36,000 feet.

I seriously hate flying alone. I find it solemn and boring. Those of you who know me well know that I’m an extreme extrovert. So naturally, going without talking for hours can drive me insane. I’m annoyed that my flight took off an hour late. I’m not interested paying $5 for a thin sheet of a “blanket”, even though I’m currently freezing my butt off.

Thankfully, God didn’t allow me to stay with a bad attitude for long today. I’m a firm believer that God speaks very clearly through our thoughts, and I’m certain He told me to shape up my stupid attitude and start writing.

So here I am, flying at 36,707 feet to be exact, drinking burnt Dunkin Donuts coffee, staring out my 14A, window seat (Ben Rector anyone!?)

And I’m awestruck.

God is reminding me in this moment that:

1. There is no striving in His grace. He’s got that covered.

2. His love for me (and for you!) is wider and deeper than the ocean I’m staring out at. His love for us is an ENDLESS ocean that never runs dry or void. He continually pours out His love for us in the form of relentless protection and pursuit.

3. He is never deceiving. He is not like the clouds, appearing to be full, strong, and impenetrable, but break apart at the touch of this airplane’s wing. The clouds appear strong and able to stand alone, but they are like weak vapor. My God stands true in who He is, displaying the strength of His might and His great goodness.

4. The more time I spend getting to know my best friend and Savior Jesus, the more I realize how desperate I am for Him. The closer I grow to Him, the more I realize my sinful and foolish heart. I never want this humility and craving for Him to end.

5. God’s great and scandalous love for us should invoke deep adoration for Him, followed by complete surrender. He runs after us to capture our hearts every day, and we actively choose to turn away. When we discipline ourselves to see His relentlessness to bring us to Himself, we will not be able to live a comfort seeking life. We will not be half-ass worshippers of Jesus (pardon my French). We will not have the ability bored and apathetic in our walk with the Lord. We will not be silent. We will become more like Jesus.

If you are bored, and not absolutely riveted by the Gospel more and more each day you pursue God, do you really know Him? Have you really decided to give your heart in surrender to His will for your life?

It’s the coolest thing in the world to get to know God. I’m so incredibly treasured, loved, and pursued by the God of the freakin universe. Like WHAT!?

So are you. I pray you know that and believe it with your whole heart.

Update: the sun pouring in from my window is helping my frostbite situation, I just got a bag of pretzels from the flight attendant, and I don’t feel bored or solemn anymore, because my heavenly Father is with me. Flying alone isn’t so bad after all. Life is so, so good.

treasures in jars of clay.

I’m going to just be outright and say that I am overwhelmed.

The uncertainty that lies ahead, the plans not made. My agenda with plenty of boxes left to check. The to-do list running a continuous loop in my head. All the people in my life to keep up with. The people to pour into, and the people to pour into me as well. It’s a lot.

Today, everything came down all at once. So here I am, writing this.

I am writing to tell you to not lose heart.

When all of the pressure, anxiety, and fear simultaneously pulled me to the ground today, I immediately reverted into the thinking of this world. I felt like all of the pressure and uncertainty in my life right now is unfair. That God should reveal even one question I have about this coming year to me. I deserve that at the very least, right?! I wished life could be a little easier right now. I craved to take matters into my own hands again.

After my little “woe is me” session came to its end, I obviously knew that I needed a come to Jesus talk. If we’re being real here, these happen a little too frequently than I’d like to admit.

I then prayed that God would encourage me to persevere. Just as my God does, He quickly and faithfully spoke, placing the saying “do not lose heart” into my thoughts.

“Do not lose heart” lead me to 2nd Corinthians 4:7-16.

(10/10 would recommend reading that passage right now, whether you’re struggling or not)

The idea of treasures in jars of clay refers to our souls dwelling in our sinful bodies, in this ever-fading world. These jars of ours are functional, to a point. But only temporary holding places for our souls that know who Jesus is and have been transformed by what He’s done.

Just as the jar of clay is not a perfect holding place, affliction, temptation, fear, persecution, and despair will, understandably so, affect us while we live our life on earth.

But, you can have hope.

You will be afflicted, but not destroyed.

The stress of life right now may seem unbearable, but you will make it to the other side.

The heartbreak you may be experiencing right now probably feels like it will never get better, but Jesus is orchestrating the restoration at this very moment.

