Wednesday, July 22, 2015

be holy. walk worthy.

"Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, 'Be holy, for I am holy.'"

|| 1 Peter 1: 13-16

I sat on the couch this morning, the one that looks out the window towards Seam Rock, and I opened my Bible to this passage. You know when you read something, and you can't quite get past it because the Lord is highlighting a certain something? Yep. That was this morning, as the sunlight streamed through the windows and I watched my mountains light up. I reread this passage at least ten times, each time exhaling slowly as I realized what this meant for today.

Today I have no excuse for living in my flesh. I have no reason to not walk in accordance to the Spirit. 

The past week I was at a church camp in middle Tennessee. The theme was "Walk Worthy", and I don't think there was a moment where I wasn't being pressed and encouraged to do that very thing. Our youth pastor Joel Everest put it so well this way: "You were made worthy to walk worthy." What Jesus accomplished for us on the Cross and through His resurrection was not a license to sin. He purchased our freedom. Freedom to live the way for which we were created.

My week at camp has so many aspects to it I don't even know where to begin. The leaders were giving the full gospel of Christ Jesus, and asking us as students to truly count the cost of giving our lives to Him. Kids were getting saved, and getting baptized in the Holy Spirit. I felt like I was in 24/7 ministry: speaking prophetic words over other people, speaking about Jesus... it was such a rich (and exhausting!) week, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Yet I noticed something as the week came to a close, and we headed home. I was tempted to become annoyed with my siblings during our 18-hour road trip from Tennessee to Colorado. I wanted to shy back at the cash register and not say anything pertaining to the Gospel. I had had such boldness and faith at camp, and now I was tempted to hide the light that had been fanned into flame? What?

"Resist the devil, and he will flee from you" is the advice James gives us (James 4:7). Yes, temptation to go back to those things you once took part in (all manner of sin, lack of boldness, etc) is going to come. It will. Because the enemy won't just leave you alone in your pursuit of Christ. He's gonna come full force with anything to cause you to turn your gaze off of Jesus. He'll do anything – has done anything! – to make the children of God walk less than worthy of the calling in which they were called.

I went back to work on Monday morning. Though I was exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I asked the Lord, "Don't let what happened in me at camp stay at camp. Would you give me eyes to see the opportunities to share Your gospel today?" Within ten minutes of arriving to babysit the cutest little 1 1/2 year old ever, I was laying hands on my employer and asking God for her healing. The next day, she called me, not with an answered prayer request (which I'm still believing for!), but with the news that the baby was really sick and she didn't want me to come over. Immediately I asked, "Can I pray for her right now?" And so I did. I don't like to think of it all as me being some super Christian, praying for people left and right and sharing the Gospel, because honestly, those two prayers were some of the shakiest, wobbly prayers I've ever prayed. Not because I didn't believe, but just because I lost my voice and my words seemed to come out all jumbled. But God hears. He knows. And I believe He is faithful to keep His promises. He told me to knock, and so I did. Obey, even when you don't feel strong. His strength is made perfect in our weakness!

So resist the devil. Abide in Christ. He is holy, so walk worthy of Him. In Christ you are able to do all that He requires, because "what He demands, He supplies" (yet another fantastic quote from the week!). Isn't that so reassuring? What Jesus has called us to do and how He has called us to live, can only be done by His grace. So grab ahold of God! Petition Him for a baptism of the Holy Spirit, a baptism of His grace! It's the power to live worthy of Him! If you've been baptized with the Spirit, ask for more! All throughout this past week I was on my face asking for a continual and constant fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. Because we can't walk worthy without it. We can't live holy lives, denying the flesh and living alive to Christ, without Him. Why would we ever try on our own?

What Peter is talking about in 1 Peter 1: 13-16 is not a call to legalism. It's a cry for real Christianity.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

i'm a Christian.

I sat on the airplane, quietly staring at the back of the seat in front of me. I sat in the middle of two older women, both of whom were sleeping. As I sat there, doing nothing, really, I felt that little nudge from the Spirit.

