Saturday, February 18, 2017

Time to Learn, Not Lead

"obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” -Hebrews 13:17

I have always struggled with being a student. In almost everything I’ve done in life, not long after I’m “new to the program” I begin “leading the program.” My natural tendency isn’t to want to follow directions but rather be giving the directions.

In this season of my life, the Lord has made it so clear since the beginning that this is a time for me to finally be a student. To learn and grow- not lead. This sounds like a simple and peaceful thing however in my life I have become so accustomed to busyness and leading that slowing things down and learning feels like foreign territory. Nevertheless, this is exactly where the Lord wants me. He wants me to learn to learn. Ignite for me has been this greenhouse experience- people are pouring into you, day and night, and it’s my job to soak it all in and GROW.

With the Lord, I think so many times I try to be the leader. I show the Lord my beautifully color coded agenda and expect Him to just write it off as good and let me do the rest and run with it. This never works. The Lord is a light unto my feet. He doesn’t just light up the whole big old path and then tell me to run down it and meet Him at the other side. He asks me to walk- only illuminating one step at a time. Its learning to trust Him and learning to walk by His side and not run ahead and call back to everyone else to follow me. This is a season for me to rest and learn to be a student and this is exactly where the Lord wants me.

 Application: I am going to be mindful of all the times I try and take the lead- that’s not my place. When I feel myself trying to take over, I am going to take a big step back and let someone else step forward.

Daughter of the King

“Children obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” -Ephesians 6:1

“Children obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.” -Colossians 3:20

It’s always the big joke back at home that I am literally a child. So many of my friends all say they feel way older than their age but I am always saying I feel like a little kid still! When the Lord called me to leave home and do ignite, it was this huge leap for me and the first and biggest fear I had was telling my parents. I had been praying about it for a while so it wasn’t this huge shocker to them but after the Lord confirmed it to me, it all became much more real. The reality set in that I had to go home and tell my family. My parents and I have the best relationship- I can honestly say they are my best friends. Thus, telling them I was going to leave for 10 months was in no way easy.

Coming to ignite wasn’t a disobedience to my parents- in the end they knew this is what the Lord had for me and they want me to follow where He leads me, however it was and is a very difficult thing for us as a family. In leaving, I felt this huge weight of guilt. How could I just up and leave them for a year? Since my time in being here, the Lord is slowly taking that burden of guilt I put on myself, away from me. It’s the Lords will for me to be here and although it’s so hard on my family- we all know this is how it’s supposed to be and it’s in this season that the Lord will grow us. My parents don’t need me at home- they only need Jesus and I must obey my heavenly Father first and foremost and in that I will be obeying my earthly father.

At the end of the day, I still am a kid. Legally I may be an adult but honestly, I feel 5 years old. This year in Ignite I’m going to do a lot of growing and a lot of growing up. However, no matter how old I get, I will be called to obey my earthly parents and I’ll always be a daughter of the King.

Freedom in Bondage

“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slave to obey, you are that one’s slave whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness.” -Romans 6:16

We, as humans, all enter this world in bondage. We have this great desire to be free because we recognize that we are bound to something- Bound to sin, bound to self, bound to this life. And we have built into us the desire to be free from that and free to glorify the Creator (our one true purpose). We see that we need freedom however most people never find it. We look in all of the wrong places and sometimes don’t even recognize that they are searching. The world thinks they are free to sin and do all of these things, however as followers of Christ we see that we are free to NOT do those things. It’s only being bound to Christ that we find freedom from the world. It sounds so backwards and yet we see this is how it always works. You lay your life down in order to gain it. I want to be a bondservant of Jesus Christ and He is the only master I would ever want controlling my life. I feel like lately the question of “do you trust me?” I felt the Lord asking me has turned into Him asking me “are you ready?” I feel like the Lord is prompting me for this incredible journey and all I need do is grab onto His hand and let Him lead me. I must bind myself to Christ- to grab onto Him and never let go. That I may let go of all other things in this life that enslave me and simply grab onto Jesus with all that I have. Freedom is only found when we are bound to Jesus.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A God Pleasing Life

“But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: we ought to obey God rather than men.” -Acts 5:29

I’ve always struggled with this idea that I have to please everyone. Like it’s my life long goal to get every person I come in contact with to love me. Sure, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be liked, however at what cost am I willing to get it? Am I willing to sacrifice time with Jesus to get time with others? Am I willing to sacrifice the unending love He gives me to go search for a fleeting human approval? Just yesterday we talked about the story of Martha and Mary and how Martha went about making herself busy, serving and doing all of these things for Jesus and the disciples in her home. Because of this, she grew frustrated and stressed out to the point that she questions the Lord in a sense. But her sister Mary, instead of worrying about literally anything else, she simply sat at the feet of Jesus and heard what He had to tell her. I can get so caught up in serving or trying to please everyone that I lose sight of what the Lord has called me to.

