Wednesday, November 7, 2012

For such a time as...Politics?

During this election cycle I decided I wouldn't engage in the ongoing political discussion on Facebook  but after seeing some of the posts today I feel compelled to respond. It deeply saddens me to see fellow Christians doubting the sovereignty of God because of the outcome of this election. We were never promised everything would work out for us. Think back for a second to the Israelites...was everything all hunky-dory for them? No! Yes, God brought them out of slavery, but He also led them into captivity. If you believe in a sovereign God then you believe He ordains the "good" stuff along with the "bad" stuff. You can't take one without the other. I think we, as followers of Christ, have a beautiful opportunity (no matter your political affiliation). We have the opportunity to stand up and answer the call God has placed on our lives to reach others for Christ. I heard on the news last night this country is less religious now than before. That's not a political problem y'all! That's a church problem! God called us to go and make disciples of all nations, not a politician. He called us to take care of the poor, the orphaned and the widowed, not a politician.  It doesn't matter who the president is, our calling remains the same.

So I urge you, please do not seek to find an identity in a political candidate (no matter which one), if you are a follower of Christ then your identity is IN Christ! And you can rest assured that God works ALL things for OUR good and HIS glory! Our hope is not in the present but in the future glories God has promised that have yet to be revealed! Our hope is eternal, founded in the One who WAS, IS, and YET to come.

 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Romans 8:22-25

Saturday, September 29, 2012

You just know..

When do you know it's time to answer the call? When do you know it's time to make the change? Is it one of those things where you just know? Those things have always frustrated me. You know? You ask someone a questions and they're like oh "you'll just know when the time is right." What if you don't know, though? What if you're one of those people who has a really hard time knowing when you know. Does that make sense? 

Well I feel like I'm one of those people. I've always struggled with the whole "you'll just know moment." But, lately I feel like I'm right on the edge of the knowing. I'm getting restless. I'm feeling maybe God is preparing me for something. All the struggles and disappointments I've experienced are getting me ready for something, maybe something big maybe something small. I don't know, but I don't want to miss it. Have you ever had that fear? Like God has been preparing you for something and you know it but then all of a sudden the satan gets all up in your grill putting doubt in your mind. Doubt that says you won't know it when it happens or doubt that says you're not as close to God as you think you are. That doubt is scary and it makes me think I don't know. So when people say "oh you'll just know" I think will I? How will I know I know? You know? I begin to question God whether or not I am actually capable of doing whatever it is he wants me to do. When I finally shut up long enough to listen to God I am reminded that he will not leave me hanging, as so many people have done to me in the past. He's not in the business of calling people and then hanging them out to dry. He's in the business of building us up to fulfill his mission. You are where you are for a specific reason and purpose even if it is unpleasant. He will use everything for His glory. He has not forgotten about you or deserted you. And when it is time to answer his call you will know. There will be no doubt in your heart or mind. He will lay out the path before you. 

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us[a] that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 12:20-22

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

One Day at a Time

Wow, it's been quite some time since my last blog post. I could make a thousand excuses as to why my life got busy, but let's be honest, everyone gets busy and certain things fall by the wayside and that's what happened. My blog fell by the wayside, but no more I say! When God calls us to something He means it. He doesn't just mean for us to do it when we have time to do it, He means for us to make it a priority. So often I find myself letting the things God's called me to be the things I let slide. Other things become more important, and it's usually not frivolous things. It's things like school work and house work; things that I can easily justify to myself as important, but are they more important than the spiritual state of my soul?? I don't think so. The eternal state of our soul is the most important and it is only through a relationship with Jesus Christ that promises us eternity in heaven keyword being relationship. A relationship involves two people interacting with and communicating with each other on a regular basis. It usually involves both people giving and both people taking, but what is utterly amazing about our relationship with Jesus is that He gave the ultimate So why do I not want to constantly be giving everything back to him? Because I'm human and I'm selfish. I'll be honest. In my relationship with Jesus I like to take what He gives, but when it comes to giving up everything to Him...yeah not so much. But when I fail He doesn't take anything away. He's always there to pick me back up. Every. Single. Time. I want to give up everything to Him. He deserves everything I have. And it is a daily struggle to wake up and decide to hand it all over to Him. If you happen to struggle with the same thing don't be discouraged and don't dwell on all the times you failed. Decide today that things will be different and take it one day at a time, spending time in the word and prayer, asking God for help. This is not something that can be done on human strength alone. We are inadequate and when left to our own devices we always come up short, but with God ALL THINGS are possible.

