Saturday, February 21, 2009

No Lying Sacrifice

So many people say they give their all.
So many people sing of sacrifice
Sing of surrender, leaving everything.
There’s nothing left of me, they say,
I’m holding nothing back.
I’ve given it all up to you.

And I look at them and wonder,
Not judging, but desiring understanding.
It seems a high thing to give one’s all.
How many people really have attained it?
Are they truly being honest
When they say those words?

Desire to surrender is a good thing,
Claim to have surrendered all
Seems dangerous unless the claim is truth.
Too many times I’ve sung those words,
While knowing there are things I’m holding back.

Genuine is my desire,
And God knows that I want to surrender
All I have to Him,
But while I’ve given Him my life to change,
Sometimes I see portions still I call my own
Despite the fact that I no longer own myself.

Yes, I am His.
But help me to be honest
When I see that there are things
I try to hold back,
Despite His claim on me and my surrender.

Don’t let me be like Ananias.
Before his offering his money was his own.
He was not forced to give to God,
But when he chose to give he needed to be honest.
He knew inside that he was holding back,
Yet claimed to have surrendered everything.
Why? Reputation, greed, appearances?

But only men are fooled by reputation
The offering was not to man, but God.
And heaven’s eyes not tricked saw through the farce,
For God sees hearts and inward thoughts.
He knows our plans before we even do.

Yes, we must give all our lives to Him who calls
Us to Himself that we may live,
And this is offering more valuable than money.
But if we are not really willing,
Lying only makes things worse.
We are made obstacles to our own desire to live.

Or when we have not really paid
The price we’ve claimed to pay—our lives,
Whom have we fooled?
We may try to lie to Him,
But He is truth.
Truth is not fooled by lies.

When I offer You myself,
Let me be genuine.
I want to be happy if you take me up on my offer.
Don’t let me give my life as a lying sacrifice.
Help me be honest before God and before man.

You were genuine when you offered Yourself to me.
You followed through.
Help me be like You.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I have so little motivation to blog lately. *sigh*
But I am writing...just not here. ;-)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Being happy when others obey God

Something I’ve been pondering for the past year or so is how to keep focusing on God and loving others even when I struggle with what God’s doing in their lives.

How do I react when a close friend goes on a several-month mission trip that doesn’t provide a lot of time/ability for them to keep in touch with me and I know they’re getting close to other people over there? What if a friend goes away to the college I wanted to go to? What if a friend feels that God is leading them to stop communicating with me for a season in order to give more of their time and focus to God?

I’m so grateful for all of these people and their obedience to God! But sometimes isn’t it hard to be genuinely happy about the practical aspect of others’ obedience and how it touches us?

When God leads our friends to make sacrifices that affect our own lives too, it’s hard. When I’ve encountered this kind of situation, it’s almost like I wasn’t expecting it –for their journey to touch my own sense of happiness and well-being in that manner.

It reminds me of something that upset me when I was little. I had a friend whose parents would punish her by canceling her playdate with me when she misbehaved. Her learning process was affecting my plans and pleasure. I never really thought that was a fair punishment (and still don’t) because of how it punished me, too, even if I’d been helping my mom get ready and clean for company.

But in a just way, even now there are times when the tests and learning experiences God brings to His other children touch me as well. It’s not usually that the other person is facing consequences for anything wrong they did. It’s just that sometimes when the path my friend is on takes a curve, my own nearby path takes a curve as well to accommodate the pathway being carved out for them. Ultimately, this direction is going to be used for my good as well, but that doesn’t always seem to be the case at first.

A Bible story God really used to teach me about this was the story of Abraham and Isaac. I wonder what Isaac must have felt when he found out that Abraham’s sacrifice was HIM. I’d imagine it must have been relatively easy to go out of his way to support his father on the journey before he realized that the journey could have a serious impact on his own life and future.

In a similar (but so much smaller!) way, it’s so much easier for me to support people in making sacrifices for God if those sacrifices don’t involve me or my happiness. I want my life to be a sacrifice to God, but when it feels like it’s other people sacrificing me and my desires it’s not so easy to be selfless. I’m not saying that we should let ourselves be abused by other people. I’m just saying that when God asks someone else to serve Him in a way that touches my emotions, affects my day, or puts a wrench in my own plans, I need to focus on God as the source of my joy and hope. There’s no excuse for me to be angry at other people for delivering to me an opportunity from God to seek Him and find my satisfaction in Him.

When the test and journey God has for one of my friends involves laying me down for a time, it’s not easy. Honestly, it can be such a struggle to keep the right attitude, not be angry at the other person, and not assume it means they just want to get rid of you. The first time I actually recognized this kind of thing for what it was, I still didn’t do so well with it. ;-) I’m obviously not capable of doing well in my own ability.

