Sunday, February 27, 2011

wisdom in the midst of worry

I apologize that my posts are repetitive. Stress is just a major part of my life right now and as much as I wish I had something more entertaining to share with the 2 of you who read this, writing it all out is a type of therapy for me...and a reminder to myself of my constant dependency on His strength and mercy to get me through each moment of every day.

Like today, when all I want to do is crawl in bed and run away from my responsibilities...
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (Galatians 6:9)

Or when my self-image is destroyed by the distorted expectations and desires of society....
"For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well." (Psalm 139:14-15)

When I struggle in accepting and dealing with my present circumstances...
"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation . . . . I can do everything through him who gives me strength." (Philippians 4: 12-13)

When I feel swallowed by my lack of obedience and trust in my God and burdened by my rebellion against Him...

"Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
   great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23)

And when I try, time and time again, to control the uncontrollable chaos surrounding me...
Be still, and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10a)

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31) 

can I get an "Amen"? 
Pray for me. That I can meditate on these verses and use them to bring my thoughts back to Him and His promises. Pray for the rest of the world...who are just as exhausted and stressed, many of whom are a million times more burdened by their responsibilities in life than I am. Let's all just admit that whether we are living life leisurely with no worries or working full time while going to school and raising a family, we all need Christ. Even in good times. 
Every single person on that spectrum needs His love, His mercy, His strength, and His promises. 
I'm the first to admit it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

silly me...

why do I ever doubt God's desire or even ability to be personal? I have experienced it multiple times, you would think I would realize by now that my God is very, very personal. He loves to bless us with things that we feel is specifically for us in that moment.
In all honesty, my Jesus time has been lacking and as I have said earlier, it is definitely taking its toll on me. This morning, I was reminded that time spent with Him will always be blessed. I can't walk away from hanging out with Jesus and feel more stressed, more burdened, etc.  I normally won't share any part of journal entries I write because it is my intimate reflection and prayer time with God, but today I have to give the Big Man a shout out on cyberspace because I am completely humbled.
"Abba, you know my insecurities and my feelings of inadequacy. More times than not, I can't get past them. They cripple me from letting your light shine out of me. Help me surrender them to you so I can fully find my security in you." feels weird sharing such an intimate prayer but there it is. My struggle of letting inadequacies control me.

Now here is where I got goose-bumpy and giddy...I opened my "Jesus Calling" devotional book and turned to February 22.
First sentence-"You need Me every moment."
As if the first sentence wasn't enough to grab my attention, this followed soon after:
"Your inadequacy presents you with a continual choice--deep dependence on Me, or despair. The emptiness you feel within will be filled either with problems or My presence."
Completely and totally for me. Why despair when I can be dependent on the one who works everything for the GOOD who love Him (Romans 8:28)?

God loves me. What a blessing to be reminded of my need for Him every second of every day. Too many times my focus is everywhere around me, when everything I need or want is right above me.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

First thing first, my amazing father just turned a year older, so in celebration I need to brag on him a bit. I have recently developed a much greater respect for this awesome man of God. The way he loves the Lord reflects how he loves his family and others. Daddy, I am so overwhelmed at how much bless me. God is so great. Your leadership, responsibility, patience (lots of patience), and love you provide our family is immensely appreciated.
I will always be your little girl.

On a completely unrelated note...I survived this past week. There were definitely a few times where I did not see the end in sight. Started the week off with a bang when I unintentionally pulled an all-nighter and it was pretty much downhill from there. I was stressed and whiny and I'm sure not pleasant to be around..I was NOT doing everything without grumbling or complaining (phil. 2:14) OR working at everything with all my heart, as for the Lord, not men (col. 3:23).
THEN as if I didn't need another thing for God to throw in my face, I went to go see the screening of Beware of Christians on Thursday. You can read about the movie by clicking on the link but the movie opened with this quote-
“The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable”
let's just say I walked out of the theater and haven't been able to get the movie off my mind since. I reflect on my life and am heavy hearted at how little I radiate Jesus. Are my actions in line with what I believe? Do I treat my classmates or people on the street in love? Do I take every opportunity to share with others the best decision I ever made? Majority of the time, no.
Do I contribute to the negative feelings others have towards Christians? Do people even know I am Christ follower?
These questions are sobering to me. What actions am I taking to show the Jesus that saves and loves and satisfies to everyone I come in contact with?
"What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs."
Matthew 10:27
Thank you Father, for continuing to change my heart and shape me into a woman who wants to radically and unconditionally follow you. I have a lot of work to do, but Your hand will guide me. Keep my heart hungry for You.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

