Out of the Desert

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I’ve been attending this one particular Bible study for over a year now, and we are currently studying the book of Matthew. It’s been three weeks and I have been pleasantly pleased with the new insights and revelation I have received. One thing in particular, which led to this blog which has been on hiatus for far too long.

The other night, our group leader was discussing the role of John the Baptist. He came out of the desert boldly proclaiming the coming of the Lord. As I sat there, my thoughts wandered to Jesus. Interesting, he also came out of the desert before his ministry took off. As I sat thinking of its significance, I was prompted to write:

Desert periods bring about spiritual renewal.

Maybe I’m not the first person to say this or something like it, but to me the Holy Spirit was reinforcing one important fact. A year and a half ago He told me, “Behold! I do a new thing… I will make a way in the wilderness and create streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19. This “Behold! I do a new thing” prompted me to quit my job, spend six weeks in Europe, and experience God like never before. It was an amazing time in my life, but then, all of a sudden– silence. I whined. I prayed. I cried out. “Lord, where are you?” I moaned. “I don’t feel you!” While that in itself could be an entirely different blog, nevertheless, here I am; and, while God is still not talking to me like He was in 2012, he is moving. I just know it. And that’s why I find encouragement in the stories of John and Jesus. They, too, had to spend time in the desert, but once God brought them to the other side, their ministry and their lives were changed, and more importantly, the lives of others were altered for all eternity.

Now, I can walk through the desert (not wander, mind you) knowing that soon enough, God will bring me to the other side, into my land of promise.

Make a way, Lord. Keep making a way. And soon enough I will be drinking from those nourishing streams.

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December Night (Gone)

Frustrated soul.
I’m the only one to blame.
I bit at love’s forbidden fruit.
My eyes awoke to an evil place
where lies fall from lover’s lips
and where the devil makes his home.

I’ve been thrown out of Eden.
Lost my glory.
Lost my crown.
Now I wander through the desert
watching the sun circle ’round.
My throat parched from
this arid grave
hollow and endless
I sleep-

underneath the stars
counting the endless array
of dreams yet to come my way.

How I weep for her
in all her beauty,
her golden garden
sparkling new
Clean.

Flesh of my flesh.

Gone are the days of Eden
But the memories remain.

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Don’t Forget Where You Came From. Ditch it Altogether.

You may have heard that saying a million times, “Don’t forget where you came from.” Well, I had a kind of epiphany this morning. Why not? Why in the world do we hold on to who we once were? That’s not what God says. He says, “Forget the former things. Do not dwell on the past” (Is. 43:18). So why do we do it? Nostalgia? Fear? Insecurity?

Let me try to explain:

I gave my life back to Christ nearly 6 years ago. I was raised in the church but went away for quite sometime. From the beginning of my departure of the heart all the way to my return, many emotions and heartaches occurred. These things are part of everyone’s life, but these disturbances really have a way of shaping who you will become. I constructed walls to keep people out and I was always sure to be on the defense. Well, you live this way long enough and it sticks, even after giving your heart back to Christ. So, here I am 6 years later struggling with all the baggage I accumulated over the last decade or so. It’s almost as if I believe, somehow, this was my baggage to bear. I have to pay my penance, if you will, until I deserve to be free. We may never say it like that, but subconsciously, that’s how we live sometimes. Today, all that changed, almost instantaneously.

I was walking my dog and talking to God like I usually do. And God spoke to my heart.
“You are not who you once were.”
“What? Excuse me, God? I don’t understand.”
“That person you think you are because of your past, isn’t you. You are a new creation.”
“I’m a new creation? I’m a new creation! In that case I’m like a baby all over again. I can start all over. The past, all those things that happened, they don’t have to affect me anymore. They may have made me one way, but God has saved me in another.”

What revelation! What freedom! After Christ, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is new. It’s your chance to start over. Stinky old sin. Doesn’t matter. It’s been cast as far as the east is form the west. Hurt. He’s got that too. He came to bind up our wounds. It’s done. All of it. You and I have the opportunity to start again. Why are will still living with the repercussions of our former selves and former sins? We are free. We can do and be whoever we want now! We can forget what other people have called us. Forget about what we have called ourselves! We can be all the things God has called us: blessed, co-heirs, righteous, children. Whatever God has called you to be, confess it today. Out-loud. Tell God, tell yourself, tell Satan who you truly are-a new creation in Christ Jesus!
“All things have passed away. Behold! All things are new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

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Snowflake

I don’t know about you, but I really struggled as a teenager. I never seemed to fit in no matter how hard I tried. Now, I won’t go into the pretty bleak details, but growing up in mainly private Christian schools, I thought public school (8th-10th grade years) to be a very ugly monster. It’s hard to be a teenager when you think differently, desire to act differently, and you just feel that something in you is different than the norm. At the time, all I wanted to do was to blend in and just be like everyone else. I just wanted to feel “normal”. I spent the next 10 years trying to figure out what exactly “normal” was only to realize normal just really wasn’t my style.

