This is What Life Looks Like

Sometimes it is messy. Sometimes it is busy. Sometimes you just need to sit down and do nothing and breathe.

Sometimes all you can really do at the end of the day is look ridiculous because you need to work out and the most fun way to do that is hula hooping on Wii Fit Plus without an actual hula hoop. (And sometimes your fiance will just laugh at you because you are sore from hula-hooping in the middle of a room without a hula hoop.)

But life is good. Life is now. Life doesn’t begin when I get married or when I graduate from college or when we start a family.

Susan, Queen of Narnia, forgot what she once was and left behind Narnia as a place of make believe in favor of growing up and maturing.

Oh, may I never fly through this phase of life, forgetting the treasures it holds!

This is what life looks like now:
It is full of planning a wedding.
It is full of quality time with international students, with middle school girls, and with sweet friends.
It is full of cleaning and organizing and throwing things away.
It is full of love and family and traveling.
It is full of celebrating and mourning.

There is a time for all of these things, and all of these things are worth the time.

May the Lord bless the time I have in this world for His glory. May recognizing joy now be worship to Christ.

The Parable of the Lost Cat

Scariest moment of my life: I lost our cat.

We traveled to Louisiana for Christmas. And… we took the cat. Who travels with a cat? Apparently no one but us. So we bought the cat a harness and a leash. This sounds like a great idea, right?

Well, thirty minutes into our 14-hour trip, Sam peed in his cat carrier. And it did not smell pleasant. So we pulled over on the side of the interstate and I put Sam on his leash. He was fine until a diesel drove by in the nearest lane, he freaked out, pulled a Houdini (he managed to escape from his harness), and ran into the woods.

Sam was in the woods on the side of the road and nobody else noticed. I ran to the woods, back to the car, and we started looking and calling for the missing cat.

To make a long story short, I went into the woods, Sam meowed, walked by, and I chased him down carefully. When I had the chance, I grabbed him. When we were all safely back in the car, I realized that I smelled like cat pee. (Yes, it was gross. Thankfully, my mom brought pet deodorizer spray along, and by the end of 14 hours, I smelled fine.)

Why did I tell you a story about my cat? Just keep reading.

After losing my cat and then finding him, I was so relieved! And I thought of some verses in Luke 15. In this chapter there are three parables:

1. The Parable of the Lost Sheep

2. The Parable of the Lost Coin

3. The Parable of the Prodigal Son

Each parable is about something, or someone, who is lost and then found. In the parable of the lost coin, a woman loses a coin. Here are Jesus’ words:

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it?” (Luke 15:8)

Just like I was not going to leave the side of the highway until I found Sam, God seeks after the lost diligently. He desires that all experience a personal relationship with Him.

And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost’”(Luke 15:9).

When I found Sam, I was so relieved! My worried tears turned to happy tears! God rejoices when we turn to Him.

“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10).

God so dearly loves His people. And there is so much celebration over just one who chooses to follow Christ.

So do I know exactly how God feels when a lost person accepts Christ as their Savior and Redeemer? Not exactly. But after having experienced losing my cat and rejoicing at finding him again, these parables make a little more sense.

Have you ever had an experience that allowed you to understand the Bible or God’s character a little better?

Comfort

When you hear “comfort,” what do you think?

When I hear comfort, I think fuzzy socks, chunky scarves, reading by a crackling fire.

But there is a time where all of these material things do not provide comfort. They don’t emotionally or mentally comfort you. A good cup of tea can take care of the symptoms of stress, but does it actually melt the stress away? (Okay, maybe sometimes, but work with me here.)

In our darkest hours, through our tears, we yearn for some unexplainable sense of peace. We yearn for a comfort that will quench our sufferings.

As Paul wrote to the church at Corinth in his second letter to them, to share in Christ’s sufferings means to share in his comfort as well.

Second Corinthians 1:3-11 is about the God of all comfort. He is the Source of Comfort. What a beautiful passage to read and know that the God we serve will comfort us when we are afflicted. “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Corinthians 1:5). What a reminder!

We will share in Christ’s sufferings. But we will also share in His comfort.

So take comfort.

Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Christmas: Part 2

“Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops;
siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
on the cheek.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
 Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
 And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
 And he shall be their peace.”

Micah 5:1-5

This was the promise of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Son of God, who came from the small town of Bethlehem, has come to shepherd His people.

This passage from Micah is often used in Christmas sermons because it points to the coming of a Savior.

Because He came, we can now “dwell secure” (verse 5). Salvation is available through Christ, and through Him, we can know where we will spend eternity.

So may your new year begin with a deepening relationship with Jesus. May He be your peace. Make Him your peace this upcoming year.

Are You Hungry?

I seem to be hungry all the time. (I’m not quite sure why, though, since I haven’t gotten any taller for the past 4 years.) Hunger is a natural part of life. Our bodies need food in order to function.

As fallen people, we also hunger for purpose. We spend our lives searching for the reason we were placed here on earth. We need the purpose that God provides in order to live life to the fullest.

Early in Jesus’ ministry, he spoke to the crowds and delivered a powerful message. During the “Sermon on the Mount,” here’s one of the things Jesus said:

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

Matthew 5:6

Jesus knew that true satisfaction – a full belly and quenched thirst – would only come from a relationship with Him. In John, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman at the well that He has living water. A couple chapters later, Jesus calls Himself the bread of life.

Clearly laid out in Scripture is this: we, as believers, are to hunger and thirst for righteousness. We are to desire a growing relationship with the Lord. We are to spend time in the Word of God so that we can spiritually grow.

