Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

American Dream

Sometimes I just get so frustrated by materialism. WANT WANT WANT- There is always something else. You will never have enough. There will always be more, always better. When do you stop wanting things and say "Wow I am richly blessed." When will we be satisfied instead of wanting something more...

It's so easy to fall captive to lies and think that if we just had one more thing our life would be so much better.

Even if jewels or money isn't your thing, when will you feel self confident about your body, or when will your old backpacking gear suffice? Do you always need the new thing? Will we always compare what we have to other people instead of thanking God for what we have?

Money is such a root of all evil. I see it everywhere but the richer you get, the more money seems to be a problem. Yes the poor people have money problems too but often it's not their money that destroys relationships. But with those who have a lot of money, it seems that so often their lives revolve around money.

The American Dream is idolized in our culture today. In can come in different styles sporty, chick, musical, jock... but the result is very similar: hot girlfriend or boyfriend, lots of money, expensive getaway wedding, big house, expensive car, and eventually beautiful grandkids.

And the thing is everyone makes it sound so wonderful and lovely. The movies make life like that seem like a party, something that can happen to anyone who works hard. Music and magazines say work harder and you can have this dream life too. Work harder so you can be beautiful. Study so you can have a top executive career and make the biggest bucks. Flirt better so you can score the gold mine- the rich sailor from London.

But what if this American dream isn't reality? What if it is simply a dream? Wishful optimistic over the rainbow, Wizard of Oz kinda thing. Because I don't know about you, but I have never seen the American Dream in real life?

I've seen rich families, rich kids, cute couples, and perfect jobs, flawless girls, and chiseled guys that all feel depressed sometimes, get angry with their friends, and wonder if there's more to life... But I've never seen anyone live "happily ever after" because of what they have.

Some people think "it's ok to dream". Dream about being rich, dream about marrying the perfect guy, dream about Disney World, dream about that diamond ring--

But if we are followers of Christ. Doesn't He call us to a higher standard, a higher way of thinking.

In Exodus 20:17 it says do not covet. Have we forgotten this commandment? The definition of coveting is yearning to possess something that isn't ours. Thus Christ asks us to be thankful and content for what we have and not to constantly desire things He hasn't blessed us with.

The Bible also says that it is more difficult for a rich man to get to heaven then it is for a camel to go through an eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24). As citizens of one of the richest countries in the world, the USA, I think we should take this verse a little more seriously.

God calls us to follow Him and throw aside anything that may cause us to stumble. If we want to follow Christ, we must be very careful where our thoughts and hearts may be leading us towards. If we find that we are seeking out possessions, other humans, boyfriends, husbands, or girlfriends over Christ- God says we must demolish these things so that they do not stop us from entering into Christ's glory.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Peace

Good food, m&m cookies, Christmas eve service, family together, pool, beach, rich presents. Many think that the perfect combination: the perfect food, the best decorations, and the entire family together will bring peace.  Maybe if we could just get our friends exactly the perfect gift and we could travel to the best destination then everyone would have fun and it would be like "old times".

But something always seems to be missing doesn't it? The entertainment isn't lively enough, we're missing someone in the family, the clothes under the tree are the wrong size, and the peppermint ice cream is too strong.

We always fall short of that perfect picture don't we? Or even we get that snapshot image to facebook post or mail to our family and friends.. it's a short lived pasted smile and when we fall asleep we wonder "Is this it?"

Is this the Christmas we have all been waiting for?
Or is there more?

I spent last Christmas in an orphanage in Peru. Honestly it was a dream come true for me because I had ALWAYS wanted to live in an orphanage. Somehow my friends helped me make it possible to give all 89 children in the orphanage Christmas presents. So on Christmas day my friend Megan and I woke up, ate a nasty Peruvian breakfast and then put on our Santa hats and hand delivered gifts! The orphans faces were indescribably beautiful and thankful! It was so fun to be a giver and so wonderful to spread joy with them. It was a Christmas like no other complete with a three hour late night dance party on Christmas Eve with all the kids in the orphanage.

I didn't look cute and wasn't dressed up. Didn't get alot of good food (for lunch my missionary friends did sneak us a little real food though). I was sweaty and stinky. But we told the children the Christmas story and I think that Christmas was the most "Jesus-like", heart-warming Christmas, full of peace than I have ever experienced. It was special- so special- I can never forget.

What is Christmas really about? And how can we find this true Christmas peace and joy?

"The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."  

Isaiah 9:6-7
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

I find the most that Christmas is about sacrifice. John 3:16 says God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten son. For whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. Christmas is about Jesus' free gift to us of His son. Christmas peace is about being thankful for the free gift of salvation and about sacrificing our lives to show others about Jesus.

Thus to have a good Christmas? It's about the heart. It's about being thankful, loving others, loving God. It's about relationships.

What can we give to God this Christmas? What will you give to God this Christmas?

Monday, December 22, 2014

When you don't FEEL Jesus

Have you ever questioned your walk with God? Is it even real or did you simply make it up? Besides how could God use "sinful" you? What about when everything around frustrates you or you are tired of life? Where is God? Why can't you FEEL Him?

Do you ever wish that you could simply text God and He would text you right back? Better yet you could call Him and He would audibly speak with you? Or best of all He could hold your hand, walk with you, and carry you when you are broken? I wonder if God ever wishes He could be there for us in that "present" way.

My question lies: What do you do when you don't feel God? When you don't see the point or have any desire to read your Bible, to pray, to be kind, to love?

What are some things that could make you feel far away from Jesus and how can you be prepared to fight Satan's feelings of doubt, inadequacy, sinful lust and longings away from your life? How should we respond to un-Godly feelings?

I think some things that could make the God we know seem to fade from our hearts are forgetting to spend our quiet time with God, being with other sinful people, being in Satan's territory, Satan's temptations and lies in weak parts of our lives, dealing with difficult relationships, or uncontrolled longings for relationships, foods, drugs ect. As we trifle with the Devil's tools it becomes more and more difficult to desire God's word because we feel we are inadequate to read it. It's a deadly cycle that we must be cautious to avoid and prepared to fight off when we succumb to negative feelings, habits, or addictions.

Now the harder part of the question- how do we fight off Satan's tactics to deceive us?
First we must realize, this is war. He is prowling around like a roaring lion seeking for those of us whom He may devour. Thus we must be prepared and alert. The Bible says we must put on special proactive equipment to prepare for this battle. If we are not ready and not equipped, we may lose the war against our souls.

Ephesians 6:10-18 Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. (Know that feelings do not dictate your relationship with Christ nor do they change the God you serve)11 Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. (Spend time with God making sure that you are following His instructions in all areas of your life not lacking one)12 For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Be aware that you must love and be gentle with all your family, friends, and enemies. They are not the problem- the Devil is)13 Wherefore take up the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand.14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, (Do not let small sins creep up into your life. If they have ask Satan to destroy them.)15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 withal taking up the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. 

