“How Did I Get Here?… How My Life is Already Changed by the World Race”

Every now and again I take a moment to look at my life and ask myself, “How did I get here?” It is crazy how things don’t appear to change much from day to day, but reflecting on the past few months my life is noticeably altered. In some ways my eyes have been opened and my heart has sunken by thoughts such as realizing that life is going to go on while I’m gone, or how asking people for money that I’ll never be able to repay is so uncomfortable, or wondering about what will happen if loved ones get sick and I won’t be there for them. This morning I was admiring a collage of pictures on my wall that contain some of my happiest moments from the past year or so, but the happiness was fleeting because it was overcome by a moment of sadness knowing I wouldn’t see them or hear their voices for such a long time. I haven’t even gotten through training camp and the enemy is already steadily attacking my thoughts. I knew going into this whole experience that it would be difficult, but I didn’t think it would be this hard.

I think that I am experiencing a new kind of struggle. It is a weariness that is not rooted in sin or brokenness, but it is rooted in being spent for Jesus Christ. I believe this is part of what Jesus means when he tells us to come to him when we are drained by the world. He doesn’t promise that life will be a piece of cake, but he promises that the burden will be light when we attach ourselves to him.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Something that God has revealed to me over the past few months is that we all have struggles, some are given to us from God and others are created by our insistence on not doing things God’s way. This has taught me a few things: cherish the people that God has placed in your life, because he might be trying to teach you something through them; pray for people that hurt you because you have no idea what they are struggling with; don’t sweat it when things don’t go your way because God is sovereign and his ways are perfect; be willing to change because you were not born perfect and there will always be an area in your life that needs improvement; but most of all- to rely completely on Him.

There’s a song by Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors that strikes a chord with this thought…

You can’t know a man till you eat at his table.

You can’t understand the lie without the truth.

You can’t lock me up then tell me about freedom…

Is it possible to be happy and be human?

Certainly, but not without the pain.

And you’re scared of a war you never signed up for,

like a bridegroom left standing in the rain…

You can’t take it with you when you’re gone.

          I’ve been practicing having Kingdom vision rather than focusing on things in a 5 foot radius around me. I want to challenge you to flip the tables- look at things in a different light. Consider the burden that you’ve been bearing and whether or not it is because you are fighting for or against God’s will.

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace”

I’m Only Human…

Answering the question “What does it mean to be human?” To be alive. To have eyes to see and a mind to interpret what we see, think, and feel. It is recognizing that there is more to what we can comprehend. Becoming a Christian is realizing the above and know that what is incomprehensible is the unyielding love of God. Being human recognizes that it is a creation. Being a Christian recognizes the status of being a creation and the need for a Savior. Humanity searches for purpose. Christians search and find their identity in Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:21

“To live is Christ, to die is gain”

Being “human” refers to the action of being alive, mentally conscious, and in this case, in pursuit of the meaning of life. This insinuates that one is actively questioning what life means – “Who am I? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going? What does it all mean?”— When a human asks these questions there can be two trajectories because what is actually occurring is the pursuit of one’s identity. The pathways will take the questioning human on either the course of looking inward or outward.

Looking inward— searching for meaning within themselves, and likely finding more questions about why things are the way that they are and other tangents of the like. All is not lost by looking inward because hopefully they find that the deeper they search, they’ll discover an emptiness and lacking that needs to be filled. A human will spend their entire life on a quest to fill the “void” within them. This quests breaks off into the human getting caught up in a perpetual cycle of “filling the void,” only to find another void in it’s place. Or, there could be the beautiful realization and desire to know their Creator.

Looking outward— this is a crucial fork in the road on their journey: the secular world or God. Human souls are broken over these two, and for good reason:

1 John 2:15-17

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

The human who chooses the secular world to find themselves will only be further lost and continue on their perpetual void-filling journey. The man who chooses God will find the hidden treasure.

Matthew 6:33

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Matthew 7:7-11

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Acts 17:26-27

God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.

As Far as the East is from the West

It’s a powerful thing to completely remove something- eternally, as if it never existed at all. Have you ever thought about the power of erasing something? Think about it- something etched into something that exists and you have the power to obliterate it from existence by the click of a button or the stroke of an eraser or by placing it into a fire. It could even include erasing someone from your life by “un-friending” them on social networks or cleaning out a photo album to clear out all remnants of some person or memory. It could even be practical steps to erasing a part of yourself so as you succumb to the progression that accompanies maturing and growing older. You have the power to delete things permanently from all eyes or ears for eternity… Think about how frustrated you can get with something… Are you able to do anything about it? Sometimes you cannot or do not have that opportunity, but there are some things that we can take into our own hands, which I think we should take that responsibility and opportunity for rejuvenation and reinvention.

