Be Free

I found this organization after reading a Buzzfeed article. I think it’s a wonderful idea. So often when it comes to New Year’s, we become consumed with what we can do personally to improve our own lives. However, I want to continue to find creative ways to help people. This could be as simple as deciding to buy jewelry or a handbag from this company, sponsoring a child, or donating to a local cause. Mirriam-Webster defines a “resolution” as:

res·o·lu·tion

noun \ˌre-zə-ˈlü-shən\

: the act of finding an answer or solution to a conflict, problem, etc. : the act of resolving something

: an answer or solution to something

Since when did a New Year’s resolution become something as shallow as working out more, traveling, treat yourself more, or any of these somewhat trivial things? I encourage us all to become people who challenge ourselves with each new year. What are we doing to improve as Christ-followers? What are we doing to make an impact? What are we doing to improve the lives of others? What are we doing that has lasting success and not just temporary satisfaction?

I think these are worthy challenges and worthy New Year’s resolutions. Challenge yourself to do something more this year…I plan to.

Happy New Year.

2014 Recap

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It’s been a great year. I am so lucky to have so many visitors to my humble little blog and just talk about what God has been doing in my life.

I just wanted to thank you all for encouragement and keeping up with what I’ve been posting!

If there’s any suggestions for posts you’d like to see…please let me know!

God Bless.

Tuesday Inspiration 12.30.14

As 2014 winds down people do one of two things. They either mourn what they didn’t accomplish in the past year or strive for better in the coming year without being grateful for the small things they already have. We have all been guilty of one or both of these things. Regardless of which side you find yourself on, it is important to be thankful no matter what and to nourish what you already have. Two verses that stick out to me are:

1 Peter 5:6 MSG “Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you”

Ephesians 5:20 MSG “Sing songs from your heart to Christ. Sing praises over everything, any excuse for a song to God the Father in the name of our Master, Jesus Christ.”

Those two verses remind me that God cares for me. He sent Christ to die for me. Because of all this–I should be living freely. I shouldn’t allow the things of the world to weigh me down. If God is careful with me, I do not need to worry. This simple verse is a great reminder and a good “workout” to build your spiritual body and make sure you are strong. Also, I need to have a singing soul. I am allowed to be grateful for small things; i.e. a sunny day, my warm feet in a new pair of socks, a pretty flower, anything. God is in all things and should be praised for all things whether big or small. By nourishing what we already see and have we satisfy our hunger for more. By being grateful we do not need to be jealous or strive for more. We are content no matter what but expectant that God, being who He is, will provide more when the time comes.

Found on 3rdavenue.tumblr.com

Works-in-Progress

I had a situation from my past come up yesterday. While I dealt with it better than I would have previously there were still some missteps that I immediately confided in God about. Unlike in the past where I would allow the Enemy to torment me for not doing things a certain way–I gave it to God and weighed the victories and losses. Today’s blog post comes from the current state of my heart and I hope it encourages you.

It’s still hard for me to really fathom God’s love. I think this is the case for all Christians if you’re really and truly honest enough with yourself. We know our pasts, our current struggles, our bad thoughts, our temptations, whatever they might be. And because we are humans and somewhat obsessed with comparison, we can often wonder why God even bothers with us. I want so badly to be pleasing to God, but I think this can often manifest in unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves or what we might have grown up hearing in church. We are not Jesus. Just because we’re Christians and covered by His blood and adopted into eternal salvation, doesn’t mean we are going to make the cut all the time. We are a living oxymoron. We are still human, broken-vessels and in essence Jesus’s blood spilled on the cross simultaneously poured into our lives to cover our brokenness and also made it possible for us to be formed into a new vessel. I think the church for a long time has failed to really explain how this works. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the church expects you to poof into a brand new creation. Salvation isn’t a microwave. A lot of the time it’s a slow-cooker. Sure you can be 100% saved but that doesn’t mean that doesn’t take a life-time to walk out.

