4.30.2011

Preparing for Prince Charming - Fulfilled in Jesus (Vlog post!)

Hello wonderful people of the internet. :)
I decided to make this one into a vlog.
I hope you enjoy because it took me quite a while to make it just right. ;)

Oh and for all you guys: You may want to watch this one as well.



Other parts of the "Preparing for Prince Charming" Series:
Introduction
Who is She? - It Begins with Surrender
Modest is Hottest!

4.28.2011

Hello Somebody

 
I found out about this cool website, called HelloSomebody.

It's a non-profit organization that helps to feed and provide for starving people around the world! They have several Christian artists supporting by partnering with them including but not limited to: Group 1 Crew, The Rocket Summer, The Almost and Kari Jobe.

These artists and more made a collab CD with a total of 9 songs, one by each artist. This CD sells for $11.00, if you buy it, you'll help feed 100 people! They also have a few t-shirts, accessories and things that if you buy, you will be helping to feed 100 (or more) people.

You can check it out by clicking here:
http://www.hello-somebody.com/index.php

What if He came back today?

What if He came back today? What would He find you doing?
 
Would He find you serving others in need? Would He find you reading His word joyfully? Would He find you sharing the good news?
 
Or would He find you sitting on Facebook mindlessly clicking through meaningless things? Would He find you as a couch potato, losing hours on movies that are merely garbage and unedifying to your spiritual walk? Or perhaps He might even find you in the middle of sin, some sin that you continually put as priority over Him.

Today I came across a link on a website, which shared a poll about Jesus coming back. Many American's, a total of 41%, expect Jesus to return by the year 2050.

With reading that my heart jumped, what if Jesus comes back in my lifetime?
It's exciting, it's scary, it's motivating and also very challenging.
Would Jesus be pleased with what I am currently doing for His kingdom if He came back today?
Would He be pleased with you?

A couple weeks ago when I was reading in the Gospel of Luke, I came across a familiar passage when Jesus is talking to some spies who had come to question Him. I found this passage interesting and wanted to blog about it in some way... and now I finally found my opportunity. :)

Check out the passage:

Luke 20: 20-26
 "20 Keeping a close watch on him, they sent spies, who pretended to be sincere. They hoped to catch Jesus in something he said, so that they might hand him over to the power and authority of the governor. 21 So the spies questioned him: “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach what is right, and that you do not show partiality but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. 22 Is it right for us to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”
 23 He saw through their duplicity and said to them, 24 “Show me a denarius. Whose image and inscription are on it?”
   “Caesar’s,” they replied.
 25 He said to them, Then give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
 26 They were unable to trap him in what he had said there in public. And astonished by his answer, they became silent."

The main concept I want you to get out of these verses is verse 25, which I put in bold.
Give back to God what is God's. What exactly does that mean?

Did you realize that time is God's? God created you and gave you life in this world. He planned the steps you would take and the number of days you have to live. Taking that into consideration, it is only by God's grace and mercy that you are still breathing at this very moment. God has given you a certain amount of time (which is but a mere handbreadth), and He expects you to use it wisely.

Which brings me back to the original point of my post - What if Jesus came back today?
Are you spending your time wisely?

I know that we all have a lot of things going on in our lives, constantly. We all have plans and things we want to do. It's very easy to get distracted and simply forget that Jesus could return at any moment. But God has given us this life for a reason, and it wasn't so that it may be wasted on mindless, meaningless things. It was so that we may glorify Him, that we may do things for Him and His incredible and perfect Kingdom.
 
When I think about how much time I have wasted on stupid things, how much time I have wasted on Facebook, movies, or just being lazy in general, it makes me feel disappointed with myself. I want Jesus to be pleased with me, I want Him to constantly be glorified through the words and deeds that I do. I hope you want that too!

One thing I know for certain is that Jesus IS going to return. He is definitely coming back.
What will He find you doing?

4.26.2011

Okay, this video is awesome!

I pretty much love the Ludy's and any of the stuff they make/write/produce/anything!!
I feel like a copy cat because a couple of my friends have been passing this video around but I'm going to post it anyway, because I can. :) ENJOY!

4.24.2011

Never Going Back to OK

Have you forgotten? I know some people have, actually a lot of people.
Why do we forget? Why do we forget something so powerful, so beautiful?

I feel like so many people either take the Gospel for granted or they underestimate it. Why?
Have we forgotten the freedom and the power in knowing Jesus? We say we believe Him, we say we trust in Him, but do our actions match up?

Why are we living in fear?
Why are we living in sin?
Why are we living in pain?
Why are we letting the world bog us down when we have Jesus to lift us up?

Jesus didn't die so we can stay the same, He died so that we may be changed, that we may be free.
So often we make His suffering on the cross a joke, we don't appreciate the gravity of the situation.
Jesus died, He DIED! He died so we could be free, He died so we can find and know real joy, that we may have hope and true life.

So often we live as if that's just a story in the Bible, or some nice sounding concept or idea.
But it's not just some story and it's not just some concept or thing that happened.
It's truth! It's power! It's beautiful!
We get upset when we feel like God isn't listening to us, or that we're stuck in some dismaying predicament. We expect God to act yet we have zero faith in Him! Where has our faith gone? Where did our trust disappear to? How can we be so double minded?

