Monday, December 28, 2015

Breathe

What came first, the Inhale or the Exhale? 
Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. Genesis 2:7
 Beyond breathing's physical function of oxygen filling our lungs and our blood and keeping our bodies alive, breathing can take on so many more functions in our lives.
Blowing out a candle, blowing a kiss, whistling a tune.
Simply talking, sneezing, filling a balloon. 

Exhale

That big gulp of air before
A shout, a cry, a laugh, 
A moment of courage, the next kiss.

Inhale

An inhale is taking a breath in. 
A pause. 
A reflection.
There's very little you can do with an inhale besides 
Prepare for the next exhale. 

An exhale is giving a breath out. 
A burst of activity.
A display of what we can do.
A response.

So take this in...

Inhale.

With a breath, God gave us life.
Then The LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Genesis 2:7 

And with another breath...
God graciously gave us another chance, another life. 

When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said,  'It is finished.' And He bowed his head and have up His spirit. John 19:30

So, how will you respond to what God has given you?
What will you do with the life you have been given?
What are you going to do with your next breath?

Exhale.

••••
I breath in. 
God's breath in me. 
The life He has given me.
His grace fills me. 

I breath out.
Praises to the One True King. 
Prayers of thanksgiving.
Words to exclaim, 
"Jesus, you're my everything!"

I take in God's love, grace, and peace. 
I breath out, 
"Thank you."

"You love me."
"Thank you."

"You love me."
"Thank you."

Repeat, repeat, repeat. 
Until my last breath,
Repeat.



Friday, May 15, 2015

Growing Pains

 “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:14)

He will quiet you with His love...” (Zephaniah 3:17)

Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalms 47:10.)


I'll admit that for a really long time now I have been fretting over what a horrible job I feel like I'm doing at being a Christian. I've been experiencing what I call “growing pains” in my spiritual journey. I have felt like I am at a place in my spiritual journey where God has chosen to challenge what I say I believe in, to see if it holds up under fire. At times it seems like He has been remaining silent to test my faith, to see if, no matter what, I will really choose to trust Him – even when I cannot feel Him. And I feel like I am being crushed under the weight of it all. There are moments I say, “Yes, Lord, I trust you even in the darkness.” But there are more moments where I cry out in this darkness, sometimes in pain and sometimes in anger – “God, where are you? God, I can't do this. God, my faith is not strong enough.”
Sometimes I think, how can I continue on this path of fighting sin and keeping in step with the Spirit for another 50+ years?

The old attacks on my sufficiency are louder than ever, and this time they come from my own mouth and not from the Enemy.
You are not strong enough to resist sin. You are not holy enough to be in the presence of God. Your faith is not strong enough to endure a real life of struggles, pain, and disappointment. You do not have enough joy to display God's value. You do not have enough compassion, you do not show enough grace, you do not give enough love.
Enough, enough, enough! Satan need not bother himself with trying to break me down because I am working on doing that all by myself.
When did being a Christian mean that you had to do enough or have enough to be enough?

When I chose you, I did not have this in mind for you. I did not plan for you to be overcome by guilt and weighed down by sin and crushed by life.”

Then what did you plan for me, Lord?

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” {Jeremiah 29:11-13}

I ache with the pain that sin brings into my life. Paul tells me in the book of Romans that I am no longer a slave to sin, but I still have phantom feelings of the weight of sin's shackles. My sinful self has been crucified with Christ and I am now a new creation, but death still breathes down my neck. Day after day, moment after moment, I come face to face with choices of obeying Christ or following my sinful desires. More often than not I choose to follow my sinful desires. How can I call myself a Christian or a disciple of Christ when sometimes I barely look like Him and choose not to follow Him? Wretched woman that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Though I am weak, He is my strength. Though I am unrighteous, He is my righteousness. Though I fall into despair, He is my hope. Though I am powerless, He is all-powerful. Though there is nothing I can do in my sin, He has done everything through His grace.

