23 November, 2011

How Sweet the Sound

It’s late and I’m exploring the blog world feeling inspired to write-specifically from Lily’s blog (Check it out- http://wienerface5.blogspot.com/) Lily is a wonderful friend of mine who used to go to TA but moved to Florida.  To sum it up, she is going to change the world, and she is only a junior in high school!  If you want to believe that the Lord can transform someone, talk to Lily.  Reading her blog is always a reminder to me that there is HOPE!!! This also inspired me to just acknowledge people and thank them.  Why don’t I do that more? Honestly, I feel like such a sucky friend right now.  To my housemates, my friends at home, girls at TA, my teammates, my best friends at school-I’ve just sucked lately. Granted, I have mono (which I wish upon no one in life ever), and I’ve been swamped with work, but that is not an excuse…because I can’t get any of that lost time back, and I hate that. And when it comes down to it, relationships are what I care about. And for pretty much my whole life, they’re what I’ve been good at.  I’ve always known how to be a good friend.  But you know what? I can’t be a good friend on my own.  It has all finally caught up to me.  I can’t keep up with hundreds of relationships in my own strength and rely on my natural people skills to be a friend.  Instead of trying anymore, I’ve let myself be overwhelmed and pushed away from relationships that I care so deeply about.  Thank God there is redemption. I need it every day.  And I need it real bad right now.  I’ve never been so excited about the gift of grace because I hit a point where it’s all I’m banking on.  I’ve dug myself pretty deep in different places and I’m ready to allow Jesus to pull me out and shower me with his gifts.  I can’t wait to see where my friendships go from here.

This morning at BRV (my church at home which I adore so deeply) we sang “How He Loves” and though I’ve heard it tons of times before, the line “I don’t have time to maintain these regrets” really hit me.  I literally don’t have time to think about the areas I’ve failed in or to hold onto past sins.  If I dwell in all of my failures, I’m going to miss out on what God wants to show me now.  Even right now the Lord is gently reminding me of how much he loves me and delights in me.  I’m usually cautious about hearing from the Lord through people because I’m prone to getting caught up in the affirmation of others.  But right now God is using people to remind me of his love, whether it be undeserved encouraging text messages from sweet, sweet girls at TA or conversations with friends promising and proving that they won’t give up on me no matter what my actions portray.  Logan and Abby-two girls that understand the unconditional love of Jesus and are therefore able to share it with me when I need it.  That’s what the body of Christ is all about right?

I’ve been thinking a lot about community lately and what God intended for it to look like.  The best picture of community I’ve gotten all semester was when Rebecca, Colleen, and I sat in my bed and shared our lives with each other.  It is such an amazing thing that we can talk about the really sucky things about life and then encourage each other in the Lord.  It was incredible, but kinda sad that it’s the only real and pure form of community that I can remember from the semester, which I believe I have a huge part in myself.  The past few sermons I’ve heard at different church services have been pretty convicting for me when thinking about my part in a community.  We have been studying the Sermon on the Mount at Eastside, which is the church I go to at school, and a couple weeks ago we heard that God gives inherently good gifts that we should ask for.  If I actually lived out the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount, imagine the good gifts I could give to others!  Just like we all seek and ask things from Jesus, what if we were the answer for each other.  If I went and loved people the way that Jesus tells me to on the Sermon on the Mount, I could be the answer for someone else.  And then suddenly, we become the body of Christ.  How beautiful is that?  Or what about Galatians 6:9-10? “9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  What’s funny is that verse 9 is a verse I have clung to a whole lot since being in ministry, and the Lord has proven to be faithful.  But what happened to verse 10? ESPECIALLY to those who belong to the family of believers.  At BRV this past weekend my pastor spoke on Galatians 6.  He reminded us that it is so much fun to give! Something I always try to remind myself of is that it is in giving that we receive.  I got that from the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

THIS is what the kingdom is about because it is what Jesus and the cross is all about! It is in dying that we are born to eternal life…(#thankful).  As Pastor Mark said, the kingdom is about giving, sharing, building each other up, and doing good to one another. Imagine what our friendships, families, communities, houses, and the world would look like if we all lived this out.  I know I'm terrible at this, but I want to do this forreal.  I want to do good to the family of believers above all else! Even if no one else is doing it, because it’s not about expecting to receive back.  What if Jesus expected back from us?  He died for us while we were still his enemies, so that we may have eternal life.  PTL for grace and redemption.