Oh no.

I was supposed to ask one of the women if they knew Jesus, and if they didn't, share the Gospel. And in my Flesh, I really didn't want to.  Because I'm not an educated girl. I don't know all the ins and outs of apologetics. I didn't come prepared with a briefcase full of scientific evidence proving God exists. And on top of that, I hadn't done this a whole lot before. So obviously this was out the question. But the women were sleeping. I didn't have to worry about it.

Well, my God has a funny way of getting me into situations where He desires me to showcase His life (obviously that's every moment of every day, but specifically in regards to boldness in sharing the Gospel, praying for people, etc.). I say, "Lord, conform me to look like You", and suddenly my little sisters have just gone off and done something annoying. Or I find myself sweetly thanking the lady at King Soopers' cash register, and walking away without a word about my faith or Jesus. This should be a normal occurrence in my life. It should flow naturally out of who I am as a Christian: a mini Christ. 

If a person is sleeping, it's most likely that they will wake up. Which happened on the airplane. I watched, out of the corner of my eye, the woman in the window seat, stretch and then rub/massage her knee as if in pain. Still I said nothing.  Five minutes passed (it felt like an eternity, though) and finally I leaned over.

"Excuse me, ma'am, but is your knee in pain?" She nodded, and I shakily continued, "I'm a Christian, and I believe that my God delights to heal people. Can I pray for you to be healed?" Surprised, she nodded, and after asking for her name, I bent my head and began to pray a prayer of faith for this woman's healing so that she might see Jesus. I finished, she thanked me, and then began the awkward silence of sitting there, staring at the back of the seat while she played games on her phone. The other woman was still asleep.

Fifteen or so minutes later she leans over and softly says, "There's no more pain in my knee. Thank you." I was shocked. I mean, I knew God could heal, but if He was going to heal her it was going to be after the flight, away from me, and I'd probably never hear about it. I was not expecting this! Not that I didn't believe Jesus could do it... but, well, I guess that's what it was. A lack of faith. And God loves to prove His children wrong. So I'm kind of freaking out on the inside, and then I decide, if I'm in this situation, might as well do it right.

"Ma'am, has anyone ever told you about Jesus?" She smiled.

"Yes. I'm a Christian, actually. You were very brave and courageous to step out and pray for me. I've never seen someone so young do that."  I probably blushed out of embarrassment, because I naturally don't like those type of compliments, or at least when it comes to my faith. If only they knew that it is because of Christ's work in my life that I'm able to have such boldness (you may be laughing at my form of 'boldness', but hey, this was a big deal!)! But He was glorified.

Jesus was glorified. Because He spoke, and I obeyed. Even though (if I had been standing) my knees were knocking and I was shaking, and I could hardly breathe, He was glorified. He will get glory from the smallest of matters, if only we obey. Step 1: listen for His moment-by-moment command. Step 2: just do it. I'm not trying to sound cliche, but really, it's simple. Hear, and do. My mom used to tell me to make my bed, and I had a choice, do it or not. It's the same thing.

The past few days here in Dallas have been a different kind of adventuring than I'm used to. I've had conversations with other believers that force me to think about what I really believe, and how to effectively communicate that. I've come face to face with a choice recently made by the Supreme Court that greatly affects our country in regards to gay marriage. In the little things, I've had moments where I've had to choose -- do I do this even though it's small and seemingly insignificant? Even just this afternoon, I was given a choice. Throughout the day, multiple. Think on what is noble, lovely, right, honorable...? I know what is right for me to do, and what isn't, and I pray to God that I continue to walk in the path of the righteous [psalm 1] so that He is the only One seen. At all times. And that is achieved by listening. And then doing.

