Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Unknown

Jesus replied, “You don’t understand what I’m doing now, but someday you will.”
John 13:7

We seek answers.
Rather, we demand them.
We want to know.
Why did this happen to someone I love? What am I supposed to be doing with my life?  What is the purpose in this?

I think it is safe to say there is a lot of crazy going on in this world. Turning on the news every day literally makes my heart sink.
Why does God allow it? Why do we live in a hurtful world? What is happening?

Questioning is a logical response to seeing what all is going on around us.

Someone once described living is like a cross-stitch pattern that the Lord is sewing from the sky. All we see is the back, a jumbled mix of colors and strings to form tiny knots. He sees the beautiful picture.

What I have realized is that each knot is a reminder of the promises He has given us, a visual cue of comfort that He is supporting us. Each stitch is a cue for movement, though we may not see where, it is reminder that He is guiding us. A glimpse that even though we do not see everything, that He is continuing to love, discipline, and comfort us during this life.

Living in the unknown is uncomfortable.
We like control. We like to be prepared.
We like to know.

Funny thing is, we do know.

Who was born of a virgin? Who turned water into wine? Who fed 5,000 from food one boy provided? Who healed the sick? Who brought the dead back to life? Who loved while being persecuted? Who died to save a lost world? Who overcame death?

He overcame unknowns to the human mind, continues to do so daily, and He did it for ALL of us.

We know who is the connection between time and eternity.

The world is limited by time and our spirits are meant to be timeless. We are a people blessed with the gift of free will. The will to live for the one who is timeless, or the will to live for the time we have left.

So the only unanswered question is this…
Who do you live for?

“Open up my eyes to things unseen… Show me how to love like you.”

Monday, July 27, 2015

Be Bitter Sweet

My house is undergoing the second treatment to kill fleas, for around the seventh time. It’s been an eye opening experience, to say the least.

First of all, I have learned so much about how to kill fleas and make them not attracted to you. Wear rosemary or tree oil. Set shallow bowls around the house with dishwashing soap.  Wash all clothes on heat. Get rid of any animals (we don’t have any). Spray, bomb, vacuum, and repeat at LEAST every 7 days to break the lifecycle.

Often during this time, is hard to imagine WHY God made little bugs like fleas, mosquitos, ticks, chiggers, etc. Not only are they annoyingly itchy and cause lesions on the skin, but so many of these insects cause serious vector-borne diseases like plague, rickettsiosis, dengue, malaria, and chikungunya. Unfortunately, I am a magnet for insects. After living in the Dominican Republic, I did not think that I could be bitten any worse. False. 

It can be, and there is always a reason why.

Last night, in the peak of my flea anxiety and burdens of thinking of all of the illnesses I have seen people endure from insects, I started talking to God about it and I was given a heart of thankfulness that Heaven will not be like Earth. Immediately afterwards, my roommate came and shared this story with me about Corrie Ten Boom, a woman who was imprisoned and treated terribly for sharing the gospel and helping Jews escape during WWII. While the women were in the prison camp, their quarters were plagued with fleas. Fortunately, because their barrack was infested fiercely, the guards never wanted to enter and the gospel was shared.

So why do we always focus on the negative?

As I write this, I am reminded of Job, one of God’s faithful servants in the Old Testament. The Lord allowed Satan to test Job’s faith through his health, family, and life. Instead of giving up, through every trial, Job only communicated with the Lord more. At the end of the time, it was well with Him and He became a more faithful servant for communicating and remembering the Lord’s promises through it.

We all have our own flea problems.

There is something we all are dealing with that we are allowing to rob us of our joy. In the middle of our struggles, it is SO easy to focus on the negative, instead of asking the Lord what He is trying to teach us through each struggle. Through my experience with the fleas, I have realized my need for a daily discipline of patience and persistence in communicating EVERYTHING with the Lord.

“Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he binds up; he shatters, but his hands heal. He will deliver you from six troubles; in seven no evil shall touch you.” Job 5:17-19

Discipline. Whoa.

So what’s your flea?  

“One who is full loathes honey, but to one who is hungry everything bitter is sweet.” Proverbs 27:7

There is a message of His joy in everything. 
You are blessed. #givehimjoy

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Faith. The Path of Life.

Almost everyone I have talked to recently has had concerns about their future.
What am I supposed to be doing with my life? What if I don’t do well in this class and can’t get into grad school as a result? What if I cannot find a job? What is the future going to look like for me?