Friends, fellow followers of Jesus, do you REALLY believe what Jesus says? Do you REALLY trust in His promises? In His truth? In His steadfast love? In His unchanging ways?
Or are you underestimating who He says He is? Are you doubting the God who created you, who knows you better than you know yourself, the God that would die for you, even while you hated Him?

Please don't forget. Please don't forget the power that comes through Jesus when knowing Him.
If you're stuck in sin, through Jesus you can get out! You can have the strength to overcome! (1 Corinthians 10:13)
If you're trapped by fear, through Jesus you can get out! Jesus is our Perfect Love and He can take away that fear and replace it with power, love and discipline.(2 Timothy 1:7)
If you're overwhelmed with guilt, and you feel you cannot be made new - you are wrong! Jesus died so the old self could be done away with and that we could live in the freedom of that.(2 Corinthians 5:17)
If you're confused, sad, hurting, even if your heart is broken, Jesus is the answer.  (Romans 8:28, Psalm 34:18, Psalm 55:22, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Jesus suffered all things, He suffered through ALL things! He took our place, He took all the weight of the world upon His shoulders. He is victorious! Oh! How greatly I desire for you to know and understand this truth, Jesus is alive. Jesus is working! He is not dead, He was not just active in the Bible, but He is today.
O Christian, why so little faith?

He can do incredible things, He still does incredible things! But you need to trust Him.
If you just trusted Him, what could He do with you? Where could you go? What could He use you for?
I refuse to believe that my God is weak, that He is dead, or that He cannot work through tough situations. Come on people! It's God we're talking about! Don't water down the power of God. Who would want a God who was weak, who couldn't save us, anyway? Surely not I. Could He even be called God then?
I've tasted the goodness of my Lord, and I know that He is faithful, that He is incomparable.

I'm never going back to "ok", I've had enough of having little faith, and a doubting mind.
I am going to take the "risk" and really believe and trust in the words of God! I am going to know that God can take any situation in my life, any problem, any uncertainty or pain, and use it for something glorious. Rise up Christians, and have faith in the God that died for you, that is still working and alive today!

He is the God that protected Noah in the flood, the same God that parted the Red Sea. He is the same God who enabled David to defeat Goliath, and protected Daniel in the lion's den. Yeah! That's the God I want to believe in, trust in, have faith in and know! Not a weak, wavering, God like we make Him out to be. So what is God to you? All powerful, sovereign, righteous and holy? I sure hope so.

By the way, Happy Easter!
Christ is risen... He conquered the grave... He is my King. Is He yours?

4.21.2011

Preparing for Prince Charming - Modest is Hottest

It was only a few years ago that you would have found me in a bikini during the summer. I remember my Dad always "getting on my case" about my swimsuits. And on the outside I would try to brush it off, but on the inside, I would be frustrated. "Why does he always have to bring it up? Who cares what I wear!"

For the most part, swimsuits were the only area where I really dressed immodestly. My parents had set up standards of how short my shorts could be, or how low my shirts could be. For the most part, I abided by these rules, though inside, I had a bit of jealousy of girls for the things that I was not permitted to wear. "But they're SO CUTE, is it really that big of a deal?"

Somewhere between the ages of 14 and 15, I suddenly changed my mind. It was probably by the grace of God. Suddenly, I was no longer comfortable with wearing bikini's. I no longer had a desire to wear short shorts, or scandalous tank tops. In fact, since then I've grown more passionate and honestly, slightly irritated with those who profess to know Christ, but their clothing says otherwise.

You can tell a lot about a girl by the things she wears. It shows whether or not she really cares for her brothers in Christ, it shows whether or not she truly respects her body. It shows whether or not she agrees with God's standard. It can show where her heart is truly at.

There have been times when I am so perplexed at how a girl, who I know is not worldly or at least I don't think she is, dresses immodestly! For me, it's really discouraging.
So with a mix of frustration, irritation and discouragement, I decided that bringing up modesty would be important!

Why is modesty important?

Like I mentioned earlier, your wardrobe speaks volumes about where your heart is at. It shows whether or not you truly treat your body as a temple of Christ and if you put your brothers in Christ above your own desires in regards to clothing.

Let me just be honest with you ladies.

Let's say it's God's will for me to get married, that means my husband is out there somewhere. And guess what? I'm sure he sees girls and perhaps a little too much skin. You know what that means? That means my husband is seeing a little too much of your body, and you know what, I'm not too happy about that. It goes both ways, not only is my husband seeing parts of your body, but every other guy is seeing parts of your body, how do you think your future husband might feel about that? Are you truly loving your future husband by what you wear?

Please don't try to justify it by saying: "Well it's not my fault that guys look at me. It's their problem."
There are so many things wrong with that. It's no wonder they look at you, especially when you have half of your body on display. On top of that, if you truly love God and the decrees of God, then you should also love your brother's in Christ, and would at least try to understand the difficulty it is for guys because they think differently than us.

Another important thing - We all want a mighty, valiant, and Jesus loving Prince Charming, don't we? Do you think you're attracting guys who fit that description by what you wear? Do you think that a guy who truly loves and is devoted to Jesus would want a girl who flaunts or shows off her body? I should hope not!

