Wednesday, December 30, 2009

There Will Be a Day.

I know this is my second post of the day and my like, millionth in the past few days, but this song is absolutely amazing. God is so, so good.




There Will Be a Day: Jeremy Camp

I try to hold on to this life with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that tries to grab
That many trials that seem to never end, His word declares this truth:
That we will enter in this rest with wonders anew

But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to You always

I know the journey seems so long
You feel like you're walking on your own
But there has never been a step
Where you've walked out all alone

Troubled soul don't lose your heart
Cause joy and peace He brings
And the beauty that's in store
Outweighs the hurt of life's sting

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to You always

I can't wait until that day where the very One
I've lived for always will wipe away the sorrow that I've faced
To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame and misery
Oh this is why, this is why I sing

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to You always

There will be a day with no more tears
No more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place
Will be no more, we'll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we'll hold on to You always

There will be a day He will wipe away the tears
He will wipe away the tears
He will wipe away the tears
There will be a day

Absolutely Overwhelmed.

Oh my dear friends... You have been absolutely amazing. I haven't felt more supported and loved than I do at this very moment. Receiving all of the facebook messages, comments, and texts has been so special. Thank you all so much for your prayers. I couldn't ask for more. You all are truly great, and I am blessed to have you all in my life. Thanks again. I really, really appreciate it.

<3

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Time For You to Learn More About Me.

I've been really thinking today, and I think it's time that I shared something about my life that not a lot of people know. I won't give many details, but it's about a sickness that I've had to deal with for thirteen years.

I have a disease called ulcerative colitis, which is an inflammation of the colon. It bleeds, can develop polyps easily, has difficult side effects, and also increases the risk of cancer. For the majority of my life I have been blessed to be fairly healthy. Sometimes though, I would have flare-ups resulting in embarrassing and difficult consequences. However, I never really thought much of this. I just took it in stride and moved on. No big deal. I never really understood the seriousness of my condition until this morning, when I had my yearly colonoscopy.

It's difficult for me to talk about these things, but please bear with me. The way my doctor described my condition was that it's like someone took sandpaper to my colon and messed it up. It looks terrible (trust me, it does. I saw the pictures from the procedure). He talked about how surprised he was that I've been able to hold up so well given my circumstances and my condition.

I've never had huge problems with this disease before. For a couple years I was really close to remission, but now it's back and more active than ever. I am not telling you all these things in order to gain any pity of any kind, but rather to ask you for prayer. It's really difficult for me to ask this, because I want to be normal. I want to lead a normal life apart from any disease. But here's the truth: I can't. I can be fairly normal, but I am always going to have this to deal with.

I'm continuing on my regular medication for the next 2 1/2 months, and then I have to get blood tests during spring break and meet with my doctor to see if anything else needs to be done.

I don't like asking for prayer for things like this - I feel like I should be able to handle it. But the truth is that I need prayerful support from my brothers and sisters in Christ. If you would be willing to do that, I would be more than grateful. Thank you to all of you who have supported me and will continue to support me. It's a huge encouragement.

I'm grateful to God to be as healthy as I am. It definitely could be a lot worse. God is good, and I know that His grace is sufficient for me. He gave me this to deal with for a reason, and even though I don't know what it is, I know that it is for my ultimate good and His ultimate glory. God is truly showing me that in my weakness, He is truly strong.

Media and The Church

I watched the Nightline special about idol worship featuring Mark Driscoll a few months ago, and it really got me thinking. The media has SO much influence on what people think about the church. The main video clips that they used to illustrate church was with an organ and hymns. This is not what the contemporary church is like at all.

I also feel as though they made Christians look as if they were not intelligent, but all about "feeling good inside." I could be completely off in this and have missed the point entirely, but that's what watching those clips made me think.

It's as if they are portraying the church as a group of people who do not live under freedom, but simply under a set of rules that are just put in place in order not to allow them to have "fun." For example, whenever a Christian is portrayed on television to be practicing abstinence, they are seen as ridiculous and they never know why they are doing what they're doing, except for the fact that it's what their pastors and parents told them to do.

Real Christianity is not what the media portrays. However, I think it is important for Christians to see how non-believers view Christianity so that we might be able to most effectively minister to them. For anyone who has seen the movie Saved! knows what I'm talking about. This movie is absolutely filled with what the world thinks of us as Christians. It mocks, pokes fun, and desecrates Christianity in a way that is really depressing. Worship times are seen as just concerts with everyone putting their hands in the air for no apparent reason, gospel messages that are given are only of fire and brimstone, even the best Christians in the movie lead double lives, and so on. While this movie is upsetting though, I do believe that it is important for all Christians to see it so we can be aware of what people really think.

Everywhere you look on television you will find that Christianity is misrepresented. It is very rare for Christianity to be portrayed in the correct light so that people may see it for what it really is. While it is important to have a sense of humor about these things as well, we also need to be sobered to the fact that the people who make fun of Christianity, whether it is in the form of innocent humor or malicious slander, there is at least a small kernel of truth that they really think those things themselves.

And instead of judging those people like so often happens, it is important that we pray for them and minister to them so that they may see the real love of Jesus, instead of having their stereotypes confirmed. I know that I personally spend too much time judging those that make fun of Christianity instead of feeling pity and compassion for them, so I am very challenged by this as well. Can we do this? Can we reach out to those who hate us because of our faith, and hate the church? It may be difficult, and it may be uncomfortable, but God did not call us to live comfortable lives. He called us to live holy and blameless lives, and through living in that manner we will have difficulties.

But remember this: we still have freedom here in America, even if it is being taken away little by little. We are so blessed to be in this country, because there are people all over the world who are dying for their faith. We really do not have to worry about this here. So instead of becoming lazy and comfortable, why don't we take advantage of our situation and reach out to as many people as we can?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Tales from the Freaked-Out Cat-Sitter.

So here I am, housesitting for my sister and her husband while they're away. I should have known that it was going to be "iffy" and different for me... I've never done well with being by myself at night. I normally start to think about all sorts of things and get worked up about the smallest noises in the house. Tonight is exactly one of those nights.

I was already a tad nervous as I normally am when I shut the lights off in the house, and then right when I was about to fall asleep, a loud alarm from the building across the street went off - whether it was a fluke or someone actually tried to break in, I have no idea. All I know is that this alarm ruined my night of sleep. It's 1 a.m. and I have no clue if I'm ever going to get to sleep.

I think my sister's cat is getting a little tired of my restlessness. He keeps moving and looking up at me like he's waiting for me to turn off the computer and go to sleep so that HE can go to sleep. He's still purring though, so that's a good sign. Right now he just moved from sleeping at my side to sleeping on top of me... I think he's trying to tell me something. But alas, I'm too filled with adrenaline to fall asleep. Hopefully I'll get some sleep, since I have to get up early to go to church with my parents in the morning.

... And here I did it again. Freaking out, just because I heard the heater turn on. Oh goodness, this could be a long night. On the bright side though, I think I'm realizing that I'm much more entertaining when it's late. I don't think I normally write like this, but tonight I am.

Well, I guess I'm just going to have to trust that God's going to take care of me, and everything will be all right. Will I turn off the computer yet? Um... not likely. I'm considering sleeping with the bedroom light ON tonight. We'll see what happens.


