True Love ❤️

         True love is not something that suddenly comes to us like we think. Instead, it is something that is built inside of us.
          With every surrendered dream, every sacrifice we make to put Christ first, with every bold letting go of our own desires to pursue His desires, we begin to get a glimpse of what Calvary love was all about.
         As a single woman, so many of us are looking to someday find that guy who will love us with the true love that we have waited for our whole lives. But, what we don’t fully understand is that in order to have a mutual true love in marriage, we have to be the first to practice that kind of death to self and submission to Christ that is required for true love to be fully born in us.
         I was thinking last week about the pain found in relationships. All my life I have tried to protect myself from the pain found in relationships. Somehow pain meant that something was wrong. But, over the past two months, God has shown me that there is pain found in relationships when we love people, and it is GOOD. To think that pain can be good was breaking boxes for me. It may for you, too. There is a pain found in laying down our lives for others, in allowing ourselves to be stretched outside our comfort zone, in finally facing our weaknesses through the eyes of another life we truly care about. This kind of pain is actually GOOD because when we encounter it, we know that something is being changed in us for GOOD. We shouldn’t shrink back from it, we shouldn’t try to run from it. We need to rejoice in it, by simply taking it all to the feet of Jesus and spending time with Him, talking to Him about it. He knows why He allows GOOD pain in our lives. He faced pain, too, when He was practicing true love. He knows how to help us experience the JOY found in the moments of crucifixion that is required in true love.
        This weekend was one of those moments for me. Because of some my childhood brokenness that I now realize God is still healing in me, sometimes when it comes to relationships, I either cocoon myself from them, or I just expect them to be pain-free and all joy. But, but, but…the reality is that some of the best relationships are ones that help us grow in Truth and Love. They stretch us. They force us to rely on God. When we rely on God, then we get Truth in our inward members, and it’s that Truth that builds our lives in love toward God and others.
        That is the true love we are waiting for. It’s this amazing ability to suffer as Christ suffered by laying down our lives for the sake of others. When a man and a woman learn this practice in their own lives led by the Holy Spirit, they are better prepared for the marriage that reflects Jesus and His Bride.
So, be willing to be built by True Love.
        This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. 1 John 3:16

Don’t Be Offended at God

“And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Luke 7:23

John was the man. He gave his whole life to be a front runner for Jesus Christ. He knew what it meant to sacrifice a life of comfort and social luxury, to be a trailblazer and pioneer through a wilderness for the Lord. His heart was fixed and right. He knew and lived out the position that Christ must increase, but he had to decrease.

And there he is in chapter 7. He is in prison for speaking righteousness and calling out truth. Soon, he would be beheaded. And, in that prison cell, he audaciously sends a messenger to ask Jesus who He really is. Even though he already knew the truth.

As you know, I began my Luke study in early-August. And, I have been stuck here for the past 3 weeks, pondering that verse over and over again, as I sensed God had more to.show me.

I never quite understood Jesus’ response so well until last night at Equip. A ministering sister asked those who were still willing for breakthroughs to stand, and she shared about this story. She shared how in our long waits we could begin to take offense at God for not receiving our promises. In my heart, I didn’t feel offended at God, but I could feel for the first time John’s heartbreak and weariness, as I have felt my own questions and weariness on hard days, as well. I don’t believe he was offended at Jesus, but the overthinking was trying to unsettle the truth in His soul to get him offended. But Jesus saw that and didn’t let it happen. Christ checked him. Oh, how He faithfully guards our hearts! ❤ Just like times Jesus has checked me when I consider for too long my why, why, why’s.

This verse finally made sense to me. It’s like Jesus was saying for John not to be offended at His way because even that is all Jesus!!! Could John finally see and identify and KNOW Christ in his Way, at his hardest hour? I believe he did. Jesus was telling John there is NO OTHER WAY than His way. And, HE IS THE WAY. No doubting Jesus’ identity in that!!!

Don’t be offended at the Way God leads you. It is Jesus’ Way. Don’t be offended because Jesus is doing something a specific way in your life. You will be blessed to just trust God. You already know rhe Truth.

