“My King is the King of your king”

 

“My King is the King of your king”

By: Mo Isom, 2011

 

My King is the King of your king,

my King gave your king life.

My hope hopes that your hope will learn to hope,

in all that is True and Right.

 

My faith has faith that you’ll find faith,

when faith seems all but lost.

My heart has a heart for your heart and knows

your heart was bought at a cost.

 

My trust trusts that you’ll learn to trust

in a Trust that you cannot see.

My mind keeps in mind that all that’s Divine

minds only that your mind believes.

 

My dream is a dream that you’ll one day dream

of an answer to dreams in your mind.

My conviction’s convicted that you’ll be convicted

that the Answer is not hard to find.

 

My life has lived life in this lifeless world,

and lived empty, lifeless and cold.

But I feel that you feel what I felt and now feel

and you yearn for a life that is whole.

 

My purpose finds purpose in showing you Purpose

of a life lived in Purpose and Grace.

My soul’s sole intention is solely to mention

The Savior whose soul Saved your place.

 

Why do I know the things I know,

and what makes me so sure?

Because I know a man who lived in this world,

and lived nothing less than pure.

 

I know a man who gave His life

so that you could be set free.

And though you owe Him nothing for it,

you owe Him everything.

 

Check the history books, check the facts and figures,

He was real, He lived and He died.

Then He rose from the dead to prove He was King

and to give you eternal life.

 

You’re now left at a crossroad with two paths to choose,

the choice here is black and white.

Pray the King of all Kings may enter your heart,

or keep living a life void of Light.

 

If you chose the first option your life’s bound to change,

you’ll come to know faith, hope and peace.

But if you choose to ignore, if you close off the door,

you’ll keep living a life incomplete.

 

When it comes the day that your days draw close,

I hope you know where your spirit will land.

But if you’re unsure, and your hearts’ still impure

take this moment to hold His scarred hand.

 

My King is the King of your king,

my King gave your king life.

My hope hopes that your hope will learn to hope,

in all that is True and Right.

 

Advertisements

What Does It Look Like?: Godly Men (part 6)

Picking up again, let’s continue to dig into what it looks like to be a Godly man. I realize this study is taking quite a while, so I am going to begin to pick up the pace a bit. After all, I am still eager to break down what it looks like to be a Godly woman, as well as what Godly relationships should look like! There is so much, still, to cover. However, I appreciate you all continuing to follow. The feedback I have been receiving from both men and women, alike, has been so beautiful.  I am humbled in your interest and so affirmed that the words decorating this blog are inspired by and blessed by God.  So, if you are just joining, take a look at parts 1 through 5 of this study before you read this portion. But here goes…

“Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task. 2 Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to but one wife, temperate, self-controlled…

…respectable, hospitable…

Chivalry is dead. How many times have we heard this saying?  It’s become an all-too-familiar mantra in our society.  But who’s to blame? Who’s responsible for the murder? Are the men to blame…or the women? And is chivalry truly lost–or is it harbored in us all, stifled by the norms of our culture–left unlearned and uncultivated?

My opinion: I blame the women. And I blame the men. But I don’t blame them for the death of chivalry–I blame them for giving life to the silly phrase. For exacerbating the problem.  For giving in rather than rising up and requiring more. Is chivalry dead–no. Is it wounded–MOST DEFINITELY. And who’s truly to blame for that–Satan.  Before you dismiss me as crazy, give me a chance to explain. You may find that I support your side of the argument, after all.

Throughout this entire study of what it looks like to be a Godly man, one of the most prevalent reoccurring themes is that living for the glory of God is NOT easy.  I’m not trying to fool anyone here.  It’s tough stuff striving to live a righteous life.  We fail a lot; both men and women alike.  We are fallible, we are human. That’s our nature.  Fortunately, we are saved by grace. And every time we fall, God gives us the opportunity to stand up, brush ourselves off, and start fresh with a clean slate.  We can never fail too many times, His love is unconditional.  He is always prepared to forgive us and always proud to love us. That’s what Jesus Christ’s sacrifice did for us.

So why, with all that said, do we not capitalize on that forgiveness and that grace?  It is offered to us in limitless quantity. Yet when we stumble and we fall, we settle for a life in the dirt.  Is it guilt that binds us? Is it fear? Guilt and fear aren’t in God’s dictionary–so why do we allow them to be in bold in ours?  This portion of the 1 Timothy verse addresses a man’s responsibility to be respectable and hospitable.  Two terms that many may argue are framework terms to define chivalry. They are powerful requirements, they are character attributes that take work and commitment.  Yet God calls us to strive for them.  So why do we settle for less?–because Satan makes anything “less” SO much easier.

It’s no secret that our society’s view on manners and behavior have drastically changed over time.  Men used to open doors for women. Now women kick down doors for themselves. Men used to court women patiently and lovingly. Now Vegas offers quicky-weddings and quicky-enullments in a package deal. Women used to respect themselves enough to hold on to their purity until their wedding day. Now we have middle schoolers pressured to have sex to feel accepted and popular–to “keep up” with society around them.  I don’t mean to be crude–I mean to be REAL.

