Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Beauty in Jesus

While writing this, I'm sitting on my bed, still not quite sure what to write. I'm prewriting this post, trying to write it before I leave in two days.

I've always tried to show myself as I really am on this blog, be real in my writing. And right now I'm just going to try to let the words flow.


This summer has felt weird to me. I guess you could say it's been a bit of a roller coaster - except it's going in circles, not moving ahead. I'm not exactly sure why this summer has felt this way. I mean it's been a pretty great summer (of course its flown by - though that's what I say all the time) but it's just felt different than past years. I think I'm in a time of waiting right now. I gotta confess something: I hate waiting. I've heard - and even said - that there's beauty in waiting. And that's true, it's just that while waiting it's harder to see the beauty.

Now I'm going to bring in good ole dictionary.com. One of the definitions for wait is, "to be available or in readiness". To wait is being available and ready. A question I have to ask myself while waiting right now is this: am I making myself available and ready for what God has in store for me next? Now, let me get one thing straight, it's only by Jesus that we're ready for what God has planned for us, but we need to make ourselves available for Him to work through us. It's like if you were trying to teach a kid math (don't ask me to teach math though, I'd probably make the kid hate math forever), you can't teach the child if the child isn't willing to learn. You can't take a dog on a walk if it doesn't get up and move. We need to be available for Him to work in and through us, we need to be willing to learn from Him and willing to get moving. 

One of my favorite scriptures (I've probably shared it on here a couple of times) is Psalm 27:14, it says, "Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord." I love that. It repeats the phrase "Wait for the Lord" and between it it says "be strong and courageous".
We've gotten the wrong idea of strong and courageous in our world today. We've twisted it and think that a strong person doesn't show emotion, is ready for anything and everything, locks up everything inside and doesn't let anyone in, and is basically our idea of perfect. That's so not it. A strong person doesn't necessarily have to be strong. The strongest people I admire aren't strong because of their own doing, but because of Jesus Christ in them. A strong person is willing to admit their weakness.
Courage is similar. True courage isn't being brave and fearless 24/7 (because come on, who is?), it's continuing on despite  of being afraid.
So where does courage and strength fit in with waiting on the Lord? While waiting on Jesus we need to continue to rely on Him, to continue on despite the fact that we may not always feel like it.

I don't know about you, but personally I don't normally like waiting because I have no idea how long I'm going to have to wait for. I like to know what I'm doing, when I'm doing it, and where I'm doing it. Waiting doesn't fit into that ideal lifestyle. But waiting is apart of life, and it's apart of our walk with Jesus too.
So where is the beauty in waiting? I'm not even completely sure if it's in the waiting. I think a lot of the time we want to find beauty in the waiting, beauty in the ashes, beauty in the broken, beauty in the sorrow, beauty in the pain. Those are pleasing sentences, but do they really mean anything? Now, while I do think that beauty can be found in those things sometimes then I believe that true beauty is found in Jesus Christ.

We seek beauty in our ugly, messed up world. We seek peace in a world of chaos. We seek joy because this world brings sorrow. We seek contentment in a world of dissatisfaction. We seek love in a unloving world. We seek light in a dark world. We seek redemption in a unforgiving world. We seek healing because of our broken world.  But when did we forget to seek Jesus?
We want saving, healing, peace, joy, contentment, love, light, redemption, and more yet we forget that those things are found in Jesus.
Peace and joy have always been two things I've struggled with. I've prayed for those things, I've sought out those two things. But what I really need to do is seek Jesus. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with praying for joy, peace, ect.... what I am saying is that we shouldn't get so caught up in those things that we forget to seek Jesus.

We may not always find beauty in waiting, so let's instead find beauty in Jesus. Waiting is still  not my favorite thing to do, but in periods of waiting I need to just keep my focus on Jesus.

There's a song I love by Natalie Grant called More Than Anything. Click here to listen to it. It has a beautiful message that goes along with what I just mentioned.

I hope that somewhere in those scattered thoughts were a comprehensible message.
Just remember this: you aren't always going to find beauty in waiting, so instead find beauty in Jesus. Remember to seek Him.

So what are your thoughts? What are your favorite scriptures about waiting? Do you find beauty in waiting? What do you do when waiting on Jesus?

I hope you have a great week!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

But You are Strong

I am insecure. I doubt. I'm afraid. I'm broken. I'm weak.

I was talking to my mom the other day about my insecurity and doubt and she told me several things. One, it's okay to doubt, be insecure, and be weak. Two, I didn't like to be weak.

Let me go into those things...