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:18 with all prayer and supplication praying at all seasons in the Spirit, and watching thereunto in all perseverance and supplication for all the saints,

Friday, December 19, 2014

Burnt out on church?

There's this controversial article I find amusing about taking a break from church.
Read it here:
What are your thoughts?

On one side, I think it's a good idea to take a short break from church if you are not worshiping God there. I agree that it's a good idea to cut back on ministry and church activities and instead pursue prayer and simple meditation in God's word.

On the other hand, it seems a simple fallacy that stopping church attendance will miraculously help your spiritual life. I feel like the true reason why we are getting burnt out and why young people may be leaving the church is because they are not experiencing God. Maybe a person has wrong priorities, wrong motivation, or has a sin that is keeping them away from encountering Christ.

If only we could see God's plans for our lives and the adventures He wants to take us on- the things He wants to do in us. Our lives would be set on fire. But so often we lose Him.. and if we lose sight of Him we can no longer be the light or the salt for other people.

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? Matthew 5:13

Jeremiah 29:13 You will seek me and find me when you search for me with all your heart.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Exodus Road

If you are looking for a great book to read, I recommend "The Exodus Road". This story is real and deep exposing the truth about sex trafficking and rescue missions around Southeast Asia. The book challenges you to put yourself out there for God to use and take the initiative to love the people around you even when it may be daunting, terrifying, and uncomfortable.

Human sex trafficking is a crime and an evil far too unheard of. It is often well hidden from society but that doesn't justify it's existence by any means. For less than $100 hundreds of thousands of girls are sold into brothels every year.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sleep Walking

Everyone's asking why all the youth are leaving the church
Maybe because it looks, feels, and smells like a foul cemetery. (ouch =/)

Why is it so easy to sleepwalk through spirituality, sermons, church, Bible classes?
Where is the meaning?
The point where it truly comes alive?
How can we know so much and experience so little?

"I'm tired of reading the Bible"
"I'm tired of turning on sermons and multi tasking and getting bored"
"I'm tired of being in Bible studies with fakes"
"I'm tired of people pretending to have it all together."
"I'm tired of feeling all alone when I should have brothers and sisters in the church."

I've seen alot of my friends fall away from God. Friends I thought had great relationships with Him chose to leave their faith-all of it- on the table in the search of something more. Something they weren't programmed to believe, something they could actually feel. And I've looked at them and questioned how it could happen, but then lately I've realized how easy it is to fall asleep and simply go through the motions in zombie- dream mode. How do we experience God, and develop a relationship with Him that's personable and meaningful instead of simply learning more knowledge?

This zeal for God.. this on fire, burning alive "Holy Spirit" passion is the only thing that will attract others to Christ. Nonbelievers want to argue science or logic with you, they have done their research. But what they lack is life, passion, purpose, hope, love, and joy.

But so often I look around me and I feel it's SO EASY to just fall in the cracks and lay on the churches grave with the sign "Christian check box here" and barely survive. It's so easy just to miss the Holy Spirit and just receive more facts... and like an overplayed song or workout the Bible just seems so boring.

It's funny because finals are coming up and I have this computer class that totally annoys me. The entire semester I have barely gotten by, mostly asking the computer class tutor to show me the correct answers without truly understanding the meaning. I have put in about an hour or two a week- the absolute minimum required for a descent grade- and it's all been fine, good and well, low A.

The problem comes now that we have a final exam- the TEST- for the computer class on Friday and because I have not understood anything that happened all semester, I doubt that I will be able to pull off a good score. The test will reveal my lack of zeal, dedication, and understanding for the subject of computers.

It may seem relatively easy to "scrape by" as a Christian. You may look around and find that you are in great company putting in the "minimum" or an hour to two a week- you know a five minute devotional every day. You do the drill, you're kind to others, and you even give $30 to charity around Christmas time. Yes you may feel like you have a descent grade and you are doing just fine in God's eyes. But what about when the testing day comes?

Is the Holy Spirit alive in you? This is the test of a true Christ follower =)

Matthew 7:13-14
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

Titus 3:7
For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Day by day

Day by day, it's gonna be ok
Follow Jesus, do it His way
When things get hard
Just push on through
Life will get better
He'll get you through

Day by day- my latest "miracles"

-I'm not in culture shock anymore. I understand America and I'm beginning to feel like I can fit in here.

-The hospital program, Christmas caroling, went so amazing. I was totally stressing over nothing. God worked it out- with just the right amount of people, drivers, and even two guitar players. I was so nervous I wouldn't be able to find one guitar player but I figured it was God's way of saying "I got this".

-I get to teach a fitness class next semester on strength training. I'm so excited =)

-My phone that was in shattered pieces finally got fixed. Every time I would look at it and be sad I would tell myself "my life is just like that; broken pieces" and God would remind me.. "in the hands of the very best artist and restorer".

- One of my writings got published in the Herald magazine and I got paid for it. I hardly even remembered I submitted an article.

God is good. He is so good. I often don't understand how I can be so blessed while others are not.
I feel like God says "You are blessed so you can bless."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Why my life doesn't make sense according to the worlds standards

When people ask me what my major is? It's hard for me to respond.
Honestly, I'm embarrassed. Christ is humbling me.
I'm doing nursing. I NEVER wanted to be a nurse.
And I'm not in the program yet. I could have been in next semester but I feel that's not where God wants me. So I'm waiting. Waiting on God..
And in some ways, it's so frustrating. But in other ways, it's so beautiful.

According to the ways of this world, it makes no sense why I would switch to nursing. I HATE shots. I'm terrified of iv's. Hospitals are my least favorite place in the world. I don't like listening to "know it all doctors" and I don't want to be bossed around or clean people up for a living.

But the truth is I can see the fingerprints of God in this area of my life and it's beautiful. Because for once, it's not what I want. It's not my plans- it's His. And I feel that God has placed on my heart to be an orphan mom in Africa. I want to use nursing to take care of the kids at that orphanage. To be their mommy and take care of them when they are sick. I also want to take care of kids who have terminable diseases. I want to love them they way Jesus loved me.

To some people, maybe to you, you may say "that sounds sweet". Well isn't that a nice thought sweetie but you'll never get there. But I honestly have the utmost faith that Christ will take me to Africa and that He will use me beyond my imagination- not because I'm someone special or nice- just because I'm surrendering my life to Him. I believe that He wants to do these crazy things in our life. These things that are harder to explain to the average person you sit by on the plane.

And I'm so FAR away from where Christ wants me.
Yet the crazy thing is He loves me anyways and He never gives up on me.

