Boss your heart!

This is a blog I have followed for a long time. This family shares my passion for caring for the orphan and the widow, and loving those children who are the least of society. For they truly are the greatest in the kingdom of God!
These t-shirts support that, and funds raised are doing mighty works for Jesus on behalf of one special Serbian princess, Chrissie. Buy one, buy ten! May God bless them abundantly ūüôā

http://www.allarepreciousinhissight.com/2013/05/2013-boss-your-heart-shirts.html

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I say my goodbyes

2012 is 2 hours and 44 minutes away from being over. Frankly, I’m quite glad. I’ve been waiting for a while for this year to be over. The prospect of 2012 signaled the end of school, the opening of doors, the start of life. School was life, yes, but life I was ready to be finished with. I’d been there too long. I’ve been in the same culture, the same society, the same place, with the same people, since I was 4. For an adventurous type like me, one who wants to explore and discover, that is a very long time. But now it is over, and while I will always be incredibly grateful for my school and the experiences I had there, and while I will always look back on these memories fondly, I am ready for the next, new season of my life.

I’m trying to think of a word to sum up 2012. It was somewhat of a dragging year, I spent a fair amount of time wishing I could hurry it up. But at the same time it was also exciting, being the last year of this 18-year-long season of my life. Faith-wise, I grew. It’s been a hard year, but I think my understanding of God and who He is is growing ever bigger. It’s deepening, and becoming my own rather than the stuff of those around me. Funnily enough, this was the year that I questioned faith, probably more than I ever have. I had many doubtful moments, many weeks where I unintentionally pushed God aside. But absence does make the heart grow fonder, and I’ve begun to realise just what life without God means. Indeed some parts of it are tempting, alluring even. But the cons definitely outweigh the pros on this one. Psalm 73 – the perfect example. Life seems brilliant and carefree, but at the end of the day? Eternity comes into play.

I’ve also been evaluating my convictions and standards this year. The world as a whole throws enough differing standards at us, let alone the Christian society. I sit in wonder at the sheer amount of different values held by Christians. I thought that might be a bad thing – how could it not be? but lately I’m holding a different opinion. People I’ve talked to, known, with different standards all have faith in the same God, who are in relationship with Him. They pray about their decisions, and yet their decisions are different. Maybe that’s how it was meant to be. I’m not talking about things that are clearly set in the Bible. Some things are not disputable. But other things that aren’t clear – I used to think there must be one single answer for everything. But all these different ways – these people are following the same God. Maybe He works through everyone differently. There’s obviously still a lot for me to sort out in this issue, not least of which are my own personal standards.

I had a thought the other day – a dangerous thing, I know. I was considering the importance of strict values and standards and giving everything up for God in my life, wondering if that was really a necessity of being a follower of Jesus. Naturally, I thought, ‘I believe in Jesus, I have a relationship with Him, isn’t that all I need to do?’ But then God followed along and said, ‘Yes, and if you believe in Jesus, isn’t that very fact enough to change your life?’ And truth is, it should be. It is. Believing in Jesus shouldn’t be the thing that ‘is all that matters in the Christian life’, it should be the very thing that prompts us to lay down our lives for the one who laid down His life for us. People dispute that Jesus came down to earth in human form, grew as both man and God and died on the cross for us, me, then rose to life 3 days later to claim His place at the right hand of God, His Father. Some, like me, say ‘I believe’ and we really do, but it stops there. That very fact, that utterly radical, ridiculous notion that the Son of God would do that, should be,¬†is¬†more than enough to turn our lives upside down. Believing isn’t enough, because if I believe then I have said yes to this radical, ridiculous,¬†joy-filled¬†journey. There’s no believe-and-stop-there. If we truly believe, then there is only believe-and-be-moulded-from-the-inside-out, ready to walk this life in step with the God of justice who loves us beyond comprehension.

2012 – I suppose it was a year of questions. Reshuffling and moulding. Not a year when things changed and grew into something better – more of a year when things started being mixed up and changed – the beginning of a different journey. Not a terribly dramatic year, nothing huge, but definitely an ending and a subtle movement into newness. I’m guessing 2013 will be the year of significant change seeing as it’s when just about everything new in my life is starting – especially uni. 2012 has been more of a transition – I think that’s about the best word to describe it.

