Thursday, June 8, 2017

Isaiah 37:16

Isaiah 37:16
“O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.”

As a general rule, I don’t think the church believes in the God of the Bible. If we did, shouldn’t the world look different? If we really did believe in the Lord of hosts, should we be panicked at the thought of war? We read about the God who holds the whole world together by the power of His voice but as soon as something in our life seems to fall apart we throw a tantrum. We trust Him to keep earth spinning but refuse to trust Him to have total authority in our lives. For example, I’ll go to bed tonight without bolting my bed to the floor and strapping myself down to my mattress. I’ll do this confidently trusting that the Lord will continue to keep the universe perfectly spinning so that gravity doesn’t completely change over night. Nothing in me ever doubts that God is the best one to do this. But, when it comes time to do Kids Club and that one kid whose hard to love shows up I rarely remember to ask God how to show this kid the love of Christ. I live as if He can’t possibly know how to handle the smaller details of life. Written out it sounds so foolish but everyone has this basic testimony at some point in their lives. As soon as the problem gets close to our heart we stop trusting and start acting in our own strength. This leads to the next problem which is that we don’t give Him the praise He deserves because He isn’t living through us. When we do it in our own strength, we get the glory. He dwells between angels who give Him glory continually but even that is not enough to convince our rebellious hearts to bow down in adoration. God is supposed to reign on the throne of our hearts unchallenged but all too often I’ve allowed people, dreams, desires, etc., to take His place as rightful King. Though He undoubtedly deserves all of my devotion, if He is not wanted He will not force Himself onto the throne. Robotic devotion is never something the Lord desires, our hearts have to be willingly handed over or they will remain trapped by the world forever. He is God alone. Not buddha, Muhammad, the iPhone 7plus, or any other idol made by hands. If this God is the one in whom we have out our trust, what does this change? Saying that you believe in Jesus Christ should be the most loaded statement you can possibly make. In that decision should be your life and being. I’m not saying this as someone who has figured it out but I do know that knowing God changes everything. And if He hasn’t radically changed your life, then you don’t believe in the God of the Bible.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Isaiah 19:19

Isaiah 19:19 

"In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to the Lord at its border."


It wasn't until recently that I even tried to read any book in the Old Testament. I thought that they were all completely irrelevant and too hard to understand. And while I still think parts of it are hard to fully understand, I now see how the Old Testament is relevant in today's world even though it was written thousands of years ago. The books that I've read recently have been about how faithful God is despite the Israelites regular relapses into complete rebellion. Through those stories the Lord showed me a little bit more of how deeply He loves His people. My own tendencies to stray were revealed each time the Israelites walked away from God. He never let them down or broke His promises and yet again and again they tried to do things their own way. In Isaiah 14 it says that God "will still choose Israel." Still. Despite their failure and sin, even though they don't always choose Him... He chooses to call the Israelites His people. But even more than choosing the ones He has already chosen, He loves to rescue the lost. God loves to redeem those who seem completely out of His reach. In Isaiah 19:19 we are told that there will be an altar to the Lord in Egypt. If you don't slow down and really consider the gravity of this statement, you'll miss out on something beautiful. A land that was never, by human standards, supposed to love the Lord now has both an altar and a pillar dedicated to Him. The altar showed their hearts attitude towards God. They were devoted to the point of spending something in their worship. The Egyptians understood that the cost of worship isn't free and built an altar to worship the Lord. But their devotion didn't stop there. Often as American christians we play a game where we say we love Jesus at church on Sunday's and Wednesday nights but nothing in our life actually changes. None of our co-workers or friends see any genuine devotion in our lives. The Egyptians in this verse understood something that thousands of years later we still have a hard time grasping. If your love for Jesus is real, if He really is your Savior then the world will know. Before anyone crosses the border to settle into your life they'll see the pillar and know that there's something different about you. This pillar proclaims that you have a purpose. It shows that there is genuine worship in your heart that isn't ashamed of Who it's devoted to. As the Egyptians turned to the Lord in worship, it affected both the public and private aspects of their lives. Reading this while in Ignite is both encouraging and convicting. It shows that the Lord is able to soften the hardest hearts but also that my life needs to be lived for Him in every single part of my life, not just the public and not just the private. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Isaiah 5:2

Isaiah 5:2 
"He dug it up and cleared out its stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
He built a tower in its midst,
And also made a winepress in it;
So He expected it to bring forth good grapes,
But it brought forth wild grapes."

It's common in our culture for people to say that we just need to find ourselves, to discover who we are and then we can be happy. Once you love yourself you find a god who fits into the mold of what you want him to be to satisfy your needs. Really, this is a completely self centered way to live and does not lead to true life. Living that way is missing out on mind blowing realities of who God is. In Isaiah 5:2, and the verses just before and just after it, the heart of the Lord towards His people is revealed. Isaiah uses the picture of a vineyard to show the Israelites how God cares for them. They were planted on a hill that was known for being fruitful. The Gardener cleared out all the stones that could choke out the roots of the vines. His heart is for them to thrive, not to wither away slowly. He didn't choose just any vine to plant in this carefully prepared land, He planted the "choicest vine." Nothing the vine did was deserving of this care and yet the Gardener sees this vine and calls it His own. Then the Gardener builds a tower to keep His vineyard safe and a winepress so that the good fruit that is grown doesn't go to waste but can be made into something lasting. Everything God could do to set up this vineyard to succeed was done. There is no reason why this vineyard shouldn't produce good fruit. And yet the last line of this verse tells us that the vineyard produced wild grapes. It's clear that the Gardener is not at fault, He did everything on His side to ensure that the vineyard would thrive. So, the responsibility falls on the vineyard that failed to produce good fruit. On one hand, this verse shows the beauty of the Lord's care for His people. On the flip side is our failure to live a life worthy of that. Our works don't save, so the fruit produced is not to earn a spot in the vineyard but to reflect the mercy that allows us to be there. 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Isaiah 58:11

Isaiah 58:11
“The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”


Honestly, I don’t have some well thought out string of words for this verse. But, this verse is wildly good and so comforting during this weird season of life. The day I turned 18 one of my first thoughts was “oh gosh, now comes a lifetime of having to make all my own decisions. No thank you.” Then I realized something great. As humans our whole life is made up of daily, little decisions that affect the course of our whole life. But there were big decisions in my near future that I so dreaded that weren’t ever mine to make. Instead of just trying to pick what I think will work best, I can let the Lord direct my life along His perfect plan for me. If He is the One making the decisions, I’ll never have to worry if I’m where He wants me to be. I can live in the peace that comes from being in the center of His will. I love that this verse doesn’t sugar coat that being in God’s will does not mean life is easy. There will be droughts and times where exhaustion threatens to take over. But, during those times is when the Lord gets to be everything we need. During the seasons of confusion and drought His love is so clearly seen in the way that He carries us through what we think is impossible. The first rain after a drought always brings a ton of growth. No one can deny the change that’s occurred but if there wasn’t a season of drought, there would be nothing to contrast the growth to and it wouldn’t mean as much. I guess my point in all of this is that the Lord is in the drought just as much as He is in the seasons of intense growth. The drought does not mean that He has abandoned or forgotten about you or wants you to be miserable. His love is still perfect, He is still in control. But, often a drought is needed before the rains come. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Deuteronomy 30:1-6

