Monday, January 25, 2016

I Believe God Loves Everyone

God Loves Everyone.

God loves You.

Personally. Knowing everything about you, God loves you. He's even written a whole book about it. In it He describes the kind of excited, adoring love He has for you and me. It's called Song of Solomon. Look it up sometime. My favorite part is when he describes His love as a "lily among the thorns."

The whole rest of the Bible tells you about His love as well. It speaks a beautiful, enduring tale of God first bringing human beings, you and me, into existence, the rebellion of the race He created, and the ultimate, the consummate, sacrifice He made to bring us back again. Yes. The Bible is, among other things, a love story.

He loves you, as a person, no matter what you do. No matter how many times you reject Him, no matter how many times you defy His laws, He will love you, as His own special, unique creation through it all. Don't believe me? Read Hosea.

God loved you first (1 John 4:10). That's a very encouraging thought. Have you ever tried to love someone who didn't love you? All you want to do is talk with them, rest in their presence, and be together. You want to message them all day long if you are apart but you can't because they would find it annoying or awkward. When you walk together you want to hold his or her hand.... but you can't because they do not love you. They are not yours. No imagine taking just the tiniest portion of that excitement and frustration and having to deal with GOD being the person not to love you. Just think about running after God all the time for attention, and Him caring not a whit for you.

The thought would be devastating for me. "So you're telling me that the Big Guy who made it all and runs it all, the Person in charge of my eternity, doesn't care enough to even know my name?"
That might be enough to tip me over the edge.

But it isn't true. God knows who you are personally. He knows every detail of your life, every quirk of your nature. And He loves the beautiful creature He made. He loved you first. He continues to love you even if you reject Him. This is the truth.

But do not be deceived. You cannot continue to reject this love without consequences. If you continually ran from every single perfect relationship and allowed only relationships that hurt you and dragged you down your life would be a burden to you. God is the perfect Husband, Friend, Father. You cannot dismiss Him and expect your life to be perfect. This is also the truth.

Monday, January 18, 2016

I Believe in God

I believe in God.

There. I said it.

I don't believe in Allah. I don't believe in Buddha. I don't believe in any of the million and one gods in the world which you can make up and decide to follow. I don't believe He is the same as any of them, and they are not Him.

No, I believe in God. I believe He is real. I believe He exists.

I believe He is real because I have been taught about His existence from my childhood. My parents, church, friends, mentors - They have all told me about Him. Of course, being told about something doesn't make it true. But  "
how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?" (Rom. 10:14). 

I believe in Him because He answers me. Not audibly. Not audibly with His own voice. But He answers me. I'll be praying for an answer and He will guide me to His answer in the Bible. My missions team will need money to continue travelling. A family will come forward with a donation. Driving towards an outdoor club, the sky blackens and rain starts falling. The team bows their heads, prays, and opens their eyes to see the sun shining brightly and the clouds gone. My car is broken down in the middle of Kansas, hours away from home. After asking for His help, the car starts again. 

These could all be coincidence. But the chances of even one of these things happening on their own is remote, and after this happening time after time, year after year, the odds are stacked against you. I do not believe they are coincidence. It has been a very long time since I have believed in coincidences. 

I believe in Him because I have felt His presence. This is not calculable. This is not measurable. But I have felt His presence in a backyard when a child talks to Him, asks for forgiveness of sin, and asks Him to make the child His own. When my volleyball team won championship, and the whole team was screaming with joy, He was there, because He takes pleasure in a job well done for Him. I have felt Him in the middle of a code at the hospital, when my patient is going down the tube fast and I cry out "God I don't know what to do!".... And he fills my mind, calms my heart, and shows me what needs to be done. When I stood inside my empty apartment and felt darkness and loneliness destroying my heart, when I crumpled to the floor and sobbed out to Him "God is it even worth it? Should I just give up? Can't I just run away?" He circled me in love. He filled me with love. He sent me friends to pour into so I could forget my own worries. He introduced me to completely new people who talked to me in my loneliest hours at night and distracted me from my thoughts. I don't think they'll ever know how grateful I am to them.

So yes, I believe in God. Sure it's not the most compelling argument in the world for His existence. It's short. Not a lot of measurable evidence. But it's there: my belief. And I will continue to believe it. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Joy in a Small Life

     I am going through some big life events right now. I have a new job. I am moving out of my parent's home. I am finding myself faced with more and more decisions that have no right or wrong answer, but do require all the knowledge and judgement I have. It is an exciting and exhausting time.

      Tonight, in the middle of worrying and planning, I was scrolling through my news feed and I saw a picture. It was the kind of picture you see of friends having fun every day. I don't know why, but I suddenly stopped and really examined the picture. I thought "how did I come to know these people? What decisions have I made in my life that resulting in me befriending these people?" It wasn't because I didn't like them. It is more of a cosmic question, I think.

     I thought back to my high school graduation. I had a lot of plans then. I think I have finished only one of them. What if I had walked away from nursing school? What if I had turned my back on it and had walked straight into Bible school? Would I be living in a foreign country right now? Would I be friends with an entirely different set of people? Would I be happier or more fulfilled with my life?

     I had friends who were on the same path as me. They did all these things. Bible school, missionary work, great happiness: where did my path diverge from theirs? Why was mine different? When others have found it so easy to leave and follow to the ends of the earth, why does God hold me back from even leaving town? If I was not so sure that it was absolutely in God's plan, I would go stark raving mad.

