Monday, August 4, 2014

While I'm Waiting...

So I completely forgot about my blog. OK, not really. I just haven't really had the time to write. OK, I have. But I've been putting that time to other uses because it's been really crazy. But today, I'm sick in bed. So I'm writing again.

I just realized that a lot of my posts start with "Have you heard the song _____" I'm doing it again.

Have you heard the song "While I'm Waiting" By John Waller? (It's in the movie Fireproof).
Here's how it goes:

I'm waiting. I'm waiting on you, Lord.
And I'm hopeful, I'm waiting on You, Lord.
Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait.
And I will move ahead, bold and confident.
Taking every step in obedience.


While I'm waiting, I will serve you.
While I'm waiting, I will worship.

While I'm waiting, I will not faint.
I'll be running the race.
Even while I wait.

 This song has been running through my head a lot lately. And I'm willing to guess a lot of you (especially you recently graduated people), feel the same way as I do. Waiting on God, seeing where and how He is going to lead, and wondering what He has planned for us.
And deciding which step to take--which road to start off on, can be a little scary. God doesn't usually put flashy lights telling you which way to go. That faith thing comes into play a lot, and it can be a tricky balance.
But while you're waiting, are you trusting? Are you serving?
To many people are waiting on God to lead, and they just sit around not doing anything. Get involved. Serve. Let God lead.

This post makes no sense. My brain is too fried. And it was supposed to be longer. But I don't know what else to write. So yeah. While you're waiting, trust God. Know He has a better plan for you than you can come up with on your own.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Are You Living Like a Prisoner?

I invite you to consider 2 scenarios with me.

1. A man is imprisoned for life. He is placed in his cell, and the place is pretty disgusting. Dirty, grimy, and just basically nasty. This man cleans up his cell. Makes it spotless. And as he is allowed and provided with stuff, he really fixes up the cell and makes it homey. He adds some personal touches, pictures of family, a few sentimental items, etc. (I am not claiming this is an accurate representation of jail, and I'm not trying to be political in anyway. Just go with it.) This man, though, for all the cleaning-up he's done in his cell, still lives in a cell. No matter how many personal items he adds, this will never be his home. He will never be free while he lives here. His life will be spent in jail. No matter how clean his cell is, he's still a prisoner with a life sentence.

2. Let's suppose the above man is called into court, and the judge says "Someone has offered to take your place. In jail. You are free to go, and they will serve your life sentence." The man leaves prison, but often he will come back, stay a while in "his" cell and visit. He basically considers this a second home. The length of time of his visits varies, but he keeps coming back. Keeps living in his cell.

Those are the scenarios. You are the man, and the cell is sin. God is the judge, and the person who offers to pay your sentence is Jesus Christ.

Which scenario are you?

Are you the first scenario? You're living imprisoned. A slave to sin. And no matter how hard you clean up your life, no matter what you do to make it look like everything's ok, you are still a prisoner, owned and controlled by sin.

Every person is born living in the cell of sin. We were born there and we will stay there, unless we recognize that no matter how good we make ourselves and our lives look, we are still condemned sinners. No matter how hard we clean up our lives, we are still living in a cell. Just this one isn't a physical cell--it's spiritual. And it will lead to death.

Unless....

We accept the sacrifice of Christ. Who went to the perfect Judge, God the Father, and said "I want to take the place of that sinner, living in that cell. I want to take his place. And I want to take the punishment for his sin so that he can leave the cell and live free.

We then each, personally, need to accept Christ's sacrifice. He can offer to take our place, take our punishment, so that we can walk out of the cell of sin and live a life of freedom. But we must accept it. We must give up the cell and walk out into whatever it is that is beyond our cell.

It takes faith. 

All we have known is what is inside our cell. We don't know what is beyond, what God has for us.

So have you done that? Are you still living in your cell of sin? Have you accepted Christ's sacrifice? If not, please do so. Contact me. Someone one who can help you. Don't live one more day a prisoner.

You
Don't
Need
To
Be
A
Slave
To
Sin
Anymore

I'm really willing to guess though, that many of you who are reading this are more like the prisoner in scenario 2. You would quickly deny it, I know. But I know I do that a lot. I have complete victory from sin in Christ. Because of what He has done for me. I don't need to return to sins that I have struggled with in the past. 

You don't either. 

It may be anger, impure thoughts/lifestyle, worry, pride, gossip, or a lot of other things. I don't know what you struggle with. But please, accept the sacrifice of Christ. He died so you could have victory over those sins. Why do we think that His sacrifice was good enough to get us out of Hell, but not powerful enough to give us strength to defeat the sins we struggle with on a daily basis?

You've been freed from your prison on sin. Why do you insist on going back to that cell? I don't know what your cell is. Don't go back. That's what Satan wants. He wants you to live a defeated Christian life. He doesn't want you to live in the power of the Gospel.

