6.3.2013- Music again
Just acquired a bunch of new music that I highly recommend:
- We Won’t Be Shaken (Building 429)
- Love Does (Brandon Heath)
- Promises (Sanctus Real) [Act fast! I got it free on klove.com]
- Words (Hawk Nelson)
- What Are You Waiting For (Shawn McDonald)
- Somebody Tell Them (City Harbor)
- Holy Spirit (Bryan & Katie Torwalt)
- Strangely Dim (Francesca Battistelli)
That’s the whole post for today, but click the links and check them out :) They are very encouraging
Tbh, I’m feeling just the tiniest bit envious of my friends this summer who have grand plans. Whether it’s internships in New York City, serving the Lord in one of several places with various programs (Disney World, Mexico, Sweden, Charleston, Chicago, Santa Cruz, Kenya, Durham, NYC), studying abroad, camp-counselor-ing, or even taking classes for their major, I feel like everyone else has a purpose for this summer.
I am incredibly blessed to know such awesome people who are literally taking the Gospel to the nations this summer. Even in places like New York or Disney, people from all over the world will be touched by the message my friends are sharing this summer.
I am so proud of each one of them and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for them.
But I also feel like my summer is a little bit purposeless. I’m going abroad for the Fall semester and I’ll need some of this summer to prepare for that: getting my visa (complicated), applying for housing, figuring out what to pack, etc. I’m also working, earning money that I can hopefully use to travel around Europe and maximize my experience there.
Am I disappointed that I decided not to go to Santa Cruz this summer with Campus Crusade? Yes. It was the right decision, but that doesn’t mean I’m not bummed. California seems much more exciting than my hometown.
On the other hand, I think there are some important things I can get out of this summer? For instance
- strengthening my relationship with God despite the scattering of my college community
- showing the people in my normal, everyday life what Christianity really is (including my family)
- realizing that my situation is unique and instrumental to God’s plan, both for me and for His kingdom, even if it seems boring and unfruitful to me
I have other plans for this summer of course: learn to cook, try to exercise some, get through 9 seasons of supernatural and read some books, finish my Bible-in-a-year challenge, etc.
Hopefully, this summer will prepare me not only to be apart from my community when I’m thousands of miles away in Europe, but also to depend on God for that kind of strength after I graduate.
I refuse to let this fire in my heart fizzle.
4.28.2013- My Story
For a long time, I thought my testimony wasn’t that special or impressive because most of the changes that God made in me- and makes in me every single day- are internal.
The darkest, ugliest parts of me are more often than not heart problems, and not behavioral ones.
I went to the same church from the womb to high school graduation. Much of my extended family goes there, and they are all really involved, and so was I. But not for the right reasons.
I always took a lot of pride in being the “good kid,” especially when my brother was notoriously difficult. I was the easy one- I made friends easily, learning came easily and naturally, and I usually followed the rules. I mean, I was no angel, but I tried to be. I wanted to please my parents (and God) so badly that it’s what I tried to find my identity in.
I remember as a kid, I wanted to please God so I tried to read my Bible. I got through Genesis 1 and either got bored or got distracted and gave up. Another time, I thought God wanted me to only eat fish and bread (like when Jesus fed the 5,000), but I didn’t like fish so I thought I was only going to eat bread for the rest of my life. That didn’t fly with my mom.
In middle school and high school, I started going to youth group things, and often they would end in an altar call. I didn’t go up to the front because I didn’t want anyone to know I wasn’t a good Christian, but every time I would pray that prayer in my heart and hope that maybe this time it would stick. Maybe this time something would be different.
But it never was.
I wasn’t willing to let God infiltrate my week; I wanted to confine Him to Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights.
I wanted to hold on to the idols in my life and fit God in around them, rather than being changed and letting go of things I thought I needed to be valuable- my boyfriend, extracurricular activities, grades- so that I could become more like God.
College changed everything for me.
For the first time, I wasn’t the big fish in the small pond. I didn’t have my family there or a whole lot of friends (though I had a few quality ones), and a few months in, I didn’t have my boyfriend anymore. I didn’t have a routine. Nothing was comfortable, and I started leaning more on God.
At the same time, I was meeting people who lived their faith every day in visible ways. You could see how much they love Jesus. That kind of faith was no longer a fantasy for me; it was real and I could see it.
I still struggle with my pride every day. I am constantly being humbled and I know I have God to thank for that, but it’s not a problem that has been overcome, and I don’t think the process of refining me to be more like Him will ever be complete.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” (NIV) Philippians 2:3-4
Praise be to God, who reigns above all and is perfect and blameless, who looked upon me as a sinner and claimed me as His own!
