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a spiritual challenge I encountered while watching Wonder Woman

Posted in faith, inspiration

This post might seem random, but Holy Spirit has been teaching me about strength. And we recently watched the new Wonder Woman movie. So there’s that.

Besides her tear through “No Man’s Land” in the film (definitely my favorite part), her battles throughout the movie feel extra realistic – her inner wrestle with good and evil, belief in humanity and in herself, confidence and uncertainty.

On the car ride home, God prompted me to take a look at my “stance,” if you will. What I saw was insecurity, fear and shame, shrinking back and letting discouragement rule.

Not a strong battle stance for a child of Almighty God, right?

I read in Romans 13, The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.… put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

Do you hear confidence dripping from those phrases? I do.

John Piper’s encouragement on these verses lights a serious fire in my soul,

“Put on Jesus Christ” means put him on as the parachute because you are skydiving behind enemy lines. It means put him on as the high-impact, protective, anti-explosive suit when you disarm the bombs of the devil. It means put him on as the fire-proof suit when you rescue sinners from the flames of hell. It means put him on as a bullet-proof vest when you confront the pistols of sin and unbelief. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ” means put him on as a badge that admits you to all the resources of heaven that you need to do his will. It means put him on as the best intercom system that ever was so that there can be constant communication with the one whom you love above all others and who is himself everything you need.

Then I experienced Wonder Woman in all her sword-yielding, armor-wearing, stick-it-to-them glory.

Her lasso of truth, her powerful sword, armor on her wrist that treat bullets as if they were candy. In the scene I referred to earlier, her storming “No Man’s Land” to save a village from a German stronghold was ignited by kindness for the people, and an attitude of power and confidence in who she was.

Quite inspiring.

Even then, I began preaching to myself, 

You are a child of God! Put on His armor, wear Jesus as your protection and provision, and fight the good fight of faith

And I encourage you with the same message! Let’s fight dishonesty, gossip, negativity, insecurity and shame. Let’s battle unbelief and doubt. Let’s fight for Truth, strong and confident, for holiness and for God’s glory!

When you put on the armor of light—daily (or hourly!) fresh faith in Christ, hope in Christ, love for Christ—it is hard for the works of darkness to cling to you. They are pushed out by the light. If your eye is good (if you see Christ as your treasure) your whole body will be full of light. John Piper

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thoughts from a sick day

Posted in faith

I write this post from my couch.

Where I’ve been sitting for the past 8 hours.

Surrounded by books, pillows and blankets, a tea mug, a water glass, and tissues.

Yes, I have a cold, with a fever attached.

Although seriously bummed I couldn’t go about my normal day, for it was full with a need for productivity and a fun meeting over God’s Word, Holy Spirit has been teaching.

First, I struggle with sitting still. I’m fidgety, restless, and almost always multi-tasking.

“We often use outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises.” Henri Nouwen

In the quiet is where I experience His presence, because He doesn’t shout over the television. On a day like today, stillness is where I encounter Him. Reading His words, I am refreshed, and challenged.

Second, a friendship with Jesus means honesty with Him.

This is a lesson I learned earlier this year.

“God insists on artless transparency to enable Him to mold me into a woman of grace and beauty, a woman who listens and hears and knows Him down deep… When I confess my flaws, my guilt, my failures, my frustrations, to God, He takes the softest washcloth to my mess and bathes me in beauty. I lean into His warmth, breathing in the scent of Him, wanting more.” Diane Comer

It took multiple circumstances, and Holy Spirit’s gentle convicting, to help me see that I’m not honest with God. It’s a funny idea, though, since He knows my thoughts long before I think them. I held things in own strength, pretending for appearances, weighed down by legalistic guilt and fighting spiritual battles on the grounds of deeds. 

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what will it be like to look into God’s eyes?

Posted in faith

My friend Emily is doing exactly that.

I say ‘friend’ a little loosely, because while I went to the same school as she and her other three siblings, and even knew the family well, my younger sister was much closer to each sibling.

That’s usually how it is with our grade school though, once you get in and get connected, you’re family for life.

Emily is their youngest daughter, and second youngest child, and through a car accident over the weekend, is looking into the eyes of Jesus.

From what I know of Emily, she was a free spirited, cheerful, compassionate to everyone, beautiful soul, who loved life and reached people with the message of Jesus and love in a unique way.

Upon hearing the news, my sister and I both start weeping. As more hours pass, the seemingly endless flow of tears fades slightly, and it then comes in waves.

In my honesty to Holy Spirit, I wonder if she was in pain, and pray she wasn’t. I ask for the most tangible of God’s presence with each family member and close friend. I imagine what she must be experiencing – whole, beautiful, gazing into the eyes of Love and Light, Father and Friend.

I then am prompted to focus on reality: this life, birth to our last day on this earth, is fragile, fleeting, temporary, and not where we truly belong.

And I ask, Abba… do I love You more than this life?

Fear makes an attempt at my mind, shouting that I don’t know what’s around the corner, that things can seem hopeless. Anxiety makes a stab at my heart, threatening to move in and make itself at home, telling me to white-knuckle hold on people and my own effort, to avoid pain (which we all know is impossible).

But He is there. Letting me run through my feelings, letting me race through my self-reflection, wrestling with lies to embrace Truth.

