Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Want To Be Hated

I just finished the book Radical by David Platt the other day on the plane ride back from Colorado. Oh man... I would recommend that book to anyone who knows the Lord and wants to learn more about His desires for them.

Although there were many things I will carry with me for years to come, the concept I seemed to latch on to the most was the fact that Jesus said we will be hated if we follow Him. Jesus even said "You will be hated by all for my name's sake." (Luke 21:17)

I think Christians today tend to believe that the more Christ-like they become, the more they will be liked/accepted/loved. If you think about it, though, wasn't Christ hated? He was put on a cross even though He had done NOTHING wrong, after all. Don't you think those people might have disliked Him a little bit? The more Christ-like we become, the more our thinking will be different from their thinking, the more we'll tell people that their ways aren't the ways of God, and the more we won't participate in things that aren't honoring to the Lord. Also, as we get to know the Lord and become like Him, we will show more of His character by the way we live and talk. That's a bit intimidating and people might feel pressured to change. They could feel guilty of their sin and see what they need to revive in their lives and surrender to Jesus, but also realize that it would be at the cost of pleasure. What if they don't like that? What if they don't want to be with me or talk to me or be my friend? How am I supposed to reach out to them if they don't want to have anything to do with me any more because of my faith?

The thing is that, naturally, I am the people-pleaser of all people-pleasers. I desperately want people to like me and accept me and respect me. Then again, I want people to hate me. My desire is to be so radically His that people are frustrated and confused and hate me for the seemingly nonsensical decisions I make for the cause of Christ.

The paradox of these desires pose problems for how I will choose to live my life. Will I deliberately choose to forego my people-pleasing tendencies and be willing to be disliked for God's glory or will I deliberately choose to go the "easy" route and make people happy with me and avoid disagreements? Because, after all, both choices are deliberate and intentional. Even if I continue to be a people-pleaser, I am making the choice to do so by not changing my actions.

Which will you choose? What a tough decision with severe implications. For me... I pray I will strive with everything in me to be so close to the Lord that I can't help but be hated and mocked by the world. After all, what could be the worst someone could do to me? Kill me? Death will do nothing bad to me, but simply let me be with my savior in glory. All I need is Christ, and if I am persecuted I know He is good and He has me in His hands. "For me to live is Christ, to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
(John 15:18-25 ESV)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

5... Because It's Foolproof

I have sat down to write at least half a dozen times and my posts never seem right so I delete them or save them as drafts. You might see the fruit of my labor someday, but right now I can't get my thoughts straight enough to communicate what I want. Instead, I figured an update on Rome happenings would be good. You get the number list because it's pretty much foolproof.

1. I get on a plane headed to Rome in two weeks. Wait... did you read that and comprehend it entirely? I will get on a PLANE headed to ROME in TWO WEEKS. My stomach is full of butterflies all the time. The excitement and fear are overwhelming. There's certainly more excitement than fear though. I have so much to do in these next two weeks. Packing, having a party, and saying goodbye to my family and friends are among those things on my to do list.

2. In the past month or so, I have had to realize more than ever before that my life is in the Lord's hands and He directs my steps. Stressing does me no good, especially with my support raising. Although I have raised quite a bit of money, I haven't raised near all of it and am scared I will have to return to the states earlier than planned. Yes, I need to do my best to present my need and ask people to contribute, but I also need to be praying and fasting and knowing that God has a different plan for me that is good even if I have to come back early. And He's still good. All the time.

3. I am blessed. My family, my friends, my church, the city I've grown up in... all HUGE blessings. Particularly, I've been realizing how attached I am to Cypress/Houston. It is the only home I have ever known, and I will be getting a wake up call in just about two weeks. I am ready and have prepared myself, but I know I am going to have to lean on the Lord in my homesickness. But you know what? I am so excited about it. I am excited about God stretching me. I'm excited that I won't be able to lean on friends and family all the time and it will push me to lean on the Lord in all circumstances. I've also realized that homesickness isn't necessarily bad. It just means that I love people and am loved here in Houston. I'd rather be homesick than never love people enough to miss them.