---- On a completely unrelated note... I just got done watching Julie and Julia (fabulous movie, btw) and I'm starting to realize how curious it is that you can just click "publish post," and you're basically an author. Whether your writing is wonderful or simply atrocious, it doesn't matter. People will still read what you've written and possibly comment on it. How will we know who the actually good writers are anymore if people are continuously publishing crappy things and are being told that their posts are really good by their friends who are just trying to make them feel better? Hm... I hope I'm not one of those. Anyway, I digress.

I'm going to see if I can't calm down and get some sleep... Praying through the alphabet and counting sheep are always good methods.

Goodnight.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Beautiful the Blood.



Thank you Jesus, for Your Sacrifice.





I never knew
Death could be so sweet
I never knew
Surrender could feel so free
I never seen
Such meekness in majesty
That the blood of Jesus
Was bled for me

And now I sing
Freedom for all my days
It's only by
The power of the cross
I'm raised
The King of Glory
Rescued me
How beautiful the blood flow
How merciful the love show
The King glory poured out
Victorious, I'm weeping
Never knew through these nails
Would love unfold
And never knew these wounds
Would heal my soul
I've never seen
Such beauty and sorrow meet
The blood of Jesus
Was bled for me
And now I sing
Freedom for all my days
It's only by
The power of the cross
I'm raised
The King of Glory
Rescued me
[Repeat Chorus]
Now I'll sing
Freedom for all my days
It's only by
The power of the cross
I'm raised
The King of Glory
Rescued me
[Repeat Chorus]
How beautiful you are
How merciful you are
How glorious you are
Christ the Savior
How beautiful you are
How merciful you are
How glorious you are
Christ the Savior

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas.

Well, I figured since I'm not going to be online on Christmas day, I'll go ahead and post today. Lately I have been completely convicted by so many people regarding the Christmas season and story. I have heard that story so many times that sometimes I feel as though I have become calloused to it. This is a sad truth to learn, because it is the most amazing story in all of history. The God of the universe coming down in the form of a baby just to grow up and die to save a wretched and despicable human race from eternal punishment. Yet too often I read/listen to the story, and my mind becomes foggy because I am hearing the same story for maybe the hundredth time (no exaggeration).

But I think God is bringing me back to my senses. He has put people in my life either directly or indirectly to show me how I should be reacting to the Christmas story. First of all, there's Matt Chandler and his family. I know I talk about them a lot, but I am just in awe of their faith amidst the storms of life. In the past few weeks Pastor Matt has been talking about the Christmas season and how in awe he is that God would do something so wonderful for him, and today I received his twitter update saying that his church service was almost unbearable because of how struck he was by God's grace and mercy. Um... Wow. How many times have I gone to Christmas Eve services and just yawned the whole time because we're singing the same songs we sing every year and listening to the same story over again?

Two other people that have struck me are John, a man who goes to my sister's church, and my dad. Both of these men are strong believers, and still get choked up whenever they read the Christmas story. I am so, so humbled by this. Even though I may be filled with emotion over the story and what God did, I don't remember the last time I cried because I thought about the birth of Jesus Christ.

I feel renewed. The faith of all three of these men has brought me to a new place of wonder with the Christmas story, and I am eternally grateful to God for that. He is so good and so gracious, and I long to praise him more and more because of His great love for all of His children.

Thank You Lord, for Your wonderful gift. May we who follow You never be the same again, but be permanently transformed by your sacrifice for us. We are so undeserving, yet You loved us enough to be "unjust."

Praise be to God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Amazing Pastor.

Message from Matt

- Matt Chandler is a great man of God, and is such an encouragement, even though he is struggling with brain cancer.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Questions That Fog Up My Mind.

I know that we're supposed to forgive others after they've hurt us and lied to us, but what happens when they've done it time after time in the past and then ask you to trust that they've changed? Do you just take them at their word, even though they've had a history of breaking your trust?

I know someone who told me that he doesn't expect his friends to earn his trust. Because they're his friends, he just automatically trusts them, even if they lie to him multiple times. I don't think I agree with that. I've severely broken people's trust in the past, and because I cared about them, I wanted to earn their trust back. I knew that I couldn't just expect it to be there.

But what do you do when someone tells you they've changed? That they're not the person they were, and that their heart is in a completely different place? I want to trust this person. I really do. I'm just afraid of being disappointed and hurt again. But do I put that aside in order to hope for the best?

Life can be so confusing. I know that I'm to forgive this person, but I'm not sure if I have to trust them and everything they say. I guess I'm just afraid of them walking away from the friendship if I tell them that I don't trust them. Is that a chance I just need to take?

Oh goodness.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Going Through the Motions.

Amazing song by Matthew West. Very moving.

This might hurt, it's not safe
But I know that I've gotta make a change
I don't care if I break,
At least I'll be feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

No regrets, not this time
I'm gonna let my heart defeat my mind
Let Your love make me whole
I think I'm finally feeling something
'Cause just okay is not enough
Help me fight through the nothingness of this life

'Cause I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way ('cause I don't wanna go through the motions)
take me all the way (I know I'm finally feeling something real)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"

take me all the way (take me all the way)
take me all the way (I don't wanna go, I don't wanna go)
take me all the way (through the motions)
take me all the way

I don't wanna go through the motions

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

God's Beauty.

Have you ever sat back and wondered about how God could make a world that is so complex, strange, and yet beautiful at the same time? I certainly have. I visited a church this past Sunday (The Painted Door), and the pastor talked about God's beauty and what it really means. He talked about how we were made to recognize the beautiful. We were made to desire that. And yet, in our desire and our pursuit of the beautiful, we completely miss the point.

We end up settling. We settle for what's here on earth and begin to think that this is the most beautiful that it can get. Whether it is two hearts uniting as one, the miracle of birth, or the changing of the seasons, we mistake earthly beauty as God's best for us.

But this isn't the case.

God's beauty far surpasses everything that this world has to offer. This world will pass away, but God will endure forever, and He is the one who set everything into motion. God did not just create one aspect of the world and one aspect of beauty, but He created the entire thing. This must mean that God transcends this beauty.

When we pursue beauty, it is true that we do not just want to settle for something that looks "nice." We want something that other people can marvel and wonder at. This sometimes manifests itself in art, a successful job, material things, or lusts of the flesh.

The pastor of The Painted Door, Mark Bergin, talked about the fact that because we want what is most beautiful, we end up chasing other people and desiring that beauty, because we are made in the image of God. We are as close as it gets to seeing the true beauty of God. Have you ever stopped to think about this?

Being created in the image of God is not just a "nice thought," or something that you tell others to make them feel better about themselves. This idea, this truth, is huge. To be made in the image of God is to be infinitely valued. We are not just randomly made through evolutionary processes, but we have a purpose. But sadly, this is what we settle for most often. We think that it is enough to find a beautiful person and be satisfied with that. But there is so, so much more.

Mark Bergin said something on Sunday that really struck me. He said, "The cross of Christ is without question the most beautiful thing in all of human history." How could this be? Christ's death was anything but beautiful. It was bloody, gory, and shameful. Yet what it represented is what is truly beautiful. He endured that wretched death in order to save wretched sinners. Wretched sinners like me, like you, like everyone who has ever lived and will ever live. He died so that we may live in eternity with Him in heaven, if we accept His gift of an intimate relationship with Him.

This..... This is beauty.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Shout of the King.

Well if this song isn't convicting... I don't know what is. God deserves my praise, even when I am going through the darkest of moments.

