7.30.2012

Sometimes Crying Is Okay {Monday Reflections}

Following Jesus doesn't mean every day is gonna be happy.

People have this false idea that when you accept Christ everyday of your life will be happy and no problems will arise. That's wrong.

--
Today was a hard day. I sat by myself and cried. I felt sad. I told my emotions to be quiet and yet I think God wanted me to let out my frustrations and be honest with Him.

So I did. I told Him how tired I was, how dry this season feels, how trying to please everyone is stupid and I don't want to do it yet even when I tell myself that I don't want to do it and I just want to please Him, I still find myself trying to please others. I cried some more.


"I called to the Lord in my distress,
and I cried to my God for help.
From His temple He heard my voice,
and my cry to Him reached His ears." - Psalm 18:6


I know He heard me. Did the day get better? Was my heart happier? In little moments, yes. I felt joy, but the sadness was still there as well.

Having Christ inside me doesn't mean that hard days or sad days won't come but that I am strong (in Him) even when the tears are rolling down my face.

You've probably been told before or will be told that you need to tell your emotions to shut up. And I agree with that to a point. Not always. God created us with feelings. Take the feelings away and life isn't as enjoyable. John Piper even says that the pursuit to be happy is one of the main reasons we follow Christ. Because in Him we find more joy than in anything else. Joy isn't mainly feelings but it is a part of it.

Don't suppress your feelings all the time. God doesn't look down on a person who calls out Him in distress. In fact, He hears them. He hears you. He hears me. We are human and because of that we're gonna have bad days. Because He's God, He can help us. We don't go alone and nothing is too hard for those in Christ. Even though this present time might be hard, remember that in Heaven all the tears will be wiped away (Rev. 21:4). Hallelujah!

Sometimes, crying is okay.

Thank You, Abba, for carrying me when it's too hard to walk.

7.27.2012

Let The Apathy Fall

"People won't care how much you know until they know how much you care."


I have no clue who originally quoted that but I think that's one of the most true quotes ever.

Let me ask you a question, do people know you care?

I mean really care. Like not just the friendly, "Hey! Just checking up on you to see how you're doing..." but the "I know you're struggling with this sin and aren't sure how to get through it but I want you to know that I'm with you. I'm praying for you, I'll pray with you and I'm gonna walk with you through this." Do you do that? That's what Jesus would do and if we take that seriously we'll live like Him.

Caring, in my humble opinion, is when you're not just concerned for a person, but you're also concerned about where they're going when they die. Do you care where anyone goes when they die? Or are you just okay with being saved and not having to worry?

Do you care?

I used to be that way. I never really thought about how others need to know Jesus Christ and that their eternal future depends on whether they know Christ or not. If I did think about it I quickly put the thought behind me because I was too focused on how uncomfortable it would be to have to share with someone and possibly be thought of as weird or stupid or whatever.

That changed a couple weeks ago when I went to camp and the speaker said on the first night, "Does your heart break for your culture?". BOOM. Does it? Not until I began praying for a heart like His- because up until this point I wasn't even looking for opportunities to share Christ. Sad, right? Yeah, I know.

Does my heart break for my culture? Yes. Every time that I look around me I find myself thinking, is he saved? is she saved? what are they going through? Let me just tell you that's all Christ because on my own I would never think that way!

I got the opportunity to go to a nursing home today and if you know me then you already know I love elderly people and God has given me a huge heart for them in the past 2 years. God willing, I will have a job where I get to be around them everyday. I love hearing their wisdom and how their lives have gone thus far. I talked with a few people today and they are just so open about their lives! They began saying how people don't really visit them too much, especially young people. My heart broke.

Do you care?

As followers of Christ we are to be different from the world and as the Bible talks about, we are to take care of the elders and the poor and the orphans. The question is are you? Am I? May the apathy fall. Let's for real step it up. The world should be able to tell that we're different by how we love and when you love, you must also care.
                   
