Just a Reminder

Tags

, , , ,

One of the tragedies of our life is that we keep forgetting who we are and waste a lot of time and energy to prove what doesn’t need to be proved. -Henri Nouwen

To me, this quote is an unfortunate, yet exact, description of the entire world.  Okay, maybe that’s a tad absolute, but I do believe that the majority of people are living their lives to prove themselves.  To prove that they are the best, that they are worthy of love, that they are anything but unsuccessful losers with nothing to show for after 80+ years of living on this earth.  I do not think that people would voluntarily admit that, but I am, because I’m tired.

Tired of the fact that day in and day out I live to prove to myself and to others, that I can get good grades, have a smooth career path, and be a person who is worthy of love from her family, friends, and God.  At times I am successful, but most often I am not.  And then what?  I fail to prove myself worthy and successful and should therefore be defined as such.  But as Henri Nouwen continues, I start to revel in the hope that I must be reminded of daily,

We are God’s beloved daughters and sons, not because we have proven ourselves worthy of God’s love, but because God freely chose us.

When we start to live in this truth, we start to live in freedom and peace because we know that there is nothing we can do to make us be loved any more than we already are.  God’s unfailing love wins again.

This is my prayer for myself and for you, that we will remember who we are as God’s beloved children and that our lives will reflect this glorious truth.

Advertisements

Following Jesus

Tags

, , , , , ,

Last week I watched a documentary called One Nation Under God, and then a sort of sequel called Beware of Christians.  In short, it is about a group of college-aged, Christian guys who go out to America, and then Europe to really discover what it is to live a life that follows Jesus.  The honesty, self-reflection, and the sorting through of the opinions of people from many different backgrounds was incredible.  And the way that God shone through the documentaries was even more incredible.  These guys went on to create their own production company called Riot Studios and they also go around the U.S. to speak to people about their experiences and encouraging them to “leave religion behind to follow Jesus.”

I’m not typing this post to write some kind of documentary review.  I’m typing it because it rekindled a fire in me.  The kind of fire that makes me want to join other Christ-loving world-changers, and to do just that: change the world through Christ’s love.  One thing I got out of these documentaries is that we can do what we want or we can do what God wants; we can let it go or we can take it seriously.  Giving our lives to God isn’t a choice to take lightly and it isn’t only a 15 second prayer.  It’s an every day thing- or at least that’s what people have to decide, right?  When the guys were interviewing people about their personal beliefs, afterwards (no matter what their belief was) they asked them if they were living out what they just said.  And it got me thinking, am I really living out what I say I believe? The whole point of this blog was to learn more about who God truly is, especially when it comes to His love and His grace; but when I look at my life, am I really living as a person who has faith in that?  I would say no, but others might look at my life and say yes.  Ultimately, it should go without saying that nobody is perfect and we do screw up at times, but in the end do I want to say that I lived out a mediocre faith the majority of my life?  To give a more specific example, do I want to live my life knowing that God has called me (and all Christians) to proclaim social justice in an unjust world, but yet not do anything about it?

I came across this quote today and found it to be very convicting: “A typical reaction of most churches and most Christians to the overwhelming injustices in the world is to avoid the matter altogether. It’s too big, too complex, too costly, too dangerous. But in avoiding the matter we’ve become, in effect, the priest or the Levite in Jesus’ parable: we join the company of those who walk past the beaten man.” (Mark Buchanan).   Are we as Christians looking at the world as God does: with love and a fierce passion for justice?  Or are we sitting back, walking by, or ignoring the world and all it entails?

This post may be a little scatter-brained, but I think what I’m trying to say is that God is calling us all to something.  We can either ignore it/ be unaware of it, like many people that were interviewed in the documentary, or we can listen and follow.

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5:24

 

A Christmas Poem

Tags

, , , , , , ,

The Nativity
Among the oxen (like an ox I’m slow)
I see a glory in the stable grow
Which, with an ox’s dullness might at length
Give me an ox’s strength.

Among the asses (stubborn I as they)
I see my Saviour where I looked for hay;
So may my beastlike folly learn at least
The patience of a beast.

