Sunday, January 30, 2011

They Exchanged The Truth Of God

I have been meditating on Romans 1:25 for a week now, working it over my mind, tongue, and heart. It says:

They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is blessed forever.

When we worship something other than the Lord God Almighty, we are worshiping a false god, a lie. This can be our jobs, our money, our sports, or even less tangible things like our pride our self. This isn't the part that was hard for me to get. I really didn't know why God was asking me to look into this verse. I was kind of thinking, "Hey. I've got this. I understand. I don't get it right all the time, but I know what You're saying here"

And that's when I figured it out. The fact that I get this wrong is what I needed to think about. God is good and true and faithful and wants what's best for us. So the question is, WHY would we ever exchange that for something artificial? Later in the chapter, it says that those same people who decided to worship creation and not Creator are filled with envy. murder, deceit and disputes; it says they invent evil and are untrustworthy and unloving (Romans 1:29-31). That sounds exactly like what I try to avoid. So how it it that we begin to love these lies enough to sacrifice God?

Eric Ludy gave a sermon on January 16th called the Auschwitz Within, and he outlined just how we do that. First, we trifle with sin, we meditate on the forbidden. We're not touching the fruit, we're just looking at it. But to do that we have to step further and further away from God, so at some point we're not close enough to love Him anymore. Then, we start loving what we should hate. We justify our sin, saying that the outcome will be fun and exciting, or that we're not as bad as that other guy over there. We are no longer simply in love with that lie, we actually believe it. We say that even though we're doing wrong, we're accomplishing good, and suddenly wrong becomes right. And then we wonder why we find ourselves struggling in our walks with God. There's a reason Paul refers to this world as perverted(Philippians 2:15).

How easy it is to let ourselves get distracted. We are essentially ignoring God when we choose something other than Him. We cannot have both. We cannot have Truth and a lie live in our hearts at the same time, because Jesus Christ is the Truth (John 14:6). Once we decide to worship that lie, we move Jesus out of the number one place. We don't mean to do it, but it's a series of steps that we take until we find ourself swallowed in sin and lies. And there's a lot to get lost in.

Lord, help us to remember to have no other gods before You. I thank You for helping me understand why I sin, and the ways I justify it until I'm so far from You that the lie starts to look good. I thank You for the truth that is the Gospel, and the Christ came down to save me from the sinful choices I make. I praise You for being so good and honest and true, and I pray that You would hold me near to the light. Amen.

Do not have other gods besides Me. Exodus 20:3

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable - if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise - dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Do Not Fear

This post is really for me; I don't know if anyone will get anything out of it or not, but it's something I have to write.

Today was an extremely long day. I only slept a few hours after having been up for 22, so already my mental state was not so strong. Add to that a disturbing video (Crash) without any debriefing and anyone would be exhausted. But I had to go pole vault, and I was going to be doing my full approach for the first time since May at conference. At that meet, I had one of my most terrifying pole vault accidents of all time, that brought me spinning uncontrollably through the air until my helmet hit the track - I had missed the mats completely. This would be traumatic enough, but just a few hours later a fellow competitor had a similar accident that ended up being fatal. A few days later when I was safe at home, I received a phone call that told me he had passed away. Today is the day I realized I'd never dealt with the impact this had on me.

Even though I knew I'd be ok - for every accident I've had, I've done two thousand normal vaults - the second I moved back on the runway it was like being there all over again. I was spinning through the air, unaware of where I was. I saw him on the ground, seizing. I was back at the hotel, praying for acceptance, comfort, and healing. And I was sitting in my room, listening to the words without really understanding what they meant, "Kate, he didn't make it". I would take two steps and pull off, my body trembling under the weight of fear. Even right now, I close my eyes and that's all I can see - the blue, blue sky as I laid in a crumpled mess on the track, the body being held down and rushed to the hospital under that same blue, blue sky.

I asked God to show me what I was supposed to learn, to make me understand. I recalled what Isaiah 41 says:

Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid. For I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand. For I, the Lord your God, hold your hand and say to you: Do not fear (v.10, 13).

The very fact that God says "do not fear" tells me that He knows my first instinct is to do just that. But my Dad is telling me He's going to take care of me. He never says that I will do anything. He says that He will help; He will hold my hand.

