First John

I think I managed to underline just about 1/2 of the book of 1 John this morning. Right now I'm reading a book called The Hole in Our Gospel (fabulous, by the way) by Richard Sterns, the president of World Vision. A few of the verses that he highlighted in the chapter I read last night came from 1 John. So this morning, I hopped off the several-year-long road I've been taking to read through the Bible "in one year" :). 1 John is an excellent book, and if you have not read the whole thing through, do it. It's basically a call to love, and a call away from darkness and into God's light, of which He is Himself, so in other words, a call to and into God. Much like the rest of the Bible. "We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." (2:3-6) Wow. Quite the command. Scary to think that this is the call and the responsibility of Christians everywhere. But at the same time, it's oddly humbling. "Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did."

"The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God." (3:8-9) "God's seed remains in him," and because of this humbling picture of God planting in us his call to love, we cannot go on sinning. And because we are to walk as Jesus did, if in fact we claim to live in him, we are to also destroy the devil's work. "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our heats at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything... And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us." (3:16-23) And if the devil's work is, in fact, the pain of the hurting, the distress of the weak, and the poverty of the hopeless, then are we not called to destroy the devil's work, to live in God, and to act in love, as Jesus did? And to go on doing this without sinning. In any area of our lives.

"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we asked of him." (5:14-15)


Losing sight

This blog starts with a little bit of [completely justifiable] shallowness. I was on Facebook, thinking about what status could possibly accurately describe my current state of mind. My first thought: it's funny how my struggles are immediate consequences of losing sight of the basic truths of the Relationship. I feel like lately, I've let the Relationship go. Whether it's a platonic or romantic relationship, when there is a lack of communication, there really isn't much of a relationship (boy, have I learned that in the past!). I've been on edge lately. And though I fill in my reasoning with lots of good excuses, the truth is I haven't taken time with my God. Earlier today (a portion of my on-edgeness), I talked with a friend of mine, and she made a request of me. I honestly had too much to do today to even think about leaving the house, but then I thought (and I know it was the devil - he's attacked our friendship before), "Why do I feel like it's always me giving in this friendship?" And then once I got over my selfishness, I started thinking about my relationship with God, and how He probably feels that way with me, about, eh, say... 97.5% of the time. I feel like God is giving so freely and mercifully, and I'm not taking. Or I accept what He does for me as amazing, but then I move on, forgetting that in order to be in a 2-way relationship, I must do my part. And in order to ever pursue a relationship with anyone in the physical realm, I must first have a relationship with the creator, molder, and perfecter of all good things. And stop making excuses.


"My thoughts are not your thoughts"

The Lord says, "My thoughts are not like
your thoughts.
Your ways are not like my ways.
Just as the heavens are higher than the
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your
Rain and snow fall from the sky
and don't return without watering the
They cause the plants to sprout and grow,
making seeds for the farmer
and bread for the people.
The same thing is true of the words I
They will not return to me empty.
They make the things happen that I want
to happen,
and they succeed in doing what I send
them to do.
So you will go out with joy
and be led out in peace.
The mountains and hills will burst into
song before you, and all the trees in the fields will clap
their hands.
Large cypress trees will grow where thornbushes were.
Myrtle trees will grow where weeds
These things will be a reminder of the
Lord's promise,
and this reminder will never be

Isaiah 55:8-13

Wow. His Word will not return void. And when we go out with peace and with joy, hearts that were once shriveled and hard will be revived.
Sometimes I wonder if what I'm doing or would like to do is truly what God would have for me to do. And truthfully, I probably spend more time thinking about that than just doing.

Cliff's message at Lighthouse this week, entitled "Are You Ready" (http://lighthousecollective.com/category/podcast/series) just blew me away. Sidenote: he is such a vessel for what God wants to speak to His people. Cliff spoke on Acts 20-parts of 21, right after Paul's journey through Ephesus, and through Macedonia and Greece, and he's on his way to Jerusalem. He was warned by the Holy Spirit of the suffering of this journey (as he was on every previous journey), yet he still went. How many times would we still go ahead with something even after being warned by the Holy Spirit that, frankly, it is dangerous! ? Paul's life was worth nothing to him. "... through the Spirit," Paul is told he shouldn't go to Jerusalem. Paul was bound and determined, and he was ready. The thing here is that there is a difference between a warning and a prohibition, or putting a complete stop to Paul's journey. Others were getting warnings too, and were pleading with Paul not to go. But these warnings were warnings, and they were being interpreted as a message of "don't go!"
We have a choice of either taking the advice of those that are trying to protect us, versus seeing what God wants for us. My life is God's life that He has graciously given to me. Sometimes the voices of reason, protection, and logic might not be the voice of God. I am to say, "God, how can you use this life to advance your grace and Gospel?" We've all heard the saying, "The safest place in the world to be is in the center of the will of God."... it might not be the safest place, but it is the best place to be. God sees the eternity in situations, when we see the here and now. At some point, heat needs to be added to the clay that He has molded. Sometimes we go through the fire only to bring out the best of God's glory. If we hear something that is consistent with who He is and is consistent with advancing the Gospel, we are to take into account what others are saying, but we are not to put limits on God. My life is worth nothing in comparison to how God can use it to advance His kingdom.