If Jesus thinks it’s best to go a certain way in your life, don’t get offended because of His leading. Just trust and follow. You will be blessed for your trust in Him. Keep your peace. Keep your faith. JESUS IS FAITHFUL!!! (Even when it looks hard and feels like you have lost it all). <3. He led you that Way, so rejoice!!! Don’t be offended at Jesus. Thank Him! Just think, HE IS GOD, AND HE CHOSE THAT SPECIFIC WAY FOR YOU!!! Yeh, God! =) In a very securing way, we can rest in that. Selah.

Within One Day, One Month, One Year…

Today marks a year since I found out for real that my dad had cancer.  To be honest, I just couldn’t believe it.  He passed away within the week.  A part of me at times is still very mad at the hospital staff.  Why didn’t they work to save his life?  What does a DNR have to do with it?  Aren’t doctors supposed to do everything they can to save a person’s life?  Of course, I didn’t attend the meeting with the doctor, so I don’t honestly know how terrible my dad’s cancer had progressed. But, I had just seen him in April, and there was no talk of cancer then. How can doctors suddenly find a gross stage of terminal cancer when they failed to find it all along?  These things perplexed and angered me.  All along, I had hoped that none of it was true. I prayed he would be well.

I can still remember how just last year I was crying out, “Jesus! Jesus!” over the phone as my brother was telling me the news–for real.  There was no way to deny it anymore. But, shock does that to a person for a season.  I was in shock, and I couldn’t accept it.  But, I remember that after writing a five page paper for my American Politics Class, suddenly truth settled it.  I had to go home.  Everyone else was there at the hospital already.

Within the week, dad passed away, and within the month, we buried him. All that within this year.  Nobody talks about it anymore.  And, I try to tell myself to not rehash it all.  But, I’m a writer.  This is my way of grieving.  After all, June is his birthday, and he passed away a day before his birthday. June is also Father’s Day.  No wonder it’s all hitting me right now.

Since last June, I’ve moved from Texas to Virginia.  I’ve finished 2 Constitutional Law Classes and a class on Presidency.  I have also become part of a wonderful church, and I now live in Chesapeake.

Since last June, I have also learned to care for someone to find that God had others plans, and I have, instead, poured my life into teaching 6th graders in a Title One school.  More are the children of the desolate woman, the Word says.  Somedays, I wonder if God will ever allow me to marry and have a family of my own.  Then, I realize how He has filled my lack with His Presence and allowed me to minister to a lot of hurting families.  Maybe in heaven that is how family works.

Today, I watched the Norfolk community serve its community by providing food, shoes, and opportunities for families.  It was amazing to see churches, businesses, and non-profit organizations coming together to serve the area.  I also got to have some heart to heart conversations where I heard myself speak about my heart’s desires.

Yes, a lot has happened within this year. But, these are the things I know.  I know that dad gave his heart to Jesus Christ; I will see him again at Home.  I also know that God has brought me here to Virginia to continue trusting in His Promises, and He has been faithful to use me in the schools and community.  Furthermore, I know He is with me.  He is with me in every sweet word of encouragement I receive from new friendships and from my older friendships.  He is with me in the provisions He has granted me here on this ground.

I bless the Lord.  I know He is going to do something truly amazing in the coming days.  When we choose to say yes to Jesus, He is able to do extraordinary things in and through our lives.

I decided to get back into blogging again.  I hope this entry blessed you.  No matter where you are in this season, I understand how within one day, one month, one year—so much can happen. Imagine how God sees it all! To him, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years, like 1 day.  I love that HE is the constant in all of this.  That’s what makes everything hold together for good.

Blessings in Christ,

Christine

We Belong:  A Part of His Body

Oh, I get it.  I get the liberal.  They have “atomistic” thinking.  Hear me out.  They don’t believe they are whole within a society.  They believe their whole societal concern is within themselves.

If I were not a Christian, I would be a tree-hugging liberal who would believe we are all individual and unique and we should just focus on that.  I would probably be asocial.  Some of it has to do with being hurt by institutions like family, school, church, and even the closest of friends.  Sometimes it’s safer to not lean on anyone else, but ourselves.