It may feel like the amount of uncertainty ahead lies in wait to attack you in your lack of preparation, but God is equipping you through teaching you how much you need Him, which will subsequently prepare you more than anything you could arrange for yourself.

Do not lose heart, for “this light and momentary affliction is preparing us for the eternal weight of glory beyond comparison” (vs. 17). I pray you cling to Jesus with everything you have to find this hope today.

Anything.

I’m just going to start this off by saying that I’m completely wrecked. Sort of at a loss for words (which I hope I can get figured out enough to write what God wants me to say). Scared out of my mind. Already feeling major attacks from the enemy.

But, at the same time, I’m so full of joy. Awe. Astonishment. Reverence. Freedom. More than I’ve ever been in my life.

About a year and a half ago I received this book as my graduation gift titled, “Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul” by Jennie Allen from a woman I greatly respect and look up to. I read a few chapters, but soon got intimidated and sort of angry. So, I put it away on my bookshelf.

When I got home from college this summer, so on fire about who God is and how He had been pursuing me, I decided I needed some soul food. I wanted to glean some wisdom from these books I’ve collected but never put in the time to read. So, as I ran my eyes across the stacks of books, God placed my eyes on “Anything” and said, “Finish it.”

So I did.

In summary, I think I underlined 90% of the words and cried about every 3 pages. In a good way. I’m also super emotional most of the time so that doesn’t surprise me very much.

After some pretty world-rocking events took place the beginning of this year, I was wrecked, and NOT in a good way. But God met me in that low valley, and carried me up the heights of the mountain. He gave me eyes to see my life, situations, and relationships in it that were toxic and keeping me from surrender. I couldn’t even begin to give myself any credit for my growth the past 6 months, even if I wanted to.

God’s provision and re-molding of my heart has been the hardest, yet most beautiful seasons of my life.

In the past couple months; I realized that I had been holding on to control of things in my life that I had no jurisdiction over. That I was choking out with my grasp.

 It was time to let go, FOR REAL this time.

I started praying every day that God would use me to do big things for His Kingdom. I had huge ideas and so much passion. So much excitement to get this show on the road. But, as a common theme of my life has shown, life doesn’t really go as I’d plan it to very often. Instead, God has been using this time as a waiting period. I know it’s for His glory and my good, but it’s a hard pill to swallow for me.

Although there has been so much growth and goodness in this waiting season with God, a lot of sin in my heart has been revealed to me. ESPECIALLY through “Anything”. Here’s some bullet points.

  • I have a sickeningly prideful heart.

I want to do big things for God… why? I’d like to say that 100% of the time it is to glorify God and serve to help restore His Kingdom, but after some serious soul searching, I can say with confidence that that percentage isn’t even close to accurate. Instead of glorifying God through Him using me, I want to glorify myself. I want people to notice me. Praise me. Shower me with compliments.

Unfortunately, this fact about me isn’t super surprising. I’ve always loved the center of attention. Most people that know me tell me REGULARLY that I’m the most dramatic human being that they’ve ever known. In some ways, being dramatic is totally a part of who I am and I love how it brings laughter and fun. But on the flip side, it is tremendously dangerous.

  • I’m still scared of what people think of me.

Even though I’ve spent years and months rooting my identity in Jesus and how He loves me, daily I find myself enraptured and entrapped in the sin of comparison and worry about how another person sees me as. It takes up much more of a space in my heart than I’ve been able to see before.

  • I am a perfectionist. To an absolute fault.

I know, as you read this you’re probably like “whatever” and rolling your eyes, but I’m dead serious. Because I am such a perfectionist, I am not good at forgiving myself. I hardly do at all for that matter. I have such lofty expectations about where my relationship with God should be, how well I should know and memorize Scripture, and how much I should be doing to serve the Kingdom, that it actually prevents me from truly embracing my sweet Jesus and His work to save me. It defeats the whole purpose of the Gospel I say I stand by. It discourages me beyond belief.

Thank God that He is faithful to reveal our innermost qualities that express themselves as soul sucking sin issues. There is freedom in knowing that.

Thankfully, God is doing much more than only revealing my sin to me.

  • He is teaching me the astounding joy of true surrender with every passing day.
  • He is affirming me that I am His beloved daughter who has a PURPOSE.
  • He is reminding me that there is so much more to life than having a safe routine. Job success. A successful marriage. Obedient children. Nice friends. A supportive friend circle. A comfortable, non-challenging, easy, beautiful life.

