Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
God is so faithful, and He just reminds me over and over... and sometimes I don't even realize it until I look back.
Last night was the second week of my Bible study. There were 11 of us girls. Eleven. That's the most I've had, which isn't even a lot.. but to me it is a lot, because I'm not a huge fan of speaking in public. But, a few weeks ago before school started, I was nervous people weren't going to come... that it was going to be smaller... obviously not :)
We talked about diligence and being diligent in ministry - which includes just encouraging others, helping, talking, listening, writing, cooking, etc. From that, my girls (haha... "my") decided that they want to go find or buy some food and coats and give them to the homeless in downtown Amarillo. Just, on their own. So amazing!
I've been reading "Purpose Driven Life" and a chapter I read the other day talked about how one of the greatest ways to worship is through obedience. And, I am going on my first mission trip to South Padre... "Beach Reach." We serve pancakes and give free van rides to drunk people and just spread the gospel to thousands of college students. I've heard it's exhausting, but more than that... I hear nothing but how amazing of a trip it is, and how much God teaches you. It's $400, and I have no idea how I'm going to get that money! But, as our BSM director said, "Say yes, until God says no." [PS -- if you feel led to help support me financially or through prayer, let me know!]
And while I'm on the topic of missions, I've been thinking about my summer. There's an organization called GoNow that sends students all over on various mission trips. I felt an obligation to go, and not a desire... and I didn't want to go for the wrong reason. What I do have a desire for is serving at a camp. I want to a "camp fair" last year, and all these camps from mostly Texas, but some other states, were there just trying to get workers. I considered it but never followed through... but I feel like I really want to do this. I have two in mind so far, one far and one close, so I'm just praying that God leads me to one of those if that's where He wants me.
I'm nervous about Spring Break and my summer... but I know God will place me where He wants me. I thought about last semester, and how I almost got a house. But that fell through. Then, I moved out of a suite... into another... and out of that one and into another. Lots of moving. But, I realized how blessed I am to be in this suite, and how God just worked everything to put me in here. I have an amazing roommate, who has never gotten the chance to go to a Bible study until now. And who wants to go to church with me more regularly. Another one of my suitemates actually went to my Bible study last semester, and I just love her! My other suitemate also is going to try and start going to Bible study (it's in our living room... so they don't have too far to walk).
On top of all those new Bible study girls and trips, my roommate and I went to church with eight other new people. Two of the people are regular church go-ers, but not to my church... the others, I'm not sure where they go or how often.
I have just been so encouraged this week, despite other problems and the stress of life. Haha. But I love when God gives me these reality checks!
Posted by jess at 3:17 PM
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I've realized this year, that I have a lot of strong opinions about how Christians live, or should live. I realized this is because for a long time, I didn't portray Christ. At all. I was the exact opposite. And I don't want to make that mistake again.
I prefer to stay away from the party scene - I get so uptight, I don't like drinking, people get stupid, there's drama, and I don't see anyway that it glorifies God. I don't want to do something to cause another believer to stumble in their faith.
In Matthew 15, it talks about how what you say (and I think to an extent, even think) is what defiles you. That's another reason I stay away from the party scene... what goes into your mind is what you start thinking about and speaking. I think even music affects that somewhat, and what you watch on TV.
On the other side of this scale, there's good things we, as Christians, forget to do that in our lives. In "Purpose Driven Life," it talked about how living each day as a test. There are big tests and little tests, and our goal is to pass (obiviously)... and we pass by how we live and go throughout the day, how we react.
God always provides, for what we need... what He's called us to do. In retrospect, we should have a generous heart. Not only tithing, but helping others, giving others your time. In doing this, we love. Which has been a big prayer of mine this semester... to love others more. Love the people around me I don't know, love the people around me that don't like me (or vice versa).
Worship is more than music. And it's not for you, it's for God. Part of this includes obedience. I love this from PDL: "Often we try to offer God partial obedience. We want to pick and choose the commands we obey. We make a list of the commands we like and obey those while ignoring the ones we think are unreasonable, difficult, expensive, or unpopular. I'll attend church but I won't tithe. I'll read my Bible but won't forgive the person who hurt me. Partial obedience is disobedience. Wholehearted obedience is done joyfully, with enthusiasm."
