Claire25

The Chains Are Already Broken: Choosing Grace

Sometimes it can be pretty tempting as someone saved by grace to become a little self-righteous and prideful when we look at others caught in sin. I think sometimes we forget what it was like to be in the grips of sin and death, to be caught in the addiction. Or, maybe by the grace of God you never had that one “big” sin struggle – but let’s be real, we all have a struggle with sin, hence the grace of God.

If I’m honest, there have been times that I have looked at others caught in certain habitual sins that I have been saved from and become angry, or hard-hearted, or anything but compassionate. Now, there is a place for righteous anger, don’t get me wrong, but there is a place for compassion, too! It’s as though I had forgotten that my escape from those sins was by the grace of God. I had no reason to be proud.

But I think our sense of pride can sometimes come from a forgetfulness of the snare of sin. Now, words are a funny thing. Sometimes they can be used so much they become “Christianese” or so cliché that we forget the weight of their meanings, but there is a reason we use those words! Let’s look at two words for a second: caught and snare.

Caught – past tense of catch; intercept and hold (something that has been thrown, propelled, or dropped).

  • capture (a person or animal that tries or would try to escape).

Snare – noun; a trap for catching birds or animals, typically one having a noose of wire or cord.

  • a thing likely to lure or tempt someone into harm or error.

Those are pretty strong words. Neither portrays exact willingness on the receiving end, but that is no mistake on Satan’s part! The Lord wins us with His loving kindness; the devil is conniving and has to manipulate us into what is essentially quicksand.

I was recently humbled – God is pretty good in that arena. Although God is good and faithful to keep us in His grace, I was reminded how once we choose sin one time, it becomes all the easier to choose it again, and again, and before you know it, it seems as though sin is grabbing you. Even when you know how bad, how wrong, how hurtful it is – to you and God – it consumes your thoughts and you feel almost like an addict feeding a fix. Sin is obsessive and completely insane. That is why we say people get “caught” in the “snare” of sin, because it truly does grab a hold of you making you feel powerless.

But there is hope for the sinner. Like Judas and Peter, there is the gift of grace and the offer of whether we accept it or mourn our sin in worldly grief. Judas chose the latter and it killed him – literally. He was so consumed by the guilt and shame of betraying Jesus that he hung himself. Peter was also extremely distressed by his denial of Jesus BUT Peter remembered the message of his friend and Savior – the message of forgiveness of sins. He remembered the grace that Jesus said was available. Peter’s sorrow was met with repentance and the acceptance of grace.

Accept God’s grace! Choose to use the power that is waiting for you in Jesus to overcome your sin. The chains are already broken; we need only to believe it.

 

Chelsea Prevosto – Intern

BeFunky_claw

C.L.A.W.

Calvin. Luther. Arminius. Wesley.

Mere mortals through whom no one can argue that God has done work. And yet…how is it that they have left so many…arguing?

Piper. Keller. Chan. Driscoll.

Figures in Christian thinking, standing in leadership for Christ, and simultaneously bringing about a devotion that manifests in the church with rifts and splits.

Is it these figures themselves who do the dividing?

I recently got caught up in the fury of debating for or against the ideas of one of these figures. Debating against a fellow Soldier in battle for the Kingdom. It got to the point where it felt off. My posture towards them was no longer one of camaraderie, but of superiority. It was a very polarizing conversation.

I found through scripture that the polarization of Christians is nothing new. In fact, Paul gives evidence that the Church has been tempted towards division since infancy.

10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

I hope, fellow Soldiers, that when you find yourselves like I did….in hot debate, pride welling up within you, an air of superiority pushing you further from love…Pauls words come to mind.

Was Calvin crucified for you? Was Arminius? Luther or Wesley? Piper, Keller, Chan, or Driscoll?

In “defending” your faith, like Paul, you need only preach the gospel. I assure you, God doesn’t need you to defend Him. He can do that quite well on His own.

And His gospel is love. His gospel is peace. (Ephesians 6)

Satan’s gospel is pride…his gospel is division.

Whose gospel are you promoting this day?

-Heather Nyhart

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Perfectly Placed

God has perfectly orchestrated every minute of our lives, down to the chairs we sit in. It’s a mind-blowing thing to think about really. Let me back up a minute and tell you all about this incredible revelation I had last week.