The power that can change lives. On a daily basis. 

Let it change yours. 





Monday, May 5, 2014

Never Have I Ever

Have you ever played "Never Have I Ever"? It's essentially a game to prove how lame you are. At least, that's how I view it. You go around the room and state something you have never done, that you think most people would have done. For instance, when I played once, one person said "Never have I ever eaten a hamburger." She has severe food allergies. I usually win this game because there is a lot of stuff i haven't done while here at BJU that most people have done.
For instance, never have I ever...

  • Been in War Memorial Chapel
  • Been in the Seminary Building
  • Been a Row Monitor
  • Been to a Turkey Bowl Game
  • Been to a whole Bruins Game
  • Been in Essential Science (nyah nyah nyah)
  • Been to Commencement or any of the commencement activities (that will change this week!!!)

But more than that, I have never seen my Jesus fail me. God has never let me down. He has proved Himself faithful to me over and over again. And now, as I look ahead to next week (after graduation), I can look back and see that God has been faithful and directed every step of my life. He's been faithful. Even though I have let Him down over and over--I have not been faithful, He has always been. 

I am so thankful that God's faithfulness is not dependent on what I do. His love for me is not based on how I act and what I do for Him. He loves me unconditionally. I can rest in His love for me. 

God will always love me.

In just a few days, I will walk across the platform and receive a diploma that I have worked for for 4 years. The past 4 years have been filled with so much. There were so many times I thought I couldn't keep going, but God gave me the strength I needed to get done each project, paper, test, and whatever else He sent into my life. There have been a lot of things that I wouldn't have chosen to go through. Things that God has allowed into my life that were hard, and not fun. But I can look back and see that God was in control of everything. Even though I don't understand everything He was doing, I know He is still good. Everything He has done, is doing, and will continue to do has been a part of His plan to make me more like Christ. I can trust that every thing He has allowed into my life has been good.

There have been a few not fun parts of college. But most of it has been awesome. I have made life-long friends. I'm not going to try and name them all, but you know who you are. You have encouraged and pointed me to Jesus. Over and over. You have annoyed and frustrated me, but this has caused me to learn to not stress and freak out. You've taught me how to respond when I'm upset. OK, mostly you all have been awesome. You've shown me what it means to be a true friend. You have shown Christ to me. And I am so thankful for you. I don't want to leave, but I am thankful that because of Christ, I will see you again. If not in this life, in heaven. Where we will have all eternity to worship our Savior again. I'm not excited for the goodbyes--I have already cried more this past week than I have in the last 4 years combined. I don't want to leave you. But God is moving all of us to serve Him in other areas. And I'm so excited.

I'm thankful for the church I have been a part of the for the last 2 years. God has used that ministry to grow me and challenge my walk with God. It isn't the kind of church where I can go and just sit back. There is a challenge constantly to grow, to change, and to become more like Christ. I have loved the ministry emphasis there. The people love God and seek to serve each other. There is an emphasis on reaching the lost, both in the community and around the world. I'm going to miss my church.

I'm thankful for the faculty and staff here at BJU. They honestly care about us and demonstrate this on a regular basis. My school is awesome. There are things that could be changed and I think would be better if ________, but overall, it's been an awesome 4 years. I know my teachers love me, and I hope to stay in touch with them as I go on.

I'm thankful for the memories I have. I can't list them all. There isn't enough room on the internet to store everything I could praise God for. No matter where I end up, He will be there with me. And I can praise Him.

As far as my future plans, I am not exactly sure. Last week, I was planning on staying in Greenville for grad school. This week, I'm looking at possibly going to China to teach. Next week, I could be in Timbuktu working a job I'm totally not ready for. Wherever God leads, I know it'll be awesome because He is awesome. He loves me, and I can trust Him.

Please, friends, keep in touch. Get a hold of me through facebook or email and let me know what's going on and what God is doing in your life. Depending on where I end up, this blog may end up not being updated. I will keep y'all posted though with what God does and where He leads me. I am going to miss this place and all God has shown me here. I'm going to miss my friends. I'm going to miss the safety and reliability of being a college student instead of a "normal" "adult". But God hasn't called me to be a college student forever. He's called me to trust and follow Him. And that's what I plan on doing. 

Never have I ever seen God fail me. Never have I ever seen Him let me down.

And He never will. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lessons from 11 Miles

Lessons from Eleven Miles.

Last week, 2 of my best friends (one who drove up from New Jersey, and one who got spring break during student teaching) and I got to spend a lot of time hanging out. I was able to work out my schedule so I had a couple days where we could just have fun, relax, etc. Since we are all graduating and literally going to different countries in a couple months, it was great to get this time to reconnect and spend some time just sharing. Girl talk. All that. Just having fun.




















