Sunday, October 6, 2013

The opposite of a bump in the road...

Sometimes God leads me to giant potholes. It's dark and He is my source of light. Taking each step forward is me choosing to trust Him. Then we reach an edge.
|||  edge?  Where did this come from? I thought we agreed God, to live the straight and narrow not the dangerous unknown of scary edges. Edges imply cliffs which = falling. I remember the discussion when I asked you to be Lord of my Life, I do... straight and narrow, walk side by side, fighting crime, you know the normal conversations we all have with Jesus. But this! I do not remember ever agreeing to scary cliffs in the dark.
And then He is silent! He hasn't left me of course, He just isn't talking. It's like He is waiting for me to stop freaking out and continue forward, trusting that He knows what's best for me.
The thing about God is that He is always right. He is good and is never going to lead us off a cliff. People, even those closest to you fail and/or disappoint you somewhere along the line. Not to hurt you but because we are flawed. But Jesus doesn't disappoint. He just doesn't. He may not work in your timing but He is God. He doesn't have to follow your timeline. Yours is flawed, as is mine. He sees what is ahead for all of us. Sometimes it helps me to remember that God prepares us for what's ahead.

For example:
If you were going to run a marathon or fight in a boxing match. Wouldn't your trainer put you through pain, discomfort and exhaustion? Wouldn't you feel beaten down and want to give up? But eventually you feel stronger and you can run longer, and you're not as tired.. Your prepared for the race/the fight. We can't know what we will have to face in the future. Life is really hard sometimes and God is doing what is necessary to prepare us.

The same goes for this edge...turns out it's not a cliff its a pothole. It's a part of the journey. We faithfully step off the edge and touch the bottom almost instantly. Now, the reason for this pothole may be different for everyone however stepping up out of it is pretty much the same.
Depending on how long I stay in this pothole - how long it takes me to get over myself and learn whatever it is God is teaching me - results in how difficult it is to get out of it. Every day I live...I walk with Jesus. If I am in a pothole than all I am doing is walking in circles. My constant circling causes the hole to erode away little at a time. I've realized that if I cling to God and seek His guidance right away (ALWAYS) then my time in this pothole is short and stepping out of it is fairly easy. It's when I try to find my own way out I get deeper into the ground. Soon this small step to get out turns into a wall that seems impossible to climb. And even then, (since I have been there way more often than not) the only way to get out is by turning to The Lord and asking Him to help me.





  pot·hole
/ˈpätˌhōl/

Noun

  1. A deep natural underground cavity formed by the erosion of rock.
  2. A deep circular hole in a riverbed formed by the erosion of the rock by the rotation of stones in an eddy.
    *3. A point in life that requires God's assistance in order to get out and keep going.
Synonyms
hole - pit - hollow



Dear Church, _____ Love, James

    After reading the book of James through a couple times, we see that the letter is addressed, "to the twelve tribes scattered among the nations" (James 1:1). James, the author is considered to be the brother of Jesus. This being the case, the recipients would recognize James as the Head of the Jerusalem Church. First he was a brother who did not believe Jesus to be the messiah (John 7:2-5) then being one of the men whom Jesus appeared to after the resurrection (1st Corinthians 15:3-8) and ultimately becoming a devout follower of Christ and a leader of the church. James writes to the church body as a whole rather than a specific city or congregation. The church at that time was mainly, if not completely, made up of Jewish believers. Reading through James it is evident that our authors purpose is to offer encouragement as well as warning. He seems to clarify and emphasize the importance of works accompanying faith. Faith is the foundation of our walk with Christ, however what is faith without action to demonstrate the Lord's calling on our lives- that we are to be set apart? (Romans 1:1) We see here the importance of action in carrying out the gospel message as well as restraining our tongues in order to bring glory to God. The church is experiencing trials and James encourages them to keep faith in The Lord and to trust that God is working in them patience and testing that their faith in Christ is genuine. He also writes in James 4:14, "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes," in hopes that we will remain humble. James is expressing the duality that we alone are insignificant without Christ but we must remain mindful that our spirit is also eternal.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Prayer & Thanksgiving

Recently I have been going through the book of Colossians with my small group at church. I've truly enjoyed hearing the man perspectives and lessons each of the women have extracted from their own reading. Learning with them and from them has been a blessing. The Bible is not just a book about people from the past. It is God's truth, living and active today in our lives. It is another way The Lord reveals himself to us.

