Saturday, November 28, 2009

Ramblings from a Sinner

"For no one can ever be made right in God's sight by doing what his law commands. For the more we know God's law, the clearer it becomes that we aren't obeying it."
Romans 3:20

I've never been a patient person. This fact was reinforced the other night when my sister was trying to teach me how to crochet- a skill that takes a little time, some practice, and tons of patience. After about 10 minutes of making an awkward looking run of stitches, I turned to Amanda and informed her that I was over it. I guess my friends will be getting some other type of homemade gift this year- probably not crocheted scarves.

How easy would it be to read this verse in Romans and then basically through your hands up and resign to "throwing in the towel" on living a righteous life? As a follow of Christ it is our desire to please God, to live a life that is honoring to Him and absent of sin. We are taught that sin pushes us farther away from God, and that the purpose of the Law is to reveal sin so that we don't have any excuses about not understanding what sin is (see Rom. 3:19). With those things in mind our attention must then turn to following the Law in an effort to please God and be free from sin. Okay, so good, so far. But then comes verse 20 that just smacks you between the eyes! What- even when I follow God's commands, I still can't please Him?! Then I give up! A little bit of a quitter am I- well maybe (see crocheting, guitar, exercising, softball, basically a long list of things that require patience that I have tried in the past...) . So what is a sinner to do?

“How difficult it is to be honest, to accept that I am unacceptable, to renounce self-justification, to give up the pretense that my prayers, spiritual insight, tithing, and successes in ministry have made me pleasing to God! No antecedent beauty enamors me in His eyes. I am lovable only because He loves me.” Brennan Manning- The Ragamuffin Gospel

Lately I have become aware of a particular area of my life that is not honoring God. Not that we can separate our lives into chunks, this part honoring God and this part living for the world, but this particular part of my life was infecting the rest. I tried to justify it, reason with it, convince myself that it was okay- but in reality, it was not. Reading Romans, this particular section, has made me aware of my need to understand the Law in order to live in accordance with God's commands. I want to please Him. I want, when I pray that my life may glorify Him, I want then my actions to match that. And yet I know that unless my heart is sold out to Christ, I can never truly honor Him, and even when I am sold out to Christ, I will still fall short. How amazing does that make grace look.

I'm reading the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Each chapter convicts me and yet keeps pointing me back to my Creator who loves me intimately with a love that I will never experience here on this earth. Why wouldn't I want to fall in love with Him? Why wouldn't I want to seek His face and drink in His beauty?

So what is the point of these ramblings- well let's look.
1. I must seek God and His Law. I must be aware of the life He has commanded me to live. I desire to be obedient to Him and His call on my life. To do that I must to be entrenched in His word and praying for wisdom and discernment with every word I read.
2. I must reflect on my path towards obedience. I must be aware of those areas of my life that are not glorifying to Him and not simply brush over them when life gets too busy (I know God just laughed at my "too busy" phrase. Sorry God...)
3. I must extend grace. I know that I am able to live and breathe and experience life because of the grace Christ extends me and I must be a picture of that on this earth.

Lord Jesus help me fall more in love with you each day. Help me to live the life you have created me to live. Mold me into the person you have already created me to be. Teach me what love really is. Amen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I was reading my mentor book today and I got to the chapter on addressing conflict with a mentee. It was interesting that this was the chapter I was on as I have been having some struggles with a few officers. Sometimes, okay far too often than I would like, I find myself desiring to take the easy road as opposed to the one that involves conflict, or as the author put, correction. I highlighted several things in the chapter, but one part really jumped out to me, and to paraphrase, it said that anyone that mentors, and cares about their mentee, must love truth.

Gosh truth can be hard. I went to scripture to try to find some encouraging word and this is what I found when I typed truth into the seach. Do you know how often Jesus said "I tell you the truth"? A LOT! On one page I counted at least 15 pieces of scripture where Jesus starts that way. It got me to thinking- that if Jesus is love, the purest, simpliest, most profound love and the route of all love- then how important is it if we love people to tell them the truth?

