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How far will you go for love?

I don’t know why this is heavy on my heart this morning, but I’m very convicted about caring for my friends and family members. Over the past few months, I’ve been so focused on my life and my school work. My thoughts have centered on what essays are due, what books I need to read, what professor I need to speak with, and what posts to write on my blog.

Bottom line- I have become very focused.

Focus is great, in fact, it’s the only way that I can achieve all that I aspire to, and the only way that I can truly walk in God’s plan for my life. Focus enables me to hear clearly from the Lord and to act speedily when He speaks.

But focus is sometimes blinding. You blind yourself to those around you and to those who you should see. By the very nature of its being, focus demands that we look at a very minuscule thing until we see something different. Until we attain the revelation. Until we achieve the magis.

On the flip side, I’ve been thinking about my friends who I haven’t been in contact with. Although I have maintained contact with the ones I truly care about, and those who enable me live through my day, what about those times when keeping in touch requires a little more than a text or a phone call?

I haven’t taken the time to go visit, to chat, and to experience the little thrills that enrich a friendship. I haven’t taken the time to notice the little quirks, the misdemeanors, and the sadness that camouflages behind loud laughter and bight smiles.

gossip

It may be the same for you. So let’s all commit to do more, to be there when the going gets tough. To love more deeply, to care more intentionally.

Here’s a little something from my devotional today:

“If human love does not carry a man beyond himself, it is not love. If love is always discreet, always wise, always sensible and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not love at all. It may be affection, it may be warmth of feeling, but it has not the true nature of love in it.”

The main point of the devotional was about being carried away to do something for God, not because we want good points, some spiritual awakening, or more intimacy, but just because we love Him. How often do we do things simply because we love God. If we were hid in a tiny room somewhere far away, would be pray as earnestly as we do now? Would be give as fervently as we do now?

Now, relating this back to our friends, do we love them as earnestly and as fervently as we should? Do you pray for them when we promise to? Do you give to them as we should?

No, not giving money or resources because those always come back in some way.

But do we give of our time? Our hearts? Our prayers?

How to overcome people bondage

This morning in my devotion I read the story where God rejected Saul in I Samuel 15.

God sent Saul to destroy Agag and the Amalekites completely. Saul disobeyed. His men took the best of the spoil from war and sacrificed it to God. In verse 3, the Lord explicitly says to Saul:

Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’”

But in verse 9, we see what transpires.

“Saul and the army spared Agag and the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely, but everything that was despised and weak they totally destroyed.”

When Prophet Samuel reprimands Saul, Saul defends himself by saying that He took the best to sacrifice it to God. This should be okay right, wrong.

I knew this portion of the story. I knew very well that Saul took the best of the land to sacrifice to the Lord. But what I did not know was Saul’s response when Samuel asked why he took the goods.

The turn of events is very unfortunate. Here is what the great and mighty Saul that the Lord placed over the Israel had to say in verse 24:

“I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin, and return with me, that I may worship the Lord.”

Saul very clearly said that he feared the voice of his people and he obeyed them. This greatly annoyed the Lord such that in verse 35, the bible states that the Lord regretted anointing Saul as King over Israel.

This bothered me intensely. I thought about how often we disobey the voice of God because we are afraid of the voices of men. We place our earthly reputation above God’s will for us. We choose immediate gratification over eternal joy with the Lord.

Sunrise win

Here are a few things I’d have to highlight:

  1. Shake free of people bondage. So what if they insult you? So what is people think you’re not cool or that you’re too Christian or that you talk about God too much?

If God has asked you to let something go, please let it go. If He asks you to end that relationship, please let it go. Don’t feel like you have to go for a party and drink alcohol or have sex in order to fit in. Do not step into places that will grieve the Holy Spirit.

We often want to fit into places that were not created for us in the first place. We want to have social standing, but we forget that it comes from God. In Luke 2:52, the bible says that “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.” We often want to get that favor by ourselves, when it’s entirely up to God alone to lead and direct us.

