the reality of our design

the reality of our design

Where do our identities lie? What’s the most important part about you? And what’s the most important part about you in the eyes of God?

If you’re a follower of Christ, I can pretty easily tell you that your identity is simple. It’s found in 1 Peter 2: 9-10. It says:

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are a people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”

Our greatest identity is that we once were not and now we are. I think sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in the details. And the details are good! They define our individuality before God. But sometimes we put so much weight on the details of ourselves that we lose sight of the biggest part of our identity. I’ve heard so many people talk about the things that they think define their walk with God. They go down the list. But our identity is not in our style or season. Our identity is not even in our faith.

Our identity is in the OBJECT of our faith. It’s in Jesus Christ and Him alone, and the fact that we “now have received mercy.” And every follower of Christ has that in common, regardless of how your faith “appears” to the body of believers. This isn’t to say that the way you follow Jesus is not important. Small differences make us GREAT in the eyes of God! He values the individuality of you and your walk with Him. But the “culture of Christianity” has somehow found a way to make these details divisive among us.

Worshiping our Lord together as a body of Christ is our greatest joy. Rejoicing together that we have received mercy. And it is also our joy to be able to know the Lord intimately. We should support each other in that! We shouldn’t be criticizing those individual intimacies just because they look different than ours do. Because if you think about it, in reality all followers of Christ fit into that main identity of “have received mercy” right? And there are more than plenty of people who haven’t received that mercy yet! So why do these details of how our faith looks so often cause us to stumble? There are people who don’t even know our God! We can’t keep letting these details define us because if we do, eventually they begin to divide us.

Because in the end, we are all brothers and sisters, and we are all heirs to the gift of life through Christ. Our uniqueness is special to Him, and we have to start celebrating that in others too.

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the little things

the little things

Understanding who God is. This is so tricky because God is such a balance of so many things.

I think that so many of us get tripped up on this, because you might hear God spoke of in one way, or see Him at work in a specific way and soon enough without even realizing it, we are limiting God–in our own minds–to just that one way of working. It definitely tripped me up. Last year, I was in a season of seeing the mighty power of God at work. I was so consumed with how God was working in such powerful ways with such an intensity. Everything seemed to be pointed at how strong and important God was. This was an amazing year and let me not downplay the amazing work He did. I experienced that power first hand.

BUT. Earlier this year, I was having some trouble. I was so focused on God as this mighty and powerful God, and I was forgetting that this is the same God that knows the number of hairs on my head. In my mind, God became too powerful for His own children. I felt like I was being ignored because I was no longer witnessing Him work in these massive ways like before. But truthfully, God is the same. But He is a God of many sides. And the side that I need in one season is different than in another.

Yes, God sits on His heavenly throne, but He also sits next to me and wipes away the tears I cry. Yes, He not only rules the nations, but created the nations, but He also rules my heart. This powerful Father we speak of, is just that–a father. And He dwells in us and walks with us. He is never too busy for us or too bored by us. Nothing could ever be too small for Him to care about. When God calls us to go before Him, we don’t have to go very far. He doesn’t make us move mountains to get to Him. He already moved them to make a way for us.

When I feel too small for God, when I wonder why He would ever care for me, I come back to one of the most intimate verses in Scripture, which comes from Hosea 11. God is just pouring out His love for Israel, His chosen nation. “To them I was like the one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.” v.4

This is the God that loves us. This is the God that will bend down from His seat in heaven to feed us and provide for us at our level. This is the God that will make sure we are never left unnoticed. GUYS. We are seen. And that alone is a massive work of God. Lets not downplay the little things anymore.

a heavy love

Salvation is heavy. Your salvation, your forgiveness–it weighs a lot. Its so easy to begin to see our sins as our definition. Its easy to look in the mirror and see everything that YOU have done, rather than everything that HE has done. If we let ourselves be defined by the sin and brokenness in our life, we will never live in glory that God has intended us to live in with Him.

Its a choice. Its an easy choice.

When we say “I’m not good enough” or “I don’t think Jesus ever should have died for me” or “I’m just not feeling saved today,” not only is that deeply wrong, its painful for God to hear. You ARE enough, you ARE saved, and who are you to decide if Jesus should have died for you?! He did die for you, end of story. It’s already been done. When we think that way, we are minimizing the amazing sacrifice that Jesus paid for us on the cross. He put that crown of righteousness on our heads and said “you are worthy. You are saved. You are more than worth dying for.” He put that crown on our head, so who are we to take it off!

God is God over all. He knows what He is doing. He didn’t have to do any of what He did for us. But He chose to because we are His inheritance. We are His beloved. We were bought at a heavy price so that we would no longer have to define ourselves by our past sin and failure and pain. We can now see ourselves as we really are. Loved by the Father and covered in grace and mercy. He bought us with His own precious blood, the blood of the only perfect human, the blood of His holy Son. It wasn’t cheap. It was the greatest love ever, spent all on us.