I’m going to be painfully direct, blunt, and straightforward here. So if you don’t want a harsh reality check then skip the next two paragraphs.  This is going to call out men and women, alike–no one is safe. Men: get over yourselves and man up. For real, man up.  Stop settling for what’s easy. Stop settling for what’s temporary and fast because you don’t want to put work in.  You’re weak if that’s how you function through life.  The quick-route requires low integrity, low discipline, and low self-esteem.  I don’t care if that’s what the rest of the world praises and exaggerates.  I don’t care if that’s what your friends or your teammates or your buddies are doing.  Grow a set and be different.  Set a better example.  Stop numbing yourself and be a REAL man. There’s no more “This is fun now while I’m in college, I’ll man up later when it matters…”  Man-up now. It matters NOW. You have the power to be a real leader.  You have the power to inspire. You have the opportunity to experience grace and be strengthened in Christ.  Stop trying so hard to control it all on your own–you’re not good at it.

Women: it’s not all the men’s fault.  We are just as big of messes as they are.  Stop making it easy for them. Stop settling–better DOES exist.  Stop giving to the temporary and start valuing yourself.  Snap out of the self-esteem issues–there are people that are much worse off than you.  There are people who are truly suffering.  You comparing your beauty to other women’s beauty and then giving yourself up to men in order to feel desired–it’s a tired routine.  You are worth a King’s life.  Start living like that carries value to you.  Start living like it matters to you that Jesus Christ died for you.  We are fallible humans that are easily tempted. Stop teasing men.  How can we expect them to treat us with chivalry and respect and hospitality if we are tempting them and teasing them and inviting their imaginations to wander?  If that’s what makes you feel better about yourself, I feel bad for you.  Have some self respect.  If you want more from men, there has to be a give and take.  RESPECT THEM BY RESPECTING YOURSELF, FIRST.

Satan is having so much fun with our world.  He is tearing it down, bit by bit, and celebrating our society’s slide towards heathenism and self-obsession.  What adds fuel to his fire?–When we confirm his corruption by feeding into phrases like “Chivalry is dead.” Chivalry is NOT dead.  Nor will it ever be.  They may be few and far between, but there ARE men out there who are striving to live righteous lives.  There ARE men out there who are holding fast to what the Bible asks of them and who ARE respectable and hospitable…and temperate, and self-controlled, and faithful, and all of the above.  Have those men lived perfect lives? NO! Have they never slipped of failed or denied Christ? Of course not! Nobody is perfect.  But there are men who desire to be BETTER.  I believe that with my whole heart.  If you are one of those men, you have my respect. You may be different…you may stand out…you may not be accepted as easily because you make different choices than the average man.  There is NOTHING wrong with that.  In fact, celebrate it! Because YOU are a real man–and you will be rewarded. I can promise that because our King promises us that.

Stay encouraged, men. Fight the good fight of faith.  And stay encouraged, women.  The less we settle, the more it requires of men.  You deserve the best, so require the best.  Don’t let that self-worth waver.  Men and women, if we want to improve this world, if we want to be a generation of change and righteous growth, we HAVE to require MORE from one another.  We HAVE to hold one another responsible and we have to be unashamed of standing out–no matter how much scrutiny or doubt or criticism we fall under.  Chivalry is very much alive because the words of the Bible are very much alive–nothing should ever shake our belief in that.

(to be continued…)

In the Aftermath of Easter…

I’ll warn you from word one: today’s post is a cry of my heart. I’m sitting and letting my fingers do the talking. If you care for what my heart cries out for our King, read on. But if you are comfortable putting God in a “box” and have no desire to step out of your comfort zone, then these words are too beautiful to fall on deaf ears, and you might as well click away from this page now…

I apologize for not posting yesterday, on such a beautiful Easter Sunday.  I would have loved to have taught on the meaning of that day. That one day–the most beautiful and passionate and celebratory day in our eternity. The day that changed everything–the day we were freed.  I had no access to a computer or to the internet. I would love for that to have been my excuse for not writing, but to be completely honest, I’m not sure I could have typed a word, anyways.  You see, when I was not rejoicing, I was in tears. When I was not celebrating, I was on my face on the floor. Though the festivities of the day carried on like everyone else’s Easter Sunday, my heart was in a different realm. I’m not sure I have ever had such an emotional reaction to such a simple day…but this year, Easter held new meaning to my soul. And as fulfilling and joyful and overwhelming as that emotion was, my tears were exacerbated by the state of the world around us.

You see, this past week was a week of growth. A week drowned in the Word. Reading, studying, reading, praying.  Every time I opened my Bible, I learned more about the grace of our King and the heart of our Savior than I have ever known before.  Understand, it’s not like I intended to spend my Spring Break with my face pressed between the pages of my Bible, but my spirit sparked a thirst. If any person on this Earth ever tries to tell you there isn’t power in the Word, they are lying and they are cowards.  If you discount the words that drown the pages of the Bible, you are foolish.  Because there are words between the covers of that book that have the power to stir your heart and change your life and convict you to the fibers of your being. LET THEM.

When I woke up Easter morning, I felt the heat of emotion stirring in my chest more violently than it has since the day my dad died. A heat that pressed its way up into my throat and inspired a violently joyous cry. A humbled, broken, gracious cry that boiled in my heart. I laid in bed and tried to pray–but how do you adequately thank a God that is SO REAL? How do you thank a King that DIED for OUR SOULS?! What words do you construct to thank a God that DID IT! That made the ultimate sacrifice and fulfilled His Word? Who rose from the dead and redeemed our hearts and showed his face and showed the scars on his hands and smiled upon us and LIVED?! How do you sculpt a prayer that is adequate and encompassing and passionate and ENOUGH?! I couldn’t. The greatest I could do was cry out. To vomit the passion that was leaking from my heart in the form of joyous praise.

