Monday, April 13, 2015

God Knits

I just wanted to share something that God revealed to me in my quiet time this morning.
I've been studying some scriptures that talk about sanctification, and through that study I came across these verses, I'm sure you're familiar with them.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8

In the past while reading these verses, I've always gone away with a mindset that I have to go and work really hard to possess these qualities. I've always focused more on the last verse, looking for the end result rather than studying the first verse for wisdom on how to get there.
Today God opened my eyes to see the very first part of this passage, where he says "make every effort to add to your faith..."
Meaning that it all starts with faith. So I started thinking about faith.
What is faith? It's the beginning and foundation and base of our whole belief system as Christians. It's what God gives us when He opens our eyes to the truth at the very beginning of our walk with Him. It's our understanding of our need for His grace, and our acknowledgment that He is sufficient to meet all of our needs, and trusting in His power to overcome every one of our sins.

Then as I thought more about this, God made me think of knitting needles and yarn.
I used to knit a lot (not very well, but I understand the concept).
When you begin knitting something, the first row of stitches you make are different than all the ones to follow. You have to know how to "cast on" your first stitches. This creates the base of your project so that you have something to work off of as you begin adding rows to whatever your making.
In thinking about the verses in 2 Peter, I realized that having faith is like 'casting on' your first row. If you don't have that base of faith, you can't add rows of goodness, knowledge, self-control, and so on. The stitches cannot be formed correctly unless you have that vital first row, which requires a different technique than the rest of the stitching.
Having faith initially is different than adding to it.
God gives faith, and you receive it. God also gives the Spirit, which enables you to add 'rows' to your spiritual walk.

I realized that a lot of the time, I look for shortcuts to complete my 'project'. And so often I've tried to stitch rows without using my faith-base. I see now how that can cause a walk with God to feel like it's falling apart.
I'm so thankful for this revelation today and I hope it helps you somehow, as well!
I hope hard-core knitters aren't upset with me for using unofficial knitting terminology, if I did.

Bye for now!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Raging War and the Wind.

There I stood in the center of a raging war. I was completely unarmed except for the mask I so tightly held on to, as if it held some sort of significance. I held out the hope that it could at least be used as a means of defense. When in reality it was only a flimsy mask, useless on the battlefield. I only had it because they told me I should have it. All the other children in the war had one, too. Maybe we thought we could fool the enemy by pretending to be someone else. Looking back, it seems so silly, but at the time I had a lot of faith in that mask.
The enemy was surrounding us, we were overwhelmed. 
A fearsome beast came bounding toward me in a most vicious manner, and I braced myself.
I set my mask in place and stood my ground as I watched the beast approach.
As it closed in on me, the fear inside me grew. 
My stance masqueraded bravery, but I was faint with fear.
Finally I gave in. Who was I to fight a beast? The battlefield is no place for a child.
I crouched down in my desperate fear and waited for the wind.
The wind always came at just the right time and carried the beasts away, remarkably leaving me unharmed every time.
Finally, as the beast made it's final leap toward me, the wind came.
As always, it violently carried the enemy away from me, while only tickling me with the faintest breeze, and gently stripping my face of the mask.
I always wondered how something so strong could be so gentle at the same time.
I suppose it isn't something for a child to understand.
All I know is that I am weak, the mask is useless, and the wind is unseen but reliable and far stronger than the enemy.


As children of God, every day we stand in the middle of a raging war. We are attacked by all sorts of evil. We struggle and try and push and give it all our might to stand against the enemy. The world tells us to wear a mask, it suggests that if we pretend to be something else, perhaps the struggle won't be so difficult. But in the end we crouch down in fear and wait for our help. Our strong, reliable help. We can't see Him with our eyes, but in our desperate need He never fails to show up in time.
He gently removes our masks, letting us know that we are accepted as we are.

(((In the story, the child was completely unarmed.
I want to state that it was written that way in order to emphasize our great need for God.
In reality, I'm truly grateful that God has indeed equipped us with the Holy Spirit and His Word to help us win our daily battles in life.)))

And praise God that the war has already been won!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

To Cultivate a Vineyard

Isaiah 5:1-4
I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a wine press as well.
Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.
"Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?"

The image of God's vineyard is a powerful illustration of his love for his people, and his grief when we ignore him and everything he's done.
This passage tells of the tender care of one planting a vineyard. Working hard to give it every opportunity for growth, all the odds are for this vineyard. The soil is turned, the stones are cleared, good vines are planted—ones that almost guarantee a good result—, a watchtower is built and a wine press cut out in expectation of the good fruit to come.
Everything necessary for a good result is right there.