4. I seriously need to make the most of every moment I have in these next two weeks. Would you join me in praying for productiveness, but also for peace and rest?

5. Just in case you were wondering, I'm pretty OCD about some things. I know the seriousness of the real disease and don't pretend to suffer from it, but I am pretty particular about some things... especially numbers. And ending on ones that I like. Don't ask about the logic in all of it, because I don't think there is any. :)

Hope you're having a good day!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Just On My Heart

In the recent circumstances surrounding my life, I have come to the realization that life is just plain hard. While I am not one to be very pessimistic, it is just a reality of this life on earth. Everyone is always going through something. If they aren't, they have before. If they haven't, they will. Nobody can escape it. Oh, the effects of our sinful nature. Not very fun at all.

Relationship problems, sickness, serious sin struggles (then again... what sin isn't serious?), tragedies, things that happen that are out of our control, spiritual issues, economic hardships, and the list could go on and on. If I am to focus only on the bad things and sin problems in life, things could go downhill very quickly, and serious depression could set in. Also, no desire to change things, a loss of hope, and anger (with God or others) could come into play. Then again, if I never talk about and/or acknowledge that bad things happen and sin is a struggle, there is no assistance, no accountability, no change, and no freedom from bondage.

So, now, what do we do with this? For our own lives, we trust the Lord. We realize that He has a plan and promises to prosper us and not to harm us, and to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). We come to terms with the fact that hard is not necessarily bad and rest in the knowledge that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle with Him by our side (1 Corinthians 10:13). We get to know Him for who He is and not what we want Him to be. We study His Word every chance we get and delight in it. Prayer becomes integrated in our daily (hourly... minutely...) routine (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Love becomes synonymous with life. We have a passion for the Lord and strive to honor Him in every situation we come in contact with. Obviously we will never achieve perfection, but the Lord gets glory from our pursuit, and our improvement makes temptation easier the next time. Admitting our failures and giving God the glory in our success are crucial to this playing out.

How do we help others understand these truths? Well, this is the tricky part. At the end of the day, we have to be in tune with the Spirit and live out our lives in a Godly manner and leave the results up to God. We can not make people live Godly lives, but we can be examples of how God can redeem by the way we live our lives. Although we can't provide outcomes, we can obey what the Lord tells us to do. One of the most important things we can do for our friends and family is to pray for them. Interceding on their behalf really does a lot. As a wise man always tells me, "prayer IS the work!". I wholeheartedly agree. This can also comfort us when we're disheartened because there don't seem to be any other options. While the results are sometimes easier to see when we encourage and live life with people who are going through a rough time, it is not always best. If it is welcomed, simply being there for people who are struggling and making sure they know they are loved can make a big difference in helping others believe that God is good. Encouraging them and showing them who the Lord is when they can't see Him is crucial, as well as pushing them in their personal Bible study and prayer, reminding them that His Word does not return void and when we call on Him, He will surely answer

Let me leave you with some verses that have been on my heart lately.

And we urge you, brother, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:14-22

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Ans we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:17-18

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, plans to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all of your heart.
Jeremiah 29:11-13

For sin will not have dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.
Romans 6:14

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7

Pray, people. Pray. There is nothing you can do to be more involved in helping others than to pray for them.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


On this Thanksgiving, I am overwhelmed with blessings and I don't even know where to start. I have certainly been blessed in the past, but only in this past year or so have I truly been able to see how God has blessed me and given me reasons to thank Him with all that I am. This year, I'm not thankful because I'm supposed to be thankful; I am thankful because of the overflow of this full heart of mine. So, on this Thanksgiving day, here is what I am thankful for:

I am thankful for my God. For His provision, His providence, His protection, and His redemption. For His forgiveness that I can't begin to comprehend. For Christ, whom He sent so I could be saved. For the fact that He has a better plan for me than I ever could ask or imagine. For the transformation He's doing in my life. For the blessings He gives and hard things He brings me through for His greater glory. For the fact that no pain or grief or sin is ever wasted, but He uses it and brings good from it. For the assurance of salvation... I am so happy I don't have to worry about where I will spend eternity.

