Thursday, August 13, 2015

defining wild.

wild.

A silence you've never heard before. The movement of the wind in the trees. The soft sweet reminder, you’ll be okay. An early morning call, slow motions preparing for the day, yet darkness is all you can still see. A moment of fear, gripped by confidence from Him. 

If we are people of Light why are we so afraid of the dark?



Sometimes, when you are short on time and silence, you have to leave the world for a while and enter into His presence. There you can find yourself terrified of the silence, and darkness, but not as terrified as you are of the sight of your soul, the lies you have believed of yourself and of the satisfaction of the world. Recognition.

Life is a mist. A vapor. An ice-cream cone, enjoyed for a moment then forgotten moments later. So it is with the comforts of life, and the affections of the world. Kisses that sting a midnight flame of pride. Careful it says. Careful to watch the flock, that the kisses from the Evil One might not drown you in their shameless pageantry. It feels warm at first, easing your sore muscles, but if you soak in it too long you will see your skin withering away. So it is when the flattering taunts of the Enemy give way to your flesh, and you start to believe the world is right. That attention and love from the world are the satisfying lusts of our hearts. Temptation brings forth sin, and sin when it is fully grown inevitably births death (James 1:14-15). And yet we daily believe the lies spoken over us. And then we see them. Confession.

If we are people of Light why do we trust and believe the dark?


A standing ovation is minimum honorarium for the Guy who told the mountains where to stand. The true honorarium comes from silence in the woods, alone, beholding the Creator in His creation. It is merely a reflection of the radiant beauty of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

And still moments of agony exist when one stands before the Creator in His creation, and realize how unsatisfying attention and love from the world is. And the world is passing away along with its desires (1 John 2:17). When those seconds turn to minutes which turn to hours, movement in the soul must occur. Questions must be asked and answered, and silence must be fostered. You make room for Him to speak, to tell you the lies which dwell in your heart. But His kisses hurt as well. His grace-filled lips light on fire the lies you are believing and they no longer have a place in your heart. 

“I was wretched. And every soul is wretched that is fettered in the friendship of mortal things-it is torn to pieces when it loses them, and then realizes the misery which it had even before it lost them.” Saint Augustine, Confessions

Repentance.

Only silence makes the calm wind in the trees sound like a tornado. And only silence helps us to see the tower of babel-that is our love for self-will come crashing down if left to build its own idol. You see, we want to be our own Sovereign god, so we determine to take control of our circumstances. We disbelieve the good plans He has for us, and begin to manufacture our own. 

If we are people of Light, we do we keep walking in the dark?

So our version of wild becomes carefully articulated plans of action. And His version of wild is stepping into the unknown, not knowing where one will end up. We must move forward believing and trusting in grace. Forgiveness.

“In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)

4 am, a headlamp, a 20 lb. pack, a dog, and a dark damp cool morning. Wild. Seeking Wild, chasing Wild, loving Wild. All that He is is insanely Wild. A moment with Him, in His creation is the start of believing His wild plan is good.







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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Having a Rebekah Heart in a Bachelor World

Having the heart of Rebekah in the world of the Bachelor

I had a conversation with my friend the other day about how the church is not much different then the Bachelor. Many women (believing women), in search of their one true love (equally-yoked love), go to California (church) because they can’t seem to find any good guys in the bar (bar). We place ourselves at a church hoping one of the Godly men there will notice us. We pray every time we go in to church, “Lord, please let my husband be here. I am so tired of being single.”



But then the Bachelor world and the Jesus-loving world part ways, or they should. Trusting God in a season of unknowns, heartache, and disappointment is the greatest challenge in front of us, as women of God, at times. Friends get engaged, married, and start to have kids all while you are hoping to be asked out on a date by one of 50 guys at church when there are 300 girls around you. Comparison creeps in. In the church, on the Bachelor, in a bar, on Facebook, everywhere comparison comes to steal kill and destroy you.