     Wasn't there a quote by Aslan? We cannot know what would have been, we only know what story is set before us? There could have been many things that were different: but they aren't. This is the life I have been given.

     Despite the self-centered introspection, I do mean to be encouraging. It is easy to look at whole lives given over to God and wish that your life mirror that. But a small, quiet life can be just as wholly devoted to Him.

     When I was teaching in children's ministry I remember we would have the most amazing missionary stories. It was always exciting to tell about tiger fights, hiding from murderous natives, or facing up against witch doctors. But in every single story there would always be a time when the missionary had nothing left. There was sickness, disease, hunger, danger, and they were left with no help except for prayer. What would happen then?

     That is when God would bring the small lives out of the woodwork.

"I felt God leading me to give this money to you."

"I'm sorry there was a delay. I went the extra mile to deliver this package to you when I could have forgotten about it."

"I don't know what an old lady like me can do against this gang of men, but I will protect you."

"If I ignore this I could live a comfortable, peaceful life. But I cannot allow you to disrespect my Savior in that way."

"I can hide you."

"A woman and her children are poor and unfed. We must help them."

"Do you need help?"

     Sometimes we aren't meant to live great lives. Sometimes we are meant to live small lives. Each life will always be useful though. And if you can be useful, if at the end of it all, small or great, you still hear "Well done good and faithful servant!".......

What more can you ask for?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Joy in Praise

Jesus, my Master and King
Honor and praises I bring
Search me and know me
Try me and show me
Jesus, my Master and King

Jesus, my Savior and Lord
You will I trust and adore
I long now to serve You
I'll never deserve You
Jesus, my Savior and Lord

Jesus, Most High El Shaddai
Giver, Creator of life
Keep and deliver me
Lord draw me near to Thee
Jesus, Most High El Shaddai

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Joy in Joy!

    Judge me, O God, and plead my case against an ungodly nation.O deliver me from the deceitful and unjust man, for Thou art the God of my strength, why then do You cast me off?

    O send out Thy Light and Thy Truth! Let them lead me! Let them bring me unto Thy holy hill and unto Thy tabernacles! Then will I go unto the alter of God, unto God my exceeding Joy! Yea, upon the harp will I praise Thee O God my God!

     Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God! For I shall yet praise Him who is the health of my countenance and my God!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Joy in Wholesome Talk

      I have been bothered for a while about something. Foul language and crude humor. I know that when people's actions bother you the most, it is probably because you recognize that you do those things yourself. I acknowledge that I do struggle with these things, but that I am also making a very determined effort to rid myself of these flaws. But the thought came to me the other day "What in the world is the Lord's stand on these two subjects?" I mean we are TOLD from childhood that the Lord does not want us to use bad language and tell crude jokes. But where EXACTLY is it mentioned? I thank the Lord that He has provided me with friends who spend their time studying the Bible more than I, because in a phone conversation today I had a friend direct me towards the right place. What I found was astounding! I would like to share with you the passage and break it down as I go.

  1.    "Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity." Ephesians 4: 17-19

        You are first told that you should NOT be like those who are unsaved because they literally do not understand what it means to live for God and they do not live for God. Their understanding of the world is incomplete and it is futile, hopeless, to think as they do. They are ignorant, stubborn, their consciences' are seared; they are sensual, greedy and excited to do everything that is wrong. This is not how the Lord wants His children live.

2.      "But that is not the way you learned Christ!- assuming you have heard about Him and were taught in Him, as the truth is in Jesus, 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."  4:20-24

     First, this does make a small exemption for those who have not been taught the true way. But in my circle everyone I know has been taught that at least bad language is wrong. So what are you to do? You are told to stop acting like you did before you were saved! That behavior is old, a former manner, corrupt, rotting, with all greedy, unfulfilling desires! Instead you are you try to become like God in all of his righteous and holy characteristics and you are to train your mind to behave 100% differently than it did before.

     Are you following me so far? Bad things are things that unsaved people do, and since you have been saved by God you aren't supposed to do bad things, but instead, do good things. Simple, right? But I still have not addressed the specific issue of foul language and crude humor. Well in chapter 2 of this message...

3.      "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. .. let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice." 4:29,31

      Clear enough? Just in case you wonder what corrupting talk is, its anything that does not build up others, is not fitting for the occasion, and does not give grace to those who hear it. I have never known foul language to be good for building others up, it is improper for nearly all occasions, and it is impossible for foul language to give grace. For myself it gives the kind of feeling you would get if someone were scratching their nails down a chalkboard. It grates terribly.

4.      "But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you...let there be no filthiness or foolish talk, nor crude joking, which are out of place..." Ephesians 5:3-4

      Could God be any clearer?! That means gay jokes, "that's what she said" jokes, bathroom humor, gossip, sex jokes, crude humor all are out of place and should not even be mentioned!

         What are you to replace these things with, as it should be for one who has put on the new man?

 "Instead let there be thanksgiving." Ephesians 5:4b
 "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4:32

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Joy in NOT Being Happy All The Time

So if you read at least my first blog post you know that I do not believe that when the Lord Jesus commands us to be joyful, that it means we have to be happy all the time. While this is definitely not Scripture, I always love a good sarcastic rant that explains the truth perfectly. Have fun watching!