Sunday, May 29, 2011

Falling In Love

Watch this:

The first time I saw this, I knew it was there to convict me. The three questions come down to the same thing: "Is God enough?" If you didn't have friends, would God be enough. If you didn't have the internet, would God be enough? If you didn't have family, books, or an iPod, would God be enough? If you didn't have coffee, chocolate, movies, and television, would God be enough? (Irony of my being at Starbucks on a $1600 computer while typing this is well noted)

I was thinking again about this video as I sit home for the summer. Joy and pleasure are good things, and the Lord has blessed us all with some wonderful gifts. But the busier I am, the more aware I am of how I spend my free time; there's so little of it that it slips away so quickly. I typically work 5:30am-3pm and it's a long day on my feet. I usually get up around 4 so I can have some time with Jesus. I tried skipping it and getting the extra sleep instead, but it made me cranky and impatient. I take a breather when I come home, change, and head out for a run. I come home, shower, make dinner, eat, and then I have just a few hours until I need to go to bed again. It's very tempting to just plop down in front of the t.v. or grab a mindless novel, but these really do nothing for me. They leave me empty and still tired. But reading the Bible or spending time praying, or even worshipping on my guitar makes me feel refreshed. It gives me this sense of joy that's unlike anything else. It makes me feel like anything is possible; it reminds me that God is in control, and always has been.

And it's things like this that make me fall in love with the Lord even more deeply. I realize every day how necessary the cross is,
how desperately I need a Savior. It's like this crazy circle - the more I revel in God's beauty and loveliness, the more aware I am of my own darkness and deceit. And the more I am aware of the ugliness of my sin, the more amazed I am by Christ's purity and holiness. I come to the cross in humble awe of what was done there. I cling to the promise of the Lord's return and I am enchanted by the hints of that day we find in Scripture, of the day when God really will be all there is. To see His face without distraction, with nothing to pull me us away - what a glorious day!

Living You loved me, in dying You Saved me. You rose and freely justified me forever, and You are coming soon. Lord, I am so grateful for who You are and what You've done. Sometimes I shake when I think about what kind of strength and patience it must take to love me. Not only that, but how much You love it. You love being in love with me, and I think that's the craziest part of it all. You pursue my heart like a champion and coax me out of my selfish box and into Your arms. It's Your love that has brought me to You. No force is stronger than it; nothing can beat it. No one can explain it away, because You are the God who was, is , and always will be. I want to fall deeper in love with you every day, the way You have loved me faithfully. Thank You, Lord.

And he said, Lord God of Israel, there is no Go like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart. 1 Kings 8:23

I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. Hosea 14:4

For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16-17

We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Take My Hand

I'm coming to terms with the fact that this summer is just going to be hard. I feel the need to repeat Mother Teresa, "I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much" I think the hardest part of it is feeling alone. My friends are scattered, my family is in desparate need of healing, and I'm working on Sundays so I can't even go to church. I work just about every day and always come home tired. I'm grateful I have this job, but it doesn't leave me time or energy for socializing with my wonderful grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins whom I absolutely adore.

I feel like I don't belong at home anymore; what I once knew no longer is. What once welcomed me now just tolerates my presence. I run now 10 or more times a week, just to get out and think. I have a hard time getting close enough to the Lord to really hear Him at home; I don't know what it is, but something blocks me. But running, oh, I feel so free. I see vibrant, encouraging images and I race along, unsure of my direction, but very sure of Who's leading.

I wrote a song awhile ago, and the last bridge says, "And I don't know where I'm running, but I'm running after You. Your open arms will hold me close in everything I do" I can't think of anything better to describe how I feel. Sometimes I pray that as I run.

Lord, be with me. Let me be overwhelmed by Your presence. Remove these feelings of loneliness; be welcomed into my body. May Your life and goodness be revealed in my own.

For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Isaiah 41:13

Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air. 1 Corinthians 9:24-26

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Seeking The Lord

2 Chronicles 12:14
And he did evil because he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord

This verse has bee non my mind for a few days. I'm reading through the KJV right now, and 2 Chronicles is where I'm at. Chronicles is either a terribly boring history book, or an exciting adventure.

