Thursday, September 30, 2010

Get in the boat!

Image from:

Jesus Calms the Storm
23Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. 24Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"
26He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!"
Getting in the boat!

Do you ever get yourself into a situation and you’re wondering; how did I even get here? I manage to stumble into some pretty crazy places simply because of being the neieve girl that I am! But sometimes I can tell God is leading me to a place, or even into a conversation with someone about the Lord and I will have a mini panic attack inside because I’m fearful of saying the wrong thing or nothing at all! I somewhat giggled when I read this passage a couple days ago because of my qerky imagination in picturing this story. I think it’s because there’s a much more popular story about Jesus calling Peter out of a boat and Peter freaking out when waves come up; well now Jesus it says that “Jesus got in the boat and his disciples followed him.” And then another crazy storm comes up and they freak out while they’re IN the boat. There’s just no way of escaping this circumstance is there?  Ha. My little imagination continues on and I picture (now don’t take this literally because it’s merely what I invision—Jesus was probably way cooler) seeing these poor guys freaking out on the deck yelling for Jesus to wake-up and help them! Maybe they’re clinging to the wheel or the railing and here Jesus is sauntering up the stairs, rubbing the sleep from his eyes---stretching and yawning and saying “Oh you of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he just basically tells the storm to chill and it immediately stops. Of course then his disciples are like “Oh wow! This guy is crazy—even the winds obey him!”

The thing that drew me the most to this verse was verse 23 “Jesus got in the boat and his disciples followed him.” Like I stated earlier, so often we hear the story and the concept of “Get out of the boat!” which is legit and correct in the fact that we should indeed trust the Lord when he calls us away from our “safety net.” But sometimes, he calls us to a place like a “boat,” an everyday place or circumstance and a storm still manages to come up. The next thing to really glean from this passage is that Jesus was asleep. Jesus was not even the least bit worried about this “furious storm that was going to drowned all his disciples.” Do you honestly think that if the storm was really going to drown his disciples that Jesus would have continued sleeping? If so, picture him sauntering up the stairs to the deck the next morning, rubbing his eyes and yawning only to find that he’s the only one on the boat? As my dad would say, “No way Jose!” :) We need to remind ourselves that Jesus will never leave us, nor forsake us—as he states in the Great Commission:

“"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Do we forget that “all authority in heaven ….AND ON EARTH has been given to…ME? I am such a worry wart and I panic much like how the disciples did in this story. It’s so easy to read it and be hard on the disciples for having such little faith when, I hate to break it to you all but, so do we! My charge for you today is to follow Jesus onto whatever boat you may have in front of you (or off I guess if He’s having you walk on water a little). Remember who He is---yes, I’m sure you will be able to recognize the storm when it comes but remember that Jesus is sleeping downstairs and He wouldn’t have brought you onto a boat only to drown while he’s sleeping. I’m not saying that you won’t encounter some sacrifice in the challenges of life: just because we are Christians doesn’t mean that we are now invisible and immune to trials and tribulations. In fact, Jesus says “In this world you may have trouble ….yup—you’re going to have troubles, sorry guys?” And that’s it? No He says “In this world you may have trouble but …FEAR NOT for I have overcome the world.” (Thank you Lord for John 16:33) And just like it says in the Great Commission, “And surely I am with you always, to the end of the age.” What comforting words! No matter if you’re battling a storm in or out of the boat, notice that Jesus is either walking on the water with you or he’s sleeping downstairs.

Friday, September 17, 2010

His Fist of Lightning

Image from:

There is something so uniquely different about thunderstorms than any other form of nature. It often contains huge crashes of thunder that are enough to knock you off your feet but my favorite part of storms is the stillness that is quickly takes over before another wave of thunder and lightning. You can sense the electricity generating a feeling of power and that soft smell of rain drapes over the atmosphere around you.

Normally I am long-winded with blogs (haha--don't you dare nod your head right now!), but for some reason, I feel like I cannot expound on this passage of scripture anymore than what is already written. I think there are moments when we can just sit and simply stand amazed in the presence of God. I came across it this past week and was stunned with the imagery that Elihu is describing to Job. It has has somewhat sparked my interest into possibly reading through all of Job to get a better background on it--but I really appreciated it and feel like it truly dipics just how BIG of a God we serve. The words that are bolded in the passage are the ones that really have impacted me the most and I encourage you to meditate on it and similar verses describing our Great God. Just think of having a being big enough to have a fist-full of lightning. Our God is most certainly, an AWESOME GOD.

