Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Greatest Love Story

          What is the greatest love story? It is not of the love that exists between a mother and her child. It is not the story of a man and his dog. It is not a tale of passionate love between a man and a woman.
It is the love of God for His creation.
Imagine… the One true God, creator and sustainer of the universe, humbling Himself to take on the form of human flesh. Entering this world as a helpless baby, willing to become one of us so that He might save our souls. Why?
Because He loved us.
But we didn’t understand.
No… we couldn’t understand. Our minds were weak, our hearts were selfish. We mocked Him. We spat on Him. We shoved Him to the ground and watched with wicked delight as blood poured from His wounds. Wounds He gladly bore for us. No, we didn’t understand what this Nazarene was trying to do. But we didn’t like it.
Death on a cross – a punishment saved for the worst of men. This God-man, stripped of glory, honor, and dignity, dragged His cross up Calvary’s hill. His body had been beaten, His flesh flayed apart. He had been through more pain than any human could endure.
Yet He continued to love us.
Nails were driven through His hands, pinning Him to the cross. Thorns punctured His head. Voices screamed, shouted, mocked. The world grew dim. His head fell to His chest, and one last breath left His lips. A shout of victory went up.
But they spoke too soon.
Three days later, He arose. Like the sun breaking through the clouds, Jesus overcame death and won the battle for our souls.
There never has, and never will, be such an epic and powerful love story. A perfect, sinless God, giving up His life for the most vile of sinners. Have you ever heard of such love?
Never let yourself forget what Jesus did on the cross that day. Never forget the blood He shed to ransom us. If He hadn’t risen from the grave, we would still be lost in our sin.
He is risen! Praise God for His everlasting love.


        Around six or seven years ago, I drew a series of pictures depicting the Easter story. Every year I would tape them on the wall in our stairwell. A couple of weeks ago, I found these drawings, and thought I would share them with you.

Jesus at Gethsemane
Before Pilate
On the cross
Going to the tomb

He is risen!


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Making It Count

          Earlier this week, a friend asked the question, What would I do if Jesus came back right now? It’s a question that often finds its way into my mind, but one that continues to convict me just the same.
What would I do if Jesus were to return right now? What if He were to walk into the room – what would I think, what would I do, what would I say? What excuses would I make for not having lived like He has called me to live? For not having witnessed to those living in darkness?
What excuse could I possibly offer?
So often, we forget about eternity. We live in the moment; we live for ourselves. We don’t think about the fact that everything we are doing now will count for an eternity. We pursue earthly things that promise pleasure, but in the end, those things will all fall away, and we will be left face-to-face with our Maker.
What will you say?
Last night, I thought I might die. Caleb and I went to see High School Musical, in which Andrew and Tianna are participating. About a week ago, I had a dream about seeing the musical – but in my dream, shooters came and killed everyone in the auditorium. I don’t usually believe my dreams, but as we sat there, waiting for the musical to start, I was scared. What if my dream was a vision? What if someone came and shot everybody?
I’ve always been aware of the possibility of me dying, and for the last few months I’ve been more or less conscious of it. But last night, I told myself, this could be it. This could be my last day on earth.
Obviously, no shooter came, as I’m still here, but I realized something important last night.
          I’m not afraid to die.
I am not afraid of dying and going to heaven – of joining my family up in paradise. Of falling to my knees and worshipping my King. In fact, I’m ecstatic! I love being alive here on earth, but I also look forward to living in heaven.
But what I am afraid of is standing before the judgment throne of God and trying to explain why I didn’t obey Him.
Every single day counts. Every moment, every act, every thought, every word means something. You can’t let yourself think that what you do doesn’t matter; it does. What you do or don’t do has the power to effect someone’s eternal destiny – even your own. How can we not care?
I think that if Jesus were to come back right now… I would apologize. I would tell Him that I am so sorry for not taking life seriously. For not taking Him seriously. God gave us His written word for a reason, and that reason is not so that it can get covered with dust. He gave us the Bible so that we can know how we are to live.
It’s time for us to get serious about Christianity. We need to be ready for the return of Jesus. If you haven’t been living in the way that you should, repent. If you haven’t been putting time into your relationship with God, do so. If you’ve been living in sin, turn and run the other way. It is never too late to turn back. God is there, waiting for you with open arms.
So now I ask you. What would YOU do if Jesus came back right now?


