Sunday, November 7, 2010

a child in awe of You.

November 7, 2010 1:30 a.m. Its hard for me to imagine that I can have somebody sitting in a room with me that is struggling as much as the people I spoke to in Uganda. There is nothing in me that wants to accept the fact that we have people in this country today who don’t have a home, don’t have running water or electricity. I knew it though. I have known it all along. It’s a lot easier to accept it though when you have somebody sitting on the edge of your bed weeping over all of the terrible things that have gone wrong in their life. Tonight, after firmly believing in the work and power of the Holy Spirit, especially how He has appeared to me in the past week, I still struggle with believing the Lord will provide for all of Donnica’s needs. I know He is there, I know He is willing to help, I just don’t know where or when or what that means. All I do know is that I have an empty bedroom next to my bedroom where nobody lives, and I cannot force her to go back to a cold house with no running water.

November 8, 2010 1:31 a.m. (24 hours of fasting and praying later….) God searches our hearts, He finds in us what the Holy Spirit is saying inside of our hearts. He knew that in my heart the Holy Spirit desired for Donnica to have a warm home with running water. As He searches our hearts, He finds in us the good and bad. And as I desperately seek to rip out the bad stuff in my heart, He desperately seeks to give the Holy Spirit more room to live, by showing us His glory. He reveals Himself freely, as we seek His beautiful face. Nothing in this world will ever compare to the joy found in knowing Him more and more in each new day. I seek with my whole heart, to know Him fully, although I know I never will, that is where I find my joy in seeing Him appear and perform the miracles He has been so desperately wanting to perform since Christ performed them. John 14:12 “Truly, Truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” And if we believed this everyday, we would see miracles as Donnica and I have in the past week, happening all around us. He is good, He is faithful, and He is so worthy of all our praise. Thanks be to God, who is our Rock and our Salvation.

It is so funny to meet that in desperation I wrote and prayed for Donnica last night, and today He showed His face again. I stand in awe once again at his unfailing love and faithfulness. I have no words to describe how deserving Donnica is, and how thankful I am that God sees her heart. Today and this week the Lord has truly taught me what it means to be in his arms all the time. Yesterday, while at the Christmas village Donnica and I were buying my mom ornaments she gets every year, but in the meantime of looking for the ornaments we wandered around to the many different vendors looking at all the neat things everybody had to offer. I saw this cute shirt and looked at the price: $54 and Donnica noticed it too. She looked at me and said I could never imagine spending $54 on a shirt. In my past life, that I have so quickly and lovingly been redeemed and forgiven for, I admit I would have easily spent $54 on a shirt. And today, oo I beg God to forgive me for the ridiculous amount of things I “NEEDED” but really just wanted and never needed. And I notice, that I truly am a new creation, and may NEVER return to the old me, after tasting in the beautiful, sweet Holy Spirit. We came to a table that was selling bags of soup and I asked donnica if she wanted some to take home to cook for her boyfriend Brian. She was hesitant but tried the soup and decided she actually did want some. So, I spent the $6 and bought her a bag of soup, NOTHING compared to all of the neat things they had there, but that of course was what she NEEDED. We continued to walk around and we came to another vendor who was selling photographs. He had this one incredible picture of an elephant which I told Donnica was my favorite kind of animal, and that I have always wanted to ride one! We stood there and talked to the photographer about all of the cool places he had been to take pictures, and the stories behind all the pictures (I know I am a photography dork). As we walked off I started looking at some paintings then noticed Donnica had disappeared. I looked all around and started to get my phone out to call her, then she came out from “hiding.” After a few minutes of walking around again, she said, “you promise you won’t be mad at me?” and I said, “yea why?” She said, “I am a really good bargainer and I knew you really like that photo of the elephant, so I got the guy to give it to me for $10 because he really liked you.” In my heart, the wellspring of life, I shed tears, as she reminded me of the sacrifice and love God has given to us. This $10 was the ONLY MONEY SHE HAD. And how could I ever be so selfish to take that from her, but in her loving kindness and unforgettable heart, she wanted more than anything to give me something. Truly humbling. Although I was upset with her spending the last money she had, I did not allow myself to show my emotion towards her until later that evening with God. We spent the evening attempting to make a frappuchino with Katelyn, Brett, and Andrew, and I noticed once again Donnica had disappeared. As I walked upstairs to Austin’s bedroom, I realized it was dejavu again. I could tell something was wrong with my sister. She revealed to me that her and her boyfriend had been living without heat and running water for the past year. Although the burdens began to grow upon our shoulders again, the Lord reminded me of what He had done just a few days before this. And I had no doubt that in whatever way He wanted to, He would provide these imperative needs for Donnica. Sitting there on the bed with Donnica we prayed and gave it over to the Lord. Then we spendt a few hours at the Asbury Youth Fall Retreat, and had our world rocked by God. He again, showed Himself clearly in the doubts and fears we had. He whispered in both Donnica, and I’s ears that everything was going to be okay and that He was going to take care of her.

I must interrupt and say, that the Lord, will indeed rock your world when you never thought he would have something to say to you. IN my pride I denied that the Lord would have anything to say to me at a YOUTH retreat. Little did I know, the Holy Spirit wrecked my pride, and showed Himself as He always does, in His magnificent way. My heart has learned to constantly be in prayer in every moment, that He may teach me something I did not know, in the circumstance I was in. He has taught me more than I could imagine in the past week by the radical faith of my sister Donnica.
Anyway, Brett took Donnica to Whataburger because she had never had one, and she could not finish it so she saved it for later. As we were driving back to my house from Whataburger I thought so hard about what the next three days would entail trying to help Donnica out with her house. It never left my mind that I had to help her, although God ransomed my heart last night. But last night I felt great desperation to offer it all to Him. This morning Donnica and I woke up to drive to Christ City Church, and I informed her that (it’s a long story) but our friend Shae had snuck out of the house last night and that they were looking for her. The reason why Donnica was staying till Tuesday, was because I felt she would be better than anyone else to understand on Shae’s level what was going on in her life. Shae has been rebelling and forcefully trying to ignore the work of the Spirit in her life. She has been fighting against God, and allowing the enemy to have her. This morning after church, Donnica sat Shae down and allowed herself to be a vessel for God’s words towards Shae. She explained that nothing Shae did would ever make her fit in enough with the crowd that told her to do the terrible things she was doing, and told her the reason why she was talking to her was because she knew how many people have been praying for her, and wanting her to turn around. Donnica had only met Shae once before this time, but she loved Shae and Shawonda with her whole heart. -I PROMISE YOU I have seen the face of Jesus in Donnica. Truly Truly Truly! There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord has revealed what a Christ-follower actually looks like in Donnica. She is a young woman radically abandoned to the One. She does not deny Him, although her emotions sometimes get to her, she knows without a shadow of a doubt that she will be taken care of by Him. That indeed is the fact. The Lord led my dad and I to speak to a man after church today, and as our conversation continued, I quickly realized Donnica’s tears were going to be redeemed. In my excitement, I ran and got Donnica to tell her the good news: This man was going to fix her water pipe and her heat! WOW- can we stop right now and bow to the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Redeemer, the Savior, the most Loving, Gracious, Merciful, Faithful, Beautiful being. We must all surrender our wants and our needs to Him. Obviously He is faithful, obviously He is Good. Our most Holy Father, desires with everything in His being, for His Name to be glorified all the days of our lives. Donnica, as a faithful servant of Christ, has made this promise, to glorify His name all the days of her life, and she has been rewarded not just on this earth, but with an eternity waiting for her in front of her Maker and Creator. What joy she has found in giving faithfully, even when she has nothing to give. Even today, she found $2 randomly and put it in the offering at church. I looked at her like she was crazy, and said, “where did you get that money?” she said, “I found it in my purse and because He has blessed me so much, I must give it all back to Him.” Can you, whoever is reading this right now, place yourself in her shoes, and ask yourself if you would have done the same thing, if you had $0 to your name and you found $2 would you put it in the offering? I am going to be honest right now. I know that I wouldn’t have. I would have kept it myself, believing it was a blessing from God. She did believe it was a blessing from God, a blessing she felt God deserved to be given back. I believe with all my heart Donnica has taught me more about being a Christ-follower than anyone else has ever taught me, and I have only known her for 3 months.

