Trash Vs. Treasure

From kindergarten through my freshman year of college, I safely resided in my Christian school bubble.
The friends I have surrounded myself with have always been zealous for the Lord and encouraged me in my walk.
My favorite day of the week is Sunday, as I love to dwell in Christian community and with the body of Christ all day.
I am happiest when the Passion CD is playing.
And suddenly, the accumulation of all of these things starts to make me feel
‘pretty good about myself & my walk with the Lord.’

Wrong. So wrong.
Like a splash of cold water to the face, God reminded me this week that I am comfortable living life this way, never having my faith challenged, unaware of what true persecution is, safely kept out of reach by anyone who doesn’t steadfastly pursue the Lord.
And He has never once called me to be comfortable.

God has recently begun to allow my bubble to be popped, in the most ‘random’ of ways,
to the point that I cannot ignore the reality of the broken and lost world that surrounds me,
Full of people who have no hope and no knowledge of Christ.

For instance, I was running errands this weekend and overheard a conversation between a grandmother, granddaughter, and a few salesclerks in J Crew.

The grandmother [who was said to be in her 80’s] & granddaughter
very graphically joked with the employees about
how wonderful the movie Magic Mike, which they had just seen, was.

I tuned out most of what ensued, until I heard the granddaughter say,
“Tell them what you’ve been reading,”
with an all too amused look on her face.
Her grandmother dramatically began shouting,
“No, no, no…that’s so embarrassing.”
So her granddaughter explained for her, in a hushed & disgusted tone,
“She’s been reading…the Bible,
only because my cousin told her she couldn’t die without reading it.”

The employees began a string of expletives,
mocking how anyone could waste their time on such trash.
To which the elderly woman replied,
Oh don’t worry, it’s not like a believe a word of it.”

As the sting of tears in my eyes and the lump in my throat began to grow,
I began to feel sick to my stomach.
How could these women deem Magic Mike something worthy of praise
and the Bible as a piece of trash?

And then it hit me:
a majority of our society does.

As I safely sit in my Christian bubble,
there is a world around me who
does not believe a Word of the Gospel.
There are many who have not even heard a word of the Gospel.

Satan has so blinded them to the reality of the Gospel that they have wholeheartedly mistaken treasure for trash and trash for treasure,
Meaning they idolize lifestyles of sin and loathe holiness.

I in no way intend for this to be a guilt trip,
but rather an opportunity to share the wake up call that I have had.
Because I woke up to the painful understanding that there is a world who openly and boldly denies their only hope of salvation,
and if I do not intentionally make myself uncomfortable to share the treasure of the Gospel with them, the lost will continue to embrace the trash they are accustomed to.

The Reverberation of Grace

Lately, I have been overwhelmed by
the truly immeasurable amount of grace
that was poured out over all of humanity as Christ hung on the cross.
God’s grace is so vast that it continues to reverberate, to echo throughout the world today.

Consider this:
Have you ever had someone confess an area of sin in their life to you?
Your response is so pivotal, because if you show them steadfast & unconditional love & grace,
the cross is lifted higher in your response.
However, if you spew out condemnation and retribution,
immediately the other person shuts down and retreats.

The reverberation of grace occurs the moment that you choose to
envelop people in love & unmerited favor right as they expect to be judged and punished.

We show grace only because we know grace.
Apart from Christ having lavished this upon us,
this would be a foreign concept to us because it is completely against our human nature.
The legacy of the cross is lived out in our lives as Christ in us allows grace to prevail over condemnation or hate.

May our lives forever reverberate the grace of God.

1 Corinthians 15:10
“By the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace to me was not without effect…”
Grace changes things.

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Let Go

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There are times in life when we need to hold so fiercely on to something that air cannot pass between.

Then, there are times when we must be willing to let go of and surrender things that we have held on to for far too long.
Things that keep us from reaching our potential and hinder our relationship with God and others.

In my life, and maybe yours as well, letting go is oftentimes the hardest.
For something to already be in my hands,
it means it is familiar, comfortable, and convenient.
The world we live in today thrives off of these 3 words.
And secretly, so do I.