Does this make it any easier? Nope. Does it make me excited tomorrow to go to school and push myself to speak truth, even when it is 10x easier to walk away. Nope. Does it make my heart rush to seek out truth in my own life? Not so much. Is there a way that I can speak truth that will make it easier? I'm not sure. In going back to one of the most famous pieces of scripture in the Bible maybe I find a little something to help me in my quest to seek truth.

"I am the way and the truth and the life..." I know that Jesus is the only way. I know that apart from Him I can do no good on my own. I know that He is life- the giver of eternal life both here and in heaven. If I desire to live His way and be given new life in Him I must recognize that speaking and seeking truth is part of that.

Lord Jesus help me seek truth. Help me see truth. Help me be truth. Help me live your truth. Because you love me, I desire to honor You.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Our Jealous God

4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments. " Exodus 20: 4-6
At first read, this scripture is pretty intense. Actually, every time I read this, I think it is pretty intense. Love me or die. That's kind of what is happening here. Well that doesn't seem very nice! What kind of loving God do we serve that would give us an ultimatum like that? And yet this scripture is all about love.
How cute was it when we were little and those little boy crushes we had would get jealous when we talked to another boy. It meant that they liked us enough to get jealous that we were putting someone else's attention before theirs. So let's take that example times a trillion. That's what this scripture is saying. God loves us so much that He wants all of our attention, worship, love, devotion, time, energy- everything He wants. He loves us so much that He wants all of us. And He created us and made this earth for us. Every beautiful thing there is, He made. For us. Check out this beautiful picture of his jealousy for us.
I recently made a friend that has turned away from God. He has all the head knowledge in the world, but the questions he needs answers to, he can't find. Everything I say to him about what a loving God we have, how bad things happen that we can't control, how God is pursuing him even when he is not pursuing God- he's heard all these things. In fact, he's said them to others many, many times. I was struggling with how to minister to him and not be discouraged. It would be easy to turn away. To not get emotionally involved- much, much easier on my heart, that is for sure. And yet, that's not how Jesus calls us to live. How much easier would it have been for him to come down off the cross and say- "you know, they know how to live, they just choose not to, so why should I bother. This cross is way to painful for people that know the truth and just choose not to follow it." Yep, Christ most defintely did not do that.
I was sitting here thinking, what do I do next? God speak to me. And He did.
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)
God has a plan. I know that He brings people into my life for a reason. I know that He will continue to bring people into my life that do not know the Lord, that maybe have it all in their head but no where near their heart. Isn't that why I want to go into ministry- for those people? Not to turn away to disciple the "easy" sheep. But to love them, right where they are, no matter the cost. No matter the cost. He loves me enough so that I may love others.
I love David Crowder. Here's some more good stuff.

Until next time- I'm living.............................. by grace.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Famous in a Small Town

I love Saturday mornings. I love sleeping in, making coffee, and enjoying the beauty and peace that comes with mornings. I enjoyed the beautiful weather on my front porch where I picked up the book I have been reading- The Ragamuffin Gospel- and was captivated by Manning's way of reminding me that God's beautiful gift of grace is present in every created thing around us, yet so many times we fail to see it. We get caught up in the business that is life and miss out on things like a child's laughter, a gentle breeze, or the colors of summer harvest. We fail to see the deeper beauty that is all around us that our loving Abba created for us.
Usually Saturday mornings are a pretty quiet time in a small town, but this morning was a little more lively. Today the festivities for the one year celebration continued. I wondered down to the Shamrock park to find the middle school band- Guitarded, playing with my girl Hannah singing lead. How awesome is it to see the grace that God has shown this community this past year. In the way the community pulled together, the help from so many others, the spirit of rebuilding in placed in the hearts of everyone who lives here- that is truly His hand at work. I am so blessed that on this day He reminded me to look at what has happened through those eyes.
The final performance was a song Famous in a Small Town. The song reminded me again of how blessed I am to experience His grace in all that is around me. The simple things can mean the most. Seeing a friend at the gas station. Waving at someone at the post office. Watching new trees grow in an open lot. These things are all His work. Truly He is the Famous One!
Oh- and I totally want to start a Chapman FFA Band. I'm pretty excited about it. Of course that means I should probably practice a little more. I told some excited soon to be freshman girls about it- so hopefully they will be as excited as I am. ;)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Refining like silver