These questions reminded me of the miraculous story of Jesus and Peter described in Matthew.

‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’
And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’
So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’
And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’
Matthew 14:27-32

Peter is so consumed with the world around Him that he does not think of the present, nor eternity. He was so blessed to be able to walk towards eternity, His Savior... Even more so, He is WALKING ON WATER! However, He allows the wind and the storms to worry him. Where was Peter’s faith? Who did he trust?

His own steps; we often do the same.

I think sometimes we see faith as blindly obeying, when it’s really quite the opposite. Faith is merely the choice to give control to God, because of the promises He made for us. Furthermore, we know that when we live for Him, He prepares us daily for the times ahead. Walking in faith does not mean we are to walk without working for the Lord. Faith is an act of discipline to willingly work, dedicate, and give our lives daily for His Will.

How much easier would our lives be if we decided to let God have full control daily?

Would we fret about money? Would we worry about one exam grade, paper, etc.? Would we worry about marriage or rather being alone? Would we worry about the next game we play? Would we worry about our body? Would we stress about not getting the job? Would we worry about life after graduation?

It’s hard for us to have full faith in the Lord’s plan for us, because of our need for control… Ironically, we gain the fruit and discipline of self-control when we finally trust in the Lord in full faith. 

Control is a response of doubt. When we choose to live for Christ, we are welcomed into His family, cared for, and our paths are directed. There is no doubt there; it is written plainly that He loves us. So let’s embrace the present in joy with Eternity in mind!

“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.” Romans 8:37-39

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

No matter what life brings, know He has never left us nor forsaken us, because He loves EACH OF US! So as finals and graduation approach, my prayer is that we all learn more about living joyfully in full faith of the Lord’s plan for us!

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalms 16:11

Dedicated to my sweet brother - TAMU '19

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Key of C [Open]

The Lord reveals His truths in many lyrical forms…
Recently it’s been a rhythm, a constant open key…

Let's return to the basics, to where we can see and hear His creative truth.
He sings clarity.

Confidence in Leadership
2 Corinthians 3:4-6
            Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from god, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 13:11-13
            When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a (wo)man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Matthew 23:11
            The greatest among you will be your servant.

Without God, I would have absolutely nowhere to begin to tackle the obstacles in the opportunities I have been given for leadership. People respect people that walk intelligently, humbly, and love. It is through His word, I have learned that to lead effectively, one must serve and love others.

Confirmation in Strengths, Talents, Spiritual Gifts
1 Corinthians 1:4-9
            Because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge – even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you – so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful.

Our bodies are not only temporary, but they are not ours. We are enriched with truth and wisdom when we acknowledge He is the creator.

Contentment with Life
Psalm 37:7
            Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Ecclesiastes 3: 9-11
            What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

Life on Earth is a mere dash on a tombstone. So why should we worry about tomorrow? We should take each day as it comes and trust that God will equip, direct, and teach us tools of how to handle tasks.

Clean & Created New
Romans 6:14
            For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Through Christ, we do not have to worry about our past! We have been made a new creation and are clean by the Blood He shed on the cross for us. Therefore, we can be comforted by His perfection.

Comfort through Counsel
Psalm 1:1-3
            Blessed is the man who walk not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but (her) delight is in the law of the Lord and on (her) law (s)he meditates day and night.

2 Corinthians 1:1-5
            Blessed be the god and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

When all else seems to fade or be in some sort of turmoil, I know that God is greater than all of our troubles. Christ endured everything for us, so His comfort is sincere. He knows our struggles and our hearts. He wants to be there for us, because He cares.

Challenges for Strength
Romans 12:2
            Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2 Corinthians 10:3-6
            For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

Romans 5:3-5
            Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

We were not promised an easy life as Christians. Living for an eternal purpose in a society that thrives on instantaneous pleasure is not easy. However, we know that Christ has been where are and is living within us. We are not alone and we are promised life with Him, if we believe in Him.

Conquer with Knowledge of His Covenant
Psalm 119:98
            Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me.

Romans 8:37
            In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Christ has already won the battle! Don’t let deception lead you to believe anything otherwise.

Consistency & Commitment for Faith & Trust
Psalm 37:5-6
            Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday.