I’m a part of a worship ministry on campus. We meet every Monday night to pray for our school and for each other, and have worship every Thursday. On worship nights, we get to the room early to pray over the chairs, the room, and to help usher in the presence of our Jesus.

For the past year, the girls of the ministry have been praying over a specific chair (the third chair in the third row) and we have been eagerly waiting to see who sits there and walks in the prayers we have spoken over it. We’ve taken authority, we’ve prayed short, sweet prayers, we’ve prayed long specific prayers, we’ve stood on it, we’ve stood around it, we’ve prayed for healing, freedom, redemption, and grace. And we have watched and waited for someone to sit there on a Thursday night.

But the funny thing is, it never occurred to any of us to sit there. Not once, in all of the times we’ve gathered around it, have any of us felt the need to sit there. Until last Thursday.

Usually I sit in the back corner of the room. It’s a place where I am undistracted in my worship, and can also look out and see how the Holy Spirit is moving in the lives of all the students who come. Last Thursday however, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to sit in the chair. I had been sitting in my little corner the entire semester and I battled with God about moving. But what if someone actually needs to sit there and I steal their chair? was all I could come up with. I was still afraid to move. I was afraid to show my weakness, and afraid to really see what God had for me in that little chair across the room.

“It’s for you, my daughter. You need to receive those prayers.”

So I got up and moved, and had no idea what I was about to step in to. I had no idea that I had been running, or that I was putting up walls between me and God. I sat down, and was instantly overcome with the love and peace that comes only from being still in His presence.

Sweet reader, if you will step out in faith He will meet you. You don’t even have to go halfway. If you take one step towards Him, He will meet you.

I’m reminded of the prodigal son. It’s a story that you’ve heard if you’ve grown up in church, and a story you have probably cast aside and forgotten about. Basically, this son gets tired of working and asks his dad to go ahead and give him his part of the inheritance. His dad agrees and the son sets off on his own, and then party rocks until he’s lost everything. Then, giving up the last little bit of pride he has left, the son returns home.

Giving up the last little bit of my pride, I moved to the chair.

The son comes, expecting to be thrown out, and to have lost the love of his father. The father, however, is waiting. He is waiting expectantly. The minute he sees his son, he RUNS. Now this guy was not someone who typically ran….he had servants, was wealthy, and was expected to maintain his composure at all times. But he sees his son and he runs.

Reader, God never runs faster than He does when He sees His children coming home.

The father embraces his son, he throws a huge party, and he ignores all past wrongs. When the brother who stayed home asks his father why the other son wasn’t immediately sent away, the father responds, “‘You are always with me, and everything I have is yours.  But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found’”(Luke 15:31-32).

Return to the Lord, and let Him celebrate you today. He isn’t sitting around waiting to punish you, or waiting to humiliate you. He is waiting for you to take the first step so that He can run toward you. He wants to love you, celebrate with you, and welcome you back with open arms.

– Hallie Smith

Prestige_Cosmetics

True Perfection

The world is full of people who can’t stand the thought of settling. These people are the perfectionists – those sometimes-uptight, goal-oriented, competitive overachievers who simply won’t be satisfied until perfection is attained. I’ll admit that I often reflect the characteristics of a perfectionist and unfortunately, my perfectionism infiltrates every part of my life. I honestly just always want things to be absolutely perfect!

Why? Because I HATE…I LOATHE the idea of having regrets. If I don’t do something perfectly, I will indefinitely have regrets about whatever it is.

What does perfect look like though? The dictionary definition of perfection is “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics.”

How often do I pray for these “perfect” things? How often do I pray for things that fit my idea of desirable or required in order to forgo any regrets? I pray for perfect roommates, a perfect job, and a perfect future. Still, the fact of the matter is that what my “perfect” looks like and what God’s “perfect” looks like are often completely opposite. Why is that?! Because I am not God. The “desirable elements, qualities, and characteristics” of my present and my future can only be defined by God Himself.

Psalm 18:30 says that God’s way is perfect. In other words, No matter what tomorrow looks like, it is perfectly perfect because it is God’s way, not mine. My ways and ideas of what the future should look like are flawed and imperfect. His ways are flawless. Put your regrets to rest and rest in His perfectionism.

