What is truth?

My best friend and I would often discuss “what is truth? Is truth relative? Is there only one truth? How is it measured? Who has the right to say what is true and what is not?” For my class “Jesus and the Gospels” our professor has us investigating the stories of Jesus found in the gospels. In reading the book of John, I found a general theme of truth that I thought was quite interesting.

In Jesus’ ministry we see a few very specific times where truth is mentioned and it is interesting to dig into the passages and see how they connect. The first example I noticed was in John chapter 8 verse 32 where Jesus says that when the Jews realize he is God in the flesh that they will know truth and “the truth will set you free.” Second, if you flip forward to chapter 14 verse 6 of John you see that Jesus states that he is “the way, the truth and the life.” In chapter 17 verse 17 Jesus prays that his disciples will be sanctified by the truth for “your (God’s) word is truth.” Finally while Jesus is on trial Pilate questions “what is truth?”

It’s an age old question. Pilate had the answer right in front of him and he knew it too but was not strong enough to acknowledge it. Jesus had declared freedom, he had told all of society where truth can be found, he said that we can be sanctified by the truth of God’s word and yet many of us are still questioning what is truth?

The truth is Christ. The truth is the word of God. Apart from those, there is no truth! Stand bold believer, stand up in truth…don’t waiver, don’t compromise. There is one way, one truth and one life and that is Christ!

I have a confession

Sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Sometimes we are the most critical judges we will face. Sometimes we hold ourselves up to standards that are unreasonable and unrealistic. Sometimes we do things just to make people love us or to get their attention instead of seeking Christ’s attention and affections. See, I have a confession to make. Although it has improved, sometimes it’s hard for me to view myself from God’s eyes. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I hate myself.There are times that I hate who I’ve been in my past and the mistakes I’ve made.There are times I want to run away because it would be easier then facing the things I am facing. I know I am not alone. Truth of the matter is that we do not and should not define ourselves and we do so too often (or let the voices of others define us). Once Christ enters our life, it is Christ who defines us. The other day I was reminded of a skit. I share it with you in hopes it will encourage you to see yourself through the eyes of Christ.

All I need

No big thoughts today, just some comments. So, how are you?

Tired? Alone? Peaceful? Restless? Afraid? Confused? Full of joy? Chaotic soul? Excited? Abandoned? Let down? frustrated? worried? joyless? stressed? __________ fill in the blank?

Worship.

Let the sorrows roll off your back as your encounter the Savior of the Universe and bring Him all that you can offer-your words of praise and a heart that craves and desires Him. Even when you don’t feel that desire to worship, that is sometimes when we need Him the most and our inner spirits cry out for Him. Just do it.
You may not be able to even lift your hands because you feel so crushed, but that is the beauty of it, you can worship best sometimes while flat on your face, tears rolling down, crushed by the world and at the end of your rope. Maybe it’s not that intense, maybe you’re just confused and tired. The best place to get rest is in His presence.

I’ve found that tonight. Just worshipping, just thinking about Him, just dwelling/drowning myself in His presence through worship is healing. It’s all you really need to do, just like the song All I Need by Rita Springer talks about.

All I need to do is worship

All I need to do is say His name out loud

All I need to do is lift my hands, surrender

And bow down

All I need to do is find Him

All I need to do is let His presence fall

All I need to do is worship

Worship the Lord

(V)

When there’s no way out

Except through a miracle

When there’s no way up a mountain

Except to climb it

When everything you hope for

Seems gone

And every dream you’ve dreamed

Is so far away, that’s when I say..
(repeat chorus)

Tonight I’ve found myself swept away in Him. I’ve found myself once again captivated by Him. I’ve found myself craving Him.He is all I need. May you find Him when you seek Him. May you be refreshed by His Spirit and yearn for more of Him as He pours more of Himself over you.