She explained that it's okay for me to doubt sometimes, or be insecure, or not always do everything perfect... Because its in our weakness that God works mightily.
And she told me that I didn't like to be weak. Trust me, I know I'm not perfect, but I guess maybe I got the wrong idea of things. When Jesus is with us He doesn't just take away all our doubts, insecurities, weaknesses, and fears... He works through them.

There's a verse in 2 Corinthians that I've heard several times but haven't really ever thought about until my mom shared it with me the other day...

2 Corinthians 12:9-10, "But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.  So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Wow. God's power is perfected in our weakness. He doesn't make our lives perfect, He doesn't make us fearless or anything... He works through us despite of our flaws. We need Him.

There was another Bible verse she shared with me...

 1 Corinthians 3:18-23, "No one should deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this age, he must become foolish so that he can become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, since it is written: He catches the wise in their craftiness; and again, The Lord knows that the reasonings of the wise are meaningless. So no one should boast in human leaders, for everything is yours— whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come—everything is yours, and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God."

Let me try to summarize what that means. Our human reasoning, compared to God's wisdom, is foolish. We can think we're so smart and know so much but honestly? Our wisdom is foolish in His eyes. We need to humble ourselves before Jesus... we on our own aren't wise and we're weak. We have to accept those facts so that Jesus can do amazing things through us.

We don't need to be completely secure, have no doubts, be fearless, or strong. What we need is Jesus. His power is perfected in our weakness - I can't say that enough! We are inefficient, but He is sufficient for us. We can never be enough, we will mess up time after time - but His grace is sufficient.
It's okay if we're insecure, doubtful, afraid, or weak. News flash, everyone is at times. But it's in those moments where God works the greatest.

I wrote the poem below after I talked with my mom about all of this... it was originally written as song lyrics, but since I have no music I'll type it out as a poem...

But You Are Strong

I have doubt and fear.
Insecurity and weakness lingers near.
I may feel broken today,
But that’s okay.

Because in weakness Your power is perfected.
This pain may be unexpected.
But it’s in my weakness that Your power resides.
It’s Your Spirit Who guides.
It’s in my weakest place,
That I’m flooded with Your grace.
It’s for You I long.
I may be weak, but You are strong.

I may be inefficient,
But Your grace is sufficient.
I may be broken and weak,
But in that time it’s You I seek.

It’s not for me, it’s all for You.
I’m just here for You to work through.
Let my whole story be,
For Your glory.
You are right and I am wrong.
I may be weak, but You are strong.


I don't know what you're going through right now, but I just want to say that God is sufficient. It's okay to be doubtful at times, afraid, or insecure. We're just empty, broken vessels for Him to work through. It's all for His glory, not our own.
I guess I always thought that insecurity and doubt were seasons that we go through in our walk with Jesus sometimes, but overcome. That's not always the case. Insecurity, doubt, and fear may chase me down all my life.... but that's okay. Because it's in those times where Jesus works through me the most. It's in my weakness that He gets the most glory. 

To be honest I'm still learning all the lessons I just wrote down in this blog post, but that's okay. We always have more to learn and a lot of the time certain lessons have to be repeated over and over for us to finally begin to grasp.

So just remember this.... It's okay if you struggle sometimes, or if you're weak and imperfect. I'm weak and imperfect too. In those times then allow God to work through you, it's in weakness where His power is perfected.

Psalm 57:5, "God, be exalted above the heavens; let Your glory be over the whole earth."


Side note: This Saturday I'm leaving to go on a mission trip and the week after I'm going on another trip so the next two Tuesday's I'll  be posting a prewritten post if I can. Have a great week! :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Things that I learned...

Last week I went with my youth group to a youth camp called Global. I learned a lot of things and wanted a share of few of those things with you...

      Each day after lunch we would have something called track time. We would split off into different groups to discuss a certain subject. We got to choose which one we wanted to do. On Tuesday then at first I wanted to go to the prayer track time, but as I began to think about it I felt like God was pushing me to go to the evangelism track time. So I did.

The person leading the track, Allie, told us to try to ask five questions to as many people as we could in three minutes. So we did. After we gathered back around she asked how many of us asked a question about God, church, or religion. None of us raised our hand. Then she asked how many asked what their favorite color was. All of us raised our hand. The point is is that sharing the gospel can start with a simple question, if only we’re bold enough to do it. We don’t like to talk about evangelism much because it can make us feel guilty for not doing it. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t share the gospel as much as I should, but I want to start trying.