HE LIVES! HE LIVES! CHRIST JESUS LIVES TODAY! HE IS RISEN!

Don’t read those words with a settled heart. That HAS to stir something inside of you! That HAS to warrant a response! That HAS to ignite a fire in you so passionate and real and hot that you cry out! Do you understand the magnitude of that grace?! YOU DON’T DESERVE IT! I DON’T DESERVE IT! NONE OF US DESERVE IT! But that’s just it. That is the point. That is the GRACE! We are sinners and we are gross and we are prideful and we are arrogant and we are materialistic and we are selfish and we are everything He taught us NOT to be, but He still loves us enough to offer us salvation. What? What?! I can’t even wrap my head around that. He STILL died for us. He died for the men who were murdering Him. He died for them because He loved them. And He loves us. He loves you.

If anyone in this world has ever made you question your worth or your value, they know nothing. If anyone on this earth has tried to tell you that you aren’t worth it, or you aren’t good enough, or you aren’t valuable enough, they are fools. If YOU have ever tried to define someone’s worth by the standards of this world, YOU are a fool. Because to JESUS CHRIST, you are worth HIS LIFE. YOU. In all your flaw, in all your sin…you are worth EVERYTHING. There is nothing you can do in this lifetime to prove your worth to Him. There is nothing you can do in this lifetime to affect the love He has for you. Because IT IS DONE. He did it. He knows it. Your worth hung on a cross and rose from a tomb when everything in the world said it couldn’t. Your worth is miraculous. Your worth is limitless. Because your worth is in Christ. Whether you know Him yet, or not. He knows you. He already died for you.

A man willingly endured unbearable torture and was crucified for you. Can you say that about anyone else in your life? Can you name another human being that has lived without flaw and has died for your heart and has risen from the dead to prove to you God’s love? I can’t. I can’t say it about my mom. I can’t say it about my dad. I can’t say it about any human being on this earth. Because NO human being compares to our King. So tell me, WHY DO WE PUT THIS KING IN A BOX?! Why is it that when the Saints win the Super Bowl, this city erupts in celebration and brags about it for a year?! But when a child tries to pray in school, we have legislation passed to silence him? Why is it that when everything is going great in life, we are so quick to tweet a ‘God is so good!’? But when adversity is thrown our way, we are suddenly lost and confused and want to question His power and spew hate to others? Why is it that when Easter rolls around everyone’s facebook status is so quick to proclaim a shallow faith and the other 364 days out of the year, we forget what He did for us? WHY IS THIS CULTURE SO COMFORTABLE MAKING GOD “FIT” WHERE WE WANT HIM TO?

Newsflash guys: it doesn’t work like that. I couldn’t stop crying yesterday because, yes, I was in awe of His grace. But another reason I was brought to tears is because of how utterly empty our love for Him is in return. I’m guilty of it, too. And I’m disgusted with myself.  Look around—we want to idolize celebrities and celebrate sin and base our worth on our wallets and base our value on what the media tells us we should be and strive, strive, strive to have more, more, more, and nothing is ever enough. HELLO–wake up! HE IS ENOUGH! End of story. “The American Dream” is a load of crap. Yeah, I said it. What this society prizes is a load of crap. Because what this society tells us is that we aren’t adequate enough. And that there is always MORE. And that we don’t have enough. And that we are defined by our roles–that we are defined by our jobs and our social status and bank accounts and our beauty. WRONG. SO very wrong. Don’t you get what He did for us? We are defined by HIM.

How can we look ourselves in the mirror after what He did for us, and still “box” Him into an hour and a half on Sunday? We “box” Him into holidays–Easter, Christmas, etc. We “box” Him into tweets and facebook statuses when we want all our friends to know we achieved something great. We “box” Him into jewelry and fashion and design when it’s all the rage to wear crosses. We “box” Him in everywhere He is convenient for us. We are foolish. Every one of us.

I want to see 50,000,000 hits on a YouTube video worshiping Christ–not one worshiping Lady GaGa. I want to see people tweeting #humility and #grace and #worship and #Christ–not #winning. I want to see people sacrificing their time and their money and their efforts to the poorest and the hungry–not to cosmetic surgery and newer cars and bigger houses. WE NEED TO GET OVER OURSELVES. AND START LIVING RADICALLY FOR OUR KING!! He doesn’t fit in your “box”. He never will. He is infinite and we have no right to question Him. No right to “box” Him. No right to stifle Him.

We are NOTHING compared to Him, yet we are EVERYTHING to Him. Think about it…

What Is Palm Sunday?

“…Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:9

Good Morning! What a beautiful morning it is. I know I am again jumping off-route with our relationship topic, but there is certainly significance in today’s teaching.  We are nearing a time of year where a lot is recognized in our faith. And days like today, Palm Sunday, and next Sunday, Easter, are such significant times of the year to worship, but even a lot of Christians don’t understand what they truly represent.  So I wanted to break down the basics of what today really means…

Today is Palm Sunday. Just as the date of Easter changes every year, so does the date of Palm Sunday. You see, these dates are marked by the beginning and ending of seasons in the faith, including the Jewish season of Passover.  But Palm Sunday is ALWAYS the Sunday before Easter Sunday.  This week between is known as the “Holy Week” because it recognizes the time frame of Jesus’ journey to the cross–His celebration, condemnation, persecution, and resurrection!