Deuteronomy 30:1-6
 “Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul, that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest parts under heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you. Then the Lord your God will bring you to the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it. He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”

In this passage there are two little words that are repeated so much that they stand out despite their initial insignificance. The first word is “all.” In these 6 verses it’s repeated 8 times so clearly we need to pay attention to it. I know its obvious but “all” really does mean exactly that: all. All of the blessings and curses the Lord had promised would come to pass depending on whether the Israelites chose obedience or disobedience. If they disobeyed they would be scattered, but when they called on the Lord He would gather them from every single nation to which they had been scattered. God promised life if they loved Him with every part of their heart and with the entirety of their souls. He doesn’t ask for part of us but for every single part of who we are to be completely surrendered to Him. Our God is not a God who does things in pieces. He finishes what He begins (Philippians 1:6) and not one of His promises is not fulfilled (Joshua 21:45). Since Easter just passed, the fact of just how far the Lord went to save us is fresh on my mind. He paid the ultimate price by giving up His life to pay for the sins of the world. He went all the way in order to save us. In light of a God who goes all in, how could we do anything but go all in as well?

The second word that’s repeated over and over again is the word “will.” I just talked about how the promises of God can be trusted and in these verses are about 8 different promises that the Lord gives His people if they just turn to Him with their whole hearts. He promises to bring His repentant children out of captivity and have compassion on them. They don’t have to re-earn His love; He has been waiting for them to return so He can once again be their God. Obedience to God’s commands brings life and liberty, but our sinful natures still want to rebel and do life our own way. What a slap in the face to a God who loves us and desires that we would live! The Lord has so clearly been impressing upon my heart that complete obedience is vital to living the life He has planned for me. To not obey is to miss out on His perfect plan for my life.

Monday, March 27, 2017

2 Samuel 11:11-13

2 Samuel 11:11-13
Okay so if you don't know the context of these verses, they make absolutely no sense. Basically, David was being a dumb guy and he didn't go out to war when everyone was supposed to. Instead he sent all his men out to fight and stayed home. In verse 2 of chapter 11 we're told that David got out of his bed one evening and went walking on the roof. Now honestly what on earth was he doing? David was definitely not in the place that he should have been. I don't know how he rationalized staying home from the war, but I'm sure he was convinced in his own mind that it was a good idea. That night he saw a woman bathing and long story short he ended up getting her pregnant. Instead of owning up to his mistakes, David tried to hide them. He called the woman's husband home from the war and tried to send him home to her to cover up his sin. Potentially he could trick the man into thinking that the baby was his and ta-da! David's mistake would go away for forever. Unfortunately for David, God doesn't let us hide our sins by covering them with bandaids. Uziah, the man who's wife David got pregnant, was probably one of the coolest guys in the Bible. He got a night off of war but he chose to stay uncomfortable to be in unity with his fellow soldiers. What a guy, honestly. Rest is needed, we all get tired and need a day off. But, Uziah knew that his day off was when the rest of the army got to go home. He didn't quit early and enjoy a night at home even when he could have. The self control that that must have taken is insane. 

Mark 1:35

Mark 1:35
“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed.”

Its pretty well known that I don’t like mornings. My poor family had to deal with it for almost 18 years as each morning I would wake up and glare at anyone who tried to have a conversation with me. My mom once told me that everyone had decided to not talk to me for the first hour after I came out of my room. Yikes. Honestly, it’s the dumbest thing. I mean, what reason do I really have to wake up and immediately be mad? The Lord’s mercies are new every morning and that alone is reason to have a good attitude about being awake. But if I’m being totally honest, I think the biggest reason why I hated mornings so much was because of their focus on me. I didn’t want to wake up, so I snoozed my alarm as many times as possible. I didn’t want to face the responsibilities of that day so I stayed in bed until I absolutely could not avoid getting up. I didn’t want to be real with people so I used social media as a way of escape before I even got out of bed. The list could go on, but that’d be boring. My point is that my mornings were so filled with self that I could never just enjoy the life the Lord gave me. The joy I should have had wasn’t there simply because my eyes were on myself and not my Lord. Doing a devo every day was a habit before Ignite, but it was never ever done early in the morning. Ever. And considering that in my house, 7 people live together, “desolate place” is a foreign concept to me. No matter which room you’re in, at least one other person could walk in at any second. However, since being in Ignite, the Lord has been changing my heart towards mornings. While I still don’t like them and would rather start my day later, I now see value in being up early in order to spend time with the Lord. For any reason other than being with Jesus, I still think being up early is dumb. But like I said, there is value in waking up to spend time with the Lord before your day starts and the benefits of that far outweigh the cost of losing some sleep. 

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

1 Corinthians 9:24-27
“Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”

Yikes. Where do I even start? Okay, so I’m gonna do my best to break this down in a way that sort of makes sense but honestly who knows how this will go down. First things first. We’re all running a race. For Christians, the race is run on the path that God chose for us. He set up the track and the dates of the race, all we have to do is show up and stay on the path. Now, running isn’t passive or lazy. When we run, it has to be a whole-hearted effort. No half-hearted running allowed! Correct me if I’m wrong, but, to run a race and not try to win is a waste of time. It doesn’t make any sense to enter a race and then not give it your all and try to win the prize. For Christians running the race, what is the prize you’re trying to obtain? Paul tells us that our goal is not a perishable crown made by human hands but an imperishable crown in heaven. I think the coolest thing about these crowns is that they aren’t going to stay with us in heaven, we get to throw them back down at the feet of Jesus, giving Him all the glory and honor for what He has done. Because, while we may be given a crown… it wasn’t really our strength or efforts that allowed us to obtain it. So, to keep it for ourselves makes no sense. Okay and then we’re told that Paul doesn’t run with uncertainty. He knows the steps he has to take, the obstacles he’s going to deal with, and what’s waiting for him at the other side. The fact that Paul kept running the race is pretty incredible, honestly. Life for him was kind of awful a lot of the time. And yet he saw the eternal perspective of his sufferings in a way that allowed him to have joy and peace that couldn’t be explained in earthly terms. He knew how to be uncomfortable and still have joy. His life preached the gospel whether he was comfortable or uncomfortable, safe or unsafe. 

