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the past few days have been quite interesting with the Lord.  sunday’s sermon was about the Nearness of God and my pastor made one point that has been sticking out in my head A LOT: the nearness of God is SAFETY. and he said when we begin to experience fear we tend to go into plan mode. we plan what to do and how to do it to rid ourselves of the fear. when in fact, what we should do is pause, stop and draw near to God. yesterday the Lord took me to psalm 27. when i got to the end of the psalm, it was as if the final verse screamed at me:

Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

then this morning i read from good old oswald chambers’ devotional my utmost for His highest and this really stood out to me:

Our problems arise when we refuse to place our trust in the reality of His presence.

as i’ve been waiting on the Lord, feeling quite challenged to be still, trust, and know He is near, i began to wonder: if more people knew they could access the power of the Almighty, would they then believe? if people understood that the most amazing mystery of Christianity is that the Almighty, All-Powerful God of the Universe really does want to talk to them, to engage with them and give them the ultimate freedom for life that can only come from Him. if people knew that as mere human beings we can access that power and His infinite wisdom, would they want it? would they consider knowing Jesus?

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I received an email the other day asking me what hair products I use. It was such a sweet email from a kind woman at work I barely know telling me she thinks my hair is pretty and always looks nice. I’ve never received something like that before. I happily emailed her the requested information and thanked her immensely for the compliment.  To say I was flattered is an understatement!

You see, when I was younger my hair was the bane of my existence. And I am not exaggerating. I was made fun of from the time I was 10 years old to probably 15 for this hair of mine. There wasn’t anything I wouldn’t try to tame this mane. All in all I think my hair has cost me more money than anything else in my life. And I promise it’s not because I am vain, I just wanted to look normal.

So you see the “irony” in someone telling me they think my hair is pretty? But I say “irony” in quotes like that because I was reminded of something by this silly little story. It’s just like our Father in Heaven to take that which is ugly to us and make it pretty to others (okay so the Scripture says take that which is intended for evil and use it for good, but give me a break here, you know what I’m getting at).

If you had told me when I was 13 years old and getting called horrific names that sent me home crying on a pretty consistent basis that one day someone would like my hair I would have stared at you in disbelief. But that really is what our God does isn’t it? He takes things that we think are impossible and He makes them possible. He makes beauty out of ashes.  He takes the foolish things of this world to confound the wise.

Who knew hair could spark such appreciation for my Savior :-)

I’m overcome with wonder, awe and excitement this morning.  When I chose Jesus over anything else in this world, I wondered what my story would look like. Would I have anything “cool” to show for my life? Would my testimony speak to people? What would I do with this faith and love of God?

It was all about me.

And sometimes it still is. Tell the truth and shame the devil :-)

But something miraculous is happening around me. I get to be a part of the story and I’m completely humbled by it.  I’m tearing up again as I write this.

Seven years ago two people totally far from the Lord came together and started dating. Peter and I didn’t know Jesus. Sure we knew of Him. He was cool. Peter grew up in church so he certainly knew who the Great I Am is back then. But neither of us knew Him intimately.

We lived our lives as we wanted and we wanted each other. Time went by and I started to fall more and more in love with the Lord. I asked Peter questions about his faith and what he knew of Jesus. It was clear that we were drifting apart.

After two and a half years I distinctly heard the Lord say, “I have blessings for you and I have blessings for Peter but I cannot give them to you in this relationship.” It was one of those rare times when you know that you know that you know that the Lord just spoke to you.

We ended our relationship. I started to follow hard after Jesus and Peter started to read the Bible and ask questions. We pursued our Lord separately. One day perhaps Peter will share his journey here, but what I will say is it was a time of serious soul searching for him. He had been raised one way, but never owned his faith for himself. It was at this time that he started to explore Jesus for himself.

Time went by and my heart ached for him and his for me. It became clear that the Lord had moved in both our lives. After seven months or so we started to talk a little here and there. But we were such new/young believers that we couldn’t distinguish our own feelings and the Lord’s will very well (something we will be learning all our lives I think). We decided it was a good idea to begin dating again.

We didn’t seek the Lord on what His will was for us. We didn’t consider that perhaps God had a different plan. And we headed toward destruction. Within three months of dating again we were engaged. And five months after that, the engagement and the relationship were over.

It was devastating, heartbreaking, crushing. I’ve never felt such pain in my life. I wouldn’t wish that kind of pain on my worst enemy. I thought our first break-up was hard, and it was, but ending our engagement took pain and hurt to a new level.

It was in this time that I met with my God in ways I never could have imagined. It was in this time that I truly learned how incapable I am and how capable my God is WITHOUT MY HELP.

Two plus years later the Lord brought us back together. And it truly was Him. One day I’ll go into the details on this blog so you can see just how God orchestrated every step.