I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:12-13

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Lover of My Soul

Searching around on my Nook looking for something new to read I discovered a book I had downloaded over a year ago, a book my mom has been reading and continuously telling me how awesome it is. Little did I know I already had the very book she has been raving about! The book is by A.W. Tozer and it's called The Pursuit of God, and trust me when I tell you it will transform your heart and the relationship you have with God, and I'm only on chapter 2! It has already challenged the way I define the relationship I have with my heavenly Father. We are not so far removed from God as we think. Tozer stresses that we are made in God's image, we are little what God is big. I have heard this phrase many times, but it's only been recently that it has truly rocked my world. Another way to think about it is God took a little bit of himself and made us with it. How incredible! So that means when I pursue God, and seek to understand who He is I will in turn understand who I am in Him because I am made in His image. Did you get all that? Pretty crazy stuff right? Crazy and life changing! God is not a far away being, disconnected from our everyday lives, no He is all up in the middle. God is a person with a personality, and whose personality we were made in the image of. So it would make sense for us to have a deep longing for God and constantly pursue Him in all that we do, but we don't. Why not? For me, I think it's because I get caught up in my routine and I get caught up in all the "what I'm supposed to do's" that I forget this is a relationship and relationships aren't made up of checklists. Relationships become rich and meaningful when the people in the relationship spend quality time together and pursue one another seeking to know the person on the deepest of levels. God desires that for us. He has already done the ultimate pursuit by sending His only son, Jesus Christ, to take our place and repair the relationship we initially rejected. That's how much God wants to be in relationship with us! So I resolve to no longer have a relationship with God made up of my Christian checklist, but it will be a relationship in which I pursue Him on the deepest of levels and seek to know Him inside and out, all the time realizing that I will not fully know until the day I see Him face to face. I desire for the following words to be my prayer, let them be yours too.

Jesus, Lover of my soul,
Jesus, I will never let you go
You’ve taken me from the miry clay
You've set my feet upon the Rock, and now I know

I love you, I need you,
Though my world may fall, I’ll never let you go
My Saviour, my closest friend,
I will worship you until the very end

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Finding Contentment in Restlessness

Is it possible to find contentment in the midst of feeling restless? I believe the answer is yes and I know this because I have been able to find it. Spiritually I am experiencing a season of restlessness. I am realizing that I have made decisions about my life without consulting  God first and I am now beginning to experience the consequence, restlessness. At the time I felt like I was making the right decision for me, but I wasn't asking the most important question, is this was God desires for me? I was basing my decision on whether or not it was what I wanted and as mentioned in one of my previous posts God knows what's best for me more than I do. It is a sobering experience to realize that you really can't run from a calling God placed on your life so many years matter how hard you try.

One summer at GA (Girls in Action) camp, when I was about 10 or 11, I felt a very distinct pull on my heart towards ministry. I didn't know what that really meant, but I remember vividly sharing that calling with my mom on the car ride home from camp. It was a moving experience and I know without a shadow of a doubt it was from God, but the unfortunate thing was, I left that calling at camp. Instead of pursuing that calling through out my life and figuring out how God was going to use that I forgot about it, and moved on. Every now and then it would creep back up into my heart but I would do a pretty good job of talking myself out of it, telling myself, "there's no way I could discern a calling from God at 10 years old." And you know what, that's putting limitations on God, and we know God can very well do whatever he pleases and if he chose to reveal himself to a 10 year old who am I to say he can't? So now what? What do I do after I've run from this for so many years?

Well, I could mope and wallow in self-pity, saying "woe is me" but I have nothing to mope about. Am I feeling restless? Yes! BUT, I can make the choice today to pursue the calling God placed on my 10 year old heart so many years ago. Praise God we get more than one chance! This season of restlessness is causing me to spend more time in God's word and I am desiring to know God deeper and become more in tune with him. I am reminded that when I am weak then I am really strong and God continues to remind me that it is all in his timing, and even though I am restless I can find contentment because my God is sovereign and in control of my WHOLE life. So be encouraged! Do not get down if you realize you have been running from the true calling God has placed on your life. Instead, run even faster back to him, for he is EAGERLY waiting for you with open arms. Even in the midst of restlessness your Heavenly Father can bring you rest.

