we are healed

It’s that time of year again. We break out all the pastels colours, get ready for the Easter events at church, go out and buy those wonderfully delicious Reese’s peanut butter cream eggs and try not to remember how many calories there are in one…. But, are we really remembering what – and Who – we are celebrating?

 

The other day I was thinking about scars.  I’m quite a clumsy person and was looking at the amount of scars I have on my body… All (for the most part) with a somewhat comical story behind it, and it reminded me of Christ, and how He humbled Himself to become a human like us, and bears many physical scars… and they are still there even today, and we will see them when He comes back again. But His scars – at least the ones I’m referring to – have such a significance and beauty behind them.

 

As humans, we bear scars in many different ways. Because of sin and the fall, we are scarred physically, mentally, emotionally and sadly, spiritually. Where our scars are, there once were brutal, painful wounds. Real hurts that were deep, and at the time, we thought we’d never recover from.

But in Christ, there is healing. He WILLINGLY took the fall upon Himself for us. He took our pain. He took what we deserved. He bore our sin on His shoulders so we could have new life.

 

Yes, we have scars, but they ultimately represent our healing that is from Christ. They are a reminder of His love – to be willing to heal them, His faithfulness – to heal them without fail, His Deity – to have the ability to heal, His saving grace and our past sin He has redeemed us from.

Christ’s scars are beautiful, because they remind us that He is our atonement for our sin, our Salvation, and the healing balm for our wounds. Where there was once pain, there is now beauty and healing.

At Easter, we celebrate this.

 

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grace & faithfulness

So I`ll be honest.

In the last few months since I`ve written last I`ve learned a lot. Grown a lot. Been hurt a lot. At times been quite distant from God, and since then have been drawn close to God again. In many ways this past year has been the most monumental year of my life.

The two main things that I`ve learned most about is the depth of God`s GRACE and His FAITHFULNESS.

He. Is. Faithful.

This means that He is never changing. He won`t give up on us. He is – and will be – who He told us He is in His Word. No matter what we walk through, He will be there taking care of us.

When we feel distant from God, it is not HE who is distant from us, but we who are distant from HIM. He will NEVER leave us, and when we are ready to repent and be drawn into the Lord again, He is standing there with open arms, welcoming us back into fellowship with Him.

No matter what we`ve done, what we`ve said or where we`ve been is too much for God to not want to forgive us. No sin is new under the sun, and every sin is equal. If we have a repentant heart, God will change us and make us more like Himself. He will give us BEAUTY for our ASHES – and for NO other reason than the fact that He loves us. (I`ll never understand this one..it completely overwhelms my heart.)

`But You, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.` – Psalm 86:15

`If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.` – 1 John 1:9

His grace is sufficient.

This is something I`ve been learning most recently. Over and over I have had the phrase `My grace is sufficient for you` in my head. When I`m out walking, while I`m falling asleep, and when I`m in a moment of weakness. He is abounding in GRACE. God`s grace is so deep and far beyond our comprehension… His love and grace will never run Continue reading

Wholly surrendered.

This week I had the immense pleasure of attending one of Cedarville University’s academic camps. One of the main themes of the week was focusing on God’s Will for our lives (specifically for our college and future career paths.)

If I’m being very honest, this is something I grapple terribly with. In my flesh, I think I know what’s best for me… I should know best after all, right?

Well that’s not exactly true. See, we don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do. People change. You most likely are not the person you were 10 years ago, or are the person you will be 10 years down the road.

Based on that, don’t we have a reason to fear? What if we pick a career focus that we decide doesn’t fulfill us in 10 years? What if we are living in some where that we hate? Then what?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent a fair amount of time stressing over college. It’s a lot of money and time… And you have to decide when you’re still young and naive.

But there is hope. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He has ordained our paths for us before the foundations of the earth. He knows exactly what we will do, and exactly what we SHOULD do.

At this point you may ask “Okay, so God knows. Now what? How do I know what His will for me is?” It’s actually kind of easy… God will make it evident as to where you’re supposed to be. He will open doors, and close doors before you.

If I may exhort you for a moment… Let me tell you, get down on your knees and pray fervently about these decisions. Seek Godly and wise counsel from people who know and care for you. If you ask Him, He will make it obvious where He needs you, and where is best for you.

I don’t know what this next chapter of my life entails, but I know that God knows. I know that if I ask Him, I can be confident that I am in the right place and that I will be doing the right thing. I can plan my own life out according to my will, but at the end of the day, His will is going to prevail.

