Friday, July 15, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
A couple of months ago I was praying and God gave me this verse:
Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” –Mark 11:25
You know, God is a gentleman. He is most certainly gentle with us about things. He’s not the type to ask us to change completely over night after we receive Him into our hearts. He walks and talks with us and is beside us with each step that we take. He says, “Now give me this, it’s okay.”
When He knows that we can handle the next step, He places it in front of us. God will never give you anything that you can’t handle. And the good news is that with Him you can handle anything. Cool huh?
I like to think of it this way: To climb a set of stairs you have to develop muscle mass and muscle memory. (You see where I’m goin’ with this?) We spend our whole lives taking baby steps, but of course with the learning comes mistakes. We mess up, we try again. You fall off, you get back up. Until we’re crawling. Then we’re walking. Then we’re running. Then we’re jumping. Then we’re dancing.
You see? It’s God who gives us the strength to take the next steps in our faith.
Well, for me, it was forgiveness. I had always thought that I had forgiven those who have hurt me but God knows my heart better than I do and what He says goes. I said, “Okay, then who do I need to forgive Lord?” Slowly but surely He brought someone to mind from years back. The argument was dumb and I hadn’t thought of it since, but it meant something to the other person involved. So I got in contact with that person and told them I was sorry. They were surprised that I remembered and forgave me joyfully! It felt great. It felt like release. From chains that I didn’t even know I had.
Throughout the same day and the next few passing days He continued to bring things up to me. I did the same thing and now I feel weightless. It was awesome.
I found myself wondering, “How can I possibly expect God to forgive me when I haven’t forgiven other anointed children of God?” “Who am I to withhold forgiveness from someone when I am the one who needs to be forgiven?”
I came to the harsh realization that I can’t. I
If you are standing to pray today and you have some unforgiveness in your life, mend that. I want to encourage you to ask God to heal your heart from that situation. And if need be, contact that person and tell them that you forgive them.
God is a big God who can do big things. He can heal your heart so much that you don’t even remember the bad in that person. He can put so much joy in your heart that you wonder if you’ve ever actually been hurt in the first place.
With God all things are possible.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I’d like to introduce ya’ll to some people that are very special to me. They’re loud, they’re fun, they’re too sweet to believe, and they taught me a lot about what love is and what it looks like. Since they’re so special to me and close to my heart I’ve decided that I must quit being selfish and share them with you guys.
These near and dear people are known as the gypsies in India, but to me they're my brothers and sisters. They are treated in ways that are unmentionable and cast out by the rest of society. Forced to live off of the earth and on the margins of civilization, they ban together and take care of each other. They live among each other and become a family of their own. Recently they have been attacked by local villagers. They've been beaten, raped, and chased away from their homes and belongings. Having nothing after the incident, the children have resorted to eating out of the trash cans around town and have been continually beat because of such behavior. They we're starving. Someone lost their eye in the chaos and a few have never been seen or heard from again.
Praises to God, my good friend Pastor Caleb Vincent and his pastor friends have taken the children in to their homes. They are feeding them, sheltering them, and teaching them all on their own budget. Every day is a constant struggle with wondering how they'll make it through the next, but God has provided and is faithful with each passing day.
"And the King will reply, "Truly truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me." -Matthew 25:40
Jesus said, "the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."
Brothers and Sisters, I'm asking you to please consider helping out a little. Whatever you bring, no matter how big or how small, is more than enough. These kids and families will be more than thankful and will never forget what you've done for them.
If you would like to send money for food, clothes, water, shelter, shoes, toothbrushes, etc, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be more than thrilled to speak with you about how to go about doing so. If you'd like to send the actual items themselves in a package I'd love to speak with you also.
If you have questions about gypsies in India, what they're like, who they are, why they are who they are, how they're treated, etc, feel free to email me as well. I'd love to tell you about them!
Thanks for your time! You are more than great!
Sunday, July 10, 2011
You’ve had it. You have been let down yet again by him/her and you’re frustrated. You wonder, “What did you do to deserve this sort of treatment?” He/She went back on their word again and has once again left you feeling unworthy of a commitment.
It’s happened again. Today you turned on the TV and found out that the congressman you trusted to accomplish the things he promised, turned out to be a phony. His words just weren’t enough. Actions never followed.
Your best friend promised that she/he would write you while you’re away on mission. The letters never came and you feel forgotten.
God has been teaching me lately that His word is truth.
Time and time again we see in His Word proof of the things He says to be true actually happening. They manifest. They grow. They come to pass. They come alive. The seeds are planted. The vines grow strong. The flowers bloom. And before you know it, God has moved. Things have shifted and are no longer what they used to be.
One thing is for sure. If God says that He is going to do something, it will be done.
