December 15, 2008
I still pray every day. I thank God for the wonderful gifts He has given me in so many different forms. The weird thing about this phase is that I don't feel hollow or empty or hopeless like I sometimes do, I just don't feel like I'm trying very hard. And that might be even more dangerous. I don't want to be content. I don't want to just get by. I want to fight. I want to be a woman of God. I want to be so much more than what I'm allowing myself to be lately.
I don't have much to say about this except that I will try and prayers would be amazing. Part of the problem is that I'm so busy that I don't spend a lot of time with anyone anymore and I miss out on the encouragement and fellowship I used to experience so often. Maybe once I figure out how to juggle school, work, church and a boyfriend, I'll get back to that, too. So many things...
November 17, 2008
I'm starting to think that maybe I got more out of my quiet time when I actually made an attempt to comprehend it and blog about it later, so here we are.
I am land.
I am land that receives a lot of rain. The rain that often falls on me is of God. God pours so much into my life on a daily basis. I really love being at school because I pray the most when I walk around campus outside. Even when I'm freezing cold and in seven layers (while some people still walk around with flip-flops and/or shorts ha), there is so much to thank God for. He just pours and pours and pours out blessings on me. It rains all the time on my life, in the best possible way. So that's step 1: Rain.
Step 2 belongs to me. With all that God has poured on my life, on my land, I should be producing a useful crop. There is plenty being poured upon me, so it's my job to turn around and produce good crop. What I receive in my life should be obvious to everyone around me. I should be able to remain faithful and joyful knowing that God is blessing me every second. My crop can be joy and thankfulness that really shows everyone around me (perhaps, "those for whom it is farmed") how blessed I am.
Step 3: receive the blessing of God.
So really it comes full circle.
I receive countless, wonderful blessings from God.
I live my life in a way that shows how thankful I am to a gracious, giving God.
I receive more wonderful blessings from God.
I think I'll save the opposing verse for a blog tomorrow.
October 4, 2008
But I did want to make a small, quick post about my life lately. Things are really awesome, and God is incredibly good.
I have a bad habit of feeling ashamed of things I want to say (or write) sometimes, and I'm trying to break that. Sometimes I keep my feelings and my emotions on the inside because I think that someone or everyone will disapprove of whatever I'm thinking or feeling. I'd really like to get out of that habit. I don't have much to say, but here's what's going on lately in my life:
-Robert and I are finally officially dating, and it's the best thing I've ever experienced. God has definitely blessed me with this relationship, and I'm very excited to be learning and growing closer to God with Robert by my side.
-I'm absolutely 100% in love with what I do at Elevation. Being a part of a worship ministry like this is unreal, and I wouldn't trade it for any other role. I don't know how I even made it to this point, but I know God is good and has given me an unbelievable part of something huge.
-For the longest time, I've been struggling everyday with the concept of God's love. I just could not understand or comprehend how or why this Creator of the universe would choose to love me unconditional. I mean, I believe He does love me, but sometimes I have a hard time living like it. However, this week has been absolutely wonderful for me. I listened to 3 different Perry Noble sermons throughout the week and they all spoke directly to me about about something I very desperately needed to hear. I found this really entertaining because they were 3 completely different sermons (Can I Lose my Salvation? How Do I Know God's Will for my Life? Is It Ok for Christians to Drink Alcohol?) but they all spoke a similar thought to me and backed it up: Jesus does not love me based on my performance. Jesus loves me just because.
This week has been awesome. That's such a simple point, but knowing it and repeating it has been so great for me. This week I spent way more time reading the Bible, praying and just generally noticing His glory in the seasons changing around me. It's been fantastic. So at this point, I just need to remember that the God of the universe is in love with me and is pursuing me every day and out of love for Him, I must respond.
So those are the 3 biggest things going on in my life right now. God is teaching me a lot, but not always in the form of solid, tangible, explainable lessons.
September 16, 2008
I think humility is something that everyone struggles with at some point...or at multiple points...or all the time. You know, whatever. It's definitely something I struggle with often. But through everything, there is one area where I really have to wrestle with it and keep a hold on my pride and my arrogance, and that's when it comes to music.
I love music. There is no non-gay way for me to describe exactly how God moves my soul through music. I feel lame even trying to put words to it. It's just powerful. It can change my mood in a heartbeat. It can literally make me feel like I can fly. It compels me to dance (at least inside my head), and it causes me to struggle with my body because when I hear certain songs, it's almost an involuntary impulse for my feet to go crazy and for my body to start dancing on it's own. Sounds weird; really, it's great. I'm in love with it. I think there's a reason I feel that way about music and about singing, and that reason's name is Jesus. I believe God's most personal and most fitting gift for me is my voice. It makes me happy to sing. It makes me free. Also, I'm an emotional person, and I really believe that that fact ties in with how music affects me. I believe that because the emotions I experience are very strong and pronounced in me, that music complements (yes Rob, it is a word) my feelings. That's not really a good way to explain it, but I can't really find another way. Part of that means that once I know a song or a harmony (or sometimes even a dance to a song, like in our high school choirs), I pretty much know it forever. And if I can't recall it right away, I pick it right back up.
With that said, alllll of these factors come into play to give me the ridiculous notion that I have some sort of right when it comes to music. Like my brain thinks that I deserve certain things when it comes to music. I know it's wrong, and I've been working hard to inform my brain that it's wrong. In actuality, that never really mattered until recently. I mean, in high school no one really told me to quite being prideful and arrogant about music. But since I've started singing with elevation's worship ministry, I'm learning otherwise. I'm learning that it's really easy for me to get bitter inside if I feel like someone gets what I deserve. It's ridiculous, I know, and I'm using a lot of my strength to counteract those feelings. I love what I get to be a part of at elevation. I know I don't deserve it at all, and I'm so lucky to be a part of it and God could easily take it away from me. I don't want to be jealous or bitter, and I certainly don't go out of my way to try to be. But God is definitely using my experiences in our worship ministry to teach me about humility. It's actually a great experience because it's forcing me to pray more (to ask God to take away those stupid feelings of bitterness and envy) and to be happy for people who get really great opportunities (even if they are opportunities I would love to get as well).
I'm afraid that this blog may just make me look like a really big jerk, but I'm almost positive I'm not the only one who's ever felt envious and jealous over someone else's successes.
August 28, 2008
God does everything to encourage Moses from the time Moses encounters Him in the burning bush. He shows Moses the kind of miracles He can do through him, He assures Moses that He has his back no matter what, and He gives Moses Aaron to speak for him. Moses' reply?
[No, No, No. Please, send anyone but me. I don't want to. I can't. I'm scared. I'm not good enough.]
God has great things planned for Moses (GREAT things), but Moses was too busy making excuses to hear that part of it. He knew that what God was asking him to do right at that moment was going to be really hard, and that stopped him from seeing the bigger picture of what he would do for the Israelites later.