-Morgan

well

Deep Down a Well: Where Mistakes Go to Hide

How often have you tried to cover up your mistakes? I know for me, I went through a time in my life where I wasn’t willing to admit that I had imperfections in my faith.  I wanted others to see my life and my relationship with God as a perfect one. I didn’t need any help from anyone; just to see that I was ok…I wasn’t ok.

I have talked before in previous blogs about feelings of guilt and shame from past choices. Yet rarely do I talk about what those choices were. Until this year with the Freedom Found Tour where I was pushed outside of my comfortable position backstage to the front of the stage under the spotlight as a break-in speaker. From there I have shared about pushing physical boundaries with my high-school boyfriends, about my mouth and how often words would roll off my tongue like vinegar to my mother, and about growing up a pastor’s daughter feeling the eyes of everyone on me at all times. I felt the need to cover up who I thought I was, thinking that no one would “get” me, no one would like me and I was pretty sure no one would want to be my friend if I was completely honest about who I was.

I always feel like I need to preface my story by saying that as a 34-year old woman I can look back now and see that I was not alone in how I felt. I was also a lot more innocent than I believed for years. I  bought Satan’s lies: hook, line and sinker. I blew up what I did and isolated myself from seeing what was happening around me. What I needed to see was that no matter if my faults were big or small, no matter if I was screwing up left and right, God wanted me just as I was. I could sing the old Hymn “Just as I Am”and always in my head add in the verses about God accepting most of me, or everyone but me.  The mental games playing in my head were destructive and distracting to what God desired for me.

How far are you willing to go to cover up or hide from your past decisions? Do you ever consider the lengths you would go to to hide your mistakes? I was reading Genesis today and was reading a story I read a thousand times as a church kid. It is the story of Joseph. Particularly, I was reading about his relationship with his brothers and the famous part in the story where his brothers are so sick of him that they decide they are going to capture and kill him. Thankfully, his brother Ruben decided not to kill him but to stick him in a well until they could figure out what to do with him. For those of you that know the next part of the story, they decided to sell him as a slave to some traveling men who took him to Egypt and sold him again.  But before you go on to the next part of the story I want to step back to where his brothers hid him in the well. During this time they went back and forth about what to tell their father, how they were going to cover up their mistakes and how they would get away without anyone else knowing the truth.  They went as far killing one of the animals they were supposed to protect to smear the blood over the coat Joseph was given by his father.  As the story continues and many years pass by the lies catch up with the brothers and the truth finally comes out. They had desperately tried to cover up and hide what they had done, but no longer could they hide anything.

If you are struggling today with the lies you’ve told or the parts of your life that you have tried to cover up. Whether it was that time when you slept with your boyfriend or the time you lied to your family about the bruises from your boyfriend. What about the time when you drank too much or when you tried to cover up how little you actually eat…no matter what it was for you, know that God loves you just as you are. But He doesn’t want to leave you hiding in your lies. He desires to see you live your life in FREEDOM. 

Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

The lies and the hidden choices that hold you in captivity hold you back from the Freedom that Christ desires for you. Accept the FREEDOM He has given to you and be set free!!!

-Lisa

grocery

Beyond Convenience

A few days ago I was caught red-handed in the grumbling act. You know what I am talking about-where I was only focused on myself and taking care of my needs. “Why do people have to come to me when it is so inconvenient for me? Why doesn’t anyone ever care and respect my time?” This was a pretty classic way to start a day in which the Lord decided to convict in the midst of my grumbling. Let me paint the picture for you. It was my second day back to college after a wonderful spring break. It was cold and gloomy (two things which I am not made for- I am more of a sunshine and warm weather type person). Also, I have a lot of “duties” that I need to finish up in these next few weeks as I complete my senior year of my college career. So of course what did I do? That is right…grumble and complain.

I sit down to spend time with Jesus and lately I have been reading in the Gospel of Mark. This particular day I was reading Mark 12. So here I was sitting in my dorm room just reading along and then I got to the story of the poor widow who gave all she had-two coins, to Jesus. This is a popular story and one in which I have read many times before this. But, the Lord had an appointment for me using this passage. Verse 44 says, “They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything-all she had to live on.” I read what my study bible said about this passage and the following line jumped off of the page and convicted me- “We should consider increasing our giving-whether of money, time, or talents- to a point beyond convenience or calculation.”