We make evangelism sound like it’s in its own category. We make it sound very hard and complicated. It is hard. But not impossible. We can talk about Jesus to anyone and it can come up through a simple question. We just have to step out in faith to do it. And we need to be praying every step of the way.

      At Global we’re surrounded by fellow believers and are constantly immersed in God’s Word. That tends to make us more passionate about God there. But that doesn’t need to fade away. God isn’t limited to one mountain or one church. He can’t be contained. As one of the speakers said, God doesn’t want re-commitment, He wants surrender. We can recommit ourselves to Him every Sunday or once a year at a camp, but if we aren’t surrendering to Him it’s not going to mean anything.

      I loved my time at Global. I learned a lot of things. But I don’t want my relationship with God to be limited to one place or one time. We could come to church every Sunday, but if we’re not living for Him Monday through Saturday then what’s the point? Something that one of the speakers said stuck with me. He said that we can’t park on yesterday’s miracles. We can’t go to Global once a year and just milk it for all it’s worth for months, not doing anything else for Jesus. We can’t say that we shared the gospel two months ago and keep living off of that. Those things can be great and we should remember those times. But we can’t live in yesterday because if we do we’ll miss what God’s doing today.

      During one of the worship times the band played a song called O Come to the Altar by Elevation Worship. I've always loved the song and during the chorus I really got to thinking.

This is how the chorus goes...
"O come to the altar
The Father's arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ"

     And during it it occurred to me that not everyone knows that. Not everyone knows that God is waiting for them with His arms wide open. They don't know that forgiveness was bought with Jesus' blood. They don't know that they can come to Jesus. Of course I know that there are people out there that don't know about Jesus or believe in Him... but during that song it really hit me.

     My neighbors, friends, people I pass by on the street - they may not know that. That's why it's so important that we share the gospel.

      Look, I don't know where you are right now in your life. I don't know the heart - only God does. But if you haven't accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior then I encourage you to come to Jesus, His arms are open wide. Maybe you are a follower of Jesus but haven't fully surrendered to Him, then I encourage you to surrender your all to Him. It's hard and it's a lesson I'm still learning, but I encourage you to do so. Or maybe you have surrendered to Him but aren't quite sure what to do next, I encourage you to tell people about Him and live for Him daily.

So those were a few things that I learned at Global.

What about you? What has God been teaching you recently? Have you ever heard of Global Youth Camp?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

A Man Named Mr. Edward (A Short Story)

On this blog I've pretty much stuck to posting the same kind of thing: Things that God's been teaching me. While I'm still going to do that then today I'm posting something a little different. A few days ago I wrote this short story and I wanted to share it with y'all.
Without further ado...

       The boy peeked out of the window.

      “Let me see!” His eight year old sister exclaimed, scrambling up on the couch to see out to window. “Is he still there?”

      The boy nodded at his twin before looking back out the window. The two had conducted a survey. There was an old man who lived across the street and every day, without fail, he sat on his front porch in a rickety white rocking chair. He didn’t do anything but drink lemonade – except in the winter he sat out there with a steaming mug of coffee. The man was a mystery to the twins because he just looked around. But there wasn’t anything on their street to see except for a handful of houses.

      The man puzzled them.

. . .

The elderly man with bushy white eyebrows was fully aware of the brother and sister across the street. He’d seen them watching him on many occasions. They’d hidden in the big tree in their yard, looked from their window, spied with binoculars, and peeked over from behind their backyard.
He took another sip from his mason jar filled with lemonade, amused by the two. Today they were perched in the tree in their front yard, no doubt thinking they were well hidden.

The children amused him.

. . .

“Oh no!” The boy said, watching as their ball accidentally rolled into the man’s yard.

“Well we have to go and get it. By we I mean you.” His loving sister pushed him in the direction of the man’s house.

“I’m only going if you go with me.” The boy announced.

“Fine.” Taking her brother’s hand into her own she looked both ways before crossing the street. The boy retrieved the ball and the twins were about to leave when the old man spoke.
“Hey you two, want some lemonade?”

The siblings had been told by their parents to never take candy from strangers but this was different. One, this was lemonade; two, this man – though they’d never spoken to him face to face – didn’t seem like a stranger.  So they walked up the stairs onto his white front porch.

The man with white eyebrows and a thick white mustache reminded the two of their grandpa, before he passed away a year ago. Up close now, they could see the twinkle in his eye and his kind smile.

“Now, you two can have a seat while I go inside to get two more cups of lemonade.” The man instructed before heading inside.

The brother and sister did as they were told, sitting down on the two other rocking chairs. The porch had a cover over it, shading them from the summer sun. There were three white rocking chairs total, and a little table between two of them. The porch’s white paint was peeling, but it only added more character to it.