For so long, I've been praying for God to change me, to break me down until I can't move without Him, to make me in the image of His Son Jesus Christ. I have seen Him changing me, but this was a big step. It's so wonderful to have a God who answers prayer and takes my pleas so seriously, but it's also incredibly challenging. He's God! Nothing is too much for Him! Though I was so aware and sure of what I was asking for, and that the Lord would hear me, I find myself unprepared to deal with the answers. But maybe that was the point. Maybe God has to take me further than I think I'm ready to go. He knocked me down much more than I realized I wanted, because He needs me to be nothing; He needs to transform me from the ground up.

Even Christ, who was equal with God, became one of us, a bunch of people with not a whole lot going for us. But unlike us, Jesus did it right. He wasn't afraid. He reached for God when God reached for Him. He submitted Himself to His Father's sovereignty. And that's how it should be. When we have nothing, God should be enough. I don't have the will or the strength or the courage to go off and do this on my own, to be my own person and soar to new heights. But the Lord has all of that in their most pure definitions. And I am His.

God, You are so so so good. You know me so much better than I could ever know myself. You knew exactly what I needed and how broken I needed to be. I thank You for meeting me here, at this point where I am stuck without You. It is by the grace of Your hand that I can move forward. I thank You for Jesus, for by His wounds I am healed and made new. He tore the veil of sin that separated me from You. It is in His blood that I reach out to You and am given the privilege to walk by Your side. I can't get over the love You felt to do that, and how badly You want to lead me and make me the person You've always wanted me to be. I am ready, Father. Not by my strength or my might, but by Your Spirit, grace, and truth. I will take each step acknowledging that I have absolutely no power and that I am walking solely in You. It's in Jesus' name I pray, Amen.

Look, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is anything too difficult for Me? Jeremiah 32:27

Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.Because I, your God, have a firm grip on you and I'm not letting go. I'm telling you, 'Don't panic. I'm right here to help you.' Isaiah 41:10, 13 (The Message)

My Father's House

It's 2:30am. I should be asleep, but I can't. I spent the last three hours or so volunteering to try to count the homeless population of Beloit. I was part of the walking team, so we bundled up and hit the streets, looking to offer shelter and care packages to those in need. I wasn't surprised we didn't find anyone - I've done this before. What did surprise me is how intensely it hit me.

When I participated last year, I was at a different place in my relationship with God. I'd read different books and He'd been working me through different verses. So naturally, I'd learned and felt different things.

Tonight, Jesus' last words from Matthew came to mind, particularly the piece where He calls on us to go to all of the earth (28:19-20). I thought of chapter 4, where He simply says "Follow Me". Those verses are tied together. He came to earth, told us to follow, and then showed us the way. As we searched in all the nooks and crannies, shining flashlights and going to places I don't even realize existed, I was overwhelmed by the sense that this was what following Jesus looked like for me, right then in that moment. These were the ends of the earth I was covering - under bridges, by dumpsters, in the bars, around corners that led to closed off sections.

Less than two miles from campus, we found an encampment under a bridge; it was organized and had sleeping bags, clothes, and even a bag for garbage. We were told that those people were probably out at the bar and would return just to go to sleep. The men in charge told us that they had once encountered a twenty year old guy there; someone who would blend in at my school was sleeping under a bridge in -20 degree weather. It stole my breath away. I knew that I would shortly be returning to a nice warm bed that I would sleep in before waking up to go to school and carry on business as usual. What if his normal were my normal?

We headed back to campus to talk a little bit about what we'd experienced. One volunteer said he used to be homeless, and I wrote his reflections in my journal, "When I was in their shoes, I wish there had been someone looking for me" What a statement. Everyone wants to feel a part of something; everyone wants to know that they have value and that they mean something to someone, that even one person cares about them.

And that's when I got thinking. How many verses are there about the Lord being a shelter or place of protection? Dozens! Without Christ, we are the homeless. We have nowhere to go, and we are aching to be loved and accepted. While the homeless lack resources, or perhaps it's hard times, mental illness, disability, or drug/alcohol problems that keep them from being lifted up, we are dripping with our sin. We want to be loved by God, but a fair God can't ignore this problem of sin we have. So He sent His Son to die, to make a way for us to know the love of a Father. In Christ, the Lord welcomes us into His enormous house, and we get to be part of His family.

