Praises

I just want to give God props for a second…

My car died yesterday. I go to school 240 miles away from home. I have no vehicular knowledge whatsoever. And I don’t really have anyone around here I could call to get me out of a jam were I to get stuck somewhere. Especially on a weekend when almost all of my friends have gone home.

But God was watching out for me.

A friend and I had driven the next town over to get Chinese food. My car worked completely fine on the way there and was doing okay on the way back. In fact, I didn’t have any real problems until I after I dropped my friend off and pulled in the parking lot of my dorm. I got just far enough to park and then she went kaput.

Praise God for the fact that my friend and I did not get stranded 20 miles away from school at 8:00 at night.

Praise God that this happened on a Friday evening when I didn’t have anywhere to be and my dad did not have to work the next day.

Praise God that I have amazing parents who are willing to drive over 200 miles so that I don’t have to go alone, as a vehicular-illiterate young woman, to a mechanic and get ripped off.

Praise God that I have an all-around handyman of a dad who can figure out what’s going on with my car and know how to fix it.

Praise God because He’s with us through the big things and the small ones, and he always meets our needs.

Theology from Under the Sea

Yesterday I was listening to Disney music while I worked on homework, and “Poor, Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid started playing. Something about that song made me stop and listen, more than once.

Ariel is curious and confident, but she’s also obsessive. She knows what she wants, and she will do anything to get it, but she’s reckless and deceitful in her pursuits.

When Ariel sees Eric, she’s hooked. (Pun intended.) Yet, instead of going to the person who loves her the most, her father, she hides away with a sculpture of the prince and pines away, discontent with her life under the sea. She lies about what she is doing, and when her father reprimands her for her deception and obsessive behavior, she rebelliously goes to someone else to get what she wants.

Ursula can give Ariel the life she wants, more or less, but Ursula has other motivations. She wants to tear Ariel’s life apart and keep her worn-down, broken soul as a trophy. Ariel, in her discontent and desperation, agrees to Ursula’s terms and gives up her voice in order to live on land as a human.

Wherein lies my problem. From the end of the movie, we know that Triton has the power to make a mermaid (or merman) human, with no conditions. We also know that Triton has no desire to see Ariel unhappy, he just wants her to be safe. So, it is logical to presume that, had Ariel gone to her father in the beginning and been open and honest about her feelings and proven herself a mature adult, he would have been willing to give her the life she wanted. And she could have kept her voice (which would have made the courtship a whole lot easier). No one would have been hurt. The epic battle scene would not have gone down. It would have been a happy ending, with a happy beginning and a happy middle.

Don’t we do the same thing with God? We decide we want something, and when it looks like God may not give it to us, we rebelliously go after it ourselves with a methodology that looks a lot different from God’s, and proves much more dangerous.

When you desire something, go to God about it. And when he denies you, or just doesn’t answer, don’t react violently. Respond faithfully. Know that God loves you, wants what’s best for you, and has the power to give you fulfillment and happiness.

When we go after something in our own rebellious way, we often make it much harder than it has to be. (Like Ariel’s mute attempt at courtship.) God’s way is much more effective, and doesn’t have to involve an epic battle scene.

Spread the Cure

Warm Bodies. If you haven’t seen it, you should (disclaimer, there is a bit of language, but I think the plot makes it worth ignoring). If you don’t have any clue what I’m talking about, here’s the trailer.

Anyway, I watched Warm Bodies for the second time on Saturday, and this time around, God used it to strike a chord. In the film, humanity has been all but eradicated by this plague that turns people into living corpses (a.k.a. zombies). The humans who are left have barricaded themselves inside the city behind a humongous wall. They only go out for absolute necessities and when they come upon a corpse, they shoot it immediately, without hesitation. So the corpses are left to themselves, wandering the earth searching for food (a.k.a. people). The protagonist, a corpse called “R,” wants more from life. He yearns for humanity. He comes across a human girl named Julie (whose boyfriend he has just eaten) and, inexplicably, falls for her. He protects her from the other corpses and helps her get back home. In the course of their journey, they build a relationship. Spending time with Julie makes R desire humanity even more and, as a result, he stops eating people. He rejects the hunger he feels and rejects his innate need to feed on human flesh. His physical appearance gradually begins to change. He confesses to Julie that it was he who killed her boyfriend and she, eventually, forgives him. She shows him acceptance and love, and it changes him. By the end of the film, he is human again.