This semester God answered a dream of mine that I had for a really long time. Ever since I was 10 years old I wanted to go to hospitals with sick kids and juggle for them. This year, I felt God telling me to go for it and I started a new ministry here at Southern called Com Passion. Honestly, trying to lead out in this has been harder than I have ever imagined it would be. But I have to have faith every week we go that God is going to bring the right people that need to go and that He will bless. I praise God because He is so good and patient. This Friday Com Passion is going Christmas caroling at the children's hospital. I'm really nervous because we need 15 people or I might cancel it. We need a driver and at least one guitar player. But I'm trying to trust God that He will provide. I'm going to bake some brownies and write some thank you notes to some of the nurses encouraging them as well this Christmas season. Please pray for our ministry that God will bless- it's His ministry not mine- and I know He loves each child in the hospital more than I do.

You may be like "oh that's cool your doing your dreams or you started a ministry, but I could never do that." But the thing is: You can. This is what God wants to do in us. He wants to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. He wants to come through for you and do miracles and show you His glory. I just challenge you to trust Him. Pray for opportunities to stretch your faith. Trust God, He is good and I am awestruck by His splendor.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

Ecclesiastes 4:6 says "Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls chasing after the wind"

Would you rather have one hand open full of blessings and gifts that you can share with others and continue to receive? Or would you fight to have two hands full of gifts for yourself? But these two handfuls you would hold tightly with clenched fists because others might want to steal your gifts. With two clenched fists full of gifts you could never give and you could never receive more. You 'would be just stuck with material wealth and you would never find tranquility.

One or two? I choose one.

I think this verse greatly illustrates the art of thankfulness and celebration. Ever since I saw the Rend Collective concert, I've began to realize that thanking others, thanking Christ, and being joyful amidst all circumstances is an art- it's not easy to do. It takes practice. It's a skill and we can get better by practicing.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation, neither shadow that is cast by turning.

This Thanksgiving God has amazed me with His love for me. I'm up in the Colorado mountains and it is beautiful. I have been sick most of break and it was very unpleasant. But God healed me enough to go snowboarding yesterday and to eat Thanksgiving food today. I am so thankful. Not only that, but I get to spend this break with my family- a family who loves me very much. As I look around at my friends' families, I see many family struggles, my family definitely has their own challenges as well. But my family loves the Lord and loves each other. That fact alone gives us a reason to celebrate and I am so thankful that I have them to love and spend this Thanksgiving with.

God has been so good to me this year. I attend an amazing school. I have friends who remind me to pray and look to Jesus. I have an amazing family. There are so many blessings and I'm just so in awe of my Savior.

Why I deleted my facebook account

I deleted my Facebook account for similar reasons why I stopped eating sugar for two weeks before thanksgiving- it's just not healthy for me.

One of my friends deleted her Facebook account about a year ago so I guess you could say she was part of my motivation. She deleted hers because she said she was addicted. When she told me, I was like well that's cool for you, but I didn't feel like Facebook was "that" distracting for me. I guess you could say I changed my mind.

I still wouldn't say I'm quote on quote "Addicted to Facebook. I really don't care that much. I go on a few times a day when I'm bored. Sometimes though I take cute pictures and post them there and I admit I like to see people's reactions and comments or how many people "like" my picture. Sometimes with friends I haven't seen in a while or a cute guy, I will facebook stock them. Ok don't judge me, you know you do it too ;) I don't "really" stock them I just look at their page for a few minutes and then say "ok they're cool" or "wow what a nice life they have". If I post something on Facebook that nobody likes I start to feel bad and wonder if I don't have any friends. If I post something that everyone is commenting on, I start to feel cool.

Now you may identify with some of the things I've written about Facebook but I have a few problems with it. I'm not encouraging everyone to delete Facebook and social media, I'm just encouraging you to question your motives and how much time you spend on there.

1. Time Waster
 I don't want to spend 15 minutes to forty-five minutes of my bored time each day on Facebook. When I don't know what to do I don't want to instinctively type in Facebook without thinking. It's a waste of time. Facebook rarely makes me feel better about myself and if it does it makes me feel prideful or cocky, not humble. I don't want to waste my time and I'd rather use "waiting time" or free time to study God's word, memorize Bible verses, exercise, or actually talk to a friend (like looking at their REAL face).

2. Fake Friendships
 I'm decieving myself into thinking I'm investing into relationships by checking up on my friends on facebook and seeing what everyone is doing. The truth is my friends don't learn how much I really care about them and I don't learn what's really going on in their lives.

* Nobody posts the sad, depressing, or hard things on Facebook. Only the prettiest, most photo shopped pictures with encouraging words are written. I look at my friends and say wow their life is going great, glad they don't need my help. It's SO FAKE. (I talked to my cousin the other day and told her I had a harder semester adjusting back to college. She was like "really? Your Facebook makes it look like you are having so much fun and have so many friends?") Since when does Facebook really tell us the truth about others?

3. I don't want Facebook to have the power to control my emotions.
If people like my pictures, who cares. If people write on my wall, that's great.
If people don't like my status, life goes on. I don't want to get happy or sad about it. I don't want to feel lonely when I go on Facebook and have no posts on my wall. I don't want to feel popular if I'm not when people like my pictures (people who aren't even my friends).

It might be hard for me deleting my Facebook. I think there are a few things I will miss out on like not knowing all the things that happen to friends who are far away or my friends in Peru. But I do believe that God told us to invest in relationships, and most importantly relationships that are around us. I want to put more time into creating more real friendships with people I see every day and care about then trying to sustain relationships with friends I may never see again. I don't want to look at my Facebook notifications on my phone when I get up in the morning before I get on my knees and pray to God. I encourage you to be careful where you spend your time evaluate if Facebook is helping you or distracting you from your walk from God.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Beyond I'm Sorry

The hardest part of saying I'm sorry is forgiving yourself.

Have you ever done something awful? Something hurtful, unfair, unjust to someone you actually loved. When you know that you have hurt them in a big way, your heart just aches because of how much you care for them. Sometimes you didn't even mean to do that awful thing.

Both Satan and Jesus notice your weakness. They both see how bad you feel. The difference is in their reactions.

Christ says come to me. Let me hold you and cry with you over the pain you have caused. Afterwards let me take your sin and cast it into the sea. And let's forget about it. Remember when I sent my precious son to die on the cross for your sins? He covered that- he covered YOU. I free you from those feelings of guilt and shame and entrapment? Go be free my child and experience joy.

Satan says "It's your fault. You fell short of God's glory. You are an ugly sinful creature. You will never be free. You need to do more to fix it. You are unworthy."

Who will you believe? Who will you follow?

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Psalm 103:12 He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.

Now to those who have been hurt. We have all been. We are all wounded soldiers in a cruel and unjust battle. Yet because we have been forgiven such a debt by the King Himself, how dare we think to not forgive our brethren? 

Yes it's hard but yes it's possible. Christ says we can't forgive when we feel about it or when we are ready. But He says we will be forgiven as we forgive the people around us who hurt us. Yes our scars are deep, our pain is real, but until we forgive we cannot truly be healed.

Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.