I truly believe God has some great things planned for me. I know He has a plan for me, and I know He is able to use me for things that are bigger than I could ever dream. I also know that some of the things He's asking me to do right now are going to be really difficult. There are some things I haven't been facing lately. Some things I need to do and correct, even though I know it's going to really hard. But now I'm thinking that I might be missing out on what God has planned for me in the future because I'm too busy saying no to the steps I need to take right now.
So instead of continuously saying no to God because what He's asking me to do right now seems hard, I want to focus on thinking about the awesome things that God wants to use me for later and pray for the confidence and strength to face the things that are difficult.
Basically, I want to shut up and listen.
August 25, 2008
One topic he hits is community and the issue that we face when we are surrounded by a world of people but still find ourselves alone and fighting those around us. There is something missing.
He talks about a woman in his church whose husband abuses her. The group of people she has surrounded herself with come to her rescue and help her get away from the abuse. Several weeks later, a man comes to him, broken, admitting to abusing his wife, and looking for help so that he could stop. The man was her husband, and when Rob asked the man who he had around him to talk to about his problem, he said he had no one.
We are meant to share our struggles and our pain with the people around us; the people we trust; our entourage. Our problems can spiral out of control when we don't have support like that. When we don't have that person or those people that we can turn to and talk to, we don't have help.
I feel like, personally, I have one main recurring problem I'm dealing with. Quite honestly, I feel like I'm dealing with it alone, too. I don't really feel like there's anyone I can talk to about it that won't judge me or condemn me for it, and that's hard. So I feel like I understand Rob Bell's point about having that kind of community around you. Our problems, issues, hardships and failings are hard to deal with alone. We really need those reliable people that surround us with a love like Jesus and help us through life.
August 23, 2008
Jesus has healed us. He has spoken and told us to take up our mat and walk. He has made us new, but He has made us new so that we would not return to our old ways. I believe Jesus has redeemed me and made me new. I also believe He speaks to me all the time, telling me that I shouldn't return to my old ways of sinning. We can't just use Jesus as a lifeline without trying to fix our ways. We can't just keep sinning and expect Him to save us and renew us the same every time. He's not there so that we can go on without trying to live a life serving Him. He has saved us, and that is more than we deserved in the first place. So now it's our responsibility to work hard to serve Him. We can't return to a life of sinning.
August 17, 2008
Then, to top off my incredibly emotional day, I experienced an incredibly emotional night at McGlohon! It was my first time visiting, and I can already tell this place is going to be packed with people searching for God and worshiping Him every Sunday. I can't wait to hear the stories of this place. Tonight, the worship was amazing. For the first half of the night, I was pretty dead. Today just wore me out, so I spent a lot of the time praying for less distractions and more energy. God definitely delivered, because before we even got to the first chorus of Healer, I was wrecked. I'm not sure what it meant, but God definitely moved in my heart and overwhelmed me during that song. [Nothing is impossible for You.] The end of the night was perfect, with Let God Arise. I haven't had that much fun worshiping God (and watching our worship leaders praise Him) in a really long time. We definitely have some of the best guys around who are filled with a ridiculous amount of passion for the Lord. .
Today, I felt the weight and the gravity and the importance that I have been missing. Today, I felt God move in my heart, and I witnessed the many ways He has moved in the lives of others.
And now I am exhausted.
In the best way possible.
August 14, 2008
I can't wait to see the tremendous faith of people this weekend (including my own roommate's. Love you, B) and I can't wait to see how God is going to reach hundreds of other people through it all. It's going to be a mind-blowing Sunday and I believe God is going to move in a huge way. I'm so thankful to be a part of it.
August 5, 2008
However, as I went through and read all of the blogs that mentioned this giant move of God we just witnessed and how phenomenal it was, I realized that I wasn't feeling those same emotions. And I'm still not. With Elevation being such a huge movement in this city, we are constantly reminded that we can not take this for granted. What we're seeing isn't normal, and we can't let it pass us by without acknowledging the incredibly vast God who makes it all happen (I mean come on, over 600 people choosing to make their faith public in a single day). This is something of biblical proportions...and somehow I'm not very moved by it.
So tonight I'm praying that as we go into our second week of baptisms, that God would open up my heart so that I could really see and experience the magnitude of what is happening here in Charlotte. It's frustrating that my heart is not overflowing with intense joy at how many lives are being changed right in front of my eyes. Not only that, but as volunteers, we are all able to feel like we are really a part of this. We are active in it. We're making a difference. Sometimes it's the little things that we do that encourage others to take the next step in their faith, whether we know it or not.
I don't want to sit by and watch everything happen. I want to be a part of this. I want to look back and know that God used me to change lives. And I want to be freaking excited about it.
Also, my recent "sun stand still" prayer has been for my brother, Michael. He's 17, and he just moved into his apartment this weekend. He's about to start training for soccer and soon after that he'll start his first year of college. He's incredibly smart, but lately he's been making some unintelligent decisions (read: stupid and dangerous). Basically I'm praying that God would put people in front of him who are good influences and who will help lead him to Jesus in a way he's never known or understood before. I know he can do great things for the kingdom of God, and I want to see it happen. I want him to know that God has made the sun stand still in his life.
July 29, 2008
I don't like being embarrassed. Not that anyone else really enjoys it, but I let my fear of embarrassment stop me from really enjoying myself in different social situations. I'd honestly rather sit in a corner and twiddle my thumbs than do something like sing karaoke in front of a bunch of strangers or even play some guitar hero with my best friends (except in the strange case of getting in front of hundreds of people on Sundays and singing. That, I love and throw myself into with everything I've got). Everything in me freezes at the thought of being pushed out of my comfort zone. Honestly, it hasn't been much of a problem until this year. However, this year I finally have someone in my life who is so different from me and ready to push me out of my comfort zone and into uncomfortable situations. The uncomfortable situations I face now might not be too serious or hold too much weight in my life in the long run, but I know that I'm also being pushed forward in my walk with God.
When I skip out on something because of my fear of embarrassment, I most likely miss out on a lot of fun (I mean, I assume that's what I'm missing out on. I never really know because I'm serious when I say I'd rather sit in a corner). I don't want to be in a place where I'm more willing to sit in my spiritual corner just because God is calling me to do something really awkward or uncomfortable. I've been in that place many times, and I guess my prayer would be that I would get uncomfortable for once and let God pull me out of my corner and into something great. I need to stop missing out on great things because of my fear or my embarrassment.
July 26, 2008
But here we are in a really nice townhome. Our downstairs is pretty much set up the way we want it minus some small details. Bradelyn's room is almost done, my room is almost done being painted and Jennica's room is nowhere near done, but that's ok.