“I must not be beautiful enough. I am not smart enough. I don’t know enough about the word of God. I have blonde hair and guys are more attracted to brunettes. I wish I had her body. Gosh look at my love handles, my nose, my cellulite.” We pick ourselves apart imagining we could try to be all of the best things about those girls at once. Instead of recognizing and seeing our different personalities, bodies, and ideas as gifts to the many-parts body of Christ.

My mom and I were talking the other day about this guy I have a crush on. I told her about his character, how he loves and obeys the Lord, how he has interacted with my friends, and how he interacts with me. She was (I think) glad to hear me talking about somebody in that way, until I said, “Yea but I don’t know why he would ever like me. It’s not even worth liking him because he is way out of my league. There are a million other girls more beautiful and Godly then I am who like him too.” COMPARISON. It isn’t even about that guy, it’s about believing and trusting the Lord is in control. It’s about offering our affections and attractions towards other guys to the Lord. It’s about being ourselves and not trying to be someone else just to be liked by a certain guy. It’s about turning our hearts in the opposite manner from what the world tells us. It’s about praying for yourself, and the other ‘million’ girls that like him that your heart’s wouldn’t trade the affection they have for Christ for affections towards a human being. It’s about letting go of expectations and trusting the Lord is leading that guy towards who he is supposed to be with. It’s about letting him pursue the woman he feels he is called to pursue, not jumping to the punch line and asking him out because you aren’t patient enough to wait on the Lord.

If we have been raised with Christ, we seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. We set our mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:1-2).

When we set our minds on things that are above we naturally think about ourselves less. We begin to think more about the number of young women around us who don’t know Jesus who are waiting to hear the Gospel from our lips. We think about the many women in the church who need to be discipled by a woman with a content heart. We think about the life of Christ and the worthiness of loving him well.

I have been so enthralled by the story of Isaac and Rebekah lately. I have dreamed about their story, and woken up in the middle of the night with the Lord asking me, “read Genesis 24 again.” I am fascinated by the sort of naivety Rebekah carried when the servant approached her and asked for water from her jar. She gave him drink, then drew more water to water his camels. In the back of her mind she wasn’t thinking, “oh I bet this servant has come to make me the wife of an amazing man, so I better put on my best behavior and serve him better then I ever have served anyone in the past.” No, she was who she is. Her character was one of a servant. In fact she didn’t even know what she had ‘won’ until Abraham’s servant began to speak at dinner about Abraham and all he has, and the young man to whom all of it would be given. There was a reward to her faithfulness (not that there always will be), but the reward was more satisfying because she didn’t know it would be given to her as a response to her servanthood. 

In this same manner I pray my single sisters in Christ and I will go about our lives serving the Lord with our whole hearts, offering sacrifices of praise to God, and sacrificially giving and serving those around us. I pray we choose to walk in our identities knowing who the Lord has created us to be. I pray we will walk in a humble manner, rejoicing when the guy we had a major crush on decides to pursue another girl, having confidence he was hearing from the Lord in pursuing her and not you. I pray we won't be afraid of having crushes (it is okay to desire marriage, and to want to marry a Godly husband), but we will hold it loosely and pray for him with no selfish motives. I pray we fight the temptation to compare ourselves to those around us in the church and in the world, and that we as the church will build each other up and encourage one another in each person’s strengths.

Our Father is right now raising up men who will put their hand to the plow and not look back. As He calls these men, it is our role as women-sisters in Christ-to support, encourage, and love without pressure and excessive standards. We are to build our brothers up and believe our perfect Father will call them where He pleases. Thanks be to God, we can trust Him with our hearts, minds, souls and bodies.

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Grace for the moment



My life has been a series of events where the Lord is asking me to have grace I don't have. Grace to believe Him, to trust Him, and to know He knows what is best. Grace to remember the things He has already promised me even when my surroundings or circumstances tell me something different. Grace to be unaffected by people's choices and words, to be steadfast, immovable, confident in my identity as a Daughter of my immovable Creator.

How do I know I can rely on this grace? Because every single word of the Bible, every story, every situation written down points to the undeserved grace of God. It is a narrative of God's grace. "By the transformational power of his grace, God unilaterally reaches his hands into the muck of this fallen world, through the presence of his Son, and radically transforms his children from what we are  (sinners) into what we are becoming by his power (Christ-like)" (Paul Tripp, Grace).

