Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Guided by Love.

Growing up, I always wanted to be the best at everything I did. I lived by the verse, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not men...", which I still believe, by all means, but in turn, I became very prideful. I wanted to be perfect, I mean, after all, God says to be perfect as He is perfect, right? I thought doing everything right was the only way to be a better Christian. I was wrong.

Ben Stuart spoke last night about the difference between obeying a standard, or being guided by love. Obeying a standard includes making a list of things that spiritual people do, and thinking that by doing these things, you also may be more spiritual and in tune with Christ. So there are three things that might happen after making this list: 1. You get tired of living by someone else's rules and standards and you give up. 2. You stick with it, but because you can never be good enough, you spend most of your life defeated and withdrawn. Or 3. You follow every rule, do everything right, and you know the name of every person who doesn't. And you become prideful. NONE OF WHICH IS CHRISTIANITY.

Option three was my issue. However, I knew I was "supposed" to be humble, so I didn't show the self-praise I had built up inside. But it was there, oh yeah, it was there. I made sure I was at every church service, I read my Bible every night, I never drank, cussed, smoked, and I frowned on every person that did. I was wrong.

Thankfully, God grabbed my heart a few years ago, and I've never been the same. I had so much guilt and shame for my foolishness and lack of love. Because the truth is, going to church every Sunday and reading our Bibles every night just to check something off the list isn't true Christianity. It's not seeking God's face everyday, or being more like Jesus. It's not being guided by love.

Being guided by love means "[seeking] FIRST His kingdom and righteousness". And then, we'll want to obey Christ, and we'll want to enter into His holy sanctuary, we'll want to hear from Him through His word, and we'll want to do everything as if we're working for the Lord. It won't be some list of standards to maintain.

Being guided by love means walking slowly to make sure an opportunity isn't missed, talking with Christ about even the little things in life, being more concerned about the body of Christ than what's going on tomorrow, or spending time investing in people's lives and not worrying about the fact that you need to be at dinner in five minutes.

I say all this because I still struggle with it. I'm a huge planner, and so to be guided by love and not time, or agenda, or order is tough sometimes. It's something Christ is changing within me, and I wanted to make sure to remember what He's doing.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Week Full of His Strength

Week 6 in Cedarville, Ohio has truly been a roller coaster.

It began with a nice Fourth of July celebration with my teammates. Although the bittersweet feeling of not being with my family at the lake for the holiday crossed my mind numerous times that day, it was refreshing to spend the day with some of the most wonderful people I've ever known. It also made me realize that it's okay to change things up sometimes. Great people, barbeque, and fireworks never disappoint.

The next few days dragged on as tiredness and fatigue set in, making it miserable to wake up in the morning. I missed my alarm three days in a row, but thankfully my roommates made sure I got to devo on time. I haven't been feeling well lately, and to make a long story short, after a little research, I suspected that my thyroid might be acting up. I'd hoped it was nothing, but I figured I'd get it checked out anyway. I got an appointment at a nearby family practice, and hopefully I'll get the results back soon. One thing I wanted to touch on, however, was this doctor's office. On one of the papers I had to fill out before I went in asked if I would like prayer today. I figured I'd check yes, and they would maybe mention my name to the Big Man in their prayers that evening, or maybe they'd lift me up quickly as they scanned the pages looking for my insurance card information (after all, I didn't come in for anything TOO serious). But no, before the doctor left, she asked to pray for me. She spoke such words of kindness and blessing over our ministry that I couldn't help but tear up a bit. Thanks for the reassurance of prayer warriors, Lord, we all need that sometimes.

Rewinding a bit, Tuesday night I had one of those "life-changing moments". After reading a few blogs from a missionary in Uganda that I follow, I sat in bed for probably ten minutes sobbing heartbroken tears. She speaks of her life in Uganda and the feelings she has when she comes back to the states to fundraise or visit her family. She speaks of how Christ works through her village and uses her in ways she will never understand. And finally, she speaks of her dependence on her Father, Abba. She logically can not explain where a lot of her funding comes from, how she pays most of her bills, or how she is the adoptive mother for twenty-some-odd little girls. She is totally and completely dependent on the Provider. How amazing it would be to see God's hand like that in our lives. I began to think about what that would mean for me, and it terrified me. I've felt God urging my heart more and more towards missions and serving somewhere else, but I'm so fearful. I want to be ready to follow where ever He leads, whatever that entails. The only thing that keeps me hopeful is that my very existence is dependent on the Provider. Why worry about where I am, or what I'm doing? He's sustaining my every breath. The only thing I can do is take His mission one day at a time and offer every hour, minute, second to Him.

And lastly, tonight. Have you ever been in a worship service where you felt like you couldn't do enough to praise? If you haven't, I hope you do one day. I felt like I couldn't sing loud enough, I couldn't jump high enough, and I couldn't reach far enough. I wanted to smile, laugh, cry, sing, dance, scream, shout. I couldn't hold it in. I honestly feel like my heart and soul were united with the Spirit that obviously had control of the room. But yet, in my earthly nature, I was still flawed, sinful, separated, grounded. Man, I can't wait till Heaven, for "when Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation, and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart. Then I shall bow, in humble adoration, and then proclaim: 'My God, how great Thou art!'"

But to sum this all up, it's just been a wonderful week. Without staffers, our team really had to go the extra mile and take care of each other. And we did it. Many of us were able to enter into completely opposite worlds of camp and come out with new perspectives and new found respect for our teammates.

"Now the body is not made up of one part but of many...But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be."
-1 Corinthians 12:12-18

I have an inspirational team and an indescribable Lord. Man, what a great week.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Crazy Love

Lately, I’ve been feeling sort of fake. I think it comes with the job description, you know, being an actor and all. Just going through the motions, not allowing any outside feeling or situation affect me too much. Always being aware of my facial expression, what others see when they look at me, questioning every action, thought, word. Being critical about every situation, every person, my motives, emotions during worship. I feel like I’m getting caught up in everything, and catching nothing.

My heart is deceiving me. It’s longing after things that are not eternal, and although in my head I know where I stand with the Lord, my heart is not satisfied in Him. I can’t become satisfied in Him by myself. Sure, I could try. I could act like I’m falling in love, but I don’t want that. I want to truly desire the Lover of My Soul more than any attention, any person, or any feeling. I don’t want to just feel like I’m worshipping. Or feel like I’m talking to Him. Or feel like I’m serving. I want to act in spirit and in truth.

So I rest on His promises.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with action and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and He knows everything.” -1 John 3:19-20


You are not the most important thing in this life to me. I believe Your will is, but not truly seeking Your face. I’ve chosen so many things over You time and time again, and I’m sorry for that. I want You to change me, so that I would long to genuinely enjoy You. I want to experience true satisfaction and pleasure and joy in our relationship. I want to love You more than anything on this earth. I want to treasure the kingdom of heaven so much that I’d willingly sell everything in order to get it. I need to give myself up. I am not strong enough to love You and walk with You on my own. I can’t do it, and I need You. I need You deeply and desperately. I believe You are worth it, that You are better than anything else I could have in this life or the next. I want You. And when I don’t, I want to want You. Be all in me. Take all of me. Have Your way with me.

(excerpts from Crazy Love, by Francis Chan)