Monthly Archives: November 2009

God: More than just a Sunday School Character

When I was a little girl, I can remember Sunday School as if it was yesterday.  Through the coloring activities and story tellings, we learned about the great stories of God working in the lives of Abraham, Noah, Moses, Joseph, Jacob, David, etc.  With minds that still believed in Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy, we received the Word with a PG rating.

If we continue to live simply on the stories of our childhood, we cannot truly respect the greatness of God and His Word.  We forget of His ability to kill the firstborn son of His enemies, His power to crush armies with the Red Sea, His purging of Israelites that did not believe with an epidemic.  Let’s face it.  Our God can be a pretty scary guy and a force to be reckoned with.

For this very reason, I avoided the Old Testament for so long.  In many was, I was scared to believe that our God could do all of those things and more.

Take a moment to truly think about our God.  Think about His power, His will, His fierceness, and His strength.  But think, also, of His Beauty, His grace, and the mystery of His never-ending love for us.

If we really get to know Him, we will know that our God is a God to be feared, revered, and respected.

If we take time to get to know our Father, we’ll know that He is more than just a Sunday School character.

the shadow of God’s extravagant gifts

Do you ever pray for a certain something?  You know what I am talking about—praying that you will grow a couple of inches, that a special someone will like you, or that you can make more money.  We all have these random types of wishes.

Often times, it is so easy to ask God for these desires in our prayers.  Most of the time, they seem sensible.  After all, they do not seem shallow because those very dreams begin to shape the way we live our lives.

Oswald Chambers once said…

“If our hopes are being disappointed just now, it means that they are being purified.  There is nothing noble that the human mind has ever hoped for or dreamed of that will not be fulfilled.”

I find Truth in this quote.  It opened my eyes to the idea that if God doesn’t fulfill one of my requests, it means the request was not worthy by His standards.  God has a perfect script for each of our lives.  Why would He want to deface His masterpiece—the design of our lives—just to satisfy our selfish, earthly desires?

By no means am I saying that dreaming is bad.  What I am saying, though, is that we must remember that our dreams can turn into expectations.  If we allow these expectations to become benchmarks used to determine whether God caters to our needs, we will be disappointed.

God wants us to live as fully as possible.  For this very reason, He will protect us from so many of our selfish desires by not granting us our every wish.  Rather, God will bless us through various gifts and opportunities whether or not we realize it.  Once we begin to look for all of these blessings in our everyday lives, we will see just how richly God blesses us.

In the shadow of God’s extravagant blessings, all of our previous desires will pale in comparison to the beauty of God’s gifts.

“For everything there is a season”

Do you ever read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8? This passage always brings me comfort, especially when I am not appreciating the hard times of life. In the case that you have not read it, I would like to share it with you.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn and a time to dance;

a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.”

The reason why I love this passage so much is that it reminds me again that God is in complete control. The verse says that all of those happen UNDER Heaven.

I know that we always want to have fun or to be happy or to be the best. Let’s face it, though. Sometimes, we have to be sad, we have to cry, and we have to feel lost or lonely. If we never experienced these, how could we ever appreciate the good times of happiness, friendship, and ease? If we never had hard times, times when we couldn’t rely on our own knowledge and strength, how would we ever learn to rely on God completely?

Today, I challenge you with one thought that God has placed in my heart:

Life is only ugly when we refuse to accept that it is beautiful.

Beauty in uncertainty

Have you ever been hit by a realization at a random moment?  Today, I was in the… ahemmm… ladies roomwhen the following question struck me: “Why are the handicapped stalls always the farthest from the door?”  It was in that precious moment in the stall that I realized something profound.  Sometimes, life doesn’t make sense.

We all know this to be true, don’t we?  With all of our technology, almost everything seems to have been diluted to a science.  Whether it be losing weight or becoming a millionaire, easy to follow procedures have been created that, most importantly, lead quickly to a goal.

What is wrong with this picture?  We expect certainty and ease in our lives.  We expect for God to simply tell us what to do, when to do it, and how to do it.  With these expectations, we forget one, simple fact: God is in control.  With God in control, He has designed a plan for us that only He can reveal in His perfect timing.

Sometimes, life doesn’t make sense, but that is okay! God gives us these times of uncertainty in order to learn to rely on Him and to realize that sometimes “ignorance is bliss.”  As humans, the extent of our knowledge cannot even compare to the knowledge and wisdom of our amazing God.