  1. Partial obedience is disobedience– This has been a very difficult lesson for me to learn. It often seems painful to obey God completely in the moment. When He says we should not fornicate, we want to do as much as we can without actually going “all the way.” When we’re asked to be faithful givers to the Lord,  we give only to the point where we prevent guilt. When it’s time to fast, we want to do all kinds of variations of all sorts of things so that we do not actually sit and wait on the Lord while He teaches us to master our flesh.

All of this partial obedience is disobedience to the Lord. In Revelation 3:16, the bible says that God will spit out all those who are lukewarm from His mouth. Are you dragging your feet on something that God has asked you to do? Are you giving God only a partial sacrifice? Are you being sluggish with Him? Are you testing God’s patience? Make amends immediately, for your own benefit.

  1. God always has substitutes- We forget that God’s work will get done, whether or not we avail ourselves. There are several times when Jesus talks about this in the gospels. In Luke 19:40, Jesus challenges the Pharisees that even if they don’t want to praise God, He will raise stones to praise Him. We often that God created everything on this earth. If we are sluggish, the Lord will make whatever He wants to come by His own hand.

We forget that centuries before Jesus was born, the Prophet Isaiah prophesied about His birth in Isaiah 9:7, saying

Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”

The most interesting phrase in that selection for me is “The Zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”

It is a divine privilege when the Almighty God involves us in His divine plan for this earth. When we act slow or sluggish or let inconsequential problems like money or reputation take us away from God’s plan for ourselves, we’re playing ourselves.

If only we knew the mighty privilege that we have to be bearers of the Lord’s promise to the entire earth, we’d act right.

Today I challenge you to take all that I’ve shared above seriously.

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you how you can serve Him better.

More importantly, when the Lord shows you what needs to be done, please act immediately.

How to discover and use your talent

I’m sitting at my wonderful, wonderful college library this beautiful Friday afternoon. It’s sunny outside but anyone who lives in New England knows that the sun here is deceptive. It could be bright and sunny but still too cold for your brain to function well.

I’ve just come from a workshop with a very well respected writer Roxane Gay. The workshop was special. Roxane graciously led a conversation about the process, the craft, the business, and the everything of writing. It’s not often that you see a famous writer give of themselves so graciously, answering every little question in a thoughtful and respectful manner.

There’s one lesson from the workshop that I never want to forget: Roxane’s emphasis on respecting the craft. She said that as a judge on several selection committees for competitions and grants, she often receives a lot of bad work. People often submit a lot of hasty and uninspiring work. Basically, they vomit on a paper and send it in.

This made me think about the parable of the talents in Matthew 25, where a servant gave different amounts of talents to his servants. While the first two servants, who had five and two talents respectively, worked hard to gain more talents, the third servant buried his talent and returned it unused to his boss. The servant said that he didn’t use his talents because the boss was a mean man.

I think there’s much more to that. The servant didn’t think highly of the talent so he didn’t bother nurturing it or investing it. He was too selfish to share the one unique gift that he had and blamed this bad behavior on his boss.

I think about myself and the many things that I like to do and those that I do well. I still may not be an industry authority but enjoying those things and nurturing them is the best first step in the right direction.

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So today I’m sharing three things that we all need to do to praise God with our talents. This list will help you recognize what you’re good at, or simply what you enjoy, and provide the next basic steps to take in the right direction.

1. Recognize your talent– Don’t go around throwing pity parties for yourself and asking why everyone else is so good at something else and why you don’t have one thing that you do well. That’s false thinking. Very often, our talents are so primary to our behavior that we do not even think they are special. Perhaps you cook well, or you speak well, or you write well, or you dress well. These things are careers in their own rights. These are the things that make people live happy and fulfilled lives. These are the small gifts that will make room for you in life. Recognize them. Make a list of the things that you do enjoy and those that you do well. Have you heard feedback about them? Have you received some accolade about them? That’s often a good pointer in the right direction.

