8.30.2012

Grace

I wanted to come up with a super clever title for this blog post, but all I could think of was grace so that's the title. :P

I don't understand God's grace.

Can we ever really understand it? Hmm.. not sure about that one, but what I do know is just because I don't understand it doesn't mean I can't accept it.

 

How do we get from being so happy in the grace of God to being so uncomfortable and squirming while trying to "earn" His grace every day with our "righteous works"?


This week has been a week of learning to accept grace and love... and then to give it.

I've used grace before to do as I please. I've also used grace as an excuse that meant I had to be "perfect" or God would not take me back.

I have been reminded that because the blood of Christ covers me, I am new. All sin- past, present and future... it's covered! No amount of Bible reading, worship, prayer time, or acts of service can earn that.

Side note: we read the Word, worship, pray, and all that good stuff because we've seen grace and by grace repented, not to earn His love.

Is it hard for you to believe you're accepted?
Dude it is SO hard for me to believe that. Here's what I know now though, if I don't believe His Word then I am calling God a liar.

Ouch.

I've had to pray, "Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief." quite a lot lately. It's a good place to be in in a weird sort of way because it brings me to the reality that no, I don't believe everything God says but because of His grace upon me I can ask Him to help me believe and He will.

That's a promise.

I want you, the person reading this right now, Christian or not, to know that His grace has covered you.
Jesus did that, not you.
All you have to do is accept it and allow Him to have full reign over your life.
We accept because we're accepted by Christ.
Christian walks aren't easy (whoever said they were lied). But my life lived in grace is better than my life lived in condemnation.

Grace has covered you. Believe it, accept it, live in it, live by it.

8.28.2012

Small Missions Are Great Too

I haven't started a church plant (but that doesn't mean I don't want to).

I don't have a ministry I've started and run everyday.

I don't lead a small group or go to third world countries or do really anything "big" to change the world.

I live a pretty boring life actually. Well, others would classify it as boring. Me? I think of my life as pretty exciting because I get to figure out how to live this Christian life on the daily- in the small, tedious, annoying things of life.

Small missions are great too.

There's this thing that goes around in churches and groups of Christians in thinking that we need to be doing these "large", out of your mind, flipping amazing things.

I don't disagree with that per se, it's that I think all things are equal in the eyes of our God and that it's not really how "big" the things are that you're doing, but just that you're doing something for His glory. What if Jesus just wants you to share Christ with your next door neighbor?

Sometimes I doubt my legitimacy as a follower of Christ because I'm not doing as much as other Christians I know. Jesus pretty much wrecks my world everyday, but recently He's been showing me the importance of the small things. His gentle voice says,
 

"Anything done in My Name for My glory is great."


Period. End of story. That's enough for me.

Matthew 6:1-4 talks about giving. Verse 4b says that the Father sees the things we do in secret and will reward us for those things.

Wanna know how that relates to you and me?

It means that that person you sit with at lunch every Monday - Friday trying to minister to, the person not many people know you talk to or share Christ with... you'll receive a reward for that someday. It means that genuinely caring for people by just listening to them is another reward. It means that each time you force your pride down and forgive somebody you'll receive a reward for that.

Don't get me wrong though. Please don't, because Christ and His saving grace in our lives should be our only motivation for everything we do, but it's (at least for me), very comforting to know that though no one else knows the little things I do each day, He does and He'll reward me for those. Mmm yes! That's good stuff!

You're on a mission every day of your life.
Don't forget that. Nothing "big" or "small" is hidden from His eyes and one day you'll get your reward. Until then keep pursuing people in His love. <3 Have a blessed night!

8.27.2012

Let Us Love {Monday Reflections}

"For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same?" - Matthew 5:46-47


Love.

It's a strange word that you can't just say, but most show as well.

Jesus did that pretty well on the cross.

How are we Christians doing at being love to the people around us?

Yeah, I think we sometimes have the wrong idea. We Christians are saved, but that neither makes us any better or worse than anybody else. We merely accepted the free gift His merciful hand extended to us and now we're supposed to share that offer with others. Sometimes it's not just telling people about that gift, but showing it through your life.

If we would stop trying so hard to fix everybody and just love them we'd realize that as we love them toward Jesus, He is the One changing them and making them more like Himself.


The thing that makes Christianity different from every other religion is that we love our enemies. We don't kill them, we don't mess them up a bit, we don't try and convert them... we love them.