However, the Gospel can in no way be described by those words.
Radical, foreign, & unnatural would be better adjectives to describe the message Christ died to bring us.

The unfortunate and glorious reality that Christ is revealing to me is that
He can give us nothing when our hands are already full. 
When I am clinging to sin with a death grip, or even to good & holy things that He is asking me to surrender, I put myself in limbo.

Here’s why:
God is not a God of baggage.
In order to move forward with the good & prosperous plans He has promised,
we must let go of the things that give us false security,
and that ‘one thing’ we think we would die without.

[That ‘one thing’ is probably what just immediately came to your mind and what you’re now trying to ignore. I know, I’m a pro at it.]

We must stand with open hands before the Lord in order to embrace whatever it is that He is ready to give us.
This is the part that scares me.
What if I don’t like what God has to give me?
What if I miss what I gave up originally?
What if there’s a void left behind?
What if…What if…What if…

I think the answer to all of these questions is that we must rest in knowing that God will not ask us to surrender anything when He does not have something better to give us in return.
Newness is intimidating.
Letting go is painful, sometimes even physically so.
Take heart in knowing that He will fill the void,
He is ready to do something new,
But first we must surrender the old.

Isaiah 43:18-19
Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. 
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth,
do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness & rivers in the desert.
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Relationships

They are sticky, dynamic, beautiful, created by God, attacked by the enemy, necessary for abundant life, painful at times, et cetera, et cetera.

As a result of living in a fallen world, I have been hurt by people I’ve been in relationship with, just as I’ve regrettably hurt others.

So somewhere along the way I sought to protect myself from any further pain,
and I began to project onto God things He never promised.

For instance, out of fear of having my heart broken, I would tell myself that if I truly sought the Lord in whomever I date in the future, He would immediately lead me to “the one” so that I never had to be ‘that brokenhearted girl.’

Similarly, after loosing a couple good friends along the way, I comforted myself by saying that if I kept Christ at the center of my friendships, He would weld them together and we would never grow apart or loose our bond.

As you could probably guess,
I was wrong, very wrong.

I can seek the Lord in my relationships and be broken up with,
just as I can seek Him in my friendships and watch friends walk away.

What I failed to comprehend is that sometimes, God’s perfect plan and purpose 
is truly for a person to only occupy a space in my life for a season.

For a while, I wrestled with this reality.
I don’t do well with goodbyes or change,
so I thought it would be easier to build Jericho sized walls around my heart and only maintain superficial relationships.

Wrong again.
Then I came across this quote that rocked my world and my relationships:

” To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

We have two options:
1. Never experience pain, heartbreak, loss, or any of the wonderful attributes of relationships.

2. Be vulnerable, live in relationship with others, learn and grow with them, even if only for a season.

I promise you that it is infinitely better to love and loose another than it is to live isolated from the beauty of community.
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“I Am _____”

Exodus 3:14

“God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.” 

Can I be really honest?

I tend to be a very literal & analytical person, so the idea of God asserting Himself as “I am” use to confuse and somewhat irk me.

I mean, where are the adjectives, the awe inspiring names, et cetera?

I longed for something more concrete in this verse, until someone explained the beauty of this statement to me.

The wonder of God declaring Himself to be the great “I Am” is that it renders Him to be everything and anything that you or I may need.

Think about it, if you need a healer:”
“I Am Healer.”

If you need a friend:
“I Am Friend.”

If you need a father:
“I Am Father.”

If you need a romancer:
“I Am Romancer.”

This may seem juvenile, redundant, or like something you realized when you were 5. If so, let me have my moment, because I am just giddy over this realization.

Think about it:
“I Am ______.”
Insert anything you need into this blank.

Also, God did not say, “I will be, I could be, or I might be.”
He just is, already.

There is so much security to be found in knowing that God is currently and eternally all that you and I need.

I believe that until our dying day, God will be filling in that blank in a new, refreshing, and exciting way, if only we are open and expectant.

Who do you need Him to be today?