I pray that as people look at my life all they see is Jesus. That I am not a distraction to anyone, or hindering anyone's walk because of me. I want such a genuine love for people... a God-love for people. It doesn't matter to me what they think of me, as long as Jesus is clearly seen. And I don't want to misrepresent Him, which is why I seek to know Him more, through intimate, passionate prayer, and through study of His word. Oh, friend, wether I know you or not, He is amazingly good. I long for you to know Him, and for me to know Him better. I will take those steps of faith forward, listening for the voice of the Spirit and then heeding it. Walking in obedience. I want to be so in tune with the Spirit, and have my life look so much like His that there is no denying that I am a child of God, a co-laborer with Christ, and a fellow heir to the inheritance of Heaven. A Christian.

Friday, June 12, 2015

in Christ // i am all He says i am

So often I struggle with doing life on my own. I look away from the perfect beauty of Jesus and fall short. Again. Flat on my face I fall, and I shake my head in disappointment that I didn't come through for God. Why? Why must I be the one to do this work when Christ has accomplished it all for me on the Cross? The Cross where He purchased my soul, bought the above list of things for me to become. And I try to do this in and of myself? Why do I continue in this mindset? He has made me acceptable because I am covered in His precious blood. I am atoned for. In Christ, I am everything He says I am.

I'm not boasting. This is just what Scripture says. I was predestined to be these things [ephesians 1: 5,11]. . .

We are His saints. [colossians 1:26]
He tells us to be holy as He is holy. [1 peter 1:16]
We are loved. [hosea 11:1]
Chosen of God. [duet 7:6]
We are new creations. [2 cor 5:17]
We are the righteousness of Christ. [phil 1:11]
We have power of over sin. [romans 6:14]
We are no longer outcasts. [jeremiah 30:17]
We house the Spirit of God. [1 cor 3:16]
We are heirs. [romans 8:17; titus 3:7]
I am all He says I am.

The list goes on. I get overwhelmed. How do I deserve to be these things? I was never this... until Jesus. Until He rescued me. Adopted me. Made me His own. He instructs me in the ways of righteousness and gives me authority over Satan. Over sin. Dominion over my flesh, emotions. Things that used to control and rule me now have no power here, unless I cave and give them that position. But, today is not that day. I will stand with Christ in me, before me, beside me, above me, behind me. All around me. He is with me, because He is. And in Him, I am. Not the name of God, I AM. But in Him, I am. I am all He has predestined me to be.

So I will rest in that today: He who IS has made a way for me to be all that He has called me to be. By the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, I will walk in that. Confidently.

Monday, May 25, 2015

come, Holy Spirt, come!

Today, the world is changing. Rapidly. Our nation has no regard for life and godliness. ISIS is moving in the Middle East. Innocent men, women, and children are being slaughtered. Sex and human trafficking are on the rise. Abortion is a common evil. The sanctity of marriage is labeled an old-fashioned idea. The Church of Christ is turning a blind eye to the plight of those in need. Ignoring the very lack of the Holy Spirit in their lives. No longer do people stand for righteousness, but they celebrate wickedness and push for its spread. Our culture is so preoccupied with self and vain things. [2 peter 3:3] Before stopping to help the needy, the poor, the destitute, we casually and flippantly say, "But first, let me take a selfie!" Where are the mighty men and women of God that stand for Truth and cry, "Repent!"? Today those sorts are labeled fanatics and imprisoned for their faith. A lion is in the street, but no one stands up to challenge it. [proverbs 26:13]

Today, the Spirit is moving. A mighty rushing wind is stirring; the Spirit is calling the chosen people back to Himself. Those who hear, and who are obedient, are rising. Preparing. Readying themselves for the rain. The genuine baptism from God Almighty. We are waiting for a full realization of Pentecost in our lives.  There is a movement of the Holy Spirit taking place in various places of the United States that I have personally witnessed. I have heard of the work of Jesus across the oceans, in far away places, with far away people. In Northern Colorado specifically, I have stood in awe of the ways God has been working. It's started in the hearts of individuals, and moved to the families, and now is beginning to manifest in the church body. We are crying out, in unison, "Fall on us, Holy Spirit! Move in us mightily!"

