Perfect Lamb

Fill our hearts, Lord, with a new song;
Renew our minds by a joyful morning.
Your name will be praised by those who love You–
Let us fall to our knees in worship.

Your beauty shall bring the enemies to silence;
Your majesty will stand over all the earth.
The rich and poor will bow alike;
The proud will soon fall on their faces.

Whose sacrifice is more worthy than Your own?
Who can take the place of Your Perfect Lamb?

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Surgery Update

It’s been awhile since I’ve shared an update, so for the sake of any curious followers, I thought I’d share a bit:

For those who don’t know, I have had epilepsy for about 10 years. About a year and a half ago, it was decided we’d go through the tests necessary to move forward with getting epilepsy surgery. (Where they remove the part of my brain where seizures are starting) I ended up getting a Neuropace instead, which is a pacemaker of sorts for the brain that “zaps” (painlessly, of course ;)) seizures–mainly because it seemed safer.

Inconveniently, I was the surgeon’s first lucky patient to have a CSF leak, two infections, 18 weeks of antibiotics, and eventually, after 6 different operations, the Neuropace removed. (Crazy year and a half!) It’s been a challenging yet learning experience, to say the least.

Today, a test was done that showed the infections are gone, (YES!) and we can start working towards the original plan: to get the “focus” removed. For the next three months, I will be going to PT and basically doing everything possible to get well prepared for surgery before redoing the prep tests. (Surgeries, lack of exercise, and all the antibiotics have set me back a bit)

In a way, things seem pretty clear ahead. But I feel like one of the key things I’ve learned over the last year and a half is not to put my hope in things like surgery, doctors, and my own ideas. There’s still a possibility of the surgery not working out like we want. I may be here today and then gone tomorrow–and that’s okay.

I want my hope to be in Christ who cannot be separated from me and in eternity with Him that cannot be taken away.

“In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song.
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.”

– lyrics from “In Christ Alone”

God’s Music

Most who know me know I love music. When asked what my favorite kind of music is, I’ve always said I don’t have a favorite as I typically like listening to some of everything. But tonight, as I listen to the sound of the rain, I’ve decided I do have a favorite–and that is “God’s music”.

I love the sound of hundreds of frogs and crickets at night, (though I’m so NOT a bug or frog fan lol) waves crashing at the beach, voices singing in harmony, the rustling of leaves from the wind, the crackling of a fire, a flowing river, birds in the morning…just to name a few. Perhaps “God’s music” is an unusual title, but as God is the Creator of the “instruments”, the timing, the key, the length of the song, and more, I find it quite fitting.

Just an evening thought… 🙂

I shall not be discouraged

By You, oh Lord, I stand upright.
When I trust in You, I shall not be discouraged;
For Your plan cannot be set aside,
And Your time cannot be delayed.

Who holds their head above Your own?
Whose throne stands over the Creator of life?

You know my every suffering;
No pain goes on unnoticed.
By my side You walk with me;
You’ve given me life by giving up Your own.

Only You bring peace to my soul and true joy to my heart.
You made my very being–who can better satisfy?

Poor memory? No problem!

If you have a hard time remembering things, you’re not the only one. I don’t know for sure why I have poor memory, but it is likely from my epilepsy or medications I take for it…perhaps some of both. Whatever the cause, I’ve had quite a hard time remembering things I learn from the Bible, from basic words to names and references. (And whatever else I’m trying to learn) Perhaps you do too, and if so, I just want to say that’s totally okay–and can even be a good thing.

Being unable to remember verses word for word, where they are, names and such has required me to rely on the Holy Spirit all the more rather than just head knowledge. I still study, despite the things I will forget, and rely on God to guide me and take care of the rest. This verse has always been encouraging to me: (yes, I had to look it up…very grateful for the internet!)

“…for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.” Luke 12:12

I’ve always seen having the Holy Spirit inside you as sort of a sixth sense. Often there are things I can just sort of sense that aren’t right, places that I can see the Holy Spirit is leading me to go, convictions and things He is prompting me to do. Thankfully, this isn’t something that requires knowledge. This is something even a young child can experience if they accept it.

What does it mean to accept it?

It requires surrendering.

Allowing God’s capabilities to stand high above our own.

Listening.

Opening our ears to what God is trying to say, even if it’s something we don’t want to hear.

Watching.

Paying close attention to our surroundings, looking for ways we can serve and honor God.

Staying in tune.

So many times God will speak to others through us–or to us through others–often when we don’t even realize it. It is really easy to miss these opportunities if we are not in tune with God. I can say from experience that words are a powerful thing. If the Holy Spirit is prompting you to say encouraging words to your brother or sister, don’t hesitate or let fear get in the way.

Be careful not to rely on yourself or what you know…rely on God.

Where The Lord Has Fixed My Eyes

Where the Lord has fixed my eyes will not be covered up;
Where He sets my feet will not be shifted.
The way that He has called me will not be blocked off;
The timing of His will will not be stretched out or cut short.
He has placed His desires within me and they cannot be withheld.
His Spirit leaves no room for fear;
His love puts out all hate and anger.

Nothing can separate me from my Father;
By His will alone I continue to stand.
In His strength I will fight the good fight;
By His grace I will win the race to which He has called me.
All doubt has been broken down and worry stripped away;
They cannot be found in the presence of the Lord.

You, As You Are

(Before sharing this, I just want to say God is there. Whether we reject it or choose to embrace it is up to us.)

You, oh Lord, are so beautiful to me!
Your hands are calloused from the hardest work,
Yet bring the softest touch.
Your eyes are strong and see deep within,
Yet yield a gentle gaze.
You sense the smell of evil quick,
Yet the smallest, pleasant aroma brings You joy.
You know the time of what has and hasn’t been;
You extend beyond width and depth of years.
You carry forth Your love to undeserving;
Your faithfulness to Your children never ceases.
Your throne stands high above the earth,
Yet You allow the weak upon Your lap who worship You.
Your voice can cause the mountains to tremble,
But Your peaceful whisper can be as a lowly bird in beautiful song.

I can ask of nothing else but for You to be Yourself, as You are, and always will be.
Earthly kings may waiver,
But You and Your ways will never cease.

To Take Up Our Cross

Where we become small,
God becomes bigger.
Where we become weak,
God becomes stronger.
Where we die to ourselves,
We are able to live for Christ.
Where we choose to surrender,
We are able to rest in the arms of our King.

These are things that He has done for us, and what it means to take up our cross and follow Him.

The Treasures Of The Lord

The Lord is my refuge and my strength.
He is the air that I breathe and the life that is in me.
His gift of life never ceases;
It cannot be torn apart.
Thieves cannot steal the treasures of the Lord;
The value of His love cannot be understood.
His promises sustain forever,
They cannot be broken.
His light shines through the darkest nights,
It cannot be swallowed up.
His Kingdom shall not pass away;
Though all earth fails, the house of the Lord shall have no end.
He brings joy to the hearts of His children;
His peace surrounds those who humbly serve Him.

The Treasure Of My Heart

The Lord is the treasure of my heart;
What once was valuable is worthless to me now.
Not one can compare to the depths of His love;
Nothing can exceed the compassion of the King.
He clothes me in white;
He places the crown of life upon my head.
He pours His grace out over me;
His mercies are new every morning.
He holds me in His lap and allows my head to rest on His shoulder;
In the arms of the Lord I find peace.
He hears my every cry and knows my every pain;
No harm can come to me apart from His will.
Nothing can separate me from the arms of my Father;
Nothing can remove me from His hands.

Oh, how beautiful are the words of the Lord!
They are as an art to the eye and music to the ear.
To His children they are sweet as honey to the mouth.
There is a pleasant aroma in the presence of the Lord.
There is no greater satisfaction than that which comes from the Lord;
He brings a completion no other can bring.