Don't get me wrong - I understand the difficulty in dressing modest. I know there are a lot of trends out there that don't teach modesty, but let me remind you: If you truly love God and desire to glorify Him in all things, then modesty is included in this as well. If we want to love God and serve Him, then we have to let go of our sinful desires that tell us it's okay to dress immodestly, or that it's not our problem if guys stumble.

Man's word alone is not enough though, here's what the Bible says:

"..in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but which is proper for women professing godliness with good works,”
1 Timothy 2:9-10

“As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.
Proverbs 11:22

"Let us not judge one another anymore but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.”

Romans 14:13

Remember, modesty goes beyond skin deep. In fact, modesty is an attitude of the heart. If you truly are satisfied in Christ, then you will be fulfilled enough to not have concerns about trying to display your body for attention or "love" from guys.

I think a problem that we have as girls in regards to dressing modestly is that we think guys don't appreciate it, or that it really doesn't make a difference. But, you're wrong, I promise! There are many guys out there who appreciate a modest girl. Here are what a few of these guys had to say:

"Modest girls are always more pretty to me than immodest girls. An immodest girl might be really pretty but her actions are ugly and they cancel out her natural beauty, making her ugly. A modest girl is pretty not only in looks but in actions and deeds and that is the type of girl I like to be around."
(Age 13)

"As a Christian guy, modesty is SO attractive. I don't mean attractive in a lustful way, but that to see a girl living out God's standards in her life really is beautiful. And you have no idea just how much you would be helping your Christian brothers by being modest. We're not trying to blame you for our impurity, that's between us and God, but you can do so much to encourage and help us in our battle by being modest."
(Age 16)

"It means SO MUCH! It's not just that we respect you more, there is even an attraction to girls who dress modestly. I don't want to marry someone who is dressed immodestly all the time. I want to marry someone who I've noticed dresses modestly and has a concern for modesty. Don't ever think that it goes unnoticed. Guys notice, and guys are so grateful."
(Age 17)

"Dearest sister: God made you a thing of beauty. A thing to be admired and respected. When you dress or act in a way that draws attention to your body, you make it easy for the guys around you to reduce you to the level of a disgusting toy - using you to mentally satisfy their fantasies. They stop thinking about your Godly qualities and immerse themselves in sinful thought. By dressing and acting modestly, you draw attention to your face instead of your body. Your body may be alluring, but your face - those deep, mysterious eyes and smiling mouth - is infinitely more beautiful than any amount of revealing dress. Would you rather be the tool by which guys satisfy themselves or the beautiful thing God created you to be, pure for your husband? My flesh prefers the former, but my heart pleads for the latter."
(Age 17)

"As Christian girls, I'm sure that there is a lot of pressure from the world that in order to look attractive you have to dress immodestly. I would just like to say that as a guy, I find it far more attractive to see a girl, modestly dressed because that is making a very positive statement about her character. Guys who think that you have to dress immodestly to look good, are guys who probably aren't interested in anything besides your looks. So I would like the girls to know that modesty is very attractive and more than that, it is a way to bring glory to God through your appearance."
(Age 21)

Now wouldn't you want a guy who says that rather than a guy who tries to tell you or tries to make you feel that you have to dress immodestly to be good enough, beautiful or even worthy of love?

All quotes came from the Modesty Survey. The Modesty Survey was designed and created by Alex and Brett Harris, writers of "Do Hard Things" and younger twin brothers of Joshua Harris, writer of "I Kissed Dating Good-bye" and "Dug Down Deep". The survey is actually really neat and has helped me a bit with my own wardrobe. They took a survey of a few thousand Jesus loving guys, from all ages and all over the country. The guys were asked a series of questions relating to clothing and whether it's modest. The guys could respond with "Strongly Agree", "Agree", "Neutral", "Disagree", or "Strongly Disagree".

I highly encourage you to check out this survey and hopefully let it edify you and your wardrobe!

You can check it out by clicking HERE! When the site comes up, just click on one of the categories to see the questions guys were asked, their response and scroll down to see their own personal comments about the topic.

Remember girls, modest is hottest! :)

Notes:
I wanted to say that I understand being modest is hard. With my change in wardrobe in regards to my bathing suit, I received some highly discouraging comments from people, even in my own family. This can be very discouraging. No one ever said being a Christian and living devoted to God would be easy, in fact, it requires making many sacrifices. But I want you to know that it's so worth it to know that through my modesty, I am making a bigger difference then one may think. Not only am I pleasing God but I am enabling and helping to aid guys to remain pure in their thoughts and deeds. To me, this is encouraging and is worth far more than any one article of clothing, or even the world's opinion of me. Please know that you're not alone in your journey of modesty!

Also, I'm sorry I neglected to make a post last week, as a result, I will be making two posts this week. I will have another one up by the end of this week hopefully.

Other parts of the "Preparing for Prince Charming Series"
Preparing for Prince Charming - Introduction
Preparing for Prince Charming - Who is She? (Surrending your love story to God)

4.20.2011

I'm in awe...

Today I received a check in the mail for my mission trip.
Let's just say, before I opened it I still had a little over $900 to raise.
After opening it, I no longer have any more to raise.