"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving." Colossians 4:2

Thursday, August 9, 2012

For such a time of...CONFRONTATION

Confrontation. Eww, even typing the word makes me anxious! I don't know many people who actually enjoy confronting someone when they feel they have been wronged or upset, unless they just like confrontation for the sake of confrontation. And if that's the case there may be some other issues going on, but that's beside the point. Let's talk about confrontation. I for one do not enjoy confrontation. In fact I am notorious for avoiding it! It's uncomfortable, sometimes there's crying involved and you don't always leave the conversation with warm fuzzies, and I'm a pretty big fan of warm fuzzies. BUT I am constantly reminded during my quiet times that this life will be hard and I won't get my infinite amounts of warm fuzzies until I'm spending eternity with my heavenly father. So that means during this life I will have to confront others who have hurt me and I will also experience confrontation from people who feel I have hurt them and it's not going to be fun. Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:15, "If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother." Well, this is one of those times where Jesus just gets straight to the point. This instruction is very clear. If we're hurt, go to the person who did the hurting, end of story. Don't wait around. Don't harbor the feelings, because when you do that the hurt builds and builds until one day it explodes (I'm speaking from first hand experience). So I ask myself, why is it so hard? Am I the only one who feels this way? This is something I struggle with on a daily basis, and I have a tendency to over analyze situations, well tendency is probably an understatement, and that doesn't make my relationship with confrontation any better. Usually, by the end of my over-analyzation (I think I just invented a word) I've made the issue WAY bigger than it was, which you know is no good. So what now? I've decided to turn it over to you!

What about you? Is confrontation hard for you? What do you do to prepare for confronting someone? Is it more difficult to confront those people closest to you, like family? Are there particular verses you always go to that provide comfort or support? Do you over analyze? How do you combat your tendency to over analyze? I know these are a lot of questions, but I really want to hear your thoughts! So go ahead, comment away! :)

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Do you pray for patience?

Lately for my quiet times I've been reading through Oswald's Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest and something I read this week really hit me. He talked about how so many times as Christians we don't want to experience adversity or hardships even though Jesus promises over and over that we don't have to be afraid for he has overcome this life. (John 16:33). He then went on to say that adversity is necessary. Say what? That's right. Adversity is necessary. Adversity builds endurance and endurance is necessary to the Christian life. And not only is endurance necessary it is rewarded! James 1:12 says, "God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." Wait a minute, did he just say God blesses those who patiently endure testing? World officially rocked. Why haven't I been praying for patience all along?? The answer to that questions is easy, fear. I knew that if I asked God for patience he wouldn't just give it to me. That's not how he works. I knew he would give me experiences that would test my patience and that's not something I was too excited about. He has revealed to me, though, that patience is necessary because when we are able to endure adversity with steadfastness then we are exhibiting the very nature of Jesus Christ. Our savior endured adversity, and endured adversity without complaining. He willingly accepted the plan for his life, remained steadfast and God glorified him! He has promised the same for us, but in order learn how to patiently endure testing and trials we must practice, and then practice some more.  But we don't have to be afraid, because God promises to be there every step of the way, and we have a savior who has experienced every trial and temptation and overcome them! So I encourage you, pray for patience! It won't be easy, but God will do an amazing work when we allow him to work in our lives!

 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." Matthew 7:13-14

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Called to Live Counter Culture

We live in a culture where being politically correct is valued more than being honest and not hurting any one's feelings is valued over sharing the truth of the gospel. We live in a culture where no one wants to offend any one and I will be honest in saying that at times I get caught up in that as well. It's a lot less awkward to share a watered down gospel so people will not get offended than to share with people the radical truth, that we are called to die in order that we may live. Jesus requires us to give up everything and follow him. 

This week during my quiet times I have studied the Beatitudes. While I have read them many times before I had never truly meditated on the weight they carry in my life. As you read these words let them sink into your heart and pierce your very being. 

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Matthew 5:1-12

These words should not only bring you comfort, but also conviction, as they have for me. This world values money, strength, and pride but Jesus values the poor, weak, and humble. We rely more on Jesus when we have nothing than we have everything. When we are weak He makes us strong and when we are humble God raises us up. If we are truly honest with ourselves we will see that Jesus and the gospel are counter culture. 