----------------------------



I give You praise for You deserve it
I give You praise for what You've done
I give You praise for You are able
I give You praise 'til I overcome

I give You praise when the sun is shining
I give You praise in the dark of night
I give You praise when the battle rages
I give You praise 'til it works out right

The shout of the King is among us
God lives here in our praises
The shout of the King is among us
Praise Him praise Him
Praise Him in everything

Heaven opens as we sing Your praise
Angels join us as we praise Your name

My Affections, My Obsession.

I had an epiphany last night. What's funny is that it's nothing new. My epiphany was simply this: that when I feel the desire and "need" to be with someone, that I shouldn't make a person the object of my affections, but God and God alone. I've done the complete opposite so many times. I have tried to fix my problem by fixated my emotions and longings on one person, and this is a habit that I have to destroy. My obsession needs to be for Jesus Christ. I need to be wholly devoted to Him and what He wants for me - not what I want for myself. I need to strive every day to do His will and I need to know that He knows what's best for me.

No matter what, God needs to be my love and my obsession. I shouldn't ever settle for anything less.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Last week of classes already?

Wow, I can't believe how quickly this semester went. It's pretty ridiculous, actually. I feel as though I just got here a little while ago, and now it's already time to leave for Christmas break. And I have to say... I'm not really upset by that fact.

To be completely honest, this has been the worst semester that I have ever had. So many things have happened in my life that makes me want to crawl in a hole and not come out for a very, very long time. Part of those things have been my fault, but I can't blame myself for everything that has happened.

It's these kinds of situations (losing friendships/relationships) that make it really difficult for me to trust God. Does He really have the best for me? Does He really know what He's doing? The question is of course yes, He does. He's God, after all. But for some reason, I just have such a difficult time trusting Him when I'm going through one of the most trying times that I have ever experienced. It's like I have all this head-knowledge, but not the heart-knowledge that God is good and knows what He's doing, and it's the hardest thing in the world to make that transfer of knowledge from the head to the heart.

I wish I could end this on a happy note and say "God is good" or "I'm getting through it." But honestly, those are just cliche Christian answers that people give so that no one will see how much they're really hurting. I don't want to do that, because sometimes you just can't pretend like everything's okay when it's really not.

I'm thankful for the upcoming break from school. Hopefully it'll give me a chance to clear my head and remember who God is. I'll be spending a few days alone at my sister's place because she and her husband are going to California, and I'm really looking forward to that. I'm really desperate for time with God so we can sort things out.

Please pray for me. While I have friends to talk to in order to help me push through, it's still not easy and I'm still struggling.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Speak Through Me.

Tonight while writing a paper, I started listening to a new album by one of my favorite bands, Green River Ordinance. I knew that they were Christians, but had never heard an actual Christian song by them until I came across the song "Speak Through Me." GRO isn't a well-known band at all, but this song is absolutely incredible and SO powerful. Here are the lyrics:

Holding on to all you gave to me
Times I feel the furthest from complete
In the echoes of your confidence
Remind me of the consequences you undo

So here I stand today
Open eyes and open praise for you
You were there when everything came down
I owe you all my heart
My God

So I hear the people talk
Their voices so unclear
But I keep you in my head, keep you in my eyes
Where there's nothing left to fear

In the echoes of your confidence
Remind me of the consequences you undo
So here I stand today
Open eyes and open praise for you
You were there when everything came down
I owe you all my heart
My God

So speak through me
So loud and so clear
I want to feel you here


---------------------

Um, wow. That's all I have to say. This song feels as though it was written specifically for my prayer and praise to God. This is so much of how I have been feeling about everything lately. I have screwed up so many times, been so broken beyond what I thought could be repaired, and God lifted me up from the mire. He is still in the process of lifting me and rescuing me, but I know that He's doing it. I am moved to tears because of this realization and reality. I really do owe Him everything, and I want Him to be near me always and I want to feel Him here.

I get so discouraged and downtrodden so many times because often it feels as though God is silent and so distant. Right now is completely different, though. I should be writing my paper, but I can sense God's presence SO strongly. I know that He is speaking to me through this song, and I cannot keep quiet about what He is saying to me. He wants me to know that it's okay, that everything is going to be alright, and that He's right here with me to bring me through.

I am constantly amazed and astounded at the God that I serve. I can never thank Him enough for what He has done for me. I love Him with every breath of my being, and I long to serve Him with everything that I have. I owe Him that.

Oh God, you are more wonderful than I could ever imagine.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ordained.

Today in my Systematic Theology class with Dr. Finkbeiner, we discussed the issue of human freedom and God's sovereignty. This topic has always interested me, and so as I processed through all the information (definitely more than I normally do) I began to think about what some of my friends believe about God's sovereignty, and I raised questions of my own.

I know someone who believes that God absolutely and actively (read more for what I mean about "actively) ordains everything, even our sin. This person says that God does so in order that He might be ultimately glorified in the end because He is the only One who can do right, and we are totally depraved beings. However, this has always presented an issue with me. Why would God basically force us to sin, and then give us the responsibility for doing it? Wouldn't that actually be God doing the evil and then just pushing the blame onto us? I have had the most difficult time with this, because I do not believe that it is God's character to actively ordain sin. There has to be human freedom involved with this.

However... let me be clear in saying that on the other side of things I do not believe in absolute human freedom. I will be bold in saying that I believe in Calvin's teachings on pre-destination, and I do not believe that we have the choice in whether or not we are saved. Even though God desires for all men to be saved, this does not mean that all men WILL be saved. However, I digress. My argument is not on eternal salvation at the moment, but on whether or not God ordains our sin.

My position on this issue is more in the middle of each side, which is "soft determinism." I talked with Dr. Finkbeiner today and he put it in such a way that was so clear and made a lot of sense (this is where my use of "actively ordaining" comes in, in case you were wondering). While God does in fact ordain everything because He is ultimately sovereign, there is a difference between active and passive ordination. For example, God has actively ordained certain individuals to receive salvation, but he has passively ordained sin to occur in our lives. Basically, this means that God allows it to take place. He obviously knows what we are going to choose, but we are able to make the choice all the same. He does not force us to do anything that we do not want to do. We make the choice to sin out of our own volition, and therefore it is our responsibility to repent for that.

This is such an encouragement to me because it shows that I am NOT a slave to my sin. If I am a daughter of the King, then I have the full ability to stand up against my sin with Christ's strength and conquer it. God does not actively ordain me to sin, which takes away my ability to "blame" him for my actions and say that He made me do it for His own "mysterious" reasons.

God loves me and He wants me to choose Him. Again, He chose me initially to be saved, but it is my choice whether or not I will follow Him and obey His commands instead of my own fleshly desires. He strongly desires for me to be in a right relationship with Him, but that means following Him even in the most difficult of times.

But what an encouragement we have in 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says,
"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, so that you may be able to endure it."


God will allow my sin to take place, but He provides a way out! I feel as though Romans 7 is one of my life chapters, because it consistently comes up as a theme in my life. I have written blogs and posts about this passage before, and I'm going to do so again. Romans 7:15-25 says,
"For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For i know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord!"


God is SO merciful, and this is something that I am learning more and more every single day. Thank God for His active and passive ordination in my life, that I may be able to see Him more clearly, follow Him more closely, and love Him more dearly as long as I live.

Mm.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

You Are Everything

This song is amazing.... So needed. Mm.. God needs to not only be something in my life, but He needs to be EVERYTHING.