No matter what it is the Lord asks me to actively go out and do, I have to never forget to come back to the feet of Jesus with a thankful heart, ready to listen to whatever is next. To be still and know that He is God. The only person I need to work to please is the Lord. And honestly, He is the only one who in return for that obedience has loved me and blessed me and finds pleasure in me. Who else is going to do that? NOT other humans! He is the only one who knows my heart- Creator, Savior, and Redeemer of my life. No one gets me like He does thus why would I be eager to obey anyone else? Humans are everchanging and honestly impossible to please- trust me, I’ve tried. But the Lord is eternal and because of His son, He sees me and blameless and is well pleased. I want to be someone the Lord looks at and rejoices in and because of that, I will obey.

Application: Today I will take time to pray and confess to the Lord all of the time I have wasted trying to please everyone other than Him. I know He can redeem the time.

A Broken Vessel

“though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” -Hebrews 5:8

We have no greater example of obedience than Christ. The King of the universe took on the form of a baby, walked among us, and then endured death on a cross to save the very souls who killed Him. What a Savior. This is the ultimately picture of humility and obedience. In the garden of Gethsemane, Christ cried out to the Father- the only one who could save Him from this death. Only hours left before His crucifixion, Jesus asked if there was any other way to save the world that the Father would take this cup from Him. But there was no other way. It had to be Life for a life and only by blood could we be cleansed. Jesus knew this and He obeyed and took the suffering of the world upon Himself. He was obedient to the Fathers will to the point of death. And it was because of His suffering and obedience that now He holds the keys to life that all may obey Him.

I am so thankful the Lord uses broken people. I want nothing more but to be a broken vessel used for His glory. I want the life I lived to be led by a thankful heart for that which He has done and in turn be so willing and obedient to His plans. The Ruler of all was poured out on the cross so that I may be filled to overflow. His feet were nailed to the cross so that mine could walk and tell of His love. His hands were pierced so that He could use mine to hold those who are hurting. He was obedient to the point of death so that I may live. He was obedient to the Father through suffering and now it’s my turn to be obedient to Him- to be merely a broken vessel that He desires to fill up and pour out on others. He obeyed the Father and now I get to obey Him. What a Savior.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Be Content In Christ

“As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness.” -Psalm 17:15

Contentment in itself isn’t a bad thing- it’s all about what you find that contentment in. It’s not simply that I must be content with Jesus but also that I cannot be content with the things that are of this world. I don’t ever want to be content in the things of this world. I don’t ever want to hold onto a portion in this life that I think is mine- because it’s not. I don’t want to try and build my own castles here on earth rather than working to build up His Kingdom. The second that I become comfortable and grasp my life and all that is in it with white knuckles, I’ve lost the point. I love my life but only because Jesus is in it. He gives and He takes away- all things of this life, even life itself, have to be held with an open hand. My life isn’t mine and if I ever think it is then I’ve lost sight of the goal. The goal is Jesus- plain and simple.
I think recently, the future has been on my heart a lot. Not even my time in Costa Rica but my mind keep wandering to after that. What will life look like? What will I be doing? These aren’t necessarily bad questions to ask myself however in a sense, whatever the answers to those questions are- it doesn’t matter. Those aren’t the right questions. The part of the answer that matters isn’t where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing, its WHO I’ll be doing it for. This life is nothing but dust and is nothing compared to eternity- What’s the good in gaining the whole world but in the process, lose my soul and lose sight of the One who created it. I don’t want to be finished until I look like Jesus- I’ll keep running until I see Jesus face to face. May we continue to hunger for more of Jesus and never be satisfied until we are in the fullness of His presence.

Do You Trust Me?

