A Constant Hope

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“For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God”

2 Corinthians 5:12

Today I am sitting in a coffee shop doing what all white girls do. Sipping on a flat white, reading my Bible and journaling. As I walked here I prayed that I would talk to someone about the Hope that Jesus is. I’m watching Him transform the lives of students I work with, and while that seems like enough, there are so many other people in this city who do not know Him. Did I pray that prayer with much faith? No. Because not many people I talk to ever want to hear about a Saviour. It’s ludicrous to most. But me of little faith, got an answer to that simple prayer.

As I’m sitting and reading, the man down the table asked what I was studying. I told Him I was reading the Bible and He asked what the happiest part of the book was. When I told Him that it was the death of Jesus his eyebrows furrowed and he looked so confused. “How is that the best part?” He asked. Then I was able to tell Him about the redemption that came from a perfect man bearing our sins on the cross. His response to the thought of a perfect man was laughter. He moved our conversation on to tell me how He believes God lives in him and is a part of his being. He quickly changed the subject and told me about the book he was writing.

While this man didn’t believe much of what I said, it’s still so comforting to know that it wasn’t up to the words I told him. It’s not up to the words of any person who tells the good news of Christ, but it’s all up to Jesus and the saving power He uses to transform people’s hearts.

I have to be reminded of this daily. Throughout Lent I have been asking the Lord to show me my sin. Risky stuff, I know. My first prayers were timid and not prayed with much faith. After being convicted of my disobedience to actually want to know my sin, my prayers became bolder. I was ready to hear what my sin was so that I could be transformed by this same power. My desire in praying this prayer is so I can be the best picture of Jesus I can be to those around me. I won’t sit and tell you all my sins, but the one that keeps coming back (every. day.) is my desire for the approval of people. In my human flesh I try to do it all on my own, to say yes, and for all of that be done with the motive of the approval of other people. I denied it. I told God that He was crazy and that I always want Him to get the glory. Conviction kept growing and growing and my desire for the approval of Jesus grew more and more. He is enough and His approval is all I need. Praise be to God, that I already have it!

In this sin I have realized how far it makes me run from God. It is placing my hope in myself and others and not the Hope that He is. I am doing a She Reads Truth study of Isaiah through Lent and Kaitlin Wernet wrote a beautiful and timely truth to go along with what we read in Isaiah 31. She wrote:

         “The promises we make to ourselves and others—to be more, to do better, to show up—can only ever be based on future hope. But God’s promises—to love us, to fight for our good, to never leave—are hinged on His current character and constant devotion. We can only hope to be consistent; He is constant.”

Praise the Lord that He is constant. He is the One who never changes even when I fail Him daily. It comforts me to know that nothing I do is up to me, but it’s all up to Him. When I rest in that truth I am able to walk in so much more freedom. I do not go through life trying to attain something from this world, but in confidence that all I am is in Christ. I’m daily being challenged by the Lord to walk in this freedom and confidence. This freedom has changed so much of how I interact with people. I don’t focus on the words I will say or the things I will do, but instead rest in the power of Jesus to transform lives. And He has the power to do it.

Take heart today, dear friends. Because nothing you do is up to you, it’s all up to the One who has the power to save. If you find yourself looking for constant approval of others, stop stressing. You have the approval of the One who set the stars in motion, and isn’t that enough?

Hebrews 12:28-29 says, “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is consuming fire.” What a truth that sets captives free and binds up the brokenhearted. I’ve seen this same power at work in the children of God and I pray my only response is to worship the Lord with reverence and awe. He is worthy of our worship.

be where your feet are.

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As people, as human beings, in the world in which we live we are constantly thinking about what is next. When we start high school we think about where we will go to college. Once we get to college we think about what we will do when we graduate. Finally getting that job after college we think about what job we will have next, or when we will get a raise or promotion at our current job. We even think about our next birthday the day after our present one passes. Why do we do that? What is helping us to always look forward to what’s next in our lives? There are so many questions about why we think in this mindset and I’m sure everyone has a different answer.

I have been in Scotland for two weeks (WHAT) and God is continually confirming this is exactly where I am supposed to be. Even through all the confirmation, my mind often thinks of a certain thing: what will I do when these two years are over? There are so many options. Will I continue to serve overseas or will I come home? Will I go to seminary? Will I teach?  What are all my options? Every time these questions begin blazing through my mind I gently have to think and remind myself…be present.