The Success In Weakness

As I sit in deep thought in my time with God, my head in pain, counting down the days till another brain surgery, I feel incredibly weak. But slowly I’m learning that that’s okay, and, in fact, is a good thing.

It’s when we become broken that we can be shaped in a way that glorifies God. When we are weak a strength that only comes from Christ becomes magnified and is a light to those around us. It’s when we become low that we are allowing God to reign in our lives.

I know this point in my life isn’t a mistake. It’s not coincidence. It has a purpose. Though I may not be able to do things I’d like to do right now—like go overseas and help orphans—I can still do my best to honor God in the situation I am in. And really, that is true success.

The Face Of The Lord

Oh, how beautiful are the things You have made!
Your voice is great, yet intricate.
Your works are vast, yet precise.
Your art is creative, yet perfect.
What You have made is beyond what the eye can see—
Much is not understood, and even more is yet to be discovered.

Can our minds contain the knowledge of the Lord?
Can a creation have the understanding of it’s Creator?
Certainly not.
We cannot fully see His fingerprints,
Let alone grasp His hands.
We struggle to hear His voice,
Let alone fully know the face of the Lord.

As An Eagle

The Lord soars over me as an eagle;
He sees me close and from afar off.
He keeps watch over me;
He sees from where I come and to where I am going.

On the mountain’s top He waits for me;
With a loud voice He calls my name.
He takes me in under the shelter of His wings;
By His instruction I am brought up.

Great rivers flow from the mountain of the Lord;
From His springs my thirst is satisfied.
In the presence of the Lord my strength is renewed;
In His courts my mouth does not run dry.

My Anxious Heart

My God calms my anxious heart;
He sustains my inner being.
He brings peace where the enemy works night and day to start war.

He brings victory where the world fails;
He brings success to the weak so that He may be glorified.

No darkness suppresses the Light of the Lord;
His flame cannot be vanquished.

His Spirit does not grow weary;
No task is too great for the hands of the Lord!

The Fire That Is In Me

My heart won’t settle for living for myself. It doesn’t allow me to be satisfied with “normal”…whatever that is. I’m far from being prepared for anything great, and I’m incredibly weak physically—it is not unusual for me to struggle to do an everyday task…yet sometimes I feel like I’m on fire. There’s something burning inside of me that doesn’t allow me to give up, something that makes me keep pressing on. Sometimes it seems as though the more challenging things become the more I move forward. I know it’s from God—He is the fire that is in me. Anything that gets thrown at me quickly becomes engulfed in His flames because nothing can put Him out. I could be too weak to take a breath and still He would be burning inside of me.

I don’t know in detail where it is He’s taking me, and I especially don’t know how—other than by His own capabilities and capabilities that He gives me. As far as when…I believe I am already there. I’ve not completed all the tasks He has for me yet, and they won’t be completed till the day I die, but I’m where I’m supposed to be for now. It is moment by moment and day by day that He will continue to guide me.

If I could only have one hope, one dream, one success—it would be to reach the finish line and hear Him say to me, “Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matt. 25:34-36)

Thank You, Lord, for loving me…

Thank You, Lord, for loving me,
For always holding me near.
When walking with me and talking with me,
You keep me far from fear.

You show me ways that I can grow to be more like You;
You teach me, Lord, that I may know how to love as You do.

You guide me through every stormy night;
You lift me as waters rise.
You keep me on the path that’s right;
You lead me by Your eyes.

You see beyond what I can see,
You know my every need.
You have a plan laid out for me—
Who You’ve created me to be.

You remind me that I’m not an accident,
A failure, or mistake.
Where I am I have been sent,
I am here for others’ sake,

To spread Your love and gift of life amongst the lost and broken,
To bring peace amidst the strife—
Share Your forgiveness of our sin.

 

 

Sheltered, Perhaps.

To those who are taken aback when I’ve never heard of a particular song, seen a particular movie, or heard of a particular person: Sure, maybe I’ve been sheltered. Sheltered under God, and I don’t mind one bit because there are some things I just don’t need in my life right now that likely would only have a negative impact on me anyway…so why chase after it?

Give me a biography of someone who gave their life for a good cause, not the latest top-novel. I’d rather be filled in on something educational than shameful. I’d rather spend time with my little sister than watch my favorite show on Netflix. I’d rather look for ways to fix problems, not gossip about them. I’d rather build relationships, not watch them fall apart. I’d rather live with a purpose than just wait and see what happens. I’d rather look for ways to bring light into this world instead of drowning in the dark.

It’s God that I want to make sure I stay in tune with. It’s His work I want to focus on. It’s His will I want to follow. It’s His love story I want to share. I want to hang on HIS every word, not my favorite movie star’s.

Okay, rant over—for now anyway… 😉

“If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” -Paul

Victory Calls!

Victory calls, it knows my name!
The strength of the Lord endures forever;
True failure does not know the children of the King!
The hearts who do not know the Lord are saddened;
They live without His purpose—they are here today and gone tomorrow.
The mountains tremble and waves crash;
They drown in anger and fear.
But the servants of the Lord will rejoice and praise Him;
They will enter His courts with gladness!
All pain and suffering will be torn away;
We will be clothed in peace and given crowns of endurance.
The power of the enemy has been lost;
He only takes what is presented him.
The Shepherd has come to save;
He’s given Himself out of love for His sheep.
All who seek the Creator shall find Him;
Those who seek the world will only receive such.

Follow His Hand

Who brings peace with strife?
Who settles conflict with anger?
Who can have the love of Christ and not share it with a stranger?

Who succeeds by being idle?
Who gains without a purpose?
How can we achieve, without His Spirit inside us?

What good is worry, that we hold it so dear?
Who adds to their life, while drowning in fear?

We can all give our best, but what will it achieve,
If still we do not let our God take the lead?

To function the intricate way He has planned,
We must follow His example—the Ways of His hand.

 

Are you in good health?

I can definitely say from experience, if you have physical pain, you’re going to (or at least you should) want to find out why so it can be treated and you can be healed. Being sick and in pain is not something to be ignored or you will find yourself in an unhealthy, pretty miserable state. …seems simple enough.

Something that is, in fact, often ignored is our spiritual health. We are often afraid of failing tests, our wounds being exposed, and diseases being recognized. But until some examining is done, we cannot find our weak points. Until we are aware of our weak points and acknowledge any areas we are sick, we cannot get the proper treatment and exercise to become strong and in good health.

Make it a habit to run a check-up. Examine yourself, but more importantly, allow God to examine you. He is the best Doctor out there, and to be sure, knows the best cure. But first, we have to be willing to receive the diagnosis.

 

What’s the problem?

Lately I’ve been reviewing algebra, and last night as I was checking the answer to a problem, it was not the same as the answer I’d come up with. So, I went back and tried to solve the problem again. I repeated this several times and became quite frustrated before realizing that I had the correct answer…only it was for a different problem.

All throughout our life we are finding answers. It’s a part of growing, learning, and the shaping of who we are. Sometimes, however, we can’t find the answers we’re looking for because we are trying to find answers for the wrong problem.

God always has answers, but we aren’t meant to have all the answers at once and not always as we want them. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions, but if we don’t receive an answer right away, then, again, we are trying to find answers for the wrong problem.

We need to seek God, and He will reveal answers to us as is truly needed and at the appropriate time.

Only For A Time

“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭

Since I have had brain surgery (the last one was mid-September) I have not been able to sleep laying down and been waking up multiple times through the night with bad headaches. As I’m waiting for tests to be done and answers to be found there simply hasn’t been anything to do but wait. Of course, as with many other similar situations, I find God only using this situation for good.

When we go through any kind of challenge, whether it’s physical or spiritual, we pretty much have two options: to accept it or deny it and be stuck with it anyway. While much can be learned from acceptance, nothing good comes from denial.

What is acceptance? Looking for good in the situation and learning from it. Choosing not to be angry even when you don’t understand why you’re being allowed to go through a difficult situation.

