Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Minnesota: It was bound to happen eventually

I love to travel. I could care less where I'm going as long as I'm going somewhere new, with people that I love. I get to do one of my all time favorite things with Ryan this Saturday- travel to Minnesota! This trip sort of became a last minute, good timing, now or never type of things. We've always talked about going out there since both of us have family in Minnesota, and now we actually get to go! It'll be 5 days full of Ryan's family and my family. We'll probably be family-ed out by the end and say "what were we thinking" at the end. I have to say I'm super pumped for this place: Mall of America-- a shopping dream!

I'm especially excited to see my uncle, aunt and cousin. It has been over 4 years since I last saw them at my grandparents funerals and that's a long time! A lot has changed since then, most notably for my uncle. He has been battling cancer for awhile now which is soon going to be taking him to be with the Lord. What a testament his life has been on so many lives! Talk about not wasting your life or your cancer! I greatly admire the courage and passion for the Lord that my uncle has. Read his journal here and you'll see what I mean.
My mom's side of the family has been hit with cancer and death the most. I can't tell you how much I have learned about the peace that surpasses all understanding during those times of loss. My
grandparents were my second set of parents and two people that I was always close to because well, they lived next door! My grandparents and my uncle are people who inspire me to not waste my life here on this earth. Life is such a precious gift and we are commanded to use it for the glory of God and the building of his kingdom. The Lord has hit so many lessons home through each passing family member. I am truly blessed with THE best family in the world. But I'm just a little bias :)
ps: I'm super excited about this coming into my life!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Cru Update!

Love it! I can't tell you how pumped I am about Cru this year! It will be our second "full blown" year and I know it's going to be the best one yet! I'm expecting huge things and I know that God is going to completely blow those expectations away, just like He did last year. It's so cool to be on the other end as a leader, seeing plans develop and lots of conversations that go something like this:

"Do you think we can do this?"
"Uh nope, but God can!"

We are whole-heartedly jumping all in. There are lots of new and exciting things coming up even just this semester. This summer, the Lord has been especially preparing me for leadership. I'm so excited to serve with the "2nd generation" of leaders, and they are all so excited to serve. It's so much easier being excited about something when everyone else is pumped about it too. So here's what I'm expecting this year:

-to pack out the Washington Room weekly. I mean we were pretty much comfortably to capacity last year so it's only going to get better!
-to see a lot of local church involvement. We're working with a few local churches, especially in the first few weeks of the fall semester.
-to take double the amount of students to Radiate '10 in Baltimore, MD and a group of people to Big Break for the first time.
-to see Launch groups really take off (wow, no pun intended!)
-to see lives changed on CNU's campus and more outreach opportunities seized.
-to grow beyond our expectations, both in numbers and spiritually.
-to be really challenged by other leaders, staff members, Cru people and the Lord.

That's a super broad list, but there are lots of cool ideas we have for this year! I am SO unbelievably honored that the Lord gave me the call to be a Cru leader. I think it has blessed me more than I could have possibly imagined. For all you leaders, get excited. The Lord has great plans for this ministry and I am praying for each one of you! For those who have never been to Cru at CNU, seriously get on it. God is actively and visibly working in the lives of students at CNU. Be changed or be a part of seeing lives change. Yay, okay there's my update!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Middle Name

So I'm really bad at the blog thing! Sometimes I just wish I was one of those super bloggers. You know, like J* or Carlos Whittaker or the up-and-coming Ryan Shaughnessy. Life goes on!

Just to avoid all the guessing, my middle name is "Joy" after my momma. As I wrote in my last post I've been going through a season with the Lord, and joy and what it means to be joyful has been heavily on my mind. I just want to be honest and share this with you: I've had it all wrong!

SO, I have been praying my heart out for the Lord to refresh my spirit and for him to "restore me to the joy of His salvation" (Psalm 51:12). I have been begging for joy, genuine joy. I wanted to feel not just happy but joyful. Sure enough, not much changed among all those prayers. I felt ignored and really questioned why God would want me to be unhappy and feel the weight of this world pressing down on me. I adopted a sort of 'I give up' kind of attitude and carried on and really stopped trying.

There was something super wrong with what I was praying for. Here's what I wasn't doing. I was not fighting for it, I was simply asking for it to be plopped down onto me in the middle of the night. I also was not desiring the Source of joy. All I wanted was to feel joyful, end of story. I didn't really care if God was attached to it, I just knew he could give it! I wasn't seeing joy as a gift, but rather something he owed me.
Geez, how lazy and selfish I am!

It's no wonder God did not grant my request for that pure lazy and selfish "joy" that I demanded! I have been reading "When I Don't Desire God" by John Piper and He has helped me realize the error in my desire for joy. Here's what I know now: Joy is not something that is easy to obtain and it must be fought for. There are too many things in this world that are going to try to sap that chance at experiencing God-given joy. 2 Corinthians 4:4 talks about how "The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." Satan is after our perception of Jesus. He wants to distort it and he aims at preventing us from seeing who Jesus really is. We have to be battling for joy daily.