You Are Everything
By: Phil Wickham


Jesus, You're my everything
And my heart beats for you
Filled with power and mystery
Lord, I thirst for you
You are everything
You are everything

Lord, You are beautiful
Awesome and wonderful
I give You all of my life
Lord, You're the song I sing
Perfect in everything
I give You all of my life
For You are everything

You're the stone I rest upon
I find peace in You
I love You, Lord with all my heart
I place my hope in You
For You are everything
You are everything

Lord, You are beautiful
Awesome and wonderful
I give You all of my life
Lord, You're the song I sing
Perfect in everything
I give You all of my life
For You are everything

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We Are No Better.

Just a little while ago I started my personal study on the book of Romans, but while in the middle of chapter one, I had to stop. I was overwhelmed and filled with emotion because of my encounter with God. I was reading through Romans 1:18-32 when this emotion rose up within me, which some may deem as strange given that this passage just talks about God's wrath against the ungodliness of men. But before you continue reading on, read that passage, and maybe you'll see what I'm talking about.

Yes, God gives ungodly men up to their sinful desires and lusts if they decide to reject Him. I know someone who believes that God cannot feel hurt or pain, but that He simply does what He needs to do so that He can get the glory. I REFUSE to believe that. I refuse to believe that God is cold and unfeeling. While He knows that not all men will be saved, 2 Peter 3:9 says, "The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance." God WANTS the people of this world to come to Himself. He does NOT want people to suffer eternal punishment, but He knows that it is necessary in order for Him to be God. Not only is He a loving God, but He is a just God. There comes a point where God has to allow people to reject Him.

But I cannot imagine that this is easy for Him. At all. Think about it: God is the Father over all creation, and He loves the entire world. While we don't deserve His love, He loves us. He loves even those that choose to reject Him. So just as a Father feels pain over a child that has chosen to stray from the family and live a life of debauchery, so God feels pain over a person who sees God, spits in His face, and decides that they will live life on their own terms. What astounds me is that God KNOWS that this will happen. He KNOWS that people will reject Him. Yet He still feels pain over it, because He is an absolutely loving God.

This passage is so convicting in so many ways. God feels pain over those who reject Him, so why is it so often that I just blow people off? I hear about people getting so drunk that they can't remember what they did and end up sick the next day and just scoff at them and believe that they get what they deserve. I see girls being incredibly promiscuous and call them sluts. Oh, what a shameful Christian I am. I should not think of myself as better than them, but I should be hurting that they would choose a life like that over a relationship with Jesus Christ!

Never have I felt so convicted than in this moment that I should be praying for those who have turned away from God and have chosen to live a life of sin. One of the people I care about most lives so far away from God that few would think that he has any hope of being in a right relationship with God. I again refuse to believe that. While God does give people up to live their lives of sin, it is our job to intercede on their behalf and to ask God not to pour out His wrath on them, but to save them. I think our willingness to pray for those who are lost shows how much we really care about these people and their eternal destination. Am I too focused on myself and my "spiritual superiority" (ha.) to see that these people are no worse than I am, and that I need a Savior JUST as much as they do? I am no better, yet God chose to save me. Therefore I must pray that God will choose to save others.

If anyone is confused about whether or not those who continually choose to live against God's plan for them are worse than us "holy Christians," then let verses 29-32 be evidence that we are all on the same level.

They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.


There is not one person that can honestly say that they have never done any of the things on this list. We all have done at least one thing, but most often it's that we've done several of these. We as Christians are no better than anyone else, so there is no reason why we should not pray for those in our lives that we know are lost.

Rise up, fellow believers, and see what God sees in humankind. Do not allow Satan to have any victories over anyone, but take hold of the victory that we have already claimed in Christ Jesus, and show Satan that he has NO power in this world. In the end, it is God, and God alone, who will overcome.

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Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like You have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks Yours
Everything I am for Your Kingdom's cause
As I walk from earth into eternity

Monday, November 16, 2009

Changing it Up.


Well, I think for my blog today I'm going to try and change it up. Instead of talking about issues and certain things that I've been thinking about lately, I think I'm just going to give an update on my life to this point.

So, first semester is almost over, and it seems absolutely insane to me that I only have one more semester to go before I'm a senior. A SENIOR. That scares me just to think about that, because I know what it means to be a senior. Good gracious, I'm not old enough. Anyway, this year I switched dorms that I lived in, and it has been absolutely wonderful. I'm not the type of person who can live in Houghton. I'm more independent and while I value community, I want to be able to have my time alone, too. Smith Hall definitely does that for me. I'm on the fifth floor, and while I'm disappointed that I don't know everyone on my floor, the women I do know are absolutely wonderful.

First off, there's my roommate, Michelle. I didn't know her coming into this year, but I'm so glad that we're roommates. She's another transfer from Spokane, but she came this year instead of last year with a different group. While we've had a couple of rough moments, I think our roommate relationship is great, and I've really enjoyed getting to know her and being her roommate. I'm excited to see what God has in store for our friendship in the next semester.

There are definitely other girls on the floor that I have absolutely loved getting to know. Andrea, Annie, Allie, Kelsi, Lauren, Rachel, Kara, Renee, Julie, Lisa.... and those are just a few. They have all been so great. Yesterday Andrea and I went to Berry Chill on a whim, and that was SO much fun. I think that she and I are giggle buddies. We've had some really good times which have included "Team Awesome", bananas, and John Jensen. :D



Mentioning John makes me think of my brother floor, and those guys are definitely awesome. Last year my brother floor was great, but this year is even better because I feel like we've actually connected as a bro/sis instead of it just being a few people who are friends. I've had so much fun with Jeff, David, Steven, Jeremy, Darryl, Matt, Jake, Joel, and others. Darryl now knows that he can't bet against me, otherwise he'll have to do push-ups. :D They're all really good guys, and I'm privileged to be able to get to know them.
The inauguration of our new president was this semester as well, and I am so thrilled that I got to be here to see that. Dr. Nyquist is going to be a great president, and I am so excited to see how God decides to use him.


While it's been a fun semester, it also has been the most difficult semester of my life. My break-up this summer definitely took more of a toll on me than I ever realized that it would, and I've just recently gotten to the point where I can completely move on from it. I am definitely thankful to God that I can move on, but it took A LOT to actually get to that point. I spent nights just crying in my bed after my roommate went to sleep because I was so focused on all the bad things going on and the aftermath of my relationship. God has granted me the ability to completely move on and see a different aspect of life though, and I thank him SO much for that.

I also changed my major somewhat this semester. I'm still women's ministry, but I'm now an interdisciplinary with biblical languages. Basically that means I'm going to die in my last 2 semesters. :) Especially 1st semester next year because I'll be taking Greek Exegesis and Hebrew Grammar I at the same time. But I think it's totally worth it, so I'll kill myself trying. :D I'm definitely so grateful for the opportunity to learn the original languages that the Bible was written in, because I think it will be very helpful in my future ministry.

God is good, and has blessed me with so many things. While it is difficult to see that sometimes, I know that He is there and He is looking out for my best interest, and for His glory at the same time. I have grown SO much this semester, and I'm excited to see how He decides to grow me in the near future.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

This and That.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my blog, and about the types of things I talk about and have talked about. What I'm realizing is that there have been many times where I have revealed more than I should on here. Now I'm not saying that all of my posts or even a lot of them have done this, but I know that at least a couple have been over the line. Not that they're not good topics, but there are some things that are better being unsaid.