2. Respect your talent– Do not let anyone or any circumstance make you feel like your talent is inferior. There’s no rubric to the most precious talent. A talent is a talent. What makes the difference is the respect that you have to appreciate and nurture it. Respect your gift enough to make time for it. Time is money, time is value, time is life. You love to write? Take time to write. Set time aside to write and do exercises that improve your writing. Read what others have written, receive feedback about your writing. Treat your writing like a career, even if it still is just a hobby. Hobbies make the best careers. Chimmamanda didn’t become the writing goddess that she is just by twiddling her thumb, neither are you. Invest in that craft. Go for workshops, learn from others around you. Respect the craft enough to do something about it.

3. Never relent– For the love of God, just keep at it. Keep at it because you do not want to become the servant who buried their talent and was playing blame games with his boss. God will always hold us accountable for the things that He gave to us and how we used them on earth. Your talent may be the reason why someone will come to Christ. It may be the one avenue for someone to hear the gospel and be saved. Actually, even if not for anyone else, use your talent for you. Feel the fear and do it anyway. You’re not too big to fail, and a failure isn’t really a failure unless we don’t learn from it. Resolve to try and try and try again.

I’m writing this list partly for myself, I hope that I can look back here and be inspired when the going gets tough.

Have a wonderful weekend and may the love of Jesus keep us all!

A late valentine’s message

I’ve had such a beautiful life

I don’t have much to say, except that the Lord’s goodness to me is overwhelming. I’m sitting in the library listening to one of my favorite albums. The melody takes me back to my summer in D.C. two years ago. I remember one evening vividly, riding the metro home to Silver Spring, on the border of Maryland and D.C. It wasn’t a special evening. In fact, I was really exhausted after a long day at work. But I remember thinking in that very moment of the deep, deep love that God has for me.

It hit me that God loves me in a personal, intimate, individual way. The love He has for me is unique to me. The way He shows me that love is unique to just me. His relationship with me exists only between me and Him. No replica, no imitation.

It’s interesting that this album made me think about D.C. because it actually was last summer that I fell in love with the album. For some reason, I’m obsessed with music, and I especially love good music. I love music that’s soft enough to let me read, but not too soft that I’d be bored when I do decide to focus fully on the song. Does that even make sense?

I’m really sorry if you find the album title or cover art offensive. Please don’t judge the album by its name or its cover. The songs are all  beautiful and very far from dirty.

Life is beautiful. My life has been extremely beautiful. And that’s not because of the people or the things that I have. It’s solely because of this God that I have. This joy that I have. This love that I have.

I could lose everything tomorrow and still love God. He could take everything away and I’d still love Him. This love is enough. This love is enough. This love is enough.

I know, I know, I speak heavy words, evidence here.

But that’s the truth. I almost feel like I was raised by the Holy Spirit. There’s a responsibility to my family and my friends that I carry with me everywhere that I go. But in moments when I’m thinking very clearly, like now, I know that all I really want and all I really love to do is loving God.

Does that make sense? Let me make it a little clearer.

The only responsibility I have on earth is to love God. The only thing that I truly love doing on earth is loving God.

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I’m still super proud of this image I took some time ago. 

 

My loving God may not look like your loving God, and that’s okay. In fact, that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. My loving God is writing this blog, your loving God may be ministering to sick people in a hospital.

The most important thing is that we’re loving God. No matter where we find ourselves, the best gift that we can give to ourselves is to love God.

Don’t let the cynicism and the paranoia of this world rob you of the most beautiful gift and the most beautiful love that exists.

Jealously guard your love for God. Jealously guard your love for God. Jealously guard your love for God.

More importantly, let God love you the way He wants to love you. Recklessly abandon yourself to Him. Give Him full reign over your life. There’s nothing that He wouldn’t do for you. There’s nothing that will remain the same in your life if you let Him love you the way He truly wants to love you.