There will be no, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” Or, “I’ll get around to it when I can.” No, that’s not the way this family operates. This daddy does things differently. You see, love doesn’t get around to it, love does.
If God makes a promise to you, it will not only be kept, but it will be fulfilled. If God tells you He’ll be there, He’ll be there front and center. Always on time.
God’s promises are solid. They’re firm. They’re unshakable.
He always pulls through.
Isn’t it great that the most reliable person in the world loves us more than the world itself? In a world of uncertainties and broken promises, we do not have to be afraid.
In a world of let downs and sketchiness, we are certain of this one thing: GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES.
Saturday, July 9, 2011
Warning: You might not like the things you read in this post.
Have you ever wondered what exactly we are to guard ourselves from? Sure, we know that we are to steer clear of the evil things. We surely know to keep away from Satan and his workings. But, is it really that clear?
If you ask me, it’s not only the things that are obviously and inherently bad that we should watch for, but it’s the things that SEEM to be almost good that we should sprint from. I said, the things that are “almost good”, not “good”.
You see, Satan is a deceiver. He is the Master of deception. If we cease to fall for the traps of the transparently evil things he throws in our paths, then he, naturally, has to resort to another method of trickery.
These are the things that get us every day. The things that seem to be good but aren’t quite Godly. The things like, “I’m going to go a little too far with my boyfriend because I love him. So it must be good.” Things like, “I’m going to study systematic theology, but pass this homeless man on the street.” Or, “Although this music goes against what the Bible tells me, this music is great, so I’m going to listen to it.”
It’s the little things that Satan pulls us in with. And we fall for it.
It’s one little thing after another, after another, after another and before we know it, we are worse off than when we began.
Everything God created is good.
If it’s not good, then it’s not from God.
The Bible tells us to “test the spirits”. To not accept anything as immediately true even though it comes from a respectable person, seems to be a good thing, or even though we ourselves like it.
Everybody makes mistakes.
Be sure to not let someone else’s mistakes become your own.
Heed the warning of false prophets and the schemes of Satan.
Guard your heart, spirit, and mind in all that you do.
Sure, the world will tell you that everything’s okay. Your flesh will urge you to continue on in self-indulgence, but we are not of this world.
Our residence is Heaven.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
I have the greatest friends in the world. I wouldn’t wish them to be any different than they are and I wouldn’t change a thing about them. Each and every one brings something different into my life and paints a different picture upon my canvas. Praises to God for giving me such a community! We laugh until our stomachs hurt and cry until we throw up. These people are my sisters and I am so blessed.
While all of this is 100% true and is what I consider to be “the bee’s knees”, sometimes personalities clash. Now, I’m not talking about arguments or bickering, I am talking about clashing. The kind of things when I want spaghetti and so-and-so wants soup. The situations when I want the diet coke I’ve been saving and so-and-so snags it.
When situations like these arise, we are all faced with two choices: To confront the person about the things that are agitating you, OR to accept the situation and see it as an opportunity to love someone well.
You see, it’s never easy becoming a servant or last, but it is what we are called to do.
“So the last will be first, and the first last.” –Matthew 20:16
“But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give hid life as a ransom for many.” –Matthew 20:26-28
These are the times when we can serve one another! And by serving one another we are imitating Christ! And as we imitate Christ we are loving our friends, family, and strangers well. If God is love, and we are loving others, we have then at that moment tapped into the greatest power of the universe.
Instead of getting annoyed with one another, losing your temper, or fostering ill feelings towards another person, use this as a chance to give and be selfless. Be the first to give up that last diet coke you’ve been craving. Be the first to bless another child of God. Be the first to open your house up to a friend even though you want to be alone.
Die to yourself.
Others will be moved when you humble yourself as a servant.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
In this world there is so much hurt. There is slavery. There is poverty. There is prostitution. There is sorrow to the point of death. Child labor exists. There is death from hunger. There are babies without mamas. Innocents are abused. The thirsty and hungry survive off of alcohol and drugs. Children are trafficked. Widows go homeless. Loneliness resonates in the largest of cities. Emptiness lingers in the unsuspecting. And so much more.
This is a fallen world that we live in. Full of sorrow and lacking hope. Full of hate and lacking love. Full of death and lacking life.
Sometimes I find myself asking God why things so awful even exist. Sometimes I wonder how the world even got this way. As I lay awake, restless at these thoughts, I dare to wonder-“God, why don’t you do something?” His gentle reply is, “I did, I made you”.
We, who have so much influence and resources at our fingertips stand by and allow the world to spin out of control. We allow another beautiful creation to slap another in the face. We allow the widows to go homeless. We allow injustice to thrive. We are greedy with our cash. We are greedy with our attention. We are even greedy with our time.