Mostly I'm referring to my blog titled, "No-no." I'm still okay with the fact that I have that blog, but I do realize that I overstepped some boundaries with that, and I should not have posted ALL of it. I'll know better for the future.

I think that's something that anyone who is going to be involved in ministry has to learn, is that we're not going to get it right every single time, or even most of the time. We're going to mess up. We're going to look like fools, and we're going to say things that are going to shock some people because we've overstepped our boundaries. After we've learned what we've done wrong though, we need to know how to apologize.

I have a "friend" (and I may have talked about this before) who doesn't care at ALL about what anyone thinks about him, and isn't willing to change for anyone. Now, this can be a good thing and a bad thing at the same time. Yes, it's great that he does not want to give in to what other people may think that he should do, but there is also wisdom in learning from other people and truly listening to what they may have to say. If we only listen to ourselves and do not listen to others around us, I think we are in great danger of making some huge mistakes.

God has placed other people in our lives for a reason, and while we do not need to take heed to EVERYTHING that they say, we need to at least chew on it and see what we think about their advice. It could turn out to be wrong advice or with bad intentions, but we need to meditate on what people have to say to us in case God may be speaking to us through them.

So to those who have been offended by my posts in the past and I just haven't wanted to listen, I apologize. I realize now that it is important to listen to others and not to dispel all of my "dirty" laundry for everyone to see. To reveal it to some is fine, but it is not okay to reveal it to all.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Learning to Breathe Again.

Life is going to get good again. I can feel it, and I'm so excited. To be completely honest, life has sucked up to this point in the semester. It has been the most stressful and difficult semester I've ever had, and I'm ready for it to be over. It actually hasn't been very stressful academically, but it has been so hard in the areas of my emotions and my spirituality.

It was twenty times more difficult to get over my ex than I thought it would be, but I completely cut off communication with him and I feel so completely free now. I had never realized just how much he had manipulated and used me throughout our relationship and our friendship. I know that I am a strong woman, and I deserve better than that, that's for sure. I won't stand for being treated less than I should be. Right now my ex and I are taking a month apart, but I have a feeling at the end of the month I won't care if I ever talk to him again.

In regards to my most previous post on the topic of prayer, God has revealed Himself even more to me throughout this whole situation. It is more than okay for me to pray for the things that I want and I long for, but if I also pray that God will do His will in the situation, then He will eventually change my desires to look more like His, and will help the pain to dissipate.

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I have a friend who, for our women's ministry mini-retreat read to us from Phil Vischer's book, "Sid and Norman: a Tale of Two Pigs." It sounds like a silly children's book, but when she read it to us I almost cried, and I also checked it out of the library a few days ago in order to read it again. The premise of this book is that there are two pigs who live next door to each other, but are complete opposites. The first one is Norman, who is an upstanding pig that always has his tie completely straight and tends to look down on others, and then there's Sidney who wishes he could be like him, but always seems to get everything messed up. His house is always a mess, his tie is never straight, he always gets in trouble, is always late for things, and can never be organized.

Both of the pigs get invited to talk to God one day, and while Norman is excited, Sidney is completely dreading and terrifed of the entire situation. Norman is sure that God is going to give him an award for being such a good pig, but this is not what happens. He walks in and God simply tells him that He loves him, but it's not because of his goodness that He loves him. He then tells Norman to stop looking down on other people and to realize that He loves them just as much as him.

Then comes in Sidney. Sidney is just sure that God is going to chastise him for not being good enough and for always messes up, but God again just simply tells him, "I love you." And then he said, "Secondly, I love you. I love you, I love you, I love you." God did not want to tell Sidney everything that he was doing wrong. He simply wanted to tell him that He loved him just the way he was.

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I would highly recommend reading this book (Yes, it's a kids' book!) because of how encouraging and moving it is. I find that I identify myself with Sidney SO much. I feel as though I am always so disorganized and I can never get anything right, but the only ipmortant thing is how much God loves me. He doesn't love me because of anything I do or don't do, but simply because He can. This is huge, and makes me realize how awesome and wonderful He really is.

God's goodness is beyond comprehension and beyond anything that we could ever imagine. Just when I think that I understand and that He can't possibly be good to me because of how I've messed up, He continues to surprise me.

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Comments from the Overstressed and Overwhelmed.

Do those two words mean the same thing? Mm... Probably. Oh well. I realized that it has been a while since I updated my blog, so I figured that I would go ahead and do that. To be honest though, I have been so busy with school, work, and life that I really haven't had the time to sit and contemplate things. I wish I did because I really enjoy it, but unfortunately school doesn't really allow for that right now.

I guess I do have a lot on my mind, but I don't really know what to point out at the moment. Maybe one thing to point out is how I'm struggling with prayer. I always hate how it seems like other people don't struggle with it but it comes so easy for them. That's definitely not the case for me. I have the hardest time praying because I feel so selfish praying for things that I want.

I know in my head that it's good to pray. I know that God tells us to pray for others and for the things that we want, but here's my dillemma: Who am I that I should try to approach the God of the universe to ask for something that I want? Shouldn't I just be grateful to be alive and take whatever He gives me without question? Why should I think that I deserve to receive anything from him?

I have been wrestling with these questions for such a long time now. I don't feel as though I'm worthy to ask for what I want. And I realize too that it's okay to ask for what I want as long as I'm okay with God saying no to that request. However, I really want to know if that's easy at all for ANYONE. Because frankly, as soon as I start praying about what I want I start to get my hopes up, and it just ends in disappointment because I find it to be one of the hardest things in the world to give what I want to God and then at the same time say, "Your will be done."

I don't think that I ask for too much, at least that's what I try not to do. I try to ask for the bare minimum so as not to make God think that I'm taking advantage of Him. But even as I write those things, I realize how absolutely ridiculous that sounds.

Of COURSE God wants me to ask for things from Him. That's the beauty of grace and mercy. He wants me to take advantage of that, and even take advantage of Him. But to really accept that in my heart is so incredibly difficult to do.

So now I will be thinking and praying about this further. Hm.. Praying about prayer. That's an interesting concept.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Here Master, in this Quiet Place

This is an awesome song that I really need to memorize so I can sing it to myself during the times that I doubt God and what He can do.

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Here Master, in this quiet place, where anyone may kneel.
I also come to ask for grace, believing You can heal.

If pain of body, stress of mind destoys my inward peace,
in prayer for others may I find the secret of release.

If self upon the sickness feeds and turns my life to gall,
let me not brood upon my needs, but simply tell You all.

You never said, "you ask to much" to any troubled soul.
I long to feel Your healing touch, will You not make me whole?

But if the thing I most desire is not Your way for me,
may faith, when tested in the fire, prove its integrity.

Of all my prayers, may this be chief till faith is fully grown.
Lord disbelieve my unbelief and claim me as Your own.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Falling in Love

This is a song by the band Falling Up (Thanks for introducing me to them, Roger) and it's AMAZING. It can be taken from the earthly perspective, but it's supposed to be about our relationship with Christ. It's convicting because I wonder how many times I actually think of God this way.....

Falling in Love
By: Falling Up



You are my one true love
You are the voice that is so sweet
In everything I do, you bring the best out of me
You are my wings to fly
You are the wind beneath them
I miss you every night, when I close my eyes
You put your feelings down
You stopped your tears you brought me love
You held to my heart
You held with hope to have me near
Sometimes I close my eyes
Sometimes I let my hunger rise
I think of all You are, You are the love of my life

(chorus)
All of my dreams and my passions
Are in Your hands

You reached me in my need
Your rhythm flows under my skin
I need you desperately,
A sweet healing that will begin
You are my one true love
You are the voice that is so sweet
In everything I do, you bring the best out of me
My everything is you
The very motions that I move
And everything with richness
The richness of the peace you bring

Always, always you are with me
You are the love of my life
He comes to find you on your knees

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Called to the mission field?