psalm of my heart

Why is it that we so often lose our way? If it is that we walk towards the beat of the heart of the one we love then why is it that our hearts so often wonder off course and become distracted by the beats of other lovers? Why do we wonder searching for false loves to comfort us when we know that the only thing that will remedy the depth of need we create within ourselves by starving Christ away is Christ himself? Why is it that I find myself so often in this romantic affair pattern floating from true husband to false in 2.5 seconds distractions floating in my mind as I try and wrap my brain around His grace, love, justice and mercy? Why is it so easy for me to forget all that He brought me through…all that He brought me out of…all that He stood beside me watching, crying with me when I refused to let the tears fall for fear that I would break? Why is it that I allow my anger and sin to hold me captive and not break down the walls I build inside of my heart the moment I feel the pain grab onto me? I really am like a turtle. I withdraw into the shell where I am protected. Would you Lord please rip off the shell of my comfort and invade my space. Make me uncomfortable, allow me to feel the shame of unfaithfulness and run back to you. You know me, You formed me, You know my needs and my desires. Be Lord over them. You have been so faithful and so good all my life. I don’t deserve You. I don’t deserve Your blessings. Grateful, grateful is my cry to You. Thankful, thankful is what I am for You.

Confession time.

There are times in my life where I quite literally feel as though God has taken one of those metal feeling scrub brushes to my heart. You know the ones that I’m talking about? I’m not really sure what they are called-but boy do they get the dishes clean. Their made of really rough (what feels like) shards of metal. Well, when God comes with scrub-brush in hand I often flinch. I put up a fight. I try and do it myself and sometimes I even have good intentions. Why should the Savior of the Universe get His hands dirty in my life? Why can’t I do it for Him instead? The truth of the matter is though, I can’t clean myself because every time I do I get dirty again. I can never clean myself to meet his standards, but I feel more comfortable with the scrub brush in my hand because I know that I won’t scrub too hard or take off too much skin.

See, here’s the deal. I know that no amount of “church time” or “being good” can earn my “brownie points” for a God who loves us outside of what we do. (“Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to HIS mercy He saved us). Then why is it that I so often try and earn extra points from God and is this right to do anyway?

 Sure, I shouldn’t just go off the deep end in sin as an excuse  because I know that “God always loves me” and I know that can’t earn my salvation or lose it-(as Romans 6:1-2 says: What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”), but I struggle with the concept of mercy. Mercy means that I should not live my life constantly trying to make a way for myself to salvation because that in itself is sin (it’s saying that God’s sacrifice was not enough and I have the ability to “be God” and be “good enough” for him), but then again I do need to have the desire and want to do things that please Him just because He is Lord of my life.

 How long will it take me to realize that Christ’s love isn’t dependent on my performance? How long will it take me to realize that sometimes I have to have Him come in with the scrub-brush to deal with the crap I have on the inside.

He’s been doing a lot of work in my heart lately. Going back to my illustration of God with the srub-brush, you know when you leave dishes unwashed and out in the open air for a few days? What happens? You know how the food just gets harder to wash off? Why is it that we hold off on God and His cleaning us off when we full well know that it’s going to hurt us more the longer it stays on it? It’s like a festering, infected wound on our bodies. The only way to heal it is to squeeze out all the bacteria and infection. Is it fun? Heck no. Does it hurt? More then words can say, but if we don’t do it, what happens? (answer: we die).

I remember as a kid I was on my hands and knees playing “cat and dog” with a close childhood friend. I slid under the couch and tore up my hand-not knowing that there was a needle sticking up under the couch. The cut was really bad, so my friend’s Dad soaked it in hydrogen peroxide to make sure that it didn’t get infected. Now, I come from a family who did nothing really (no band aid even!) when I got scraped up and perhaps that was better because boy I choked back the tears but wanted to scream. It hurt, BAD, but today-there is not infection-there is no scar-there is no reminders of that cut on my hand. If my friend’s Dad had not treated my wound as soon as I showed him I could have ended up getting an infection, or it could have scarred me more deeply.

