While I’m Waiting

I haven’t posted in a while but that’s probably because not much has happened. I know I’ve posted about boys before, but I heard a great song the other day that kind of re-focused me, and put what I really desire to feel into words. Here are the lyrics

I will move ahead, bold and confident
I’ll be taking every step in obedience, yea

While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint

I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord

I know that in the end, God will bring the right person into my life, and I just need to wait until then. Which is why I loved the line “I will worship while I’m waiting.”

I know it’s so easy for me to get the “holier than thou because I’m not dating” additude regarding other friends. But I know that kind of additude is NOT pleasing to God. So my lesson for the day? Serve, love, worship our God while I’m waiting. Because guess what? He’ll make me happier than anything I could do on my own.

March 27, 2009. Tags: . Church, Lessons from God. 2 comments.

But As You Will…

A familiar line from Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane. “Not as I will, but as You will.” Mark Dricoll preached a very moving sermon on this prayer. (the sermon will be here soon) It led me to think about blogging, which I haven’t done in a while because life hurts too much to dig too deep.

I’ve always been a prayer. I love talking to Jesus, and when walking through pain, I discovered how refreshing it is to be able to offer up everything to Jesus. Most of the time it’s prayer for other people, but frequently there will be the desperate, “Jesus, I’m at the end of my rope with life, show me how to survive.” And of course there’s the “God, please let ______ happen.”

As Mark pointed out, Jesus’ prayer in the garden is his human plea to escape what was coming. He knew he would be brutally tortured and eventually killed for the sins of the world. Since he was fully man, he wasn’t going to feel it any less or somehow escape from the body until it was over–no, he had to suffer through it like any common criminal. So he prayed desperately to the Father.

If there’s any way you can save the earth without making me go through this, I would really like that. Really a lot.

But the prayer didn’t end there. The “but not as I will, but as You will” line wrapped up his desperate plea. Even though it will be tough. Even though I’ll hate it, if it is Your plan for me, Father, I’ll do it. That’s what that line is all about. That line should be in our  prayers, too, and we should really mean it.

One of the hard things about praying that, for me, is that first of all, I’m actually putting the whole situation in God’s hands. In life it’s so easy for us to think we know what’s best for ourselves. Let’s face it. Our entire lives revolve around keeping #1 in the best position possible, never getting hurt, and having a good life. After years of self-preservation we think we know pretty well how things should or should not go. After milleniums of loving people and directing their lives, I think God knows better. The other great thing about acknowledging God has control is that God loves us, so he’ll do what’s best for us, but he’s also all-powerful, so he can do what’s best.

The other day I took my friend’s dog to a BBQ and she saw an ant. She was so entranced by the ant she watched it as it walked around the pavement, behind a shoe, under a table, she was so glued to it. Eventually I told her she could go see it. I knew what she’d do. She’d eat it. But I didn’t love the ant so I didn’t really care if it got eaten. (yes, she did eat the ant). Not so with God. God actually loves us so much that he sent Jesus to save us. That’s the greatest sacrifice ever, sending your son to die for people who did nothing to deserve it?? That’s love. And that love directs the way He plans our future, only wanting the best for us.

A couple of days ago I called a friend who had just gotten back from camp. I asked her how it went, and she said it was great except for these few people and went on to tell me how one guy had really hurt her emotionally. I would have given anything to have gone up to the guy and punched him in the face. (good thing for him he lives on the other side of the US) But I’m not able to do anything, I can’t control people’s words, motives, actions, so I couldn’t have made it better even if I had been there. God can. He’s everywhere and can do anything. How cool. Not only does he love us so much that he wants a productive and fruitful life for us, but he can also make it happen!

That’s what happens when you submit your situation to God’s ultimate authority. Not that he needs us to say “ok God, I’m giving it to you” before he is able to take control. But surrendering your situation works on YOUR heart.  And there’s a difference between saying “I surrender” and actually doing it.

The moving to Alabama scare really shook my life up. Nothing was firm after that, all my plans could be washed out the window at any second. I knew it should be easy for me to accept it. I had an epiphany a few years ago that God always knows what’s best. “I surrendered my life to Jesus last year” so why was this so hard?

Answer: I hadn’t REALLY submitted. I again fought over the emotions related to surrender. “NO God, I can’t move, it ruins everything.” (by the way, don’t ever say no to God…baaaad idea) “If you really cared about me, you wouldn’t make me move since I know I wouldn’t be as happy there” (Oh, since I know so much more than God…riiiight) So once again I pushed and pushed until I gave in.