I remember being so mad one time a year or so ago when I watched a televangelist scolding a man who asked for prayer because though a Christian who asked Jesus into His heart, he still struggled with alcohol. I think it’s a sad thing when instead of reminding people that we are all carrying our crosses daily, and that we will all fall short of perfection until we reach Heaven, that we often become the mouthpiece of the Devil. Harsh? But true. The Enemy is the King of guilt and shame. I’m not saying wrongdoings aren’t wrongdoings but we are all stumbling through life. We are covered in grace on one hand but we are like infants learning how to walk at the same time. Luckily God is merciful and instead of becoming fed up with humanity as we read so many times in the Old Testament–He brought the final act of generosity which was to send His son. To teach grace and forgiveness. To tenderly guide us, to show us the way, to show that while we fall short, He never will. A simple Google search showed me this passage which I thought was very well said:

In Colossians: 3:12-13


, God instructs us on how to deal with each other as he deals with us: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another…” Stan did that for me. I became one of the best cutters the company ever had. There was nothing I would not do for my boss. I continued to work for him until they closed the plant. I was one of the last employees out of 200 to be laid off when the plant closed several years later.

God deals with you and me the same way Stan dealt with me. God invests a lot of time in us and is not ready to wipe us out because of our mistakes. Instead, He encourages us not to quit.

So the next time you or someone you know makes a mistake, be gentle, kind and encouraging. Look for ways to solve the problem and don’t quit! Treat others the way you would want to be treated if you were the one who goofed. Look beyond the mistakes in yourself and in others and see the potential. We will all say the words, “Oops, I made a mistake,” many times before we reach our full potential. But keep trying. Keep learning. Keep forgiving. We can all be in God’s Kingdom some day in spite of our mistakes. [http://www.ucg.org/christian-living/oops-i-made-mistake/]

I think that’s beautiful. In no way am I saying deliberately take advantage of God’s grace and do whatever you want, but I think we need to stop listening to the voice of the Devil and even the condemnation heaped on us by other Christians and remember that God’s voice is the only one that matters. God is not shocked by our mistakes. He is not stomping His feet and throwing tantrums in Heaven. Luckily He knows who we are growing to be, and since He exists outside of time, He does not grow weary of the journey we are on to get there.

God I thank you for Jesus. I thank you for your love and kindness towards me when I know I do not deserve it. In the grand scheme of things I am not special. I am not that great and yet you still remind me that You created me on purpose. I am not a disappointment to You and I am not an accident that You made in Heaven. God, help me to see my mistakes in life as bumps in the road. I can trip but I do not have to fall and never get up. Thank you God that You see me in my final stage and therefore nothing I have done, am doing, or will do in the future will ever take that fulfillment away from me. Because of Jesus I am sealed. Because of my humanity I will fall short. Teach me to fail less but also help me to forgive myself more. We are all a beautiful mess made perfect by You. Amen.

Found on dailyletterings.tumblr.com

Friday Inspiration 12.26.14

Isaiah 9:6 MSG

2-7 The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light.
For those who lived in a land of deep shadows—
    light! sunbursts of light!
You repopulated the nation,
    you expanded its joy.
Oh, they’re so glad in your presence!
    Festival joy!
The joy of a great celebration,
    sharing rich gifts and warm greetings.
The abuse of oppressors and cruelty of tyrants—
    all their whips and cudgels and curses—
Is gone, done away with, a deliverance
    as surprising and sudden as Gideon’s old victory over Midian.
The boots of all those invading troops,
    along with their shirts soaked with innocent blood,
Will be piled in a heap and burned,
    a fire that will burn for days!
For a child has been born—for us!
    the gift of a son—for us!
He’ll take over
    the running of the world.
His names will be: Amazing Counselor,
    Strong God,
Eternal Father,
    Prince of Wholeness.
His ruling authority will grow,
    and there’ll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
He’ll rule from the historic David throne
    over that promised kingdom.
He’ll put that kingdom on a firm footing
    and keep it going
With fair dealing and right living,
    beginning now and lasting always.
The zeal of God-of-the-Angel-Armies
    will do all this.

Christmas is over but the joy from remembering the birth of Christ doesn’t have to be. I like this verse because it reminds us that all of us at one point have walked through darkness. We’ve felt despair, loss, grief, depression, hopelessness, pain, confusion, etc. Some of us have seen the light and have come to salvation through Christ and His grace, but other’s are still wandering unnecessarily.