Today, my heart is beating. With a burden for the American church that is going down without a fight, I am crying. With an excitement for the wind of the Spirit to move through the churches and bring all people to Himself, I am waiting. I am not content for my own soul to be prosperous, but those around me to being to wither. I am not content, either, for those around me to flourish, and my soul to be dying. If the Body of Christ does not fall on its face, first as individuals, and then as a body, and seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit in their own lives, we will fall. We will compromise, and we will turn our eyes away from Christ. It is only the grace and power of the Spirit of Almighty God, that will carry us through the last days as a powerful witness. [acts 1:8]

Because the last days are here. And there is evil terrorizing the land. The elect of God are being deceived. [2 timothy 3:1]

what are we doing about it?

The twenty-one martyrs in the Middle East, murdered by ISIS, called out the praises of their great God as they were being led to their deaths. No fear. Only a desire for Jesus to be glorified. If they were going to go down, they weren't going down without one last spiritual fight: to make the world see Jesus, even in something as tragic as death. Those left untouched thanked ISIS for bringing them into the presence of Jesus. They are filled with love and forgiveness for such men. Because Christ is their all. [revelation 12:11]

Will we go down easily, or will the world marvel at Christ in us, even as we die? The day will soon come where I will be faced with a choice: stay silent or face the consequences. At a small level, we already face that. We risk losing a job, or being excluded from a group of people, or are denied certain rights. But what I am talking about is this: are we willing to die for Jesus? 

The Holy Spirit is available to you. To me. I have been baptized in the Spirit, but I'm going for more. I'm falling in love with Christ all over again, and all I seem to be able to cry out is, "More, Lord Jesus, more!" The Church will never be able to stand unless we push for more of the Spirit. Unless we desire a genuine baptism of the Holy Spirit, and continue to seek Christ for that very thing, we will go down. We will be a disunited Church, concerned with the cares of this life.

But I'm not about to stand by and let that happen. Even as an almost-17-year-old, I will pour out all that I have been given to see those around me united and filled with the power from on High, for His glory. I will continue to seek Christ. I will continue to long for the return of Jesus. To be united, face to face, with my Beloved.

will you seek more of Him with me?


Below are two videos that have encouraged me so greatly this past week. The first is the testimony of the brother of two men martyred by ISIS. The second is a lyric video of a song by Chris Tomlin/Passion about the return of Christ. How I long to be a Bride that is ready for Him!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

living alive.

you are beloved.

you are chosen. set-apart.

you are [called].

this calling is an invitation to holiness. to victory. Christ beckons from the right hand of the Father, calling you, and me, to come nearer. draw ever nearer. put the things of your old man behind you, and drop every thing that so easily besets you.

as I come closer to the throne room of God, His light shines. it is a piercing light. a light that commands the darkness to flee. will I allow the darkness inside of me to flee when I draw near to God, or will I hold on to that which I've lived in for so long?

{I will let Christ reign supreme.} 

in the way of the righteous I will walk. I will throw off my old man, embrace my oneness with Christ. live the way I was intended to live, with the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus my Lord residing inside of me. because He is worthy. and I am treasured in His eyes. He sees not my blunderings, my mistakes, or my sins. He is not ignorant of who I am apart from me, but He looks at me now as the bride He died for, purchased, and clothed. I will live worthy of that calling to be His bride. armed with the full armor provided by my Groom, I will live this out. because He has made a way for you to be the way He made you to be.

we must forsake sin. throw off our flesh. deny the old man.

we live as one alive to the Spirit.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

l o v e // how i see it

So often I shy away from the love of God, and what He has done for me. Somehow, in my head, if I focused on how much He actually loved me, and pursued me, and saw me, I'd be selfish, or somehow turn the Gospel into a self-centered story. But how can you fully grasp the Gospel until you've grasped what He has actually done? He saved you.  He saved me. Thats's incredible, and unless we take a moment (or a lot of moments) to let that sink in, we're not going to get very far. There are two extreme reactions to the love of God that I've seen, personally.