So grace wakes me up to my obvious need for a Savior, and helps me understand my ability to rely on my Lord. Grace allows me to stand at the door and knock, and grace opens the door. Grace makes me feel the weightiness of my sin, and makes me feel altogether beautiful and without flaw. Grace assures that I see the appalling truths about myself, and helps me see how I am being made into a new creation. Grace bids me come and die, and grace bids me eternal life. Grace knocks me to my knees at the end of my wits, and grace raises me up to stand on a rock. Grace lets us discover where the Lord is taking us, and grace knows where the Lord is taking us.

Grace is the irresistible oxymoron. It is a great paradox.

When Jesus spoke with the woman at the well the disciples returned and saw him speaking with her. They "marveled that he was talking with a woman" (4:27). The woman leaves to go tell many Samaritans from her town about what happened to her. In the mean time the disciples were trying to get Jesus to eat and Jesus' response was, "my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes and see the fields are white for harvest (4:35).

Then, "many samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony" (4:39). The disciples couldn't see what Jesus was doing, but Jesus was only doing what the Father told him to do. Although it seemed like a waste of time to the disciples, God was doing something. And although we don't know what the Lord is up to in a given moment, we know His grace is there to lead and guide us where our trust is without borders.

“I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.”  -Elisabeth Elliot

Similarly, when Naomi returns to Bethlehem after many unfortunate events and a time of sojourning in Moab, she couldn't see any hope. Everything seemed pointless to her.

But, in reality, the famine, moving to Moab, the deaths of the husbands, Ruth's loyalty, Naomi's return during the harvest, Boaz, and EVEN the kinsman who chose not to redeem Ruth all were a part of God's grace. They were all a part of God's plan to redeem millions and include a Moabite in the royal, Messianic bloodline. The story was much bigger then Naomi could see. God's grace was ever present.

Today, after a series of unfortunate events in my life, hope is sometimes hard to find. Grace has to be my immovable rock for yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Situations and people around me will change and it may seem hopeless, but my heart and my eyes remain steadfast, fixed on the provider of grace.

I will count it all joy my brothers, when I meet trials of various kinds, for I know that the testing of my faith produces steadfastness. And I will let steadfastness have its full effect, that I amy be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4).

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The lady next door

Sometimes your heart longs to meet Muslim women, and sometimes you pray for hours on a drive home from the mountains for the opportunity to meet those Muslim women. Often the Lord wakes you up to how immediately he answers prayers. And sometimes this means you witness a car accident happen between two women.

Sometimes you exchange phone numbers with one of those women because you hear her speaking in Arabic on the phone, and you are a witness. Sometimes that Muslim woman calls and invites you over for dinner. And EVERY TIME you go. Not just for the food, or the 'culture lesson', or the amazing Moroccan tea, but to show her you care. To show her there is a Love that knows no boundaries: culturally, ethnically, or geographically. To show her she can have American friends, and there are women in this country who want to be friends with her. To show her she can have more then one friend, and that it would be a joy to be her friend.

Because sometimes people are lonely, and need someone to drive over to their house and share a meal with them.


And if that lady just happens to be from Morocco, the spread will look something like this^.



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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

I'm Coming Home EG



Today,

I am sure many of you are wondering why I haven't posted anything. After all, my sweet Ella Grace has been with her Savior face to face for 3 years today, For the past two years since she passed away I have written about her:

the day after she passed away

her first birthday in Heaven

her second birthday in Heaven

But this year I can't find the words.

I spent the past 3 days (including today) at a conference with 6000 other people being taught by minds who have spent their lives glorifying God by studying and teaching His word. The name of the conference this year was 'Coming Home' and was a eschatological look at the word of God. Of course in three days there is only so much one could teach and be taught, but the teachings were extensive and full of Biblical truths that saturated my heart with a hope and a longing for what is to come.