Truth be told, I haven’t always let God love me the way He wants to love me. I have only let Him love me very little, possibly only to a fraction of what He has in store for me. But even at that, when I sit and I consider all that He’s done for me, I am overwhelmed with emotion.

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That’s my hand under my friend’s hand. Moral of the Story: Give love, but not everyday give love, sometimes also accept love. 

I’m sitting at a computer at my college library. It’s 10:07 pm on a mundane Tuesday. I’m thinking about God’s love for me. It’s literally arrested my heart and forced me to write these thoughts down.

I only have one plea: let God love you the way He wants to love you. You deserve the purest, most beautiful, most genuine kind of love that exists.

And that only comes from God.

It only comes from God.

Receive it. Accept it. Live it.

My life is a testimony of God’s love.

Let yours tell the same story.

Thank you to all my blog readers. You make this worthwhile (except that of course, even if you all unanimously decided to stop reading my blog from now henceforth, I’d still write because this blog really is my love child with God.)

And there I go with the heavy words again. Hahaha.

Thank you for making me feel loved, for giving me a space in your hearts, and for following my journey.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Today and always.

Alheri

How to deal with the fear of failure

This is in continuation from yesterday’s post, where I shared some of the fears that I had in the past and how I continue to overcome them.

I would be remiss if I do not mention that I have one last fear, though: the fear of not hearing God’s voice of feeling His presence.

I think about the story of King Hezekiah in the bible. Here’s what 2 Kings 18 says about Hezekiah:

Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him. 6 He held fast to the Lord and did not stop following him; he kept the commands the Lord had given Moses.7 And the Lord was with him; he was successful in whatever he undertook…

I love that passage, it gives a succinct view of Hezekiah as a king.

But consider 2 Chronicles 32:

In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. He prayed to the Lord, who answered him and gave him a miraculous sign. But Hezekiah’s heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown him; therefore the Lord’s wrath was on him and on Judah and Jerusalem. Then Hezekiah repented of the pride of his heart, as did the people of Jerusalem; therefore the Lord’s wrath did not come on them during the days of Hezekiah.

God forgave Hezekiah after He repented. I had never really known this story in full, like many other people, I’d reference the verse about God withdrawing to test Hezekiah’s heart and ignore the context of God’s action. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

God Is

The good news is that I don’t even have to worry about this anymore because with the coming of the Holy Spirit, even that fear has been cast away.

1 Corinthians 12:11 “But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”

The Holy Spirit is inside me to lead me to His will. He will talk to me and because there is liberty in Him, even the fear of not hearing God’s voice is cast out.

God is faithful and will not give us more than what we can handle. He tests us to enable us outgrow our limits and to learn to rely on Him. While I grow in the Lord, He occasionally sets fire to my tail to keep me wanting more. And the more I want, the more He satisfies me.

So where’s the fear of failure?

There is no failure in Christ, because we know that “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”-  2 Corinthians 3:17 (KJV)

I’ll leave you with this very beautiful verse:

“But it was to us that God revealed these things by his Spirit. For his Spirit searches out everything and shows us God’s deep secrets. No one can know a person’s thoughts except that person’s own spirit, and no one can know God’s thoughts except God’s own Spirit.

– 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 (NLT)

The Holy Spirit is here to show us God’s secrets and to help us to fulfil them.

Imagine throwing a surprise party for someone and getting them exactly what they want? That’s what the Holy Spirit helps us to do for God. He teaches us how to touch the heart of God and how to walk in the light of God so that we do not fail.

Isn’t this so exciting?

Are you afraid of failure?

I try to live my life according to God’s will. Before making any major decision, I ask the Lord for guidance and for His blessings. In the past, though, I have found myself fixating on things that honestly have little bearing on my life. I have sought God’s will so extensively that I have borderline led myself into worry or anxiety.