It is in our nature to seek the approval of our fellow man, but man didn't create us so we should seek the approval of the one who did, God. He is the one who gives us life and the one who deserves all of our praise. He is the one who has promised us eternal glories in heaven so we can REJOICE when trials come for He has promised comfort. We can be GLAD when persecutions come because our reward is not on earth, but in heaven. We do not answer to man but to God. So press on towards the goal that is waiting for us in heaven, and let us live our lives according to what Jesus has commanded us. He has commanded us to love all people and if we truly love people then we will not withhold the good news of Jesus Christ, even if it is offensive. After all, Jesus himself was offensive. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Who knows best?

Have you ever wanted something so bad, but when you got it it wasn't what you thought it would be? I know I have. I have a tendency to build up things in my mind and have these great expectations only to be disappointed. Even though those experiences are painful and hard I know God uses them for our good and for his glory, because let's be hones, he's in the business of bringing himself glory through our lives and how awesome is that. He can use my crappiest moments, when I feel like I've hit the absolute bottom to bring glory to his name! All I can say to that is thank you God!

I was talking with my mom recently and she said something that really struck me. She said, "sometimes, God gives us what we want only teach us that he knows better." And I started thinking to myself, mom you did it again! She always knows how to pierce straight to my heart and tell me what I need to hear, because at that time I was asking a lot of why questions. Why do things have to be so hard and why didn't this turn out like I had hoped it would? And the answer is because I don't know anything about anything! God knows best and there are many times that I forget that. It's extremely hard to put your complete and utter trust into someone when you've been burned by people time after time. We think we know better. We think we know ourselves the best, but let me tell you I am confident that the one who created me and knit me together in my mother's womb knows me better than I ever thought I could. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9  And how thankful I am that his ways and thoughts are higher than mine, for whenever I get what I thought I wanted it is never what I thought it would be. 

We serve a God who is in the business of working for our good. Romans 8:28 says "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[b] for those who are called according to his purpose." So my question for you is, do you love him? Because we sure know he loves us. (John 3:16) We just need to respond to his love and when we respond to his love with complete and total trust in him he will work all things for our good and for his glory! 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Worry and Prayer Just Don't Mix

" If you're going to pray don't worry and if you're going to worry don't pray." I don't remember where I first heard this quote, but it's something that has stuck with me. So what's the big deal if we worry a little? I mean, as a parent I am sure you feel it is completely justifiable to worry about the safety of your children. As we all have seen on the news, there are a lot of dangerous people in this world and something could go wrong at any minute. Does that mean if you pray for the safety of your children then you should stop worrying about them? Well actually, yes it does. You might feel like that's a little harsh, and it might be, but it's the truth.

Paul tells in Philippians, "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." (Philippians 4:6) And right after that he tells what what will happen when we do that. The Holy Spirit will give us a peace that surpasses ALL understanding. Meaning it will be a peace that you human words cannot describe. And let me tell you, I have experienced that peace and it is the most freeing feeling I have ever experienced, knowing there is absolutely nothing I have to be afraid of. And you can experience it to. 

The God of the UNIVERSE will not let the storms over take you. He will not let the waters overcome you for you have a savior who has overcome death. It is true we will suffer in this life, but there are eternal glories waiting for us in Heaven. Jesus suffered greatly, but God glorified him by raising him from the dead and placing him at his right hand to be our mediator. He will do the same His children. Take your worries, fears, and anxieties to God. Offer them up to Him and let Him have them. Do not hold on to them. God has made many promises and he has kept every one. He promised us life and He has given us a way to eternal life, through his son Jesus Christ. It will be hard and there will be times where we are tempted to doubt, and when that happens remember this promise, "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you." Isaiah 43:2

This song has been a great reminder to me that God doesn't promise us an easy life, but He does promise us that He will ALWAYS be there. Enjoy! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Can obedience be natural?

Let's be honest. The obedience part of Christianity isn't where we spend most of our time. We like the part where Jesus willingly chose to die on the cross for us so that we can spend eternity in heaven with him.  And please don't get me wrong. That's the basis for our faith. We're sinners and the only way we can get to God is through the ultimate sacrifice and that ultimate sacrifice came through Jesus living a perfect and blameless life so he could satisfy our dept once for all. BUT, it doesn't stop there. It can't. Why you may ask? Because, we can't accept that radical life altering reality without something about us changing afterward. Our very hearts change so there is no way we can go on living and doing what we did before believing in Jesus. That just wouldn't make sense.