So why is Palm Sunday significant? What actually happened? Let’s take a look…

We talked about who Jesus Christ was. We talked about the life He lived, the struggles He faced, and the unbelievable works that He did. We also talked about how, as time passed and Jesus began to acquire followers and disciples, He began to stir up nations.  Throughout Jesus’ life, it became harder and harder for people to ignore His teachings. And this infuriated the Pharisees and leaders of the nations.  Because they refused to recognize power greater than their own and grew more and more hostile towards this man who proclaimed to be the Son of God.  You see, much of the Old Testament predicted that there would be a Messiah. So many of the prophets of the Old Testament had recorded that the Son of God would come, and they had recorded so much detail of what His life and death would look like.  As people began to see affirmation after affirmation of these truths, divided opinions grew. People either (1) recognized that Jesus Christ was, in fact, the Son of God and worshiped Him, or (2) became so stirred and shaken, by the fulfillment of these predictions, that they refused to believe the Truth.  The Pharisees definitely fell into group #2.

Anyways, one of the final miracles that Jesus Christ performed was raising a man named Lazarus from the dead. (If you want to read about this miracle, look at John  11: 1-43. Or, more specifically, John 11: 38-43.)  When Jesus Christ performed this miracle, it sparked a fire. Many Jews who had seen what had happened became believers and put their faith in Him.  Then, the word spread like wildfire.  People began to worship Jesus, and praise Him, and put their faith in Him. And when the Pharisees found out that He was performing miracles that were stirring nations and gaining great attention, they were livid. They met and decided that Jesus must be put to death. They basically put a hit out on him, and if anyone saw or knew where He was, they were instructed to turn Him in. (John 11:45-57)

So what did Jesus do? Here comes the best part! Jesus knew how all of this was going to play out.  He had been predicting His death for some time, and He knew exactly why it was that He had to die–to save our souls. So, rather than run, Jesus took some time to collect himself and then made His way to Jerusalem where He knew, full well, that His trip would end in His sacrificial death for the sin of humanity. (Now if that isn’t courage and fearlessness and humility, then I don’t know what is. What a boss!)  This is where Palm Sunday comes into the history…Jesus came to Jerusalem and made, what is known as, the triumphal entry.

If you want to read the scripture about Palm Sunday and His triumphal entry, look at:

Matthew 21:1-11…or…

Mark 11:1-11…or…

Luke 19: 28-44…or…

John 12:12-19

There are a lot of really amazing things that occur in this short passage in the Bible.  First, as Jesus and His disciples came near the city , they stopped in the city of Bethphage at the foot of the Mount of Olives. Jesus told two of His disciples to “Go into the village ahead of you and find a donkey tied there, with her colt beside her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the LORD needs them, and he will send them right away.” (Matthew 21: 2-3). You’re probably thinking, so what, he asked for a donkey. But hold up, there are TWO incredible things present in this first passage. First and foremost, Jesus refers to himself as the LORD. Which is a definite proclamation of His divinity. Powerful stuff for such a humble man…this proclamation is once again emphasizing, there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. He is LORD. Secondly, He asks for a donkey and when His disciples brought it to Him they laid their cloaks over the animals and Jesus rode them into the city. What’s so significant about that? BOOM! By riding into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey, Jesus fulfilled yet ANOTHER ancient prophecy from the Old Testament–Zechariah 9:9. This prophecy said, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

Keep in mind, this was the ONLY instance in the gospel where Jesus rode an animal. And in that humble action, Jesus fulfilled just one of many prophecies that were written thousands of years before His life. It’s not like Jesus carried around a Blackberry and googled the prophecies and figured out, step by step, what He was supposed to do next. No chance! God spoke truth to the prophets of the Old Testament, and God lived truth through our Savior in the New Testament.

Anyways, back on track…So Jesus rode into the city of Jerusalem with His head held high. As he entered the city, people rejoiced and cried out “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” They celebrated and cheered Him and the masses threw their cloaks into the path of the donkey and laid down palms along His path.  This is why we call it Palm Sunday. you see, laying down your cloak for an animal to walk over, and laying down palms, and fanning Jesus with palms, were acts of absolute homage and respect. This signified people’s submission to Jesus Christ.  This represented their recognition that He was the promised Messiah! (And just to clarify, the people’s cries of “Hosanna” originate from Psalms 118:25-26, meaning “save now.”)

You better believe that at the sight of all of this celebration, the Pharisees were FURIOUS! They were so jealous of Jesus and so fearful of the Romans. You’ve got to picture it like this–these high priests were in straight panic mode.  All the authority and order they had instilled was being shaken up and stirred by a humble man riding on a donkey–dressed in humble clothes. No riches, no jewels, nothing…Jesus was a man of the masses. He was a carpenter, by trade. He was an average Joe. Yet He brought NATIONS TO THEIR KNEES! Unreal. He was nothing the Pharisees expected.  They expected the Son of God to be some unbelievable, earthly man of power and prestige! Everything they expected Him to be…Jesus was the complete opposite. He was the underdog. And the people were beginning to love Him. This sent those Pharisees into fits. They refused to believe.

What Jesus said next were some of the most beautiful words He ever uttered, in my opinion.  Luke 19:39-40 tells us this: “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘if they keep quiet, even the stones will cry out.”

HA! Do you understand what He just said here? Let me break this down in the simplest of terms: The Pharisees are telling Jesus to keep His disciples from praising Him because they think it’s blasphemy. And Jesus is like, ‘Listen dude, I’m God. There’s nothing you can do to keep anything on this Earth from praising me. In fact, everything will praise me–even the things that don’t hold life. If you try to silence one thing, the next thing will begin to cry out, and so on and so on until even the rocks will scream that I am God!’ HAHA! AHHHH..I love it!

