Blinders.

blinders

Oftentimes, I look at other people’s situations and wish I was in them. I want their adventures, their story, their experiences. I look at other Christian’s lives through rose-colored glasses and wish my life was theirs. I have blinders on – looking at other people. I look at missionaries across the world and think YES – look at their awesome adventure and how much they love Jesus. I look at friends who are married and think WOW – they were/are satisfied in Christ and look how He brought them a spouse. I look at friends working at other churches and think THEIR JOB IS PERFECT.

Here’s the thing.

When I desire other people’s lives and other people’s experience, I am tuning out what the Lord is revealing me about the experiences and opportunities He has given me.

Don’t get me wrong, it is good to set goals and to be encouraged by other believers. And it is a good thing to communicate with the Lord about the desires in your heart. BUT – even more important is this: asking the Lord to tune your heart to line up with His desires and redemptive plan.

I had a great conversation a few weeks ago with a sweet friend, Lillian about one of my favorite verses:

Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

The human/selfish/sinner side of me likes to interpret that verse as “Love Jesus, and tell Him all the things you want in life and He will make that happen.”

However, that verse is not to portray the Lord as a genie in a bottle, but to say – when you are passionately in love with Jesus, He places desires in Your heart. He is the giver of the Godly desires. He is filling my heart with things that glorify Him.

Awesome job? good aspiration. Money? good aspiration. Marriage? good aspiration. Adoption? good aspiration.

BUT, if these things are taking priority in my heart above being in love with Jesus, the problem of idolatry has to be addressed. The war against idolatry is daily, but I know the Lord is bigger than my selfish desires and sinful heart.

Contentment, my friends, is what the Lord is teaching me. Not just contentment, but pure JOY in the life the Lord has laid before me, the experiences I have had and that are to come, and the way that the Lord is faithful to reveal more of Himself to His children.

Sometimes, I want to glance 15 years in the future, but that would completely take out the step-by-step trusting of the Lord to walk with me through each day and each relationship I have. Isn’t that the beauty of life as a believer? Daily fellowship with Christ? YES.

I’m taking the blinders off; I’m going to continually fight against looking at other people’s situations and wishing they were mine. Instead, I am going to focus on the beautiful life the Lord has laid before me and how I can best glorify Christ in the relationships, job, and experiences I am given.

Haiti Week 4/5

Image

One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is John 15. vs. 5 says “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Yesterday, I was with my team walking through a local village, Mesaye (pronounced: mess-eye-aye). We were crossing the river and I turned around and saw this tree…and mainly saw the beauty of the strong roots. I grabbed my phone to take a picture because 1) I love trees and 2) it reminded me of this verse. Our group of interns here at Mission of Hope are memorizing different verses and passages, and John 15:5 is one of them. If I am not rooted in Christ, my time here is in vain. Apart from Christ, I can do nothing.

I am learning what this looks like, I certainly do not have it figured out. The Lord has been showing me how often I walk through the day concerned about how I am going to figure things out or how I am going to get things accomplished. So often, I am so blinded to how much I rely on myself.

He is teaching me to pray about everything (Philippians 4:6), and continually be feeding the Holy Spirit inside of me with the Truth of the Gospel. Galatians 5:16-26 explains the fruits of the Spirit as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” [if you were raised in church, you can probably recite them in a song and dance form.] Aside from the song, when I really dwell on each word and compare them with my heart and my actions, I realize my desperation for Jesus each and every day. The fruit of the Spirit is opposite of the fruit of the flesh. My sinful and fleshly reaction (the type of reaction I have when I am not walking with the Lord) is not patient, kind, or loving. The miracle that takes place within our hearts – the miracle that the Holy Spirit does – is He changes our hearts. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says if anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW CREATION.

Praise the Lord for that.

Ephesians 4:22-24 says “to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

When I think about the word renewal, I think about a process. Walking with the Lord is not something that happens from a single prayer, or through reading a book. Walking with the Lord is about acknowledging and submitting to the power of the Holy Spirit, being faithful to Him and spending time in His Word and learning His Truth. The Bible calls this “sanctification”. It is a process.

The more time I spend with the Lord, the more I realize my complete and utter desperation for Him.

Do not be discouraged. Keep seeking the Lord.

“Continue seeking Him with seriousness. Unless He wanted you, you would not be wanting Him.”- C.S. Lewis

NOW.

I often talk about wanting to follow God’s will for my life, or to know “the plan”. While reading Francis Chan’s Forgotten God, I was slapped in the face in the most wonderful way. When did God ever give people a 10-year plan of every little thing that thing that was going to happen? Never would be that correct answer. See, that would take faith out of it. That would make the journey of following Jesus so much more predictable. God wants us to trust Him and follow Him right now, even though we don’t know every little detail. Here is what we do know:

2 Corinthians 4:7-11 – We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies. Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus, so that the life of Jesus will be evident in our dying bodies.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – 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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Luke 9:23 – And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

These are just 3 incredibly encouraging and motivating verses that excite me. I am in complete awe of the grace of Jesus. I get so caught up in stressing out that I may “miss” God’s plan for my life, that I think sometimes I use it as an excuse to be stagnant. What if I’m supposed to be a missionary? well, we are called to be missionaries every single place we go. Look at Acts 1:8. I think about the future and graduation, hopes for a husband and family, travel, missions, and the list goes on. Jesus has revealed that by living through the power of the Holy Spirit alone and following His voice today [not by my own power, but His] that I am more amazed and in love with Him and listening to what He has to say. Following the Spirit doesn’t start in 15 years, or after you get a handle on your 5 year plan…it starts today. Thank you sweet Jesus for making my stubborn brain understand just even a little bit of this. You are too good.