Posted by jess at 9:53 PM
Sunday, January 17, 2010
Now that I look back, it was kind of weird to put baptism on my list. I've been Christian my entire life, but was never baptized (until today!). It shouldn't be something I just check off a list. Which, I can honestly say it wasn't. When I made this list, I was just starting to actively follow Christ and form a relationship, instead of "yeah, I go to church....." But, I felt like this was the right time.
As they said this morning, being baptized is the first act of obedience as a Christ follower.
"For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead." -- Colossians 2:12
My life has already been changed since I actively started following Christ, and this is going to be a new, exciting chapter in my life. I am very excited for whatever God has in store.
Ironically, this morning I read Matthew 20: "But Jesus answered by saying to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink?” ... God never said following Christ would be easy, in fact, He said it would be difficult. But, He is always there to comfort us and give us strength. He never gives us more than we can handle, even when I feel like I'm about to crumble.
Posted by jess at 3:42 PM
Friday, January 15, 2010
I think that in the dictionary, "first week of each college semester" should be added under mayhem, or chaos, or craziness.
It wasn't actually a bad week. Classes, ya-da ya-da. Work... that was mayhem. Everyone and their mom decided to go buy books this week. I wondered if some people didn't realize you can get them before break, or even over break.
Of course, we started BSM activities. I didn't start my Bible study though.... but I am this week! :) Then there's all the extra schtuff: working out, reading, sleeping occasionally, eating, game night. Haha. Not to mention, loving my new roommate. I started this semester on such a good foot... even though a few "bad" things did happen, I never went to bed thinking I had a bad night.
I started reading "The Purpose Driven Life" this week. I've never really had a devotional book before. I usually just read from my Bible every morning. This book really makes me think, though. And I love it.
At Passion, one of the most impacting messages was about how the cross isn't about us, it's about what He did, and that we are here to glorify Him. One of the first lessons in this book was about what drives our life, and what do others see that drives my life? I've re-learned a lot over the last three or so weeks that just reading my Bible every day, going to the BSM three days a week and leading a Bible study isn't enough. Sure, I'm nice... loving... whatever... but to people I know, and know well. Not to strangers, or people I don't especially like.
I read Psalm 15 today and it made me realize how much of that I did do, maybe not every day, but that doesn't make it less worse. Sometimes I get so caught up in the things of this world... and I sit there and think, wait a minute... that's not what I really want.
"What is your life?" - James 4:14
Posted by jess at 10:22 PM
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Friday, January 8, 2010
I'm a librarian's daughter. So, as expected, I love reading. Right now I'm in one of my always-want-to-read phases. I'm finding that some of the books I want to read though, are not in the Canyon Public Library... and I don't want to go buy them. This could be problematic.
So I just finished "The Happy Room" by Catherine Palmer.
Basically, it's a story of this family where the kids grew up with parents as missionaries and each child kind of has a messed-up or unhappy life in some way. The back of the book said, ".. and they discover the God who never left them." Sounded kind of cliche to me, but I tend to judge a book by it's cover (especially being an artiste)... and this was a pretty book.
Wasn't the best book I've ever read, nor was it the worst.
One "theme" of the book talked about how there's always going to be some form of suffering when you're following God's will.
But my favorite part, was this quote: "God is not rosy. He's real. And you can be honest about the pain you've gone through without having to stay angry at God and everyone else who had a part in it. You'll get to where you can admit the pain, and love God too."
For the longest time I was mad at God for my diabetes, and many other things over the years.... but I realized it's never going to get easier.
Posted by jess at 9:11 PM
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I'm not sure where to begin. But forewarning, this is long.
I could say Passion 2010 was an experience... but I think of it more as an awakening.
On the first night, Louie Giglio talked a lot about living for God and glorifying Him. He said we should live for something larger (that being God) and it made me think about how some Christians lead a Godly life because it's what they "should" do, not because they want to glorify God in their life or be His hands and feet to someone else. Louie also talked about the story of Lazarus (John 11) and how God isn't afraid to move our stone... we can't do enough to make Him stop loving us. John 12:25 says, "Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity." I realized sometimes I lose focus on my life in Heaven, and get caught up in the things of this world.
We (as in, all 21,000 of us students) were split up into groups by the color of our wristbands, and then smaller groups ("families") within that. We did some reading in Colossians 1. Verses 15-20 talk about how Jesus is all there is.... there is nothing else needed, or someone else coming. God is supreme in everything; troubles are not His weakness. My leader said something that I loved and forget way too often, "Before thinking of yourself as gifted or successful, consider yourself as a beautiful masterpiece from God."