So long story short, the summary of today is that Jesus is a straight BOSS. He performs miracles…the haters put a hit on Him…rather than hiding, He rides into the city and fulfills a prophecy…the people go crazy for Him…the haters try to call Him out…He makes them look like fools. 🙂 I love Him! What a humble, gracious, UNBELIEVABLE KING WE SERVE!!

Happy Palm Sunday!

“Back to the Basics” (part 3 of 3)

Pillar #3–the proof.  One of the three most important foundations of our faith that we must believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt. #1–Jesus Christ was a real man. #2–Jesus Christ was the Son of God who died and rose again. And #3–The Bible is the Word of God.

This is yet another topic that I feel like people are quick to say, Duh, obviously. Of course it’s the Word of God. But, again, there are a number of elements that go into this belief. A number of elements that are really helpful to be reminded of frequently.

You see, the Bible is obviously the first thing that people associate with Christianity.  Just as the Torah is associated with the practice of Judaism,  the Quran with the practice of Islam, and so on. But what IS the Bible? What all does it represent? Why should we just believe everything it says? Who wrote it? Why are there so many different translations and versions? And can’t I just search for verses when I need them for motivation or inspiration?

I’ll explain, in brevity, an overview of this fantastic book.  The Bible is composed of the Old Testament and the New Testament. The Old Testament, which is also recognized by the Jewish faith, was written by divinely inspired prophets. Don’t let that term intimidate you–essentially, the Old Testament was written by individuals who were spoken to by God long before Jesus was ever born. Individuals who recognized that there was a greater power at work and were communicated with by our King.  They were able to communicate their understandings in writing and document historical information from as far back as the creation of the universe.  Fantastically, all of their stories and translations lined up perfectly with one another’s AND came to fruition in the future and the New Testament–giving validity and evidentiary support to all of their prophecies.

The New Testament, on the other hand, picks up at the birth of Jesus, and serves as historical documentation of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ–written by Jesus’ disciples and well as other individuals involved with Jesus throughout His life. Essentially, it is a documentation of all that this fantastic man taught, all of the miracles He performed, and all that “proves” the magnificence of God.

Since the Old Testament was written by prophets inspired by God, and the New Testament was written about the Son of God, we MUST believe that the Bible, as a whole, is the living, breathing Word of God.  You may be wondering what I mean when I say the “living, breathing” Word of God. But the words in the Bible are exactly that. There are individuals who have read the Bible cover to cover, memorized the pages, and teach of its magnitude. Those individuals, who seemingly should know all there is to know about the Word, STILL read through it and find new meanings to new applications, daily. You see, there are no defined meanings for the words of the book.  It was not God’s intent to give us a history book to study. It was His intent to give us a reference that human beings could open until the end of time, and constantly learn and grow from.  It was His intent to provide us with a means of communication directly to Him. That’s not meant to sound mystical or eerie, it is simple fact. The Bible is a book of beauty that opens a door to His Kingdom.

Recognizing that it is, in fact, the Word of God, we can’t allow ourselves to be “cultural Christians”. We can’t just open the Bible when we need a motivational quote or a neat scripture. We can’t just pull out the pieces we want to believe. If we are going to believe one single word in the Bible, we HAVE to believe every single word. It is not our right to pick and choose what we think is true.  As Christians, we have to recognize that it is the Word of God, and challenge ourselves to live by it. To apply it. To work, daily, to obey it. We have to study it and to challenge ourselves and the people around us, constantly, to grow in our relationship with our King.

Being a Christian is not easy–especially in the world we live in today. It is not glamorous or comfortable or simple.  Being a Christian is not just being a good person.  It is hard, it is challenging, and it is humbling.  It requires us to be MEN and WOMEN. Real men and women of God.  It requires us to have integrity and humility and understanding.  It requires us to set aside our egos and our desires and our dominance. It requires us to humble ourselves, daily, and realize that our world and our lives are not just about US. It requires us to give up control and to be different. God wants a relationship with us. He wants us to love Him like He, unconditionally, loves us. Do you believe? Are you up for the challenge?

My Story (part 18)

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9

I have never been fearful of the future. Like many, I have had apprehensions, questions, concerns, and desires. But, I think so many of us are so eager to see what is next, we forget to live in the moment and appreciate the “now.” So anxious to seek immediate gratification and see the fruits of our labor, that we forget to appreciate the journey.  There are massive transitional phases in all of our lives: the movement from middle school to highschool, the movement from highschool to college, the movement from college to the “real world”. Transitions from workplaces, the leap of marriage, the transition to parenthood, among countless others. All of which involve change, vulnerability, and a step into the “unknown.” A lot of times we want to execute these transitions perfectly, and I found my circumstance no different entering into my senior year of college.  I wanted to control every minute of my time–dictate my future, iron out my plans, call all of the shots when it came to planning my future. But, God had a different game plan. And He wasn’t shy to coach me…

After recognizing His request for the next level of control, I found myself humbled in thought.  I continued to pray, asking Him to make clear His plans. It was a shot in the dark, but I was hoping He would at least give me a little feedback.  Without hesitation, He flooded my heart in a sea of realizations. Realizations that, up until that point, I had refused to acknowledge and come to terms with.  I quickly came to realize that, though I knew He had forgiven me, long ago, for my sins and my dark past, I had yet to truly forgive myself.  I carried my guilt like a sac full of weights and allowed it to slow me in my pursuit of Him. He made it clear to me that what He desired was a fast. An intimacy fast. Though I knew close to nothing about the concept of fasting, He assured me that He would teach me. He simply asked that I oblige, and He promised He would make His purpose clear in time. He made clear to me that, in accepting His challenge to complete the year-long intimacy fast, I would not only grow closer to Him, but I would also grow closer to my own heart.  It was not going to be easy, by any stretch, but He laid on my heart the purpose my journey would serve and the impact it would have on others.