Now, the important thing to remember is that God didn't require obedience before sending Jesus. If he had I'm afraid Jesus would have never made it since there is no way for us to live up the standards of God on our own. So if it wasn't for our lack of obedience that God sent Jesus, why did he do it?  John 3:16 says, "For God so LOVED the world that he sent his only son..." (emphasis mine). How do you respond to someone who loves you unconditionally? You want to please them, right? I know I do. When my husband shows me his unconditional love for me I want nothing more than to please him. That is my response to his love. Do you see where I'm going with this?? I bet you do. Understanding obedience as my natural response to God's love for me drastically changed my perception of what it means to obey. It's not always easy, though. Things happen in our lives that make it difficult to obey because they cause us to question God's love, but remember what I said yesterday, sometimes those things are used as discipline. And let's be honest, discipline doesn't feel good. It's supposed to hurt, because it is meant to change a behavior. 

I spent time in Hebrews 5 this morning and discovered that even Jesus learned obedience! Hebrews 5:8 says,"Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered." That statement has been with me all day. I began to ponder something. I asked this what God is trying to do in my life? And it suddenly become very clear. I have spent too much time trying to plan my own life while at the same time blatantly ignoring God's plan for me life. And who do you think knows best? Not me of course! And it looks like it has taken me a few trials to finally realize this truth, but it is such a freeing realization. I am now seeking everyday to say God, what you want is what I want and I will go where you want me to go. And I'll be honest, it's one of the best feelings to have. I find myself no longer worrying about where my husband and I will be next year and whether or not we'll be ready for babies because you know what?? There is someone who already knows when all of that will happen and that someone is my Creator! Wow, talk about a true relief. So now, obedience feels natural, I won't say it's easy, but the Holy Spirit has placed the desire in my heart. My God loves me so much and has an awesome plan for my life so why on earth would I not want to obey him?? And what's even better is, he has an equally awesome plan for you life and wants so badly to share it with you. So I encourage you to experience the great love he has for, let the Holy Spirit awaken your heart, and respond to God with the desire to obey so that you can discover what he has in store for you!

And to answer the question, can obedience be natural? YES! It's not going to be easy, but as we grow in our faith and begin to understand the true depth of God's love for us then desiring to obey his commands will become a natural response.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why do bad things happen?

Why do bad things happen to good people? As a Christian, I can honestly say I've struggles with this question. Over the past few months, though, I discovered some pretty awesome and comforting answers. Probably my favorite answer to date comes from a sermon I heard a few months ago and that is, "for one, we're not good people." After I heard that it was like a light bulb went off in my head. Duh we're not good people. We're sinners. That's not the only answer, though. Jesus also didn't promise us a life free of suffering. Jesus says in Matthew 10:16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves..." If God's one and only son was beaten and put to death how can we think that as his followers our lives will be filled with rainbows and butterflies? It's ridiculous! But, we can take comfort in knowing that just as we share in Christ's suffering we will also share in his glory! (2 Corinthians 1:5) Knowing that I will delight when bad things happen because I know the glory I will experience when my time on earth is finished. 

There's another answer to this question. When bad things happen, God's power is made known. When I think about the times I pray the most, and spend the most time seeking after God in his word, it's always during times of adversity. When a close friend died, when my parents got divorced, when my husband lost his job. When we've exhausted all our options is when we seek the hardest after God. And don't you think he knows that? 2 Corinthians 12:9 says "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." What a sobering thought. When we're weak is when Christ's power rests on us. 

Don't let hardships and adversity push you away from God or cause you to questions his love. God is our father and at times fathers must discipline their children, but Proverbs 3 reminds us, "My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." So, if you are going through a hard time do not lose hope. Put your hope in the one who loves you, in the one who has kept every promise he has ever made, and the only one who will never let you down, your heavenly Father. During hard times I am always reminded of the story of Esther. She didn't ask to be chosen as the one to carry out God's plan to deliver the Jews and she knew it was going to be hard and death was surely a possibility, talk about difficult times. When she was questioning it all the words of Mordecai rang in her ears, "...And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" Esther 4:14