Today I developed a severe dislike for paint and painting. My hands have blisters, my arms are sore and even after a shower, I have paint marks everywhere. But God is good. I'm really very thankful to be moving into such a nice home with such nice appliances and two awesome girls. I've only had one freak out so far. I got frustrated, I went and sat down, I prayed about it and decided that God was allowing me to move on from what frustrated me. So I left. It was good. God is good. I so miss feeling connected with him. I think this new change, a new house, a new roommate (and an awesome used one. haha just kidding Jennica, I love you), a new adventure with Him is giving me a really good outlook. I hope it'll stick around.
There will be a blog at some point about the dangers of living within walking distance of a Bloom.
Close grocery store + 3 college students = big, fat trouble.
July 23, 2008
One thing that stuck out to me tonight in this post is when she says that as much as it hurts to cry out to God, she is thankful that she can and she does.
I am not alone. When everyone else has failed me and has left me, my God, my Lord is by my side. No matter how much pain I am in, I know the Lord is with me and He is my Rock. He is my one thing in the world that remains solid and unshakable. I can't imagine going through anything without Him. I can't imagine how empty my heart would be without Him. Even if I never feel like I get a straight, complete answer from Him the way I want it, I know that at the very least I can just sit with Him, be with Him, cry to Him and find comfort in Him.
Also, "We Cry Out" by Kim Walker is on it's 15th straight play on iTunes, and it's actually been a great backdrop to the story I'm reading. I heard it in the office on Thursday and I'm now obsessed with it. You should hear it.
July 22, 2008
Me: Dev, what does 'elegant' mean?
Devyn: It means that your hat is big and ugly.
Hahaha, the logic of a 3 year old is great. She saw the picture, understood that the word had to do with the picture, and used context clue to define the word. It was a good try.
July 21, 2008
So today when we were talking about going outside and how nothing they do burns their energy or makes them tired, she came up with a good one:
"Well you just don't understand that you use more energy by not wearing shoes, so if we just ran around without our shoes on today then we would use all our energy and we would be tired and fall asleep!"
July 19, 2008
In the beginning, house-hopping was fine. I have plenty of generous people in my life who provide shelter over my head, and I'm very thankful for the family I've been staying with. However, in the midst of jumping around and living in houses that aren't mine, I'm facing a small struggle with identity. I realized it yesterday when I was about to drive home to Greenville. I wasn't sure if I felt good about going home, but I didn't necessarily want to stay where I was, but I didn't necessarily feel like I wanted to be anywhere else. So I'm realizing that this is the time where I need to make sure that I don't find my identity in a place or a group of people. I can't start feeling lost just because I don't have a permanent place to live. I have to remember that my identity is always in Christ and no matter where I go or where I live, I will always be His.
July 14, 2008
1. For once in my life, I'd like to drive a car without the fear of it breaking down (though I am actually very thankful for cars and the fact that I live in a place where I can afford to have one to get me where I need to go).
2. I have a huge problem with being jealous of other people's accomplishments, especially when it comes to music. I would love to learn how to be happy for other people even when they get what I want.
3. I can not wait to get married someday.
4. I have a hard time convincing myself NOT to believe the world is going to end in 2012. Someone put the idea in my head last year and I haven't been able to get it out yet.
5. Yesterday on my way into Providence I learned a quick lesson that reminded me I need to give a lot more without expecting anything in return besides a "thank you" and sometimes not even that.
At 16 or 17, I never would have imagined myself singing at Elevation church, taking a year to not date, forming relationships with great people and awesome and inspiring couples, living for the first time outside of my home or a dorm, or dealing with a drunk 17 year old brother at 4am (hey, you take the good with the bad). But here I am, turning 20 and facing all of those things. I'm so young, and I know that I have so much more to learn, but I am very thankful that God is choosing to squeeze so many life lessons into my young existence.
Sidenote; this morning when my mom was talking to my little brother about what he had done and why, he decided to compare himself to me and call me "perfect" like he'll never measure up. All my life I've compared myself to him and wished that I could be as funny as he is, as good at soccer as he is, or as good at making friends as he is. He sees me as someone who is all "Jesus-y" and "churchy" and who never gets in trouble; who never does anything wrong. It almost makes me sad at how wrong he is. Lately, every day I wonder why I make the same mistakes, how I could be better, what I need to do to be better, and why I can't just do it instead of think about it all the time. I wish I had a relationship with my family in which we talked and communicated enough to simply understand each other...
The bright side is that this incident proved to draw out some of the most sincere prayers I've had in a couple months, and I'm anxious to see what God is going to do with this situation.
July 10, 2008
The book is helping me finally get it. Lately I've been struggling with the question of how could God love me after I've turned my back and deliberately sinned and closed my ears and my heart to Him so many times. How can He still look at me with love and adoration when I haven't been able to do anything right for Him? And even if it's true that He still loves me like that, why can't I find the strength to fix things? Why can't I control myself and get my act together?
He does love me without condition, and He always will. No matter how many times I turn away or fail, He will pull me back. But that doesn't mean I can stick to my crappy patterns that I've made for myself. The only time I will ever receive the freedom I need is after I surrender everything back to Him. When I finally learn how to understand Hosea 2:14 and let Him lead me back to the beginning and call me out of my mistakes to something better, I'll get that freedom.
Easier said than done, but I like it.
July 3, 2008
I've missed them, and I'm blessed to get to spend the weekend with them.
And I'm looking forward to a special beach trip before I head back up to Charlotte Saturday. I miss the ocean.
July 2, 2008
What Can separate me from the Love of God?
What do I believe can separate me from the Love of God?
Well...my sins, my failures, my mistakes (especially my repeated mistakes), my shortcomings, when I don't do my quiet time, when I don't do my quiet time well, when I don't pray "enough," when I pay more attention to myself than I do to God, when I struggle...
But NOTHING, neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God sent Jesus, who died for us, who bridged the gap, and now God's Love and I are inseparable. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
James 4:8 says "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."
In my head, it should say cling to God and He will cling to You.
When I love someone, I'm not content with just coming near to them and getting the surface level details of their life. I'm not happy to just be around them. I cling to the people I love; for two reasons:
1. I've learned in the past couple years that you're just going to lose people. People come in and out of our lives all the time, so I make sure to cling as long as possible.
2. I really do love them and want to soak up some of the qualities I love so much about them.
Usually I don't see this as a bad thing. I don't feel like I'm smothering or obsessed with anyone (please point it out and correct me if you think differently), I just genuinely love these people. My problem, though, is that I have not put near enough effort yet into clinging to God. I expect to feel Him clinging to me before I've made the move to really draw near to Him and know Him. And I don't think any of my relationships will ever be where I want them to be if I don't first cling to Him.
The funny thing is that I'm writing this post because I'm mad at myself for being so unbelievably clingy lately.
