Saturday, December 31, 2011

Love Came Down

Everyone probably knows by now how I feel about Kari Jobe. She worships. It just drips from her voice. People tell me about hearing her for the first time and they say, wow you really can hear the worship. Being the fan that I am, I follow her on facebook. Recently, she recommended Bethel Live's album "Be Lifted Up", saying that it brought the presence of God so strongly that it moved her to tears within seconds of having it on. Of course, I had to check it out. I can't resist His presence!

Breathtaking doesn't even cover it. Honestly swept off my feet by the very real presence of my Savior. I was crying before I even realized what the lyrics were. So, so beautiful.

I remind myself of all that You’ve done
And the life I have because Your Son

Love came down and rescued me
Love came down and set me free
I am Yours I am forever Yours
Mountain high or valley low
I sing out remind my soul
I am Yours I am forever Yours

Love came down in Jesus to show us what He really feels for us, and to give us the gift of His eternal presence!

Honor and majesty are [found] in His presence; strength and joy are [found] in His sanctuary. 1 Chronicles 16: 27

You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16: 11

Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD; For the day of the LORD is at hand, for the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests. Zephaniah 1: 7

Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:21-24

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Anger to Peace

Pour out your heart like water before the Lord
This phrase from Lamentations 2:19 caught my eye as I was going through old journals. There's something so simple and so pure about it, something so intimate and precious.

Today as I did that, I realized I was angry. It takes a lot to evoke this feeling from me. I was trying to thank God in all circumstances, even (especially) the unpleasant ones, and do you know what, I just didn't feel like it. I threw my Bible back onto my bed, and said, "Lord, I don't know what's going on right now. And I know I'm supposed to thank You in this situation, but I really don't feel like it"

I've been reading through Isaiah, and the Lord gently reminded me of some of what I've been learning.

One of my very favorite verses says:
"For the mountains shall depart
And the hills be removed,
But My kindness shall not depart from you,
Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”
Says the LORD, who has mercy on you.
Isaiah 54:10

And just this morning I read,
In all their affliction He was afflicted,
And the Angel of His Presence saved them;
In His love and in His pity He redeemed them;
And He bore them and carried them
All the days of old.
Isaiah 63:9

There's so much wealth in these verses. It brings a new spirit to my heart. His covenant of peace shall not be removed from me; He carries me. So even though there's too much going on for me to handle, I can't be angry. His promises are just too wonderful.

Therefore now you have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. John 16:22

And I will wait on the Lord, who hides His face from the house of Jacob; and I will hope in Him. Isaiah 8:17

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Joy To The World

Well it's Christmas, kids. And although my home life is in shambles, I have to believe that God has a plan in all of this. If nothing else, it's pulled me so much closer into His arms. Because right now, I literally have no joy but that which I have in Christ. Today is truly a test to see if God is enough for me.

And while I wish that things were different, though I pray for reconciliation and healing, and knowledge of Jesus as Savior, I'm going to be ok. Jesus doesn't make things easy, He makes things possible.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying “ Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Luke 2:13-14

Monday, December 19, 2011

Introversion and Loving His People

I have taken a lot of personality tests in my life, and I have tested into introversion every single time. But in the past few years, the strength of introversion has decreased dramatically. I still recharge best by myself, and I'd rather read a good book than go to a party, but I can now say I actually enjoy being around people.

I'll be honest, I've been quoted as saying "I don't really like people" before. I don't know what it was; I just preferred to do things by myself, my own way. But as I pack up and say goodbye to Beloit for a season, I've been reflecting a lot.

Sunday, I spent all day with people. I went to church, made lunch and cookies with my pastor's family, came back, hung out with a good friend, went to dinner with another friend, hung out with a small group, then a larger group, and then stayed up til morning talking with another friend. When my dad came to pick me up, there were three girls in my room, all of us dragging our feet at the inevitable. And the last month or so in general, I've consistently chosen to be with others. I still take my alone time, and I still like being alone, usually before the Lord.

But God has really melted heart when it comes to other people. He's enabled me to see what He sees, how He loves and cherishes every single one of us. I understand a new dimension of the unfathomable grace of the cross each and every day. To understand what Jesus did for me is the first step in truly loving the rest of His people. I'm not perfect, and I can't say that I like everyone all the time. But it's something the Lord has been very patient with me on.

It reminds me of when Jesus redeems Peter and He says that if Peter loves Him, then he will feed His sheep.

So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah,do you love Me more than these?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”
He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?”
He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”
He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?”
And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”
Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.” This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, “Follow Me.” John 21:15-19

Friday, December 16, 2011

Secret Place

I was sitting in my room today reading some articles about purity (shock) and I felt the Lord calling me out to our secret place. I don't go there every day; it's really special, but when I'm there, I'm all there, and I feel Christ like none other. It's there that I weep in the beauty and sweetness of His presence. As I walked out there, I could already feel my soul brimming with grace, because how I know that I need it.

