God

Live in the Space Between

be-still-my-soul.jpg

I have a confession to make. Sometimes I find it difficult to sit in silence and be still. Sometimes I'll be sitting and working on something and the quietness is overwhelming. It's crazy! I almost always end up turning on the TV or some music just to have some background noise. We are so constantly consumed with noise everywhere we go that the quiet becomes uncomfortable. We feel like something's missing and that we need to add noise. Isn't it crazy to think that noise and constant busyness have become so normal, that to some, the thought of being in silence for any extended amount of time makes them cringe? The other morning I read a devotional inspired by the hymn Be Still My Soul and it struck such a powerful chord with me that it brought me to tears. I'll admit it doesn't take too much to bring me to tears, but the power of the words “be still” resonated so deeply within my heart and soul that I began to cry. You see, I live my life in constant go mode. I may not be constantly doing something, but my mind is constantly spinning, thinking of so many different things within a matter of minutes. So I wanted to share some words from the devotional that hit me. She wrote:

Life is noisy. A hymn like “Be Still My Soul” gives me assurance that in the noise of life, my soul is held secure in the silence—silence that goes before and behind me. In the noise of my emotions or in daily work rhythms, the silence between the happenings is a constant. The silence helps me find my place in the world, to see who I am, and it makes space for my soul to listen to God. Even in the most joyful tones of life, as in music, the space between the notes is just as important as the notes themselves. (Shereadstruth.com)

“The space between notes is just as important as the notes themselves.” The funny thing is, as I was sitting there pondering this thought in my mind, I thought, "Ooh, I should go write a blog about this." But then that would defeat the whole purpose of just being still before the Lord, so instead I let the quiet of the moment wash over me.

I sat and looked out the window and watched the tree branches in my backyard blow in the wind. I could hear the tick tock of the clock hanging on the wall and just barely the sound of the wind outside. My mind is so cluttered with thoughts and to-dos that it is almost impossible to sit and let the noise inside fade away, but then I’m reminded of the psalm that says, “Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him.” Psalm 37:7

In the midst of all the things going on inside and outside our minds, we are still called to wait upon the Lord, to allow him to move and guide us, to allow HIM to move in our moments of stillness. I know I tend to get ahead of myself a lot of the time. One thing happens and I jump ahead to miles down the road of where I’m at, and then I start to worry. How will this turn out? What am I going to do? What is God going to have me doing a year or years from now? But what if this happens? What will I do if that happens? I even start to think about the "could've beens". Like, if such and such would've happened that could've been great, and so I let my mind wander in a thought that isn't reality. It all starts with one thought, but then leads down this rabbit trail of sometimes wonderful life scenarios if things played out differently and then horrifying scenarios of what ifs. But then this morning I was reminded by God's assurance, “Be still my child. I am with you and for you. I have everything under control.” God is outside of time. He is in control and He is not at all worried or surprised by the things that happen in our lives. We have to choose to walk in peace and not dwell on thoughts that lead to anxiousness and worry.

We can’t be afraid of the silence, of the space between notes. God is composing a symphony with your life. We have to allow him to move us in and out of the moments of high energy where every instrument is playing together a beautiful melody and to the low moments where we must strain to hear a line being played by a single violin, and then into those measures of rest, while we wait for the music to begin again.

until-next-time.jpg

Share on Instagram with #somethingmorelife

Ever, only, all for Thee

let-them-flow-in-endless-praise.jpg

“Take myself and I will be, Ever, only, all for Thee.”

I remember the spring I was preparing for my mission trip to Ireland and applying to be a leader on the team, I was asked the question that was something like, “What is God’s purpose for the Christian life?” Obviously there’s not a magic answer to this question. They were just looking at what we felt in our hearts God was telling us. I took some time to pray and study my Bible, and I clearly remember thinking it’s all about God. Everything in the Bible points to Him. My life should be all for Him and His glory If I’m not doing that, then it’s pointless. My purpose is to glorify God in everything I do.

Obviously that is easier said than done, right? It is in our human nature to want to make everything about us, to make sure the credit goes to us, to make sure we get what we want, to make sure that our own cause is being promoted. This leads us to a divided heart, and God makes it clear that we cannot serve two masters. It’s either all for us or all for Him, not half and half. We live in a me, me, me focused society, and I believe now more so than ever. With social media it has become the norm to promote our ‘best’ selves to the world and taking selfies has become just a usual thing that we do. And I’m not saying I’m not guilty of this kind of thinking in any way. This mindset has become ingrained in many of us in my generation because we grew up in it, although that is no excuse for our actions.