That question absolutely scares me to death. I have NEVER thought of myself as someone who could be called to be a missionary. Now, here's my thing: I don't want this sudden desire to be coming just from the hype of Missions Conference. This is why I'm really treading lightly. However, there are threads that have gone throughout my life that have made me think that I very possibly could be called, but I'm just now realizing it. But like I said, it's definitely something that I need to pray about.

Anyway, here are some things that have made me start thinking about the mission field. I have always loved Europe. I don't know if it's because it's always romanticized or whatever, but there's always been a drawing towards Europe for me. Last year at Missions Conference I went to a couple of sessions put on by Greater Europe Mission, but I didn't really think much about it. Then after Missions Conference my dad talked to me about a couple that they had met that worked at the headquarters in Monument, Colorado and they were looking for women to work with other women in London. I turned it down and didn't really think about it. And now this year again GEM is here and I have gone to all of their sessions. Each time I've gone, I've felt more and more excitement about what God may have in store for me, but more and more apprehension at the same time. And something that makes me apprehensive is the fact that I have had multiple people throughout my life ask me if I'm interested in missions, and then tell me that I should consider it.

If my point hasn't gotten across before, I am TERRIFIED to go overseas for a long period of time. But maybe that's just another reason why I should. I'm not a Christian so that I can feel "comfortable" and stay in my little box forever. I am a Christian so that I can follow God no matter where He may lead.

This brings me to another apprehension: I'm single. This fact does not really bode well for me if I were to go into missions. Sure, God can do anything and He definitely could bring someone along, but if I were to be a single missionary there is a very real possibility that I will always be a single missionary. This leads me into thinking that God could very well be asking me if I really am willing to follow Him anywhere, no matter what. Am I willing to go completely on faith with the possibility of denying myself of one of my deepest desires so that I can follow and serve Him?

I would like to sound really spiritual and answer "yes." But in order for me to do that right now, I would have to lie. I cannot with a completely clear conscience say that I would follow God that far. Sure, I can easily say that if God gives me someone before I go over there then I will be more than happy to serve Him overseas. But to tell Him that I will go even if that means staying single forever... Well, that's about the most difficult thing for me. Any other decision that I may make in my life seems as though it would be a piece of cake in comparison to that decision.

Faith is a huge theme that God is teaching me right now. This may be one of those things that He's trying to develop within my heart. I don't know where it will lead, but all I know is that I'm pretty sure I've just moved into a season of pretty serious prayer and really seeking God's direction and will.

God, give me ears to hear what You have to say, discernment to know that it's really You, and the courage to follow You, even when I may want to run the opposite direction.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Oh So Lonely....

Have you ever felt lonely, even though you're surrounded by tons of people? That's exactly how I'm feeling right now. I'm around people all the time, and lots of people know who I am. But all the relationships with those people are completely superficial. I just don't feel like I have many real friendships here. I feel as though if I stopped trying so hard with people, I would completely disappear... Besides people that I work in ministry with, I don't know if people would really notice if I were gone.

I hate that feeling. Because I should know that it's not true.I should know that people care about me. I just... don't right now. I don't see the evidence of it, and maybe that's because I'm just blinded. I don't know.

I just feel alone. And the pat, cliche answer of God always being there for us doesn't really help. It's just such an easy answer for everyone to give. But I just want some friends. Why are they so hard to find? I don't want superficial relationships anymore. I want deep, meaningful ones. Why is no one interested in a deep friendship with me? It just baffles me.

Ugh. I wish I didn't feel like this. I wish I could just be happy all the time. Maybe it's the weather getting to me... I don't know. We'll see how the next few days play out, I suppose.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tied in Knots

After talking to my mentor for a couple hours last night, I have realized even more how much of a verbal processor I am... And a writing processor through that..? Ha, I guess that's why my blogs are always so long and thoughtful. Anyway... here goes:
-------------------------------------------

Have you ever had moments, days, weeks, months where your stomach is just completely tied in knots, but there's really nothing you can do about it? I tend to get this a lot.. Especially since I'm a worrier and a stresser. I tend to get worried about my circumstances and everything that is going on in my life, and I therefore the knots just get tighter and tighter.

I know that God is teaching me so much more about having faith in him lately, but there are still times when it's really hard to have faith in Him. I want to know that He has the best for me in mind, and He knows what He's doing. It's easy to have the head knowledge of that. But when it comes to it being played out in my life.... well, that's not so easy. My heart is always behind my head when it comes to those types of things. I really want to believe in my heart that God knows what's best and He's going to do that. But then I'm always afraid that I've done something to mess up God's best and I'll no longer get it. *sigh*

I'll be honest and admit it - I wouldn't hate it if a few things in my life were different than they are now. Do I think that it's possible for things to be different? Unfortunately, no. I would LIKE not to be as busy as I am, and I would LIKE to have a man in my life. But frankly, those things can't change right now. There's no way that I can change how incredibly busy I am right now. it's just the way life is and the season that I'm in. And that runs into why I really can't have any guys in my life right now. I'm just too busy. I barely have time for myself and time to catch up with other friends, so I really have no time to squeeze a boyfriend into the whole mess... Even though I'm pretty sure if I had the opportunity I would probably try, even if it wasn't what God wanted. How's that for honest?

I really try to hold all of life with an open hand, even though i'm a person who really likes to make plans. But this makes life really confusing and difficult at times because it makes it hard to know what I want and what God wants. So here I am, holding my desire to be with someone with an open hand, but at the same time I am trying to hold my singleness with an open hand, in case God wants to change it.

This creates a dilemma. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, but it's a dilemma nonetheless. I can't get comfortable in the situation I am in. If I do, then I feel as though it is tightening my grip on my life, and I am not allowing God to work. Is this really what's going on? I'm not sure, but I guess I always figure that it's better to be safe than sorry.

Does this therefore create discontent? It's very possible. Because this would then mean that I am essentially expecting my situation to change. I don't get comfortable. I don't let myself be okay with whatever is going on in my life at the specific time, because it could always turn around. While that's true, I shouldn't necessarily view things that way. God calls me to be content, no matter what situation I'm in. Does this mean that I cannot have desires that are different from the situation that I find myself in? I don't think so.

I think that the problem comes in when the desires take over and I can no longer function or interact with people without having evidence of those desires flow out. If the desires become my idol and they overtake my desire to serve God, that is when the problem occurs. I need to be willing to serve God wholeheartedly even when I would rather my situation be different.

Here is the material point: While I may want my situation to be different, God DOES know what is best, and He DOES work all things for the good of those who love Him. It's just my job to actually take that to heart and believe it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

On Prayer

This is a short section out of Desiring God by John Piper that I wanted to share. It really hit me tonight since I've been thinking a lot about what prayer is and its importance:

"Jesus says to the woman, 'If you just knew the gift of God and who I am, you would ask Me - You would pray to Me!' There is a direct correlation between not knowing Jesus well and not asking much from Him. A failure in our prayer life is generally a failure to know Jesus. 'If you knew who was talking to you, you would ask Me!' A prayerless Christian is like a bus driver trying alone to push his bus out of a rut because he doesn't know Clark Kent is on board. 'If you knew, you would ask.' A prayerless Christian is like having your room wallpapered with Saks Fifth Avenue gift certificates but always shopping at Goodwill because you can't read. 'If you know the gift of God and who it is that speaks to you, you would ask - you would ask!