"Father release me from my shame and doubt. Help me to learn who you are that I might constantly imitate your character. Forgive me for the things I do that hurt the people around me. Truly, I am sorry Lord and I ask that you continue to mold me as you have promised to do until the day of Christ Jesus. I also pray that you help me to forgive those who have hurt me so that I do not need to be a victim. You have saved me and you have the power to make me whole again. I trust in your name and praise you for your love and grace. In your precious name alone I pray- amen"

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Remembering last thanksgiving

I spent last Thanksgiving in Peru with the people above: my fellow student missionaries who became my best friends and my family and three little kids who were in desperate need for love and care. It was a Thanksgiving quite different from all others. It began with great excitement, shock, and grief as we woke up to discover our prized turkey (the first and only one we were getting all year) was a bloody mess on our kitchen floor because our dog Max got hungry.

We were quite sad about not being able to see our own families and we were a little homesick too but nevertheless we decided we must cook our own fabulous Thanksgiving meal. We cut millions of apples to make apple pie, we had mashed potatos and sweet potatos, cooked green beans, and even salvaged that half-eaten turkey. It took us a few hours of cooking since everything in Peru had to be made from scratch but it was definitely worth it.

One of the amazing parts of our Thanksgiving was the fact that we got to spend it with Artimaeo and the two twins (above). I loved Artimaeo and he loved me too, so much that he called me mommy. His own mommy hadn't been taking good care of him and got in trouble with the state so Artimaeo came to live us with a week and we cooked for him, played with him, and took him as our own.. as well as his two little baby twin sisters whom my friends did an amazing job of taking care of.

We even went swimming on Thanksgiving in that hot Peruvian sun. I did anyways and I remember taking my baby Artimaeo with me and trying to teach him for the first time. He really loved the water.

In Peru there was so much to be thankful for. God was so good to us. He protected us, he provided for us, and he blessed us. He taught us how to love one another and get along despite our silly arguments, God unified our hearts in service toward Him.

I'm so thankful for Peru. I'm so thankful for the people that I spent time in Peru with- they all sculpted the way I think and changed my life in so many ways. They make me laugh and smile just thinking about them. I want to thank them because they are my best friends and greatest heroes. I miss them so much.

It's almost thanksgiving 2014- almost exactly a year from that special day we spent together thanking God in Peru. Life is so different now. Our Peruvian familia is split apart in different sides of North America, the weather is cold and snowy here instead of intensely hot, the people around me speak English and have known me most of my life, there are no mosquitos threatening to eat our Thanksgiving dinner, no dog to destroy our turkey... but despite these differences God is still good. I still have things to be thankful for. I do miss Peru more than I can describe. I do miss my Peruvian familia more than you can imagine. But I do love God more and more as He provides for me and I am thankful that His ways are higher than my ways =)

A blog post from last thanksgiving "Wow today is a Thanksgiving like no other and I'm just so thankful for it- exactly the way it is. Sure, if I could have my family with me here- well that would just make this unbearably joyful- but even the way it is- it's crazy chaos with max and the kittens devouring our turkey, and crazy joy with the babies and three year old to kiss and hug. At 5 o clock our feast will start complete with mashed potatos, caramelized sweet potatos, turkey stuffing, and a nice apple pie. Plus we have each other, a unique but amazing family that I love and will miss so very much. 

Today I'm wearing my little skirt I made out of fabric I got at a fabric store here. It's flowery and bright. I'm also hanging out a lot with Artemias who has had a good day licking my peanut butter forks and going swimming. (His favorite food is peanut butter and every time I share it with him I let him lick the fork. He just loves it and devours it like no other =)

I haven't seen any rats today- yay thank you God- since yesterday one went into my suitcase. I haven't seen any leeches either since yesterday Katy Kat and I cleaned the showers and restrooms (Leeches= for real gross) This morning though the boys delivered a special Thanksgiving surprise raw turkey claw right to my room and later to my bathroom while I was trying to change for swimming. What a shocker ;)

Tomorrow on Black Friday as people call it in the states, I will be getting to go Christmas shopping for the orphans for the first time! We have collected at least $1000 and just today we obtained the list with all of the orphan girls and boys.

Happy Thanksgiving. To all my family and friends back home I think about you all the time and love you more than I express. I am so thankful to God for your support and love =)"

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

God doesn't need you to save the world

You want to save the world? Wow what a sweet person you are; I'm sure you will have great success.
Just go over there and visit them for a while.. you can teach all of them your ways.
Or send a million bucks over to a country- wow you genius- you did it- saving lives.
Funny how nobody else has ever tried to be a hero or solve global issues like you before.
Well sleep in your comfy bed with a great conscience- you are a hero.

It amazes me that America has spent 2.3 trillion dollars on trying to annihilate poverty and help solve global issues yet children are still dying everyday from hunger.

I didn't know that the number one Millennial Development Goal in 2015 that political leaders around the world set is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. I didn't realize so many people, teens, political leaders, and even celebrities want the same thing. It seems like with so many grand schemes, great plans, nonprofits.. we'd be there by now or at least doing better.

Why then with all of these great intentions.. aren't we doing much of anything? Maybe it correlates with our faulty beliefs that we can do anything and that our way is probably the best for everyone. Have we ever asked God what His solution is for world poverty?

We grow up being read stories about the little train who could because he believed in himself. We are taught that you can be whatever you want when you grow up.. as long as you work hard.
I'm pretty sure children in Ethiopia- would be told different stories before they go to sleep.
What do you think those would be about?

We think that we can do it all- that we can save the world?
Why then would we need a Savior?
Don't put away your pocket books though, God doesn't write the signs of the times out as an excuse to why you shouldn't do anything while your brothers and sisters in Christ starve on the other side of the world.

He calls us to care. He calls us to love. He doesn't equip us to be superheros, but He does tell us that love is an action not a feeling. We can't do anything but we can do something. We can't solve world poverty but we can make one child's belly full. We can be unselfish and love the people around us and make our teachers' lives a little easier. We can pray for our friends who don't know Jesus that He would save their life. We can obey Christ and when He tells us to serve- we can obey- if He tells us to follow Him- we can go- and when He tells us to wait- we can wait on Him.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Jehovah Shalom- peace through hard decisions

Isaiah 26:12 LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

When we need to make a tough decision and we aren't for sure what route to take, we can use God's peace as a way of direction and judgement.  One of the ways the Holy Spirit is manifested is through peace and one of the ways the Holy Spirit reveals sin to us is by giving us a sense of insecurity, danger, or worry about a situation.

Not always does God speak to us in an audible voice like thunder or light up fires to show us signs of His will, but I believe that if we ask Him, He will always give us guidance when we need it. Sometimes that guidance will come in whispers, small voices, and heart feelings. The amazing thing is that when we have a relationship with God and seek His will for our life, He will bless us with this amazing gift of perfect peace. This peace is beautiful and pure- until you have experienced it- you may never understand the feeling of joy and relief brought by the peace of Christ.

