Thursday, January 30, 2014


Taking it step by step to class that morning,
simple snow flakes falling sweet and soft graces my cheeks with chill,
and my heart worn right numb by the shocking news of a friend's diagnosis,
and prayer becomes more passionate,
and faith becomes more tested,
and questions become more furious and loud.

Yet in contrast to the storms of my soul,
my eyes dance trying to follow the frozen water beauties poured from the sky.
So simple.
Simple like the fact that sustained me in moments of guilt.

guilt thinking of my friend and cancer and all the real suffering in the world and how I let these stupid lies tell me that the impossible towers I scurry about with worry and doubt day in and day out are worth building: idolatrous towers of perfection and looking skinny and shiny and being invincible.
How wasteful of my precious time here.
How minimal compared to the glory of the Gospel, the real simple that God breathes as a gift when we breath Him in.

Because He soothed me over all with the simple verse in Psalms when I cracked open my Bible with tears for my friend, tears for how screwed up my conception of life and what matters is,
He soothed me with this:

"The voice of the Lord is heard over the seas;
the glorious God thunders and His voice echoes over the oceans."
-Psalm 29:3

In the face of the storms,
the insurmountable things like death,
like cancer,
like eating disorders,
like the heart break,
like worry,
like fear,
like condemnation,
even the decay of the body,
or the hope-flame flickering after life blows like a hurricane.

His voice is heard.
It has the final say.
Not just a whisper, not some faint thing mixed in with storm-- He's over the storm.
High above it.

The lightning of His promise-- it cuts right through the dark like a dagger.
And it always wins over the dark.

It echoes constant, that following thunder.
Echoes over trail, over turmoil.

Yes, that's the hope I hope in.
That's the God I praise.

Because a dear sister told me that day, over lunch, how she feared and she fretted over the things of this world.
And then the simple won again, and she asked herself: "So what? So what if my fear comes true? I come closer to God in the trial. And that is the sweetest thing."

God has healed for eternity,
He has won for eternity.
And His gifts of Himself are forever.

Simple as that.

"Praise the Lord from the earth,
sea monsters and all the ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
strong winds that obey His command."
-Psalm 147:7-8

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Jesus Project Week 3

This week's verse made me hungrier than ever. 
A Holy Experience  Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us The Jesus Project MemoryProject2014 UPDATED Printable Bookmark with List of Verses
It made me realize just how little I have dipped into this ocean of fullness and miraculous that is following Jesus Christ. 
It made me realize that I have not even come close to realizing what this whole grace thing is. 
He shows me in gifts daily, and sometimes I don't even see it.

This week's verse said the Word became flesh. 
The Word.
God Himself. 
I picture Him as Isaiah encountered Him, just for a moment overwhelmed at this God whose very presence forced Isaiah to the ground crying out in utter realization at his hopeless sin.
I picture my Jesus who is the one John saw with eyes that blazed like fire, wielding a two-edged sword, with a voice roaring like a waterfall-- a fierce warrior who I have the gift of intimacy with.
I am even more overwhelmed that this is the same God whom I was chatting with walking back from chemistry lab pouring out my exhaustion, praising Him for His complex creation. 
Floored, to say the least.

And He came in fullness of grace and truth, the verse goes on to say. 
Nothing had ever come like this before.
In fact, those who saw this glorious Savior King in gracious flesh form--walked the same streets He did, breathed the same air He did, looked into His very eyes-- they didn't even recognize Him.

And I asked myself-- do I?

I thought back to that dinner with friends over Christmas break, and the girl who asked me, "What is grace? I don't know what it is?"
Before I could utter a prideful line about the definitions I'd gotten in my fancy Christian college courses, 
before the mouth could raise up pompous plumes trumpeting my own intelligence, 
the Lord said-- but do you know the fullness of grace and truth?

Because that's God.
Grace and truth.
That's Him. 
Knowing grace and truth is knowing Him. 