My prayer is that everyone will come to a knowledge and acceptance of the Good News so that they can travel through life less weighed down and more free. More full of life and joy and peace. Jesus was placed on the Earth to counsel us, to be our authority, our defender, and our hope. Through Him there are no limits to what we can do as His children.

So often people say the phrase “I love you to the moon and back” “I love you more than the stars in the sky”. But our God loves us in a capacity that is further than any star, planet or any other celestial creation. I hope that we never lose sight of His great love and sacrifice for us beyond the holiday season.

Found on lambchopps.com.au

ANOMALY

“We are infinite. Made for one another. Made for love. We are undone by our own humanity. By moments of nearness. But we break with distance when we are alone. It gets so dark we almost wish it was never light. And then in one moment, one precious moment, a light shines in the darkness.”

I have been waiting for this film since it was announced as a project in 2013. Two talented members of Hillsong church Dan DiFelice and Salomon Ligthelm announced their collaboration on Kickstarter. [ https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/639662626/a-n-o-m-a-l-y ]

I just watched the film which has a running time of 37:54 and loved it from start to finish. It’s a different way of re-telling the classic Biblical account of the birth of Christ. There aren’t too many differences outside of the time being set in the 1960s, and instead of the Star of Bethlehem it’s the Bayt Lahm comet which will signify the arrival of the baby Jesus. We also don’t have three wise men coming to see the child and present him with gifts, and the birth of Jesus takes place in a hospital where the mother is alone as opposed to a stable alongside Joseph.

None of these creative tweaks bothered me because everything critical to the story remained the same. Oliver, Anomaly’s Joseph, is shocked to find out that Haylee, Anomaly‘s Mary, is pregnant when they have not yet been intimate. Oliver’s family is unhappy with Haylee even before we find out that she’s pregnant and it is assumed in the film that they have a break-up of some kind before Oliver launches into space to fulfill President Kennedy’s challenge to achieve the longest continuous space flight to date. As an astronaut there is definitely an obstacle to his physical ability to be present during the birth and also an emotional obstacle because he believes that Haylee has cheated on him in order to have become pregnant. I think it was a smart choice and definitely a creative way to navigate how the Biblical Joseph would have felt. In Matthew 1 (MSG) it says:

20-23 While he was trying to figure a way out, he had a dream. God’s angel spoke in the dream: “Joseph, son of David, don’t hesitate to get married. Mary’s pregnancy is Spirit-conceived. God’s Holy Spirit has made her pregnant. She will bring a son to birth, and when she does, you, Joseph, will name him Jesus—‘God saves’—because he will save his people from their sins.” This would bring the prophet’s embryonic sermon to full term:

Watch for this—a virgin will get pregnant and bear a son;
They will name him Immanuel (Hebrew for “God is with us”).

Joseph would have been torn back in that time. Even in the 1960s I’m sure many people would have still looked down upon an unwed mother. So imagine what his inner turmoil would have been like. In the film Oliver literally has a “way out” and can disappear into space–as far as you can get from Earth. However, the God of the Universe still has access to him no matter the distance. We get the idea of this through the blast of light from the comet and the rattling of the spacecraft while Oliver is in space.

As I was writing this, it also occurred to me that there was the idea of three wise men through the NASA analysts instead of the Biblical magi or astrologers. These are very smart men and you can see from the beginning of the film that they are all shocked by this comet. It doesn’t make sense to them.

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Years ago a scientist named Noel Fitz had predicted the Bayt Lahm comet and it is assumed that he was not taken seriously. I think in a way the character of Noel fills in the historical detail needed to explain the birth of Jesus and I like the idea I came up with of him being a physical representation of Biblical prophesy.

I also liked the name of the comet “Bayt Lahm” which I Googled and found to be very significant:

Bayt Lahm – a small town near Jerusalem on the West Bank of the Jordan River; early home of David and regarded as the place where Jesus was born – http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Bayt+Lahm

I’m curious to see what you all think of the film or if you picked up on any symbolism or cool aspects that I may have missed.

Merry Christmas!

