Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Philippians 3

But whatever things were gain to me, those things 
I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value 
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered 
the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and 
may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, 
but that which is through faith in Christ, 
the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, 
that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the 
fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to His death; 
in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on 
so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. 
Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; 
but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead. 
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 
Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything 
you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; 
however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
                                                                                                                ~Philippians 3:7-16

Saturday, February 16, 2013

A Day Just For Me

Today was a beautiful day.
I woke up to the smiling face of my four-year-old brother saying “I love you.” I warmed up a cinnamon roll for breakfast. My siblings came over and hung out for a while. Then Tianna and I went over to clean her house. At one point while we were cleaning, I stepped outside.
The sky was blue. A bright, brilliant blue, splotched with white cloud. The ducks were swimming in the pond, cutting through the water with ease. The sun was shining, warm on my face. The air was cool – not cold, not hot, not warm. Cool. My favorite.
As I stood there, I couldn’t help but marvel at what a beautiful day it was. The air was perfectly still, quiet. Peaceful. It was the kind of day that I want to last forever. As I was about to go back inside, I was struck with a sudden thought.
What if this was for me?
It seemed a ridiculous thought, but it stopped me. What if this – all of this beauty – was for me? What if God made this day for me to enjoy? Sure, there are millions of other people in the world, but what if God decided to make this day for me specifically?
It’s a staggering thought.
Could He possibly love me so much?

Every good thing given and
every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 
~James 1:17

God loves us so much. Perhaps I’m stating the obvious, but I believe it’s a truth that we ought to recognize more.
If you don’t feel the love of God, just look around you. It wasn’t until my eyes were opened to all that He’s done – and continues to do – for me, that I truly felt His love.
He made this world out of love. He made you out of love. He gives us air to breathe, days to live, words to speak, people to love. And most of all, He gave us His life.
    If you look, you will find hundreds of gifts every day. Little things that often go unnoticed. But everything has a purpose, and I believe that many things are little “I love you” gifts from God.
Today was an incredible beautiful day. A day that God made for us to enjoy. So look up at the green mountains, breathe deep the cool air, and soak yourself in the love of God.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentines Day

Happy Valentines Day! I hope that you all have had a marvelous day. This morning, Andrew and Tianna came over for a yummy breakfast (prepared by my awesome mom). Mom also made us huge heart cookies, as is our tradition. We spent the day just hanging out (and eating far too much sugar :P), and then had homemade pizza for dinner. All in all, it was a pretty good day.
But every holiday – every regular day, for that matter – I can’t help but think of Josh. Can’t help but remember all the bygone years. It’s so new and strange to celebrate without him.
Last year, Josh was gone at ALERT for Valentines Day. The day before, in a box of old cards, I found a Valentine from Josh, dated 2011. It made me so happy to have a card from him, even if it was a year old.
Today, I pulled that card out again. It’s just a plain piece of paper, with words written from his heart. His writing is horribly sloppy. But that simple card means so much to me. Every time I read it, I start crying. It means so much to know that he loved me.
"Fofy" was one of his nicknames :)
God’s time. Yes. Don’t all things happen in God’s time? He has the entire story plotted; laid out from start to finish. Everything will happen at the perfect time. All we have to do is trust.
Valentines Day is a day to remember those we love. I don’t have a husband (yet ;), but there are so many wonderful people in my life that I love dearly.
I love my family – Mom, Dad, Andrew, Tianna, Josh, Caleb, Daniel, Janae, David, Paul, Levi, Evan, Valor, Honor, and Jonathan. Some of you are in heaven, but I love you and can’t wait to see you someday.
I love my friends. I have FAR too many to list here, but you know who you are. I love you so much!!
And I love my God.
It feels so good to say that. God, I love You. You have done wondrous and amazing things for me – things that I could never possibly deserve. There has been pain in the journey, but I know that all things will work together for good. God will put together what He has broken.
Praise God.