I write in my journal,

being with You is what You have always wanted for me, what You still want for me.

being with You has been Your plan from the very beginning in the garden. it’s why You sent Jesus, it’s why You made a way.

thank You for the gift of Your Spirit, a gift of love, to be present with me constantly now. a part of You, to be my life Companion until the day I arrive at Your true side.

leaving this life is how that happens for me. dying here means being there, being home, with You.

“Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world,” Jesus says (John 17:24).

I ask for His help, because I sometimes have a hard time putting all the wonders of this life, as marvelous and beautiful and lovely as they are, in their proper places. There are so many joys that we get to taste here — family, friends, adventures. And I am a deep feeler, an emotional, passionate being. I soak up life with my whole self, and am unabashed in it.

But I know, in the gut of my soul, that nothing can compare to the pure delight of unbroken, constant fellowship with Jesus.

I needed a new mindset. A new perspective. And something about picturing Emily at His side, walking Heaven’s grounds, radiating peace, love and joy, is profound.

It’s still incredibly, incredibly difficult. We lose temporarily, because we aren’t There yet. While some are There, many are here. Thankfully, He is with us in our confusion, He is present in our anger and pain. He is near when we are broken, and He surrounds us as we grieve. 

But one thing is sure, a glorious reality, that the worst of the worst for each of us, death, delivers us to our greatest Love, our forever Home, to the side of our Heavenly Father.

Friends who knew Emily, friends who have lost a loved one… shed tears to fill buckets, but remember that these streams of tears running down our faces will beam a little with joy when we continue to see our loved one’s death as an answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17 of being with Him to see His glory.

This may turn out to be one of the greatest tests of faith, so I encourage you, and myself, to lean in to God, pour out your heart to Him, and cling to His Words.

I don’t always do it well, but He says even my mustard seed faith is enough.

Jesus grieved himself so that we will never have to endure hopeless grief in the face of death.

“For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better…… Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way by your enemies. This will be a sign to them that they are going to be destroyed, but that you are going to be saved, even by God himself. For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him. We are in this struggle together. You have seen my struggle in the past, and you know that I am still in the midst of it.” Paul in Philippians 1

2017, the year of no internet posting

Posted in faith, lifestyle

I’ve devoted more time and energy to screens instead of faces for a long time. By God’s grace I have always held it in good balance. I haven’t idolized social media as a way for validation or affirmation. I know who I am in Christ.

But, in a social-media age, it’s even easier for us to be disconnected or disengaged people. People can follow us or friend us without really knowing us. Relationship connections are easy, but if we aren’t careful they can become quite shallow. We now can build a platform or become an influence in others lives just by amassing Twitter and Instagram followers.

I certainly don’t view social media or any form of technology as inherently bad, of course. They can be creative outlets and fun interaction, and they can certainly be used to glorify God, but in this current season, I cannot underestimate the great value of a faithful life lived on the ground and in the ordinary.

This year, 2017, I want to love and know Him more — more completely, more fully. I want to be present for the people around me; to love and listen to and be in the trenches with them better. I want to dig deep into His purpose for me since He knit me together: to radiate and present His glory to the world and to enjoy Him forever.

This is currently a good decision for me, this is not meant to lay on guilt or conviction, that’s not my job. We each have our decisions to make and lives to live.

For me personally to get what my heart longs for, it means a change in where I invest my time, specifically time on the internet, specifically time prioritizing the creation of encouraging, creative, appealing, and helpful online accounts.

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experiencing God in everything

Posted in faith

Loving God with all our mind means that our thinking is wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things. John Piper

It’s amazing how uncluttered and settled my heart becomes when I savor Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit.

When I relish in the Truth that I am deeply loved, adored, cared for. That I have a rich and valuable purpose on this earth to spread God’s glory.

God is the greatest thing that exists, ever has existed or ever will… for us to glory in anything else, would be sin, as there is nothing greater than God, there is no calling greater than praising God. John Piper

How much sweeter does a moment become when our efforts, desires, and energies are given to Someone outside ourselves.

We are free. Free to love selflessly, free to give generously, free to choose joy instead of discouragement, faith instead of fear.

All of real life is in God.

When I recognize that God is the greatest thing that exists, when I talk to Him as such, when I think about Him as such, it transforms my being.

I will not live and die by the approval of man, but lose myself joyfully in praising God.

I will not be mastered by sinful tendencies, seduced by worldly pleasures, but will stand strong on the rock of God’s promises to fill me up and satisfy me with things much better.

I will not be so easily offended, but will surrender my causes and concerns to a God who knows best.

Father, help me treasure You above everything else.  Please teach me what it looks like to adore You.

Jesus’s longing and goal is that we see his glory and then that we be able to love what we see with the same love that the Father has for the Son. And he doesn’t mean that we merely imitate the love of the Father for the Son. He means the Father’s very love becomes our love for the Son—that we love the Son with the love of the Father for the Son. This is what the Spirit becomes and bestows in our lives: Love for the Son by the Father through the Spirit. What Jesus wants most for Christmas is that his elect be gathered in and then get what they want most—to see hi glory and then savor it with the very savoring of the Father for the Son.

I love the language of Advent. The adoring of Jesus can thrill your heart if you let it. Even though I’ve been a Christian for a long time, I’ve never experienced Him like I am these days. His Spirit has been super gracious is revealing new Truth to me, setting fire in my soul for God. The above quote is from Desiring God’s “Good News of Great Joy” Advent readings.