So why all the random ramblings? I dunno. Just my thoughts on surrender. I think I’ll be due for another “lesson” in a few months. Seems that I learn to give up EVERYTHING to Jesus, and then I slip back into my comfortable routine of planning everything the way I know it will be best. I can imagine God laughing at me and my feeble attempts to have a good life because he doesn’t want me to have a good life–he wants me to have an awesome life which will only happen when HE guides it.

August 4, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Church, Lessons from God. 2 comments.

The Cross

The cross. A Christian’s trite little symbol of Jesus. Even non-Christians use the cross as a logo or symbol because it’s “cool”. At Mars Hill on Sunday, I was again struck by the power and beauty of what Jesus did for us on the Cross.

Jesus didn’t just say “ok God I’ll die” and get shot or something that ended quickly. No. Crusifixion was the ultimate torture method that the Romans (the best of the best at torture) devised. It was only used for the worst of worst crimes. As Pastor Mark Driscoll shared, the word “excruciating” was created to describe the pain endured during crucifiction. The way people died on the cross was by suffucating. Not only was the body wracked in pain from being nailed in the nerve centers of the body (the wrists and feet) but the criminal could barely breathe on top of that.

So clearly crucifiction was a horrible death. But Jesus wasn’t just crucified. No, before he was crucified, he was beaten and scourged. I’ll spare you the details of scourging because it’s so horrible I can’t write it down. Basically the victim who was scourged had their back turned to raw meat.

To add to all this, they pounded a thorn “crown” into his skull. Not little rose thorns, but big huge thorns. On top of all that, he had to carry his own cross that would have been 200+ pounds.

But why did Jesus do all this, you might ask? Who benefitted from this? Why do Christians say how wonderful the cross is, and wear it as a symbol? Jesus suffered through all this, willingly, because He loves you, me, and everyone. He died a traitor’s death without complaint because He wants us to live in heaven forever with Him and his Father. What did it accomplish? Everything.

You see, everyone sins. Sinning is when you do something that goes against God’s laws. It can be as big as murder or adultery or as small as gossiping or swearing. Since God is a perfect God, He can’t allow sin into his beautiful paradise, heaven. So everyone who has sinned has to go to Hell. Hell is a place of eternal torment. Revelation says there’s fire and brimstone all the time. This is a literal place–if you sin, you really deserve to go there.

But God loved His world and the people He created SO MUCh that He gave His only Son, Jesus, to take our place. Jesus lived a perfect life and so he could make it into heaven, but instead he took upon himself all our sins. So He died in our place–we don’t have to go to hell anymore, if we believe in Jesus and his wonderfully sacrificial gift of life.

But Jesus didn’t stay dead. He conquered death by rising from the dead after 3 days in the grave. Now He sits in heaven, next to God the Father. Jesus wants so desperately for everyone to believe in this wonderful gift. So do I, which is the reason for this post. If you have any questions pick up a Bible, contact a church (I recommend non-denominational Christian churches or Baptist churches), or leave me a comment.

To hear the sermon that inspired this post, visit Mars Hill church online. I don’t believe they have the sermon up yet (as of 5/19/08 ) but will very soon.

For all of you who are Christians, I challenge you to re-think the cross and its HUGE significance to us. It’s not a trite little symbol that we should put on our cars or jewelry. It’s the sum of our all our faith in one item. It’s the demonstration of God’s love, grace, judgement, and wrath in one act.

May 19, 2008. Tags: , , , , . Church, Lessons from God. Leave a comment.

Nehemiah 2–God will build this wall

                                                                                                        

All along life’s path, we see things that require trust and prayer. For instance, when my family went to the lake this afternoon, my little brother had to trust that he wouldn’t drown in the water. However, some things are a little bigger obstacles. Like for me, I bring all my devotions back to Camp Casey. Here are some things that seem hard or impossible:

  • all the students get along
  • those who like to draw attention to themselves NOT doing it
  • egos disappearing during worship
  • people maintaining thoughtful additutdes during teaching, devotions, and small groups
  • weather staying nice
  • capture the flag at the fort going well and people staying safe

The whole Camp Casey trip is a big unknown, and the more I hear about who is going, and who is leading different parts, the more I get nervous that it’s going to be a bomb this year. God reminded me that He will build our wall so to speak.