1 Timothy 4:8

1 Timothy 4:8
“For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”

Honestly this verse is just so practical, its amazing and a bit ridiculous. So last night 3 of the guys were working out and yeah, that effort is going to profit them. Their bodies will be stronger and healthier because of the work put in to build up muscle and the endorphins that kicked in made their moods temporarily go up. The effects of working out are ones that you generally want. But, when they’re old men sitting in their rocking chairs on the front porch, is the exercise they do now going to serve them? Probably not. As much as they hate to admit it, by that time their bodies will be weaker and not able to do what they do now. But what I do know is that these guys aren’t just seeking to build up their physical bodies. They are seeking the Lord and storing their treasures up in heaven before they ever think of working out. So, while the physical exercise is good… the godly character they are building is the more profitable thing. Those 75 year old men will still be able to draw from the spiritual lessons they’re learning right now. So what does this mean for my life? I don’t really like working out so its not like there’s some huge danger of that becoming an idol in my life. But, there are plenty of other things that I love doing that require time and energy to be good at. For example, I love painting. But if I don’t do it regularly my ability to do it well goes down. I have a choice to make. Take the time I have to pour into painting or take that time to draw closer to the Lord. Again, I am not saying that having hobbies is sinful. But motives behind these things can be. So if you work out, do it in a way that honors the Lord. When I paint, it needs to be to honor the Lord. Because, if these things are done for the sake of me… they’re pretty much useless. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Philippians 3:11

Philippians 3:11
“…If, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

The longer I do daily IBS’s the more I am convinced that the essence of the simple gospel is the most important thing. I’ve always known it, but complex doctrine definitely interested me a lot more than simply knowing Jesus more. I would do random word studies for fun or read different peoples’ opinions on certain doctrinal issues just to see different sides to things. While there is nothing wrong with knowing these things, it is so easy to get caught up in the details that you forget who they point to. Its almost like using a microscope to look at Van Goh’s “Stary Night (is that how its spelled?)” Yes, you’re going to learn a lot about the tiny little brush strokes and how the paint blends together but you’ll never experience the beauty of the full picture. What a tragedy to never just sit back and enjoy the beauty and splendor of the big picture. In Philippians 3:11 Paul and Timothy are saying that there is no price too high for the sake of following Jesus. Not that there is no price too high for Calvinism, arminianism, old earth theology, or any of the million other things the church divides over. “Any means” is a statement that covers everything. It includes leaving home, your comfort zone, family, friends, job security, etc. “Any means” includes persecution and tribulations. Resurrection from the dead is Christianity’s war cry because if the victory over death has already been won, no other victory is impossible. 

Philippians 3:10

Philippians 3:10
“…That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death…”

This verse has two aspects to it. In the first half you see this incredible victory that was given to Christ when He resurrected. He defeated death once and for all, not just for Himself but for humanity. No longer is death and end but merely a beginning. Death in the law meant separation for eternity, but through Christ it is the beginning of perfect communion with God. God is just. This is so evident even in that Christ’s death is the only substitute for our sin. His perfection is just that: perfect. If perfection is the standard then the only thing that can be offered in our stead must be perfect. I feel like this makes no sense, so to sum it up… Perfection is the requirement. We can’t offer that, so Christ came to offer the only thing good enough: His perfection. I know I’ve said this a million times, but the power that raised Christ from the dead lives in us. We belong to that same God! Okay, second half of the verse doesn’t really have the same mood. But its still so important! When we suffer for the Lord, we are not left on our own to wallow in a self-righteous misery. He meets us in the wilderness with words of promise and comfort. Yes, suffering is inevitable. If we are passionately pursuing the Lord, we will experience it. But that doesn’t mean that we are being punished for that time we messed up. Suffering is how we are “conformed to His death.” When we know what it is to die with Him, we can know what it is to live with Him. Through death comes true life. 

Philippians 3:9

Philippians 3:9
“…And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.”

This verse reminds me of chapter 11 of Hebrews. This chapter is well known as the hall of faith which is fitting since, well, its all about people’s faith in God. The second verse of Hebrews 11 tells us that it was by faith the elders obtained a good testimony, not by their righteous works or obedience to the law. The God of the Old Testament is the exact same God of the New Testament, so just as it was Abrahams faith that was accounted to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6), our faith in Jesus is what makes us righteous. It is a humbling thing to have God show you your lack of righteousness. We know in our heads that there is nothing good in us, but to have that knowledge become a reality is completely different. Everything in our human nature wants to do it on our own and prove how capable we really are. We act as if going to church and doing outreaches is enough to live up to God’s standards of perfection. But to give up even trying to acquire righteous and taking Christ’s gift of righteousness instead is the ultimate sacrifice of control. You aren’t just giving up your ability to be enough, you’re giving up your ability to pretend to be good enough for God. Once you’ve accepted Christ’s righteousness, all masks have to be dropped. Deceiving yourself is no longer an option as your own sin is revealed to you. Pretending to be anything other than what you are with other people isn’t possible. Being real becomes the only option.

Philippians 3:8

Philippians 3:8
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…”

Giving things up for the sake of knowing Jesus is something everyone in Ignite has been learning how to do. We all left our normal lives to live a radical one for a year(but the idea is that this radical life will never end). A prime example of giving something up is giving up ownership of our personalities. I realized today how much we’ve all changed since we first got here and how much more we’re going to change during our 6 months of field time. For me personally, I was so sure that who I was is who I would be for the rest of my life. I acted like God isn’t big enough to change me and mold me into His image. “Me” became what was normal. But now I have no clue what normal is for me. I don’t know what personality traits make up “me” anymore. I used to know, but God has completely stripped me of all of it. When I surrendered my life to God’s plan, part of that was giving up my right to define myself. I am not what I think I am or what I define myself as. I am a child of the God who made the heavens and the earth. I am chosen and accepted only by the power of His blood. He knew me and set me apart before I was even born in order to love and serve Him. In light of what he has declared me to be, how dare I try to decide that I’m something else? To live as anything other than what He has made me to be is the biggest tragedy I could ever cause. Nothing else would leave me as lost and purposeless. So yeah, Jesus gets to define me. Not me. Because I just mess it all up.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Amos 3:3

Amos 3:3
“Can two walk together unless they are agreed?”

Well, the answer is no. Two cannot walk this life together unless they are agreed. In order for a team of two to function properly, they have to have a common goal. If they are going different directions, unity will be broken. This should never be found in the church since we have the same God. I am so thankful for the opportunity I have in Costa Rica with Abby to get a taste of what it is to be committed to one person, serving the Lord and just doing life together. Honestly, I know how I like to do things and I know why I like to do them the way I do. But, I think a big part of walking in agreement is realizing that the thing that unifies us is more important than the method of completing the work we are doing. For example, does it really matter what craft you do with the kids during church as long as Jesus’ name is proclaimed? If our goal is to teach a truth about Jesus, the little details should be things we are flexible on and hold loosely. Yes, serving the Lord faithfully is what we aim to do, its why we’re in Ignite, but if He isn’t our one thing then we aren’t serving Him. The vision of what I want or what I think should happen is something that should never be held with white knuckles. Holding onto my ideas/vision/methods/etc will only cause tension where it doesn’t need to be. Being “right” is something I need to be ready to sacrifice for the sake of unity. We serve the same God, we are heading to the same place, that is enough to walk unified. 

