3.28.2013

Are We Looking For Excuses Instead of Christ?

A couple days ago I felt God telling me to call a certain individual. I knew for a couple weeks before that this was something God wanted me to do, but I was scared.

My faith was small.

So I didn't call. I just prayed.

We must never use prayer as an excuse to inaction.

As my faith has been going through a beautiful transformation, my faith in Christ has grown. I've been set free from so much legalistic crap. (PRAISE THE LORD! Amen?)

Before, I was using works to "earn" salvation (that NEVER, EVER works, btw), but now, because of what Christ has done on the cross, I am free and covered by His blood and grace. Therefore, I find joy in doing works for His glory because I know that they don't earn my salvation, they simply complement it.

I'm telling you about how God has been transforming my faith because it was this transformation that God has used to help me obey Him. As I've become confident in Christ and His work on the cross and my identity in Him, I've become more obedient and bold.

So I picked up the phone and called.

It turned out that my fears were disproved and everything went well. I was able to share love with someone who might have thought he was forgotten or not very loved.

I say all this to ask a question,

Are we looking for excuses instead of Christ?

As we grow in the Lord and as we learn more about our identities in Him and the sheer power we have in Jesus Christ, we should become more bold in following Christ and obeying Him. Not as a means to earn salvation (because we can't), but as Jerry Bridges puts it, we are "so gripped by the magnificence and boundless generosity of God's grace that we respond out of gratitude rather than out of a sense of duty." YES! Perfectly stated.

Take some time today to be quiet and ask yourself if you're seeking Christ or if you're looking for excuses for not obeying Him. Your answer to that question will say a lot about what you believe. If we believe in a big God we will follow Him in big, bold ways. If we believe in a little God, who is distant from everyone, then we will follow Him in very small, very scarce ways.

So I ask, who or what are you looking for?

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." - Hebrews 12:1-2 (emphasis mine)

3.25.2013

He Provides - Monday Reflections

Some of you know, and some of you don't, but I don't have a car.

Don't feel bad for me. God allows all things to work for our good (Romans 8:28). ^_^

Anyway, I've been attending a church with my sister for a couple months now and we've been walking there because 1. it's not too far to walk, and 2. we didn't know anybody that went there really so we had no one to ride with.

*Insert God's provision here*

I was just thinking the other night how the weather for Easter Sunday said it would be raining. I prayed that God would stop the rain so that we could go to church and celebrate His resurrection with others.

He is faithful.

Obviously, it's not Easter Sunday, but God answered my prayer in an even greater way. He provided a wonderful couple who offered to drive us to church. They said they knew some good friends who used to live near us and that they knew where we lived (said in a non-stalker way :P) and that they would be picking us up from now on.

Y'all, God is SO awesome and SO faithful!

He provides a way when there seems like there is none.
He gives when it seems there's nothing left to give.
He provides hope when everything seems hopeless.
He gives love when everything looks like hate.

I don't know where you are or what you're trusting God with (or not trusting Him with), but I'm telling you right now to continue to trust and continue to believe because God is faithful and will provide a way when you think there isn't one. I encourage you to keep praying even if it takes all you have, because God answers prayers. Have faith. He is faithful always.

"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." - Hebrews 11:1

"Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God." - 1 Peter 1:21 (emphasis mine)

"We live by faith, not by sight." 2 Corinthians 5:7 (emphasis mine)

3.23.2013

Altar Ego - Book Review

Craig Groeschel does a wonderful job with 'Altar Ego'.

The concept? Sacrificing our egos on the altar of God and learning who we truly are in Christ.

Craig Groeschel has easily become one of my new favorite authors. This book is written in a very down-to-earth feel. Not a lot of over the top (and over your head) stuff here. Just solid truth.

I tried to pick a chapter or two that I really liked to talk specifically about, but honestly, I liked them all. A lot.

Craig talks about being people of integrity, honoring others and showing respect, preaching truth to ourselves, praying bold prayers, and acting in obedience to what God calls (or commands) us to do.

I've been greatly challenged and encouraged while reading this book. God has shown me areas in my life that I've not trusted Him in and instead fell for the lies that Satan threw at me. He's also shown me that those areas are not hopeless, that He will help me through them, I just need to ask.

If you're looking for a book that reads easy, but packs a punch, then you need to go buy this one! You'll laugh, be encouraged, be challenged, and leave with a lot of food for thought (and hopefully that sparks some action in your life).