I smile tonight, because I am so thankful that God created me to be different. Who cares that I was never into fashion or makeup like the other girls. I’m happy that I’m single and waiting  for “the one”. I’m glad that at 16 I knew I wanted to travel and I wasn’t satisfied living in my town forever. And, I can’t wait to fulfill the desire I have had since age 8 to adopt children from around the world. I am so grateful that God created me to be different and while I may have struggled as a youth, I am glad that I never got comfortable in a cookie-cutter existence.

I’m happy to say that, “I am extraordinary!”

And so are you. I was thinking tonight about snowflakes and how each one is different. They say that there are not any two that look like. If God took that much care and design into a snowflake, how much greater would he take care and consideration into creating you! You are not a mistake and there are no mistakes in your design. You are unique and God has a plan distinctly created for you and no one else. To me, that seems so much better than fitting into some mundane mold.

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Final thought. In Genesis, it tells us that we are all created in God’s image. We are all these little pieces of the Living God. How can we not be little pieces of amazing properties? Just look at how our bodies run! I can’t even begin to imagine what would happen if we began to come together in unity. Each little individual piece would begin to form a greater picture–the image of an Almighty God. Something tells me, that is  just the thing that the world needs to see.

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Ungrateful

I’m sitting here horrified. I’ve always been thankful for my “stuff”: my transportation, the roof over my head, the food on my table. How then, could I be ungrateful? Isn’t there a verse that says, “Pride cometh before a fall.”? Well, even though I may have fallen privately, I still got a good knock on the head as a wake up call.  Tonight I found out the hard-honest truth, I have been living a life of ungratefulness.

(IMPORTANT SIDE-NOTE: If you ever feel this pull to talk to God, stop whatever you are doing and start praying. Most likely, its somewhat of an emergency in God’s eyes and He needs to deal with you right away. If you are obedient, I guarantee that you will be blessed. Tonight was no exception.)

For six years, I’ve been a teacher. I’ve done a good job, but I never loved it by any means. At the beginning it was just to pay bills. Later, God talked to me about going in there and doing it unto Him so I was obedient in that, and the job got better. But again, teaching wasn’t my passion and I always wondered when He would free me from it so that I could serve my real purpose. Now, I feel so ashamed.

God loved me so much that He gave me everything in my job. He opened up so many doors and allowed me to experience so many things and I took everything for granted. For six years, God allowed me to do everything I love: read, work with kids, dabble in graphic design, write plays, design a yearbook, and so on. And the whole time, I was looking for the escape route.

In less than 2 months I will no longer be teaching at my school. Over the past few weeks I’ve been pushing for a new career, all the while feeling that God is still calling me to teach. Now, I realize; maybe it’s not that I didn’t like teaching, maybe it’s that I never saw it for it was. Maybe I spent so much time taking it for granted, that I missed 6 great years of God giving me everything I could ask for in a job and more.

I don’t want to miss out on the love of Christ because I am being ungrateful, and don’t even recognize His love when I see it. How horrible would that be? How horrible would that be for any relationship?

Sometimes we need to get over ourselves and get with God. We say we will do His will, but do we really mean it or are we more like Jonah, running away from God’s will and even when we finally succumb to it, we are miserable the entire time? I refuse to live like that!

I love what Paul says in 1 Timothy 1:12, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.”

God considers you and I trustworthy to do His work. That says a lot about how He feels for his children. Let’s praise Him and thank Him for every opportunity He gives us, even if it’s not necessarily what we would have chosen. Father knows best.

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The Burden of Sin

If we aren’t careful sin can create some very heavy burdens in our life. The world paints a completely opposite picture. There, things such as alcohol, drugs, and sex are yours for the taking, and you should take whatever you want and how ever much you want. Right and wrong have vanished with the “as long as you aren’t hurting anyone” mantra. Let’s get this straight: Everything you do has a direct effect on someone, somewhere.