This I believe would be a verse to explain Donnica’s heart:
“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13:5-6

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Praise Him with everything in you, for He is good and faithful.

Tonight was one of the most incredible God-glorifying nights of my life. Never in a million years had I thought it would be though. I don’t even know where to start, and I know that is what I always say when I am about to right something about our most Holy Father. This summer, I met this incredible young woman named Donnica, and the only reason we became close was because she asked me if I could take pictures of her because she never had graduation pictures made. I of course jumped at the chance to take pictures! After that the rest is history! About two months ago when she called me and informed me that her and her boyfriend were struggling with trying to make ends meet. I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do, but I felt a lot of pressure on my heart to help her the best way I could. Seeking the advice of my Father, I asked only that I would do His will, and not my own. Through prayer and an earnestness to help, I invited donnica to come stay with me for a while….a while…not knowing exactly how long that would mean but I wanted her to be fed so she came to Birmingham. One of the nights she was here I had some of my friends over to hang out and play games. After dinner I noticed Donnica had disappeared up to her room, so I came upstairs to look for her. I found her sitting on Austin’s bed crying, and I HAD NO IDEA WHY. AS I sat down to listen to her she poured her heart out to me and explained that while she loved being here and being taken care of, all she could think about was going back to piedmont, and that she knew she was going home to a dark home, with no food. In her mind, it seemed, she did not want to leave the place where she was, but realized she could not stay for forever. She lay there crying because she didn’t know what she would eat the next day. For the next few days after this, I cried out to God in desperation, seeking that He would explain to me what I should do. I HONESTLY had NO IDEA where to start, how to support her, when to say yes and when to say no, all I knew was that the Lord had provided me with money from working at the ranch for two weeks. All I wanted to do was give her everything I had made but I knew that would not be the faithful way to do it. So after talking to Donnica about how much money she needed to get by for a month she said $50, which obviously to feed her self, keep her lights on, and have clothes on her back, was definitely not enough. So I decided $150 would be better than nothing to suffice for a month. Little did I know the Lord had a much grander plan. There was a donor that gave another $50 and I am sure he wouldn’t want his name mentioned so I will just let you know that one of my most faithful brothers in Christ donated this money to help donnica out. The Lord began to move in big ways, proving Himself to provide in the midst of heartache and desperation. So after donnica had been at my house for 5 days I drove her back to Gadsden with $200 to her name. I did not know how long it would last her, if it was enough, if I was being selfish, or if I was hurting more than helping her. After two months went by, Donnica called me and texted me quite a bit, and somewhere in the midst of the calls and texts I never “found time” to get back to her. I let my Lord and Savior down. I denied that I had anything left to give her, and was scared that I might not be able to satisfy her needs, so I denied even trying. Saturday she texted me and told me she was coming to Birmingham with our friend Kelsie. I knew this week was going to be a crazy week for me, but I knew the Lord had placed a true burden on my heart to deny myself, and spend time with my beautiful sister. I had it all planned out in my mind that I was going to find sometime to spend with her. Things became very crazy this week very fast, and I found myself not seeing a time that I could spend with her, while she was here. Then donnica called yesterday, and I told her that I was going to make time to spend time with her, so today at 4:30 after class I went and picked her up from Birmingham southern. The plan was for us to go to Asbury to eat dinner then go to UCF for worship….little did I know God’s plans would trump anything we had planned. On the way to Asbury I asked Donnica (randomly and I have no idea where this came from because I wasn’t thinking about it at all) “do you have winter clothes to wear?” she smiled and said yes, which obviously meant I am trying to lie through a smile but I am not very good at lying so no. At this point I started thinking about what my mom had just told me about the money in my account. I remember calling the bank only to find out I had $193 exactly. I knew I couldn’t be eating on campus anymore, and that I would have to be making my lunches. So today my college lunch-sack life began ☺. As we were driving to church I remembered all of the art supplies that I still needed to buy for my next project, and I started stressing out because I knew I needed to watch how much money was in my account. After walking out of hobby lobby with $37 worth of art supplies, I realized my next step HAD to be buying donnica a jacket. The only jacket she had was a thin sweatshirt that would not keep her warm with the weather getting down to 40* soon (tonight). Funny how God works, how perfect His timing is, in giving me the money to provide her with something to keep her warm. We traveled to Academy and found a ski jacket that would DEFINITELY keep her warm for $20. So just tonight I had spent $57. And I had to take out $20 to eat dinner at Asbury. Whoa. I was stressing out in my mind that I had just thrown away $77, but I handed it over to the Lord, because I could not bring myself down, because I knew the Lord would provide whatever way He decided to. After dinner, Donnica and I were trying to figure out what we wanted to do before UCF started at 8. I told her all of our options: stay at Asbury and go to the youth service, go home and do nothing, go to target and walk around, go to TJ maxx, or go to Ross. I knew I HAD to do something about the fact that she didn’t have any winter clothes, so I sought the Lord as we decided against all the other options, to go to Ross (even though I had talked about taking her to the thrift store tomorrow). As we were driving to Ross, I was stressfully thinking about how much money I could spend on providing her with clothes, and how I could for the next 3 weeks while my mom is gone, live off of nothing basically. We arrived at Ross and immediately checked out the clearance section for the cheapest, cutest winter clothes we could find. I find Soooo much true joy in giving to others, not spending on myself but in seeing a SMILE on my beautiful friend, Donnica’s face, truly this is joy unspeakable. How often does the Lord, give me a chance to see that joy on somebody else’s face?!? I am blessed. I couldn’t wait to pick out as much as we could for her to try on so she could have NEW WARM clothes to wear! Soo with a handful of clothes we headed to the dressing room! I knew we would be there a while so I took a seat in front of the mirror to watch Donnica perform a “fashion show” for me ;-) I was sitting there thinking of all the stupid things I had bought in my life that I absolutely NEVER NEEDED, but just wanted, and how I wish I could take it back and bring the money to pay for these clothes for her. I don’t think I have ever wished I had the same body type as somebody so bad, so that I could give her the clothes off of my back. All I could see was her precious little feet as she swapped clothes in and out trying to find the perfect outfits. As she tried everything on, everything seemed to be fitting her perfectly. I didn’t understand how on one try we could find so many things that fit her so well! She looked beautiful in every new thing she brought out! Then I noticed the shoes she had on her feet: a pair of plain white tennis shoes, that I soon realized she had worn all summer long. Knowing nobody else was in the dressing room, I asked her curiously, “donnica, are those the only shoes you have?” she bashfully said, “yes.” Soon the burdens grew as I knew she had found so many clothes that fit her well, and that I had to buy her some new shoes. I began fearfully praying to the Lord that in whatever way He wanted to that He would provide. I knew He was going to provide, I just didn’t know How, when, or where He would provide. After she came out of the dressing room BEAMING, we began to walk towards the shoe section of ross. As much as I wanted to buy all of the things in the cart for her, I started going through them as she was trying on shoes, and I realized there was no way I could pay for everything she had so joyfully picked out. I ended up on a different aisle as Donnica wandering aimlessly, begging God to provide money for me to give her. As I was standing there a lady came up to me AND SAID, “I overheard you asking her if that was the only pair of shoes she had, and heard her say yes, and I quickly realized I have way more than one pair of shoes, so I bought her a gift card.” I think I was just so dumbstruck and confused I didn’t know what to say, so I just started crying, tears of joy, but they were definitely POURING from my face. I gave her a hug and said, “you have no idea how perfect your timing was.” She walked off without Donnica ever noticing. Then donnica came over because she heard me crying, and she was freaking out thinking I had a call from somebody about my mom or something. I couldn’t even get words out of my mouth and I already had another audience member. A lady working in the store came and asked me what was wrong. As I took a deep breath the Lord gave me the strength to tell Donnica what that sweet lady and more importantly what the LORD had just done for HER. All I could say was, “Donnica, the Lord HAS YOUR BACK NO MATTER WHAT NEVER FORGET THAT< DO NOT EVER GIVE UP HOPE< EVEN WHEN YOU ARE DESPERATE AND YOU FEEL NO ONE IS GOING TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS.” I embraced Donnica as if I was hugging Jesus, because I couldn’t help but be overflowing with the emotion of the Spirit, and the love and joy that I had experienced standing there. Donnica and I just stood there embracing eachother, balling in the middle of ross. And of course the power of the Holy Spirit was SOOO powerful, that this other employee walked over and the only thing she said was, “what’s going on? I feel the power of the Spirit coming from over here?!” (OOO myyyy! The Lord is good and faithful and never leaves, and makes His presence known when He performs a miracle like that! And I could not be more filled with joy then to be a part of His plan this evening) Then the first employee that was standing there offered Donnica a job, and said that she would have her working there tomorrow if she wanted it. Sadly, donnica had to explain to her that she doesn’t live here, but of course my wheels began to turn. We had not even looked at how much the gift card was for, then Donnica opened it up and saw $75, and we just looked at each other and started balling, again (as if the first time was not enough). Then Donnica continued to look for shoes and not just one pair but THREE! OO the joy of the Lord has faithfully produced emotions that are so unexplainable, I can’t begin to put words to them. We walked around the store SHOUTING at each other how Perfect and wonderful the Lord is. After she found three pairs of shoes, we made our way to the check out counter, and of course God was not done yet. One of our good family friends Bee Little was standing at the counter trying to look for a receipt. I was so excited to see her even though I looked like a mess, I had to tell her what just happened. I couldn’t even get the story out right I was so excited! As we stood there telling her how GOOD GOD is, we started checking out, and I said, Donnica use the card on as much as you can buy and I will pay for the rest! Bee chimed in and said, “wait what are you doing? let me pay for the rest of it.”….really? The Lord completely provided everything needed to pay for donnica’s clothes, and I didn’t not pay a dime. As we walked out of ross I said, “seriously donnica, please don’t tell me I am dreaming” and when she pinched me the glorious presence of the Holy Spirit resonated in my mind. I finally wrapped my head somewhat around what had just happened. The Father in Heaven, provided for his faithful follower, Donnica, that she might have clothes on her back, and be prepared for the harsh winter that is ahead. OOOOO how incredible and Beautiful He is. And that is not even the end of the story. Sarah Holsembeck and UCF provided food for Donnica for her to take back to Piedmont! HOOOWWW GLORIOUS! I do not think I have ever worshipped God so incredibly, and felt that He was so near to us in my whole life. Andy read scripture that I FELT. Donnica and I kept on looking at each other as he read the different scripture and started crying, because we were so FLOORED by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. It was so REAL and ALIVE. NOBODY CAN EVER CONVINCE ME THAT THE LORD IS NOT REAL. HE IS ACTUALLY ALIVE. He is with each of us in our desperation and in our times of need. Donnica was at a point where she was doubting the presence of God in her life, and just when she began to doubt, God proved Himself in a way she NEVER thought He could/would do. In all of this, I solemnly vow, my faith will never be the same. How could it ever be the same? Seeing miracles happen is not a daily occurrence, unless you realize that the breath we have in the morning is a miracle. How joyful we should be to wake up in the morning and tell our brothers and sisters of the Glorious presence of God in our lives, and how desperate we should be to share the Gospel. “I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations. For I said, “steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens you will establish your faithfulness. You have said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant: I will establish your offspring forever, and build your throne for all generations.” Let the heavens PRAISE your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God greatly TO BE FEARED in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you? You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them, you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm. The Heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them. The north and south, you have created them: Tabor and Hermon JOYOUSLY praise your Name. You have a mighty arm; strong is your hand, high your right hand. Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; steadfast love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your face, who exult in your name all the day and in YOUR righteousness are exalted. For you are the glory of their strength; by your favor our horn is exalted. For our shield belongs to the Lord, our king to the Holy One of Israel.” Psalm 89:1-18.