So, after a great deal of thought, I entered back into prayer with my King and accepted. I willingly gave Him the next level of control and I promised Him my loyalty. Promised Him that I would show Him a mere crumb of the faithfulness He had always shown me. In my ignorance, I guess, I expected that to be the end of such a fantastic moment.  I suppose I assumed that He would smile on me and I would continue on my way to Baton Rouge, left to figure out the rest in time. But, low and behold, He almost startled me when He spoke AGAIN!…

Now go. Tell everyone. Tell everything.

What?!  Tell everyone?! EVERYTHING? What kind of test was this? I had already accepted His challenge of an intimacy fast, which was going to be tough enough, and now He wanted me to tell everyone? Everything!? I soon found myself back in a one-sided argument. I couldn’t believe that He wanted me to share everything. My past, my present, my future. There was so much pain, so much vulnerability, so many embarrassing mistakes. He couldn’t possibly be asking me to share everything. Who would even care to listen?  (Again, I’m amazed at the patience of our King 🙂 ) I must have rambled on for an hour about every fear and apprehension I had in regards to laying everything out there for the world to know. Where was my sense of privacy? Wasn’t my walk supposed to be kept between myself and my King? If You are desiring intimacy, why are You asking me to open the door for everyone to look inside? After again exhausting myself in thought, I stopped. Finally just stopped and listened again. Hoping, deep down, He would change His mind and ask for something a little bit easier…

Now go. Tell everyone. Tell everything.

Well, there was no dodging that bullet. haha. So I took a moment, sat back, and reminded myself of the prayer I had prayed just a few miles back. “I love You. Help me to love You more. I know You. Help me to know You more.” He was answering my prayer. Maybe not in the form or fashion that I had envision, but, then again, our lives are not our own pictures to paint.

So I accepted. I accepted His request for the next level of control. I accepted His challenge of an intimacy fast. I accepted His request for my journey to be publicized. I knew that He had blessed me with a platform for a purpose, I just wasn’t sure how I was going to use it…

(to be continued…almost done!)

My Story (part 17)

“Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass … Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.” Psalm 37:4,7

Two hours into my drive, my mind was exhausted from juggling all of the information that had flooded over me during the new year. I had yet to take it all to prayer because, in my ignorance, I wanted to figure it all out on my own.  I wanted to have a “game plan” going into my conversation with God so I could be prepared to dodge anything outside of my comfort zone.  (I’m amazed at how patient He is with us 🙂 ) Finally, I gave up on trying to put the puzzle pieces together on my own.  Disgruntled and frustrated, I turned off my radio, let out a grunt, tossed my game plan to the wind, and dove into prayer…

What do you want from me?! What are you asking for here? I have been faithful, I have been following You, I have been disciplined. What more do You want?!  I’m trying the best I can…I’ve already sacrificed so much…what more can I possibly give?!

With all of that pent-up frustration finally off my chest, I took in a deep breath. I have come to learn, in my spiritual walk, to never expect an immediate response. That patience is key when you are searching for answers. Patience is key to a balanced sense of discernment.  That is why it stunned me when, as quickly as I had cried out, He responded!…

Give Me the next level of control…

In those 7 simple words, my heart was moved. It felt like an earthquake shook through me and the doors of a dam within my spirit burst open.  It was simple. Beautiful. A request of unbelievable magnitude, but of humbling nature.  I had been faithful, yes. And I had been disciplined in the pursuit of Him, yes. But what He was asking for was more.

You see, we live in a world where complexity is synonymous with success. Where things must be so complicated in order to encompass inclusion for all. Where there is no simple answer or definitive position, because everyone has an excuse or an exception or a reason as to why not. But God is the exact opposite. He is simple. He asks for so little. It is all very black and white. He grants us free will; grants us the right of choice.  We can choose to follow Him, or we can choose not to. If we choose to follow Him, what He asks for is simple–to give Him complete and total control.  To empty ourselves of “us” and allow Him to fill us with His light. He desires to protect us and to love us, unconditionally. He desires a relationship with us–for us to give Him the reigns and allow Him to lead us for His purpose. Though that is a request of unbelievable magnitude since we, as humans, are wired to be self-centered and in control, it is also a request of beauty. He just wants us to love Him and to trust Him. He asks for nothing without the promise of greater return. Return in our earthly lives, and return in the form of salvation.

With those 7 simple words placed on my heart, I was almost embarrassed at the ignorance I had shown in my state of self-serving frustration.  His request was so beautiful. True, I had given Him some control earlier in my walk, but He had worked on my heart in that time. He had been preparing me, slowly and methodically. And now, He had deemed that I was ready, and He had asked for just a little bit more. You see, God is not so ignorant as to think that the minute we acknowledge Him, we are all capable of turning our lives over to Him 100%. That is nearly impossible. He evaluates us, assures us that He will never give us more than we can handle, and tailors a walk for each of us.  He prepares us, nurtures us, and when we are truly ready for His next request, He asks for more from us.