                                  Blessings!

7.24.2012

Word Vomit (take two)

Sometimes I don't understand why I do the things I do.

Like today, for instance, I fell into a sin that God had given me complete victory over (should I say has given me because I have His victory for life as long as I follow Him).

Why did I do that? Don't I love Him? Do I love idols more? What happened? Am I still His?

--
I doubt.

I know we're told in church that doubting God is foolish and should not be done, but when I look at who I once was and then who I am now I forget that the huge difference in the way I live now is because of the cross Jesus took so many years ago and not anything I've done.

Pride.

When pride comes in, so does sin. They go hand in hand. I forget that I am nothing without my Savior and that this life I'm living now is completely pointless and worthless if not lived for Christ.

I cried.

I sat down overwhelmed by my sin and stupidity in going back to it and I cried. Not sobs (because they would not come), but gentle, upset cries. I'm sure my Father was looking at me with compassion. I prayed Psalm 51 and asked for brokenness and humility. I begged. I still am. I want to be broken. I want to be humble. If that's what pleases my Father that is exactly what I want.

God is love.

He is love. Period. Sometimes I don't understand why He chose to save me (He didn't have to) and I don't understand why He continues to work on me and show me grace (again, He doesn't have to) yet one statement stands so profoundly above all the world's lies of unworthiness... He is love. LOVE looks out for the interests of others, love seeks the best out of other people, God is all these things and more and that's because He is love.

I know why I sinned. Because I didn't allow HIS strength to be enough for me. I didn't even ask for help. 1 Peter talks about being serious and ready for the Lord and the world. We're to be focused on Christ, not sin, not the world, but Him. Through Him, we can be ready for the attacks of Satan and rely on His strength as well as be ready to share Christ with a lost soul.

Satan is attacking me right now as I write this. Telling me I'm unworthy to, that if I really loved God I wouldn't have fallen but the Lord brought me 1 John 1:5:-10. My God is faithful and just and has forgiven me. He is ready to do the same for you. When we fall, we must pray for genuine repentance and brokenness in our lives. Brokenness is a good thing! Just another truth that is opposite to the world.

I read this quote earlier and though it doesn't have much to do with the topic of this post, I believe that when we realize that God is not just personal, but holy and just and bigger than we can even imagine, we have a more reverent worship towards Him and think more about Whom we are serving.


   
“The Christian’s instincts of trust and worship are stimulated very powerfully by knowledge of the greatness of God.

But this is knowledge which Christians today largely lack: and that is one reason why our faith is so feeble and our worship so flabby. We are modern people, and modern people, though they cherish great thoughts of themselves, have as a rule small thoughts of God. When the person in the church, let alone the person in the street, uses the word God, the thought is rarely of divine majesty.”

“Today, vast stress is laid on the thought that God is personal, but this truth is so stated as to leave the impression that God is a person of the same sort as we are – weak, inadequate, ineffective, a little pathetic. But this is not the God of the Bible! Our personal life is a finite thing: it is limited in every direction, in space, in time, in knowledge, in power. But God is not so limited. He is eternal, infinite and almighty. He has us in his hands; we never have him in ours. Like us, he is personal, but unlike us, he is great. In all its constant stress on the reality of God’s personal concern for his people, and on the gentleness, tenderness, sympathy, patience and yearning compassion that he shows toward them, the Bible never lets us lose sight of his majesty and his unlimited dominion over all his creatures.”
            -J.I. Packer, Knowing God, 83.*

*taken from radical.net's blog

7.21.2012

Spoken To My Heart. Following My God.

Life is about to get uncomfortable for you. Rely on Me.


The Holy Spirit has told my heart those words over and over and I find every time that I get a little bit uncomfortable I hear those words- rely on Me.

I hear them when I wake up, when I go to bed, when I'm drifting off to sleep and my heart isn't fearful but actually excited. I'm excited to get uncomfortable so much so that all I can do is rely on my Daddy. That's the way life should be. I was not made for this world and I wasn't made for myself.

