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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Friday, November 21, 2014

Cancer Sucks




Last night I walked into the gym with two of my friends to go work out. A sweet middle-aged woman was working the counter. She couldn't seem to find my friend and I's information so she just said yall just go ahead and go through. I noticed something was wrong with her eyes, but didn't want to ask her in front of everybody else around if something was wrong. After we had just finished working out and finished sitting in the sauna we were packing up our stuff to leave and the same lady (the lady from the front counter) walked in to collect towels. Her eyes though, there was something about her eyes and I felt I should ask her if something was wrong. So I looked at her and said, "are you okay?" She quickly responded, "no." And I quickly responded, "o I mean do you have allergies or something?" And she instantly reacted by putting her face down, crying and managed to utter out, "no I don't have allergies." As I walked closer to her I looked at her and said, "what's wrong?"

Side note: the Lord is worthy of his glory, every ounce of it however and whenever and I feel so abundantly honored that one of the ways He receives glory is by opening our eyes to see the things that make his heart cry.?

In this moment, the Holy Spirit intercepted time and space to sovereignly be in the woman's locker room of the local YMCA. She looked up with tears streaming down her face and said, "my friend just died from cancer." Not at all what I was expecting to hear her say or confess, but while being shocked I thought, "what do I say now?" All I wanted to say was, "cancer sucks, death sucks, and it sucks that we have to encounter such a reality that robs us of life." Thankfully, the spirit helps us in our weakness for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words (Romans 8:26). She needed prayer. She needed to be seen in her pain. The justification of her pain and tears needed to be recognized by others. And most of all she needed to know she is not alone. And that she is loved. 

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31


Love looks like holding a stranger while she mourns the loss of a friend. And love looks like feeling the tears roll down your cheek because the Lord has opened your eyes to see the things that make His heart cry.


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Monday, October 6, 2014

I believe





I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidian mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened with men...

The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky



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