All things are going to get answered, so it is doing nothing to help me right now to think about them. I need to be present here. I need to invest into where I am and what God has given me now, and pondering on those questions aren’t going to help me be any more present here. When I am fully present in the relationships and work God has given me here, Jesus is best seen and experienced. When I am fully present where I am, I better know who Jesus is. When I know more of Jesus, I am able to tell others more of who He is. I am constantly telling myself to be where my feet are. I am living in a new country, serving Jesus and loving His people. I do not think there is any better time for me to be where my feet are.

So now I tell you. It’s likely that wherever you are in your life, you are thinking about what’s next. But I encourage you, be where your feet are. Stop thinking of the next milestone, the next event on your calendar, or even next week. Stop and be fully present right where you are. Allow Jesus to mold you and use you IN the place you are now. It is likely that the more present we are in the places we are now, the more prepared we will be for what is next (which we aren’t talking about). Ask the Lord how He can use you right now and be sensitive to where the Spirit leads you while you are present. Living where your feet are is scary and can sometimes be uncomfortable, but it gives so much freedom. A freedom that changes lives, your own included. I’ll end with a quote from a book that is currently rocking my world:

“Present is living with your feet firmly grounded in

reality, pale and uncertain as it may seem.”

-Shauna Niequist, Present over Perfect

Go in Peace

 

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I’ve been studying the book of Luke for quite some time now. I sometimes begin to wonder why it’s taking me so long to get through, but the Lord is teaching me so much through it that I don’t want to be away from it anytime soon. For about 3 weeks now, I’ve been processing the story in Luke 7 about the sinful woman being forgiven.

In this story, a Pharisee named Simon asked Jesus to come into his house and eat with him. While they were eating, a woman from the city came in with an alabaster flask of ointment. She began to weep as she washed Jesus’ feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed his feet, and anointed them with oil.

Simon was amazed that Jesus allowed her to do that, because He must have known she was a sinner. Jesus then told Simon a story about two debtors. One owed the moneylender 500 denarii and the other owed 50 denarii. Neither of the debtors could pay their debt, so the moneylender cancelled each of them. Jesus asked Simon, “Who will love Jesus greater?” and Simon responded saying, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” Jesus responded, “You have judged rightly.”

Jesus was teaching Simon that the woman had a greater sin debt for Him to forgive, so she loved him more. He explained to Simon how she did all the things that Simon did not when Jesus came into His house. She gave him water, a kiss, and oil. Simon gave Him none of these things.

After Jesus explained these things He told the woman that her sins were forgiven and told her to go to in peace.

“go in peace.”

I find so much comfort in those three simple words. So much comfort in how He forgives me of all my junk and then sends me out in peace. But this story also terrifies me in some ways. I become fearful that I am guilty of being more like Simon than I am the woman. It’s so easy to become caught up in what I am doing for God that makes Him known to others that I forget to come humbly before Him, even in my sin, to worship Him. This passage tells us that as soon as we invite Jesus to dwell in us, we have an immediate command to serve Him. It’s not an option to serve, we have to. Through our service we must be purified. Like the sinful woman, I must come to Him to purify my heart. Is it easy? NO! Does it hurt? Yeah, like a lot. Do I like to do it often? No, but I have to because I am filled with sin.

But God, when He forgives us He sends us out in peace. When He forgives us we can walk in the confidence that He dwells in us and gives us the boldness to serve Him. I love that. I don’t have to be fearful of what opposition may come when I serve Him. I don’t have to feel guilty of my sin. I get to walk in freedom. There is so much comfort in those three words “go in peace.”

Today I pray you find hope in those words. As believers we get the peace of God that dwells in and through us (John 14:27). Walk in that comfort. Dwell in it. Praise the Lord for it!

 

Label

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A label. Everyone has one. Some labels we are proud to have and some don’t make us as proud. A label is something that defines us and often the one word people will use to describe us.

At Passion City Church we just completed a series titled “Label Maker” and it was centered around the question, “Who or what is defining you?” The labels we often allow the world to give us are all variables. They can change, fail us and often lead to disappointment. During this series Louie focused on 5 labels:

CHOSEN. HEIR. HOLY. ALIVE. ABLE.

These are all labels that define us by our Creator and because of Him. They are constant, because He is constant. They are defining words that have no room to fail us because they are planted deep in our hearts and our existence by the unchanging Father that we worship.

Through Ephesians we see these labels and I have found so much peace through the scriptures of that book. I have experienced joy abundantly because I can rest in the fact that I am defined by nothing that this world has to offer, but only by who my Heavenly Father says I am.

I have been thinking a great deal about the label that is a banner over my life. There are many I can think of and some I will claim forever and some I am not proud of. Each of these labels, good or bad, are going to fail be in one way or another. As I continued to think about this, I realized the biggest label right now is most likely…

MISSIONARY. 