On one of the days, we decided to go hiking. Let me mention something. I am NOT an outdoors, exercise, lover. I’m just not. If you see me running, you should run too. Because there are only 2 reasons I will run—something is chasing me, or there is bacon at the finish line. My idea of having fun outdoors is reading a book in a screened-in porch. My favorite sport is ping pong. But I do love hiking. For some reason, not sure why. So we went to Caesar’s Head, and decided, since we are all seasoned, expert hikers, we would try an 11 mile hike to Raven’s Cliff Falls. We actually finished it too. In 3 hours, 40 minutes. Because my friends are beast and they pushed me. But it was a lot of fun. Caesar’s Head is a mountain. So there was a lot of uphill stuff at some point. And we found out that the trail back was closed, so we literally had to do every inch of the trail twice. 5.5 miles out, and 5.5 miles back. And every inch of downhill during the first part was torturous uphill on the way back. We learned that the hard way. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Lesson 1: God cares about the little things. We prayed for a nice day. We could not have put together a more beautiful day. It was perfect. The sky was clear, the weather was gorgeous. It wasn’t too hot, it wasn’t cold, and there was a nice breeze. There wasn’t a lot of people around, and none of us got eaten by a bear. OK, that isn’t a little thing. But we also didn’t see any snakes or giant spiders. So that’s a praise, right.

Here are my beautiful friends at the overlook. You can see Raven Falls way in the distance. About 5 miles away—we hiked over to it. 

Lesson 2: God is a God of Beauty. I’m not even going to try and talk. Just check out the pictures.  And it was so much cooler in person. There were times when all we could say was “Wow!”


OK, so this one got a little over-edited. I was having too much fun. But I still really like it. 
Lesson 3: God taught me again how important my friends are. We talked about everything--from the weather, to our devotions, to Sherlock (BBC version, obviously), to church stuff. school stuff, and future plans. In a few months, we could literally be in 3 different countries--on different sides of the globe. So we really needed this chance to get together, reconnect, and just have fun. My friends are awesome. I can't say that enough. I have the greatest friends in the world, and I love them so much. Phil. 1:3--I thank my God upon every remembrance of you--is a great verse for my friends.





Lesson 4: This is probably the biggest lesson that I’ve been dwelling on since surviving this 11 mile hike. The first 7 miles or so were no problem. But then we were on our way back and we hit a stretch that was a lot of uphill. By this point, I was getting really tired. We were on a mountain, the air is thinner, and I was running out of breath. Did I mention that I have asthma? I literally had to stop and fight to breath. It hurt to get air into my lungs. My friends were a little worried, and I was to focused on not dying to stress. OK, I wasn’t dying. But I was seriously having a hard time breathing. And I knew if I stopped, sat down, and took a break, I would not be able to finish. We were 4 miles away from everything and we had to keep going. So once I caught my breath, we started going again. We were so close to the end. We could see the glint of the sun off the roof of the car. And then we had to go down a hill and back up, across a road, and across the parking lot. Then we could get in the car and sit down. For some reason, Beca got a burst of energy. Not sure where she got it from. But Lisa and I—no such luck. We got the downhill part no problem. But then we looked and saw this.


We weren’t sure if we could make it up. It was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Physically, I mean. Make my feet move in front of each other to get up that hill. I had rolled my ankle a couple times, and every step felt like pure torture.

Yes, I know I’m a wimp. But my idea of a good workout is playing a round or 3 of ping pong. The longest hike I had ever taken before this one was about 7 miles.

We knew the end was so close. Literally about 200 feet away. But convincing our legs to make it the rest of the way? Really really hard.

Have you reached that point, friend? Maybe as a student? The semester is winding to a close, but you don’t know if you can make it? You’re so close, but you want to just give up and cut your losses? Maybe in life? You don’t know what the point is and why you try so hard to serve God, when it seems that nothing you do matters? Everything you do seems a failure. You feel like it’s better to just give up.  People won’t really care if you just quit.  It won’t matter if you stop trying. Someone else will pick up the slack.

We need each other. I couldn’t of kept going if I had been hiking by myself. I would of stopped, taken a break, and probably fallen asleep. Then getting up and walking would have been so much harder. Trust me, I tried later that night. Moving and walking was even worse than it had been earlier. My friends were there, and when I couldn’t keep going, they helped and encouraged me. When they decided that the whole hiking idea was stupid (which we all reached at some point that day), we came together to make ourselves believe that it was worth it. There are going to come days when you feel like you can’t go any farther. There are even days when you will collapse under the pressure. But reach out to those around you. Let them remind you of God’s goodness. Of His promises.

I read this really cool quote thing in my devotions the other day.