We can't pay our Savior back for anything He gave us. But we can listen. We can be obedient and take His words seriously. We can answer when He says "Follow"; we can go to the forgotten corners of our worlds. And we can welcome our neighbors who have nowhere to go into His house.

You have been a refuge for the poor, a refuge for the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat. Isaiah 25:4

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

One Letter Changes Everything

I have little trouble admitting that I can be a stubborn control freak with trust issues. And for those of you reading who haven't known me my whole life, I used to be a lot worse! The problem comes when it comes to letting God change that. Control is the last thing I want to give up. I would do insane gymnastics moves but be afraid of even the smallest roller coaster - because I had no control over it.

So when a friend told me about palms down palms up prayer back in November, I listened to her experiences, but it wasn't something I could do. I could say I wanted to let go, and tell the Lord to change me, but the physical representation would be far too much for me. For those of you who don't know, you put your palms down, releasing anything you're holding on to. Then, when you're ready, you turn your palms up and let God give you His joy and peace.

A few days ago, I realized that this was where my relationship with Christ was leading me. I was going to have to give up. So when I rose at 5, I gathered my Bible, journal, soft music, and coffee mug, and went downstairs. I had a lot on my mind; there's a lot going on in this world, and as much as it upsets me, I can't control it or even do that much right now. So I put my hands out in front of me, palms down and told God what was going on in my heart. I sat for a few moments before I was ready to flip my hands over. Letting go had been easier than I thought. It was the letting God that was the hard part.

I got to thinking about how He'd been waiting for this very day my whole life, of all the steps He's had to watch me take - often two forward with one back, or at times, even one forward and six backward. He'd already set me free through Jesus Christ - almost 2,000 years ago. He's been working on me for that long. And here I was, so stubborn and afraid to let Him do what He's had planned forever.

So I turned my palms over. My descriptions of how I felt will never do it justice. But I can say, it was a flooding of the most sincere joy and peace one can ever feel. I felt my heart filling up so that it was almost overflowing with the love of a Savior. I let go, and let God. It was saying that I can't, and then asking for help. I need to do this daily, to die and to be saved from myself.

Therefore I will look unto the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me. Micah 7:7

I affirm by the pride in you that I have in Christ Jesus our Lord: I die every day! 1 Corinthians 15:31

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Coolest Thing...

That's ever happened to me at a track meet:

I am so blessed to be competing in college athletics, and love my teammates dearly - there is certainly no team like ours! But there is one thing I always feel a longing for. My whole career as a YMCA gymnast, we prayed before the competition began. And my entire high school track team would stand and pray together before our meets, a circle of girls linked in Christ. I pray on my own the evening before a meet, for teams traveling before I wake up, I pray as I awake, as our own team steps on the bus, and as warm-ups and competition begin. But I miss standing with my team in prayer.

God knows this, and I prayed about it for quite some time without seeing anything happen. Well this weekend, at the first meet of the season, I had forgotten about those prayers, and as we arrived on the scene my memories flooded back. After our team did our customary warm-up prior to competition’s start, I began to prepare to quiet myself in the Lord’s presence.

Before I could, though, someone from another school came over to me. He seemed a slightly nervous and a little uncertain, and I wasn’t sure what was going on. He said, “Um I think you’re the one I’m supposed to talk to…a bunch of was were going to pray over the meet and maybe you want to join us?” Wow, God! I couldn’t believe what was happening! Our group held hands and prayed over all of the competitors and thanked the Lord for the ways He’s blessed us, and for being who He is. I thanked them with a sincere heart for listening to the Spirit’s conviction even though it was awkward to approach a complete stranger.