This past week I needed to make a very important college decision. I got accepted into the nursing program for next semester but because of my school's change in programming if I accepted the offer to join the program, I would be forced to attend school in the summer and take Fall off. I was very troubled by this choice because on one side I felt the urgency and pressure to get into my major's program as quickly as possible and become a nurse soon so that I can go out and serve the world or get a higher Masters degree even sooner and on the other side, I felt really called to do summer camp ministry and spend time with my family this summer. Many of my nursing friends that applied with me were expecting me to accept with them so that we could do nursing school together. They couldn't understand why I would wait. Upon first instinct, I was super excited about getting in the program and I wanted to just say yes and accept. But then I realized that I should pray about the situation and that I really wanted to do God's will and not my own (after all even nursing as a career is God's will- definitely not a "me" thing.

I didn't receive a clear yes or no answer from God but I feel like he directed my heart and my parents to give me advice to wait until next Fall to enter the program. I was still really nervous about the decision and a bit unsure as I walked to see my nursing adviser whom I would have to inform about my decision. I prayed "Dear God, maybe I'm not listening to you and I'm making the wrong decision. If so just give my adviser wisdom. If she tells me to enter the program I will listen." I prayed that God would confirm my decision I was trying to make with her.

As I explained to her with hesitation why I was considering waiting to enter the nursing program, she kindly listened. Afterwards she looked into my eyes and told me that God would never fail me and that as long as I was following His leading, He would take care of all my classes and help everything to work out for my benefit. She then asked if she could pray with me and affirmed the power of summer camp ministries and prayed that God would bless my life. After talking to her, my heart was filled with so much peace about waiting to enter the nursing program.

To be honest, it's funny because the more I follow God the less what I do makes sense to the world. But the more I follow God, the more peace I have in my heart.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Under the veil

A veil
of red
across my face

Covers the love
Covers the hate
Makes me seem exactly like you
Or at the least in the way you want me too

It's safe it seems
It's more secure
Covered from hurting and closed doors

No need to be afraid of me
I won't question your dignity
When you ask me how I am
I'll tell you I'm just fine

Yet kiss your cheek
And wash your feet
I'll politely decline

Because I don't know you.
I see you every day
but you've never taken the time to stay
When you asked me how I am you never stopped to listen...

I wore this veil for many days
Until I journeyed far away
Into a country much different
With things and people I never knew

I met a woman there
Who showed me how much she cared
She took her veil off around me
I decided to take mine off too

Unveiled I felt free to breathe
I could run and truly seize
Life and opportunity
Friends that felt like family

With the people I met
And the places I went
I kissed their cheeks
I caressed their hair
And I cried over them

And they hugged me
And laughed with me
And dried my tears when I was sad
And we prayed together
And we washed each other's feet
Because we loved each other

Then I had to leave my journey
To return back to my place
Which had the name of home
Yet the feeling of disgrace

And I had to say goodbye
To the people who I knew
The people who I loved
The people who were true
And the people who unveiled me

Do something small

Tonight I had this great talk with my room mate about complacency, and America, and how we really wanted to live our lives out for something more- a higher purpose- each and every day. We talked about how so often we were living for the weekends and how we didn't want to do that. About how life is short, and we don't want to take it for granted. We want every day and every hour to count for God's glory.

We were challenged by the thought that in this life we only have 3 things to give away: our time, our money, or our prayers. Thus we questioned each other.. How can we truly live each day- not selfishly- but for a higher purpose? What can we do to help the world, help the less fortunate, help others? And I was reminded that it starts with one and it starts small.

What does living unselfishly mean when you are in college and taking classes about your career, looking for a potential partner for your entire life, and making decisions that will forever change your future?

It's funny that we had just talked about that because tonight at contra dancing, a mom and her daughter came up to me and begged me to help them. They told me this long story asking for money for a bus ride to get back home and get their daughters' insulin. Honestly, I didn't know what to do. They seemed genuine enough but I didn't know for sure and wasn't for sure if I should just give them $40 and let them walk away. I found one of my friends- this girl who I knew had a walk with Christ and had been a missionary as well, slighly older than me- and asked her to come to talk to them. Immediately, my friend became the face of Jesus as she shook hands with the mom and daughter and decided to find a way to meet their needs. She told them she had a car and would drive them wherever they needed to go and get them food for their hungry daughter with type one diabetes. With no hesitation, she left the dance floor (grabbing a guy for safety) and served. She did it so naturally- I was so inspired and blown out of proportion by her genuine love for them. I believe this is the love that is so contagious and truly sets souls on fire for Jesus.

I believe that God does want us to make a difference (even while we are in college) but He wants to remind us that we can make a difference in small ways (we don't have to give thousands of dollars that we don't have and we don't have to fly across the country in order to serve).

You know those people that get taken advantage of because they are ALWAYS willing to help you? Or that guy that always asks about you and just listens? Those people are making a difference? Or what about pledging to not drink anything but water for a month and putting the drink money towards your favorite charity? Or working one extra hour a week and using that money to sponsor a child? Sometimes society makes it seem like we have to have it all together in order to help others- but I believe that's Satan's lie.

Sometimes it's hard to think of ways you can help others. I know I'm going to begin praying that God would use me more right where I am, but while I am waiting here are a few ideas of things I'm considering that I could do to serve.

1. 30 hour famine. If you can't raise $100 to formally participate, support someone who is with the money it would cost you to eat 4 meals. By doing the famine, think about Christ and children around the world when you are hungry.

2. Fill a shoe box for Operation Shoe box kids. (These are due in one week).

3. Support your friends going on a mission trip. Even if you don't have $100, they will still appreciate your $20 donation and prayer, or offer to help them organize a bake sale.

4. Pray for your friends and enemies, people fighting in war, missionaries, the president, and your country.

5. Go on community service and get involved. Try different projects or take initiative to visit your favorite places (the jails, orphanages, hospitals, foster homes, or animal shelter).

6. Show your friends and family you care by writing them letters.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Nursing- oh my

Today I walked into my drugs and society class and my teacher told me congratulations. I looked at him with this sly smile and I was like "Congratulations for what?" And he's just like you know.. on getting accepted into the nursing program. I was just thinking How did he know? And now he's telling me congratulations when I haven't even told my friends and some of my family that I'm switching to nursing.... oh boy...

So I'm switching to nursing!! Now most people are like what? This girl is crazy... she HATED nurses and doctors, shots, the medical field, and the idea of wiping people's butts as a career (stereotype ;)... and she always said how she would NEVER want to do that. And some people are like.. are you just giving up on physical therapy because it's hard?

But my answer is: Nursing is a God thing. When I was in Peru, I overcame many of my fears about the medical field. I learned to give shots and give stitches and take care of people. I learned that I love first aid and taking care of someone while their suffering or in pain. I learned that nursing is super practical in the mission field and in so many areas of life and I love how much I like helping little kids who are hospitalized and making them feel better or smile.

I want to be a nurse because I want to be the hands and feet of Christ to little kids who are in pain and suffering from terrible diseases. I want to show them that they can still have hope of a better life with Jesus. I want to be a nurse in the mission field in places where they cannot afford medical help.