It’s either all for us or all for Him, not half and half.

I want to challenge you to be different than the norm. After all that’s what we’re called to do right? There’s a hymn that goes, “Take my life and let it be, consecrated Lord to thee.” It goes through stanza after stanza proclaiming the message, God take everything I do and let it sing your praise, let it bring you fame!

There’s a verse that says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” In this passage people were concerned about whether it was right or wrong to eat certain foods, and so Paul addresses them by saying, “you are asking the wrong question. Examine your heart and see if what you are doing glorifies God.” It was more of a heart thing than anything else.

When our hearts remain in a place of awe and wonder of who God is, we can’t help but live our lives every second for his glory.

So examine your heart, and keep on examining it daily. Ask God to show you parts of your life and actions that are divided. Ask him to show you things you are putting above him and seeking the glory for instead of giving it to him. It may be hard to hear, but allow God to speak and transform your heart. He deserves all the glory. Remember all the things he has done for you. Ask him to show you how great his love is for you. Ask him to help you understand more and more how great and powerful and big he is. When our hearts remain in a place of awe and wonder of who God is, we can’t help but live our lives every second for his glory. Ask God to help you live your life for Him and Him alone.

Take My Life and Let It Be Frances R. Havergal, 1874

Take my life and let it be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee. Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in endless praise.

Take my hands and let them move At the impulse of Thy love. Take my feet and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing, Always, only for my King. Take my lips and let them be Filled with messages from Thee.

Take my silver and my gold, Not a mite would I withhold. Take my intellect and use Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it Thine, It shall be no longer mine. Take my heart, it is Thine own, It shall be Thy royal throne.

Take my love, my Lord, I pour At Thy feet its treasure store. Take myself and I will be Ever, only, all for Thee.

until-next-time.jpg

What to do When Life Gets Hard

to-live-is-christ.jpg

I love the reminder fall gives us. As I feel the temperature dropping and see the leaves changing I am reminded of the ever-changing seasons of life, more so our spiritual lives. It’s a funny idea that God who never changes, created us and the world around us to constantly change. Every Christian goes through high and low seasons and it is what we do through those seasons that determines the strengthening or weakening of our faith. We all love the high seasons when doors are constantly opened for us and everything seems to go right on track. When we sense a freshness in our spirit. When we always sense God guiding us and walking with us everywhere we go.

It is the low seasons that we don’t like very much. When we feel like God is far from us, and don’t sense His presence guiding us. When nothing good seems to come our way, only bad news after bad news. It is in these times that we can begin to doubt, when we can begin to listen to the lies of the enemy trying to scare us from pushing through. But it is also in these times when we can choose to cling even tighter to Christ.

This can be seen so clearly in the life of Paul. If anyone can boast about suffering it’s this guy right here. He was shipwrecked as a prisoner on a ship, bitten by a deadly snake and survived, stoned, beaten and whipped, imprisoned without a trial, yet he was the very one who penned the words to “live is Christ, to die is gain, but if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ.” Phil. 1:21-22 Even in prison he was praising God, and because of that prisoners and even the guards heard of the Gospel message. Paul lived with an eternal mindset believing that the things he did on this earth in whatever circumstance he was in could help further the Gospel. That is what he lived. He lived a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul lived with an eternal mindset believing that the things he did on this earth in whatever circumstance he was in could help further the Gospel. That is what he lived. He lived a life worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What an encouragement that whatever suffering we are facing in our lives it can be used for God’s glory. I know it sounds strange and a little confusing, but think of it this way. When people see you going through hard times, and you say no matter what that you will praise God that speaks something to them. It also speaks something to the devil. It tells him that it doesn’t matter what he tries to do to you because you will still praise God. It tells him that you will not stop following after God and leading others to Him.

In my devotion this morning a line stuck out to me it said, “Suffering emboldens us because when we are face to face with our worst case scenario, we see Jesus staring back at us.

“Suffering emboldens us because when we are face to face with our worst case scenario, we see Jesus staring back at us.”

I have been in a place like that in my life where it seemed like nothing I tried to do alleviated any of the pain or heaviness I was feeling, and it was then when God was who was left standing there. This caused a huge shift in my life. I determined to cling so tightly to God, to walk with him daily in prayer and reading His word. And wow, what a change that brought to my life. It was through a season of suffering that I learned to rely on God and nothing or anyone else.