I want to encourage those of you who are in the same battle that I am against sin. Though we feel like we are losing the battle, Christ has already won it. Be still and know that He is God. The God who loves you, who has redeemed you, who is perfecting you, and who is sanctifying you. You cannot do anything in your own strength or power. It is not by might, nor by power...but by the Spirit of God that you are being sanctified and being made into the image of His Son. You need only to be silent, the Lord will fight for you. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

An Intro to my Study of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood

In January, I helped lead a guy's and girl's winter retreat put on by the youth ministry I volunteer with. Our theme for the retreat was Biblical manhood and womanhood – What does it mean to be a man or woman? I can't speak for anyone else, but I got a lot out of our time discussing what it meant to be a woman. For the teaching and discussion content we mainly used the Bible and the e-book, Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood by several authors posted as a free download on John Piper's website, Desiring God.1 I hadn't really done any serious studying on Biblical womanhood before so this retreat really sparked my interest and got the wheels turning in my head. Of special interest to me was the idea that the wife is supposed to submit to her husband and the man was the woman's headship. I've always thought of this as a negative thing, one that leads to the woman being trampled underfoot and the man having complete control over the woman. However, after reading the Good ebook, I started to see that submission can be a beautiful, Gospel-centered thing that glorifies God and is something God sees as good.

                                      

If God sees submission as a good thing then shouldn't I?


God is a loving and just God and shows no partiality towards man or woman. There is neither male or female, in Christ we are all one (Galatians 3:28). God loves me and knows what is the best for me, regardless of my gender. And as a woman, what He sees as the best for me is to submit to the authority of man. Now there's a striking thought and one that I hadn't put into words before. But it's true – the command for a wife's submission to her husband and the specific hierarchy of God than Christ than man than woman is clearly laid out in the Bible (see Ephesians 5:22-33 and 1 Corinthians 11:1-16). And that is a hard pill to swallow (at least for me, and I'm sure for a lot of other women) because submission still has negative vibes for me. Which is why, shortly after completing the youth retreat, I decided to do an in-depth study on submission. I wanted to know what exactly is meant by submission, who is supposed to submit (just wives or women in general?), and how it can be a good and Godly thing. And because I like to do things thoroughly and go to the root of issues, my study has expanded to the more general subject of Biblical manhood and womanhood, which will eventually lead me to studying submission. What is it about manhood that needs woman's submission? Why is man the head of woman? How can men and women, working together, live out God's intended design for them? And a more personal question I wonder – How can woman be all that she is created to be (smart, beautiful, creative, strong, rational, passionate, etc.) and still live under the God-given restrictions of submission and man's headship? How does the virtuous wife of Proverbs 31 live in harmony with the apostle Paul's views of how women are to behave found in Titus 2? Does being a Biblical woman mean just staying at home, tending to the children, and serving her husband? What if she has a knack for business? What if she is a brilliant teacher?  And what about single women who do not have a husband or children?

I have so many questions, all of which I will try to answer as I study Biblical manhood and womanhood. I plan to publish posts as I study and I hope that you will follow my journey on this blog. Please feel free to comment on my posts with findings from your own studying and experiences. I already have some interesting things I've learned, so keep a look out for my next post!

Until then, I leave you with a quote from Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood about submission that gave me hope and a glimpse of what submission can be when done in a Godly way.

Submission is also not about belittlement, inferiority,or worthlessness. Scripture teaches that we are to “encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Also, Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” And Colossians 3:19, “Husbands,love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”A wife’s submission is also not blind and absolute.Ultimately, Christ is the wife’s final authority. As a part of Christ’s church, she is his Bride chiefly. As a wife follows her calling to submit in marriage, she is ultimately submitting to Christ. She also gets her spiritual identity and ultimate strength and meaning through Christ and not through her husband. Though her husband’s role is to encourage her and build her up in the faith, Christ is the sole source of her faith.”2




1 You can find the ebook here: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/good-the-joy-of-christian-manhood-and-womanhood-new-ebook. While I've only read the chapters specifically talking about Christian womanhood for the retreat, I have started to read the other chapters and have found this book to be well written and full of thought-provoking material.