And the implication is that those who do ask - Christians who spend time in prayer - do it because they see that God is a great Giver and that Christ is wise and merciful and powerful beyond measure. And therefore their prayer glorifies Christ and honors His Father. The chief end of man is to glorify God. Therefore, when we become what God created us to be, we become people of prayer."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Empty Me

Last night I put the song "Empty Me" by Jeremy Camp into my blog. But I didn't really think about the words too much. I didn't let them sink in, so I want to do that now.

Empty Me
By: Jeremy Camp

Holy Fire burn away,
my desire for anything
that is not of you and is of me.
I want more of you and less of me.

Holy Fire burn away,
my desire for anything
that is not of you and is of me,
I want more of you and less of me, yeah.
Empty me,
Empty me, yeah,
Fill, won't you fill me,
with you, with you, yeah.

Holy Fire, burn away,
my desire for anything
that is not of you and is of me.
I want more of you and less of me, yeah.
Empty me,
Empty me, yeah.
Fill, won't you fill me, with you, with you, empty me now.

Well won't you empty me, well won't you empty me now. repeat x2
I want more, I want more, I want more of you, Jesus.
I want more, I want more, oh.
Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, Jesus, oh yeah,
Thank you, Jesus, yeah.
Holy Fire, Holy Fire, Holy Fire, Holy Fire.

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Let me start with the first line: "Holy Fire, burn away my desire for anything that is not of you and is of me, I want more of you and less of me." Is that really my prayer and my cry? Do I really have a desire for God to take away anything that's not of Him? Or do I enjoy my sin and my selfishness too much? I think many times we like to sing the 'pretty' words of a praise song, but we don't actually mean what we're saying. Because it would be pretty big and pretty deep if we did mean them. This request of God should not be taken lightly. This is because in order to be filled with Himself, He has to 'burn away' those things that are not of Him. And I don't know about anyone else, but getting burned HURTS. It's not a pleasant experience.

However, this reminds me of the verse that talks about us being like gold refined in the fire. Yes, it's going to hurt to be molded and shaped by God. But it is absolutely essential in order to become more like Him and His Son. No, it's not fun. Yes it will hurt. But it is worth it in order to become less like ourselves and more like our Savior, who gave Himself up for us when we were still His enemies.

The other part of the song goes, "Empty me, Empty me... Fill, won't you fill me with You, with You..." Our prayer needs to be that we are emptied. Completely emptied of ourselves. Our sin, our selfishness, our ungodly desires. God wants to fill us with His love, compassion, righteousness, and many more things in order to make us more like Him. But here's the thing: we have to be willing to allow this to happen. Oh, we may sing the words all the time, but I don't think that we mean it nearly as much as we sing it.

I was encouraged by my friend Danielle yesterday while we were in a meeting for the women's ministry exec team on campus. We were sharing prayer requests, and she talked about how her desire was for God not only to mold her and shape her, but to absolutely BREAK her. Now that's a really bold prayer. Not many people are willing to be broken by God, because this would mean extreme heartache and pain. But Danielle's willingness is such a challenge to me to look within myself and see if I have the same willingness to pray that prayer.

And my question to everyone who may read this is that very thing. Are you willing? Are you willing to take that step of faith to be broken by God and be completely emptied of yourself? It may be one of the hardest things in the world to do, but we must be broken at some point in order to become more like God and His Son, and to grow in our faith. So what is it going to be? Are we going to remain stagnant and 'comfortable' in our faith? Or are we willing to become uncomfortable as God shows us the things He wants to change in us, and even go through some pain as we go through the process of transformation?

Hm... That's just some food for thought. It's definitely a question that I have to constantly ask myself as well. And at this point, as much as I'd like to say that I'm willing to be broken by God, I'm really not 100% sure if that's true.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Galatians 2:11-21

"But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with th truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, 'If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?'

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose."


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11-14 -> Paul is talking about how Cephas was afraid of the circumcision party because he did not live according to the Jewish law as they did. Paul proclaims Cephas to be a hypocrite because he tells the Gentiles to live like Jews even though he, a Jew, does not (v. 14).

15-16 -> Paul admits that though he is a Jew, he is not saved by his works as a Jew. He realizes that it is only through his faith in Jesus Christ that he is saved.

17-18 -> Paul is saying in these verses that he is still a sinner even after being justified by faith, because it still is not because of his works that he is sanctified. "For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor." This means that if he were to say that Christ was a servant to sin, than he would go back to being justified by works and not by Christ's sacrifice.

20 -> "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Paul is being explicit in saying that he lives for Christ. He has died to himself.

21 -> Salvation cannot come from the law, because then Christ would have died for no reason. His sacrifice would mean nothing.

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Application:

Paul lived his life with incredible passion for his faith, and opposed others who were not totally sold out and became hypocritical. He is emphatic that it is not our works that save us, but faith alone, and this is a theme that Paul repeats throughout all his letters.

He is also very passionate about the fact that he no longer lives for himself, but for God. We need to be crucified with Christ. This literally means that we need to put to death anything that is of us and not of God. We need to live for Christ and Christ alone. This is essential to the Christian life. If we live our lives characterized by selfishness, then we will quickly lose our platform for ministering to others.


Empty Me
By: Jeremy Camp

Holy Fire burn away,
my desire for anything
that is not of you and is of me.
I want more of you and less of me.

Holy Fire burn away,
my desire for anything
that is not of you and is of me,
I want more of you and less of me, yeah.
Empty me,
Empty me, yeah,
Fill, won't you fill me,
with you, with you, yeah.

Holy Fire, burn away,
my desire for anything
that is not of you and is of me.
I want more of you and less of me, yeah.
Empty me,
Empty me, yeah.
Fill, won't you fill me, with you, with you, empty me now.

Well won't you empty me, well won't you empty me now. repeat x2
I want more, I want more, I want more of you, Jesus.
I want more, I want more, oh.
Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, Jesus, oh yeah,
Thank you, Jesus, yeah.
Holy Fire, Holy Fire, Holy Fire, Holy Fire.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why?

Why do I do this? Why do I constantly and consistently mess things up all the time? I mean really, I seem to have made an art out of making mistakes. Other people's lives seem so put together - and then there's me. Making big mistakes every day and not seeming to learn from them. I just don't understand it. I want to be better and learn from my experiences. I really do. It just never seems to work out the way I want it to. I know that God loves me and He always forgives me, but human beings aren't the same way. Even people that I see as really good friends of mine I wear so thin that I end up frustrating them and stressing them out because of how much I mess things up. But I don't know how to fix it. Every time I try to fix it, I just end up making things worse, and it continues to spiral downwards.I really feel like a failure when it comes to making and maintaining friendships.

I know that one of my problems is that I depend on my friendships way too much. I realize this and I'll readily admit it. But honestly, I don't know how to fix it. I really want to, but I just can't seem to. I just always seem to be clingy and then I become high-maintenance with my friends, and then no one wants to be around me. So how do I make this better?