And now that I've spelled out the word "cling" so many times, my brain doesn't feel like it's a real word anymore...
July 1, 2008
So many lessons can be found in their situation. One of my favorites is the strategy/vision outlook. The vision God has given us in our lives or in our ministries is solid and set, but the strategy is unknown and always changing. The vision that God has given Wade and Ferris is that their little girls, Liana and Adleigh, will be healthy and well in the end of all of this. The strategy for this situation is a difficult one. There have already been ups and downs in the girls' health, and there will undoubtedly be many more. We have to understand that there will be struggles and there will be obstacles that might start to let doubt slip into our faith. But if we remain confident in the fact that God has said they will be healthy, then we need to take the bad with the good and continue to pray in faith.
I'm so excited to see the outcome of this situation because I've seen (or really, I've read) the kind of faith that Wade and Ferris have in our God. God will heal the girls, and God will keep them strong.
Please pray for them. Pray for the girls' bodies to be strengthened and for Wade and Ferris's faith to remain strong. They've already shown so much trust and faith that God will do what He has promised, and I'm excited to see how they continue to inspire us to put our faith in God, who can make the sun stand still.
June 28, 2008
Now, Savior, I come with all of my failings.
Be who You are and make me like You.
Savior, I want to shine Your glory so the world can see You.
God, I am here: a fractured depiction of all that You are;
shine through me.
I'm just a mirror of the Master, trying to reflect His love.
Even when I fail, His love it still prevails,
so I will not give up
God, I want to be who You need me to be.
Shine through me.
June 27, 2008
It's an amazing story that not only gives Wade and Ferris even more hope for their little girls, I'm sure, but paints a bigger picture of our Healer. I was overcome by it for 2 big reasons:
1. JESUS!! Isaiah 53 says:
There was nothing attractive about Him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at Him and people turned away. We looked down on Him, thought He was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains He carried -- our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought He brought it on Himself, that God was punishing Him for His own failures. But it was our sins that did that to Him, that ripped and tore and crushed him -- our sins! Through his bruises, we get healed. We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on Him, on Him.
If you think of someone dying so horribly as through crucifixion, you think of how they must have done something terrible to deserve it. They had to have done some heinous, unforgivable act that would warrant such a painful, humiliating death. We look at Him as if He is unworthy; such a sinner. All we see is a brutal death that a sinner deserves, and we never stop to remember that He is dying that death because of OUR sins, not His. We've all done wrong, and God has put that weight onto Him.
I know it's something we already know, but the video tells the story in a deeper way. He has taken on all of our sins and transgressions so that we would be healed. He is the ultimate Healer and paid the ultimate price to be that for us.
2. I am pumped about Sunday. Leading is going to be such a new, awesome, different experience. Watching the video and how affected the people were by one man's message was amazing. I hope that on Sunday the church continues to come together to lift up Wade, Ferris, Liana and Adleigh. It's been a powerful week witnessing how God brings together people through unfortunate situations. I'm overwhelmed by the amount of blogs, e-mails and text messages going around to pray for the Joye's. I hope they're encouraged by the community that God has placed them in, and I honestly believe that God is going to answer all of our prayers for these 2 beautiful girls. I'm excited to see how the messages in the songs we sing apply to what's happening around us. I really hope that you'll be able to see on Sunday how everyone has been coming together this week and how we all come together to worship our wonderful Healer. I'm excited to see the church as the group following Jesus in anticipation for what He will do next.
I'm also interested in what my parents are going to think of it all...
June 23, 2008
Will The Awful, Evil, No-Good Babysitter really keep one of us in time-out? Can she even do that? Why did we think she was so much fun earlier in the day? Maybe this chair isn't so bad after all. Maybe I'll just push her buttons until she cracks and lets me out just because she's tired...
Will they ever listen? Is that green time-out chair really that comfortable? Is this fight really worth the extreme annoyance it's causing me today? Especially because they're going to harvest a severe dislike for me the rest of the day. Yes. Yes it is. Because if I let her go, she'll know she can get away with anything and time-outs will soon become pointless...
So here we are.
Lord, give me patience. I want to be good at this. I want to walk away from the summer feeling like I earned my money, did a good job, and added something to their lives instead of just feeling like I was a bother for 3 months. I want to teach them something...and not anger. I want them to miss me when I'm done and say hey to me at church. I really just don't want them to hate me.
5 minutes later: A (forced) apology, and all is well; back to playing. First time-out by myself: successful.
June 19, 2008
I miss being at an age where I just wanted to learn...for the sake of learning. Where I would want to go find books just to soak of the information in them. I still love reading, but I don't do it enough. One area that I want this mindset in is with my quiet time. I want to go at my Bible with a hunger for knowledge of what's inside it. I want to read it aching to just know and understand what God has to tell me through it. I just miss being hungry for knowledge in general, I guess.
June 15, 2008
So I wrote a blog on this a couple weeks ago, but today's sermon and singing Walk in Love four times was a continuous reminder that Love is way more important than we treat it. God IS Love. That should be enough. That should convince us that we were bought with Love, and therefore we should always walk in Love; Love towards our God, towards one another and towards ourselves. But we're not naturally inclined to do everything in Love. That's why God is "calling us out of ourselves to Love a world that's broken down." We have to rise above ourselves and fight to Love, no matter what.
My favorite part is when the song breaks into a quiet "hallelujah" and it's like...floating. (Sorry, I really love the song). Anyways, then it breaks into the end of the song where we shout and proclaim that we will Love and that we will BE His Love. He will shine in us, and we will be free to walk in Love.
I'm so grateful every week to work with the three guys who make our worship experiences what they are. You'll understand why when the church's worship album comes out. They obviously put their hearts into the music they write, and it shines through when you listen to it as the soundtrack to the life of Elevation church.
P.S. I'm also really thankful for the other men in my life who have really led me, protected me, given me advice and acted as father figures in my life. Especially this guy.
P.P.S. These two guys are not only awesome men, but awesome bloggers as well. And I am always very diligent in saying hello to them in the office and keeping them on my blogroll. You are welcome.
June 14, 2008
There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary--we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! -Romans 5:2-5
1. We finally realize that God is great and wonderful and glorious. We finally open up our lives to Him only to realize He already did it for us. He used Jesus to open up His door to us. We're so excited to finally get to a point that He has already brought us to. And that just brings us more excitement.
2. After this, we finally stand in God's grace, which is not closed off and boxed in; it is wide open. We're free to run, dance and play in His love and grace. It's not small or insignificant, but huge and freeing. It gives us plenty of room to stand up in His righteousness and shout our praise to Him.
3. Then there's more: because of the greatness we've experienced in God, we continue to shout our praise to Him when we are troubled and suffering. Because we know our suffering isn't in vain, but it leads to greater things, including a passionate patience. I don't really know how to view patience as passionate, but I find it interesting.
