5.31.2012

Living the life of a child

"I assure you,” He said, “unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." - Matthew 18:3

 

"When I was a child,
I spoke like a child,
I thought like a child,
I reasoned like a child.
When I became a man,
I put aside childish things." - 1 Corinthians 13:11


If you look at each of these verses you notice one thing right off the bat- they both have to do with being a child. Normally, you might not think these two verses go together because one is talking about becoming a child and the other is talking about putting away childish things, but I believe these verses go together wonderfully. You'll see why if you keep reading. ;)

In Matthew 18:3 Jesus said that we not only have to be converted to enter God's kingdom, but we must become like children as well. What does that mean? Does it mean I must become a child as in, painting with my fingers, playing on the playground, and eating all my veggies (which btw I still do all that! haha! ^_^)?? No. The meaning is actually pretty simple we just like making things complicated. Being a child of God means relying solely on Him for everything. Simple? Yes. Easy? No.

When you were a child, you relied on your mom or dad for everything, correct? Most of us did at least. When someone hurt your feelings you came running to your parents. When you needed something done, you went to your 'rents. You get the point. Well, the same is true now. God wants you to rely on Him for every single thing in your life. He wants you to trust Him to provide those needs, too! Did you ever question your parents ability to provide for you? Most of the time the answer is no. Yet we question God's ability to provide for us all the time and He is the only One who can do ALL things. Crazy!

So if being a child of God is relying on God all the time, what did Paul mean when he said that he put away childish things?

What Paul meant is from a standpoint of being mature and immature, he put away the immature things... a.k.a. sin! He put away the foolish things of the world and dove into the things of God because he was relying on his Father now and no longer the world.

Once we understand that we can rely on God fully and start putting that into practice, we have to get away from the things of this world! Seriously, all it does is drag us away from our Father and pulls us further towards doubt and fear. Anytime I'm going through something that is outside of my control, abilities, etc. (pretty much everything! haha!) it's easy to want to go to things that will temporarily keep my mind from those doubts or fears, but the best choice is to go to God's Word, read His promises, and then talk to Him about it. Every single time I'm dealing with fear and I go to God about it, He always reveals something else to me and gives me His peace that is so incredible!

I've resolved to live the life of a child of the King. It's not easy. In fact, it's really hard. It's painful. But each new day I am reminded that I don't go alone and that gives me great joy! Thank God He never leaves us or forsakes us! Are you living the life of a child? If not, you may want to get on that. A life lived for Christ is a life lived in purpose. It's worth it. Love you guys!

5.29.2012

The Pleasures Of God {Book review}



So this was my first time reading anything by John Piper. I knew I'd love his writings because I've read countless quotes by him, but I did not know how this book would be perfect for my life right now. Don't you just love God's timing?! ;)

At the beginning of the book several people (including John himself) suggest you read the book one time slowly and then read it again to really grasp what you just read. Well, I'm still in the process of reading this book slowly!! It's soo good, but filled with tons of deep material and it's difficult to grasp if you're reading it like a bat out of the other world. Haha!

I've heard it said many times in my life that it's "not about me", but until this year, I still believed that it did. As I've been going through the hurt of knowing it's not about me (hello! we're selfish from BIRTH!) this book came along and it just helped drive it home! Piper talks about how we are created by God FOR God (Colossians 1:15-16) and then he begins talking about God's delight in being God. It's truly mind blowing and all the Scripture that he brings with it... it's like I've read these verses so many times in my life and just now realized it's truth.

I love how Piper has tons of Scripture all through this book! That's how I know this is a man after God's own heart.

I don't care who you are or how long you've been a Christian, this is a book you're gonna want to read. If you're looking to go deeper, this will be a tool God uses. If you're just looking for a little refreshment (we all need that, don't we!), this is the book to read! The very core of our beings are to be centered on God and living to please Him and bring delight to Him! This book is wonderful to help you truly realize that. Hope you get it! If you do, leave me a comment or send me an email and let me know what you think of it! Would to hear from you! :)

Note: This book was given to me for free by WaterBrook Publishing company for reviewing purposes.

5.22.2012

Rejection coming at me...

This is going to be a very honest, open post. I'm putting a lot of my heart out there. It's a little lengthy so bear with me. I hope you find some sort of encouragement from the Lord through this.

--
Ask me something I fear. Seriously, ask me!

I'll answer you with one thing that has been driving me up the wall these past few weeks: rejection.