The man returned, as promised, with two mason jars full of ice cold lemonade. He handed them each a glass before sitting back in his rocking chair.

“Thank you, Mister.” The boy chimed in.

“Yes, thank you!” His sister echoed.

The man smiled in response, picking up his own mason jar of lemonade. “And what are your names?”

“I’m Tom.” The boy introduced before pointing to his twin. “That’s Alice.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Tom and Alice. My name is Edward.”

“I like that name!” Alice exclaimed with all the energy of an eight year old. “Hi Mr. Edward!”

“And hello to you, Alice.”

“May I ask you a question?” Alice inquired.

“Of course you may!”

“Why do you sit out here all the time doing nothing?” Alice asked thoughtfully.

Mr. Edward’s lip twitched but he held back the smile, seeing how serious she was. “Well I am doing something.” He answered. “I watch, observe, and think. Most of all I pray.”

“Pray?” Tom questioned.

“Yes.” Mr. Edward nodded. “I pray. I pray to God through His Son Jesus.”

“What do you pray about?” Alice asked, her mind brimming with new questions for this interesting man.

“I pray about a lot of things. I pray for the church, for America, for my brothers and sisters in Christ, and I pray for the world.” Mr. Edward paused before adding. “I even pray for the two of you.”

The siblings exchanged glances before looking anxiously back at the man.“Really?!?” Tom exclaimed, his mind blown by the fact that this man, practically a stranger, prayed for him.

“Yes indeed.” Mr. Edward replied.

That day a friendship was born, as was a tradition.  Once a week, every Sunday evening, the three would sit on his front porch. Sometimes they would sit in silence, each content to their own thoughts, sometimes the siblings would chatter on about the latest thing they did, sometimes Mr. Edward would teach them about God, and other times they would pray together.

It was a lovely thing while it lasted. But as the years went on eventually the siblings went off to college.

. . .

After the two graduated college they came home. But they discovered that their loving neighbor, Mr. Edward, had passed away two weeks before. But he left them something – a box.

“Well go ahead and open it.” Alice instructed her brother.

“Alright, alright.” He said, opening the box. Inside sat three mason jars with a  letter addressed to them at top.

Alice opened the letter and read it out loud.

Dear Tom and Alice,
Words cannot express how deeply I’ve cherished the times we’d had together. I’ve come to think of you two as my own grandchildren. I’m getting up in years and I can’t be sure which day will be my last. But I hope the two of you can put these mason jars to use. I’ve watched you both grow into godly young adults and I couldn’t be prouder.
Your loving neighbor and friend,
Mr. Edward

By the end of the letter Alice was in tears, recalling fondly those precious memories.

The two would, indeed, always cherish those memories they made with the old man across the street.

. . .

Years later when Tom was married and had a son and daughter of his own he brought them to the front porch. The trio sat down, each with a mason jar filled with lemonade in hand. It was a lovely Sunday evening.

“Aren't Aunt Alice and Uncle Peter coming next week?” His son asked.

“Yes, they are.” Tom answered, looking forward to his sister’s and brother-in-law’s visit.

“Daddy? Can you tell us a story?” His seven year old daughter asked.

Tom smiled. “Let me tell you a story about a  man named Edward…”


Tuesday, July 3, 2018

A Price to be Paid

        She stood accused, condemned, and ashamed. She had already been declared guilty and would face the death sentence. The worst part of it all is that she deserved it. She had done wrong time and time again. She deserved the punishment she faced. She wore filthy rags as clothes and felt as dirty inside as her clothes were on the outside. She hung her head in shame as the crowd mocked her.

Just when all hope seemed lost a voice echoed through the crowd. “How much?” The powerful voice said. She opened her eyes to see a Man dressed like royalty approach. The people parted to make way for Him to come through. “How much to redeem her?”

The person who condemned her thought it through. “A life for a life. No amount of gold or silver will redeem her. Her crimes are too much to be paid for anything less than blood. Only another person’s life can be the ransom.”

The crowd silently waited for the Man’s response.

The girl didn’t want to even dare to hope. She met His eyes and was overwhelmed by the grace, compassion, and love she saw. No one had ever looked at her in such a way. She didn’t see any spite in His eyes. But mercy overflowed.

“I offer my life in return for hers.” The Man replied quietly.

Everyone was shocked to silence. The girl’s eyes pooled with tears as she looked at the Man who just offered to die for her. He didn’t look at her with once ounce of regret in His eyes. Again she felt overwhelmed by the grace, love, and compassion.