4. With all of this, we don't feel left out. We're not missing anything. Instead, we do not have enough space to contain the blessings God has poured into our lives.
I don't usually like the Message Remix unless I'm reading it beside the NIV, but I was having a hard time completely understanding this passage in the NIV so I'm sold on this version.
June 13, 2008
Tonight, Rob and I realized that the fireflies had come out. I think I literally squealed when I saw them. I love fireflies. It wasn't really dark out yet, so there weren't too many out, but we decided to walk around the giant field that is his back yard to see more. We walked for a while and since it was getting dark out, I started to look down at my feet a lot. I was really just nervous I would step on an ant pile or in a hole or something lame. But once I would look down at my feet for a couple seconds, I realized I was missing the point of even walking out there: to look up and see the fireflies. And at that point it was getting too dark to even see what my feet were stepping on in the first place...
The point: what's great and beautiful and wonderful is ahead of us and in front of our faces. God has placed so many blessings into my life, especially this year. But sometimes I look down. I look down at the possible obstacles I'm going to face. I feel like there are so many lately. Some days it just feels like the world is going to completely fall out of place, and I just find it so easy to despair. But really, I don't even know what obstacles I'll face. I look down to find them, but I can't even see them, so there's absolutely no point. All I need to worry about it looking up to be reminded of the blessings I'm walking towards and experiencing every day.
[The past is beautiful like the darkness between the fireflies...]
June 9, 2008
My point of all that is to say that yesterday was NUTS. But I still had one of the best Sundays I've ever experienced, and I think it was the best time for it because we just started the One Prayer series, which is all about the church coming together under one God to serve Him and work together for His good. All of the junk that happens on Sundays doesn't ever hinder us from doing our work for God's glory. So many things went "wrong" yesterday, but the Church doesn't stop. Satan can throw all of the obstacles he wants in our way, but as long as we all come together as one Church with one prayer for one God, then we are unstoppable. We are dangerous. And it is awesome. I had an amazing day yesterday despite the threat of heat stroke and falling cameras, and the Church keeps on moving.
June 8, 2008
Anyways, romans 3:23 says "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." So there, that's it. None of us are righteous (v.10) and we all sin and fall completely short of the goodness of God. There is no hope, and we cannot save ourselves or do anything to gain favor.
But romans 3:24 says "...and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." And there you go. That's it. We're just justified and taken care of because of Jesus; not because of our actions but because of His. Because of His grace and the fact that He loves us.
My favorite part is that it's short and sweet and it's a super fast transition from negative to positive. In the first part of the sentence we have nothing and we are nothing, but in the second part we are justified, saved, worthy and Loved.
June 6, 2008
One thing that I can hold onto during this stage of my life is that whether I am faithful to God or not, He is aways 100% without a doubt faithful to me. For the times when I let my circumstances hold me back from truly holding onto my faith, God is still there; He still fulfills His promise. He doesn't need us for anything, so when we lack faith, He does not stop moving. And this will be turned around. People will say, "Well if He is always faithful and good no matter what I do, doesn't that mean I can get away with my sin?" No, not really. People will look at this as an excuse to be sinful because no matter what we do, God remains faithful. But that's not how it works. God isn't manipulative with us, so we should not be with Him. We should just rest in the knowledge that when we make mistakes and our faith is lacking, He is always there working in our lives.
I'm easily discouraged lately because I feel like my sin has overtaken me and I'm irredeemable. I feel like I've done a horrible job in displaying my faith in God and that He has no reason to continue loving me and being faithful to me. I'm right in saying that I don't deserve it, but nevertheless, He will always be faithful to me.
June 4, 2008
The father of lies
Coming to steal, kill and destroy all my hopes of being good enough.
I hear him saying "cursed are the ones who can’t abide."
Alleluia he’s right!
The devil is preaching the song of the redeemed that I am cursed and gone astray.
I cannot gain salvation,
Could the father of lies be telling the truth of God to me tonight?
If the penalty of sin is death, then death is mine.
I hear him saying "cursed are the ones who can’t abide."
Alleluia he’s right!
Oh the devil’s singing over me an age old song that I am cursed and gone astray.
Singing the first verse so conveniently
He’s forgotten the refrain
I just think it's one of the most amazing and true songs I've ever heard. One of the hardest things for me to do in this stage of my life in my relationships and situations is to look at my mistakes and to MOVE ON. To accept the forgiveness that was offered to me a long time ago when Jesus died for me and to move past my sin to better things. It's easy to see your mistakes and acknowledge them. The hard part (for me) is moving on to get past my sins and to become better.
This song perfectly says what I feel so often and what I know is true. That every day the devil works hard to convince me that I am not loved and that I'll never be good; that if I can't follow all the "rules" then I am cursed and hopeless. Far too often, I believe he is right. I embrace accusations and by doing so, I fall a step behind because I'm more concerned with how condemned I feel than I am with getting past it. He makes me question everything, and he makes me feel like I might be confused or wrong. Maybe something I thought was from God was really from satan and vice versa. I did this when I broke up with Javy. For the first week, I couldn't figure out if I was led to end that relationship because God was moving me towards something different or because satan wanted to separate me to get me alone, weak and vulnerable. (Didn't take long to figure that one out).
If sin leads to death, I should be dead by now. The devil sings over me every day a song that tells me I am worthless. He works every day to tell me I am unloved and hopeless and alone; that my sin has overtaken me and I will never receive salvation, even though God has promised it. He sings this song, but he's forgotten what the refrain is. The refrain is beautiful and true and it covers every sin. Satan's song of condemnation may be hundreds, thousands, millions of pages long, but 2 simple words from God erase every evil and discouragement in our lives:
June 2, 2008
So yesterday at the awesome wedding Rob and I went to, I started sneezing and fun stuff. By the time I got home, my throat was aching, and by the time I woke up, I felt like my throat was attacking me from the inside. So I went to the doctor, and here I am with tonsillitis!! So I'll go on antibiotics and hope I don't have to have my tonsils taken out just yet. Between singing at church and the beginning of my job (if it ever starts), I can't really deal with an operation plus recovery time right now. So prayers would be appreciated.
So...reading back over this later, it seems like I'm happy. I'll just be clear that it's sarcasm. My throat freaking hurts. But hey, I get all the rainbow sherbert I want until it stops hurting. Bring it on, pain.
May 30, 2008
I think because everyone is so different and responds to words, actions or gifts differently, we may never be sure of how to really encourage someone. I mean, you might tell someone they did an awesome job when really they wanted a high five or a hug. Or you might give someone a gift to show encouragement and appreciation when really they just want you to spend time and talk with them. There are people in my life that I haven't figured out yet, so I have a hard time encouraging them because something that may work for me may not work for them.
