Where there’s a will, there’s a way

I’ve struggled most of my adult life with not knowing the future. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to go all psychic on you, but I would love a big neon sign from God telling me which direction I should go.

I recently listened to a podcast on idisciple (which is an awesome tool btw) that talked about how to discern God’s will in your life. First things first though, there is no magic formula that you just know what God’s will is. Our minds don’t work like that. Since God is infinite, he can see every thread from the past, present, and future and since we are finite we can only see the present and the past (even though the past is usually warped by our minds).

Anyway,  the point this man made was that God’s ultimate goal is to be glorified. Some of you are probably thinking “duh” while others are probably thinking “conceited much?”

But really, think about the bible stories we all know and love. Why was David “a man after God’s own heart”? Because he glorified God continuously! Even in his repentance he glorified God. Adam and Eve were created to glorify God. Creation glorifies God.

God all throughout Jesus’ time on Earth kept pointing people to his son, in fact that’s the only way to know God! But Jesus kept glorifying God. Through every miracle, every temptation, every joy, and every pain Jesus glorified God. It’s like a perfect continuous circle. If you start at the top with God, he points you to Jesus at the bottom. If you start with Jesus, he points you to God at the top and so on and so on.

Now how does this relate to our lives? Well, I’ve come to realize that everything you go through in life is preparing you for God’s will. And once you accept Jesus and invite him into your life, he starts aligning you to God’s will. I definitely think it takes some work on our parts though and the first step in my opinion is relinquishing yourself to honor God and to follow him.

I’m not just talking about talking the talk either. To truly relinquish yourself is work. How do you do that? By asking God for help and then by listening. That nudge you feel every now and then that you tend to ignore? Yea, start listening to it.

After you relinquish yourself, start looking for opportunities to glorify God!

As an example, here’s a little bit about my life and a few of the threads that I have seen so far:

  • Poultry Science Degree (in less than a month!!)
  • Ambassador for Bumpers College
  • Active in a Professional Ag Sorority
  • Lost my dad when I was 19

Now how in the world do these things fit together? They have all prepared me to serve and glorify God through the ABS ministry at UofA. My main duties will be leadership training, retention, and discipleship with our girls. Can a POSC degree really prepare me for ministry?

Well, because of my degree in Poultry Science, I am graduating debt free and with a very good knowledge of the scientific world. My degree has allowed me to get internships with several different companies and make contacts with high ups in the industry. In my internships I have met other believers and even gotten chances to witness! The Ambassadors have given me leadership skills and organization. And guess what? A LOT of chances to talk about God and to witness to students, faculty, staff, and more. Without ever saying I’m a christian, I have been given a plethora of opportunities to point people to God. My sorority has given me leadership training and it and the ambassadors has given me the knowledge to work with college students and meet them on their level (maybe because I am a college student and am on their level, but still). And finally, loosing my dad provided this sheltered little good girl a wake up call. A slap in the face that made me reexamine my faith and realize that I can’t depend on my parent’s faith anymore. It’s time I took charge! (Can I just say go God! I couldn’t imagine these things working together in a million years, but God knew the end game [can I really use end game when I’m not even 22 yet? How about mid-game instead] and has been preparing me for it my entire life.)

Am I really saying that loosing my dad is glorifying to God? YOU BET I AM! Before we go on let me make one thing perfectly clear. Seeing my dad die was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. I still have days where I come home, curl up in a ball and cry because I miss him so much. BUT, I know without a shadow of a doubt that things are happening in people’s lives that are directly correlated to my dad’s death. Friendships have been built, hearts have been strengthened, questions have been asked, and above all, I have seen people watch the way we have dealt with this death. I no longer fear death because I have seen first hand how a believer should greet death. I will praise my God from now until eternity for giving me 19 years with my dad, but to see how my dad finished his race, how he fought the good fight, and to see him grow in faith and into a relationship with the one true God- that is what I will continuously glorify God for. God is good, even when the world is bad. God is good, even when life is bad. God is good, even when circumstances are bad.