Colossians 1:1-29
Thanksgiving and Prayer
The way Paul writes to/about the people of Colosse is encouraging and loving. I want to live in such a way that someone would think of me so highly!
 - Paul thanks The Lord for these people because he has heard of their faith and of their love for one
   another Christians.
- Paul knows that their faith and love come from the hope that is stored in Heaven.
- Since the day Paul first heard about them, he has not stopped praying for them! This is such
  dedication and love!

I want to live my life for Christ in such a way that my actions will express my love for God! ...But then.. I have to check my heart. Do I want others to recognize my love for Jesus in order to bring glory to God, or is it because I want others to perceive me as "good" ... the answer isn't pretty.

I would love to tell you that my motive was always pure and all I wanted was to glorify The Lord.. But it's not 100% true. I'm embarrassed to admit that but I've learned it's always best to be honest with myself and God. The sooner I am, the sooner I can be praying about it and asking God for help in these areas. Of course that does require me to be willing to ask for help..which is another thing I am learning to be better at. Also, God is the ONLY one that can change this messy, selfish heart of mine so I might as well skip all the failed and frustrating attempts to do it on my own and instead go straight to the source. I want my intentions to be pure and to be focused on Jesus, so this has been my prayer this week.

Finished my Colossians study and am enjoying one of the most delcious cups my Chai I've ever had! Portolla people..its so dang good. I'm also rather proud of my latest doodle.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Good...but hard

I feel like all things in life can be described like that.
Good.. but hard.
Every mission trip I've been on has been exactly that. The experiences are amazing. I have met people I will remember for the rest of my life and connected with them deeply. Even with the challenge of facing language barriers it has only added to the texture of all that God has allowed me to be a part of so far in these 23 years of life. CHANGE is good but in my opinion,  really hard sometimes.

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."
2 Corinthians  4:16-18
I am so grateful for God's word and the comfort I can find in it. Momentary affliction. That is all these trials we face are. True- sometimes the moments drag on for much too long  ;)  if we had anything to say about it they would end quite quickly, however it is not up to us how long we suffer. I used to not be okay with that. (Don't get me wrong I still struggle with it daily! But I am slowly beginning to understand the necessity for suffering in my life. In other people's lives however- I am still stumped on that one. I know God is good and sovereign- so I'll get back to you on the whole sufferings of the world question) You know that verse in 1st Peter that says to rejoice when you suffer?? Well in case you dont...
 "But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed."
1st Peter 4:13
...well when I was in Romania over the summer, 2012, a friend of mine and I were sharing with a group of guys about our faith. My friend was in the middle of sharing her personal testimony (which she was asked to share by one of the guys) when they began saying extremely inappropriate things. Mocking is one thing, however this one gentleman was verbally attacking my friend. Saying sexually perverse comments. Speaking in circles that made absolutely no sense just to upset us. He was high as can be and hostile. He told us how stupid we were, 1. for being American 2. for being women 3. for believing in something that could never be true. It all happened so fast. We went to leave and they all started laughing and yelling out more perverse things. They asked us if we were always going to give up when the world turned down our precious Jesus? I remember being so angry. I wanted to hit them but I knew I wouldn't really be representing Jesus very well if I hit the guy. Which only made me angrier. I responded to him saying, "You have heard some of what we had to say, and clearly are not interested in having a change of heart. God can still work on you and that's what I'll be praying for. But there is no use remaining here for any longer [ I instantly thought of this verse when we were talking to them--> "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces" (Matthew 7:6). ] while there are plenty of people around who might care to hear what we have to say." 
Of course I said that to a boy who was cussing over me the entire time I said it, but that's okay.
It was a fruitless conversation.
They were rude and hurtful.
We felt awful.
But you know what was awesome? We walked away feeling rejected but we both had the desire to continue reaching out to others in the crowd. We wanted to remain focused on Jesus and what we were there for. I remember walking home later that night praying to God... I wrote it down later so I would remember what I learned. This is what it said:
Father,
How gracious you are to love them still as they mock you!! Jesus, you died on the cross being spit on and mocked by people you love and yet you said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). I have such a respect for you God! ~ not that I shouldn't already...but you know what I mean God :) ~ How difficult I find it to love people sometimes. The guys tonight for instance. Jesus I pray one day they all come to know you. Transform their hearts and soften them to your gospel. And Lord, I think I understand a little better now what it means in the Bible when it says to consider suffering joy. Lord, you suffered for me, I can definitely handle some suffering for you. Thank you for allowing us to be the ones faced with this difficulty tonight. In all situations you can grow us if we welcome the growth and are open to the Holy Spirit moving.
Love ya!  Amen.