Among the sheep (I like a sheep have strayed)
I watch the manger where my Lord is laid;
Oh that my baa-ing nature would win thence
Some wooly innocence!

C.S. Lewis

God loves when we rest in Him

Tags

, , ,

Last night the RAs went to a compline service at Christ Church in the city.  Before we went I looked up a little bit about what a compline service is and found that it was essentially used as a service before bedtime to bestow God’s peace on those who attended.  I was told it would be a beautiful and relaxing service, but that really did not even come close to describing the experience I had.

We got there a little before the service was scheduled to start.  We walked into the beautiful, old church to discover a silent room lit only by dozens of candles.  We sat down and after a few minutes of watching people coming in to find a seat in a pew, about 20 or so men and women went to the front of the room and stood in a circle, getting ready to sing.  At first it was just some long sentences strung together being sung on the same note, but after a couple of minutes the whole group joined in.  They sang in Latin, they sang a beautiful rendition of the Lord’s Prayer, and they sang other Bible verses as well.  Their voices and the harmonies were amazing.  I couldn’t help but wonder if that is how angels in heaven sound like.  As they sang, and as we sat in the candle-lit church, I felt as though the Holy Spirit was cleansing my soul of the many toxicants in this world- worries, anxieties, judgments, sadness, and fear.  I know I could have stayed there for hours, sitting in the peacefulness and overwhelming feeling of safety.

This service got me thinking about how much God enjoys it when we rest in Him.  He doesn’t want us to worry, be anxious, be overly concerned with what others may or may not think about us, be sad, or be afraid.  He wants us to come to Him, to lie in His arms, and give up our burdens.

During the service last night Psalm 23 came to my mind, especially the part that says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul.”  During the service I experienced those green pastures, the quiet waters, and the restoration of my soul.

I also thought of one of my favorite paintings- “Aslan and Lucy”- and I truly felt like I was Lucy and God was Aslan happily holding me close and filling me overwhelming peace.

A Moment of Reflection

Once I heard this quote that said, “Grace makes life unfair.”  I can’t remember where I heard it but it’s been the truth for me every single day of my life.  God’s grace makes life unfair because if it were fair, we would be the ones to take on God’s wrath instead of Jesus doing it for us.  God didn’t have to send Jesus here to die, but He did.  Jesus didn’t have to die, but He did.  Even though I am completely undeserving, He freely did it so I could have a relationship with Him and His Father, my Father.

I suppose this is just something I have been thinking about lately as I go through the semester on auto pilot.  I don’t want to live like that- I want to be constantly aware of my Savior’s presence in my life.  I want to be full of gratitude for the miracle that is Jesus Christ, every moment of the day.  I want to breathe the truth, live the truth, share the truth.  I don’t want to be distracted by what cannot even compare to Him.  I want to love like He loves and speak up for those who are being treated unjustly.  I want to be an example of who God is.  I know I fail daily, but that’s why I’m not the savior of the world- He is.

I know this isn’t exactly a “God is ____” post like my posts usually are, but I still think it speaks the truth about God’s character. He loves, He saves, He is everything.

God is Faithful

It’s kind of funny how the post right after “Loving God of Promises” is a post about His faithfulness.  Well, God has shown His faithfulness to me in a huge way recently.  Not many of my friends or family know that from July 5th to July 12th I went on a mission trip with a group from my church to San Jose, Costa Rica.  I actually did not know I was going until about a week and a half before the trip!  I had known about the trip but was not planning on going because I went on a mission trip to Dublin, Ireland with a group from college and did not think I could financially do two mission trips in one year.  Four years ago I went with a group from my church to Guanacaste, Costa Rica and it was an amazing, life changing trip.  Since then, for four years, I have felt a tug at my heart to go back to Costa Rica and have been praying this whole time to be able to go back.  Well, through unfortunate circumstances, the team this year had an extra plane ticket to go to San Jose, Costa Rica.  One of the group leaders told me about the ticket and asked if I would be interested in going- which was an obvious yes!  But I waited to get excited, and prayed for God to work out everything- and He did.  A week and a half later I was on my way with 16 others to the capital of Costa Rica.  Throughout the trip God continued to show His faithfulness to me in many ways.  One major way was by confirming the love in my heart for the people of Costa Rica, the language, and the culture.  I was nervous on the way there that I was just longing for the same trip, and not the actual place.  But God completely took away that doubt and nervousness the very first morning we were there when I saw the city in daylight.  I am incredibly hopeful that God will bring me back to Costa Rica someday. Until then I will continue to be excited and thank my Father for His faithfulness to me.

