Rescuer

There comes a point when you lose sight of the shore.

When you have been treading water for much too long and the waves begin to overtake you.

When you’ve run out of energy and are prepared to let yourself sink to the depths.

Giving up.

Drowning.

Letting go.

—-

In life, we are consistently faced with a choice in our struggles. It’s a choice to sink or swim. A choice to keep treading water or to give into exhaustion and let go.

The fact is, I am not aware of anyone who has not experienced a moment where they feel as though they are drowning. And that’s okay. We weren’t promised a carefree life. If we were, we wouldn’t really need Jesus, would we?

I noticed something today in the song Oceans, by Hillsong United. In the pre-chorus we hear “And I will call upon Your name, and keep my eyes above the waves”.

It’s not a cry for the Lord to swoop in and lift us out of the water. We know that our Savior can walk right over that ocean like it’s nothing, but that’s not what the song cries out for.

It’s a call for just enough strength to see over the waves. Just enough to make it through.

Just enough.

God is more than capable of rescuing from the depths of the ocean, He is capable of infinitely more than we can ask or even imagine.

But sometimes, having to trust Him for just enough strength to make it through the storms of life is all we receive. Does that mean that God is unable to draw us out of our struggles? Not at all.

Does it mean that He is, in fact, unfaithful? Also no.

The thing I have noticed about life is this: this struggle will not last. There is an end in sight, but there will be other struggles and other painful moments to follow. Sometimes, it will seem never ending, but looking back there is so much growth that happens in difficulty. There will be point after point in life where you are pulled to the right or to the left, and are left with a choice. 

Do you allow yourself to be pulled under the waves?

Or do you trust the Lord of the Universe to give you the strength to tread water just a little longer?

 

More Than Gold

Where does your value come from?

Do you find it in your job? In relationships? In getting good grades?

In school? Family? In trying to love the image you see in the mirror?

In finding love?

In finding happiness?

Is it from being wanted or needed?

In always seeking something better?

Do you rely on the possessions you own or those you hope to own someday, because those will finally make you happy?

In the car you drive? The phone you use? The shows you watch on Netflix?

In what others think of you? In fitting in?

Where does your value truly lie?

Because I can tell you wholeheartedly that you can never find your importance in anything this world has to offer you.

It will never, ever come close.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

I keep coming back to Psalm 139, where these verses come from. It’s really beautiful scripture and every word just hits me over and over.

You are so loved.

You are so loved.

You are so loved.

And then I forget it, every time.

But sometimes God makes his incomprehensible character visible to me and I think I get to just catch a glimpse. He knows me so well, that it is always in something beautiful like a sunset, in unconditional love from a friend or in a song, and it brings me full of tears to my knees.

And I am reminded again, “You are loved.”

Each and every once of us wasn’t just some mistake and every part of us was perfectly placed just as it is. Knitted, I love that word, knitted, in our mother’s womb starting day one, but planned from the beginning of time.

I am fully convinced that if we truly understood how much God cares for us, we would be crushed by the magnitude of His glory and grace. Crushed.

Yet our measly little human brains just don’t get it.

So we go back to forgetting where our value comes from and we find it in everything but Christ.

Yet when God created the Universe, He knew right then and there that in 2017, the world would need one of you. Reading my ramblings on your computer or phone, right where you are.

Broken pieces and struggles, accomplishments and all.

I guess what I am trying to get at is this:

What is the point in finding your worth in all the things of this world when you can find it in something so much better?

What does it matter if you have everything you could ever want on this Earth if you never know how loved you are by the Lord of the Universe?

What’s the point?

Maybe it’s just because I needed a reminder myself, but I hope you remember this now and always… You are worth more than you will ever comprehend to someone who died to know you. Because what matters isn’t the superficial things we try to fill the voids in our hearts with or try to find our value in.

What matters is Christ.

You are worth more.

Welcome to the Family

A few weeks ago, as a result of someone in my life being curious about Christianity, I reached out to others I knew for advice: I asked them what they thought the most important things to tell someone new to a relationship with Christ would be.

You know when you’re expecting something good but you get something more awesome than you could have anticipated? Yeah, me too.