“Really, God? But what about me and my needs?” I continued to argue. Then I was reminded of that passage again about how the wealthy gave out of their wealth but the poor woman gave all she had. I quickly realized that the reason why I was getting worn out in my ministry of serving Jesus was because I wasn’t truly doing my ministry and giving all I had to Jesus. I was doing my ministry for the approval of those higher than me. So, in doing this, of course I wasn’t going to be fulfilled and was going to be annoyed when a person came in my room and took up my time.

God wants me to finish strong in this last little bit of the school year. This doesn’t mean that I can coast but that I need to give all that I have so I can finish well. He has given me a task and what a shame it would be if I did not look to see an appointment that maybe he had for me because I was too busy. I felt challenged the other morning to ask myself what it really meant for me to give everything I had to Jesus. I realized that meant I needed to be inconvenienced, interrupted, and become more selfless. In doing these things, I would be continuing to be refined to look more like Jesus (Malachi 3:3). And in the end, isn’t that all I should want anyway?

Whatever the task is that the Lord has given you, he wants you to finish strong. In doing this, he wants you to be joyful in the job that he has given you to do. It may take everything in you to be joyful and some days you may just have to fight to have joy. But it will be worth it, and in the end you will be fulfilling what the Lord has called you to do, with everything you are, and there is nothing more satisfying then doing that.

 

-Elise

SIGNS

Warning!

Romans 12:3 I give each of you this warning: Dont think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

What are we supposed to do when we see warning signs? Speed up, slow down or stop all together? it means we are about to go off a cliff, slip on something, or get electrocuted, usually.

When I was in high school we were at six flags with our church group and we came upon the cowboy show where they hoop and holler and act like they shoot each other. Well, I was coming from the top of a hill and the sidewalk sloped down right on to the front porch of the cowboy corral where they happened to be performing. I casually kept right on walking right into a low budget western while everyone laughed and I completely threw off the show. They screamed at me and I ignored them and just kept walking. I did this on purpose to get a laugh and I sure did. I thought I was awesome. Later that day the “cowboys” were still in character sitting in their western scene on the front porch with straw in their mouth, feet propped up on the wooden post with spittoon nearby.
I walked in front of them, this time not on the porch and they noticed me. They started yelling, “Hay” (insert cowboy accent). I tried to ignore them again and they weren’t having it. They literally cornered me, grabbed me and took me through the door of their makeshift saloon and shut the door. They pinned me up against the wall and were inches from my face screaming and spitting. They were really mad, out of character. I had ruined their show earlier and they were going to make sure I paid for it. I no longer felt cool or awesome. I was pretty scared. If it wasn’t for my youth pastor almost knocking the door down to get me out of there I don’t know what would have happened!
Did I mention earlier there was a rope blocking off the stage that I nonchalantly ducked under? I ignored the warning, the guardrail, and the sign that said, “Don’t go in here idiot you’re not a cowboy!”

I don’t know about you but when I see the the scripture say “Warning”, I need to take notice!

Unfortunately I have gone through most of my life thinking better of myself than I really am. I could blame it on being favored unduly when I was a kid, but the truth is I liked being awesome. I liked being perfect and the attention I got from presenting myself as better than I really was. In some groups it is cool to be bad; but in churches, families with a spiritual heritage, Christian schools, and Christian circles, it is cool to be good.

This is especially dangerous for anyone in spiritual leadership! We are taught or have this urgency that we have to keep our shortcomings and mistakes hidden. Always put our best foot forward, be above the fray. To present yourself as better than you are.

But, transparency shows vulnerability which makes you accessible!

To be vulnerable means you will get shot at, but you will reach more people if you are accessible and in the fray, where everyone else is! Who wants to connect with a leader who is perfect?
I have struggled with this for years, being honest from the stage because I thought I had to present myself better than I was. Not being honest with myself and others about how good I really am cut off my ability to let God change my habits forgive my sins and move forward as a better man. You can’t fix something if you don’t know its broken.