I’m not going to deny that there have been times I’ve asked why, and there’s nothing wrong with asking why. We just may or may not receive an answer and need to accept it either way. In fact, what inspired writing this was my asking why and not receiving an answer.

I was, however, reminded that this is only for a time. And I find this is applicable to many other hard times we go through in life. I also find that it makes it much easier to bear when we fix our gaze on what we cannot see—God and our eternal life with Him, as is referred to in 2 Cor. 4:18.

One of the ways to shift our gaze to Christ is through prayer and worship. Just last night as I was kept awake from my head hurting and feeling quite miserable I was reminded of a chorus in a song called “Steady my heart” by Kari Jobe that goes:
“Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
‘Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart
You steady my heart”

So many times it’s like God is the glue that holds me together—and not just holds me together, but shapes me into something beautiful—and He can do the same for you.

So, remember that when you go through something, it’s only for a time, and God can hold you together through it. Focus on our eternal life with Christ. Our time on earth is such a small, tiny portion of that.

 

Don’t Give God The Leftovers

It is often easy to worship God when it’s convenient, and to praise Him when we’re happy. But this is the most shallow praise and worship ever. God doesn’t fall for it.

If a friend is willing to skip a party they wanted to go to in order to visit you in the hospital it’s going to mean a lot more than if they came because they didn’t have anything better to do. If they give you a compliment despite the fact that they’re exhausted and have just got off a twelve hour shift at work, their words will be quite more treasured than if they just felt obligated to say something nice.

Now, if they came to see you because the party was canceled, their visit would be much less meaningful. If they take your friendship for granted and never have anything loving to say it’s not much of a friendship.

We serve a jealous God. And God knows it’s exactly what we need.

There’s a special kind of peace and joy that comes when we serve, praise, and worship when we don’t feel like it. It’s not always right away, but it pays off. Worshiping and praising God at our weak points makes us stronger. Seeking Him when we feel like we’re too tired to think straight causes us to rely on His Holy Spirit.

Be willing to serve when you feel you can hardly stand. Praise Him even through storms. Worship Him even when it seems like it’s been the roughest day of your life.

Don’t give God the time that’s convenient for you. Don’t give Him the leftovers.

My Shepherd

1CC03A6A-DD99-473E-A72D-9D059BC50248My Father searches for me;
He saves me from the enemy’s hand.
He holds me in His arms;
I do not go hungry.
He leads me through every valley,
And is my light when the evening comes.
When I begin to stray He calls my name;
He brings me back to a safe place.
In His full protection, worry does not exist;
Where His Spirit surrounds me, thieves do not break in.

Taking Root

C6D7C6A0-BDE0-4725-822E-9C9F9F319C54“Every dream, no matter how big, starts out as a seed. And like a seed, it often goes underground for a season. That’s when we get discouraged because we don’t see any physical evidence of the dream’s progress. But it has to take root before it can bear fruit.”
-Mark Batterson

As this year has been quite a challenging one, this quote from “Chase the Lion” (and the book itself) has really hit home. Picturing a seed breaking open in order for what is inside it to take root and grow—meanwhile seeing no fruit of any progress—really seemed like an accurate description of me.

The most important thing in these situations is to be where we are supposed to be. To be in good soil where we will get strong roots—to be where God wants us to be.

A lot of times at these points in our lives it seems like we are distant from God, in the dark and unable to see the “Son”. But still, He is there. As long as His Spirit is “raining” down upon us, if we continuously seek Him eventually we will break through the soil. We will see Him and His light will cause us to flourish.

How we react to being planted is so critical. Choosing to take root in where we’ve been planted will often affect our lives long-term a lot more than we realize.

Slowly, I am learning. Though it may be hard, I know it will be worth it.

Lord Over All

How great is our God who is Lord over all!
You cannot count the number of His days;
His time cannot be written down.
His arms stretch far out;
His height and width cannot be measured.
At the sound of His voice mountains tremble;
At His command storms will rest.
All of mankind shall bow at His feet;
His children will rejoice and be glad!

Learning To Fly

As I woke up this morning feeling rather constricted to my hospital bed and I was feeling quite weak, I pictured a beautiful flock of birds flying by. As they flew by, I was left behind with injured wings unable to fly. Oh, how I wanted to fly!

After a while of waiting and preparing, I was healed. After some time of some more preparing and learning, I was flying, and boy did I fly! Not only was I soaring through the sky, but hundreds, if not thousands, followed behind.

God had prepared me. The process of being prepared was painful and hard but it was worth it.

Exalt The Most High

Exalt the Most High over all the earth;
Praise the Holy One whose love endures forever!
His foundations do not crumble;
His throne will forever stand.
He brought Himself down so that our cost can be paid;
He took pain upon Himself so that we can be set free.
He alone is worthy of our worship;
On our knees we bow before Him.
Never can we repay Him for what He has done;
The victory He gives we will never deserve.
Yet still He invites us in;
He calls us to accept His love.
To the broken and hurting He offers a place at His table;
He serves and gives gifts to each one.
There is no other god or friend such as this;
No, not one can be accounted for!

God Is Never Late

One of the things I’m having to constantly remind myself is that God is never late. So many times I think I’ve figured out where God is leading me when suddenly it becomes impossible or quite delayed. My instinct reaction is frustration, confusion, and disappointment.

This is where it gets hard. It’s where we can’t rely on our own understanding. It’s where our faith, trust, and patience are tested. It’s where we need to be surrendering ourselves to Christ, allowing Him to shape our lives however He sees fit.

Slowly, I am learning. Learning that if I can’t do it, either it’s not God’s will for me to do it at all, or it’s just not time.

We need to realize that if we are allowing things like worry, anger, and doubt to reign in our lives we are giving Satan control and missing opportunities of a lifetime that God has in store for us! What good is that?

Instead of worrying, let’s put our faith in the One who gave His life for us. Instead of becoming angry because things aren’t working out like we expected, let’s put our trust in our Author. Instead of becoming frustrated with the timing of everything, let’s rely on the Creator of time.

Let’s remember: God is never late.

The Perfect Way Of Our Lord

You, my Father, bring to me what is good;
You keep me in a safe place.
You know the way that is right;
Night and day You guide me.
When my feet start another path,
You bring me back by Your correction.
When my legs start to fail me,
You lift me up and set my legs straight.
Your love, oh Lord, provides direction;
Your wisdom sets me on the perfect way.

Time-Spending

I’ve been using iPhones for years now, and for the first several years I had several game apps and would spend anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours on them. If I had off work or just somehow had a lot of time on my hands it was sometimes longer.

One particular day, I’d had enough of it. I deleted all of the game apps in about 1 minute, dropped my phone on my bed, and looked out the window in deep thought. I was frustrated—perhaps even angry with myself. I knew God had something much better to offer. I knew He had greater plans, greater thoughts, goals…I didn’t want to be content with what the world had to offer me. Instead, I wanted to seek after God and make His thoughts my thoughts, and His ways my ways. I knew that wasn’t something I was going to find while getting points.

After not playing any for over a year, I went back to playing for a while as I underwent surgery and recovery. I had a TON of time on my hands, and with the bad headache (brain surgery) and meds I just couldn’t concentrate enough to read, so it was good while it lasted. It’s only been in the last couple weeks that I’ve quit them again and it’s literally been refreshing!

A lifelong lesson to be continuously learning is how to spend our time wisely…it’s a gift we are given by God, and as His children we are to give it back to Him in a way that glorifies Him.

The Weak, Hurting, and Broken

Last night, in my time of prayer as I was thinking of all the things I’ve been wanting to do one day and believe God is leading me to do, I was feeling rather discouraged. It was as though the Devil himself was there trying to discourage me—reminding me of things like how exhausted I get doing things as simple as coming up the stairs. But God had a really good comeback. He reminded me of how He uses the weak, the broken, and the hurting. I literally laughed out loud and prayed, “Well, I qualify for all three, don’t I?”