Jesus does the rest.

Sometimes we mess up. Sometimes our flesh gets in the way and sometimes we let it, but He is making us. He's moving us to love those that we think of as unlovable because we're beginning to see them through His eyes, and not our own.

I read a quote during my quiet time this morning,

"One of the most powerful evidences for the truth of the Christian faith is when we reach out to the outcast, the unlovely, the socially unacceptable - the Gomers. After all, God did that for each of us, didn't He?"


Let us love as He loves.
Who do you love? How do you love? If you only love those who love you and you are calling yourself a Christian, you might need a heart check. If your love doesn't look like His then it's time to evaluate who you're living for and like. Take some time and think on that today. Happy Monday!

8.26.2012

Encouragement To Those Suffering

I'm never going to make it through this.

Ever been there before? Like no matter how much you pray, read the Word, or remind yourself that this is a battle that Christ has already won, you still can't break through?

Yeah, I've been there too. I'm there now.

In this dry season of suffering (that's how I put it at least) I've been reminded constantly of two things:

1. God never leaves me. He's with me right now. <3
2. If I wanna get through anything I must rely on Him because relying on myself will never, ever, ever, EVER work.


I've gotta praise through this.

Yes, you read that right. Up until last night my prayers have really been, "God, get me OUT of this!", but He broke my little heart last night in showing me that acting like a two year old, kicking and screaming about how I don't like this, is not showing my trust or love for Him but rather my immaturity. Even my immaturity is somehow turned around by His hand to grow me. That's good because I have a feeling it's not the last time He'll have to correct me, but at least He's happy to do it. ^_^

If you're going through some suffering I genuinely want to encourage you with some things.

I know it's not easy, but remind yourself to rely on Him, not your feelings, thoughts, opinions, whatever! Rely on Him. Can't stress that enough (I'm preaching to myself basically, because I need this too!)

Also, stay in the Word!! Satan will first attack your desire for the Lord and that's something you have to pray against and stand firm in. You might not feel like praying or reading His Word, but the minute you step away from Him you are in the midst of a battle with no weapons to fight with. Your life is based on faith (even when you can't see what's happening), not on your circumstances.

Last thing is just surround yourself with godly people. Getting away from other Christians is something that Satan might tempt you with but it's the last thing you need to do. We need people to pour into our lives and help us through these tough times.

Hope the Lord spoke to you in some way and I want to encourage you to leave me a comment if you're going through stuff so I can pray for you! Don't be shy! ;) Love you all in Christ! God bless!

8.24.2012

It Was The Name of Jesus

I collapsed on the floor and I cried. I sobbed.

I spoke Jesus' name a couple times because that's all I could find my voice speaking.

Then, I sat and listened.

It wasn't an audible voice, just a peace and that peace brought my tears to a halt and my fears left and it was just me and my Savior.

--
"...let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead—by Him this man is standing here before you healthy." - Acts 10:4

Acts 3 tells the story of a man who was crippled and had been for quite some time (since birth). Peter and John received power from the Lord and this man was healed and in Acts 4 they tell everybody that it's by the name of Jesus Christ that this man was healed. The Name!

That leads me to ask,

what would happen if we Christians believed in this Jesus whose name alone is so powerful?


If His name alone is that powerful, what do you think would happen if we let Him live through us on the daily? I think life as we know it would be drastically different. In the best way possible.

My prayers wouldn't be so small if I believed in a Jesus this big.
My fears wouldn't be so strong if my faith was in a God who is stronger than anything.

It was in the name of Jesus that I found peace last night. It was in the name of Jesus Christ that this man was healed. It was in the name of Jesus, by His sacrifice, that we are saved.

As you go through today I challenge you to just speak His name a few times. It's amazing how doing such a simple thing brings us back to His presence and peace. Happy Friday, guys!

8.22.2012

Seasonal Change

Just a few more minutes....

I sat in bed waiting for the sun to rise. It's already starting to feel like fall... thank God! 3 months of early unbearable heat is pretty much over and a new season is on the brink of starting... like my life.

I woke up at 4am and God gave me the privilege of being able to watch the sunrise. First, it was really dark, then kinda dark, then light began to appear and before I knew it I was lacing up my tennis shoes to go jogging.

Life is kinda like the sunrise. Sometimes it gets really dark, then kinda dark, then the Light becomes visible and before you know it you're dancing in it.