She felt as her chains were unlocked and she stumbled into the crowd. The Man was placed in chains… chains that she deserved, not Him. She watched as He was beaten and mocked - that was what she deserved. She walked behind the crowd as they followed the Man surrounded by guards, leading to where He would die.

When she saw a cross she wanted to vomit and cry out about the outrage and injustice the Man was being dealt. But He offered to take her place.

She ran ahead of the crowd to where the Man walked slowly, dragging the heavy chains behind Him.
“Why?” She asked. “Why did you offer to take my place? Why are you willing to die for me?”
The Man gave a sad smile. “Daughter, I love you as my own. It is because of the love I have, and My Father has for you, that I’m about to die in your place. You’ve been redeemed. Live in the freedom I have given you.”

She stopped walking as they nailed His wrists and hands to the cross. She screamed out in horror as the blood trickled down and His face reflected His agony. The cross was lifted up as He was stretched across it. She wanted to close her eyes to the inhuman act but couldn’t seem to.

Darkness fell over the land. She waited when she heard the Man say, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

Forgive? How could He forgive them? Why did He offer that love and freedom to her? How could He forgive her, who didn’t deserve any forgiveness.

“It is finished!” The Man cried out in a powerful voice. All at once she saw His chest stop moving. The Man was dead.

In despair the girl walked away. She wandered around for days, remaining in her rags and filth. How could she be free? How could she, after all she had done wrong, be free? She had sinned for so long and had been so dirty… how could she be forgiven and cleansed now? At last her strength wore too thin and she collapsed upon a pile of dust.

The sound of a person walking awakened her. She opened her eyes slowly and sat up, hardly believing what was in front of her. The Man stood, wearing pure white, love radiant through His eyes, in front of her.

“Stand up, Beloved. Why do you sit among the dust and filth? I have redeemed you, set you free. Live in the freedom and love I offer. You’ve been forgiven of your past mistakes so dwell on them no longer.” He said lovingly, holding out a hand.

The girl accepted His help up and she stood up in awe. “How are you alive? I watched as the breath left your body.”

“Ah but I am innocent. My Father raised Me from the dead.” The Man answered.

“I am not worth it. I wasn’t worth You dying for. I don’t deserve love or grace.” The girl looked away, ashamed.”

“Beloved, I set you free. Your worth is in My love.” He said. “Now come, let Me introduce you to the love I offer.”

He held out His hand and without hesitation she accepted.


That's a fictional story I wrote. But it's based on what Jesus did for us and holds truths to remember.

I stood, accused and condemned, facing my punishment that I deserved. I deserve eternal separation from God. But then His love and grace came pouring through. Jesus died on a cross two thousand years ago so that we could be set free.

Sometimes I hear people saying that we are worth it. That we were worth Jesus dying for. But that’s not it. The most amazing thing about Jesus dying for us is that we DON'T deserve it. Our worth isn’t in us, but in Him. Our worth is in the love He offers.

Isaiah 52:1-3, “Wake up, wake up; put on your strength, Zion! Put on your beautiful garments, Jerusalem, the Holy City! For the uncircumcised and the unclean will no longer enter you. Stand up, shake the dust off yourself! Take your seat, Jerusalem. Remove the bonds from your neck, captive Daughter Zion.” For this is what the Lord says: “You were sold for nothing, and you will be redeemed without silver.” 

Sometimes we sit in our sin, in our shame and filth. Why do we sit among the chains that Jesus already broke? We are to stand up and shake the dust off of ourselves and start living in the freedom He gives.

Psalm 49:7-8, 15, “Yet these cannot redeem a person or pay his ransom to God— since the price of redeeming him is too costly…. But God will redeem my life.”

Nothing we can do for ourselves can redeem or save us. All the good works in the world, no matter how many times you go to church or read your Bible – all of it means nothing if we don’t have faith in God and accept Jesus into our hearts.

Isaiah 35:10, “And the redeemed of the Lord will return and come to Zion with singing, crowned with unending joy.”

1 Peter 1:18-19, “For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish.”

Job 19:25, “But I know that my Redeemer lives.”

Christ offers a free gift of love to each of us… we just have to accept it. He paid the price that had to be paid. He gave Himself for us. And then He rose again and He’s alive today.

Let’s live in the freedom and love He offers!


Happy Fourth of July week!

P.S.: Sorry I missed posting last week! I had some trouble with my computer. Also, I'm going to Global Youth Camp with my youth group next week so I'm not sure yet if I'll be able to post or not. Have a great week!