So don’t let hardships of any sort that try to come against you stop you from running to what God has for you. If something is difficult, or scary that probably means that you should run even harder towards it because the enemy will try anything to keep you from what God has in store for you. And don’t be afraid of losing because we have the ultimate finisher on our side, the one who always finishes victorious!

Read these words from Paul in Philippians 1:20-30

"Paul’s Life for Christ

20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better.23 I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.

25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. 26 And when I come to you again, you will have even more reason to take pride in Christ Jesus because of what he is doing through me.

Live as Citizens of Heaven

27 Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. 28 Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. 29 For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him.30 We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it."

until next time
until next time

Grace in Action

grace-in-action-e1441933483523.jpg

Grace. This word carries with it many different emotions. It has even in the church become somewhat of a swearword. People have heard too much about how grace covers sin and then seen people mistreat it by living however they want and then saying, “It’s ok because I’m covered by grace.” Even pastors say it from the pulpit, usually in conjunction with a topic of sin that many people probably struggle with, so to make people not feel “condemned” they follow it up by saying, “but for those who have ________ (you name it, had sex before marriage, had an affair, have a problem with drinking, gambling) it’s ok because God’s grace is enough.” True, God’s grace covers our sin, yet we, yes WE have taken grace and abused it. Grace doesn't say, “I've covered your sin, so you’re cool to keep on sinning all you want.” No, it says, “I have covered your sins, so you are free of the chains that sin places on you, now go and walk in freedom from that sin.”

Grace says, “I have covered your sins, so you are free of the chains that sin places on you, now go walk in freedom from that sin.”

When we read accounts of people in Scripture who encounter and understand grace, it causes a change in them. They don’t continue to act in the same way. They are compelled and strengthened by God’s grace to walk uprightly and to follow after God with all that they are.

Isn’t that cool to think that God’s grace strengthens us? At the end of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian church, we learn that Paul has what he calls a thorn in his flesh. It was so bad that he begged God three times to take it away from him, but we read on that God’s response isn’t to take the pain of whatever his thorn was away, no, he says, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” It is in those moments of weakness when we feel like giving up and caving in that we can rely on God’s strength to get us through.

Grace allows us to no longer have to walk in fear, but in freedom. Freedom to boast in our weakness, so that God’s strength is what other’s see. Freedom to not have to give in to our flesh, but to walk in the Spirit. Freedom to do the things God has called us to, despite our inadequacies because He will give us all we need to accomplish his goals.

We all have a past, and we’ve all made mistakes, but it is by God’s grace that those things can be turned around for His good and perfect will. Just think about the story of Jonah. Jonah was completely off the grid when it came to following God’s direction. Instead of doing what God wanted him to, he ran in the opposite direction. God used Jonah’s disobedience for His glory. It says that after the whale swallowed Jonah and the storm ceased the sailors that were on the ship with Jonah vowed to serve God. Even though Jonah was completely going against God’s will, God used it for His glory. And in the end, I think Jonah learned that disobeying God isn’t a great idea and stinks a little ;).

So like in the story of Jonah, God’s grace allows for mistakes and for us to make dumb decisions, but then He comes in and redirects us and puts us back on the right path. I think we can also learn that it would probably have been a lot better for Jonah if he had obeyed God the first time, but that’s grace in action. And finally, with grace active in our lives helping us to grow and learn, we get to be used as vessels by God to do some pretty amazing things, like turn a whole city back to God! Just read Jonah’s story and see what God did through Jonah, it’s only a couple pages long, so it only take 10 minutes tops.

until next time
until next time

We're Good at Forgetting

2015-04-life-of-pix-free-stock-photos-face-girl-sea-jessica-polar-e1438310074217.jpg

Why Remembering the Past is Just as Important as Looking Ahead to Where God is Leading Us

It's kind of funny the emotions you can go through reading the Old Testament. In some places it's like this constant up and down, up and down, up and down, and before you know it, you're mind is going crazy and you feel like it might explode. Ok, maybe that might just be something that happens to me, but if you've ever read lengths of the stories of the kings who followed God and then didn't or of the Israelites wandering through wilderness going from praising God to hating Him you will probably understand my feelings.

One thing I know is that God is very patient, but in no way do I want to test His patience because after seeing what happened to Kings and prophets and many other people who did so, well let's just say, that's not something I ever want to happen.