So how do we know when we’re in God’s will? If you are truly a christian, I believe that Jesus will be continuously pushing you towards God will. Will we mess up? Sure we will. Will we try to run? Of course we will. Will he give up on us? No way.

There will never be a neon sign saying “This way to be in God’s will!!” but I’m ok with that. I usually don’t even get the still small voice. Instead what I get is the knowledge that God longs to be glorified. His plan is for us to glorify Him. As long as we are aware of our position and how it glorifies God, continuously seek his word (by reading it), and pray, we will be in his will.

It’s all about perspective

Wednesday night we were talking about our perspectives, specifically does mortality swallow up life or does life swallow up mortality? Mortality in this reference is this life (while we’re on earth), and life is the eternity (hopefully with Jesus, if you’re not sure- we need to chat!) So you could reword the statement as does this life affect your outlook? Does this world affect how you act in light of eternity?

Now our teacher is an engineer so he and Tyler think the same way- which is terrifying. Jokes! But really, he explained eternity as infinity. When we were in elementary school and first learned about infinity we always used to draw a number continuum. For those of us that haven’t been in elementary school in a while, this is what it would look like:

Now do you remember? Anyway, he pointed out that we should be living as though we have the rest of the continuum, because we do! Unfortunately for us, we tend to live as though we’re 1/∞. That means that instead of living like we have forever, we live as though we’re approaching zero. That this life is all we have. When we’re on the continuum of eternity, this life is less than the tick mark of the number zero and yet we live as if that tick mark is all there is. How silly!

Now how many of us save for retirement? That’s having a long term perspective! Now imagine with me that just like saving up for retirement, we saved up for Heaven. No, I don’t mean saving $$ for Heaven. Matthew 6:19-21 says “19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Now what are you laying up in Heaven?

On the other side of that question is who will be in Heaven because of you? I don’t know about you, but if something I said or did helped another person to accept Jesus and have eternity in Heaven- that would definitely be a treasure for me!

Are we all in for God? I know some of you reading this will give a resounding “YES!”, others will be confused by this questions, and still others may get angry that I could even pose this question. But I am. Are you living as though you are all in for God? Do you truly believe that you have eternity? If your answer is “yes?” or “maybe” or “i don’t know” then why is that? Is there something standing in your way? Is it a question of your worth? Of God’s truth? Or is it just a fear of the unknown? That’s definitely one of my problems. I have a hard time grasping things that are unknown. And quite honestly, it scares me a bit to not even be able to begin to fathom how great and powerful God is, or how long eternity is. Thankfully, I have faith. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1. Not only do I hope that Heaven is legit and that Jesus is who he said he was, but I have evidence. Granted, it’s the evidence of things not seen, but I think you can see it. Faith is the product of the unseen change inside us when we accept Christ. Faith is what happens when everything in your life seems to be going wrong but you still find joy. Faith is what keeps you going day after day when all you really want to do is stay in bed. Faith is what helps you continue to go even if your future is rocky. Faith is what allows us to believe in God’s promise’s even though they were written centuries ago. Faith is the basis of your relationship with God and truly how we can begin to change our perspective to an eternal one.

So, what are you working towards? Are you just working towards the next vacation, the end of the next chapter, retirement; or are you fixing your eyes on Heaven and eternity? Are you storing up your treasures in Heaven even if in this life you don’t have much? Are you living as though you have the entire number continuum to go? And finally, are you living a life that others would be able to know Christ because of you?

Remember- you are more than just this life.

A big ‘ol piece of humble pie

So tonight at ABS we talked about a World Changer. Jesus. He completely rocked the world by saving it. He did exactly what he said he was going to do when he came to Earth. He died on the cross to save us, and he made disciples so everyone would know about this awesome gift.

All throughout history people have died for the Word of God. They have died trying to bring the message of Jesus to others. No matter where you are, someone died to bring you the gospel. Whether it was in the last year, last hundred years, or some of the original disciples dying for their faith- someone in the genealogy of your faith died for you.