Oh the "I don't care what anyone thinks." attitude doesn't work for me. Period. I don't truly think it works for anyone. We all naturally want to be affirmed and liked by our peers. I don't think there is anything wrong with that at all. The problem is when it consumes us (like it has me) becomes a fear of not being liked because of ___________ (been there), and causes us not to trust in God (ouch! yep, struggling there!).

A friend of a friend said that worry is the absence of faith and that you can't worry or fear something and have faith at the same time. Well darn, looks like my faith has been really wavering.

The other night I was walking through the den, getting ready for bed when I heard Charles Stanley (love that man!!) talking about things we fear. So I listened in for a few as I brushed my teeth. He asked what was one thing that we feared. Mine instantly came to mind. If you guessed rejection, you are right! Well, he said something else (wasn't rejection), so I just moved on. I came in 20 minutes later to say goodnight to my mom and guess what he's talking about?!! Rejection! God knew I needed that (He works in marvelous ways!!), so I sat down and listened and as I listened my heart was breaking. He talked about where it all starts... our childhood. And he said that there is always one defining moment that pushes us towards a life consumed with fear of rejection.

My "defining moment" was when my dad made it very clear he didn't want me. For real, I still can't get it through my head. He helped make me, why would you abandon something you made? Someone? Because you didn't like it? That's how I've felt and feel. I don't have anger towards my dad, but I will never understand why he hasn't made an effort to be in my life.

So naturally, as I walk through life I have this huge fear that people are gonna leave me. I've told people that before, which hasn't really been fair to them because they've tried so hard to always be there for me and because they aren't God, they simply cannot be. I remember crying on the phone telling a person that I didn't want them to leave me. It's a huge problem in my life.

My fear of rejection has led to a very low self-esteem and thinking that I'll never measure up because if I did then people wouldn't want to leave me.

Do you know what that does to my relationship with the Lord? It puts a hindrance on it. Sometimes I don't trust God enough to know He'll never leave me. Sorry if that's too honest for you (really I'm not), but that's the truth. I'm scared that I'll mess up one too many times and He'll leave me and guess what that does? It leaves me striving for perfection, trying to earn His love which can never be earned. I've never had an earthly father so trying to understand my Heavenly One can be difficult. With God all things are possible (thank You, Abba!) so slowly progress is being made by His hand.

This past week God has been breaking me so much. Tears are seriously welling up in my eyes right now. It's beautiful and painful. As I get closer to the Lord the more I realize things, the more He opens my eyes, the more satisfied I am in Him. As I lay down my want and desire to be liked by everyone, He is whispering in my ear that He loves me and that I serve Him and no one else and that in the end, what I did on this earth will only matter in His eyes and His opinion will truly be the only one that counts.

This is a process and not an overnight thing. My encouragement to you, brother or sister, is that you will not lose heart. If you're going through the same thing as me, trust God!! TRUST Him!! It's not that hard, we just make it hard when we listen more to the world than we do Him. Turn a deaf ear to the voices the world throws at you and turn up your ears to hear God. Hallelujah! He's got us! <3

5.18.2012

When wrong things happen in the public eye...

Why do we think that Christians (mainly leaders) must be perfect and make no mistakes?

Seriously! I've never met a person on earth that never made a mistake and Jesus is the only One who has never sinned so where do we get off making it seem like pastors, evangelists, and other leaders must be perfect? It's stupid.

Very recently a somewhat prominent leader got into an issue. It's a big deal. But I've heard many people saying junk back and forth and I'm just like, seriously?!! We are all basically the Israelites who serve God for a time and then turn away in some shape, fashion, or form and head towards our wants and not His. How would you like it if every time you did something wrong a person came up to you and said, "Hey, you! Yeah, so I heard you did ________ and because of that I think you're an awful person and that whatever you get you deserve because you're a sinner!" NO ONE would like that! Guess who has the right to do that to you and me and yet refrains from doing so? Jesus Christ! We have forsaken Him more times than we probably know and yet He is there with outstretched arms picking us up and encouraging us back to Himself. Shouldn't we do the same with our brothers and sisters?

“Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For with the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye?  4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? 5 Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye." - Matthew 7:1-5

You and me, we'll be judged by how we judge others before a RIGHTEOUS, HOLY God. Ummm I don't know about you but I'd rather keep focused on what He's doing in me and encouraging others towards Him than spending my time focusing on other people's "specks". What about you?