But it is not just R who changes. The other corpses begin to change as well, as a result of seeing R and Julie’s relationship. They remember what it was to be human. They learn to live again. The humans see this change and accept the corpses back into their lives. They stop killing and start loving. And the corpses start healing.

In the last scene, R and Julie watch the city wall crumble to the ground. It was during this scene that God opened my eyes.

We, the church, are those humans. We have built up our sanctuary walls out of fear of what lay outside. Outside are corpses, wandering, searching for something to satisfy their hunger. And we have what they need.

Sin brings death. The world and those in it are dead. Jesus said he came to bring life, abundant life. (John 10:10) We have that life, but we hide it with us inside those walls because we are afraid to venture out into the world. When we do venture out, it is with guns loaded. We see only the sin, the death, we do not see the person inside the corpse. We shoot without thought of who we may be hurting. We’ve declared a war against the world’s sin, but it is a war we that have not been asked to fight.

Christ has already beaten sin. He has asked us to be the deliverers of the life he offers. That’s all. Our job is not to run out and kill zombies or to hide away in an attempt to survive. Our job is to love. And with that love, the corpses we come in contact with will change on their own, from the inside. They’ll recognize what it is to live. They will recognize the cure. All we have to do is offer it.

I realize there are scary things happening out there. I understand the fear and the need to hide, to protect yourselves, to lash out against that which threatens your existence. But the answer is not war. The answer is not hiding away. The answer is love. Tear down those walls and go love on some corpses. Bring them into your homes, into your lives. Show them what it is to be human. And watch God work. He does the changing, the healing. He is a God of resurrection. We are simply the means by which He spreads the cure.

Just Deal with the Gap

My mom picks weird movies. She just does. And sometimes I am forced, by the untimeliness of my arrival home, to finish these weird movies with her. A few weeks ago, she watched one called “Take This Waltz,” which is basically about a woman who cannot decide what she wants and this indecisiveness leads her to cheat on and then leave her nice guy husband to be with another man, whom she then decides she doesn’t like either. Obviously, it didn’t have a happy ending.

In the middle of her selfishness, she has a conversation with her sister-in-law, who calls her out on her behavior and then says, “Life has a gap in it…it just does. You don’t go crazy trying to fill it.”

Sounds like pretty good advice, right? WRONG! Life does have a gap in it, but that gap does not have to be permanent! The gap is not something you have to live with, there is a solution!

In his book, Pensees, Blaise Pascal wrote, “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.”

There’s your answer. We all have a gap, yes. There’s a place in our souls that is always searching for more. That understands that there is nothing on this earth that can satisfy every need. That recognizes the inadequacy of every person we will ever know to meet each and every need we have.

You do not have to just deal with the gap. God can and will fill it until it overflows. He will fill your heart and soul with his love until you are bursting at the seams. He did not create you to walk around unsatisfied and discontent, he made you to belong to him so that you may know the power and beauty of his love for you and his purpose for your life.

Do not settle for less. Our God is not a God of gaps.

Introvert Nightmare

Had to track down a missing paycheck today, which involved two phone calls and two visits to the offices of individuals I do not know. It was an intense and stressful afternoon.

It Is Well

Many people will say that, as a child, they were at church every time the door was open…well, my dad had a key, so we were there early to open the door and late to lock it back up. We attended every event. Usually my dad had some part in the planning and set up. If there was food involved, my mom and my Mamaw were definitely preparing it. If there was something happening at our church, my parents were pretty much guaranteed to be a part of making it happen. So, needless to say, we were there every Sunday morning for worship.

As a result, I have a pretty large store of hymns and praise songs in my brain. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard or sang them all at least once. One hymn that stands out in my mind is “It Is Well with My Soul.” I’ve heard the story behind the hymn enough times that I have it pretty well memorized.

However, it wasn’t until several hours ago that I really understood the hymn. Up until then, I had always thought of this hymn as a sort of “mind over matter” situation. I knew that Spafford had suffered a great deal when he penned this hymn, and thought he was just comforting himself, telling himself that everything would be okay.