surprise revelation

Oh, how I wish it was Christmas break again. Where my abundance of free time allowed for many days of just me and Jesus. No classes, no papers, no deadlines. I long to have that time again. Time that allows me to search and study His word to the point where I refuse to stop until He speaks to me. And boy, did He speak. In massive ways. Ways that encouraged me to start this blog because I just couldn't keep it all in. He was revealing so much in such a little amount of time that I felt like I would burst if I couldn't share. As I predicted here, my fear has become a reality-I don't have the time to shut myself away from the world and just hang out with Jesus for hours. I get frustrated and disheartened by how little I feel like I am growing now compared to over the break.
I don't feel like I have anything worthy of sharing. There is definitely a list of things that I know God is trying to teach me during this season of my life but my ears and eyes are struggling to catch and hold onto what He is trying to reveal to me...much less act on it. I feel like my days are becoming more about me and less about Him.
And I'm scared. It shouldn't be this do people have lives and actively and devoutly grow in their relationship with Christ?
Why do I have the all or nothing mindset when it comes to quiet times? I want to have this huge chunk of time available for it because I know how effective that was over the break. And now that school has started again and the busyness has picked back up, I am constantly burdened by the battle between my hunger for Him and daily responsibilities. I panic when I think about how much less I'm noticing things He is teaching me. I feel like a disappointment. Poor time manager. Lukewarm. It's a spiral downward when I let these thoughts run wild. I'm viewing my relationship with Christ as frantically trying to keep my head above water instead of letting His grace drown me.
He gave me a very special gift over winter break. One that showed me the importance of spending time with Him. Even though I so desire undistracted time with Him again, He has me right where He wants me. And even as I write that, I am reminded (yet again) that He is working in me.
I may not recognize it in the hurriedness of the day, but in the stillness of a night and reflection of the heart, He's moving in me...changing me.
note: it's saying hurriedness isn't a word but it most definitely is.

Luke 10:38-42
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus [1] entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. [2] Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Abba, thank you for revealing to me Your abundant grace as I felt burdened tonight. Give me a Mary heart. I am so distracted with everything I feel I'm lacking to be pleasing in your eyes, when all you really desire is me at your feet.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

straight from the Book

this is not a day that I can write.
1. because I am so tired that my words will not make sense
2. I have procrastinated yet again and should be doing my assignments
3. more than anything, I just need to immerse myself in scripture today to get the focus off myself and on something Eternal.

Psalm 23:3
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
   for his name’s sake. 
Matt. 11:28-30
 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Lamentations 5:21
21 Restore us to yourself, LORD, that we may return;
   renew our days as of old 
2 Corinthians 12:9
9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
Psalm 46:1-2
 1 God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.
Exodus 15:13
13 In your unfailing love you will lead
   the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
   to your holy dwelling. 
1 Peter 1:8-9
8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Today is Your day, my God. Use it for Your glory.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

today, I feel.

I feel sad. Burdened. Desperate. Fragile.
Sad about the brokenness of the world and of myself.
Burdened by fears, stresses, and desires.
Desperate to be held in the arms of the One who promises to never leave me.
Fragile in ways that weaken my heart to believe lies of the enemy.

It's one of those days where I look around and feel crushed by my inadequacies and lost in my pursuit of Him. A day where I don't know how to pray because I'm paralyzed by the multitude of things to pray for. A day that, despite the beautiful sunshine, seems dark and lonely. A day where God seems so out of reach as I struggle to cling to Him.

And then...I cry. For every thought I can't express, for every ache in my heart, and for the longing of wanting Him near.
Slowly I feel His arms encircle me, carrying my weary body, and holding me tightly in His grip. The darkness is being overwhelmed by the Light and I am filled with the hope His promises bring.

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.”  Deut. 33:12

"I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them."-Isaiah 42:16

 “He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart.”-Isaiah 40:11 

"As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.  For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand in the heights.  He trains my hands for battle." Psalm 18:30-34 
  I feel hopeful. Secure. Comforted. Loved.

Father, send forth Your light and Your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to Your holy mountain, to the place where You dwell. (2 Sam. 23:4)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

more-than-amazing grace

 It never ceases to amaze me how little I really know about the God I love. You would think that after 20 years of growing up in a Christian household, 17 years of Sunday school, and about 15 years of "having Jesus in my heart", my understanding of the Bible and my Father would be pretty solid. It's actually borderline embarrassing how little I truly grasp Him and His Word. Apparently, I missed the memo where God wants us to study Him. Search for Him. In my ignorance, it's like I was telling myself"Alright, I chose God and God=heaven. I'm good to go." Then as I matured in my "knowledge" of Him, my ignorance turned to laziness. My heart wanted to know and believe the sovereignty and mightiness of the Creator, but I felt stuck. I definitely had times where I desired spending time in His word and growing with Him....even now I look back and see how the Holy Spirit was working in my life and that gives me complete assurance that He is doing it now too.
Through a more devoted effort to learn about my Savior, I am for the first time seeing my need for His strength in my weakness and His holiness in my brokenness. And the more I truly examine how my life reflects Jesus, it is a constant battle to accept His grace and not be consumed by how little I deserve it. I know it seems like something your taught in Bible 101 but this is so new to me. God is making me more aware of my sinfulness so that I can fully grasp the concept of the gospel....that I am forgiven and therefore, am now free to repent. I will never reach a point where I am "fixed" and God has no more work to do in me. By following Christ, I am choosing daily to humble myself before Him and praise Him that His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 corin. 12:9).
Hallelujer. (i took up Ebonics as a second language.)

I've said it once and I'll say it again. Every single person on this earth needs to read this book. It has been the biggest blessing to me the past month and let me just say, if you think you know don't. In fact, I'm going to venture to say you hardly know Him. Don't get mad, but it's true. I'll be the first to admit that I thought I knew all about the Big Guy so don't be offended. Just read it and I promise you're understanding of who God is will deepen in ways that give you goosebumps. You can't help but fall to your knees in thankfulness for His amazing grace.