Wow. Sounds like a pretty good label I thought at first. The more confident I began to feel in this label, the more convicted I began to feel. It is a label that has clearly come from the Lord and the calling He has placed on my life. Even though this is a label that is drawing people to the Lord, I am not allowed to let it be what ultimately defines who I am. If I let this word be what labels me, I will be let down. If this word labels me the hard days will defeat me instead of giving me victory because of who I am in Christ. The good days will also let me down because I will be giving myself and this label the glory instead of the One who deserves it all.

I have learned so much of what it means to not be defined by something, but rather let my Father label me as His. That is all people need to know about me and my prayer it is all they see in me. As Christians it is crucial that we are conscious of how we define ourselves and what we allowed the world to label us by. This label that is over our lives can easily be one that glorifies God, but it must never define us more than our Savior does. If we begin to worship what we do instead of the One who called us then we are getting it all wrong.

I encourage you to look at the label over your life and really dig deep into it. Is it one that points people to the cross or gives you glory? Are you worshipping your label more than the One who gave it to you?

Here is a video that have been out a couple years, but I keep coming back to it when I let my worship focus more on what I am doing than the Savior who gave me life.

Platt and Chan – Mission Is Not Your God. God Is Your God

Called.

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Calling. A simple word that makes a huge difference. An impact. A life-change. One that takes faith.

When we think of calling we tend to think of big things like moving to a third world country, pastoring a church plant, or going to seminary. Calling tends to be a word that we, as a Christian culture, associate with people who are taking huge steps of faith for the cause of Christ.

Yes, that’s true. So very true, but being called can look so different than that and it really should.

Being called also looks like a classroom, a courtroom, a law office, an art studio or a hospital.

I’m scared that sometimes we forget that our teachers are called, our nurses are called, our lawyers are called and artists are called. Just to name a few. If they weren’t, then it’s not of the Lord and it isn’t taking faith to fulfill His calling. Answering the call of Christ isn’t always going to mean we’re doing something big. It means that we’re saying “Yes,” to Jesus no matter what he asks of us.

I am sometimes afraid that saying we are called to missions or ministry is something we think will make us look like a better follower of Jesus, even if it isn’t actually what the Lord wants us to do. To be a better, or faithful, follower of Christ we have to say yes to everything He is calling us to, even if is seems small. It is sometimes being called to what seems like a small thing is what actually takes the biggest steps of faith because we expect something bigger. We expect God to call us to something that will be hard, but it is simple and that is what takes faith.

We need people in the corporate world, medical field, the artist and those in our school system that view their job as a calling. If they don’t, no one else will ever be faithful to that calling as well.

Being called doesn’t mean changing cultures to share the gospel, but it means saying “yes” to whatever the Lord does call you to and being faithful in it.

For me, being called means Glasgow, Scotland. It means moving away to take on a new job for 2 years that I feel completely unequipped for and humbled that the Lord would entrust me with. It means uprooting a life that is comfortable to me and learning a new culture and how to meet people where they are. Does moving to another country make me a better Christian? No. Does saying yes and being faithful to my calling make me more like Christ? Yes.

I am beyond excited that this is what the Lord has called me to. It’s been a call and my hearts cry for years and I am excited to watch the Lord’s plan unfold through His faithfulness alone. I am so undeserving of His grace, but I am resting in His presence as He sustains me and continues to fulfill His promises. I am humbled He has chosen a wretched sinner like me to make His name known.

Romans 15: 18-21 (ESV)

For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but as it is written,

“Those who have never been told of him will see,

and those who have never heard will understand.”

Never Did I Ever.

I am a little over a month into my student teaching and I love it… most days. Never did I ever think the words “I enjoy student teaching” would come out of my mouth. I will give some background info in case you are confused about why I am a Music Education major, but was dreading my final semester of student teaching more than anything.

God has placed a definite call on my life to ministry and missions. Yes, that could most definitely be in a classroom, but I feel like my call is to be overseas or in ministry with those in need. Therefore, going into student teaching I had already submitted my application for a program that would take me overseas. A program that would fulfill my calling for two years.. at least. I had no need to student teach because I wouldn’t be teaching. But quickly I realized I was all wrong and God knew what He was up to (duh!).

The night before I began student teaching I was so unhappy, grumpy, and my stomach was in knots. I had just spent the weekend at Passion Conference and I felt so empowered and was ready to go. To go make disciples and make the name of Jesus known, but instead I had to go teach students and spend all day every day in a school. I was not a happy camper.

My first day came and I prayed before I left, “God, show me today what you want to teach me because if You don’t it will be a terrible day.” Well, He didn’t show me anything particular that day, but He did give me peace. From the moment I walked in I had so much peace that I was exactly where the Lord wanted me. I didn’t know why quite yet, but I just knew I was right where He wanted me.