We don’t often compete against this school; I don’t know if I’ll see these students again, or if a similar experience will ever occur, but God used this in my life as a learning experience I never want to forget. Their obedience to the Lord brought about an invaluable lesson. What I had hated most about praying in quiet solitude was feeling like I was alone. I longed for that sense of community, of being united by the bonds of Christ. God showed me that I am not alone. I never have been and never will be. The Church is one big community of believers striving to show the deep love of Jesus on this earth, and in it, we are constantly surrounded by the Holy Spirit working within each and every one of us. The Lord has never left us; He works through those, like that guy, who are willing to act with bold obedience.

And this was an enormous testament of God's faithfulness in my life. His ears are always open, and He is always ready to provide for us when the time is right. He could have answered my prayers in a different way in a different time but He chose this way because He's been preparing my heart for it and wanted me to really appreciate His gifts for all they are.

God, You are so good to provide. I can't thank You enough for the ways You remind me of Your presence in my life. My deep love and sincere gratitude leave me lifting my hands in praise to You, the King. Amen

In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me. Psalm 120:1


I was listening to the song "Listen" by Josh Wilson, and I began to think of verses about silence...Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10), Quiet yourself and wait expectantly for the Lord (Psalm 37:7).

The word silence comes from a Latin word meaning “stop”. "Stop" is very different from the ways I've thought about silence. I realized that the most silent moments in history spoke volumes, and that loud last words brought silence over an entire people.

“It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three, because the sun’s light failed. The curtain of the sanctuary was split down the middle. And Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into Your hands I entrust My spirit’. Saying that, He breathed His last” (Luke 23:44-46).

The world was stopped by darkness, and quieted by Christ's death, so loud, so shaking. I began thinking about my life; I have an excitingly blessed adventure going for me, and my days are filled with motion. But it is in the silence, the stopping times, that I hear what God is saying. It is then that I can really appreciate the noise. When I stop moving, quit scrambling to have it all figured out, the Lord shows me He is speaking volumes just as clearly and loudly as my life. I'm just looking in the wrong direction.

Lord, Teach me to recognize Your presence. Let me stop and bow in the wonder of Your name, this great mystery that is loud in the silences, and silences the loudness. I want more of You, God. Through Jesus, Amen

But the Lord is in His holy temple; let everyone on earth be silent in His presence. Habakkuk 2:20

Let all people be silent before the Lord, for He is coming from His holy dwelling. Zechariah 2:13

Friday, January 21, 2011

God Is Everywhere

Something I'm sure we know, but don't necessarily live in recognition of constantly. I want to, but I can't say that I do.

In the bathroom at my house, we have little magnetic letters that people use to form words or phrases. Today, I noticed someone had written the words "my fear box". In that moment, I felt the Lord's Spirit pulling on my heart. I turned the phrase over and over in my soul, and felt the ways that God has taken care of and provided for me.

I wrote a very short poem based on these sentiments:

I think my fear-box has a hole

Things at night I put away
I cannot find come day.

I think my joy-box has a soul

The blessings that I count and know
Always seem to grow.

Even when I'm not consciously aware of it, the cross of Christ is etched onto my heart and every moment of my life.

It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. Psalm 18:32

Snowball Effect

The Lord has taught me something today that seems like it should have been so obvious. I've always been sure that we can never know what impact we're going to have on someone - when you care about how they're doing, when you stand up for Christ in class or at work - but we do it because that's what God has called us to do. He doesn't use us because He needs us, or because we're worthy of the call He's predestined us for; no our Father uses us because he chooses to. He knows we're broken and in need of healing, and really can't do anything. But God wants to restore us, and sometimes He does that by working through us to restore others.

What the Lord led me to today was how praying for one person isn't just praying for one life. That life has the opportunity to hurt or heal so many others. It has friends, family, and random strangers who might be needing some grace right now too. So by praying for one person, we're really praying for everyone they'll ever meet as well. As I thought about this, I realized how daunting it seems to be praying for change and transformation for so many. In praying for a single person, there can be so much pain, so much, pain, fear, doubt, question, joy, excitement, empathy, and emotion that it would make anyone want to explode.

Which is why God only tells us about the one. That's all He needs from us. He gives us what we can handle, and then from there does what He can handle -which is everything. When you look at instances where one act has had an enormous impact, it's the not the person who completed that one act, it's all the One who completed the greatest act of all. Nothing can ever beat the love, compassion, mercy, and sacrifice held in the cross of Christ. For a God who nailed our sins to a cross and rose from the dead, nothing is too difficult. I really don't deserve to be a part of His story. But He wants me in it, so here I am.