4.4.2013- Jesus, Take the Wheel
I have this issue where I feel like I need to control everything all the time. I need to control what I do, and when I do it so that I don’t overschedule myself or procrastinate too much. I need to control what I say and how I say it and when I say it so that I don’t offend people. I need to control my grades, my clothes, my food, everything.
If it’s not just right, it’s wrong.
That’s why it’s so hard for me to give areas of my life over to God. I don’t trust anyone to meet my standards except myself.
Not that other people aren’t wonderful and talented and way smarter than me, but no matter what the project is, sometimes I don’t ask for help or take on too big a load simply because I have this insane notion that unless I am involved it won’t turn out well.
Ridiculous, I know.
I’m working on it.
But tonight, I was thinking about this one family birthday party I went to. I was about 13, i guess… old enough to ride in the front seat of the car, but not in high school yet.
I had ridden with my dad over to my grandparents’ house, and it was just me and him. Anyways, he started to feel really sick and vomtastic and decided it was time to go home.
So I went and got in the car with him and I remember him saying to me, “If I start getting sick, whatever you do, DON’T TAKE THE WHEEL.”
Now, this seemed so strange to me at the time. Like, I’m in middle school and terrified to start driving and terrified that you’re going to vomit on me… taking the wheel is about the LAST thing I would ever do in that situation. In fact, if I saw him vomiting, I probably would have hurled.
Looking back on it, however, I realized 2 things:
- My dad, suffering from this same issue, was so concerned about control that in a potentially very dangerous situation- the driver having lost control of the vehicle and of his own body- he felt (and rightly so) that he was the only one who could navigate such a situation. At least, the only one available. Between a vomiting driver and a freaked-out thirteen-year-old who had zero experience driving, I would probably go with the ill one too.
- God is not a freaked-out thirteen-year-old with no experience behind the wheel. God created the universe. God created me. And yet somehow, I think I can drive better than he can?
I try to run my own life and I feel like I’m drowning, choking, gasping for air.
Compared to the Creator, I feel like that thirteen-year-old sitting in the passenger seat. Or even worse, like the little child in the backseat with a fake steering wheel of my own.
I turn and turn that steering wheel and I don’t get anywhere.
God is a better driver than I will ever be. His plan for my life surpasses anything I can imagine, and I just need to trust that if I let go, He will be there to take the wheel for me, and He will take me somewhere better than I would ever find on my own.
I am insecure.
Often, and to great degree.
I see girls in pictures and in real life and I envy them, for their hair or their skin or their body shape or simply for the air of confidence they carry with them. I am constantly comparing myself to others, constantly degrading myself for not looking like them.
Proverbs 31:10-30 has a lot to say about the ideal woman. Check it out. And Song of Songs has a few juicy verses about beauty as well.
I’m going to turn to Luke instead.
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.” (NIV) Luke 19:1-3
Being short in this day and age is not really something any of my girl friends look for in a man. It’s not the ideal body type, and I’m sure it wasn’t back then either.
But Zacchaeus didn’t let his physical limitations stop him from trying to see Jesus, nor did it stop Jesus from seeing him.
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” (NIV) 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
There is nothing wrong with wanting a healthier body. God instructs us to take care of the bodies He created for us.
The thing is, God can be glorified through bodies of every shape and size. Our bodies don’t place limits on our relationship with God, and they don’t place limits on God’s love for us.
What is wrong is when we place physical, worldly beauty above our relationship with God; when we hold the world’s opinion of us in higher esteem than God’s opinion of us.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” (NIV) 1 Samuel 16:7
Where magazines show us what beautiful bodies are supposed to look like, the Bible shows us what a beautiful heart is supposed to look like.
It’s not an easy thing, and it’s something I struggle with every single day.
Father, help me see others as you see them: constructed by you and beautiful at heart. Help me to see myself that way too, instead of criticizing your handiwork.
The label of “Christian” has meant very different things over the years.
In the first days of Christianity, it meant traitors, heretics, and zealots. Lawbreakers. Then when the Roman Emperor made Christianity not only legal, but the norm, it meant a complete revolution in the way people thought about Christians. Instead of a marginalized group founded on ideals, it began to encompass a much broader group of people. From the Crusades to colonization/Imperialism to the Holocaust, a lot of major world changes have occurred in the name of Christianity, as have many great and horrible things.