Hopes for the years ahead? Well, thinking short term, I’d love a license and a car by my 19th birthday. Slightly more long term, it’s a big desire of mine to go on exchange. Live in a different place, experience the world for myself, make the memories, discover the presence of God in other places around the world. I want to meet new people, both this next year at uni and from around the world. I want to find that thing that stirs me, the thing I want to do for the rest of my life. I’m doing a double degree at uni – potentially the broadest thing I could do, a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts. My prayer is that God would lead me into those subjects that will lead me to the thing I need to do. I know I have a place in this world that only I can fill, because God made me for it. I want to find that place. I know it will come in due time, but I pray that God will direct my steps over the next few years so that His will may work out perfectly.

So, transition year of 2012, fare thee well. You were a bit slow at times, and you probably weren’t my favourite. But you were and are very important to me, and without you I couldn’t go forward into whatever it is that’s ahead of me. So thank you.

Intellectualised Faith

I am very aware that it is natural, and even good, to doubt and question as a Christian. I know that trials produce faith and questions strengthen trust. I feel a bit like I’m on the brink of stepping into a new line of thought. I have never truthfully entered the more intellectualised world of Christianity or endeavoured to discover more questions and answers; I guess you could call it theological substance for my faith. Part of me argues that my relationship with God is centred in faith and that the love of God pervades – more of His love will be seen through my actions and closeness with Him than through anything else. And I believe that this is completely true. But I’ve also come to realise, partly due to the conference I went on a few months ago, partly due to watching others step back from faith as a result of their unanswered questions, and partly due to God convincting me, it is an integral part of my role as a Christian to search for those answers. It is my duty to constantly desire to know more and more about the Bible and about the man who I call my best friend and Father, the man I think I know a lot about but come to realise I’m only skimming the surface. God has called me – and all His children – to never cease the search for a deeper understanding and a wiser knowledge of who He is. He has led me and He will continue to lead me into those questions which sometimes I don’t want to face, and gradually my faith will take shape and substance.

It is my duty to do all these things by the strength of God – but not for me. Not entirely. Yes, my faith may be strengthened and I may gain a deeper trust in God, but the core of this role is for the sake of others. 1 Peter 3:15 says “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Many would claim that this answer is purely¬†faith – ‘I hope in God because He loves me – because He knows my intimitately – because He has proved time and time again to me to trust Him.’ This is indeed my first response. But is it really good enough in this day and age of political correctness, a peak of anti-Christian movements, disbelief and intellect that is wiser than God? Is that really the best we can give to our friends, our family members, our teachers, our acquaintances, who just want to be given plain answers? For those who are struggling, wrestling with the tough questions, thirsting for understanding – is it good enough for us to represent God in a way which leaves them feeling discouraged, weary and unwilling to continue their search because, once again, they have failed to gain answers? Yes, the crux of their belief in God will inevitably come from a step of faith. But are we prohibiting them from reaching that place by turning them away from what is a terrificly wise, intimate and real relationship¬†because we ourselves are to afraid to give them straight-out, honest answers?

People naturally seek knowledge. They seek to understand. One of the very first questions you hear after an event is ‘why?’ ‘Why did this happen?’¬†‘Why did they do it?’ ‘Why weren’t others willing to stop them?’ People want to know. They don’t want soft, just-thought-up swishes of an answer. They want the gritty – the honest – the searched-out-and-discovered. The tried, tested and true answers. Yet so many Christians are content to live off their own, often skimming-the-surface understanding of the wonder and beauty of God and His place in this world. And then when they are forced into a place of others questioning them, wanting to know more – they fall short. They fail to answer because they have no answers.