I think many—if not all—humans have experienced these hardships at least once in their life. Some simply don’t acknowledge the fact because of pride or cold hearts.

Here are some verses I wanted to share…you can always find more on google. 😉

1 Corinthians 1:27b “…God has chosen the weak things of this world to put to shame the things which are mighty;”

Psalms 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken and a contrite heart.
These, O God, You will not despise.”

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.”

Don’t allow yourself to be discouraged when you are weak, hurting, or broken…this only allows more room for God to be glorified through us!

A Car Ride To Remember

Tonight, while spending some time listening to some of my praise and worship favs, I was imagining Jesus in the driver’s seat of a car and myself in the seat behind Him. Before driving, He made sure I had my seatbelt on and frequently looked at me through the rear view mirror to check on me. When our eyes met it was like every fear, worry, and sadness melted away. Part of me wanted to lean over and look over His shoulder to try and see what was ahead, but somehow I knew I shouldn’t. Instead, I found peace in trusting that He knew where we were going and with the windows down I enjoyed the breeze and beautiful views that I may have otherwise missed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

While trying to see far into the future and what is ahead of us it is easy to miss what is already here. People, events, opportunities…if we’re not careful it is easy for time and things that we could have taken part in slip by completely unnoticed.

We need to allow God to be our driver, let Him do the focusing on the road ahead, and see where He takes us.

Quality Of Life

Before I had my first brain surgery, a lady who was explaining the surgery asked a few questions. One of the main questions she asked was something along the lines of how less valuable I considered my life because of my epilepsy. (This was 11 months ago, so I don’t remember exactly how she asked) I was rather confused by her question and I think she was somewhat confused by my answer. I quickly and quite determinedly replied that I didn’t consider my life any less valuable than if I was in perfect health.

Still, to this day, I can’t see how anyone could ask such a question. I still got the surgery and am working my way towards improving my health, but I don’t believe it has any impact on my quality of life.

I believe when a person is in a relationship with Christ and truly seeking to be who He has created them to be, their quality of life is immeasurable. It is beautiful, and it is perfect. This is true quality of life.

The Beauty Inside

Beauty is not in the appearance of an individual, but the church as a whole—a lot of which cannot be seen by the outside world. It starts at the core. The world sees the skin of the fruit, the bark, and the leaves, but they cannot see the rings that show its age and the growth process. Until they bite into the fruit they will not know it’s flavor or sweetness. There are also many seeds within a fruit that can be planted in the human heart and then grow over time as God dwells inside.

Don’t Settle For The Fast Food. :)

Sitting down in the kitchen, waiting for the granola I was fixing for breakfast, I pictured Jesus sitting next to me—only dressed as a normal guy. He began talking about what we put into our time spent in private with Him, reading His Word, praying, etc., is like the time we put into preparing food. Food that is a box dinner, frozen, etc., and requires little time and effort is going to be a less healthy, inviting, pleasant meal.
———
….just something I found in a prayer journal I wrote back in 2011.

Run The Race

You, oh Lord, do to me what is good;
Forever You are faithful.
What brings pain to my earthly body brings wisdom to my spirit;
What breaks down my pride uplifts my soul.
Where trials persist,
You are the patience that is in me;
When storms come,
You are the foundation that holds me steady.
Day and night my faith is tested,
But I hold close to You.
My body may grow weary,
But You give strength to run the race to which You have called me.

Restored

You, oh Lord, shall direct my ways;
You guide me on the straight path.
Out of love You give correction;
With endless mercy You forgive my wrongdoings.
How great is Your love, oh Lord!
You bring hope to the hopeless and joy to the broken-hearted.
There’s a peace that is only found in You,
A satisfaction that only You can give.
You are the life that is in me;
Through You I have been restored.

You Are All

All that I am, You have made me;
All nature around me, You have created.
All that has happened, You have allowed it—not a bird falls without Your knowledge.
All our sin You have taken upon Your own shoulders—You have been bruised and beaten for our iniquities.
All our punishment You take on Yourself if we allow it;
All fear of death is taken away if we walk the Way of Life.

Is It OK?

Sometimes the sin and darkness in this world just makes my heart grieve. I’m not always sure if it’s more because we are hurting ourselves or because we are hurting and dishonoring God.

We dishonor our God by our sinful words and actions, bringing shame upon ourselves before Him. And not only by our own words and actions, but by approving/supporting those who practice them. (Romans 1:32)

We have allowed the enemy to creep in. He finds ways to make things look good and acceptable—sometimes even appealing. We have let our guards down. We take in whatever we are surrounded by. Our standards should not be what is “normal” around us. Just because “our other Christian friends” are okay with something doesn’t make it right.

Dig into the Word for yourself. Speak to your elders. Most importantly, seek after God and allow Him to speak to you.

It Is You

It is You, oh Lord, that I long for;
You satisfy my every thirst and fill my every hunger.

It is You, my God, that I need;
You heal me from every sickness and give me strength.

It is You, my Father, who makes my heart content;
Your love never ceases.

It is You, my King, who shall reign forever—who can better satisfy?

Hard Things

When someone loves another, they are willing to step outside their comfort zone for them, look for things to do for them even when they don’t feel like it, and even if it’s hard. Shouldn’t we do the same for God, since He should be first in our life?

A lot of times we show our love for Him in ways that are easy for us—which can vary from one person to another. We all have things that are easier, but we also have things that are harder for us as an individual that just don’t come naturally to us…and that’s ok. Thing is, we need to not “let it slide” and just don’t do the hard things—whether it be prayer, spending time with God, worship and praise, living out your faith in your workplace, etc. They are likely our weak points and where the enemy is most likely to attack.

Rather than a little here and a little there to get it off the checklist, we need to focus, tackle, and truly conquer our weaknesses. Let’s show our love for Christ by living for Him even in areas that it’s hard.

 

Cannot Be Silenced

Lord, renew my strength so that I may praise You;
Breathe Your Spirit into me so that You will be exalted.
Even when persecuted, Your people will praise You;
When held back, they will only become stronger.
The voice of Your children will always be heard—
They cannot be silenced.
Great is Your name over all the earth—it will not be suppressed.

Jesus And Our Life Song

09BA7F0F-876F-4E2E-8659-9275CAB07178This evening as I was listening to some light piano music, instead of writing in my prayer journal as I intended, I began day dreaming…again.

I pictured myself at a piano trying to write a song. I’d get a few notes I liked, but then would get stuck as to what to play next. After awhile I became frustrated. Then Jesus came into the picture. (That’s always a good sign, right? 😉)

He came and sat next to me and had me start playing again. I started to play, but like before, I got stuck. Only this time Jesus immediately put His hand to the piano and played just a few notes that got me to where I immediately knew what to play next. We continued on like this and it was beautiful. Not just for the music itself, but for the way we were able to function together.

The song was my life, and allowing Jesus to help me in writing the song was allowing Him to help write my life story. It’s easy to want to write our life story all by ourselves and get all the credit. But to be sure, it’s not going to be anywhere near as beautiful.

My Heart Grows Weary

My body becomes stiff and my heart grows weary.
My legs get to where they can hardly stand and my head can no longer be lifted up.

I fall to my knees before You,
For still You are worthy to be praised.
With my face to the ground I worship,
For You alone are to be glorified.

You are my source of strength and Your Spirit is the air that I breathe.
You, O God, restore my soul.
You, my Lord, keep my heart uplifted.

You Give Life

 

You withstand pain that the strongest man cannot survive.
You take hold of death that mankind cannot even see.
You bear the weight of sin that is not Your own;
You take all shame upon Yourself.
You take the punishment of death and offer restoration of life.
For a life that is broken,
You give life that is new.
For life that is short,
You give life that is eternal.
For a life that is empty,
You give a life that is filled.
A life that is in darkness,
You bring into light.