I feel as though I keep spiraling downwards further and further into a situation that I can't get out of. I really want to be different, but every time I try and make a change, I just end up either in the same place or even worse. I know self-control is one of the fruits of the spirit, but God ha been working on me with that for so long, and I don't know if it's ever going to get better... I have tried and tried, but I always end up saying and doing the wrong thing to get myself in a mess.

I love my friends. I really do. And I care about them SO much. But I guess I always forget that people need space. I'm not one of those people that really needs a lot of space from others, but I forget that other people are not like me. And then because I forget that I start getting upset because someone doesn't want to hang out or does something to disappoint me. And then once I do that, they in turn start to feel smothered and want me to back off.

I did this with a friend just today, and a different friend the other day. Why do I do this to myself? I feel like such a masochist, putting myself into situations where I'm just going to get hurt, and where I'm also going to hurt others. I want it to stop. And people don't seem to understand that it's really not as easy as it seems to change.

My friend that I did it to today really got upset with me, and while I was hurt by this person, I was more upset by the fact that I had messed up once again. But what do I do? People always tell me to just pray about it. Guys, I have prayed. Many times. But God doesn't seem to have spoken to me about it. I feel as if I'm on my own, and that scares me. I don't know what to do.

I know that God is calling me to have more faith. But I just don't know what that looks like...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Galatians 1:11-23

"For I would have you know, brothers, that the gospel that was preached by me is not man's gospel. For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my former life in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy. And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers. But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son to me, in order that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. And I was still unknown in person to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only were hearing it said, 'He who used to persecute us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.' And they glorified God because of me."

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In this passage, Paul is giving his evidence of how he was called by God in order to preach the Gospel. This is because in the previous section he told the Galatians not to believe the false teachers, and he is now showing that he is not false, but that he really was sent by God. He makes sure to tell them that the Gospel that he received is not man's gospel, but God's. He tells the Galatians that he received the Gospel from Jesus Christ Himself, and then he goes on to explain why it had to have been from Christ.

Paul was a persecutor of the Christian church before he converted to Christianity. Because of this, there could be no way other than Christ talking to him Himself that he would make such a drastic transformation.

One thing that's important to point out is how Paul talks about the fact that he was "set apart." In verse 15 he says, "But when He who had set me apart before I was born and who called me by His grace..." Now, this may not be the point of the passage, but Paul is talking essentially about predestination in this case. He does not say that he chose Christ, but that Christ chose him and chose to reveal himself. Paul did nothing on his own to believe in God, but God CHOSE HIM BEFORE HE WAS BORN. This would allude to the belief of the elect. But I digress. That's not the point of the passage.

Continuing on into the passage, Paul goes on to explain where he went after his conversion. In verse 20 he tells the Galatians that he is not lying, which would seem to suggest that he is telling them these things in order to convince them that the things that he has to say really are truth, and he is not out for his own gain.

Then at the end of the passage Paul talks about how other people noticed that he used to persecute the Church, but had changed and was preaching the Gospel. Because they saw him doing this, he says that they glorified God.


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This leads into the application part. Throughout this whole passage Paul is giving evidences of and reasons why he believes what he does, and at the end he says how it affected other people. The people GLORIFIED GOD because of him. I believe that it is important for Christians as a whole to make sure that we are giving reasons for our faith and also telling others about who we used to be, so they can see the transformation that has taken place. If they cannot see it, then they cannot glorify God as the Gentiles had done when Paul preached the Gospel.

We need to be willing to be transparent. We need to be willing to share with others our own failings, especially before transformation has taken place. Now in some cases, like mine, we can't remember what our lives were like without Christ in them because we accepted Christ at a young age. If we can't share about our lives before Christ, then, we need to be able to talk about how God has transformed us in our walk with Him. Being transparent does an awesome thing for the Kingdom of God, so this makes it so important not to hide things that have happened in our lives.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Galatians 1:1-10

"Paul, an apostle - not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead - and all the brothers who are with me. To the churches of Galatia: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel - not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ."

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Paul starts out in this passage with a cordial greeting to the church of Galatia. After his introduction he gives a short gospel message before he goes into his letter. This ties into the things that he's about to say afterwards, because right after he tells them that Christ sacrificed Himself for our sins Paul starts basically yelling at the Galatians for believing a gospel that's different than the true Gospel.

The Galatians had started turning to false prophets and teachers, and Paul is chastising them for doing so. He says that he is astonished that they have moved away from God's gospel into something else.

One thing that is repeated in this passage is Paul's declaration that whoever teaches a false gospel needs to be accursed. He's not messing around here. He's making it very clear that those false teachers must be thrown out and not listened to anymore because they are presenting a false gospel. After he says these things, he shows the Galatians that he is not ashamed of what he has said because he tells them that he is not seeking the approval of man. All he cares about is God's approval because he is Christ's servant and nothing else matters. Because of this, Paul is adamant that those false teachers need to be thrown out in order for the advancement of the Kingdom to take place. He is not concerned with whether or not he steps on anyone's toes because of how much he cares for God's truth.

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This is a really interesting passage. One thing it makes me think about is the many false teachers that are out there today, and they're treated well, as if they're doing something right! Of course, I'm only speaking of one false teacher, and that's Joel Osteen. And I'm also speaking of all the people who go along with what he teaches. I hate... absolutely HATE the prosperity gospel. I'm sorry, I wasn't aware that the Bible has a hidden verse that says, "Just kidding! The Christian life won't be hard. If you follow me and if you're REALLY doing what I say, then you'll be completely healthy, financially stable, and good-looking. If one of those things isn't happening... well... something's obviously wrong in your life."

Okay. The Bible says NOTHING about that. In fact, it says that in this life we WILL have trials and tribulations. Following Christ is not an easy road. That's why Christ says that there's a narrow gate and a wide gate. The people following Christ enter through the narrow gate because not many people make it there. They aren't interested in not living for themselves and answering to a Being that is higher than themselves. However, people LOVE to hear that if they follow God their lives are going to be easier and they'll be healed of their sicknesses and they'll have so many more friends. That's why the prosperity gospel is so popular.

However, Paul clearly points out that people who teach things like that need to be accursed! We as Christians who believe in the one true gospel must not stand for it! Unfortunately though, Joel Osteen's church is one of the biggest in America and is thriving as of right now. But because this "gospel" is so rampant in America today, we must be even more passionate and ready to speak about the true gospel. We cannot allow this kind of thinking to overtake the minds of our fellow Americans, because they will be sorely disappointed if they're really wanting to follow Christ. They WILL experience hardships. They WILL be persecuted for their faith. Yes, there's immense joy that comes with being a follower of Christ, but that has nothing to do with the circumstances that we're put in. Paul says to the Philippians that he has learned to be content and joyful NO MATTER WHAT the circumstances are. We don't get joy from the situations of life that we find ourselves in. We get our joy from knowing God and knowing Christ's sacrifice for us on the cross.

In being more passionate and straightforward about the gospel however, we must remember that it is of utmost importance for us to say those things in love. 1 Peter 3:15-16 says,

"...but in your hearts set apart Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame."

We MUST be prepared to make a defense and give the gospel to those who ask. But just as importantly, we MUST be prepared to do it with gentleness and respect. Otherwise I guarantee that those people will be completely turned off to anything about God and Christ because we did not respect them and we forced it upon them.

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So I guess the main lesson to take out of this message is to make sure that the false gospels that are out there are not winning out. Be bold in the faith and know that what we believe is true and we need to take a stand for it. If we don't, then the false gospels WILL win out, and we will lose our platform to tell people about the true sacrifice of Christ.