But for today, it has become clear to me. This story is not about Peter and I as much it is about God’s glory, His everlasting love and His eternal plan for His Kingdom. Our story is a small part of the painting He has created.

When I pull back and look at the beautiful canvas set before us, I am in awe and wonder of our God. I am humbled that I am to live this life for Him. That He would choose me. That He would choose Peter. That He would choose us to be a part of His painting, His story, His work.

I praise you this morning my God. And I am humbled by your presence and your love.

yep, this week was sooo crazy i forgot to post about choosing JOY on monday, so i’m choosing JOY on friday this week :-)

frankly, i’m trusting the Lord wanted it this way as today is good friday and it makes sense to me that on good friday, as a follower of jesus, i would choose JOY.

i’ve heard this many times before, but feel it’s most appropriate to quote today:

“you cannot have a resurrection until you have a death. there is no empty tomb unless there is first a figure on a cross.”

thank you God for the ultimate sacrifice you paid on this day 2,000 years ago that we might have life everlasting.

i still can’t get my head and heart totally around the fact that the perfect God of all the universe would send His Son for me. but none-the-less, i am eternally grateful. i choose JOY today because my Savior died for me on this day.

from flickr.com

wow! i can’t believe it has been a week of doing this already. i really had to ask myself about a day or two into this “challenge” that i brought upon myself if i was doing this for the right reasons. am i posting about choosing joy to find another tangible something to get me out of a funk instead of relying on my Jesus? am i doing this more for me than to bring glory to my God? am i more concerned about my happiness than a genuine life of faith?

in the past few days of doing this i’ve come to a solid answer to these questions: perhaps yes to all of the above, but i undoubtedly God’s gonna win out! so yeah, i may have started this thing with those thoughts in the back of my mind, but i’m seeing as i progress day by day, Jesus is winning and God’s getting all the glory.

you see, I don’t believe in the whole “mind over matter” concept. there are people i know who will swear by that mantra, and for periods of time it works for them (and me too) but for the most part, i think it’s kinda silly. that might sound harsh, but in all honesty, we’re human. we’re weak. we all fall short, and fall short pretty regularly if we’re honest with ourselves. but with the Lord, we can do all things and it is Christ that strengthens us. when i rely on my own ability to bear the storms of life, to bear the mundane tasks of everyday life, to defeat unhealthy emotions and thoughts well, quite frankly i can sustain myself for a few days if i’m lucky, but it won’t last. when my eyes are fixed on my Savior and i trust in who i know He is, no matter the circumstances, i’m firmly planted and i’m not going to move. that’s not to say i still need to choose this, to choose to see God and it’s not say emotions, thoughts, etc. don’t get in the way sometimes, but fixing my eyes on Him means even when they get intense, He is where my strength comes from.

choosing joy is part of the process of choosing Jesus. it’s part of trusting in Him who works all things for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. it’s knowing Him, His sovereignty, His peace, His rest, His perfect permissive will, His love, His fierce jealousy for His children… choosing joy, even if the motives in the beginning may have been off, is choosing to trust in my God and His perfect plan for my life because that’s just it, He is perfect and therefore everything He does is perfect, even His permissive will. and to state it in even simpler terms, if i know i’m going to spend eternity in the presence of my King with NO hurt, deceit, lies, shortcomings, disease, attitude problems, etc. that should be enough to say I CHOOSE JOY :-)

Psalm 143:5 – Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.

today, well really this whole week I guess, I’ve been choosing JOY because God is in control of EVERYTHING. i tend to forget that quite a lot these days. i’ve found great comfort in the fact that His will is perfect and it is permissive. meaning, He allows certain things that might not seem so great to me, He allows them to happen. tough times, difficult situations, they don’t just happen. God in His perfect sovereignty allows them so that I might be made more like Him. and when I take my eyes off myself and fix them on my God, the truth of who He is, there is great peace and genuine JOY. circumstances don’t change, but my heart and view of them do. ugh, why do I find this so hard? thank you for your patience Lord, you’re AWESOME.

psalm 62 

1 My soul finds rest in God alone;
       my salvation comes from him.

 2 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
       he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.

 3 How long will you assault a man?
       Would all of you throw him down—
       this leaning wall, this tottering fence?

 4 They fully intend to topple him
       from his lofty place;
       they take delight in lies.
       With their mouths they bless,
       but in their hearts they curse.

       Selah

 5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
       my hope comes from him.

 6 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
       he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.

 7 My salvation and my honor depend on God;
       he is my mighty rock, my refuge.

 8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
       pour out your hearts to him,
       for God is our refuge.
       Selah

 9 Lowborn men are but a breath,
       the highborn are but a lie;
       if weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
       together they are only a breath.

 10 Do not trust in extortion
       or take pride in stolen goods;
       though your riches increase,
       do not set your heart on them.

