Monthly Archives: April 2010

In between a rock and a hard place pt. 2

In the post just before this one, “In between a rock and a hard place,” I mentioned that there were two different lessons that we could learn from seeing that single wildflower growing in a see of concrete.  The first was that nothing can ever separate us from our Life-Source–God and the love that He has for us.  Here’s another thing that we can learn from this flower…

2.  God is glorified through our suffering.

After first reading this, walls of defensiveness may come up and make you wonder, “If God is so good, why does He receive glory when we, His children, are suffering?”

God does not receive glory from the actual suffering.  1 John says, “God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”  James 1:13, 16 says, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one…Every good and perfect gift is from above.”  Since we believe these verses are true, we know that God does not impose suffering, sin, and other forms of darkness on us.

Therefore, God is glorified when we are in the midst of suffering and yet turn to Him!  Let me make this clear, though.  God does not need us to make Him any better.  God is already perfect.  Even when we sin against Him, God is still perfect.  Glorifying God, therefore, is not satisfying some kind of ego that we sometimes believe that God has.  Instead, glorying God is a crucial step for us in growing a closer relationship with Him.  When we glorify God, we make the decision to love God and worship Him instead of the world.

If you have extra time, read John 9:1-6.  I’ll be back to talk about this in the next post!

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“Satisfy me in the morning…”

Every morning when I walk into the kitchen, this little notecard greets me.  No matter if I am running out the door in a whirlwind or strolling in to make some coffee, this card is always there; it’s meaning is always the same.  This verse reminds us of something that can satisfy us in the morning for all of our days–that which can satisfy us for eternity.  More so than a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, it’s Christ’s love that satisfies us.

This morning, I pray that your day is filled with Sonshine, a shine that brightens your day regardless of the rain clouds outside your window.  Christ’s love, I pray, will fill you and satisfy you, giving you joy to sing and be glad!

Growing in between a rock and a hard place

Do  you ever feel like you are in between a rock and a hard place?

One day while rushing to class, I saw this poor little flower growing in a crack in the parking lot where I park my car.  Normally, these flowers grow in a pretty field like this:

When I saw this flower growing in a parking lot rather than a field, my heart hurt for it!  All of it’s family lived in open fields, but here sat this one, lone flower.  Even though it was alone and in the middle of a sea of concrete, though, notice… It was still growing.  This flower, though in between a rock and a hard place, was still connected to its life-source.

The same is true for us.  Even though we don’t literally live like these flowers, there are times when it feels that we, too, are planted in a block of concrete while others are in an open field.  Immovable obstacles surround us, and it is all that we can do survive, let alone thrive.

———————————————

There are two things to take away from this one flower’s story.  Today, I’ll write about the first…

1.  Nothing can ever separate us from our Life-source– Romans 8:31-39

“If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?…Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will, be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God is our Life-source and the love that He has for us demonstrated through His Son will always be with us, regardless of the cement slab we believe that we are planted in.

Do Your Best. Do Everything With God.

You know how we have always been told, “Do your best”?  I’ve heard these words all of my life, but only this morning did I actually learn what they truly meant.  The funny thing about this is how I learned what they mean; I learned what it meant to do my best through bombing an Organic Chemistry test.

To paint the picture for you, picture this: a sluggish attempt to wake up and three cups of coffee later, I studied for the first time for my test.  I had studied some before but not nearly as much as I should have since my family came to Starkville for the weekend, and my birthday was yesterday.  Needless to say, I was exemplifying the definition of cramming and praying that I could lay my head on my notes and take them in by osmosis.  We all know that this doesn’t work, though, so I studied, drank more coffee, threw on a baseball hat, and went to class.

The test was soon sitting before me.  Everything was fine until the last page.  I bet you can guess what happened.  I went blank.  Of course, the one thing that I had been cramming was the first thing to leave my head.  So I sat, and I thought, and I finally scribbled what I could and decided to let it go.  I wrote my teacher a note at the top of the page to apologize for her even having to look at it and that I would do much better on the final.

So I turned that test in.  Most times after a situation like this, I would have had a bonafide meltdown; however, this time, I actually was smiling when I left.  I smiled for one reason: I knew that no matter what grade I got on that test, I knew that God had been right there with me.  We had taken that test together, and regardless of the grade, I knew that He would be there to laugh and cry over it with me when I got it back.

To say it simply, I learned that to do my best was to do my attempt with God. In this way, to do my best on a test was to invite God to join me in doing my test and recognize that His love for me didn’t depend on the outcome.  God simply wanted to be apart of the “doing.”

No matter what it is is your life, in order to do your best–give something your best shot, give 110%, etc.–you have to be with God in doing it.  So do your best. Do everything with God.

Do you feel your father’s arms enveloping you?