I am thankful for my family. For the testimony we have as a family who didn't let hard things get them down, but kept pressing on and honored the Lord through it. For y'alls support in my crazy idea to go to Rome. For the love you show me even when I'm unlovable. For the fun I can have with you... y'all crack me up.

I am thankful for my friends. For the laughs. For the tears. For letting me be myself. I am blessed by your presence in my life. I couldn't have picked better friends. I don't know how you put up with me sometimes, but you do. You love me more than I deserve.

I am thankful for my 242 girls. Without you, I don't know where I would be. Y'all were there for me in the toughest times and are with me today. You know me inside and out, and still love me. You are the community everyone longs for but can't seem to find. I feel so at home with you, and love you dearly. And y'all make me die laughing. The inside jokes are innumerable, and I love it.

I am thankful for my leaders in the faith. For Lindsee, Dondi, Angie, Jessica, JJ, Mrs. Ina, Mrs. McKeand, Ms. Diane, Pastor Brian, Mr. G, Mr. Terry, Allison, Amy, Dave, Dana, Beth Moore, and others. For showing me how to serve the Lord with joy. For teaching me what it means to be a Christian. For being mature Christians I look up to and want to be like when I grow up. For investing into this nerdy, homeschooled, redhead's life. For supporting me and believing in me when I don't believe in myself. For speaking wisdom into my life continuously.

I am thankful for my teachers in school. Mom, Mrs. Money, Mr. Frazier, Mrs. Snow, and Mrs. Kapavik, just to name a few. For pushing me academically even when I didn't think I could do it. For helping me love learning and learn to appreciate the wonderful education I've been blessed with the opportunity of having. For helping me realize that God desires for us to learn and use our brains wisely.

I am thankful for the Word. For it's correction, reproof, and teaching. For the way God speaks to me through its words. For the fact that it is God-inspired and inerrant. For the blessing of having it in my own language and owning multiple copies.

I am thankful for technology. As annoying as it is sometimes, I am thankful to be able to communicate with people that are far away. For Skype that will become my best friend in Rome. For the convenience of so many things that were, at one time, so inconvenient. For the knowledge I am continuously absorbing (there's also countless junk I absorb, but let's concentrate on the positive, people!).

I am thankful for all of my material possessions. I have always had EVERYTHING I need and MANY of the things I want. I eat much more than 3 grains of rice a day. I have clean water readily accessible. I have never been without electricity (not even a need! People lived without it for hundreds of years!). I have tons of clothes, a home, and air conditioner (THANK the Lord for the air conditioner!).

I am thankful for my church. For the people who have loved me since I started coming to church as a baby. I've seen you grow in the Lord and it encourages me to grow along with you. For Greg, who has pushed me and stretched me and had faith in me and encouraged me to go out of my comfort zone to serve the Lord.

I am thankful for the opportunity to go to Rome. I want to learn to be more like Christ. I want to help the Elliott family obey what the Lord is doing. The desire of my heart is to serve God with every part of my life, and that includes where I decide to live and what I decide to do, not just how to go about my American dream with a Christian twist.

I am thankful for transformation. For the work God is doing in my life. For the grace He has given me despite who I am. That I don't have to stay where I am, but that God welcomes change in my life so I can be more like Him. I don't want to be who I was, but I want to continually be more God-honoring every day.

Hoping and praying you are able to remember things you are thankful for today! Would you share some things with me? Let's rejoice in each other's blessings!

Psalm 100
"Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's Just Hard

Life isn't all sunshine and roses. Everything that happens in life isn't always fun. Trials come, hardships are inevitable. Just as life isn't always easy, going to Rome isn't always easy.

Today I had my first run-in with opposition in my decision to go to Rome. To be honest, it pretty much stunk. People have asked questions and been interested in figuring out why I'm going, but they haven't told me directly that they think I'm making a big mistake. Maybe they're just being polite, but I sure am thankful!