One, you can reject it. "Oh, yes, I still love Jesus! I live for Him! But I'm not worthy of everything He did on the cross... I'm not quite sure the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost was for me. That would be selfish to think that all of that was for me! I mean, Jesus died for others! And don't talk of who we are in Christ! That's focusing way too much on ourselves. And, as Christians, we shouldn't do that." 

Two, you can interpret everything completely wrong and go all 'self-centered Gospel'. "Yes, Jesus died for me, to live my best life now, because He finds me so beautiful and worthy of everything He has done! I'm supposed to live to be happy, because Jesus died to save me from Hell, and now I can do what makes me feel good about myself!"

I've been the first for quite a while. It's not that I didn't believe that love of God was for me, or that I was a new creation, but it seemed selfish to even go there. And, yes, I knew who I was in Christ... well, as much as I really let myself think about it. And it wasn't like I totally denied the Cross, but there were the whispers of the enemy in my ear, reminding me of who I was outside of Jesus, and how unworthy of the love He showed. 

Well, let me tell you something. Jesus is changing my perspective. There is a middle ground. There doesn't have to be one or the other, there can be that perfect middle... where Jesus is. Love is not something to keep at arms length, but to embrace. When I deny the power of the love of God, that is denying Jesus. Because God is love, and when I reject that, I reject Him.  He gave up a lot for me to become His child, and how do I respond? By entering the house, but living in the basement, living like a worthless wretch? What power is there in that? Let me tell you: the love of God is freeing. Because when you see what He did, and what He made you, you'll change.  Love = power. He loved me and you enough to not only save us from our sins, but to stick a new nature in us so that we could live the Impossible Life! WE CAN LIVE IN LOVE, AND ACCEPT THE LOVE OF GOD, BECAUSE WE HAVE A NEW NATURE (2 Peter 1:4). Sorry for the all caps, but I felt it necessary.  

You have been given a new nature. You are a new creation, with a new heart! It is only the lack of the renewing of our minds that causes us to stumble... and because we don't think the way He thinks, we don't understand love that way that He loves. We don't see ourselves the way He sees us. And that's not to go all "love yourself!" on you, that's just Scripture. Because He does see us in a manner that is completely shocking to us. 

Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back. // Isaiah 38:17

He casts all of our sins behind His back! Do we even begin to comprehend that kind of God? That is forgiveness! Crazy to think, that everything God is, can be pretty much summed up in one word: love. He calls us chosen. Redeemed. Set-apart. Worthy. Blameless. Clean. One with Him. Imagine that! One with Him? Yes! Christ in me, and I in Him. I am not Christ, but I am in Him. That is what He died to purchase. Our life with Him. Abiding with Him 24/7. The only reason we don't abide in Christ all the time, and live a sinless life, is because our minds haven't been renewed. If we truly saw who we are in Jesus why would we ever go back? Jesus' love not only goes as far as the Cross, but beyond. We are to be moving from Passover to Tabernacles (where He tabernacles with us!!) constantly. Yes, Him delivering us from death is such an amazing thing, and such a picture of love! But it is so much more than that!  He died for us to have a new life! To know who we are in Him! To live as He did/does! But how are we ever going to manifest that unless we grab hold of the love that He poured out to us 2,000 years ago on the cross? If we do not accept the love of God, we will never be changed into the image of His Son, and as a result we will never be able to give out the love of Jesus like we were meant to. So, no matter how you've looked at love (and wether this is just a reminder for you), look at Jesus and claim what He has done. Because only true love does what He did. And I don't mean to waste it.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

food to eat, ears to hear, and words to say // an evening's reflections

I sat down on the couch, exhausted after a long day of running errands and cheering for the boys' robotics competition. I had gotten sick earlier in the afternoon, with an intense headache and severe stomach pain, and was still feeling a little jittery. Driving home up to the mountain didn't help much. I sat down on the couch and opened my Bible. I was only one day behind on my Bible reading plan, so I began reading in the last place I had left off: Leviticus 10.