Taking it all away- eternally. Isn’t that what God does with our sin?

“As far as the east is from the west,

so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”

-Psalm 103:12

When we do this “clean up” in our mind, heart, and soul, it creates room for something new.  Think of this as pruning. God is constantly pruning and shaping us throughout our lives, and we can ask him to assist us in pruning our own lives. (Read John 15:1-17 to explore God’s pruning process and read Psalm 51 & 139 to witness how to ask God for this change.) Pruning, whether we are doing it to ourselves or if it’s from God, typically is not pleasant. But take heart, it is well worth it.

Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints,

and give thanks to his holy name.

For his anger is but for a moment,

and his favor is for a lifetime.

Weeping may tarry for the night,

but joy comes with the morning.

-Psalm 30:4-5

Let Jesus into your heart. He will help you remove all the junk that is cluttering your life, your heart, mind, and soul.  He will give you peace and rest. He will give you a fresh start. Lean on him, invite him in, ask him to remove your sin, to want to want to change (not a typo), to have the strength to take the necessary steps for change and growth.

“O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.”

-Isaiah 18:6

Take some time today- right now- to think about how your life, mind, and heart are cluttered. Loving Jesus is simple (not easy- not free of struggle, but is basic and clear about what it is to be a follower of Jesus Christ- Luke 9:23-24). Evaluate who you are, who God is, what he asks of you, and how your life responds to his Word.

Here’s a song that may inspire you as you reflect:

“Take a Moment” by Will Reagan and the United Pursuit Band

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcORoyyjqjw

Turn and Live

I’ve been reading through the book of Ezekiel lately and I have been challenged to reflect on how my own journey with Jesus can be evaluated by examining it through a lens of the messages sent through the Prophet Ezekiel.  This morning I came across Ezekiel 18 and the following verses grabbed my attention:

“Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions,” says the Sovereign Lord. “Repent and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die,” says the Lord. “Turn back and live.”

This is a beautiful and heartbreaking plea from God to the people he dearly loves. It is in God’s nature to be fair and just. He is perfect and he demands perfection from us. We cannot obtain perfection on our own, which is why we need the propitiation through Jesus. When we ask him to be Lord over our life, he inundates our life with tender mercy and grace. This passage from Ezekiel displays how much God wants us to live. We can only have life through Jesus. In John 10, Jesus is speaking to the Pharisees who do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God and they are denying his sovereignty. Jesus is challenging their spiritual blindness and lecturing them for refusing to listen to him, so in John 10:10 Jesus says,

“The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Jesus said this to the Pharisees because they were not following Jesus’ voice; rather they were challenging his authority. Jesus’ message to the Pharisees is analogous to what God was communicating to his people through Ezekiel. God wants to give us life as we witness in Ezekiel 18:32,

“I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. “Turn back and live.”

However, if we want to live, we cannot continue on our path without God and expect to live. You must recognize that what we’re doing is not living. It is reveling in our affair with sin, loving it, and displaying no remorse for our actions. God demands in Ezekiel 18:30,

“…Repent and turn form your sins. Don’t let them destroy you.”

Listen to Jesus’ voice, listen to him calling out to you,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

-Matthew 11:28-30

It’s My [Pity] Party And I’ll Cry If I Want To

The chaos, the tears, the frustration, and the unknown.  All you know is that God loves you and that He is working all things for your good (Romans 8:28), but right now it just feels like you’re an ant and God is a kid with a magnifying glass. You’re tired, desperately needing rest- physically and spiritually. You need a minute to just be still and rest in Him, but you look at your laundry list of things to do and the moment of peace slips away.  You are trying your hardest and doing your best, yet it seems like you’re running and getting nowhere.  It seems like all of your efforts are in vain.  You’re tempted to scream to see if anyone would even notice.  You feel small, alone, and drowning in life’s challenges and responsibilities.  You lay your head down at night but you cannot find sleep because thoughts of what you have to accomplish tomorrow dance around in your head. You feel the sting of tears as they stream from your heavy eyes. You try to push through and wear a smile even though you are so weak and weary on the inside…

If this sounds like you, or something similar to it, there is good news: you are not alone.  Some people find the book of Ecclesiastes to be depressing, but I find it as one if the most encouraging books of the Bible. It may be true that “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new… We don’t remember what happened in the past, and in future generations, no one will remember what we are doing now.” Ecclesiastes 1:9,11.  This may sound abysmal to you, but I find that it gives me confidence that I will overcome whatever hardship I face and nobody, not even me, will recall how terrible it was once it is over.  How often do we go through hardships and look back and think to ourselves “it was worth it” or “I would do it again in a heartbeat?”  It may be annoying to think that way in the midst of a difficult time, but I think that it is the right thing to do.  In fact, I was inspired to write this blog today because I was feeling exactly what the introductory paragraph illustrated.