If I could have fallen to my knees in that moment, I would have. My body was made limp in His moment.  It took me a while to compose myself, but when I did, I stepped back into prayer…

I am Yours. I give You control. I love You so much. Help me to love You more. I know You. Help me to know You more.

I must have prayed that prayer 500 times within the next hour. I was so humbled at His feet.  It was all I could do to express the energy in my heart.  I asked Him to reveal to me what He wished for me to know, and I promised Him I would fulfill His request.  Then, I waited…

(to be continued)

 

My Story (part 16)

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Recognizing such a heavy calling on my heart was not easy, by any means.  I was confused as to why God was asking me to step out of such a healthy relationship. Confused as to whether or not I was making the right decision.  But we serve a faithful King, and though I knew I may not see the reason immediately, I trusted that His plan would be revealed to me in time.  I trusted in Christ and walked away in November.

If you are confused as to what I mean when I refer to “having a calling placed on my heart” or “being challenged by Christ”, let me break from the story for a moment to explain.  Everyone who pursues a relationship with Christ communicates with Him differently. There is no easy explanation. My prayer life is an open, running dialog with our King. He’s my best friend, so I am talking to Him and praying throughout the entire day, every day. Though I don’t hear some booming voice speaking back to me, I know that He is listening. I can feel Him, deeply. I can recognize when God is “calling me” to do something because, generally, it is an idea or a thought that comes into my mind that I would have never conjured up on my own.  A feeling or a motivation to do something that is so far outside of what our society deems “normal”, that it would be so easy to dismiss and ignore.  It takes a good deal of discernment to recognize what is True, but the more I have grown in my relationship with Him, and the more I have made sacrifices that He asks of me, the more I have been rewarded and seen the fruits of His grace. So now-a-days, I listen. (Again, however, that is something I will go into much more detail about later in the year).

Around the beginning of the new year in 2011, I suddenly found this radical thought popping into my mind. Immediately, I dismissed it, laughed it off as an impossibility, and went along my way. But this calling hung around. It continued to present itself and I continued to shoot it down.  It presented itself in different forms and fashions, different moments and phases. This challenge was chasing me and, as many of teammates know, I’m not the fastest runner (haha). Try to share not even a kiss with anyone for a year. Try to share not even a kiss with anyone for a year. Try to share not even a kiss with anyone for a year…

Are you kidding me, God? Is this some type of practical joke? I know you’re a funny guy, but I’m not really laughing at this one. I’m a 21-year old entering my senior year of college. Get real. What if I meet someone? A WHOLE YEAR? It’s an impossibility and I’m not in the mood…place that calling on someone else, but not me. What’s the point? How is that going to help me grow in my faith?

I came up with every excuse in the book. I grappled back and forth with the thought and kept trying to shake it. I refused to take it to prayer with Him, because I was convinced that if I just didn’t acknowledge it, it would go away.  But God knew who He was working with. He knew I’m as stubborn as a mule and He knew I needed that extra push. So, as I was loading up my car to head back to Baton Rouge for Spring term, He slapped me across the face with a clear sign…

As I walked upstairs into the kitchen to say goodbye to my mom, I noticed a sermon she had playing on TV. The minister was preaching on the practice of fasting.  Spiritual fasting? I didn’t know that was something that Christians practiced.  I had never heard much about it and had never come across it in my readings; it certainly wasn’t something that my family ever actively practiced.  I was captivated by this man’s words and I started asking my mom question after question about this concept. What was a spiritual fast? Where does it talk about it in the Bible? Why is it done? Is it just done with food? How long do people generally fast? My mom tried her best to answer all of my questions, but I could feel a flame of curiosity igniting inside my mind and I was hungry for more knowledge. Hungry to know what this man was talking about and how it pertained to me. I was oblivious to the fact that God was shoving a sign so clearly in my face, but I imagine He was sitting in heaven watching the whole scene with a bit of a grin on His face…simply waiting for me to come to Him with my questions.

Little did I know at that moment, that 8 hour drive back to the bayou was going to host the longest, most amazing conversation that I have ever had with my King…

(to be continued)

My Story (part 15)

“Whoever walks with the wise will become wise; whoever walks with fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13:20

Even though I was not at the pinnacle of my game due to the time spent in recovery from the accident and the immediacy of the invitation to camp, I was still able to have a fantastic showing with the National Team and was provided a platform to continue my discipleship.

The next portion of my testimony will be vague, because it is a topic that I want to climb much deeper into later during the year. A topic I feel will be most beneficial for younger adults and friends around my age.  However, I want to include a tag to this relationship within my story, because it provided more guidance, strength, and encouragement than any I have come across before. And it also plays a part in why I have taken on the challenge of remaining “Kissless ’till Next Christmas”.

A spiritual mentor of mine once taught me a lesson that I will carry with me for all of my days. He informed me that: a woman should never pursue a man. A woman should pursue a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ. In turn, Christ will then inspire the man, constructed perfectly for her, to pursue her heart.  And in doing so, the man will be drawn closer to God as well.

It seems cliché to say that as soon as you stop looking to find someone, someone comes along. However, that was precisely what happened to me half a year after my accident.  At the same time that God was rewarding me with the splendor of athletic progress, he also sent a man into my life whom I will respect and cherish forever. A man I was not looking for. A man I did not plan on finding. But a man who walked so humbly into my life, that I couldn’t help but take notice.