I didn't just stumble upon the idea of nursing.. in fact God's perfect timing really just showed me His will in my career. I went to my physical therapy adviser and they suggested that I do nursing based on what I told them I wanted to do with missions.,, then a nurse came to talk to us about being a nurse in a totally unrelated class.. and then one of my best friends told me I would be an amazing nurse because of how I took care of her when she was sick... Alot of things happened at once and about one month ago, the day God finally gave me an impression that I should consider nursing was the last day to apply to get into nursing this semester. I went to see an adviser and took the nursing test without studying- I did everything super fast- and I prayed that God would do His will. And I'm super surprised- I got in.

I might go further than just nursing and get a Masters degree in Global Health or become a nurse practitioner.. but I don't know about that yet. All I know is I just got in the nursing program and I'm just praising God for doing His will in my life and not mine.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Rock Climbing- readjusting to culture shock one step at a time

Rock climbing - it sounded like fun to me. I had only been a few times and it was exhilarating and adventurous. I love sports and almost everything outside. What could go wrong with this class?

America- it was my old home and I couldn't wait to get back and see my family. I mean I had heard it could be challenging but I was pretty good at rocking the American life before Peru.. so how bad could it be? Hot showers and clean clothes? Returning from my student missionary would be fine..

It's funny how the two really meshed. I've been rock climbing and readjusting this whole first college semester and to be honest it's been SO MUCH harder than I thought. But I feel like I've learned a few really important things about change and culture shock- hopefully some of these will help friends that are just coming back.

1. Attitude is the difference between perspective and an adventure.
Both rock climbing and transitioning to a new style of life will be an adventure (something you are not used too, different ways of talking, different ways of thinking, different friends, different environment). Stay positive about it.

2. One step at a time then take breaks.
Try not to worry about the future or past- but be in the place where God has called you right now. You are exactly where He wants you and He promises to sustain your needs for this day.
Make sure that you are taking time out from a busy lifestyle to just chill and do the things you love- whether that be running outside, swimming, or chilling with friends. Not too much in life is worth being miserable over.

3. Breathe.
Just like in rock climbing ,breathing by reading God's word and living by the Holy Spirit is essential so that we don't burn out or give up. It's a day by day thing. Without God- you will be broken. You absolutely need His power in your life through rock climbing and especially through changing life into a completely different world.

4. Mentoring/ Counseling/ Instructor wisdom
Don't be embarrassed to seek Godly counsel for all parts of life and make sure you are seeking it from the right places. Try not to unload everything on your best friend or one person because you don't want them to be weighed down by your burdens. Find a Christian counselor, pastor, or spiritual peer who is caring and full of the Holy Spirit. With them, pour out your heart and struggles and they will often help you see another side of the situation.

5. Find your own dance/ flow.
Just like in rock climbing where you need to be comfortable and want a nice rhythm, try to find things that you love about being back home (maybe getting back into your favorite sports or ministries). Try to find ways of expressing yourself and creatively glorifying God.

6. Don't play victim.
If you can climb down from the rock do it yourself don't make another person save you just so you can enjoy being saved. Realize that while you are struggling, it is not everyone around you's burdens and everyone is struggling in different ways. Let God save you each and every day and let Christ give you the daily strength you need.

Readjusting back to America after life in the states was really hard for me. I feel like I'm still not 100% adjusted but I have definitely learned alot and came a long way. Never forget that everyone adjusts at their own pace- so it's ok if you are still missing your country of service while other people seem to be totally thriving in America. Try to give thanks in all circumstances and have faith in God's plan for your life even when it doesn't make sense to you =)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Art of Celebration

"Be careful of your thoughts, for your thoughts become your words. Be careful of your words, for your words become your actions. Be careful of your actions, for your actions become your habits. Be careful of your habits, for your habits become your character. Be careful of your character, for your character becomes your destiny." -- Chinese proverb, author unknown

Everyone has their own inner battle and set of sufferings and challenges. Nobody is perfect. Everyone has had to experience deep pain in one way or another. But the difference between people is what they do with their suffering, what they do with their pain- and that difference will either make a person strong in Christ or it will break them into tiny messy pieces that nobody wants to try and get in the middle of.

The amazing thing about Christ is that He promises us joy a midst all circumstances.
Not just when things are going right.
Not just when we are healthy, when our family is happy, and when we have lots of friends.
But in our deepest pain, our grief, our loneliness, when our heart breaks
Christ tells us that we still have a reason to celebrate.

We always have something to be thankful for.
We have a Father who loves us.
We have a God who created us in His own image and calls us His beloved child.
We have hope because we have a future home in heaven.
We have love because Christ loved us.

It's easy to complain about life, and think that what we are going through is so hard.
It's easy to play victim and try to get someone else to save us or to feel sympathy for our needs
But Christ calls us to rejoice even in our sufferings
To find peace in Him and hope in His name

He calls us to celebrate
And sing praises to Him for all days
Just as ancient martyrs could sing while they were being burnt into flames on the alter
May we learn to sing to Christ and praise His name despite whatever struggle we are facing

Phillipians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice.

May our prayer be that God would be honored in our weaknesses, in our wins, in our losses, and with every breath we take and that others could see the joy we have in Jesus' name and want to follow the loving God we know.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

If we lived by faith

I want you to imagine with me a life of blindness. Not just any kind of blindness, but blindness from yourself and the outside appearances of others.

What if you couldn't look in a mirror? Nor could you see who was "cute" and who was "ugly" by their face, muscle tone, or size? Instead of focusing on those things, you had only one goal in life and only one place you could really see clearly. That place was upward- heavenly- and the only face you could truly imagine was the one of Jesus Christ.

In edition to not being able to see a mirror, you couldn't see your own weaknesses or strengths. Instead of knowing that you were good at doing certain things and bad at doing others you would simply follow the upward leadings. Through belief- that many eye- seeing people would refer to as magical or ridiculous- you had this utmost hope and trust in the supernatural and everything you did was God glorified.

Instead of having a plan for your life and following a set career path- your life could seem quite unpredictable and mysterious. Instead of everything always working out, sometimes horrible things happened. But when they did, instead of getting upset, you would simply change directions.

With eyes looking upward fixed on the perfect and most peaceful Creator, every move- was simply hearing and following a loving tender voice. And with every step of the way, the Creator God brought loving words of encouragement"You did it"; "I love you" "You are doing great". You lived with joy and contentment knowing that you weren't mindlessly working but serving a loving King.

2 Corinthians 5:7 We live by faith not by sight.
What would this be like for you?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's not about me

I've had a really stressful week.
In fact- to be honest with you, I've had a really stressful semester.
Stress is just one thing I haven't overcame yet. I'm working on it and I'm trying. But I put so much pressure on myself to do good at the things I do that I worry more than I need too and often get too worked up about nothing.