Monday Inspiration 12.22.14

When I saw this quote the other day I was really inspired. Just one song can have multiple meanings to multiple people. People can interpret it using good memories or use it to comfort themselves in trials. People relate to things in different and unique ways. I thought about this in terms of worship songs. People suffering might sing a song with deep pain and confusion in their hearts. Other’s might rejoice over those same lyrics. I looked up some interesting verses in the Bible:

John 4:23-24 “It’s who you are and the way you live that count before God. Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth. That’s the kind of people the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship. God is sheer being itself—Spirit. Those who worship him must do it out of their very being, their spirits, their true selves, in adoration.”

Psalm 57: 7-8 I’m ready, God, so ready,
    ready from head to toe,
Ready to sing, ready to raise a tune:
    “Wake up, soul!
Wake up, harp! wake up, lute!
    Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!”

Isaiah 61: 10-11 I will sing for joy in God,
    explode in praise from deep in my soul!
He dressed me up in a suit of salvation,
    he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo
    and a bride a jeweled tiara.
For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers,
    and as a garden cascades with blossoms,
So the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom
    and puts praise on display before the nations.

Exodus 15

20-21 Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine, and all the women followed her with tambourines, dancing. Miriam led them in singing,

Sing to God
    what a victory!
He pitched horse and rider
    into the sea!

Psalm 96

1-2 Sing God a brand-new song!
Earth and everyone in it, sing!
Sing to Godworship God!

2-3 Shout the news of his victory from sea to sea,
Take the news of his glory to the lost,
News of his wonders to one and all!

4-5 For God is great, and worth a thousand Hallelujahs.
His terrible beauty makes the gods look cheap;
Pagan gods are mere tatters and rags.

5-6 God made the heavens—
Royal splendor radiates from him,
A powerful beauty sets him apart.

Bravo, God, Bravo!
Everyone join in the great shout: Encore!
In awe before the beauty, in awe before the might.

8-9 Bring gifts and celebrate,
Bow before the beauty of God,
Then to your knees—everyone worship!

10 Get out the message—God Rules!
He put the world on a firm foundation;
He treats everyone fair and square.

11 Let’s hear it from Sky,
With Earth joining in,
And a huge round of applause from Sea.

12 Let Wilderness turn cartwheels,
Animals, come dance,
Put every tree of the forest in the choir—

13 An extravaganza before God as he comes,
As he comes to set everything right on earth,
Set everything right, treat everyone fair.

So you see. Worship comes in all forms. You can worship in times of depression and defeat and also in times of happiness and victory. The beauty of worship is authenticity. God doesn’t want you to fake your feelings. If you are sad, worship Him sad. If you are discouraged, worship Him discouraged. The Father wants your authenticity. He didn’t send His son so you can put up a good facade. He wants nothing hidden, nothing held back, good or bad.

Found on iwastesomuchtime.com

Friday Inspiration 12.19.14

Psalm 136 MSG

1-3 Thank God! He deserves your thanks.
    His love never quits.
Thank the God of all gods,
    His love never quits.
Thank the Lord of all lords.
    His love never quits.

4-22 Thank the miracle-working God,
    His love never quits.
The God whose skill formed the cosmos,
    His love never quits.
The God who laid out earth on ocean foundations,
    His love never quits.
The God who filled the skies with light,
    His love never quits.
The sun to watch over the day,
    His love never quits.
Moon and stars as guardians of the night,
    His love never quits.
The God who struck down the Egyptian firstborn,
    His love never quits.
And rescued Israel from Egypt’s oppression,
    His love never quits.
Took Israel in hand with his powerful hand,
    His love never quits.
Split the Red Sea right in half,
    His love never quits.
Led Israel right through the middle,
    His love never quits.
Dumped Pharaoh and his army in the sea,
    His love never quits.
The God who marched his people through the desert,
    His love never quits.
Smashed huge kingdoms right and left,
    His love never quits.
Struck down the famous kings,
    His love never quits.
Struck Sihon the Amorite king,
    His love never quits.
Struck Og the Bashanite king,
    His love never quits.
Then distributed their land as booty,
    His love never quits.
Handed the land over to Israel.
    His love never quits.