We were given life in order that we may glorify God. THAT is our purpose. Our call. Our mission. God didn’t give any of us life in order for it to be wasted or easily floated through. He has called us to give it all to Him.

As Jennie Allen put it: “The very thought of doing anything demands EVERYTHING.”

It demands our plans. Our comforts. Our safety. Our reputations. Our ideal daily lives. But oh, it is worth it. It is more than worth the risk.

“All my life I thought I had God’s stamp of approval because my life wasn’t going badly. Now I was faced with the fear that it might actually be the opposite. What if my lie was going so beautifully because I wasn’t chasing after God?”

The call we have as believers is no joke. Like, take up our cross and follow Him? Uh, how? Most people never experience this type of intimacy with God that they find joy and freedom in taking up their cross and following God. Praying prayers like “anything”. It burdens me to the core & breaks my heart.

This is not a drill. Seriously. This is not a joke to get Christians riled up. It is clearly spelled out in Scripture. It’s time to wake up!!!!!!

Once we surrender our plans and our lives to the one who created us, He WILL unleash His wild plan. He WILL use us. He WILL uphold us with His steady hand. He WILL challenge us, but at the same time give us the most purpose-filled freedom that we could ever receive.

“For believers in our eternal God, it shouldn’t be unusual to risk our entire lives for Him. It should be the norm for everyone who claims Christ.”

We are given such a gift, if we choose to receive it. Everything is on the line here. Our fulfillment in this life, our place in eternity. Are you risking it all? Praying prayers that ask God to use you to do anything & everything that He desires for you?

This question has brought me to my knees in conviction. I pray it does for you too.

I have given God my “yes”. I am now daily surrendering to Him, in an even deeper sense. I am willing to risk it all. I am eager to embrace suffering if it means that God is receiving His utmost glory through it.

I’m awake. I am ready for anything.

 

*Any words in italics are direct quotes of Jennie Allen.

Kingdom Pursuit.

A few weeks ago, I was given an opportunity to co-lead and watch over 5 girls at Elevate Summer Camp through The Summit Church. It was life changing. Here’s why.

Of course I could go into how the week was challenging and physically exhausting, but that isn’t the point I want to stress here. The reason why camp was so life changing for me was that it reinstated my purpose, my call in life.

And that call is to pursue the Kingdom of God with all that I am.

More than any previous year of my life, 2017 stands out as the year where my God has pursued me and transformed me by the Gospel. Even though I accepted Jesus and begun a relationship with him in 2012, I have never experienced the radical faithfulness of God in my life as much as I have the past 7 months.

Going into camp, I knew that God was going to convict and call His children to Himself. I had been praying for months and months faithfully that God would show up BIG TIME and radically change hearts. Which He did. Obviously.

But, one thing I didn’t think about as much going into camp was how God was going to further affirm my identity in Christ and convict my heart to pursue His Kingdom as my number one priority in my life.

While pursuing the Kingdom of God changes the trajectory of your life plans and goals, it also radically alters your day-to-day actions, responses, and mindset.

[Specifically, it changes the way you see your identity, how you worship, how you commune with God daily, and the way you prioritize evangelism and Gospel intentionality]

Identity.

In a culture where we typically find our identity in pursuing praise, worldly pleasures, or success, pursuing the Kingdom of God grants us a new identity… that is worth surpassingly more. Since fully embracing Christ’s identity for me, I have experienced the sweetest freedom in surrender. He sees me as His beloved daughter, and that changes every thought I think about myself and my own worth.

Worship.

“Worship is our intentional response to who God is, and what He has done.”

I learned this definition of worship at camp, and it has come to shape my view of worship, my mindset as I approach God in worship, and how I structure my actions and words throughout the day as instruments by which I can worship God. In deciding to pursue the Kingdom, worship is more than just a time I sing songs to God on Sunday morning, or in my car on the way to the gym during the week. A quote I have come back to (on multiple occasions the past few weeks) regarding worship was spoken by Graham Kendrick:

“Worship has been misunderstood as something that arises from a feeling which ‘comes upon you’, but it is vital that we understand that it is rooted in a conscious act of the will, to serve and obey the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Relationship.