Ugh. After listening to that message, I felt so heavy, yet so compelled and inspired by Paul's example of unconditional faithfulness. I often let my own selfish thoughts and the opinions of others get in the way. The whole previously mentioned World Vision/Seattle thing, for example. It's really amazing when you mix this message with the one about being stretched by God, in prayer and in service, to your utmost limits.
I'm a planner. A big planner. I like to make lists and think about what my life story will be. But it's funny when I stop and think about how God has changed pretty much every plan I've made for myself. I need to be aware and concerned, yes, but I also need to let God have the reigns (as we always say, don't we? Yet we take the end of the reigns anyways, and still try to have some control) and just do instead of think.

(sorry that this was so scattered... it's a combination of Cliff's and my thoughts)


the place between peace and confusion

you know that place between peace and confusion? i'm kind of there. i've been praying a lot about going to youth haven this summer, and, i don't know, i'm kind of feeling like, once again, there is nothing holding me back (besides school, which could be done while there). i'm excited about it. and i've felt such a call to simply SERVE. and that place has my heart. so whether or not i work there for the whole summer, i want to be involved.
but then yesterday someone asked me, "well, do you need to start saving some money? would it be more realistic for you to get a job that pays better?" and my immediate reaction was, i don't care!!! but i didn't say that to the person. i just feel such an ease about NOT getting a "real" job and not making a ton of money. yes, i would be much more comfortable and i wouldn't feel guilty buying coffee and lunch when i'm out at school. but... i don't know... i guess in my heart of hearts, i know that God is not looking for me to be comfortable. if anything, He is looking for me to be stretched... for me to stretch my muscles to their furthest extent, like i talked about in my last post. and he'll take care of the rest.
it's funny, because growing up, and really up until the last few years, i have always been the realistic, money saving, future planning person. and now i just want to go and live off of what i make! it's weird thinking that way, but at the same time, i know that it is possible with God. and maybe someday i will have money stashed in the bank, but for now, i want to take advantage of not being tied down by anything. i'm not tied down by a job. i'm not tied down by my own place. this might be the last year that i can say that, and that i can feel good about not having a job and not having my own place, because i can think and serve. sometimes i feel guilty being "lazy" in those regards, but i'll take it as a blessing for now. oh! and then i'll somehow find a fabulous job down the road and i'll be able to put my money into something good! yup. that's what i'll do. see... there i go planning again.


too much to say!

so i think that all of the ideas that are in my head are about to burst out if i don't start recording them. i seriously have so many little things to say that i am confident that this post will be one of many. i've been overwhelmed with school, and then i get overwhelmed with the thought that, once again, i waste so much time resting from school that i don't spend time resting in God.
at lighthouse this week, the speaker talked about peter and his amazing trust in God. after peter was arrested, acts 12 tells us that he prayed earnestly. thanks to cliff's studying, this word comes from the greek word "ektonas" (not sure of the spelling...) which means "to stretch a muscle to its very limits." peter prayed to his VERY LIMITS. as if every muscle in his body was tense and stretched as far as it could go. amazing. peter believed God instead of in his present circumstances. he trusted God so much that he was able to SLEEP the night before his trial! because he trusted in God. he trusted in His deliverance. i want to be like that. i want to trust so much in God's deliverance and plan for my life that i can rest and sleep and live in peace, knowing that whatever i do, whenever i do it, despite what others tell me, God is in control and HE is on the throne. i want to pray like peter did. i want to pray so EARNESTLY that my body is sore. i want to seek God that much. yet i often let life get in the way. when i think about it though... does anything else really matter?
serve. love. pray. to your very muscular limits.
cliff mentioned something else that was great too... we can be the answer to our own prayer when we SERVE to the LIMIT.
God has been causing me to see and hear many things about serving to my limits. and serving not for myself or for money, but for God. to be a daughter in which He is well pleased is what i long to be. more on that later.... (when i'm not supposed to be doing homework at school, and when i have my devo. book :)



Once again, God used this daily devotional to speak to me. There's a common trend lately... HEARING God. Not just listening, but hearing.