Tonight was met with a HUGE piece of humble pie. When a friend shared how she had been discipling and pouring into an acquaintance I was hit in the face- hard. Not literally (even though it definitely felt like I had the breath knocked out of me), but all I could think of was “Why am I not trying to reach them?” Thoughts kept swirling over and over in my head. When did I decide that I was worthy of choosing who got into Heaven? If I truly loved Jesus the way I say I do, why am I not doing everything in my power to win souls to Christ?

As Brad was going over the lesson tonight this quote kept swirling in my mind:

quote

The fact that this world is the closest thing that some people will ever get to Heaven absolutely breaks my heart. Why am I not doing more? I know that I will never be able to save anyone, I don’t have the power, or the grace, or the words, but I trust that God can use me in ways I never dreamed possible in reaching those around me.

Tonight I realized that if I want to start winning souls to Christ it’s going to take an attitude change. I have to be able to get past myself, to get past my pride and start people for who they are. God’s creation. Unworthy, just as I am, but made worthy by the love and grace of Jesus Christ.

I hope and pray and that my friend will break down the walls of our acquaintance’s heart and that they will know the healing and redeeming love of God. I pray that they both will be strengthened and I hope that my apology will be accepted. So now I humble myself. I humble myself by apologizing to God for putting myself in his shoes and I apologize to my acquaintance because my snap judgment and the way I’ve acted since has just cemented their idea of the church being hypocritical.

“If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our dead bodies…” I was that sinner, thankfully someone caught me before I leaped and showed me the love of God. Who have you shown lately?

Happy Easter!

1 Corinthians 15:19 “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”

In honor and celebration of Easter, I decided to type up my thoughts of this verse. On a Holiday all about celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a lot of people have doubts and even more have questions! I know I struggle with doubt. I mean how can our finite minds even begin to comprehend all that God is and all that Christ did for us. That’s why Christianity is so special- it really takes faith to believe it. It never promises to make our lives easy, in fact several verses tell us that as Christians our lives will be hard. For example, 1 Peter 4:12-13 NIV “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” This verse pretty plainly states that we shouldn’t be surprised when trials come our way- instead we should be glad that we are chosen to withstand those trials by God’s help. (side soap box, God DOES give you more than YOU can handle. If we could handle everything in life on our own, we wouldn’t need God. God never gives us more than HE can handle.)

The verse that I started with really put words to the feelings that I have toward hope in Christ. Just imagine, if the only thing we had was some imagined story about a guy that died on a cross and we put our hope in that- a story- we should be pitied. We should be pitied above all else because our hope would lie in the story, if the only reason for the Bible is to give us warm fuzzies in this life, it’s going to fail. That’s what that verse is saying. Thankfully for us, we have hope in Christ far beyond this life! Because this fully God, fully man Savior chose to follow God’s plan and take the entire sin of the world on his shoulders (from the first sin in the Garden of Eden to the last sin that hasn’t even happened yet) we have life far beyond this life. Jesus was the first fruit when he was resurrected. He was the first to die an earthly death and continue living. When we die, we will be resurrected with Christ and join him! Death for those truly called to salvation and fully dedicated to living out Christ’s commands is nothing but a doorway to life.

** For those of you reading this that don’t like Harry Potter, please skip over the next paragraph.

I hate to be the person to bring in a Harry Potter reference, but when I read the books and read J.K. Rowling’s description of the deathly hallows, one of them struck me as familiar. You see, I was raised with the possibility of death being very real. Even as a kid I couldn’t go to bed without telling my parents I loved them for fear I might not be able to when I woke up. As I’ve grown up though, I’ve come to see death differently. If you’re not familiar with the deathly hallows, the short recap is that there are these three objects that death gave to some wizards. One of the brothers got an invisibility cloak. This brother struck a cord with me because when his time came to die, he greeted death like an old friend. He wasn’t scared of death, he didn’t try to run from death (although the invisibility cloak did let him hide from death, so don’t read too much into this comparison). 🙂 As Christians, we should greet death like an old friend, because it is. Jesus is our friend. God is our father. Death on this Earth brings us back to them. Death from this earth, in God’s time, should be a beautiful celebration for finishing the race, for fighting the good fight.