To quote Andy Mineo from his song Ex Nihilo, “I am not the artist, I’m the canvas that He’s painting.”

Playing judge.

“Don’t judge me!”

We all have heard or used this phrase at some point. It has become highly used in media and our society. People use it as something to get others off their back when they don’t want to receive any flack for what they’re doing. To be honest, I get that. But this phrase is something that lukewarm Christians love to use, and cling to. They use it as a get out of jail free card… Do they really understand what they’re saying?

The word “judgement,” according to Webster’s online dictionary, means “to form an opinion.” As humans, we constantly are making judgments. We judge whether or not it is safe to cross a street, befriend an individual, or if we can eat something.

As believers, we are called to make judgments regarding teaching, and even other people. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 says we are to “examine everything carefully; and hold fast to that which is good.” We NEED to be careful about what teaching we are taking in. We need to judge and discern whether or not the teaching is sound.

Matthew 7:15-20 talks about how we need to judge people by their fruits. If someone is a toxic person, we need to be extremely wise. We need to watch our interactions with them and be careful.

The word condemn means “to declare to be reprehensible, wrong, or evil usually after weighing evidence and without reservation.”

I personally think people actually mean “condemn” when they use the word “judge.” Most everyone judges each other and their surroundings, whether they’re aware of it or not. Some people condemn each other, which is blatantly wrong.

Romans 2 talks about this very subject. Verse 1 says that when we judge (or condemn) another, we bring judgement upon ourselves.

Think about this for a minute…. When we condemn other people, we bring the judgement of God upon ourselves.

We’re all human. We have no place to condemn each other. We’re all equal individuals under God. Verse 11 of Romans 2 says that there is no partiality with God. That is something to rejoice in.

Before I end this post, I’d like to go back to the idea of the lukewarm believers who use the “Don’t judge me, only God can!” card for a minute. This is a tricky issue that typically church leadership or people IN church leadership deal with. Sometimes believers fall into sin patterns and need a pastor, elder, mentor or fellow believer to come along side and encourage the person back to faith. This is to be done with utmost love and care… Not condescendingly, but with the love of Christ.

Legalism. Worldliness. Holiness.

This is a fairly controversial topic within Christian circles… Legalism vs worldliness. Some fall into the trap of legalism, and uphold ridiculous rules that are completely extra Biblical. There also are those who let pretty much everything go… to the point of fault. This dilemma raises a few questions.

What is legalism?

{Right now I live in an extremely Mennonite community.  Most of the people in this town either are currently, or were practicing Mennonites. Because I’m somewhat familiar with some of their customs, I’ll use them to illustrate my point. I’m not trying to hate on them, just laying out the facts.}

Mennonites are the pure example of legalism. They believe that all women should be wearing bonnets and long dresses, and are even very specific about the way the pleats on the dresses are ironed. Men are to wear suspenders. collared shirts and caps/hats, and married men are to wear a long beard… This is merely scratching the surface of the Mennonite dress code. In the Mennonite church, you are to never smile because it is not godly.

Rules like these are so strongly held to, that there have been church splits over silly things like the color dress you wear, the type of wheel on your buggy (steel or wooden), and the color of your horse. If you break these rules, you are living in sin.

They worship RULES instead of God. In this case, their rules are man made and have nothing to do with God. Yet somehow their rules equate to holiness.

What is worldliness?

Alright… I don’t need to elaborate on this one much. We turn on the TV for a moment and it’s right there, blatantly in our faces. Foul language, immorality, violence… it surrounds us. A PG movie is barely PG anymore.

Where do these two lead?

Legalism tends to lead to rebellion (aka worldliness). Worldliness leads to corruption, and the loss of your soul.

What is BIBLICAL Godliness/Holiness?

The Bible says over and over that we need to live in holiness. Philippians 1:27 says we need to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. All over 1st, 2nd and 3rd John we are called to be children of the Light and imitate goodness, for God is good. The book of Romans states that we are saved and justified by faith, not by following a list of rules or laws. In Christ there is grace, and we are no longer bound by these laws.

God calls us to be holy. Ultimately, He is the only Holy one. We all fall short, but we are called to do our best to be holy and righteous. We need to actively put aside sin and choose to walk in righteousness and godliness, knowing that we are justified before God through Christ and undergoing a constant process of sanctification which will eventually make us holy. This process will finally be completed when we reach perfection in Heaven.

But what about non-Christians? Obviously, they can’t be holy or godly. How should we treat them? What about believers that are trapped in sin?