23-26 God remembered us when we were down,
    His love never quits.
Rescued us from the trampling boot,
    His love never quits.
Takes care of everyone in time of need.
    His love never quits.
Thank God, who did it all!
    His love never quits!

God doesn’t do temporary love–His love never quits. If it did–the psalmist would not repeat this every other line, right? We need to let this sink in. Just as He formed the cosmos and laid the foundations of Earth, He formed my brain and heart and laid the foundation of my body; my bones, my muscles, my organs, and so on. If this God didn’t care about humanity and was distant, why would He have taken the time to form each and every one of us? In times of despair and doubt and also in times of happiness and plenty we need to thank God for who He is and remember that He first loved us. He could create anything He wanted and chose to create mankind. No human love could ever match His love. While we are fickle God is faithful. While we are unsatisfied He is well pleased. God is faithful, His love never quits. If this is one simple thing you can remember, repeat it over your situations today. Speak it to your reflection in the mirror. Encourage your soul.

Photo Credit: Found on s-p-r-i-n-g.tumblr.com

He Who Calls

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Today on the commute to work I was listening to Hillsong’s No Other Name album as I normally do. I haven’t in a while because I’ve forgotten to charge my iPod but I remembered to the other day. I was feeling a little woozy on the bus and decided to take out my headphones and listen to it.

I was remembering how early on (when I started to first come to Hillsong) I would listen to my iPod and various Hillsong albums and have my eyes closed on the bus to or from work. More often than not I would see a vision of myself smiling and singing and dancing and lifting my hands to the songs. Maybe that seems normal but for me, prior to Hillsong, I can count on one hand or a few fingers the amount of times I’ve lifted my hands in worship. It was just never my thing. I never judged people who did, but I didn’t want to feel guilted into worshiping how other people do just to feel like I was doing Christianity properly.

Fast forward in time and now it feels weird not no lift my hands in worship. And that’s a cool thing. I remembered who I was and now who I am and it dawned on me that maybe God was showing me what He would see me doing one day. I wasn’t yet there, but He exists outside of time and had revealed something to me.

Anyway, I was listening to whatever song came on this morning and I saw myself singing and dancing around on stage like we usually do at church in choir, in the background, with the worship team on any given Sunday. But this time I was singing two lines. I wrote them in my phone which is why I included them in today’s picture. The first was “He who calls me to crush the heads of snakes”. And a few minutes later the second was “He who calls me to dance on graves”. I started to imagine me dancing on stage and looking down as the floor was covered in snakes. They didn’t try to bite me, they didn’t try to squeeze me, it was like no one was phased by it. Then I stopped day-dreaming and whatever the next song was started.

I decided today at work to look up these two things in the Bible. First snakes and then graves.

Here are some examples of verses that talk about snakes:

Psalm 91:1-13 You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow, Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!” That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards. His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day, Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you. You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses. Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home, Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door. He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go. If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling. You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

Luke 10:18-20

Jesus said, “I know. I saw Satan fall, a bolt of lightning out of the sky. See what I’ve given you? Safe passage as you walk on snakes and scorpions, and protection from every assault of the Enemy. No one can put a hand on you. All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you—that’s the agenda for rejoicing.”

How cool is that? It makes total sense now right? My first reaction whenever I’ve had any sort of dreams or visions is to go to the Bible first and see if it’s actually from God. I have my fair share of pointless or disturbing or random dreams and not all of them are worth exploring. But I was so excited after reading these verses because I got a few important points out of them:

  • God rescues me from hazardous situations i.e. “snakes” which can be many obstacles, negative comments about you, gossip, sinful temptations, etc.
  • Wikipedia defines snakes in one sections as “Most species are nonvenomous and those that have venom use it primarily to kill and subdue prey rather than for self-defense. Some possess venom potent enough to cause painful injury or death to humans. Nonvenomous snakes either swallow prey alive or kill by constriction.” In other words…there are different kinds of snakes. Some who appear non-threatening but can literally consume you or destroy you through consistent pressure and some that you know you should avoid completely because they are lethal. Wow.
  • Psalm 91 says that I’ll watch safely from a distance kind of like how I saw this vision and no matter the amount of snakes, I knew that I was safe and smiling and dancing like nothing was wrong
  • God is showing me what He has done for me i.e. I have safe passage as I walk on “snakes” through life because of His authority over and presence in me

Here are some examples of verses that talk about graves:

Psalm 30:2-3

God, my God, I yelled for help and you put me together. God, you pulled me out of the grave, gave me another chance at life when I was down-and-out.