Another thing, all of which has been inspired from conversation with Rebecca...I don't think that seeking to console, understand, and love those who simply aren't doing the same for us is where it stops.  As Reb said, we are so quick to give our lives away when it is easy or even when there is no reward... but when someone spits backfire in your face...now THAT'S hard to give your life away.  WHY DO WE MAKE EXCUSES FOR NOT LOVING PEOPLE!?! Especially in the Christian community.  I literally hate the phrase "hard to love." What the heck does that even mean? Aren't we all "hard to love?" And you know what, maybe we don't put ourselves in those types of situations enough where people are throwing it all back in our face.  I respect people who are gonna do that.  We need them.  Jesus didn't just die for those who didn't believe in him or just don't want him.  He died for the people that were freaking nailing him to a cross!!  Think about the person who has hurt you the worst in your life-in the moment how painful it was or even still is now.  Jesus was hurt worse and STILL forgave! He is SO perfect.  As we have been learning at Eastside, we are most like Christ when we forgive, because forgiving is the hardest thing to do.  But my charge to myself and to you if you are a part of a community of believers: Find the people who are going to reject you and go against you and hurt you and annoy the crap out of you, and love them.

11 September, 2011

Building for Forever

My heart is so full right now I don’t even know what to do!  All my friends are hanging out right now, but there is too much going on inside of me for me to socialize like a normal human being without blurting out all of my emotions.  (Even though I just did that to Wil, and he let me, and I am so thankful J)  But the crazy part is, I don’t feel the need to be with everyone, and if you know me, that’s a big deal.  The Lord is teaching me big things, things he has been preparing me for.  He is revealing to me the ugliest parts about myself, but in it he is showering me with his grace.  I am getting to a point where I’m really starting to understand that NOTHING ON THIS EARTH MATTERS.

What the heck have I been doing with my life?!
Why have I been building foundations on relationships and words that are just going to fall to pieces? ALL OF THEM.
Right now, in this moment, it just makes so much sense to me. ETERNITY matters. That’s it. Every little thing I do should be for the sake of eternal life, mine and others.

And that is what I want to talk about.  This is why my heart is full.  Because I realize why I am doing what I’m doing.
If you were to ask me why I lead Young Life, I could easily say because I want to love teenagers for Christ in hope that they would know God loves them. I think many people in their times of leading have come to the point where they really had to think about why they are doing it.  And many people have come to the point where they realize that this thing we’re doing with kids is real.

I struggle so much with the strategic aspects of Young Life.  I know they’re biblical and that is why they work, but where does God’s timing come in?  How do I know if I’m just neglecting biblical strategies or if the Lord is just waiting to move?
But I get it now.  Running around JMU’s campus taking pictures with strangers and “coning” at the McDonald’s drive thru with a bunch of hyped up high schoolers-THAT is for eternity.  Eternity is the ultimate goal, and if God wants to use a crazy scavenger hunt for kids to get there, who am I to question that?  Because we fix our eyes on the unseen.

“In reality, the unseen world is more real than the seen, for the world will one day pass away. Eternity is forever.”

When I went to Israel this past summer, someone asked the questions, “What are you building your life on? Are you building for eternity?”  For some reason, God won’t allow me to let go of these questions.  I remember I tried to dismiss them and convince myself that I really was building for eternity, but that just didn’t sit right with me.  This is the scariest thing I’ve had to think about, because I so badly want to say that I have been building for eternity, but that’s just not true.  I have been selfish, I have sought glory for myself, I have been building my life on the affirmation and approval of people BUT THAT IS A BUNCH OF CRAP!  “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 3:11)

I am DONE with all that, and I am 100% positive that I am being called to build for eternity by investing in relationships with high school girls at TA.  I think I used to be a little afraid to say it because I thought people were going to think I was crazy, like for spending too much time with my high school friends or something.  I even was afraid that students were going to think I was there too much or something.  Now I know, that is SO ridiculous.  I am done compartmentalizing “leading Young Life” in my head.  This isn’t just going to be something I do.  I literally want it to be my life, and I am finally comfortable saying it.  I know I’m at the point where I’m just preaching but PLEASE PEOPLE, don’t hold anything back!! Give this everything you possibly have (WHATEVER it is that you’re doing).  Do you really think you will ever regret going to too many games? Or do you really think you can have too many early mornings? Show up time after time after time until they are sick of you!! (even though they won’t be)  God wants to use us so bad and wants us to be apart of the work he is doing for eternity, so let’s let him!  I seriously didn’t know my heart had the capacity to love as much as I love those girls, but the Lord has singled me out and called me to do so, and it is HIM who works in me.