Now, to clarify I am not by any means saying that when you do something wrong you should act as if you didn't. That doesn't work for us once we've been saved and born again. We must then understand that we do things according to GOD's standards and not our own and sometimes that means saying things that make us feel very small (compared to God, we are!), apologizing and asking for forgiveness, letting things go (turning the other cheek), and many other things.

My point is: we are all sinners saved by God's grace! If you think you're perfect, guess again. That might hurt you but its the truth. As my grandma always said, "Sweep around your own doorstep before you start sweeping someone else's." We'd all do better to remember that and love like Christ!! Have a great weekend!

5.14.2012

Monday Reflections: All for God's glory

"5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,

6 who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.
7 Instead He emptied Himself
by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men.
And when He had come as a man
in His external form,
8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross." - Philippians 2:5-8

 

I think one of the biggest problems in Christian lives and churches today is our lack of humility. Though we might all say we are living for God's glory, only a few truly are.

I've been contemplating the above verses and what I see if that I have stood before a holy God and told Him so many times that I didn't really love Him because I refused to submit and be obedient to Him.

Every day now, I lay before Him asking and begging Him to humble me. It's way too easy to start out living all for His glory but after one too many compliments, begin getting prideful and thinking it's all me when it's not.

Jesus was God in the flesh. GOD!!!! We act like we are, but we aren't, yet Jesus "did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage.". How many times have you used God's grace to your advantage and not for His praise? Too many to count for me, sadly.  

Let's start really living for God's glory. Ask Him, beg Him, plead with Him, to give you a greater desire for HIS glory than for your wants. We can't do this alone. Happy Monday!

5.09.2012

Radical.

God has been absolutely blowing me up recently and lemme tell you it's both amazing and hard at the same time!

How do you think God wants you to follow Him? Don't breeze through this question. Seriously, ask yourself and be totally honest. Now, does your life match up with His will and ways or your own?

I believe God wants us all to rely fully on Him. In fact, Jesus tells us that. What kind of faith can you have when you rely on yourself all the time and never the holy Father? Not much faith at all. If you're afraid of everything and can't get little worries (or big ones!) out of your mind then it sounds like you have no faith in God or at least, very little. I know this because I've been there!

The problem with Christians today is everyone is so afraid of everything (I include myself in this). Afraid of people and their opinions, afraid of rejection, afraid of being left out, afraid of doing things that make us uncomfortable (can I get an amen!?!?), afraid of going out of the "norm" and having people think you're crazy or weird, as well as many other things.

"Perfect love casts out fear." - 1 John 4:18 Until we really get deeper with the Lord and start letting His love change us and dwell so deeply in us that everything we do is done out of love for Him and glorifying Him, we will never experience all that God created us to.

Following Jesus means taking the radical approach.

I know, definitely not what anyone wants to hear, but once we see all we can have in our relationship with the Lord and start seeing the "impossible" becoming possible we will see how truly worth it following Christ radically is. I mean, can you really follow Jesus half-hearted and say that in HIS eyes you're really following Him? Let's stop looking to pastors, insightful authors, motivational preachers, or whoever else to decide whether we're living how God wants us and let's take His Word, grab a seat somewhere quiet where we won't be distracted and ask Him if we're living the way HE wants us to live. This seriously will change your life!!

A few ways God has been changing me recently is He has shown me how truly great He is. I've missed who the Great I Am is. I mean, I've heard Him called that, but never knew Him by that name. A God who can make the impossible, possible is THE GREAT I AM!!! Another way God has been changing me is my focus has been shifting (this is a really painful process. no joke!) from myself and my wants and desires to His wants and desires. My focus has shifted from how people perceive me to how He sees me, which matters way more than anything else (and God is still working with me on this. Definitely doesn't happen overnight). I find myself seeking ways to show the love of Christ in every day things. Seeing all the ways Christ has changed my life I want to now share that hope and life with other people. This brings me to the next thing God has really been dealing with me on, being uncomfortable! Ohmygosh!! I HATE being out of my element. I hate doing things that scare me half to death and make me want to puke. I hate thinking that I might mess up and make a fool of myself. In essence, I want to be perfect, but that's not my job, that's His. God will perfect as we continue to walk closely with Him and choose Him over and over again because He first chose us (1 John 4:19)!