Praise Him with everything in you, for He is Good and Faithful, and greatly to be praised.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

macs or scrubs?

It might seem ridiculous to some for me to say that getting into nursing school is suffering for me. I had it all planned out. I was just going to stick to doing graphic design at the new school (samford) that I have just fallen in love with. I was getting excited about starting painting and intro to computer graphics at Jeff State this summer, until all of a sudden, after meeting with an advisor at Samford, he told me they don’t accept those classes from jeff state. Failure numero uno just happened: I registered for classes that wouldn’t even count towards a degree at Samford. Then I dropped out of those classes and hoped I would be able to take drawing. Failure numero dos: you can’t take drawing two until you have taken drawing one. So now, I have found myself taking a class at Samford called: Missiology. It is the study of missions in every possible way you can study it! It is the most incredible class I have ever taken, I am engaged and feel close with the Spirit every time I walk into the classroom. I wake up on Monday morning happy to go to class! And the best part about it….there are only 5 people in the class! That’s a change from the 200 people classes at Auburn. My professor asks for prayer requests and we actually open up the class with a prayer! I have never felt so free to speak about God in a classroom! Even in my religious studies classes at Auburn I did not feel free enough to speak about what God had been doing in my life or what I was stressed out about, and now I actually have my whole class praying for the decision I have to make! At certain times throughout this week my heart has picked up speed, not just when I run but when I am sitting down thinking about what I am going to choose. My mind has completely overwhelmed itself with 24/7 thoughts of pros and cons of graphic design verses nursing. I can’t wait to work on the computer and design a banner for the Wesley foundation, I can’t wait to design a t-shirt for Tiger Splashers, and I especially can’t wait to design a video for Sozo Children International. So what does that mean? It is my passion. I found my “niche” so to speak! Does that mean I am supposed to sacrifice all of the work I have completed so far for nursing and pursue a degree that will take me another 3.5 years to complete? Or am I supposed to finish my degree in nursing and work in a hospital for the rest of my life. Logically, nursing is great to have for missions, because obviously health is a need anywhere in the world, but does that mean it is for me? NO. absolutely not. Everything that has happened up to this point in my life is preparing me for something. Maybe I didn’t get into auburn because there is somebody I need to reach out to at UAB. Maybe I fell in love with Samford because there is somebody at Samford I need to reach out to. Maybe my essay for my UAB application reached out to the people reading it at UAB and that was all I was supposed to do. Maybe I just needed to hear what Dr. Barnette had to say about missions and that is why I am at Samford right now. Maybe there are too many options and it is overwhelming me. My brain is turning and twisting in ways that I never imagined it could. I am consuming every one’s opinion while trying to put together what God has in mind for my life and it ISN’T WORKING. I wish I could erase all of the opinions I have received, and I wish I could just sit in silence not hearing anything in my mind and just know that He is God, that He is here, that He has His hand on my life, and that He cares about the decision He knows I am going to make. I can’t hear Him right now because I am too busy trying to listen to everybody else. My gma wants me to go to nursing school, and so does my mom, my sister thinks it is more logical to go to nursing school because I want to be a missionary, my dad wants me to do what God wants me to do (but I don’t know what that is), Van thinks I should do graphic design because he knows I am more passionate about it, Megan doesn’t care but I am pretty sure she thinks I should do nursing, Kayla wants me to do nursing because it is what she is doing and we could work together, Leslie wants me to do what God wants me to do, Lizzy and Jordan want me to do nursing (I assume) because that is what they are doing. But none of these people understand. It’s not like nursing outweighs graphic design or vice versa. I am on ground zero with both of them, I evenly desire to do both. Either way, if God is deciding to leave this one up to me, and He is not going to give me a clear answer….I think I might go crazy. But if I look to the scriptures, it says, “Each of you should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:11). Straight up interpreting that for what it is (which is not easy) I believe my gift is creatively creating pieces of art which portray the mercy of God through pictures, video, and advertisements. It may sound like a dream it may sound dumb, and it may sound un-realistic but I know it is a gift I have been given. But if I were to say right now that that is the decision I am making, I don’t have peace about it. I do not have an overwhelming peace that transpires all understanding.