A Blessing To Serve

There are many days and nights I’m dreaming about what it’ll be like one day when I’m finally able with my own two hands to help special needs orphans overseas. Sometimes I think of how I’ll be able to help them, bless them—perhaps save lives even. This may sound selfish, but other times I think of what a blessing it will be to me.

I cannot even pretend that I know what it’ll all be like, but I know one thing: it’ll be a learning experience. And, I think, in a good way. Throughout my life, as I’ve done little things here and there to help others I can say it’s done as much, if not more, good for me as for them. As I grow older and do more for others I don’t expect that to change. There’s always going to be more for me to learn and areas for me to grow.

As we minister to others around us, it’s easy to feel good about ourselves because we did some “good thing”. When we are serving others we should, in fact, feel good—but not in a proud-like way—more like incredibly blessed, thankful way. Incredibly blessed with the opportunity to serve. The opportunity to use our God-given gifts to bless others as He has blessed us. The opportunity to see healing and restoration or whatever it was we took part in. And the opportunity to learn through those things.

We shouldn’t take opportunities to serve for granted. Truly, a chance to serve is a blessing to the one who’s doing the serving. When we walk past opportunities to serve I don’t think it’s commonly known how much we’re missing out on. The love, the joy, the satisfaction it brings…we need to look for ways to serve—we’ll be glad we did!

Seeking Wisdom From The Lord

With our hands we shed innocent blood;
With our feet we walk upon broken bones.
We point our fingers and accuse;
We cast stones by our angry words.
We boast in our belongings yet they are as heavy chains about our ankles—blessed is the man who is free from them!
We claim to know more than every previous generation, but we place our hands over our ears to wisdom.
Let’s put down anger and resentment and offer hands of kindness.
Let’s walk on a path that is right, and leads to life and peace.
Let’s give to those who have need, putting our hope in the unseen.
With a humble heart, let’s seek wisdom from the Lord and our elders, and our ways will be made straight.

A Dance With Jesus

One night at a recent hospital stay I was unable to sleep, so I played some of my praise and worship music and watched out the windows at the city’s lights in deep thought. As the music played, I pictured Jesus walking up to me with a smile on his face asking to dance with me. I accepted, and as we began to dance, of course, I imagined my clumsy self stumbling around, quickly becoming red in the face. But Jesus only smiled and encouraged—giving me confidence and over time gradually helping me make the correct movements in the correct timing.

It was a long dance. There were times of asking lots of questions and quiet times of contentment. There were times of joy and times of sadness—but it was all okay. It was okay, because Jesus was always there. I was in His arms and I knew He wasn’t about to let me go. And I was very grateful for that.

Later, as I thought about these things, I thought of how so many walk away from Jesus as He offers to dance with us. He waits for us. He wants to be near us–to love us, to guide us–but it’s our choice whether to accept, and allow Him to take us into His arms.

You Still Remain

Through storms Your voice can still be heard;
In lost places You are within arms reach.

When denied, You remain faithful;
When mocked, You continue to give;
While hate rises against You, Your love remains firm.

Over all sin and shame Your forgiveness reigns.
Over darkness and regret Your light overcomes.

You call to the weary, You wait at the door for the hurting.
You desire to heal the broken heart;
You long to restore every man’s soul.

You seek after the lost and bring food to the hungry;
You satisfy in a way only You can–
What the world brings does not last,
All that it offers does not fully fill.
These things become broken;
They do not stand through strong winds.

But You, O Lord, still remain.
With Your arms stretched out You offer a place.
A place of no hurting or shame;
Where no man can bring down.
A place of restoration and peace;
Where Your love overwhelms.

Your Light Will Overcome

I look upon You, oh Lord;
Day and night I seek Your face.
You take my every thought captive;
All anger and fear becomes dry as dust—Your Spirit washes away all doubt.
You turn my tears of sadness to tears of joy;
My distress fades away.
You restore my soul and weary heart;
By Your Spirit You supply me.
Your love is not measured out, but generously given—how great is Your love, oh Lord!
In You I remain confident;
By Your strength I continue to stand.
May all glory be upon You;
Kings and servants will be at Your feet.
No darkness will prevail,
For Your light cannot be overcome.
All deceivers will be revealed,
All truths will be brought out.
You alone will be lifted high;
Only You are worthy to be praised.

Confidence

IMG_6334

Something I’ve observed over the years is a lack of confidence despite many efforts. All the time I’m hearing people say things like, “I am worthy”, “I am special”, “I can do this”, and “I’m proud of who I am.” …yet this seems to be one of the most insecure generations ever!

Why is that?

Well, I think one of the main reasons is it’s like we’re talking to ourselves—we’re giving ourselves a pat on the back, saying, “Great job!”

To be sure, we need encouragement. We need reminded that we are loved and special—that we matter, and can make a difference in this world. But trying to provide these things with our own words isn’t going to build our confidence quite like when it’s coming from a different source.

So where do we find it?

While we need  to have people in our lives who help keep us straight and keep us going and who share words and do things that build us up not tear us down, there is only One who can always, without fail, help us remain confident no matter what the situation—and that is Christ.

I see many saying they don’t really care what others think about their makeup, what they believe, and how many followers they have on the internet, when clearly they do care as they spend hours trying to be presentable and going with what’s popular—being people-pleasers, and really—building up their pride.

Ironically, one of the most important things to build our confidence is humility…not pride, as the world often leads us to believe. If we build ourselves up in pride we are bound to fall at any moment, simply because we are imperfect humans. Rather than taking pride in ourselves, we need to take humility in Christ. With our confidence in One who never fails, we will not be disappointed!

Let’s humbly before God place our confidence in Him knowing that He gave His life for us—we are loved. He created us—we are beautiful. He has a calling for us—we are special. He gives us power through His Holy Spirit—we are strong. This is a confidence that never fails!

Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”

 

A Wisdom Unknown To Man

Who can understand all the ways of the Lord?
Who can comprehend the works of His hands?
Who knows His every thought?
How can we know the every move of One we cannot see?
How can we explain the reasoning of One so great?
When does a child understand all the ways of his father?
When do sheep comprehend the thoughts of their shepherd?
His thoughts are higher than our thoughts;
He has a wisdom unknown to man.

“Do not correct a scoffer…”

1506404985274This. We SO need this:

“He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.
Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.”
Prov. 9:7-8

Many times on social media I see and hear situations where people are scoffing at Christians for their faith and beliefs. Often our instinctive reaction is to stand up in defense and not always with the best attitude.

Over the years, as I’ve come across these situations there’s literally been times I opened my mouth to say something but then quickly kept to myself what I may have said—saying something just hasn’t felt right somehow. These situations have reminded me of when Jesus was tortured, scoffed at, spit upon, and crucified like none of us have ever been before. How did He react? He was silent. Later, He even said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

So, I guess my thoughts I was wanting to share tonight are that when we are in these situations, rather than being quick to defend, let’s be quick to forgive. And hard as it may be, let’s intercede for and love them as Christ has for us.

He Who Makes Me Strong

My God, who loves me, brings victory to my soul.
Every fear He overcomes;
His joy breaks down all distress.

Through all pain he comforts my heart;
In all valleys He sustains me.
He is my protector;
The strongest of men cannot take me from Him.

He has laid before me the way to go;
He corrects me when I stray from it.
For every challenge He prepares me;
Through every hardship it is He who makes me strong.

Acceptance

1505610755832Jesus is so accepting towards us. We do wrong against him, sin, we’re broken, hurting—and sometimes flat-out hateful—but He is willing to accept us anyways.

Similarly, there are going to be people who do wrong against us. We will experience things we don’t deserve and there will be times we go through that are just plain hard. It is so critical that we be willing to accept these things!

To forgive, to love those who hate, to accept the painful, hard times as Jesus has for us. It is amazing the burden that is carried away from us when we learn to accept!