I've missed it often-- distracted, doubtful, believing lies, seduced by the world, played by sin and playing in sin.
But the good news is, He gives one blessing after another out of the fullness of His grace-- 
God, that Mighty God-- He made Himself known by becoming uncomfortable, gritty, weak, lowly flesh-- all so we could see Him, full of grace and truth.
What a gift.
His grace covers my lack of acknowledgment of what His grace really is-- 
that He is loving always though I did not love Him always, 
that He is always with me though I ran from Him for so long, 
that He has made me His friend though I try so hard to be bound by earthly expectations that whisper lies in my ear, lies that I'm still His enemy, that I don't have the victory,
and like a good shepherd He reigns me in and whispers the Truth and that is grace to the full.

I don't want to miss that grace, 
because He gives it abundantly, everywhere, bursting like fireworks in moments of a mundane day and rushing toward me like a joyous fountain ever increasing in refreshment as I ever increase in thirst for it.

And that  fierce Savior warrior I read about in Revelation, 
the one who became flesh,
do you know what He said when John fell at His feet?

"He placed His right hand upon me and said,
'Do not be afraid! I am the first and the last, I am the living one! I was dead but now I am alive forever and ever. I have authority over death and the world of the dead.'"
-Revelation 1:17b-18 

Could you imagine the touch of the one who is so mighty and holy words fail to capture it?
Could you imagine His urging you not to fear?
No need to-- He does this for you and I who know Him in His fullness of grace and truth.
He helps us conquer the grave and the sin and the things that are stopping us from seeing the fullness of His grace all around.
It's everywhere indeed.

Let us be hunters of grace by following the grace-giver, the one who fights furiously for us, the one who pleads on our behalf, 
the one who became flesh for us.

Join me in writing more grace and truth on my heart, 
indulge in this verse for the week, 
let it nourish:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Does grace scare you?

It's a humbling priviledge to share God-whispers with you here.
To share a message with no agenda, no secret motivatoin or rhetorical machinery to win over an audience by writing skillful and cunning.
To just let the ink pour into a journal like water through a faucet,
like God's message through this weak human heart with holes galore, more open to receive His whole promises, His strong messages.

After a night of sharing with sisters at my favorite Bible study--
which is not anything like the Bible studies I've known; it's a God encounter, a time to close the eyes and breathe in a Savior and feel His grace vibrate over the walls of your lungs and your vitality--
after praying in a community that I'm so thankful for,
after praying that I would know His love, oh, He answered me so suddenly.

Did you forget about my grace?
He says
To me,
to you,
to all of us humans who complicate the one truth that's bursting wild with joy and solid promise.

Did you forget about my grace?
That ooey gooey goodness, the filling that you never knew existed before you knew Him? 

Don't qualify it.
Don't earn it.
Listen to it.
Soak it up, indulge in the gift you don't deserve but have abundantly overflowing.
He calls me.

And then that moment when God can plant a new seed in the heart that seems to rumble and erupt from the soil furiously, becoming a rainforest from a seedling in a split second;
a morsel of truth that could change everything;
to me it sounded like this:

Does it scare you that you don't deserve it?

How the Lord read my heart in that moment.

Does it scare you that you can't earn My Love?
That's not my Love.

Because His perfect love casts out all fear.

And He knows I feel like I'm falling every time I take those steps to let go.
He knows that I am so afraid of losing grip, holding it all together.
 But that's exactly what grace requires.

Not gained by performance.
Not a set of qualifications, a list I can meet.
Nothing I can do.

It takes me letting go to know that grace never lets go.

 My dear perfectionist, type-A, control-loving friends,
the ones who feel this heart, who might know or might have known these words I write here tonight-

Don't forget the grace that's always there. Let go, because grace is letting go to know that He's never letting go of you.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Jesus Project Week 2

I love that the Lord is not like the world we see all around us.

