Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Call to Greatness

Throughout my childhood, I was often asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. People asked this enough that I thought it was very important to answer.  I started thinking about it, and I decided I wanted to be a pop star.  I dreamed of singing in front of an audience, and I began writing songs.  When I was in high school, people would ask where I was planning to attend college, and what major I wanted to pursue.  I remember my peers applying for several colleges, and I remember feeling that we were all expected to "aspire for greatness." When I entered college, I felt stress in deciding on a major. I felt confused and torn, as if I could make the wrong decision.  This burden increased as I studied my senior year; the question I had been asked as a child haunted me.  People were looking at me and expecting answers;  I was just confused.  I prayed and prayed that God would lead me to his water.  I prayed that he would reveal his will for my life. What I didn't know, is that I was toiling in vain.  You see, his will for my life is himself. I will never forget the peace I found when I read, "He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms" Isaiah 40:11.  It gave me so much peace to know that Jesus, my shepherd, is carrying me.

In this country, we are obsessed with ourselves.  We are told to be something great. We are told to believe in ourselves. I have often heard people say when talking about others, "What a waste, they were so talented and they never used their talents." Let me challenge you, with the fact that all of our talents, and all of our knowledge is wasted if not bringing glory to the Father. Consider the people of Babel, they too were aspiring for greatness.  These were educated and talented people, who were looking to glorify themeselves. "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth" Genesis 11:3-4. God had commanded these people to multiply and fill the earth, but rather than desiring obedience they sought to glorify themselves.  In Genesis 11:7-9, God confused the language of these people so that they could not accomplish their task.  They scattered and dispersed, just as they were trying so desperately not to do.  What does this tell me?  All effort I have that is not in the will of the Creator, is in vain.  Yes, these people were skilled and educated, yet the work of their hands was meaningless.

Now consider Abraham, who is a biblical Patriarch.  He was a great man, because of his faith and his lineage that led to Christ.  He looked to the Father, rather than having an inward focus.  He wanted to glorify God, rather than himself.  Abraham was blessed, because he followed and loved the Lord.

I started thinking of how important it is that I leave a legacy of faith, rather than try to build a tower of vanity.  We are all building towers, and it is only through Christ that our towers of sin are crumbled. 
  
"But whatever gain I had, I counted loss for the sake of Christ.  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ," Philipians 3:7-8.

Know that the blessing God promises, is the blessing of Christ. All earthly efforts will be forgotten, but glorifying the King of kings and the Lord of lords, lasts for eternity.  As I grow older, I realize more and more that I am called to greatness.  I am called to follow Jesus Christ, and there is nothing greater.

I want to leave you with this scripture:
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where theives break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart is also" Matthew 6:19-21.

Also, I challenge you to read Psalm 73 and be blessed.




Saturday, October 20, 2012

Home

   I love the fall, and really I think it's my favorite season.  The trees are displaying their gorgeous colors, the air is crisp, and several holidays are around the corner.  I think part of my favoritism for fall, is that I have a love for cozy things.  Candles, scarves, hearty soups, quilts, and coffee are just a few of my cozy favorites.  I do think; however, that there is something that ties all of these loves together.  In a way they all remind me of home. My mom always decorated for seasons and holidays; Thanksgiving and Christmas were the main events.  The thought of home is inviting.  I try to remember that when I have guests over; what can I do to make them feel at home?  I want my husband, and one day kids, to feel that they are at "home" when they walk through the door.  I don't want it to just be a physical building where my family sleeps and eats.  I am so thankful that my mother made our house a home.  I know she put all of her strength and energy into doing so.  She put so much love into each meal she prepared.  Anytime we had a birthday or holiday, she would bake cakes or cobblers.  Though it would've been easy to go out and buy a cake, she rather gave her time and energy into baking one.  As I begin this journey of marriage and the start of my own family, I look to my mother with a thankful heart of the example she is.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Date with God