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.”

1 John 5:14-15

Loving God of Promises

There are so many ways I could begin this post.  I think first and foremost I need to say that this is probably the most important post I have written as of yet (talk about confidence, Kayla…).  But, it’s not important because I wrote it, but because of its content.

Last Wednesday the chapel here at Roberts was an all music chapel.  During some of the songs I flipped through my Bible and turned to Isaiah 53- a chapter which reminds us of Jesus’ death on the cross.  Usually I read that verse and stop at the end, but this time I kept going; and I’m so glad I did.  Isaiah 54 is about the future glory of Zion, our future glory.  God tells us of His anger, but then everlasting kindness, of His abandonment, but then His compassion.  This didn’t strike me as anything unusual; in fact, I always pictured God as temperamental and hard to please.  That is until verse 9 when God says:

“To me this is like the days of Noah, when I swore that the waters of Noah would never again cover the earth.  So now I have sworn not to be angry with you, never to rebuke you again.  Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.” (emphasis added)

Please go back and read that again, I know I read it quite a few times before it sunk in.  God promises not to be angry with me…ever…what?  But it goes further in saying that nothing can shake his unfailing love for me.  I mean I know it sounds redundant – unfailing love that never fails…but clearly in my case it needed to be clarified since it’s taken me this long to get it.

So this shocked me, but it doesn’t stop there.  In the rest of the chapter God tells us of an afflicted city that He builds up with beautiful stones and gems.  I mean, I’ve never been to seminary school or anything but I’m pretty sure He is describing us too.  He is going to build us up in righteousness, love, and the most precious of ways!  I don’t know about everyone else, but that gives me such a boost in confidence when I am living every day life.  Knowing that God is building me up and giving me His best- the best- is incredible!  I think if there were ever an appropriate time for a face-palm, it would be now.  How long have I been carrying around this Bible (not to mention this burden of thinking God was mad at me), and I had the Truth with me the whole time.  Also, because I’ve had this quote on a sticky-note on my desk for months now: “Divine power is not a ruling fist but an open, bleeding hand.” (Michael Lodahl).  I’ve always liked it, but now it means so much more.  Sometimes I am slow with these things, but God’s grace always has a way of finding me and taking hold of me.

God as Jesus’ Father

Okay, I know it seems like an obvious one, but I know that I sometimes overlook the simplest things or take my foreknowledge of them for granted.  This Easter I  was able to revel in Jesus’ love for all people- a love that is worth writing a million and one blog posts on.  However, for this post I am going to focus on God’s role in the sacrifice- a concept I’ve neglected to realize for too long.

Today during church during one of the songs there was a phrase which I can’t remember exactly, but it said something about God turning His face away when Jesus was on the cross and dying.  During the service I was sitting next to my dad and I caught a glimpse of his face when that line was sung- and it’s possible I imagined it, but I thought I could see a painful twinge in his eyes in relating it to how he is a father.   I know that if my brother or I were in any kind of trouble my dad would do everything in his power to help us because of how much he loves us.  I also thought of the movie Taken with Liam Neeson and how his daughter is kidnapped and sold into slavery and he does all he can to find her and save her.  How much more would the perfect Father want to do that with His son?