I mean does it even make since that I could lay in my bed right now crying my eyes out just because I am terrified of making the wrong decision, knowing that it is impossible for me to make the “wrong decision?” MY heart is breaking every time I think about it because nursing has become such a chore to me and seeing my self as a graphic designer 3.5 years from now seems impossible? I am lost I don’t know which way to turn. I thought my suffering was over when I chose to go to Samford. Who knew that finding out I got into UAB would be awful news. O how blessed I am to have my God show me mercy by sending me that letter. O how joyful I am to know that I may suffer for the ultimate glory of my Father. O how I dread and love this decision that God has so eagerly placed in front of me. I love my Father so dearly and aim to fulfill His will for the sake of His glory whether that means by graphic design or nursing. I dare myself to obedience, that I may successfully surrender my life to my Father day after day. O, how I long to be my Father’s child, over and over again, as I wake in the morning to know I have been adopted by the ultimate most beautiful Creator. He has knit my life into a wonderful quilt, and although Ihave no idea where I am going or where I will end up, I know that I am following somebody who knows exactly where I am going, and because of that I will continue to seek until I find His one true will for my life. And once I see that one true will, I promise to continue to follow in His footsteps as a faithful worshipper that I may one day sit in front of Him and be judged, to hear Him say, “well done my good and faithful servant.”

Monday, May 10, 2010

great great day, awesome significant other ;-), and GREAT GREAT GOD

I drove home from Auburn today. It was quite the sad day. i never thought it would be this hard to say goodbye. I just saw it as moving on, but I love Auburn a lot more than I thought I did. It really has become a home to me, and now I am stuck in square one again, not knowing what to do. I mean on one side I could live at home and go to samford for graphic design and theology, or i could change my major and stay at auburn? I mean neither one is more convenient then the other, besides the fact that all of my friends are at auburn not at samford. Either way i am going to be sooo far behind on graphic design :-/ I AM SOOOO CONFUSED. What to do what to do?

Anyways...a while ago Van pointed out to me that I had never written about him in my blog. i thought I would write about him without him knowing so in a couple of weeks i can say ooo yea i wrote about you a while ago ;-) haha....tricky...just kidding. I don't know why I haven't ever written about him. i guess I just forget how much of a blessing he is in my life, and i take him for granted so much. He is in Minnesota right now hanging out with all of his friends that he worked with at camp last summer for 3 months. I know that Minnesota had such a HUGE impact on his walk with God, and that is why i am so happy for him to have this opportunity to go up there again, and to have the Holy Spirit rejuvenated in him. He is so strong-willed and kind. Those are two very different characteristics, but they are both definitely a part of who he is. He loves and loves and loves everybody who surrounds him, and he constantly wants to make sure everything is okay with everybody else before he even thinks about himself. He also doesn't care what people think of him. i remember this one time we were supposed to have lunch and this was when we first started "officially" dating in September. Anyways, he knew how i felt about him wearing overalls and cowboy boots when he was around me, just because that is one goofy outfit to wear to school. So he knew he was going to see me that day, and in order to embarrass me he wore his cowboy boots and overalls....guess what....I hugged him even more than if he hadn't been wearing them because it made me soo happy that he thought he could embarrass me by wearing a specific outfit. Van has this very very solid heart of gold, and it is really hard to get into it and see, but once you do you realize that it is really really soft on the inside. His heart of gold is so strong that he is determined to do everything he can to surrender himself completely to God, and love others the way He loves/loved us. he is chasing after God and I am so excited to be with him and watch God turn him into a wonderful man of God, which he has already become! The Holy Spirit has great great power in van because he allows the Holy Spirit to take over his actions and thoughts, and when he doesn't he realizes his mistake pretty darn fast. I pray so hard that while he is in MN that the Lord rushes over him like a mighty wind and awakens his heart and soul to see things he never thought he would see. The Lord whispers to Van and it is so beautiful to see the majestic attitude van possesses because of the Holy Spirit inside of him. He is inspired by the outdoors, and it makes perfect sense because that is God's pure creation. I get butterflies in my stomach thinking about what God is doing for him in Minnesota right now. even though today is the first day he is there I know God is blessing him abundantly while he is there! And that is my prayer, that and Ecclesiastes 11:9 over Mr. Van Jones.

Today when I got home I ran upstairs to start playing with my new slr digital camera, and i was caught off guard. My parent said I could pay for half and the other half would be my birthday present. So i was pretty pumped about getting it but i was a little worried about spending so much money on ONE thing. The more I prayerfully thought about my desires and passions, the more God justified this HUGE purchase. Well my half is already paid for, because I randomly got a check for taxes for alabama, a check for taxes for colorado, and I sold my books for quite a good bit of money! I am so thankful He has already provided for this passion He knows I have. So right when I got upstairs I set my new camera on my bed and before opening the box God said, "this is a gift lauren, from your heavenly Father and your earthly father, but it must only be used to glorify me." That was the deal! Of course it will be used to glorify Him. So i know that most people think this is weird but He is teaching me to include Him in every aspect of my life, and i think this was learning experience number one with that. I prayed over my camera, that how I use it may be glorifying only to Him, and that I will not become obsessed with it like it is worth more than Him. And if I do, I must take it away from myself! Sounds like a plan huh? I am so blessed in so many ways, and I am so glad He gave me the opportunity to pay for it with my own money, that way it makes me feel a lot better about making a huge purchase! SOOO cool huh?

O yea....not to mention that I made an A in History of christianity and New testament, and i am pretty sure I kicked western religion's butt too because I finished my test really fast! So even though today was really hard emotionally, I am so floored by what He has done. He never ceases to amaze me!!! So I shall continue praising Him in humble obedience to His will for my life!

Great great day :-)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

What am i going to do?

AHHHH today I found out there is a 0% chance that I can pass Anatomy and Physiology II. And by 0% I mean that even if I made a perfect score on my final and got the 20 bonus points I would still only have a 63. :-(

Humbly, accepting the grade that my studying has produced....I am aiming towards figuring out what exactly it is He is trying to tell me. I have multiple ideas but first I want to say that if this is the only reason why I decided to do nursing in the first place then all of my time and energy in this major studying, reviewing, etc. would definitely NOT BE A WASTE BY ANY MEANS:

A few weeks ago my graduate teaching assistant Charles Kilgore, and i were talking about how amazing the cat was (because we are dissecting the cat). As I was talking to him I didn't get the impression of whether he was a Christian, or not, I actually had no idea either way...but I soon started talking about God and asked him if he believes in Heaven....he said he is "still deciding" ...Last week I was talking to Charles about whether or not he had ever been in a motorcycle accident and he said he had been in two/ kind of....where if he had actually BEEN IN THE if it had actually happened he would have died. I knew that our conversations were again leading us into talking about God again...but they didn't. Last monday my friend Lizzy called me and said, "i have some news to tell ya." I said, "okay, go for it" she said, "well you know Charles, our anatomy gta?" and I said, "yeahhhhh....." she said, "well this weekend he was shooting with one of his friends at a shooting range and his friend knocked the gun out of his friend's holster and the gun hit the ground and shot Charles....and now he is in a medically induced coma." at this moment my heart started racing because I knew that I had not fulfilled God's desire for me to urge Charles to make a decision about his eternity....Lizzy continued in telling me that he has a 90% chance of surviving but that the recovery process will be hell. "IT'S OKAY!" I said! There is still hope....Lizzy and I will be going to visit him sometime this week and I cannot wait to pray over him and help him in understanding the love and power of our Lord and Savior. Charles Kilgore's salvation is worth me taking Anatomy and Physiology II, one two or three long as he will receive eternity in Heaven....I would go through all of this work over and over again just to see one person come to know Christ!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

SpiritUal RoommATes

My burdens and worries outnumber my joys and blessings, although I know my burdens are few and my joys are unending!