If your life looks the same after you've accepted Christ as it did before, you could say you haven't met the real Jesus or allowed Him to change your life. It's scary, it's hard, it's painful, but it's also joy, and peace, love & patience, and so many other things. Trust God. Live radically and realize that no matter what happens, He is with you. Always & forever. <3

5.07.2012

Monday Reflections: The Salamander Story

Okay I have a funny story (up for debate! :P ) that has a deeper meaning to share with you guys for 'Monday Reflections'. Hope you laugh a little and are left with some food for thought. :)

So a couple weeks ago the craziest thing happened. My sister left the door opened and as my dog walked past the chair I was sitting in, she lunged. I jumped (I thought my dog was trying to attack me!) and hear my sis say, "Oh my gosh! There's a lizard in the house!"... ummm.. say what?! So like a ninja, I stand on top of my chair and jump as far away from this thing as possible because well... lizards are gross when they're in my house {otherwise I find them kinda cute and entertaining... don't judge me. ;) }.

So after I get up I see the thing and it's actually a salamander. My mom hands me a broom and I try to sweep the thing out the door, but no. He would not have any part of it. He came back inside and went behind the door where I couldn't reach him. After two hours of attempting to get it out of the house (it would have actually been quite hysterical if I didn't live with someone who is completely afraid of reptiles) my entire family got together and finally got it out of the house. I was very emotional afterwards and it went a little something like this,

"Thank You, God! Oh my! Thank You!"

 *tears start to come down my face*

"Thank You, sweet Jesus!! Please never let that happen again!"

After I got my heart back under control (haha!), and reflected on the event (what an event it was! lol!), it reminded me that sometimes that's how sin is in our lives. It's like we don't want the sin in our lives anymore, but we don't really know the best way to get it out of our lives and the more we attempt to rid ourselves of the sin, the stronger it is in our lives.

I tried for so long to get different sins out of my life and guess what? Oh my own, I never could. No matter how "good" I seemed to be, nothing worked. As soon as I came to realize that I seriously couldn't rid my life of sin God began to do a work in me. He helped me to repent of these sins and surrender to Him. He helped me let go and trust Him. He gave me a desire and passion and love for what He loves and for living in obedience to Him and once that started I began to experience freedom!

What I want you to remember today is that God has got you in His hands but until you realize that on your own you can't do anything, you won't be set free from anything. God gives us over to our own devices (or sins) for a while to help us see that on our own we cannot do it. That's His love and grace talking. Surrender and let Him do the rest. His job is to perfect us because He is perfect. That's not your job.

So what "salamanders" do you need out of your life? Tell God and let Him have His way. He'll never leave you or forsake you!

5.05.2012

Following Jesus means...

Okay, so this is something God has laid on my heart so I'm gonna be obedient to Him and write this and let you know what I've learned while following Christ. Hope you get something out of it. To God be the glory! :)

When I accepted Christ into my heart a few years ago no really told me about the sacrifices that came with being a true follower of Christ. I don't want to the same to happen to you so I'm gonna be upfront about it. I wasted so much time not fully surrendering to the Lord and missed tons of opportunities and blessings He had for me. Thankfully He still has a plan! ^_^

When you accept Christ and His grace and mercy, you must also accept that you have to DIE to yourSELF DAILY. Easy, right? Not at all. I can lie to you and tell you that you'll never want to sin again and life will be amazing all the time, but the truth is, that's not real talk. Sometimes I really, really want to sin. Sometimes it's too much for me to handle (those are the times I don't give myself over to the Lord and ask for His help) and so of course, I end up sinning. But most days, by God's grace, I am able to overcome sin and have victory through Him.

When you accept Christ, you're gonna experience trials. You'll be tried in sooo many ways, but trials produce perseverance, character, and hope, as well as other things (Romans 5:4). So even though it may not seem like it, trials are a good thing. They help you depend upon the Lord and really run to Him even more than you already do. Trials help you see how difficult life is and how great God is at the same time!

Following Jesus means more trials.

I can't lie to you. When you're living in ignorance it's easy to do what you want but once God opens your eyes its hard to do some things you used to because God's hand is upon you and He is teaching you to walk rightly. That's hard... but not for God.

You might have to tell some "friends" bye. You might have to listen to God's voice about something that maybe friends or family aren't too excited about. I've been there recently. It comes down to truly loving Christ and that's where the verse about hating your father/mother makes a lot of sense to me (Luke 14:16). See, the hate part does not (in my opinion) mean our feelings. Jesus is saying that if we are true followers of Him when He says go we trust Him and go even if it means leaving behind our family and friends or doing something that they don't understand because we love Him. Love for Christ is not about the sacrifices but about the obedience to what He's told you to do. That's where your true love for Him will be visible.