Matthew 18:15

Matthew 18:15
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.”

Every single time field time is brought up, interpersonal conflict is the next thing to be talked about. I don’t think any of us expected to always get along perfectly, but I none of us came here thinking “wow, I just can’t wait to fight with my teammates!” But, considering that we aren’t perfect, expecting perfection is really not realistic. Looking for sin is foolish but so is expecting it to not be there. Working through conflict in a godly way is so difficult because just about all the time, it means dying to self and putting on new life in Christ. In the heat of the moment, there is nothing I want less than to give up my rights and be the peacemaker. Especially if I’m convinced that I’m right. In the flesh, giving up my rights is humiliating and completely ridiculous. My nature says to stand up for what I want and think with ever fiber of my being. But man, when I’m walking in the Spirit and I choose to just do as He says, the outcome is incredible. Instead of the problem becoming even bigger, it is worked through and unity is rebuilt. Now, I don’t expect to be able to just start living this verse out perfectly. It would definitely be nice, but that’s not how life works. But, what I can do is ask the Lord to teach me to humbly go to the one who has wronged me and work through the problem before it gets bigger. This cannot be done in my own strength but in the strength that God offers to those who trust in Him.

2 Corinthians 13:11

2 Corinthians 13:11
“Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

I like to fight. Arguing is a hobby of mine and if I can start a debate, I will. For a very long time I only used this ability to debate any topic imaginable for evil.  If you give me a side, its not hard for me to argue that side passionately. I fought with everyone about everything and I enjoyed it. My stubbornness is through the roof at times and it makes me someone that I wouldn’t really like. Even though I knew it wasn’t godly, my attitude made an appearance as often as possible for years. But here I am told to live in peace. In one of the psalms (I think) we are encouraged to seek peace and pursue it. Peace is not something that just happens, it has to be cultivated and fought for. Wait, fight for peace? That doesn’t sound right. Bear with me for a second, though. Our nature is to divide and be at odds with one another and with Christ. Left on our own, we fight. What if instead of fighting each other and God, we fight against our sin nature? The victory has already been won, but the daily battles still have to be fought. Choose your battles. Fight against the temptation to sin and instead live for the Lord. 

Romans 12:16

Romans 12:16
“Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.”

The body of Christ is relationship based. Without relationship, there is no body. But, as fallen humans we like to mess things up as much as possible. Because we have an enemy who hates unity, the attacks on the church are, more often than not, divisive. If the devil can pit us against each other, he has already won the war. A church united terrifies him, but when its divided it can’t do much against him. In verse 15 of chapter 12, Paul tells us to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Clearly, we must look beyond ourselves to do this. We have to look far enough outside of self that we are able to empathize with one another to the point of feeling their joy and pain in our own lives. Be of the same mind. Love the same God. Have the same goal. Be unified. Sounds simple enough until you read the next two verses and think about why they’re there. “Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble.” Well, there goes any and all ideas of elitism or Christianity only being for the scholarly. The saving gospel is simple. When we start to embellish or add fluff to what God has proclaimed to be true, we make Him out to be a liar by saying that what He did isn’t enough. Associating with the humble should not be a problem for Christians because we know the truth that we are all equal at the foot of the cross, we all need Jesus just as much as the next person. So why is it so hard to associate with the humble? Probably because we are wise in our own opinions. We fail to remember the magnitude of our own failure in light of God’s holiness. This generation is not without hope, the same God who created everything by speaking it into existence is alive today. Let us pray for revival in this world!

Matthew 20:26-28

Matthew 20:26-28
“Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave-just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

A lot of the basic principles seem completely backward. How could being a servant make you great? How could being a slave make you first in the kingdom? How on earth could giving your life away allow you to gain eternal life? In an earthly mindset, this is completely backwards and illogical. But, maybe that’s the point. We know that our fallen minds cannot fully grasp the mysteries of God, and this just proves it. I am reminded of the verse that says it is better to give than to receive and how it really doesn’t make any sense and yet it is shown to be true when we actually live it out. The majority of these principles go against what our human nature wants, but man, the blessings that come from denying your flesh far outweigh the initial sacrifice it seems to be! Our example is Jesus, we want our lives to look like His did. But that doesn’t mean everyone is going to like us, life is easy, and then we get rewarded in heaven for living a good life. Press on, my friends. Dying to self isn’t easy but it is not something you’ll ever regret doing. 

Luke 17:7-10

Luke 17:7-10
“And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’”

Oh man, I see so much humility required to live out these verses. If I live these out, I don’t live for myself. I don’t get to demand anything in return for what I do or even feel pride that I accomplished so much. There is a common saying among Christians, “dead men have no rights,” and I think that it sums up this verse pretty well. When Jesus died, we became forever indebted to Him. Accepting Him into your heart is signing your life away and giving it to someone greater than you are. We can never truly pay Him back for what He did, but He asks for our heart and that seems reasonable to me in light of eternity. The only thing we have to offer is our heart and with our heart comes our life. We are no longer free to live as we please because we are “slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:18). Slaves have no rights, what their master commands they do or they suffer the consequences. American Christians seem to have a really hard time with this concept. We treasure freedom and the ability to choose what we want so much that it affects our relationship with the Lord. Instead of being Christians who live in America, we become Americans who are also Christians. We forget who is really in control and holds everything together by His power. I know I bring this verse up all the time, but in Romans 12:1 it says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” It is a reasonable thing to become a living sacrifice, fully submitted to the Lord. 

John12:26

John 12:26
“If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”

Following is so simple in theory. Kids like to play follow the leader and honestly its one of the simplest games you can imagine, you don’t have to be creative or intelligent. There’s no independence or planning out the next step you’re going to take. You simply do what the leader is doing. That isn’t exactly how walking with Jesus is, but there are similarities. As messy humans, we like to complicate everything but in reality, the power is in the simple gospel, not complex doctrine. Actually, all the basic principles of being a Christian are simple. Something I’ve been learning the past week or so is that to simply love Jesus is the most important thing. More than our actions He wants our full devotion. Out of that devoted love stems the obedience to follow, but without the love, the following is just an empty action. C.S. Lewis said, “But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him, everything else thrown in.” When you follow Him with your whole heart, you get to be a part of amazing things. Just this last week the girls from Ignite got to see girls we had never met come to Christ. We were obedient to follow where the Lord led and because of that obedience, we got to see Him move. It wasn’t our amazing talents or gifts, but a desire to see the Lord use our obedience. Sure, being there required sacrifice. We gave up the home we’ve been at for two months and all of its comforts for smaller rooms, different beds, and earlier than normal mornings. But, we followed where God led and got to see Him use us in ways we could never have imagined. Following where the Lord leads is more than worth it.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ephesians 5:21

Ephesians 5:21 
Personally, it's a lot easier to submit to some people than it is to others. Certain people that I think are better qualified to lead are usually easier for me to submit to. If someone rubbed me the wrong way earlier that day, instruction from them is a lot harder to submit to with the right heart. I know that this isn't how it's supposed to be, but I'm a work in progress. God has been teaching me a lot about how to submit the right way through being in Ignite. Praise the Lord for good old Paul who never sugar coats or allows for exception in his letters to the churches! He doesn't tell the Ephesians to submit when the other person is right, or when they were nice about it, or  anything even close to that. The instruction is to simply submit to one another in the fear of God. Not in the fear of man, for "God has not given us a spirit of fear," but in the fear that comes from a loving, respect for our Creator. This submission cannot be one that leads to sin, for then the fear would not be of God but man. For example, if my "one another" is instructing me to go against what the Bible teaches, to submit would be sin. The fear of God forces us to die to self daily, but it also keeps us safe from sin that leads to eternal death. 