All their thoughts were just too good not to share, so here they are!

Advice for New Christians (and reminders for ‘not-so-new’ believers too!):

“Above all, seek Truth. Once you find that, everything else falls away. And God’s word is ultimate truth, so trust in that and seek Him. All Jesus said we have to do is knock, and the door will be opened. So all you have to do is knock, and Jesus will come the rest of the way to pursue your heart.”

” 1. Being a young believer is the sweetest, yet sometimes the most difficult time in your walk, but every difficult time you encounter, The LORD brings you a step closer to Him and His plan for you! Never stop praying. Talk to God when you don’t understand something. Tell him about your heartache, your hopes, your frustrations…everything! He wants to hear from you. There’s absolutely NOTHING you can’t go to Him with. 2. You are going to fall short. We really all are, and we will until we take our last breath. But man, let me tell you, life with Jesus is a life I never thought I could have, until I did. Your eyes are opened to literally a new world filled with love from the LORD and the Holy Spirit. It’s not all easy and smooth, but when you hold tight to Jesus, everything you thought was impossible is super teeny tiny now. That’s God. He has power. 3. BE loved. Crack open a Bible, reflect on the love you are freely given. Ask God the big questions. You are never alone. Find community, and even though the world and it’s temptations feel bigger than this whole God thing, they are truly not. HOLD FAST, because you are never being let go of, unless you choose to let go.”

“Congratulations, you just made the best decision of your entire life. But it’s not a magic potion, life will still have its usual ups and downs. But this time, you have something worth fighting for. God will stand before you and behind you as you walk through each day. It will be hard at times, but cling to Jesus and the hope he has now given you. In the end, it will always be worth it. You are redeemed, you are a new creation, and you CAN do this. You are worthy. You are loved.”

“Becoming a Christian is one of the biggest decisions you can make. It’s laying down your will, accepting imperfection and loving without bounds. Confusion and questions will come, you’ll doubt, but rather than give up, search. Search scripture, many of the people of the Bible doubted too, and they leaned closer and asked God themselves. ‘I do believe, but help me with my unbelief!’ (Mark 9:24)”

“Always try to surround yourself with fellow believers; people who will build you up, encourage you, keep you accountable and help you grow in your faith. Always try to read your Bible when you can. It is like “daily nutrition”, the more you ‘eat’, the quicker you’ll grow. Search for Him in all areas and aspects of your life, and ALWAYS give Him the glory! Learning to trust God is hard at first, but it makes your faith stronger. You have to have patience and faith in His plan for you. He will never let you down and we can always count on his promises. When you’re faced with a decision, God’s Word is the place to go! PRAYER, that’s a big one. God loves when we talk with Him. Always put Him first in everything you do and decision you make.”

I hope that whatever walk of faith you are at right now, whether long time believer or never even considered Christianity, that this advice will inspire you in some way. Blessings!

a Mountaintop Experience

“Times, whether brief or extended, where the power and presence of God was so palpable that it felt as if the veil between heaven and earth was very, very thin.”

As a responsible and motivated college student, naturally I decided to skip class one day last week.

I wish I could give you a justified reason for it, but in reality I just couldn’t do it anymore.

The last few weeks I have done a really good job of walking away from God, even though I am facing situations where I need Him most. After spending the whole summer with my friends and having everyone only a text away,  the start of the school year was a rude awakening. Frankly, I just feel lonely – when I am around others and when I am alone in my room. It is a constant ache and I haven’t figured out how to heal.

It is in those situations that you are supposed to turn to God, to put more prayer into our daily lives and to turn to Him in our loneliness, but for me that was easier said than done.

Finally, I drove to a nature center close to my house, searching for someplace where I could find God. I walked as fast as I could up the hill to the top, and out of breath I cried out to Him.

There is something very surreal and beautiful in these kind of moments. You see what is around you with very different eyes than you might normally, but I still wasn’t finding the comfort that I was seeking.

Two hours and more tears than I could count later, I felt a lot different. It wasn’t the mountaintop experience I was desperately searching for, but somehow it was better.

The reality was that I learned a lesson from this.

The Christian life is no smooth ride.