God didn’t make His Word¬†unbelievably complex, searching and¬†multi-layered for nothing. He didn’t create us with infinite knowledge of¬†Himself and the universe – He created us with little knowledge, but an infinite capacity to learn and discover. He intended for us to keep searching, keep seeking, keep learning. To race after those tough-as-nails questions, grit our teeth and plunge into them headfirst, with full confidence that we will emerge with a vaster understanding of His glory and an added depth to our relationship with Him. And this not for ourselves, but for others. Those we love, those that drive us mad, and those we don’t know. So that when they come knocking, struggling and searching with the same questions we once faced in terror, we can sit down and talk straight with them, giving them the most honest in us and providing answers that may one day point them to faith.

There seems to be the dreadful misconception that theology, digging for wisdom, seeking the gritty answers, is set apart for Bible college students and intellectuals. Understanding the Bible is for academics. Constant searching for more of God is for pastors. Are we not all God’s representatives? Do we not all have the same Commission, to go and make disciples of all nations? Maybe for some we come across, the faith answer will be enough for them. Maybe it will. But for most, especially today, it is¬†not enough. Because in the present age, there are thousands of different sources yelling at people to pick their own way, to try this new worldview, that this is the only right way for someone like you to go. And the thing that they’re searching for, that none of these things can provide? Answers. True, discovered answers. And as God’s children, they come through us. It’s no longer good enough to get by on our own understanding of the Christian walk. For the sake of others, each one of us must endeavour to participate in the lifelong discovery of the beauty of God, His Son, His Spirit and His Word. And how much richer life will be because of it.

Moments In Question

I’ve had a lot of those moments lately where you find yourself saying ‘God, what are you doing??’ and really, that is all you can say. Things that seemed perfect, things you could rely on and trust in, they start to unravel. Plans fail you and you find yourself wondering why this is all suddenly happening. Why God? You know He will always pull through; you know His will is supreme and all-faithful, you know that He knows and you know you can trust in that. But you still doubt His will. You don’t fully know it and you don’t understand it, so you doubt. It’s inevitable.

Things around me are shifting – the things I never thought would shift. I was quite settled in life as I knew it – it was by no means perfect, but I was used to it. I was comfortable. And so were the people around me. But now things are changing, the start of a new season. And I know that I will get used to the new normal, and then that will change again. And so on. It’s all part of the wonderful, chaotic process of living and breathing. Although it doesn’t seem so wonderful right now – it’s confusing and hard and there are so many ‘why?’ moments. But I can still trust that He has it all, and that my old normal would have failed had it not changed. His glory in my life can only increase and increase, and to allow it I have to step back and let my Father decide my normal.

“For the Lord takes delight in His people;
He crowns the humble with victory.”
              РPsalm 149:14

“The Lord is trustworthy in all His promises
       and faithful in all He does.
The Lord upholds all who fall
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† and lifts up all who are bowed down.”
“The Lord is righteous in all His ways
       and faithful in all He does.
The Lord is near to all who call on Him,
       to all who call on Him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;
       He hears their cry and saves them.
The Lord watches over all who love Him.”
       РPsalm 145:13-14, 17-20

Back to school …

Aside

Back to school today. Last term. 7 weeks of class with 2 weeks of exams in between. A month of holiday study. 5 exams to complete the 14 years of schooling. Then finished.

Lord make it go fast. Please.

Although, I’m still concerned over what I’m going to do when I finish. I’m trusting that God will come through at the last minute, as He often does, and show me where to go, but I can’t help thinking about it. It’s sort of just always there.

Very very early this morning there were a couple of hours where I don’t even know if I was asleep or awake, but my mind was constantly on the season 4 finale of Chuck, which I watched on Saturday. I keep thinking of Chuck and Sarah and their wedding and how incredibly, beautifully perfect they are for each other, as a couple and just in everything. I know I’m sort of supposed to and really I always have modeled my desire for a marriage relationship on Christian couples around me, but watching those two just made me want that more than any other I’ve seen. It is so, so beautiful. They know each other inside out, they are each other’s counterpart, they function together. They cannot do life separately. And if I could have a wedding, it would look just like theirs.

Reason #3068 I love Chuck.