My sweet mom got the brunt of it today, but she came home and told me and I was about in tears. And it wasn't long before they were full-fledged tears. Now, I understand that people are just trying to look out for my well-being and they're not deliberately trying to be discouraging or rude. They think they know what is best for me and want to voice their opinion. I am thankful for their thoughtfulness. Yet, in my frustration (mostly because I'm realizing my family and friends have to deal with all of it and not just me!) I am reminded that Jesus was mocked and ridiculed. It also reminds me that this is the reason I am serving God rather than men! If I was doing this for men's glory, I'd be continually discouraged and talked out of leaving. Because man's approval is the approval and acceptance I want, I am free to live as God calls me.

Life isn't always fun, but God makes it worth it. He make bad into good. He takes the hard times and turns them into joy. He turns opposition and ridicule into solidification that this is God's will for me. After all, if people understand exactly why I'm going, is that really faith? Is that really trusting God to lead me? I'm convinced it probably isn't.

Honestly, what I really don't understand about all of this is that, if God is calling me to serve Him in Rome, why do you feel the need to tell me not to follow Him? Christians (and I mean this VERY generally! I happen to know MANY people who are the complete opposite and encourage me, but it still happens.) tell the younger generation to love the Lord and follow Him in everything and don't worry about what other people are saying but as long as you're at peace with God about it then go for it, but we turn around with a plan and a direction where we believe God is leading us and what happens? It's too dangerous, it's too expensive, it's too this, too that. ISN'T THAT WHY WE HAVE A BIG GOD? I understand the need for safety (especially for minors under the care of their parents) and to be cautious and such, but didn't the disciples risk their lives for the sake of Christ? Wasn't Paul put in jail because He was following the Lord? And didn't God take care of them?! He most certainly did! AND He furthered His kingdom through it! Also, the Bible clearly command us "preach the Gospel to all nations" and tells us to "suffer for his sake" but we also can lean on the truth that He will take care of us! Even if I die in Rome (and I don't plan to and there's no reason I am led to believe I will... AT ALL!), isn't my life for the glory of God? If God brings me home for His glory isn't that all I care about? I, too, am often frightened by the unknowns of living life in another country but in the core of my being I know without the shadow of a doubt that the Lord will take care of me, and that's all I need. You are free to say whatever you want to about where God is leading me, but I am following Him with joy in the call He has placed on my life to follow where He leads and that's not negotiable.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Resurrection of the Blog

Why yes, I am still alive. I know, I know, it's hard to believe after this over-a-year-long blogging absence. Rest assured, I have been well.

Because of the recent development of my upcoming trip to Rome, Italy, I've decided to pick up the blog again (and because I've missed blogging and wanted to revive it a long time ago!). This will be a place for me to update on how the preparations for Rome are coming along and also just to write out what I am thinking/feeling in the process. I will also post prayer requests and financial support info. Once I get to Rome, I will be updating on my life there and let you in on what God is doing in and through me while I'm there. Because I like to think and write a lot, I will also be posting random things as I feel the need.

In a nutshell (in case anyone doesn't already know), I am leaving in January to go be a nanny for the Elliotts, a missionary family with Campus Crusade for Christ who have 4 kids. Because of the demand of 4 children (and the added stresses of living in a foreign country, like having to go to the market almost every day), they are in need of someone to help them with the kids and around the house so they are better able to concentrate on the most important things instead of being caught up in logistics. I am so excited about this opportunity to serve the Lord with my experience in working with kids!

First update: I bought my plane ticket to Rome this past week! I am leaving January 4th, and simply can't wait! The Elliott's are living in Houston at the moment and I will be able to fly back with them (versus flying back after they do). It didn't look like it was going to work out for me to be on the same flight as them, but the Lord provided and for that I am grateful! It was so surreal buying a flight to ANOTHER COUNTRY! For SIX MONTHS! When I was ready to press the purchase button, I just sat there for a few minutes to think about what I was doing. I had dreamed about that moment for years, and it was finally coming true. For the past few years I have been sensing a call on my life to international missions. How right it is that God gives us all gifts and abilities to serve Him. Although I never thought I'd be using my experience with kids to further the Gospel in Italy, God provided a way and I am thrilled to be a part of what He is doing in the world.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me a life of adventure in You! What a blessing it is to use the gifts you have given me to further the Kingdom!
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