When we have hatred in our hearts there is less room for love, and we are hurting ourselves more than those whom we hate. When we dwell in our mistakes, weaknesses, and sadness, we are giving it a chance to grow and overtake our lives—leaving no room for strength, true success, and joy.

As Jesus went through just about the hardest time ever in the giving of His life, He got through it and is our Perfect Example of true strength, success, and joy that isn’t just temporary, but eternal.

So let’s look for things that we need to accept and not allow them to have a negative impact on our lives. Rather, let’s look for ways that we can learn, grow, and give through them.

 

 

You Know What Is Right

O Lord, You know every part of my being;

No thought, word, or deed goes unnoticed.

Search my heart, O God;

Bring out any evil that is in me.

Guide me in a way that is good,

You know the way that is right for me.

You bring light into darkness;

You reveal to us our enemies so we cannot be fooled.

We cannot be brought down,

For You are greater.

We cannot be taken away,

For You are stronger.

The victory has already been achieved;

Every battle has already been won.

Each One Will Be Accounted For

We are as tiny ants that wander the earth yet You know us by name.
We curse You and do what is shameful yet You refine us and make us holy.
We doubt and deny Your existence yet You show us mercy and forgiveness.
May we fall to our knees in worship;
Let our faces come to the ground as Your servants.
No one who defies You will continue to stand;
Anger and hate will be brought down.
The jealous and the proud will not be satisfied,
But will tear themselves apart.
Your children who serve You will be brought to their feet;
For those who glorify Your name You prepare a better place.
Not one of Your servants will be left out,
Each one will be accounted for.

Our House

You, oh Lord, are our Shield and Protector;
When the enemy comes You bring us to a safe place.
Evil comes from behind where we cannot see,
But You look upon us and guide us away from its reach.
Where the wicked ensnare and bring death to the innocent,
You lead us on to a prosperous land.
On Your foundation our house will always stand;
Built on Your cornerstone it cannot be brought down.

Who Am I?

Who am I that you have looked upon me?
Who am I that you have laid Yourself down for me?
I have broken Your laws yet You make my ways straight.
I stumble and fall but You bring me to my feet.
I become broken but You make me whole again.
I become weak but You make me strong.
I become discouraged but You renew the life that is in me.
You show mercy and receive me as Your child.
Never will I deserve the grace You have shared.
There is no place I would rather be than in Your presence, my almighty Father.

One God Alone

May all who are hungry bless the Lord and His name!
Honor His Word in all you do so you will not be put to shame.
The proud will crumble, the stubborn brought to their knees,
There is no place at the King’s table for men such as these.
Make known to all people the goodness of our Lord:
Darkness cannot overcome the blood that He has poured.
His love is greater than all hatred on this earth.
He offers us new bodies—a chance of a new birth.
This life He gives cannot be taken;
His Kingdom above cannot be shaken.
Rejoice in the Lord, may your faith be made strong.
May we live in one accord,
As He comes before too long.
Even the wicked will bow at His throne;
All will see one God alone.

Who Has Control?

Teenage Problems, Social Issues and Bullying“It’s hopeless.” “There’s nothing I can do.” “It never ends.” “I’m broken.” “I’m scared.” Pain. Sadness. Darkness. … These are things that Satan will try and slip into our thoughts and feelings day and night as long as we allow him to.

I know many will say, “But you don’t know what I’m going through.” or “You just don’t understand.” and you’re probably right. I probably don’t know or understand. Everybody is different. But no matter what we’re going through, we can choose what to do about it. When we’re opening up our ears to what Satan has to tell us, we are letting him take advantage of us! God has made you worthy of so much more than that!

God is not a god of evil, hate, anger, sadness, etc. When we allow these things in our lives, they come between us and God–replacing His love, joy, and peace. We are allowing a wall to be built around us shutting out the good and containing darkness. We are allowing ourselves to be chained up rather than set free. Who wants that?

We need to ask ourselves what it is we truly want…not just accept whatever is put in front of us. We go through hard things in life–it’s not a perfect world. A lot of times when we’re going through something, we assume certain feelings and reactions go along with the package and we just have to accept it. This is not the case.

Someone can steal from you, and you can choose whether to be angry or forgiving. Someone can be diagnosed with a life-threatening condition and choose to live in fear or peace knowing they have eternity with God. Someone can make a mistake and hate themselves, or they can accept God’s forgiveness and live in joy knowing they’re fearfully and wonderfully made.

Let’s replace Satan’s thoughts with, “I messed up, but God has forgiven and made me new.” “I’ve been broken, but God has healed me.” “My body is weak, but He keeps my spirit strong.” “Satan pulls me down, but God lifts me up.” “Some make me angry, but I will forgive as Christ forgave me.” “I was afraid, but I’ve been reminded that God is greater than all things.” “I used to only see hate, but now I see God’s love.” “I didn’t think I could have joy again, but God’s joy is far greater than Satan’s darkness.” 

Don’t let Satan have his way. He will pull you into constant tears and misery if given the consent. This is your life…are you giving it over to God, or to Satan?

My Voice Is Heard

I cry out to my God and He hears me;
I call upon His name and my voice is heard.
I look upon His face and He sees me;
I run towards Him and He reaches for my hand.
I open my heart before Him and any darkness is taken out.
All fear and doubt slips away;
All sin and evil has been overcome.
No hate or anger is greater than His love;
No shadows can cover His light.

Allowing God To Rain—Being Made Clean

1504093198378Coming home this evening with my family from a visit to my grandparents we had just had rain and you could tell simply from the air. It had that fresh, cleanliness about it—where you just want to stop, take a slow, deep breath and enjoy it for a few moments.

It got me to thinking of how important it is for us to allow God to let His rain fall in our lives. It reminded me of His blood and how it washes away our sins and makes us holy.

Living in this world, the air that we breathe very easily becomes polluted. Similarly, what we are breathing in as Christians can easily become intoxicated by what’s around us as we are hardly in a perfect world. But if we allow Him to, God can wash away the hate, anger, selfishness, pride–the evil–by His love and precious blood. We don’t have to allow these things into our lives. He can fill us instead with the air that is pure–the wind of His Holy Spirit.

To do this we must come to Him. Out of the darkness. It’s easy to hide away where a lot of the pollution goes unnoticed especially when we don’t particularly want to see it. Something that has caught my attention is how there are many things you don’t see until you’re in the light. When we see the sun’s rays shining in a window you can see dust and tiny things floating in the air that you couldn’t see before. Likewise, if we look towards the light, (God) we will see unhealthy things that need taken out of our lives that has before gone unnoticed.

Let’s do some examining in God’s light. Not only of ourselves, but what we are taking in—what we are breathing in on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable at first, but it’s what we very much need…and afterwards can be so refreshing!

His Mysterious Works

My God brings rest to my soul;
He calms my spirit within me.
By His hand I am lifted;
I am carried away from every darkness.
All shadows are behind me;
I stand before His glorious light.
The Lord of love fills my heart to overflowing,
There is no place left unfilled.
He brings peace to my mind and relief to my bones;
His strength brings life to my body–He keeps me upright.
His feet are firm upon the ground;
No man can make them move.
His strength cannot be measured,
Nor can we understand it.
Great and mighty are His ways,
Mysterious are the works of my Father.

Yet To Be Discovered

Your joy and peace extend beyond the world;
Your love heals every broken heart.
The seen and the unseen reveal Your majesty,
The known and the unknown surround every living thing.
So much of Your work is yet to be discovered;
So little of Your creation is yet to be understood.
Not one can grasp the mind of God;
No man can comprehend it.

I Find Hope And Peace

Your face is beautiful, oh Lord;
Your hands gentle but strong.
You look upon me with eyes of love and kindness.
You wipe away my every tear and bring healing to my soul.
You bring me out of every darkness and free me from the chains of the enemy.
You make my brokenness into something beautiful;
My weakness You make into something strong.
You have taken me into Your arms as Your child,
Nothing can pull me away.
You surround me with Your presence,
By Your Spirit I find hope and peace.