But something changed recently: I now rest in the Lord.

In the past, I’d fixate on whether I was making the right decision, or whether I was walking in the right path, and whether I was offending God.

One thing I’m learning is that with God, there is a range of actions that we can take, there is liberty and there is freedom.

Many of us grow up with the image of God as a strict prison master, you step out of line and you get a lash of the cane. Who can blame us? Even some the adults around us don’t fully comprehend the grace and love of God, so what do they have to teach?

But God leads by the hand, He holds and He comforts. He directs and He guides. Most importantly, He has sent us a permanent companion.

Last night, I was thinking about the times when I’ve wanted someone to speak with, someone to encourage me, someone to be by my side, but not had someone readily available.

You know how you have the friend who’s good at giving school advice, one who gives great life advice, one who can help with the taxes, one who knows how to deal with matters of the heart, or with Christian matters, and so on? Yeah, I have friends that fulfil all those roles pretty well, but when my school work-advice-friend isn’t readily available, I tend to panic slightly or shut into myself and try to figure things out.

friends

Last night though, I thought about God, the one friend who’s everything and anything we need Him to be. It’s really interesting thinking about God as my friend. Telling Him about the most random things while I pray, or asking Him the most random questions as I go about my day.

The journey has been sweet, the relationship has been pleasant.

Consider these verses from Psalm 139:

Where can I go from your Spirit?

Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

the night will shine like the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;

you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

When I awake, I am still with you.

simpson

I used to fear that I would take the wrong step, that I would fall out of God’s will for my life, or that I would completely lose my faith. But as I grow and learn that God’s hand is over my life, the fear of the future is completely gone. There is joy, peace, and contentment when I think about where God is leading me.

If you’re ever afraid of where you’re headed in God, please rest. You’re not powerful enough to overturn God’s will. If you submit to Him, He will lead you and guide you to where He wants you to do.

God is not petty that He keeps grudges, He is not mean that He withholds useful information. He wants to dwell with us, He enjoys our company, and He’ll do anything to keep it.


Images from here, here,

 

Reflections from a confused state

I promise I’m not confused. I’m just trying to process many different things at the same time.  A few weeks ago, I started going on walks in the late evening. Usually, I’d have dinner sometime around 6pm, then walk for close to an hour around my college campus. These walks have been therapeutic, cold, and always, always, provide me an avenue to speak to God and to hear from Him.

Last week, as I walked in the snow, I thought about my worries and my fears. I shared them with the Lord and asked Him how He was going to work everything out for me. I asked Him why He was blessing me, whether there was something special about me, or whether I just happened to find His favor. I asked Him what He wanted me to do for Him. If there was any way I could serve Him better, love Him more, give Him more.

I felt the Lord asking me to rest.

I’ve been reading this very little but very wonderful book called God Promises You by Charles Spurgeon, that was sent to me by a friend and blog reader. He said the book had been a blessing to him, so when he read my blog post about grace, he decided to send the book to me. Hint Hint!!

The book talks about the unmerited grace of God, the old and new promise, and uses Ishmael and Isaac as allegories for the new life that we have in Christ. It’s such a wonderful little book that I read in little bits and mull over that tiny bite for sometimes several days.

As I felt the Lord asking me to rest in Him, I thought about my past struggles to understand grace. I thought about how my legalistic mind always believed that I had to do something to be enough for God. I had to fast, to pray, to give, to love, to be this way and that way. Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing things for God, but He loves us just because He does.

For me, those things come from my lack of complete understanding the very simple but profound fact that He will choose to love me, that God wants to fellowship with me, that He wants and enjoys my company, that He wants my time.

As I asked the Holy Spirit to confirm the word I was hearing in my spirit, He dropped the verse “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

That’s Hebrews 11:6, and it is one of my favorite verses in the bible. It is a reminder that my “reward,” which quite honestly is an increased presence of God and deeper intimacy with Him, will come soon.