But in the book of Romans, Paul wants to meet with them so that they can be encouraged by each other. Not by their words or gifts or actions or time, but by their faith. They're example of faith in God is enough to be an encouragement.
I can think of tons of ways to try and encourage those around me, but the simplest one is to continue to have faith in my God. I know this is true because I am most encouraged when I see my closest friends continue to have faith in Christ through everything in their lives. It is by their own example of faith that I find encouragement to continue on in mine.
May 29, 2008
Lately I've been feeling lost. Not only that, but I haven't felt like anyone has been trying to find me; not God, not my friends or my family, no one. And that's hard for me to deal with. I agree with Jon when he says that we all want to be found. I've found myself "hiding" in the past in an effort to get anyone to notice I was gone just so that someone would come looking for me. It usually doesn't happen.
"We need to be found. Not once in a single moment of salvation but daily. Hourly even, we need the God of the universe to come running. To find us. To know us and love us."
I really agree. I don't know what it takes to get my mind wrapped around the fact that I do have a Father who is looking for me and loves me and wants to find me. Maybe if I can figure that out, I'll actually be found.
May 22, 2008
-1 Peter 4:8
"Love" has been popping up in front of my eyes all over the place since I started reading the New Testament. It's put first all the time. Jesus says the most important commandments are about love. Loving God and loving each other.
Love, at least in my world, isn't important enough. It's not valued and practiced. I mean, trust me, I love plenty of people. I love my entourage (as small as it may be these days), my best friends, my family, my "family" (even if they're leaving), my God. But I still don't love enough. I don't love the people who don't love me, the people I'm not close to, the people I don't respect, the unlovable. I don't often reach outside of my comfort zone to offer love and mercy to those who hurt or offend me. I don't speak out of love all the time. Actually, I probably speak more out of hurt and anger than I do love. My actions don't show love all the time, either. I don't serve others in love as much as I should. Really, I have the potential to do everything and always speak out of Love. The least I can do is make the effort.
we were bought with Love, so we walk in Love
You're calling us out of ourselves to Love a world that's broken down
so we walk in Love
May 20, 2008
The most interesting part I see in this is:
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have een made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? [James 3:9-11]
We find it really easy to praise God, and we find it really easy to badmouth each other. One of the things my girls and I talked about tonight in small group is how people make "noise" by acting and claiming that they are Christians and turning around to gossip and talk about things they probably shouldn't be talking about. So instead of building each other up to become one body worshiping God, we create "noise" that tears us apart.
Step one: tame the tongue.
May 19, 2008
I find myself fighting a little bit more with the people I love the most (one in particular) lately. I just find myself being short and easily angered or annoyed. Then I end up snapping, which hurts someone else's feelings, which makes me feel like crap, and then no one wins. Nothing serious has happened lately, but my selfish desires in my heart don't build up a sense of peace and joy, they leave me empty and wanting. Things that don't even seem to relate to my anger have been causing me to fight. I try and I try, but I cannot have what I want.
You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
In all honesty, I haven't really been asking God for...much of anything lately. Haven't asked for peace, joy, strength, a better temperament. I haven't been asking Him for a lot of things I would do good to have. And if I do ask, it's not because I'm thinking of how I want God's glory to be displayed through my life or because I want to better serve those around me; it's because I'm uncomfortable and unhappy with the condition of my heart and I want to be happy.
You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?
I feel like the world and I have a great friendship lately. God and I? Not so much. I'm just really good at being lazy; at lowering my standards to this world's. I've always loved thinking of God as jealous of our love. It's easy to relate to and understand. I'm often jealous when the people I love would rather spend time with someone else. My God must miss me when I spend all my time with someone else.
Submit yourselves then to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your day to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
I just need to let go. To submit my life back to God where it belongs. Because in my hands, in the world's hands, I'm dying. The Bible makes it seem so simple. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Simple solution: if I would just make the effort. If I would just submit and do what He tells me and reach for Him, then He would reach for me, too. So easy, and so hard. Wash your hands. I like that. It's time to wash myself of my laziness and stubborn tendencies. Time to refuse to accept that I can go for weeks at a time without really hearing from God or making an effort to.
It's so funny, writing all of this makes me think of Jess and how I absolutely love her honesty and openness in her blog. I love her spirit about what God has done and is doing in her life. Her willingness to admit her struggles and her humility. And I especially love watching her worship on Sunday mornings while I'm on stage. I can always see her and she always looks free, and I envy that a little bit. I think of her because her blog is titled "Mourning into Dancing," and this passage tells us to humble ourselves by turning our laughter and happiness into grieving. But it's about submission to the only One who can lift us up because of it.
Submission and obedience are the problems I've had in the last year or 2, so it all fits together. Really all I could ask for right now is for God to give me an attitude of humility so that in the end, He could lift me up again.
May 16, 2008
I also don't have a real reason for this post except to say that I have been laughing with 4 of the most amazing people ever tonight. To the point that my stomach was starting to hurt in this last half hour. I'm not sure if it's the pure sugar found within fun dip (crappy lime utensils and all) or just the fact that right now we're allowed to not think about moving or school or jobs or anything else besides the movies we're quoting. I seriously can't remember the last I've gotten to laugh this hard. I'm not sure if I'm ruining it by actually typing it out, but I couldn't waste this. It's worth remembering to me. Amazing.
May 14, 2008
He's already gotten several facebook messages about his "old age," and I'm sure he'll get many more. But he's 26 today (and not extremely excited...except for escaping the draft. There's always a plus side). So for his birthday, here are some of the things I enjoy the most about Rob:
-His faith and his walk with God. Just in the past 6 months, I've seen him move, quit a job, spend months unemployed waiting for an answer and get another job. Not to say he hasn't struggled through some of those moves, but I've watched him remain solid in his faith that God has big things planned for his life.
-His story. He's been through some hard times, but he is one of the few people I know who is now able to brush things off and keep a positive, happy outlook on life. He's let God shape him into someone with an easygoing personality who doesn't really ever hold grudges and who handles hard times well, which definitely encourages me and helps me handle my struggles better.
-His sense of humor. This kid makes me laugh harder than almost anyone else I know (except maybe Michael and Jennica when they're together talking about the most ridiculous things). He's incredibly inappropriate sometimes, but I'm learning to deal with that haha.
-His heart to serve, especially children. Watching him work in Ekidz is awesome for me. Seeing the work and effort he puts into getting kids excited about coming to church is such a blessing. Hearing him get excited about his middle school small group is incredible, too. I know it will get harder for him to continue to serve to the same extent with his new job, but it's just another example of him being faithful to God.
-His attitude of encouragement. He's been a great source of positivity and encouragement in my life in the last 6 or 7 months. His ability to make people laugh is a source of encouragement in itself, and he does that often.