So why do we try to hide our crap from God saying “I’ll deal with God later” (as the giant rotting mass of food on our figurative plates, or the festering wound on our body grows harder and more infected by the moment). So many people say these words (that they’ll deal with it later) as they go on to live their life in sin just adding to the grossness and infection that they carry (I’m so guilty of this!-even in the little things, I do this 100 times, I’m not saying I’m perfect at all, so don’t think that). We postpone God’s working on our hearts, but the truth of the matter is we end up coming out as the loser as addictions strengthen their hold on our life and we end up more and more miserable. I do this so much and I’m so tired of it.

It’s time for a change.
It’s time for us to let God in.
It’s time for us to bear our hearts, be brave and let God do what He needs to do with the scrub-brush.

It’s time for us to be honest that we don’t have it together and that it hurts to be messy, and it hurts to be in the process of getting ourselves clean.

Let’s quit the walls and masks please. Let’s walk away from our addictions, and let’s face the fact that we can’t earn our salvation, and we can’t fix ourselves. I’m sick of us pretending that we have it together. I’m sick of us hurting ourselves over the sin in our life.

AA says that one of the first steps towards healing from an addiction is to admit you have a problem. So…I’ll be honest for once (although I fight against it). I take off my mask tonight and I admit that I have a sin problem. I admit that I am a liar (a liar being defined as someone who struggles consistently with someone telling to the truth), I am an adulterer. I have lusted and wanted mans approval over the approval of my heavenly Father. I have struggled with hatred towards someone and bitterness is a constant companion of mine. I have an anger problem, I struggle with releasing it in healthy ways and not harming myself or others as a result. I’ve hated myself before on many occasions, hated the woman that God has made me to be and hurt His heart with my hatred. I have judged, and been judged, and judged that people were judging me. I have cheated. I have coveted, and wanted things that I did not have and don’t need. I have looked to many other idols to fill the void in my heart. I try and earn my salvation and earn “brownie points” and I’m afriad that God will let me down. I think sometimes that I know more then God. I have a hard time letting go. I sometimes love my friends more then I should and spend more time with them then I do with God. I’ve taken advantage of people, wanted more of people them then I should-got it, and regreted it, I’ve hurt people, and I’ve hurt the very man who died for me too many times to count. All that to say that I am the chief of sinners but buried beneath shame of past sins and current struggles I reach my hand out for the nail pierced hands and seeing me as completely clean the Lord reaches down into my crap and pulls me out, taking the scrub-brush to my heart and making me cleaner then ever.

If you’re 100 miles from God on a path that’s leading you further from Him, it’s never too late to turn around. The God that first called you will heal You and don’t be discouraged as you face the hurt of His cleaning-it will be worth it.
If your trapped in a cave thinking that you can somehow earn your salvation with a plastered smile on your face and a “good works” list in your right hand throw it down and run into the arms of grace.

If your confused, and you question salvation, or even God and if he’s really there and sees your pain or your confusion, join the club and know you’re never alone. Let the community of Christ come alongside you and point you to the Lord who has the answer to every question.

And if you’re like me who loves the Lord so much but feels far from Him due to sin and apathy so often, let’s get our feet back under us, confess that we don’t have it all together, and run straight into the arms of our Lord throwing aside all of our idols and false hopes that we cling onto so tightly because He never left us and searches for us (just read the story of the prodigal son).

Ask the tough questions-go ahead-this is your space. Just you and God. Write it if you want-leave a comment, or just turn away from the computer and write it, or voice it-whatever you need, but take the time to do it.

Confess how much you need the Lord-there’s no judgement here. If you want to be vulnerable and do it as a comment, do so, but if it’s just you and the Lord, embrase that time knowing that He has already removed your sins “as far as the East is from the West.” Confession is for our benifit, to help us realize just how much we need a Savior.

Don’t let this moment pass. Don’t let time slip away. Don’t walk away from God if He’s holding out the scrub-brush or the medicine. Have faith-my Jesus already took the pain, so what the Lord is doing to You is only what needs to be done.