I resolve to sacrifice my ego on the altar every day to become who God says I am. How about you?

*Note: I received a free complimentary copy of this book for reviewing purposes.

3.21.2013

Simple Faith

I couldn't handle it anymore. I had to drop to the floor and tell Him everything.

Doubt crept in.
Tears fell down.
My heart lifted and fell simultaneously.

But though the doubt scared me, it was like a huge weight was lifted when I told Him I couldn't do life on my own. I needed Him.

It's like He said, "Finally. I was waiting on you to realize that."

I came back to simple faith.

Faith that relies on Jesus, not on myself. Faith that knows when He's in control, it's all good (Rom. 8:28). Faith that says grace is poured over my life because of the blood of Christ. And faith that knows that when Jesus said it is finished, then it is finished.

Complicated faith (or legalism) says you have to spend _____ amount of time with God or you're gonna get it. Complicated faith says if you don't share your faith with one person this week, then He's gonna get mad at you and not speak for another week. Complicated faith says that when you mess up, there's no grace, only condemnation. It's really no faith at all, but doesn't it trick you? Or maybe it's just me... though I don't think it is.

I want the real thing.

Daniel Bashta (musical genius) wrote these words for his song 'I Want It All (Just Give Me Jesus)',

"Give me the real thing, not just religion,
stir up my passion, with more of conviction,
I want it all, not just a portion,
give me Your presence, not just some feeling."

I LOVE that. 

Real faith gives room for doubt because doubt produces growth.

You can't give up. You can't stop looking; stop seeking. Well, yes, you can, but I pray you won't. Because it's in those times of doubt or pure spiritual/physical exhaustion that we find the real Jesus.

3.20.2013

Part 2 of 'Eat Well, Work Well, Feel Well'

"We talked about the benefits of eating well, working well, and how that helps us to live well in my last post. Here, I want to help you find some ways to apply those things.
  • Find a workout that works for you. Some people dig running, some don’t. Some people like Zumba, some don’t. Find what works for you, what you enjoy doing and be consistent with it. If you like walking, then make a commitment to go walking 30 minutes a day. If it’s jump-roping or playing soccer then take some time out to do those things. Have fun with it!
  • Don’t overdo it. Don’t tell yourself you can’t eat _____, ______, and ______ or you’ll feel far too deprived. You can eat a cookie or a piece of candy and it won’t kill you (shocking, right?!), just don’t make your diet mainly cookies and candy. Remember that food is fuel..."
Read the rest here.

3.12.2013

Mine

"God gave you a new name and you will grow into it." - pg. 24 of Altar Ego.

I read the words and pray,
Lord, what's the new name You've given me?

"Mine."
 
What?

Mine.

Simple, but so very profound.

If people only knew how I always long for a group to fit into. How I always seek approval from someone.
Classic people pleaser.

He says, "Mine."

When I'm a broken mess, He says, "You are mine."

When I'm a fatherless child, He says, "Mine."

When I'm overweight and struggling with food, He says, "You are MINE."

When my doubts are creeping in, He says, "Child, you are Mine."

When I feel like there's nowhere I belong, He says, "You belong to Me."

There's a period at the end. It's not a question mark or a comma. It's not an asterisk as if there's more to it than that. It's a period.

No matter where I am or where my heart is struggling, my new name remains - His.

What new name has the Lord given you? Feel free to leave yours in a comment below!

3.08.2013

Eat Well, Work Well, Feel Well.

Exercise is a huge part of my life. I workout every day. Sometimes it’s just walking, sometimes jogging, sometimes weights, and sometimes a combination of all three.

I believe exercise is a wonderful gift from God. As someone who has struggled with gluttony (idolatry to food) all my life, I can tell you that exercise isn’t something that just affects my body, it affects my mind and heart as well.

For instance, I went to a leadership camp last year and because I didn’t get to have some set out time to exercise, I got really grumpy those last few days (there’s your warning, friends!). When I got home, the first thing I did was put on my tennis shoes, and go walk.

--
Hey y'all! I've got a post up on Her Glory today and you can read the rest here. While you're there be sure to look around! Got a lot of great writers on the team. Happy Friday!

3.07.2013

Stunning Words

We sat and talked.

'Til one in the morning.

The conversation originally started with me voicing my sorrow over a friend's lifestyle and how I knew she was hurting, but really I can't help her because my words are too feeble and she doesn't act on them, so I pray.

