a sermon to myself

this is first and foremost addressed to me who needs to hear it the most. 
and then you guys – I pray that it will encourage and build someone up for life
don’t be afraid of the unknown
because your unknown is God’s known
there is no reason to fear
He who has already gone BEFORE you
has paved a perfect way
and He lives INSIDE of you
and will walk through it with you
there is nothing in life that is too big for God to handle.
He knows what is going to happen
and how it’s going to happen
and He’s not going to let you go through it alone.
He is with you now and He will be with you then.
He is forever faithful and He is forever with you
because
He doesn’t view you based on your performance
but based on the perfect, spotless, righteous blood of Christ.
get outside of yourself.
do you know that your body is not going to last?
I’m not saying go have some weird out-of-body experience
but I AM saying that life with God exists outside of physical circumstances.
your life, your joy, your attitude, your words
are defined by HIM
and not by some momentary affliction.
life isn’t all about you
it’s about Him.
a thought life that is saturated with self will lead to death
but when you learn to take every thought captive and direct it unto Jesus Christ
life comes.
perspective makes all the difference, friends.
do you go to Him when you’re scared?
do you go to Him when you’re bored?
do you go to Him when you don’t know what to say or do anymore?
the world passes on
but God is always there
to be more specific, EMT school will be over in 5 1/2 months
but God won’t be
the scary stuff only lasts for a little bit
but He lasts forever
just keep your eyes on Jesus
and invest in what cultivates a greater love for Him
Jesus would never allow His disciples to be in a panic.
the one great crime on the part of a dicsiple, according to Jesus Christ, is worry.
whenever we begin to calculate without God we commit sin.
// chambers
and there in the deepening twilight
I seemed to be clasping a Hand
and to feel a great love constraining me
stronger than any command
then I knew, by the thrill of sweetness,
’twas the hand of the Blessed ONe
which would tenderly guide and hold me
till all the labour is done
so my thoughts are never more gloomy
my faith no longer is dim
but my heart is strong and restful
and mine eyes are unto Him
// holness [quoted in separation & service by hudson taylor]

questions to ask yourself . . .

but the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.
james 3:17

what if we truly evaluated
every decision
every word
every thought
every action
according to the wisdom that is from God?

is it pure?
unmixed in motive for God?
above reproach in every way?
exciting reverence in those around you?
without trace of the world?

is it peaceable?
promoting unity?
bringing peace with it?
not provoking others to ungodliness?

is it gentle?
suitable?
fair and equitable?

is it willing to yield?
ready, willing and immediate to obey?

full of mercy?
reflecting the unending mercy of God?

full of good fruits?
will it bring good fruit, bad fruit, or no fruit at all?

without partiality?
is it partial to one person or persons or is it pure in that it is only for God?

is it without hypocrisy?
authentic, sincere, real, not brought on through a facade?

imagine if you worked these questions into how you lived (spoke, thought, acted)? this wisdom is readily accessible . . .

if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
james 1:5

reality check.

my journal entry from this day last year. . . 

november 14th, 2013
saying yes to something is saying no to everything else. 
do I have a pre-decided yes to whatever I need to do or give up so that I may know Christ?

interestingly enough, today – November 14th, 2014 – this very thing is weighing heavy on my mind.

whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
[luke 14:33]

I know – I know that He is worthy. And I know that there’s a cost.
but in luxurious America we don’t really experience that cost.
that doesn’t mean the time won’t come when we will have to leave everything.
when we have to give up not just the comforts and conveniences, but people we love.

I don’t want something that gives me pleasure, but steals glory from God.
I don’t want there to ever be a limit to my obedience.
I don’t want to hold back someone I love from going because I’ll miss them.
I don’t want to hold back myself from going because I’m afraid of transition.
if that’s my mindset, something is wrong.
in light of eternity, what matters?
that we are happy or that He is glorified?
obedience to Him leads to Him being glorified.
may He change our hearts so that we are happy when He is glorified through our obedience,
no matter the cost. . .