Christ has promised to give us strength and never to leave us. 
Claim His strength. Live in His power. Conquer that mountain! Don’t give up in the uphill stretch. And when you’re in that trial, that peak that seems to never end, keep pressing on. You don’t know where the finish line is.  It might still be 4 miles away. But it could be over the next hill.  God doesn’t always tell us when the trial will end. He doesn’t always tell us the point. He doesn’t always promise to make it easy for us and remove it when we ask. But He does promise to give us the grace and strength we need to survive it. And He promises to carry us through it.

He
Will
Never
Leave
Us
Alone.

I can trust when I’m climbing the mountain. Even though it seems insurmountable, the end will come. And God will be there the whole time.

And I will be able to look back and know that it was worth it. If we had not kept going, we would not have gotten to see the falls up close like we did. They were so gorgeous. And breathtaking. It was amazing. And now, a week later, I can say that it was totally worth it. I’m never going to forget what it was like. I’m so thankful I got to see it, even if it meant forgetting what being able to breath was like for a while.
God is good. He will carry us through. And it will be worth it—whatever it is. Because it was a part of His plan for our lives.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I can trust. God is good.

Let me start by saying that I am so thankful for friends that I can have fun with, but that I can also get serious with. That I can talk about what God's been teaching me and stuff, and that they aren't afraid to share what they've been reading.
I was texting a friend last night, and this is what we were talking about. (Note: I don't have a smart phone--I took the texts and put them in a generator online. Because I can't screenshot stuff on my phone. So it looks cool, but it doesn't look that cool on my phone. Also, this is a slightly edited version of our conversation. I did not add anything, but I didn't put everything up that we said. Because ain't nobody got time to read all that).


Again, I have awesome friends. I love being able to talk about stuff like that just completely randomly. When it isn't a Sunday and we aren't at church. God has blessed me. But I will stop talking about them. 

I looked up the passage mentioned above. Luke 9:10-17. 
You know this story. Jesus and the disciples are out, and a huge crowd of people follow them. He teaches them all day. At the end of the day, Jesus takes one lunch (5 loaves, 2 fish), and feeds 5,000 men + women and children. All the people there ate until they were full. The disciples gathered up the leftovers (from the one small lunch), and had 12 baskets of food.

I was really thinking last night about verse 13. Jesus turned to the disciples and said " You give them something to eat". They had no idea what to do. There was no food for them to hand out, and they had no money. Jesus just asked them to do something impossible.

And then He expected them to do their best to make it happen. They couldn't just sit back and say "nope, not going to happen".They went looking for a solution, brought what they had to Jesus, and trusted Him to do the rest. They had to do their part. 

Jesus took what they had, and did what He needed to to provide for the needs of everyone there, and to strengthen the faith of the disciples. They knew their abilities, and what they had. It wasn't much. But Jesus took what little they had and used it to feed as many as 20,000 people. 

God expects us to do our best and give Him everything we have. But He knows that's not enough. He takes what we have and uses it for His glory. 

That was last night's thoughts.

I re-read the passage this morning. I started thinking about the other time Jesus fed a bunch of people with just a little bit of food. (Matthew 15:29-39).  In the next chapter, we see the disciples and Jesus talking. (Matthew 16:5). The disciples realize they didn't bring any food with them. After Jesus fed the 4,000, the disciples gathered 7 baskets of leftovers. 

5 verses later, they are worried that they have nothing to eat.

Don't we do this? We see God provide in a miraculous way--something that we can only say "That was God." 2 days later, we are stressing because we don't know what's going to happen or how He's going to provide. I do this way too often. 

I can rest in the fact that God will take care of me. I can trust that He will provide. I can know that He is good. Always. 

I can trust. 



Thursday, March 27, 2014

What are we doing?!?!?!?!?!?

I should probably explain something about this blog. If you haven't figured it out yet, my facebook is where I share all the dumb stuff I do, my twitter ends up being my venting page, and my pinterest shows how random and ADD I am. My blog is how I try to figure out my thoughts. I write it and share it in hopes it will help someone else and point them to Christ. But really, it's just me working through whatever is going on at the time. So if it seems weird or odd, or if I'm wrong, I don't have it all figured out yet. Please feel free to tell me what you think. But this is just me thinking. So if this post sounds a little disjointed, it is. This is kind of how my brain works. I'm sorry.

That being said, I've been thinking (again). And though it sounds morbid, I've been dwelling a lot on death. I guess part of getting older means that I'm more aware of it's part in our lives. Not that I'm old. But supposedly, I'm getting more mature (bahahaha, whatever).

I have heard so many stories the last couple weeks about people who have passed away. A friend had a close family member die this morning. I heard about a baby that died of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) last week. Another close friend has a friend that was given weeks to live. A student's dad died last week. One of my friends knew a lady who was in the morning service, then in heaven in the evening service. And I don't know very many people on this campus--I'm sure there are many stories you could share that I could add.