It was then that I connected God not as some far away being who we have nothing in common with, but as someone who we were made in the image of- someone who fathers in this world can look to as a role model because God is the perfect Father.  It wasn’t easy for God to let Jesus suffer the most excruciating way to die.  Do you know how much more meaning that adds to Jesus’ sacrifice?  The only way I can even begin to fathom it is putting myself in Jesus’ spot and having my dad be in God’s spot (I promise this isn’t going to go anywhere strange or cultish!).  My dad would be in extreme anguish at the thought of me or my brother dying- and I am sure that any one of your parents or parent figures would be the same way.  Jesus is God’s very own Son- His Son who He taught, listened to, talked with, loved, cared for, provided for, etc. when Jesus was growing up.  I’ll say it again, it wasn’t easy for God to let His Son be tortured, ridiculed, mocked, and hung on a cross.  But He went through it anyway because He knew that it was the way to an intimate relationship with us.  Yes Jesus went of His own free will to the cross because of His love for us, but God prepared for Jesus to do that because He wanted us to be saved and to be with Him- He wants us to be saved and to be with Him.  And because the Father of all things and His precious Son desperately want an intimate relationship with us, they did a most painful thing to make that relationship possible!

Praise Jesus and praise His Dad!  Happy Easter everyone- Jesus is risen!

God Prepares Us

Today I had the pleasure of reading part of the story of Moses (Exodus 1:1-4:17).  Although it’s not the same as the Disney movie “Prince of Egypt”, it is in many ways even better.  Through this historical account of Moses I can see so much of how God cares for us because He prepares us for circumstances we are to encounter in this life.  It reminds me of a quote that I heard one time: “God qualifies the called.”  In Moses’ case, he was called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt.

I think it’s kind of funny how a lot of times in Bible stories some of the most important things are left out when they are retold- especially when they are told to children.  I remember being told this story when I was a kid and I don’t remember Moses being so afraid- but he was, and who wouldn’t be?  Moses revealed to God all of his doubts, fears, and objections of the situation.  God listened to Moses, cared for him, and prepared him for what He was calling him to do.  Exodus 4:11 says this, “The Lord said to him, ‘Who gave man this mouth?  Who makes him deaf or mute?  Who gives him sight or makes him blind?  Is it not I, the Lord?  Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.'”

I know for me, it is so comforting to know that God doesn’t brush off my concerns and doubts about something, but He really does care how I feel.  No matter what the situation is, I know that He is preparing me.  I can’t help but think of God as the Potter or God as our Shepherd- constantly tending to His creation, molding it, protecting it, loving it us.  When I remember this my heart overflows with gladness and thankfulness- and I think that is truly what God wants for us.

God is Present

So it has been a while, hasn’t it?  BUT, I am indeed still here- and still learning.  I’ve recently been reading passages from Genesis 16 to 25 and I’ll be honest, I don’t completely get it all.  For those of you unfamiliar with the content of these chapters I will briefly outline the events:

We are introduced to Hagar and Ishmael, Abram has a covenant of circumcision with God and God promises Abram (now Abraham) and Sarai (now Sarah) a baby in their old age, God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s wife is turned into a pillar of salt, Isaac is born, Abraham is tested, Sarah dies, Isaac marries Rebekah, and much more in between all of that. [again, a very brief outline]

In all of the history and characters in these stories, I admit that I am baffled, scared, confused, or just don’t see the significance in some of it.  But, my truly faithful God has taught me something from all of it- that He is very present in our lives.  In everything that happened in these chapters of Genesis there doesn’t seem to be one chapter where God isn’t doing something.  He is constantly healing, promising, loving, blessing, caring, fixing, directing, and interested in the lives of each person.  Granted, there are things God does that seem to be in contrast to those things like destroying entire cities [Sodom and Gomorrah] and testing [Abraham], but even through those things there is a purpose and care for Earth and Creation- even though it doesn’t seem obvious or fair.  I know there are many doubts and questions people have with the topic of God killing people and topics along those lines and I would encourage them to dig into the Bible, to ask those questions, and talk with someone who has intensely studied the Bible.  I won’t pretend to have all the answers or to ignore important issues such as those, but when it comes to doubts or concerns I look back at all I have learned about God and remember who He is: empowering, cool, holy, bold, worthy of being feared, in love with me (and you!).

Kayla

P.S. On another note, on the left side of my blog there is a category labeled “Articles and Blogs”-  that is where I post blogs I enjoy reading and think you all might enjoy as well and articles I have come across that I think need more public awareness.  Please take a gander there from time to time!