John 15:13
            Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

It is through consistency and commitment that we truly see results. When you are committed to a purpose and trust God’s sovereignty through the consistency, He will deliver! Faith and trust are learned characteristics that are understood by consistency in our walks with Christ for His Will.

Clarity for Direction
2 Corinthians 4:6
            For God, who said, “Let light sine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Christ, God,  the Holy Spirit, and His Word illuminates truth to bring clarity to our daily walks and struggles. We can know when certainty that His will is being done with His light upon our paths.

Courage for Fear
Psalm 46:5
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns.

Psalm 56:22
            Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Jeremiah 23:29
            Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

If the Lord has already defeated death, sin, and the evil one through His Son… Whom shall I fear? When we are on the side of the winner, we can be confident.

Romans 7:23
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Ephesians 2:4-6
            But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, been when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved.

His truth is vast.
A constant C.
One that Rings, Eternity. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

My Strength #givethemjoy

“The Joy of the Lord will be my strength
I will not falter, I will not faint
He is my Shepherd, I am not afraid
The Joy of the Lord is my strength

The Joy of the Lord will be my strength
He will uphold me all of my days
I am surrounded by mercy and grace
And the Joy of the Lord is my strength

The Joy of the Lord will be my strength
And I will not waiver, walking by faith
He will be strong to deliver me safe
And the Joy of the Lord is my strength.”

This hymn may be old and traditional, but once again the simplicity of the words ring true in the depths of life. The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength.

This semester has truly been the hardest semester yet, physically, emotionally, and mentally. After having endured depression and anxiety for an extended period of time and experienced a death in my family, I did not think it was possible to being more challenged. However, I have been challenged in school. I have endured physical pain for prolonged amounts of time to discover new issues within a week of finally knowing the source of the previous. The amount of medication I have taken in the past 5 months is sickening to think about, even more so, how much I have spent on these medications. I have been challenged in leadership roles. I have been challenged to think more in depth about my career path. I have accepted the fact I will be graduating later than I originally expected. Goodness, I could list several more things, but this is not my point…

I share these things not to rant or receive any sympathy; in fact, many have endured the things I have gone through and even more than me. Rather, I share this to further show how Our Father has brought the importance of choosing His Joy and Strength as a daily discipline.

Nothing and no one will give you the strength you need during these times, but Our Father. I’ve tried to live life on my own and did not communicate with God about my struggles and the darts thrown at me. It did me absolutely no good. The true is, it made me more irritable, confused, anxious, and self-degrading.

It is a choice to acknowledge His Wisdom and Knowledge. It is a choice to have Faith in His Guidance. We are not all knowing people. We can choose to try and control the unknown allowing life and the darts thrown to rob us of our lives or ask for His Joy and Strength during the most trying times.

I’ve been reading Job this semester and one of the most humbling analogies made is when the Lord describes the “Behemoth” animal. God uses these analogies for His vast knowledge to make practical sense to us. He describes the animal’s strength in chapter 41:
-the sword reaches him, it does not avail, nor the spear, the dart, or the javelin  (v. 26)
-the arrow cannot make him flee; for him sling stones are turned to stubble (v.28)
-He sees everything that is high; he is king over all the sons of pride (v.34)
-His back is made of rows of shields, shut up closely as with a seal (v.15)

God tells us Behemoth was made as He made us (Job 40:15). He says this to let us know that He created the animal, but more importantly, that we are created the same way. We know that we are created in His image so the strength described is only a fraction of the amount of strength Our God has… This displays the amount strength He has freely given us.

God is greater than anything we have endured. Job discovered it. The purpose of his pain was greater than growth for just himself; the lessons he learned are applicable to us as well. (Thank goodness for that Bible!)

“I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted… I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:2,5-6

God restored Job’s life, just as He will do for anyone else who choose to submit to the Lord’s strength.

If you haven’t noticed, I started a challenge called #givethemjoy. The initiative is the art of choosing joy as a discipline in our daily lives. Today, social media is very much a part of our daily lives, so let’s use it as a tool to sharpen us. We can fall to the darts thrown at us, or we can choose to rely on the Lord’s strength and face all obstacles before us.  If you are facing hardships too, I want to encourage you to join in the movement with me. You can check it out on Facebook, twitter, or instagram by searching #givethemjoy.

“For the Joy of the Lord is Your Strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Let’s surround ourselves with strength from the one who never falters. #givethemjoy