JOB 36: 24-33

" 24"Remember to(AI) extol his work,
of which men have(AJ) sung.
25All mankind has looked on it;
man beholds it from afar.
26Behold, God is great, and we(AK) know him not;
the number of his(AL) years is unsearchable.
27For he draws up the drops of water;
they distill his(AM) mist in(AN) rain,
28which(AO) the skies pour down
and drop on mankind abundantly.
29Can anyone understand(AP) the spreading of the clouds,
the thunderings of his(AQ) pavilion?
30Behold, he scatters his lightning about him
and covers the roots of the sea.
31For by these he(AR) judges peoples;
he gives(AS) food in abundance.
32He covers his(AT) hands with the lightning
and commands it to strike the mark.

33Its crashing declares his presence;[a]
the cattle also declare that he rises."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Dealing with the "Papercuts" in Life

Image from:

Are paper cuts not the worst? Ah! Even if it’s just the slightest brush of a piece of computer paper it never ceases to amaze me how much it hurts. Ha, I can recall several times that I would go to lick the flap of an envelope and manage to get cut on my tongue or my lip: cut on my tongue, really—takes a special person to do that right? I mean come on! What about a sliver from a piece of wood? You know what really makes you feel like a champ: Stubbing your toe. Nothing is more humbling then when you stub your toe in front of a group of people and you attempt to be strong in not showing any emotion of pain but inside you’re like wailing!

Even though both of these “injuries” are minor, it’s amazing how quickly we become consumed with them when they occur that for those few moments nothing around us really matters. Areas where you get a paper cut can continue to hurt for a few days especially the lip ones! This morning I feel like I was battling some “paper cuts of life” so much that it was consuming my normal time with God. I continued to “wail” inside up until the beginning of the church service I was at. The pastor shared a short video clip of a missionary over in East Asia who was rejoicing in the opportunity he had had to share Christ with a fellow on a bus. The man came to know the Lord that night after his conversation and the missionary was thanking the congregation for supporting him and his family. The sermon preceded and the Pastor spoke on the meeting the needs of those around us. Shortly after that interview clip however, I had this imagery come to mind: me sniffling over my “my paper cuts” AKA my consuming thoughts of weaknesses and areas I need to improve in my faith and these people surrounding me with critical emergencies—like gunshot wounds (Ha, pretty grotesque for a Sunday morning huh?).

Now I am not trying to be-little the seriousness of weaknesses nor am I attempting to categorize one sin being greater than another but let’s go with this imagery and think about what the priority of injury: a paper cut or a gun shot wound? I feel like at times, I become so consumed with striving to live the perfect Christian life (which doesn’t exist!) that I forget what the Lord has saved me and has commanded me to share with those around me. Paul speaks of a weakness he had as a “thorn in his side” let’s read about it:

Paul's Vision and His Thorn – 2 Corinthians 12: 1-10

1I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. 5I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. 6Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.

7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Often your “paper cuts in life” can be used as platform for God to reveal himself more and ultimately how He has transformed your life. I can relate to Paul’s pleas for God to just take them away. Paul describes how much of a reason he has to boast because of the position God has put him in as an Apostle of Christ—apparently “knowing this man” (we don’t really know who this man is—possibly Paul himself--I don’t know) who was caught up in the third heaven. This man knows things that no one else is privileged to know—but Paul refuses to share more details because it would be boasting in something He, Himself really cannot claim as really HIS doing for the privilege of knowing something so great. He then gets this thorn in his flesh as a way to keep him from becoming conceited much like we get the random paper cuts in life. Does Paul become consumed with this to the point of despair? Well, he pleaded with God three times and then God answered him with such an incredible verse:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Paraphrased in Joni’s words,

“Hey! You! Stop freaking out about this, I’ve covered this with my grace. I know you’re helpless and being tormented but you know what, I want the glory in saving you from this weakness---I want to show the world how mighty and powerful-of-a-god I really am! Let me refine you!”

Our response to weaknesses can either show God’s power or show a blubbering idiot consumed with her faults (and I am referring to myself there haha). Again, we are not to belittle the returning occurrence of sin that has already been forgiven by God’s grace through the Blood of Jesus Christ—to be something not worthy of dealing with, but there are emergencies of people around us. That missionary on the clip this morning shared that every 8 seconds an unbeliever in East Asia dies. There are people around you with fatal injuries that are well on their way to dying and you are consumed with your little sliver. Do you get what I’m saying? Does it make sense? It’s a serious matter to sin ---a sin is a sin, but rather than place priority of fixing this area, ask God to pour His grace out on the area and allow his weakness to make you stronger. Ask God to show his power in your weakness and then tend the needs of those around you—they don’t have “all day:” No man-made-band-aid is going to fit over the gunshot wound of your co-workers, friends or family members.