Then it hit me. The hymn is not mind over matter. It is not Spafford in denial. It is the literal truth.

Whatever my lot, it is literally well with my soul.

Why? Because my soul is in the hands of God. I have surrendered my life to Him, and so the state of my soul is now dependent on Christ’s sacrifice. Because of that sacrifice, when God looks at my soul, he sees one worthy of eternity in Paradise, rather than the one worthy of death that I was born with.

When death comes to claim me, my soul will go to live with my Father in Heaven, where there will be no pain, no fear, no tears (except of joy). There, I will be able to look into the loving face of my Savior. I will have no temptations. I will have no guilt. I will spend my days praising the overwhelming goodness of the Creator of the universe, who knows everything about me and loves me anyway.

The trials of this life seem ginormous in the midst of them, but they are temporary. Stress, fear, pain…they are just microscopic pieces of this fragile world that is quickly coming to an end. But your soul is endless. Your soul will continue on long after your body has decayed. And if it is in the hands of God, it is pretty well taken care of.

No matter what sorrows you may have to endure, it is, at all times, literally well with your soul.

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It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well, (it is well),
With my soul, (with my soul)
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life,
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Horatio Spafford

I was overwhelmed by the thought that the God of the universe was willing the be involved in the details of my life—that He’d be willing to reach down and shut a door that he didn’t want me to walk through.


Still crying, I began to thank Him. “I don’t understand, but I thank You,” I said. “I don’t understand, but I know You are good. I don’t understand, but I know You’re taking this away because You have something better.”

from Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris

A Better Room

Sometimes God closes a door. And it hurts. People tell you, “He has something much better in mind for you,” but you don’t believe them because you can’t imagine anything better than what you almost had.

But the truth is that there is something better. And He wants you to have it. The fact that you can’t imagine something better is what makes it all the more exciting.

There is something in store for you that exceeds all of your expectations. In fact, what He has planned is going to blow all of your preconceived notions of goodness and beauty out of the water. You just have to have faith that He loves you and has the best in mind for you.

Faith is knowing that when God closes a door, he is not keeping you from happiness, he is leading you toward it.

It takes time to come to this realization. God doesn’t mind waiting. He’ll listen to your questions and your doubts. He’s not afraid of them. He’ll keep whispering words of love and peace as He brings you to where you need to be.

Eventually, you will come to a point where you can thank God for spoiling your plans in order to lead you toward His.

Sometimes God closes a door. And it hurts. But He whispers to your heart, “Trust me,” and leads you to a better room.

Sharing Words…

I found this post a while back and was rereading it today and just thought it was something worth sharing…

Top 10 Things Every INFJ Wants You to Know

Are you an INFJ? Do you know an INFJ?

INFJ is the rarest Myers-Briggs personality type accounting for less than 2% of the population. Because of this, we can feel misunderstood by many. While there is a lot about us that we want you to understand, here is a list of the Top 10 Things Every INFJ Wants You To Know.

10. We are planners

As with many other Judicial personality types, the INFJ enjoys structure and order. Though our intuition can cause our structure to fluctuate, we still thrive best when we can plan out the details of our situations and lives.

Sometimes, however, spontaneity can occur outside of our control. This deeply shakes us and we often respond to this loss of control with anger and frustration. Brandie, over at Little Left of Normal sums it up best when she says, “Sometimes spontaneity leaves us in a position that we cannot plan…, and we find this upsetting. Please understand that we are never upset with you, only the situation.”

9. We are extremely intelligent

INFJs are introverted thinkers and extroverted feelers. Because of this, we can struggle to articulate our thoughts. While we may, in our minds, be able to answer deep meaningful questions, retain amazing amounts of data and debate with the best of them, when asked to speak aloud, we often fumble, stutter over our words and say a small fraction of what we are actually thinking. This lands us the labels of slow-witted and unintelligent.

However, when we are comfortable with a person and situation and are given plenty of time to ponder an inquiry or organize our thoughts into words, we can speak fluidly, clearly and passionately on almost any subject.