So let’s start living loved. Because we are so deeply loved by the one who truly matters, and I don’t think we grasp the magnitude of that. That crown was set on your head by the Lord, and no one–not even yourself–has the right to take it off. Wear it with joy and confidence. You are loved so heavily.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as gold or silver that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

1 PETER 1:18-19

unconventional God

unconventional God

GREETINGS!! Long time no blog. I have been putting this post off for such a long time, pretending it was because I am too busy, but I think the real reason was because I didn’t feel like I was spiritually prepared to sit down and type out my thoughts and share them. But here we are–finally!

When the new year came around, I felt like I was soarin’. I legitimately thought nothing could bring me down. I was so prepared for a new season of my life, a new semester, a new approach to my faith. The first couple weeks of 2018 were fanFREAKINGtastic. Everything I had been praying for seemed to surface, I felt so in tune with the Spirit. And as soon as I gained a foothold, satan ripped it out from under me. And I didn’t do anything about it. Instead of standing my ground and shutting the devil down, I just sat back, wallowing in my own hurt and literally just letting satan have my joy. So, to say the least, the past few months have been hard, but I am slowly re-learning how to lean into the presence of Christ in the trials.

Through this time of questioning and doubt though, I still believe that God was working. I know He was actually, because I can see seeds now that I didn’t see before. There were so many areas of my life where I just didn’t feel content where I was. So all my prayers seemed to be me going to God asking for release of this “dissatisfaction.” Soon though, I realized that God doesn’t answer prayers in conventional ways. I was looking for an escape of some sort. But God instead provided a change of attitude. God doesn’t answer prayers according to what you want or think is best. He answers prayers according to what He KNOWS is best.

I’ve learned that honestly everything about walking with the Lord is so unconventional. There is really no “conventional” way to have a true relationship with God, because if there was, it wouldn’t be true. I’ve been struggling with ways to do meaningful ministry. I know that God has given me certain gifts, but there are so many ways to use them. God doesn’t give you a script that tells you exactly how you can use what He has given you. All He wants is for us to use what He so graciously gave us for the benefit of the Kingdom of God. There is no box that you have to fit in, no one right way. I have been forcing myself to stay in this box that I imagine to be the only way to do meaningful ministry. But OH MY GOODNESS ministry can be done anywhere in any way! seriously! I don’t have to be sitting across from someone at Starbucks reading the Bible, or leading a youth group or Bible study, or be in Africa on mission to consider it ministry. (and all of those things are amazing ways to do ministry, but not the only ways)

This box that I’ve been talking about, I believe that we all think it’s there, but it’s really not. God doesn’t have a certain formula that we must fit in order to walk with Him. This box isn’t just related to ministry either. Its our lives. We think that we have to match a standard or mold to be a follower of Christ. NO! You don’t have to wake up early every morning to read your Bible, and if you don’t read your Bible that day you are not a failure. You don’t have to worship the same way that the person next to you does. You don’t have to be a missionary in a third world country to be impactful. God created you unique in His image. The way that one person does something is not the only way to do that thing! Make moves for the Kingdom. Set your eyes on heaven. And be relentlessly YOU while doing it.

all that You are for me

all that You are for me

The other day, I prayed this prayer. Then I prayed it again the next day, and the next and the next. Then I realized the power in this cry, and that I MUST share it with you.

God you are so fierce and yet still so intimate. You are everything that I need in a Savior. You are passionate in seeking me and finding my heart. You are never passive. You are always longing for me as if You cannot wait a single second more. You are in LOVE with me. I am so in awe that a God as powerful and mighty as You are, could be that head over heels for me. I am YOUR inheritance. You are sitting in heaven looking down on me saying “someday we will be together forever and I can’t wait for your heart.” MY HEART. All that You are and still Your deepest desire is MY heart?! All the heavens and the earth belong to You, yet You still choose me, just like Israel. You have set your affection on me, Your child. You have set me apart and are doing a good work in me–even if it doesn’t seem so now.

You tore through heaven to earth, looking for me. You don’t ever leave my side, You have never failed and You never will. Your record is perfect, without a single mark or flaw. And You say that all that perfection is for my good. All that You are is for me. YOU are victorious and because of that I am victorious. You conquered that grave, and because of that I can conquer any grave that stands before me. You are not a selfish God. I should not gain from what You have won, but You love me enough to let me share in that victory.

This is the cry of my heart. That everything that God has done is for my benefit. It gives me peace to think that God’s beautiful and flawless character is all for my good. There is nothing I cannot do with a God like that on my side. It gives me patience because I know that the greatness in my God can shine through any moment, and if I give up I could be giving up moments away from seeing His promise surface. His beauty takes time. It gives me courage because I know that I rise in His victory. He won–therefore I won. All that He is lives in me, and because of that I lack nothing.