Jonah 2:1-9

[ At the Bottom of the Sea ] Then Jonah prayed to his God from the belly of the fish. He prayed: “In trouble, deep trouble, I prayed to God. He answered me. From the belly of the grave I cried, ‘Help!’ You heard my cry. You threw me into ocean’s depths, into a watery grave, With ocean waves, ocean breakers crashing over me. I said, ‘I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple.’ Ocean gripped me by the throat. The ancient Abyss grabbed me and held tight. My head was all tangled in seaweed at the bottom of the sea where the mountains take root. I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever— Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O God, my God! When my life was slipping away, I remembered God, And my prayer got through to you, made it all the way to your Holy Temple. Those who worship hollow gods, god-frauds, walk away from their only true love. But I’m worshiping you, God, calling out in thanksgiving! And I’ll do what I promised I’d do! Salvation belongs to God!”

Matthew 27:51-53

At that moment, the Temple curtain was ripped in two, top to bottom. There was an earthquake, and rocks were split in pieces. What’s more, tombs were opened up, and many bodies of believers asleep in their graves were raised. (After Jesus’ resurrection, they left the tombs, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.)

Once again I found these verses amazingly cool! Here are some takeaways from what I read:

  • When we are “6 feet under” and have been pronounced “dead” in areas of our life, whether these are dreams, relationships, our optimism, whatever it might be we need to remember that when we call out for help God will pull us out of the grave. He pulled himself out of the grave and rose from the dead, and as children of God we have access to that same resurrection power. We have reason to hope.
  • Prior the Hillsong I had a lot of hardships ranging from an abusive relationship to a dysfunctional relationship with my father to betrayals by friends and just overall despair and depression. When entering Hillsong I was desperate for a change. I was always in church every Sunday throughout my life and always considered myself to be born-again, but that doesn’t mean you are immune to life. Life happens, hurt happens, but you can choose what kind of seed your life has. I mean this in the Matthew 13 kind of way. For those of you who don’t know it says: “A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.” I think in my pre-Hillsong season I had seeds, I had moments where growth sprouted through different seasons but through various storms I withered and weeds began to strangle me. My hope withered, my view of God withered, and had I grown stronger roots I wouldn’t have died as quickly. You see? So I relate to Jonah in the part where he says “I’ve been thrown away, thrown out, out of your sight. I’ll never again lay eyes on your Holy Temple”. So often I felt unloved or betrayed by God. That He saw me but wasn’t acting on my behalf. That I was being punished for some past sinful behavior. That He didn’t love me as much as He loved other Christians.
  • As low as you think you’ve gone, God can quickly pull you out. Jonah knows this first hand: “I was as far down as a body can go, and the gates were slamming shut behind me forever— Yet you pulled me up from that grave alive, O God, my God”
  • I forget some times that when Jesus rose from the dead that other people rose with Him. In other words, nothing that looks dead in a Christian’s life can stay dead.

I love this song from this morning because it is a simple picture of what God has accomplished in just two years. “He who calls me to crush the heads of snakes/He who calls me to dance on graves”.

Be hopeful that whatever is trying to devour you, God has equipped you to crush. Be excited that whatever looks long dead, God will make come alive. God calls us by name and we see this proven in the Bible when He calls out to Adam, Moses, Samuel, and many other people. Never become bitter and believe that God has forgotten you or doesn’t know who you are. He does. And if He can show Himself faithful to me and speak to me I know He can call out for you too.