God is not limited to a career

I get trapped in the misconception that I am called to a career all the time. It’s such a commonly heard thing – ‘God has called me to be a lawyer’ or ‘I feel led to be a microbiologist.’ But since when did God start talking in terms of careers or job titles? I’ve been struggling with it myself very recently, I feel like my life has to be ‘defined’ by something, like I am a speech pathologist or I am a corresponent for an aid organisation or I am a missionary. Do we limit God’s image in us by doing that? Shouldn’t our one, pure definition be that of ambassador of Christ?

In the Great Commission God called all of us to go out into the world and make disciples of every nation. Does that mean we are all called to be ‘missionaries’ or ‘pastors’? No, but we’re all called to go out into the world and make disciples. In James 1:27 God commands us to look after orphans and widows. Are we then meant to dedicate our lives to being aid-workers or adopting parents? No, but we’re all called to physically help or financially support or intercede for the least of society – to actively participate in God’s ministry to the poor. Just like Proverbs 31:8 tells us to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. I could take this to mean that my life’s work is to be dedicated to being a legal advocate for the destitute. Where then would the doctors be? Where would the farmers be? Who would make clothes, and who would sell us our groceries at the supermarket? Who would build houses? Who would we call if we had a blocked pipe or a tree that was falling down?

I focus too much on careers and titles. All these verses are not just relevant to those working directly in those areas, they are for all children of God and, indeed, all humanity. I am called to speak justly and care for orphans and share the Word of God with the world in whatever situation I happen to find myself in, in whatever way God has made me able to. I get worried because, as I finish school, I don’t know what I’ll be next year. I don’t know what uni course I’ll do, and what title I’ll work under. But really, why should that matter? I know exactly who I am and exactly what God’s mission for me as His representative is. Isn’t that enough?

No more nice school

Lately has been one of those times where I’ve felt really distant from God. It’s a really dreadful cycle, I’m close to God and spending a lot of time with Him, then I spend less and less time with Him and grow distant and start to become slightly enamoured with the world around me, and I want to get back on track with Him but I know the way to do that is to spend more time with Him but something in me doesn’t want to because that takes effort…it’s like battling myself. And I know that more than I could ever want to live a life of this world, as appealing as it sounds, I want even more to live a life submitted to God, because it is only then that I will truly find fulfillment. Darn the human spirit.

I’m still struggling over what to do next year. My two main options I’m considering at the moment are International Studies and Speech Pathology. Completely different, I know, but really I just don’t know what God wants me to do, and it’s a little frustrating at times. But at the same time I know I have to trust in Him, otherwise things will go awry.

On the note of frustration, I’m entirely fed up with the education system. I used to love school, now I really don’t purely because of the pressure it puts on a young life, and the focus of the whole system. I believe that God created us with a natural curiosity and thirst for learning that is to be cultivated our whole lives, but school gradually makes it about studying and marks and everything it’s NOT meant to be. Everyone says that this whole year is focused on the HSC, and what is it you get out of the HSC? An ATAR, which is not even a mark, but a ranking. It’s a competition. Since when did learning become constant studying and boredom and pressure and unhappiness just to get a mark which isn’t even a mark but your place in the competition of every school student in the state? No wonder so many young people reach the end of high school and don’t want to go on to further study, because they are SICK of study. It’s not learning the way God designed it, and it really does push a whole lot of importance out of life. I’ve always been interested in homeschooling my kids when I’m older and this current resentment is pulling me more into wanting to do that. I don’t ever want them to dislike learning, or be restricted to competitive education.¬†It’s a beautiful day today and I could be outside enjoying the sunshine, spending¬†quality time with people, doing things I enjoy, taking part in ministry, any number of things but instead I’m inside¬†looking at my large pile of studying, of which the result is¬†one ranking number.¬†I know that God wants me to do my best in whatever situations He places me in, and I know that at this moment that is in Year 12 at school doing the HSC. But golly it’s hard to be motivated and do my best when I feel like it’s entirely and competely not what He wanted for us.

This is making it incredibly hard for me right now, I’m a terrible procrastinator and I’m meant fo be studying all throughout these holidays – see, again, exams and marks taking over – but I haven’t, I’m just tired of school and studying and I should be writing an Extension History essay right this second but it’s so hard to make myself do it. Hence venting my irritation.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

1 Corinthians 10:31

Lord help me.