Galatians 5:13

Galatians 5:13 
The American Dream is to have as much freedom and prosperity as possible, to live a nice, comfortable life. But, instead of being content, the drive is always for more. Nothing up until now has ever been enough but maybe the next iPhone, camera, game system, etc will be enough. Looking at this mentality biblically reveals just how weak of a lie it really is. We as believers know that God alone satisfies, but our culture has forgotten this. As 21st century Americans, we have incredible freedom. My American passport allows me to go into most countries freely with a huge safety net to fall into if something goes wrong. I can worship the God I want to worship with no fear of the government. I can go to school, get a good job, and live a comfortable life in a nice house. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying the blessings of the freedom we have, to live in freedom but not liberty would be to miss an incredible opportunity. I am free to worship God, so why not worship with abandon? I am free to have a job, so why not be an example of Christ to my co-workers? I don't want to use my freedom as an excuse to get away with sin. I want it to be an open door for me to glorify God with my whole life. 

Friday, February 17, 2017

Hebrews 13:17

Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20

Ephesians 6:1, Colossians 3:20

Oh man. If ever an IBS verse convicted me, this one is it. The command to obey your parents is so straightforward and yet it is one of the hardest to follow. When I think of good examples of children obeying their parents my mind goes straight to Abraham and Isaac. I can’t even imagine what was going through Abraham’s mind when God told him to sacrifice Isaac. For 3 days he walked with Isaac to where God was leading him to sacrifice his only son as a burnt offering. That Abraham was so obedient is incredible, but what Isaac did is just as mind blowing. Abraham at least had years of personally experiencing God’s faithfulness to keep His promises, Isaac was still a kid. Just because of the age difference, Isaac could have easily overpowered his dad. No matter how healthy, a 100+ year old is not going to be any competition for a young guy. Despite all the odds being in Isaac’s favor, Genesis 22:9 tells us that Abraham “bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.” There’s a chance Isaac questioned what his dad was doing, and honestly who could blame him? If my dad told me I was the answer to God’s promise and then tried to sacrifice me on an altar, I would at least question what he was doing. Whatever conversation did or didn’t happen, Abraham was successful in preparing Isaac as the sacrifice. For Isaac, obedience was enough of a reason to get on that altar. He didn’t demand an explanation or refuse to comply because what was asked of him didn’t make sense. Isaac simply obeyed the authority God had placed in his life. If I could go back in time and tell a younger me one thing, it would be to obey with the right heart. The amount of pain and frustration I could have saved myself if I had just obeyed would have been worth giving up what I wanted in that moment. 

Romans 6:16

Romans 6:16

Humanity was made to worship. Everything we are longs for something to fill that God-shaped whole, something to live for, a reason to get up every day. The list of things we worship could go on forever. Romans 6:16 tells us that we are slaves to whatever we obey. It is a sobering thought to know that you can be enslaved to the approval of mankind, the fear of the unknown, or just about anything else you can think of. Personally, it is even more scary to know that I can be enslaved to something that isn’t necessarily a bad thing but just isn’t the right thing. For example, loving your family is not a bad thing at all, family is a gift from God. But, when that love begins to prevent you from following the Lord’s call on your life, that love becomes bondage. A passion that God has given you for leading worship is not a bad thing, until you begin to worship worship instead of the God you are supposed to be worshipping. Humanity has a need to glorify something, we do it without realizing that we are even doing it. So, what is the answer to this massive question of who, or what, am I supposed to bow to? How am I supposed to know which is the right voice telling me “Obey me! Worship me!” The moment we accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior, the question was settled once and for all. No longer do we have to fight to find what it is we are needing to fill that hole. Verse 18 says “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” There is now just One voice for us to worship and obey. We are no longer in slavery to sin but free to live fully for the glory of the Lord. We have been declared free by the King of Kings and Lord of Lords! I do not want this freedom to be a slave for righteousness’ sake to ever be something I take for granted or treat cheaply. 

Acts 5:29

Acts 5:29

We absolutely should obey God rather than man, this isn’t a new concept or something hard to understand. God sees the whole picture, He knows what is actually best for us, and ultimately controls the whole universe. But, it’s one thing to know that God loves you and wants the best for your life, it’s another thing to actually be willing to submit yourself to His methods. His plans are usually the complete opposite of what we want or think should happen but they are still the best. In Deuteronomy 5:29 God says, “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” Human nature tends to lean towards the idea that God likes to make rules for the sake of making rules, but this verse reveals so much of His heart behind His commandments. God does not make rules to restrict us or prevent us from having fun but to allow us to experience true life. His commandments, when obeyed as an act of worship, transform us into His image. My mind can’t fully grasp the concept that following the Lord’s commandments brings freedom, but I have seen it in my life and in the lives of those around me so it must be true. For me it is so easy to fall into a legalistic obedience and completely forget that that is not the point. My legalistic nature flares up even with the “homework” that has been assigned since being in Ignite. I know that it isn’t really homework like in high school but an effort made by the leadership to deepen our knowledge and love of the Lord. Every time I sit down to read an assigned book or write an IBS, a battle goes on in my heart as to how I am going to treat this assignment. If my mindset is not one that is desiring to know the Lord more deeply than before, it becomes an empty action that is only done to obey what man has told me to do. 

Hebrews 5:8

Hebrews 5:8

Over the past few days the magnitude of what it meant for Jesus to take on the form of man and die on the cross has really been sinking in. The incredible amount of humility that it took for Him to give up everything to save mankind blows my mind. Being God, He really could have done it any other way and yet He chose to follow the Father’s plan. Matthew 26:39 shows the obedience that Jesus displayed. It says, “He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying ‘Oh my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” He knew the pain and suffering He was about to go through but He was still perfectly submitted to the Father’s will. There really is no better example of obedience than Jesus. When I remember the sacrifices Jesus made for the sake of obedience, it becomes a lot easier to lay down my own life. I mean, look at what the Son of God sacrificed for me, is anything I give up for the sake of obedience even a sacrifice? In light of what He did, it really does become our “reasonable act of service.”