What word do you hear me saying alot? ME
See there's a two fold problem with stress and worry. For one it's useless, wastes time, and causes terrible disease in our brain and body. God asks us not to do it. It's the opposite of faith. And two- it makes me think about ME. When I'm worried or stressed I can't be Jesus to the people around me.
Thus worry and stress turn into a SELFISH thing.

A verse that I'm memorizing this week is Titus 3:5
It says "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saves us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit."

It's not about what we do to find Jesus.. It's not about anything we do. In fact it's not even about ME.
It's about Christ and the Holy Spirit living and working in our hearts and washing us to make us new.

I think so often as Christians we try to save ourselves. We try to do all the right things, have the right friends, make good grades, and tell others about Jesus. We put so much pressure and expectations on ourselves to act like Jesus.

But God says stop. It's not even about you. You can't ever be good enough for me. So stop trying. Stop stressing yourself out trying to do it all. Stop and find me. Just learn my face and my voice and I will be ENOUGH for you. I will fill you and work in you at the perfect time.

Ezekiel 11:19-20 says "Then I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within them and take the stony heart out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh that they make walk in My statues and keep my judgement and they shall be my people and I will be their God."

Today I have been worrying so much about this new hospital ministry I'm trying to start. We're going out this week to perform for the kids at the Erlanger Hospital in Tennesse and I'm so nervous about how it's going to go. I have been really worried because I feel like I don't have any real talents, or we are not going to be good enough.

Finally God just spoke to me though and was like "Brooke this isn't your ministry. This is mine." You don't need to worry about it. I will work through you. You can take the pressure off yourself because it's not about you.

To me this has always been a huge struggle "being good enough" but the cool thing God says is "You never will, so stop trying. Praise me for your weaknesses because in those I prove myself faithful. Praise me when everything is going wrong so I can save the day. Praise me because I didn't create you to be perfect. I created you to be a sinner drawn to a Savior. And to me this is so comforting. It's not about me- what I can do or what I can't do for God. It's about Christ's work and the Holy Spirit and I'm so thankful.

Monday, October 20, 2014

It just takes one

Sometimes we overlook how much of a difference one person can make in someone else' life.
We think that we have to do BIG things or make Huge sacrifices to show Jesus' love for others.
Yet often it's the small, personal things that make the biggest difference.

One guy in Gym Masters believed in me when no one else did and volunteered to be my two high buddy even though I was the worst on the team.- Because of him I made it through try outs.

One girl offered to pray with me when I looked stressed out even though we weren't that close friends.- Because of her I did well with an interview and felt called to change my major.

One girl chose me as her best friend- when I didn't have any others. Because of her I believed in myself and was able to make friends with many more people.

And it was super cool because lately God has been giving me opportunities to bless others and also just to see the impact "me listening to him" has achieved.

- One girl told my mom yesterday that she remembers that every basketball practice I ran with her after I was done with my laps since she was the slowest. (I totally forgot about that).

- Last week I was able to take a girl to the doctor's office who I had never talked too before and was having an allergic reaction to bees with. She could have gotten seriously ill if she hadn't gone with me.

- One girl has been such a true friend to me- and I never would have known her- except for I saw her sitting alone in the caf. Because I talked to her, she learned to trust me and values me as one of her few friends.

And it's these small things- that are so encouraging- and remind me that we do have a purpose in America. We really don't have to travel across the world to love others like Jesus. There are so many people all around us that are lonely, or hurting, or struggling- honestly we all are: with something- God calls us to be His hands and feet. God calls us to stand up for people. God asks us to be the advocate of the lonely, the awkward, the weak.

It just takes one.

It just takes one
To change tears
Into a smile
Because someone cares enough to make sure they are ok

It just takes one
To pray for someone
And give a person peace
When they are struggling with a test or with anxiety

It just takes one
To give someone a hug
And tell them "You can do it"
And "you matter"

It just takes one.
But it does take one.
It takes one willing, one attentive
To the leadings of Christ.

My friend pleaded with me yesterday
I just need one person
to love me the way Jesus loves

Just one person
Could change my life
and help me live for Jesus again.

Will you be one? Because one is enough for God to use to do something great.

5 things that will keep our generation from success- REBELUTION

This is an article from the Rebelution. If you've never heard of the rebelution or "Do Hard Things" you should check out The Rebelution is a teenage movement to overcome low expectations and live a higher life for Christ's honor and glory. This is an article from them that I think is really practical and can help us live our lives according to God's will.

"I believe that God is moving in our generation. I see a lot of my peers taking seriously the call to follow Christ with all their hearts. We do not want to waste our lives but are passionate about glorifying God by doing hard things. Although, like every generation, there is a lot of wickedness and apathy among us, I do not believe wickedness needs to define our generation. I think we can and will succeed in our desire to glorify God.
In this pursuit, there are at least five things we must avoid that would hinder our eternal impact: apathy, materialism, playing politics, reaction, and an obsession with knowledge.

1) Apathy

Apathy is probably the most obvious to people. It shows up in our lack of prayer, in our reluctance to give testimony to what we are going through— good or bad — and in our avoidance of evangelism. If you are like me, it is easy to condemn yourself and others for apathy. It is important that we are aware of our weakness, but we must run from condemnation.
Condemnation is never from God — even when we are being apathetic! God’s way of bringing people to repentance is through kindness (Romans 2:4). I like how Keith Green put it: “Discipline is not holiness, nor the way to holiness. It just helps you maintain it.” (from No Compromise by Melody Green).
Apathy also hinders God’s working through us. We tend to think of apathy as passive, but it is really an aggressive resistance to God’s call and commands. You can either surrender to God, allowing Him to work through you and in the meantime experience His sweet presence, or you can resist Him and refuse His blessing and presence in your life. Thankfully, God is very aggressive in His pursuit of us, even in our apathy.

2) Materialism

Materialism is fairly straight forward, but very addictive. Refuse excess in your life. Give until it hurts, then give some more. Don’t worry about tomorrow — don’t even give a lot of thought to money. God will take care of you. Invest in Eternity by seeking God’s kingdom first and foremost: make seeking God a higher priority than your job or hobbies but seek God in them too (Matthew 6:19-21; 25-34).
Really, seeking God, work, and pleasure should all be in the same context. This is something only individuals can determine: for some people fixing cars, taking calls, making music or giving direction is what God has called them to do and it is both pleasurable and hard work. But sometimes we are easily distracted by pursuing things, cool cars, luxurious houses, fancy computers, fashionable clothes — you name it! We must avoid these.
Ask yourself: “Will this benefit my relationship with God and others?” For example, big houses can be excellent places to host Bible studies, youth activities, or even house churches; but if you do not feel called to this type of ministry, then maybe you should downsize and put the money toward something you do feel called to pursue, like missions, music, education.