Also, joy is a spontaneous gift from God. I mean, think about it. Can you remember the last time you planned on being truly joyful? Hah, I would've planned that one a long time ago! Yeah, doesn't happen on our own timing. We have to fight for joy, and allow Him to create it for us. Joy is not something that we were commanded to learn to create, we were told to experience Him as the true source of joy. Isn't that cool? Part of our act of obedience is experiencing him so we can have a joy that fulfills. We serve a God who wants us to find joy in him because it is the only thing that will satisfy. I can say that I understand what He meant when He said "my yoke is easy and my burden is light" in Matthew.

Don't give up fighting for joy! It is a "good fight" just as Paul said. It is worthwhile and it is fulfilling. I fight beside you all!

Look out for some updates on some Cru excitements for this upcoming year. I can't wait to share!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Seasons, blessings, and buts

I freshened up the blog a little, I think it looks cute :) Diggin' the lime green pattern! So yes, it has been awhile since I have updated this thing. I thought I share a few things that have been pressing on my heart lately, and just have an opportunity to be candid and real.

First of all, I have been going through a super long season with the Lord. I have been brought to a place where God has trusted me with His silence. And that is wording it nicely. I have felt alone and desperate for words from the Lord and I have wept over this "silent treatment". I was at a point where I felt that there was no point in trying anymore and was beyond okay with living a complacent life, knowing full well that that kind of life is not what I have been called to. I was slumpy. I slumped around not really caring about anything because my Father, my Savior, my God that I say that I serve was ignoring me and I didn't know why. I would love to say that this season has passed but it hasn't. BUT there is a but!

I have been reading a Psalm a day for a little over a month now. These are my power verses that get me pumped in the morning for the rest of the day. I feel like David and I are on the same page with lots of things in expressing ourselves to the Lord. Frequently David is crying out to the Lord for him to hear his cry. The beginning of many of his psalms, David is expressing his real and raw feelings. But there's always a but at the end. He combats his feelings with the truths of God and by assuring himself of the things that he knows and needs to be reminded of.

One thing I do know is that God is not neglecting me, because He can't. He has not forgotten me because He can't. I know that if I draw near to Him, He will draw near to me (James 4:8). God has given us an amazing resource that does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). Everything we need for our journey here on earth is in the Bible. We have to use this tool. So the whole "God is ignoring me" deal is not a truth at all! I am actually ignoring him by not opening up the word and I am expecting him to do all the work. Totally messed up and totally all on me. I have to daily remind myself of the truth to fight against the lies that so easily creep in. After all, the Word is the only offensive tool that we have against these lies (Ephesians 6:17). I am so thankful that there is a "but"!

Despite God's silence, he still has been blessing me! I am so incredibly blessed to have not one, but two internships that I LOVE and both dealing with marketing. I mean, I would've been fine with one but with two I can definitely say that he orchestrated every detail of the job searching process. They're both paid, which allows me to live down here in Newport News for the summer and one will even extend into the whole school year which is exactly what I needed and was looking for. To top it off I love what I do. I love that I'm using the things that I have learned in marketing classes and experience them in two different industries. I have also finally found a church home. I go to Liberty Baptist in Hampton which was seriously the last place that I thought I would be. I'm excited to set my roots down and get involved in a church after being so floaty for almost 2 and a half years. He is a God who provides and he certainly has provided beyond my expectations.

Although I can't tell you that I'm loving this season, I can tell you that it is good. All of these things are working together for my good (Romans 8:28). And I know that perseverance through trial is only maturing my faith, which is actually really awesome (James 1:2). It's tough! BUT, I have those buts to cling to--those bits of truth that provide the reassurance I need for those moments. This is season is good because He is good, and He is God.

So I say all of that to say to you, don't cease to remind yourself of the truth. We are bombarded with lies and the temptation to let our hearts slip into unbelief at an intense rate, and we cannot afford to fight against them. It's not a matter of "if" they come, because they will most definitely. I can attest to that at this point. Your enemy, the devil wants you to have a heart of unbelief. Don't forget his mission in life! So when you go through those seasons of doubt, complacency, indifference and discouragement, know that there is truth in the word to see you through it. Use the tool you've been given and know that your Father loves you intensely and will never leave you nor forsake you! (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Ongoing Debt

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law - Romans 13:8

If I learned anything in Finance, I most certainly took away from that class that taking out a loan would cost me WAY more than I ever could think. The interest on those things are outrageous! You could end up paying it back more than twice over before you are "debt free". Thanks to that class, I now have a perpetual fear of debt. Not the gripping kind, but the good kind that makes me want to steer clear of it. Before I got off on a nerdy business babble, this verse super convicted me and I hope it convicts you too!