This is the quote from Forgotten God that I highlighted, underlined, saved in my phone, etc:

“I think a lot of us need to forget about God’s will for my life. God cares more about our respond to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today’s decisions.” pg. 120

This is on one of my favorite necklaces that Lisa made me for my high school graduation. Little did I know the weight of this statement. Love it!

Reflections of 2010…&& Pictures.

2010 has been a wonderful year.

I love looking back on memories and exciting moments of the year, but my favorite thing to do is look back at my journal entries that I write (most of the time) in my alone time with the Lord. It’s so encouraging looking at where I was, what I was/still am praying for, and what He has graciously answered. I feel like this is such a sweet season of my life – finding wonderful community and friends, growing up, maturing, and tuning my ear and heart to really focus on the Lord. He has really been tearing down walls in my heart and false doctrine that I have believed for many years, and revealing the truth of the Gospel. I was raised in church my entire life, but I really feel that in the past year (well, really the past 3-4 months) that God has showed me that He is sufficient and He is for me. I always have attached my faith to other things in addition to the Lord (friends, family, church, grades, etc…). My faith is to be found in Christ and Christ alone. This process of breaking down walls and false doctrine is a painful/slow/beautiful process that I pray continues so that I may be more equipped to share the Gospel and to truly know God, not just know of God. Relationship y’all, that’s such a beautiful thing about Jesus Christ.

All of this to say that the Lord has really been softening my heart, and I am listening now. I’m not perfect, but God IS, and I am encouraged that He can take a stubborn, dramatic, should-learn-when-to-not-talk, sinful girl and want to use me for His glory. This my friends, is amazing amazing grace.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

This has been a season of growth for me, both spiritually and socially. I have made great new friends, traveled across the world to Australia, flirted with photography, went back to my natural hair color (brown), and somehow got through 2 semesters of college 😉

This is only a SMALL recap on this past year. Looking through my pictures, I realize things I didn’t get pictures of – or realized ones I didn’t make a graphic for. Granny and Grampy – I need to take pictures next time we play Yahtzee and of the mashed potatoes.
There were also so many family days with the Burnetts that I didn’t get pictures of. I’ll work on this in 2011! Let’s see…Rangers games, craft nights, ice cream runs/frozen yogurt trips, roomie nights, etc. I am truly thankful for all the people the Lord has placed in my life! Thank you for being a part!

Typical Thanksgiving Post? Coming Right Up.

Yep, I am posting a cliché, typical Thanksgiving post, and I’m totally okay with it…

First and foremost, I am beyond thankful for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His grace, mercy, and constant love for me even though I screw up every minute…it astounds me of His unending love.

I’m so thankful for what the Lord has been doing in my heart recently. He is stirring my affections for lost people and creating in me the desires to know His Word more and to be prepared for sharing the Gospel.

There are so many other things that I am thankful for, but there’s not enough room on the internet to express the thankfulness inside of my heart.

Family & friends (each and every one of you), church & church family, the opportunity to go to Haiti, Raheli (the beautiful Compassion child I’m sponsoring), and the inventor of Boy Meets World – I’m truly thankful for you all.

Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

XOXO.

Deep Thoughts.

It is only by the grace of Jesus Christ that I am saved. Not by any good works or anything that I can do. The fact that I believe in Him is by His righteousness. For so long, I felt like I was trying to do the right thing because God wants me to, but here’s the deal. Once you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior – the one, true, Son of God who came down and took on all of the wrath that we deserve for our sins, and died a unimaginably brutal death on the cross – once you believe and confess Him as your Savior, you’re part of His Kingdom. Here is the deal though, Jesus didn’t intend for us to admit it, and then go on living our daily lives. When you accept Jesus as your Savior, lifechange happens. He, in His perfect grace, instills in you the desires to please Him. That’s why we make decisions that honor God instead of honoring the world. This is not by our own doing, but by the HIS sovereignty.

Why can’t I get this through my thick skull sometimes? ALL of the glory goes to Him.

The reason we pray for our enemies, the reason we don’t live wild, reckless lives is because we know our eternity is going to be spent in Heaven with the Lord. What a beautiful thought!

Heaven is so real, but so is hell. And the reality of the situation is that there are people dying and going to hell every single day. This is heartbreaking for us, but it’s even more heartbreaking for our Father who created them.

We are not put here on this earth to put a Christian spin on the “American Dream” – we are here to humbly and thankfully recognize and accept the amazing sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us, and we are to go and share the Good News. It’s evident when you look around that there are a lot of lost/confused people in the world, and as Christ followers, we are the ones who are called to share.

If we won’t, who will?

Astronomy Class

While I have never really been a fan of science classes, I have really enjoyed my astronomy class this semester. I feel like a teeny tiny little speck on this earth when the professor is lecturing about galaxies and stars and phases of the moon.

I sit in complete amazement at how intricately and perfectly everything works together. Gravity, seasons, rotations of the planets, the fact that we are JUST close enough to the sun to be warm but not burn up, and not too far away to freeze. I am astounded at the brilliance of God.

God has so intricately formed you – AND the universe, but the most amazing thing, is that you were fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139). That’s not something to take lightly.

The same God who created everything that we see, breathe, live in, rotate around, etc – created YOU. He loves YOU. The even more amazing thing is that he knew everything that you would do before you were born, and He still deeply desires for you to come to Him.

Not to crush your spirit, but you’re not perfect…I’m not perfect…the only perfect one was Jesus. Even in the midst of our ugliness and imperfectness, God desires us to pursue Him.

Look around at this beautiful earth He has created…the same God that made this made YOU.

photo: taken in Australia