We were born into sinful humanity, separated from God and the ability to commune with Him. When Jesus died in our place, He bridged the gap between man and God and made a way for us to know God personally, through taking our sin as His own on the cross. This is the good news!

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t understand or accept the magnitude of this act and have not been transformed by what Christ has done and promised for them. That, or they don’t choose to dwell on this good gift, and allow Satan to blind their eyes to the Gospel and distract them by the desires of the flesh. People CHOOSE to be separated from God still, when the free gift is right in front of their face.

Jesus has captured my heart and mind in a way that I would have never been able to do on my own. I would have never chosen Him and His goodness freely, unless He gave me the ability and desire to choose Him. This is the greatest gift I have ever been given. Because of this, my greatest desire is to be with Him every day.

If we proclaim with our lips that Jesus Christ is Lord, He calls us to a greater purpose and way of life… living daily in relationship with Him– through prayer and reading His word.

Delving into scripture may be a daunting task, but God has given us the Bible to teach us about His own nature and character that completely shapes our view of God and the way we go about our lives. It’s a gift!

God has chosen for us to pursue His Kingdom and righteousness this way… through convening DAILY with Jesus. He is the ONLY way, truth, and the life. Relationship with Him allows us to run after His Kingdom and towards righteousness.

Intentional Evangelism.

This is the part where I (and other Christians alike) tend to get a little uncomfortable. If you have grown up in church, I am sure you heard that Jesus calls and commands us to GO and MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. This is an especially hot topic at The Summit Church at least.

I was totally brought to my knees in repentance and conviction when my pastor posed this question on the last night of camp: “Do your actions match up with what you say you believe about the Gospel?”

I scrambled to write the phrase down as he spoke it, and then it hit me. If my life doesn’t act as a testimony to what I believe, and if I am not daily convicted of sin and the necessity to let others know what is true, is my relationship with Jesus authentic? Am I too going to stand before the throne on judgement day and God is going to send me away, saying He never knew me?

This isn’t the first time I’ve been convicted of the necessity to share the Gospel with others. But this time, it was different. The past couple months, I have been radically praying for God to use me for His good purposes, whatever they may be. I have had big ideas. But, how much have I been praying for God to transform my life in the mundane, that my life will be a testimony to who God is? How often have I prayed for God to use me in the margin, in the small moments, not just in huge, spotlight moments?

Oh how my prayers have been directed towards my own praise without even knowing or being able to repent of it.

This is just my own personal experience and thoughts regarding evangelism though. There is much more to it than that.

We are told in Ephesians to live a life worthy of the manner by which we have been called. Meaning, our daily lives and attitudes, AS WELL AS our grand feats and desires, should be soaked in Gospel intentionality.

Yet, because of God’s grace and provision for us, this call doesn’t have to be scary. The Holy Spirit empowers and speaks through us, and convicts us in times when we need to look like Jesus. We will not suddenly gain bravery to share the Gospel alone, but through the power of the Spirit and boldness of prayer.

Evangelism is hard. But we are called. And we must go. Wherever and whenever, to whomever He calls. 

These are just a few ways in which we pursue the Kingdom of God with our whole lives. I’m sure I have missed stuff, but for me, it’s a start. We will never achieve perfect pursuit of God until the new heavens and earth are created and we get to live with Him for eternity.

[[If I was reminded of nothing else at camp, it was how worthy God and His Kingdom are worth pursuing. And, as a part of this, I am called to boldly declare the Gospel and God’s unmatchable goodness. I am so encouraged by this gift I have and cannot wait to pursue God’s Kingdom as long as I live, and into eternity.]]

I want to close with a question directed at you, who’s reading this. Okay… maybe a few questions. If you haven’t figured it out by now this far down into my post, I have a lot to say. Always.

Have you ever accepted Jesus’ free gift of grace? If you have, are you actively pursuing His Kingdom each day? Are you delving into intimate relationship with Him? Is the Kingdom of God and the spread of Jesus’ name your purpose?

Jesus is my Savior, Lord, and King. I will never stop proclaiming His name or pursuing the call He has on my life: to be in relationship with Him, and to tell people who He is and what He’s done.

I pray eagerly that you will, too.