"...what more could I have done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?" (V.4)

In the book of Isaiah, this passage is tucked in the middle of a large description of all the ways that the people of Judah are blowing God off in favor of temporary pleasure and gain.
They are worshipping idols, the women are entirely self/image obsessed, it's a real mess.

The issue? Materialism, of course. The people are starry eyed at shiny things that offer worldly pleasure and gain. The economy at that time is said to have been thriving. There was plenty to go around and yet there were people doing without, people in need but being ignored. Widows, orphans, outcasts.
How do you suppose God felt about it? He had clearly abundantly blessed and provided for his people, instructing them to care for those in need. What did they do? They kept the riches for themselves and left the needy in need.

The vineyard is planted, ready to thrive!
But the ones tending aren't tending it at all. They are merely playing with the blessings given, not seizing the purpose of them—To glorify the Lord and care for the people in need (and therefore glorify God all the more!)—

"...when I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?"
People's selfishness, egos, pride, money-clenching.
Question: are these things that people struggle with today?
Answer: absolutely. Welcome to the USA, where we have everything at our fingertips.
We have people rolling in riches AND people sleeping on the streets.
We are a nation with a lot of potential and a lot of missing the point.
God didn't plant a great vineyard for us to say "hey, thanks"
He planted a vineyard for us to tend and make thrive. But it's up to us to take up the responsibility. He's gotten us off to a great start, but if we are going to take up the classic selfish gain mindset, we are well on our way to a bitter end.

Isaiah 5:5-7
"Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away it's hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down it's wall, and it will be trampled, I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it."
The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

We as Christians really should be seeking to know the heart of God. And if we get to know the heart of God, we find that his heart is for those in need. And we find that we are called to care for those in need and share our blessings with them.
I'm not pressuring you to donate half your life savings to an organization or to go spend the night with a homeless person.
I'm telling you that I personally feel a responsibility to look for the opportunities are in front of me today to be what I am called to be within that opportunity, whatever that looks like. And I'm totally trusting God to make that evident.
I'm seeing the emptiness of the world that will not last and desiring to invest my actions today for the good of eternity and the glory of God.
I'm desiring to cultivate this potentially beautiful, productive, vineyard with the blessings I've been given.

And may this not just be a blog post. Not just something on my mind today that passes away by next week, but a true motivation in my heart to live by the beat of God's heart.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Fragile, Noble.

"Look Daddy, I'm strong" says the little 6 year old boy, flexing his 'muscles' for his Father to see and acknowledge. "Oh, yes, son. You're very strong." The father says, knowing full well that the boy would be helpless as a worm against a bird should he ever get into a tangle with a bully.
The boy continues, "and when I turn 7 next week, I'm going to be even bigger and stronger!"
The father imitates a bobble head to perfection as he pretends to believe whole-heartedly what his son claims to be true. All the while having a wider and more realistic grasp on reality, knowing that the boy would grow stronger as he grew older, but certainly would not change within the next week.

"Look Daddy, I'm strong" 
How many times have I tried to convince my Heavenly Father that I'm invincible.
How many times have I tried to fool my friends and family into believing that I'm a tough little, brave little, strong little non-giver-upper.
How many times have I thought to myself "this is no big deal. I can handle this."
How many times have I been deceived into thinking that I had the strength in myself to face the big, nasty world.

Guess what? God has always known how helpless and fragile I am.
I've never been able to convince him that I'm perfectly capable, thank you.
Because He's God. I believe he created me with specific weaknesses so that he could be my strength.
And He says it all over the place in the Bible and in my life, but did I get it?
Not too often. I didn't want to admit that I'm... I'm...Weak.
That I need help. That I can't breathe unless God permits it.
Because I have this issue that makes me want to be great, and it will do whatever it takes to avoid being hurt by anything, or worse, be looked down upon by someone who has their act more together than I. 

Basically, I've been about as eager to be vulnerable as a mule is to carry a wide load up a mountain. 
(Thanks for appreciating that analogy) 

The issue with being 'strong' is that you never grow that way.
The other day God and I had a chat, a good chat.
 I can just imagine Him saying to the angels, "watch. It's about time Chelsea gets the 'vulnerability' talk." 
--I really love my Heavenly Father because He does this stuff.
He always teaches me things at just the perfect time. (Imagine that)
And with such intention.--

So we had the talk.
It turns out that if you're unwilling to get into a place where you could be broken into tiny little pathetic pieces, you're not allowing yourself to be prime molding material for your Maker.
What's the point of asking God to renew your heart and mind if you're not going to be vulnerable enough to be humbled, which is when you actually are in the perfect place to be formed into something new!?