Lord, thank You for the beauty of the cross in all of its pain. Thank You for taken a broken person like me and healing me through using me to heal others. I'm awestruck by the ways I've seen you working in my life and the lives of others. I pray that You will continue to transform me with Your healing powers so that I can be a faithful servant to You and Your people. I am not worthy to be a part of Your story, the greatest story ever told, and in that knowledge I lay myself down to You to do with as You will. I know I cannot move without You, so I am giving my life to see what You will do in me. I love everything You do and are, Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.

The God who made the world and everything in it - He is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in shrines made by hands. Neither is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives everyone life and breath and all things. For from one man He has made every nation of man to live all over the earth and has determined their appointed times and boundaries of where they live, so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and exist. Acts 17:24-28

We have this kind of confidence toward God through Christ: not that we are competent in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves but our competence is from God. 2 Corinthians 3:4-5

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Praying is Fun!

I said it. For all you who think praying is serious religious business, you may have just gasped a little bit. It's ok. I'm right there with you. Well I was, anyway.

That's the first time I've been able to say it like that. I've said I like praying, I love praying, I enjoy praying, prayer is a valuable time for me, and other phrases of the likes, but I've never said what I really wanted to. Honestly, it kind of weirded me out (yes, I did just use weird as a verb). I've been thinking this for some time now, but I've always forced that particular adjective out of my head, saying it was too simple, too whimsical.

But here's a question for you: Are you willing to accept a relationship over a religion? Follow up: Are relationships sometimes a lot of fun?

If you answered "yes" to those questions, I think you should be willing to consider the fun factor of prayer. You probably have fun when you talk with your friends and family members. Maybe not all the time; there are times for serious matters to be discussed, and perhaps even arguments to be had, but I bet you laugh once in a while. I bet you smile quite a lot. So why does God have to be so different? Why does the very mention of the Lord of lords automatically give us that serious face?

You know why I think it is? I think the reason is because we don't forgive ourselves. We don't think we're worthy of grace, so we try to keep our relationship with God one dimensional. We tell Him "You're God and I'm just me and that's a good place to keep it". But that's not what He intended. Like I said last time, He already knows we're not good enough; that's why He wants to work with us. Our Father wants to see us transformed. And He's doing it through the blood of Jesus Christ. That blood covers us, but it also invites Christ into our bodies so that we may be renewed and and rest in the dwelling place of the Lord Almighty.

This is the good news, folks! It doesn't get better or more exciting than this. When we come to kneel at the cross in prayer, we should recognize how awesome that is, and enjoy every second of it. And if you're having fun talking to God, go ahead, tell Him just how much fun you are having.

This is one of my favorite fun and happy worship songs

Thank You, Lord, for letting us have fun talking to You. We know it's not possible without the deep love of Jesus, and we can never give enough thanks for that. Let us accept and welcome Your grace, knowing You will be welcoming us with all You have. And God, praying is fun! Amen.

I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. Ecclesiastes 3:12

But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. Psalm 68:3

Monday, January 17, 2011

Living in Relation

Welcome back to the running metaphors - track is officially in season!

Today we were doing circuits, a pretty tough workout, and I was the only girl put into a group of two other guys. There were several all-female groups, but for whatever reason, I was in the only coed team. I was initially hesitant. I've been working hard, but I mean these guys play football and lift a lot of weight, and I just didn't think I'd be able to hold my own. So even though I piece of me wanted to show these guys that I could hack it, the first station took off with me hanging back a little bit.

Well I began to gain some confidence, and I do know these guys, and it seemed as though they really wanted to work with me, not against me. By the third station, we'd fallen into a smooth balanced rhythm of pushing and encouraging each other. We got an amazing workout, but also sincerely enjoyed each other's company.