Tonight I got home from turning in my application to UAB for nursing school, and I became a little more excited, except I am still unsure of what God is calling me to do. The whole day reminded me so much of why I LOVE birmingham so much!

Anyways I came home/back to auburn and sat on my couch to start studying for my anatomy test on friday, I got through 7 pages of terms which I think was God just reminding me that I will be able to learn them, because right after i just stopped, and really felt the need to spend time with Him. I came upstairs and just sat on my bed thinking. Just sat there for a good few minutes letting my mind wander every way that it wanted, but it kept on ending back at humility and love. We show humility to the people we love the most. I don't believe I have ever been spiritually connected to someone as closely as I am to my roommate Leslie. Every time I am around her it brings out the positive in me, except when i know God has given me something to tell her and I am nervous to tell her. I am honest with her because spiritually we both know it doesn't matter what we hide because God still knows it all. A roommate that is perfect is so hard to find, because there IS NOT ONE WORLDLY ROOMMATE that is perfect. BUTTTT there are SPIRITUAL ROOMMATES that are perfect! Just like I know God designed for us to be together this year, and possibly in the future, I know the reason He put us together is because we both had growing and encouraging to be done. Being spiritually connected to someone is far beyond any worldly relationship that we can "try to form," because we are connected by the mutual adoption we have been given by our Father. We have the SAME FATHER, and therefore it doesn't matter if we sit here and tell each other everything because we are really just giggling and laughing, crying, and weeping with our Father. The strength in this household iS SOOO Strong, that I know we have been protected from so many outside evils trying to make its way in. Leslie has taught me so much about myself, she has taught me humility in the eyes of God, love through fire, and strength through the valley. The Spirit inside of her has a strong strong will, and HE IS NOT EMBARRASSED OR SHY to say anything. She admits when she is in the wrong, and doesn't let one wrong go without learning from her mistake, and coming out a lot stronger than she was before. Her will-power has to come from Him because I dont know how else she would have made it through everything she has been through. She has the strength to make it and it is a strength undeniable to anyone who feels it. People fear it, but Christians cling to it. I am just so excited to see His grand plan that He has for Leslie, all work out in the end. I know that He is just bursting at His seams to just let her have a glimpse of what He is going to do in her life, but it is better for her to not know right now. Leslie is my worldly/physical room-mate, but more importantly we have bonded on a spiritual level, making ourselves sisters in Christ, but spiritually bonded by the connection/realization of the Holy Spirit's desire to work in our lives. he has become our everything, our everything, so much of our everything that it is okay for us to fall down on our knees in the middle of our floor. IT doesn't matter to me where she has been, or where she is going, I unconditionally love her, because i know she is purely taking care of The precious blood of Jesus living inside of her. I know she cares as deeply as I do, to humbly walk in accordance to God's will. I know that she will step by step, walk in the footsteps of our Lord, to faithfully carry out His plan for her life. I unconditionally love my spiritual roommate because we have bonded on a level WAYY WAYYY WAYYYYY Higher, and greater, and stronger, than anything this world could form. We are spiritual roommates FOREVER!

"For where two or three are gathered together in y name, there am I in the MIDST of them." Matthew 18:20

This entire semester has been an entertainment of God within our house, with the angels gathering around to protect us from evil.

And ALL I CAN DO, ALL I CAN DO, is bring worship and Praise to Him, for He was the one who divinely appointed our adoption into His household.

ThE moon.

iT is so hard to notice the sunrise when all you see is the sunset all the time. A little while ago when i was in the library till early in the morning I was "up" to see the sunrise. Then, when leslie and i drove to the airport we were able to see the sunrsie again.There is soo much more to a sunrise to me then there is to a sunset, simply because of how many less people get to see the sunrise. When you are up at 5:30/6:00 in the morning you feel like nobody else is awake, and the sunrise is between you and God. There is so much peace about the sunrise, as the world is awakening, you are opening your eyes to see the first LIGHT of the day. THis is God's first opportunity for the new 24 hours to shine as bright and brighter than the sun.

My dad has this shirt that says,"be like the moon, reflect the Son" and it took me forever to actually get the shirt, but it is so cool when you actually think about it. THe world is the darkness, Satan living on the earth consuming people's minds, and leading humanity exactly where he wants them, but the moon still shines in the darkness. The sun is not allowed to shine at night, BUT the sun can be reflected off of the moon to still shine in the darkness. So really, if we are like the moon, we are reflecting God/the Son's light in the darkness/the world. So when we wake up in the morning and see the sun rise, God is having His first opportunity to directly shine His light. NO WONDER SUNRISES are so much more peaceful, because GOd is bringing His light through the darkness to make sure we know that as we wake up, there is peace. And sunsets, as we go to sleep, there is peace by the reflection of the moon.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

God's will for my life

I was driving home from Auburn for Easter weekend, and I was coming home on wednesday because I was in a bad mood from staying up all night to study for my anatomy test that i didn't care about. As I was driving home I had some serious worship time with God, i could sing as loud as I wanted to because I knew nobody was listening. But through all of the worshipping I wanted to give Him I knew I was coming home to a letter that told me whether or not I got into nursing school or not at Auburn.

I have been questioning His will for my life for a long time now and have gone back and forth thinking about what my talents are (art, creativity, computers, graphic design and editing) and what my random desires (nursing and seminary) are. Its so hard to be able to tell which one God is calling me to listen to...what I want to do because of my talents or what He wants me to do because of my desire? Whenever I have to study for hours upon hours for anatomy tests and do not get the grade to show it...i feel defeated...i feel as if He is pointing me away from nursing. So anyways....I was pulling on to my street and once I was turning right on to it God told me, "stop Lauren. Take a deep breath. You didn't get into Auburn, but don't worry, I have such a great plan for you life that you could never even dream of. You have to stay strong for the other girls who didn't get in. Don't resent the girls who did get in because I have a great plan for them too. Take a deep breath." Of course, I listened, and after taking a few deep breaths an overwhelming peace and assurance came over me as I continued to pull into my driveway. Of course, He was right. I had received the letter that said I didn't get into nursing school at Auburn. I knew immediately this would be a time of suffering for me, not because I didn't get in, but the effects of me not getting in, my family members saying sorry, friends avoiding the subject not to hurt my feelings, people giving/trying to find excuses why I didn't get in. But through it all I had to stand firm on the promise that He gave me, that He has a much greater plan for me! So it came, the time for me to question what I would say. All my friends were finding out they got in and it wasn't hard for me, I REJOICED with them because like he said, "I have a great plan for them too." How could I be mad at God's will for their lives? It isn't about my strength, it is about the peace He gave me that He knew I would need for this time.

The more difficult thing was not having the assurance of nursing school at auburn if all else failed.

I officially know what it is like to have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT I AM GOING TO DO WITH MY LIFE.

and it sucks. I can't lie about it. The Spirit inside of me is the only thing that gives me hope and reminds me of the promise He made to me. But when i am not acknowledging and willing allowing the Holy Spirit to occupy my mind, that is when it started to hurt thinking all my friends new exactly what they were doing.

But now.....thinking about it....i wonder how many of my friends have obediently prayed about their occupation and have felt God calling them to one particular area? See, now I am in an incredible position, because there is nothing inside of me pulling me one way more than the other (nursing vs. theology vs. graphic design vs. missionary training school) I feel called EQUALLY....which even though right now I don't know what I am doing, this means God has an open spot to step in and provide which ever way He wants me to go. I know without a shadow of a doubt that His purpose for my life will be made known to me soon. I do not doubt that I will be confused and impatient, I know that is what He is teaching me. While I am patiently waiting for Him to reveal something to me, I get to continue fighting for ONE THING and ONE THING ONLY, for my world, the people around me, to see and be encouraged because of the strength He has given me through this trial.