So I asked God to humble me. Yes, I did.
Have you ever prayed that prayer? Scary, I know.
But necessary.
Sure enough! I had a pretty awful week with lots of opportunity to be humbled.
Praise God.
I would rather endure much hardship and humiliation than be forever stoic and unmoving.
What good is a pretty statue of you to God?
He wants the real you with all your flaws and issues.
He wants you to know the freedom that comes in vulnerability,

He doesn't let us struggle for the sake of struggling, okay? God is truly a loving Father to His children. He wants us to become everything He has created us to be, even if we have to shed tears and be humiliated on our way there.
It's worth it.
Do yourself a favor and ask God to take you through whatever refining fire He has for you, but only if you're willing to be vulnerable and broken for an indefinite amount of time.
And if you're going through something that feels like that fire now, ask God what He's teaching you.
Whether you ask him or not, you will find out eventually. God doesn't stop halfway through refining you (that would imply that God is not good, which goes against his character)
But I bet if you ask him what He's getting at, He'll let you in on it.
(Unless of course he knows you're not ready for that grand revelation. In which case, hang in there!)

Goodness, I've rambled. I just felt the need to spill about what God has been doing in my life lately.
This is how I process things, I write, and I pray that if it is God's will, this post would be used to encourage you. And if not, I pray that He'd make the link to my blog quit working.

By the way.. Sorry about the whole "seven-month-gap-between-posts" thing.
I realize that that is very uncool in the blogging society and I have no right to claim the title of 'blogger' anymore.
That's okay.
I hereby claim the title of 'sleepy child of God writing at 11:47pm because she had something on her mind and it wasn't this late when she started writing and now she's going to shut up because this rambling is getting annoying' 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Year End Reflections/boasting about God's crazy awesomeness

I was just writing in a journal about some things that God has done in my life over the past year, and I was quite impressed. When God wants to do stuff, He doesn't mess around. Here's a scratch on the surface of what He's done in my life this year.

* He promised to give me peace after a season of restlessness and "desert wandering", and he absolutely kept his word. He's truly proven to me that he is indeed, the Prince of Peace.
* He gave me eyes to see how richly blessed I am, and he was delighted to see me delighting in it.
* He said "watch this!" And provided for me in unthinkable ways.
* He revealed to me all kinds of truth about his unchanging character and nature. And he showed me how everything else is what it is because of who he is.
* He showed me who I am. And how very precious I am in his sight.
* He revealed to me his Father Heart and I found out how amazing it is to take up my identity as a daughter of God.
* He broke down barriers inside of me that we're keeping my heart from getting close to his.
* He explained the difference between being quiet and being insecure. Then he broke off the insecurity in me and showed me how to walk out in quiet confidence. (Yeah!! God! For the WIN!)
* He shared his heart for Thailand with me. I had no expectations for Thailand, I wasn't even excited to go until we were going, but once the plane landed, I was in love. It's inexplainable except that God was sharing his heart.
* He let me experience righteous anger as well. It was strange but cool. It certainly gave me the drive to pray all the harder for a certain area in Thailand.
* He taught me about being selfless and sacrificial for the sake of someone else and for his pleasure and glory. —not only taught me about it, but he gave me lots of opportunity to walk out in obedience in it. ;)
* He taught me to be obedient daily. It's hard to live an obedient life until you're taking it one task at a time, saying "yes, Lord" to each individual thing he tells you to do.
* He pursued me relentlessly. He actually said "I'm going to pursue you this week" one week, and by the end of that week, I was head over heels for Him. Still am.
* He taught me about the power of prayer. It is effective. Hours of intercession on end gave me plenty of opportunity to see what good he will do through persistent and sincere prayers.
So go pray. :P
* He proved to me that He is the only thing that can fill that stinkin' void inside of me. And he's certainly filled it and is continuing to do so. And the more he pours in, the more I can pour out, and the more he can pour in...

So there's the BIG revelations that I can think of right now.
God's so great.
And you know what? He won't be any less great in 2014!!
Happy New Year! :)


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tile Floor Perspective

Friday.Nov.15.13—Chiang Mai, Thailand.

I sit cross-legged on the tile floor of a peaceful little balcony that I and my two room mates are so blessed to enjoy. When I look up, I see the tip-top of a tree and the dusty sky through the window.
I hear the fireworks that go off whenever someone lights a lantern to send off into the clouds... The lights are everywhere in the sky. I watch them even now, as they drift without a care through the atmosphere.
They blissfully wander through the clouds, looking down on this city.
And what a sight it must be. It makes me think of what God's view must be like.
I try to imagine what He must feel for this place.
Maybe joy when He sees the ministries flourishing here, probably sorrow and compassion when he sees the heartbreak of so many people, surely jealousy and righteous anger when he sees the people worship puny little idols.