Nehemiah was bearing the king’s cup one day and it says he looked sad. The king asked him why he was so sad, and it says,

“So I prayed to the God of heaven.  And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, I ask that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” Nehemiah 2:4-5

The first thing he did was pray. He didn’t go talk to ten other people and then ask the king. He didn’t text his best buddy and tell him what the king asked, and then tell the king. No, he prayed. And as a result, the king agreed and let him go, even sending a group of soldiers for protection.

When he got there, he rode around, did his research, and then announced to the people that they were going to re-build the wall.

But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?”

 I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding.” Nehemiah 2:19-20

Nehemiah had God on his side. He had faith that his succes would come from the Lord. But even with his tremendous amount of faith, he took action. He didn’t wait for God to lift the first stone, he got busy.

So now, the application. God is powerful and all-knowing. It’s ridiculous of me to think that this retreat can go any way other than His way. I need to follow Nehemiah’s example of praying, having faith, and moving forward–and God will build this wall.

April 12, 2008. Tags: , . Church, Lessons from God. Leave a comment.

And Here I thought I was perfect….

 

Funny how just when you think that God’s taught you all that you can learn–you learn some more. And it’s usually a lesson on how little you know. (who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor!?!?!)

As I mentioned earlier, I’m co-leading worship for our youth retreat in…8 days. A few facts about me:

  • I’m a born performer
  • I love to sing
  • I love to worship
  • I love to be the center of attention
  • I get bristled when someone steals “my” spotlight

So this Tuesday, some of us youth leaders called an impromptu youth group (since we were supposed to have the week off for spring break, and our youth pastor and a bunch of youth were in Montana on the spring service trip). I was just recovering from being horrendously sick, and so I wasn’t quite all “with it”. But I went and kinda just sat in my spot most of the evening.

Well our youth pastor usually leads worship. He has an amazing heart for worship, and it’s one of the best times ever. But since he was in Montana with the team, one of our youth leaders led with a friend. I’ll give away the ending before I finish the story. I learned that night that I still need to work on realizing that worship isn’t about who is “most amazing” but about giving God ALL the “amazing”.

One of my pet peeves is when this particular youth leader invites this particular friend, because the friend turns the time of worship into a show. She turns her mike up really loud and sings showily (if that’s a word) and harmonizes loudly the entire time. It happened on this Tuesday more than normal, and I caught myself focusing on how upset I was with the guest who was showing off, and noticed that I was trying to outshine her, out sing her, and out harmonize. Yeesh. Silly me.

So fortunately, I was able to focus the last 2 songs, and put my focus back on God. Now, whenever I pick up my music binder to practice songs for retreat, I always make sure to pray and keep my focus in the right place.

Oh, and I’d really love it if you’d keep me, the rest of the worship team, and the whole retreat in your prayers…I just found out that the showy guest will be coming on the retreat.

As I prepare spiritually to lead our youth group before the Lord, I’m planning on blogging here more often. So I’ll be back.

April 10, 2008. Tags: , , . Church, Lessons from God. Leave a comment.

My Talk

God is good. He gave me words. I was able to deliver them in a thought-out manner. I was able to be transparent and vulnerable without being too upsetting (I think). I was able to deliver my challenge to the upperclassmen and guys without sounding snobbish or conceited.

Basically, this was what I talked about. I shared my story and how I “did church” for so long. About a year and a half ago, the puppy I raised to be a guide dog (who I had poured my heart and life into) went back for advanced training and was dropped for health problems. I fought with God for months over WHY he had to have Arturo be dropped? Wasn’t it easier just to have him make it? Is it really too much to ask? But after 2 months of fighting God, I realized that He is sovreign and had (and still does have!) a perfect plan for me. I learned to surrender.

At that point, I really wanted to focus on God. When He’s THAT good to you, how can you not respond by love, adoration, and sacrifice? That’s when I found the Rebelution and God used Alex and Brett to totally and compeletly transform my life and give me ways to practically live out my faith. Their posts to this day inspire me to live out what I believe and really DO HARD THINGS.

Ladies and Gents, life is tough. But God wants us to do His will, even if it’s hard, even if it means giving up comfort. It’s the right thing, it’s the smart thing, it’s the hard thing.

From there, I shared my 3 challenges with my youth group:

  1. Identify “watershed moments” in your life (times when God has really touched you in some way)
  2. Check out the Rebelution and consider coming to the Portland Conference with me
  3. Be leaders. ESPECIALLY the upperclassmen (if we don’t lead, who will???) and the guys (we girls want SO MUCH for the guys to lead, so do it, guys!)

