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Friday, February 28, 2014

Who/What do I depend on?

I came to a great realization in my life the other day, one that I would like to share.  I would like to share this more to be held accountable to it than to exhort others, though I will be happy if this is encouraging to anyone else. 

It is known, I believe, that I have struggled here in Spain.  It is not because of Spain in itself, but because of everything that that I feel has been taken from me.  I grieve for what I miss and I have even been angry at times.

I have recently been reflecting more on this, because in my devotions, I read about how God wants us to completely depend on Him and be ALL His, so He weans us from other dependencies. Our security is in God alone, not in other people and not in circumstances.  It really made me think about what I have always relied on in my life.  I have depended a lot on my family, on my friends, on how things are done in my country, on my language, and even on having constant internet.  All of these things have been taken away from my daily life, which has caused me to realize how much I need to depend on God for everything.  While this weaning has been painful most of the time, I really want to come to a place where I am ALL God's.  I constantly find myself repeating, I trust you, Jesus.  I want that to be true. I still struggle, but I am also seeing a change in my heart.  In this major change in my life, at first I was fighting so hard against it.  It was exhausting. Now, I am trying to trust Jesus and let it all go, because "the eternal God is [my] refuge" and I can safely fall into His "everlasting arms." (Deuteronomy 33:27)


This picture has been used a lot in my growing up years as the background for worship songs at church.  To me it has always been the perfect picture showing someone who has completely let go and given all to Jesus. Head bowed and hands up, there is no quick rising to do his own thing.  He is completely vulnerable and full of trust, depending on his Heavenly Father.  That is my prayer.  

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Outsider - The tattoo edition


Outsider

I've been wondering if we start sinking
Could we stand our ground?
And through everything we've learned
We've finally come to terms
We are the outsiders

A couple months ago, I got a tattoo.  I have always wanted a tattoo, but I wanted to make sure it was something meaningful, something that represented who I am and who I will always be, something that I won’t regret years from now.  I was having Bible Study one night with Mandy and Christine and we were talking about how we are realizing more and more how what we believe as Christians is not seen by the world as “normal.” Some people just think we are crazy.  Some people don’t get it, but they may “tolerate” us as long as we tolerate them.  Others think we are hateful and judgmental.  No matter what people think, we are often put in a category outside of what is normal or acceptable.  Our Bible study was a way to encourage ourselves to live for Christ even if it goes against what the world thinks is normal. By the end of that particular night, Mandy and I decided to get a tattoo of the word outsider. 

This word has a lot of meaning for us.  It is actually inspired by a NEEDTOBREATHE song called “The Outsiders” (see a video of the song here: http://vimeo.com/12473130 ) but it is so much more than a fan girl tattoo.  While we both very much adore the band, we aren’t about to get something representing the band tattooed on ourselves.  But this word, outsider, really strikes home in a powerful way.

To me, it represents my life as a Christian.  I have seen how different I am in this world, how different I want to be, and how in this life, I will always be an outsider.  But this isn’t a tattoo of mourning.  Being an outsider is something I should never be ashamed of because I love Jesus and being an outsider, being hated even, is something Jesus promised would happen (Luke 21:17, John 15:21).  I can count it a privilege to be seen as an outsider because that means I am becoming more and more like Jesus!  It is a chosen lifestyle.  

So, this tattoo is a reminder for me to stay strong in my faith.  Especially here in Spain, it is so easy to get distracted by all the world has to offer.  These things can satisfy temporarily but as one who desires to do God’s will out of my love for Him, I need to constantly remind myself to seek out the more complete and satisfying way to live, and that is in God’s will. I also struggle a lot with people pleasing.  It is so easy for me to get caught up in wanting people to like me and forgetting that the most important thing is that God loves me no matter what. As an outsider, all that needs to matter is living my life for Christ and not conforming to the world (Romans 12:1-2).  That is where true freedom is!

On the outside, you're free to roam
On the outside, we've found a home
On the outside, there's more to see
On the outside, we choose to be

And now…pictures!




 


Monday, April 29, 2013

Making the Bible come ALIVE! Twinkle, Twinkle :)


This is something I wanted to write out so that I could remember it because I LOVE it. :)  Especially since I have been thinking more about understanding the historical and social contexts of the Bible by using facts as well as IMAGINATION (post on this to come!) to make the Bible and its stories become more alive.  Here is an example of that (I heard this as a sermon by Don Richardson).