Having a secret place that drips of the Holy Spirit is so important, no matter where I am. My place here at school has been my secret place since my 5th day here. The Lord gave me a verse that suits it perfectly. I don't take anyone else there, physically or mentally. That's where I go for my time alone with the Lord. I bring my phone for safety reasons, but I put it on "phone call only" and everything else is silent. It's there that I hear the very special, private words of God to me. I touch Jesus and remember what it is to love Him like the first time all over again. I'm in love with His very presence.

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6

You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah Psalm 32:7

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. Isaiah 45:3

The We

My grandpa emailed me and asked me how I was doing. When I read my response over before hitting send, I noticed something. It talked about this "we". We had a banquet. We were going to a concert. I've become a part of something so much bigger than just myself. It's not about me, it's about the we.

So it is for the body of Christ. We are all adopted into God's family through Jesus' sacrifice, and no longer live for ourselves individually but for the advancement of Christ and His kingdom.

and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
2 Corinthians 5:15

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

Monday, December 12, 2011

Are You Sure?

John 6 is one of my favorite passages about what it means to be a follower of Christ. Jesus feeds the 5,000, and is then talking to the crowds that say they want to follow Him. He lays a hard line. He says that He is the bread of life, not the "dead" manna of Moses that came from heaven for their fathers. He professes to be the Son of God, and if they eat His flesh and drink His blood, believing in Him and Him from Whom He was sent, they will have everlasting life. He asks if this is offensive to them, knowing full well that it is. He knows there are many who don't believe. And sure enough, many who followed Him turned away and followed no more. But then the 12 were left, and Jesus asks them, "Hey, are you sure you don't want to leave too?" (Kate Finman paraphrase translation). Simon Peter says they have nowhere else to go, and that they have come to believe He is Christ the Messiah. So He goes from thousands to twelve in about a timeframe of an hour or less.

I read a book by a pastor who said that when people come to him saying they want to follow Jesus, he straight up tells him he's going to do everything to convince them not to. He says that if you make the commitment to follow Christ, He's going to ask for your finances, your relationships, your job, your vacations, your everything. Jesus has bid you to come and die. Is that ok with you? This pastor does what Jesus did. He preaches a hard line, and lets people make their choice. Some people need more time, and some people likely never make that choice. Jesus didn't want fans, throngs of people willing to follow Him until it got too hard or boring or there was something better to do. He was looking for disciples - those willing to drop everything and heed His words, to spread His message throughout nations. Twelve people willing to do that would be better than twelve thousand who would do nothing but undermine what it meant to follow Him.

If we water down the gospel to make it more appealing to our friends, we minimize the truth that is embodied in Christ Jesus. We cannot say that all is easy, but we can say that our help is in the Lord. He promises that if we abide in Him, He will be our rest and our dwelling place forever.

From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” John 6:66-69

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.
Luke 9:23

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Friday, December 9, 2011

What Joy

Tonight was (well, technically it's still going on) the cross country Christmas party. Christmas sweaters, eggnog, hot cocoa, brownies, sugar cookies, peppermint park, Christmas tunes. Sounds lighthearted, right? Until people start taking shots of the brandy and peppermint schnapps instead of putting it in the eggnog and cocoa, and it turns to the often vulgar songs du jour and always vulgar dance moves. This is only the third time this year I've hung out with people getting belligerent, and every time it's been because I've really felt God calling me, always for a different reason. The first time, it was an act of peace. In the same way that Jesus never turned away from the woman at the well, and dined with tax collectors and sinners of all kinds, I felt called to be a light, and to show I brought no judgment. The second time, it was for safety reasons. I was there to get people drinking water throughout the night and drive home. And tonight, well tonight was particularly heart wrenching.

Sitting in the middle of the room, I reflected: I don't even know any of these songs, Is that dancing or miming sex? Why is this fun? And right on cue, someone asked me, "Kate, what's your typical Friday night?" Me: "Well, I usually read the Bible a lot, or a biography about a missionary or church leader, play guitar, and go to bed early. Unless I'm staying up praying for you guys and the rest of campus" Him: "That doesn't sound that fun"

How do you explain to someone who doesn't know Jesus that a time in His presence is surreal? It is the greatest source of satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy. You can't see Him, but you know He's there, ever present and always ready to provide exactly what you need. He knows the depths of your heart, because He's written the cross on it forever. He went to hell and back to pull you out of the pit of despair.