8. We only need one person

Because we are introverts, INFJs are completely content being with just one person, whether a partner, friend or family member. When we make friends, it is usually for the long haul and it takes a lot to destroy a relationship. Unlike extroverts or some other introverts, INFJs can spend the rest of our lives with only ever being close to one person and never feel as though we are missing out on other relationships. In fact, we actually prefer it.

When we have many relationships in our lives, we can become easily overwhelmed and feel as though we are not giving our best to each relationship, leading us to feel unhappy, exhausted, and stretched thin.

7. Prolonged solitude kills us

While some introverts can be all by themselves for every second of the day and feel nothing but contentment, an INFJ needs to be around people. Though we still need time in solitude in order to recharge ourselves, too much time alone can leave us feeling drained, lonely and depressed. INFJs thrive on the emotions of others. We live for bettering others to better ourselves. We cannot do this if we are always by ourselves. When an INFJ does not have a close relationship, they can became depressed and feel empty.

“INFJs often feel happiest and most fulfilled when helping others understand themselves and their problems.” - Personality Junkie, INFJ

6. We are perfectionists

INFJs are never happy with ourselves. No matter how much an INFJ has improved, there is always room to be better. Often times, we can struggle with relishing in our accomplishments since we continue to focus on where we have fallen short and how we could have done better. It can sometimes frustrate an INFJ to see others complacent with their current selves.

“INFJ is a perfectionist who doubts that they are living up to their full potential. INFJs are rarely at complete peace with themselves - there’s always something else they should be doing to improve themselves and the world around them. They believe in constant growth, and don’t often take time to revel in their accomplishments…they have very high expectations of themselves, and frequently of their families.”
- Portrait of an INFJ, www.personalitypage.com

5. We are socially inept

While many INFJs can practice and put on a good show, most of us struggle with social norms and routines, especially if we see little use for them. Since, as mentioned before, we find it difficult to put our thoughts into words, we can feel uncomfortable being in situations that cause us to interact in a spontaneous manner, such as meeting someone new.

INFJs spend most of our time thinking through deep and complex matters, therefore shallow and menial conversations of everyday life can confuse and frustrate us. Talks of the weather and local sports are exhausting for us. We would much rather ask for life stories, sincere problems of which we can offer solutions and therapy session-like conversations. When we ask “how are you,” we mean it on the deepest and sincerest possible level.

4. Our label means a lot to us

While every person can be pinpointed as a specific Myers-Briggs Personality Type, INFJs tend to cling to our label as soon as we discover it. As we are the rarest personality type, making up an approximate 2% of the population, we spend most of our lives feeling lost and misunderstood. Once we learn that we are not alone and that there is an explanation as to why we have always felt different, we feel overjoyed and almost “normal.”

Even if the description of an INFJ does not fit us 100%, it still usually offers us a lot of information for which we have spent the majority of our lives searching. Those four little letters can be life-changing to an INFJ.

3. We are very open-minded

INFJs have an amazing ability to think abstractly. In our minds, it is easy to see gray areas and blurred lines. While we tend to have strong principles and passions, an INFJ can usually see another persons point-of-view on any situation. Whenever there is a difference of opinion, an INFJ is very driven to ask questions and seek information about the opposing side in order to understand the different perspective. This part of our personality leads to deep compassion and always giving others the benefit of the doubt.

2. We are warm hearted

INFJs can outwardly appear cold. Because we tend to be very private and enjoy only opening up to our closest companions, others can see us as cold and detached. This is the furthest from the truth. INFJs are, in fact, extremely warm-hearted and open to everyone around us, but because we are socially inept, we can struggle with making others aware of this. Our compassion knows no limits and we are mostly selfless people. We hope that everyone can open up to us and know that we are there for them, however, we will probably not open up much to them by no fault of their own.

1. Our intuition is real

INFJs are known for being the most intuitive personality type. We “just know” a lot of information that we can never fully explain. Many sensing types and a few intuitive types cannot fully grasp our level of intuition and easily discredit our knowledge. Without any explanation as to why, we can feel the feelings of everyone around us as deeply as though they were our own.