First of all, many say that the Great Commission is located in Matthew 28:18-20, which is true, but it is not the only time nor the first time.  The first Great Commission is the Abrahamic Covenant in Gen. 12:1-3.  Near the beginning of history, God called Abraham to be a blessing to the nations and God promised that in Abraham, all the families, or nations, of the earth shall be blessed.  The Jewish nation was being called to be a light to the surrounding nations, to bring glory to God and to bring others to God.

Fast forward a few thousand years to the book of Matthew.  Many Jews knew that they were God's Chosen people but they saw it as an internal blessing, not as a commission to reach the nations for Him.  Then, Jesus steps in and he challenges that way of thinking.  Jesus has come to bring salvation to the Jews AND the Gentiles.  So, as Jesus trains his disciples, he is teaching them a whole new outlook on the world around them.

Knowing this, Matthew 10:5-6 may seem a little confusing.  Jesus tells his disciples to not go to the Gentiles but to the lost sheep of Israel.  But when you look at the historical and social context of the day, you realize that Jesus knew that his disciples were not ready to go to the Gentiles.  There were so many differences, so many ideas and prejudices that needed to be dealt with before going to them.

The most confusing passages, however, is Matthew 15:21-28.  Here, a Gentile woman comes up to Jesus and pleads with him to save her daughter who is demon possessed.  Jesus first ignores her (rude), then tells her He has only come to the lost sheep of Israel (limiting hope to one people group), then calls her a dog (a very offensive and prejudiced term used by the Jews in that day for the Gentiles), and then when the woman comes up with a clever little quip, Jesus exclaims how much faith she has (over exaggerating?) and changes his mind directly and heals her daughter (fickle).

Those reactions are how the story can be read.  But we know Jesus is none of those things.  We know he is without sin and exactly the opposite of everything evil or unkind.  So, what possibly could have been happening here?  Well, Don Richardson, with his creativity and imagination as well as knowing the culture and history of the day (and how the writers of the Bible write how things happened and do not include extra insights, like a twinkle in the eye, to explain the story more), created a little scenario of what he thinks went on that day (his idea and twinkles, my writing :) ).

 Verses 22-23: "And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, 'Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.' But He answered her not a word.  And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, 'Send her away, for she cries out after us.'"
                        Jesus hears her plea and waits to see how the disciples, whom he is training to love and help ALL peoples, will handle the situation.  They seem to be nearer to her than Jesus is to her.  But the disciples do not seem to care for her sorrow as they tell Jesus to just send her away because she is bothering them.

Verse 24: "But He answered and said, 'I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."
                          But is a key word.  The disciples wanted Jesus to simply send her on her way.  BUT, Jesus answered her.  At this point, he turns towards her and away from the disciples and uses body language that only this woman can see.  With a twinkle in his eye, maybe even a smirk, Jesus tells her that He came only for Israel.  This is a test for the disciples, to see if they have learned at all that Jesus came to save the nations. He is clearly trying to make a point and the woman picks up on that quickly.

Verses 25-26: "Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, 'Lord, help me!'  But He answered and said, 'It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs.'" 
                         Twinkle, Twinkle.  The woman is not offended as she knows that Jesus is teaching his followers and not treating her poorly.  The twinkle in his eye says it all.  The disciples are shocked that their loving master would say such a thing and look at her for a reaction.  She can hardly keep from smiling, but going along with Him, keeps the analogy going.

Verses 27-28: "And she said, 'Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.' Then Jesus answered and said to her, 'O woman, great is your faith!  Let it be to you as you desire.' And her daughter was healed from that very hour. 
                       The woman answers Him, even calling herself a dog, because she can already tell that this Jesus, Son of David, Lord, loves her personally and will help her daughter.  A smile probably broke out on her face and then Jesus laughs with her as he declares her faith and heals her daughter.  The disciples are flabbergasted...until they too see Jesus' face of love and are humbled at their initial reaction to the woman.  Lesson learned.  :)

This story may or may not have happened quite like that, but it sure is fun to imagine it!  Based on Jesus' character, and his Great Commission at the end of Matthew to go to ALL the nations, I would say this story is closer to what we initially may understand from this passage.   Go try it...make the stories of the Bible come alive in your mind!

Monday, April 22, 2013

So, Who Hallows God's Name? We usually think it's our job. Think twice.


I read a great article by Carolyn Arends in Christianity Today and wanted to share a little piece of it:

Every name we have for God is a revelation of his character.  So making his name holy must have something to do with revealing him here on earth. But a review of the human track record tells us this isn't our specialty....