I am not heart-broken or lost from not getting into nursing school. I would be lost if I didn't know He had a MUCH GREATER PLAN for me. I can only pray knowing He will fulfill His will for my life, if I remain obedient and continue to serve even in my "suffering" if that's what we should call it?

I may look like a "failure" in the world's eyes, but I am not ashamed in believing that this is just the beginning of a ride I can't wait for because I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS AHEAD OF ME!

"Behold, in this you are not right. I will answer you for God is greater than man. Why do you contend against him, saying, "he will answer none of man's words?" For God speaks in one way, and in two, though man does not always perceive it." Job 33:12-14

"And He iS BEFORE ALL THINGS" Col 1:17

"BELOVED, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and WHATEVER we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases Him." 1 John 3:21-22

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why should you dwell on the things that do not last forever?

There is something so incredibly majestic about God’s presence in the world at 6 o’clock in the morning. As the sun rises a new day is beginning, we are having a new opportunity to take a deep breath and star a new day. The old has gone the new has come. We have a blank slate. A piece of wet concrete in front of us waiting to be walked in, following the very steps and will of our Father. Just think, today could be the day thousands of people give their lives to Christ, or it could be the day that thousands of people choose to walk another path and follow and unrighteous, unholy, idol. Today you will either live or die. Or perhaps there is something in between. Yes. Indeed there is a middle ground. Lukewarm. (Revelation 3:15) I am not positive how many people are lukewarm in this world about God, but I am 100% sure some of my friends are. They are standing in the middle waiting for others to decide, waiting for something to happen, or maybe waiting for Jesus to come back to prove Himself to them. It’s not okay for me to think that my life today very well could not have any purpose, could not be any help or change anyone’s life today. It’s not okay for me to think that my peers surrounding me are okay with being lukewarm. OUR GOD IS SOOO GREAT AND SO WORTHY OF OUR ENTIRE LIFE, that it is sooo far off of His radar, so far away from His holiness and his vision for our lives, when we choose to not choose.
There is this guy named Daniel. He lives in Costa Rica, and he has chosen to allow God to completely take all of his life, even his money, his cars, his friends, his potential girlfriends, and his family. He has crossed over the line, he made a decision to be a disciple of His. He made a decision to not be okay with normal living, societal breathing, ordered walking. He has take a step of faith to follow in the way that leads him to ETERNAL LIFE. He is a disciple of Jesus Christ. He has gone over and above the routine of a 22 year old male. And as I sat there listening to his story, it was like seeing Jesus Christ face to face. The Holy Spirit was so permanently apparent in Dan’s words, and movements, and even the way he presented himself and his testimony. The Holy Spirit hates to be quenched. He hates to be living inside of a believer but the believer never allowing Him to say what He wants to say. The Holy Spirit’s power can run straight from our head to our toes, so much that we are shaking because we have allowed the Holy Spirit to completely work the way He has wanted to in our lives for forever.
God’s majesty is flowing like a wind all over this earth into every person who decides to accept it and see the wind that is blowing. Obviously you can’t see wind, but you can feel it. We can feel God’s presence, and we CAN SEE God’s invisible qualities –his eternal power and divine nature, through what has been made, AND THEREFORE WE ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE. Romans 1:20. We have absolutely no excuse in this world. He has proved Himself to us time and time again by the mountains, by the oceans, even by this new show LIFE. <<<
The evidence is all around us, all day everyday!!!! Wake up and live this day knowing you were created by a thing, person, being, much greater than our little problems we have.

Why should you dwell on the things that do not last forever?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A city driven by sin but LIT by the Holiest of Holies, Our Father in Heaven

I couldn’t have asked for a better spring break if I had designed it myself. Never has the Holy Spirit been so alive in free, openly speaking 24/7 to me. It is something so difficult to put into words because Heaven literally came down. I was surrounded by angels and people awakened by the urgency of surrender to the God powerful enough to take everything on earth away in one second. I learned what humility in the eyes of God truly means. It isn’t just trying to be humble, trying to go last, and trying to serve others it is completely desiring LASTNESS in order that others may see the Love of God first. Lynsey and I stayed with a woman named Amy Speake, she is a missionary living in Costa Rica, and she has lived there for 20 years now ministering to the Costa Ricans and seeing God work miracles. She is a picture of humility as the whole time we were down there she wanted to serve us even though we told her we wanted to serve her. After spending a few days at the beach we spent some time at Amy’s friend Gisela’s house. She cooked for us and we played with her son Nacar. The following day we went to this slum in San Jose where Transformations ministries spends a lot of time. Here we watched as numerous men walked up and down stairs-right across from the kids playing at the church-buy drugs. The drug buyers walked across a bridge that said, “Jesucristo es el puente a la vida” which means “Jesus Christ is the bridge to life” in order to buy their drugs. It was hard to believe such sin and despair could be happening right in the midst of such pure laughter of children. We took Nacar out of school so he could come with us on Tuesday. And while when we were playing with the Transformations kids Nacar taught me so much. He began serving the children as if this was his mission trip too! Nacar lives in an area not much better than the one we were serving in. To an American nacar’s family lives way below the poverty line, but Nacar was serving God as if he had everything he could ever need, and he does because of who Christ is in him. This little boy did not look at the children he was serving as if he was “higher” than him, but served them as a brother in Christ. We also met another Christ-follower named Daniel Hertgers. He works for Pura Vida and he left his “comfortable” life in Canada to go down to Costas Rica and serve for 18 months. He works for a ministry called Pura Vida Missions. Later on, Tuesday evening we went to the youth service at Amy’s church and stood out like a sore thumb! This church service brought the Holy Spirit to the front unifie within all the youth in the room. It wasn’t as if the Holy Spirit lived separately inside of all of us, but the Holy Spirit was OBVSIOUSLY one within that room. 9 people accepted Christ, including one young boy who was a member of one of the deadliest gangs in San Jose. Wednseday we went to Christ for the City to give out food in 5 different communities. The first community we went to Lynsey served food while I took pics of the community. The second place we went to we had to be careful and only the people serving food could get out of the car because it was such an unsafe area. The third place is called “stabbing hill,” this is where Amy and I served food. It is named stabbing hill because there is a spot on the hill we served food on, if you walk past the corner or this one spot, and you aren’t allowed down there they will stab you. While we were serving food a car drove by with four gang members in it. Each one of them had a gun with them, and they are all known in their community for going around and shooting people to take their stuff from them. The next community we went to Amy, Ugo, and another girl and I went into the slums to tell everybody we were serving food by the entrance to the slum. In this area we saw a little 6 year old boy playing with a gun, and many other little children playing with deadly toys, including a 3 year old walking around with a machete. The hardest thing to see was a woman walk up to the van after we had packed up the car, begging us to give her food. All she had on was a shirt with one shoulder completely hanging off showing her breast. This woman sells herself for probably around $10. In Costa Rica prostitution is legal, so in many cases women result to this act in order to put food on their table for their children. Wednesday evening lynsey and I went to bible study with Amy. Thursday we woke up and went to an AIDS clinic for men and women wanting treatment for AIDS, and wanting to get off the streets. Lynsey and I watched as our world became aware of the appearance and sadness of transvestites infected with AIDS. We were able to speak to some of them and to treat them with lunch. Lynsey and I shared the things God wanted us to share with them, and many of them do not know or want to believe in Christ. After speaking with them for a little while, one of the transvestites braided my hair! I didn’t realize it at the time but Amy said that this was an act of acceptance, that after one of them had braided my hair they weren’t as “ashamed” because they knew we accepted them for who they are. We also got to go into a separate room and visit with a child of God who is probably going to be pass soon. He had open wounds and sores all over his body and complained about his bones aching even while on very strong medicine. We prayed over him and allowed God to speak words of encouragement to him. Thursday after going to the AIDS clinic we met with the pastor and pastor’s wife of Amy’s church. As we were about to leave Amy’s pastor’s wife stopped and read to us Romans 10. This word of encouragement spoke directly to my heart and my desire to spread the word of Christ. Thursday night we went to the Pura Vida Missions compound to hang out with Dan whom we had talked to earlier in the week. Friday we spent some time with Marge Long who is another full time missionary in Costa Rica. Then we left to come home :(

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

an absolute testimony to finding things that were irresistible now detestable

I believe it is appropriate that my Father would lay this on my heart at this time considering what happened tonight. This marks the beginning of a moment of realization within my heart and mind as the Spirit takes hold of each of these things.

