Still a Mystery to Me

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“…the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints.  To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” -Colossians 1:26-27

I sit, my back against the concrete, my face warmed by the afternoon glow of the sun.  The afternoon is quite warm for a November in the Midwest, but the pleasant weather allows me an escape from the looming cloud of finals.  As my Christmas music plays through my earbuds, I think back on the semester, and God’s goodness revealed in it.

God has done so much in my life this year, and it brings me to tears just thinking about all of it.  He started by showing me my need for growth in areas I was not even looking.  He has given me a deeper love for scripture, not just the knowledge of scripture, but how the Word of God can impact my heart and life.  I have drawn so much closer to my Lord and Savior.  I have seen the power of the gospel work in people’s lives, and watch people whom I never would have picked be drawn to the Lord.  I have been overwhelmed by the love of my family, both my biological family and my church family.

As for outreach, God has softened my heart to the nations, and I have physically wept over people groups who, “are without hope of God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12)  The Holy Spirit has comforted me multiple times concerning the perfection of God’s timing in the salvation of lost friends.  I have been able to disciple a younger believer in her faith.  I have been able to council others in ways I could not have imagined, and have been able to show hospitality to the international students and freshmen at my university.

While I have been overwhelmed by the work of God this semester, I have also had my lows.  I have had my sin struggles, and valleys in which I have felt tired or unworthy.  Yet in it all, I have found that God’s love is greater.  The deeper I dive into the love of God, the more I am astounded by it.  I am such a sinful, unthankful, discontent woman, often acting more like the rebellious nation of Israel than a saint and daughter of the King.  “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ, for by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:6)

I am still amazed by the love and grace of God.  I do not understand it.  How can a God so perfect and holy, whom I have betrayed and rejected and forgotten still want me?  I had denied the perfect One whom I was created to know, whom my very existence was meant to glorify, and yet He did not let me go.  He pursued me, like an insane, faithful man would pursue a promiscuous wife.  Not only that, but once I came to know His love and repent from my old ways, He gave me a purpose and future.  I do not understand this mystery, and yet I am in the middle of it.  I am wrapped in a blanket of God’s love like an unborn child is surrounded by the whom of His mother, unable to fully see it or touch it, and yet it is what gives me life.

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Perfection Vs. Excellence

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This post is a good reminder for everyone who struggles with perfectionism or wants to be motivated toward excellence. Source: Perfection Vs. Excellence

I hope this was an encouragement for your day as it was for mine.

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” – Colossians 3:1 NASB

Between Two Homes

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Coming back home from my Spring semester of college, I have a lot of stuff.  There are crates, totes, and boxes full of clothes, books, and decor.  I do not think it will ever get completely unpacked.  I’m also leaving for the summer to go on a missions trip, so I will just be packing some stuff right back up again.

It feels like I am in a state of constant transition, needing to be ready to leave at any time.  This stage reminds me of how Christians are supposed to be in the world, but not of it, remembering that this world is not our home and that we should be ready at any time for Christ’s return.

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” -1 Peter 2:11

We are visitors on this earth, we no longer belong, we are to no longer be concerned with the passions of the world, but with the things of Christ.  When I came home, I realized how much stuff I had that I did not need, junk that was weighing me down.  As Christians, we should realize how much baggage we tend to carry with us from our life before Christ.  There are things in life that I held on to when I was less sanctified that God has taught me to let go of and trust to Him.

So, like college students switching getting ready for adult life away from their childhood home, so should Christians be ready to leave at any moment for their home with Christ.  In the world, but not with it.

 

Right to Life

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“That they are endowed by their Creator with certain, Inalienable Rights.  That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” – Thomas Jefferson

Over 7 million Americans have been stripped of life before given a chance to live it since 1973.  Each killing has been pronounced “legal” by the American justice system.  Yes, I am talking about legal abortion in the United States of America, the “Land of Opportunity.”

I am a college student, and for the past two days, a pro-life organization has been on my campus, displaying posters that reveal the horrors of abortion.  It’s hard to miss, it’s in the middle of campus.  I hear the discussion around me every time I pass it.  I am thankful for the people raising awareness about the crisis of the unborn.  I talked to one of the volunteers yesterday and heard about her passion for life and her desire to raise awareness, especially for women who could find themselves in an unplanned pregnancy. I signed under “yes” in their poll asking whether or not abortion should be illegal.

I do not get too upset about many things, but the right to life is a hill I will die on.  It makes me sick to hear people talk about taking the life of a fetus nonchalantly, as if the future of our nation did not hang in the balance, as if those lives were not human.  I can have a discussion, and have, with people who do not like abortion but are questioning whether or not a woman should have a choice, especially in cases of rape.  I can understand people who find adoption not a good alternative to abortion, since the US adoption system is in such need of reform.  At least they are thinking about the cost.  It sickens me to hear people talk about those pregnancies as an inconvenience, those children as less than human.