I read once that "Death is the only certainty in life". Someone else said, "We are all part of the ultimate statistic. 10 out of 10 die". Or "eat right, stay fit, die anyway".

None of the people I mentioned above are old. I'm sure they all thought they had years left in their lives. They planned to spend the rest of their lives serving God (well, except the baby--but he was a part of a Christian family).

My point is this: life is short. You don't have much time. Christian, what are you doing that makes your life count? And I'm not just talking about long-term plans. Like, "After I graduate, I'll make my life count for God. I'll get involved in a church then."

I've heard a lot of young people, people my age, say "Right now, it's about just hanging out, having fun, etc. I need to learn more before I can serve God. I need to develop my talents. I'll serve later." What? What in the world? Why are we doing this?

You don't know how long you have. I know you've heard this before, and you'll hear it again. I wrote this post, Don't Waste Your Life last year after a co-worker died suddenly. She was 42, and had a heart attack.

Don't Waste Your Life.

If you were to enter heaven tonight, would you want to tell God about what you spent your last day on earth doing? I mean, He already knows. But if He were to ask you, "What did you do to serve Me today?", what would you say?

Approximately 2 people die every second around the world. 11% of the world's population identifies with Protestantism of some denomination. So of the 172,800 people who die every day, almost 90% of those are probably in hell. Does that not bother you?

Why are we so worried about judging people? Why are we so surprised that sinners sin? I was thinking about this in the service Monday night (it's Bible Conference here), and the speaker was talking about how big of a deal homosexuality is and stuff, and how it's taking over everything. Yes, homosexuality is a big deal. Yes, I believe it's a sin. But, why is that the first thing we worry about?

Why do we say "oh, he's gay. He needs Jesus."? We should say, "He's a sinner. God loves him. He needs Jesus. Let me be the one to reach out to him." You were a sinner. I was a sinner. I still am one. Maybe I wasn't murdering people (I was 6 when I got saved), but I was a liar. I had rejected God.

What are we doing??? Why do we judge??? When you say "I'm a Christian" to a co-worker, they should not think "Oh, this one is someone I can't talk to, because they will look down on me." Love them. Reach out to them. Show them Christ's love. Christ talked to prostitutes. The one woman in John 8, who is referred to as "a woman taken in adultery. You remember her? The religious leaders brought her to Christ, telling Him all the things she had done. She broke God's law. According to the law, she should have been stoned. But Christ showed grace to her. Mercy.

Love.

Forgiveness.

John 8:10-11 "When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? Hath no man condemned thee?
She said, no man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: Go, and sin no more."

I'm not saying that we should overlook sin. But when we are talking to someone who is unsaved, we shouldn't focus on their sin. We should focus on God's grace and forgiveness. He's forgiven them; why can't we?

As Dr. Bob likes to say "The most sobering reality in the world today is that people are dying and going to hell today". I never really thought much about this. If anything, it was kind of one of those "is he really saying that again?" things that felt overused.

I stopped and thought about it. I want that thought to change my life. I am not responsible to judge another person. My job is to share the love of Christ.

John 8:12, right after the above passage, talks about Christ being the Light of the World. My job is to reflect that light.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Remove the Mask: Why Won't We Be Transparent?

My sophomore year of college, I had the privilege of attending the graduate speech recital of my freshman speech teacher. She is someone that I look up to and greatly respect, and when I look back at all my favorite classes and teachers, she stands out in many respects. She didn't just teach freshmen--she touched lives. At her recital, she tackled the idea of transparency. Mostly the idea of why we aren't transparent. And she shared a lot of personal stuff. To an audience of 700 people, some of whom were friends, but many of whom were total strangers. She got a standing ovation (which doesn't happen at recitals here), and people walked out changed. I still occasionally hear people talking about it, and it's been 2 years. It changed me and the way I think. I've pondered transparency off and on for the past 2 years. It's a tricky idea. I mean, the idea of sharing stuff with people and knowing when you're being transparent and when you're just complaining. Being honest without sharing too much or finding the right person who will really care about you and pray for you can be hard. Finding a balance can be hard. Unfortunately, we don't even try most of the time.

I don't know if you go to a CHristian school. I do--a Christian university. I'm assuming you go to a church with fellow believers. In our Christian environments, we say "Be transparent. Be real. Talk to people. Share. We care. We love you. We won't judge you."

We create an atmosphere that says "If you tell me you're struggling, I'll look down on you. I'll probably share it as a 'prayer request' with 3 or 4 people, and we'll talk about you. You aren't allowed to have problems or struggles, and if you do, tell Jesus, but don't tell us."