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I’m in, to be content.” – Philippians 4:11

Discontentment is simply put a lack of faith. A lack that the Lord will come through and do what He says He will do. Immediately this make me think of Sarah and Abraham. The Lord promised them this inheritance saying that they would have descendants greater than the stars in the sky and that through them all nations would be blessed. But they grew tired and they lost hope in the promise of God, so they took things into their own hands and had Ishmael. I think so many times I do the same. I’ll walk through something and at the start of it I’ll keep in mind the nature of the Lord and that ultimately, He is working all things together for good. However, as time goes on I so quickly forget.  And suddenly without ever realizing I create in my head this optimistic faith in faith or faith in myself rather than faith in the Lord.

This whole last year I constantly felt the Lord asking me- “do you trust me?” “how far are you willing to go?” and it was those exact questions that brought me to Antigua, Guatemala. And now that I am here they are still on my heart. Since I’ve been here it’s been this constant theme of being able to have joy in all seasons and keep sight of the Lord no matter the time of life I am in. Am I willing to chase after Jesus even when I don’t feel Him? How much am I willing to trust? How far am I willing to lean back knowing He will catch me? Yes, I left my home and trusted the Lord with all of these things to get me here but yet He still wants more. I have to trust with all that I am. He calls me to trust Him but it doesn’t have to be this scary thing. It’s not blindly walking in the dark, its holding tight to His hand and letting Him lead me into the light. And I must not lose faith that He will do the things He says He will.
Lord, let me be willing to follow where you lead. May I trust your vision and not my own. Amen.

Application: I’ve been keeping a journal of the promises of the Lord found in scripture since I’ve been here. Today I will go through and reread the verses written down to help remind myself once again of His faithfulness.

If I Have Jesus, I Have Everything

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” -Hebrews 13:15

Here, the writer isn’t saying to be content and do not covet if you’re a rich man who already has everything. We aren’t given the financial state or social class of the type of person he is instructing. Why? Because no matter if you’re Bill Gates or someone who literally doesn’t have enough money for shoes, you can be content because Jesus is enough. This is instruction and even more so command for all people. No matter how much or little you have in this life, the simple fact that the Lord will never leave nor forsake us is all that we need. If God is by our side, what can stand against? In that I must be content. 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells me that His grace is sufficient for me. It’s all I need.

Why waste time coveting things of this world when in Jesus you already have it all? Apart from Him all else is vain. It’s worthless. I think for me, my struggle with covetousness isn’t necessarily in material things but rather I covet other lives and the way the Lord has worked in their life. I start to compare where I am to where they are and ask the Lord why He hasn’t blessed me with that or why they can serve Him in that extravagant way and I can’t.

It’s a constant thing to remind myself that the Lord has a hand-crafted plan for my life and it’s not going to look like anyone else’s. I have to be currently content where He has me and in turn content with His plan for me. At the end of the day, no matter what I do or don’t have- His grace is sufficient for me. And if I have that, then I have everything.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

How Now Shall I Live?

“Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “and what shall we do?” So he said to them, “do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.” -Luke 3:14

Back in high school I read a book titled “How then shall we now live?” and to be completely honest I don’t remember much about what the book was about, however the title has always stuck with me. The question is saying that in light of what we now know, how now shall we live? How do we actually walk out what we have just learned? When it comes to the gospel, I ask myself this on a very regular basis- how shall I then live knowing all Christ has done for me? The question has kind of always been a heart check for me- am I living as if the Savior of the world laid down His life so that I could have mine? Because He did!

In this verse, this is exactly what the soldiers are asking of John, however it’s in light of contentment and money. They are asking what do we do with this information. It’s getting from point A to point B and getting out of their old selfish and routine ways. They see the value in what John is saying, but transitioning and actually making the change is what they don’t understand. For me, I think it’s that transition period of life that’s always hardest for me. I hate change. Moving away from our old ways and turning 180 and begin walking in the light. Transition may not be an easy thing, however when its Jesus telling me to make that change I have to ask myself that question of “how then shall I now live?” The only way I am ever going to lead a full and abundant life is if I’m living it in light and walking in what Jesus has done for me. He is enough and in Him I must be content.

Application: Today I will ask myself that question of “how now shall I live” and pray that the Lord would speak to me and that I’d be patient to listen.