This morning during Church, like most other church in the world, we talked about the crucifixion. Our Pastor has a way of putting things into perspective. Even though I’ve heard the verses time and time again, he is an excellent teacher and as such I come away with something new every time. This week, my nugget of wisdom was that God will not overlook our sins today because our sins nailed Jesus to the cross. Our sins made God turn away from his own son. Is that powerful or what?? God detests sin. He can’t be in the presence of sin. He is so holy, that he literally can’t.  When Jesus took our sins on himself as he was hanging on the cross, he became sin. In that moment, all of our sin was atoned with his death. And yet in that moment, although Jesus asked why God had forsaken him, he knew that that God’s plan was holy. His final words “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46) and “It is finished” (John 19:30) show that He continued to trust God. He continued to follow through the with the salvation plan. How can we compare our struggles and our pain to that of Jesus. He was murdered because of my pride, because of my sin.

Even though our struggles pale in comparison to what Jesus had to go through for us, God still cares for us! Luke 12:24 tells us to “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” 1 Peter 5:7 says “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

No, our life is not promised to be easy, to be full of money or possessions, but we are promised to be full. Full of love, full of life, full of joy. This Easter, remember that because Jesus chose to love us and to die for us, we have hope! We have a future!

Now, if someone gave you a chance at life when all you had in front of you was death, wouldn’t you want to honor them? Jesus’ death did not give us freedom to sin, it gave us freedom from sin. Jesus’ death gave us freedom to live in him. To live this life by honoring what he did for us. Romans 6:1-4 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin, how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”

Thoughts of a new intern…

Last Monday I met with the trustees of ABS and I was voted on. Now, I am the type of person that has interviewed for everything I possibly could, just for practice so I tend to not be too nervous. But this interview was different, even though I felt like it was definitely a God thing that this internship was even an option for me I felt like I was very unprepared (and not just for the interview). Putting a girl that has a slight (ok, a little more than slight) dislike of praying in front of people in a position of leadership in a student ministry seems to me like a terrible idea. I couldn’t help wondering if God was setting me up for failure to teach me a lesson (and don’t tell me God doesn’t do that every now and then). The more I prayed and talked to Tyler about this opportunity, I began to have a change in my thinking- instead of the fear of “what if” and “why me” I started thinking “use me” and “push me”. If God’s plan is for me to fail so that I can know him better, bring on the failure! If God’s plan is to strengthen my faith through various avenues at ABS, then let’s do it! I’ve spent my four years of college feeling like I’ve been chasing God trying to read my bible, trying to remember to pray, trying to be a good bible study attender but my heart was in none of it. In reality He was chasing me. In reality, I needed to realize that I had already failed him, I can never live up to what he’s done for me and I can never save myself no matter how much I try. He chose to save me despite my pride, despite my stubbornness, and despite my sin! Because he chose to give up his life for me, the least I can do is serve him in whatever means I can.

Last Sunday we were talking about Jesus as Savior. And he is. He is my Savior, he is my Friend. Above both of those though, he is my Lord. I am making a conscious effort to follow God wherever he leads me. Four years ago, he lead me to the UofA Poultry Science Department which was great because that was my plan! But for a reason that I may not know this side of Heaven, he is now changing my path. Although it would be so much easier to continue my path and do what I want, I can’t. He has given me the desires of my heart before I even knew they were there.

Even in the midst of crisis, he has blessed me beyond belief. He has given me hope, peace, comfort, wisdom (although some of you will disagree with that last one), but above all, He’s given me Life in the face of death. One of the greatest gifts I will ever receive was my dad saying he wanted to meet Jesus and he wanted to go to Heaven and not stay sick on this earth anymore. I truly believe that was a gift from God, a desire from my heart to know that my dad believed in the Truth and that even though he died, I know I will see him again. I haven’t lost my dad, I know that he is in Heaven praising God with everything he has and that is more than I could’ve ever asked for.

Because of all these things and so much more- I am choosing to trust that God knows my heart better than I do. I am choosing to trust that God can see the other side of the tapestry and while I can only see Chaos and loose threads, he can see a beautiful picture forming. A picture that will hopefully always glorify Him.