Saturday, August 1, 2015
You are an evil, immoral person.
You sin; you think, say, do awful things.
You make mistakes. Sometimes you intentionally do wrong, just because you want to and it feels good. Not everyone sees your faults. But you know. Your guilt and shame are without question.
If you do not know Christ, I am describing you. Apart from Christ, I am describing me.
This is where I was. We've all been there. Some of us still are. We all, at some point in our lives, were miserable, broken, sinful people.
My heart is especially burdened and hurting for many of you today. If you don't know the joy, the peace, the freedom and, most importantly, the unfailing love of Jesus Christ, I ache for you.
I don't want to be obnoxious. I don't want to be all up in your face and annoying. I hope you realize that and instead can hear the heart behind my words.
Today it's just especially hard to think about you, and the pain and suffering in your life.
You see, I have pain. I suffer too.
Like you, often in ways most are unaware. But I have Jesus. I have hope. I have the love that never goes away. And that is how I go on despite life's curveballs. I don't know how I could function without the assurance of God's presence in my life.
I want you to know what I know. To feel His love, grace, comfort, and presence in your pain. I want you to know His forgiveness and freedom. What you try so hard to hide can be forgiven, and God CAN redeem that situation. He won't leave you broken and chained. It isn't His way. He wants to see you thriving and living a life of purity.
::sigh:: I can't even express the love that God has put in my heart. For the abortionist, the homosexual, the adulterer, the thief, the liar, the idolator... everyone. I don't care how bad you think you are--or how bad you truly are--I love you. And that love is from God. He loves you even more than I do.
There is hope. There is peace. There is joy. There is love. Find it in God.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
I'm pretty sure that if you could capture the inner dialogue between myself and God, it would go something like this:
"God, how do I know you won't fail me?"
God: "I've never failed you before."
Me: "But how do I know I can trust you? You've allowed hurt/pain before."
God: "I told you that in this world you will suffer, but that I have overcome the world. You know this.
But this world is not the end. In it you will experience pain. Even I suffered, and I am God. It was a choice. If you follow Me, there will be pain. You will choose pain. As my follower you must live as I have lived, and love as I have loved. You must sacrifice yourself. Not just your actions, but your heart too."
Me: "But love hurts!"
God: "Trust Me, I know. Love hurts. I endured that hurt for you, and for everyone. But the love and joy you will know in Me as my follower is worth the pain, I am worth the pain.
And when I call you home, you will be an heir with Me in my kingdom, and there will be no more pain. 'Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.'
I love you. Do you love Me?"
God: "Then take up your cross and follow me.
Let me ask again, do you love me?"
God: "Then love others.
Trust me, even when it hurts. And I promise you it will hurt. But I will be with you, and so also will my love.
When you were younger, you trusted me more fully. 'I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.' Love me like you once did. Trust me like you once did. I haven't changed, it is you that have changed."
At times I think I've finally surrendered, and then I find myself clinging to self-preservation and I realize what Jesus meant by taking up your cross "daily."
Every. Single. Day. Of. My. Life. is a new day of surrender. Of losing my life to find it. If it didn't hurt, it wouldn't be a cross.
Everyone's cross may look a little different and may change over time (though we are all called to love), but all those who follow Christ carry one.
My cross today is my heart and emotions--open, bleeding, broken for the cause of love. Letting life and love hurt. Being honest and vulnerable, instead of building walls in an effort to keep myself from feeling hurt and pain.
My dad gave an illustration during our family bible time recently that stuck with me.
It was something like this:
"There is 'I.'"
::writes the letter "I" on the white board::
"And then Jesus said 'Nope.'"
::draws a line through the 'I' as if to cross it out (no pun intended), making the shape of a cross::
What does your cross look like?
Friday, June 19, 2015
Here I am. I'm really tired, Master, but here I am. I don't know what You want. I don't understand why I keep waking up. It has taken me nearly two weeks to realize you might be whispering my name in the dark of the night. Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening. Speak, and speak clearly, for I am hard of hearing."
And speak He did. Not audibly. But His comfort and love was evidenced as the sky began to brighten and daylight fast approached (and I honestly inwardly and perhaps outwardly may have groaned a bit).
For nearly two weeks I have been waking up, without fail, in the early morning hours. I've grumbled, complained, moped, and become irritable throughout it all. I think the latest I have woken up has been 6 or 6:30 two or three times--and one of those times was after being awake till 3. I even woke up suddenly from a dream once, and I distinctly remember smiling as I woke up for no apparent reason.