If you are the type of person that desires the destination but not the journey, maybe it is time to pray for God’s peace.  Take a moment to pray about ways in which you can learn to rely on Him in your journey, not merely the destination.  God wants to be with you every step of the way; however, you must first accept that sometimes, life doesn’t make sense TO YOU.  The good news is, life makes sense to God; He created it!

During these times of uncertainty, “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).  God has everything under control!  Rest in this fact that you don’t need to plan or know everything!  After all, uncertain times in our lives are often when God best reveals His beauty.

Living for the cross

Have you ever thought about the consequences of being a Christian? I was rereading one of my favorite books,When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy, and I was struck by a reference to a story of the disciple Andrew. With every breath that he took, Andrew preached the message of Jesus. The Roman governor threatened Andrew saying, “If you don’t stop preaching this message of Jesus and this cross, I’m going to crucify you on one, too!” Andrew simply replied, “Sir, I would not have preached about the glory of the cross of Jesus if I was not also willing to die upon it!”

When I read this again, the passage had a completely new significance. My heart stopped; my throat swelled. I asked myself a question that was stealing my every breath, “Am I willing and would I be overjoyed to die upon the cross of Jesus?” I realized that every time I write a blog post, every time I hand my bible to someone, even every day when I wear my cross necklace, I must also be willing to be nailed to a cross and die.

Ask yourself this, “Am I willing to die upon the cross that I wear? Am I willing to be nailed to a cross every time I tell someone that I am a Christian? Am I not only willing, but am I also excited to do all these things? Am I truly willing to live for Christ?”

My prayer this morning for you and for me is this:

“Lord, thank you so much for the blessing of this day.  Surrounded by everything of this world, may I learn what it means to live with abandon: to truly give up my life, take up my cross, and die each morning in order that I may truly follow You. Form me, shape me, mold me, and break me until I am nothing more than the wooden cross that I carry. With all of my heart, I love you, Lord. I am Yours.”

Is it time for you, too?

One of my favorite movies of all time is Elf. Shortly after Buddy the Elf, Will Ferrell, arrives at Gimbles’s “North Pole,” Buddy hears news that, quite literally, has him jumping for joy. “Santa,” he is told, “is coming to town.”A childlike smile overtakes his entire face. “Santa,” Buddy exclaims, “I know him. I KNOW him!!!” Even the bells on his over-sized, elf shoes join him in this joyous chorus: “Santa is coming to town.” With all of his heart, Buddy loves Santa, and he is extremely proud to tell anyone and everyone.

My whole life, I have been involved in church. I have claimed to love Jesus with everything that I am. Never before, though, have I ever jumped up and down shouting, “Jesus, I know Him! I KNOW Him!”

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come!” -2 Corinthians 5:17

I realized today that I should no longer be ridden with the expectations of this society. These old ways of mine—being worried about whether I have a great body, whether I am beautiful, or whether I have value—all these have passed away, and the new has come. It’s time for me to become consumed with God—His love, His grace, and His mercy. It’s time for me to let go of my worries about what others think. After all, “God does not see the same way people see. People look at the outside of a person, but God looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). It’s time for me to love God more than I love my own self.

Like Buddy the Elf, I can exclaim, “Jesus! I know Him! I KNOW Him!” because no longer do I rely on others for my value. I rely on God. I find my beauty in God. I find my acceptance in God. I find that I am made perfect in God (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). I also know that I have value from God because He sacrificed His very own Son in order that I could “become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). What a great reason to be overflowing with joy.

It’s time for me to show that I am proud of my faith. It is finally time for me to shout from anywhere and everywhere, to anyone and everyone, at any time and every time, proclaiming the good news. It is time for me.  Is it time for you, too?

“In quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”

Does it ever seem as though this world is constantly changing? As we are getting older, we are getting closer and closer to the reality of our lives: time waits for no one.

In the midst of our various changes–changing majors, changing friends, changing worldviews, even changing bodies–there is one things that stays the same: God.

Go ahead and exhale deeply! Relax and have faith! Everything is under God’s control. He has the plans for your life in the same hands that created it. God assures us in Hebrews 13:8 that “Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” From this verse and the verses below, we can trust in Him even when everything seems uncertain.

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope…You will call upon me and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

“Therefore, we do not lose heart. We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16, 18).

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15).

Whenever the world seems too hard to handle, take a moment to pray. Daily, I wear the charm of my favorite prayer, and it reminds me to rest in God’s presence and to trust in Him alone. The prayer that I adore so much is the Prayer of Serenity.

“Lord, please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Even for just a minute, clear your mind and your heart of all their burdens and pray this prayer. Return to God and rest in His presence. In this quietness and in this trust, you will find the strength to withstand even the toughest storms of life.