 

my sweet jesus’ blog post:

I get it. All of our hearts go wayward for a little. You want the real thing. You want to be overwhelmed in His presence. You want to feel Him like fire in your bones, like wind in your chest. You want to yearn for Him. You want to be passionately in love with Him. […]

via It’s Real. — mysweetjesus

i’m thankful for my tight leash.

I like to put my God in a box.

It’s comforting. A safe bet. Instinctive, even.

But… that eventually catches up to me. It brings disappointment and unmet expectations. Frustration. Entitlement. Discontentment. Honestly, my most difficult struggles in my walk with Jesus have resulted from expecting Him to do something according to my timetable, or allowing myself to be frustrated at God when His idea for my life didn’t quite align with my own.

Because, you know, the world revolves around me. God is my magical genie. Why do I feel like God isn’t even listening?

I have executed the pinnacle of entitlement and ignorance, folks. On many occasions.

Thank goodness that my God consistently breaks the walls down that I attempt to suppress Him in. He recognizes that I’m totally out-to-lunch half the time. So, he is faithful to not leave me hanging with stones made to ashes at my feet and flames abounding.

And He reminds me of what is true.

Sometimes, God uses people and situations to echo His character. For example… my mentor (who’s basically Wonder Woman) said something super intriguing to me today.

She told me that I should thank God that He has me on a tight leash.

At first, I almost laughed. What in the world is that supposed to mean?

As I prodded for a better explanation, she reminded me that because I have experienced intimacy with God and walk with Him daily, I would never be able to find the same fulfillment anywhere else. Even if I tried to run, the weight of sin and discontentment would quickly grip me the moment I strayed too far. What an amazing act of love and protection!

I know the leash analogy may seem a little controlling or ridiculous, but try to go with me on this.

God loves and pursues me so faithfully to the point where I would never want to run. I would never even attempt to seek everlasting joy in anything else. He has drawn me close to Himself so relentlessly that I could never turn away at this point. His grace is MORE than sufficient for me and His power has been perfected through my weaknesses. The more I learn to keep my hands open, the more his strength is multiplied within me and the clearer my ears and heart become to hear his voice.

To me, that’s one of the most profound aspects of God’s perfect character.

You see, the closer I draw near to my Lord Jesus, the more and more He displays who He really is.

I believe that because of our fallen nature and futile minds that we will never be able to fully grasp the glory of God in our lives, but He is faithful to reveal layers to us the closer we cling to Him.

That’s the thing about trying to put God in a box. He will cut down every expectation you try to place on Him and show you how His plans and character are so much deeper, greater, and more fulfilling than you could ever dream of.

Right now, I am learning that the more I cling to what is true about God, the more He is breaking down the walls I have tried to box Him into.

He daily draws me into His presence to reveal another aspect of his infinite love and faithfulness.

He continues the practice of unclenching my hands and allowing me to find the freedom in total surrender.

He steadfastly reveals my sins to me in such a way to further my dependence on Him and my reverence towards Him.

His unstoppable love becomes more real. I will never thirst or need for anything, because He holds me gently in His arms. His love breaks all chains.

If you’re still with me at this point, I would encourage you to read Ephesians 3: 14-20.

The more God roots and grounds us in His love,  and(the more faithfully He tears down our boxes we put Him in as we draw near to Him), the greater we will get to know God and fall in love with Him.

We have the ability to love and be loved by God in an intimate relationship with Him. HE CHOOSES US. It all comes down to us accepting His free gift of grace.

Now that is love.

Butterflies. — mysweetjesus

Sister. I do not feel very bold. I have butterflies in my stomach more often than not. I just care too much about what people think, and I doubt my natural ability to succeed. So my stomach is often fluttering and fretting, my palms sweaty, and my knees weak. (If you got that, let’s be […]

via Butterflies. — mysweetjesus

Greater Joy

“Our greater joy is Jesus”

Audacious Woman

We can get weary in this race that was given to us. The problems and the circumstances sometimes can be too much for us to bear. We hear all the time ‘don’t give up’ – from friends or family or through social media or posts. We look to the right and to the left and we see other people getting promoted, others being successful, others getting married or having children, others having their businesses taken off, others achieving their goals and dreams that maybe be similar to yours and then you look at yourself. You wonder why you are where you are, even being already blessed, but because of your perception of what other people have, whether better and greater than what you have or where you are – you are now distracted. You have lost sight of what you have, what has been given to you and promised to…

View original post 175 more words