We Will Make It

 

IMG_6125Often my mind is quite far away, thinking of children that are hurting and hungry. Children that because of their special needs aren’t given the chance to experience being a child, to know what it is to be loved. I dream night and day of when I am able to hold one in my arms, to be surrounded by these precious gifts that have been hidden away in one place to stay for all their years. To bring joy into their eyes for the first time.

How I will ever reach this point, I don’t know. How long it will be before I can be of any help to these hearts that are yearning I can’t predict. But God will make a way where there seems to be no way.

Wherever God leads us, if we are following, nothing can get in the way. There will be things that seem to get in the way that are actually better preparing us. It takes faith, patience, and a whole lot of perseverance, but if it’s where God is leading us He will get us there.

We have to trust that if it’s where He wants us, we will make it.

Born Again

“And the vessel that he had made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.”
Jeremiah 18:4

We are far from perfect—nor can we make ourselves to be—but we can choose to allow God to reform us into something beautiful. It requires letting Him hold us in His hands and allowing Him to reshape our lives, many times quite drastically.

“No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine in old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Matthew 9:16-17

I think we often try to hold onto parts of our old lives that are hard to let go rather than fully surrendering to God, and this quickly creates a problem. As long as we are holding onto our old bodies—our old ways, traditions, lifestyle, selfish desires, and such—we are naturally going to be rejecting God without even meaning to. We aren’t going to be ready to receive His Spirit and His blood upon us to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We won’t have His desires within us. We won’t be fully equipped to share the gospel as long as we are like this.

I might as well say it: it’s not easy—not if we’re doing this 100%. It takes a continuous surrendering, but it is worth it. Let’s allow God to fully renew our bodies so that He can fill us to overflowing with His Holy Spirit, His desires, His strength, His love, His wisdom, His peace, His joy, and so much more.

Make The Most Of It

There are many things we have no control over, but it is still up to us how we accept those things and react to them.

What got me to thinking about this was a few weeks ago at a doctor’s office for a pre-op appointment. While in the waiting room I noticed that literally everyone there was doing something on their phone. I have an iPhone myself, and there have been many times I’ve been waiting doing who-knows-what on my phone, but when I noticed this I didn’t like what I saw, and soon decided I wanted to do something about it.

I didn’t particularly want to be in a doctor’s office waiting room–who would? But I’ve been realizing something: no matter what our situation is, we should be seeing it as an opportunity.

Despite the fact that it seemed like there wasn’t anything else to do, I put away my phone. Before long I was able to strike up a conversation with someone. Nothing of great significance, but still–it was a conversation. Though I didn’t have the chance to share the gospel in the short time we were talking, it was enough time to communicate to the person that they are noticed and respected; a person can look at them and smile.

Small things like this can mean a lot more to someone than we might think—and I’m saying this from experience. I distinctly remember the few conversations others have started with me throughout the years. People who didn’t know me that came over and gave a compliment or just started talking about something completely random in such a kind way. They’ve been very uplifting and encouraging—I don’t easily forget them.

There have been many times where I was not feeling well and let that get the better of me by being impatient or unkind. I have no control over not feeling well, but I can choose how to react. No matter what our circumstances or what we own, we are capable of impacting others in a good way or a bad way. It is our choice.

It’s easy to let opportunities slip by while being distracted, or we can simply be unwilling to step out and do something for the benefit of others. This is a selfish way of living, and whether we realize it or not, living selfishly is not healthy for us as an individual.

So let’s make the most of whatever our situation is, and make a difference in someone else’s life for the better.

What is your “focus”?

As I believe I have mentioned in a few previous posts, I will soon be getting brain surgery. (July 26th to be exact…prayers appreciated!) We are hoping to find the “focus” of where my seizures are starting from and remove it to stop seizures.

So, trying to learn something from this, I was thinking how everybody is different. Not everyone has epilepsy. Not everyone who has epilepsy has a “focus”–a part of the brain that if removed can prevent seizures.

It reminded me of how everybody is different and what may be a problem for one may not be for another. For example, some things may be fine or even good for one, while for another that same thing may cause them to fall into sin, lead them away from Christ, or both.

We all sin. No matter how hard we try, we simply can’t be perfect. However, we can and should run from sin and towards Christ. Sometimes there are things in our lives that aren’t inherently bad, but are unhealthy or even toxic for us as an individual.

With my surgery/hospital stay, most of the time will be spent carefully analyzing seizures to find where exactly they’re starting—the surgery itself will only be a small fraction of the hospital stay. Similarly, where our problems are coming from can be quite a precarious task, and often times harder than actually taking care of the problem itself, but it is quite critical that we are doing this.

Many times we look for a quick fix–try taking out one thing, that doesn’t work, try something else, etc.–and that can easily make things even more complicated. One thing we can be sure of, and that’s that God knows exactly what our problems are. So guess who we need to go to if we want to find the root of our problems? Yep. You guessed it. God doesn’t hide these things from us, but if we’re not careful, our natural human tendency is to ask with our hands over our ears because we’re not so sure we’re going to like the answer.

Something I want to be sure to communicate is that no one is a perfect listener. It’s something that we can mature in, but as long as we are in our earthly bodies we aren’t going to have perfect ears. There’s been more times than one where I thought there was something I needed taken out of my life that I later realized I was wrong. But that’s ok. It is better to risk being overly-careful than being neglectful.

So, we need to take our hands off our ears and listen. Is there something that perhaps may be having a negative impact on your life that God may be asking you to take away, either for a time or permanently?

Is Christianity Decreasing?

As I’ve heard more and more of the percentage of the American population that claim to be Christians decreasing, it has really got me to wondering how many truly know what Christianity is. Perhaps I am seeing this wrong, but what I am seeing is less people claiming to be Christians who weren’t truly Christians in the first place. Not all, but a huge part of what America considers “Christianity”, has become very shallow and insincere. I think a lot of it is because much of the modern-day church has become very fact-based.

When I look around me and see the amazing detail of the creation of the world and how we can’t make a single blade of grass I wonder how people could even doubt God’s existence. The way so many things function—where if one single detail were off it wouldn’t work at all…can this really be a coincidence?

But I am slowly beginning to see that as I grew up in a Christian home, I had faith in Christ first—before all the details. And that’s where real Christianity starts—with faith.

God didn’t go to the Pharisees and perform a miracle to prove Himself. He went to the sick, the hurting, the hungry…those who were seeking and willing to step out in faith. God then reveals Himself to those who put their faith in Him.

A lot of the Christian church has been trying to prove themselves with facts—but to no avail because many non-believers already have their own “faith”. They already have something they believe, that they’ve grown up being taught and you simply can’t replace faith with facts. There’s nothing wrong with having facts, to be sure. I’ve been very fascinated by the history of the Church and all the details of God’s creation, but it’s not where my faith is based.

There’s something I have to give atheists  credit for, and ironically, it’s their faith. Their strong belief that there is no God. It’s not really something they can prove, but nonetheless, they believe it.

A religion that stands is going to be one that is based on faith. It’s where your heart is set, what no words any man can say will convince you otherwise. Sadly, a lot of Christianity is no longer faith-based. What I’ve been seeing is as there have been so many discoveries and the world has learned new things, a lot of sincere Christians with a faith-based religion mistakenly have been raising up a generation of fact-based religion…which does not stand very long.

And this generation I am speaking of is not our current generation, but previous generations. There was a period in time where many families were growing up saying, “Well, the Bible says it, so it must be true.”, and “good people” keep the Ten Commandments and go to church. This is hardly “faith” that is being passed down, but facts.

I believe the decline of people who claim to be “Christians” is people who never had a faith-based relationship with Christ in the first place. Many grew up in “Christian” homes that literally had no faith…just facts. And then as they grew up, became more independent and were out in the world they were quickly surrounded by a “faith”, but not a faith in Christ…a faith that there is no God.