Fall is my favorite season and I can taste it it's so close. In my life, I can taste breakthrough coming, too. I guess you can call the season I'm in right now a "seeking season". I'm seeking my identity in the Lord and I'm seeking the Lord Himself.

I'm desperate.

Good thing about trials and storms in life is it makes us desperate for the Lord (either that or you turn away from Him, which by the way is the worst choice, so stay close to Him and rebuke Satan!)

Faithless prayers; prayers that took nothing out of me and stirred nothing within me have become far too common in my life. Singing some songs yet having no real intention of living what I was singing or reading some verses and not applying them... I'm done with that.

I'm ready for a faith that can move mountains. A faith that takes everything inside of me. A faith that is unshakable. A faith like Paul, Peter, John, James and all the other saints I admire.

I'm ready for fall.

I'm also ready for change. Change in my life, change in my faith, and change in this season. All for the glory of God and oh for others to see His hand upon me!

Seasons are changing... where do you find yourself in the midst of the change? It might seem dark right now, but hold on, the Light is coming.

8.20.2012

Jesus' Mission Wasn't To Be Nice {Monday Reflections}

You read the title right.

You might be agreeing, you might not, but give me a bit to share why I make that statement. I think you'll respect it at least, maybe not like it, but that's okay. :)

The other night I was sitting in bed crying (the usual as of late click here to see why). I don't really remember too well what brought about this thought but I know it had to be from my Father,

"I haven't been living like Jesus, I've been living to be 'nice'."


Ouch.

I'm not entirely sure but I don't think the word nice is ever mentioned in the Bible and when we describe Jesus I don't think people have used the word nice to describe Him. Though, we do present Jesus as the "nice" King who loves everybody (and He does love everyone), but we fail to mention that He wants to disrupt our lives as they are, so that we can be more like Him in every way.

Jesus' mission wasn't to be nice.

I believe that Jesus' mission on earth should be ours. How He lived, should be the way we live.

If you read Matthew 21:12-13 you probably won't say Jesus was being nice. Maybe not, but it was His love and passion for His Father that drove Him to overturn the tables.

John 4 tells us of the Samaritan woman Jesus talked with and at one point He tells her to go get her husband, to which she replies she has none and He says that she answered rightly because she's had 5 husbands and the man she's living with isn't even married to her. Would you say that's nice? But it's the truth and Jesus spoke it in love. That conversation may not be considered happy-go-lucky but it was in that conversation with Jesus that this woman's life was changed.

There are plenty of things that Jesus stated that weren't nice and it wasn't to make people feel good about themselves. Those words were all spoken in love. Love for His Father, love for Truth (He is the Truth!), and love for us.

Jesus' mission was to do the work of the Father and the work of the Father was/is bringing us back to Himself so we can live lives in Him and for His glory.

Our lives should be grounded and centered in the Father to the point that like Jesus, we too through, the Lord, can speak truth in love and God can use it to change some one's life.

All of this has lead me to ask myself one question, Do I really know Jesus?

Dude, I know a whole lot about Him! Yes. But do I know Him for real? Like to the point my life isn't just changed but radically changed?

The church tells us a lot about Jesus but sometimes I think a lot of it comes from this was what their pastor said, so they say it, and then others say it, and so forth. How much of what we know of Jesus and about His lifestyle comes from the Bible?

So God has lead me to really dive into His Word and seek His way of life, not my own and not the contemporary Christianity that says pack up and go be a missionary in a third world country, and buy Toms, and serve as a worship leader, and do it all because it's what you "should" do. We all have unique callings on our lives and it's okay to step away from the "expected".

If you're still reading this (it's a long one haha!) I want you to really seek Him. Not me, not what I say, not what your pastor says, or your best friend, or your mom. God can use all those people to speak through, but it shouldn't be the main place you get a word from the Lord. We need to be seeking Him and His life, nothing else.

Jesus, let us live in You and through You. Let us seek Your way in every part of life everyday.

8.14.2012

It Was For Me, Not Him

I'm overwhelmed.

I've probably stated this to 10 people in the last week. It's the truth and enduring is only coming by God's hand because it's for sure my weak self is not doing too well.

I cannot be perfect.

My quest for perfection I thought had ended but that's just what Satan wanted me to think. As my pastor stated Sunday, the devil doesn't walk around with a pitchfork and little horns. He disguises himself as an angel of Light because after all, that's how he was originally created. He knows the Word and he will use it against you. Be alert!