I was made for Him.

I've been really content with my life. Too easily satisfied is really more like it. As far as material things go, I've got a lot of stuff. The thing is, it's just stuff. It never satisfies me, it never makes my heart soar and it doesn't make life too much easier (in fact I've just recently considered giving away the bulk of my stuff because it tends to hold me back from truly pursuing my Heavenly Father).

"He then told them, “Watch out and be on guard against all greed because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.” - Luke 12:15

Well meaning people have tried their best to make my life as comfortable as possible. But as I grow older I see that maybe that did more harm than good. Because my life isn't about being comfortable or uncomfortable but about following God wherever He leads me.

Sometimes He's leading me to places that will be classified as uncomfortable.

God has finally brought me to the place where I am completely unsatisfied with my way of life. I'm no longer concerned with my abundance of possessions, my food supply, whether my hair looks great or my makeup is ruined. I'm not concerned with whether everyone on earth agrees with me or whether they are pleased with how I'm living.

I just want to live for Him. I could write that sentence over and over and over and still not be able to accurately stress my passion and desire to just live for Him. Radically. Passionately. Devoted completely. My focus is on Him and sharing Him with every person I can. That's it.

Life is getting uncomfortable and relying on Him is my only option.
                                                                                                            
                                                                                                               Blessings! <3

Relentless by John Bevere {Book Review}




This is a good book. It's very deep though (at least for me) and I would suggest you read it slowly.

John Bevere does a good job with this book. It includes a lot of Scripture (which I love) and brings about a reminder to believe ALL of God's Word and not just the parts that we deem ourselves "worthy" to believe.

I haven't finished it yet because there is so much information and quite frankly my faith has been very challenged to believe some of the things that are plainly put in Scripture and that John further talks about.

If you want to go deeper in your faith then this book is a good start. I would recommend it for anyone who wants to stop half-way believing God's promises and wants to cling to all of them whole-heartedly.

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

7.16.2012

How big is God?

How big is God?


I did not know this statement would have such a powerful impact on my life when someone shared it with me 3 weeks ago. I now have 3 stories to share with you on how God has used this to impact me. :)

--
My beautiful friend Ashley told me about 3 weeks ago that she came across something on a website that was simple yet profound to her. She said, "How big is God?". It was something spoken to me to help me the area of body insecurities. I thought about writing it on a sticky note and sticking it in my Bible.

I forgot.

--
Sitting at church Sunday morning I listened to my pastor speak on 1 John 4. He was talking about fear. Definitely something I enjoyed hearing and needed a reminder of, but the very last point on my outline, the very last thing he spoke about, the thing that he only spoke on for all of 2 minutes had a lasting impact on my whole day...

"How big is God?" <~ question.

Ephesians 3:20-21 <~ answer.

"20 Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us— 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

How big is God?

He's able to do ABOVE and BEYOND ALL that we ask or think because of the power that works in us. IN US!!!

--
I checked out a new book from my church library.. The Circle Maker written by Mark Batterson. I'm only 3 chapters in and God freaking blew me up! I'm reading and a quote comes up, "God does not answer vague prayers." He begins talking about how we must be specific when we pray and believe God for it and so forth and suddenly I hear, 'How big is God?'

Something deep within my heart began asking me this over and over and I sat there stunned for a few minutes because I remembered the two stories I shared above. If God is so big, as Ephesians 3:20-21 says, and He can do all things as Phil. 4:13 says, then why in the world am I praying such vague, scared, small prayers? Do I believe Him? Then why are my dreams so small? If I believe God does all things for His glory then why am I so fearful to pray for salvation all around my city? My state? The USA? The world?

How big is God?

My initial response is, bigger than me. But He is also bigger than you. He is also bigger than our world and our problems, our fears, losses, gains, all of these! He's bigger than them all!