But God is a good teacher and He’s since given me more opportunities to learn and grow in this area (yay? ;-)) and to let Him keep me happy. I’m really trying to be consistently satisfied in Him even when other people don’t do exactly what I would have wanted them to do, though I still often fail and see my own weakness in this area.

There have been times when I’ve lost sight of the joy and contentment God was graciously giving me, but He keeps being so faithful to uphold with His word, speak encouragement, and remind me that He’s trustworthy.
Our lives are in good hands!
I’m so glad that His strength is perfected in our weaknesses and that He can bring glory to Himself as He enables us to do what we couldn’t do on our own.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Better Kind of Love

So, people say that when a person is in love they almost seem to be better because of it, to act different and improved and almost more worthily. When people look at me, can they see that I'm in love? Do they think that I'm acting differently than I used to act, since I fell in love with Jesus? If He's the One who really holds the power to help us change and become more beautiful, shouldn't this "natural" reaction that people sometimes observe as a result of human love be even more pronounced in those who are spiritually betrothed to the best One of all?

I want people to see that in my life. I don't want them to think those kinds of thoughts only once they know that I'm in love with someone special here on earth. I want them to think *now* that I keep seeming different than I used to be as a result of Jesus' love for me.

I want people to look at the One who loves me and think, "I might not have thought she was beautiful, and I might not have thought she was noble, but if HE thinks she's special, she must be."

To be honest, don't most of us want to have our pride upheld by other people thinking we must have been pretty awesome stuff to have nabbed our loved one? ;
Don't most of us imagine a guy so awesome that everyone will think, "Wow, she must be something else if she can get that kind of catch!"
We can subconsciously look at romance as a pride-booster, something to convince ourselves and others of our self-worth and desirability. ;-)

I don't want to be captive to the thought that I have to marry someone other people will look at and then esteem me for transient reasons rather than godly, long lasting reasons. We need to look for guys who are like Jesus, our heavenly Betrothed. Now, I'm sure that we'll all be quite attracted to whomever we marry. ;-) But maybe not everyone will look at them and think, "Wow, he is SO comely that I want to follow after him and start a fan club for him!" Just look at Hollywood if you want to be reassured that the world doesn’t know anything about true beauty and comeliness and its unfading power.

Wouldn't it be better for people to look at him and think, "Wow...he must be married to someone special, who Jesus really loves and who Jesus is turning into someone really beautiful even though she couldn't have been beautiful in her own strength"?

And when it comes right down to it, can't we find so much more satisfaction and joy in the fact that Jesus picked us than we ever can with regard to ANY earthly romance? That we are nothing without Him isn’t just a poetic love song—it’s truth.

Friday, February 8, 2008

When Others Do Things Better than We Do ;)

It’s hard to have someone come along and surpass me in skill!

Something that God’s been trying to teach me this year is that when I love like He loves, that love will cast out fear. See, it’s so easy for me to love in a self-centered way rather than in a way that shows that I care for other people more deeply than (or even as much as!) I do for myself. Yet to love like Christ means to love unselfishly. It means that I won’t be afraid of someone else doing better than me. This is the kind of love that will destroy my fear of being surpassed by others and that will make me willing to give Him my best even if someone else is capable of showing me up and making my efforts look pitiful. Isn't it usually really my own pride, in the first place, that's worried about how good I look in the eyes of others? ;-)

If I can only learn to love like Christ, my concern will be that God get as much glory as He possibly can. The gifts and abilities He’s given to the different children in His family aren’t so that we can surpass anyone. They’re to show that our God is unsurpassable. So if I become jealous and comparing, I need to remember the very purpose of the gifts that God’s given us—to bring glory to Him! Second Corinthians 10: 17-18 says, “But ‘he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’ For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”

It’s good to remember, too, that even when we *are* placed in a lower position, that doesn’t mean that God isn’t capable of raising us up in His timing or that He sees us as being of any lesser worth. God often uses our weaknesses to teach us humility. He says that His strength is made perfect in weakness! When we try our best, but fail to do as well as someone else, our own lack of human skill is such an opportunity for Him to teach us. He can show us more about Himself and use His strength to make us strong, often in ways that are so much more important than the outward displays of talent and ability that the world views with so much importance.