He is worthy. Worthy of me, worthy of them.

and the more we forsake, the more we sacrifice, the more we give up for His sake
– the more we will realize how precious Christ is.

unless you reject earth, there can be for you no heaven.
[jim elliot]

for the soul that has it’s gaze fixed on Christ, sacrifice is not a drudgery.
and there’s no reason to be afraid of what He might call you to.
do not shy away from full abandon to Him.

and so we abandon it all.
no reason to fear
simply because He is God
and it’s He who called
and if we believe
if we love Him
we’ll obey.

every moment there’s a choice.

whoever will be my disciple must
deny himself
take up his cross
and follow me.
matt 16:24

if you take up your cross, there is no doubt to you that you will die.
you are taking up your method of martyrdom.
a cross takes all your strength to carry –
you cannot hold anything else
when you’re carrying a cross.
it takes your whole life.
it’s a life of dying.

for HIS life.

is it worth it?
it is worth it.
He is worth it.

there is freedom, joy & LIFE found in denying yourself and taking up your cross.
because that is when you can truly follow.

every moment there’s a choice.
are you in?

Today last year, one of my dearest friends, Michelle, gave her life to God. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more glad or elated when I heard those words, “I decided to follow Christ” come out of her mouth. Michelle, this is for you. I am blessed, inspired, and convicted by the way you gave & give yourself fully to Christ. Keep pursuing Him with everything you have. . .more this year than last year, and more next year than this year. I love you.

IMG_1260

I like to imagine. . .

I’m in the throne-room of God.

Nothing else exists. Just God. And me.

I behold Him. And He is holy, holy, holy.

I am not.

This God who loves is also a God in whose presence sin will not stand. Sin cannot dwell with holy.

I am condemned to death.

I fall on my face, weeping.

There is nothing. Nothing I can do. I’m hopeless.

My tear- stained face turns up again to see Him coming toward me.

“No”, I cry, feeling that this would be the end.

Anything, anything to get His love, His approval, His smile.

And then another voice. “She’s with me,” He thunders.

Jesus, ready, stands to save me. 

I feel myself pulled up by strong hands. Planted on my feet. A robe thrown around me.

“She’s with ME,” He says again.

Something is different.

I look to God. He smiles. He holds out His arms. I am welcomed.

“But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall receive me.”
Psalm 49:15

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look, to see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Saviour died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the JUST is satisfied
To look on HIM – and pardon me.

to love God.

to love God.

that is the call of Christianity.

It’s not about academics. It’s about relationship.

God is not after what you do. He’s after you.

I’ve felt the pressure to always have something intelligent to say. I’ve felt like I can’t say anything unless it includes a Greek word and it’s snazzy definition. I’ve felt like I have to fit into a certain mold of academic pursuit of God. But in reality? That’s not where God’s heart is at.

What kind of husband would tell his wife, “Okay honey, I want you to study what my name means and when anyone asks you what I’m like, tell them that.” No. . .no, no, no. The wife studies the character of her husband because she loves him – not because she needs a good intelligent answer to provide anyone who asks.

It is a joy to study a person you love. It is a joy to talk about their character, their deeds, just them. It is absurdly ridiculous for any Christian to feel obligated to study God’s word purely for the sake of academics and his own intelligence. It should, however, be completely natural and our greatest joy to expound upon our God simply because we love Him and we see His virtue.

The first commandment? Love God. Love Him. Love Him. And while that can and likely will include the more academic facts, that is certainly not all that this pursuit entails.

Loving God is knowing God as He is and enjoying Him as such. Friends, we are free to pursue God like this. In fact, that’s the whole idea. So let’s. 🙂

who look to other gods

Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods. . .” Hosea 3:1 

Something caught their eye. Maybe they were curious. . .maybe the other gods looked appealing. They weren’t fully content or satisfied in what they had, so they were aware to the possibility of something – or someone – else.

Looking at something compels a thought and maybe an action. Looking at the mountains will probably make you want to go visit them. Looking at an ice-cream sundae will make you want to eat it. Through the eye, our souls behold – when we look at God, we will be compelled to worship Him. Let our eyes be turned upon Him. Let the focus of our gaze be Him. Let us be filled and satisfied in Him until there are not any other options.

Do you know what happens when you turn to look at something? You turn away from everything else. When you are turned to God, you lose sight of all that is not God.

Every moment of your day, you have a choice of what or who you are going to turn to. It is a constant exercise of soul and mind to turn ourselves TO God, and to STAY turned to God.

Are you satisfied in God?

. . .or are there other options for you?

turn your eyes upon Jesus
look full in His wonderful face
and the things of earth
will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory & grace.