Saturday, March 23, 2013

How Shall Faith Be Strengthened?

          How then shall unbelief be cured and faith be strengthened? Surely not by straining to believe the Scriptures, as some do.
          Not by a frantic effort to believe the promises of God.
          Not by gritting our teeth and determining to exercise faith by an act of the will.
          All this has been tried--and it never helps.
          To try thus to superinduce faith is to violate the laws of the mind and to do violence to the simple psychology of the heart.
          What is the answer?
           Job told us, "Acquaint thyself with Him and be at peace;" and Paul said, "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."
          These two verses show the way to a strong and lasting faith:
          Get acquainted with God through reading the Scriptures, and faith will come naturally.
          This presupposes that we come to the Scriptures humbly, repudiating self-confidence and opening our minds to the sweet operations of the Spirit.
          Otherwise stated:
          Faith comes effortlessly to the heart as we elevate our conceptions of God by a prayerful digestion of His Word.
         And such faith endures, for it is grounded upon the Rock.
-A.W. Tozer


Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Word 'Just'

       A couple years ago, I read a novel called Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. The book is written as a letter, from an old man to his son. It was a very unique, enjoyable story.
       There is one part where the father is telling his son a story about a young couple walking down the street. The man shakes the branch of a wet tree, getting water on his companion. The two laugh and walk off. The father ends the narrative with,

       "In writing this, I notice the care it costs me not to use certain words more than I ought to. I am thinking about the word "just". I almost wish I could have written that the sun just shone and the tree just glistened and the water just poured out of it and the girl just laughed - when it's used that way it does indicate a stress on the word that follows it, and also a particular pitch of the voice. People talk that way when they want to call attention to a thing existing in excess of itself, so to speak, a sort of purity or lavishness, at any rate something ordinary in kind but exceptional degree. So it seems to me at the moment. There is something real signified by that word "just" that proper language won't acknowledge. It's a little like the German ge-. I regret that I must deprive myself to it. It takes half the point out of telling the story."

       Oh, I love when people put my thoughts into words.


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Prayer as a Way of Walking in Love

Isn’t that a beautiful way to picture it? Prayer as a way of walking in love. That is what our prayer life should be. Communion with God, our lover.
But it seems like prayer is something that is often put on the shelf. We ‘forget’, or ‘don’t have time’ to talk with God. It’s not on our priority list. And when we do pray, we spend that time asking Him for favors.
There is nothing wrong with asking God to do things. In fact, we are called to pray for others, as well as ourselves (James 5:13-16). It brings God pleasure to answer our prayers and give us what we desire (provided it is good). But what I am saying is that prayer should consist of much more than that.
When we pray, we should praise God; thank Him for His goodness and steadfast love. For all the hundreds of gifts that He gives us daily. We should be expressing our adoration and love toward Him.
When we pray, we should confess our sins; tell God the wrongs we have done, and beg His forgiveness. He offers it readily.
        When we pray, we should be talking with God; telling Him about how we feel, what we think, about our dreams. He wants us to tell Him about ourselves. Not because He doesn’t know, but because He wants to hear it from us.
Prayer is essential to the Christian life.
        Here is a quote from Francis Chan’s sermon, Prayer As A Way Of Walking In Love.

        “As a kid, I sang that song “Jesus loves me this I know, because the Bible tells me so” and still, absolutely, does that happen. There are days I’ll read something, and I’ll just go God, I can’t believe that. You like me that much? You love me that much? Are You kidding me? And I’ll get that. I know Jesus loves me because the Bible tells me so. But I’ve got to say, at this point in my life, I could also sing “Jesus loves me because the way He answers my prayers shows me so”. I feel like ever since I’ve been a kid, the way You listen to me, the way You hear me, it’s unreal. I love You so much. And I want anyone who doesn’t experience that or know that, I what them to have that. But how can I share this personal journey? How can I share everything that God and I have been through together? Sometimes I question. I ask, God, do You love everyone this much? I mean, the way You answer my prayers, this is unbelievable. I love you, I love you, I love you. I don’t know what more You could do to show me Your love. I’ve seen it in the scriptures, but I also see it in the way You answer my prayers.”