ULTIMATELY that is what I feel today. 3 years have passed since I saw her precious face light up as I tickled her tummy. 3 years have passed since I held her sweet hand in mine. 3 years have passed since I laid her tiny body on top of mine to stop her from crying. 3 years have passed since I held her lifeless body. But I know she hasn't counted them. And I know she isn't looking down on me wishing she could be here with me.



3 long years in earthly time. 3 years of healing, being hurt again, healing again, being hurt again, and healing. 3 years of being reminded daily how tiring it is to live in a broken world - to watch loved ones come and go; some with full lives (97 year olds) and some with short lives (17 months old) - to feel cheated, abandoned, unloveable - to feel you could fall in love again, only for it to come to an end 1 day later.

The days go by so slow EG, but the years have gone by so fast. I am three years closer to eternity then when we first met. And my longing to be with you is still there, but ten times as much as I look forward to seeing you, I long to be in Glory. The type of glory none of us has seen here. The type of glory we can only dream about and you are experiencing,
“Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal...And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations." Revelation 21

Tears stream down my cheeks, not for the sake of crying but because this Truth - it is stunning. I have a hope against all other hopes that I shall reign with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That my soul will be so completely satisfied in His being glorified. And that no longer will there be tears, pain, suffering, mourning, death or loss, only Life and the steadfast love of the Lord.

The steadfast love of the Lord is better than life, a husband, children, an education, a family, a little girl named Ella Grace, traveling, adventure, and creation. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you, when my daughter passes away in my lap, when my best friend walks away from our relationship, when somebody falls in love with me and I walk away from them. When my family is gone and all that is left is your steadfast love, my lips will praise you.

Keep praisin Him baby girl. I miss you, but I am coming home soon and very soon and I look forward to meeting the Jesus you have been worshiping for a 1000 years face to face.

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Preach the Gospel, if necessary..

The quote, "preach the Gospel, if necessary use words," has been commonly (falsely) accredited to the late Saint Francis of Assisi, but I believe this quote should not be commonly quoted by believers of Jesus and was never part of St. Francis' theology.



In any country, any people group, anywhere in the world language is used as a form of communication. You will never go to a people group which does not have some way of communicating. Even when we go overseas to serve a people who do not know our language we try to use gestures to get our point across. Have you ever met someone that was able to figure out where you came from, what you believe, and how you live based off of your actions towards them? Is it possible for someone to figure these things out about you without saying a word? No, unless they can read minds.

On February 24, 1209, Saint Francis heard a sermon on Matthew 10:9, in which Jesus tells his followers they must go and proclaim the Kingdom of Heaven has come and to take no bag, no walking stick, or no two shoes for the journey. During this sermon Saint Francis received his calling to be a missionary. Throughout the span of his life he attempted many missionary journeys to share the truth with people in Morocco, and Jerusalem, but was stopped by a shipwreck and illness. He also attempted to bring the Gospel to the Sultan in Egypt at the time of the crusades, and realized the power of sharing the Gospel with the Sultan and the crusades ending. Francis had a passion for sharing the Gospel, and is described as a follower of Jesus who strived to live most similarly to Him. Francis stood on top of hay bales, stairs, and boxes in the middle of town squares and pastures preaching to any who would listen to the Good News. Although this quote is not his these are a few quotes which were said by him:

"It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching."

"...As for me, I desire this privilege from the Lord, that never may I have any privilege from a man, except to do reverence to all, and to convert the world by obedience to the Holy Rule rather by example than by word."

Through reading these words, it is hard to deny the commitment St. Francis had to both proclaiming the Gospel and embodying the Gospel. However, it is important to notice there is an age old tension between the two. Show justice or preach the Gospel? Notice the misuse of the original quote. If this quote is used to diminish the importance of sharing the Gospel, then it is unfaithful to the heart and spirit of St. Francis. However there is a correct concern, as St. Francis would say, if we are continuously preaching the Good News and asking people to trust in Jesus while not living out the truth of the Gospel in our own lives, and in showing justice towards them. As James 2:14-16 tells us faith without works is dead. The pendulum can swing both ways. If we spend so much time showing justice without ever sharing the Gospel, then the Gospel is not in our justice and we are just another organization trying to be 'kind' to the world. 