Isn’t it funny how God answers our prayers?

Yesterday when I was writing about going to the projects to share our Good News, the Gospel, I just began to laugh.  You see, I was sitting there writing, and I laughed because I thought about how the day before, I had been filled with such a Holy Rage.  After feeling this rage, writing about it, and then writing about using our Holy Rage to give us passion and urgency to share the Gospel, I saw how God had perfectly prepared me for the opportunity to share the Gospel with a prostitute and druggie.  Little did I know while riding that shuttle (the scene that I referenced one of my former posts about Holy Rage) that I would be on my way to a side of Starkville that I had never seen before.

We say all the time, “God is in control.  After all, He’s God,” but we often only credit Him the glory that He deserves when a big event happens or when something that we’ve been praying for takes place.  We fail to recognize how He works through each and every aspect, circumstance, and condition of our lives.  He’s sovereign.  As I like to say, He’s in all, over all, and through all things good.

I love the image portrayed in Deuteronomy 1:30-31.  He’s what this passage of scripture says in the ESV translation:

“The Lord your God goes before you and will himself fight for you,

just as he did for you in Egypt before your very eyes,

and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you,

as a man carries his son,

all the way until you came to this place.”

God carries you throughout each and every single day!  He is taking you to the place that He has already chosen for you.  Not only does He go with us, but He has already gone to prepare the way. By believing this, we must also believe that every bit of our day that we experience has already been planned by our Creator in order to prepare us to the place that He has  planned for us to go.  He, essentially, is carrying us throughout every minute of our lives.

The question now is not whether God is carrying you in His arms.  There question, however, is this:  Do you feel your Father’s arms enveloping you?

Best hour of my life!

I just had the best hour of my life.

I just shared the Gospel in the projects.

Inside of me, a passion has been awakened.  This joy, I cannot contain it!  I don’t even know how to describe it other than to say that I know God has called me to mission field right here in Starkville!  I know the place where I can go and share the Gospel, to even put myself in danger while doing it.  My friend and I went into that neighborhood like sheep walking into a pack of wolves (Matthew 10:16), and God taught me more about reality than I have learned in a while.

This neighborhood, it is only a few miles away from my apartment, and yet we live completely different.  These people–surrounded by drugs, pasts of prostitution, and more–live in a reality much different than my own.

I now understand what Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians 9:15-16,19.  “For I would rather die,” Paul says, “than have anyone deprive me of my ground for boasting [in the glory of Jesus and the cross]…For necessity is laid upon me.  Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!  For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them.”

I’m addicted.  Oh, God help me, I couldn’t focus on school before, and I don’t know how I’ll be able to do it now.  And yet I do know.  I have a purpose to life for.  I have a mission field.  I finally have a place to live out Jim Elliott’s quote….

“He is no fool who

gives what he cannot keep

to

gain what he cannot lose.”

Even more than before, I pray that God will help me give everything so that I may gain what I cannot lose.

Living With Passion from Holy Rage

I was feeling upset and, honestly, feed-up this morning, so I wrote the previous post.  After I was done, it was time to leave for class.  Once I had parked my car, I jumped on the shuttle to find that one of my shuttle-bus-driver buddies, Mr. Gerald, was driving.  As soon as I stepped up the stairs of the shuttle, he greeted me with his usual, “Hey there, Miss Sarah!”  Without even thinking about it, I replied, “Mr. Gerry!  It’s so good to see you!”  as if I hadn’t have even been steaming like an angry teapot just minutes earlier.  In my head, I said, “I still have a holy rage within me! So, grrrr……”  This thought lasted about as long as it took me to say “grrr” because then, I realized just how silly I was being.

There is no doubt in my mind that God gave me that rage.  After all, think about Jesus when he cleared out the temple in John 2: 13-17.  God revealed to me the way that sin has defiled His creation–what is supposed to be His temple–and so I felt rage against sin.

There’s a difference, though, between the rage Jesus had when He was cleansing the temple and the rage that I felt this morning: Jesus’ rage had the purpose of cleansing the temple.  My rage, though, only made my face fluster.  I wasn’t using that Holy rage to cleanse a temple.  Instead, I was obscuring my very own temple; the body and soul that God created me to be (1 Corinthians 6:19-20.)

God gives us all a Holy Rage.  The rage itself is good and necessary–it is a sign that we are truly convicted about the depravity of sin–but it is how we use that rage that matters.

This morning, I learned another valuable lesson.  I learned that having a Holy Rage inside of you does not mean being hateful of something else.  Instead, having a Holy Rage should make you passionate.  First: passionate to see your own sinful nature and need for Jesus to cleanse you as His temple.  Second: passionate and filled with a sense of urgency to glorify God by being light to the world (Matthew 5:14).