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16 December 2009 @ 01:12 pm
I always do this. I have some amazing, life-changing experience, and then, just like that, it's gone, and I'm back to my old ways. I stop reading my Bible. I stop praying. I stop caring. God has nothing to do with me, right? I can just live my life and he can see whatever I'll do in the future. That's how this whole thing works, right? Wrong. God has everything to do with you and me. I absolutely cannot just live my life while he can simply see whatever I'll do in the future. This is definitely not how this whole thing works. The worst of it is, though, that I realize this. I know this. There's nothing you can tell me to make me believe otherwise. Doubt if you will, but this is my life. Somehow, though, I let all this slip to the back of my mind. Occasionally, I'm lucky enough that God will drag it to the front of my mind, but I'll shove it back again in the hopes that it'll only resurface in one of those amazing, life-changing moments before I go back to my life again.

Honestly, I can only wonder what is wrong with me? I mean, God freaking came to earth to die for what you and I caused. Excuse my poor cover-up of crude language, but I don't think anything else can show how strongly I feel about this. The human race is diseased. Not a physical disease or even a mental one. We are all suffering from a spiritual disease that every day brings us closer to judgement and condemnation. And it wasn't as if God just decided to give us this disease to bring us closer to him. We chose this, all the back when Eve took the first bite of that apple. Yet, for whatever reason, God loved us enough to actually become human and die. Are you getting this? There's nothing about us that is worthy of this treatment. Sometimes, I just want to be mad at him for treating me better than I deserve.

I don't know if it's just me, but it feels like those times when I get really mad, but in order to be excused from my anger, I blame it on something someone else (usually a brother or sister) has done to me. As the 16 year old and older in the house, they believe me. The younger sibling gets in trouble and I get what I wanted. Except that I know I don't really deserve it, so no matter how much I wanted it, now that I see what it has cost and what it is really worth, I don't want it anymore. I don't deserve it, so I no longer want what I get. Perhaps it's a bad comparison, but I often feel the same about God's love and grace. Sometimes, I don't want to be forgiven. I'd much rather wallow in self-pity and hate myself for what I did than allow God to cover that with every bit of mercy that I would never be able to attain on my own efforts.

Many people I know don't understand why I believe in God. Many people I don't know don't understand why I believe in God. The truth is, though, that I believe in Him because he does something for me that only love can do. I believe in Him because when I least deserve it, he picks me up, dusts me off, and sends me back on the right track again. God isn't some distant figure in the sky who I turn to only when I need help and that gives me too many rules to follow. God gives us what we need most and what we deserve least.

I've been reading The Shack by Wm. Paul Young. I guess you could say I've entered my own sort of Great Sadness. Everything stopped making sense a long time ago, and I've only been holding on because of what I know to be true. Oddly enough, there's a great deal of difference between knowing and believing. It's easy to know the truth. It's a lot harder to understand and believe it to be true.

Anyways, I've been reading this book. It's pretty much changing every way I have ever seen God. Part of me wants to excuse it as false doctrine, as a tale spun by a good writer who only wants to confuse Christian. I don't want to believe that how I have seen God is not exactky who God really is. The other part of me wants so badly to believe it. I want it to be true. I want God to be Papa and Jesus to be the silly, friendly man who is so human. I want the Holy Spirit to be Sarayu, so strange and unbelievable, but fantastic and real all the same.

I don't know. I really don't.

ll I know is that I'm not worthy except by the blood of Jesus and the sacrifice God made.

I know I'll never deserve what I get, but God gives it freely anyway.

None of us are worthy. God makes it so that we are.
Current Mood: confusedconfused
Current Music: True Love - Phil Wickham
20 October 2009 @ 04:28 pm
This is a common analogy used by Jesus in the New Testament and David in the Old Testament. I'll start by giving you two passages that compare God and Jesus to a shepherd and us to sheep, and then I will attempt to explain the significance of our being a sheep and His being a Shepherd.

 "I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.

 Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."
John 10:1-18

I guess I'll start by noting something about sheep and shepherds (is that grammatically correct? I don't know). We'll start with sheep. Sheep are, above all things, stupid. They have no sense of absolutely anything. This is rather unfortunate for us, since we are the sheep. When you think about, though, we are pretty dumb at times. We do things that make absolutely no sense for no reason. Interesting. But, really, the analogy is best when you think about a shepherd's role in relation to the sheep. A shepherd's job is to take care of the sheep. A sheep cannot do anything without the help of its shepherd to guide it.