Reading through chapter ten, and then eleven and twelve, I struggled with concentration and zoning out. This isn't that important, I reasoned, it's just a list of what to eat and what not to eat. This makes you clean, that makes you unclean. I should just skim over this section and get onto my New Testament part... But I felt that little prick of conviction from the Spirit, and I immediately looked at the words differently. No, this is the Word of God. There is something for me to learn in every aspect of Scripture. So, Jesus, where are you in this? I finished chapter twelve, still having no sudden revelation from the Lord, and so I turned to today's New Testament reading: Mark 7. I started reading with piqued interest, because in the passages Jesus was addressing the Pharisees about cleanliness and being defiled. I was interested in Jesus' take on this!

"And when He had called all the people unto Him, He said unto them, Hearken unto me every one of you, and understand: There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him, can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man. If any have ears to hear, let him hear." || Mark 7:14-16

Wow. So here, Jesus just basically ditched Leviticus? I'm guessing that He isn't, but I do believe that He was making a point. What good is it to watch what goes into your body if what is coming out doesn't look like God Almighty? I'm not saying watching what you eat is wrong, because I watch what I eat, and the dietary laws prescribed in Leviticus 11 are actually proven to be extremely healthy and beneficial to your body. No, I'm not going against that at all. But what I am saying is that it's extremely important to watch what comes out of you. Because your words and actions are the outflow of what's in your heart. If you don't have a new heart and a renewed mind, what good will keeping a set of laws do? The Pharisees kept the law, yet according to Jesus they never once honored Him with their hearts. How I long to honor Him with my heart!

I want ears to hear what the Spirit is saying, because HE is always speaking. And this evening He reminded me that it's not about things on the outside... it's about what's coming out of me. Staying healthy isn't going to show someone Jesus – speaking and doing what the Spirit is saying and doing will show Jesus. x

Friday, February 20, 2015

forgiveness and being love.

I woke up, at six am, like I do every morning, to the sound of my phone alarm (which is extremely annoying). Nothing extraordinary happened – it was like any other morning: still dark outside, my sister's heavy breathing still indicating that she was asleep. And then it happened. Wham! Instantly I felt that shrinking feeling, like I was up against something I couldn't control, and my soul cowered. I panicked. I hadn't felt this way since all those months ago, when it first happened. The feelings of anger, sadness, shock, hurt, mistrust, broken heartedness, and unforgiveness slammed into me with a vengeance, and I felt like I couldn't breathe. Somewhere in the back of my head I knew that what I was feeling was wrong, and in desperation I seemed to cry out, "But I thought I had forgiven him! I thought this was all over!" And the enemy countered back, "But do you remember what happened? When you were so hurt by that person's sin? How could you ever trust that person again, let alone anyone else? How can you trust anyone, actually?" I wasn't even out of my bed yet, at 6:05, and I felt inundated with these feelings and questions from the enemy. I had struggled once with forgiveness – it was one of the hardest, yet most rewarding, things I have ever done. I know the fight to forgive, and I had won a big battle many months ago. Yet, this? I wasn't expecting a counter-attack from the enemy, with all his forces in tow. It was almost like I had never even won the battle in the first place, and I was re-living the situation all over again. I hated it, yet couldn't seem to let go of those feelings and follow what I knew Truth spoke.

It was something I managed to push aside, and try to forget about, as I got ready for the day, ate breakfast with my family, and proceed with the day. Yet it was still there, subtly asking me to remember past grievances and go back to the past. All throughout the day I tried to ignore it, and for the most part I did, distracting myself with other things. But as the night drew closer and the day began to wind down, it came back with full force. We were riding back from an evening in Denver, and I sat in the passenger seat next to my dad, who was driving. All the other kids were slowly nodding off to sleep, and I asked dad a question.

*"Do you ever remember things from the past and all the feelings come back, and you feel like you have to forgive all over again, even though you did when it first happened?" He nodded.

