourned over seemed like a remarkable one – this guy wasn’t your average Joe. He seemed like one-of-a-kind, passionately pursuing Jesus with every fiber of his being, living every day as if it would be his last. He had a compassionate heart for the poor and hurting. He was a man of prayer. He was a man of action. He was a man of accountability, encouragement, and laughter. Lots of stories were shared. Lots of tears were shed. It was a beautiful night celebrating the life of an amazing guy.

The one quality of this man that everyone kept saying that wouldn’t (and still hasn’t) escape my mind is this: he was heaven-minded. He not only knew that Earth was not his home, but he lived like he truly believed it. He didn’t care what anyone else thought; he simply walked in obedience. Christ was preeminent in all aspects of his life, and he lived life to the fullest, knowing his rewards were not in the temporary but in the eternal.

His testimony was incredibly powerful and convicting for me. I came to the painful realization that I am not heaven-minded. I don’t think about heaven nearly as much as I should…if I did, I think my life would look different.

Now, as silly as this is sometimes, I am a person that really loves sticking with plans. When plans are changed, I’m uncomfortable. So my plan for this year was to focus on boldness, right? The sub-goals of that were to focus on doing the word (not just hearing it) and discipline. So then this whole being-focused-on-heaven thing comes up, and I feel a very strong sense of the Holy Spirit, urging me to focus on being heaven-minded. I think, “What? God! You’ve been teaching me all summer about boldness…why would you suddenly change what I want to work on? It’s only the third week! I haven’t exactly perfected boldness, yet!”

Well, my young grasshoppers, God can do whatever He wants with you, even if that means He doesn’t stick to your little plan. Also, focusing on boldness and being heaven-minded actually work perfectly together! If I am more focused on heaven and eternal things, then I would be much bolder and open about my walk with Christ, right? So really, it goes hand-in-hand. And since when does God only have to teach us one thing at a time? Why can’t He teach us multiple things all at once? Isn’t that part of this whole being-a-Christian thing anyway, letting God teach us to be more like Christ?

This post is gonna be kind of all over the place, so…sorry not sorry. This is a song by Jenny & Tyler (if you don’t know who they are, LOOK THEM UP RIGHT NOW. I could do a whole post on those two alone) called “The Kingdom of Heaven”. Tyler wrote the song to help him think of heaven more…it definitely has worked for me.

Where death shall be no more
No mourning, crying, or pain
Every tear He'll wipe away
In the Kingdom of Heaven

Where nothing is accursed,
A city with a crystal river      
The throne of God and of the Lamb
In the Kingdom of Heaven

Set your mind, your mind, your mind, on things above
Set your eyes, your eyes, your eyes on the risen Son

Where there shall be no night
Nor need for sun to shine
The Lord Himself will be the light
In the Kingdom of Heaven

Set your mind, your mind, your mind, on things above
Set your eyes, your eyes, your eyes on the risen Son

Behold, the home of God is with man (4x)

Behold, the home of God is with man (Set your mind, your mind, your mind, on things above)
Behold, the home of God is with man (Set your eyes,  your eyes, your eyes on risen Son)
Set your mind, your mind, your mind, on things above
Let your heart, your heart, your heart, give Him all your love

O let the thirsty come
O let the one who wants
Drink freely from the water
Of the Kingdom of Heaven

Our hall got together to do some worshiping and sharing. One of the girls was crying and said that she was really homesick, more so than she was expecting. And then she said the most profound words…and none more true in my life than right now, “I’m also just… homesick for heaven. Just seeing the pain here…it makes me homesick for heaven.” I almost teared up right there, just because it was just…so true. I don’t think I’ve ever yearned for heaven as much as I have these past few weeks.

This is not our home! This is not where we belong! I want to go home! I want to go home where there is no amnesia, no poverty, no betrayal, no cramping, no death, no colds, no sobbing so hard that you start to gag, no more cancer, no more lies, no more shootings at schools full of innocent children, no more disgusting music videos about sex and drugs and partying, no more divorce, no more children suffering from epilepsy, no more cancer, no more sex trafficking, no more no more NO MORE.

I’ve never written a song before…I don’t even know if you would call this a song. A poem? Just random groupings of words? I don’t care what you call it. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s merely what’s on my heart. This is my offering ultimately to the Lord, but also to the man who died, and to anyone who knew him. This is for you.

I wish I could’ve known you
I wish I could’ve seen those eyes
That were so often seeking things above

I wish I could’ve seen your smile
That greeted everyone with faithful love
The poor, the lost, the broken-hearted
You gave them all your smile

Where you are, I want to be
Who you’re with, I want to see
You knew Earth was not your home
You always sought out the royal throne

And I can’t imagine the look on your face
When Jesus Christ said “Well done, my son”
And how the God of all creation
Greeted you with open arms

We are homesick for heaven
We are homesick for heaven
We are homesick for heaven
Oh Lord, be with us now (3x)

2nd Bridge:
To live is Christ, to die is gain
To live is Christ, to die is gain (2x)

Let’s encourage each other to live for heaven, for that is our true home…that is where we belong. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

To end this post, sometime last week I went out to see the sunrise and read my Bible. This is what I saw. 