My challenge to you is to write, "How big is God?" followed by Ephesians 3:20-21 somewhere in your house that you'll see it everyday. I'm gonna do the same.  Then pray for God to help you believe it. How would our lives change if we actually believed Him at His Word? Yeah...... a lot!
                                                                                                         Blessings to you guys!

7.08.2012

Peace with my body, peace with my God

If I wasn't supposed to look this way, I wouldn't.

I'm so tired of always wondering if I look skinny or fat. Frumpy or cute. Pretty or ugly. Dude, it's not supposed to be this way!

After being told by two of my favorites, and repeating to myself daily- I've found that God has helped me believe that if I weren't supposed to be this size right now, I wouldn't. God has power overall, so don't you think if I were supposed to be model size, I would be?

Yeah. I think so too. ^_^

You know what I think about the way you and I look? That when compared to Christ, it's just a distraction. If we're constantly thinking about how our hair looks, how thin we might seem (or are), etc. we're not focusing on glorifying God, but on magnifying ourselves. Another form of idolatry.

Do I think there's anything wrong with wanting to look good? No. But in comparison to God's will for our lives I think that if we can glorify God and take care of ourselves, then it's fine, but if we are seeking our own glory and not His, I feel as though that's a waste of our time. YOLO, right? Well, living life focused on your looks seems like a really stupid way to live your life.

Psalm 139 is all about how fearfully and wonderfully made we are by our Creator. You know what I see when I read that? A few things...

1) I was made this way for a reason and a purpose and if this is how I'm supposed to be then I shall praise God for it and in it.

2) The whole chapter points back to Christ, not to us. In the same way, our lives should point back to Christ, not us.

3) I can't escape God no matter where I go!!

All 3 of those things makes my life so much easier knowing them.

Whoever you are, I sincerely hope you know that Christ made you as you are for His purposes and His glory. You are beautiful because you were made by a beautiful God. Stop letting the devil get in your head. The devil is a lie and always will be!! Stop listening to him. I'm gonna challenge you to read Psalm 139 every day this week and as you read remember that you were made by Him and for Him and that's what matters. I'm at peace with my body and peace with my God. Love you guys! <3

7.07.2012

The Seriousness Of The Gospel

I remember it well.

I sat down to check my messages and after spilling my guts to a friend he replied with many helpful reminders for when I'm tempted followed by, "Following Jesus is not a game."

I wonder if he knows that after 3 months that has stayed stuck in my head?

The problem I see around me so much today in Christians and in our churches is the lack of urgency and passion for God's glory & His Kingdom.

Am I getting on to people? Not at all. I'm merely trying to encourage my brothers and sisters.

When I asked Jesus into my heart years ago, nobody told me that my life was supposed to change. That God was going to slowly but surely flip my heart and I was going to have a desire to please Him above my flesh. No one told me so I wasted about a year or two of living for myself while still claiming the freedom of Christ yet refusing to live in it. How messed up is that? If you became a millionaire, would you still live as though you had a middle to low income? Of course not! So why, when we have the Bread of Life before us, do we choose to ignore Him as if we weren't saved?

 

"but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles.  24 Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom," - 1 Corinthians 1:23-24


Christ's death on the Cross is considered a stumbling block and foolishness to those who don't know Him, yet to those who do we see Christ as God's power and wisdom. My question is where are you? Do you see Christ as a stumbling block or as a powerful and infinite reflection of God?

Following Jesus is not a game.

Following Jesus doesn't mean still living by your flesh and going to church on Sunday so everyone knows you're a "Christian". Following Jesus means dying to yourself, letting go of your wants and dreams and letting God take control. His ways are far better than our own (Isaiah 55:9).

I think we've all been lied to at least once in our lives. I don't want any of us to believe the lie that you can follow Christ and change nothing about your life. That is one the most damaging lies you could ever believe because your eternal life is at stake.