"It's a very real thing. It took me eight years to fully forgive someone for something they said."

"But remember [insert specific situation]? I woke up thinking about it and I felt so angry, and full of mistrust, and like I could never forgive."

"Have you asked the Lord for His perspective on this? Have you asked to see that person from His eyes? How does Jesus see that person?"

"No, but I don't feel like I can –"

"Ask the Lord. You know the truth. Live it out."

It's hard to live out the Truth, but it really is the only thing that will set us free. Forgiveness is something, I'm learning, that has to be continually given. Forgiveness is required. Trust isn't. But I want to give forgiveness out as if I have enough for everybody, for every situation... because I do. I'm in Christ, and I have everything I need. Heck, He has enough for me. And we are not even trustworthy to begin with! Christ gives Himself to us, and has no guarantee that we will love Him in return, or if we honor His name... yet He continues to love, and forgive. And I pray that I show the same love, and forgiveness, to others, even when I can't seem to forget what they did, or how I felt, etc. I want to be love. And so, little by little, I'm going to ask the Lord for His vantage point on those that I don't feel any hint of love for, until I'm exploding with love. Because love isn't a feeling, oftentimes. It has that dimension, but it's more than a feeling. It's Jesus. And I'm going to show Love, and choose Love, despite the attacks from the enemy that bring up the past. Because I'm not the past, and neither are you, and Love believes all things.

"Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven." // Matthew 18:22

"[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." // 1 Corinthians 13:7

*Conversation paraphrased

Monday, February 9, 2015

this is {my} gospel

I've been thinking about the Gospel. Funny as it may sound, I don't actually think about the Gospel all the time. I meditate on the truths of the Gospel, and on the person and character of Jesus, but I don't spend a ton of time thinking on the story of the Gospel. But I was this morning, as I lay in bed not feeling so well, and as I dragged myself to the bathroom to get ready for the day. As I brushed my hair and washed my sleepy face, I thought on what Jesus actually accomplished. What He actually did on the Cross. And I shrunk. I cringed as I looked into the mirror. I saw a sinner, a disobedient person who has broken the law of God. I saw a liar, a cheater. I looked inside of me and became disgusted at my unfaithfulness and my selfishness. I actually began to despair this morning. Before I saw or spoke with any of my family members, I despaired at my plight apart from Christ. I panicked, for a moment, as I looked at all that I was and compared it to He is. I fell short.

I don't like to think about who I am apart from Christ very often, because I honestly just don't like seeing me. But I did this morning. 

Then came the glorious part of the Gospel: the Cross. I looked back at It after taking a long look at me. And I exhaled. Because He paid it all. He crucified my old man so that I could be free. So that I could be back in right standing with Him. A daughter, wrapped in the robe of righteousness, clothed in my Savior's work. A daughter! A son of God! 

There's more to the Cross-work, though. The story goes on. Not only do I see my sin, and repent of it, and because of that become washed clean and righteous. No, that's only the beginning! That's just Passover! I have the chance to be filled. With the Spirit of Christ. The Holy Spirit. The very life of God. Grace. I have that opportunity. What is the point of dying to my flesh if there is nothing better that could fill my life and direct my actions, thoughts, and words? But there is. I'm overwhelmed at the thought. That my Savior would not only rescue me, but that He would give His life to me. He washed me clean, now He offers the very Spirit of God - his life - to fill me. So that I can be like Him.

So I looked at myself in the mirror, and I breathed a sigh of both joy and relief. My view quickly shifted from one who was lost in darkness and would ever fall short, to one of gratefulness and thanksgiving to my Jesus for making me into a Bride, clothed in a white robe of His righteousness. I am not who I used to be. I am not who I would be apart from Christ. I am a daughter of the Most High God. And I am found IN Him. It's such a miraculous work on His part that my co-laboring almost seems insignificant. But it's not. I have to choose, moment by moment, to die to the whispers (at times loud screams) of my flesh as I press forward in the life and high calling of Jesus Christ. I have to choose to trust that He knows best. I'm not perfect, but I'm striving after the perfect One. Even just reflecting on the past year of my life I'm stunned to see the growth that has occurred. If I could talk to me a year ago, I would've slapped that girl in the face and tell her to focus on Jesus. Yet I have a sneaking suspicion that a year from now I could do the same thing to me today. There's always a growing and maturing process, which is made up of little moments of death to flesh and being ALIVE to Christ. Let's focus on Him. That's when we grow, truly. When we become love. 