I thought I was focused on His glory but somehow it turned into a "am I as holy or holier than they are?" contest. It started with comparisons to other people and then took flight from there.

It turned into a religion vs. relationship battle that is still going strong.

I've asked myself some really hard questions the past few days (those questions must be coming from my Father because I don't usually confront anything). The thought has occurred more than once, am I even a Christian? Again my pastor told me a while back in one of our conversations that there will come days when I don't feel like I'm a Christian but I must stand firm. Standing firm is all I can do right now... going backwards isn't an option that's for sure.

I cannot be perfect.

Why is it so hard for me to accept that apart from Christ I'm still the same person? In Him I am new, but apart from Him I'd go straight back to my old ways of life and be fine with it. Sad... very sad, but very true as well. It He who perfects me, and not me myself.

Sometimes I feel like I have to be perfect in everything or God and other people won't accept me. That's religion. "I have to do this so I'm accepted."
Relationship says, "I'm accepted and so I do this because I'm loved and saved by Him."

I won't tweet something I thought about tweeting because it's "just not right" or I can't figure out how I wanna say something so I won't say it all. I won't write a blog post because it sounds self-centered or wrong in my mind. Sometimes people need to see the humanness and His grace. It's pride that holds me back. Thinking that after all my screw ups God can't take yet another one (of many!) and use it for His glory. That's messed up! Oh, y'all this is heavy stuff.

It was for me, not for Him. I got tricked into thinking that I was doing stuff for Him and a lot of it was being done for me. To make myself feel better.

God, change my heart. Flip it. Give me a desire for Your glory and not my own. Help me let go of my want for perfection and allow You to work. Your working will not be hindered by my big-headedness. I lay me down.

8.09.2012

It Won't Last Forever

"For the Christian, nothing bad lasts forever." - Tullian Tchividjian


Thank You, God!!

This week has been one of such emotional turmoil. Two things: 1. it won't last forever and 2. God is with me... those two thoughts have kept me going like you have no idea.

I've evaluated the situation over and over again. Am I not spending enough time with the Lord? Is my heart in the wrong place? Is there sin in my life?

Maybe it's just a dark valley that I have to go through to see His unfading Light is still shining.

Emotions.

I've learned not to live by them.

We fall into sin on a whim because we "feel" like it. We go out with someone for far too long while they are verbally, physically, and emotionally abusive because "they make me feel so good about myself.." ha! Been there and it's only for a very short time and it brings more pain than joy.

We believe in God and ask Him to come save us based off of a really emotional service, but after a while abandon His ways because we never considered the cost. Consider it, because the cost is great... but the gain is far greater.

The rain might be falling right now, but I know it won't last forever. I also know it won't be the last time the rain falls.

My faith in God is stronger through each storm that comes because it shows me that I am not holding onto Him, He's holding onto me. I can grip whatever I want- emotions, people, books, ideas, theology, whatever and He will take away all those things to show it's just Him and I. Alone. Together. And that He will supply all my needs and sustain me.

My God, He is the Sustainer of my soul. He is my peace, joy, and life. So though I'm in a storm and I feel pretty tired, I know my God is with me and it won't last forever.

8.07.2012

He Remains The Same... Forever!

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." - Hebrews 13:8

I love those quiet moments with the Lord where He just blows me away. One of those happened today.

I was spending some time in worship and the verse above came to mind. I wasn't too sure why until God's gentle voice came to me.

 

"Daughter, I do not change. I wish you would understand this. I want all my children to understand I remain the same forever. My love does not change, My righteousness does not change, My desires do not change."


That led to some thoughts I believe the Holy Spirit gave me.

What would happen if we believed in the same God who split the Red Sea apart?
The same God who led the Israelites by fire at night and in a cloud during the day?
What if we believed Jesus would raise the dead if it be His will in this present day (not to mention anyone who is a Christian is living proof that the dead can and will be raised by the Father's hand)?!

I had to ask for forgiveness after that.

How I have doubted the Father and who He is. He is the same today as He was years and years ago. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever... think about it! Does it make your brain hurt? Yeah.. mine too!

While the world may change and we may change, God is still a God of miracles. He is still a God who saves and He always will be. That brings me a lot of peace in such a hectic world.