Now this doesn’t mean swing the other way, put your head down, and call yourself a worthless sinner everywhere you go. This scripture is calling us to be honest in your evaluation of yourself, not measuring yourself against your siblings or the other people who clearly sin more than you.

Measured by your faith means to own who you are in Christ and what God has gifted you to do.

When you present yourself as awesome, you are trapped in a circus act always trying to keep up the appearance of being perfect, godly, and righteous.

The right way to view yourself and carry yourself is to be honest in your evaluation of yourself; own your mistakes, shortcomings, and what you’re not good and perfect at. Then be excited about what you are good at, through Christ and be available to be used by Him!

 

-Eddie

cupid

When Pride Gets Naked

“How old are you?” the photographer asked. At 18 years old, I was alone in a studio with the private photographer whom we had hired to take my senior portraits only a week or two before. At my senior session she thought I had print modeling potential, so she offered to photograph me in her studio to start a portfolio. I wore the same dress I had worn to my homecoming dance two years prior: a simple, strapless, full-length black satin sheath gown. The photographer was very personable and put me at ease. I felt so classy.  As the session wrapped up, I started to walk off the set to gather my things and leave. “Hey,” she said, stopping me, “how do you feel about taking some nude photos?” 

My heart dropped. I was completely blindsided. I stood in shock, not knowing how to even formulate a reply.

Let me give you some background on myself in this area. I grew up knowing, following, and loving Jesus. I made the decision early on to save myself for marriage, and had always been committed to purity. I had no problem saying “No” to compromising situations, and was often bewildered by those who had fallen into temptation. I thought, “I’ve got this thing down.”  (Here’s a little hint…never think you “have” anything “down”. It is by Christ alone that you withstand any trial or temptation.)

So when I found myself in that studio as a senior in high school, presented with this opportunity to shed some clothes and feel like a woman, I was completely and utterly shocked at how difficult it was to simply utter the word, “No.”

That independent 18 year old, who prided herself on being able to do things “on her own”, and who that summer had gone to live in China with no adult chaperone, suddenly wondered where her mother was to answer this temptation on her behalf.

“Oh…uh…no thanks, I think I’m happy with the photos we have already!” I fumbled, trying to brush the question off without confrontation. I tried to gather up my things and scurry out the door.

“Are you sure?” she stopped me, “They will be very tasteful. I promise I will put you at ease. This won’t be pornographic—it will celebrate your body as a woman. If you’d prefer, we don’t have to do full nude, we can just do a topless session.”

It had already taken all I had to say “No” once, so I was surprised when I had to refuse her yet again. “Oh, I understand…but I’m really ok with what we already have,” I managed to say.

“Come on,” she fired back, “You’re 18 years old! This is the prime of your life! You’re youthful, you’re  beautiful, and you’re are an adult now. You shouldn’t feel ashamed to express your sexuality! This is something to celebrate as a woman. You are a woman now. Embrace it.”

I was really shaken up at this point. I wasn’t sure how many times I could muster up a refusal without finally breaking down and giving in to her request.  There was no one around to rush to my aid. The only people around were in the studio next door, recording a popular adult-themed radio show. I felt that if she asked me one more time, I may finally go ahead with the shoot, purely out of a desire to avoid confrontation. She was wearing me down.

The thing about this situation that shook me to the core was that I had absolutely NO interest in posing for a nude photoshoot. NONE. Whatsoever. Yet I still found it nearly impossible to speak, let alone decline. I was alone, surrounded by temptation on every side, and when the Enemy tempts he is relentless. He will not take “No” for an answer. He was trailing me like a hound, and the only escape was to flee. I realized that night how easy it could be to sin in ways that you never dreamed of. All he needs to do is prey on something as common as your need for human approval or dislike of confrontation to get you to bite the hook—and you don’t even have to like the bait.

Blinded by pride, I had believed the lie that since my record was relatively “clean” by human standards that I could walk away from most temptations with ease. Make no mistake—temptation is hard. For everyone. It is oppressive. Do not be alarmed when you find yourself enveloped by temptations that you never dreamed of. Don’t be startled when it’s nearly impossible to resist. The enemy is The Great Deceiver. He is hard at work to prey on your circumstances and insecurities to find a way to destroy you. He intends to orchestrate your temptation in such a way that it will be nearly impossible to refuse. Don’t let him fool you. You have the Holy Spirit, you have power over him, and your Savior has surely provided a way out. Get out from under it, even if you emerge with your knees skinned and your elbows bleeding.