I met Joey when I was sharing my testimony at a FCA in Louisiana. An excellent musician, he was there leading praise and worship for the group.  The minute I met him, I was entranced. He was my complete opposite. Shy, reserved, a man of few words. He was not my “type”, not my taste. But I was mesmerized. There was something different about him.  Something I couldn’t put my finger on. His eyes told a story of his purpose. He was unfazed by the standards of our society. Unamused by the earthly manifold. He was living for One–and it shined through him.

Quite commonly known, 1 Corinthians 15:13 instructs us, “Do not be mislead. Bad company corrupts good character.” In turn, there are countless other verses in the Bible that assure us of the inverse. Assure us that, in surrounding ourselves with the right people and those in pursuit of Truth, our hearts can be nurtured and our spirits can grow.

Over the course of the next 6 months, Joey and I journeyed through the most Christ-centered relationship that I have ever known.  It was beautiful. It was simple. It was pure, and it was healthy. It was a relationship of purpose and a relationship of love. Love for one another, but above all else, love for our King.  Each pursuing Christ on our own separate walks, we were able to encourage one another, challenge one another, and inspire one another to grow.  Joey was a man of conviction. He was exceptional. A man who believes every single word in the pages of the Bible and applies them, first and foremost, in every single thing he does in his life. He was a man that had a past, like many, but a man that had a future. A future with our King.

Being surrounded in the company of such conviction and strength taught me more about our Lord than any bible study lesson or church service ever had before.  Because I was not simply sitting and listening to words, I was observing a man living them out to the best of his ability. Stumbling and slipping at times, but picking himself back up and continuing his journey to Christ. He was like a horse with blinders on. He had one focus, and that focus was salvation. That focus was our King. All else in his life fell perfectly into place, because he recognized true importance and invested his whole heart into it.

You may be wondering, why then, I ended my relationship with Joey–as swiftly and as bluntly as the turning of a page.  But the answer to that lies in my current calling. The answer to that can only be described in feeling. A feeling God placed on my heart and a mission He desired that I fulfill. A mission that would impact so many more than just myself…

(to be continued)

My Story (part 14)

“The Lord dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands, He rewarded me…” Psalms 18:20

It would be foolish to believe that the moment any one of us accepts Jesus Christ into our hearts, that Satan steps back, counts his losses, and moves on to torment another.  That is far from the truth.  You see, as I said before, Satan is bitter. Resentful. And keen.  Individuals in pursuit of a closer relationship with Christ are not exempt from hardship or suffering or misfortune–in fact, they are often targeted. Tested. Tempted. Satan continues to wage war and continues to tease.  The difference? This time, those who have accepted Christ into their hearts enter battle with a new army surrounding.  An army so extensive in number, that the ranks flood the battlefield like a sea of unyielding power. With the strength of a King on their side and the love of a gentle Father picking them up when they are knocked down.  With the confidence of a warrior fighting for the purpose of good–fighting for the purpose of grace–fighting for the purpose of salvation. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather give control to the King of all Kings and fight for His cause. I would enter battle any day of the week knowing I am surrounded by that kind of strength.

Recovery from my accident was not quick, nor easy.  Physically, my body took a great deal of time to heal.  I had to take “incompletes” in my courses and remain home in Georgia, bound to a bed, for close to two months.  In that time, there was a great deal of physical pain. Complications to my condition put me back in and out of the hospital, and the mending of my broken bones was often nauseating and  debilitating.  Most severely, the bruising to my brain left me unable to put together complete sentences. Unable to articulate my thoughts and feelings into the proper words. Unable to speak without the handicap of a stutter.

However, the physical pain and the repercussions of my injuries were futile and petty.  For my heart was strong–surrounded by an impenetrable armor and overflowing with strength and grace.  I was like a young school girl enamored by a new love. I was captivated by my God and hungry to grow in my faith.  Hungry to grow in the Word. Hungry to learn more, do more, and feel more.  Hungry to be His priestess and share of His light and His power.

Returning to school for Spring of 2010, I was mending, but still  physically handicapped.  I entered into extensive physical and neurological rehabilitation.  Though I was suffering from sever post-concussive syndrome and still walking around in a fog, I was able to complete my finals from the previous semester and stay on track with my courses in the new year.  After close to 6 months of recovery and 6 months of walking hand-in-hand with my King, I was finally cleared by the neurologist and back in functioning form.  I had been purged of my stutter and only felt remnants of the after-effects from my injuries.  (Still to this day I have some short-term memory issues, but I know I will be healed of that, too, in time).  I had worked, relentlessly, with the strength of my King, to get my body back into playing form and to build myself, as an athlete, back up from my broken state.

I find it enthralling to sit back and see the works of our God. We serve a God with an unbelievable sense of timing. And an unbelievable sense of humor.  A day doesn’t pass where I don’t laugh at His splendor. He shows himself in the most terrific manners.  It was not even a week after I was finally cleared by my neurologist that my phone rang.  Confused by the unidentified number, I hesitantly answered and sat on the phone, in a state of shock, for close to 10 minutes.  When the individual on the other line hung up, I dropped my phone, leaned back in the chair in the middle of Middleton Library, threw my hands up towards the heavens and simply laughed.  Laughed and felt His grace fall like rain.  The individual on the other line was a representative from the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team. I had just been invited to compete with the U-23 U.S. Women’s National Team in Portland for a week. What a fantastic sense of timing our Lord has… 🙂

(to be continued)