My heart is full of thanks for my Savior, because He defines who I am. Because all that He is, is for me. For His Israel. For His chosen and set apart children that He loves more than all creation. Stand in this promise, for 1 Thess. 5:24 says “the one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

missing god

missing god

I’ve written about waiting before, but I guess I’m having trouble taking my own advice. So here I am again. Waiting looks different in a Jesus follower. Waiting isn’t boring, it’s not uneventful, and it’s definitely not any less valid of a season. Waiting is expectant. It’s pursuing. It’s absolutely marked by the hand of God–if you choose to see it that way.

Seasons of waiting in our walk with God tend to mistakenly be seen as a time of walking on our own. We try to ask God where we’re going,  we say “I’m trying to follow your voice, but it’s not there!!!” We also don’t address the validity of a season of waiting, because we just see it as the “pre-good.” In our minds, waiting isn’t good. Waiting is just waiting. Hoping for something to come along that is better than what we have now.

There’s a song that I’ve heard many times, but the other day I stopped to pray through the lyrics. It’s called “Take Courage,” and here are the lyrics:

take courage my heart

stay steadfast my soul

He’s in the waiting.

Those simple lyrics that I have heard over and over again stopped hitting the surface and bouncing off and they finally sank in deeper.

God is in our waiting, we are just ignorant of Him. When we say that we are trying to follow the sound of God’s voice and its not there, it really IS there, we just can’t hear it. We can’t hear the sound of God’s comforting voice over the sound of our own longing for answers. We can’t even stop desiring knowledge enough to hear the answers from God himself. God is present. You don’t wait on your own.

Another thing that I’ve found is that God doesn’t provide answers until you become okay with waiting. We can’t expect our Father to hand everything over to us. “he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him.” (acts 17:26-27) God doesn’t withhold answers from us because He likes to see us grasp for air. He likes to see us desperately in need of Him. He longs for us to come to Him and ASK and to acknowledge that He is with us.

In exodus 32, Moses is up on Mount Sinai speaking to God. The Israelites were at the foot of the mountain. God had literally JUST delivered them out of Egypt, out of slavery, and they could physically see the cloud of His presence on the mountain. Instead of expectantly waiting for God to move again, instead of praising God for all He has done for them, and all they know He will do, they just get bored of waiting. In their impatience, they build a golden calf and worship that. God moves in His own timing, and His timing is not even comparable to ours. If God isn’t fast enough, I so easily forget that He is still there. God isn’t missing, I am missing all that He doing because I am too busy accusing Him of being missing.

So I encourage you (and me), to go before God in your season of question marks, and just ask Him. Don’t try to figure everything out on your own. God doesn’t want to fight you for your attention. When you give up control, you aren’t giving up. You are letting God in, you are denying your stubbornness and your fight is solely in God’s hands. And what a weight that gets rid of. How freeing that is to know that you don’t have to know. God is there all the time. The only reason God could ever be “missing” is if you deny Him entrance, if you are more consumed with immediate answers, than intentional listening.

good enough?

good enough?

Satan tells you that you’re good enough.

God tells you that you aren’t.

I’m gonna be honest and personal right now. okay. A huge sin that I’ve recently been struggling with is acting like I’m a good person. That isn’t exactly something you can wrap your head around… because I’m supposed to be a good person right so is there actually anything wrong with this?

YES. SO MUCH IS WRONG WITH THIS.

I act like I am a good person. I talk like I’m a good person person. And eventually I begin to believe that I am a good person. But I am definitely not good. Really, I’m just decent at building my image in front of others. I put on a “good” mask, but it just covers up the ugly underside. When I start to believe that I’m a good person I elevate my own pride, suppressing all humility. I start to deny my desperate need for my Savior. When I put myself on display instead of displaying myself as a masterpiece of His glory, I diminish the power of the cross.

Satan feeds us this lie that we are good enough. He feeds our pride, saying we got this on our own. Jesus? Who needs Jesus? That whole cross thing was a “just in case” measure. But hey don’t worry! YOU ARE GOOD. lies. There are no “just in cases.” Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. No one is righteous, not even one. There are no exceptions. No one is good enough. I need Jesus in the same depth as you. He who sins once is just as in need of a Savior and he who sins with every breath.

The truth is–how I think of myself doesn’t change the fact that I still need a Savior. Its just a mindset. When my mindset is “I got this,” i’m constantly going 300 mph trying to prove that I can do it, when in fact, I cannot. But when I know that “I don’t got this,” I can find rest. I can lay in peace knowing that I can’t do it, but He so can. I don’t have to be perfect, and I don’t have to pretend that I am perfect either. I can and will do my best, but where I fall short I won’t act like I haven’t. I know God’s grace like I know a loyal friend. It’s constant, always there even when I am not.

God will never tell us that we are good. He instead tells us that we are not good enough. No matter how hard we tried, how “good” we appeared to everyone else, we could never ever be good enough. He says you HAVE fallen short, but Jesus hasn’t. He says I KNOW you aren’t good enough, but I love you anyway. I love you so much that you don’t have to believe that you are good enough. You can rest in the fact that Jesus already was. God sees righteousness in you not because of how good you are or how good you seem. He sees righteousness in you because you simply have faith in Him. Its not about you–it never was. satan can’t tell you that anymore.