In conclusion this quote is not only not biblical it is heretical. It takes the necessity of preaching the actual words of the Gospel out of a follower's mind. And it takes away from the truth that they (the lost) will not and cannot hear unless the Gospel is preached. So in an effort to remain in a Biblical state of mind, I have come to debunk this crazy quote and share:


How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:14-15 ESV)

So, since we do not know who said that quote, but we do know it is isn't biblical (at least with those specific words: if necessary) then we should stop sharing this quote, and begin to quote the Bible. It is always necessary to use words when sharing the Gospel.

Preach the Gospel, if necessary ALWAYS use words.

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Resources:
1. Catholic.org http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=50
2. Catholic Encyclopedia Online http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06221a.htm
3. Relevant Magazine http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/books/reviews/29094-review-the-explicit-gospel

Monday, December 8, 2014

Why you should watch the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

Why you should watch the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show..




Tomorrow, Tuesday December 10, 2014 for one hour of primetime television, Victoria's Secret premieres it's most outrageous, colorful, and expensive lingerie worn by the 'world's most beautiful women.' They feature many well known artists, backstage interviews, and a $10 million+ 'Fantasy Bra.' 

A few facts:

In 2013 10.3 million people tuned into the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show. Twice as many women watched the show as men. In a pole done on Entertainment Weekly's site, 34.75% of people said they watched the show for the boobs, 24.54% said they watched the show for the models, and 18.19% of people said they watched the show for the insane, sparkly outfits.

One commenter said, "I watched it because my daughter wants to be a model and to show her what goes on while being a model! and some of the perks of being a good model, you can walk the Victoria Secret runway! that's why."

What I don't need to tell you is whether or not you should watch it. Of course the arguments are listless for young teenage and young adult women to not watch it, as well as for men. Only you can know whether you can watch these women walk across stage with their endlessly long legs, incredibly tiny torsos, and surprisingly large breasts, and have pure thoughts (men) and security in your identity (ladies). You be the judge of your own heart when you turn on the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show of 2014. But what I would like to say is a little different.

While in Thailand this past year, I saw many women parading the streets of Pattaya wearing scantly clad clothing/lingerie and selling themselves to men for sex. However, I was there to love them, to share Good News about their identity with them, and to ask them their stories. So what is the difference between walking the streets in Thailand, and sitting on the other side of a television screen watching women parade themselves across a stage in scantly clad clothing? 

My heart.

My heart is the biggest difference. You see my heart while sitting and watching the VS fashion show is not to love those girls, hear their stories, or share the good news about their identity in their Creator with them. Why? Because this is a safe place, they will never hear the things I say about them, and I am "just watching TV". My heart is to judge them and myself. My heart thinks things like, "how could these girls parade their bodies like that? How could they want to be a sex symbol in an age where we are trying to fight pornography addictions in men? Why would they want to be half naked in front of 10.3 million+ people? Maybe I should be that beautiful, Dang I need to work out more, etc." Or even to the degree, "Whatever, I mean they are pretty, but they put themselves in a position to be mistreated by men, and at least I don't parade around in lingerie." Instead of: "I wonder what got them to this place in life? I wonder what her story is? I wonder if anybody has told her she is beautiful not because of the way she looks but because of what is in her heart? I wonder if she knows the God who created her?" I wonder how much our hearts could change while watching the VS Fashion Show, if we were more willing to see the worth of these women, not based off of what they are or aren't wearing, but based off of them being a human being created in the image of God.

Maybe it is unrealistic to think we should be watching TV shows with less judgement, and more love. But 1 Corinthians 10:31 still rings true, even while you are watching the VS Fashion Show, "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."

So turn on the VS Fashion Show, and love those girls across the TV screen with your thoughts and words and be careful of your heart-it is deceitful above all things. Or don't watch the VS Fashion Show because you know you can't with a sound heart and mind, either way, love your neighbor as yourself (including your neighbor across the TV screen).

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