More of Jesus

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” – 1 Timothy 6:6-8

Honestly, I don’t know when I’m ever satisfied. I always want more. Whether it’s more time in the day, more people to talk to, or more candy to last me these three months away from home (ridiculous I know)- I am never satisfied.

For me, I am not a person who is easily stressed or anxious- it’s simply not an issue for me with majority of things. However, one thing that does bring me worry is this idea of running out. Running out of time, or things, or even running out of like shampoo for crying out loud. And honestly, I feel like an idiot for typing this all out because that’s such a small and foolish thing to let my mind be troubled by. Psalm 23:1 lays it out perfectly- “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” He provides. That’s a fact. The Lord is my shepherd and He is a good one. So why do I continually waste my time trying to gain more of the things of this world when the only thing I truly need more of is Jesus? Or why would I stress over fear of running out when I know He will give me exactly what I need and with that I must be content. I need more of Him and less of myself, my thoughts, my desires, my pride, and my wants. And more of His will, His heart, His peace, and His desires for me. Jesus is the only thing I need in abundance. The Great I Am. He is so much larger than my petty wants and worries for more material things. I must learn to be content with exactly what He has given me, which always comes in the perfect timing and the perfect amount. I shall not want. Lord, strip it all away.

Application: as a small step to stopping hording all my candy away from my team in fear of running out, I’m going to bring chocolate to give my team when we have class later.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

A Worm, Not A Slug

“that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” -Hebrews 6:12

Oh man. Complacency. This has been one of my biggest struggles throughout my life, however its one that is never in your face about it. It’s being okay with little things and being okay with not growing. It’s one of those things that just creeps up on you until one day you look around and have no clue how you got where you are. For me, I had turned Christianity into a habitual thing rather than the fresh and active pursuit that it should be. I’ve believed in Jesus for as long as I can remember and due to the natural human tendency to create routine, that’s what I did. You go to church, sing the songs, do your devotions- but was it real? This is what we do because this is what we have always done. I wasn’t counting His mercies as new every morning- it was just the same old same old, been there done that. I grew sluggish without ever realizing it and found myself rooted in a complacent routine of living.

 The Lord didn’t call me to a stagnant faith and my God is so much bigger than a simple routine. He calls me to always go deeper still. My God went to the grave for me, but yet he didn’t stay there. He rose again and He is LIVING. If He is active and moving in my life, why would my life, lived for Him not be the same? I don’t ever want to be okay with having a habit based faith rather than a heart based one. I don’t ever want to grow tired of doing what is good. A part of staying uncomplacent is staying encouraged and in my life, I’ve been super blessed to have so many incredible examples of what it looks like to be someone who is seeking the heart of the Lord with their whole heart. I need to look to those who kept the faith and were never okay with the “good life” but desired only the great one that the Lord had for them. That’s what I want my life to look like- that every day I would be filled with the spirit and live accordingly, never being okay with a stagnant heart.

A United Pursuit of Jesus

"I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” – Revelation 1:9

 I am so thankful that God created humans. We are so sinful, so difficult, and so unworthy of the breath in our lungs, however the Lord still made us and made many of us saying that it’s not good for man to be alone- praise the Lord! For me, I am an extrovert to the MAX. People, no matter how difficult or sinful, are so important to me. Having a faith that is so interconnected with other believers is the most beautiful thing to me. He created us to be in communion with one another. As believers, we have a built-in family to walk through and do life with. Ephesians 4:3-6 tells us that there is one body, one faith, and one God who is above all and in us all. If that doesn’t stir up a need for unity I don’t know what does. We are so much stronger together.

Here in Revelation, John is referring to himself as our brother and companion in the tribulation and to me that sounds like such a comforting thing. We are promised that life will be so full of trials but yet we were never told we had to face it all alone. First and foremost, we have the Lord to lean on in trying times and second of all we have our spiritual family.  

Sadly, the devil knows this and he loves to divide. He knows that we are stronger as one. We have to fight for the unity because he does and will continue to try and separate us. In Christ, we are one seamless and adopted family by the Lord and when we walk out these trials hand in hand, looking to Jesus, nothing can stand against us. May we all march side by side in brotherhood in the name of Jesus pressing onward for His Kingdom.

Application: Tonight, I am going to leave little notes on all my roommates beds telling them how thankful for them in this season of my life. We are all in this together and we must stay united.