I'M GOING TO ECUADOR!!

I'm just amazed right now.
I can't even comprehend God's goodness towards me.
"For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does."
Psalm 33:4

4.19.2011

Can anyone hear me!?

"We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” 

 Let me ask you this: When you're in a conversation with someone, are you more interested in hearing their thoughts/opinions/struggle/etc or are you only thinking about what you're going to say next? Are you prideful in the way you listen?


Maybe you've never actually thought about it before. Recently it has bothered me when I feel like a person is not actually paying attention to another person speaking. In fact, some people are really only interested in hearing themselves speak. I bet some of you reading know exactly what I'm talking about and quite honestly, it drives me insane! But I'm glad it does, because it has made me question my listening skills as well as motivate me to listen more and speak less.

Like any other time I wonder about something, I then wonder what God has to say about it. So what does God have to say about listening? Check out these verses:

"He who answers before listening--that is his folly and his shame."
Proverbs 18:13

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,"
James 1:19

Now the first verse (Proverbs) can mean a variety of things, it could be answering a person before they finish (interrupting); it could be planning out your response before the other person even finishes, or it could be simply saying things carelessly or without really thinking. And God thinks all these things are a man's folly or you could even say, stupidity as well as shame. Furthermore, with the backing of James 1:19, clearly God's intent was for a person to listen to another individual, to understand and to then respond! Often we get the order a bit backwards.

What if I talk too much?
For me, there is something really unappealing for a person who talks too much or a person who speaks things carelessly. Something in me just says: There's something wrong with this picture.
However, I would admit that there probably has been times when I've talked far more than I should, and I regret that. Perhaps you struggle a bit with this too - If you do, I would highly encourage you to be a bit more thoughtful in your speech and to think first and then speak. When a person speaks too often, I think words that are not so pleasing to God are more apt to slip out. By being more thoughtful about your speech, then you're more likely to have conversations that are more glorifying and pleasing to God.

"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."
Proverbs 10:19

"Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few."
Ecclesiastes 5:2

What if I don't listen enough?

 A way to show you really care about someone is by listening to them, and if you're not listening or paying attention to what they think, then perhaps you really don't care as much as it appeared. Something that has really made me want to listen to others is feeling the frustration of not being listened to. We all want to be listened to, don't we? It might be a good idea to remember that, and then provide the same respect by listening just as much, if not more, to others (kind of like the golden rule) as you would want them to do to you.
It's important to note that listening is somewhat of a skill. It takes practice and effort to truly and completely listen to a person. But if you work at it and be selfless by saying no to the flesh and yes to the spirit, listening will become easier and even more of a habit.
Like anything else, the sinful nature within us desires that we be heard, ultimately that everything is about us. NEWSFLASH: It's not. It's all about Jesus. :) It may be a sacrifice to restrain speech and maintain open and listening ears, but it's so worth it, and in the end, is glorifying and pleasing to God!

"A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered."

Proverbs 17:27

4.18.2011

A little apology. :)

I wanted to apologize for my lack in substance in my recent posts.
It was starting to bug me honestly.
And then a great friend of mine, mentioned it too, in a nice way. :)
(Thank you friend, and you know exactly who you are!!)

So I just wanted to say that my next few posts this week will be.... EPIC! LIKE NEVER BEFORE!
Okay, well I take that back because now I'm afraid I'll disappoint you. But they will still be God's truth, so who is to say what is epic or not epic if it's of Godliness?

:)

4.17.2011

Surprise!

 Today we had a surprise 80th birthday party for my wonderful and adorable, Grandma!
What a shock it was to her!
I had the honor and joy of being asked to say the 'blessing' for the meal! What a wonderful time it was!


I honestly don't know my Grandma that well, considering she lives a couple states away from me (if only she lived closer)! But I've realized that with some people, you don't even really have to know them, to know that they are certainly amazing people. She is one of them. So thank you Grandma, whether you ever read this or not. :)
YUMMY!


My (only) two nieces, hahaha

The peeps!


GRANDMA! Making a wish :)

Happy birthday Grandma.. :)

We got a family shot.. though by this time
half of my siblings had left so yeah. :(

My admirable Grandma and me. :)
P.S. I'm not a giant, just an FYI. That's just what happens when you wear heels.
"Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained by a righteous life."
Proverbs 16:31

4.16.2011

Underground Worship

Light is scarce in this darkness, with only gleaming streaks of light shining from their flashlights. The cement floor is cold, but the hearts are warm, warmed by the love of Jesus. Huddled together, upon the cement floor is a group of devoted and thriving Christians. They are in hiding, because what they are doing isn't safe. They are risking their life. Risking it all for Jesus. At any moment, the police could burst in, take them all under arrest, or worse, kill them. Yet despite their risk, they are singing loudly, taking the risk of being heard, because they know that their Jesus is greater than any man, or what any man could do to them. They are part of the underground church.

This happens daily in countries like China, where people are not allowed to be professing Christians, so they meet secretly. Risking their life, their family, everything, all because they love Jesus more than they love themselves.