One day, it will be too late.

Amos made a prophesy for the nation of Israel that came to pass while Saul was king and Israel was in captivity. He said:

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God,
    “when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
    but of hearing the words of theLord.
 They shall wander from sea to sea,
    and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord,
    but they shall not find it.

 “In that day the lovely virgins and the young men

    shall faint for thirst.”

Amos 8:11-13

Israel experienced the hunger and thirst for the Word of God, for righteousness, yet they waited too long. They lost their chance because of the hardness of their hearts.

Don’t wait that long. Don’t wait until it is too late for your hunger to be satisfied and you thirst quenched. Pursue the Lord now. Allow Christ Jesus to satisfy you. It is so fulfilling to be satisfied as I pursue Christ with a hunger and a thirst for righteousness and for His Word.

So.

Are you hungry yet?

Perfection

Perfection.

Everyone strives for it in one way or another, whether they realize it or not. Finding the perfect college, the perfect job, the perfect car, or the perfect house are a few huge desires for perfection. But what about things like making the perfect goal, writing the perfect paper, running the perfect mile? Don’t we look for perfection in various areas?

I can honestly say that it has been so long since I have blogged because I wasn’t sure how to follow up my last blog post (which got a BUNCH of views). I needed a “perfect” follow-up blog post. (Plus, I’ve been pretty busy.) But is the goal of perfection realistic? I don’t think so.

 

Within Christianity, salvation does not mean perfection.

 

When God declared someone righteous, he is JUSTIFIED. An individual’s first act of repentance and confession is the person’s part of justification, but God was the One who made salvation possible through His son.

 

Believers are set apart – or sanctified – by God at salvation. First Peter 2:9 says that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,” and we are set part to declare the marvelous light of Christ. God declares believers holy, now brought to Himself because He has washed us white as snow. This sanctification declares the believer’s position in relation to God – we can now enter into His presence.

 

Progressive sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.

“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

2 Corinthians 3:18

The Holy Spirit convicts believers to live a life of increasing holiness, as new creations set apart for the glory of God (Colossians 3:9-10). As spiritual beings, we struggle against the desires of the flesh daily (Galatians 5:16-18). The believer’s desire should be holiness because his Father in heaven is holy (1 Peter 1:14-16). {Click the Bible verses to read the passages on Bible Gateway.}

 

And then, one day, we will see God. His glory will be revealed, and we will be made perfect, never tiring, always praising our Father. We will reach the ultimate goal of perfection. Until then, Paul writes of this goal:

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”

Philippians 3:12

 

So is it wrong to aim high in our earthly goals? No. Colossians 2:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” But remember, we, as humans, are not perfect. And nothing we do is perfect. But we can “press on,” seeking the God who made us His own.

How Then

This month has been full of blessings and it has been a constant reminder of the goodness of God.  Four days ago, I celebrated the resurrection of my Savior!  He is not dead; He is alive!  Even after Easter leftovers are eaten, and the candy from the “Easter Bunny” is long gone, I am still going to celebrate the I serve a God who is alive!

Easter is the very foundation of the Gospel.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.

1 Corinthians 15:3-4

This is the Gospel: the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only payment for man’s sins.

Christ came to earth to pay the price of my sins; He came to give me salvation, and bring me into a personal relationship with Him.  He did that for you, too.  He died for the sins of the WORLD!  My desire to share this message with the world stems from the LIFE God has given me.  God’s love, peace, forgiveness, and hope are all things I want everyone to experience.  The passion I have for missions is a result of Christ’s sovereignty in my life.

For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

  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 10:13-15

That verse has been such an encouragement to me as I get ready to go to Nicaragua in July!  A lot of the time, when I find a verse that really means a lot to me at that certain time, I’ll write in on my wrist.  Romans 10:13-15 has been on my wrist for the past several days, and in my mind for even more. 

I am so excited to use my life to bring glory to my Lord in Nicaragua this summer!  I want to thank you so supporting me with prayers and financial support.  God continues to show me His provision when I begin to wonder how I am going to raise all the support I need for my trip.  God’s provision stuns me.  My jaw drops at His answers to prayer.  I have seen this Scripture breathed to life:

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:19

Thank you for partnering with me in the Gospel.  I am praying for y’all. 

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

Philippians 1:3-11

Plastic Wrap Syndrome

I think I’ve discovered a name for a spiritual illness.

You’ve just made some delicious ________ (fill in the blank).  However, it’s in a glass bowl without a lid.  Your only option is to use some plastic wrap from the drawer to your right.  You pull the box out of the drawer and tear off a piece.  It’s not sticking, it’s working, it’s… stuck to itself…

Have you ever noticed how plastic wrap will stick to itself so easily, but then it won’t stick to the bowl, container, etc.?

For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.

Romans 7:15-20

We are kind of like that plastic wrap.  As sinners in need of a savior, we often do what we do not want to do, and we don’t do what we want to.  Have you ever wanted to exercise because it is good for you, but you didn’t?  Have you ever wanted to not eat that extra cookie, but you did anyways?  We do the opposite of what we want, just like that plastic wrap.  We stick to ourselves when we should stick to the bowl.

We have to learn how to cling to God, to do what we should, to show self-control and discipline in everything.  Christ is the cure for this Plastic Wrap Syndrome. 

(If you don’t understand this illustration, or you just want a good analogy for other people, go find the drawer with plastic wrap, tear off a piece, and see just how long you can keep it from sticking to itself. :) )