I understand people who don't like the Old Testament. I disagree, but I see their point; on the surface level, the New Testamant seems so much more relevant to today. Besides the 10 Commandments, most of our contemporary ideals on Christian living come from the New Testament.

But. (I'm a big fan of "buts").

The amazing, incredible, incomprehensible thing about God is that His Word doesn't change. It cannot be irrelevant because the Lord intended to last forever, and to be for all people everywhere.

So maybe it takes more though, prayer, time, and diligence, but there is a lot of learn from the OT (and not just Psalms and Proverbs!)

Like that verse from the top. The Amplified Bible says:
And he did evil because he did not set his heart to seek (inquire of, yearn for) the Lord with all his desire.
The he refers to Rehoboam, who ruled Jerusalem for 17 years. It doesn't say exactly what he did, just why - he did not seek our God Almighty.

Back in October, I posted the song "Generations", with the line, "the devil can't make me do anything when I'm calling on Jesus Christ". That's what we get from 2 Chronicles! When you are totally and completely wrapped up in who God is and what He does, it's impossible to sin. Because God is incapable of it, and if He really reigns over your body, so are you. It is so important to fight this battle with our flesh and die to self every single day. The closer we get to the Lord, the more we hate what He hates and love as He loves. When we say yes to God, we're saying no to our enemu. And by the grace of God alone, He will always give us another chance to say yes.

Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. 1 Chronicles 16:15

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-24

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Attitude Adjustment

After last summer's enriching experiences in traveling ministry, a summer at home was not sounding so great. And honestly, I had a really bad attitude about it. When I got home and found out I was working every day of the week for awhile, and was scheduled during Sunday morning church, it got worse. My parents aren't doing so hot, my sister is a roller coaster and I'm away from my friends. I wanted to understand why God had me home, but I was kind of miffed at Him.

I really needed to just hear from the Lord. And we all know that can happen in different ways.

There I was at work today, very busy and using all of my pleasant energies to serve the customers when in walked my grandfather. I love my grandpa, and seeing him was an incredible surprise. But I think this was the most joy I've ever experienced in running into him. I knew that it wasn't just him. It was the Lord telling me that I was going to be fine because He's going to be with me all summer. Thank You Jesus, because I'm not strong enough to do this on my own.

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD. Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me. When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation. When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up. Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.b Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. Psalm 27

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Put Me Back Together

Bad meet doesn't really even describe it. My steps were awful, I lacked confidence and I even landed in the box while my pole went flying over 15 feet away. I was disappointed, but I got the sense that God was trying to speak to me.

My teammates did incredibly well, so it didn't leave me time to retreat, pray, and learn until much later. In the meantime, I helped coach them and was overwhelmed with joy for their successes. Then, I finally got my time with the Lord.

Be ye mindful always of his covenant; the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. 1 Chronicles 16:15

A covenant is a promise and God's promises are always true. He promises to clothe us in righteousness, to never leave or forsake us, to raise us as He raised Christ Jesus, to remove our guilt and shame, to provide an abundant life, to break the yoke of our slavery, and to always make grace abound in our lives.

God's ways are higher than, so of course I wish my meet (and season) would have gone differently. But I know that the Lord was glorified and I was able to stand as a witness of faith to so many of my teammates, fellow competitors, coaches, and even spectators.

We just never know what the Holy Spirit is going to do. All I know is that my Lord is always watching over me; His hand is in every piece of my life. So when I fell and failed, He used His mighty word to put me back together again. I spent every minute of dinner and team meetings just waiting to get back into His presence and hear what He was whispering to me. It's amazing what we can hear when we actually listen.

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8

Thursday, May 12, 2011

In Heaven, There Will Be...

I read a very interesting post about Heaven yesterday from Tenth Avenue North. You can read it here . It's all about how we have these conceptions of what Heaven is going to be like - we're going to have all of our favorite things and be able to hang out and do whatever we want. As the writer points out, there is no biblical reasoning for this conception. It says that day and night, people are bowing down and singing praises to the Lord; we sit forever in His presence.