This is especially true for us as a sheep of the Good Shepherd. Jesus says he is the Good Shepherd, and we are his sheep. Often, we do stupid things and forget who we really are. Without Jesus, we are almost helpless. Lucky for us, God promises not to leave us, as we find in Psalms.

"The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

  He makes me lie down in green pastures,
       he leads me beside quiet waters,

  he restores my soul.
       He guides me in paths of righteousness
       for his name's sake.

  Even though I walk
       through the valley of the shadow of death,
       I will fear no evil,
       for you are with me;
       your rod and your staff,
       they comfort me."

Psalm 23:1-4

For the last couple days, I've been really busy and a bit distracted, so I apologize for the shortness of this and yesterday's post. With tests and school and all that stuff, it's been a bit crazy.

I hope your life hasn't been as crazy as mine. Enjoy the rest of your day!

19 October 2009 @ 08:43 am
Interesting how this series seems to be building on top of itself. Yesterday, we asked what it means to love, to be loved, and to be loved by God. Now, we look into what it means to be a Child of God. Being someone's child begins and ends with love, no matter the situation. To be made God's child is just another part of God's love for you. I mean, forget being the preacher's kid or the doctor's son or the one without a dad. You're the son or daughter of the Creator of the universe! Does that hit you hard at all? Because it should. God - the one, true God - has made you His. That's pretty amazing.

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!"
1 John 3:1

Being God's child comes with many things, just like being your mom's child or your dad's child. God has plans for us, just like your mother or father might have for you. We often don't understand it, almost always want to get away from it, and really never see the value in what they have to say until we're older. But parents do this out of love and a want to take care of you. In the saw way, God has a plan for us. We won't understand it, we'll often want it to end, and we won't see the value in what he has done until the end, but God's plan doesn't change. Jeremiah 29:11 says "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Being God's child comes with a future plan, whether we understand it or not. At times, we're in the desert, wandering for 40 years, looking for a miracle. God will provide, you just need to be patient. We know God loves us as a father loves His child. Over and over, this idea is proclaimed by various people in the Bible. We are God's children, He is our Father. Sometimes being someone's child is overwhelming and makes absolutely no sense. Just remember that you have a Father who is always looking out for you, even in your darkest moments in the desert and your brightest moments in the meadows.

On a less serious note, being God's child makes for good analogies. I don't really have an example right now, but trust me. It does.

18 October 2009 @ 03:54 pm
This is the first part of a series I'll be doing called "You Are..." While we go through this series, I want you to remember that this isn't who I say you are. It's who God says you are and who God wants you remember you are. At some point, every person has struggled with their identity. Everyone has wondered what their place is and tried to find that place. Some of us have tried harder than others. But the fact remains that in Christ, we are all brothers and sisters. We all have the same identity, the same last name. The series evaluates that last name. Who are we? The first thing that came to mind when I started to put together that list is that we are loved. Beloved. Loved by God.

What does it mean to be loved?
Tough question. I think that if we want to know what it is to be loved, we must first understand love. Several weeks ago, I entered into a contest that asked me to depict love as the strongest magic. What can that magic do, what does that magic look like? When I decided to enter, I realized I also needed to first understand love. I spent several days trying to figure this out, and in the end I came up with this definition;

"Love represents a connection between people. Not just two people, but many people. Love connects the different together. It does merely mean an intimate desire for one another, but also genuine caring for and a want to protect."

In the Bible, I've also found that love is an action. When the Bible tells us God is Love, it is usually closely followed by, related to, or a reference to a something God has previously done or will be doing. Yes, that's a lot of combinations, but I'm sure you get the point. Love is an action, not a reaction. Just like God shows his love to us through action, when we are told to love our neighbors or our enemies, we are not being told to like them. We are being told to smile at them, to help them carry their groceries, to lend an ear when the need it.

With this in mind, now, what does it mean to be loved? To love and to be loved are two different things. It's like... forgiveness and repentance. And equally as confusing subject, but it's the first thing that I thought of. Forgiveness comes from the other person's heart and willingness to forgive. Repentance comes from your heart and your willingness to repent. But to be forgiven, we also need to be open to forgiveness. In the same way, love comes from us personally, but to be loved requires our own willingness to be loved by someone else. Now, apply the definition of love in the previous sentence, and I think there's a pretty good idea of what it means to be loved. If that still doesn't make sense, feel free to post a comment.