I want to dedicate my life to being an ambassador of love. If God is love then I desire to be in the front line of the battle passing out my heart. Front and center.
Call me crazy but I am sold out for God. I want the least of these to know what I know. To know the hope that I have found in Christ. I can’t do much, but I can go.
I’m going to dance with lepers and run with orphans. I’m going to recklessly abandon this world and all that it has to offer in exchange for the calling upon my life to love, and all that it has to offer. I am going to make the choice to love so much that I feel exhausted.
We are children of God. We are the Body. His body. We are His hands and feet. We are it. We are His great plan.
This is my great aim in life.
To love like Jesus loves me.
This is what burns inside of me. This is what I yearn for.
I know this may not seem like much to you. I know that this may sound wild. I know that I may sound off the rocker to you, I understand.
All I know is that I am called to go, wherever that may be. I’ve got no plans; I’ve got no “to-do list”.
The agenda for my life is love. And I’ll never stop trying.
REVIVE THE WORLD WITH LOVE.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
- Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
- Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
- Where there is injury, pardon.
- Where there is doubt, faith.
- Where there is despair, hope.
- Where there is darkness, light.
- Where there is sadness, joy.
- O Divine Master,
- grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
- to be understood, as to understand;
- to be loved, as to love.
- For it is in giving that we receive.
- It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
- and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
- St. Francis of Assisi
Growing up in a culture that sells you love, sex, and beauty we have it programmed into our heads that we must acquire all three to be considered “whole”. Through the conversations that I have been having lately I have realized that many girls, including myself, find it hard to be single when everyone else is not. It is hard to desire love and not have it. You find yourself beginning to believe that it’s because you aren’t skinny enough, pretty enough, funny enough, or that you have the wrong clothes. You start to think that you are boring and eventually fall into the fatalistic thought that you aren’t worth any man’s time anyways.
We’ll we all know that it takes two to tango, correct? In this dreamy relationship that we have cooking in our brains there is somebody else involved, it’s not just us. Why do we somehow make it all about us?
Let me propose something to you.
Instead of thinking that something is wrong with you and that you’re not good enough to be loved, consider that God is working on your husbands heart. Consider that you God is preparing him for the ministry and marriage that you two will have together. Consider that God is molding him into the man He designed him to be and the man that you need him to be. After all, our husbands are to be our spiritual leaders, yes? Therefore we should desire for them to be seeking God fully before coming into our lives.
Never settle for anything less than a man who loves God more than he loves you. Never. It isn’t worth it. Wait for somebody who makes you feel alive. Wait for somebody who makes you think, “I can’t believe he chose me”.
There is nothing wrong with you. You are beautiful and you are worthy of the relationship you desire.
Instead of feeling sorry for yourself and allowing Satan to deceive you in his schemes, start praying for your husband and praying for yourself. Speak against those whispers and denounce them. Pray for your husband’s walk and for his heart as well. Pray for yalls lives together and pray that it will be glorifying to God.
You deserve this.
You are worthy.
You are beautiful.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
In Mark chapter 9 there is a desperate father whose son has a demon spirit living within him. This demon causes the boy to seize and fall to the ground and be sick. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, becomes stiff and unable to move.
The boy was brought to the disciples and doing what they were taught to do, they prayed over him. The father, the boy, and the disciples were amazed that nothing had happened. They had come no step closer to healing. Not even one.
Questions were raised. Doubts were fueled. Accusations were thrown and anger was alive.
One day as Jesus was passing through the city the father caught up with him and said, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”
Jesus replied, “If I can! All things are possible for one who believes.”
Chapter 9 goes on to tell us that the father ended up screaming, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
That day the boy was saved, he was cleansed, and the demons were cast out.
I wonder how often we walk in disbelief? I wonder how often we ask and pray and yet we still doubt the faithfulness and power of God to pull through? How many times do we look Jesus square in the eye and say “If you can…”?
My question to you is: Do you fully believe in the power of God? Do you believe that He will always come through for you? Do you believe that you’re worthy?
We have only to believe.
All things are possible for the one who believes.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Everybody’s got something. Some sort of pain that keeps you in bondage. Wether it be emotional, physical, or mental. Maybe it’s somebody else’s pain that keeps you bound-Your husband hits you. Perhaps the doctors say you are sick-you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, AIDS, you’ve got migraines, or multiple sclerosis. Often times it’s the emotional pain that seems to wear us down to our bones-your spouse died, you can’t get along with that one person you love, “why do people make fun of me”, you’ve been abandoned, or you can’t find a way to love and forgive yourself.