Well that’s simple. We need to treat them exactly how Jesus would, with utmost love and care. We are not called to judge others punitively… we are called to love and forgive one another just as Christ did for us.

Now this whole “legalism is bad” thing is NOT a pass for Christians to live in sin and throw their hands up hollering “You’re being legalistic! Jesus is full of grace, I’m fine!” when someone tells them to change their ways. (Romans 6:1) We are called to walk in a manner worthy of the calling of Christ. Ultimately, walking in holiness is best for us. Walking in sin will only hurt us. We are called to holiness because it is the path that will lead to the least amount of pain. God loves us, which is why He calls us to this standard.

Living in legalism is living in bondage. Your life is dictated by rules, and you have no freedom. At the same time, living in worldliness also is living in bondage. You have a false sense of freedom, but really, you’re a slave to sin. Living in godliness is living in true freedom.

What I’m listening to these days.

If you know me at all, you’d know that I’m kinda addicted to music. I listen to and love almost every genre (aside from ska… which I whole-heartedly loathe.) Recently I bought some new music, and I’d love to share some of it with you all!

Scott Cunningham Band – There May Be Tears

Alright, I’ll admit it. I’m totally biased. I love Calvary Chapel, and am planning on heading out to CCBC in a year… I love pretty much everything that comes out of Calvary Chapel. This band leads worship at their Wednesday night services, and I love their style. So worshipful, musically sound, and scriptural.

Jimmy Needham – Forgiven and Loved

I just recently found his music. He randomly came up on my Pandora one day, and man, am I glad it did.

Schuyler Fisk – Waking Life

I first heard this in the movie Penelope. It’s such a sweet and pretty little song!

Andy Mineo (and Christon Gray) – Ex Nihilo

From Andy’s new album, Heroes for Sale… Can’t stop listening to this one.

Grace for the nobodies.

When we come into this world we come with nothing. We’re helpless infants who are fully reliant on our mothers, fathers, and doctors. Without their help, we would have died. The older we get, the more independent we become. We don’t need our parents to survive anymore. We can feed, clothe and take care of ourselves without any hassle. With this new independence, we have a life focus shift… Instead of focusing on our NEEDS, we begin to focus on our WANTS. Our minds become set on worldly things… money, relationships, jobs, our looks and other belongings.

Here’s the problem with that… All those things are good, but we can’t take them with us. When we die, all those things stay here on earth and they’re nothing to us. We return to the ground and become dust once more. There is only one thing that matters in life… What we are going to choose to do with our soul. Are you going to give your life to Christ, or settle for complacency and live life your own way?

We don’t deserve grace. We are literally made of dust. We are nothing. In fact, we were born into sin. We’re worthless and filthy… But God CHOOSES to love us and give us life. Nobody is an accident, because God willingly chose you to be… He chooses to sustain us. He chooses to give us worth. He protects us. He chose us believers before the foundations of the earth. His love for us is so deep that Christ humbled Himself, became a human, and bought us back through His blood. He willingly paid our ransom for sin.

God in His love, mercy and grace reached down and rescued us from our impending destruction.

Nothing we can do could separate us from God’s grace and love… And nothing we can do could “buy” God’s grace and love. Grace can’t be earned. It’s a gift to us from God’s own hand. Grace is 100% Him, and 0% us. All we need to do is accept His gift and give our life to Christ.

We are nothing, He is everything.

“For by GRACE you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the GIFT of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

The Importance of Scripture

Over the past few days, I’ve been trying to figure out what to write about. Tonight while my Mom and I were looking at Children’s ministry programs to run at our church this summer, it hit me. I need to write about how vital the Bible is in a Believer’s life.

The Bible is God’s letter to us as His children… It is the main way that He speaks to us. It is our “map” that tells us how to navigate life. God put everything that we need to know about life in the Bible. Where we came from, what the meaning of life is, how to respond to our enemies, what to do in times of trouble, what to do with our money, even historical accounts!

Here are a few reasons (all with scriptural back up) as to why I believe knowing and studying God’s Word is so important.

God’s Word is truth. – John 17:17 “Sanctify them in the truth, Your Word is truth.”

I don’t need to elaborate much here… God’s Word is truth. There is no lie in it because God Himself is truth. To lie or mislead us would be against His innate nature.

God’s Word is inspired by Him, and equips us for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture isinspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

As a kid who grew up in AWANA, this verse has always been one I have been familiar with, and is a wonderful reminder as to why Scripture is so essential. In these verses there are two main points brought to light: God’s Word is literally “God-breathed” and it equips us.