The Holy Spirit reminded me to rest and be assured that I was doing my part, that the Lord was giving me just enough to keep me wanting more, that He is saving me from complacency and giving me just what I can handle, just what is enough for me at this very point in time.

I asked the Lord how I may increase my faith, how I may increase my belief in Him, and my pure revolve to accept that He would do what He has said He will do.

Another scripture came to mind: “Faith comes by hearing and hearing of the word of God.” This one is Romans 10:17.

I was reminded that I only have to saturate myself with the word of God in all its forms. I only have to be so filled with His word because His word is light, and where there is light, darkness has no place.

A friend said something profound to me yesterday: Until we are completely filled with the written word of God in the bible,  He has no obligation to give us any revelation.

Hearing those two verses brought peace to my spirit. They made me realize that sometimes, we only need to enjoy the stage where we’re at and stop asking to do more, to be more, to see more, or to hear more. If I believe that I am on this journey with God, then I must know that when it is time for me to advance, He will lead me through the path that will lead to more in Him.


Featured image from giphy.

Famous last words

Here’s a devotional message I received from a friend. It made a great read so of course I’m sharing.


FAMOUS LAST WORDS

Consider these quotes from the past:

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” – Western Union internal memo, 1876.

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” – Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” – David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” – Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM, 1943

“Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons.” – Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

“I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won’t last out the year.” – The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

“But what … is it good for?” – Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” – Ken Olson, President, Chairman and Founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

“640K ought to be enough for anybody.” – Bill Gates, 1981

writing

It’s amazing that we’ve accomplished so much technologically in this country considering the pessimistic views held by many (even more amazing when you consider that some of the achievements eventually came from people who at one time held the pessimistic views themselves).

What is your vision for the future? What would you like to accomplish? More to the point, what would you like to see God accomplish through you? There will likely be someone around you ready to tell you that “it can’t be done”, or “we’ve tried that before with no success”, or “it’s too much trouble”.

And they may be right. Or they may have a “grasshopper complex” like the ten spies in Numbers 13 who were unable to see what God could accomplish because they were looking so intently at the obstacles in their way.

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

May the God who can do more than we can even imagine (and I can imagine a lot!) be with you this day.


I wouldn’t usually post a devotional verbatim, but this one came ready made. I have nothing to add, except that the last section spoke to me profoundly. There’s so so much I want to do and accomplish both in this year and in my life. Of course, there’s a lot of nay-saying, and a lot of doubt and worry that I have to overcome.

But really, what can the Lord not do? Luke 1: 37 says “For with God nothing shall be impossible.”

That’s my life mantra. There is NOTHING that Jehovah cannot do.

Redeemed for Others

Here is a great devotional I got from My Utmost. It’s interesting how the Lord answers the questions we have on our minds. In my thoughts below, you’ll see how this spoke directly to me. It was convicting, encouraging, comforting, and inspiring. I hope you enjoy as I did. My thoughts in italics.  


For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel. — 1 Corinthians 1:17

Paul states here that the call of God is to preach the gospel; but remember what Paul means by “the gospel” viz., the reality of Redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are apt to make sanctification the end-all of our preaching. Paul alludes to personal experience by way of illustration, never as the end of the matter.

The gospel of Christ is the good news about Him. It is about upholding Christ’s power in our lives and showcasing the good that comes from being His followers. We must learn to take our eyes off ourselves.

Romans 12:1-2 says “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

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We are nowhere commissioned to preach salvation or sanctification; we are commissioned to lift up Jesus Christ (John 12:32). It is a travesty to say that Jesus Christ travailed in Redemption to make me a saint. Jesus Christ travailed in Redemption to redeem the whole world, and place it unimpaired and rehabilitated before the throne of God. The fact that Redemption can be experienced by us is an illustration of the power of the reality of Redemption, but that is not the end of Redemption.