Where love is handed out only if you reciprocate or exceed its investment in you,
Where most everything is done for personal gain,
And there are no absolutes to plant your shaky feet on.

Before knowing Christ I longed for absolutes, searched for them hungrily, let them rule my life. 

I remember that 18-year-old girl who put her whole hope in the absolute certainty of a career in the United States Air Force, who thrust all energy and effort into gaining the ultimate joy understood at the time: an appointment to the United States Air Force Academy, a dream realized.

I remember that girl who only ever felt complete when they gave her nice certificates and awards and peer's parents said, "Wow, you're doing something amazing," and the words honorable and special and prestigious went before her name and her goal in life. And she built a high pedestal for these things, never dreaming they could collapse.

I remember the utter devastation when going to the Air Force Academy was all she dreamed it would be and more, when she had a sure job, a sure purpose, a rock solid sense of worth and achievement,
and then the words "Medical Discharge" destroyed that pedestal she'd worked so hard to build, uttered by a bedside doctor with cold eyes and a smile that was rotten with false sympathy.

I remember the depressed months, the dances with anorexia, how it seduced  me all the way to the edge of a cliff, the edge of my very life.

I remember a broken young woman, 19, sobbing in a hospital bed, ashamed of the skeleton she'd become.

And then I met the Light.

Yes, the light, the light who shines in the darkness.

And best of all, the light was the one sure promise that does not fail, because the darkness has not overcome it.
A Holy Experience  Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us The Jesus Project MemoryProject2014 UPDATED Printable Bookmark with List of Verses

Far removed from the pain after walking with a Savior,
living a life where that tale I just told, that story I call "my past,"-- it just seems like a bad nightmare that cannot touch me now because every day is an experience of abundant, sure, everlasting grace and nothing less,

I can see now how the darkness did not overcome the light. 

I can see how the things that promised my death and despair, that were rooting for my ruin, the lies, the shame, the circumstances, the emptiness after being robbed of hope after placing it in false things,
they didn't stand a chance because this Light who is the love of my light, He always overcomes the darkness, and has since the beginning of time, and will forever and ever. 

So walking in the first week of a semester of grace, how could anything compete with that truth?
Easily, a frazzled heart laughs after lab reports and quizzes and tests.
But even that skepticism, even the imperfections that still dwell in me,
they still are no match for the Light that wins over the darkness every time,
the Light who in all things works on me and wins, even when for a foolish moment I think my judgment of the contrary is right and doubt begins to threaten.

And in this sure thing, that the Light came and defeated darkness, life is nothing but fullness of grace.
And in this sure thing the Lord gave grace by giving Himself, the Undefeated One, so that the things of this world might not touch me anymore as I approach His glorious throne.

What about you, friend?
Do you know the Light?
And if you do, do you really know that the Light has overcome every darkness in your life, whether you acknowledge it or not?

Join me in the next week of grace written on our hearts as we memorize with Ann Voskamp's Jesus Project. 
Here is next week's morsel of God's glory sure to satisfy every soul that works with it, let's it transform them, breaths it in:
 A Holy Experience  Scripture Memorization for the Rest of Us The Jesus Project MemoryProject2014 UPDATED Printable Bookmark with List of Verses

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Real Key to Success this Semester

It was amazing how ancient words spoke through to an anxious college student's heart that first morning of the semester.
 Words spoken from the God of gods to a man who had unimaginably gargantuan shoes to fill-- the very shoes that brought two stone tablets down from the presence of the Holy God.

Yes, this Joshua man, he had a lot ahead of him:
to cross a river
to conquer nations
to seize the Promised Land

And here I am shaking in my shoes to face a day of Biology and Organic Chemistry.


But all that was heard in the midst of daunting was this:

"Joshua, no one will be able to defeat you as long as you live. I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will always be with you; I will never abandon you...

