Friday, September 22, 2017

The Way In Which You Should Go

It's been awhile ... ok, it's been months. Lots has happened.
The details don't really matter but God has really been pressing me to write a blog post about something. So, here we go.
Right next to my work you have to pick one of two turn lanes to turn into my work at a stop light. A few weeks ago, I came into one of those turn lanes, all the while recognizing a car accident that had taken place across the street. Only to realize as I pulled to the head of the turn lane that the accident was in fact in part of my lane and I would be unable to turn in that lane. The light changes and I sit there waiting for the lane next to me to clear out to be able to change lanes and turn.
The car behind me kept honking their horn, making rude hand motions, and even sticking their head out their window and yelling at me to move. Problem is, they couldn't see what I could see. They didn't realize that if I moved, I would go a few feet but would either end up in the accident or create a situationin which I could move no further. So there I sat being honked at, yelled at, and gestured at.
Sometimes I think God must feel that way. He can see the whole picture. He is at the front of the intersection. And there we sit honking our horn, yelling, and trying as hard as we can to make God move. Thing is, even though we know where we want to go, God is guiding the way in which we should go.
Psalm 32:8-10 says,
"I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him."
God is not out to get us. He is not a God who enjoys seeing us miserable. He doesn't play with our emotions in a cruel way. That would stand to reason that if we can't move in a place where moving seems practical, then maybe we are right where God wants us. Maybe it's that we are ready for a place but it is not ready for us. Maybe the timing is wrong and moving forward would be dangerous or even hazardous. Maybe God still has things to teach us just where we are. Maybe it is none of those things.
Regardless, God is God and we are not. Will we choose to let God be God? Or will we be a stubborn mules. God wants us to take delight in Him (Psalm 37:4). He wants us to know we are precious and loved (Isaiah 43:4). He wants us to know that we can rest in Him (Matthew 11:28). He wants us to know that He has a plan and a great future for us (Jeremiah 29:11).
God's got this; He's got us.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Bought at a Price

As someone who grew up in a home hearing about Easter and John 3:16, I often wonder if I have become numb to the significance of what happened on the cross.
Not only did my Savior die, but He was mocked and spit on. He was beaten. His clothes were divided up by casting lots.
Why? For me. For my sin and shame.
In our world, sin is a very lightly taken issue. We don't want to offend anyone, after all. Anything goes and not a week goes by that I am not amazed of how numb people are to right and wrong. Wrong is twisted to seem right and right, well, that is a subjective matter.
Our sin is a big issue, ya'll! It separates us from God. We literally cannot get to Him on our own. Our sin is just too dark and deep. But God....
On that Friday, He hung on a cross and bridged that gap between us and God. He held the weight of all human sin, past, present, and future.
Think on that for a moment. EVERY sin you ever committed, he took on. Now multiply that times a kazillion and you have everyone.
That is not a small price. Our sin is heavy and expensive. Jesus had to literally die for it. And not just a normal death. He had to hang on a cross and bear the agony and horror of it for us.
Understand this, beloved, you were bought at a price.
Do we live that way? Do we love others, believers and non-believers alike, with the understanding that they too were bought at a price? Does our sin bring us sorrow? Does the sin of the world pain us? Do we live in this world, but are not of it?
We should.
The problem is that I don't think we do.
I think we sometimes get this attitude like our sin is not as bad as someone else's. I think we make light of evil and darkness in this world because we don't have time or it isn't our problem. I think we make excuses for our own sin to dampen the effects. I think we love the convenient and the lovable, but the broken and "sinful" are not our concern. 
We are created to live free and loved. We are also created to love others that way ... as free and loved.
I want to see people the way Jesus did when He hung on that cross. As people in need of a Savior. I want to love someone enough to be willing to die. Not just physically, but to my desires and will. I want to carry the weight of being bought at a price so that I am not tempted to boast in anything or anyone but Christ.
He paid it all and now, all to Him I owe. I was bought at a price.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Rise Up Church. Rise Up Christian.