Not only was it beautiful, but it was full of hope. “[God] will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and their will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away…Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5). I saw just a glimpse of what this verse is talking about in the sky. Though the darkness is closing in on the sun, the sun continues to radiate through. Jesus’ light cannot be put out. The battle has already been won. Jesus already has the victory

Since heaven has been on my mind, I started reading some of Revelation. I almost cried when reading chapter 22:20, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Jesus said so Himself – He’s coming! Gosh, I hope it’s soon. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Just Some Things I'm Learning Along the Way

Officially finished first full week of college classes! While that is an accomplishment, it’s also a little stinky, because I feel like I’ve been here for months. But, it’s also really awesome because God has already taught me so much in my first two weeks. The next few posts will probably mostly be geared toward college freshmen (or college kids in general), but hopefully these things will be applicable for everyone.

If you’ve been reading along, you know that one of my goals for the year is focusing on discipline. It’s rather fitting, considering that kids who are new to the college life can get really overwhelmed and scattered in the battle of “Do I sleep? Do I study? Do I go workout? (I wish that was a question I asked more oftenJ) Do I go have fun?” The vicious cycle is…well…vicious.

So to gain some guidance on the subject of discipline, I’ve turned to the Bible (duh) and Elizabeth Elliot’s Discipline: The Glad Surrender. My third day on campus, I decided to do some digging on the actual word, “discipline”. If you’ve never used the resource Blue LetterBible, then you should (it’s similar to Bible Gateway). It’s a great way to get bigger contexts around words or phrases. I typed in the word “discipline” and these are some gems I found:

  • ·         “Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” –Job 5:17
  • ·         “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light; and reproofs for discipline are the way of life.” –Prov. 6:23
  • ·         “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” –Prov. 12:1
  • ·         “He who neglects discipline despises himself, but he who listens to reproof acquires understanding.” –Prov. 15:32
  • ·         “Listen to counsel and accept discipline, that you may be wise the rest of your days.” –Prov. 19:20
  • ·         “Apply your heart to discipline and your ears to words of knowledge.” –Prov. 23:12
  • ·         “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” -1 Tim. 4:7-8
  • ·         “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” –Heb. 12:7-8
  • ·         “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.” –Rev. 3:19

Here are just a few great quotes from Elliot’s book regarding discipline:

On the body:

  • “We cannot give our hearts to God and keep our bodies for ourselves.”
  • “Sleep is another necessity. It takes discipline to go to bed when you ought to, and it takes discipline to get up.” If you’re in college, you know how much of a struggle this is.
  • “The important thing is to move around somehow. Don’t ride stairs instead of taking an elevator, climb them. When you do housework, move quickly.”
  • “Even though flesh and blood can never possess the Kingdom, think of its particles being “beckoned” to sit down with the Lord some day.”

On the mind:

  • “Mind and life need to be freed from the “disorder of the unnecessary.”
  • “The disciple who means to compel every one of his thoughts to surrender in obedience to Christ would do well to test himself by asking:
    • 1.       Whose glory do I seek?
    • 2.       Is this for or against the knowledge of God?
    • 3.       Am I giving my mind to wholesome precepts?
    • 4.       Am I morbidly keen on mere verbal questions and quibbles?
    • 5.       Is it more important to me to understand than to obey?
    • 6.       Is it more important to me to know than to believe?
    • 7.       Will one side of the question inconvenience me?
    • 8.       Do I reject a particular truth because it will inconvenience me?
  • “The Christ-like mind counts for nothing what the world holds dear and holds as all-important what the world counts for nothing”
  • “If I am to love the Lord my God with all my mind, there will not be room in it for carnality, for pride, for anxiety, for the love of myself. How can the mind be filled with the love of the Lord and have space left over for things like that?”

Now here a just a few things God has taught me so far during college life:

  • ·         Find ways to perform acts of love to your roommate. God revealed this to me within the first couple of days, and it rocked my world. If I want my roommate and I to love each other on a spiritual level where we can have deep fellowship and build a firm friendship, I need to show love to her in tangible ways. How do you do that, you ask? Here are some things God has shown me:

