Tag Archives: Jesus

“love is a violent flame not to be ignored” -AE

24 Dec

I heard the most horrible story the other day. I am hesitant to write it here because it is so sad, but I want to convey the reality of this painful situation… (or is it the painful situation that is reality?) I am currently working at an insurance company, and a lady called first thing in the morning – she was distraught, asking about accidental death coverage for her mother. She went on to explain that her mom passed away earlier in the week. Her mother had dementia and wandered out of her sisters house somewhere up north where she was staying, while they thought she was sleeping. When they realized she wasn’t there and couldn’t find her, they called the police. The police searched the house and one of them went to the back of the house where they heard someone gasping for air. There was a freezing cold creek behind the house that she had fallen into. They rushed her to the hospital, but it was too late and because she had been in the creek for a couple hours, she froze to death. The lady on the phone began to cry as she said the words. My heart was so so broken for her. There was so much hurt and sadness on the other end of that phone line.

Its crazy how this time of year, the holiday season, is supposed to be so joyful and full of hope, and yet there are people all around who are in tremendous pain. About a month ago I was out watching some friends play football for an annual Turkey Bowl game they always participate in around Thanksgiving time. I sat next to a lady who was watching her son play. We small-talked for a while, and I asked about her Thanksgiving plans and her family. When I asked if she had any more kids who would be home for the holiday, she choked up. She told me through held-back tears and a quivering voice that she used to have 2 sons, but one was killed in a car accident 1 year ago to the day, right before Thanksgiving on his way home from college. She had taken the day off from work because she knew she wouldn’t be in the right mind-set, and came to watch her other son play football and spend time with him. My heart sank. Brokenness and pain was sitting right next to me.

Those stories ruined me. Each time for the rest of the day and the days thereafter, I could think of nothing else. Their sorrow left an ache in my heart, and the soreness would not go away. I wanted to do something, to say something, to somehow make things better, but what could I do? What could anyone really do?

In darkness like that, there is only one source of Light. I honestly don’t know how people get through life without Jesus. He is my rock, my comforter in times of sorrow, my support, my healer, my helper, my salvation, and so much more. What is the meaning of life without Him? What is LIFE without Him?

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” – Psalm 73:26

Hearing those stories prompts me to put my life back in perspective, remembering what and who is truly important and forgetting the rest. Their hurt reminds me to be kind to those around me, strangers or not, and constantly be showing and sharing His love in whichever ways I can. The holidays will never be the same for these ladies who have lost so much, as well as so many others with similar heart-aching stories. A little kindness can go a long way. Even a hug can go a long way. Even a listening ear and a caring heart can go a long way!

Don’t be so consumed in the holiday season that you walk all over those around you. In our American consumer-driven world, it is so easy to get caught up in what we need to get done, and who we need to buy gifts for, and who we are going to fight for the last Tickle-Me-Elmo doll (flashback!). Of course I am included in this, and just as guilty for making this season all about me and not about sharing the Love.

And so, with a heavy heart I challenge you (and me) to take a good look around. Be aware of those who are hurting, and extend your (fill-in-the-blank) in compassion and love. Make a positive difference in the life of someone who could use a little support. Thank your friends and family who have been that support for you.

Live your life for someone else for a change.  This is the message of Christmas.

Love is a powerful thing. Share it with someone.

“Love is a violent flame not to be ignored” – Andrew Ehrenzeller (musician)

So love, and do not stop.

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refined, not defined

12 Jul

I think I only blog when I should be doing other things. Like studying. For my Finance test tomorrow. Yuck.

Here is something I heard today:  

“Your past does not define you, it refines you.”  – Jason Burns

 

So that’s what got me thinking. I mean, it’s true I think. I am not defined by my past (mistakes or otherwise), but rather I am made better because of my past, because of the things I went through and experienced and the choices I made – I have learned and grown and overcome, which makes the current, present me improved and refined. It makes sense. And I like it.

I’m a fan of this whole “improvement” idea. I think one of my greatest fears in life is to be stagnant… too gripped by fear or self-doubt or insecurities to move forward and be all that I am created to be. I want to be constantly improving, actively pursuing my purpose in life. Always.

But many times I do get stuck. Frustration and panic and fear settle into my heart and I feel as if there is nothing I can do. It is so easy to believe the lies. To start to believe that I am nothing. Nothing of worth or value. Nothing that can really do anything to make a positive impact or change in the lives of other people or in the culture around me.

But that is what they are. Lies.

Jesus = Truth. In Christ, we are overcomers. There is nothing our God cannot do. We are His children, and as such we have power – the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in me!

But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. (Romans 8:10-11)

 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

 

He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.” (Luke 10:18-19)

 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

 

The same power. My mind cannot fully comprehend. Makes me wonder what I have been missing. If the same power that raised Christ from the dead lives in ME – that’s an insane amount of power… and I have not even begun to tap into it.

Christ conquered the grave. He overcame death. And that same power lives in me. Therefore, I have conquered death also – this life is not the end. When I die, my earthly body will be gone but my soul will be alive with Him forever eternally. In Christ we too have overcome death, through death. And we put to death every day our sin nature, our old selves, our bound and broken shells that were slaves to sin.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph 4:22-24)

 

So here is something else I heard recently… if death has no more power over us, then that verse about walking through the valley of the shadow of death really means just that. It is not death. It is just a valley in its shadow. Because in Christ we have overcome death already.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (I Cor 15:54-57)

 

And He is with us. Always. In those times when we are walking through the darkest places of our lives. In those times when we feel so close to death as to be in its shadow… except deeper… like a valley in its shadow. He is there with you.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23:4)

 

He loves me. He will never leave me. He comforts me. He empowers me. Why do I search for anything else – as if He is not enough? He is my all in all. And by that I mean He is everything, all that I need, in every situation and challenge in my life. More than enough.