Since my first day there have been wonderful days that I love, but there has also been terrible days that make me want to quit everything all together. But one thing has remained constant.. The Lord. He has continually reminded me and encouraged me more and more each day and taught me more than I could ever imagine.

He has taught me what dependence on Him is. I have been thrown into a world of unbelievers and believers. As a girl who has grown up in Christian circles her entire life, this was new to me. I have never been in a place where I can’t talk about my faith or give guidance through scripture freely. But I am so thankful that I have Christ that lives in me so others can see Him. I have realized He is equipping me daily at school for what He has called me to do. Thrown into a world of unbelievers so Christ can be seen- my calling.

He has also taught me to respect teachers who are believers and pray for them often. I have always known that a school, public or private, is a mission field. I didn’t realize how big of one it was until I began student teaching. To be in a place where students are lost, confused and sometimes even helpless there is no greater gift than to lead them, even without talking about your faith. It’s hard. It is so so hard.. But God. Through His power in His people, it’s possible.

The last thing He has taught me is about community. I am so blessed to have been placed with a teacher who loves Jesus. Daily we are able to talk about what God is doing and has done in our lives. We share stories of His faithfulness. We share prayer request for ourselves, friends and family members. She fully understands the call God has placed on my life and is supporting me 100%. I am also blessed by the women we eat lunch with. All 4 of them are God- fearing women and it is so refreshing to have those 30 minutes during the day to encourage and support one another. And to laugh- because that is important.

If God has you in a season that doesn’t seem like the right one or that there is fear involved, just wait. Wait on Him to teach you. Wait on Him to guide you. He will be faithful to reveal His plan and purpose as long as you take the time to stop and look for it. Allow those days that seem so uncertain to be filled with so much Jesus that He is the only thing that is seen. Never allow fear and doubt to cloud your vision of God’s ultimate plan and purpose. If you do, you’re allowing Satan to win. God always has what’s best for you in mind so trust that fully.

All this to say.. I am thankful. I am thankful God has called me, but I am thankful He has placed me in this season to equip me. Is it hard? So hard I sometimes dread it. Is it worth it? Oh yes.

Jesus is always worth it.

Advent

Everyone thinks I hate Christmas, because I kind of do. I become so frustrated by the commercialism of Christmas. I dread the busy days that are spent getting the perfect gift, having the perfect meal or having a perfect tree. I just don’t like how busy of a time it is.

But, I actually love Christmas. (I mean who doesn’t love the deep theological hymns that come at Christmas?! I sing them all year). I love the life it brought to this earth thousands of years ago so that we have a reason to celebrate. I love advent and the season of anticipation and waiting. I love that each day leading up to Christmas I am reminded that my sin has no hold on me because of the cross.

Advent is a noun that literally means the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. Advent in the Christmas season is the arrival of Jesus, the most important gift we have ever been given and ever will be given. The birth of Jesus was, what I perceive as, the most anticipated event in history. When we are reading scripture we flip from Malachi in the Old Testament to the New Testament and BOOM. Jesus is born and the life of Christ begins. The thing most people don’t know though is that 400 years of waiting occurred before the birth of Christ.

400 years, people. 400 years of silence. 400 years of no signs from God, no prophets, no nothing. Imagine the faith that the people of God had to have in that time of waiting. The time of anticipation of a Savior.

Imagine if today we experienced that kind of waiting. Would we have the faith to believe things we could not see? Would we still have the faith to move forward without hearing from the Lord? I pray I would have that faith.

But then, at the perfect time and the perfect place a Savior was born to save the world. The wait was over and the people of God finally saw signs from Him. There was no more waiting, but only rejoicing in a Savior. 

When He came it was gentle. It was sweet. It was quiet. He came in the same manner that He would live. The wait was ended by a glorious birth that happened in a manger.

The wait was worth the gift.  

Christmas has been a story of longing that is ultimately fulfilled since the very beginning. Christmas is the gospel. It is a reason to celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of God. Christmas is a consistent reminder that God will fulfill what He has promised us. But we have to trust. We have to trust His time and His plan.

The world has made Christmas a busy time that is stressful and has us in a a frenzy, but it doesn’t have to be that way. It is a time of hope and waiting on God. It is a time to stop and remember that He is good and will fulfill what He has called us to.

My prayer this Christmas season is that I will stop and rest in who God is. I pray that I will know God more because I am more expectant of His work in my life.

Prepare room in your heart this Advent season for Jesus to live, dwell and speak.

Merry Christmas!