Lastly, I was challenged with this thought along the same lines of helping those around me. It’s really easy to give out of abundance. I know a radio station back home in South Dakota that always does this “buy the meal or coffee for the person behind you in the drive-thru” which is great—but ha, you’re still getting your meal, and still getting your coffee. So often we are safe in the way that we give: we give just enough so it doesn’t hurt. What if Christ would have done that on the cross? I think if it would have been dependent upon our human pain-tolerance Christ wouldn’t have made it past the first lashing of the whip.

Again, I am not standing on a soap box saying, “Quit blubbering with issues in your life. Don’t give anything unless is hurts.” Again, sin is not ranked and neither is our giving but have you asked God what surrendering of your weaknesses looks like? Have you asked God what it looks like to give in such a way that He is most glorified? So often we give out of hearts desiring to get something in return—even if it is just peace of mind that we did something good. Don’t freak out and become all self-conscious about these challenges, but DO something about it! Ask God, what does this look like? Don’t be afraid of the pain involved—the sacrifice that you may have to make because we serve a GOOD God, amen? A God that died for us—that knows our hearts, knows our weaknesses. We say we want to be like our Rabbi, we want to follow Jesus and become like him---Jesus sacrificed his life to save ours so don’t be alarmed if you are asked to sacrifice some aspect of your life from time-to-time. Maybe sacrifice your coffee cup for someone who doesn’t normally get the luxury of Starbucks every morning. Again, all this doesn’t make you any more wonderful or special—but if the Lord leads to use you—even in your humbling moments of weakness, let him do it! Let him use your paper cut to save someone from a gunshot wound and if I recall correctly Christ had some pretty deep cuts (not by choice nor his own doing) as well. He understands a thing or two about using them for God’s glory, don’t you think?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Image from:


Have you noticed the trends in a lot of home decorating? One trend that I have picked up on in (Clarification: I am by no means an interior decorator) is the use of words as a form of décor. I really enjoy home decorating magazines and stores—specifically, Hobby Lobby. Hands-down that is one of the easiest stores to A)spend a lot of time and B) Spend a lot of money: everyday is a sale day there, it’s awesome! Ok, sorry—I digressed! A while back I purchased a few wall-hanging décor signs that have scripture verses or simple words that somewhat represent other scripture verses. A gift that I got a friend of mine that consisted of three of individual signs each with one of the three following words: Faith, Hope or Love. These three words appear to have simple and sweet meanings and are fairly common among the Christian faith --usually referring to passages like 1 Corinthians like this passage:

“And now these three remain, faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Which is so legit! It’s a great passage, I stumbled however on a few other passages that offer a more “saturated” version of these words giving us a little more background. It’s totally ok if you’re like me when asked “How does one define faith, hope and love?” And you’re like “Dahhhh….good question, hmmm” It’s not ok when we don’t go the next step in understanding these attributes of God. It’s as if you were asked to describe one of your friends and you just gave really blasé answers like “Well, she is about this tall and has kind of blondish hair—“ And your response was “Oh yah! I have totally seen her and I know exactly who you’re talking about” LIAR! :) So consider the following verses as more along the lines of “My friend Danielle has really pretty with a hue of hazy- ocean-like blue; she has pale toned-skin because absolutely hates being out in the sun—she’s afraid of skin cancer…” Got the idea? haha, sorry Dani, love ya! Ok, sorry---read this verse:

“3We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6that has come to you.” Colossians 1:4-6a

I love, love this verse because it is so crazy to think that Paul is off---doing something different, serving some other area and he hears about what’s going on at the church of Colossae and is just so excited that “he always thanks God when he prays” because of not just their faith in Christ, but their love for the saints. Notice the highlighted words: the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up in heaven.” So this love they have for others comes not from works that these saints are doing for them—but stem from the hope found in Jesus Christ (word made flesh John 1:1 ---I am the way, the truth…got it?) Sweet isn’t it? It gets better---we can cross reference to another passage in the first letter to the church of Thessalonica (of 2!)—also a stellar church of their day that must have been doing something right if Paul is thanking God for them too!