Frankly, I’m tired of this pity party I’m having for myself. I’m not saying that it is wrong to communicate your problems to people when you truly need encouragement or prayer, but did you read that intro? I mean, really, there came a point when I realized that I am not glorifying God through this, which I am commanded to do as taught in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “so whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  Paul exhorts us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” I was not being joyful- I was completely disheartened; I was not praying- I was complaining; I was not thankful- I was dissatisfied, despite my abounding blessings.

I was reminded today of how much Jesus loves me. Have you given that much thought lately? How much He sincerely cares for you? There is an abundance of lovely songs that illustrate this truth- just off of the top of my head a short list comes to mind: How He Loves Us, How Deep the Fathers Love for Us, the classic hymn O How He Loves You and Me… Shoot, as children we all learn the simple song “Jesus Loves Me”- that’s going to be stuck in your head for a few days now- you’re welcome. This lyrical masterpiece includes the phrase “for the Bible tells me so,” which is so simple but is something that we must cling to.  So, if you ever find that you do feel some semblance of my introductory paragraph, reflect on this:

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8 NLT

“Because your love is better than life, my lips will praise You.” Psalm 63:3 NLT

“Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5b NLT

“He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.  But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. The will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31 NLT

“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 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, that you may be able to endure it… You are sensible people, judge for yourselves what I say.  The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?  Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” 1 Corinthians 10:12-17, ESV.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 NLT

 

Getting back to the ever-cheerful book of Ecclesiastes, it is written in chapter 3, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under the sun.”  My favorite verses  are 4 and 7 of that chapter, “a time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance… A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.”  But if you explore a little bit further you will find, “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. “  Did you get that? It is a promise of uncertainty because we are mere humans. It is impossible for us to comprehend what God is working together for us and for eternity.

Do not forget whom you were created by and what your purpose is here on earth.  “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:7) Therefore, I will conclude this the way that the writer of Ecclesiastes concluded the third chapter, “There is nothing better than to be joyful and do good as long as you live.”

Be A Song Bird

“Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and we are put into the shadow of God’s hand until we learn to hear Him… darkness is a time to listen.”

-Oswald Chambers

 

          This morning I had one of those moments where I finally ‘got’ it.  Do you ever have those moments when you’re praying and God opens your eyes and you are able to see something familiar in a completely new perspective?  So lately I’ve been pretty caught up in a constant state of confusion (Does he like me? Does he not? Maybe? Just friends?) and I am 100% certain that I have no clue about he truly feels.  However, I do know how I feel. This agony of the one-sided nature of this situation is quite possibly the worst thing I have ever experienced.  Not that this guy is the first person that I have dealt with one-sidedness; I am quite sure that out of all people that I love, I definitely love them much more than they love me. (With the exception of two of my best friends [S. & A.] and my parents, whose love I cannot comprehend because I am not yet a parent.) I have always felt completely lopsided in love. 

 

          Pondering on this concept this morning brought me to remember when I realized I had been living in a one-sided loving relationship with my Father, Creator, Redeemer, Savior, Comforter- my God! He loves me so much more than I can possibly understand and I’ll never ever be able to return or match His love, which brings me to the ‘got’ it moment this morning:

 

          I have been fairly stressed about my financial situation lately.  The only thing that was keeping me sane through the past few weeks was faith that my student loan refund would arrive in mid-February.  It is bizarre how seeing my account balance update from $39 to $4,259 can melt away all of my stress.  The underlying problem here is that I was waiting around for the money to arrive so that I could finally feel secure.  Why didn’t I feel secure all along? I know that the God of the universe- the One who holds the world in His hands- is in control; why did I doubt Him to provide for me?  Why didn’t I let his abundant peace wash over me so that I could focus on being productive to bringing Him glory?