There's a song by Tenth Avenue North called Hallelujah with a first line that has always captivated me, "At first I am afraid, but not because of fear, but the Holy of holies is drawing me near" That's kind of the same type of thought I was going through at practice today. And it completely depicts humanity's relationship with our Creator. Until Christ, we had no way to have a real relationship with our Father in heaven. Although He loves us so much, He is also a righteous and fair judge. God sees all of our sin, and that sin is what keeps us from knowing God. He desires that relationship, but He can't justly have it with all of our sin and shame getting in the way. So what's He to do?

He takes on the body of a man, Jesus Christ, and steps down to our world. To teach, but also to serve. He lived a perfect, sinless life. And then, He embodied our sin; He became it, and put it to death forever. And then Jesus Christ our Lord conquered the grave. He rose again, leaving His Spirit to guide us and help us relate to God our Maker.

God doesn't want to look down on us or prove how much better than us He is. He already knows that. This Guy created the entire universe. What does He have to prove? He wants instead to draw us into a real relationship with Him, only possible by the sacrificial love of our Savior. He came to this earth to relate to us, and He's never left it. Talk to God like you would any other person you're in a relationship with. Talk about your hopes, dreams, and fears. And then listen. Listen to what He has to tell you. Realize what a privilege it is to be in this holy covenant. And do everything you can to protect and nurture it. Let Jesus set you free. Let your Father draw you in. That relationship is the most precious thing we can ever have.

He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out the way by nailing it to cross. Colossians 2:14

No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. John 15:15

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Waiting Expectantly

A new semester is about to begin, and though I cherished the time at home with family and the regulars at work, I was very blessed to have a week here on campus more or less alone. I've been here for track practices for a week now, and have been using the time without stress to seek God and pray for the new semester.

Tomorrow I will be meeting with the other InterVarsity leaders to discuss plans for the semester. There are many changes: our usual staff worker will be on sabbatical so we will have an interim; we've lost the leadership of a valued friend and inspiration to graduation; we're looking for new leaders to mentor and train; and of course we're always looking for new members and ways to be known on campus.

One of the most valuable things I did to prepare myself for the new opportunities and challenges sure to arise, besides praying and spending time in Scripture, was read For Christ in the University, the history of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship-USA. I was very inspired by the early staff and students' continued willingness to listen to and move by the Holy Spirit's direction. John Alexander stressed the importance of prayer, "Unless IVCF kneels down, it will not go forward". This is where I believe Beloit's chapter is. It is not us who can open our fellow students' hearts to the lordship of Christ, but Christ Himself. What sense does it make to try to do the work of the Spirit without consulting our Lord?

I believe with all of my heart that God is at work here, and wants to see a campus transformed by the power of the Gospel. We need to be willing to stop, listen, and then follow. Not lead, but follow. For when we allow our "self" to be in control, we will live in the body of sin. But when we turn control over to Jesus,only then we can live and work in the body of Christ.

Father God, Thank You for the growth that we experienced last semester and for the relationships we began to build. I pray that we will seek You as our guide and follow the direction of the Holy Spirit. I ask that You open the hearts of every single person on this campus to know You, and to want to know You more. Let us be inspired by our predecessors in the early church and in the early fellowship. I am so excited to see what You're going to do here, in this semester and in all of the years to come. You are Lord of all. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act. Be silently before the Lord and wait expectantly before Him...Psalm 37:5, 7

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Who Me?

My journey through the book of Philippians has touched every part of my life. I have less than ten verses to go, and I've been amazed at what the time in recitation and contemplation has done for me. Paul illustrates through his writings the intimate relationship he had cultivated with Christ, and it makes me want to delve further into my own relationship.

For me, memorizing large pieces of Scripture involves A LOT of repetition out loud. I read over and over until they're written on my heart, and as I'm going on with my day they play themselves over in my head. So it's really no surprise that I was running to the tune of Philippians chapter 2 today.

At track, for the second part of our workout we ran 5 laps, each one getting a little faster, with a 2 minute break in between reps. When my partner and I got to the line, our coach looked at me and said, "Kate, you set the pace" What? I don't usually do these kinds of workouts because I pole vault and run distance. I'd never done this before; I felt like a novice. But I the Lord spoke to me through Philippians 2:5-8, which basically talks about how even though Jesus was equal with God, He took the form of a man and humbled himself to obedience, obedience to the point of the cross. And that's when I realized I couldn't look at this direction as a leadership role - it was an act of humility in obedience. I was admitting that I was not all powerful, but I simply listened and did as I was told. And you know what? My partner and I did that workout just fine. Our coach even told us we looked great.