Yesterday (Friday) and today, part of my youth group partook in 30 Hour Famine. (I made a post earlier this week about it, if you'd like to, you can read about it HERE!)We began fasting yesterday at 12:30pm, and finished around 6:30 this evening. It was an incredible experience, as always. Last night, we had our very own "Underground Worship", and I have to say I loved every bit of it. It was amazing. There were around 21 of us huddled together in one of the cold, cement floor storage rooms in the bottom of our church. All we had was our flashlights, our Bibles, sheets of music, and my youth pastor playing his guitar. We would sing songs, and share our favorite scriptures in between. The worship was simply beautiful - I could feel the Holy Spirit working in the hearts of the people in the room.  There was nothing quite like it, nothing I've ever experienced. It opened my eyes a bit more to the experiences people over in other countries have, the people that are professing Christians, and are risking it all in order to gather together and worship Him. There was a moment in between singing stanzas when my youth pastor said, "Would you be willing to risk it all?" It's a powerful yet thought-provoking question.

It means giving up everything. It means being put out in the spotlight for all to see, it means risking being beaten and persecuted, it means risking going to jail, it means risking losing your family, it means risking all that you have physically. Everything.

There are people in various countries who face this situation everyday, yet they are faithful.
You are able to have youth group, small groups, Bible studies, church on Sundays, everything, yet how many of us are as truly faithful as those people - Those people who are risking it all?
Isn't it ironic that those people, despite their circumstances, are far more in love with Jesus than most "Christians" in America are?
So, what about you?  How much do you love Jesus? Would YOU be willing to risk it all?

4.14.2011

The Cupcake Rap

Last time you saw me, I was talking about blueberry muffins. This time, I'm rapping (with someone special) about cupcakes.
Enjoy. :)

4.13.2011

Leaving Eden

I went to Wally World (aka Wal-Mart) today and nearly spazzed out when I saw they had Brandon Heath's newest CD, Leaving Eden. So far, I gotta say I love it.

Here's one of the songs, entitled It's No Good to Be Alone. For some reason, this song makes me want to break out maracas and a sombrero, hahah. Maybe it's just me, but I sense some Mexican feel to it. Check it yo!

4.12.2011

Worms Are Not Welcome Here

Today I had the joy of getting together with my best friend. We went around her neighborhood raising funds for 30 Hour Famine. (You can check out 30HrFamine by clicking HERE!)

30 Hour Famine is done through World Vision and in its simplest form, it is done to catch a glimpse at what poor and starving people, mainly children, are going through around the world. Check out these facts:

  • Every day, nearly 8,000 kids under the age of 5 die because of hunger-related causes. That's one child every 10 seconds.
  • One in six people will go to bed hungry tonight. The odds are worse for kids living in poor countries - they have one in three chance of going hungry.
  • 1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day.
30 Hour Famine is an awesome event that I have taken part in the past two years, making this year my third. My youth group holds the event each year around this time in April. In fact, my church has been participating in it for a total of three years (this being our fourth), and so far we have raised over $16,000! Isn't that amazing? I can't imagine how many children we have helped to feed!
For the event, we fast for 30 hours, beginning this Friday at noon, and then we meet at church around 6pm, we form "tribes", play group games, have lessons, last year we had an incredible prayer time, AND we sleep outside in cardboard boxes! To top it all off, when the 30 hours are up on Saturday evening, we get to enjoy a delicious meal of rice and beans! It's an amazing event and experience - I highly encourage you to check it out and perhaps hold the event at your church!
Despite the unsettling facts I listed above, I personally find joy in knowing that even though I'm just a young 17 year old girl in America, my fundraising and participation in this event is raising awareness and also providing for these people and children around the world! Every $30 I raise goes to feed and care for one child for one month. AMAZING!
30 Hour Famine is actually this coming Friday and Saturday, so I will probably post again about that sometime later. :)

Furthermore, while she and I were doing our door knocking, we had the joy of being out in the wonderful rain. It was quite a fun (and wet) experience, haha.

My best friend made a comment though, saying about how we are "washed" by God, in the sense of being cleansed. Right as she said this, I happened to notice another worm on the ground, flooded out of its home by the rain.

AND THEN, like usual, I had an epiphany, an analogy suddenly came to mind, like it always does. :)

YUCK! See the importance in being cleansed daily by God?
What is the whole purpose of being cleansed by God? It is to be rid of sin, rid of anything that is not pleasing to God, it refines us, it makes us more Christ-like. Seeing the worm made me realize that that's what happens to our sin in some sense. When God cleanses us, the "worms" or sin, come out. So, are you currently preserving any worms? If so, you should probably think about being cleansed of them. :)

"Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water."
Hebrews 10:22

And on top of ALL of that, I'm pleased to say that so far, I have raised over 60% of the money I need for my mission trip to Ecuador this coming June/July. (If you haven't heard about this awesome trip I'm going on, you can check it out by clicking here!) Praise God! He is so faithful. :) Please continue to keep me, this mission trip, and Ecuador in your prayers!

Ah, it's been a long, rainy, wet, BUT also a joyful, exciting and encouraging day. :)
To calm things down, I'll leave you with this peaceful song by Jon Foreman!


4.09.2011

Thriller!

I thought this video was so funny and creative! Someday, when/if I have a wedding, I hope someone does something crazy like this! ENJOY!