...and yes that is a word for word copy of what I wrote down that night. So as I was saying way back when before I went on rambling,  Good...but hard.  I have been going through some good but hard stuff lately, my family too. Some days it seems like there is only hard but I have faith in God that HE is working in our lives. You'd think it would be easy to trust such a trustworthy God, but I tend to find it difficult most days.  It's not in our nature, but I'm learning. I wanted to share with you some of the verses I've been clinging to lately as well as a portion of the devotional, My Utmost for His Highest: Daily Devotionals By Oswald Chambers.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Philippians 4:13

 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Romans 8:28

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who  have been called according to his purpose."

Psalm 139:23-24

 Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
                                   


MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST:    JUNE 25TH 


. . . what shall I say? ’Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. ’Father, glorify Your name’ —John 12:27-28
As a saint of God, my attitude toward sorrow and difficulty should not be to ask that they be prevented, but to ask that God protect me so that I may remain what He created me to be, in spite of all my fires of sorrow. Our Lord received Himself, accepting His position and realizing His purpose, in the midst of the fire of sorrow. He was saved not from the hour, but out of the hour.We say that there ought to be no sorrow, but there is sorrow, and we have to accept and receive ourselves in its fires. If we try to evade sorrow, refusing to deal with it, we are foolish. Sorrow is one of the biggest facts in life, and there is no use in saying it should not be. Sin, sorrow, and suffering are, and it is not for us to say that God has made a mistake in allowing them.


Sorrow removes a great deal of a person’s shallowness, but it does not always make that person better. Suffering either gives me to myself or it destroys me. You cannot find or receive yourself through success, because you lose your head over pride. And you cannot receive yourself through the monotony of your daily life, because you give in to complaining. The only way to find yourself is in the fires of sorrow. Why it should be this way is immaterial. The fact is that it is true in the Scriptures and in human experience. You can always recognize who has been through the fires of sorrow and received himself, and you know that you can go to him in your moment of trouble and find that he has plenty of time for you. But if a person has not been through the fires of sorrow, he is apt to be contemptuous, having no respect or time for you, only turning you away. If you will receive yourself in the fires of sorrow, God will make you nourishment for other people.

I really liked this one. My friend Natalie, who was one of the two girls I was rooming with while in Romania this summer, read these out loud to us each morning. This one really tugged at my heart and continued to stay with my thoughts throughout the weeks to come. I am thankful that God is choosing me to go through some sorrow. It hurts. A LOT. But I know I'll grow a lot too, and I am grateful that I may be a more compassionate person after each sorrow. I want to be able to use my experiences, the good and the hard, to help others in this crazy life if I can.
So, God, 
I pray that you would use me, use the pain and hurt that I've been slowly healing from this summer and use it for your glory. I pray for my family and all the crap that's going on with us to just be in your control. I pray that we all can lean on you and not try to do stuff in our own strength. I pray  for anyone reading this that you would bless them and make my message come across clear. Give anyone courage that may need it if they would like to email me to ask a question, learn more about Christianity, or need prayer. and ultimately Lord, I pray that you would use this blog to bring people into relationship with you. And of course you know there is lots more, but not everything is allowed for public viewing. Thanks God!! Love you! Amen! :)