I was talking to someone yesterday about the condition of the church as a whole in our world today. The conversation centered mainly on how the church, as a whole, has lost its focus. I fear that we, as Christians, have become what Revelation 3:16 would call "lukewarm" Christians.
*Disclaimer: This is not a post intended to bash the church. There are many Jesus filled churches. There are many Jesus filled people loving the lost and reaching out to the broken. This is not a bitter filled post about how the church is useless. This is a post to call you and I, as part of the church, to a higher standard.*
When did Christians decide that if they weren't comfortable, then God's command to "Go and make disciples" and "Love your neighbor as yourself" that it did not apply to them? When did Christians start putting more emphasis on the size of our church building than the size of the mission field we have beyond our church walls? When did Christians decide that what the world thinks of us was more important than what our God thinks of us? When did we stop standing for God's definition of right and just go along with what everyone else says is okay?
Yes, I understand that the church is flawed and broken and that we have weak points because we are sinners but it is almost like we have become comfortable with that.
We do not strive for a higher standard. Worse yet, when we see others striving for a higher standard, we judge them and often, in my observation, snub them. When we see Christians actively loving as Christ commanded (not suggested), we think they are "holier than thou." When we see Christians actively going not just to other nations but our own communities, we think they are "crazy" and somehow that is good for them, but not our calling as well.
Mind you, I am not saying everyone is called to go to a foreign country, but we are called to carry our faith and actively pursue showing Christ beyond our church walls. Crazier yet, what if God does call you to another country or how about this ... what if God calls you to your own neighborhood, school, and work to share the Gospel by the way you love others and live out your faith?
I think the biggest thing the church misses in our world today (and just to get really specific, anyone who claims to be a Christian is part of the church because the church is the body of Christ), is the command to go, love, and do. We are not called to be comfortable. We are not called to be like the world. We are not called to settle for what this world sees as good and true.
We are called to imitate Christ and reflect His glory. We are called to be audacious and live a life of love. Intentional love. A love that is sincere and hates what is evil but clings to what is good.
God's calling for our lives is so much higher than anything we can find in this world. We can't settle for it or just wait for it to happen. We have to be intentional. We, as Christians and a Church, have to be brave enough to get uncomfortable. To love enough to see people even in their raw brokenness. To live our faith in such a way that people can't doubt that God is doing something great in us. Not because of anything we do, but just because of how great God is.
God's love is so much vaster and wider than we know because we aren't willing to fully experience it. Church ... Christian, rise up! Dare to seek God and His face. Dare to live like love ... like Jesus within and outside those walls. Dare to give and then give some more. Dare to support other's in ministry as they pursue God's call. Dare to follow God's call for you.
Life is not to be taken for granted. Let's get moving. There is so much to be done here. There is no time to waste.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Trust and Obey

If I were to sum up this season of life in three words, it would be: "Trust and Obey."

There is so much wonder and questioning that comes with adulthood, I am finding. God has been showing me so much. He has shown me the wonder of a child. He has shown me what having employers with a strong faith looks like and how it effects my job as a whole. He has shown me His grace in allowing me to succeed despite how inadequate I often am. He has shown me how He loves, provides, and forgives.

Most of all though, He is showing me how I need to trust and obey even when I cannot see His plan.

There is an old hymn called, "Trust and Obey." 

The chorus goes like this: "Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."

When God calls me to love but it is hard, I need to trust and obey.

When God says, "Not yet." I need to trust and obey.

When God is silent, I need to trust and obey.

When I question my future and worry about tomorrow, I need to trust and obey.

When He calls me to take a step, but I am afraid, I need to trust and obey.

There is truly no greater joy than to find myself and my identity in Jesus. 

In Him, I am confident that His plans are perfect. In Him, I know that I am so loved. In Him, I have a great hope and a future. In Him, I rest and am sustained. In Him, I can trust and obey.

Trust and Obey written by John H. Sammis, 1887

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Glorifying God and Seeking His Will

I know that it has been a very long time since I wrote anything. It hasn't been from lack of motivation but a lack of making writing a priority. Life is full of important things and blogging just hasn't been on the top of my list. On this snowy day though, I wanted to write.

Some of you may know that I accepted a job with the YMCA as an assistant preschool teacher back in October. All my life I have loved children. The thought of working with them for the rest of my life fills me with indescribable joy.

Many of you also know that I did a lot of going back and forth on what I wanted to do. That is why I took a gap year off from school to discover what I wanted to do. To put it bluntly: working with children does not pay a lot. In fact, many meaningful and very necessary jobs don't make much. I struggled with that because I want to make a living but I also want to make a difference.

God has given me a great love for people. Learning people's stories and meeting their needs, even if that just be in prayer, brings me great joy. I truly believe that people were created to love each other and glorify our Creator. That being said, I wanted to pursue God's will in how best to do that.

The older I get, the stronger my desire becomes to be in the will of God. I want to have a family. I want to go through life with a God fearing man. I want to have my own children and model Christ to them. I want to make money. Not because I am greedy but because everything costs money. I want to make a difference. Yes, I want all these things and more but more than anything, I want to be in the will of God.

His will has sent me crazy places in the past. I have spent the two past summers in jobs I was grossly under qualified for. I am currently in a job where I am under qualified and the youngest in my field by many years. Yet that is where God has definitely called me.