Only God knows what we are capable of, and though He may ask more of us than we think we can give, He will never ask more than we can actually handle. I know humility is a process for me. But when we think of how awesome our God is, humility should be a snap. Anything we've ever done, our Father actually created. He wrote the books we read, He made the streets we run on; we are never going to be on top here. But if we will humble ourselves, and let the Lord Jesus rule over our body, we will see Him doing great things within our body.

Take some time to mull over the name of our Savior Jesus Christ

Thank You Lord, for continuing to work in my heart. As I study Your Word, I fall deeper into love with You, and I pray that will continue my whole life long. You have so much to show me, Father, and so much work to do in my heart. I want to, like Paul, die every day and let Jesus Christ to reign over my body. Your Son came here to die for me, and with Him died our sin. So let me welcome Christ in to set me free from what rules over me. I want to be fully Yours. In the name of my Savior, Amen.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Predestined and New

I recently finished reading Max Lucado's latest, Outlive Your Life. It's kind of like The Hole in our Gospel meets Radical. One of the things that really struck me is how only God knows who He will be welcoming into His Kingdom. We sit here and we judge people. We say he drinks too much or she's too atheist, and we write people off. We don't like to admit it, but we do.

Do you realize what we're doing here? Saul of Tarsus persecuted Christians like few others we've seen. John Newton, who penned Amazing Grace, was a slave trader. And Max Lucado, the same man who wrote one of my very favorite books No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, was a complete wild child throughout his college years. Each and every one of us have been given the same chance, the same invitation. We all have the same opportunity to respond when we hear Jesus saying "Follow Me".

If we truly believe that we are new creations in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), why do we think that someone else doesn't deserve the same second chance. If we are certain that all have sinned (Romans 3:23), why do we think that we're better than anyone else? I'm not perfect, not anywhere remotely close, but I am forgiven. And I'm not who I once was. I am new.

Lord Jesus, Thank You for being who You are, and for dying for our sins. Let us not forget that grace is a second chance, and since no one deserves it, all are welcome to accept the invitation. Let us not count anyone out, because You never looked away from us. To Your Glory and Praise. Amen

You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He will give you. This is what I command you: love one another. John 15:16-17

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I'm going to take us back to The Shack today. It's amazing what God has done for me during this re-read, and how He's used what's happened since the first time to make this reading just as valuable.

You can probably think of someone who's hurt you. Maybe it went on for weeks or months, or even years. So how did you forgive them? Have you yet?

Last year I had a friend at school who caused me great pain. He wasn't being the person I knew he could be, and I felt like he had been deceiving me the entire time I'd known him. To look at someone I thought was my friend and realized I didn't even know him was devastating. So, I started praying for him every day. As badly as I wanted him to return to a life lived for the glory of God, and as much as I knew the Lord loved him, this was not an easy process. I was so angry and frustrated with him that there would be days that praying for him was the last thing I wanted to do. But God was working to show me that Jesus had already taken care of everything my friend was doing, and even though it was painful, there was still so much love to be had.

3 months in, I realized that in addition to praying for him, I had to be praying for the Lord to show me how to forgive him. When I first started praying for this, I had no idea how I was going to be able to offer forgiveness. But a little over a month later, my friend told me he had things to apologize for, and thanked me for my daily prayer. And as unbelievable as it is, I forgave him in that instant. I remembered Matthew 18, where Jesus says to forgive your brother not just seven times, but seventy times seven, and that God is the only one with the power to judge. Now, this doesn't mean that I forgot everything my friend said and did, or that I automatically trusted him again, but it did mean that we could start rebuilding a relationship.

In The Shack, a man struggles with forgiveness when God asks him to offer it to someone who has caused a lot of suffering in his life. But, in the story, God says, "Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation. And sometimes - and this may seem incomprehensible to you right now - that road may even take you to the miracle of fully restored trust" My margin notes are five letters that spell out my friend's name, and then one of my very favorite five letter words- grace.