Recently, someone blasted me on my views, mainly my opposition towards abortion, and they called me self-righteous and went on to remind me of my past sins. I had to pray, because the berating could have easily angered me. Then, I was reminded of two things.

First, the mercy of God

I am astonished, amazed, and flabbergasted at the mercy of God. There was a time when I lived a very careless life. Sadly, the person berating me was right. I was the worst sinner a few years back. I had done every sin in the Book, except murder, which God says hating a brother or sister is murder. So, I guess I had failed at that too.

But thank God, He was gracious and merciful with me. He looked past my sins and saw someone He could use for His glory. I am nothing. I am aware of this, but through Christ I have strength to be anything He desires for me to be. Christ did not have to pursue me like He did. He could’ve walked away and never gave it another thought, but He didn’t. That’s how much he loves me. That’s how much He loves you. He will never give up on you! There is not a sin great enough to keep his mercy from being extended.

Secondly, the burden of sin.

That’s the thing about sin, your sin does effect others in unexplainable ways. That person, who shall remain nameless, has not only a bad opinion of me, but probably of God too. They are only able to see my sins; I am an unable to explain to them how God changed all that.

The world likes to make sin look so good. It is very inciting. However, freedom to chose to do whatever you want to do is not freedom. Actually, it’s slavery. I know for a fact, that when I was living as I pleased, trying to gratify the “lusts of the flesh”, I was angry, bitter, and hateful. I was a selfish liar, putrid, really. And how was this not effecting anyone around me? I didn’t even realize it at the time, but I was so burdened down by the weight of my own sin: guilt, fear, sorrow, that the bondage was getting to me and I was becoming a very horrible person. I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I needed a burden-lifter!

Galatians 5:1 says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

Freedom is in Christ alone. Accepting Christ does not ensure you that you will never have trials or that you will never be tempted again; indeed, the opposite is true. But I can tell you with absolute certainty that living a life of obedience to Christ is the greatest freedom I have ever experienced. All those “rules” are just cautionary boundaries that the Lord gives to keep us safe and under his protection. I love that fact that I don’t have to drink or party or do anything of that nature to feel happy and content. I have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and more because of my commitment to the One who showed unending mercy to save a wretch like me.

A relationship with Christ is one that keeps on giving and never runs dry. He will never fail you. He will never leave you. He won’t ever give up on you.

Why would I want to trade an unconditional love like that for any of the fleeting vices this world has to offer?

I pray that you don’t sell yourself short, either.

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Your Attitude Stinks

I had a revelation and I just had to share. I don’t know. Maybe it will help someone out there somewhere.

I have an attitude problem.

Last week my attitude when from bad to down right inexplicable. It started off with me calling people names in my head. You know..When someone cuts you off, and you say, “Idiot.”Not out loud, of course, only in your head. Nothing wrong with that, right?

However, it got worse. I was soon calling everyone an idiot, and sadly, worse. I did all this for absolutely no reason whatsoever! I don’t know what was happening to me. I noticed this happen once before when I was watching too much TV with cursing in it. But this wasn’t the case, becaise htis month I had been fasting TV. All this time, I am supposed to be getting closer to God and His likeness, and now I was getting further.

And this is what shocked me the most. A week prior, I had had an awesome week. I really did feel close to God. I was thinking I could give up TV for good. I was praying about doing missions work over the summer. I was smiling, skipping, and just having an awesome time. It wasn’t any wonder that I stopped smiling or skipping when my attitude went sour. The strangest thing was the fact that I no longer wanted to go on a mission’s trip. I had lost all desire. Poof. Just like that. What happened?

The only person I could think of who had a pretty bad attitude was Jonah. He was furious that he had to go to the wicked city of Ninevah to warn the people of their impending doom. Jonah ran the other direction and ended up in the belly of a whale. God ended up giving him another chance and although, Jonah finally preached to the Nivevites, he was still angry! He sat sulking outside the city just waiting for its destruction. Jonah totally missed it. Jonah was called to be a prophet and he missed the point of his purpose all on account of his rotten temper.

We will never know what happened to the rest of Jonah’s life. Did he ask God for forgiveness once again? Did he go on to do great things? Did he ever find joy in living for God?

I don’t want my story to end so abruptly and on such a devastating note. We must be wise and do as Ecclesiastes 7 states: “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools.”

Once I realized that my dream to do missions in the summer was slowly vanishing, I quickly repented. I never want to miss out of God’s plan and chance to use my giftings because of a stinky attitude.

Hey, I’m no fool.

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