“2(D) We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly[a](E) mentioning you in our prayers, 3remembering before(F) our God and Father(G) your work of faith and labor of(H) love and(I) steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV

Again, Paul is noticing something about this group of believers and check out the description of faith, hope and love (adverbs and adjectives (?) --if I am correct in my English—which doesn’t happen often—sorry for those of you who have that ability, I envy you—in a non-sinful-loving way haha!) “Your work of faith, labor of love and steadfastness of hope.” So cool isn’t it? Faith takes work, does it not? You can only say “Just believe” so many times before you’re like…”Yah, right!” As Christ-followers, our faith in God has to be paired with action---James 2:20- describes Abraham and Rahab this way:

“20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,"[e] and he was called God's friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
James 2:20-26

Ok, what about the statement: labor of love. Ha, girls reading this, don’t even go into the fairy-tale, princess-mode with me and say “what about love at first sight? That doesn’t require work—what about Cinderella and Snow White? Yah, realize that Cinderella talked to birds, mice and road in a pumpkin to a ball and Snow White ate an apple from a creepy old lady.” Hehe, ok, a little extreme—but I do really think that our society has an issue with this concept of love. We base far too many decisions on a fake definition of what love really means. I won’t go into all the Hebrew definitions of the true meaning of “love” but this passage describes it in a rather clear and concise way:

7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
9Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him!
Romans 5: 7-9 (

Yah. Hmm. Do you think Christ was like---“Oh yah---no problem, I’ll just die for these people even though they are disgusting sinners who try to offer me filthy rags (“filthy is a very nice way of putting it—the literal definition is pretty gross—look it up later).” According to Luke’s Gospel, Christ was in such anguish that “he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” That’s breaking an intense sweat. Love is a lot of work! Does that mean if we work more—God will love us more? No, God will not love us any more than He already does because He loves his son and if we abide in Christ (check out that earlier devo on the word “abide”) we bear the same image of Christ and are co-heirs to the inheritance of eternal life--with GOD! And by the way, eternity starts NOW! This inheritance leads us to the “steadfastness of hope,” portion of scripture—get excited!

Again, hope is something that people throw around as if it’s the latest gadget out on the market “You just gotta have hope!” Ha. Again, LIAR! Life stinks! Do you know how many times a day I put my hope in something and it fails me! A couple months ago, I bought a car---I put my hope in it and you know what, the battery quit like 2 weeks after! I trained all winter long for an outdoor season my sophomore year of college that I never got to run outdoors because I got a stress-fracture in indoor season. I have dated guys …and lol I’m single: enough said! Anyways—you get the idea ha. Point is everything in this life will fail you, outside of the hope we have in Christ. What does the “hope in Christ mean?” Let’s check out some scripture:

Colo. 1:27
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Hebrews 3:6
But Christ is faithful as a son over God's house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.

1 Peter 1:3
[ Praise to God for a Living Hope ] Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

1 Peter 1:13
[ Be Holy ] Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Hehe, do you think Peter knew a thing or two about hope? I really like what that last verse says : “give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the HOPE that you have.” You cannot deny the fact that when you first encountered the Truth—and the Holy Spirit pierced that nasty, cold heart of yours—that you did not feel a hope like none other, am I right? You cannot explain that overwhelming (not necessarily a feeling) but just this sense of hope. You cannot deny the hope of thousands of martyrs across the world and those who are in captivity because of their faith—that they have the same hope as that “get the gadget hope” I described earlier. Their hope is steadfast—immovable: they have been stripped of everything and anything else to put their hope in---"and hope does not disappoint us"…(wow, I wish you could witness me writing this devo—I cannot explain the ease I have in recalling these verses into a format that you can understand—Praise God---He is so awesome to us for making His word so clear!)

1Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a]have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3Not only so, but we[c] also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”
Romans 5:1-5.

Only a hope from God would allow you to rejoice in suffering, amen?

One final and somewhat of a weird connection I found throughout studying this scripture. I am not claiming this as earth shattering Biblical-breakthroughs but I do find it neat how God has actually personified these three somewhat vague terms within the Trinity. Think of scripture pertaining to faith—somewhat corresponds to God the Father (Abraham and his Convenant); Now shift to the concept of love---Christ, the Son (God demonstrates his love in that while we were yet sinners CHRIST died for us—get the connection) And the Holy Spirit—again (Romans 5:5—and HOPE does not disappoint us because God has poured out his love (Christ) by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us—Christ the hope of glory!) Again---just an observation—the Trinity is so incredibly complex and each person is not limited to only being “faith” “love” or “hope” God is all of that ---and more. But it’s cool to see the connection is it not—hopefully it serves a reminder of the attributes of God and the verses from the Bible that back it up!

So yah, it maybe trendy and a good way to remind yourself by hanging up these words on your wall—but better yet, I challenge you to be like the church of Colossae, be like the church of Thessalonica and live it out so much that you get a letter from someone in another country that is actually praying and thanking God for how you are living your life out!