My hubby went to bed early tonight.  When he first announced that he was exhausted and headed that way, I pouted and asked him to stay  up a little bit longer (I'm a night owl).  He, being the reasonable man that he is, explained he needed sleep so he could be rested and productive tomorrow.  I never think that way. So off to bed he went, and I went around the apartment straightening things.  I wasn't tired at all, so I decided to be busy.  I love people so much that I dislike being alone.  Putting the dishes away in my kitchen, a thought occurred to me,  I'm going to hang out with God tonight.  Excitement filled my heart, and I curled up on the couch with my Bible.  Through my  study, I've recently learned that we often complain or seek pity when God is working in our lives.  Tonight (after a little self-pity) I realized the opportunity he was giving me to spend time with him. How often do I miss those opportunities?  How often am I so blinded by myself that I miss his pursuing me?  I want to share with you that I had the sweetest time with our Lord tonight.  I prayed and read his word longer than I usually do.  I wasn't distracted; thinking about what errand I needed to run or dinner preparations.  No, I just spent time getting to know my Creator more.  It was bliss.
   Every day, I look forward to the evenings.  I think about getting to spend those special hours with my husband.   We love to play games, watch movies, go on walks, get ice cream... the list goes on and on.  My husband is wonderful at "dating" me.
   The evening is special to me; partly because I'm a night owl, but also because of that time with my husband.  God knows my heart, and he knows what I treasure.  While I love my husband, I know that only God can fullfill me and satisfy me.  Tonight, my evening was one I will always treasure.  I listened to my Redeemer say, let's spend time together.  I stopped complaining about being alone and realized I wasn't.  My heart is so full right now, and I am so thankful for this special night.  In the Lord's pursuing me, I am reminded that HE is my all in all.  He is the one I should seek and desire most.  He is my source, and the one I should run to first.
   I love to have fun.  To be truly honest, most of my decisions are based on which option sounds like more fun.  Studying has never been at the top of my fun list.  Knowing this about myself, I pray for the desire to read God's word.  In doing so, I've learned that nothing is more fun than discovering the richness of his word. So, yes, I first thought the idea of my husband going to bed early sounded like the least fun thing. I thought he should stay up and laugh with me, but instead God wanted me to stay up with him.
   Today, I didn't know that I was looking forward to a date with the Lord.  Let me share with you that nothing is more special. When I think of going on a date with my husband, my heart gets excited.  It's wonderful to be pursued by the man I love, but it is so much greater to be pursued by the Lord.  Have you ever noticed that most fairy tales involve a prince?  Most little girls can't dream of anything better than Prince Charming!  We all have that secret desire to be carried off to the land of happiness with our prince.  I think God plants that in our hearts, because he wants us to seek him.  You see, HE is the Prince of Peace; HE is the King of Kings.  He wants to sweep us off our feet, and eventually he wants us to live happily ever after in the Kingdom he's prepared for us.  Tonight was so good for me, because I was reminded that yes, my husband can make me smile and laugh, but it is God who gives me joy.  Jesus is who fullfills me.  He is who blesses me.  He is who gives me life.  He is my heart's desire.

"Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in Heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth I
desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever"
Psalm 73:23-26

