Wednesday, March 31, 2010

quiet times and insomnia

spring quarter has started and reality has set in. in 365 days i will be a college graduate. whoa. in honor of growing up my sleep cycle has gone from insomniac to sleep like a baby. this is fantastic because i can concentrate in class now and nap time isn't so frustrating because i actually fall asleep. however, i have lost a lot of quiet time spent with God. there is something slightly eerie about the hours of 1, 2, and 3 am. laying wide awake in the dark and utter silence led me to prayer. lots and lots of prayer.

Like the psalmist says,
"You're my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me." -Psalm 119:114

it was so convenient. i could just lay in bed for hours, awake and communing with my Lord of Lords. now i must take initiative in spending quiet time with God. this has posed a challenge because i find it so hard to step out of the noise of this world and enjoy a moment of silence. why wouldn't i rather watch american pie (the latest netflix to arrive!) with my boyfriend and eat ice cream than sit in silence and read my bible? well, because Jesus instructs us, as his people, to pursue him in silence.

"Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace." -Matthew 6:6

if this doesn't give us every reason to seek a quiet place to study His word, to commune with Him, then nothing will. participating in a quiet time with God strips us of any pride or attitude we may feel in the presence of others. entering alone into the presence of God with no one else watching, knowing, enjoying we are afforded the opportunity to feel His grace fall upon us. what a blessing. we take the focus off of ourselves, off of our feeble little lives, and place it on the King of Kings who made all that preceded us and all that is to come.

be encouraged as you seek a place and time where you can experience Him in quietness. and remember what it says in Lamentations 3:26: "It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God." have hope as you are working to establish this in your routine. it will take time and practice. and i can promise (as i am learning!) it will be a time management challenge. but well worth it as you will receive help from him.

song of the day: just listen to the song of the earth that He has created. experience quiet.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

what happens in vegas doesn't disappear forever.

i know it's been a long time. much too long. but guess what? finals are over, i'm enjoying spring break... and i am officially 21! my parents took my boyfriend and i to las vegas for a couple of days and we enjoyed a more than memorable weekend away!

yet, being in "sin city" made me think even more about the God that i am so blessed to worship. there is something about las vegas that seems like you are in another country, that a place like vegas couldn't possibly be a part of america. from the little "nudey" baseball cards to the exorbitant amount of dollars pumped into slot machines, there is so much room for trouble and temptation.

visitors to las vegas seem to flock there just to be a part of the mischief in order to escape the cares of their reality. do we, as christians, have a "sin city" where we go to find trouble and escape the cares of the spiritual world that rules over our lives?

Jesus, too, has been led to places of temptation where the devil has had Him in a position where the opportunity to sin is abounding.

"Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil." -Matthew 4:1

the problem with this "sin city" is that someone is always watching. just like in las vegas someone -whether it be the pit boss, passersby, or a friend- is always watching. for christians, we have accountability to our brothers and sisters in Christ, to our family and friends, and most importantly, to Him.

we need to turn to God and ask Him to remind us that the spirit is dwelling within us, and that He is watching over every move, every decision that we make whether in times of temptation or not. the psalmist makes this clear in asking God to watch over the stream of his mind and the beatings of his heart.

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting." -Psalms 139:23-24

find refuge in Him. find your hideaway from the cares of the world and the ways of religiousness in Him. He is full of freedom and grace, but we need to break free from the controlling thoughts and rituals of religion.

song of the day:
"signature of the divine (yahweh)" - needtobreathe

we need to remember His mark that is upon us and be sure to bring honor to His name. why? because people are watching and there is no pass home free card.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

the tale of the american coot

i run often and i run by the bay that i live near. oftentimes, (and i realize this is not exclusive to my running route along the beach) there are big flocks of american coot along the beach - as pictured below.
much like the little group pictured above. this particular day, it was not something special about the coots that caught my attention, but instead what happened to them. as i ran by a grown man on a beach cruiser was riding ahead of me, he swerved off of the baywalk path and straight into the middle of the coots. of course, this scared the flock of about 100 coots and they began to take flight. after landing safely in the water the birds gathered in peace and the rider turned back to the sidewalk.

why would this be something to blog about? the question actually is, who are you influencing? just a flock of coots that are scared of people anyway? jesus was not influencing the birds. he was influencing people, children, beings of importance and influence.

“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them.” . . . And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them. -Mark 10:14-16

scaring birds does not make them any more influential on other birds. it just makes them all fly away and all land together, just as they did prior to knowing your effect on their lives. are you wasting your time influencing birds? or are you investing yourself in a longer lasting being of importance? it doesn't have to be children... i just happen to have a heart for their sweet little selves. but jesus did not just train children in Him, he also invested much in the disciples, in women, in the poor and meek, in people.

matthew goes on the talk about how the children not only realize the influence of jesus on their lives, but the children also proclaim it for all to hear.

The chief priests and the scribes saw . . . the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” -Matthew 21:15

who would proclaim your praises? and just as importantly, whose praises do you spend your time proclaiming? just like all of His angels singing praise of their heavenly host.

Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. -Psalm 148:2

or like the people of jerusalem praising jesus as he rode into their small town atop his donkey.

Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest! -Matthew 21:9

remember throughout the course of your day that you are influencing people and they will one day sing your praises, so be sure to give them a praise to sing. don't look for the flock of birds that are naturally wired to be fearful of your big bad self. also, remember there are people in your life who are working to be worthy of your praise. make sure it is something earned and you aren't just being a part of the flock of coots flying quickly from a straggling bike rider.

song of the day:
"hosanna" - hillsong united.
it only seems fitting.

"hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

the tide

there is this song that i have known since high school and probably have listened to it a thousand and one times, but today when i was listening to it something struck a chord in my head. i realized this song, although it’s not created by a religious band and is about a very sad life, it makes a point.

“the tide” by the spill canvas sings of three siblings whose mother is an alcoholic and neglects them to the point of their death; thus rendering her useless as a mother and advisor. However, something that the mother says throughout the song is, “heaven is not just a place you go when you die, it’s a moment in life when you actually feel alive.” although she is by no means a fit or wonderful mother, she has a point. heaven is not just a place you go when you die, God gives us an inkling of that wonderful place by blessing us with moments when we actually feel alive.

now, did i say that alive meant like you feel like you are on top of the world? nope. often i feel the most alive during times of pain, doubt, sadness. it seems like these things remind me that i am just a human, i’m some sort of special, and that i, too, bleed. just like Jesus, the son of God, was a human and he bled.

while Jesus kneeled in the garden of gethsemane, he prayed for God to remove the cup he was soon going to be asked to drink from, but only if by His almighty will.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will but Yours be done. … In his anguish he prayed even more earnestly, and his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood." –Luke 22:42, 44

the intensity of his prayer and emotional state led Jesus to sweat blood. Jesus was pleading with God, he was begging. he was so intense in his appeals he began to sweat not salty water, but blood. in other words, he was suffering from a very rare condition called hematidrosis, where a person is suffering from extreme levels of stress and the net of blood vessels near the sweat glands rupture. boy, did Jesus feel alive. think how aware of your body, your life, yourself you would be when blood began to trickle down your face unexpectedly?

now, i feel stressed and anxious, about school, about money, about making my parents’ proud, about decisions, about work, about life in general, but not once have the blood vessels in my forehead sprung a leak. so, i must feel alive in the terms God has granted to me. when i fall and scrape my knee, i am being reminded i am not invincible. when my feelings are hurt, i am reminded that i care what others think. when I question my ability to perform up to the level of others, i am reminded of my insecurities.

but through all of these minor reminders, God is ultimately showing me that i am still alive. and how wonderful it feels to be alive.

i pray today you feel alive in the place that you are in. i pray that you and i remember every morning when we wake that God gifted us with another day here to serve as reminders to others of the glory of Him the Almighty. i pray that you see the reminders God is leaving for you, be they positive, negative, or the in between.

song of the day:
“live like you were dying” – tim mcgraw.

it’s simply: why not?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

goosebumps, goosepimples, whatever you want to call them.

woo hoo! it’s been less than a week and i am back to post once again. the last time that i posted i listed four ways that i have grown exponentially lately and i planned on taking a couple of posts to discuss these things… but then i realized i am just growing as a woman of faith and i would be doing God a major disservice trying to flesh out His work in me in a few facets of my life.

i remember in high school (and even into college) going to the church i grew up attending with my parents and watching some of the girls that i grew up with still be so involved and so Christian. boy, did that make me question the route i took. it was great to see them all looking so happy, getting married really young, and so very happy. some days i wondered if i just misunderstood the message by going to college and maybe God did just want me to stay at home and work until i met the man that was going to provide for me and my 48 children. but i was knee deep in my schooling at UC San Diego at this point and there was no turning back… plus i always liked school.

well, who knew that living out of the house and receiving a top of the line education at a public research university would teach me more than all of the girls getting married early young at home combined? not me. but today, i realize that i believe in the birth, death, and life of Jesus Christ because there is evidence biblically, historically, archeologically that He lived and breathed and performed all that the Bible says of Him. now, so far from what my church peers are doing, i feel more educated in my faith than i would ever have experienced living at home, getting married young. God’s path for me was different than my friends. He needed me to learn about Him in a way that varies so much from the way that they are learning. but what’s important is He got to me.

much like He got to Paul and to Jeremiah and to Malachi and to Jesus. God got to us. He wouldn’t let go and He crept under our skin and gave us the chills just to show us He exists.

just like it was written in 1 John 5:20:
"And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life."

not only do we know that Christ came and lived and died and rose again, but we have the gift of the Holy Spirit to dwell within us... to get under our skin and stay there. to give us chills on the days that we think we finally have it all figured out.

my challenge (mostly to myself, but if you spend moments reading this then to you too!) is to find the things that give me the chills. when i read a wikipedia article about the intricacies of the human body or technology, boy does that give me the chills. or when i think about the perfect timing of the things in my life, wow brrrrr. let Him get under your skin and give you a nice case of goosebumps. they are momentary and harmless, but the effect on your heart isn't.

song of the day:
getting into you - relient k

relient k: "do you know what you are getting yourself into?"
me: well of course not. but who doesn't love an adventure!
relient k: "i'm getting into You because you got to me in a way i can't describe"
me: i want that. i need that. can He get into me?

i know, it's simple. i must get into Him. show Him i want Him. then He can come in and invade my heart and give me goosebumps.