4.08.2011

The Man Behind the Scenes

Stephen Colbert
Earlier today my brother and I were talking about the fairly well known comedian, Stephen Colbert. He hosts a show on Comedy Central entitled The Colbert Report. It could be said that his show is similar to Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O'Brien, etc. Except Colbert's show has a more political twist to it.

My brother likes him quite a bit and finds him unbelievably hilarious. Personally, in my opinion, he does make some funny jokes, though I wouldn't recommend his show. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive." (1 Corinthians 10:23) While it may be funny, it doesn't mean it's really worth your time to watch or for that matter, glorifying to God to watch (though, the subject of glory will come in handy later ;)). Nevertheless, my post isn't about whether or not you should watch Stephen Colbert!
The conversation with my brother went a little something like this:


Me: "Is everything Colbert says improv?"
Bro: "Oh no, he reads most of it from the teleprompter. Though his interviews are usually improv."
Me: "Does he write all of what he reads from the teleprompter then?"
Bro: "Of course not, he has writers. Though I'm sure a good bit comes from Colbert."
Me: "So you mean he's not even the creator of a lot of his content?"
Bro: "Yep, there's always a man behind the scenes who never gets the credit deserved."

There's always a man behind the scenes who never gets the credit deserved? That sounds strangely familiar.

It made me think of God, "the man behind the scenes". We know that God orchestrates everything according to His perfect will and plan. Along with this, He uses us as part of the process in executing these plans. It made think that we're almost like Colbert, reading from a teleprompter, words and ideas that are not truly our own, but come from a greater source.

See what I mean?

No matter what we do, or say, or accomplish, all of it truly belongs to God. He IS that "man behind the scene". While God may let us play a role or fulfill certain parts of His master plan, ultimately, all the credit and glory is due to Him. He is the creator, the inventor, the designer, the coordinator. He designs the perfect script upon the teleprompter of our lives, which we follow and fulfill, assuming we are fully dedicating our lives to Him, and being a living sacrifice so that Christ may reign in us.

May this be a reminder to you, that God is the one who deserves ALL the credit, ALL the glory. For you and I, are only little pieces of His entire picture which He so mercifully and lovingly allowed us to take part in.
Not only remember where the credit goes and belongs to, but be thankful that God has been so gracious to let us join in on this Heavenly joy. :)

 "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
1 Corinthians 10:31

4.05.2011

Preparing for Prince Charming - Who Is She?

She's young and in love with a boy. Completely caught up in a storm of emotion and feelings never felt before. Her mind and heart are consumed by this. Her love for God is fading quickly. Her priorities are rearranging. God is slowly being lowered on her list. She's stuck in sin, in lust, in idolatry. She is slowly more disrespected by this boy, and eventually disrespects herself and the boy in return. She has momentary satisfaction, but no secure joy is present. She feels a void, one that this "love" cannot ever seem to fill. The relationship has taken a sudden turn for the worse. It has ended. She's broken and feels despair. The promises made to her have been broken. Her planned out future is now crushed and quickly fading. She gave away so much emotionally, so much spiritually and physically. "What love is this?" her heart cries out. "That he would not love me so?"

Who is she?

She's young and in love with Jesus. Continually reminded of His love and grace, of His patience and mercy. She is consumed by His goodness and faithfulness, willing to give up everything for her King and Lord. Her love for God is growing rapidly, like never before. Her priorities are rearranging. God is becoming her number one, her all in all. She is fleeing from sin, she is finding freedom through the strength of God. She is respected, and respected by herself. She is understanding what true joy looks and feels like. She is discovering the treasures, eternal treasures, offered by Christ. She does not feel any void, but rather, she is whole and complete because of her Prince, Jesus. Day by day, her relationship with Jesus grows brighter and brighter, deeper and deeper. She trusts in her promise-fulfilling Savior, knowing that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. She no longer plans her steps, but rather, let's the Master Planner be her guide. She has let go of her dreams, her desires, and has placed them at the foot of the cross, so that she may accept whatever plans Jesus has created for her while letting go of her own. She has given away all of her heart, all of her mind, body, and spirit as a living sacrifice to her forever faithful Jesus. "What love is this?" her heart cries out."That He should love me so?"

Who is she?

Both of these are accurate descriptions of me.
Accurate descriptions of me at two very different times in my life.
One being seven months ago, one being now.

Can you take a guess at which description belongs at which time?

I was thinking long and hard about what my first post in this series would be about.
"What is the most important thing in all of what I'm going to write about?"
was my thought.

And this is where the struggle begins. For me. For you. For anyone and everyone seeking to follow Jesus.
It's letting go of your dreams, your desires, your wants, your "needs".
It's saying God, whatever your will for me is, then let that will be. "Not my will, but thine, be done."

The whole purpose of this series is to talk about preparing for the guy that God may have in your future. What is not a better way to start out than saying to God that you give this part of your life, (hopefully along with every other part), to Him. If you ever want a beautifully scripted love story, if you ever want a love story more amazing than you can imagine, you need to leave it up to God. Any love story without God's hand is second rate. Let me tell you why.