 

         Another embarrassing example of placing my faith and security in something other than Jesus is the desire and hope for a relationship- not just A relationship, but THE relationship. You know, the relationship that is all candy hearts and gumdrops, which will take away all my problems and fill my heart with never ending joy.  Of course I am being facetious, but I truly was blinded by the hope in securing a relationship with someone who I trust would provide and take care of me so that I could put many of my worries at ease.  I was hopeful for him to rescue me from my singleness; I want to be secure in marriage.  I want a companion and someone to share my life with, as well as someone with whom I can mutually grow in God.

 

          The glaring problem with all of the above mentioned is that it is all an illusion of security.  I cannot comprehend why I desire those things so painfully much, but what I have realized is that there is no true security in anyone on Earth, especially an imperfect human being that I will one day call “husband”. The only security in this life and the only person in whom I place my faith is Jesus Christ.  I recognize that at times I may feel like I am lonely and will never get out of this season of darkness, but it is in this time that God is working on me harder than ever.  He is molding me into the person He wants me to be, and I place my faith in Him.

 

faith (noun)

1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

            synonyms:            trust, belief, confidence, conviction

            antonyms:            mistrust

2.strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.

 

 

Ephesians 3:16-19

“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”

 

Hebrews 11:1

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

The Person That I Used To Be; The Person That I’ve Become

*Warning- this might get ugly. There is a lot of personal information about me, but if you make it through to the end (sorry, its pretty lengthy), you will find a story of love and repentance.

            I recently had the opportunity to go back to my hometown to walk around, find comfort in seeing familiar faces, and enjoy the annual festival that gets me so excited year after year… but I turned down the opportunity.  I had a great deal of stress over deciding whether or not to go because I was afraid of a few things- seeing “friends” that have become strangers, facing the things that I’ve let go of but for so long I had let define me, but primarily I was afraid of being mistaken for the person that I used to be.

To understand my decision as to why I do not want to be mistaken for the person I used to be I must first describe who I was. (Heads up- this was one of the lower points of my life)  I’ll paint the picture by describing myself and my actions exactly one year ago at the festival: I had been shopping all week for the perfect outfit.  Although I was extremely miserable with the 180 pounds of shame and discontentment I carried around, I spent an awful lot of time on my appearance to at least give the impression that I had some remnant of worth or beauty somewhere in there.  I spent a lot of time that day trying to impress people I knew did not care about me.  I spent the day drinking as much beer as I could get my hands on, after all that was the right of passage of my generation- drinking all day then spending money to get into a large fenced in area with beer and live music while standing out in the cold.  Why did I feel so much excitement and anticipation to get to this moment?  Why was I was feeling so disappointed after it was all over and my wildest dreams of feeling satisfied failed to come true?  My disillusionment was rooted in the overwhelming feeling of not fitting in despite my best efforts- oh, and throwing up.  I felt pretty disappointed that my despite my rigid training of fitting in, I still couldn’t handle my alcohol. That’s the ugly truth of how I used to define myself: spending every effort to please others and attempting to fit in. (Which is the opposite of how I live now; I am referring to being “set apart”, as stated in 2 Timothy 2:21)

“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.”

But the people in my town, they do not know that I have changed into the person that ya’ll know today- the one who greets you at church or leads your small group- basically the polar opposite of the new creation God has made.

Back to the present… I feared seeing people (how they would define me since I quit the teaching program at CNU) and potentially running into my ex-boyfriend. Why? I thought I was over all that mess! Thank God that I felt persistence to seek the truth. Although it has been almost a year since that relationship ended, I was still holding on to him emotionally.  No, he no longer frequents my thoughts nor do I have any desire for reconciliation, but I did realize that I had not taken back my heart from him yet.  Although I have spent so much time praying for God to take and seal my heart for my future husband, I have failed to actually give it all to Him.  Rather, I realize that I have been waiting for someone to come along to fulfill me emotionally.  God revealed to me that I would never find someone who could do that because only Jesus is able to do that.

I felt like such a hypocrite this past Saturday when I was preaching to my friend about the love of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.  Later that day when I revisited that passage, God spoke to me through it.  When I asked God what was it that was truly keeping me from facing my fears, His response to me was the same as it was to her.

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

(John 4:13-14) I had been seeking things of the world to quench my thirst.

So I promised a story of love and repentance.  The beautiful love that I receive from my Heavenly Father is almost more than I can handle. His love has delivered me from who I used to be. Hallelujah! Pastor Shaun always illustrates repentance as stopping in your tracks, doing a complete 180, and proceeding in the new direction that should be toward Christ.  Yes, I do claim that I have repented from my former lifestyle. No, I am not prepared to give full detail of my sins, nor do I feel any obligation to do so, but know that Jesus entered my heart and I felt convictions for who I had been. The beauty lies at the foot of the cross of my Savior.  He met me at my worst and placed value in me by bestowing upon me a new identity, which I humbly strive to live up to.  I am someone who has miserably failed, but I repented and I now pursue purity with eagerness and passion.