I have an ongoing debt to everyone to love them because I owe them that love. You and I owe everyone an exceeding amount of love during our lifetime. That means loving people when they're unfair, backstabbing, hateful, different, insert word here, and so on. That should make you think about loving people so differently! Love them like you OWE them that love and that you owe an outstanding amount of it. You can never love anyone too much. Like the verse says, by doing so, we fulfill the law or, we are obeying His calling for each one of our lives.

So to put it in "business terms" which I so often love to do :) A transaction involves an exchange between two people who are informed about the offer, agree on the terms, and exchange something of fair and real value. When you accept Christ, He has paid for the sins of the past, present, and future. He paid our "debt" to sin. Because this debt was so large, we owe back an outstanding amount of well, something. Paul is saying that we owe it back in love.

I definitely can be the first to admit that it is so hard to love people like that. I slip into the mindset that tells me that it's okay for me not to love them and that I'm better than them. How completely wrong that is! Yes, Jesus came to die for me but he came to die for soo many more! I have absolutely no authority to decide who can be loved by Jesus. So who am I to limit Christ's love within me for others?

So, love the heck out of people today! You owe it, and will never stop owing it to them.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Wake Up!

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. - 1 Peter 5:8-10

This has been such a powerful verse for me for the past week. I think (no, I know) that as Christians, myself included, it is so easy to forget who our battle is against--Satan. It's hard to remember how much he absolutely hates that we know Jesus, and that he is using every trick up his sleeve to try and ruin that relationship. The fact that we DO forget this is in itself a tactic of the Devil. It's weird to think that forgetfulness is something that Satan uses to his advantage, but why wouldn't he use it? Our minds slip so easily into being ignorant of the forces that want to rip us away from Christ. We need a wake up call from this! At least I do...

This is why we MUST not be forgetful. We MUST train our minds to think of Christ. No, it's not natural, that is why it's a process. A process of becoming more Christ-like. We CANNOT afford to forget the truths, promises, and hopes that Christ offers us. I mean think about it...the Devil chases hardcore after those who are saved. He doesn't have to focus his efforts as much on those who are already not saved because they are already "won" to his side in a sense. This is why he is persistent, ruthless, and will not let up on those who are saved. He wants us to turn from Christ. Satan knows he has lost, he knows his final destiny, and he will not rest until he can take as many people down with him as possible.

Brothers and sisters, it takes effort. A lot of effort. But the ultimate reward is there. Restoration is around the corner. You have been called; called to eternal glory and called to daily resist the devil. Wake up! There is a battle going on for your heart! Do not rest, do not be complacent, do not yield because he is waiting for you to do just that. Equip your minds with scripture daily, encourage your brothers and sisters daily, and guard your mind daily. Ultimately, put forth effort. Effort to oppose the devil on all sides. And know that you have victory through Christ, praise Jesus we have victory!

Love you all!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Forgiven & Loved

If anyone listens to Jimmy Needham, you'll understand where I got this blog title from. I love the music that Jimmy (who I like to refer to in first person, pretending that I actually know him personally) writes. One of my all time favorites is a song called "Forgiven and Loved". It's a song that reminds me frequently that I can't earn the salvation that Christ gave me. I am physically unable to repay the debt that Christ paid for me on my behalf. Not only did he die to give me eternal life but he also died to set me free from the bondage of sin. I find that I often need to be reminded of both: that I am both forgiven and loved. So here I am reminding both myself and anybody else :)

"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace" - Ephesians 1:7

I can be the first to admit that I am imperfect and sinful. My favorite part of Jimmy's song goes like this: And His blood commands my guilt to leave/Now on Calvary I stand/ Empty pockets, open hands/ Oh there is no condemnation for me. Aren't those words so freeing? Christ's death has the authority to command any guilt over sin to flee because he forgave all of those sins. Seriously, praise God! That God would look at me and see me not as sin-filled but Christ-filled and pure. Even when you don't feel worthy of that forgiveness, you are still forgiven. When you can't understand why you're forgiven, you are. When you don't want to believe that you are forgiven, you are. His forgiveness is abounding and grace is abundant.

"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." - Romans 5:8

Isn't it sooo awesome that the Creator of the world, the One who knows exactly how big this universe is, and how many hairs are on your head, loves you and I? Not only does he tell us that he loves us but he proved it--by dying in our stead. Even though we will continually mess up and prove just how unworthy we are of saving, he still died because he loved. Um yes, that should blow your mind. I hope you know and feel the intensity of that kind of love!

Soooo with all that said, I hope you realize how mind boggling it is that our God both forgives and loves sinful man. I know I need reminding constantly. Know that this is the God we serve! Relish in it because you can. Tell yourself when you don't want to believe it. And live the forgiven and loved life out so that others can see the complete and true joy it offers. Love you all!
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