But, I thank God I am a Christian, and God will not let me be alone.  He has told us we are part of His body.  We are not the whole body, just a part.  That takes humility and dependecy.  We need others in this life.  We need God above all.

But, this is the pain of this generation. They lack moms and dads committed in marriage. So, many have learned to trust in nobody else, but themselves.  The idea of God being Lord through Jesus Christ means they have to let go of their personal power which is the one safe thing they KNOW they can depend on. 

Oh, we need to pray.  God wants to heal our society, community, our churches, families, marriages.  God cares about our part in His whole picture.  He created us in community. In Christ, we are His body.  He has more He wants to be in His body.  He died for us ALL, after all. ❤

So.. Yeah.  I got this whole revelation by looking up the word “atomization” today in my reading because I didn’t understand how that scientic word would fit politics.  But, I get it now.  And, it burdens me to pray for this generation, causes me to praise God for placing me in His body, and I look forward to how He will set this girl in His beautiful plan someday to understand the fullness of what marriage and family means.  Jesus heals.  There is HOPE for ALL OF US IN OUR NATION!!!!!!!! ❤

The whole body depends on Christ. And all the parts of the body are joined and held together. Each part of the body does its own work. And this makes the whole body grow and be strong with love.

Ephesians 4:16

Jesus is Home

In the winter of 2011 I was staying with a friend. I had gone to church and came home late. She had gone to a friend’s, and she was sleeping on the couch. I was shivering out in my car outside her home.

It was about 1:30- 2:00 a.m. and I was on the phone with a friend from Buffalo, New York. We were praying. I was overwhelmed because I didn’t understand what God was doing in my life. Why was I out in my car, instead of in my own comfy apartment, asleep?

While I was crying out to God in prayer with my friend on the phone, I asked the question, “What about me, God? What about me?” And, then, boom…it got really quiet, and my friend I felt God’s Holy Spirit. I was’t expecting an answer. I was just whining because I was freezing out in my little Corolla (yes, my sweet Corolla I still have-Blessing!) wondering where my friend was. But, God had an answer BEYOND ME. An answer that resonates with what I see today regarding the hurricane in Houston.

Suddenly, the Spirit of God said, “What about you? You have everything you need for Life and Godliness.” Then there was a flash of light and a vision in my heart. Then the Spirit said, “What about them?” What I saw were MULTITUDES of homeless people. And, they weren’t homeless because they were on drugs or addicted to alcohol. God then said, “you have a Home in me. But, What about them? They don’t have Home. They don’t have Me.”

I bawled. A hard cry. I knew God was saying I was alright. But, He was also challenging me to see like He sees. To give my life away. My friend was on the other end, she was part of the moment because I told her what was going on as it was happening. God showed me multitudes of lost souls who would be homeless, but ultimately they would be Homeless without Him. What about them? In that moment I knew that God was trying to show me that I would serve in missions, but His way. Jesus would train me and give me everything I needed to GO.

He wanted me to understand the call and offer Home to lost souls who don’t know Jesus Christ, our true Home. With Hurricane Harvey taking the homes of so many Texans, I have an opportunity this season to be His hands and feet. To tell the good news. To go. So do you.

Sometimes God sends us back to a place, not for ourselves, but for others. To GO. Friends, I get that this is one of the reasons He sent me back to Texas this late summer when I was willing to resettle back in my hometown in Illinois after my dad passed away. No, God didn’t want me in Illinois. He wanted me to be brave. To trust Him. To come back here. To Texas. To give my lufe away. So, He can use me. Okay! So, I obeyed.

What about your part, too? Your call? Who is your Home? Who around you needs to know that? How can you offer Home, Jesus, to them?

It is time to expect unity and to serve others in humility. Our nation needs hope. Our nation needs Home. Our nation needs Jesus. We all who are in Christ can do our part to share the Gospel and Hope. Missions always happens in our own back yard, afterall.