This summer I have made the difficult decision to remain home and work a camp job through the YMCA. As much as I love the Y, I still have an adventurous spirit that wants to go all over and see new and exciting things. And yet, I know this is where I need to be. I also know that where God calls us is never dull.

There is a quote by John Piper that says,
"God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."

I want my job to glorify God. I want my relationships to glorify God. I want my words and interactions with others to glorify God. I want my hopes and dreams to glorify God. I want everything within me to pursue God's glory being made known.

Why? Because He alone is worthy of all glory.

It is scary. It is exciting. It is hard. It is an adventure.

May I be like a Mary, a David, a Ruth and a Paul.

May I seek the Lord's face and lean on His strength.

May I love as He loved, not to point to me but to glorify the One who made me.

In Whose hands am I safer or more at peace? In Whose hands can I be more satisfied?

    Wednesday, September 14, 2016

    Blessed Assurance

     Yesterday afternoon an old hymn by Frances J. Cosby called "Blessed Assurance" was running through my head. 
    Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
    Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
    Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
    Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
    At this time in my life, I am constantly questioning where I belong. A job is harder to find that I ever thought possible. School will soon be upon me but I am not sure of my major. Family matters leave me uncertain of many things. Life is always so full of uncertainties. Oh, what a treasure to bask in the presence of my Savior. It truly is such a comfort and a "foretaste of glory divine"!
    Perfect submission, perfect delight,
    Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
    Angels, descending, bring from above
    Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
    Submission has never been my strong suit. However, as I continue to grow in my faith, I find the Lord's will is where the most peace abides. When I seek out my own way, I only find confusion and more frustrations. Yet when I dwell in the presence of the Lord, the "perfect delight" I find is unmeasurable.
    Perfect submission, all is at rest,
    I in my Savior am happy and blest,
    Watching and waiting, looking above,
    Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
    I do a lot of watching and waiting, but when I fix my eyes on the Author and Perfecter of my faith who endured the cross, my trials seem to fade. I wonder if this is what Paul meant in Hebrews 12 when he challenged the church to "run with perseverance and to throw aside anything which may threaten to entangle us." My heart cannot deny the Lord's goodness. When I focus on that fact, I find myself so "lost in His love."
    This is my story, this is my song,
    Praising my Savior all the day long;
    This is my story, this is my song,
    Praising my Savior all the day long.
    One of my absolute favorite verses in the Bible is Psalm 63:3-4, "Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you for as long as I live; in your Name I will lift up my hands." Oh to be able to tell my story and struggles, yet to "praise my Savior all day long." This truly is my story and my song.
    What a "Blessed Assurance" indeed!

    Wednesday, September 7, 2016

    A Need for Accountability: Stop Making Excuses!

    As I am gracelessly slipping into this thing called adulthood, I am beginning to realize a couple of things.
    One of the things I notice about the culture that I am growing up in is that no one wants to take responsibility.
    Oh, Hillary lied again.
    That's just what politicians do.
    Ryan Lochte gets drunk and destroys property.
    Oh, boys will be boys.
    Gabby Douglas gets bullied on social media.
    She needs to grow a thicker skin or else get off social media.
    Where is the accountability? Where is the sense of right and wrong?
    People like to blame others, dodge the truth, and make excuses. In reality though, the people are the culture. It is our fault that these things are becoming acceptable.
    One of the things I hear a lot in churches is that people like to blame the leaders of the church for not reaching the lost, not standing up for the broken, not doing this, that, and the other. Thing is, the leaders are not the church. The Christians as a whole are the church. Yes, the church leaders need to be wise in their decisions but the people of God definitely can do something.
    Why are the people not reaching out to the lost? Why are the people standing by the broken? Why are the people making excuses?
    This is the same in politics and in society as a whole. Yes, good and bad leaders influence the people but the people ultimately make the choice.
    There is this awesome quote by Edmund Burke that says,
    "The only thing necessary for evil to win is that good men do nothing."
    Yes, we could sit here and blame others. We could wallow in our own hurt and pain and what others have done against us. We could say, "Well I am only one voice, so what will it matter?" We could remain silent. It would be easier and less painful. It would be normal.
    Thing is, when God called us, He didn't call us to follow the world. He called us to follow Him.
    James 4:17 says, "Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it."
    In the movie God's Not Dead 2, the main character says when asked why she just won't sign a plea bargain apologizing for her belief in Jesus Christ, "I would rather stand with God and be judged by the world than stand with the world and be judged by God."
    It's time for the people of God to stop taking sin lightly. It's time for the people of God to come alongside the broken and hurting instead of wallowing and blaming everyone else. It's time for the people of God to stop making excuses.
    We are called to be a "light in the darkness" and a "city on a hill." What are we waiting for?