Friday, February 10, 2017

Psalm 17:15

Psalm 17:15
“As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.”

What does my soul long for? Really, what does it long for? What satisfies me and leaves me feeling full? What is it that doesn’t make me feel empty? As I look back over the bits of my life that I can remember I have realized how real the “God-shaped hole” in each of us is. By nature we try to fill it with things, people, experiences, you name it. History is the story of mankind trying to fill that hole and failing more times than not. When nations invade a land to conquer it and claim it as their own, it is to fill some kind of hole. Whether that hole is lack of security, greed, or a hatred that can’t be quenched, there is a void that needs to be filled. Men marry multiple wives to fill the hole that pride leaves or to try to find an earthly love that satisfies. More recently, polygamy stems from the desire to be seen as righteous in the eyes of God; multiple wives mean more rewards in heaven. Acts of terror are committed because of the same hole left by unrighteousness. All the religions in the world cannot seem to fill that God-shaped hole in each of our hearts no matter how hard they try. Religion always leaves people more empty and lost than before and yet we keep trying religion as the cure. Even as Christians we look to religion to satisfy. If you just go to the right church or tithe the right amount or sing the right song, you’ll be satisfied. Before I really started walking with the Lord, I looked to distractions to satisfy. I would distract myself with reading, homework, TV, etc. But those things are never enough because they end. The book has a final page in which the story is wrapped up, you graduate, or the show stops being produced. Things that have beginnings and endings are never enough to fill that hole. Only my relationship with Jesus has proven to be something that satisfies because it has no ending. Yes, it had a definite beginning but because of the eternal nature of God it will have no end. Not to steal Hannah’s thunder, but there is a song by Bethel that says “I’m full but I’m not satisfied, this longing to have more of You.” I am so thankful that my God satisfies in a way that leaves you full but longing for more.

Hebrews 13:5

Hebrews 13:5
“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’”

Honestly, I’m really not sure how to talk about this verse for 300+ words. It’s so straightforward that there isn’t much to explain. But isn’t that the nature of God? Yeah, He’s bigger than our finite brains can fully grasp but His commands and promises to us are so black and white. Its clear that our lives are to be lived content wherever the Lord has placed us. This is easy to do when life is comfortable and everything is going good. But the minute God takes us out of our comfort zones we begin to complain. I am reminded of the Israelites that I used to look down on for being so stupid. As soon as God took them out of Egypt they complained because the wilderness wasn’t any better in their minds. Instead of rejoicing in their new season of life they looked back on what they knew, wishing they could go back to slavery. It is so easy to see their foolishness but man, don’t we all do the same thing? We have been declared free from sin and yet we go back to it again and again. The question that keeps running through my mind is “is it better to die in the wilderness that the Lord has led you to or in slavery?” This question hits home for me. This season of being in a whole new country with new people isn’t all rainbows and kittens, but I know it is where the Lord has called me. So why am I having issues being content? Using the Israelites as a mirror I can pretty much figure it out. Like the Israelites, my eyes have been on what is just before or just behind me. What they saw was a sea in front and an army behind and somehow they missed the presence of the Lord that had not left them since they walked out of Egypt. My eyes have been fixed on my family back home and field time that is coming up so quickly. Throughout the first 14 chapters of Exodus the Lord promises again and again that He will rescue them out of slavery, take them to the promised land, and gain victory over their enemies and yet they complain about the methods He is using. In Exodus 14:5 the Lord says, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.” It is as if He is asking them “Did you forget what I promised? Why did you stop following me?” They had the Lord on their side, and so do I, what more is needed?

Luke 3:14

Luke 3:14
“Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”
The message of the gospel demands a response that affects every part of who we are. How is it that being raised going to church has created a cold, religion based group of “Christians?” We act as though going to church once or twice a week is enough to have a rich relationship with Jesus. The mentality of Sunday morning Christianity has saturated the way we do everything from devo time to washing the dishes after dinner. We act as if our heavenly Father is a vending machine of blessings, just begging us to allow Him to give us a new job, car, or house or even certain spiritual gifts that we think we need. We act as if Jesus is a backseat driver instead of the one who made the car and is the only one who actually knows how to drive it. We have adopted this false theology that Jesus is along for the ride wherever we take Him when in reality that is never the way it was meant to be. So where did the church get it wrong? Should we sing Psalms for worship on Sunday mornings? I mean, David was called a man after God’s own heart and that’s what he sang so maybe that’s the magic solution. Or maybe everyone should be in one sanctuary together because if the message given is good enough for the adults its good enough for the children, none of that diluted nonsense they teach children in Sunday school! Perhaps the pastor should wear jeans and a button down so he’s more relatable to the middle class than if he were to wear a full suit and tie. Oh I know, the worship leader should probably always fit the mold of being a young hipster who wears skinny jeans. Or perhaps the scriptures being taught on should be projected onto a screen, no, wait, that would encourage people to leave their bibles at home… How, then, will they know where the book of Ecclesiastes is?!  

The church has stopped asking “and what shall we do?” We have given up asking the question that leads to actual solutions and have instead started asking “and what will they do?” I understand that not everyone is called to adopt, but for the sake of using an example from my own life I’m going to use this. For 6 years now my family has looked different than most. When we go out to dinner we get weird looks, questions, and comments. The question we rarely get, though, is “and what shall we do?” The church as a whole does not ask this question nearly enough when their eyes are opened to what goes on every day in their own backyards. You may not be called to adopt, but I can assure you that you are called to do something. Psalm 10:14 tells us that God is the “helper of the fatherless” and as His hands and feet our job is clear, we are to love those who are helpless. And yet the foster care system is still overrun with children who no one will call their own. The church is big enough, enough people know what Jesus teaches, but not enough people ask the right question. We turn our eyes away, say a prayer that the ambiguous someone will love these children, and move on with our lives. The tragedy of this lack of action in our own life is not something we should stand for. I encourage you to ask the question that leads to a necessary action.

1 Timothy 6:6-8

1 Timothy 6:6-8
“Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”

When I read these verses in the context of the verses around them I can see that Paul is contrasting two very different groups of people. The first group is described in verses 3-5. We see that these are very ungodly people whose minds are so twisted by sin that they actually think that ‘’godliness is a means of gain,” instead of a work of the Holy Spirit in your life. This strikes me as extremely foolish considering that during this time period Christians were being heavily persecuted and martyred for simply worshipping Jesus, so what exactly they were selfishly gaining I’m really not sure of but I know it wasn’t a comfortable life. The first group are proud of how much they know but their knowledge hasn’t left their head, therefore, it just causes them to argue in circles over unimportant phrases, picking apart each individual word to the point of it having no meaning. Arguments like these are useless, they generate division in the Church that wouldn’t have existed otherwise. They suspect everyone of being out to get them and hate them for their suspicions that aren’t grounded in truth. Paul exhorts us to walk away from these people, they’ll only tear us down. From personal experience, I can tell you that if these words describe you the only thing to do is get on your knees and pray. And if you have someone in your life like this, listen to Paul’s advice. Self-righteousness is a weed that will grow bigger and bigger until you humble yourself and allow the Lord to cut it down. The second group is where I want to be, even though learning this wouldn’t be fun or easy. Being content where you are at is not something you can manufacture in your own strength. In 1 Corinthians 7:20-24 Paul is telling the Corinthians to be content wherever God has placed them. He tells them to be content whether they are a slave or free and to not obsess over elevating their own status. If they were a slave they are now free in Christ, if they were free they are now slaves to Christ. The Egyptians believed that you could take earthy wealth with you into the next life but we can see their error so clearly in the rooms of treasure still found in the pyramids. Instead of obsessing over gaining as much earthly wealth as possible I need to set my heart on storing up treasures in heaven. There’s a quote that describes this so perfectly, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” I have plenty of food, clothing, and a relationship with Jesus, how blessed I really am! 