Trust me, there's more, but that's my best friend in a nutshell. He's encouraging, funny and full of energy; a LOT of energy. So Happy 26th Birthday to him. I hope it's a great one.
May 8, 2008
-Managed to get an awesomely horrible flat tire on the way here. But Phillip changed it and drove my car the rest of the way while I chilled with Anita and the girls (that helped me and my nerves more than they realize).
-Made it up here and hung out until Phillip spoke (on restoration, preservation and conservation. Pretty awesome, in my opinion. It only took me about 5 minutes to realize it would ridiculously beneficial to take some notes).
-This morning, Lolli, SG, Rylee and me went to a small park on Daniel Island. Completely threw off the girls' schedules by not eating until almost 2:30. Thankfully, Rylee is still sleeping (though I'm not sure how, considering we both woke up at 11 this morning).
I've got a constant headache (partially from hitting my head on a large, wooden, toy boat) and I'm pretty tired, but so far this trip is awesome.
May 6, 2008
But James 1.3-4 says that "the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything."
Which makes me realize that maybe I just haven't learned how to persevere yet. Maybe my faith just hasn't been tested to that level yet. It's discouraging for me to walk through life not understanding or feeling God's full love for me, but if I persevere, I might find it.
On a positive note, I get to go to Charleston this week with my "family." I'm excited to be a nanny for four days and spend some quality time with them while I still have the chance. Now if only I could just finish packing and get all of my crap out of my dorm room.
Goodbye, sophomore year.
May 5, 2008
This week I experienced exactly what my job is on Sunday mornings when I'm on stage. For warm-up, run through and all 4 services at Providence, my microphone was basically inaudible (don't ask why I didn't get it fixed). It might have been on a little bit. Maybe not; I really don't know. It doesn't matter. My point is that there was absolutely no point in me being on stage yesterday in terms of singing because no one heard me. But when I consider what my "job" is on Sunday mornings -- to simply worship and encourage and lead others to worship a phenomenal God -- I did exactly what I needed to.
There are times when I get so caught up in singing. I love singing and I feel like it's one of the most active gifts God has given me (as in, I use it and people see it and it's a working gift). I know I'm good at it, too. I'm glad yesterday was a lesson in humility for me in that. I'm glad that God uses us on Sunday mornings for more than just superficial showboating. And I'm glad that he can use low microphone volume to teach me a lesson in what it means to help lead worship.
April 29, 2008
Right before Acts 5.1-11, everyone is coming together. “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had…There were no needy persons among them” (4.32, 34a). People are selling their possessions and bringing the money back to the apostles so that they can distribute it to the people who need it. Then, chapter 5 starts of with a story of a man, Ananias, and his wife, Sapphira. Verses 1 and 2 say that they sold a piece of property and “with his wife’s knowledge, [Ananias] kept back part of the money for himself” and gave the rest to the apostles. When he gave the money to Peter, Peter called him out on lying about it, and the dude literally fell dead at his feet. Later, after they carry him out, Sapphira (who doesn’t know that her husband has died yet), comes in to Peter. He asks her if the money Ananias had given was the same amount of money he had received for his property, and she says yes. He calls her out just the same and she falls dead at his feet, too.
- I want to be a good wife someday. I do want to be submissive to my husband, and I want him to be able to lead me. However, I hope I’m the kind of wife who can call her husband to resist the sin and temptation he faces in order to help him through it rather than holding his hand and walking into it with him. Sapphira knew that her husband was holding back the money and she knew that he was going to lie to Peter, and she was fine with that. She helped him along, and she suffered for it. What got her is that she didn’t realize her husband had been called out and had died. She could have come clean and admitted her sin and been free, but she stuck with it and died with him.
- They weren’t punished for holding back the money. They were punished because they were deceitful and lied about it. By lying, they were trying to appear super generous when really they weren’t giving it all. They were trying to make themselves seem really pious, and they were doing it to be seen and noticed; for selfish gain. And Peter specifically says that Ananias had not lied to men, but to God.
- I just think it’s crazy that they died from lying. They tried to deceive the Holy Spirit and hold onto what did not belong to them, and they just dropped dead. There’s a story to tell your kids about lying…
April 28, 2008
(This doesn't have much to do with my main point, but I liked it. A Pharisee named Gamaliel gets up and explains that there have been a couple people in the past that have appeared and attempted a revolt, but they were killed and their followers dispersed. He convinces them to just let it be because "if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God." The verse itself is really good, but with the examples before it, it's freaking awesome. I could do more on that, but that's not my point).
After that, "the apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name." I laughed at this. I think it's great. I can just pictures a group of 20-something year old guys walking out of an intense situation laughing with each other, high-fiving and talking about how crazy life is sometimes. Acts is full of their first experiences where they were really living like Christ. They were really putting themselves out there and risking persecution for it. And they were so excited when it happened because they knew they were continuing the work Jesus had started. I think a part of it was the whole guy thing where they don't mind getting into potentially life-threatening, adrenaline-filled situations as long as the come out of them alive and triumphant. The message remix says that "they had been given the honor of being dishonored on account of the Name." The honor of being dishonored. I love it.
I just think it's really amazing that these guys are fully learning how to live for Christ and how to put themselves out there in order to preach the Gospel, and they're kind of excited about having their lives threatened. Jesus told them they would be persecuted in their name because if He was persecuted, were they any better? He told them this would happen, and it did. And now they're excited to see that Jesus was right, but He has left the Holy Spirit and with all of that knowledge, they continue to carry on with joy.
April 22, 2008
I'm very limited in my scope of how big God is. I need to attach human characteristics all of the time in order to understand Him. I feel like sometimes I do keep Him in a box, but I need to start small with examples from my life to remember His love for me. (And that was my disclaimer so that no one thinks that I view Rob as equal to God in my life. That said,) Jesus' love for me is like my best friend's multiplied by a million. Jesus knows the things about me that even I've forgotten. He's heard every blasphemous, hateful, curse word-ridden thought I've ever had. He knows my deepest fears and my strongest doubts against Him. He sees my insecurities and my insufficiencies. He's seen me lie, cheat and steal. But somehow, at the end of the day--in a way I'll never understand--He still loves me as His daughter. He still speaks to the potential within me rather than dwelling on my flaws. He knows that I'm growing and that one day I will overcome the things that hold me back from Him. So I'm still trying to put God's love for me into perspective. And even aside from Rob(ert), I have plenty of people who show me that small fraction of what God's love for me is like. I just need to take all of that and learn how to magnify it, understand it and embrace it.