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Armor Of God

       I love how you never stop learning things from the Bible. No matter how many times you read it, there is always something new to be found. It is an inexhaustible source of truth.
I just finished reading the book of Ephesians. In chapter six, Paul talks about putting on the armor of God. Most of us are familiar with this passage, but I’d like you to read it again.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 

This is not a physical battle. We are not fighting against flesh and blood. It is a battle against deadly spirits, demons. It is a war against our sinful nature. It is a fight for life.
        Armor is made to protect us. The plates of metal are designed to cover our body and protect us from the blows of the enemy. Paul says in the beginning of the chapter that this is a spiritual battle, so obviously literal armor isn't going to help us. So what does he mean by telling us to put on the armor of God?

        Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm, therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

        God is our only hope of protection. His truth and righteousness will cover us. He will enable us to walk in peace and assurance. Our faith in Him will stand against the doubt and condemnation we receive from those of the world. He, our salvation, will keep us from death. And with the word of God, we can defend ourselves against our enemies.
       All of these are gifts, which He offers to us freely. All we must do is ask. Pray to Me, and I will answer you (Jeremiah 33:3). These things are essential to the Christian life. Without them, we cannot survive in this world of darkness.
       So pray. Ask God for strength, to equip you for this battle. Put on the full armor of God and fight for what you believe in.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Strength In Weakness

          And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
                                                                                                         ~2nd Corinthians 12:9:10

Thursday, February 7, 2013

No Comparison

        I get annoyed when people come up with cute “spiritual” sayings that really aren’t true. Or are irreverent. Take the following as an example:

At first, this comparison of God to popular name-brands might seem humorous enough to emit a chuckle. But when you think about it, this is devaluing God. We are comparing the Infinite God to man-made products.
        I'm not saying that these things aren't true. God is a worker of miracles, He does cleanse us of stains, He is always there. It's the irreverence that bothers me. Like, seriously... comparing God to hair spray? Doesn't that seem a little... well, demeaning?
       God is God. He is the Creator of the universe, the Savior of the world, the Lover of our souls. He is everything that is good and right. Words fail to describe Him. But just because our human vocabulary cannot portray who God really is, doesn't mean that we should intentionally belittle Him.
       Perhaps I'm taking this too seriously. Maybe it really doesn't matter. Someone was just being creative and came up with a list of products that possess qualities similar to God's. Wonderful. But God deserves our ultimate respect and reverence. We shouldn't be making jokes about Him.
        Well, there's my rant. Perhaps a little silly, but I don't appreciate people making light the Majesty of my God. So there.

(Just as a side note... I don't agree about the Scotch Tape. I don't know about you, but I don't find Scotch Tape very transparent. Just sayin'.)

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

These Times

The past nine months have been the hardest that I’ve ever known. Has it really been nine months? I honestly find that hard to believe. Nine months ago, I saw my brother for the last time. I watched him walk out that door, not knowing that he would never return.
Every single minute detail of that day is forever etched in my memory. The heart-stopping terror. The burning tears. Begging on my knees for God to somehow stop what was happening.
The next day, I listened to a song called These Times, by SafetySuit. I’d heard the song before (Josh really liked it), but after May 5th, it took on a whole new meaning for me.

These times will try hard to define me
And I'll try to hold my head up high
But I've seen despair here from the inside
And it's got a one track mind
And I have this feeling in my gut now
And I don't know what it is I'll find
Does anybody ever feel like,
You're always one step behind?

Now I'm sitting alone here in my bed
I'm waiting for an answer I don't know that I'll get
I cannot stand to look in the mirror
I'm failing
I'm telling you these times are hard

That song still makes me cry. Those words take me back to that day – curled up in my parent’s bed, crying, praying, waiting. Waiting for some kind of news. It was at nine o’clock that they called off the search. Nine thirty that my mom hugged me and whispered “He’s gone.”
That day, God began an amazing work in me. I feel like a different person than I was nine months ago. He has shown me His infinite grace and His everlasting love. He has forgiven me, far more than I could ever deserve. He continues to shower me with blessings, revealing Himself to me in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. God is so good.
It’s not easy. It feels like God is taking me apart piece by piece, showing me what needs changing in my life. And it hurts. But I know that God is shaping me into the woman He wants me to be. I still have a long way to go, but the very fact that I’m on that road excites me.
I miss my brother. With all my heart, I want to see him again. But I know that all that is happening is according to God’s will. Josh’s life has made an impact on so many hundreds of lives… including mine. I am so thankful for the life he lived and the legacy that he left behind.

....I'm telling you these times are hard
        But they will pass.