That being said, it also isn’t going to be some amazing experience every day where you feel God in every moment and you just know that He is there. You won’t always be “on the mountaintop”.

The truth is in the pursuit, are you willing to search each day for a reason to believe? Nothing can separate us from God except ourselves, so the question is why we manage to do so constantly.

God is in the tears. He is in the quiet moments; when you are studying or reading or simply just experiencing the silence. He is in the loud and overwhelming. He is there in the laughter and he rejoices when there is a smile on your face.

Just let that sink in for a minute. 

He is with you, alongside you, right now.

Whoa, man.

Why are we willing to talk ourselves out of something so beautiful?

The Lord of my life has pulled me into an eternal embrace, holding onto my feeble heart each and every day. I do not have to feel alone, ever. What’s more? He wants that with you too, even when you do not feel close to Him – even when those “mountaintop experiences” are over.

 

 

Rock Bottom

I once read a quote that said, “Sometimes God lets you hit rock bottom so that you will discover that He is the rock at the bottom”.

It’s short and sweet, but it has a deeper meaning too.

We tend to only consider God’s presence when something good is happening in our lives. Blessings, we believe, come from God and we thank him for them when we pray around our dinner tables or when we struggle to come up with something to say during prayer time at church. 

We ask him to bless us, we thank him for the good things that we have in life. 

Get this, we give glory to God when he does so in return for us. Doing well in school? God’s work. Job promotion, loving relationship? God’s doing. It is much to easy to cite him as the source of our blessings and accomplishments in life. 

Yet when something bad happens and our world comes crashing down, the mindset switches. 

Now if there is a death or a tragedy, we blame God. “How could you do this to me?” we ask through tears of pain. It is God’s fault and all the gratefulness and cries of praise vanish. 

We don’t thank Him for the situation we are in, rather our view of his glory becomes quite the opposite.

It is a common misconception that life with God in it is great, and that life is easier and there is no pain.

Even though we know this to be true, most of the time we struggle to really believe that things could ever really get bad. But the Bible never promises that there will be no sorrow, no death, and no hurt. I have read enough of it to know this as fact. The point of pursuing a relationship with Him isn’t so that your life can be all ‘rainbows and butterflies’, but rather gives you the resources to trust that it will get better and that whatever God has planned for you is always going to help you. 

It is ONLY, ALWAYS out of love. 
So praise him in the storms of life! 

Most people can see God working through life’s greatest moments, but can they see His desire to comfort us in sorrow? 

If He is deserving of your love in the joyous times, He is deserving of it in the times where joy is hard to find too. 

This is something we all struggle to remember sometimes, but God’s grace is proficient in that he reminds us as soon as we begin to slip away. 

Your most profound and intimate experiences of worship will likely be your darkest days – when you feel abandoned, when you’re out of options, when the pain is great – and you turn to God alone” -Rick Warren

Guard Your Treasure

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot firm from evil. {Proverbs 4:23-27}

I want to talk about something really important to me: purity.

In a society governed by sexuality and immorality, it is nearly impossible to tell what is right and what is wrong if you are not grounded in the Word day in and day out, which quite frankly I don’t know many people who do, certainly not me as hard as I try.

Today I would like to focus specifically on purity.

Purity covers a large spectrum of values, but the most obvious is sexual purity, or refraining from sex until marriage. As a sacred act, it is vitally important that we remain abstinent for our future spouses and our own well being.

But just because you haven’t done ‘it’ yet doesn’t excuse you from staying pure. I used to know someone who preached purity, but she dressed in inappropriate clothing and did other sexual things with her boyfriend. Am I the only one seeing the problem here?

Purity covers our eyes too.

Looking at another person with lust, dressing to show off our bodies, watching pornography or simply talking about things that are not appropriate that leave images in our minds is just as important. Finally, as the verse above says, guard your heart. By keeping your eyes on Jesus and not allowing Satan to tempt you into impurity, your heart will be grounded in faith. This means praying or reading your bible when you feel tempted, instead of falling into that temptation.
Purity is what sets Christians apart, especially with the world like it is today. We are God’s people, in whom the Holy Spirit lives and it is important to honor God with our bodies and minds by staying pure.

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”