Thursday, December 17, 2009

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Take Heart!

Life. It's a roller-coaster, isn't it? The good, the bad. The pretty, the ugly. The joy, the heartbreak. The simple, the complicated.

Most of the time, I think we find ourselves caught somewhere in between. At least I do, anyway. We spend our time consumed with escaping one end of the spectrum and pursuing the other, and yet most of the moments that make up our existence are found somewhere in between. In all this 'in between,' however, it can sometimes feel like we're being torn in two between the two extremes, and all the shuffling around and back-and-forth makes life a little more difficult than we'd like at times. A little more complicated when we'd prefer it simple. A little more painful when we'd prefer it happy. A little more outer conflict or inner turmoil when we'd just simply prefer a peace.

I'm certainly not a super huge Aaron Shust fan. I mean, I like the guy and all, but I've never really fallen in love with his music. Case in point: I won his CD about a month back and just got around to opening it up and playing it for the first time a couple days ago. And, timely enough, on track number ten I found just the prayer that I needed to help express the aforementioned inner turmoil that has found me in this 'in between' of life. I've had the song on repeat for at least two days now.

Breathe in me, breath of God.
Mend in me, this wounded heart,
That I may know You've made Your peace with me.

Music has never failed to bring words to my emotions at just the right moment. But in the middle of one of the most difficult days I've had in the midst of this tumultuous in between stage that I'm currently facing, I experienced something I don't think I've ever quite experienced before. Something altogether more powerful than any fitting, human-constructed lyric or melody.

I received a Word.

I was brushing my teeth, mind completely lost on something far from my life circumstances, when suddenly, completely out of nowhere, the words "In this world...I have overcome the world" came to mind. Though already running late for class, I did a quick glossary search for the word "overcome" in the back of my Bible and found John 16:33 -

"I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. BUT TAKE HEART! I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD."

Even in the chaos and confusion, life doesn't get any better than that.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Singleness of Heart

single [sing-guh l] – Not divided; unbroken

So many different messages are aimed at the ‘single.’ Particularly in the Christian circle, the message of looking to God for your only source of satisfaction and fulfillment, rather than another person, is prominent. And while this is all good and true, I wonder if maybe there aren’t other aspects of our lives – whether we are single or not – that we try so hard to fill by ourselves, even under the guise of doing it for the glory of God.

Looking to other people or things to fill a void in our lives is truly a tale as old as time. Relationships, food, money, drugs, alcohol – those are among the ones you hear of most often, and those are the ones that are typically most obvious. But what about the areas of our lives that are done in the name of God, or ministry, or making Christ known? Could it ever be possible that something in THAT category is done not with a singleness of heart, but instead looking partially for personal fulfillment through it? I say yes. Yes it can. No, not always, but that is where I discovered myself to be last night.

Case in point: I LOVE the thought of adventure. I have a great aversion to leading a ‘normal’ life. I want to go somewhere exciting. I want to do something exhilarating. I want to do it for God, but I also want other people to envy my experiences. I am also impatient. I want it to happen NOW. I don’t want to stay here and go to school. I want to go to Belmont and major in Commercial Music Performance. I want to go to Christ for the Nations. I want to go to YWAM DTS. I want to go to Hillsong College. I want to go to China for six months through IMB. Basically, I want to do ANYTHING to get me out of HERE as soon as possible in the name of God. I am CONSTANTLY trying to come up with SOMETHING to make that happen. And if you think I’m over exaggerating, I assure you – I am not.

But then it occurred to me: looking for adventure, even in the name of God, to satisfy my longing for excitement and purpose is just as wrong and futile as me looking for a relationship or anything else to fulfill me. My point is not to say that we shouldn’t dream big dreams or attempt extreme things for God. I will be the first to tell you that it is God who initiated those longings in us in the first place, and that they should be pursued and not suppressed, as seems to be the trend. (But that’s a whole other blog for another time). Indeed, I think we’d have a whole lot less unhappy people if everyone pursued the longings and desires God has placed in them, rather than settling for “safe” or “convenient” or, heck, even “normal.”

My point, however, IS that often without noticing, our desire for the ADVENTURE or the sense of purpose, or whatever, can end up overshadowing our desire to be satisfied with God alone, as is the case with me. I’m learning that if my single, undivided, unbroken pursuit is to be satisfied and fulfilled by God alone, He WILL satisfy that hunger for adventure in me; I have only to be satisfied in seeing Him in where I find myself now.

Psalm 17:14-15 says, “…You still the hunger of those You cherish… when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing Your likeness.”

What about you? Is there any area of your life – even a part that is FOR God – where the desire to be fulfilled by the thing has overpowered the desire to simply be satisfied by God alone, wherever you are? Rest assured, you’re not alone, and that we serve a God of patience, grace, and second-chances.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sing a Song of Hope

There is a strategy in the midst of the difficulty.