Those who are pro-choice, think about your desire for human rights.  You champion the rights of adult women, their “right” to choose.  How can we have any rights if our right to life is not first defended?  Your mom chose to have you, aren’t you thankful?  I should be thanking my parents every day that they did not choose to legally terminate my life.

I think that everyone should be given the chance to live.  We all deserve to take our first breath.  How is a choice a right when it takes someone else’s life away?

If a girl I knew had an unplanned pregnancy, I would rather adopt her unborn child, possibly at the cost of my higher education, rather than have her choose to end that child’s life.

You were granted the right to life.  Think about that.

What Love is This?

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I write this as I mourn for the heart of a lost friend.  I am in the first semester of my freshman year of college and I have learned more about God and my faith than in my whole life.

This summer, I went on a mission trip which opened my eyes to the scope of God’s unconditional love.  I fell in love with kids I had only known for a few days and really bore their struggles with them and desired for them to have relationships with Jesus.  I cried for joy when I saw two of the girls come to salvation and wept after I left the camp with my family.  I remember thinking that if my love for these kids could be so great after being with them for a few days, how great is God’s love.  He created us and knows us intimately and desires a relationship with us.

I was hit by this truth later at summer camp, when the Spirit made me truly believe that God cares about every little detail in our life.  “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”  God created the stars and put the earth in motion.  He knew exactly which stars we would see and when we would live.  He puts each person and event, even the small moments, like a hug from a friend or a beautiful ray of sunshine in the afternoon, in our lives purposely.  Nothing escapes his notice.  “Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.” (Psalm 8:3-5)  It is amazing to think that he made each of us differently, with unique lives and circumstances, and yet he is ultimately in control.  I cannot wrap my mind around it.

Flash forward to my third month in college.  I have just finished a conversation with a friend I have been praying for from the first day I met.  I have been waiting on the Lord, trusting for his promised salvation.  I crave the faith that Abraham had, “when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance.  And he went out, not knowing where he was going…For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:8, 10)  He waited for the promised son for twenty five years.  I have been waiting to see my friend’s salvation for three months, and I wrestle with discouragement.  But God has been showing me something greater.

I thought I had learned a lot about God’s love on my missions trip, but I have learned even more in the three months that I have been in college.  God calls us to love the people that will never love us back, or who cannot love us the way we love them.  Even when those people hurt us when we are trying to be an example of Christ to them, we are still to love them.  I have found that while it is hard to love those people, it is nearly impossible not to.  This is a supernatural love from the Spirit.  I have felt such a burden as this for several people, but three stand out in my memory.  One of those, and the one I am closest to has never really experienced unconditional love.

For the past two days I have felt a greater pain because of the sin of someone else and a greater burden for that person’s salvation than I have ever felt in my life.  It hurts, but it is a hurt filled with hope.  My efforts will not save this person, but God is still using me.  As he is using me, he is revealing to me his love.  Not only does he love this person more than I do, he loves everyone with this type of love.  I am astounded at the love Christ felt when he went to the cross.  Did he cry when he was being nailed to the tree?  I believe he did, not just because of the physical pain, but because his heart was broken for the people he saw.  In the garden of Gethsemane, he prayed for those who would come to know him.  In the darkest moment on the cross, Jesus cried, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)  He was not just asking for those mocking him at the cross, but for every person who mocks the love of the Savior.  For every person who has let their heart be hardened to God’s unconditional love, Jesus asks forgiveness.  That is incredible love, and it brings me to my knees.  It comforts me and strengthens my faith.

At a time in my life, especially in my faith, where it looks like I should be under extreme pressure in stress, I feel more peace and love than I have ever known.  Yes, I struggle.  Yes, I feel pain, but hallelujah!  I feel the love of my Savior.  This is how I know that though my circumstances look bleak and the future is uncertain, I can rest in my God.  He is my rock and my refuge.  He is my ever-present help in time of need.

“I believe

that I shall look upon

the goodness of the Lord

in the land of the living.”

-Psalm 27:13

 

Junior Year

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It’s been a while since I’ve written a post on this blog, a real, thought-provoking blog post.  This one, while it might not be thought-provoking, is at the least, an update, an explanation, a window into my life.

I feel like I have not written anything in forever, but it’s only been a little over a month.  I was so diligent to keep up last year, but this year, my blog has fallen from its priority spot.  Life has had other plans.  My energy for writing is mostly taken by work and school.  Because I tend to work in the mornings and do my homework in the afternoons, I have time in the evenings, but use it to be with my family or friends. (Confession: I do sometimes waste time on the internet, more often than I’d like.)

I did not realize how crazy this year would get.  This school semester, I have had to start thinking about college and life after school!  There are so many big decisions for such a small person to make.  I have so many more responsibilities that I have to take care of.  Looking at schools, studying, filling out scholarship applications, it’s hard sometimes.