Let’s be real with God-and be real with others and let’s see what He does with our lives-let’s see Him change the world maybe for one last time.

the depths of which you love, you will hurt

I had the great opportunity to sit under the teaching of Beth Moore this Sunday. Okay, it was via a projector and DVD, but nevertheless, it was Beth Moore. I’m not normally a Beth Moore fan, and I don’t normally go to the Beth Moore Bible study at my church since I’ve been living in a different county then my home church and working on Sundays (at a different church). DVD series’ tend to be a challenge for me anyway just because I am A.D.D. and can’t focus, but I try not to use that excuse anymore. I decided to go to Sunday School this week thanks to the encouragement of one of my big sisters, Mandy, and because I knew my other awesome friend Candi would be there because she leads it! I figured what the heck…why not eh? It’ll be fun I’m sure.

Sheesh-I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Talk about some heavy topics. The topic was on “Intensive Care” and Beth Moore talked about living in God’s intensive care unit. I’m really bad at summarizing, and I didn’t take any notes in class due to my lame excuse of not having a pen and feeling bad about asking for one, but this is what I got about God’s intensive care:

1. It’s a place where only you can go, a place where you go where you want your friends the most and they are not there for you. 

2. It’s place you go when you’re totally overwhelmed with specific sorrows and all you can think about is a specific pain that brings you there (it’s literally encircling you around your head and no matter where you turn you can’t get free from it). It doesn’t have to be a “big” thing in our society’s perspective or even our Christian circle’s perspective, but if it’s enough to consume you, then it’s enough to put you in intensive care.

3. Sometimes when you go there, your situation does not change. The cup does not pass from you and whatever sorrow brought you there in the first place does not get resolved.

BUT…

It’s there that we can be real with God. We can throw ourselves at the feet of God and literally kick and scream and ask “why” as much as we need-He won’t leave us there because our anger is “too much.” I admit, this is a new concept for me. I’ll question, sure-and I’ll be mad, yes, but I don’t dare show it physically. I was raised in a household that told me very clearly that we do not show anger-so I don’t. It doesn’t turn out well when I’ve faced tremendous grief (I think of one fall in specific where I wish I would have grieved better because years later I’m still dealing with it) with a lot of anger and I’ve just tried to ignore it. But God isn’t afraid of our (my) fits. He isn’t afraid of our screams, and in fact, by emptying ourselves of the negative emotions so many of us bottle and hide, we allow Him to fill us more with His spirit and joy. Asking “why” does not mean we doubt God. Asking “why” shows us that we’re hurting and we need Him now more then ever.

One line keeps sticking out to me from Beth’s message:

“To the depth of which you love, you will hurt.”

SO true for my life. I spent the night (I can’t sleep, in case you can’t tell) journaling the depth of some of my loves and losses (the more recent ones), and it’s been such a great time for me. I’m starting to be okay with the fact that I hurt and be okay with the fact that I lost some people that I dearly love and I am still grieving from those losses. My friends can’t help me, I have to face this on my own with God.  This whole summer God’s been at me regarding that, regarding the fact that I hurt, just like Him, I’ve lost, just like Him, and He wept when He suffered various losses, so why do I hold up the expectation to myself that I will not weep? He’s been giving me time alone with no one else beside me to make me understand that He is strong enough to hold me.

At the same time he’s helping me realize that I am surrounded by people who love and support me and want to help me through processing my loss if I’ll trust them enough to let them in. Even as I prepare to leave the circle of friends and support that I have here in Virginia (I move in 5 days), I won’t be away from the community of Christ. My challenge now is trusting from the start. I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to trust, but as much as I am open to the help of others, God may just use some people to speak into my life in an amazing way.