Exactly a year ago today, life changed in this small Kansas town. I was still in sek preparing to be gone for two weeks with BLAST Off trainings across the U.S. I was running around packing, preparing for my trips, when my best friend called me and asked me if I had heard from my parents- that Dickinson County was in a tornado watch and that several had touched down that night. I called them and my dad informed me that they had not blown away- he did not seem concerned. I tried to go to sleep, but between the phone calls from my friend and my parents calling me back, I knew that things were not right.
I woke up the next morning and left early for the airport. I didn't even get out of town before my phone started ringing. People had begun to see the photos, and the news was not good. My dad said they were not letting people into town and word was the schools were destroyed. I tryed my best to remain calm and decide what I had to do. Did I leave? Did I drive home? What was I supposed to do? My parents convinced me that I was no good at home right now, that the best thing I could do was get on the plane and they'd call me when they knew more.
Life has changed in Chapman, Kansas. I have been asked multiple times how my first year back home has been, and my reply everytime is- this isn't what I had planned. Who plans to have the school they are supposed to teach at be destroyed? Who plans to move home and have their home community turned upside down? I think it is yet another example of how we really have to idea what is ahead for us, but we must trust that no matter what happens, God is with us and He was in Chapman the night the tornado hit and I believe Holy Spirit continues to work here today in the lives of those still picking up the pieces.
One of the best comments I heard about the tornado came from our board president at our Back to School Celebration. He said- character isn't developed through adversity, it is revealed. I really believe this to be true. I have had my share of disappointment, again, this year was not what I had planned, but I hope that God has used this event to reveal His never ceasing character through me. I like what David says in Psalm 66: 8-12
"Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard; he has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver.You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance."
Sometimes bad things happen. I don't believe that our loving, merciful God makes them happen, while I do believe He is totally soverign, but I do believe that in the midst of these situations, He is there. He is there loving us past our brokeness, past the heartache, past the what might look to be an impossible situation. He is there calling out to us to reveal His character and to bring others His peace.
How has he refined me like silver through this event? I think He reminded me that sometimes those things that we hold onto so tightly- those things that might bring us comfort and pride- He wants those things too. I am grateful to live in Chapman during this time of rebuilding, but I am even more grateful that hopefully I can be a light for Him during this time and show others that while buildings will crumble and fade away, the glory and peace of Christ will sustain forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Beginning of Summer

I think it's interesting that while my peers the english and math teachers started their summers last week, mine didn't really start until today, and even then, I was at school most of the day. I also managed to get in two SAE visits and schedule a few more! This week should be busy with visits, but this is my chance to see students on their turf, which is always a good thing.
Today I started one thing on my list with my first guitar lesson. It was short, but fun, and I'm excited to learn something new and different. I also committed to drinking only water (okay, and maybe a little coffee) in an effort to be more healthy. I guess Walter will have to make his afternoon soda runs on his own!
I told walter this is the summer that I concentrate on me. What I meant to say is that this is the summer I want to do more things that are truly good for me. Part of that includes tomorrow going to the fitness center and getting signed up. I have to do this for me. For You.
Jesus help me do what I cannot do on my own.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Another year

Another school year comes to an end and it seems that it has been awhile since I have blogged. This summer I am not moving, at least not physically. I do hope I am moving though- that I am moving into a time in my life that I do things that are just for me and that are actually good for me. I still feel stuck at times. Stuck in this place where I am discovering the life that God has created for me and yet wondering how do I get there and do I have what it takes to make that big leap that moves me from where I am now to where I need to be.
I know my heart has strayed. I know that the Father stands waiting with His arms wide open for me to run into. I know that He waits that way for me everyday and it is up to me to decide if I want to run into those arms or run the other direction. One thing I do know for sure is that I can't do it on my own anymore.
I desire to be in community. I desire to use my gifts to love people. To serve people. I desire to be pushed past the point of comfort.
Oh God put a burden on my heart for you.