For nothing is impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)

 

Yet I still struggle within myself. I want so badly to be speaking the truth of my heart and soul when I sing words like “You’re all I want, You’re all I’ve ever needed” but the prideful voice of my “old self” fights me all the time. It says “No. He is not. You can’t sing that. He is NOT all you want. You want lots of other things. You don’t really think He is all you need, you need other things too.”

But then I think… everything good in my life is from Him. Because of Him.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17)

 

He has never failed to bring me through every hard time – to help me overcome. He created me. He knows my name and the number of hairs on my head. He died so that I could be with Him forever. He loves me more than I understand. He makes all things new – He continually restores me, each day a new day, each breath a gift. He gives me life – He IS all I want and ever needed.

I can’t imagine a life without You because its all for You.

risk

27 Apr

A turtle never moves forward until he sticks his neck out.

 

To move forward, you have to take some risks.

 

Check this out, the Bible is not a book that was written for our information, but for our transformation. When we choose to believe in the promises that God has to offer, when we actually apply those truths to our everyday lives, we will find the reward is well worth the effort.

 

Easier said that done though, right? In this life, it takes a lot of courage to risk everything on God’s promises. Like, when I put my hope in His promises, I’m pretty much betting my whole life on something I haven’t seen or experienced yet.

 

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:24-25)

 

 Which is where faith comes in I guess.

 

 Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1)

 

Maybe sometimes we are supposed to do things the hard way. If we constantly do the whole pain-avoidance strategy, playing it safe, never taking chances, never dreaming bigger than what we are now… because we are afraid to trust God, afraid He wont hold up His end, afraid He will disappoint, afraid He wont handle it the way we want Him to (the safe, easy, pain-free way we are comfortable with)… then we actually inflict greater pain on ourselves. It’s ironic. By trying to avoid pain, we end up with more of it.

 

For me at least, I feel like I actually learn more from my mistakes than my successes. Mistakes teach us more about ourselves, more about reality. Pain often does that I think. I try not to see mistakes as mistakes though – as long as I’ve learned something, it was worth it. And I most likely wont make the same mistake again. There’s something about “learning the hard way” that really sticks with you.

 

There are times when God invites us and leads us in a direction that we are scared or uncomfortable going, and we choose not to trust Him. But God has our best interests at heart. He truly, deeply LOVES and cares about you. He created you, He knows you better than anyone, and He wants you to reach your full potential – what you were created for! He wants your life to glorify Him.

 

What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

 

If you have God on your side, what is stopping you?? Anything worthwhile is going to be hard to get. It’s worth the risk.

 

Stick your neck out.

 

And don’t stop. Its not always going to work out. Pain is part of life. Embrace it. As hard as it may be. Because if you keep avoiding pain, you’re going to miss out.  Dream big and pursue those dreams. Take the risk to follow wherever He is leading you.

 

Don’t let fear hold you back.

 

And when you come to a painful place, hold fast hope. Hold fast to the hope that you have in Christ, the promises and truth that He has provided. If you walk away from Him when things get tough, you will never experience all the awesome things God can do in spite of your seemingly hopeless situation. That’s what He does best – take the broken pieces and put them back together, even better than before. Beauty from ashes. He wants to bring you out of the dark mess you’re in, and into the bright fullness of life that only He offers.

 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10)

 

Sin is reality. Pain is reality. Suffering is reality. Having God on your side does NOT mean everything is easy and pain-free, but it DOES mean that He is your ever-present help in times of need, your comforter, your protector, your peace that transcends understanding. He is love and He is good and He is on your side. He has a plan for you, He knows whats going on, and His timing is always perfect.

 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

 

So if you believe it, live like it.

 

In the Bible theres a story where Jacob wrestles with an angel (Gen 32:22-32). Now, I don’t presume to completely understand this story, but here’s the way I see it:  Jacob’s brother, Esau, wants to kill him because Jacob tricked him out of all his inheritance mulah. Esau is a big ol burly hunter with an army of like 400 bandits. Jacob is a little soft guy who likes to play with animals and talk to women. Esau could totally kill Jacob if he wanted to, which he did. So Jacob’s running away with his peeps to stay alive and they’re camping out one night, and Jacob decides to go off by himself to pray and be alone and sleep under the stars. Someone attacks him, they start fighting, turns out its an angel. (Weird.) They wrestle. The angel throws Jacob’s hip out of joint. Its uber-painful. Jacob keeps wrestling. All night. With a wrenched hip. He wont let go until he gets God’s blessing. The angel finally gives in a Jacob is given a new name. He goes from Jacob “the cheater”, to Israel “the overcomer”. The rest of his life he walks with limp. And a smile. 

 

Here’s what I get from this. Even when he is scared and in pain, Jacob wont let go of the angel until he receives a new name. He no longer wants to be known as a cheater, he wants God to give him a new name – he wants to be an overcomer. And God does just that. When Jacob cries out for God’s favor and protection, when he clings to His promise in the midst of a tough painful situation, God is faithful to bring him through. In Christ we are overcomers.

 

It’s a risk to live the life He calls us to. But it’s the only way to truly live. Don’t run from the pain, let God help you overcome it.

2 things.

20 Apr

2 things in my life that always make any day better:

1) Jesus

2) Publix subs