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Forever Remembered

   There are moments that stir us; that stay with us forever.  I can remember being a very little girl and hearing my grandpa talk about Pearl Harbor; when he first heard of the attack.  At the time, I was too young to know what he was talking about.  I knew it had to be something significant, because his eyes looked distant and there was a look on his face of almost disbelief.  It was like he was reliving that day and the horror all over again.  After Pearl Harbor, my grandpa joined the Navy.  The memory of those lost on that fateful day stayed with him, and urged him to fight.
   When I was older, my mother told me about the Challenger Space Shuttle.  I don't remember what recalled this memory for her, but tears filled her eyes as she told me what happened.  It was like she was still there; like she was still holding my older sister, who was a baby at the time. Many were watching, because the shuttle was going to take the first female teacher into space.  My mother watched as the shuttle launched with the hopes of America, and she watched as it exploded; crushing America's heart.  As with my grandpa, my mother's recollection of the event was so that I knew that moment would always stay with her.
   As an eighth grader, I woke up on a Tuesday morning, not knowing that I was going to keep that day in my heart forever.  I don't remember what I ate for breakfast on that morning, what I wore, or even who my best friend was at the time. What I do remember was what I saw on the television screen.  I was in my choir class.  My teacher had been informed to turn on the news.  My class watched the as World Trade Center's tower burned.  We were all in shock, and I was confused.  My classmates and I sat in silence as we watched the smoke leave the building.  It seemed like I was living in a daze, yet then came one moment that my memory cannot release.  I, and my classmates, watched as the second plane flew into the second tower.  My confusion turned into terror, and we all realized this could not have been an accident.  We knew that our nation was under attack.  As the day went on, a sadness lingered in the halls of our school.  I remember very clearly, that out of everyone, our teachers looked the most fearful.  We were too young to fully grasp what had just happened, but it was much more clear to them.  My english teacher told us to take out a piece of paper and write down what had happened and our feelings about it.  I sat at my desk with my piece of paper, not knowing what to write.  I didn't know what to say, all I knew was that I was living a dark day in my nation's history. As the day went on, I started to think of the souls that were lost on those planes and in those buildings.  I thought about the families who lost loved ones in such a tragic way.  As years have passed, the memories of that day haven't faded.  No, the memories have grown.  When we are farther away we see a bigger picture, and that is what my years have done with September 11th.  Whenever I recall sitting in that choir classroom and watching the towers burn, I feel sick to my stomach. The wound is always fresh, and the memory of those lost on that fateful day will stay with me always.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Preparations

   This week I've been preparing for guests.  I've been motivated to do things I have put off, like filling picture frames and displaying more wedding gifts.  There is an anticipation that comes with getting ready.  I want our apartment to look not only clean, but inviting as well.  I'm excited and looking forward to when our guests arrive.  It is wonderful to have this time of preparation.  I can make my apartment smell good, look good, and offer plenty to eat.  There are visits from friends that I look forward to, that I plan for, but then there are the unexpected knocks at the door.  Sometimes it's fine; everything is already in order.  However, for me this usually happens when I have temporarily let myself and everything else go.  I hold my breath as I open the door, because I almost feel I've been caught.  Caught in a mess I don't have time to clean up, because the doorbell rang without me having time to do anything.  The house is a mess, I'm a mess, and I'm uncertain if my visitor even wants to step in.  It's nice to have a warning isn't it? 
   Well the scriptures give us a warning, and tell us to prepare our hearts.  When the trumpet sounds, we won't have time to clean up.  "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only...Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming" (Matthew 24:36&42).  The word your is significant in this passage, because Christ is your Lord.  Whether or not you proclaim as your Lord, he IS lord over you.  We are not just preparing for a friend, but the King of Kings and the Creator of the universe. 
    Think of how you feel when that doorbell rings and you aren't expecting guests, now just imagine the trumpet sounding.  How will you feel?  Will you be excited because you were ready, or terrified because you aren't?  The amazing thing about Christ is that HE prepares us for his coming.
   We don't have to clean ourselves up for Christ, because he does.  You see, we can't make ourselves good enough.  Remember how in the book of Esther, she went through months of preparation before she was presented to the king? (If you haven't read Esther, I encourage you to.  It is a beautiful love story.)  This is what Christ wants for you.  He wants to prepare you for your presentation to the King, he wants to prepare you for himself.  The amazing thing about this preparation, is that he doesn't just make you better.  No, he clothes you in HIS righteousness.  He's already dealt with your sin on the cross.  Your stains are washed with his holy blood.  His spirit fills you, and seals you for the day when you will see him.  "And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee" (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
   Now, I am a child of God.  The Lord Jesus Christ, took my sin upon himself and dealt with it once and for all on the cross.  He rose again on the third day, claiming victory over death and the sin he bore for me.  The Holy Spirit lives inside of me, sanctifying me and preparing me for the day I leave this earth or the Lord returns to it.  I take comfort in knowing this, but I also want to be obediant.  I want to answer the Lord's calling on my life, walk according to his will, and love others with the love he has given me. In Paul's letter to the Ephesians, he says, "I, therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-3). 
    Quickly think of someone you know with little ones, or maybe think of your own family.  It's fun to look at children and see the resemblance of their parents in them.  I have people tell me all the time how much I look like my mother.  Children not only look like their parents, but they take on many of their characteristics as well.  I can attribute most of my personality to my fun and spirited mother.  You see, if you are truly a child of God, you will exhibit his characteristics.  "For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, that those who might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Corinthians 5:14).  Look in that verse at the word, control.  As his child, you act like him, because his love controls you!  Doing good things or "works," do not save you, but they bear as resemblances of your father.  "For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead" (James 2:26).  Please know that I am not saying you should be perfect if you are truly saved.  Until we are with Christ we will struggle with our flesh; however, others should see the family resemblance!
    "The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs- heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ..." (Romans 8:16-17a).  See the amazing thing, is that in being his child, I obtain his inheritance.  If Christ returns while I'm still on this earth, he will literally sweep me off my feet and take me to his kingdom that HE has prepared for me!
  "Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks" (Luke 12:35-36).
   We don't know when the Lord will return, but we have been given time to prepare our hearts.  My prayer is that if you are not already his, that you will become his child and follow him.  "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).
   I love having people over, and it's always exciting when that doorbell rings.  I also think of when I haven't been home in a while, and my heart longs for my family.  There is nothing like the feeling when I first walk in the door and see their faces.  If you're still living when the trumpet sounds, will it be what you have longed for? Will it be your great homecoming? May you receive the Savior into your heart, so he will receive you into his kingdom.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Blessed

" Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" Matthew 11:28-30.

One thing I have to continually ask, is that the Lord would calm the waters in my heart and quiet my spirit. It's so easy to get overwhelmed with life and try to figure things out for myself, but it's in these moments that my shepherd is calling to me and I'm choosing not to listen. Christ wants me to place my dependence on him, so that he can be glorified as my provider! As a child of God, I can let go of all of my burdens, fears, anxieties, and I can rest in the Lord's sovereignty. You see, he doesn't promise me an easy life; he promises me something so much greater, he promises me himself! Life is not supposed to be easy, because I live in a fallen world; a world that fell because of the sin of mankind! However, in this fallen world I live, Christ is my one sure thing. He is steadfast, and he holds everything together. The chaos in my life cannot mess up his plan; he is soveriegn over all! Christ is peace in the midst of the storm. I'm blessed, because no matter what I'm going through, I can sing hallelujah to my king!

"He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms..." Isaiah 40:11.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Empty Gift

I remember one Christmas, when I was a very little girl, I found an odd present under the Christmas tree. It was two boxes that had been gift wrapped seperately and then put together. You could open the gift without tearing the paper. I was most curious as to what was inside, so I opened this strange gift and found nothing! I thought something had gone wrong! Here was a perfectly wrapped gift, and there was no toy! Now, understand that this present didn't have my name on it, and it wasn't exactly Christmas Day. I wasn't like my older sister who hunted down presents, unwrapped them and then rewrapped them secretly; but I was captive to my curiosity in this instance. I went to tell my mother about the present that was missing its gift, and instead of getting mad that I had snooped around the Christmas tree, she got the box and sat down with me. She pointed to the tag and read, "To: the world..From: God." I sat, with my feet dangling off the couch, very confused. Why would God give the world an empty gift? I didn't even have to say what I was thinking, because my mother answered my concern, like she already knew what that expression on my face meant. She explained that the gift wasn't empty; it was fuller than any other present I could open! She told me that this was the gift of the Holy Spirit; who is invisble. She explained that the greatest gift of all is our salvation. You see, when Christ came to Earth, he came to bring us this gift. We don't deserve our salvation, but that is why it's a gift; it's a treasure. At Christmas time, some families sacrifice to provide presents for their little children on Christmas Day, but the gift of salvation was bought with the greatest sacrifice; the spotless lamb. Christ, who knew no sin, had to die for all of our sin. It is through his death and resurrection that we can recieve that sacred gift of salvation. The empty present under the Christmas tree is my first memory of the gospel. Oh, I'm sure my parents had told me countless times before, but that was the first time something in me stirred. I didn't come to know Christ as my personal savior until years later, but that day a seed was planted inside my soul.