Be sure that the book of the Law is always read in your worship. Study it day and night, and make sure that you obey everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

Remember that I have commanded you to be determined and confident! Do not be afraid or discouraged, for I, the Lord, am with you wherever you go.'"
-Joshua 1:5,8-9

The success, it begins and ends with the Lord's sure promise of a constant presence.
His constant presence is not the tool for success, 

it is success.

Remember that place, that Mount Zion that the Psalmist longed for more than anything, like he was a desert yearning for fresh rain after a thousand years of drought?

"One day spent in you Temple is better than a thousand anywhere else;
I would rather stand at the gate of the house of my God than live in the homes of the wicked.
The Lord is our protector and glorious king, blessing us with kindness and honor.
He does not refuse any good thing to those who do what is right. 
Almighty God, how happy are those who trust in You!"
-Psalm 84:10-11

How I camped in these verses over my Christmas break. 
How I delighted in moment by moment basking in the presence of God, knowing Him more, adoring Him more deeply, treasuring every Word for what it is: His presence breathed onto a page to be inhaled within my heart.

On a vacation where the days were laden with hot chocolate and gift giving and coffee dates with old dear friends, how could it not be easy to grow in His presence.
No stress.
No distractions.
No commitments, no requirements no demands.

And here He has laid out the big shoes to fill-- the academics, the demands, the successes to be had--but here's the thing: the successes aren't really getting the good grades, keeping up with the studies.

No, the success is continuing to dwell in the Temple every moment with even deeper devotion, with even deeper trust and courage when the environment around me is a whirlwind of temporal worry and earthly expectations.

Making the eternal hour of Calculus a time of worship to the riveting God who invented all of it.

Making the wild days of running about on campus never too busy to be saturated with His Word, retreating to His presence, going out with His presence before me, returning with His presence as a blanket over the reflecting of my day. 

The success was already won on the cross: full access to His presence.

We have succeeded in the semester already, fellow students. 
Success is alive, and He lives in you.
Know it this semester.

Monday, January 13, 2014

The Jesus Project Week 1

It's amazing how appropriate the first week's verse was for my armor today.

Armor I bear with a smile;
excitement to return to my favorite college in the world reacts with the first day of school jitters and bubbles up with some stresses and wake-up calls, assignments and syllabi, the hour-long wait in line to get textbooks and the deadlines pile high.
But still, as stress tempts to steal the hope I have in Christ, it is this armor I repeat on my breath constantly like furiously gripping to a lifeline.

He is my lifeline.
And He was there in the beginning.

I memorized it and wrote it a little deeper on my heart by deeply engraving it with the rough edges of letting it live in my life's storms
"In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God."
-John 1:1

Because when eyelids flipped open to the yank of an alarm ringing in my dorm room, I realized my only chance at anything this semester was to place the Word, my Savior Himself, at the beginning.

This Word through which everything was created and for which all things were created.
This Word who is the Mighty God of gods.
This Word who is able to keep me from falling, brings me faultless and joyful before His glorious before His presence.
The Word who holds all things together.

His glory, knowing Him and grasping at more of who He is, it's really all that matters.

Even when you didn't read the syllabus saying you had a chapter due tomorrow.
Even when you're missing friends and family, and the chill of academia seems too cold after a warm three weeks at that place called home.
No matter what, the one who knit me together in my beginning,
He is my beginning,
and if I don't make Him that every day,
I am missing out on the greatest gift of God.

And I often tire at these cliche messages to make time for God.
But it's more than that, He tells me:

It's making His glory the highest priority in the midst of the mundane.

It's staying joyously praising no matter what because you understand and simultaneously do not understand the greatness of the gift that dwells within your heart: the gift of God.

It's having the very breath of God flowing through the lungs and filling the words that exit the lips and singing the lullabies in a head frantic for peace by holding His scripture high in new light and deep devotion.

And so, I ask you friend, what did the beginning and the Word and the Word being God mean to you as you soaked in it this week?

