Tuesday, August 28, 2012

strength.


God revealed something to me tonight.

I came to the realization that, despite my very difficult childhood and life, I have suffered the deepest and most painful hurts within the past two years. Not in a specific incidence, but in an accumulation of events during that time frame. However, I am beginning to see the good in the midst of these pains.

I was recently asked if I thought that my confidence in God wavered during these past two years as a result. I can firmly say that it has not (of course there have been moments of doubt and shaking, but in the end my confidence in Him has become stronger, not weaker). However, as C.S. Lewis so beautifully put it, my false self-sufficiency has been shattered by pain.

All of my own plans, capabilities, strengths, and goals have all fallen and will continue to fall in the presence of my God. I have been blessed by the LORD and led by Him, only to find that His strength is the only thing that proves true. Now, in the absence of all merely natural motives and supports, I am learning to act on that strength, and that alone. Yet still my thoughts, whether their source from the enemy or simply of my carnal nature, scream out claims of the cruelty of God for fathering in such a manner. “How could He do that to you? Give you good things just to take them away? Hasn't that happened enough in your life? How can you ever trust Him with anything? You love Him, you serve Him. You are so faithful to Him, you haven't given up. Is this how He repays you? He promises to bless you and give you good things! And those desires of your heart? They are no where in sight! Is it all even worth it? Is He, this Jesus whom you serve, even worthy of your love, let alone your trust?”

And with that last question making it's way into my mind, all seemingly right accusations against my Creator fall apart.

Is He worthy?

I am brought to tears at the mere thought of my questioning, my heart almost bursting out of my chest crying, “YES!” louder than any claim of His so-called cruelty.

I realize that God has allowed these pains in my life to draw me ever closer to Him, for He knows far better than I that my only true source of love, joy, peace, and strength is found in His nearness.

At first, I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ.” (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain).

Though He slay me, I will trust in Him!


Nothing else really matters... Only to love Him and do what He tells me. I don't know why it should be so, but it is. All the time it is suffering to love and sorrow to love, but it is lovely to love Him in spite of this, and if I should cease to do so, I should cease to exist.” (Hinds Feet On High Places)

These above ramblings are a poor attempt at articulating the deepest truth that God has impressed upon my heart in the midst of deep pain. Yet the heart of the matter is this: that in my weakness, His strength is perfected; and this everlasting truth is rooted in the unshakable foundation that God is love, God is good, and God is for me. I pray that I will never stop learning to rest upon it.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

back in the states: first entry.

Today, I was getting ready to go serve the homeless downtown with Such As I Have Ministries. I was driving around for about an hour prior, and the sun kept getting in my eyes. It was to the point where I could hardly see at all, and it was really frustrating. Then, when we were actually driving downtown, my friend Sarah drove. As I sat in the passenger seat, I looked at the sun, and beheld the most beautiful sunset that I've seen in a very long time.
Instantly, the Lord spoke to my heart. I felt Him saying that the most beautiful and wonderful things in life often seem the most frustrating and difficult. I then thought, "Well, what makes the difference?" God then clearly put these words on my heart: "The difference is who was in control. The first time, you were driving. When you were in control, it was difficult. As soon as someone else was driving and in control of the situation, you saw how beautiful and perfect it was."
Then it hit me. When I try to control my circumstances, future, and life, it's a disaster. It's frustrating and difficult. However, as soon as I let someone else take control, I see how beautiful it really is.
Who is this "someone"? Well, to quote Ms. Underwood, "Jesus, take the wheel."

Thank you, Lord, for accepting my broken life and making it Your treasure.
You make beautiful things out of us.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

year by year.

We obligate ourselves to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of every tree, year by year, to the house of the Lord;” Nehemiah 10:35

In Nehemiah's day, all who had separated themselves from the peoples of the lands to the Law of God entered into an oath to walk in His ways, and this verse is part of that oath. This people obligated themselves to give God their very best, the firstfruits of their harvest, year by year.
Those three words, “year by year”, really stand out to me. It is the fourth day of the new year, 2012, and it amazes me to think of all that happened in 2011. I graduated high school, moved to Montana with Potter's Field, and then moved to El Salvador, where I am now, and that isn't even the half of it. It is a season in my life in which my commitment to God is very clear because I have literally left everything behind to follow His call. However, will my faith still be just as evident when I go back to San Diego in April?
I desire that my life be wholly and continually separated unto God and set apart from the world.
I want the Lord to have my very best, the firstfruits of my life, year by year. I do not know what this next year will bring. As of now, the plan is to return to California and continue working with the Bus Ministry, committing to Such As I Have homeless ministry, and going to school. However, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21). Wherever God takes me or whatever He leads me in to, I obligate myself to bring my very best to Him.
Lord, help me and give me strength. You deserve nothing less than all of my life, and my very best. I don't want to give you mere leftovers. Use me, Jesus.