These are just a few of the pains that are living and breathing in our presence all the day long. Most of the time we aren’t even aware because either people don’t tell us or we don’t give them the time to. Instead of leaning on the community of believers and friends that God has so specially placed amongst us we keep it in. We accept what is being dealt to us. We accept that probably somehow we deserve this pain.
Let me tell you something.
Do you remember that Cross? Do you remember 2,000 years ago when Jesus Christ was nailed to it? And do you remember what for?
To set the captives free.
On that glorious day Jesus carried all of our sin, all of our pain, all of our sadness, all of our sickness, all of our anger and put them to death. On that day He put to death anything you can think of that holds His children in bondage.
As they drove nail after nail through His skin and bones, He screamed in pain. As they forced that crown of thorns on His head, He cried in agony. As He got splinters in His back from hanging on that tree, He was trembling. They whipped and flogged Jesus until His was shredded.
The most perfect person to ever walk this earth took the most horrid pain ever displayed and said “I’m carrying this for you beloved. Rest and be free”.
Any pain that you are enslaved to today, speak against it. And while you’re doing that come to Jesus. He wants to hear your voice and know your heart. Good or bad, tell him. Nothing you can say will knock Him off His throne.
You need somebody who will identify with you? Jesus knows pain.
You were never meant to carry this alone.
Remember the Cross. Remember His wrists. Remember the stripes on His back. Remember the blood that was shed.
He didn’t leave us. No, He didn’t turn back. He didn’t accept the pain that we ourselves were accepting. No, He didn’t abandon us. He didn’t say our sin was too great. No, He still came for us.
He’s never left us. And He never will.
Let me leave you with some words:
“God heals the broken hearted and bandages their wounds” –Psalm 147:3
“He Himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.” –1 Peter 2:24
“But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the Lord of hosts.” –Malachi 4:6
Saturday, June 11, 2011
How do you picture Jesus during His time on earth? Do you picture Him as being an all-knowing King, therefore never being surprised? Do you picture Him being a leader and walking in front of the disciples instead of behind or beside? Do you picture the disciples catering to Him instead of Him catering to them? I know sometimes it is easy to forget how real Jesus is and was during His time on earth. It’s easy to imagine Him as being so holy that of course He acted as royalty. Wearing nice clothes, nice shoes, bathing twice a day, and wearing nice jewelry.
The good news is Jesus isn’t like any of those things, He’s more real than that.
The bible gives us the most beautiful picture of who Jesus was and how He lived his life in John chapter 13.
It was the Feast of the Passover and, “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
If you sit in this passage and really imagine what’s happening here you’ll see our God taking off his clothes, wrapping only a towel around his waist, getting on his knees, and washing his children’s feet with his own two hands. You’d see Him on the floor and them in the chairs.
And if we get even more real, there wasn’t silence in the room. People were bewildered at this sight! This, at the time, was a duty of the meanest or lowest slave. There was talk going on around the room about this peculiar man and his peculiar actions.
In the midst of it all I imagine Jesus being so sweet and kind during this moment. The crucifixion was coming up quickly and He was preparing his children to be sent out. He was probably saying, “John, you are stronger than you think you are, be brave and don’t be afraid. I am always with you.” or “Matthew, I love you so much.” and “Peter, don’t be sad, I’ll never leave you.”
Most of all, Jesus was becoming a servant to His disciples. He was tangibly showing them what it looks like to love and serve others. He was being a leader by becoming last and challenged us to do the same. “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (verse 15).
If you ever forget Jesus’ character, take a look in John chapter 13.
This is the man we call Abba Father.
The one with the towel around his waist and dirt under his nails.
Friday, June 10, 2011
There is a girl sleeping below me who is blind. Despite her blindness she is so sweet and genuine and I can’t help but wonder how somebody can be that way. She acts as if she’s not disabled at all.
Maybe she’s not.
She knows where her treasure is. This much is evident. She is so alive and so loving that I am humbled by her lifestyle alone. The way she lives is so joyful and the question that I keep asking myself is, “What does she know that I don’t?”
Being around her this week has made me realize how much I take my eyes for granted. My eyes and my vision are taken for granted every second of every day. Even right this second.
I am in the Rocky Mountains! What if I never got to see this?! Yet, she’s just happy to be here. To be in the presence of fellow believers working for a shared cause…to make Jesus known.
She seems childlike. Pure, innocent, and gracious. Unweathered by the sin that I’ve been burned by. She’s inspiring. I don’t think I’ve come across somebody that has made me think this much in a long long time.
Luke 11:34 tells me that the eye is the lamp of the body. Jesus says that if He is present in someone’s life we can see it through their eyes. Their eyes will light up like a lamp and you can’t help but notice. Those eyes will be different than most because they’re rare in this dark world.