         I want to pray like that. I want to have that kind of relationship with God. I want to love and adore Him so much that nothing else in life matters. I want to make a difference in the world; a deep impact that will never go away. I want people to look at me and see that I am different. 
         Prayer draws us closer to our Maker, it brings us peace, and it has the power to change the world. So be fervent in your prayer. Pour your heart out to God, praise Him for all He has done, and ask Him to do great things.
        Walk in love with you Savior.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

1,096 Days Ago...

…we moved to Southern Oregon!! :D It was my first big move, and I was scared about going to a new place, but I am so glad that we did.
If we hadn’t moved, I never would have met some of my closest friends (not to mention countless other amazing people). If we hadn’t moved, I never would have gotten involved with NCFCA.
God knew exactly where we needed to be. He blessed us with a beautiful home, He led us to Household of Faith Community Church, He introduced us to the people we needed to know… and He put us by the river.
If we hadn’t moved here, Josh wouldn’t have gone on that hike. He wouldn’t have drowned that day. But God had Josh’s story scripted out, and He put him exactly where he was meant to be.
I am so thankful for all that has happened since the day we came here. All the friends made, the adventures experienced, the lessons learned. I look forward to what the future holds.

                                                                                                                        In Christ,

          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.
                                                                                                         ~Philippians 3:13-14

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Happy Birthday

        Well, it’s your first birthday up in heaven. Isn’t that amazing? You sure didn’t see that one coming last year. But God has His own way of doing things, and His ways are so much better than ours.
        Happy birthday, dear brother. I love you so much, and can’t wait to see you again.



Sunday, March 3, 2013

Good To Be Home

         I’m back! I have returned from my travels, and let me say, it is so good to be home again.
For those of you who don’t know, I spent the last nine days in Southern California visiting relatives. We drove down last Thursday and spent a few days with my grandparents in L.A., and then made our way to San Diego to visit more family. It was a lot of driving, but definitely worth it.
Andrew and Tianna rode with us, which made traveling doubly fun (at least, when we weren’t all trying to sleep). Tianna and I played countless rounds of Words With Friends and Ticket To Ride while we drove (well, we didn’t drive, but you know what I mean ;).
This was a really fun trip. The weather was beautiful, we had a nice time visiting with family, and we had a family reunion/birthday party (two of them, actually). We also went to Knotts Berry Farm, as is our tradition. The weather was perfect that day, and the park was pretty empty – so we didn’t have to stand in line for rides hours on end.
         I am very proud to say that I rode a roller coaster and (gasp!) enjoyed it. I normally hate roller coasters, but this one was an exception (and probably the only exception. It was a pretty tame coaster (30 MPH and no loops). Tianna, who also doesn’t like roller coasters, was the one who convinced me to ride it, so it was a new thing for both of us. We ended up riding it five times. It was pretty awesome.
       Tianna brought her camera on the trip, so needless to say, both of us took lots of pictures. There were so many good ones that I had trouble choosing which ones to post. But I finally managed to narrow it down to twenty.

Me and the big guy - er, dog. :)

The Silver Bullet

My wonderful and adorable baby brother

The Excelerator (my dad, little brother, and aunt are in the second car)

What we looked like after riding Bigfoot Rapids. :P That was so fun.

My awesome siblings
The view from my Aunt's house

Don't worry, I'm only about 18 feet off the ground ;) Nothing too dangerous

And here's a turtle. :) This is an ice-cream cake that my cousin made. Isn't it awesome?!

On the drive home (it was much more beautiful in person)


Friday, March 1, 2013

The Lightlings

       I am very pleased to announce the opening of Tianna’s and my Etsy shop, TheLightlings! We’ve been working on setting up the shop for quite some time, tossing around ideas and such, but finally launched it today!
       Etsy is an online marketplace for people to sell their homemade or vintage goods. Users create their own shops where they list their products.
       Tianna and I have many ideas for our Etsy shop. Home d├ęcor, jewelry, clothes, hats, bookmarks, and much more! At this point, we only have one item listed, but hope to post more soon.
       We would love for you to visit our shop! If you have an Etsy account, it would be great if you would favorite our shop. If not, you can like our Facebook page here.
       I am very excited about this new venture. Both Tianna and I love crafting, and it will be so fun to work together on this.