At her recital, my former teacher shared the poem "We Wear the Mask" by Paul Laurence Dunbar. The first 2 stanzas are as follows:

We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,--
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask. 



Did anyone ask you, "How are you doing?" today? I got asked that. What was your response? "Fine, thanks!" "I'm doing well." "Hanging in there, keeping busy, but you know, God is good so it's all good."

Really? Are you really doing ok? All the time? Every time you answer that question with a "fine", are you really doing "fine"? I'm not always. It's our go-to answer.

It's a lie.

We teach children, "Thou shalt not lie". It's the 9th commandment. When did lying about how we are doing become ok? When did hiding what's going on become not only ok, but really expected?

Why do you wear a mask? Why do I wear a mask? Well, here's my excuse (the one I use most often).
"If people don't know, they can't judge or hurt me. If I get close to people, they may expect something I can'd do, and I'll let them down."

What does your mask look like? There are a lot of different ones, and we all personalize our mask to fit what we need. They all look a little different, which is part of the reason I think it is so hard to recognize someone else's for what it really is--a disguise hiding what's really going on in their life. I tend to be one of those people who always has to have it together. I'm that annoying person no one else in the class likes, because I turn stuff in 2 weeks early. I have to be on top of stuff and always prepared. I am always ready to go, and hate surprises or changes in my plans. I'm also a very hyperactive, sarcastic person. When I don't know what I'm doing, or if I'm in a new situation and am nervous, I hide it by being weird and obnoxious (in a good way, I'm sure). People don't know the difference between my "life is good and I've had Mountain Dew" hyper and my "I'm stressing out and worried about what is happening" hyper. When I'm not in control of a situation, I get either really hyper or weird or shy. Both of them are a mask. I wear them to protect myself.

What mask do you wear? What masks do you put on to cover what you are really thinking, feeling, or struggling with?

It can be hard to peel off our mask. I think it is harder to be the one being open and sharing than the person to whom we are talking. When we are transparent, we are vulnerable. That is a scary place to be. I don't want to go there, so I put on a mask. I hide it and no one knows. We have on  so many layers of masks, I don't know if we are really able to be honest with ourselves. We have a hard time even getting real with God. We've convinced ourselves that the mask needs to be there.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

To each other?

Why are we not willing to share? To get real? To be honest? Transparent?

May I suggest that we have been lied too? Has Satan whispered any of these in your ear (or screamed them in your face)?

No one would believe you if you told them that you _________?
You say you're a Christian, and you struggle with ______? Really?
God won't keep forgive you.
People look up to you, you know. They watch you. If they know you are dealing with _______, your testimony will be ruined.
Everyone deals with that. It's not a big deal.
You're in leadership. You teach Sunday School. You can't have struggles like that.
No one cares.
People come to help. They need you to be strong for them. They aren't able to help you, because they need you to help them. 

These are lies, friends. Satan knows that if he can get us to live an isolated life, we won't have access to the full potential of power found in the body of Christ. Once we start getting honest with each other and really working together, the church and Christians could do amazing things for God. We could change the world in huge ways. Satan doesn't want that. So he seeks to keep us isolated.

I want to build iron-sharpening-iron relationships.


I want my friends and i to have a closeness that allows us to be real with each other. That's going to take work. Being transparent ends 2 people--the person being transparent, and the person listening. And both of these people need to be willing to take both roles. 

Be transparent. In small areas--like "I am so exhausted, I'm struggling with staying awake to do my devotions. Will you pray for me and keep me accountable?" "I'm struggling with my thoughts towards a particular person."

Be transparent. In big areas--like "I don't know if God exists, and if He does, I don't know if he really cares about me personally." "I don't know if I even am in the right religion. I don't know if I'm believing the right things, and I don't want to miss out because I was taught wrong."

Be willing to listen. Look around at work, school, church, or wherever you are. Watch people. There are people everywhere who are hurting, but have a mask on and aren't willing to admit it. Take time to show them you care. Pray for them. And don't be discouraged if they won't open up to you right away. Removing a mask takes time. It takes knowing that someone honestly cares about you. And if you are going to ask someone to be transparent, be willing to be transparent yourself. 

Watch out for the people who are "rocks". You know who I mean--those people who have it all together all the time. They are usually the people that get asked for help or advice. Sometimes, they are the people who really need help and prayer the most. Those are the people we forget about, because they seem to be so put-together. Everyone needs someone who will come along and say, "I'm praying for you."

Paul Dunbar wrote a final stanza for his poem, "We Wear the Mask".

We smile, but O great Christ, our cries
To Thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

I want to be part of the generation that changes the world. But (and here's me being transparent), I can't do it alone. I need friends to help me out, support me, and point me to Jesus. We aren't called to go the Christian life solo. God has given us each other. Serve Him together.