Lord, let us see through faith filled eyes. Let us trust that You will raise the dead, save the lost, break the chains, and much more because you did all these things when Your Son willingly gave up His life... You are still doing these things. May we do the same in giving our lives to You so we may find true Life.
                                                                                                           Amen.

Bless you guys!

8.05.2012

Why I Rely On Him And Not On Me

I fall.

When I fall, I fall hard. I fail. Oh so bad. This is why I rely on Him and not on me.

I'm imperfect. No part of me is perfect apart from Him. He is completing me, perfecting me, but none of that can happen without Jesus Christ inside of me doing His work.

We were never created to do life by ourselves which is why strength on our own is so lacking. Do you know I've cried probably 10 times in the past 2 or 3 days because God has given me a task I can't do on my own and it's freaking killing me (my flesh that is)!?!

I've prayed over and over that I can't do it. That's not a prayer of doubt but of belief because my words right after are, "But You can".

This is why I rely on Him and not on me.

My flesh is weak. Left on my own I'd revert immediately back to what I was born in... sin. Thank God He doesn't leave us or forsake us!

Jeremiah 1:6-8 has been of comfort lately. If you haven't read it here it is:

 

"6 But I protested, “Oh no, Lord, God! Look, I don’t know how to speak since I am only a youth.”

 7 Then the Lord said to me:

Do not say, “I am only a youth,”
for you will go to everyone I send you to
and speak whatever I tell you.
8 Do not be afraid of anyone,
for I will be with you to deliver you.
This is the Lord’s declaration."


He will be with me to deliver me... this is why I rely on Him and not on myself.
Whether you know Him or not I hope you're reminded that trying to live this life on your own is foolishness. He made us for Himself and so we need Him.

I tried life on my own... it never worked and I ended up on my knees anyway so why not stay there and serve the One who writes my days?

8.02.2012

Jumbled Thoughts On A Page

I apologize in advance for the odd transitions and order of  these words. These are just some thoughts I've had and need to state really just for myself. Maybe you'll find yourself resonating with some of them.

--
I'm not satisfied with life.

Too many people want to claim the name of Christ and receive His grace but not accept the life that comes with it.

I used to be one of those people.

My life has changed drastically in the past year. THANK GOD! I've learned the importance of following Him regardless of the sacrifices because can you really call it a sacrifice when you compare it to what the Lord gives in return? And even if He gave me nothing for my sacrifice, I'd still do it because His love is worth it.

Right now I'm in a waiting season.
Waiting on the Lord, waiting on His wisdom, waiting on His will to be revealed... and can I say that exercising patience is not a strong point in my life? I have patience (Gal. 5:22), it's just using it and being disciplined enough to not get caught up in this too fast-paced life that I have a daily struggle with.

--
"I'm ready now."

I find myself praying this a lot as of late. I want to be His hands and feet and yet when the time comes, I find myself fearful of man and his opinions. Forgive me, Lord, I know that's a petty thing to worry about. I just want to be bold as He has given me a spirit of boldness. I want to tell the world about Him.

I got my Voice of the Martyrs* in the mail yesterday. I was absolutely amazed at how many people share Christ knowing full well that they may be arrested (many have) and possibly beaten (maybe to death) and they still keep going. May I be so bold as well.

--
Many went to Chick-Fil-A yesterday to support them and their Christian views. I went and supported them as well. I found myself wondering throughout the day what would happen if we were to stand for Christ with the same boldness we had yesterday? I didn't see anyone hiding their face from people or looking around nervously as if they were uncomfortable. It shouldn't be that way when we share Christ either, if we know that He is our strength and confidence.

My flesh is dead, but that doesn't mean my flesh is not a distraction nor does it mean that I don't struggle with it. I have to commit daily to submitting to Him and not my flesh and I have to beg and plead for His will to come before my own even when my heart wants something different. I just want what my Father wants. I wish I could share just how deep my passion and heart for that is, but it's impossible to communicate it.

I want to encourage you to wait on the Lord and allow Him to be enough for you. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, but we don't always allow Him to be that in our lives. We take back the reigns for a while and let Him stand by and every time we do that it always ends in hurt and disaster. You might be struggling right now and in pain and the want to give up and live for yourself again may be stronger than it's ever been in your life, but you must choose to lay it all at His feet even when the suffering is great. He is enough for us and will provide. I remind myself of these words all the time hope they bring you some strength too...

"But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me." - 2 Corinthians 12:9

*you can visit persecution.com to learn more about Voice of the Martyrs.