There are three things in this world which every human being (with or without Christ) wants according to Chip Ingram: “pleasure (sex), possessions (things), and position (status).” These three things are “of the world” so to speak. Throughout God’s word He speaks numerous times of being in the world and of the world but one thing remains constant, we are called to not be of the world for He told us, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but I CHOSE YOU OUT OF THE WORLD, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). This scripture speaks so clearly that we are not supposed to be OF THIS WORLD, because we were born to be “out of this world” we were born for a place so filled with majesty, light which is the glory of God, and beauty we were born to worship GOD! We were not born to be a part of this world. But, God knew we would become a part “of this world” and that if He didn’t send His Son to be in this world and to take on the world then none of us could enjoy the true reason for God designing us. If, we take a leap of faith, surrender our complete and total lives not just a bit here or just a bit there but I MEAN EVERYTHING. I mean t.v. facebook, clothes/shopping, money, texting, if we surrender EVERYTHING we will be “hated” by this world. The world will see no point in us being a live because we would be living only for Christ. The world would see us without “anything” (anything they think matters….facebook, t.v. cars cell phones, money, status, etc.) and they would associate us as “nothings.” But if we are called to be hated, if we are called to be reprimanded by many, we can’t forget Jesus says, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated ME FIRST” (John 15:18). If the world hates us because of Jesus Christ then our lives and God’s will is being fulfilled, but if Jesus Christ did not die on the cross for our sins and go through hatred much worse then ours then all of this would be a waste. But, there is no question about this. Jesus Christ came. Have we forgotten this? “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well” (John 15:22). Is this becoming clear? HELLOOOOOOO WE DON’T HAVE AN EXCUSE. Before He came, before He showed us and took on our sins, we had an excuse. But, NOW that our heavenly Father sent his glorious perfect Son into this world to take on our SINS ALL OF OUR SINS, Now that He so graciously and mercifully did this for these people who He desires to love Him, Now that this happened, we ARE WITHOUT EXCUSE. Those who know, those who have tasted in this Heavenly abundantly giving gift, HAVE NO EXCUSE.

“it is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift (belief in: Christ’s death for our sins, our forgiveness = automatic salvation) who have shared in the Holy Spirit (an automatic appearance when we believe in Christ and ask Him to consume our lives), who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away to be brought back to repentance, BECAUSE TO THEIR LOSS THEY ARE CRUCIFYING THE SON OF GOD ALL OVER AGAIN AND SUBJECTING HIM TO PUBLIC DISGRACE” (Hebrews 6:4-6). Obviously this scripture means a lot and has a lot of background to it but basically it makes people wonder if there are superficial “believers” and actual believers. Because, if you have tasted in the heavenly gift, shared in the power of the Holy Spirit, tasted the goodness of the word of God….HOW COULD YOU WANT TO CONTINUE TO SIN OVER AND OVER AGAIN? Now granted, we all have downfalls due to our own sinful “nature” but this increase in the Holy Spirit has a direct effect on the decreasing of myself/world and all of its desires in my life. This absolute manifestation of the Spirit within my mind heart body and soul is an absolute testimony to finding things that were irresistible now detestable. It all is detestable to God, Satan has ruined this world he has taken over minds bodies and souls and he hasn’t stopped, he is continuing to take them over ever single day. That is why if we recognize Jesus Christ’s irreversible act and death on that cross we recognize an inability to continue to dwell in the “sin that so easily entangles us” (Hebrews 12:1). “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the TRUTH, [ABSOLUTELY] NO SACRIFICE FOR SINS IS LEFT” (Hebrews 10:26)….”How much more severely do YOU think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an UNHOLY thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (10:29). DO YOU PEOPLE REALIZE WHAT THIS IS SAYING?!?!??!?! GOD our most HOLY and deserving Father SENT HIS PERFECT SON UNDESERVING OF ANY PUNISHMENT to die ON THE CROSS FOR OUR SINS ALL OF OUR SINS. When we are deliberately sinning, when the Spirit is in the back of our minds in the deepest rooted place of our hearts and is continually saying over and over again, “DO NOT DO THAT,” and you do it, YOU HAVE
INSULTED, did you hear that you have INSULTED the SPIRIT, you have treated the blood of this Holy covenant between Father and Son, between Father and children, YOU HAVE TREATED IT AS AN UNHOLY thing. UNHOLY. The most beautiful and magnificent blood shed on the cross so that we may enjoy life, eternal life, in the arms of our Father, our Maker, our Creator, the ONE AND ONLY, you me we, us treat it as UNHOLY, we TRAMPLE THE SON OF GOD, when we deliberately sin. And if that is not enough to paint the picture for you, guess what, God did not by any means “have” to do this, He did not by any means “need” us, HE WANTS US. Psalm 50 says,

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you: I am God, your God. I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before me (He wasn’t going to get mad at them even though they were offering these sacrifices out of conformity and habit therefore putting the sacrifices before Him), I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal in the forest is mine, and the cattle on the thousand hills, I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is MINE, and ALL that is in it. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Sacrifice THANK offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High (out of devotion, out of love, out of THANKFULNESS not conformity) and CALL UPON ME IN THE DAY OF TROUBLE; I WILL DELIVER YOU, AND YOU WILL HONOR ME.”

LISTEN: God, knew they were putting something before Him (sacrifices) and offering these sacrifices because everybody else was and it was the “right thing to do.” He knew they were doing this out of conceit, but His goal was to make them remember, HE DOESN’T NEED ANYTHING FROM US, not our bulls or our cows, not our land, not anything, THE ONE THING HE WANTS is for us to “call upon Him” TO LOVE HIM, He wants us to YEARN FOR HIM to need Him! He desires to DELIVER US so that we can honor Him in EVERYTHING we do. This means doing nothing out of vain conceit (going to church “just because”) but in HUMILITY consider others better than yourselves (be like Christ) because this will give Him the ULTIMATE GLORY, the desire of His heart and will, to be glorified! (Phillipians 2:3).

“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation in which you SHINE LIKE STARS IN THE UNIVERSE” (Phillipians 2:14).

We shall live like citizens of Heaven as we were designed to be, but we shall be “in this world” temporarily, but never “of this world.”

Thursday, January 14, 2010

are you willing?