These days, it means very different things to different people. To some, Christianity means being a hypocritical stick in the mud who looks down on everyone and hate anyone who doesn’t fit our mold. To others, Christianity means something you do for an hour on Sunday mornings, but doesn’t affect your day-to-day life.
What does it really mean to be a Christian? It means standing up for what you believe in and giving every area over to God’s authority every day. It means truly understanding the magnitude of what Jesus did for each and every one of us on the cross, and responding to that by extending His love to everyone around us. It’s not rule-following, it’s gratitude.
It’s difficult to discern who is a true follower of Christ and who isn’t. We should be able to see the fruit of a relationship with Him in people’s lives, but it’s not always clear. For one thing, we have absolutely no clue what is going on in people’s hearts. For another thing, we are all human and make mistakes constantly.
“How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (NIV) Matthew 7:4-5
The bottom line is, it isn’t my place to judge that. Despite my snap judgments, often reinforced by the opinions of others, my job is to love them as God loves them.
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” (NIV) Hebrews 3:13
“‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’
Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’” (NIV) Matthew 22:36-40
1.13.2013- More Music
O FOUNT OF LOVE
1 John 3:1
O fount of love divine that flows
from my saviors bleeding side
Where sinners trade their filthy rags
for His righteousness applied
Mercy cleansing every stain
now rushing o’er us like a flood
There the wretch and vilest ones
stand adopted through His blood
O mount of grace to thee we cling
from the law hath set us free
Once and for all on calvary’s hill
love and justice shall agree
Praise the Lord! the price is paid
the curse defeated by the Lamb
We who once were slaves by birth,
sons and daughters now we stand
O well of joy is mine to drink
for my Lord hath conquered death
the ancient foe is laid to rest
Hallelujah, Christ is King!
alive and reigning on the throne
Our tongues employed with hymns of praise,
Glory be to God alone!
12.31.2012- Finding Strength
December 31 is always pretty interesting because it’s usually a day when we stop and think about the year that just passed and the road that lies ahead of us. Or at least I do.
Idk, I just took this Jung Test that tells you what your personality is (though I am dubious due to my own inability to answer some of the questions to my liking, plus the fact that it’s on the internet rather than administered by a psychologist). One of the traits it singled out for me was that I am very introspective, and this post is going to hold true to that.
2012 was a really great and hard year for me in a lot of ways. I got baptized (yay!) and made the Dean’s List at school, I got my first job, traveled overseas for the first time, and grew a lot in my relationship with God. On the other hand, for every step forward I took in my walk with God, it felt like I took two steps back. God has consistently revealed to me my selfishness, which has humbled me hugely this year. I’ve realized how hard it is to be a Christian, struggling with the way my personal beliefs conflict with those of some of the people I’m closest to, and struggling with finding my place at school.
So I’m sitting here in my room, being all introspective and reading the Bible, and I come across a story in the Bible that I don’t think I’ve ever heard or read before.
David is on the run from Saul, who is trying to kill David out of jealousy and fear that David will take from him the throne. He fled to the land where the Philistines lived and stayed with them for a year, knowing that Saul wouldn’t chase him there because the Philistines were, well, scary. So David goes off somewhere and leaves all the non-adult males in his family/caravan/tribe at home, and the Amalekites come and kidnap them and all other (Philistine) women/children around. Meanwhile, the Philistine rulers realize that David is this mighty warrior for Saul and send him away, thinking he’s a double agent.
“David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel.David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God.” (NIV) 1 Samuel 30:5-6
Everything David has known- his family, his security, the trust of the people he’d lived among for an entire year- is gone, and now they’re threatening his life because the Philistines think he brought this upon them.
So it’s safe to say that David was having a bad year.
But the Bible says that David found strength in the Lord… and then he went on to get his family back and become the most renowned king of Israel ever.
This story tells me two things:
- The Lord should be my strength. It is hard to be a Christian. It’s possibly the hardest thing I’ll ever do, but if I lean on God, He’ll get me through it.
- It gets better. Trusting in the Lord leads to rewards beyond my comprehension. When Saul offered his daughter to David for marriage, David said, “Who am I… that I should become the king’s son-in-law?” (NIV) 1 Sam 18:18. He couldn’t even fathom being related (by marriage) to the king, much less sitting on the throne himself. He couldn’t fathom the rewards God would lead him to for his faithfulness. I’m not saying I will get a throne, or even that I deserve one, but I know that the future will be better because I will be closer to God in it.