All of this might make you want to reconsider following Christ or maybe not follow Him at all but before you think it's nothing but mountains and trials you should also know that following Christ will bring you true satisfaction and hope. I've experienced lasting joy. Joy that no one can take away even on my bad days. That's all Him, baby!! God has loved on me at my WORST times! God has pursued me when I was filthy in sin and He still called me to Him when I messed up yet again. He does the same for you every single day and when you think you're not worth it He is there to whisper, "Yes you are." not because of  who you are but because of who HE is. Because He sees who you are in Him if you'll just take His hand.

Think about it. Following Christ and moving away from worldly things is by far the best choice I've ever made. Life stunk so bad before. Now, though I have a lot of trials, though there are days I don't think I can keep going, Christ picks me up and helps me along. Praise the Lord! I don't have to do this alone and neither do you! Let go and let God!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! <3

5.04.2012

Would you die?

So this morning during worship a question came to mind...

If it came down to it, would you die for your faith?

I'm not sure where this came from. Probably God. I started reading a book called 'The Jesus Mission' and in the first few chapters it talks about Christians who are persecuted for their faith so that might have had a little something to do with it, but I was just thinking about this over and over this morning.

If you had asked me this question a few months or even weeks ago my answer would have been no. My faith wasn't thriving to say the least. I mean I was happy and somewhat joyful, but not in my Lord. That was a problem.

So about 2 weeks ago God began doing a huge work in me and this week He has BLOWN ME UP (for those who don't know, this is a very good thing! :) )

I was thinking about the disciples who died for their faith. You wouldn't die for something that had no value or wasn't that big of a deal. You would only die for something that really and truly mattered. My faith was important to me but until this year I hadn't allowed God to completely alter me and make me into His committed follower.

If it came down to it I can say for sure I would die for Christ. Would it be easy? Not sure. Would it be worth it, oh yes! I die for Him daily not because I'm that good, but because He is that awesome!

He has changed me so amazingly. If you had been there a few years ago and seen the angry person I was, the selfish person I was, the hatred I had towards everything, and then saw me now... there is no way that could have been anyone or anything other than my God.

So I ask again, do you serve God and love Him so much that you would physically die for Him? Do you serve the idea of God or do you know the Great I Am? Think about it.

Happy Friday loves!

5.02.2012

God is NOT the Enemy

I've gotten so confused in my relationship with God. I think that because He tells me I need to deny my flesh to follow Him, that He must be punishing me. Like, somehow He doesn't want me to have a good life. That is so far beyond the truth and I'm just now realizing that.

To say that I know God is probably a stretch. I know about God, but intimately knowing Him? I'm not sure you could ever say I actively pursued Him. Not seeking Him for the sake of going to Heaven or not going to Hell, but simply because I love Him and want to know Him. What about you? Do you know God or only know about Him? Maybe you don't know Him at all.

John 10:10 says, "A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance." (Emphasis mine)

Who is the thief? Satan! And what's his purpose (and if you look closer his only purpose)? To steal, kill, and destroy. Satan likes to make us think that because we're living our lives for ourselves and stuff and praying once or twice a week it's okay because we're talking to God and that's good. But if our hearts aren't aligned with the Father's, what's the point? What are you seeking? Too many times we're seeking stuff (or "whats") and not seeking the Who (God). We're seeking His blessings rather than His presence. We're seeking happiness rather than His love (which does bring joy). We're seeking an "easy" life rather than the true, satisfying life He offers, but won't be easy.

Look at the above verse again. The 'I' in the verse is Jesus and He says that He's come to give us life, not condemnation, and life in abundance (other translations say "in full"). He came to give you a flipping ABUNDANT life! We're so foolish! We think God is trying to keep us from "the good life" when the only good life there is is in Him!

God is NOT the enemy! Satan is! God is so gracious and loving that even though He knew we would turn our backs on Him time and time again He still sent His Son to make a way! Grace isn't meant to be something we use and abuse (unfortunately I've done that too many times). Grace is meant to change us. God's grace is meant to break us of our ugly, filthy, not worth it life so that we can accept His abundant life. I don't know about you, but I'm running to His arms because life on my own STINKS.

Which life will you choose? Remember the enemy is not God, we just get that into our heads  because we don't really know Him. The true enemy is Satan and he wants to destroy you. Don't let him. Go to God. He's got you.