Friday, February 3, 2017

Hebrews 6:12

Hebrews 6:12
“…that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

I am extremely impatient when it comes to just about everything. I don’t want to wait until April to be in Costa Rica, I want to be there now. I don’t want to wait another 30 minutes until breakfast, I want to eat now. I don’t want to wait on the Lord for Him to strengthen my heart, I want to be strengthened now. I don’t want to wait until I die for Jesus’ work in me to be completed, I want it to be finished now. The list could go on forever, but you get the idea. Unfortunately for my very American, instant gratification mentality, the Lord puts us in seasons of waiting in order to teach us something we couldn’t learn if He was a vending machine of blessings. The season of waiting that He has called me to right now is not a season of relaxing before the next thing but one of actively pursuing Him in order to be ready for the next step. Moses had a similar season in Exodus 4. God had taken Moses out of His homeland, Egypt, and brought him to the land of Midian. As a parallel, God took me out of Bakersfield and brought me to Antigua. It was in Midian that Moses’ identity was changed from the inside out and he became a man who knew the Lord. For 40 years he lived as a shepherd serving his father-in-law and Exodus 2:21 tells us he “was content to live with the man.” It took 40 years for God to finish teaching Moses what he needed to know before the next step, and yet here I am struggling to patiently wait through the next 2 months. After 40 years God called Moses back to Egypt, not to go back to his old life but in order to proclaim that the great I AM is God alone. That is my job, my reasonable act of service, here in Ignite, once I am back in Bakersfield, and wherever God calls me after that. There is no greater purpose than to proclaim who the Savior is. Moses knew the promise. He knew that God had promised to bring His people “up out of the affliction of Egypt… to a land flowing with milk and honey (Exodus 3:17).” It was not Moses’ job to rush the fulfillment of the promise or convince everyone that it was true, his job was to be a willing servant of the Lord and speak truth to Pharaoh and the Israelites. It is not my job to rush God’s promises, either. They will be completed in His timing and not a second sooner. So I have a choice. I can sit here and waste a good portion of my time here not being content to sit and learn or I can be thankful for this time of preparation before the next step. We all know what the right answer is, but actually living it out is difficult. 

Revelation 1:9

Revelation 1:9
“I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.”

I don’t know about you, but I need fellowship in order for my walk to be strong. As soon as I start to isolate myself I fall into sins that previously had no hold on me. The devil knows that when I am alone I am weak and vulnerable, but together with my brothers and sisters in Christ I can stand with them against his lies. If he can keep us distant from the body of Christ, he can keep us distant from the Lord. On the flip side of that, if he can keep us focused on the people around us in an unhealthy way he can get us to a place where we feel okay but end up becoming stagnant and eventually backsliding in our walk. The devil will attempt to convince us that we are the only one struggling, that no one else would understand where we are coming from. I came to Ignite in this mentality and yet again and again when I open up about something, someone else understands exactly what I’m going through. It is so encouraging to know that the other girls here can empathize with me but even more encouraging is knowing that Jesus Himself understands. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Part of the beauty of having a human high priest was his ability to sympathize with the spiritual needs of the people he was serving. This ability to put himself in their shoes would make it possible for him to be compassionate. Jesus, then, is the perfect High Priest; He knows exactly what we are going through and yet He never gave in to temptation. So when He says that there is always a way out of temptation, a way to flee from sin, He is speaking from experience and not asking us to blindly trust Him.

Colossians 1:11

Colossians 1:11
“…Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy…”

 When I think of why Jesus died I have to consciously decide to go beyond the obvious “for our sins” answer. While that isn’t wrong, there is so much more to why He died. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we have been promised an inheritance in Heaven. Romans 8:14-17 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the bondage again to fear, but you received the spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father.’ The spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.” I am blown away by what being in Christ means in our life. Through His power we can walk in a way that is worthy of the gospel, pleasing to the Lord. This is not possible through works and sacrifices but through the condition of our heart. Psalm 51 tells us that God does not desire that we would sacrifice but that we would run to Him in our brokenness. Abraham sacrificed but we are told that his faith was accounted to him for righteousness, not how religiously he obeyed the law. Throughout the whole Bible the truth that we cannot please God in our own power is so clear, it has to be a work of God in our hearts. Despite our sin, we are given the privilege of having a personal relationship with our Creator through Jesus. Exodus 6:7 tells us that God desires for His people to know that He alone is their God, the One who rescued them from bondage to lead them to the promised land. According to Ephesians 1:19-20, we also get to live in the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. It was not possible that death should hold Jesus in the grave (Acts 2:24) because God’s plan for life was always going to win. Because we know who wins, we endure trials with joy. The seasons of waiting can be patiently endured because we know that He who promised us an inheritance with Christ is faithful. 

Luke 21:19

Luke 21:19
“By your endurance you will gain your lives.”

Yesterday, class 12 hiked a volcano together, the analogies that I could pull from today are basically limitless. But, the one that stuck out to me the most was the one I liked learning the least. In the days leading up to the hike I was completely set on getting to the top no matter what. Then I realized what “no matter what” actually meant. I had no clue how strenuous it would be and how endless the path would feel. The monotony of putting one foot in front of the other for hours on end quickly bored me, partially because I was so focused on the path that I rarely stopped to look around me. And if I wasn’t fellowshipping with anyone, it just got worse. Life is a climb and at times its completely exhausting. At some point, a decision must be made to finish the climb no matter the cost. I am so thankful for the common goal that we all shared, and through that unity we were able to encourage each other to press on. Philippians 3:12 says: “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” My goal as a follower of Christ is to spend eternity worshiping Him, whether that is on earth or in heaven. While He keeps me on earth I can worship but my sinful nature will always find a way to mess it up somehow. It is so sweet to know that through all my failures, His grace covers me so that “for whatever reason we may call upon Him(Deuteronomy 4:7)!”