If you need something, anything, even someone to talk to, please find someone. A friend, a person at church, a teacher, pastor, anyone. Don't live life hurt and alone because you can't trust anyone. If you can't find someone, email me. Message me. Comment below. That's why God created me. To serve Him, and minister to the body of Christ.

Remove the mask.

Practice transparency. 





Sunday, March 9, 2014

I Will Build MY Church

On Thursday, March 6th, 2014, the Washington Times reported this headline: "Kim Jong-Un calls for execution of 33 Christians". Basically, 33 North Korean Christians and a missionary from South Korea were arrested and sentenced to death for starting over 500 house churches in North Korea. Has the execution happened yet? I don't know. Is the report completely and totally accurate, without fabrication and/or hidden information? I don't know. But I do know that God is in control. He holds each Christian in the palm of His hand. He sees the future, and He has a  perfect plan for each person individually, as well as for the collective body of Christ. I can rest in that.
I don't know what He's doing. I don't understand. I look at what's happening in North Korea, and to Christians around the world. If I am not careful, I may wonder:

"What is God doing?"
"Is God still good?"
Why doesn't God stop this?"
Why does evil exist?"
Is God still even there?"

Do you find yourself thinking this? Please tell me I'm not alone in my thoughts. In my doubts. I know God is good. I know God is in control. But when you see headlines like the one above, you stop and question what's going on. What God's doing. Or at least, I do.

What is God doing?

In Matthew 16, we see a lot going on in the ministry of Christ. At the beginning of the chapter, the religious leaders are there testing Christ. Trying to get Him to slip up.
Then we see Christ talking to the disciples. He asks them who people say He is.
"13--When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whome do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?
14--And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
15--He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16--And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.
17--And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my father which is in heaven.
18--And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
19--And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
It's a pretty familiar passage. One I've referenced before.I've studied this passage (both personally and in classes and church). A lot of times, we talk about verse 18 and talk about the phrase "upon this rock". What did Christ mean there? People and denominations debate this. But I want to look at the next phrase for a second.

I
Will
Build
My
Church

MY Church

It's Christ's church. He has promised us that He will build it. No North Korean dictator can stop Him. No American bashing God on YouTube will stop the spread of the Gospel. Nothing you can do will stop what God is going to do.



Isn't that encouraging? We can look at the world and see what's going on. We see the political turmoil in Ukraine. We see the atrocities committed in North Korea. We see the unrest around the globe. We wonder where God is. What He's doing. But nothing that Putin or Kim Jong-Un can or will do will stop God from doing what He has planned.

Isn't that cool?

I just think that's so encouraging.

I serve a God that is bigger than all the politics in the world. Literally.

He's above it all. He controls it all. And works it together for His good. For His glory.

In the death of these 33 Christians, He will be glorified.

I pray that in my life, however long He has planned for me, that He will be glorified.

Carl Moeller, president of Open Doors USA, spoke about persecuted Christians around the world. He said this: "They don't ask us to pray that persecution would stop. They pray, instead, that they would be strong in the midst of persecution, and to empower them to be bold witnesses despite the obvious persecution in many places."

This is a huge rebuke to me. I have a low pain tolerance. I'm sure I'd be begging for them to stop the second they looked at me. I'd like to think that I would stand fast and never give in, never renounce Christ, but I don't know. How can any of us know how we'd respond in a situation like what these Christians face on a daily basis?

All throughout history, the persecuted church grew quickly. It spread like wildfire. And those Christians that faced persecution often had the strongest faith. From the early church up until the present day, those that face persecution know what it means to really depend on God.

Please join me in praying for the persecuted church around the world. Pray with me for our brothers and sisters in Christ as they press on through the trials God has allowed into their lives. Pray, not the persecution would end, but that God would be glorified. That the Gospel would be spread throughout the world. That the church would not be stamped out, but that God would build His church. Like He's promised. He will build it.

He will be glorified.

I can rest in that.

(Here's a sermon that was preached here on campus last year about this topic by Chris Anderson. If you have time, may I suggest and recommend you listen to it? It's highly encouraging.)

Monday, February 24, 2014

It's the kind of day . . .

Where people need a break from life. And seriousness. So here's some things people have said to me, as a Canadian. Happy Monday! :)



Wednesday, February 19, 2014

All in All

You are my strength when I am weak.
You are the treasure that I seek.
You are my all in all.
Seeking You as a precious jewel,
Lord to give up I’d be a fool.
You are my all in all.

Taking my sin, my cross, my shame;
Rising again, I bless Your name.
You are my all in all.
When I fall down You pick me up.
When I am dry You fill my cup.
You are my all in all.

Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy is Your name.
Jesus, Lamb of God, worthy is Your name.