I don’t know if this made much sense. It’s late, and my thoughts are kind of jumbled, but I want you to know that if you’re going through loss that you’re not alone. I want you to know that God can handle your questions, your anger, and your pain. I want you to know that He’s big enough to take all of your frustrations, and you don’t have to walk that path alone. Even if God’s calling you to intensive care where no one else can go but you know that you are being held by the prayers of the saints for you. I’ll say it again, you are not alone.

Portrait

I draw my inspiration for this poem from the broken stories I have heard this summer, the broken stories on my campus that I carry with me and the brokenness in my own life. If you know me well enough, maybe you will recognize some stories, or maybe you can relate to bits and pieces of a verse. I promise you, you’re not suffering in vain, your stories will not remain untold, and your hurt has never been unnoticed. If your reading this and your hurting, always remember that someone cares and you are loved-never give up.

“Portraits”
The hurt comes back to haunt my dreams,
I kneel so stifled by my silent screams,
You rise-slowely punching the life out of me,
I rise-I stand so still praying no one sees.

Terror in the night I awake,
not a noise will I ever make.
I don’t even call for you,
Because I know there’s nothing you can do.

A black eye for a blackened heart
you swore you would never depart
an open door and packed bags you left
and you wonder why I speak your name less.

Crippled anger, wounds that never heal,
fallen away from what I hold dear.
Searching for something-anything to satisfy,
I walk this desert land so dry.

Constant nagging, requiring perfection,
breaking your set direction,
Call me a rebal if you choose,
In the end it’s me you lose.

Have I lost my mind?
I search for nothing to find,
why does this come as no surprise?
It’s killing me inside.

A crippled life and crushed dreams,
There’s more then meets the eye it seems.
but today I let it all go,
and traded in my sorrow.

A frantic call in the night,
I pull out my car in a state of fright.
The stars have never seemed so near,
and the night has never been so clear.

A hospital bed and a dying breath,
without a goodbye you must be left.
Push away the sorrow, push away the tears,
and count down the many years.

A child is too young to leave the place they call home,
but now we have found ourselves again alone.
The laughter and the tears echo in our minds,
If only we could stop, and rewind.

In the middle of this mess,
I’m finding you’re all I have left.
In the midst of my weakness,
it’s my brokenness you bless.

Questions

My English 241 class (Survey of American Literature) class has been studying Puritan literature over the past few months. A few things have really been hitting me about the Puritan religion. One thing that surprised me was that the Puritans basically believed that it was a sign that you were not saved if you questioned God when he brought you through the wilderness. I got to thinking of how blessed I am to know that I can question God and He will not remove His love from me. To be honest, I find honesty hard. People will ask me “how are you?” and with out even thinking my response is “good!, how are you?” Most of the time I am good when it all boils down to how blessed I am, but when there is things that bother me and frustrate me I know I am not “good” and yet I say I’m good anyway. I don’t know about you  but I grew up trying to pretend that I had no feelings. No anger, no sadness-I wanted to be tough and unmovable. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” How many times have you said that, and how many times did words cut deep into you? Have you ever gone through things where you did not understand what God was doing? Have you ever had to bury a child, or been affected by murder, or adultery, or a friend’s brokenness which was too deep for cure? Have you walked darkened paths afraid for your life or thought about ending your life by your own hands? Have you ever fought with a friend and felt rejected? Have you ever broken up with someone you love? Have you ever had something incredibly unjust happen to you? Has your earthly family ever betrayed you? The list goes on about the things that could have happened to you, so during that darkness-Have you ever questioned God and been honest with Him? Take a look at the Psalms. They are full with honesty and questions. How about Psalm 13:4-6:

 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide  your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death;  my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.   But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.

See when we question God often times our perspective changes. We are focused back onto the fact that God really is good. Yes, we many not understand why things happen the way that they do but that is no reason to throw in the towel. We were born for this struggle and heartache. It’s okay to question-we have the freedom to do so. Doubt is a sin, questioning is not. Just because you question doesn’t mean you doubt. So go ahead, be honest with God and see how He changes your perspective. You are never alone. Stop trying to be so tough and let Him be God through your questioning.