Let's go back to the first description I listed at the beginning of this post. Take a good long look at what I wrote. Would you want that to be you? I should hope not. Let's take it a step further. Not only was I planning my future according to the way I THOUGHT I wanted my life to be, but I was giving up any plans that God would have for me. I was basically saying, God, my plans are better, and more joyful, and more awesome. But look at what I wrote. Was I joyful? Were my plans really better? They weren't. I was forfeiting any real, true joy. If God were to ever use me for amazing things, I was saying no to them, because I thought I knew better than Him. As days go by, I realize what a blessing it was that God broke that relationship up. It was a path that neither I or the guy truly wanted. It was what our sin and selfishness wanted. It was a path that was leading to destruction, to pain and sorrow. While we thought we were sowing such happiness, such love and future joy, we were wrong. We were only sowing heartache, pain, and regret, and that's exactly what we reaped.

A while back, in one of my blog posts, I wrote a little about a time long ago in my life, when I was several years younger. I had cried out a plea to God that I wanted to live a life fully given to Him, a life that rose above the mediocre Christianity that is so prominent today. I said God, that's not the life I want to live. I want my life to show that I'm giving everything to YOU! I want YOU to be the center of my life, where all my meaning and purpose derives from.

I believe that day was monumental in my life, and now that I think back about it and back on my relationship with the boy, especially when it ended, I realize that God was answering that prayer of mine, even though along with it came heartache and pain. While I wanted to love and be loved by the boy, God knew that that's not what was going to truly fulfill me - because only HE can. And praise God that He intervened when He did. While I suffered so much heartache and regret, I can't even imagine the heartache that God saved me from!

Referring back to the point of this first part in the series, all the while, for the duration of this relationship I had, I had taken away the pen from God. Rather than letting Him write me a beautiful and incredible love story, I was trying to write it myself. And how terribly I was doing! If you ever want to have a truly beautiful love story, you need to let God be the creator of it. You need to let Him have full reign - not just a little or even a lot. He needs to have it ALL!

We constantly try to have control, try to be the leader in this part of our lives. And I understand, it's really hard not to! It's so easy to assume or think that our planning is better, or "so romantic". But when we do this, all we are really doing is settling for less. We are settling for this world's best, and saying that God's best is somehow not as good, or as fulfilling. What falsehood this is!

I can't stress it enough how important it is to trust God in this area of your life. I know the world is telling you that you "need" a boyfriend, or that you may even feel you're not complete without a guy, but both of these are wrong! Christ is and should be your ALL IN ALL!

If you are still gripping onto this part of your life, I encourage you to let go and let God. Sometimes we worry that if we do this, God is going to bring someone who we don't find attractive, or that we don't find interesting, etc. But if you are truly honest with yourself, would God do that? Does God want you to be unhappy? No!

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Jeremiah 29:11

I decided that along with what I write, I'll recommend a helpful book or video or some little tidbit.

If you are really struggling with letting go and letting God then I highly encourage you to read:

"When God Writes Your Love Story" by Eric and Leslie Ludy

If you know me IRL, then feel free to ask to borrow it... :)

And along with that I'll leave you with this:

Click here to hear a beautiful love story told by Leslie Ludy!

"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ."
Philippians 3:8
Click HERE for the next part in the series! (Modest is Hottest)

4.04.2011

The Intercessor

A powerful video by Eric Ludy, Christian author and speaker. Check it out!

4.03.2011

When Evil is Found

Last night I was reading in Deuteronomy, currently I am in around chapter 22. Just to give a little background about this book, Moses is accounting all that happened between being freed from slavery in Egypt as well as various events that occurred during their wandering in the wilderness. Along with this, Moses gives praise for God's goodness in rescuing them and Moses also goes over a number of guidelines and laws to follow in order to keep structure and maintain civility. As I was reading, I kept noticing a repeating phrase: "You must purge the evil from among you."
I decided to rewind a couple chapters and count the amount of times I saw this phrase between chapter 17 and 22. I counted a total of nine times. Recently, I have learned that when something in the Bible is said repeatedly, it usually is for a reason - to get the point across that the repeating phrase is truth and should be followed.
With this in mind, I couldn't help but soak up its repetitiveness.
I knew it was for a reason that it was said so many times.

Here we have well over a million, possibly even two million people, and they've just been freed from slavery in Egypt. Now God has to train them to understand and obey a completely different structure. It was very important for Him to lay down these laws, without them there would be very serious issues, sin, and if you boil it down, things would become very disorganized and out of control.

My next thought was: How can I apply this to my life?
There are all sorts of evils in this world. Sin comes in many forms: idolatry, lying, lust, murder, stealing, jealousy, anger, etc. All of us have our own struggles and weaknesses, and all of us are prone to certain temptations.

God made it clear that when evil was found, that it should be purged. I was trying to find the specific meaning for the word "purge" in Deuteronomy but I was having some trouble. After doing some research on the web, my ultimate conclusion was that purge means to purify, or cleanse thoroughly. In some senses it can even mean to prune something. Pruning comes across very strong, for me at least, in the sense that it means something is dead and it must be done away with to keep the entirety of whatever the object (say a plant) healthy.