Right now I'm in the middle of reading through 2 Kings, and it just blows my mind how they can go from one king completely following after God and destroying all the idols and temples to other gods, to the next king completely disregarding God and worshipping false idols. And it keeps happening over and over. The same thing happened with the Israelites. They believed God would lead them to the Promise Land, but as soon as they were free and faced adversity they wished they could go back to being slaves. Then there was that time Moses went up on the mountain and was gone for a little while, and the Israelites grew impatient, so they decided to make a golden calf and worship that, instead of God who had brought them through so much.

Did they forget how God led them through the wilderness by a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night? Did they forget how God split the sea so they could walk across without having to even touch the water, and how God brought the sea back together so that the Egyptians who went after them were drowned? Did they forget how God provided them food to eat and water to drink? Did the kings forget what the people went through to get to the Promised Land? Did they forget God's promise to provide for them and give them favor as long as they obeyed and followed him?

We can so easily look at the lives and stories of these people and go, "What were you thinking?!?" but in reality we do the same exact things. We simply forget. We forget what awesome things God has done in our lives. We forget the things He has promised to us, so long as we follow Him. We forget that God is all-powerful and because we forget we do not fear Him, as we should.

We forget, just like the Israelites did, just like the numerous kings who, instead of following God like their fathers did, chose to completely forsake Him.

I found myself after I had gone through a really tough season asking God to help me to never forget what it felt like during that time. One reason is because I never want to go back there again, but also because I want to never forget what God brought me out of and the joy and peace I now have in Him.

It’s crazy how when we stop and reflect on the past through the lens of how God moved in certain situation we remember the goodness and faithfulness of God, and if He was those things in the past, He will be now and in the future. It is so important to remember the past, not to get stuck in the past, but to use it to say, “Yeah, I know God said this or did this in that situation, so I know He is still good no matter what happens today, in a month, or a year from now.” I pray that we will never forget and turn from God like the kings in the Old Testament did. I pray that we never grow weary like the Israelites who took an 11-day journey and turned it into 40 years. Let us keep our eyes fixed on God and remember that who He was, He still is, and will always be.

until next time
until next time

Dress for the Occasion

rolling-pants.jpeg

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” Colossians 3:12-14 MSG

If you were invited to a wedding you would dress for the occasion, right? If you're a girl you'd find a beautiful dress and probably wear heels and some jewelry, and if you're a guy you'd probably put on a button up shirt and grab a tie or bow-tie, and maybe even wear a suit if you're feeling extra dressy. If you were going for a run you wouldn't wear heels and dressy clothes though. You would need shorts and a t-shirt or tank top and definitely running shoes. What we wear is often based on what we are doing, and in this passage it says God has called us to live a life of love, so we need to dress for such a lifestyle. When we put on an outfit we are presenting something to others, a lot of times it's one of the first things people notice about us. So think of it that way. Are the first things people are noticing about your character things like quiet strength, discipline, forgiveness, kindness, compassion, and contentment? Or do they see someone who is easily upset, impatient, always having to be right, holds grudges, rude, and arrogant? As I examine myself I see a mix of both. There are times when I nail it and handle a situation with kindness or humility and then other times when I become impatient or I find myself being lazy and not practicing discipline. I think we can all relate to that, unless you're Jesus and perfect. So how do we clothe ourselves in these qualities daily?

1. Prayer

It is so vital to be in constant communion and communication with God. Jesus said, "Abide in me, I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you ABIDE in Me." (John 15:4) I love this illustration of our relationship with Jesus. If a branch becomes disconnected from the vine it no longer receives the nutrients it needs to produce fruit. Just like a vine, we cannot produce fruit such as love, patience, compassion, and so forth, unless we are connected to Jesus. God, who is the true vine, IS love, which is at the root of all these things, so if you want to be able to love and show kindness and humility, it's going to take continually abiding in Him because like Jesus said, we cannot bear fruit unless we abide in Him and stay in constant communication with Him.

2. Surround yourself with those who will call you into abundant life

This is so important. Just today I was reminded of that. It was just a little comment they made that made me realize the way I was thinking about something was not based in love or in the way Jesus would have. I was convicted and realized I needed to be Jesus to these people because Jesus loved those that everyone else passed by. Our close friends, the ones we talk to about life, should be those who are themselves striving to walk daily in the love of Christ. You will be able to tell who is and isn't by their fruit, just like I mentioned earlier. Do they have peace and joy in their life or do envy and bitterness follow them wherever they go? Are they willing to confront you in love and call you to walk in the same or do they listen and agree when you're wallowing in self pity over something? So what kind of life to do you want? I know I want a life filled with love. So make sure you have compassion, kindness, humility, a quiet strength, discipline, contentment with being second place, an even-temper, forgiveness, and most importantly love in your wardrobe. Realize these are essentials that God picked out for you to wear everyday. I hope as you get ready for your day tomorrow you will look to the wardrobe God assigned you and be sure to dress yourself for a life of love!