Also, here's next week's verse. I can already see it's power, but I know God will exceed any expectation I might have for these words.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Papercuts and Prayer

It was in the fifth mile of a treadmill workout, speaking silently to my Heavenly Father as hurried steps and quickened breath paced my conversation of grace.
It was there that God said, "Tell me, what's really wrong?"

Praying for more and more humility lately, and boy, does He deliver it in extravagant mercy
Praying to Him I find myself doing something often: trying to make downplay the painful emotions I feel, avoiding them when I pray because they are too easy. 

Here's what it may sound like for any of us:
I can handle the sting of that insult on my own.
I am feeling lonely, but I just need to suck it up. 
God will laugh in the face of these silly little prayers when martyrs are bleeding and children have starving swollen bellies and bombs are exploding off in the Middle East.
This emptiness isn't suffering, it's all my imagination.

Then I see an example that my very Saving Father uses when He walked the earth: children.
He says, 
"Some people brought children to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them, but the disciples scolded the people. When Jesus noticed this, He was angry and said to His disciples, 'Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these."
- Mark 10:13-14

Kids, they know a need, and they shamelessly ask for help, they don't even think twice.
Kids, they have a tiny papercut and run to their daddies and mommies soaked in sobs and unleashing what they feel, and the more mature, stronger, wiser adult will soothe and heal, telling of how it is not that bad, giving that curing cuddle that saves the day and all of a sudden the affliction is forgotten.

Should it not be the same with us?

Part of the extravagant gift of being able to go to my Father, experience Him, feel Hiim, commune with Him, abide in Him with no separation or fear of condemnation, is that I can go to Him with anything and receive the ultimate treasure of closeness, the extravagant joy of His glory,
In fact, He promises this, unrestrained.
Indeed, it brings Him glory.

"Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it."

John 14:13-14

I do not want to entertain the thoughts that act as the disciples did on that day, to scold the desire that resides in me as a child of God to run to Him with my papercuts.
I do not want to be a glory thief  any longer, to foolishly abide in myself for these things that are "too little" to call the 9-1-1-G-O-D emergency hotline for help and peace and rest.
I want to humble myself, realize not even my painful experiences belong to me to hoard and try in vain to heal and pride myself with my false sufficiency.

Because really, I am spiritually destitute, 
yes, without Him, I am utterly helpless.
And the biggest lie I could believe in a moment of pain, is telling myself I don't need His help.
And the poorest choice I could make is comparing my suffering to others and falling deep into the deceit that says, "He'll mock you for your imaginary 'pain'."
No, I don't deserve His help, but that's the beauty of grace and He's given it lavishly.

He never does mock my pain like the world does.
He never will.
He only wraps His great mighty arms around me, the sobbing child with a papercut, and heals and delivers every single thing I need, and then some.

Nothing to fear.
Nothing to hide.
Only to receive and to know His glory more intimately, and praise Him with passion and exuberance afresh.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Join me in "The Jesus Project" this year!

So, this year, after being inspired by one of my favorite blogs (Ann Voskamp is wonderful, check out her writing at, I am making a quasi-resolution to memorize 72 verses from the Book of John.

Why attempt the one thing (memorization) I've realized I'm pretty bad at?

Because the Word is God breathed and I'm longing for that breath to dwell in my heart verse by verse this year.
To inhale Life and be prepared to exhale it in all its fullness.
To meditate on Truth, marinate in life-giving Word to make the most of moments this year.
I'm longing for the heart to know, to soak up slow, to digest meticulously the Words of Jesus, because a sister in Christ once said, "what the heart knows, it knows by heart."

And so, each week, there will be a verse. 

A morsel of life that will more than satisfy, yet will inspire a thirst for more of Him that is never satisfied, only multiplied in joyous longing to know a Savior more.

And, at the culmination of each week, I hope to write about what I've been meditating on with this verse in my heart.