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Ephesians 3:16-21

Idolotry: Bowing to a Lying God

The enemy will try to steal glory from God by offering counterfeit ways of receiving God’s real grace.  Examples:  instead of hearing God through His Word, people rely on hearing God through signs.  Instead of receiving healing by the Holy Spirit, people will put their trust in trees and herbs through homeopathic/natural medicine.   Instead of running to God for provision, people will run to a lotto ticket.  And, instead of getting comfort and love from God, people run to relationships, thinking another person’s love can deliver them.  But, as I shared with a friend tonight….these are bandaid and false substitutes for real healing and Hope.

Idolotry in every form is a system of bowing to a lying god. At first, these and other counterfeit ways may at times offer a momentary fix, but it eventually leaves a cavern in the soul where FAITH was meant to fill lives with the substance of Truth found in all JESUS CHRIST has done and His Spirit continues to do for those who love and trust Him.

 
Let’s not be a people substituting our ways over God’s wisdom and Spirit.  Jesus is alive.  He is the one who guides us, heals us, provides for, and comforts us.  He is a real God we can have a real relationship with.  HE will help us.  Emmanuel.  God WITH us.

True Love

Whoever thought that love was just a wimpy emotion has not tasted of True Love. And, unless one tastes of True Love, one does not know how to Love.

I’m not talking about sappy romantic love that promises sunlight and roses that end up wilting at the first sign of a shadow. Feelings aren’t love. Feelings are simply roller coaster-like emotions that people of all generations across the ages have mistaken for Love because it’s easier to feel a feeling than it is to wait patiently bearing the cross on behalf of another. 


But, that’s just it. Love isn’t Love until a cross has been born for the sake of another, by choice. Jesus bore the cross for us, so that we may now bear that cross for Him and others. He became the way of Love for us. Through Him, we now show the Way of Love to others.


The truth about Love is that it is so powerful and strong. It wins. There is nothing that can overcome True Love, because True Love overcomes the world. It overcomes every slight, every sin, every offense, and covers it, saying, “You may have meant to harm, but it didn’t harm. I love you. I choose to cover you.” It’s that powerful.

Love is also unyielding in protection and valor. For example, one may want his own base way that could harm him, but Love will boldly speak up and say, “no.” And, Love will stay that true course. Even through being misunderstood, being blamed, being rejected, being mocked, Love is unwilling that anything harm another, so Love, instead, is willing to be hurt, that the other may be free from pain. 

In the end, Love is brave. Brave enough to speak the Truth. Love can only speak with humility of heart, with a bowed life at the foot of the cross, knowing that it is there in the Great Exchange, His Life for ours, that we will come to know what True Love is. Who True Love is.

In short. God is love. It says so in His Word. And, we, His people, full of His Holy Spirit, are full of His Love.

So, brothers and sisters,”… let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. ” 1 John 3:18 

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Chapter One: Not About My Plans, But His Purpose

When I resigned from 10 years of English teaching in Central Illinois, I thought God was sending me as a missionary to Africa…

Instead, He brought me out here to Texas,  honestly an “Africa” in its own right, at least by its 100 degree temperatures, but to be clear, it’s not Africa at all- the culture, values, and people are all different.

Where I thought I was going is not where God sent me.  What I thought I would be doing is not how God has used me.  And, who I thought I would become is not the person I am today.

Certainly, we have ideas, many plans, in our own hearts of what our lives will look like when we step into our futures following Jesus Christ; however, God has a purpose for us that always prevails.

This is a story of how God has purposed me to come to a new perspective about worship by trekking me through a wilderness…

I left Illinois on a hot day in July 2009, following my brother’s white pick-up truck, loaded with all my valuables, in my lil’ faithful Toyota sedan. They had invited me to come and live with them for the summer.  Since I had just resigned that spring from teaching, and God had not given me peace about going to Uganda, I agreed to move to the panhandle area of Oklahoma for the summer. So, they came all that way with their truck.

I had to give away my 7 foot Christmas tree, the one I used to always put up in the broad picture window of my beautiful Victorian apartment. I had to say goodbye to the place where God healed, filled, and restored my life:  those wooden floors that had met my tears in prayer, the plastered walls and mouldings that had watched God transform my life, growing me from glory to glory, the longest place I’d ever lived.