2Christina Fox, Good, 60 (pdf page no. 86)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

God's Play

[This is probably the closest thing I'll ever get to a rap...and I won't try to perform
it for you, which is for the best :) ] 

Lights, camera, action
my part in your play is only a fraction
All too often I forget my line
But from the side, you tell me "you're doing fine"

Beginning, middle, end
through it all you're my support and friend
Before each scene I'm filled with fright 
You smile and tell me, "you'll be alright"

Curtain call, take a bow
I made it through, but I don't know how
Then a look of understanding fills my face
I step back and beckon for you to take my place

Clap, clap, clap
My name suddenly drops off the map
The Creator and Director of the show
is the only one anyone really should know


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Run the good race

On your mark, get set...Go!
But I don't move. Paralyzed, stuck – I didn't move.
Seconds that feel like ages pass and my hands and feet are still glued to the race track.
I visualize myself springing from the ground and racing forward, and my muscles feel as if
this visualization is a reality. But the reality is I am frozen in fear and frozen on the mark. What if...I can't...
I can feel heat in my face and cool sweat dampen my neck.
I relax my body and slip from my toes to my knees and I rest my forehead on the dusty track. You blew it. You lost before you even began. You...
Hey, are you okay?” I hear the voice of my coach ask.
The race is over, isn't it?” I ask from my fetal position.
Not if you don't want it to be. You still have a chance.”
At that I raise my head and sit on my heels.
You can't be serious? You saw me. I didn't even take a single step. I froze at the starting point. I blew it.”
You can try again. You can run this race and you can finish.”
Well, even if I had another chance to do it over - What if I'm not fast enough and I come in last place?”
My coach smiled a warm smile.
Those who are first will be last and the last will be first. ”
Coach extended his hand to me, I grabbed it, and he pulled me up in one smooth movement.
You aren't running to beat anyone else. And in my eyes you have already won.”
Well...What if I trip and fall?”
Then I will come and pick you up and you will continue to run the race as if you never fell.”
What if I can't get back up?”
Then I will carry you across the finish line.”
And what if...”
Listen to me.”
I shut my mouth when I noticed that my coach's smile was gone and a serious expression had taken its place.
I have already run this race myself and I have already obtained the prize. There is nothing for you to lose because I have already won for you. All I am asking is that you keep on running and don't stop until you reach the end.
And if you continue to run then you must only remember what I am about to tell you and silence and cast away any doubts you may have about your ability to run or any worries you may have about circumstances you could come to in the race.
You cannot run to beat others or prove yourself. You will run with the strength I have trained you in. And when you falter I will be your strength. Run with endurance because this race will be long. Run with courage and boldness because you will come upon many obstacles. Run with hope because you know that you will finish this race and I will be at the end to meet you. And run with joy because, although this race will be exhausting and challenging, it will also be once in a lifetime and an amazing race. I have fully equipped you for this moment and I couldn't be more pleased or proud of you, no matter how the race plays out.
Now,” the smile returned to my coach's face, “Are you ready?”
As my coach described the race I was going to have, my confidence began to build up in me once again.
I think I am. I'm really excited and also a little scared. But I believe in what you say and I trust you. I'm ready.”
My coach gives me a nod.
You've got this, superstar. Go run with all you've got.”
I walk to the starting line filled with determination.
On your mark.
I place my feet in their proper place and bend my knees.
Get set.
I reach my fingertips to the ground and lift myself onto my toes.
Go!
And I shoot forward, confident in my steps, joy in my soul, and my eyes fixed on my coach at the finish line. A smile spreads across my face and I have a plan in my heart to run this race with all my might. I have nothing to lose and everything to win.


“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Hebrews 12:1-2, NIV