And in an attempt to make this blog more of a community, (that is, if anyone actually reads this blog in the first place (; ) I'm inviting you to join me in this thing that I'm horrible at, to join me in engaging with the Word, letting it change you, letting it dwell in you.

Just because Advent is over doesn't mean we are done carrying Jesus, letting Him grow and develop, swelling our hearts and molding all that we are.

Let His word do that for you.

If you blog, I invite you also to write you meditations on these verses down at the end of every week. I invite you to share what the Lord is showing you through a single verse of Scripture.
Also, at the  Holy Experience blog, Ann Voskamp has included these lovely printables and even a list of dates and verses to get you started.

So, friend, will you join me?

This week's verse (printable courtesy of


What's with all the hand raising in church?

Lifting my hands in worship is one of those weird things I started doing in church but never in a million years thought I would do.


Before I knew Jesus, I would see people lifting their hands in church and judgmentally thought it was all some big show, like the stories I'd heard in mass on Ash Wednesday year after year about the Pharisees who made a big deal out of fasting and tithing, making sure everybody saw.

Then, one day, I just felt it.

Hard to explain, but I felt the need to lift my hands high, reaching out to worship this expansive, forever loving Savior whom I loved so much in that moment I thought my heart would burst and wanted more than I wanted anything in my life.

I didn't really care, in that moment, what anyone thought.

I didn't really feel my arm aching after a few minutes of worship passed by.

I was amazed that I was doing it, amazed that I had specifically said to  myself one day, "Psh, I'll never do that," but in knowing the Lord more deeply and intimately, I found myself raising my hands purely out of worship in the fully joyous experience of being int he presence of a Savior. 

And as I try day after day to truly figure out what it means to make every step, every breath, every movement of my life and act of worship, I find funny metaphors in the hand raising phenomenon I'm still getting used to:

Maybe worship is getting out of your comfort zone because you adore a Savior just that much, not giving a moment's thought to what anyone else thinks.

Maybe worship is reaching for God, not even noticing the earthly pain because His presence is that wonderful.

Maybe worship is doing exactly what you thought you'd never do, amazed at what following Jesus holds for you beyond your wildest plans or dreams.

And it was crazy to me, once I actually consulted the One with all the answers about this phenomenon, how this hand-lifting worship-- it's quite Biblical (see Psalm 63:4, Psalm 134:2, Lamentations 3:41).

Lamentations 3:41 is the one that really draws the line between what I thought this hand-lifting worship was and what it really is meant to be:

"Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven;"
-Lamentations 3:41 (emphasis added by me)

Hearts and hands.
Hands and hearts.

The heart is meant to be tied up in, inseparable from, these acts of worship.
Because Jesus didn't want people to honor with their lips but have hearts far from Him (check out Matthew 15).
Because Jesus doesn't want this outward motion professing devotion,
He wants a heart smitten and devoted, a life that follows in loving abandonment.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Christians as Sales-people

Today is my last day of work until the summer,
the last day selling things and making the lackluster products appear more shiny, brighter, faster, better than everything else of it's kind,
the last day manipulating words, using strategies and techniques, bending over backwards with near desperation, all to get someone to change their mind, to accept what I offer them.

I love to sell things; it's kind of like a game to me. I love it despite the reactions from people who feel pestered and don't like being prodded with my offers of discounts and coupons and deals. Some cut me off mid-sentence with an annoyed, "No." Some roll their eyes, become more and more infuriated and annoyed with every word I speak.

Now, don't get me wrong, I don't really mind these reactions. They're just an answer to my prayers to the Lord, asking me to love even when it's hard to. And boy does it get hard to sometimes working in retail. Plus the holiday season can be a stressful time of year, I understand when they are short-tempered.

No, what bothered me is this:
One slow day at work, gazing off into the book shelves and breathing in the scents of Starbucks coffee, I realized this is how many people view evangelizing Christians: as annoying, relentless salespeople.