Shaking, I prayed silently, “Jesus, just get me out of here.” I managed to make my refusal one more time, feeling as though I was about to break, “Let me speak with my mom about it…if it’s something we agree on, I will contact you.” I gathered up my things, and finally made my way to my car. Of course I had no intention of contacting her ever again, but that diplomatic reply got me out the door.

Thank God. I went home and immediately browsed this photographer’s Flickr account, where I found all sorts of compromising photos of women, most of which had rather dark themes. Were it not for the Holy Spirit guiding me in that moment and my God upholding me with his righteous right hand, I could have ended up in that photo stream. As a now 27 year old, I consider the ease of information on the internet, and shudder at the idea that today I could still be finding those nude photos of myself on the web. Ladies…and men…be mindful of what images you post of yourself online or allow others to own. There is no way to ever get them back. All it takes is for one person to right click and save that photo to their hard-drive—or post that private photo you sent by text to a website—and they now have control of a piece of your purity, your sexuality, and your temple…forever.

Once you’ve resisted temptation, the Enemy will try another trick: to make you ashamed that you felt tempted in the first place. But scripture tells us in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you that isn’t common to man.” When you’ve encountered temptation, it means one thing—you’re alive. You’re human. Sure there are ways to avoid certain temptations and boundaries to set, but you will never be able to hedge yourself in completely from the Great Tempter. And if you’re doing great things in the name of Christ you WILL find yourself faced with deep temptations, because he needs you to shrink back and fail.

Hebrews 10:39 “But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”

Looking back I wish I would have been more straightforward in my refusal, but the point was…I got out. I escaped. My meek refusal was still a refusal. I am thankful for being humbled and reduced to a mouse, yet still being shown a way out, for it taught this proud young woman that no matter how “clean” her track record was, she still desperately needed her Savior.

 

-Heather N

drought

The Greater the Drought, the Wider the Grace

I have been doing a lot of soul searching lately. Why do I feel these emotions that attempt to consume and overwhelm my spirit?  I feel trapped and guilty and lonely…and posses this insane urge for constant affirmation.
 
I’ve been struggling with my faith SO MUCH over the past year. Not just like, “My dog died and now I’m sad” kind of struggle, but, “Am I really a believer? I’m not even sure you’re really there, God” kind of thing.
 
The most irritating of it all is watching the followers of Christ who are SO passionate and on FIRE for the Lord…because that used to be me. I was relentless for Christ…until it all seemed like too much and I turned away. I sacrificed my intimacy with Jesus for something far less satisfying and I am now having the hardest time forgiving myself.
 
I guess part of me feels like its too late…too much heartbreak, too much pain…too much sin and rebellion…Jesus would never want me back, and IF, just IF He did, He would NEVER actually want me.
 
And then use me after all I’ve done? Psh…puuhhhhhlleeeeasssseeeee…
 
Yup, so that’s exactly how I feel. Those are the words I hear. So, what do I do?
 
I keep trying.
 
Trying to be good enough again. Hoping, praying that someday, SOMEDAY I will be accepted again and loved and cherished for exactly who I am. I will let someone in to the deepest, darkest corners of my sinful heart and this person will NOT walk away, will NOT take the knife right to the heart…
 
Cuz’ that’s what my dad did. And every man I let in after him…
 
Emmitt.
Ryan.
Randal.
 
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my father. He is an incredible man of God, I am by no means trying to bash him. But he is definitely not perfect. The Lord has continually been restoring our relationship and it’s beautiful. But there are still those words that he yelled in his anger that echo in my head, supporting the lies of my insecurities. There are still those memories of when I needed him most that he walked away or refused to be an emotional support, serving as proof for my feelings of inadequacy.
 
Unworthy. That’s what he says I am. That’s what the enemy constantly labels me as. And I’ve started to believe it. In order to fill that gaping hole of worthlessness, I search and cling; drawing every ounce of life out of each relationship attempting to quench the growling hunger of my soul.
 