Our salvation is only possible because of the power of Jesus. When we begin to understand the message of grace, our lives are changed radically. Grace makes us understand that we love God because He first loved us. It takes away the pressure to be perfect and enables us to understand that love compels. We serve God because we are compelled by His love, and not because we have control over ourselves by our own might.

If God were human, how sick to the heart and weary He would be of the constant requests we make for our salvation, for our sanctification. We tax His energies from morning till night for things for ourselves — something for me to be delivered from! When we touch the bedrock of the reality of the Gospel of God, we shall never bother God any further with little personal plaints.

All of our life experiences come in order to glorify Christ. We must decrease that He may increase. The gaze on our own lives and circumstances must especially decrease. Just as the bronze serpent brought healing to the Israelites in the wilderness, the resurrected Christ brings healing, not only to our physical, but also to our spiritual bodies. And just as only those who cast their gazes on the bronze serpent were healed, so too, only those who cast their gaze on Jesus will be healed. And we are healed to tell others about the healing power of Jesus.

How to get back on track when you’ve fallen off (and other stories)

Love is never late

I know, I know, I’ve been on a roll with these romantic sounding titles and posts and all that. Maybe they’re telling of other things happening elsewhere, but I keep thinking about how this is my final semester in undergrad and what an amazing ride it’s been!

Yesterday my friend Priscilla was in my school for a class (we’re finally taking a class together!) If you don’t know Priscilla or about her, then you really don’t know me haha. She’s my spirit animal and soul sister and we have this amazing bond that surprises even me.

Priscilla 2

This is a (an ugly) picture of us from 2013. Haha. Taken in Durban, South Africa.

We had a fascinating conversation before our 7pm class yesterday evening.

We spoke about school and how no one ever tells you that you really can be the best that there is to be. Does that make sense? I remember coming to America and thinking that all I had to do was not fail my classes, you know, stay in the safe threshold and not get kicked out of school.

I probably sound like a broken record right now, but it was so amazing for me to find, after two full academic years, that I could perform well in school if I applied myself. Priscilla shared many similar sentiments and she gave me some very wise advice that I cannot hoard.

  1. Look to the future– Although we both felt like we could have started out on things that we genuinely loved and were passionate about, we eventually have found our feet in majors that keep us active, engaged, and fulfilled. The best way from here is forward. The experiences and knowledge behind us only serve to guide us into the future, not to prevent us from looking to it. Ahead of us lie all the things that we will do with our passionate, engaged, and fulfilled selves. Ahead lies all the experiences that are waiting to be had, the people waiting to be met and loved, and the lives waiting to be changed.
  1. Gratitude is what keeps you going. My big word from last year was gratitude. I have found that being grateful for what I have works wonders on my mind and in my spiritual life. When I want something from God, I remind myself to count my blessings and name them one by one. Once I get that exercise going, I find that my soul is renewed and my joy is once again full. Gratitude is the gift that keeps on giving. It centers and reminds us of God’s love in our lives. We may not have all the answers today but we certainly aren’t where we were last year or two years ago.
  1. It’s never too late to start over. As much as I wish that my gpa could be calculated from just my last two years of college, I’m very proud of myself for how far I’ve come. From being the lost kid in chemistry and biology and physics class to faithfully running this blog, I’m far from who I was. As much as there are things that I want to achieve, like read more books and become a morning person and write more and so on, the things that I have done are indications to me that God isn’t done with me yet. He’s still in the process of refining, fixing, tearing apart, and rebuilding. He has a lot in store for us, and He doesn’t give up until we are conformed to the image of Christ.

If God doesn’t give up, we certainly cannot. If you’ve felt like you’re on the wrong path, or like you’re lost and have no bearing, begin today to thank God for where He’s brought you from. When you name the things that have gone well for you over the years, you can find a common theme or thread that can become your north star for where God wants you to be.

This has been an incredibly wonderful post to write, mainly because it’s all coming from my heart. That’s so cheesy, right? lol

Please let me know what you think!