Between the tears when I talked about Arturo and fighting with God, and the passion when talking about the Rebelution, I think God was really able to use me in some way. At least I hope. As one of my friends reminded me going in to this, “even if only one person is affected through your testimony, you’ve reached success.” Thanks for the words of encouragement, Josh.

And to anyone reading this, step up. Do what God’s calling you to do. It might be hard. It probably will be. But hard things cause us to grow. God wants us to grow. God loves us SO MUCH that He sent His only son to take our punishment. Jesus, God’s Son, willingly died a terrible and brutal death because He wants us to be saved from our sins. Guys, that’s the ultimate. All we have to do is accept the free gift of Jesus dying for us, and we can have a personal relationship with God. And it rocks. Life with God is better than anything you can ever imagine. That’s the point of my talk to my youth group. That’s the point of my life.

God is good. God is loving. God is faithful. God is merciful. God is just. God is caring. God is amazing.

Word.

March 25, 2008. Tags: , , , . Church, Lessons from God. Leave a comment.

Mark Driscoll on the Emerging Church

Guys, this sermon is amazing. It starts out addressing the emerging church, talks about the problems, etc. for about 30 mins, and then it gets into God’s Word and talks about why we reach out to the culture. The sermon is amazing. If you’re a Christian, watch it. If you’re questioning about the whole “God Thing”, watch it. If you’re not interested in God, watch it. Guaranteed, it’ll make you think, and for the better. It’ll be one of the most profitable hours you’ve spent.

 God Bless Mark Driscoll!!!!

February 28, 2008. Tags: , , , . Church, Lessons from God. Leave a comment.

Leading Worship

Ok, after thinking and praying about it, I’ve offered to play piano/lead worship for our youth group’s youth retreat in April. Normally, we have a very talented teen who plays the piano very beautifully lead, but she’s a senior this year and mentioned to me that she’d like this retreat to actually be a retreat instead of having to do worship team (as she’s done for the past 3 or 4 years!!!), but she didn’t want to say no to our youth pastor. So I offered to do it for her. I’ve never led before–played piano once for “big church” worship, so if anyone has any advice, let me know. I’m not positive I’m leading but I’m sure I’ll be singing, and pretty sure I’ll be on piano. I’d appreciate your prayers. Thanks!!!!

February 25, 2008. Tags: , , . Church. Leave a comment.

Sing, text, gossip, listen to the lesson

kiwanja_palo_alto_texting_3.jpg 

Few things irk me more than when people show disrespect towards others by distracting them in worship.

This is especially prevelant in youth groups. A core group is really striving to sing praise to God, to focus on the lesson, to learn from the pastor, and the other kids are goofing off, writing notes, TEXTING(!!!!!), and being generally disrespectful. It’s horrid. I’d challenge everyone who reads this and attends church or youth group–don’t be a distraction. Don’t just go to youth group for your friends, be there to worship the Lord. You’ll find it’s much more fufilling.

That’s my thought for the day. 🙂

February 24, 2008. Tags: , . Church, Lessons from God. Leave a comment.

Friends–one of God’s biggest blessings

Today, I was sitting on the couch nestled between one of my friends and the couch arm, watching “The Transporter” with several teens from my youth group. It never ceases to amaze me how relational God has created us to be, and how he brings such wonderful people into our lives! The people in that room have always been there for me–really lived out Proverbs 17:17.

 And while I was marveling over this (and while Jason Statham as “Frank Martin” chased down the bad guys in the movie) I also came to think about how weird it is that I was sitting in that room with those people, and genuinely having a good time. You see, these kids make up the “popular group” of our youth group. As any teen, I fought for years to be noticed by these people and to be “one of them”. That became my idol, my god, what I was living for.

A few months ago, my life fell apart. It seemed hopeless to me, but after God broke me down, He built me up–even stronger. During this process, I realized that I didn’t need to be accepted by these people, that I was just being selfish and looking out for myself, and that I really needed to be focused on God. Easy to say, but hard to do!!!!

So just when I get to the point that  I don’t care anymore about being noticed by these people, when I surrender those relationships to the Lord and get to the point that I could live without them and rely solely on God, wonder of wonders, He brought them back into my life, and put me in the group of people I so desired to be with.

 Now my daily struggle is not falling into the easy pattern of being disrespectful regarding my parents, and keeping my language and thoughts clean.

February 22, 2008. Tags: , , . Church, Lessons from God. Leave a comment.