I still don’t know how I packed up 10 years of steady living onto the back of that white truck.  Honestly, I don’t even know how I finally managed to let myself be pealed off that couch to go with them, to head into the unknown future, just like that.

Every U-turn along the way screamed at me to turn back.  If I were traveling alone, I may have changed my mind.  However, I had all kinds of witnesses watching me and my reaction to stepping out in faith, including four precious young nieces and a nephew.  No turning back.  No turning back.

I ended up in Hardesty, Oklahoma that July of 2009, a town that held about 200 people.  Although it was an opportunity to rest, my whole world seemed up in the air.  This was no Africa.  I was not doing any mission work.  And, I was no longer an English teacher, which is how I saw myself for a decade.  Instead, I was now living in a place not my own, doing nothing but typing away on the increasingly popular social media, and I was uncertain of my future.  But, even in all this, God had me.  For where I had plans, He had something greater: God had purpose for me.

His purpose for me that summer was to bond with my family, get rest and healing (I had a hurt back due to stress causing muscle spasms that I hadn’t gotten healed of in years), and to share Christ with the youth in my brother’s church.

His purpose was also for me to practice piano in front of my nieces who would someday come to love playing the piano and to eat ice cream with my 2 year old nephew who thought my bowl of ice cream was his, as well.

I laughed so much for the first time in years that summer, shedding off my English teacher life of always grading, always in solitude, for children’s laughter and family connections.  God always knows what He is doing.  He always has a purpose.

As if those purposes weren’t enough, God also had a purpose to seed my heart with convictions regarding my walk and worship.

One day, I was at the church, sitting behind the organ.  A hymnal caught my attention. I can’t remember if it fell, and it landed on the page, or if it had already been opened to that particular page, but the song on the page was, “I’d Rather Have Jesus.”

It was so anointed in that moment. As I quietly played and sang each verse on the organ, God asked me to respond to His simple, but convicting question, “Would you?”

I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold.
Would you?
Yes.

I’d rather have Him than riches untold.
Would you?
Yes.

I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands.
Would you?
Yes.

I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hands.
Would you?
Yes.

I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause.
Would you?
Yes.

I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause.
Would you?
Yes.

I’d rather have Jesus than world-wide fame?
Would you?
Yes.

I’d rather be true to His Holy Name.
Would you?
Yes.

Every line broke me.  I was left with nothing but my “Yes.”  I knew it was just the beginning. 

God’s purpose in showing me that song, in having me commit a response to Him, as He went over it line by line, built convictions in me for the days of testing ahead of me.  His purpose was to seed me with what would solidify my walk of faith in Him in the days that would follow where I would have to choose by faith to trust Him.  He already knew my heart.  He was making me respond, so I could hear it, as well, so I would remember.

It was shortly after that, that I received confirmation in prayer that I was to attend worship school in Dallas, Texas.  It was also shortly after that, that my brother’s family got the call to be a pastor near Houston.  On their way further South, they were able to drop me off in Dallas.

Amazing how smooth transitions are in God’s timing.  Amazing how God always knows the true desires of our hearts.

You see, I had wanted to study worship more than I’d ever wanted to go to Africa, but I had been afraid to admit that to God.  After all, I wanted so badly to serve Him doing His will, not mine.  Would God allow me to attend worship school, instead of doing missions?  Well, He did! God already knew the true desire of my heart, and I now see that part of His purpose that summer was placing me where I needed to be to make that next step happen.

Where should I be? What should I do? Who am I?

These are important questions which will truly try our hearts.  God always has an answer for us. However, sometimes He will allow those answers to unfold, as He fulfills His purpose in and through us.

God’s Word says in Proverbs 19:21:

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.

That summer I began to learn this truth.

Well…like every story God writes, this was just a chapter in His glorious plan.  As, I finally got settled in for the rest of that summer, spending time with my family and finally getting some rest, I watched God quickly close this chapter with another new beginning for me in worship school.

Looking back, I am amazed at how quickly that time flew by.  Chapters in God’s story of our lives tend to do that. However, I’m thankful that His purpose always remains even as we enter the next chapter.

image