I'm not trying to be a Debbie Downer. I'm all for happy discussions and love and joy and butterflies... ;) but I've seen in my life and in others how we don't take things like our relationship with the Lord as serious as we need to.

"9 Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or anyone practicing homosexuality,  10 no thieves, greedy people, drunkards, verbally abusive people, or swindlers will inherit God’s kingdom." - 1 Corinthians 6:9-10


Believe it or not, some people will NOT enter God's Kingdom and the above verse states who those people will be. Some of those things above could describe me before Christ, however, because of His sacrifice on the Cross and His choosing me I will be entering God's kingdom because of His grace! It's not hopeless, though it might seem like it.

Give God all you've got. Seriously. Afterall, Jesus didn't leave anything on the Cross but gave all He had for you. Don't think you can live both your way and God's way. You can't. No one can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Let's get serious about following Christ. You can be serious and still have joy. I know it because I so much joy in the Lord!! Stop playing a game and be part of God's team. Let's work together for His glory!
                                                                             Peace & love in Christ to you!

7.06.2012

The Comparison Game

I like to play a game. It's called, "the comparison game". What you do is sit down, look around you, and envy every other thing people have that you don't see in yourself. Fun, right?! No? Maybe you're not doing it right... just kidding! You totally are!

I think for both guys and girls we all struggle with comparing ourselves to other people. Christian or not, everyone wants to be like "that girl" or "that guy" and when you find yourself not measuring up to them, you feel like a low-life bum.

This has bothered me so much the past few days and what I'm lead to ask myself is,

 why am I being so selfish?

Seriously, y'all, if you're a Christian then you already know that this life is not about us. When we allow the vain ways of the world of always thinking about ourselves to penetrate our hearts, our lives begin to look more like the world and less like Christ.

I'm a firm believer of John Piper's well known quote, "God is most glorified when we are most satisfied." but where does that satisfaction come from?

This I can help you out on. I've learned the past 2 months that the only way I'm gonna be satisfied is if I seek Christ and allow Him to satisfy me. If you're constantly fighting Him and not allowing Him to really be your Savior and Comforter and Lover, then guess what? He won't be that for you. Not because He dropped the ball, but because you're seeking everywhere else and not paying attention to what's right in front of your face!

The comparison game...

I want her body.

I want his love for God.

I want that haircolor.

I want, I want, I WANT!

do you see what this is doing to us?! No one wants what God has already given them because they're so busy looking at other people. They don't want the things that nowhere near compare with this world's tiny, worthless items. We don't want to believe we are fearfully and wonderfully made because we don't think we're as good as that other person.

The deal is this, you and I were not created for our own glory but rather for Christ's. We are not here to have the best body, the cutest haircut, the nicest car, the biggest home. We are here to be God's servant's. His lover's. We are here to give Him all the glory and trust Him and love Him and choose Him because He first chose us.

Stop playing the comparison game! Have you ever considered that God gave you everything you have so that you could use it effectively for His kingdom? Have you ever considered that maybe it's for your good that you aren't the same as that other person? Maybe, just maybe, you can begin to see yourself from God's point of view. Maybe you'll see that He shows no favortism which means you are no greater nor no less than any other person. He loves us all equally. Not because of who we are or how we look, but because He is God and He is love. I'm done with that game. It's not fun and it's more selfish than selfless. Why occupy my mind with thoughts that center only on me and have me throwing a pity party? Exactly. No need for that when my God's loves me unconditionally. He loves you just the same. Don't doubt, trust. Next time you find yourself comparing yourself, first remind yourself of all God has given you through His Son, Jesus. Then, remind yourself of the people who have it worse than you. Yeah, the fact that there are kids starving all over the world should keep you very humble/content and in prayer for them.
                                                                                 Blessings!

7.05.2012

Word vomit at it's best

"If it's not one thing it's another."

I have heard that so many times in my life. It's never been more true than at this time.