Jessica’s eyes aren’t what you would expect. They are hazy, murky, out of focus, and her pupils are misplaced. But in her eyes I see light. Her eyes have brought me to a place where now I can see a little bit more clearly. Her eyes have moved me.
As I spend time with her I have found myself desiring to touch someone’s life the way she has touched mine. To share some sort of quality with her so that I can feel what it’s like. As I sat there wishing these things Jesus revealed something to me.
Jessica and I do have something in common. You see, I’m blind too. My eyes aren’t what you would expect either. They seem to be healthy but they’re not. I can’t see a lot of the time. This world and it’s lies blind me. Satan robs me of my vision sometimes.
But through my eyes come a light as well. His name is Jesus.
Only through Jesus do both of us see. Only because of His truth do my stumbling feet know where to step next.
Only because of the cross Jessica and I can boldly and honestly stand up and scream, “I once was blind but now I see!”
Amazing grace has captured me.
Friday, June 3, 2011
I know it hurts when you break. When your heart breaks you feel helpless, alone, and confused. You no longer know what to do with yourself and you question wether you’re strong enough to go back out into the world. You wonder why this had to happen to you and sometimes you get angry about it. Sometimes you don’t even feel at all.
But still you find yourself clasping tightly to Jesus and one day you start to see the light. The mess that has become of us is something that we created. It’s our mess. It’s the result of you and I walking around as if we own this world. As if we own our own lives. We make decisions, we take risks, and we commit to things without even taking the time to speak to our Maker. To say, “Is this your will Lord?”
We so tragically make a mess of our hearts chasing all the wrong things.
Until one day, one glorious day, our hearts break. The glass walls that we set up around our idols fall to the ground. And as we lay exhausted at the feet of God we realize that He is making a mosaic of the pieces. He is putting our heart back to together piece by piece in a more perfect way than we could imagine. He puts us back to the way that He fully intended for us to be. The way He so intentionally made us to be.
And we feel freedom. We feel alive.
Now that Jesus has stepped in we once again feel whole.
The Artist has arrived. Step aside as He so gloriously creates beauty from ashes.
Wednesday, June 1, 2011
I’d like to say that I don’t judge myself, but I do. I keep track of what I’ve done right and the things that I’ve done wrong. If I slip up it throws all of the “good things” away and I am forced to start all over again. It’s a scorekeeper lifestyle and it goes directly against what the gospel stands for. What’s more is that it goes directly against what Jesus stands for and against His character.
This means that somebody or something is whispering in my ears these lies and I’ve got a hunch at who that could be. The Jesus I know doesn’t do that.
Actually, scratch the “hunch”. I know who it is. It’s Satan. The accuser. The liar. The prince of darkness. He takes all of my shortcomings and throws them in my face. He says, “Ha! You’re not as good as you think you are!” or “You’ll never be able to _______”. He craves to make you feel less than you are. It’s what he lives for.
Jesus says the opposite. He craves for you to feel like royalty. After all, you are the son/daughter of the King of Kings, right?
In John 8:1-11 the scribes and the Pharisees bring a woman caught in the act of adultery to Jesus. They go on telling Jesus of what He should do and what the law says He should do, but He remains silent. The people are screaming, “stone her!” Yet, not a sound was made as He bends down and writes with his finger in the sand.
Silence was in the air.
Amazement was hovering, as the man who claimed to be the King of the world said nothing.
He stood up and said, “Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone at her.”
What a statement. He didn’t stand up and call people out one by one. He didn’t stand up and condemn everybody nearby. He didn’t even raise his voice or get flustered at all. His calmness was unsettling, I can assure you.
You can probably guess what happened after that. The people left one by one. They realized that they are no better than she. They left with a head full of thoughts, conviction and questions about the way they treat people. They, witnessing what they did, were forced to reevaluate how they thought of one another. (Which is brilliant on Jesus’ part).
Pretty soon it was just the Savior and the adulteress standing in each other’s midst. She can’t move and she can’t speak. She’s in awe that a man would treat her in such a way. A way that’s different from anything she has ever known. Worlds apart from the way the men in her life have treated her. At that moment she was no longer as object but a child. She was no longer condemned but loved.
The story goes on to tell us that the dialogue went like this:
Jesus: Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?
Adulteress: No one, Lord.
Jesus: Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.
Today, don’t let anyone condemn you. Don’t let Satan or his workers. Don’t let your friends or family. But most of all, don’t let yourself.
Because Jesus doesn’t.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
You're standing at the edge of the river. You are so close to being united with our Father but your feet won't seem to move. You are tired from carrying your sin on your shoulders. You are exhausted from running faster than your heart can follow.