So, I was thinking on the Gospel this morning, and that's when I realized how much I love Jesus. He truly is worthy of my all.

Monday, January 19, 2015

back to the basics // back to the Cross

I haven't written much lately. I've thought about it, as days pass, and sometimes I even try to sit down and put my thoughts and feelings into words. But I haven't really known what to write about. You can conjure up words to fill a page, but if they aren't worth anything, or have a purpose, they're just words. So that's probably why I've hesitated to continue this journey via written word. Because I wanted you all to read something legit, or genuine, or real.

Life's been real. A whole lot more real than ever before. Gone are the days of life past. We have a different sort of life. Yet it's entirely the same, but not, really. It's odd, having been playing the game for almost seventeen years, and then sticking two new players on the team, and having to teach them the rules. Sometimes we function well as a team; other times we wonder what we're doing. I'm going to be honest with you all. The past two months of my life have ushered in some of the hardest trials I've ever gone through. Learning how to handle a little girl who has had no concept of living like Jesus, and being the Light even when the darkness seems so out of control.

Life has been a lot of me learning how to be a daughter. Of Jesus. Life has been a lot of Nicol learning how to be a daughter of Steve and Kara, and a sister to the rest of us. My mind, for all of my life, has been: me, mom, dad, Anna, Stephen, and Nathan. Learning how to adapt that list to include two more is a daily struggle. How do you function as a unit, when you're trying to get used to the new team, as it were? We have new players, and I'm getting used to that. And it is a strange mixture of life feeling so right, and so strange and uncomfortable.

Jesus is teaching me a lot. We're going back to the basics, Him and I. He's stripping my soul bare, and exposing the core of who I am, and what I do, and why I do it. He's asking me to look at Him, and to gaze upon the Cross, and to simply let my life be an outpouring of His blessings. He desires love, and I've gotten so caught up in the struggle that I never even thought to lay down my burdens and take His nail-scarred hand. Jesus is wooing me again. I'm beginning to listen.

Sometimes it takes a lot of noise to understand that you need peace. I don't want to run and hide from the daily work of shining. I want to be a picture of the Grace and Power of God Almighty. To my siblings, and my parents. To Nicol, and to Maria. They are too precious for me to waste my life on what I feel, and what I think is too hard. There's a battle to be won, and I was too busy looking at the enemy to simply stand next to my Shepherd and watch Him take out the wolf pack. Because while I've had my eyes on me, there have been battles won, victories gained, and hearts softened. Nicol became my sister spiritually only last week, as she and mom had a conversation over the iPad translator about what it means to follow Jesus. She gave her life to the Lord. And so as a family we're covering the basics, and I realize how much I needed to go back to the foundation. There's a need to say to the Enemy: "I'm not letting this adoption cause you to have a foothold in my life. That will not happen. The only thing allowed in by this adoption is the Spirit and Grace of the Holy Spirit."

Let's go back to the starting block and evaluate what stuff we're made of. And when we see that we don't match up to everything Jesus is, let us be broken and contrite and fall prostrate before the Lord. Because we have people in our very homes that need to be reached with the Gospel of Jesus, and we're too caught up in us to be shining. Why do we turn aside so quickly? Turn your eyes upon Jesus.

I'm speaking to myself. Lift your gaze heavenward and let Him fight the fight for you. Let Him prosper you and keep you and be your peace. It's a fruitless effort when we attempt to be Jesus, without Him.

Look up. Gaze at the Cross. Go back to the basics.