How often do you hear people saying that they hope they get to Heaven, or that if they know a good person maybe that will help? If we look strictly at the Bible, Heaven really is going to be us in the presence of our Savior, praising Him 24/7 for eternity. If you don't absolutely love God with all of your heart, if He isn't your sole desire, why would you want to be in Heaven?

That verse I talked about earlier, Philippians 1:21 seems to come back to mind. If dying is to be a reward, then your life has to be Christ. If your life isn't built around the cross, Heaven is probably going to be a disappointment.

Well, it just got me thinking and since I have the space to say whatever I want, I figured I would. Amazing how one blog post can cause you to think so critically about your entire life, all of your desires and hopes.

"If your heart takes more pleasure in reading novels, or watching TV, or going to the movies, or talking to friends, rather than just sitting alone with God and embracing Him, sharing His cares and His burdens, weeping and rejoicing with Him, then how are you going to handle forever and ever in His presence...? You'd be bored to tears in heaven, if you're not ecstatic about God now!" Keith Green

Lord, let me be so lovesick for You alone. Change my heart that You would truly and honestly be the deepest and sole desire of my heart. Let my love for You grow eternally, and let me look forward to sitting in Your presence and singing Your praise unceasingly. Help me to let go of all the world holds dear and cling to Calvary's cross. Make my life Your own. Amen

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. Revelation 4:8

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

As Long As I'm Here

Yesterday was a long day for me, emotionally. Let's talk about it.

After I got done with some odd jobs around work for the morning, I checked my phone.

My friend: I have something to tell you.
Me: Yes?

She went on to drop something huge on me that I wasn't expecting; I thought it was a joke before she explained further (I'm not going to say what or who it is, because that's rude and a breach of trust). She was very conflicted about this. I have absolutely no experience dealing with this type of thing, nothing even remotely close, so I know it was Christ's love and kindness when I responded, "do you want to talk about it?" Selfishly, I almost hoped she'd say no - what could I possibly have to tell her? But, of course she said she'd love to, but later, after finals.

So I'm sitting there crying because I love her so much and am just imagining all the things she's feeling, trying to get a sense for where she's coming from . And then I get anxious about our pending conversation. She has so many other friends who have more experience in this department. But then, suddenly, I was overwhelmed with this tremendous sense of gratitude towards the Lord. I just met this girl this semester, but we've become pretty close. I had to just thank God for the fact that He put us together as friends and for preparing both of us for that very day and situation. As difficult as it was, I felt so blessed to see the way everything had been according to His plan. I also felt very grateful for the fact that I didn't have anything to do the rest of the day; I spent almost all of my time in prayer, listening closely for the words I needed to speak.

I kept getting verses about God's faithfulness, His love, and His constant presence. The Lord was telling me that although my friend didn't understand or know Him yet, He could love her through me, and that I had to just be there for her in Christ's love. And I think she really did understand that I was there for her and I wasn't judging her; I love her too much for that. The same way that God doesn't see our sin when we are in Christ, I did not see what she'd done, because that's not who she is.

I came out of this so amazed that my friend would trust me for something like this, but even more amazed that God would trust me. He used me to give His love away. That's what truly incredible here.

I knew God wasn't going to give me a week off with no purpose or use for them. As long as I'm here, I might as well do something.

I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him. Hosea 14:3

And the Lord was gracious unto them, and had compassion on them, and had respect onto them, because of his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them, neither cast he from his presence as yet. 2 Kings 13:23

And he heard the Lord say unto him, "I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued to extend faithful love to you" Jeremiah 31:3

Sunday, May 8, 2011

One Thing Remains

This track season has been pretty rough, and my collegiate career has, in general, been nowhere near my high school one. I was thinking about this last night; even though I was so much better in high school, I really wasn't that upset about it. God has given me such peace, because I know I'm where He wants me to be.

This morning, I found out that the marks at the meet were wrong; I thought I'd made a lower height than I actually did. The height I really made was my best one this season, and I've improved at every meet this outdoor season. Even though it's still not as good as I was several years ago, it feels good to know that I am getting better relative to the right now.