As An Anonymous INFJ states: “In my experience, the most misunderstood part of an INFJ is how we feel everything those around us feel. We do not sympathize. We do not empathize. We literally feel exactly what you feel. Even if you are trying to hide it or don’t express your feelings, somehow we still know.”

Along with our open-mindedness and compassion, our ability to intuitively feel and sense things around us is a large part of why we can help others so easily. We just know what is best for those around us even if we cannot articulate why.

If you know an INFJ or want to be closer to an INFJ, believing in our intuition is the best thing you can do because it is the biggest part of who we are.

 

God doesn’t love who you can be, could be, or will be. He loves who you ARE.

Faith

1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. 4 On the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place from afar. 5 Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” 6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. 7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” 8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together.
9 When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. 10 Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.

Genesis 22:1-12 (ESV)

What did that moment really look like, when God told Abraham to kill his son? Surely he did not just reply with, “Okay, God, whatever you say!” Did he weep? Did he get angry? Did he yell, curse, question? Did he talk to Sarah about it? What was her reaction? What about Isaac? When his father bound him and laid him on the altar, did he ask for an explanation? Did he just trust his father enough that he went along with the plan? Was he scared? Did he cry, beg for his life with a trembling voice? Were there tears running down Abraham’s face as he prepared to plunge the knife into his son’s heart? Did Abraham just have a superhuman faith that allowed him to obey without question or is the struggle just unimportant?

Is faith the acceptance of a command without question? Are we allowed to be angry when God takes something away, or do we simply have to go along with it? Is it okay to question God? To doubt his plan? Is obedience supposed to be instantaneous or can it take time? Am I supposed to respond like a good child with a confident, “Yes, sir!” or am I allowed to say, “I’ll do it, God, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it.”?

A Quiet Faith Is Not the Same as a Passive One

If the church were a stage, there would be certain people who are front and center. They are the ones who attract people to the church using sermons, concerts, dramas, and other events. They are the front men; everyone knows and sees what they are bringing to the table. They are the pastors, missionaries, evangelists, singers, actors, musicians, etc. These are the ones with “radical faith.”

In the church, there are also people who are behind the stage.  They don’t really attract people to the church. They are not seen. Many may not even be aware of what they are doing to help the church. But they are there. Working. These are the ones with “quiet faith.”

Sometimes those with the radical faith assume that the quiet ones are not doing their fair share. They think that because the quiet ones are not out actively “saving” people and getting them in the building and making a lot of noise for Jesus, they are not doing anything at all. They tell the quiet ones to “step out of their comfort zones” and walk up to the first stranger they see and tell them about Jesus. They try to make the the quiet ones into radical ones. They mistakenly think that a quiet faith is a passive one.

That is a lie. Those with a quiet faith may not attract people to the church, but they do a lot to keep them there. While the radicals bring people in the door, the quiets are there to minister to needs and help people through the process of healing. The quiets are there to listen to stories and maybe share their own. While the radicals declare the Gospel to crowds of people, the quiets demonstrate it with their lives and share it through one-on-one or small group discussion. They listen to problems and humbly give advice. They pray for the radicals’ words to have an impact.

If, like me, you have a quiet faith, do not think that you have to change to make a difference in the kingdom. God gave you a quiet faith faith for a reason, so do not feel like you have to be a radical. The church needs both. If the radicals are trying to be quiet and the quiets are trying to be radical, the church will not function the way God intends it to.

However, having a quiet faith is not an excuse to be passive. You need to be actively engaged in growing the kingdom. We are called to witness, but we are also called to disciple. In the New Testament, Paul (a radical) would travel and preach, attracting people to God, and then he would set up a church, appoint those of quieter faith as leaders, and then leave for the next town. Those he left behind did not just sit back, thinking that Paul had finished the job. They actively discipled the new converts, building up their church.

While you should not try to make yourself into a radical, you should be challenging yourself. The thing about being backstage is that you do not have to put on a show. I am not saying that radicals are hypocrites or anything like that, but as the front men, they do have to live in such a way as to be above reproach and to prevent their listeners from doubting their message. They must appear knowledgeable and confident. (I mean, you want your pastor to know what he’s talking about, right?) Those of us with a quiet faith, however, do not necessarily have to adopt the same confidence. While we should live above reproach, we have a freedom to openly and honestly struggle with our faith. We can say, “You know what, I don’t know the answer. Let’s find it together, shall we?” That is our radicalism.