Wednesday Inspiration 12.17.14

I found myself a little discouraged the other day after a conversation with a friend. Long story short my friend confirmed in somewhat of an indirect way that someone I already suspected wasn’t a fan of me in fact doesn’t like me. Now I know we’re not always going to be someone’s cup of tea, and I don’t expect to please everyone. Sometimes without meaning to, you just rub people the wrong way. I remember Robert Ferguson saying something a few weeks ago about how Kane, one of our pastors, rubs him the wrong way because Kane is so much more jovial than him. So as you can see, that’s kind of silly, right? It’s not like Kane said something mean to Robert, or did anything serious to offend him. Sometimes people just don’t gravitate to you, and that’s okay. We all have different personalities and interests and sometimes they clash.

But it still didn’t sit well with me for some reason. I don’t need this person to be my friend, or come to my birthday, or invite me places but I guess because I’m so touchy-feely and all, I always want to make things better and to try to include everyone.

If I’m totally honest I’ve often found myself being very…judgmental about how I believe Christians should be. These aren’t bad things but mainly things like: “I don’t understand why they are excluding him/her”, “I don’t understand why this person is so stand-offish”, “I don’t understand why that person looks down on that other person”, “I don’t understand why that person is always giving me the evil eye” etc. In other words, sometimes my idealism or whatever it is, is a bit…unrealistic. I know Christian or not we are all still human and we’re not always going to get it right. But I also want people to strive to be better. If we are set apart from the world and what the world does and thinks, then we should be acting and speaking and thinking differently. We’re not perfecting this any time soon but we should be actively learning how to do this. Not following our “feelings” all the time and instead using the Bible and God’s word and voice to show us what the best course of action is.

I randomly Googled today at work and found an article that talked about this. One of my favorite quotes was:

Part of the problem is that we misunderstand the word love. The kind of love that we need in order to love people we don’t like is agape love, God’s kind of love. Now, agape love is not a feeling. Though we may experience nice feelings as a result of agape love, it does not depend on how we feel or how others feel about us. We can express agape love whether the feelings are present or absent, whether they are good or bad. This kind of love is not a feeling.

[Source: http://bit.ly/1wZIuPB]

I like that.

When I was younger I felt like a lot of people didn’t like me and for many years this made me unhappy with myself because I didn’t understand what was wrong with me. I think we all go through this at one time or another. Part of this had to do with events that occurred while I was growing up and being bullied and whatever else, but as I matured I learned that whether people liked me or not, I’m going to make a conscious effort to be good to them anyway. Trust me, I’m no saint. This isn’t a post about how fantastic I am. I’m truly not. Being good to people is sometimes accomplished through gritted teeth. It gets easier in some ways over the years and harder in some ways but ultimately I wanted to follow that old saying “Treat people the way you want to be treated” or as the Bible declares “Love your neighbor as yourself”. I want my actions to be in pursuit of what was right, no matter what the situation was/is or how someone was/is treating me.

All of this to say that, I think it’s okay for people not to like me. But I think if you’re a Christian you don’t have to like someone to love them. The article put it clearly by saying:

“agape love says, “I love you in spite of…”, in spite of the things about you that I may not like. We don’t have to feel guilty about not liking everyone. It’s okay! But we are commanded to love others”.

I think this is really important and something that is near to my heart. I never want my feelings about someone to ever have a negative effect on them or their relationship with God and Christianity as a whole. I’m not the end all be all, but I want to do my part to speak life and kindness into the people I work with, volunteer with, or come into contact with in any way. And sometimes it’s just as simple as deciding to still smile, hug, or talk to people whether they are a fan of you or not.

Father thank you that no matter what people might like or dislike about me that Your love and affection for me is constant. I pray for anyone reading this, who might have felt as I so often did in the past that I wasn’t liked. Help them to realize that the opinions of man are lower than the opinion of God. Heal their broken hearts and help tear down any walls around their hearts that prevent them from connecting to people. I also pray for those who struggle with certain people. We’re only human and it’s not always easy to get along. But I also know that you enable us to love because you first loved us..and you didn’t wait to see if Jesus “liked” us first before calling Him to love us first. I pray that as a community of believers that we make the tough decisions even when our flesh or comfort tells us to avoid what or who we do not like. Remind us daily what Jesus said in Matthew 22 which is to: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them. Amen.

Photo Credit: GeniusQuotes.net