Finally, yesterday I decided I was done. If I was going to wake up, I was going to wage war on hell. I half-wondered if irony would have me sleep in, but no, my eyes opened promptly and suddenly at 5:02am as if someone had flipped a switch... after not closing in sleep till sometime after midnight (that was some lightning last night!).
So why am I writing this? I'm not entirely sure. But pray for me.
In the midst of this time of my internal alarm blaring at crazy hours of the night, I am burdened with prayer.
Don't just pray for me, pray with me. If you find yourself at a loss as to what to pray for, I'll gladly help you out.
Our families, communities, country--our world--needs it. I attended a regional conference last week (along with about 700 others) close to our nation's capital that was set up to bring awareness to worldwide persecution. The persecuted church needs prayer. Just days later a man walked into a church and out of pure hate murdered people gathering to study the bible.
Pray for those who lost family members and friends in the Charlestown shooting.
The millions of innocent lives being murdered through this procedure called "abortion" should break our hearts and bring us to our knees in agony.
We need to pray. Maybe not at 5am every morning. But pray.
If there is any part of your heart that cares, pray. And if you don't care enough, pray, and ask God to change your heart. Ask Him to break your heart for the things that break His.
Saturday, January 17, 2015
This began as a journal entry, and I thought "Why not blog it?" So here I am.
I just read Matthew 7. I encourage you to read it. It is so intense! The reality of what Jesus said... should we not tremble? If our faith is securely planted on the "bedrock" He speaks of, so wonderful! But what of others? What of your aunt, friend, coworker or child? They are destined for eternal separation from God! How can we discuss trivial things day after day, and totally dismiss the urgency of the gospel?
Knowing that "the gateway to life is very narrow," ought we not to be absolutely certain this message we preach, this gospel we present, is more than a simple prayer uttered for the alleviation of guilt or fear? Are we truly leading people to the narrow gate, or are they merely walking to and peering through it? I am fearful for the many that I see whose lives do not testify to the heart change they claim. Whose "tree," as referenced in Matthew 7:20, does not produce fruit.
As for me, personally, how much do I condone by silence? How much responsibility do I forsake by giving silent approval? There is some part of what I condone by silence that I am personally responsible for, and I am genuinely concerned for that part I play, for I will be judged for it.
Let me clarify that in saying all of the above I am not suggesting in any way that we gain salvation through "works." The moment we believe that is the moment we forsake the grace and peace of the work of the gospel in our hearts and lives.
But as in the words of Paul "Shall we continue in sin so that grace may abound? Certainly not!"
But more than in the act of attempting to abuse the cross of Christ, consider the dangerous results/possibilities of such an attempt!
True heart change leads to true life change. If a life is not changed; if the passions, desires, actions, words, and pursuits show no alteration of course congruent with the proclamation of Christ as Lord, I begin to wonder at the sincerity and truth of the proclamation. Would Christ look at me--or you--and say "There is she/he that follows Me. They are my disciple"?
Think of it this way: If a person was slowly dying due to heart failure, and received a heart transplant, would we consider the operation a success if the patient did not show signs of life/improvement?
Would we consider it hope for success if he died? Of course not!
So it is with a spiritual change of heart. It will take time and healing and determination for every symptom of the effects of the old heart to diminish, and some may never go away entirely, but you would expect and seek consistent rehabilitation of functions, and lay the foundation for new habits, would you not?
I simply ask that we make an honest evaluation of our own hearts, and the way in which we present (or condone the presentation of) the gospel. It is so vital. So important!
"Not everyone who calls out to Me 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven."
"Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves."
Please, my friends, this is not something we can afford to get wrong. I want to spend forever with you and Jesus!
Friday, January 9, 2015
"God is (more than) enough."
I wonder how many times I will come back to this truth before I die? Probably too many times to count.
I seem to be reminded of it weekly, if not daily, now.
Every relationship fails me. Everyone, young or old, friend or acquaintance, family member or stranger, lets me down.
Except my Lord.
I feel I reiterate this repeatedly. Because God speaks it to me repeatedly. Because I NEED Him to remind me constantly.
When I lie in bed awake at night lonely, broken and confused:"I am enough."
When another friend or family member lets me down: "I am enough."
When death claims yet another: "I am enough."
When I am called to walk in the unknown: "I am enough."
When I am sick or in pain: "I am enough."
When I am buried in shame: "I am enough."
When I am in need: "I am enough."