It’s been awhile since I dusted off the old blog, I know. I’m sorry. God has been doing some crazy stuff in my life. I’m finishing up my associates degree, and moving along to my bachlor’s degree next fall which will require transferring colleges, and moving. I’m incredibly excited about what God is going to do, and what he is doing in my life now. So, what is He doing lately?

The Puritans believed that in order to reach heaven you had to pass through a “wilderness” or a period of testing given by God. I’ll admit, lately I’ve felt as though I went through a sort of wilderness in my life. This wilderness is nothing compared to the “winter of loss” as I call it, but it’s been a long year. Through it all, all of the testing, and all of the taking away, part of me just cries out to be heard by the Savior of the Universe. The other part of me tries to be stubbornly strong saying that I don’t need him, but I know I can’t even breathe without Him. In all reality where I am finding myself now is best. What a perfect place to be when you’re being completely broken before the savior of the universe. It’s also incredibly uncomfortable to be broken by the hand of God so our flesh naturally fights against it. I prayed for Him to break the idols in my life and He is responding by smashing them down. It’s beautiful, but it hurts. When you hold things before God that are substitutes for His glory and His love, how can he stand by and let you ruin your life? If you DON’T feel him ripping your idols away, you should be concerned. I knowthat I am His because of the way that He is disciplining me for my unfaithfulness. In contrast to my unfaithful actions, His faithfulness is showing up in ways I have never experienced before through this. I don’t regret anything over this past year because I feel as though I have grown more then I have in years past, but let me tell you nothing is worth the amount of pleasure it brings unless it’s actions point directly to the cross of Christ. So many times I’ve pursued things that I thought were right only to realize that I was moving only on my feelings. I am reminded that this Christian life is not about “feelings.” Just because I may not “feel” God doesn’t not mean He is not there, oh no, it means He is all the more closer, I just have to shut up enough to listen to Him. Just because this doesn’t “feel” good does not mean that God is not using this for His glory. I expect this. I expect pain and suffering, I am not perfect and there’s times that I grow frustrated, but that’s growth isn’t it? Do you know how muscles are strengthened? In order to make muscles larger they develop small tears that end up swelling (or so I was just told). Feeling sore isn’t always comfortable, but you know that you are developing something that will benefit you in the long run (no pun intended!).

I look forward to getting back into the swing of sharing life with you, my wordpress blog friends (and my facebook feed stalkers). To God be the glory.

Considering Joy

Joy. What does it mean? I personally love the word Joy, not only because it is my name, but also because joy means a lot to me. I am currently leading a small group through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at my college. We’re going through the Fruit of the Spirit and this week our topic was joy. I got to thinking how society views joy and I realized, the secular world has no real concept of joy. Before you freak out on me, hear me out. Society views joy as happiness and happiness is situational. Happiness is not Joy. Joy is different. When I went to find some refrences for my Bible Study I was amazed to find that most of them talked about joy in sorrow, joy in persecution or joy when life doesn’t make sense. When happiness fails us because our situations are painful it’s then we find outselves faced with the chance to choose joy.

James 1:2-4 says “Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trails of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

The word “consider” really leaped out at me when I read this verse. The word “consider” implies that we must choose to accept trials as joy. Choosing joy isn’t our natural response, but we must consider our trials as joy. In Sunday School we’re talking about God being our rock. God is steady, he is unmovable, he’s always the same-the same comes down to what our joy is in Christ. Joy as we know it equals God. There would be no joy without Him because we know that all things good come from Him and joy is good-therefore, joy is unmovable as well. Joy is not dependent on our situations or circumstances. Joy is not swayed when the tides of change roll in, instead, joy stands up and says “because Christ is greater, I can find more then just happiness in my suffering, sorrow and loss.”  Joy is more then just a smile or happiness-it is a hope, a peace, a strength and contentment that can come from only Christ. Choose joy today, no matter what situations may come.

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