Right now I see a long string of lanterns ablaze in the night sky. I wonder if each of them was set off to honor or please some false god.
It crushes me to think about it— all the promises that these 'gods' make. They promise peace and prosperity to the people, but dead gods can't do anything.
And so the people are left striving for and chasing a whole lot of nothing.
It's the emptiness of the whole ordeal that weighs on my heart.

But I think again about my God and of his view of this city right now.
One thing I know is this:
He sees is his little girl, sitting cross-legged on a tile floor of a balcony in Chiang Mai.
He hears the weeping of my heart for this place, and suddenly His spirit is here with me, saying that he knows that I am feeling burdened and enclosed in the darkness that surrounds me. But he whispers softly, "I have overcome, I have overcome".
He won't stop saying it, because it's the truth.
He says that from a tile floor perspective, this city seems dark and hopeless.
But he assures me that from a Heavenly perspective, there is no need for weeping or burdens, because He has overcome.

And so the weight is lifted, and the balcony is peaceful.
Now I can look up at the lanterns drifting with the clouds without a rush of negative emotion.
My God is greater and he has overcome.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Update from Thailand #2

(Farewell, Korat!)

I can hardly believe that we've already spent 3 amazing weeks in Thailand.
I've caught myself so many times thinking about what's happening here, and I stand amazed and honored to have a part in it.
On Tuesday evening we'll leave the lovely city of Korat, and drive 12 hours to Chiang Mai. This is where we'll be staying for the next (and final) 3 weeks of outreach.

So how about I tell you about what we've been up to?
While staying here in Korat, we've partnered with a ministry called The Tamar Center.
It's been an absolute pleasure to work alongside these guys! Their ministry here is amazing.
They do so many things, I think we've only had a tiny taste of what it's like during our time here.
But what we've been doing has certainly been full-on.

1. English Teaching
We did more of this than anything, and by our last school visit (yesterday), I think we'd just about gotten the hang of it ;)
This is what a typical English teaching day would look like:
We'd arrive at the school (we visited one high school, many primary schools, and one special ed school) and for the first hour or two and do a program with about 200 students.
The program included some cover songs —I've about had it with "Baby" by Justin Bieber—, we'd do some skits of Bible stories (The Prodigal Son, "Davie and Goliath", etc.), play "Every Move I Make" or "O Happy Day" with hand motions and have the kids join in, and occasionally have someone share a brief testimony.
Then we'd split into 5 or 6 groups, and teach English for around 2 hours.
Then came lunchtime, which typically would take one hour.
Then another 2 hours of English teaching in our separate groups before we all got together again for another 1 or 2 hours of songs and skits and whatnot.
Then came time to say goodbye :( our students were usually very affectionate and would ask for pictures with everyone. Pictures with 200 students takes a while, folks.
But it was sweet, I really enjoyed going to schools.

2. The Village
We were able to visit a village a couple of times while being here. It is about a two hour drive from our accommodation, so it was special to be able to go there.
We'd spend a couple hours playing with the kids in the village, then have dinner, then we'd join the Christian adults of the village and gather for a time of worship, a testimony, and a message. This is a regular ministry of the Tamar Center folks, in fact, they reach out to this particular village every Tuesday.

3. Evangelism/prayer
There is a plaza type of thing in Korat that has statues and idols set up and it's a place known for all the prostitution that goes on in the area. Every Saturday evening we'd go there to pray and evangelize.
On our first night going to this place, I was filled with a 'righteous anger' for it.
God's certainly shared His heart for that place with me. It was the strangest thing to be so upset when typically, I'd be able to brush off the "icky dark feelings" and move on.
But this place is dark, let me tell you. Every time we went, the same thing happened.
But I know for sure that our prayers are having an effect on the place.
I know for a fact that strongholds have been broken in that place for good over the past weeks, and by golly, they're not going to stop being broken because God is ready to take that place back and restore it and renew the lives of the people there.

4. Etc..
-We also had the privilege of visiting a hospital (where we performed some songs in the lobby),
-an orphanage (where we talked to the kids and sang some songs, gave a testimony),
-a home for elderly folks (where we spent some time just chillin' and praying with the people).

And many, many, more things.
Today for our last day in Korat, we will go and see some really old temple ruins, and then go to the village one last time.

That's all for now :)