April 21, 2008
In my opinion, singing is something that God taught me more directly. Neither of my parents are incredibly musically inclined. They surrounded me with a lot of music when I was little and they encouraged me, at least. And I was in chorus from 3rd to 12th grade, so obviously that did something. But for the most part, singing is an innate ability. I think I like it better that I can't really give credit to anyone but God for it. And that amplifies it's meaning to me. Because singing is something weirdly personal for me. I rarely sing in public like I do when I'm by myself. I don't like singing in front of small groups of people because I'm afraid of seeing their reactions up close. I can't explain it, but it's just...my own, and I have a hard time sharing it sometimes.
My point is that we're taught certain things by the people God has put in our lives. We're taught by the situations God puts us in. We're taught by a lot of things a lot of times, but sometimes God does it by Himself.
April 19, 2008
In John 20:10-18, Jesus has died and has been put in the tomb. Mary and some of the disciples have already been there and discovered that He is gone. The disciples leave and Mary stands outside Jesus' tomb crying. As she's crying, she looks in the tomb and sees two angels standing where His body was. They ask her why she's crying, and she explains that Jesus is gone and she doesn't know where His body is. As soon as she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, except she didn't recognize Him. So He asks her why she's crying and who she's looking for. Thinking He's the gardener, she asks Him if He has taken the body. And then...maybe the most amazing, intimate, beautifully simple verse I've read in a really long time:
Jesus said to her,"Mary."
And instantly she recognizes Him. Without hesitation, she realizes that He is Jesus, her Teacher, her Lord. I'm not sure yet how to explain why this affects me the way it does, but I think it's wonderful. She's crying and crying because her hope has died on the cross and she can't even see and take care of His body. I'm sure seeing 2 angels was pretty unbelievable for her, but all she wanted to do was figure out where Jesus was.
And then He shows up (because He always does), but she can't recognize Him. Not yet. Not until He calls her specifically by name. He doesn't have to yell. He doesn't have to fight. He doesn't have to do anything extreme. He says her name, and that's it. She's done. In my head, this moment is extremely intimate and personal. He doesn't have to shout. In my head, He barely breathes her name. But in that breath, her eyes are opened and she sees the Teacher for who He is, and I can just imagine the peace she has in that moment.
In my struggle to view Jesus has a personal entity in my life, I feel like maybe I'm looking at Him all the time. Maybe I'm staring right at Him without recognizing Him. But I'm just waiting for Him to say my name in one breath that wakes me up and floods my heart with peace. I'm just waiting for Him to say my name.
April 18, 2008
Lately, God has been putting it on my heart to think deeper about the idea of Love. I've started reading the Ragamuffin Gospel, which is phenomenal. I really just want to get it through my thick skull that God has already saved me, He already loves me and He has called me to Love. Jesus loved the outcasts. He loved everyone. We're called to love everyone. Aside from that, I'm still going through John. 13:34-35 says
[a new command I give you: Love one another. as I have Loved you, so you must Love one another. by this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you Love one another]
and on top of that, we've started reading "On Religion" by John Caputo in my religion class. The first chapter is just on God and Love in general.
One of my favorite lines so far is "if Love is the measure, the only measure of Love is Love without measure." And it's about loving without holding anything back. About loving unconditionally and beyond mediocrity. We put boundaries on our love without even realizing it. We have extremely high standards for the people we love. It's easy to love our best friends, but much harder to love the people we think are weird (even though we're just as weird). "The mark of really loving someone or something is unconditionality and excess, engagement and commitment, fire and passion. Its opposite is a mediocre fellow, neither hot nor cold, moderate to the point of mediocrity." And I'm reminded that the opposite of love isn't hate, it's indifference. When we really love, we throw ourselves into something. We commit and we commit with passion. When we don't love, we don't care.
And then it comes full circle back to God in 1 John 4:7-8 -- "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love...God is love and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them."
Loving each other is loving God. Love is God. God is Love. Ok, I can't help myself. One more quote:
"As Love is the first name of God, "of God" is also the best name we have for those who Love."
I'm sorry. I feel like I could have split all of that up and unpacked each part and made this blog worthwhile, but this is all I have for now. God is Love, and He has called us to love in His name.
April 15, 2008
Exciting, I know. Anyways, here are some things going on:
-Rob and I went to see Wicked this past weekend at Ovens (thanks Bradelyn). It was an awesome show. I've been listening and dancing around to the soundtrack since Friday.
-School is quickly coming to a close and I'm freaking out. No job, no place to live (if you have a spare room in your house, I might be moving in with you very soon). Should be an exciting beginning to the summer.
-I'm back on stage this week, and we're doing "Sing Your Praises Out" which I think I can safely say is my favorite song from our guys.
-Also, Clemson's FCA band is traveling up here to Winthrop tonight to lead worship for our FCA. Considering the last time our own students led worship for FCA and made it painfully obvious that they hadn't practiced or prepared one bit, I'm super excited to have a band who is willing to put excellence into worship. Elevation has ruined me in that sense; I'm very thankful.
-Aaaaaand...that's all I've got.
It's a lame week in the blogging world for me.
April 9, 2008
One of the types of Theodicy we talked about was the Appeal to Sovereignty. Anyone else who spoke up about this type of theodicy argued that this was the least satisfying of all of the types. They felt that it left too much room for chance and didn't provide instant gratification. The funny thing is that this type was the most satisfying to me because it requires the most faith. I believe that I serve a God who is good, all-knowing and all-powerful. Therefore, I believe in a God that uses our shortcomings and weakness and disabilities to show His glory through our lives. The problem of suffering is no problem at all if it displays His power, His strength and His beauty through us.
If the man had not been born blind (if he did not have a problem that was seemingly impossible to fix), then Jesus would not have had to work that miracle in his life and God's glory would not have been displayed in that specific way in that man's life.
April 7, 2008
"Jesus said, 'If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' They answered him, 'We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?'"
It's so funny to me because half the time we don't even realize we're not free. These guys are kind of offended that Jesus would claim they are slaves. They're obviously much better than that. But really...they're not. We're not. Jesus offers us freedom, but we won't take it sometimes because we don't even realize how trapped we are by our sin. It reminds me of what Pastor said about our disabilities. Jesus asks us "Do you want to get well?" And we are offended that He would even ask such a question. Until we realize that we've been hiding behind those disabilities and letting them become our facade. Jesus tells us that we could be free, and we are offended that He would even imply that we were not already. Jesus goes on to say that whoever has sinned is a slave to that sin. We are slaves through and through. If we were not, we would not sin. But still, Jesus offers us freedom every day.
You would think with the word written permanently on my wrist, I would remember to take that freedom more often. You would think that I would get tired of being held captive by my sins and that I would learn how to get over myself and let Jesus set me free and make me well.
P.S. Lee McDerment's cd is phenomenal. As good as it is, it just makes me more excited about Elevation's cd coming out. We went back and recorded some extra crowd vocals today, and it was awesome. The very small amount we heard off of it blew me away. I'm so thankful to have the guys we have who have worked so hard on this. It's going to be great.