What is the point of this post?  To vent? To ramble and make it look like I actually have something of substance to say?  Maybe, but I like to think that I’m offering up a tiny slice of the pressure, emotions, and business I’ve felt this year, and it’s not even March.

Speaking of March, the business has yet to come.  My first school dance, the junior prom, my biggest dance recital of the year, a big test, and the Latin Convention (I’m a nerd, yes) all happen in March.  I’m honestly looking forward to all of it, but to keep from getting overwhelmed, I’m taking it one step at a time.  One step at time.

To the Real Men

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I was talking with one of my friends recently, and I realized, when she was telling me about some of the boys at her school, how blessed I am.  I have grown up surrounded by men of character, who love the Lord and others.  This post is for you, to recognize you and thank you.  My life would be so different without you, and I do not always realize that fact.

Thank you first to my daddy, who has always treated me like a princess.  You taught me to love God and what a man of God looks like.

Thank you to my brother, who works to grow in his relationship with Christ and encourage his friends to do so.  Thanks for showing me how other young men should treat me.

Thank you to my gradfathers, who have always freely given me their love, time, and energy.  You all demonstrate unconditional love.

Thank you to other male relatives, cousins, uncles, and others who have always treated me with love and kindness.  You have made a difference in my life.  To my young cousins: look to these older men who have walked with the Lord as an example for you.

Also, thank you to my many awesome guy friends.  I don’t always express how much I appreciate you.  Thanks for:

-Treating me with respect

-Letting me hangout with you guys

-Buying me food when I don’t have money or just because you’re that cool

-Helping me with bags, backpacks, etc, that I can’t carry

-Lending me a jacket/coat/sweatshirt when I need one

-Letting me beat you at any sports/games or at least letting me play

-Swingdancing with me even if you really want to dance with Hannah 😉

-Loving God

I would also like to thank all the men who serve at my church. Pastors, elders, deacons, volunteers, and even those who participate in corporate worship.  Thank you for loving the Lord.

Finally, to all the fahters (and mothers) who have raised such great men.  You did it right, good job.

You godly men are a blessing and a rarity.  You have had such a great impact on my life even if you don’t know it.  Our world needs more men like you.  Thank you.

I Made It

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This is my happy birthday to my blog post. I have actually written enough on this blog to make it last one year. I’m very proud of myself, because I never thought I could make a hobby last this long. Am I the only one? I’m sure there are others out there who have difficulty finishing things that they’ve taken up.
Sewing projects, knitting projects, book ideas, and many other things have been half-way completed, or less, never to be finished.
So here is my tribute to my blog. Happy first birthday!

It’s Not About Who You Are

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After reading part of Max Lucado’s No Wonder They Call Him the Savior, I was bothered by this phrase which I hear so often in the world around me, “God loves you for who you are.”  While I understand why people say this, I disagree with the wording of this phrase.  If God truly loved us for who we are, He wouldn’t love us at all, since we betrayed and rebelled against Him.  Furthermore, if God loved us for who we are, then sin would be no big deal.  By saying that God loves someone for who that person is, one is saying that God’s love is conditional.  All three of these things are false, therefore, God does not love us for who we are.

God created man in His image, and He created man perfectly.  God loves His creation, and man is included in that love.  God loves man because He created man.  At that point in time, man, Adam and Eve, had a perfect, whole relationship with God.  Nothing came between the first two people and God, they completely loved, trusted, and shared with one another.

Sadly, this perfect world ended with the entrance of sin.  When God created man, He gave man the ability to choose to love Him.  Adam and Eve chose to sin.  Sin is rebellion against God.  God hates sin because it is everything that He is not, evil, twisted, and deadly.  When Adam and Eve sinned, they were no longer able to experience God’s perfect love.  God had to force Adam and Eve out of the garden, because a holy and perfect God cannot be near sin.

Every human being since Adam and Eve has sinned, we are all sinners.  People are defined by their actions.  All one has to do to look into another man’s heart is to observe his actions.  Thus, anyone who sins can be defined as a sinner.  Because God is holy and we are sinners, He could have and should have destroyed us.  However, God is a loving, and merciful God.

God did not want the story of the world to end with the destruction of man, so He provided a way of restoration in the sacrifice of Christ.  Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  God loves us, not for who we are, but because of who He is.  He is love, as 1 John 4:8 points out, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  God loves man unconditionally because it is a part of His very nature.

Finally, if God loved us for who we are, i.e. what we do, then there would be no reason for anyone to repent of his sin.  God, because he is holy, hates sin.  God judges sin, because sin is fundamentally evil.  Over and over in history, individuals and nations have fallen because of their sin.  Sin is a problem.  Thankfully, God has provided us a way to turn from our sin and back to Him.

In conclusion, we should praise God that He does not love us for who we are, that He does not treat us as we deserve.  Thus, I think that we should amend, “God loves you for who you are,” to a much more beautiful statement, “God loves you because of who He is.”