John 15:16
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit- fruit that will last.”
 
Woah, woah woahhhhh…did Jesus just say HE chose ME?!
Wait…not just chose me, but also APPOINTED me?!?
Hold up…he chose me, he appointed me to go AND bear fruit- fruit that will last?? So, not this crap that I get at the Rot(school cafeteria) that goes bad the very next day??
 
Huh, that’s interesting…I mean, my ex Ryan chose me for a while…but then I guess I became too much so he chose another girl. He also once let me drive his brand new Chrysler 300 to school when my car broke down…I thought that was pretty sacrificial. I think Jesus took this whole ‘I want you’ thing a little more seriously, though. I mean, He died on a cross and took my eternal punishment for me…that’s pretty hardcore.
 
In Hebrews chapter 10, Paul writes, “we have been made HOLY through the SACRIFICE of the body of Jesus once and for all…therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the BLOOD of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his BODY…let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in FULL ASSURANCE of faith…let us hold UNSWERVINGLY to the hope we profess, FOR HE WHO PROMISED IS FAITHFUL.”
 
I may be struggling but His grace will always be more than enough for me.
I am wanted.
I am cherished.
I am adored.
Thank you, precious Jesus.
-Kirsten
cleaning

Unto the Lord

Colossians, 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving”.

I’m sure you are familiar with this verse or have heard it from you parents maybe after having been asked to clean your room. Or maybe from a teacher when you turn in a knowingly crappy homework assignment. You cringe knowing the work you have just put forth was by no means your best and if you could see the Lord sitting next to you, watching you—you would have done things A WHOLE LOT different.

Recently my husband and the staff at church have been taking turns cleaning the sanctuary each week. When David’s turn came around last week I offered to go with him. I watched as he meticulously lined all 299 chairs that were laid out. One by one he walked by them adjusting with his homemade string contraption that he created JUST so the chairs could be straight. I walked along the other side briefly tapping each chair- more so “eyeing” them to assess their straightness and coming to the conclusion more often that not, “looks good to me!”. As you might have guessed I finished WAY before David and eventually had to ask him,  “What is taking you so long?!” He responded with, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord…” and continued one by one straightening the chairs.

This past weekend we held our first Blush conference of 2014. Hours upon hours, meeting upon meeting, effort upon effort, phone call upon phone call, and prayer upon prayer had been put forth. Saturday morning our team woke up to the “Blizzard of 2014” coming down HARD outside. We make it to the church and 9:30am rolls around – time for the conference to start! But where was everyone? The terrible weather and driving conditions forced church groups, young women, rehab centers, homeless shelters and domestic violence centers from all over Ohio to cancel on us. There we were- ready as ever to put on a conference for the masses. I was so discouraged. Our team regrouped and moved forward. We weren’t there to impress man or each other or ourselves- we were there to be the hands and feet of Christ. We were there for that one young lady who arrived from a homeless shelter downtown. We were there for that lonely leader who had grown weary, we were there AS WORKING FOR THE LORD.

The incredible worship band had practiced hours and we all worshipped to the fullest together as one group. The speakers had spent months preparing and they spoke as though they were speaking to thousands. Our break in speakers had worked tirelessly and listened to the Lord for months leading up to the conference waiting on Him to tell them exactly what to say. They professed their faith and displayed perfect freedom that Christ had given them over their past. Not a single individual that I saw put forth any less than their best. As the day unfolded and hearts were changed, I was embarrassed as I thought about my discouragement earlier that morning and how thinking “…all that work for a snow storm to come and ruin it”.

As I looked around at all the servants, all the prayer, all the young women, I couldn’t help but think of what David had said to me only a couple weeks earlier, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord…”. I was exhilarated by the word of God and all I could do was smile. It was as though He gave me the personal boost that I needed to overcome the discouragement the enemy tried to lay on me that day. I watched as our team fervently prayed with the young women who came, not one person was left alone. I watched as our worship band magically became our janitorial staff, stacking and straightening chairs and vacuuming rows. I watched as our speaker ran around wiping down counters and tables with Clorox wipes. It truly was a beautiful sight and I myself was changed that day.

Colossians, 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”

 

-Amanda