Monday, December 19, 2011

guidance.

As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven.” Nehemiah 1:4

The previous verse tells us that Nehemiah had just found out that the wall of Jerusalem was broken down, and its gates were burned with fire. He was sorrowful, sat down, and wept.
Just a few minutes ago, I was doing the same. I was crying over a build up of things, and I was just weeping and praying before the Lord, asking for His guidance and help. Then, I went to this verse.
Nehemiah turned his sorrow into fasting and prayer, and I believe that this example is the guidance that God wanted to give me right now.
Therefore, I will continue to bring these cares and sorrows before the Lord in prayer, and begin fasting. For where there is much prayer, there is much power.

Philippians 4:6-7
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Psalm 51:17
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

December 15, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

mercy.

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13

Thank you Lord!! Mercy forever triumphs over judgment. His mercies are new every morning and His forgiveness is unending, because of what Jesus did on the cross.

However, judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. It's like the parable of the man and the king. The king forgave his debt, which was very large. But, when the man's servant owed him a small amount, he did not forgive him but punished him severely. When the king heard of it, he called the man and threw him in prison.

It's the same with our God. We have been forgiven a huge debt, one that earned us death. Yet, Jesus died in our place, and God forgave us and made us His sons and daughters. How can we then go and fail to forgive others, when they trespass against us in much smaller ways? One of the lines in the Lord's prayer is, “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Do we really mean those words? If God forgave us to the same degree that we forgave others, would we even be forgiven at all?

For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy.

God's mercies are new every morning, and I want mine to be, too. We all need grace. I will daily ask the Lord to give me a renewed outlook on those around me and in my household, so that I the way I act towards them today will not be a reflection of the things that they did against me yesterday. “...lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

Matthew 5:7
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.”

Saturday, December 3, 2011

scandal.

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, “DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY,” also said, “DO NOT COMMIT MURDER.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.” James 2:10-11

This verse is clear. All of us have sinned and broken God's laws. In fact, we're guilty of breaking it all. Why, then, do we sit and compare ourselves to others? “You know, I've done some bad things, but I'm still not as bad as that guy.” “Yes, I've lied a few times, disobeyed my parents, but I've never stolen anything, so I'm not THAT bad.” Or, my personal favorite, “I haven't murdered or robbed a bank, so that makes me a basically good person. God has to let me into Heaven...right?”

Wrong. We don't go to Heaven because we are “good people.” If this verse in James wasn't clear enough, the Bible also says that even our very best works are filthy rags compared to God. None of us is better than another. The only way to Heaven is by the grace of God, and His grace alone.
Jesus Christ died on the cross because we are have all broken the law. We all have sinned and thus fallen short of His glory, and the wages of those sins is death. Yet His own precious blood was our atonement. Murders, adulterers, liars, thieves.. all of these words describes each one of us.
If you don't know Jesus, I pray that as you read this that these words would ring true in your heart, and that you would be overwhelmed by the love of God and our great need for Him as our Savior. I pray the same for those of you who know Him already.

For myself, I need to have this reminder on my heart: that I am where I am by the grace of God alone. Nothing I have done, nor anything that I will ever do, has brought me here, given me life, or has saved me. I am in no position to compare myself to others, judging their sins as worse or more detrimental than my own. I am a transgressor of the entire law: a murderer, adulterer, liar, and a thief, saved by grace.

For.the.glory.of.my.God. <3

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

kingly.

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.” James 2:8
Royal. I found it interesting that James, inspired by the Holy Spirit, used this word. I could be wrong, but I don't recall any other law being labeled as such. The Greek word is basilikos, which most commonly means “of or belonging to a king.”
I serve the King of kings, the Ruler of all things. What better way to love and serve Him, than by following the kingly law: loving and serving others?



This past week, this has meant building a Christmas village, curling endless amounts of ribbon, serving 400 people dinner four nights in a row, ironing over 200 tablecloths, cleaning a boys' bathroom with powdered shampoo and sandpaper, constantly embarrassing myself while trying to communicate effectively in Spanish, wearing a bow-tie, learning two Christmas dances, and a myriad of other things.
Tomorrow, it may mean something completely different.

Whatever it may be, I need to remember
that in doing so, I am serving the King of kings,
Whom I love, and Who has first loved me.