This is currently one of my favorite songs. I keep going back to it this semester. Every semester/year, God has given me a song that He uses to remind me of something I need to learn. Freshman year, it was “God is There”. Sophomore year, it was “Press On”. Junior year and last semester (first semester senior year), it was “Blessings”. Now, it’s “You are my All in All” (words above).

I apologize in advance for the potential length of this thing. Also, if you don’t want to know what God has been teaching me or if you don’t like personal (like, personal about me), I have a suggestion for you. In the top right hand corner of your screen, there should be a little red x. Click it. You don’t want to read this post. This isn’t just a challenge to my generation.

This is God’s challenge to me.

That I want to share with you.

When I was in youth group, (which feels like so many years ago), we did an in-depth study on the book of Colossians. I want to say that study lasted for about 2 years. I could be wrong on that. We memorized chapter 1 and chapter 3, and I can still quote “most” of it. We studied a lot of different things, but our main focus was on how we are complete in Christ. Our theme song for youth group was “Complete in Thee”, which we sang almost every week.

I am so thankful for the time our youth pastor invested in us through this study. So often, teens struggle with their identity. With “who they are” and “finding themselves” and all that. They want to have some sense of worth, to think that they have value. I remember thinking as a teenager that if I could do ____________ and accomplish _________, then people would appreciate me, or notice me. I would finally be worth something to people. I didn’t ever completely grow out of this idea. It’s something I still struggle with at times. But this study in Colossians helped me a lot. I knew that because of what Christ had done for me, God views me as perfect. Yes, I sin. But God looks at me through the lens of Christ’s sacrifice. He has claimed me as His own. And He loves me—not for what I have done, but in spite of what I have done. As a teen, this was huge. And now, as a young adult, this is huge. It isn’t what I have done or can do for God. I am complete in Him. It isn’t what I think I am as a person—what I think should define me. It’s what God has done for me.

This sounds great. But so often I forget. WAY too often. More often than not, actually. The life I live suggests that God is not enough. That what He has done for me is not enough. Am I the only one who struggles with this?

I was saved when I was 6 years old. I was quite willing to say that Christ’s sacrifice was enough for me. I didn’t need to add any good works. That faith thing? I did that just fine. Christ’s work on the cross made salvation complete, if you will. I didn’t even suggest that I might need to do something extra. I knew better.

So why do I live differently today? Why was Christ’s work enough to save me from hell and give me an eternal home, but not enough to satisfy me daily? Why do I feel like I have to do something to earn God’s favor? When I stop and think about it, it sounds ludicrous. I can trust God with my eternal destiny, but not enough to love me for who I am or what I do.

Something needs to change.

I invite you, everyone reading this, to join me in finding our satisfaction in Christ. To realize that we are complete in Him.

God doesn’t love me based on my GPA.

I am not rewarded based on what extracurricular activities I did.

What I do with friends doesn’t matter.

My relationship status doesn’t affect how God views me.

My grades don’t guarantee me a better standing before God.

My talents don’t give me eternal security.

What I do with my life doesn’t change how I am loved by the everlasting God.

So if I never have friends, live my life on the streets because I fail college, and am completely alone with nothing, God will still love me. He will still be there for me. And He will still view me as a created being—made in His image. Perfect.

Loved.

Do I want to live alone with no friends? No. Do I want to fail college and work at Subway forever? That’s about the worst thing I can imagine.

Actually, worse would be living without God for all eternity.

Or having my worth based on what I do, instead of what He has done for me.

So, friends, next time you here me complaining, tell me to shut up. Please. Tell me to get my eyes off of myself and back on God. Remind me that my satisfaction should not be found in a grade or a meal in the dining common, or in friends. Ultimately, I need to find my satisfaction in Christ. Because of His work, alone, I am complete. Complete in Christ.

And if I can help you with that, or be an encouragement for you to do the same, please let me know. Comment. Message me. Email. Let’s do a meal. Something.

I want to build “iron sharpening iron” relationships.

“Complete in Thee, NO WORK OF MINE
Could take, dear Lord, the place of thine.
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And I am now Complete in Thee.

Complete in Thee, each want supplied,
And no good thing to me denied
Since thou my portion Lord wilt be,
I ask no more, Complete in Thee.

Complete in Thee, no more shall sin.
Thy grace hath conquered—reign within.
Thy voice shall bid the tempter flee,
And I shall stand Complete in Thee.

Dear Saviour, when, before Thy Bar
All Tribes and Tongues assembled are,
Among the Chosen will I be,
At Thy right hand, Complete in Thee.

Yeah Justified, oh blessed thought!
And Sanctified, salvation wrought.
Thy blood hath pardon bought for me,
And glorified I too shall be.”


Again, I’m sorry about the length. I’m also apologizing for the randomness of this. This is why I don’t normally write after 1:30 in the morning . . .