We can trust what Scripture says because it is God’s own divine revelation.

God’s Word is important to us as believers because Biblically we are to be serving in some sort of ministry. The Bible is what prepares us to go minister to others, and gives us the knowledge to share about Christ. (1 Peter 3:15)

God’s Word is full of eyewitness accounts. 1 John 1:1 & 2 “That which was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life, and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us.”

God’s Word is historically accurate. We have eyewitness accounts of people who saw Christ. Josephus, a Jewish scholar and historian, wrote actual accounts about Christ’s life. There is no reason to think that the stories in the Bible are just made up.

God’s Word is incorruptible, and contains absolute truth. Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever.”

Hate to break it to ya, but everything you see is going to be gone someday. All we have are our souls… and God and His Word. No matter what, His Word will always stand true. It is a foundation for us in this unstable world.

God’s Word is also ABSOLUTE TRUTH. (f you’re not familiar with this term, you need to change that. Worldview is another very important thing to be aware of as a Believer… I’ll most likely discuss this more in a later post.) In short, the term “absolute truth” means that there IS a DEFINTE truth. In this era many people have put the idea of absolute truth behind them. God’s Word is never changing, and never fails. It gives us something to place our hope in.

God’s Word tells us of the future events, and there is a blessing for those who study it (specifically prophecy). Revelation 1:3 “Blessed is he who reads and who hear the words of prophecy, and heeds the things which are written in it, for the time is near.”

Again, this is pretty self explanatory. The Bible tells us of the end times events. We need to be on watch as we see these begin to take place.. Pretty much everything we need to know lies within the pages of Scripture. PLUS, there is a blessing for those who study it. Who doesn’t want that? Haha

God’s Word is our sword that defends us against the evil one. Ephesians 6:17 “Take up the helmet of Salvation, and the Sword of the spirit which is the Word of God.”

The spiritual battle is real. We must be prepared. Memorizing and reading scripture is always a huge weapon against the fiery darts of the evil one. Whether I have been going through a rough time, or am just plain feeling alone, quoting and reading Scripture always comforts me and drives those negative feelings away.

God’s Word is alive and contains the power for salvation. Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation unto everyone who believes…”

God’s Word is powerful, and it contains what we need to know for salvation. We most importantly should not be ashamed of it and what it says. (Be bold!)

 

As a pastor’s daughter, I have grown up studying and hearing about God’s Word extensively. I also have seen what happens to a person when they so violently turn away from scripture… The results aren’t pretty. Everything in their life seems shaky, and nothing is solid. They lack the foundation and grounding that is within Scripture. I also know from personal experience to some degree… Whenever I put my Bible away and “take a break,” I become short tempered and lose the peace and joy that comes from time with the Lord.

 

Stay in the Word. If you’re not already actively studying the Bible, I exhort you to dust it off and pick it up… It is a huge part of what gives you clarity in this world, and is essential to following Christ. Get an accountability partner and talk to them about what you’re reading. Or even just tweet, facebook, instagram or blog about it! You never know who you could impact for Christ.

This photo popped up on my pinterest a few days ago and has had me thinking ever since. “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” These words hit me hard… Am I doing enough as a Christian to prove that I am one? Words are words, talk is cheap… Is my faith proven by my actions as well as through my words?

In James chapter 2 beginning at verse 14, James writes about faith and works. Verse 17 reads “Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.” … skipping down to verse 22, ” “You see that faith was working with his [Abraham’s] works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected.” (The entire chapter is great, I highly recommend you read it!)

Works and faith need each other to be validated. Without faith, our deeds are empty… and without deeds, our faith is merely head knowledge. Our faith is strengthened by our works, and our works are an overflow of our faith.

Back to my original question… “Am I doing enough as a Christian to prove that I am one?” Well, if my faith, knowledge of God’s Word and time with Him in prayer is changing me, then the answer should be yes. If not, I need to take a good hard look at my life and get back to spending time with the Lord.

In Christ we are a new creation, we have been set apart for good works… this should be obvious to everyone around us.

Tangibly, what does this look like in our everyday life? We all know the typical Sunday school answers.. But what ministry (whether in church or just even among our family and friends, Christian or not) are we doing that runs deeper than just treating others kindly? Is our faith impacting our deeds that mindlessly flow out of us?

Faith and Works

Finally!

Over the past month and a half I’ve seriously considered writing a blog… and here it is! I’m so excited to see what God has in store for this. I truly hope it is a “beacon of light in the shelter of the storms of life” and an encouragement to many. Thanks for visiting! : )