Feeling they must spruce up the product (the Gospel), feeling they must manipulate words and use strategies and techniques, bending over backwards all to make someone trust Jesus Christ as the Lord and treasure of their life. Using a certain formula to follow, looking for more sure-fire ways to make a sale, get a pat on the back, increase their conversion rates and disregard the feelings of the person they speak to in the process.


If there's one lesson I've learned this semester, with heaping piles of grace and mercy in the messy process, it's our call to share the Gospel, to win crowns for Christ-- and may I emphasize, for Christ. This my calling, my purpose as a believer and follower of the God of gods, the Mighty Savior King.

Yet, as I spend my school days in a rich Christian environment, I see more and more of this task becoming all too similar to the work of competitive salespeople.

Where emphasis is placed on the methods, the new and innovative ways to sell the Gospel to people, where it is within the messenger's power to change the heart of the person so that they may receive and dedicate their life to the Gospel, where converts are prizes and the power of Christ the King is diminished. Where you too can accept Jesus Christ as Lord, ensure eternity in Heaven, and as an added bonus He'll heal your illness, make your life purposeful, and make you a philanthropist and high self-esteem.

Yikes, again.

I urge my believing brothers and sisters to boldly share the Gospel. It's part of the privilege and joy of knowing Jesus.

But I ask you to consider what John the Baptist's job was as we take on our own calling to serve the King of Kings:

"[This is Zechariah speaking to his newborn son John] You, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High God. You will go ahead of the Lord to prepare the road for Him, to tell His people that they will be saved, to have their sins forgiven." -Luke 1:76-77

To prepare the road for the Lord, not to make the way for ourselves.
To prepare the road for the Lord to move, to work, to bestow His grace and power.
To tell the people they will be saved,
not to make them saved,
not to convince them to be saved.

Because the truth is, we couldn't make others saved even if we tried. 
Because the truth is, only the Lord holds the power to soften hardened hearts and open blind eyes to the glorious salvation He offers.
Because the truth is, we are not salespeople, we are servants, we are not winning converts, we are making disciples.

And the prize is not the conversion rate, the prize is Jesus Christ and his glorification.

It all reminds me of some words of Charles Spurgeon. Though he talks about apologetics here, I think the same principle applies. He said,

"Defend the Bible? I would just as soon defend a lion! Unchain it and it will defend itself!"

Sell the Gospel? I would just as soon try to stop a mighty lion charging to save the sinner's heart.
I just unchain it and let it go, because it is far stronger than I, and far mightier than any words, strategies, or ambitions I could possess.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

What's next?

It seems like I'm always waiting on the "what's next,"
with squirming with discontentment and restless living that really only becomes the thief that desires to steal, kill, and destroy me.

I reflect on the last 24 hours, on the sweet hours of conversation with a best friend over warm caffeine and lot to catch up on, trying to poke at our futures that we really could not know even if we tried. 
And oh, do we try sometimes. 

It's the same poisonous thoughts that have been circling my mind, especially in the days like these when futures look so bright, and let's set all these plans because we've thrown out our old calendars and there's a new number to write in the corner our papers and journals.

Only when I know when I am able to graduate, then I will have peace.
Only when I know what job this degree with get me, then I will have security.
Only when I have that godly husband, then I will have deeper joy.
Only when I find this devotional, then I will be able to dig deeper into God's Word.

I laugh today at these thoughts that have been regulars in my mind.
I throw them out with the 2013 calendars.

Waiting in the perpetually discontented state like this, it's a state always hungry.
It's the hungry that promises starvation.
I want a different hunger, the good hunger that ferociously seeks the Lord like a soul starved for years.

"I know I will live to see the Lord's goodness in this present life." -Psalm 27:13

It's here for us to know.
That in all the questioning discontented, there's one thing that's for sure, and it will not disappoint like all the other for-sure's we long for will: it's God's goodness, and it's here, today, this second, this breath.