Then, there was Beth Moore. Love her! Her message was a major encouragement to me. God equips us with everything good... His plan for us fulfills His will for our life. Philippians 1:6 says, "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." And that good work means not one detail of our life is wasted. Beth also said that every bad thing that has been permitted, happened.. to allow God to equip you for what He wants you to do.
She spoke again at another session, talking a lot about our mind, heart and emotions. She talked about spiritual discernment about liars and our motives.... we should ask ourselves if we're usually critical or suspicious, if we're jealous or selfish, and are our emotions getting in the way of our discernment? If we answer no to all those questions, then yes... something is probably wrong. It is the will of God to love people, but love with a smart heart. But, sometimes God may be telling you to run, or take a step back, or ask questions and if the answers don't add up then pray about it and maybe confront.
Francis Chan spoke the next night, and this was one of my favorite messages. For a long time, I've been one to not follow the crowd. I will admit, there were times where I did. Stupid. But, this message proves how powerful God is... and in lamen terms: "God is like a GPS; you take a wrong turn and He 'recalculates'.... He'll get you where you need to be, even if it takes a little longer." I'm sure He's recalculated many times with me. Francis said when we're cleansed from the mud, don't go back to it... you've been given a new nature. 2 Peter 2:20 says, "And when people escape from the wickedness of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up and enslaved by sin again, they are worse off than before." Part of this new nature is reading His word and obeying - without waiting until someone else does first. God gives us everything we need to live a Godly life, in the words of Francis... and we should tremble at His word, even if no one around us is. I am so thankful that God has given me so much grace, and that I've been surrounded by people that keep me away from mud.
Although I was not a huge fan of Andy Stanley - I felt like I was at a high school leadership conference - he had some good points. "It's a mistake to decide what you want to do before you decide who you're going to be." He talked a lot about, who do we want to be? Think about what you want people to say about you at your funeral. That's about as far as his speech went, but when I was thinking about it... we are made in His image, and we should portray and live that out. There are a few things that I need to change, but it's more than a new year's resolution.
Francis spoke at another session, about following Christ and the suffering that that entails. He mentioned 1 Peter 4... which was such a big encouragement to me this semester. There was other verses; Luke 6:22, John 15:18, Romans 8:16, 1 Cor 4:12, Colossians 1:24. He talked about how Jesus suffered, and when we suffer... we draw closer to Him and experience Him in a whole new way. And one of the last things he said, why do you need the Comforter if you're comfortable?
One of the most mind-boggling messages I've ever heard was from John Piper. He talked about God is passionate about His glory, and how we're made to glorify Him. At every VBS and Sunday school class as kids, we were told that Jesus died on the cross for us because He loves us. True. But, He also did it so that we would glorify God. Why do we value the cross? Because it makes more of us since Jesus died for us, or because it makes more of God for His sacrifice? Wow. Makes ya feel kind of selfish, eh? Piper said, "The reason God seeks our praise, is we won't be truly happy without giving it."
In the last message, Louie spoke about how our goal isn't to be better than someone else, but to have the same mindset as Christ. I learned so much over the last few days... but I think the biggest lesson I learned, or was re-awakened to, was about living like Christ. Something he said really made me think, "Sure, your friends haven't seen Jesus yet... but what do they see on your face?"
Passion was more than the speakers, and the singers - both of which were amazing. But, seeing (and I saw, since we had box seats.. hehe) thousands of students singing and praising God is something that pictures and words do not give justice. It's enough to bring you to tears. Like... all these people love God, but He also loves all of us and changes our lives.
There may be more blogs on Passion, I'm still trying to digest everything. :)
Posted by jess at 7:11 PM
Friday, January 1, 2010
Stick to my budget. I didn't really overspend too much actually, but I'd like to save more. And tithe is part of this budget :) I tithe, but not a regular amount or as often as I'd like.
One day a week, unplug as much as possible. Meaning, no facebook or TV. Computer only for homework. And cell phone only for, "wanna get some dinner?" Doesn't mean I can't be around people... just not use technology. My life has become more wrapped up in that I realized.
Lose 10 pounds. Yes, I am using that cliche resolution.
Only move once. I know, sounds weird. I moved three times this year, four if you count the one right before Christmas.
No pop. I really don't drink pop that much. This summer I had a few... and then this semester it started creeping back up on me. I haven't had pop in two weeks, and I cut pop out a few years ago... so I know this'll be easy :P
Posted by jess at 12:01 AM