So what have I learned through this? I think it's that no matter what is going on in life, the Lord is still God, and He is always good. His grace is freely given; His love is unending and overpowers absolutely everything. I also think that peace stems from joy, and not happiness. Happiness is an emotion that is fleeting, but joy comes from deep within, that sense that God is good at all times, in every season. Yesterday, I just felt so incredible. I didn't do that well, my teammates didn't do that well, but it was a nice day, and the joy of the Lord was satisfying me. I just love how He's always pursuing us, and never tires.

Lord, thank You for being a loving, sovereign God. I love Your presence; I could sit in it forever. I am just overwhelmed by how much I love who You are. Amen.

Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-39

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Piece of History

Tomorrow is the National Day of Prayer. I've participated in this day almost every year since I can remember, but I've never known much about its history. For instance, the first national call to prayer was by the Continental Congress in 1775, before the American Revolution even started! This day has been part of our country before we were even a sovereign, independent nation! But we've always had a sovereign Lord looking out for us.

Throughout history, 33 of the 44 presidents have issued proclamations for a national day of prayer (and 4 of those who didn't died in office). Then, in 1952 it became official: Harry S. Truman declared a National Day of Prayer and signed it into law. In 1988, Ronald Reagan regulated the day - he amended the law to say that the National Day of Prayer would be the first Thursday of every May. And in 1998, a resolution was passed saying that the President is to issue a proclamation of the day each year.

I just think it's so incredible to have a national holiday whose purpose is prayer. By taking part in its observance, we are doing what our founding fathers did, and what the Lord's faithful ones have done all throughout time. We are bowing down before God and asking Him to carry us through. And His promise says He hears us.

The theme this year is "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God"

I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Psalm 91:2

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Dance With Me

Some scholars believe that Paul may have been suicidal, based on passages in Philippians 1 and other epistles where he says that dying is gain, and that he is excited to meet Christ, who he's served in his ministry.

I don't think they really understand Paul, or what it's like to meet the person of Jesus and to strive to die for Him daily. See when you really commit your life to Christ, I mean, really surrender yourself, the Lord is your life. Earth or Heaven, that's your life. And on earth, you're constantly surrounded by pressures and stress and temptations, distractions from your God. In Heaven, though, that's all you have. You get to spend every minute reveling in the awe and wonder of God. You get to meet Jesus face to face, touch His scars. The Church gets to be married to Him, and partake in the bridal feast. That sounds just incredible!

I agree with Paul. I have some of these "suicidal" verses on my wall. If I died tomorrow, I don't even think I could be disappointed. I'd be thrilled to meet my Lord and Savior. Does that make me suicidal? I don't think so. As much as I look forward to being with God 24/7, I wouldn't take my life to do so. I'm submitted to His plan and His timing. And if He's got things for me to do here, I'll do them with joy.

Either way, it's a dance. Let God do the leading.

Lord, I am so excited to dance with You, here and in Heaven. Thank You so much for welcoming me into Your eternal arms. In Jesus, Amen.

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. Psalm 73:25

Sunday, May 1, 2011

God Is Good, No Matter What

I've been sick all week, some days worse than others. Yesterday I competed in our track meet despite feeling the worst I've felt all week. Needless to say, it was pretty miserably and absolutely exhausting (although I performed fairly well). At 3:30 am, I woke up and I can't even remember the last time I'd felt that awful. And God gave me a verse:

The people I formed for Myself will declare My praise. Isaiah 43:21

Not exactly the verse you want at 3:30 am when you can't breathe, you're on fire, and can barely move. But although I didn't particularly want that verse, I realize it was what I needed. My mind floated back to Betsie TenBoom, who in the middle of a concentration camp said, "Give thanks in all circumstances. It doesn't say 'in pleasant circumstances'", referring to 1 Thessalonians 5:18. She and Corrie even thanked God for the fleas in their room.

Although I was tired and cranky and quite pitiful, it was important for me to remember that God is still good. He is bigger than my illness, and I will praise Him through this storm.

Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. Psalm 73:25-26

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 2 Corinthians 12:10