The Discipline of Hearing
"Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preah on the housetops" (Matthew 10:27).
"Sometimes God puts us through the experience and discipline of darkness to teach us to hear and obey Him. Song birds are taught to sing in the dark, and God uts us into the 'shadow of His hand' until we learn to hear Him (Isaiah 49:2). 'Whatever I tell you in the dark...' -- pay attention when God puts you into darkness, and keep your mouth closed while you are there. Are you in the dark right now in your circumstances, or in your life with God? If so, then remain quiet. If you open your mouth in the dark, you will speak while in the wrong mood--darkness is the time to listen. Don't talk to other people about it; don't read books to find out the reason for the darkness; just listen and obey. If you talk to other people, you cannot hear what God is saying. When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else once you are back in the light.
After every time of darkness, we should experience a mixture of delight and humiliation. If there is only delight, I question whether we have really heard God at all. We should experience delight for having heard God speak, but mostly humiliation for having taken so long to hear Him! Then we will exclaim, 'How slow I have been to listen and understand what God has been telling me!' And yet God has been saying it for days and even weeks. But once you hear Him, He gives you the gift of humiliation, which brings a softness of heart--a gift that will always cause you to listen to God now."
Oswald Chambers - My Utmost for His Highest


I've been a bit down lately. Just in the mood to be in no mood at all. Family stuff. Friend stuff. Me stuff. My heart is heavy. I have a tendency to feel the pressures of everyone else's burdens on my own shoulders. It fits the personality, I suppose. And I'm glad. But regardless, I'm feeling kind of blah. God has a plan. He is a healer, a comforter, and a director.
So, I read My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers as much as I can. Here's today's entry...

The Devotion of Hearing
"Samuel answered, 'Speak, for Your servant hears'" (1 Sam. 3:10)
"Just because I have listened carefully and intently to one thing from God does not mean that I will listen to everything He says. I show God my lack of love and respect for Him by the insensitivity of my heart and mind toward what He says. If I love my friend, I will instinctively understand what he wants. And Jesus said, "Your are My friends..." (John 15:14). Have I disobeyed some command of my Lord's this week? If I had realized that it was a command of Jesus, I would not have deliberately disobeyed it. But most of us show incredible disrespect to God because we don't even hear Him. He might as well never have spoken to us.
The goal of my spiritual life is such close identification with Jesus Christ that I will always hear God and know that God always hears me. If I am united with Jesus Christ, I hear God all the time through the devotion of hearing. A flower a tree, or a servant of God may convey God's message to me. What hinders me from hearing is my attention to other things. It is not that I don't want to hear God, but I am not devoted in the right areas of my life. I am devoted to things and even to service and my own convictions. God may say whatever He wants, but I just don't hear Him. The attitude of a child of God should always be, "Speak, for Your servant hears." If I have not developed and nurtured this devotion of hearing, I can only hear God's voice at certain times. At other times I become deaf to Him because my attention is to other things -- things which I think I must do. This is not living the life of a child of God. Have you heard God's voice today?"

Well if that isn't a kick in the rear. Not only the part about being devoted to service and MY own convictions... but I can relate it to the little things too, not just my summer plans and summer-after-that plans...
On Wednesday I felt like I was being bombarded with chances to be a servant. And I was shocked at my ability to turn them down. You know those times when you think, "What the heck?! Why did you not help that person?" Here's the rundown of Wednesday (and this is probably only half of it - that's how much God kept putting things in my way just to make me think how I would "ethically" handle the situation. Figures I'm taking an ethics class :) )...
1. While sitting in the hallway at school, waiting for the teacher to come unlock the door, I saw a lady walking down the hall. She was on her phone and clearly preoccupied. I looked ahead of her for some reason and saw a cute little spider descending from the ceiling. My first reaction was Miss! There's a spider! It was a silent reaction. Then I thought maybe she'll miss it. My guess is that she didn't and she probably found it on her shirt in her next class. Seriously?! I was disappointed in myself.
2. K, so THEN I went to Panera, as I usually do twice a week on my 3 hour break, and on my way in the door, I saw an older couple approaching the building. They were far enough away that I could get in the door and all the way to the counter before they would even touch the handle. Once again... first reaction: I'll wait and hold the door open. Psh. No, that would be too high and mighty for little old me to do.
3. Then as Stacey and I are sitting there, working away at our homework, an older woman walked over to the table next to us. Mind you, half of the restaurant was empty and this particular table was covered in the last customer's scraps, but nonetheless, her heart was set on this table. She looked over at a couple sitting nearby and asked if they knew if the staff comes around to clean the tables. Then a few minutes later, she asked us. Oh Shannon... really? could you not have gotten up and wiped off the table for her?
There was something else too, but apparently it's escaping my mind. That's enough harshness on myself though, I suppose. My point is that God calls us to serve EVERYWHERE. Even in the smallest ways. My mind is so set on Youth Haven and World Vision and all of these other great organizations. And I feel like I put on a mask when I tell people about Youth Haven or my hopes of being involved with World Vision. Because that's at the surface. Yes, I believe that God called me to be at Youth Haven this summer. Without a doubt, I believe that. But the question is whether or not I take that reliance on and direction of God into EVERY other arena in my life. I don't want what's deeper in my life to simply be me "devoted to things and even to service and my own convictions. God may say whatever He wants, but I just don't hear Him."
I can't write enough about who I should be portraying as a Christian. I find myself judging the hypocrites that call themselves Christians. But is this not the same? Is it not myself that I am judging? Once again, I am reminded... I am no better than anyone else.