That is what was written on the piece of paper that fell out of my Bible today, in my own handwriting, though I have no idea from when or where it came. Timely words considering the happenings of my past week, and so very fitting. Some time ago, in the not too distant past, I essentially gave up spiritually. A variety of circumstances contributed to this; however, what resonated most profoundly with me was the sense that all of this ‘Christian’ stuff – all of the prayers and faith and hope – was merely a way of masking our pain, simply a way of coping. I remember quite clearly arriving at the conclusion that, while I still believed there was a God, I no longer believed that He was as involved in our lives as we’d like to think He is. My reason for this conclusion? I had been praying for quite a long time – years, in fact – for answers and solutions and direction in my life, and still, nothing. Silence. That’s when I decided to take things in my own hands. That’s when I decided I would take charge of my life. That’s where I went wrong, and for those who know my story at all, they know how much grace was extended to me and poured into my life to bring me to the place I am now.

Presently, though, I find myself hearing that same voice in the back of my head – the one telling me that all of this spirituality is just a coping mechanism for this life, and that maybe God really doesn’t care after all. Maybe it all IS up to us. I would describe my prayer life lately as feeling like I’m running against a wall – a big, strong, tall wall that I am certain to never budge. So why try? Why even keep this up? I’ve been praying up a storm, and absolutely nothing is happening. Nothing except more negative circumstances, anyway. Maybe I was right about all of this in the first place.

But then, I know, logically that thinking makes no sense at all. Of course I don’t believe everything is relative, so why do I live that way when my circumstances are bad? It’s as if, when things are going great, I have a really strong faith and think great thoughts about God, but the second things turn around and seem impossible to overcome, I start questioning the point of faith and whether God even really cares about me at all. But can God really only be good when MY personal circumstances are pleasurable? No. Who God is, is NOT dependent on my circumstances. HE is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and on THAT consistency I must cling when things don’t make sense.

No other outlook could have caused me to spend an hour-and-a-half-long car ride yesterday, with no air or radio or music of any kind, singing at the top of my lungs. I know myself well enough to know that a day filled with failed and foiled plans, no food, nearly being blown up, and a lengthy car ride of silence would be enough to make my mood less than pleasant. Yet, I can’t help but sense that all of this is building up toward something, and if I just keep pushing forward, that wall that I’m running against IS going to come down. And all of this will makes sense, because there IS a strategy in the midst of my difficulty.

Oh, and another thing that makes me so sure of this – half of the songs I sang while in the car yesterday, music-less, were songs I hadn’t heard in quite some time… until this morning in church. I’m just sayin’. Something’s about to happen. And it’s going to be awesome. :)

Join me in claiming these very powerful truths:

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need

This is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved of more worth than gold
So refine me, Lord, through the flame!

I will bring praise! I will bring praise!
I will rejoice! I will declare:
GOD IS MY VICTORY and He is here!

This is my prayer in the battle
When triumph is still on its way
So firm on His promise I'll stand!

I will bring praise! I will bring praise!
I will rejoice! I will declare:
GOD IS MY VICTORY and He is here!


I will bring praise! I will bring praise!
I will rejoice! I will declare:
GOD IS MY VICTORY and He is here!

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The 'D' Word

Despicable. Deceitful. Destructive. Disconnect. Discontent. Disenfranchise. Defamation. Distrust. Disloyal. Dislocate. Disclosure. Disassociate. Disregard. Disengage. Detestable. Derogatory. Disrespectful. Delusional. Dimwitted. Desolation. Deprivation. Deranged. Disparage. Denigration. Derogation. Discourteous. Disdainful. Derisive. Dismissive. Disobliging. Difficult. Dishonorable. Daft.

But why, God?


“If you can’t get past this, the enemy of your soul knows all he has to do is put that trouble in your path to get your focus off God.”

But which way, God?


“You can miss God’s best if you do not learn to trust in God, to forgive, & to respond in love.”

But what does that look like, God?


“You begin to blossom when you say, ‘O God, give me perspective I’ve never known’.”

But what if I fail, God?


“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors.”

But how, God?


“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Attitude Adjustment

I told a good friend Saturday morning I could tell I was in need of a major attitude adjustment. Little did I know I was about to get just that, and at a great cost.

For me, life has been pretty busy lately, and stressful. And I've allowed myself to get swept up by it, not keeping priorities straight. And thus, my attitude on life in general has gone out the window, as I have not maintained a proper perspective on my surroundings. It is because of this accumulating pile of crap in my life that I am where I find myself now - watching some of the things I hold dearest simultaneously fall apart, wishing to go back in time. After all, everything is 20/20 in retrospect. Yet in the midst of the circumstances I find myself in, and in an attempt to reestablish perspective and attitude I should have, it has occurred to me how much it must pain God when He doesn't hear from us or when we ignore Him. It is painful enough in our own lives to go an extended period of time without hearing from someone we care deeply about. But how much more does it hurt the One who demonstrated the ultimate example of love by dying to save us when we simply get too caught up in the busyness of our lives to talk to Him? His love for us is SO much greater than we can comprehend, therefore, how much more must it pain Him when we ignore Him? More than words can express. Consider my attitude adjusted.

He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Give us a picture of Your face

Show us the measure of Your grace
Reveal the love of the Father
Put within us tenderness
Release from us ALL selfishness

We are Yours
Give us hearts of servants