Because no circumstances or number of uncertainties robs us of the ability to praise God and to feast upon His overwhelming mercy;
it's in this discontentment of waiting for the "for-sure's"-- the job, the husband, the money, the plans-- that we are robbed of the Mightiest for-sure who promises to reign surely forever and ever.

I read it in the way Mary responded to the greatest wrecking of all the for-sure's in her life-- her promised marriage, her future, her reputation, her standing in society, her role in life-- only to birth the greatest for-sure to promise His goodness in our lives.
To her uncertainties she could only praise. To her uncertainties, she said:

"My heart praises the Lord;
My soul is glad because of God my Savior,
for He has remembered me, His lowly servant!" (Luke 1:46-48a)

"He has stretched out His mighty arm and scattered the proud with all their plans.
He has brought down mighty kings from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent away the rich with empty hands." (Luke 1:51-53)

Could it be?
Could it be that in the scattering of our plans, that's the real feast of God's goodness here and now?
Could it be that the fullness of joy is to be experienced this very minute, that it flourishes in the uncertainties that muddle those who belong tot he world, but inspires wild praise in those who have the gift eternal?

Let us never be fooled, no circumstance, no uncertainty, none of it robs us of anything because we can forever praise, and we can forever know the Lord's goodness everlasting, without fail.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Real Resolution

So the new year comes and I'm already procrastinating on picking the obligatory New Year's resolution. 

Procrastination muddies these purest dreams that God lays on my heart for the New Year, clean and glistening with promise like frost on a January morn. 

These ideas, convictions, they are all beaten down and burned up with the "You can't do that, you're only a college student," and the "That'll be terribly impractical, save yourself the trouble 'cause you'll surely fail," and the "That'll run you into the ground left miserable and empty, don't listen to God's promise, you can't really be filled by this."

No doubt that the Enemy attacks and means destruction when fullness of life has come triumphant into a willing heart that is graced with the lesson of learning to surrender more and more these days.

Goals and aspirations to serve and seek the glory of a Savior are vast and vibrant lately, more clear to me now and more fervently moving than they have ever been before as I prayed to the Lord if there was anything, anything at all that He would have me do for the New Year, or ever, for that matter.

These ideas for ministries, for ways to invest myself and my money and my time into eternity, these new priorities, new goals, a new determination to write regularly and purposefully for the Lord-- they are not plain as day yet, outlined and scheduled, calculated and prepared for seemless execution,
 but my faith tells me they will be in His perfect time.

And the scariest thing is, that if I'm being honest, these convictions, they are not new at all.
I've been barred by the lies when these secret convictions have arisen in the past, some of them have been done half way, some of them simply heard and neglected and not done at all.

Here's all I have to say to the lies that have barred me from all these ideas that I've quietly entertained:
I read it fresh this morning in Genesis 1 as I remember the day that the very Earth I walk upon, the very universe I dwell in, was spoken fresh by my Heavenly Father.

"In the beginning when God created the Universe, it was formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness, and the power of God was moving over the water. Then God commanded, 'Let there be light'-- and light appeared. God was pleased with what He saw." -Genesis 1:1-4a GNT

Here I see it: without God, these dreams, they are dry and desolate. 

It is not until God speaks that the raging waters are controlled and the darkness cannot help but disperse inevitably yielding to the powerful light of Gods mere spoken Word.

God's message here in this beginning is the victor amidst the muddled mind of fear and "Lord how will I do this," and "Lord you know I am a marvelous beginner of things, but a terrible finisher of things." He says, "I hold the power, abide in Me; let my Word move across the raging ocean, and I will be pleased."

And isn't that the only real worthy resolution? 
That the Lord I love would indeed be pleased?
What else is there, really?

And so I say without fear, but rather, eager excitement:

Welcome 2014,
Welcome seemingly impossible dreams,
Please, meet my Maker.

Darkness, doubt, and the lies that threaten to hinder: you don't stand a chance!