Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The change doesn't happen in your head; it happens in your heart.

The change doesn't happen in your head; it happens in your heart. 

As a worshipper of Jesus, we sometimes get so caught up in adhering to a strict set of "rules" and regulations. We seem to be great at making lists of what we can and cannot do, what we're allowed to say, how we can shape our views, and how we can act. But thats just it. Acting. We force ourselves to perform how we're taught to believe a Christian to perform. Because we'll receive praise this way, right? We'll get thrown a biscuit and receive a pat on the back? All because we performed well and  listened to our commands. "Great", we think, "I can rest easy tonight. I acted like a Christian today and did what I was supposed to do." But even if we succeed once, we'll fail 40 times. We can never live up to those expectations by simply changing our thinking and trying to monitor our actions. We can only achieve this lifestyle of love by spending quality time with the creator. Then and only then our actions and desires will align with His. It will be natural to serve Him through our actions and interactions with people, instead of a chore. Spending time soaking in the presence of Jesus truly fuels us, with the most luxurious kind of fuel and it will spill over into every area of our lives. It will be so evident that we've been with Jesus. Just as it says in Acts Chapter 4: It was noticeable that Peter and John had been with Jesus..people could recognize it through their actions. 

"After they found out that Peter and John had no education or special training, they were surprised to see how boldly they spoke. They realized that these men had been with Jesus." -Acts 4:13

But we can't expect to act that way if we haven't been with Him in the first place. Its like trying to perform like a professional ballerina, even when you've never practiced a day in your life, but just presuming you can act like you know what you're doing anyway since you're up onstage in front of the lights. We can't act like Jesus and display His love in everything unless we let Him fully enter into our hearts. We can do this by saying yes to spending time with Him.

I find this to be true in my own life. When I haven't spent time with Jesus, I get frustrated way more easily with people and situations. And I find myself consciously trying to use my human flesh to act with love, grace, and patience because I know its "right". And then I get even more frustrated when I can't do that on my own. I tend to sin more and then feel constant shame because I know "I shouldn't be doing that" or "thinking that", but then after I spend time reading the bible, worshipping, or talking with Jesus- I fully become the woman He created me to be and I can act with the love He intended and make choices He intends for me to make. The love I have in me for others is purely from Him. Anything good and perfect is from the Father. Period. We can do good things, but it all goes back to Him.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Humorous Provision

      I didn't ask God if I could go to Belize, God asked me. I didn't make it possible or within reach, He did. I remember when he began whispering to me in my quiet time about going on a missions trip. I didn't take it seriously, because I didn't want to. In my heart I would say: "Nice concept, God, but I really don't think its for me. I'm doing fine right here and I'm doing outreach and mentoring children, just like you've asked me to do.” We were never created to be comfortable and complacent in our walks with God, though. He truly wants to stretch us and sometimes that means actually opening our ears to what He’s clearly telling us and boldly accepting that His ideas will forever be different from ours. God is hilariously ironic that way- I’m finding He has a way of placing me in situations that are the stark opposite of what I could have ever pictured and sometimes when He’s feeling particularly creative and funny,  He will guide me to do things that I specifically swore I would never do.

    God continued to imprint missions work on my heart relentlessly and at the exact same time my fiancĂ© Simon shared with me that He was feeling the same pull. So we began to pray everyday- we prayed for God to clearly show us the “how” the “when” and the “where”. We vowed not to do any forcing or trying too hard to make anything happen; we laid it completely in His hands.  For the next couple months, the topic of missions was everywhere- hearing about trips and people's experiences and during that time, God completely transformed our hearts from being unsure about stepping out in faith in that way to feeling totally ready to embrace the adventure He wanted to send us on. In March, I was on Gateway's website and I happened to stumble upon a page talking about a young adult missions trip to Belize. At that time, Simon and I weren't living in Texas and we were not attending Gateway, but we decided to apply anyway, figuring if God wanted us to go He would work out all of the details. Soon after, we found out we were both accepted! After that, God didn't just open the door and say: "Okay guys, I've shown you where to go- now walk through."..instead, he literally carried us through the door, flooding us with provision in the most creative ways. We didn't have an ounce of funds to put towards the trip, but He taught us to trust. Through the several payment deadlines approaching, we would always wonder how in the world the money would show up. But literally without fail, for every single deadline, God would provide the exact amount on the last day possible. He could have chosen to bless us with everything needed to go all at once, right at the beginning, but instead He wanted us to rely and trust that He would always come through. We learned that God will always always overwhelm you with provision when He has opened a door. There was also definitely not a lack of humor throughout the whole process..we applied for our passports about 2 months before the trip; I received mine in plenty of time, but God chose to send Simon's the day right before we were supposed to leave. We checked the mail, day after day, hoping it would come- but it wasn't there. Other people were getting discouraged for us and trying to prepare us for the worst and some people were convinced we weren't going to go, but we knew. We knew with every fiber in our being that God had specifically plucked us out to go on the trip, so we knew that passport was going to come in the mail. And it did. 18 hours before the trip. Ha. Funny God.

"We're a very impatient society, but oftentimes, things from God come from waiting."

So we went. We got on the plane the next day and went to a whole new country and experienced God's miraculous ways exactly when and how He intended for us to experience them. He changed our hearts and built a whole new compass for our lives as a couple...

The adventures from the trip deserve a whole blog post of their own, so that will be coming soon!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Peace in Chaos

"You don't know now what I'm doing. You will understand later." -John 13:7

Jesus blatantly says that He will do things we don't understand. We may be confused, extremely hurt, and baffled, but He says that we will understand later. His plans are so carefully crafted and perfect. Even if they sometimes feel out of place or unusual, I can't stress enough how creative the Father is! Answered prayers aren't always straightforward, but sometimes they appear in a unique form unexpectedly and you might not be able to drag the pieces together instantly. I do know from experience, though, that when you ask selflessly -He provides. Point blank, without exception. Prayers for His kingdom are powerful when they are genuine and well-intentioned. Jesus knows your heart and your failures and He most certainly always knows what's best. He knows when you're ready to experience certain lessons and adventures. And its absolutely incredible how many doors He will staple wide-open when you are willing to be a light for others. He will always put you in the right place at the right time, if you're heart is right. 

"Children get your hearts right, God's coming for a pure bride." -Leeland

"Whatever you're doing inside of me- it feels like chaos, but somehow there's peace." -Sanctus Real