The word “willing” has come into my path a lot lately and I know God has a very specific reason and special meaning for this word. He has continued to teach me the true meaning of willing through the word used in the bible and the word used throughout my life everyday, but one thing seems constant throughout, anytime we attempt to define a word God holds sacred we find ourselves not being able to fully express the meaning. Many times, this creates a negative view from others who see other sides to the than the meanings or implications I have described. SO, that noted, I know that I in my human body can not/could not possibly describe to full capacity the definition of a word that is so divine. (so just bare with me)

Many times people pray as follows: Lord, please “HELP ME” to be a light towards others. Now, yes of course we need our Father’s help but isn’t it true that we HAVE his help because the Holy Spirit is already living inside of us? Don’t get me wrong, it has taken me many years to figure out that God is already helping us even before we ask for the help. SO would it not be better to say Lord, please “teach me” to be a light towards others? Yes, I believe this is correct in asking God to continue to teach us what we do not know, but then once we ask this of Him, He will not help us be patient, kind, righteous, or truthful, He will continue to give us the opportunity to be all of these things. Just as a teacher gives us tests to see if we know everything she has taught us, God (the ultimate teacher) will give us tests to see if we know everything He has taught us. The Holy Spirit has “willingly” given us the knowledge of these characteristics: patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and of course we have been given them in the bible also. Which means we “know” how to do all of these things, but when it comes time for the test, we fail time and time again and God continues to give us more and more opportunities to be each one of these things. The bigger problem I run into is my frustration that comes when God is testing me and I know what I should do but I still do not do the right thing. This is where the word willing comes into play. Are we willing to learn or will we get frustrated and move on? Are we “willing” to take the tests God gives us or will we stop asking because we don’t think God is “helping” us? As we grow in and with the Spirit we allow Hiim to teach us more and more things, but in our flesh the more we notice that we are not doing something right the more we dwindle the Spirit’s work inside and “outside” of us. Now, another meaning of willing is noted in this story: Betty is walking down the concourse and she sees somebody who looks like she is having a bad day. Betty just recently prayed to God asking Him if He would help her to be a light on her campus. Now, Betty has two choices at this point, she can ignore the girl and pass by her like the other 20,000 students did or she can stop and see if the girl is okay or give her a smile/hug. Betty’s Spirit is “willing” to stop and ask her if she is okay, but her “human” side of her has already decided it would be weird/awkward/embarrassing. Every single time Betty passes by someone who needs help and knowingly ignores the person, she is dwindling the true act and love of the Spirit. She is dwindling the desire and cry of the Holy Spirit inside of her. So there is a bigger question in all of this: Why do we constantly dwindle the Holy Spirit inside of us? “OUR SPIRIT IS WILLING BUT OUR FLESH IS SO WEAK.” We cannot and will not ever become completely faithful and listen to the Spirit inside of us, because we are stuck in this wretchedness called flesh. Gnosticism is a heresy in the Vrkirche (early church) that said Jesus didn’t have a human body because how could God take on the human body? After seeing the way our human body’s diminish the Holy Spirit and do not allow Him to work fully, I can understand where these people are coming from, BUT while we are stuck in this human flesh, we are found to have hope because of Jesus Christ’s successful walk on this earth. He in flesh and body came down to this earth in full power of our Father, and with the Holy Spirit living inside of Him. On His walk on earth He was and is perfect. HE WAS WILLING IN BODY AND IN SPIRIT TO WORK AND DO THINGS ONLY FULLY WILLING PEOPLE CAN DO. And for moments in our lives we have spurts of willingness in both parts of ourselves (body and spirit). These are the times when we cannot get any closer to God and say, feel, and do things that people could never dream of.

Matthew 8:1-4 says, “When He came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed Him. A man with leprosy came and knelt before Him and said, “Lord, if you are WILLING, you can make me clean.” (Now personally, I would have said, who do you think I am, you really don’t think I, JESUS CHRIST can do this, come on watch this….but, Jesus in His pureness…) “reached out His hand and touched the man. “I AM WILLING,” He said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cured of his leprosy. Then Jesus said to him, “see that you don’t tell anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the gift Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.”

The Lord, our brother, the Son of God, WAS WILLING to heal this man. Obviously the word willing is taken seriously in this passage especially because it allowed Jesus to show us what “willing” means. Do you think if we were willing (body and Spirit), we could perform miracles?

I was reading this book called Love Has a Face by Michele Perry, who is a missionary in Sudan, who was for one second “willing” to go to the ends of the earth for Jesus Christ. Throughout her book there are many moments she goes through when her heart is wearied, burdened and she doubts whether she should have originally been willing, but in MANY OTHER MOMENTS she is caught in a point of humility, caught in a moment of willing ambition and dreams in faith, and these are the moments when food comes from 8 hours away when they are in need but don’t have any way of getting it, when people can walk again after being healed of back problems, and when children teach adults because have been given the power through Christ. I believe that Michele Perry has been willing in body and Spirit to do God’s will.

I also believe that this willingness of body and Spirit is what makes the difference between a sermon that is rehearsed, outdated, or “nonmoving” and a sermon which the Holy Spirit has given because a human was willing. I wonder how much our lives would changed if we challenged ourselves to be more willing or willing period? I wonder if it would affect our homes, our friends, our peers, our campus, our state, our nation, or our world? I am forced to believe after coming to know more of the definition of the word willing, that this single word, if used to it’s full potential could change the way we think act, and do, and could CHANGE OUR WORLD.

Maybe that is exaggerated, maybe it’s not? Wouldn’t it be worth a try?

“Christ died for the ungodly. Now most people would not be WILLING to die for an upright person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.” Romans 5:7

“Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me WILLING to obey you.” Psalm 51:12

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

he must deny himself and take up his cross DAILY and follow me

There is so much I want to say but, obviously it is not about what I want to say but about what God HAS to say. As I debrief, come back to reality, and slowly come to know and feel I am still living in my earthly/fleshly body, I realize what God did at Passion. He was apparently willing to teach me a lot about myself and being a Christian, but He was sure to make sure I left that place knowing one thing:

Passion is a conference with 20,00+ students, Louie Giglio, David Crowder Band, Hillsong, Beth Moore, Francis Chan, Charlie Hall, and John Piper, but more importantly than all of those, God. As Stew (my college minister) asked the question: “how can we bring this back to Auburn,” my mind and heart and body was raging against me, the Holy Spirit did not allow me to prepare a response to this question but He purely had to respond right then and there, no questions asked. He said: the definition of Passion is: a trait of intense emotion. Well yes, Passion the conference was definitely surrounded by an infiltrated with intense emotion, but it is not because of 20,00+ students, Louie Giglio, David Crowder Band, Hillsong, Beth Moore, Francis Chan, Charlie Hall, and John Piper. The “passion” we as Christians should experience every day whether we are in Atlanta, Georgia or Auburn, Alabama, is a passion, an intense emotion we can not help but encounter and feel as we daily respond to God’s life within us. How could we not wake up every day and be in complete and utter humiliation and joy, and peace at the thought that the Creator is LIVING INSIDE OF US. The simple yet most complex thought continuously overwhelms my every humanly expression by bringing me to tears, shock, and speechlessness. Is that the idea of “Passion” the conference, is that what brought us to tears, shock, and speechlessness that God is residing and stirring our hearts or is it that we were overwhelmed by the fact that there were 20,000 students and so many wonderful speakers? If we go back to our corresponding campuses and get caught up in wanting to be back in Atlanta with 20,000 other Christians then the entire passion conference was a waste in our life (bold statement I know). But if the people around us our friends, family, peers, and fellow Christians see a difference in us and we can not help but say that God showed up in our Christmas break, then we have got it. We had the overwhelming undeserving opportunity to attend a conference hundreds of thousands of people would have died to come to, and NOW “it is our duty and responsibility to share our blessings” (stew). Throughout the bible there are verses upon verses speaking of “blessings,” but one thing that continues and is apparent in each one of them is that blessings are not meant to be held, confined, and selfishly used, they are meant to be shared. Romans 15:27 says, “For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.” We owe it to other believers to share in not only the blessing of going to passion, but all of our other blessings. What more could we want for the Kingdom of God, then to bless His people abundantly? This is an act of worship, to surrender and sacrifice the blessings God has so given to us, the undeserving people. We cannot and must not surrender these blessings when we feel we have to, but only when the Holy Spirit is so tremendously giving us the joy that comes from selflessly sacrificing. I do believe and know that this semester is going to be different, but I also know that God is personally holding each and everyone of us to a very high standard, a standard which requires us to sacrifice things we enjoy doing and buying. We are called to be Jesus to others yet we do not recognize this calling every single day of our lives. We are indeed warriors for the cause of Christ. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This means we are A NEW NEW NEW CREATION, not the old person who was stuck in selfishness not willing to give up time and money for the cause of Christ! If we are a new creation we are supposed to live as Jesus called us to live. Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross DAILY and follow me. (Luke 9:23)