Luke 8:11-15

Luke 8:11-15
“Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in the time of temptation fall away. Now the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”

When I first read this, name after name pops into my head of people that I know that Jesus could have been describing. Countless members of my family have heard the simple truth of the gospel and have not believed, I’ve seen people at school or church who are at first so eager to walk with Jesus and then fall away when it gets hard. And then there are those who hear the gospel and believe but quickly their career, school, or significant other becomes their god again. I am so quick to point my finger and say “they need to hear these verses taught in church next Sunday.” Very quickly I turned into the Pharisees who condemned the woman caught in adultery but did not repent of their own sins. But God is so faithful to correct me when I’m wrong that this didn’t last for very long. When I read the verses over again, really praying through them, I realize that each of the different soils describe me at one point or another in my life. The one who hears and believes but has no root is exactly how I was for a good portion of my childhood. I went to church and knew the answer to every question, but I had no real roots. I share a room with my sister who is two years younger than I am, and man, she used to annoy me so much. For anyone who has ever shared a room for any length of time at all, you can imagine the fighting that happened between two very different people who refused to give up their way. I can remember my parents telling me to die to myself and be the peacemaker which I knew were the right things to do, I just didn’t want to. I had the knowledge, but no roots. Therefore, no growth or fruit was being produced. Verse 15 talks about keeping the word and bearing fruit with patience. If you are having to exercise patience before there is fruit, then time is passing in which God is working but the fruit of that just isn’t showing yet. Psalm 27:13-14 are the verses I have to choose to rest in during this season of growing. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Wisdom

Ephesians 5:15-17
“See that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”


I used to think that God was complicated and that His word could not be understood. I used this as an excuse to get away with doing whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it. One huge area in my life that I did this in the way that I did my homework. In my head I knew I was supposed to do it diligently as unto the Lord, but in practice I only did it to cross it off the list of things I had to do in order to not get in trouble. Procrastination was my specialty and I never did anything until I absolutely had to or it wouldn’t get done. In the same way that I treated English assignments in high school, I have been putting off doing the daily IBS (Inductive Bible Study) verse until the very last second. When you add my procrastination and short attention span to our insanely packed schedule, I never find enough time to do it the way it’s supposed to be done. My desire is to take advantage of the time I have here and to use it wisely, not to foolishly waste the opportunity I’ve been given. God’s plan for me is to know Him more fully, and that is going to mean sacrificing time and/or sleep. So instead of waiting until the very last minute to do IBS, I am going to start getting up 30 minutes earlier in order to have time each morning after doing my own personal devos to do IBS. I am going to ask the other girls if any of them would like to commit to this with me in order to keep each other accountable to redeeming the time. 

Wisdom

2 Corinthians 1:12
“For our boasting is this: the testimony of our conscience that we conducted ourselves in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God, and more abundantly toward you.”


When I read this verse I am reminded of the song “Simplicity” by Rend Collective. This song is all about the simplicity of having a pure love for Jesus and the way it compels us to sing of His love. When everything else is stripped away, we are able to go back to our first love: Jesus. Webster’s Dictionary defines simplicity as: the state of being simple. That didn’t really mean much to me until I read the definition for simple: easy to understand or do; plain and unadorned, as clothing or food; having nothing added: the simple truth; free from affectation (calculated or elaborate pretense; an artificial manner). When I was first applying for Ignite a large part of why I wanted to be here was because I just wanted to get out of my hometown and have a once in a lifetime experience. I’ve been here less than 3 weeks, but God has shown me that the sole reason He brought me here was so that I could know Him more, everything else is just a tool He will use to teach me to seek His face. As I go out to serve the people of Costa Rica in a few weeks, my prayer is that Abby and I would operate in simplicity and godly sincerity. It is only when we are resting in His grace and mercy that we will be able to pour it out on the kids we will be working with.  

Wisdom

James 1:5
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”


We are told that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can tell a mountain to move and it will move. Its common among Christians to act as if God doesn’t really have enough wisdom to know how to run their lives, so we take control and try to do it our own way. I am so guilty of doing this! I am way too quick to run to the world’s wisdom or even my own “Christian wisdom” when I have a problem. And yet God assures us in James 1:5 that He will give us His wisdom “liberally and without reproach” if we just ask it of Him. I say this all the time, but, I’ll say it again. When we ask God for something He has promised to us He won’t just shrug His shoulders and say good luck. Again and again in my own life I have experienced the truth of this. Often with one of my siblings and friends I am completely lost as to how to react to certain actions. But, the times where I’ve stopped and asked God for wisdom before I do anything, He has shown me ways to de-escalate the situation instead of making it worse like my flesh wants to. Going to God for wisdom is humbling, it forces you to admit that you can’t figure something out on your own. Saying that asking God for wisdom is one thing, but doing it is another. The application for James 1:5 is found in the very next verse. In all decisions, I need to ask God for wisdom in faith, not doubting that he will be faithful to give it liberally. The next time I have a decision to make and the time after that and, by God’s grace, for the rest of my life I will not lean on my own understanding but I will trust in God’s wisdom above my own.

Wisdom

Psalm 111:10
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.”


Earthly wisdom stems from self-preservation and the worship of self. But through a healthy fear of the Lord, the simple become wise. The fear that believers are to have is not the same fear you have when you narrowly avoid getting in an accident or a dog growls at you. This fear is “the beginning of wisdom.” It isn’t a fear that cowers in the corner but one that knows that it needs to stay submitted to the Lord’s voice out of love. When I am in that position of complete submission, I know I can boldly go into the presence of God expecting Him to speak to me. In my flesh I do not want to obey His commandments, they all go against what I feel like doing. And yet He promises wisdom to those who fear Him. So how does this apply to my life? I cannot rely on my own wisdom any longer. I cannot act like me running my life will ever end well. When my heart begins to wander and worship anyone other than God, my first reaction needs to be to go before the Lord and repent. He is so faithful to give us the strength we need when we need it. The Lord will be praised forever, whether I choose to bow to Him in this life is up to me. But man, I cannot imagine a better way to live this life than to live it doing what the Lord tells me to. Right now, I’m living in Antigua, Guatemala because this is where God has called me. To obey the Lords command to “go” and to choose to praise Him the whole time is such a sweet adventure. 

Wisdom

James 3:13-17
“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.”


These verses are packed with conviction and encouragement; funny how those two so often go hand in hand. Wisdom and meekness cannot be separated, the perfect example of this is found in Jesus. Jesus had all the wisdom, and yet it didn’t puff Him up or cause Him to have any pride in Himself. Philippians 2:6-8 sums this up perfectly. It says: “…Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.”  Through Christ, our eyes have been opened to the truth of who we are and who Christ is. Therefore, believers should not be known as bitterly envious, self-seeking, or boastful liars. Verse fifteen describes these actions as earthly, sensual, and demonic. When Christians allow their flesh to rule their lives, confusion and evil abound. This is seen so clearly when churches are divided based on non-essential doctrinal issues. I am so thankful that “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more (Romans 5:20)!’’ When we live a surrendered life, Christ is able to transform our minds and change our earthly wisdom to His wisdom.