David is one of my favorite Biblical examples of someone who seemed to be more lowly than others (in this case his siblings), yet who was rewarded because of his heart. When Samuel tried to figure out whom he was to anoint as king, it appeared to Samuel that David’s brothers must surely be God’s anointed. But because of his heart, David was exalted. I love how his inward priority was Christ. I love how it still would have been Christ even if he’d been left tending the sheep in the field. The story of David is just a good reminder to me that man is often tempted to look at outward things that really are so unimportant compared to the heart. “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” I Sam. 18b

God doesn’t call us to compare ourselves with others. He just calls us to follow Him as steadfastly as we can and to bring Him glory in every way, but most of all by what’s inside our hearts that only He can ever fully see. We need to keep growing more like Christ so that we love more like He loves, realizing that we don’t need to be afraid of someone doing better than us even when we try our very hardest. He’s not afraid of it, and His opinion is what really matters! People, myself included, *will* look at outward accomplishments. This makes it hard not to judge my worth on what others value about me or think me to be, based on what they can see with their eyes. But our worth is in Christ, and when I struggle with being jealous or feeling incapable, I need to remember this. He is the one who makes us capable. It is before *God* that we stand or fall, not man, and it’s for Him that we labor, regardless of who seems to do a better job than we do. I’m just a vessel in great need of maturing and perfecting, but I know He can help us through this struggle!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Needed Faith Pep-talk ;)

So here’s the question:
What am I going to believe in?
Only the things that I think to be possible?
Or am I going to believe in the things that I think God is saying He wants to make possible?

Which of those options is more likely to be true?
It reminds me of how Susan and Peter didn’t believe that there could really be a Narnia until they believed that the one who told them about Narnia was no liar. If Edmund had been telling the truth instead of Lucy—that would be a first. And this would also be the first time that the arguments of my flesh and human mind wield greater truth than that which is spoken by my God.

God hasn’t proven to be wrong, but my understanding has been proven insufficient.

I don’t remember ever learning just how it could be possible for someone to come back to life, after being dead. But it happened.
I can’t figure out how the stars got up in the sky. But I see them every night.
I can’t quite grasp the fact that this world was around long before I was. But I know it was.
I don’t understand how something can come from nothing and how what was once dust can become living flesh. But here I am.

If only the things I can fathom could be true, I wouldn’t even be here.

So why is it, when it comes to believing God’s promises, that I falter?
I use the excuse that these things are too much for me to understand.
That something is difficult to understand doesn’t make it something to be tossed aside.
Such excuses don’t work very well when I’ve already been taught that understanding is not a prerequisite to believing.

I think that part of the reason I have trouble trusting is that I’m afraid to look like a fool.
Who wants to look like the pre-rain Noah?
Yet why should I care whether I look like a fool?
What does it matter?
Is it better to look like a fool for myself, or is it better to look like a fool for God?
If I don’t believe in what God promises, what kind of respect will that earn me anyway? Maybe I’ll hold onto the kind of respect that doesn’t last, but not the kind I desire.
If I didn’t mind looking like a fool, if I didn’t mind looking like a fool, if I didn’t mind looking like a fool, then I know what I would believe deep down in my heart about certain situations. So maybe I should stop acting foolishly and just start believing without apologizing for the fact that some of what I’m believing in doesn’t look too possible.

“Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender, without losing all control?
Fearless warriors and a picket fence. Reckless abandon wrapped in common sense.
Deep water faith in the shallow end. And we are caught in the middle, with eyes wide open to the differences—the God we want, and the God who is…
Somewhere between the boat and crashing waves…” (Casting Crowns)

If I can’t believe His Word, whose word can I believe?
And if I believe with all my heart that He is directing my life and that He is the voice behind me telling me the way to walk in, then what do I have to worry about? What can man do to me? Nothing. Nothing.

And if I’ve made mistakes, is He not able to see beyond them and fix them?

And if other people make mistakes or haven’t done what they’ve needed to do, do I need to be bitter and faithless or do I need to forgive and keep trusting? Other people can’t stop God from being true to me. They can’t stop me from walking in God’s promises; only I can. People might fail me at times. Sometimes I’ve counted on people and they haven’t done what I thought I needed them to do. Sometimes I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting to see how those other people would help bring to pass the promises I thought God had spoken.

But it really doesn’t matter if other people haven’t been everything I wanted them to be. For out of all the sinners I know, I am the worst. I have plenty of work to do on my own character, and maybe even what I view to be the wrongs of others are thorns in my own flesh to help me grow and to help shave down this log in my eye that keeps blocking me from correctly seeing things. I don’t know anyone else’s thoughts and doubts, but I do know that mine can certainly be pretty terrible.
I am called to trust God, and I am called to believe that even if those other people make mistakes and haven’t done what I was hoping they would do, God will be true even if it looks like trust is getting me nowhere. Other peoples’ actions are not more powerful than God’s promises, and other people cannot stop me from following Him with all of my heart.

What if Abraham hadn’t believed? What if he hadn’t passed the test? What if he hadn’t shown God that he loved Him more than he loved himself or anyone else?
But he passed the test! He believed that death was not as powerful as God’s promises. He knew beyond a doubt what God had promised him, and when it looked like God was threatening this promise, he kept on believing that God would be true, even if it required that God raise up Abraham’s son from the dead in order to keep His word.