until next time
until next time

Even When It Doesn't Make Sense, Keep Walking

nqzca7prtyuduzpszq88_wanderlust.jpg

Walk. This is a word I have been hearing God speak to me over and over lately. The first time I heard it, I was kind of in the middle of a pretty serious conversation, and I kept hearing him say walk. I was having this fight between me and God in my head. I was like, “but God I can’t just get up and walk right now, and plus there’s nowhere for me to walk. It’s a pretty busy street out there.” But he persisted and so I reluctantly got up and told the person I was with that I would be back in a little bit. I got up and walked. I was like “Ok God, what do I do now?” It was then that he talked me through a decision I needed to make and helped me see things from a new perspective.

Then later in the week I heard him say again, walk. So as I’m rolling this word around in my mind trying to understand why God is telling me walk I hear a sermon from two different pastors on the story of Jericho. If you’ve been around church for a good amount of time you’ve probably heard it. It’s about how God told Joshua he had given him Jericho and all he had to do was walk around the wall of the city with his army and the priests once every day for six days and on the seventh day walk around it seven times, and on the seventh time as they are shouting and blowing horns the walls of the city would fall down. If hearing two different sermons wasn’t enough, the Bible reading plan I’m going through took me through the same passage of scripture, and I’m like, “I hear you, but it doesn’t make sense.”

Which is probably exactly what the Israelites thought when they were walking around the wall of Jericho. They were probably thinking, “What’s walking around this city going to do? We are warriors. Why don’t we go into battle against them?” And at the end of each day without anything happening they probably started wondering if this was all just a joke and God thought it would be funny to see if they would just keep walking around the wall. But they still kept walking. The scene from VeggieTales runs through my mind whenever I think of this story where the peas aka soldiers who were from Jericho are singing a song that goes, “Keep walking, but you won’t knock down our wall. Keep walking, but she isn’t gonna fall. It’s plain to see, your brains are very small to think walking will be knocking down our wall.” I can picture the men from inside Jericho laughing at the soldiers in Joshua’s army just walking around the wall and not fighting anyone. Think about it. They must’ve looked pretty silly. (By the way here's a clip from the the scene if you want to watch :) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXM2o_Hb9Ls&list=RDQXM2o_Hb9Ls#t=30)

There are a lot of times in life when the ways God tells us to go about things look pretty silly to those around us. They may try to tell us that what we’re doing isn’t making any difference. They may laugh in our face and tell us we’re wasting our time just walking around our metaphorical wall of Jericho waiting for something to happen, but the point is, God’s ways oftentimes don’t make sense to the world.

In my case, God was telling me to walk away from something because it was keeping me from something greater. Then he continued to tell me to walk, into the dream and vision he has given me.

The things I am doing right now seem insignificant to me. They don't make sense for what I feel like he is calling me to. I mean I’m just working a few part-time jobs trying to make enough money to pay off student loans and in my free time trying to serve in different ways at my church. I don’t know what things will lead to what, but I trust that God has something in mind and he most definitely isn’t finished.

Just like in the story of Jericho, the men had to walk around the city walls for six days, and each day they saw nothing happen. Imagine if they would have given up after the sixth day. Imagine if they would have said, “You know what Joshua. I think you may have gotten your wires crossed when you were talking to God because nothing’s happening and what is one more day going to do?”

If they would have lost faith that the promise of God was true, they would have never seen Jericho delivered right into their hands when they walked around the city the last time on the seventh day.

God is telling us to keep walking. This thing that you’re facing, this dream that you can’t seem to grasp, this healing that you need, is yours. Don’t lose faith because IT’S YOURS! The LORD tells Joshua, “I have given you Jericho, its king and all its strong warriors.” (v. 2) Later on the seventh day when the army had marched around the city six times Joshua commanded them on the seventh time, “Shout! For the LORD has given you the town!” (v. 16) We think that we have to somehow prove ourselves worthy of God and his promise of eternal life, but he has already given it to us. All we have to do is accept, and when we receive him, we receive his spirit in us which enables us to tear down walls!

Whatever it is for you that you’re walking around, whatever your Jericho is, God has already given it to you. You just have to keep walking. Because who knows if the next time you walk around it, it will be the final time it takes to make the walls fall right before you and enable you to walk into the promise God has for you.

until next time
until next time