The Rumors Are True…

            Have you ever heard the saying, “If you want to make God laugh just tell Him your plans”?  Well, the rumor is true.  I’ve been telling God my plans for years and this year is a paradigm of how God’s plan supersedes my own.  My capacity to plan out events for my life is extremely limited compared to the One who has authority over my life.  Since I’ve asked God to take full control over every aspect of my life, He’s taken me to places that I never knew existed.  I’ve experienced joy and contentment that only God is able to provide.  Previously, I was trying to fit God into my life where there was available space, but God has disciplined me and shown me how trusting Him is the only way to live.  Now I have God in the center of my life and it’s so beautiful how He has filled in the rest. 

Luke 9:23-24 reads,

23Then Jesus said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it’.” (NLT)

Change is typically very difficult for me, but once I started praying for God to “lead me, and I will follow,” He has spun my life around.  Thankfully He has removed many unnecessary things that cluttered my life so that now God is the focus of my life.  I cannot think of any of my personal plans or goals that God has left untouched over these past few months. Here are some of the main ways God has changed me:

  1. I’ve desired to be a teacher since the first day of Kindergarten.  Even though I believe that I’d make a successful teacher, God wants to use me elsewhere.  I have been called to Children’s ministry rather than teaching and I am so excited to see which career path God places me on.  Which leads me to the second major change…
  2. So I am no longer pursuing a Masters degree in Teaching at CNU. God has led me to seminary at Liberty University Online and I have started pursuing my Masters in Religious Education, which I am ecstatic about!  People keep treating me as if shifting my plans has left me broken, but I realize this is just the enemy trying to tear down my faith and question God’s authority. I am so blessed to have God changing the trajectory of this path of my life.
  3. God has taken the burden of worrying about my future marriage off of my heart. I’ve given every area of my life to God, including my love life.  Entrusting God with my future in this aspect is terrifying because it seems trivial that God would care or have time for my dating life. However, the more I’ve been praying about it, the more God has shown me that this is particularly delicate and important to Him.  God knows me and He knows all of the godly men in the world, and I trust that He will place me with an amazing man who will lead me in our life abiding in God.
  4. Discipleship is a new concept to me and I’ve really taken off with it.  I’ve been intentional with spreading God’s message to others through leading a small group as well as searching for a mentor in a one-on-one discipleship relationship.  God has blessed me with an amazing woman, Leah, to meet with on a weekly basis to talk about Jesus and to share life.  This experience is just one of the dozens of ways that God has recently manifested His love for me.
  5. Friendships are blossoming all around me! During the first few months of 2013, I was experiencing a season of solitude that God blessed me with so that I could truly discover His love for me.  He transformed my heart and mind and has been continually preparing me for other relationships in my life.  In the past few weeks He has brought new people into my life that are abounding blessings all around me.  I’ve been placed into an environment where I can simultaneously be myself and love God without having to be too on guard of the enemy lurking about, trying to bring me down into the sins that used to trip me up.

 

        The intention of telling you this is not that you will look at my life with admiration.  Rather, I share these things because it has been a challenge.  Giving up my life is a daily battle, and sometimes I lose. I’m human and I am selfish. I do love God with all of my heart, which is why I believe He gives me each new day, so that I may have another opportunity to prove my commitment to Him.  I am a follower of Jesus and the more I practice- the more I read His Word, pray, and seek Him- the less selfish I become. The days of losing battles are fewer and farther between. 

        So here I am to reveal the truth behind another rumor: God loves you. He sent His Son to die for you so that you may die for Him-daily. He knows you and loves you anyway, so take up your cross. Let it all go. (here’s a link  to a Tenth Avenue North song titled “Let It Go” that may speak to you: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzdBQrr7fIw)

Isaiah 30:21

21And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.”

 

Modern Day Idols

How have you been spending your time lately? What has been your driving force to get through each day? What are your goals?  Hopefully spending time with Jesus is the answer to these questions.  If your compass is off of God, you may be going down a path that leads you to idol worshipping.  Don’t feel bad, it’s part of the process of learning about God’s grace. Hopefully you will evaluate your life to identify if you have any modern day idols and then recalibrate your life so that the focus is put back on God.