But that lead to a different conversation about living without a dad present in my life and then I said this,

"It's hard not having a father. It wounds you in areas you can't even begin to understand until you're there, all up in those areas, and you're like, 'Wow. I don't know anything about this.' It's even harder seeing God as Father because I haven't had one around and I'm just waiting for God to give up on me for making mistakes because my dad gave up on me and didn't want me.'
 
Cue stunned silence.

What? Did I really just say that? Well... honesty ensues.

Even now I have tears in my eyes.

Y'all, this is where I'm at. I know God is my Abba but I don't know what the heck a Father really is and I look to Him to show me what a Father's love is like, but I still have the hardest time grasping even a tenth of it.

Grace. His grace pours over my doubts, fears, pains, and uncertainties. He's all I've got. He's the only Father I'll ever have.

So I'm getting real with God. Open. Honest. No lies. No hiding. He can handle it and He will set me straight in His sovereignty.

I now ask you if there are some words that will stun even you, pent up inside that you haven't shared with anyone, including yourself? What do you have to fear?

3.06.2013

Pursuing Justice - Book Review

I could say so many things about this book, but to keep it simple I'll give you one sentence: Ken does a great job of helping Christians remember that we're not supposed to simply be bottoms in a pew, but hands and feet to the world.

Ken lays everything out very beautifully. He talked about a lot of things I think get neglected in churches when it comes to fighting injustice and what that looks like.

One point I really liked was how he said we need to be equipping the people in Africa (just one of many places that this applies) to help their people, not set out on "fixing" Africa and the people there because only God can heal their broken hearts and change lives.

Ken offers practical wisdom on how to fight injustice every day and explains how justice is at the heart of God, and because of that, it should be in our hearts as well.

If you're interested in doing mission work, whether in or out of the country, you need to read this book! No, seriously. It's only roughly 300 pages and each page is filled with so much wisdom and knowledge.

Injustice is not just something missionaries or especially "holy" people need to fight. No, this is something that affects every Christ follower and if you call yourself one then you need to be concerned about what the Lord is concerned about in regards to the poor, the widows, the slaves, etc. Above all, these aren't just people we label as "poor" and "needy" we need to see them as people. More than that, we need to step into their pain and point them to Christ and help them through life. Because God loves them just as much as He loves us. Let's tell them that while we fight through the filth with Christ and make a difference for His kingdom.

Note: This book was given to me for free by booksneeze.com for reviewing purposes.

3.04.2013

To The Girl With No Father

She had dreams and hopes, ya' know.

She thought maybe she would meet him someday. Sure, he hadn't been around for most of her life and had made no effort to try and be a part of it, but she was positive that a part of him thought about her. A part of him, however so small, loved her.

Now, she'll never know.

Because he died a year ago. Those fantasies of meeting him one day, getting his side of the story, finding out where his life went so many years ago will never come true.

That girl is me.

--
But that girl is not just me alone. I stand with many sisters (and brothers) who have no father in their lives.

So, I'm here to tell you, I know how it hurts.

I know what it's like to watch all your girlfriends sit with their Dad's on Father's day and celebrate him... and you're just by yourself, waiting for this day to be over because there's not much to it for you.

I know what it's like to have people step in and try to fill that void for you, but no human being can help you not feel broken.

Like a doll on a shelf that's missing a shoe and because of that no one wants her, you feel that way too. As if, because you don't have a father physically by your side, you're broken and worthless and you don't matter now.

But you do. We do. And we aren't fatherless, either.

Who would value you? God the Father!!

Those words might not mean anything to you... yet. It's a painful process and a somewhat blind one, because what person knows how a Father acts unless they have one? But He will show you, as He shows me every day, just what a Father is.

You will learn to accept His love, a Father's love, and you will begin to see what it means and looks like- a cross. Not just a cross, though, a man, fully human, fully God, hanging there; dying. And He did that because God loves you so much that He doesn't want you to stay broken.

So, beautiful girl, you should know your life has value and you're not hopeless just because your earthly father isn't around. He (God) made you valuable. Read Psalm 139 and let it soak into your heart. You matter.

God LOVES you.

And to the father's who may read this: your job is more important than you know. It's a blessing. It blesses you and it blesses us, so please don't take it lightly. Love your children as Almighty God loves His (and you can only do that with God's help, so don't be afraid to ask for it). You matter.

Let us love the Lord with every part of us and know that the broken places will be healed by Him. Amen.