A lot of us struggle with trusting what we cannot see. A lot of us struggle with giving our lives to be a follower of Jesus. We stand on the edge of the river and desire with our hearts to go and be washed; yet it feels like our feet are cinder blocks. The thing is we are called to come. We are called to submerge ourselves in the water of life. And all we have to do is take a single step.
Still, fear lingers. Fear dominates us. We are afraid of what being a follower of Jesus might look like. How big of a dent it might make on our social life or the sacrifices that we might have to make. We might have to exchange the comfort of our homes for a straw mat in India or give up steak for foods we are afraid of.
We might actually have to pick up our crosses too.
Somewhere along the way we started believing that those things are bad things. That those things are too hard for us, that they’re heavy and would be burdensome. I’m here to tell you that the weight is not heavy. I want you to know that by taking that step of faith your burdens will be lifted. You will no longer be alone and you will suddenly have a Savior. A very real Savior. Sin will no longer be shackles around your ankles and darkness will no longer swallow you up.
It is worth putting one foot in front of the other and going deeper and deeper into the water with our Lord. It is worth feeling the bottom of the Jordan between your toes.
Sure with each step you give a little bit more of yourself away, but Jesus promises that with each step we gain more than we lose. We gain eternity with Him. We gain the best friend that we’ve ever had. We gain redemption. We gain joy. We gain peace.
So, step into the river. Close your eyes and trust the water to wash your blood stained life. Trust the man who stands on the river’s edge. His name is Jesus. Don’t worry if you’ll be able to find Him in the crowd. He’s the one waiting with His arms held out towards you. Front and center. With the biggest smile you’ve ever seen.
He whispers, “Go and tell the world what you’ve seen”.
And as you feel the warmth of his breath on your neck you’ll feel life sinking into your bones for the very first time.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
Do you ever look around attempting to see God? It can be anywhere. Any place that you love and anything you consider to be beautiful. If you are like me then that place would be nature. That is where I personally more often than not stop and think, “Wow, God is a creative God”. When I am outside I feel Him around me and I can spend time with Him. I love to be outside. To read outside, to sit outside, to pray outside. Because that is where I find Him, where I see Him.
When I think of the most beautiful things that I have ever seen I almost instantly think of things like: Mountains, oceans, trees, and flowers. I think of the big mountains that I saw in India and the beautiful forest that I walked through daily in Australia. I think of the wildflowers that come every year and the water of Frasier Island. I think of the muddy waters of Chocolate Bayou and my mother’s flowers.
I bet that you can think of things that stir your heart too.
I stand in amazement of God’s creation all the time and wonder how anything could be so marvelous. I am inspired by the hugeness of this earth that we walk upon. I wonder all the time how creative and how beautiful of a mind our God has to have when I’m taking into consideration the variety of flowers and plants that He has crafted. The texture, the colors, the height, the thorns, the uses and the aromas that tickle our noses.
God looks at us and says that you and I are His greatest handiwork. He says that we are more beautiful. The things that blow my mind are behind you and I in his book of beauty. They are less than us.
The Word tells us that: “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven”-1 Corinthians 15:49
Here’s the wild truth that pulls my heart strings: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” –Genesis 1:27
We bear the image of Jesus! You were made in His likeness. Can you believe it?! The Lord of Lords declares that we are the most beautiful of all of his creations. After Genesis 1 verse 27 it goes on to say that after God saw what He had created He called it very good. Not just “good” but “very good”.
If you’re looking for God today you don’t have to look far. Look at your neighbor who is made in the image of our Savior and just take it in. Look in the mirror and feel the butterflies.
His fingerprints are all over us.
We are the evidence.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Have you ever felt that nobody understands you? Not in any one specific way but in every way. They don’t understand the big things and they don’t understand the little things. It’s a tough place to be. It’s a lonely place to be. You make a big life decision (like not going to college) and they don’t understand why you made such an offbeat choice. Leaving you in a place where you don’t even want to try to explain because you don’t need to.
Jesus was a highly misunderstood man. I would venture as far to say that Jesus was the most misunderstand man that ever walked the face of this earth. That is wild. Herod didn’t understand. Pilate didn’t understand. Nobody did except for the few that listened to the sweet sweet sound of his voice. Except for the ones who stopped to look in Jesus’ eyes, if even for a split second, to find that He was and is God.
He tried and tried and walked around, on foot, to tell people who He was and about the one who sent Him. He was gentle, He was honest, He was raw. He went on in this manner until the crucifixion came around and was nailed on that tree for our sins.
Jesus Christ, the one true God, came down into the world so that He himself might understand us better. He become fully man and went to be tempted in the desert for forty days, so that He might understand us better. He walked the way that we do, ate the way that we do, laughed, cried, had friends, slept the way we do, and He even had to go to the bathroom. Fully man. On top of all of this, He made us.