 

Psalm 135:15-18 (NLT)

15The idols of the nations are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands.16 They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see. 17 They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell.18Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them.”

 

I don’t know about you, but verse 18 feels like a sucker punch. We may think of idols as ancient figurines that are made of precious metals or rare stones, but it may come as a surprise to you that an idol may not be a “thing” at all.  It very well could be a goal, an idea, a person, or even worse, an idea of a person or group of people that you fictionalize in your mind.  I could be a job, a relationship, a dream, or a lifestyle that we chase after.  We need to cast these desires on Jesus so that we will be able to align ourselves with God.  In these idols we are placing too much worth or we are spending too much time focusing on them and these acts are endangering our soul and relationship with our King. 

 

Idols are extremely appealing, which is exactly how the enemy uses them to take our focus away from God.  On our way to growing into the empty promises of our idols, we start to become empty within ourselves (hence verse 18 again). We lose ourselves and become merely a human shell because we make it our purpose to imitate our shallow idols.

 

From my experience, there are 2 courses of action that can be used to combat the ever-expanding void within us.  Option 1- we pursue the idol even more, stooping low enough to call ourselves “driven” or “committed” to something that does not reflect God’s love.  Or, option 2- we realize how our feelings of discontent or lack of purpose are a result from the distance we have placed between God and ourselves.  Hopefully, this leads to destroying the idol and allowing God to save us from our entrapment, which sets us free to mend and reconcile our relationship with Him.

 

Please, spend time cogitating on your life.  Evaluate what you build your life around.  Is God your top priority and desire?  I urge you not to be mute (i.e. verse 16).  You have a mouth, so speak out! Praise God for what He has done for you.  Then go! Tell others about what He has done for you. Open your eyes! Look at how God has blessed you.  Don’t be ignorant of what surrounds you.  Use your ears to listen (i.e. verse 17).  How is God using music, conversations, or sermons to reach you?  Real quick, just take a deep breath.  Realize that God is everywhere, including in the air you breathe.  Appreciate that you are alive, and now go.  Start living.  Don’t be like the idols that are now a part of your past. Be like Jesus and spread God’s love.  If you don’t know about His love, ask God to reveal it to you and explore your Bible.  Ask God to lead you, because he will be delighted by your desire and willingness to be closer to and to know Him.

The Process

This may come as a surprise, but I do not like writing. Journaling- sure, thats cool because there’s no pressure to be grammatically correct and I don’t have to worry about opinions because nobody is allowed to read my journal. Blogging is a totally different matter.  This blog is completely God working through me and I pretty much fight it the entire day until I digress from my personal objective and submit to the call to write. I thought it’d be fun to share my writing process because I personally find humor in it.

Anyone who has taken the time to get to know me knows this: I get distracted.  If left to my own devices, I will have about 10 activities going on at a given time and I just bounce from one to the other until I’ve completed all of my tasks. It’s crazy and barbaric and I just have to own it.   I usually go a few  “dry” days then bam! all of a sudden I get 4 or five ideas in one day and have to write extensively detailed notes so that I won’t forget exactly what it is I need to write.

Anyway, this is just a brief glimpse of how God puts on my heart the topics to write for this blog:

I was in the bathroom putting in my contacts and I had to run to my room in between inserting my contacts into my eyes to grab a post it note to jot down an idea before it escaped my mind. Then on my way back to the bathroom I remembered I wanted coffee, so I started that, then I went back to the bathroom to put in my other contact, then back to my room to write down another idea. I sat down to enjoy my coffee but another idea struck me to I ran back to my room to write that down. You’d think I would just keep paper and a pen beside me.

Later that day, in between loads of laundry, I was washing dishes and while I was elbow deep in suds, I had to run to my handy dandy post it note stack to once again write down an idea.

I have many more similar stories like those, but I feel that the point has been laid out. By mid afternoon on my brainstorming days, I’ll have anywhere from 10-15 post it notes with scribbles all over them, see:

ImageSo, I have about 5 of these pages sporadically throughout my journal. It’s not very organized, but this system will have to do.  Once I have an overwhelming amount of notes, I’ll sit down and write out the complete ideas into what you guys get to read on here, see:

Image

The main point of this particular blog is not to say, “Hey! Look at how interesting my writing process with God is.” I just want ya’ll to know that even when I try my darnedest to escape the drudgery of writing, God supplies the time, energy, and ideas. I’m just humbled that He is using me to reach others. Hopefully, this may encourage you to write because I feel like you could and should, so whats stopping you?  You may be surprised by how God will transform you in the process.