The True Source of Joy

“strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and long suffering with joy” -Colossians 1:11

All week the theme has been endurance and we know that looks like being patient, waiting, and walking with the Lord. But how do I actually do that? If I’ve never been able to endure in the past how do you expect me to now all of a sudden endure? Is it really just one of those set your mind to it type of things? Wrong. As humans, we may be able to endure a trial for a little while but on our own eventually we grow weary and literally cannot go on- no matter how hard your mind is set at some point we are emotionally and physically drained. We. Do. Not. Posess. The. Strength. On. Our. Own. However, it’s in our weakness that we can clearly see He is the strong one. This verse is laying out for us that endurance isn’t something we can do in our flesh and on our own. In order to be longsuffering and endure all with a true spirit of joy, we have to be doing it in His strength. Endurance comes through HIS power- not my own because we literally do not possess the power. Sure, I could make it a little while “on my own” but I would never have joy. We may be able to find a fleeting happiness for but a season but a true joy in trial only comes from Him. James 1:2-3 tells us to “count it all as joy, when you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” That spirit of infectious joy is only something found in the Lord and even more so having that Joy in the midst of hardship only comes when we are trusting in His power, not our own. I think a struggle for me is that sometimes I try to muster up my own joy and try to be longsuffering but all without Jesus. I have to make sure I'm leaning on Jesus for my joy because He is the only true source of it.

By His Strength, We Endure

By your endurance, you will gain your lives” - Luke 21:19

Whenever I look at verses like this, it all seems so backwards. How can enduring through pain produce life? How can something that seems so bad become such a good thing? Philippians 1:21 tells us that to live is Christ and to die is gain. It’s the endurance that brings life. It’s the sorrow that produces joy. And it’s the struggle that brings peace. These things to the plain eye don’t seem to make sense yet when you see it lived out, it’s so powerful.

 This world is bound to come to an end. Our God is coming back for His faithful followers. We have been promised hardship, struggle, and pain all for the sake of His name. But we are also told that the burden of the Lord is light. Yes, we must endure all He has called us to yet when we lean on Him and continue to chase after Him- it’s not as hard to be patient and endure.

However, these principles are in no way easy to actually apply and live out. Yesterday I hiked a 12,000 foot volcano in Guatemala and that experience can definitely bear witness to this. It was so difficult and enduring was so trying- I honestly thought I was going to die about ten million times. Nevertheless, the joy that comes at the top of that mountain is indescribable. Same goes for Jesus. The joy always comes in the morning. Endurance is no easy task, but it’s a task He has asked us to walk through and eventually conquer. And when we do it all looking and seeking first His face- somehow that ginormous beast of a volcano doesn’t look so scary anymore. It’s in His strength we make it over our mountains not our own. And it’s only by Him that we can endure with a confident hope because He has already won.

Bloom Where You are Planted

“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are the ones who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no roots, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones who fell on the good ground are the ones who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.” – Luke 8:11-15

What a picture is painted for us here- four extremely different people groups are laid out for us. Those who hear yet never get the chance to grow, those who take no root, those who are choked out by pleasure, and lastly those who grow, keep, and eventually bear fruit. They all need the same thing- they need the seed. They need Jesus. Yet only one receives the seed with the correct heart that enables it to grow.

Following the Lord isn’t a onetime thing. We are told to walk with the Lord daily; one step at a time. Those on the good soil heard the word, accepted it, and then continued to grow it. That seed is laid out however the process cannot end there. It must be watered and cared for in order to take root and bloom right where it has been planted. Ephesians 3:17-18 tells us that when we are rooted in love and it is there that we may be able to comprehend the width, length, depth, and height of the Father’s love for us. In this world, there will be a constant wind trying to blow the seed in your heart off of the good soil and into the thorns. But it’s the man who keeps the seed, stays rooted, and endures it all with patience who will grow into exactly what God had intended Him to be. In every season, He is still God. In the rain and in the drought- He is still sovereign and He is still looking to grow us.

For me, I think it’s so easy to give the Lord certain parts of the heart to water and care for but then the rest of it I try and keep in the drought and thorns. I have to be willing to surrender ALL to him, allowing him to grow me into whatever He sees fit. I must flourish where He has planted me and stay rooted in His abounding love.