That’s the God that we serve. Do you think there is anybody who can understand us better?
He knows everything about us. He knows our temptations, our limits, our joy and our struggles. He knows our heart. He knows our soul. He knows our Spirit.
While in pursuit of saving our souls there is one more thing that we cannot ignore: He came to understand and to know us intimately. He can fully sympathize with us right where we are today. He understands. He came to live among us. He didn't have to do that. The amazing thing is that he wanted to.
Now that’s an epic love story.
Friday, May 6, 2011
God. A big big God. Can’t fully get my head around it, can’t really grasp it. But I like it.
Our Father is BIG. He is bigger than big. He is a huge God that does BIG things. So why do we ask and expect for the little things? As if he is limited? As if He is bound. I am not bound by my major. I am not bound by my appearance or the things that I have. I am not bound by my body and I am not bound by my thoughts. I am not bound by my emotions and I am not bound by my struggles. Most of all, I am not bound by my abilities. I am bound by nothing because of my God. He has no bounds.
I’ve been thinking lately about dreams. It’s always been a big thing that rides my heart but it’s been strong lately. I have dreams. Wild dreams that most people seem to tell me are impossible. I’m here to tell you that your dreams are possible. They are. Sit in the Word and the presence of Jesus and you’ll see. He will tell you the same.
What are your dreams? What are the things that you would do to further the kingdom and to tell people and show people God’s love if you could? What if time, age, money, education, and peoples opinions didn’t exist? What would you do?
What are the crazy wild things that God has put in your heart? I mean, the dreams of dreams. I know that they seem so big and nearly impossible but the greatest reality is that they’re not. God gives us dreams and He gives us passions that are massive. The wild depths of your heart are most likely the things that you were created for.
Abandon what the world tells you that you should do and do what your heart tells you to do. Do what God tells you to do. Gosh, and you will be so joyful. The joy of the Lord will be with you and it doesn’t get much better than that.
If you ever take anything from the things that I write, know this: Where we end, God begins. He takes us the rest of the way. It doesn’t rest upon your ability.
Dream your dreams. Don’t be afraid. Go for it and don’t let the fear of failure stop you. Be reckless.
Take that step and be liberated. Run.
I know I am.
One more thing. Expect big things because they’re comin your way.
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Last week I wrote about the calling upon our lives to love one another and to love hard. If you’re anything like me, loving all the time can seem exhausting and well…umm…maybe fake? Come on, we can’t be sweet all of the time! And surely it’s impossible to do it perfectly twenty-four seven.
God has been showing me that love can look very different than what the world tells me love is. He’s been showing me that love can look like anguish. After all, the greatest love that we have ever known died on the cross, right? That’s solid truth. The problem is it’s the opposite of what most of us picture love to be. He’s been showing me that loving someone can mean biting my tongue. To keep to myself if it’s not uplifting. The act of not speaking my initial feelings can be loving my brother and sister well. He has showed me that enduring is love. And the list goes on and on.
The bible defines love as this:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. -1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Loving someone well looks different every second of every day. It means that there are numerous ways to love someone instead of the exhaustive image that most of us have been fed by the world.
Most of all, to love someone well is to mirror Jesus to them. To live showing others his character. The Word tells us God is love. Go ahead and replace the word “love” in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 with “God” and see how it moves your heart. Then you will be better able to grasp God’s character, which in turn, will grant you the grace to love others the way that He loves us.
That is loving hard.
Monday, May 2, 2011
Every day we were out at the festival listening to good music and having a blast. Tyler’s family was nice enough to let us stay with them at their awesome house and to add to it, Tyler’s mom made us such good food. Breakfast and dinner every day. The Kelly family really blessed us. It was fun getting to know the ropes around Lafayette via Tyler and, of course, trying new things. This weekend was packed with a couple of “firsts” for me. It was my first time to eat crawfish, to eat shrimp, to be in Louisiana, to go to a music festival, and to hang with these great people. We went as strangers but left as friends.
Here’s some pictures of the weekend!
From left to right: Barrett Martin Yeager, Blake Richard Mankin,
Tyler David Kelly, Tim Boaz Reeder, Kelsey Lauren Tilley, Alisson Kay Alexander
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
My mind never stops. Something is always goin on up there. No, I’m serious. I don’t know if you can relate but I’m willing to bet that you might. It seems to be a problem for many of us. Our minds take us places without our consent. Sometimes to places that we don’t want to go. My problem is that I over think things. I turn things up side down and inside out. I’m talkin I analyze. Not all situations but the important things, for sure.
For those of you who deal with the same struggle, you know that there is a nasty side to this character trait. Ohh we know all too well.