In the shadow of the Cross, did Jesus observe all the wrongs - catastrophic and petty - we'd credit to him?  Did he see inquisitions and gas chambers, defenses against slavery and "God hates fags" placards? Did he anticipate the way we'd use his name as a political trump card, or speak for him and pronounce his judgements in the wake of tragedies?....

We can only guess at all he endured in the garden, but we know for certain that when one of his friends sliced off a soldier's ear, Jesus put it back on. "You can't hallow my name," the gesture seems to say, "if you're associating it with something I would never do."

This article made me think of a conversation with a friend in Spain, who questioned why I believed in and loved God when He was behind all the pain and suffering caused by the church there in Spain (Spanish Inquisition, Dictatorship using the church).  It broke my heart that she thought that way but I can see why.  I told her that things like the Spanish Inquisition were never what God intended.  We can't interpret who God is by the terrible actions of other people who claim to do things in his name.  He is a God that uses love to bring others to him.  I hope and pray that my life and love will show the people around me that the God I know is not the God of the wrongs done in His name.  Father, may You make Your name Holy among the nations!

Friday, January 4, 2013

See The One - My New Years Resolution

 Stop for the one. Love the one. See the one.   

These sentences have been going through my head a lot in these past few months. I have felt incredibly overwhelmed by the pain and suffering in this world, especially with all that has gone on in the last few months.  Sometimes, I just want to waste my life with distractions instead of caring, because caring causes pain.  But I know that is no way to truly live.  That is no way to have purpose and meaning in life.  That is no way to glorify God.  So, once again, I am convicted to be more intentional, more loving, more caring. 

And that is something I love to do.  But oftentimes, even that gets overwhelming.  There are just so many people who need help, love, and compassion.  How can I possibly make a difference, even a dent?  

I was listening to a message the other day, and the lady was talking about a missions trip to Brasil and how the team met an orphan boy and had fallen in love with him and wanted to raise money so that he could be sent to a Christian orphanage in the area and be cared for.  A Brasilian pastor asked them, "Why are you going through all this trouble to help this one little boy?  There are so many orphans in the country of Brasil!  There is no way that you can help them all."  And he was right.  There is no way this group could help all the street children in Brasil.  But that is not what God was asking them to do.  God put one little boy in their path, and they could make a difference for him.  This little boy eventually became a Christian and now works in a children's home helping children just like he was.

What would that little boy's life been like had they not taken the opportunity to help him?  And what about all the children he is loving right now?  This really spoke to me, because I oftentimes look at the big picture and have no idea how to help.  I need to refocus my attention on the one.  I can't help everyone.  But I can look for opportunities every day to help the one person God may bring into my path.  To love that one person.  That is my New Year's resolution.  I want to actively SEE THE ONE in my every day life.  I want to make time for and love others for Jesus, one person at a time.


"If I look at the masses, I will never act.  But if I look at the one, I will." - Mother Theresa 

 

Monday, November 5, 2012

SALAMANCA, SPAIN

I am excited to announce that when I return to Spain, I will be attending language school in Salamanca, Spain.  I have visited this city a few times and absolutely love it.

Some fun facts:

  • Salamanca was founded in 4th century BC (!!!)
  • Salamanca's university (where I may be studying) is known as Spain's answer to Oxford.
  • Salamanca's university was founded in 1218 and is the third oldest western university.
  • Salamanca is featured in the movie Vantage Point with Dennis Quaid.
  • Salamanca was declared a World Heritage Site in 1988 and the European Capital of Culture in 2002.
Some awesome pictures:

Plaza Mayor

Cathedral pictures
University Building
House of the Shells, famous building that houses the current public library
Roman bridge dating back to 1st century AD

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

COLOR Fun Run!


God is so good to me!  Last month, I was able to participate in The Color Run in Richmond with some friends and then go down to FL to help my Aunt move there as well as see some of my family and old friends, which was a wonderful time.  This past weekend, I went to my university for homecoming, which was another great opportunity to see friends before I head off to Spain.  I am LOVING these times that God is giving me to see people since it may be a long time before I see them again.

But enough of that...I know what you really wondering is: Why would you travel three hours to run in a 5k race?  Do you even like to run? (Quick answer, not so much)  WHAT IS THIS COLOR RUN YOU SPEAK OF?  Instead of writing any more, I give you The Color Run pictures!


And that was the race.  Super fun, getting blasted with color at each kilometer.  But that wasn't even the most fun part.  Cause their was a super colorful wonderful music filled after party! :)

                                      video

It was pretty much the most fun I have had running (and after partying!) ever.  To finish, here is the result of the color fun!


The Color Run - The Happiest 5K on the planet! :D