So my point in writing this is twofold:

To those of radical faith, please do not assume that we quiet ones are not working as hard as you. Please do not try to make us radical. Please do not think that your faith is better because it is louder. Understand that God made us the way we are for a reason, and that we are just as needed as you.

To my fellow Christians of quiet faith, do not be so quiet that you become passive. Do not think that putting a check in the plate every Sunday is enough. Live your faith. Be honest in your struggle. Help others find answers as you search for yourself. Have discussions about your faith and what it means to you. Humbly help others find solutions to their problems. Pray for the radicals around you. Open your home to those who need a place to stay. Feed the hungry. There are so many ways you can serve quietly. Don’t feel like you have nothing to bring to the table. You can do so much!

My Goal for Lent: Genuine Sweetness

How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!

Psalm 119:103 (ESV)

I’ve never really considered myself as having a sweet tooth (it’s kind of difficult to prefer sweets when you don’t like chocolate), but there are times when I want dessert without the meal, you know?

When these cravings appear, my first thought is not, “Honey sounds really good right now.” Honey is not sweet to me. It’s weird. I’m not a huge fan of honey…unless it’s mixed with peanut butter. When I want something sweet, I want cake, or ice cream, or cookies. I want something with high fructose corn syrup listed as the first ingredient. I want white, refined sugar!

So, when I read this verse, I find it difficult to connect with. “Sweeter than honey”? Yeah, there are a lot of things sweeter than honey! Then I realize…the Psalmist is speaking of natural sweetness. Not the refined, overly-sugary sweetness of the desserts I crave.

Natural sweetness is not something I really appreciate. (I add Splenda to my strawberries, for Pete’s sake!) But I would like to. I am convicted to learn that I have come to value synthetic sweetness over the genuine sweetness of nature that God has provided.

This doesn’t just apply to food. I’ve given up the authentic things of God in favor of the counterfeit ones of the world; I embrace worldly joy, peace, and love, instead of seeking the truly fulfilling joy, peace, and love of God.

So, for Lent this year (which starts on Wednesday), I’m giving up sweets. I’m beginning a journey toward authenticity, and I’m starting with my diet. I’m going to learn to crave the genuine sweetness of God. I’m choosing honey instead of cake.

So, keep me accountable! If you see me in the next 40 days, ask me how it’s going. Ask me if I’ve given in to my worldly, fleshy cravings. Ask me about my journey to genuine sweetness.

(Inspired in part by Craving Grace.)

Sharing Words…

Found this article from Alyssa Joy Bethke and just had to share. Great stuff!

To Pursue or Not to Pursue a Guy You Like

"Total Opposite"?

In an interview before kick-off, Ray Lewis was asked about his involvement in a double murder in 2000. He had this to say to the family members of the victims:

“If you knew, if you really knew the way God works, he don’t use people who commits anything like that for his glory. No way. It’s the total opposite.”

Oh, Mr. Lewis. Even if you overlook the fact that God has, in fact, used murderers to bring glory to himself (i.e. Moses, David, Paul), this statement rings with pride and hopelessness.

If “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), then no one should have the privilege of being used to glorify God, whether they be murderers, liars, thieves, idolators, or merely jealous, disrespectful, or hateful. None of us deserve to be used by God. That’s what makes grace so beautiful. God chooses to use us despite our utter depravity. We all sin everyday, yet God loves us and seeks to include us in his plan everyday.

To believe that God will not use someone because they were involved in taking a life is prideful in that it assumes that someone who has not been found guilty of murder is better than someone who has and is, therefore, entitled to being used by God. It is hopeless in that it believes that God does not use people based on their “level” of sinfulness. We’re all on the same page. We’re all sinners. Period. God uses sinners. Period. There are no classifications or categorizations.

There has only been one sinless person, and he came to this earth to die a painful and humiliating death in order break down the walls that separated us from God. Walls that were built because of sin. Your sin. My sin. Ray Lewis’ sin. We’re all murderers because we put the Son of God on a cross to die. And guess what…

God still uses us.