Over. And over. And over. And over. Again and again. And it never ceases to be the most precious reminder, the greatest of delights, the sweetest of promises. It reminds me of something my dad taught me as a child in relation to God commanding us to have no other gods before Him: "He's not just saying 'thou shalt not,' He's saying 'You can have Me.'"
When He says "no" to something lesser, He is saying "yes" to something greater; "You can have Me."
Oh how delightful is this truth! In Him is fullness of joy. In Him is soul-satisfying love and the fulfillment of the deepest of desires. And what greater gift is there, what greater answer to every prayer of anguish; every pain, every need, every desire, every agonizing circumstance, than God Himself? In Him is the culmination of every good thing. Oh my soul--be NOT cast down within me, for the Satisfier of Souls has made His claim upon thee.
Dwell on this today: God is enough.
This song came to mind as I was considering these things this morning. It's an "oldie but goodie" as some would say (haha and others would say it isn't an oldie, but you get my drift--it's not exactly new).
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
Well folks, I have an announcement! I've hinted at this here and there, but I think it's time to spill the beans:
I've been given an exciting opportunity in Michigan involving multiple passions and interests, with great potential for learning and personal growth. After much thought, prayer and counsel from those nearest me, I feel I've been given clear direction and that God has led me to seize the opportunity, so I am excited to announce that I will be heading to MI the end of this month for a 2 month stay–through February and March–and will be working alongside a team of other young ladies on the costuming and production of a highschool play (The Wizard of Oz).
This was no small decision for me; for multiple reasons, but one big one being that I've never been away from home for more than two weeks and I will also be going without my family. There have already been tears and a bit of heartache involved, but I have peace that this is the right decision, and I go with the full blessing and support of my parents/family (which is huge for me).
From the practical/business side of things, I have a few openings for a session here and there (if the weather cooperates) before I leave. Remember that I'll need to have time for editing/processing, so if you're interested in a session, contact me ASAP. I will be returning to my business in April (and intend to carry my camera with me to MI of course!).
I will seriously miss many of you, and I hope to see most of my local peeps before I leave! Hit me up if you'd like to go out for coffee (I've actually been drinking that stuff! Not black, but coffee nonetheless) or something. And if you would, be in prayer for myself and my family as I prepare to take this exciting new step!
If you have any questions, shoot me a text or PM on Facebook and I will get to them as I am able!
Sunday, December 14, 2014
One never knows when they'll make an appearance. Like uninvited strangers in the night, they invade your life and come unexpectedly, disrupting the calm, abolishing tranquility; painful reminders of things you'd thought you had left far behind.
One such invader met me at the door of my heart last night. It caught me off guard, and it's been on my mind on and off ever since. But this morning as I stood in church, surrounded by hundreds of voices lifted in chorus of praise, I thought about the memories. The deep, dark times in my past that I fumbled for the smallest flame to illuminate my path. And I saw in every flashback, every memory, every nightmare and hellish reality: There was a shadow not my own. A hand upon my shoulder. Arms wrapped around me. A whisper in my heart. Tears shed, sorrows shared. Love. The presence of Another; the extent of whose comfort I can not begin to describe. Praise God I came to know this One early in life!
My dear brothers and sisters, our Father is so faithful! I don't say this as a "pat" answer to the problems, complexities, and horrors of this life. I say it because it's true. I've been there. I've not had a tragic life. But there have been tragedies in my life. There have been hard times. I know there will be more. But He is closer everyday. His presence is so dearly felt; His joy, His peace, the contentment He brings. The love I feel from Him and towards Him... It overflows more and more! I can't imagine how much still sweeter He will become and it thrills me to no end!
I want you to know that you can HAVE this! You can know this peace, this joy and this love. Were it that I might have the ability to gift wrap it and send it to you this Christmas! Because if there was anything I could do for you, anything in the world I could give, it would not be a winning lottery ticket. If wouldn't be the next Apple product. It probably wouldn't even be on your wish list. This I would give first and most joyously!
Look for Him! He is not hiding from you. Pray that He will open your eyes and that You will see Him. He does love you, and ever so much!
This season of giving, I will pray that you know the peace, joy, love and comfort of our Father in the midst of whatever it is you are facing!
Pursue Him. Fall in love with Him as I have. There's nothing on earth that compares to knowing Him. Receive the best gift of Emmanuel, God with us. Because He is the ONE gift you'll never tire of. The ONE gift that truly keeps giving. He is priceless.