This week has been so amazing and so stressful at the same time.

Satan for real needs to back off. My God has me in His hands. Why is that so hard to believe? Why is that so hard for my little heart to know completely and fully that God is for me and not against me?

I'm pretty tired emotionally. I've found that this past week or so when I'm praying I'm not so sure what to say. I find myself saying things that you "aren't supposed to say" and yet it comes out of my mouth anyway.

I've found myself battling between what you are and aren't supposed to say, think, or do. I tell myself, "I don't want to do this." and then a few minutes later I'm feeling guilty because I've been exercising a selfish attitude. Following God is not easy at all. My flesh knows this way too well.

--
As I've gone through this week I've seen repeatedly that God's voice is saying,

My daughter, hang on to Me. Seek Me. Pursue Me. Trust Me. Love Me. Allow My love to consume you. Believe it, cherish it, live in it. Know you can do nothing on your own and know that I don't look down on you because of that. Delight in Me as I delight in you. I love you.

Really, God? I love how He works! Like right now as I'm sitting here writing these thoughts out, I see His hand and His love and His grace and who He is coming to a head.

Virtually everything in my life remains to say one thing to me, "Rely on God."

How many reminders do I need? Sadly, I need them all the time. Thankfully, God gives them to me.

I wish I could end this with some final sentance that leaves you thinking and is profound, but the only thing I've got is... that's life. Our lives are journey's that sometimes have no sentence to sum it up and no period at the end of a chapter. Sometimes it's just loving God and letting Him love you back. I'm all for that! Heres to letting go! :)

7.03.2012

Bless, don't curse!

"27 But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." - Luke 6:27-28


'You've gotta be kidding me. THIS of all things is happening??! I don't understand why someone would treat me like this... much less accuse me of things I definitely didn't do. God, how can I love them? Seriously! How?'

Those are just a few thoughts I had this afternoon.

After being accused of something I didn't do, I wanted to yell at this person. I've never proven to be really untrust worthy and after being around the same people often, you wonder how they can have such little trust in you.

I recently finished reading a book called 'The Hiding Place' by Corrie Ten Boom. If you've never read that, you NEED to. Definitely God has used that book to alter so much in my life in just the past few days. As I was thinking about this situation God brought to my mind that part where Corrie said she had to remember that though the german soilders mistreated her and her sister and countless others, they were still lost and didn't know Christ (no different than I or you before we met Christ) and so they were still living according to their flesh. She said she started to pray for them.

I decided to do the same thing, but to be totally honest, I was still steaming afterwards.

I went for a walk later to clear my head and get some frustration out and God reminded me of the above verse. I thought about Jesus. Jesus was accused of things that weren't true and some of the other things He was accused of were the absolute truth and they punished Him for it.

Life isn't fair.

We human beings don't do as God does. He's true and just and therefore all He does is true and just but we aren't that way at all. We desire revenge, we start rumors, we kill the truth with lies, yes through all that God shows us His righteousness and changes our filthy hearts.

If Jesus had to suffer persecution, being completely and totally perfect, what makes you think we should have it differently? The testing of our faith is how it's proven to be true or false.

Friend, next time someone accuses you of something you didn't do remember to bless that person, not curse them. Blessing them can be praying for 'em, showing kindness when your flesh wants to chew them out, loving even when it's hard. If we live just like the world how can we say we've been changed by a loving God? We can't. The lifestyle is a part of it too. We can't do it alone, but I know a God who can do ALL things in our lives and He can love someone you find you don't like too much if you will just submit to Him. Do keep in mind that we were all once lost, but HE (Jesus Christ) and HE alone saved you! Hallelujah!

God,
we are so not like You. But You promise to make us like You as we
surrender our lives. Let us not hate out enemies but love them through
You. Let us not be like the world, but to be like You. Save Your people,
Lord. We love You! Help us to always love You. 
                                                                                     Amen.
                                                                              
Bless you, dear reader!