o   Get stuff out the night before I’ll need in the morning so that I’m not rattling around in the morning trying to find it while she’s still sleeping
o   Try to take short showers so she can get to the bathroom if she needs it (this has been a struggle for me…I love long showers)
o   Cleaning the room / my stuff every chance I get
o   Making up my bed
o   Getting more stuff to decorate the room with (my roommate is very creative and artistic, so she’s bought lots of stuff for the room…our room is super awesome by the way J)
o   Simply praying for her
o   Maybe leave your roommate an encouraging note for them to see before they wake up or leave for class (I haven’t done this yet…probably should)
o   It’s been a long time since I’ve shared a room with someone, so the whole living-with-a-complete-stranger thing was very interesting for me. Honestly though, it’s been a tremendous blessing. God has given me an amazing roommate who has already taught me so much about boldness, which is CRAZY because “boldness” is what I’m trying to focus on this year….God is so good and faithful. My roommate and I definitely aren’t strangers anymore. J
  • ·         Be confident in your identity. I’ve been around the same people for a long time, so I got very comfortable in who I was. Starting from scratch in a new place with no familiar face in sight made me question, “Oh wait…who am I again?” No matter where you go to college, there’s always someone around that you think, “Man…that person is really cool. How is it that we are made of the same stuff?” Well, I had lots of those moments, and started becoming discouraged. I came into college wanting to contribute something. To lead. To disciple. But when I got here, it’s almost like all knowledge and confidence had been sucked out of me like a vacuum. If you know me well, you know I’m a really goofy kid, but when I came here I felt so serious and tense…I didn’t like it. I didn’t feel like I was being myself. I became jealous of all these cool people around me, whether it was my roommate, my orientation team buddies, etc. I finally gave it to the Lord and asked for forgiveness. I repented of forgetting all the things the Lord had taught me this summer. We are to be humble, but we are to be confident in Christ. “Therefore, let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Be confident in who Jesus has made you to be, but be humble in that He is not done with you yet.

  • ·         Be patient. I have lots of friends back home, but they are all off having their own adventures. I realized very quickly that I wasn’t going to just show up at college and win over tons of new friends that I could have deep conversations with and laugh with, just like the “good ole days”. Maybe that day will come, but it won’t happen overnight, and whether I would admit it or not, I really thought it would. There are so many things I want to happen in the relationships I have already formed here, but they will happen in God’s timing and not my own. I am not picking up where I left off at home – I am starting afresh. Starting afresh is beautiful but also a little intimidating. It requires patience and surrender to the Lord’s timing.  
  • ·         Be humble. When you’re in college, it’s so easy to concentrate on yourself. “What can I get out of this class? What’s my major going to be? What man am I going to marry? What’s in this education thing for me? What’s the career I am shooting for? What’s best for me? Me? Me? Me?” Yes, obviously college is somewhat about you… I mean it’s your life (well, it’s the life God has given you, but it’s your life, not your neighbor’s or best friends or mothers). But it’s also so much bigger than you. Gaining a college education is about serving the Lord and the kingdom. Not only is the actual attaining of a degree for the Lord and others, but so is what you do outside the classroom. What are some practical ways you can serve your hall mates? Roommate? Professors? Teammates? The community you live in? The people who work in the cafeteria? In facilities? Think about it. Act on it. Be humble in that you still have a lot to learn and are here as a servant, but be confident in that God can use you and your gifts to benefit those you encounter.

  • ·         Now for some not-so-deep stuff: snack tips!

o   Healthy drinks (besides water…drink LOTS of water!): V8 splash Tropical Blend and my roommate introduced me to Lipton Diet Green Tea (delicious)
o   Not-so-healthy drinks: Well first of all, invest in a Keurig for your room…it’s amazing. I’m not a coffee gal, so I stick with chai tea and hot chocolate. My roommate is also a tea master, so she’s helping me branch out in the tea area. But seriously – it’s worth the investment
o   Snacks: just make sure you have a balance. I have Hershey’s milk chocolate drops on my desk, but I also have bananas and other stuff. Get some fruit! The new thing I’ve discovered is putting raspberries (or any other berry) in a little cup, mashing it with a spoon to make it into a more jelly texture, put some whipped cream on it and voila! C’est parfait! And nutella. You gotta have nutella, or at least I think so J

  • ·         This has absolutely nothing to do with college life, but it’s been on my heart lately and has definitely been all over social media: pray for Miley Cyrus. Whenever she has come to mind the past couple of years, I thought of Miley with condemnation, disgust, and sadness; the latter feeling is the only one that should be permissible. I was very snobbish in how I viewed her, and I’m praying that God would change my heart on the subject. I think sometimes we forget to pray for celebrities. Christians do an OK job of praying for leaders like the president or other important figures, but we forget about the harsh, cruel world of Hollywood. Miley Cyrus is a broken human being just like the rest of us; her life is just much more on display. Pray for her. I read an article today where the author said she just wanted to invite Miley into her home so she could befriend and console her. I think that’s a beautiful picture of Jesus. I’m sure there were a few crazy people wandering the streets in Jesus’ day, but I believe He talked with them. Comforted them. Wowed them with His compassion and authority. Why should we treat the fellow broken any differently? Miley Cyrus is a sinner. So am I. So are you. Even if it’s just a silent prayer as your falling asleep, pray for Miley. Let’s show some humility. Let’s show some love.

So that’s the end of my ranting for the day; sorry for all the random, scattered thoughts. Hope you all are having a fabulous start back to the school/work/whatever life! God bless!