 11 One thing God has spoken,
       two things have I heard:
       that you, O God, are strong,

 12 and that you, O Lord, are loving.
       Surely you will reward each person
       according to what he has done.

today I’m choosing joy for the privilege of going to school. in class this morning my prof just really hit home on a few things i’m dealing with and it’s pretty incredible to get to learn and literally apply what i’m learning to my life immediately! there were MANY things from today’s class, but I thought this was one of the best nuggets.

simply put, my prof said (in my words of course) it’s stupid to compare yourself with other people because none of them are God. Jesus should be your measuring stick, not other people.

“Be holy as I am holy”

Proverbs 31:25 – She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

Facebook says a lot even when it says nothing at all.

I clicked on a friend’s profile today and her ‘wall’ is no longer visible. Another friend checked to see if perhaps I was just blocked from her ‘wall.’ Turns out I’m not, although it is very possible we’re both blocked, but I highly doubt that. My first thought was something must not be right. I know, I might sound crazy, but all too often you can tell a lot about a person by what their Facebook page doesn’t say.

There are those that I affectionately call the “lurkers.” They don’t really want to be on Facebook but can’t help being on there to see what’s going on in other people’s lives. They don’t have much at all on their profile, but they have one so they can see yours. Creepy? Maybe. Smart? Possibly.

There are those who have their “work” profile and their “personal” profile. Limiting what the work folk see and can do as compared to the family and friends. A violation of social media? Perhaps.

Then there are those who make you wonder why they don’t just carry a video camera around all day documenting their every move. Certainly that would be easier than sending status updates every 10 minutes. They’re the ones who when someone asks you how friend X is, you can undoubtedly speak to their child’s play-dough mess, the virus that God-forbid forced them off Facebook for an hour, the weather outside their door, and their plans for the summer. You can talk about their life in great detail yet, you haven’t spoken to the person in six months.

But, I digress, that was not the purpose of this post. The purpose of this post is to ask the question, how do you reach the person who removes their ‘wall’ and yet you know they need you? How do you reach the person who makes their profile look perfect yet you know it’s a cover-up? How do you love on the person who “talks” in status updates because no one else will listen?

I don’t know the answer, but I think it might be a combination of the Holy Spirit and Love. Maybe I need to be sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit when to contact, how to contact and maybe I need to allow His power to come through that I might Love like He does. Maybe it’s pursuing when they don’t want to be pursued. Maybe it’s picking up the phone even though I already know everything they’re willing to tell me. Maybe it’s like Casting Crowns said, “Love them like Jesus.”

i decided to spend lunch with Jesus today and the neatest thing occurred, i fell even more in love with Him – ok, how uber spiritual and uber cheesy can you get?!?! but it is what it is, and that’s what it is.

earlier this year i was reading up on a missionary organization that i just think is the coolest. it’s call climbing fo christ, and their mission is to take the gospel to high places where other missionaries can’t or won’t go (aka. remote villages in the mountains, etc.) and on their site they have a journal entry of a former member who was killed in an avalanche. her name is lygon, and she had a huge heart for the Lord and lived her life to bring Him glory. when i read the journal entry on their web site, i was so moved. you can tell from her writing just how much she truly loved Jesus. and you know she is dancing with Him right now. what a beautiful picture!

after i read her journal entry i remember thinking, i want to love the Lord that much, so much that i would just start dancing for Him and Him alone (all of you that know me, know that i DON’T dance, ever!) well today it happened, well kinda. i was spending time with Him, praying for various people and things, and writing in my journal. i began listening to the song captivated by vicky beeching (if you haven’t listened to her music you’ve got to, she rocks!) and i couldn’t help but want to get up, right there and just start dancing with the Lord – i didn’t of course ’cause i was in a public place and while i’d like to consider myself bold, i know i’m not that bold!

but the point is, the desire is there, to love with reckless abandon the one that loves me enough to die for me and give me a freedom that i’ve never knew. ah, i praise you Lord!

so, anyway, dancing with Jesus just might be on the agenda for this weekend : )

here are the lyrics to captivated:

Your laughter it echoes like a joyous thunder
Your whisper it warms me like a summer breeze
Your anger is fiercer than the sun in its splendour
You’re close and yet full of mystery
Ever since the day that I saw Your face
Try as I may, I cannot look away, I cannot look away…

Captivated by You
I am captivated by You
May my life be one unbroken gaze
Fixed upon the beauty of Your face

Beholding is becoming, so as You fill my gaze
I become more like You and my heart is changed
Beholding is becoming, so as You fill my view
Transform me into the likeness of You

This is what I ask, for all my days
That I may, never look away, never look away…
No other could ever be as beautiful
No other could ever steal my heart away
I just can’t look away…

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