Awesome God... Mysterious God

I have been proven to, once again, how amazing God is. I went to Lighthouse last night with a friend. First of all, the speaker talked about how God perfectly orchestrates our lives and how, more often than not, things happen for a reason. He was talking about how he loves to look back on events in his and others' lives and see how one occurrence led to something else happening, and so on and so on. I think it's amazing how God does this. I mean, truly amazing.
Back in April, my place of employment closed. A few weeks later, I applied for a job at a camp for abused and neglected children. And a few weeks after that, I was hired about 3 days before I was to start orientation for their summer program. I can see, even in this small way, how God orchestrated His plans for that season in my life. If I hadn't lost my job, I wouldn't have gone to camp. If I hadn't gone to camp, I wouldn't have had one of the most amazing experiences of giving and receiving in my life. I wouldn't have met so many friends that have touched my life, let alone the children. I might not have had this interest in being more involved with World Vision in the future. It's just interesting to look at - how real our God is, and how involved He is with each one of us when there is a whole world and a whole universe to be involved with. When I see this, I think, Who am I to doubt?! Journal entry: December 31, 2008 - "Help me to trust that you have my life perfectly orchestrated, and no matter what I do, I can't mess up your plan."
The friend that came to Lighthouse with me has been through a whole pile of crap and back in the last year, and especially in the last few weeks. As we were chatting about the message last night though, we realized that if she hadn't experienced the things she's gone through, then she may not have come to church, and she may have never realized her need to reconnect with God.
Life is bound to throw trials right at the times and the places it hurts the most. But if we knew all the answers and if we knew how to handle them, then there would be no place for faith and trust and hope. And if there was no place for faith, trust, and hope, then there would be no need for an involved and orchestrating God.
"The time will come when everything will be explained. There seems to be a cloud on the friendship of the heart, and often even love itself has to wait in pain and tears for the blessing of fuller fellowship and oneness.... If all you see is a shadow on the face of the Father right now, hang on to the fact that He will ultimately give you clear understanding and will fully justify Himself in everything that He has allowed into your life." -Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest


i think too much...

you know, i've never really been into the whole blogging thing. just because i know i wouldn't take the time for it. but i recently thought, heck! why not? primarily because mary's on here :) and i can't comment unless i have a blog! but also because i feel like i should be journaling more. maybe because i don't talk enough about things. and because i think too much and i need an outlet. OR maybe it's just for my own sake and i need to recall smart moments when i'm feeling rather stupid. but now i'm thinking... hm... sounds rather selfish, don't you think? yes. BUT i've also realized that i'm encouraged and i learn a lot from others. and MAYBE someone will read this and find some sort of encouragement from it. or maybe i'll post a devotional at just the right time for someone... i know that God chimes in at just the right moments in my life (whether or not i think they're the right moments, they are). so maybe God will use me in a likewise way... or likewisely...

so i keep rethinking about a recent note i posted on facebook. i will not post it again for the simple fact that it's posted under my notes. it's entitled "i need this constant reminder." and rightfully so, seeing that i've needed it on a regular basis since i read it (talk about God chiming in!). i find myself [almost constantly] thinking about the future and what i should be doing next week and this summer and even the summer after that! and it bogs me down. but part of me likes it. BUT as much as i like to think it's good to be a planner, when i really think about how much i think... it makes me ill. not really, but i just spend a lot of time doing that. and i think about how much more time i could be spending in prayer or in the Word (such as right now, but well... i'm too busy thinking). and i've realized how often i say, "i'll be praying for you." and i offer up a quick, "Lord, be with this person... [k, back to me]" then maybe a quick prayer here and there as that person comes back to mind. but i SO want to live that life of prayer, you know? to LIVE a LIFE of PRAYER. wow... i thought about that the other day. how awesome it would be to eventually reach the place of a constant prayer life. and to be EXCITED about it! yet i've found myself in a place of... not apathy because i do care, but something similar... maybe just comfort? not necessarily a peaceful comfort, but just a fine comfort. yeah, some things suck. but i know it will all be ok. ...so maybe i'm in a place of peace afterall, and i just don't know it. maybe God's just saying, "listen, i'll take care of you no matter what. but if you want to feel fed and if you want to LIVE a life of LOVE, you have to do your part." hm... free will, i suppose. we serve quite a creative God.