It is in You, my sovereign and ever faithful Lord, that I find all hope, peace, confidence, and joy. Your joy is my strength, and You are my dwelling place. In Jesus' name, Amen

You make known to me the paths of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
Psalm 16:11

They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of Thy House; and Thou shalt make them drink of the river of Thy pleasures.
Psalm 36:8

Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God Psalm 146:5

The joy of the LORD is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen] you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory. 1 Peter 1:6-8

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Praying For A Friend

I really really really love praying. It's not one of those things that I ever feel like I "have" to do; I honestly want to and enjoy it. I have this one spot where I get on my face and spend some incredible times with my Savior, and I will find myself picturing that spot when I'm away and longing to be there.

I've been spending a lot of time in prayer for one specific person lately. This is something that God has really had to help me enjoy. While I know I am so blessed to be able to serve our holy God, it is often very painful for me. The Lord has allowed me to share in others' burdens in a very real way, and often lets me feel what He feels for them, and let me tell you, it aches! God yearns for His children to come home; Jesus really is calling.

This song is just everything I want for her to know, that Jesus will take her right now, and take every broken piece and make her whole.

I would really love if you could join me in praying for her :)

Father God, I lift Your daughter up to You, because in this very moment You've convicted me - I've been praying 'Whatever it takes' and I believe You're doing that, Lord. Jesus, it's in Your name that I pray for overwhelming peace and hope in abundance. With her sister, her computer, her school, Lord, I pray that she would experience the ease You've given me and that somehow, it would turn her heart toward You. Oh Jesus, You have prepared a place for her, and made a way by which all things are possible. Holy Spirit, rain down on us, that Your fire would be constantly rekindled in my own heart, and ignited in hers. Thank You for lending me Your heart, and teaching me to carry another's burdens. Let me feel her chains; let them be bound around me so that she would know freedom. Lord I commit myself unto You, knowing that I can do nothing without Your grace. I know that Jesus is the only thing that is different between me and her, for I have stumbled many times, and am thus found guilty of breaking the entirety of Your law. It is only the blood of Jesus that can save me, and I now claim His liberty in the Spirit so that You would hear my cries and these supplications. Oh how I long for her to know You, Lord. I rebuke in Jesus' name any forces of darkness that work against her - that feed into misconceptions about who You are or who Your church is. I pray You would soften her heart and call her home in a way she cannot resist. I believe that You have a plan, and that You will do great things in my friend's life. I thank You so much for the privilege to stand in this gap for her right now, and for everything You've done in both of our lives to bring us to this point. God, You are faithful. You are sovereign. And You are able. You can open the blind eyes, make the lame walk, shatter deafness, and shepherd the lost. You can and You will, and I believe that with all my heart. In Jesus' name, Amen.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 1 Timothy 2:1

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts,
Come to the waters;
And you who have no money,
Come, buy and eat.
Yes, come, buy wine and milk
Without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

Saturday, December 3, 2011

All I Know

Sometimes I just really want to know what God's doing with all of my close friendships with nonbelievers. Why do I spend most of my time with them? It's definitely a part of His ways that I can't understand. Not that I need to; I'll remain obedient, but I certainly wonder.

One of these dear friends has a sister with depression and she was admitted into a hospital this week because it was really serious. I was praying for this family, and instead of focusing on the sister, I was led towards more thoughts on my friend.

On a surface level, I loved her almost straight away. And yes, I did want her to know Jesus the same way I did almost anyone else. But the more I get to know her, the more I can truly love her the way Jesus has. Behind the flippancy with which she speaks about growing up, and different issues in her life, I see the hurt, the longing for guidance and protection, and unconditional love. I think that's how you know you love someone - when more than anything else, you just want them to know and experience the joy of having a relationship with Jesus Christ.

There are times I don't know why the Lord has made us so close, so connected. And then there are moments when walls fall down, when I see that raw space just crying out for a Savior. Last spring, she asked me to tell her the whole story of Jesus. And to this day, she tells people, "I didn't know the story of Jesus until Kate told me when I was almost 20 years old" , proud of the life and knowledge we've been able to share with each other.

I don't know what God is up to. But I do know that He so loved the world that He came down in Christ to suffer among us, to live a perfect life, and to take the penalty for our sins. He is the Light of the world, prepared to shine as Love and Truth in the darkest of places. Jesus conquered the grave, redeeming us and calling us to share in His victory. He has taken up a residency in us in the Holy Spirit, and will return one day, where we will be wed to Him and celebrate the joy and glory of His presence forevermore. And that's enough.

All I Know

He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds. He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name. Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite. Psalm 147:3-5

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. John 3:16-17

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts." Revelation 21:6

The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. Revelation 21:23