NOTHING is too hard for God. Nothing is impossible for God. Nothing is too difficult for God. Nothing is beyond God’s abilities. No difficulty is beyond God’s comprehension. No problem is beyond God’s fixing abilities. No mistake is beyond God’s redemption. No trial is beyond God’s grace. No battle is too big for Him to protect us within it. No storm is too hard for Him to stop. No sorrow is unable to be reached by God’s joy. No struggle is unable to be touched by His peace. No mountain is too hard for Him to climb. No valley is too deep for Him to reach into. No gift is too hard for Him to give. No person is too hard for Him to change. No spark is too small for Him to blow into flame. No life is too short for Him to use. No person is too unimportant for Him to choose. No giant is too hard for Him to kill. No fear is too big for Him to conquer. No enemy is too wily for God to ensnare. No mind is beyond God’s changing. No chain is too thick for Him to break.
No promise is too hard for Him to keep!
Nothing is impossible with God!

I don’t care if His promises are too hard for me to bring about. (okay, maybe I do care, but that means I need to work on it ;D) Why should that matter, when He can do anything? His strength is made perfect in my weakness! His grace is sufficient for me! He won’t withhold from me anything that is truly good for me, even difficult circumstances and lessons that need to be learned.

And even if sometimes I turn out to be wrong about what I really believe is His way, isn't it better to live a life that walks by faith despite the fact that I am but humanity?

He is too wonderful for me.

“Giver of every breath I breathe, Author of all eternity. Giver of every perfect thing, to You be the glory. Maker of heaven and of earth, no one can comprehend Your worth. King over all the universe, to You be the glory. And I am alive because I’m alive in You. It’s all because of Jesus I’m alive. It’s all because the blood of Jesus Christ covers me and raised this dead man’s life.” (Casting Crowns)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Humble Friendship

A couple of weeks ago, I was thinking about my attitude about friendship and relationships (almost a trite topic, eh? ;-)).

I realized that I don't necessarily enjoy the fact that being looked upon as "just a friend" in some sense seems to delegate me to a lower position in the affections of others. Isn't it true that when certain people express disinterest about considering more than friendship, we can feel "not good enough" or "less qualified" ? To be treated as no more important than any other, to take the lowly position--this can be difficult.

In a sense, though, doesn't this seem to be a struggle between grateful humility and selfish ambition? When it really comes down to it, isn't it so much better to be called up, to be summoned to a higher position not because we were striving to please others, but because other people recognize Christ within us as we let our focus rest on Him rather than on impressing others? Because I'm a girl who appreciates it when men are the initiators of advancing relationships from friendship to romance, I have a great opportunity contentedly be a servant in relationships, without needing to try to gain a higher position for my own self. (if only I always were faithful to use the opportunity! ;-)) The goal doesn't need to be to draw attention to myself or to climb to higher places in my own strength because of my own desires. In relationships and in every area of life, too often when we seek positions in our own strength we see that the consequence is being delegated to a low position in the end.

It reminds me of the parable in Luke 14, in which Jesus admonishes us not to seek the high positions for ourselves, since when we do so, we only put ourselves in danger of being publicly humiliated and humbled. It's better to be content with humility in the first place and to be exalted in due time.
"For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be
exalted.” (verse 11)

I'm not saying that once we're content with friendship, we'll automatically be exalted to the position of marriage. ;-) All I'm really saying is that right now we all have different opportunities to rejoice in the positions God has called us to. Since what He's called me to today is friendship and Christ-like agape love, rather than human romance, I've got the chance to be joyful in this state. Friendship is a great gift, and while sometimes we may desire more, if we don't give thanks even when we're in a more humble state in man's affections, we won't really be fit to be exalted. Anyway, no matter how humble our positions ever are here on earth--whether our humble places be in the realm of our jobs, relationships, or any other area of life--none of that really matters so much when we consider the fact that we're never in a low place in the affections, concern, and thoughts of the God of the universe.

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; When I awake, I am still with You. Ps. 139

I don't know if I could really ask for anything better than this--to know that God's thoughts towards me are more than the sands of the sea, and that He's with me and thinking of me wherever I am, whether I am humbled or exalted!

"I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:11b-13

That's the kind of attitude I want to have.
No matter what state I'm in, I want to be content and to remember that my strength is in Christ. Yesterday I needed His strength. Today I needed His strength. Tomorrow I'll need His strength. In the humble positions I need His strength. In the exalted positions I need His strength. In friendship I need His strength. If I marry, I'll need His doubt about it. ;-)

May we always be humble in every place He takes us.
May we never exalt ourselves, but do all for His glory alone.
May we find joy in His loving wisdom as He brings us through different seasons! =D