Think about what Jesus must have felt to forgive us. If God in the flesh can offer forgiveness to all of humanity, surely we can forgive each other.

Then Peter came to Him and said, "Lord, how many times could my brother sin against me and I forgive him? As many as seven times?" "I tell you, not as many as seven," Jesus said to him, "but 70 times seven". Matthew 18:21-22

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Where Pain Meets Beauty

I am currently re-reading The Shack by William Young in preparation for one of my classes starting in a few weeks. I won't ruin the book for anyone who hasn't read it yet, I promise.

In the novel, a man is invited, apparently by God, to return to what he calls "the icon of his deepest pain". Years ago, he experienced what is referred to in the book as "the great sadness", and it has never left him. He struggles deeply with the idea of returning because of the pain he felt.

I habitually write in my books, and on that page, I have writtten, "When we accept God's invitiation to meet Him at the cross of Jesus Christ, we are at the most painful place in all of human history. But it is also the most beautiful, because it is there we find redemption, forgiveness, grace, and LOVE" When God stepped down into our darkness as our Savior and took His place on that cross, He was doing the single most difficult and painful thing that has ever been done. He became the sins of the world. You know the spiritual darkness you feel when you're sinning, or think of your past sins? Well Jesus felt that for every single person who has ever walked the planet, and He felt it all at once. I can't even begin to imagine feeling all that.

But as incredible as that is, it's not the end. After His death, Jesus rose again. He defeated all of that hurt and anguish and lives today. Ask yourself what that takes, to get past such incredible darkness and turn it into the most radiant light that's ever been seen. It's quite the beautiful exchange.

I know this song is really long, but if can take the time to listen, it's worth it.

Lord, thank You for turning darkness into light, and for making bad things good. Thank You for taking me as I am but also for Your desire to transform me. Amen.

That light shines in the darkness, yet the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:5

Didn't the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into His glory? Luke 24:26

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Audacity of Asking

New Year's resolutions have always fascinated me. I am a goal-oriented person, and I recognize the means necessary to get to the ends. It's not that I like doing the "dirty work" itself, it's that I love the results, which causes me to enjoy the process. But with our culture, it's about instant gratification. We want to succeed, but we don't really want to work all that hard. I read a survey that said that, on average, New Year's resolutions are forgotten by February 13th. Wow.

So here's how I went about making resolutions that will stick: I sat down in a quiet place and worshipped God for awhile. I asked Him to open my eyes and show me what He wanted me to learn. I specifically asked Him to challenge me so that I might grow. Asking the Lord is challenge us is a tricky thing to do, because He listens. And He knows what we're capable of. And He knows that we have no idea what His power really is and what the Holy Spirit can do inside of us. I went through my old journals, paying special attention to where I've been the last few months, where I am, and where I want to be. I poured out my fears and my hopes, my dreams and my desires.

This year, I memorized the book of Matthew and wrote my first song (music AND lyrics!) I feel like I'm being led this year to write more music and to memorize at least five more books. I've started with Philippians because I saw several times where I'd written about memorizing it within the last four months. The idea of memorizing five books of the Bible in a year is kind of scary. That's a lot of verses! But I did ask for a challenge, and my Dad certainly gave me one. I don't know what He's preparing me for, but I know He'll be there along the way. Memorizing Matthew changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. I can't wait for this year!

More than anything else, though, I really want to continue to be transformed by the Word of God. 1 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that anyone in Christ is a new creation. Jesus Christ is the "new" that was, is, and will always be. In Romans 12:2, we are told to be transformed. It's not that we're not allowed to be who we are. God doesn't want a Kingdom full of people who are exactly the same. He designed us uniquely for a reason. But that doesn't mean we don't have a transformation to undergo. The question is, are we willing to let go of the old, are we willing to let ourselves fall, are we willing to ask to be made new? Because if we ask, He'll answer. We might not always like or recognize it, but He will. And all we have to do is ask.

Lord, break down the walls I hide behind. Make me open to both the creation and You, our wondrous Creator. Teach me, test me, make me see, set me free. I want to love the world and its people like You do. I want to be transformed and I need You to be my breath and very life. Amen.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8