“The preaching of the Gospel is still His will, and the salvation of souls is His chief concern.  So also should it be thine, and nothing else should be permitted to take precedence over evangelism in thy life.”

30 July, 2011

UpToWn GirLz

Nine girls in one house. Sounds crazy, right?
Uh, no. FUNZONE! I am getting super excited to move into Uptown with all of them.

These girls are so special to me.

Morgan: Thank God for Morgan.  I probably would have died by now without her.  She cares for people in every way possible, and I really admire her nurturing gifts.  Whether I’m sick and tired, sad and crying, or stressed and overwhelmed, Morgan is literally the first one at my side every time.  She is fully dedicated to whatever the Lord puts in front of her.  Morgan has the ability to speak the truth in love with power, and her prayers have carried me through this past year.
Lindsay: She knows how to make any person’s day brighter.  She floats through the air and frolics into your room with a huge smile on her face and carries an unexplainable peace and joy around with her.  But that’s not all there is to Lindsay…She is one of the most profound people I know, and if she is talking, listen up.  Seriously, it is such a blessing when Lindsay shares her heart and her story, so if you get that chance, please take it-it will change you.
Ashley: I’ve told this to a few people, but I think Ashley exemplifies Jesus more than anyone I know.  She is the most accepting, non-judgmental, humble person I’ve ever met.  The Lord has given her his eyes for the world, which allows her to love others and extend grace.  Her confidence comes straight from God, and through everything, she remains faithful to her Savior.  If you want to be more like Christ, follow Ashley’s example.
Sara: Sara is so in love with the Lord, and it is her biggest ambition to know Jesus better and to share him with others.  She is fully committed to the Word, to prayer, and to communion with the Father.  Sara lets herself be led by the Spirit and flees far away from sin, and I know that God delights in her.  Because of all these things, she has such a kind and gentle spirit, and she is an amazing friend to me and to others.  I feel closer to God when I am with Sara.
Rebecca: She is NOT ashamed of the gospel, and I will be forever thankful to have her to look to since the day I decided to walk with the Lord.  Rebecca is an evangelist in all senses, whether it be to her family or friends, through Young Life or different types of missions, she makes it her ambition to share the gospel with others.  And it is refreshing to have someone around who is so real, open, and vulnerable.  I literally can’t wait to see where God takes her in life because she has opened herself up to him to be used in incredible ways.
Evi: My little intellect.  I absolutely admire how she asks question after question and searches and doesn’t settle until she figures things out for herself.  Evi possesses one of the most humble qualities a person can have: she is teachable.  She is so like Jesus in how she simply attracts people, which is noticeable in the tons of different friends she has.  She is so easy to talk to and has such a comforting spirit.  I would hang out with Evi all day every day if I could.
Colleen: Sweet, sweet Colleen.  God has given me a special friend in Colleen because her presence has been so comforting and crucial to me throughout college so far.  Whether it be at Carrier at 3 AM, at leadership with way too many people, across the world in Israel, during intense discussions at small group, or through painful hours of Justice class, she has always been there to understand.  I admire Colleen’s open mindedness and desire to explore the world and live life to the full.  She is someone who really knows the beauty of the Lord, and she is a joy to everyone who gets to be around her.
Jillian: Jilly is one of my newest friends, but simply from observing how she lives her life and loves others, I cannot wait to live with her.  She is SO incredibly committed to Jesus and living her life for him whole-heartedly.  It is her ambition to serve the Lord and to serve others so that they might know him.  I love how Jillian knows that she is a light in this dark world and how she puts herself in situations where she is able to shine.   I value her words so much because the Lord seems to speak through her so clearly and uses her to encourage others.
Beth: Our honorary house member!  My college experience would have been completely different if Beth wasn’t my freshmen roommate-she was my wing girl and made me laugh harder than anyone.  She has taught me what it means to love the Lord with all your mind.  She pursues knowledge of God more than any person I have ever met.  I seriously wish I read the bible half as much as this girl does because it has made her into a beautiful woman of God.  She loves people, ALL people, and she does it for Jesus.  I am so excited for Beth’s future.

I think this verse really sums up what our house is going to be about:
"Be merciful to me, O God, for men hotly pursue me."-Psalm 56:1