Now we know what it means to love other people and to be loved by other people. But what does it mean to be loved by God? I mean, think about it. God probably has millions of other things to worry about than loving the human race, half of which doesn't even care a bit about Him. And yet, we're told that He loves us more than anything. We are loved by God. Does anyone else find this to be the most amazing statement ever? The Creator of the universe wants nothing more to love you and to be loved by you. This is a "what?!" moment for me. It makes absolutely no sense, and yet it's true nonetheless.

Galatians 2:20 says this:
"...I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

John 3:16 tells us the same thing:
"For God so loved the world that he..."

Go ahead, scream, jump, dance, sing. Be excited! For the truth rests here. Notice that in both instances, love comes with action. God does not simply love us with words, he loves us with deed. I could give you thousands of more verses like these and they will all tell you the same thing: God loves you. Don't ever forget it, either!

On a slightly different note, here's something to think about:
God is love, and love is an action.
The Word (John 1; Genesis 1) is God in action
The Word is Jesus Christ.
By logic, that means Jesus is love, as well.
Jesus was sent to die for the sins of the word.

How much does God love us!

Current Mood: excitedamazed
18 October 2009 @ 01:33 pm
So today, I was looking back again at those lists I gave you. I started thinking about it, and I realized we could never be told too much who we are. Often, we aren't really told enough. And one verse probably doesn't satisfy your wish to be seen and heard. Or at least, this is how it is for me. Since there's 7 items (for lack of a better term) on that list, I will spend the next week (7 days) going through the list one by one, elaborating on who you are according to God. Before I continue, though, I just want you to have one more list;

You are more than...
A list. A list can't tell you exactly who you are. A list is limited, but in Christ, you are unlimited.
What your friends think of you. We hide behind a mask out of fear for what others will say. Remember that if your friends don't like the real you, then they aren't really friends with you. They're only friends with your mask, so they're not really friends at all. A real friend will love you no matter what you do.
Fear. Don't let fear stop you from anything. You are more than that doubt or that failure or that loneliness. Don't hold back because of a small whisper. If anything, push forward because of that whisper and prove it wrong.
Another face in the crowd. Don't be afraid to stand out! Everyone is trying to fit in, even the kids who look like they fit in are trying harder than they need to. Don't be afraid to break the barrier and stand out.
What you where, what you look like, who you hang out with. Don't like status and friends and clothes and TV and movies and anything else set the bar for who you are to be. Don't forget that God made you the way you are because that's who He wants you to be. Anything more or less is just another mask and a trick of the world.

So tell me, who are you today?
I'm not asking who you want to be.
I'm not asking you to figure out who you really are beneath the mask.
I'm asking for honest.
Who are you right now, at school, with friends?

[side note: the first 'you are...' should be up later today]

18 October 2009 @ 10:05 am
So I just got back from Revolve '09. Thousands of screaming girls, amazing speakers, and God's truth. What could make a weekend anymore amazing? Coming back, I've found myself wishing I wasn't headed off to college in a year. Sort of.

But this weekend has left me with more than the voices of the many girls and the thoughts of the few speakers. This sounds slightly dramatic and/or corny, but it has left with a single idea. Who am I? Because, if I'm completely honest with myself, I have absolutely no idea. And even more honest, I'm completely frightened. I'm scared of who I really am and of knowing who I really am. The masks I wear in various situations have become the me that I think is me. But how do I know anymore? I act based on the situation, on the people, on expectations. In any given situation, then, could I ever really be me? Because if I'm acting, that makes me a character. And a character is not what I want to be, even thought it seems that is precisely what I am.

The good thing about this, though, as I learned this weekend, is that God is not silent about this subject. He makes it quite clear who we are, and I have put together a list for you. I think it's good for all of us to remember.

You are...
Loved by God (Galatians 2:20)
A Child of God (1 John 3:1, Psalms 2:7)
A Sheep of the Good Shepherd (John 10:14)
Redeemed (1 Peter 1:18-19)
Born Again (1 Peter 1:23)
Bought With a Price (1 Corinthians 7:23)
Chosen (John 15:16)

And you are also many more things in Christ.