We need to realize that Christianity takes faith…without it, it won’t stand. Don’t build your life and family on facts, but faith in God and His Word to us. True faith won’t decline, but will grow.

What Faith Can Do

Even if it seems impossible, that’s ok. Even if I have no idea how I’m going to reach the goals before me, that’s ok. Even if I can’t say exactly where I’m going, that’s ok. Because God is great, and He knows. With faith in Him I can reach the impossible, I can go further than I’ve ever dreamed possible, and can achieve things that I hadn’t even thought of achieving. He is my God. He goes before me and knows the way I am to go…nothing can come between me and God.

Facing Our Problems

We’ve all got problems. Who doesn’t? It’s a part of life. Where it becomes a BIG problem is when it’s not taken care of. The roots of the problem grow deeper, and it becomes a lot more to deal with…more than we can deal with on our own.

Identify
Before a problem can be worked out, we have to know that it’s there, and what exactly the problem is. We can usually tell when something isn’t right, though sometimes if we’ve been ignoring it for a long time or have put our hands over our ears to God it becomes as though it isn’t even there. Sometimes it takes some digging to find out what exactly it is, but with the power of the Holy Spirit, God will help us see what needs healed or removed from our lives. Until we find out what it is, we can hardly do anything about it.

God is Bigger
Thankfully, our God is able to handle ANY problem, no matter how big. But in order for that to happen we have to lay it down at His feet and give Him control.

The Roots
Once God reveals to us what it is that needs healing or removed, we need to find the ROOT of the problem—what has caused it, where it is from, and what can be done to prevent it from happening/being there again. Sometimes there are things that we need taken away or something we are used to doing that needs to stop. It’s not always easy to do, but without being willing to remove the root of the problem, the problem will likely grow back.

Healing and Restoration
As children of God, He is our Protector, our Healer, our Guide, and so much more. It is in Him that our trust should be found. No matter how much it may hurt to take away things that need taken away, God is able to heal, restore, and bring things into our lives that are MUCH better. He brings a satisfaction that nothing and no one else can bring.

So let’s not ignore our problems any longer, but rather face up to them allowing God to heal and restore. We’ll be glad we did.

Our Fullest Potential: God’s Will

Everyone is in a different situation, but no matter what country you grew up in, culture, religion, wealthy or poor, there’s something we can all have, and that is potential.

What is your potential? Our potential is often much more than we realize because we’re often determining by our own mind what our potential is, rather than allowing God to do the determining. Without a doubt, God’s will for us is our fullest potential. He has created each of us with unique gifts, knows our every need, our every strength, our every weakness, and how we can best live our lives in a way that glorifies Him and spreads the gospel of His love. So, really, this question falls back on asking God: “What is Your will for my life?”

Asking this question like you mean it is a daring question; accepting the response even more so as it is not always what we want or on our own timeframe. A lot of times we’re going to wish we could have a complete layout of what God’s will is for the rest of our lives—it sometimes seems like it’d be easier that way. But why would we want that? Most likely because it would make us feel like we’re in control and give us confidence in both ourselves and in what we are doing…and that could be a problem. It would lessen our confidence in Christ, faith, patience, trust, reliance on Him, and would very quickly make us feel like we no longer need to stay in constant tune with Him, which would be very dangerous.

There are many reasons—many of which we don’t know—that God doesn’t reveal everything in great detail for the next several decades of our lives. We just need to remember that if we are in close communion with God we will know what we need to know when we need to know it. God knows our fullest potential, and if we are willing to accept it, we can be sure He is going to one-by-one open and close every door as necessary to reach that point.

So, if we are seeking with sincerity God’s will for our life, even when we hardly know what the next day is going to bring we can take each step with confidence in Christ—knowing that we are living our lives to the fullest potential.

A Lasting Strength

Through the crashing waves our Lord speaks;
By the rolling thunder His voice is known.
He calls us out to step in faith,
to follow where He leads.
He reaches down and guides us on to where we’re meant to be.
His Spirit in our hearts is placed;
He makes His presence known.
His love for us can’t be erased;
His magnificence is shown.
Everywhere is seen His mighty hand and a quite intricate art;
A lasting strength that doesn’t fade–it can’t be torn apart.

“Just keep swimming!”

As I’m doing all the learning I can from books, lectures, and studying to hopefully one day be able to help special needs orphans, there are many times it feels like I’m getting nowhere, as there is no fruit to be seen, I have soooo much more to learn, and really, always will.

It’s easy to be discouraged and quit when there is no fruit seen of our efforts. But we shouldn’t be discouraged. What is happening is our roots are becoming stronger and deeper. Our branches are thickening and spreading further, preparing to be able to hold the weight of the fruit. This part of the process of fruit-bearing is so very important to a good, healthy harvest!

It takes determination, motivation, discipline, and many other things to keep going, but if we choose to, we CAN keep going. (And this is where I picture a cheerful Dory saying, “Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”)

I think we all have different ways/things that help us keep going, and it’s important we find what those things are. Something I’d say we all need is accountability: people that ask us regularly how it’s going, what we’ve been working on, encourage us to keep going, and are caring enough to tell us when we’re slacking or overdoing it. Something that helps me is reminding myself of what in the world I’m preparing for, and what needs are out there that I hope to help with one day.

So, if you don’t have that accountability, get some. If you don’t even know what your goals are, make some, but get the accountability first. Sometimes others can see what we are capable of better than we can see ourselves, can help us set goals, and then help us reach them.

And remember: it’s a process. Sometimes it’s long and hard, but it’s worth it. 

 

 

Is God Our Focus?

What should our life be like if we are keeping our focus on God?

1. Praising Him
You may wonder why I began with praising Him. Well, it is easy to praise God in the rare situations that everything is perfect and things just seem to be falling into place…but what about when we’ve lost a loved one, we feel like we’re failing, or just have no idea what in the world we should be doing? It is these times that it can be the hardest to praise God—but it’s these times where it is most needed, for our own sake.

By praising Him anyway, it helps us remind ourselves of our priceless blessings of eternal life, God’s love, mercy, and grace that are way more than anyone else can give. It helps us shift from regret, fear, anxiety, and sadness, to contentment, faith, peace, and joy.

“My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.”
Psalm 71:23

2. Following Him
Especially since I lost my license, (due to my epilepsy) I can TOTALLY be a backseat driver. I probably don’t have to get into too much detail to say that it’s not typically something that brings good results, and neither does trying to tell God where we need to go. There’s many times I need God to tell me something like, “Will you just let me drive?”

He can see far down the road while we can only see what’s right in front of us. We need to give Him control. If our focus is on God, then He is in front of us doing the steering.

3. Listen, talk, listen, talk…
Obviously, if we are a Christ-follower we need to have good communication with Him, commonly known as prayer. It’s easy to put our communication with God in a box–a certain timeframe of the day only, giving Him no attention the rest of the day. But what kind of relationship is that? He’s always with you, and doesn’t only speak through words.

Watch out for situations where there is someone in front of you in need and listen to see if God is asking you to help that person. When someone gives you encouraging words, don’t only thank them, but thank God who likely was speaking through them. Look for situations where He may do the same through you.

5. Relying on Him
We should be desperately seeking God for help, not placing our trust in the world or ourselves. While He many times helps us through others, we need to understand that it is still from Him. He alone should be our source of strength, wisdom, love, patience, and many other attributes that are critical to living our lives as a true follower.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2

I started to add a sixth thing on sharing the gospel but then stopped myself as I thought of something. (It’s amazing what you can learn from blogging! 😉) I felt like that would indicate it being something we should take the lead in when it’s not. If we are in constant communication with God, relying on Him, letting Him take the lead with a desire for His will, then His will will come about, including the spreading of the gospel. We need to focus on following Him, and let Him take care of the rest.

(Okay, just curious who noticed I skipped four? 😜)