3) Playing Politics

Of these five, I believe politics to be the most dangerous. We usually associate it with government, but it can penetrate every area of our lives—especially the church. It is very subtle and a very tempting game to play, it is the mentality that “If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” “Agree with me and I won’t bother you.” Don’t play it! Run away from it as fast as you can!
The Pharisees were pros at playing this game. They played it with the Romans and the Jews and they even tried to play it with God. That’s why they hated Jesus so much, because He never played politics. He said and did only what God told Him to say and do — even if it was unpopular. Never capitulate to political pressure by compromising truth or keeping quiet about what God has revealed to you just to hold influence or popularity. Fear God, not men!
Politics is all about self-preservation and advancement by pleasing others; the way of the Cross is about submission to God, death to self, and salvation of souls.
Both liberals and conservatives will play the political game. They laugh at and mock ideology or theology that they despise, giving those around them the subtle hint that “If you agree with this, then I laugh at you.” They will loudly state their opinions, forcing everyone around them to either agree with them or publicly contradict them. If someone disagrees, they will surf the crowd of onlookers with their eyes searching for someone who will share a mocking expression with them. These “politicians” — especially those who claim to serve God—are insecure and wicked.
We must follow God, even if it’s the hardest thing in the world to do! The hardship is worth it because eternity will last longer than our earthly lives

4) Reaction

Have you ever played with magnets? What happens if you put a magnet of similar charge over other magnets? They all push away, right?
Humans are just like that: quick to react, which only breeds more reaction. It is natural, so don’t try to fight the feeling; instead, refuse to be controlled by it. When one person begins living out of reaction, others begin reacting as well. This can very quickly divide whole communities as some people draw together and others push apart.
Combined with politics and apathy, reaction will quench the Holy Spirit. Do not ever allow your actions to be controlled by reactions because it will only destroy. A group that separates from other people because of reaction will soon begin reacting to each other within their smaller group. This will keep happening until people are lonely and throbbing with pain while the work of God in their lives is all but ruined (which by the grace of God can be rebuilt).
Remember that if you react to someone (an overly strict teacher, for example) they are still controlling you, even if you do the very opposite of what they want you to do. If you really do not want to be controlled by other people, surrender to God and allow what He says to you and about you to determine your actions.

5) An Obsession with Knowledge

Now this is where it gets tricky because I’m afraid people will think I am discouraging education. I am not. I support people following God if they feel led to get a higher education. The problem here is not education or training but an obsession with knowing. Let me explain.
In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve could eat from any of the trees, including the Tree of Life. The only tree they could not eat from was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (see Genesis 3). So when the serpent came along and doubted God’s words, telling them that if they eat of the tree, they will actually become like God, that is, “knowing good and evil” (verse 5), Adam and Eve had to choose who were they going to worship. Did they find God more worthy of their obedience or the Serpent? They chose “to know” rather than “to obey.” You see, worship, not knowledge, is the path to obedience.
Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 2 “I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God,” but instead “determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” He was emphasizing the Spirit’s power, not knowledge, as being the proper foundation of faith.
If we want to obey God and be used by Him, we must stop obsessing over knowledge and start pursuing worship.
We can do this: our generation can make an impact on eternity. But we must actively counteract apathy, reject materialism, run away from everyday politics, be led by the Spirit rather than reaction, and pursue worship rather than knowledge."

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ten Thousand Blessings

Psalm 107:8 says "Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!"

I am so in awe of God and how the Holy Spirit has been working in my life recently. God has really provided for every single need I have. And as I seek Him, He has been filling my life with a deep sense of peace. I want to thank God for a few things that He did for me this weekend, the first of them being- saving my life and a life of a friends'.

My friend and I made a really bad decision this past Friday night. We were trying to keep a fire going that we had started, but the ground was still wet from rain the previous day. We had a little flame but we felt our wood wasn't burning enough, so we decided to pour gasoline on the fire. I know now, it was a terribly dangerous and stupid idea. And yes our gasoline top lit on fire! My friend was holding the can and I yelled and she yelled "Water". I ran as fast as I could- and praise God- there was dog food water all the way full right outside. I poured the water on the gasoline and the fire went out. We were so close to setting the whole house on fire. The crazy thing is it should have started on fire. It probably took 20 seconds to find the water and by that time the gasoline can in its entirety should have blown up and my friend would have been killed. But God saved us. I know He had His angels with us and His hand of protection over us! God saved us because of His mercy and I am so grateful!

God is so good to us and often we don't take the time to count His blessings. But when the Lord does good for us, He wants us to share it with others. I want to share with you a short testimony of how the Lord has been working in my life lately.

"I knew God and wanted to be like Him from a young age. I saw His hand in my life working at a young age. Yet when I got to freshman year in college, I began to feel unsatisfied with my relationship with Christ. I knew more about God then I knew of God. I was lacking true Christian friends and mentors who could help me keep growing. I gave time to God but often He wasn't my priority. I really struggled with the lukewarm Christianity I saw all around me and thought "there has to be more; I want to go deeper".

When I went to Peru, serving was so much harder than I expected because I came face to face with my true identity, weaknesses, and selfishness. Yet I began to find so much joy in truly loving without expecting anything and in forming deep and intimate relationships with the missionaries I had gone with. Peru was a beautiful struggle it was full of wonderful moments of hugging and dancing and just feeling so full of God's mercy but it was also challenging and heart breaking and marked by loneliness and depression.

When I returned to Peru, I was so full of God and I had so much desire to really surrender and serve Him in every part of my life. Yet I was broken and shattered and scarred in so many different ways. Coming back to college first semester, has been extremely difficult for me. Not only extreme culture shock, but I had an enormous difficulty focusing on school and even caring. I didn't feel peace about the major I was pursuing. I also felt so broken and empty as I dealt with struggles and weaknesses I had realized out on the mission field.

Yet although first semester has been such a struggle. God has given me so many gifts to help me live day by day and develop faith in Him. He has given me the best friends and spiritual mentors I could have ever imagined. People whose lives our full of prayer and love so warm and inviting. Never before have I had so many friends that I could talk about Jesus with and we are even memorizing scripture together. God has also given me a little bit of direction about my future and only because of Him I am changing my major to nursing. I know it's bizarre- I never wanted to be a nurse. I hated and still dislike shots and iv's. But I love helping people when they are sick or weak. I also love missions and love how applicable nursing would be and how useful nursing is in different careers around the world. I can become a nurse practitioner, or a PA, or I can get a masters in Global Health. To be honest, being a nurse is going to be very humbling to me. I am quite embarassed about changing my major to nursing- even though there is nothing wrong with nursing- but it's a God thing.

My life is still a mess and maybe it always will be. As I seek God, He reveals to me more things I need to work on and need to learn and un-learn. But I'm just so thankful for God's blesssings and His willingness to change me into a new creation.

I pray that you- if you have never truly surrendered your entire life up to God- your passions and even your fears- that you would trust Christ with those things. God will take care of you and remake you into a totally new Creation in Him. He calls us to surrender every day and He promises us that He will be faithful to work in us and to finish His work in the day of Christ Jesus our Lord.