Just on more reminder for you. Not only are we many things in God, but God is many things for us. Here is a small list of some of his names and their meanings along with a reference verse (thanks to Rose Publishing's Names of God chart).

God is...
Adonai - The Lord / My Great Lord - (Habakkuk 3:19)
El Elyon - The God Most High - (Psalm 78:34)
Elohim - The All-Powerful One / Creator - (Psalm 68)
El Olam - The Eternal God / The Everlasting God - (Romans 1:20)
El Roi - The God Who Sees (me) - (Psalm 139)
El Shaddai - The All Sufficient One - (Psalm 90:2)
Immanuel - God With Us / I AM - (Matthew 1:23)
Jehovah - "I AM" / The One is the Self-Existent One - (Psalm 102)
Jehovah-Jireh - The Lord Will Provide - (Romans 8:2)
Jehovah-Rapha - The Lord Who Heals - (1 Peter 2:24)
Jeovah-Shammah - The Lord My Companion - (Matthew 28:20)

Again, God is, can be, and will be many more things for you.

Enjoy your Sunday!

15 October 2009 @ 09:58 am
Don't get swallowed by the beanbag.

15 October 2009 @ 09:43 am
I know that last time I said to read 1 Peter 1-2 if you could, but this morning I was led to Ephesians, so that's what I'll write about this morning.

I was once told that there is two ways to prepare a bible study or sermon. One way is to pick a verse or group of verses and talk or write about what those verses mean for us. The other way is to pick a subject and look for verses that relate to that subject. Neither way is better than the other, they just are different ways of doing it. I wonder if which way is most common for a person to use says anything about a person. See, I tend to be the one who picks a verse or chapter or several verses and I go from there. My youth pastor, on the other hand, will more often pick a subject and then take us through parts of the Bible that speak of the subject. I don't know, just a little food for the thought this morning.

Ephesians 1:4;
"For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight"

Now, I don't know what you're thinking after reading this, but I'm thinking that he must love us an awful lot. And not only that, he is a mastermind (a genius!) to have known and planned this all out before even created the light and the darkness. Now, you could ask, as many do, why he planned it out to this extent? Why the suffering, the hurt, the anger? It all goes back to a point I'm sure you've heard many times before: God didn't want robots. He created us to love Him, that much we know from the beginning. But to have created us and then made us love him is like created an army of mindless robots who don't know any better. Instead, he gave us a mind of our own. He knew that there would be consequences for us - and even Him, in a way - by giving us that free will, but he gave us the free will anyway. But he also knew that somewhere along the line, it would go right. The struggle between us and Him, changed almost in a moment when His Son - without crown, without sword, without anything of importance - was sent to us. We chose to revolt against him. We beat him, strung him up, laughed at him. When it was all well and done, we saw what we had done. We saw what had happened. Some realized the significance, others ignored it. But something changed. "For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." We were chosen to stand up in that moment. To repent, to know, to see. Because of this knowledge and new-found relationship, something has gone right, even when everything else seems to be going wrong.

Something you've heard too many times before?
Something you can never hear enough?
Something that you should never forget?

So tell me:
What does this verse mean to you?
How do you see God after reading this verse?
14 October 2009 @ 10:16 pm
Somehow, you would think with all the modern advancements in technology, things would be easier. Somehow, you would be wrong. I can tell you, quite honestly, that technology has only done 2 things for us;
1. Given us more time to do more things (therefore, making us busier).
2. Made us rely so much on technology that when it goes down, we freak out.

Oh yeah, yeah. I know, it's done way more. But when it comes down to it, the Amish have a point. I do, too, actually. My internet was down for the last several days (or, since whenever I posted last basically) so I had no way of getting on here. I am now connected to the wall with a wire that gets in my way every time I move the mouse. Woo.

Don't worry, the sarcasm ends there. I'm trying to keep my level annoyance waaay down.

I'll be back tomorrow. In the mean time, I found this very, very interesting;

Love always,
Cat R.
12 October 2009 @ 09:00 am

He is jealous for me
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
and I realize just how beautiful You are and how great your affections are for me.
Oh, how He loves us so
Oh, how He loves us
How He loves us so.

So we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If grace is an ocean we're all sinking
So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss and my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way

That he loves us,
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves us
Woah, how He loves