It goes like this:
“Was I just weird in that situation?”
“Did I say enough?”
“They probably don’t like me…maybe their humor's dry?”
“Am I doing enough?”
That last one has been getting the best of me lately. Things seem to stem from it…lots of things. I’ve caught myself wondering if I live out my faith enough? If I do enough for the Church? If I’m reading and not applying? Would you even know I’m different because of Jesus?
Showing his faithfulness, God stepped in. I was reading 1 John and He put my mind to rest. Chapter 3 speaks about loving one another and in verse 23 it says this: “And this is His commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he commanded us.”
Here it is again in John:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. 13:34-35
That’s big you guys. The command to us is
1.) to love and believe in Jesus and
2.) to love one another like He loves us.
That is what’s expected of us. Don’t let your mind get the best of you today. Don’t ever feel like you aren’t doing enough or that you somehow don’t matter. It says right here that all we have to do is love.
Love hard. And the promise is they will know we are children of God by doing so.
Yes, you heard correctly…they will know us by our love.
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Natalie Meengs is someone that I have a hard time describing. Our relationship is indefinable really. It is far past best friend status and seems to even surpass sister status. Our story is a funny one. We’ve known each other for a long long time. We’ve been in the same bible studies and hung out with the same people, but never got close. It wasn’t until after my time in YWAM that we became actual friends. This girl flew into my life like a whirlwind and the rest is history. We came into each other’s lives at the very time we needed each other the most. God directed our paths to where they crossed over and over, and before we knew it, our souls were knit. It has become evident that we both have done the most growing since we became friends. It seems strange but it’s the truth.
In the Bible when it talks about Jonathan and David’s friendship it says:
“…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” -1 Samuel 18:1
Jonathan loved David as he loved his own soul. WHAT?! I mean, really…stop and think about that. What does it look like to love someone like you love your own soul? That’s a wild concept to grasp. It seems pretty hard and exhausting right?
Natalie and I have that. And here’s the thing: it’s effortless. It’s hard to imagine and I can’t even tell you how we got here. It’s a total God thing. We love each other no matter what happens. No matter what each other says, no matter what we look like, no matter where we go, no matter the circumstances. Sometimes we don’t even speak and we’re at peace but other times you can’t get us to shut up. I feel what she feels and she feels what I feel. I don’t have to be sweet to her all the time, impress her or tiptoe around her. We are raw together. The best way to describe it is exactly the way the Bible describes it: Our souls are knit. That’s it. It’s not simple and it’s not complex.
These are the kind of friendships that God wants us to have. These are the type of relationships that He plans for us to encounter. People that mirror Jesus to you and push you in His direction. Not because it’s the right thing to do but because they care about you. They care about the most important thing you have…your relationship with God.
My prayer is that you have relationships like this. That you experience walking with someone whom your soul is knit with. It’s a blessing unlike any other. It’s unique. It’s real. It’s eternal. The best part is that God wants that for you. He wants to give you the desires of your heart. He doesn’t want to keep anything from you. Why, you ask? Because you are his child.
“The more I get to know Jesus, the more trouble he seems to get me into.”-Shane Claiborne
Rebellion. Hmmmm…it always seems to be calling my name. Here’s a confession: I utterly enjoy going against the grain, living in the moment and abandoning what the world tells me to do. You know, doing what you want, when you want to. I mean, I crave it. Here’s the deal, I’ve always been rebellious. Those of you who know me might say that’s an understatement. But it’s something within me, it’s in my bones. It’s pretty safe to say that it’s there to stay to be honest.
Do you remember when the “party scene” was rebellion and being “good” was the social norm? I sure do. I actually remember it pretty well. But what about now? These days the social norm is the party scene and the opposite is considered going against the current. My oh myyy how the tables have turned, right? Now-a-days if you’re caught hanging out with your homeless friends people ask “hey, why are you doing that?” as if it’s not a normal thing to do. Now-a-days if you go for a skate instead of beerpong you get asked questions about your motives as well.
Being a rebel these days is being good. It is being pure. It is being a child of God. In a world where bad is almost always expected, being different only requires one to say “no” to anything that’s not glorifying to God. The cool thing is we are called to be different. We are called to rebel against the worldly and fleshly things. To walk the earth like Jesus walked it. Then we, when people ask us why we do what we do, get to tell them. And hopefully it does something in their hearts. Beautiful.
SO here’s to all my rebel friends who are keeping it real. Keep doin what you do.
“A rebel is someone who stands up for their own personal opinions despite what anyone else says. A true rebel stands up for what they believe is right, not against what’s right. True rebels know who they are and do not compromise their individuality or personal opinion for anyone. They’re straightforward and honest and they will sure as hell tell it like it is.”