Returning to my original question, where does the application come in? God made it known that purging or pruning away evil was significant, that it should and must be done. I believe that this same line of logic should apply in our lives as well. If you see evil in your life, a sin you're struggling with, you should purge yourself of it. If you see a friend struggling with a sin, you should hold them accountable and encourage them to purge it from their life. Why is this important? For the same reasons that God told the Israelites to purge the evil. Evil is not just some nice little thing that you want to keep around. It's ugly, it destroys, its entire aim is to wreck havoc in the world, people's lives, in everything! If you follow Christ, you know that sin will not build you up or make you more Christlike, but instead it pulls you away from Him and can even put off your spiritual growth. That is why purging evil and sin is SO important! We all know it's a lot easier said than done, but with God as our stronghold, there is nothing we cannot overcome.

A verse that has been encouraging to me in life is 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 which says:

"But he
(Jesus) said to me (Paul), “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 10Therefore I (Paul) will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

I challenge you, as a follower of Christ, to take a look at your heart, your life, your mind, your words, your actions, everything, and see where evil may lie. If you find something, and I'm certain you will, then take a long look at it. Why is this evil in your life? How have you let it in? What can you do to be rid of it? What steps can you take to prevent from falling into it again? I encourage you to seek out the prayer and council of others depending on the gravity of this evil as well as receiving accountability from those who you are close to. Accountability can do wonders, wonders I say! It's so incredibly beneficial and can build you up in a way like nothing else can. Find a close and sincere friend or two, and share with them about this evil or struggle you're dealing with. Don't be too ashamed to share, that's the biggest trap of the devil. He wants you to feel stuck in sin, that you can't get out of it, that everyone will think you're a terrible person or that they will only judge you for it. It's not true! If you seek out and share with true lovers and followers of Jesus, they will want to support you, encourage you, and walk through the struggle with you, so that you may see the sweet victory found in Jesus!


"Two are better than one,
   because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
   one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
   and has no one to help them up."
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

4.02.2011

Okay, this is just ridiculous!

My Dad and nephew made Spring the Snowman! ;)
IT'S APRIL 2ND, and it's snowing!
WHAT IN THE WORLD!

Two things:

1. Where is that groundhog so I can take care of business with him - mister "Spring is coming soon!"?!?!
2. Okay, so, global warming??? Get real!

That concludes my blog post for today.. but to actually give some substance, check out this song. One of my favorites... :) Original is by Hillsong, but I really like Starfield's version. Enjoy your Saturday!


4.01.2011

Lately, I've been wondering..


Why do we pray before we eat a meal?

I mean, now that I think about it, I don't think it's ever really been a "command" per se. It seems more like tradition. My parents prayed, taught me to pray for my food and so now I pray and teach other little ones to pray for their food.

But is there any Biblical reasoning behind this? This is where my question began, and so I decided to do some research.

Here's what others on the web were saying:

"Does it depend on whether or not the one hosting the meal is a Christian? What if we're in the company of non-believers? Do we take into consideration the ratio of Christians to non-Christians gathered at the table? What if I'm the only Christian at the table? Is it a cultural thing? Do Christians the world over pray before they eat? And should the prayer always come
before eating? What if the meal was prepared by a really bad cook?"

"[Previously stating the assumptive thought that prayer at every meal is important] Well, ask yourself why you don't pray when you go out for ice cream. Does it depend on the quantity of food you are about to consume?"

"Why is this is done by Christians in restaurants? Is it supposed to be evangelism? If so, it's not effective. If it is truly offering thanks to God for His provision, then doesn't it relate to Mt. 6:5 where the Lord commands that prayers NOT be done on street corners where others can see? When "saying grace" is done in the home, why?...obligation? habit? tradition? sincere heartfelt gratitude?"

"What if the food you are eating is leftovers? Do they need to be re-prayed over? How many times?

I thought all of these were really interesting thoughts, some I never really considered. Ultimately I would ask: Do we treat prayer before a meal as a simple tradition and we do it out obligation?
I would say I am definitely guilty of praying for my meal out of mere obligation. It has almost become a subconscious habit of "Dear God, thank you for this food, bless this food to my body. Amen." There have actually been times when I have prayed something similar to that and then forgot and nearly prayed again. How terrible is that?!
Let's take a look at what the Bible says...

"Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people."
Matthew 14:18-19

Mark 6:41 also has nearly the exact same wording as this verse.

From this we can see that Jesus, to some extent, gave thanks for his food. Yet still, it made me wonder if there were any other places. The first idea that came to my mind was the Last Supper. So I flipped to Matthew 26:26, and indeed it says...

"...While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples.."

With these verses in mind, I would say that it would certainly be a Christ-like thing to pray before we eat. Seeing that Jesus did it, then surely I can/should as well!

But there is still one problem. Are we truly grateful? Am I truly grateful? What pleases God is a sincere prayer, a sincere heart. Whether it's tradition, commanded in the Bible or whatever it may be, ultimately, doing it with a genuine heart is most important. Sometimes we are in a rush, or we forget, or maybe we may even feel ashamed to pray for our food in front of others. I definitely think that because of the unlimited amount of food we have in America, that we so easily forget how fortunate we really are. Having food is something we really should be extremely grateful for!! Whatever the case, let this be a challenge to you that when you pray for your meals, you pray sincerely - with a genuinely grateful heart. 

Note: All quotes were taken from "Should Christians Pray Before Meals?"