Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Morning Munch No. 2- Common and Still Useable

Does the Lord use us, common men and women?

The following is a little food for the soul (and hopefully a nugget that will stir questions) that will answer that.

In Acts 3, Peter and John are used of God to heal a man lame from birth. They then take the opportunity to share the Gospel to everyone who saw the miracle. Because of their teaching and preaching they greatly annoyed the Sadducees and temple people, so Peter and John were arrested (chapter four).

When they went before the high priest and were questioned about sharing the Gospel, they did not defend themselves but started talking about all the wonders Jesus had done. Then boldly proceeded to share the Gospel with the very people who were telling them to stop. This is what happened next:

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus." -Acts 4:13

What comfort and encouragement oozed out of this passage for me. They were uneducated (in the Rabbinical schools) and were common. Yet they were used so powerfully by God (because of their boldness) so that the high priests were astonished and saw and recognized they had been with Jesus, for there was no other explanation.

Does your life look different than the world?
Is it easily recognizable that you have been with Jesus?

The high priests end up letting them go even after Peter and John tell them they won't stop speaking about the Lord. Why did they let them go?

"(They let them go) finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened." -Acts 4:21

Take heart today, O my soul, for the Lord uses common men! It is my earnest prayer to be used by God and that everyone I encounter--whether they be for me or against me--would recognize that I have been with Jesus. May all the people praise the Lord. 

Praying we go forth in boldness to proclaim the Gospel,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Olympic Dreams, Sophie’s Plans and God’s Will

Tomorrow the Opening Ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games will begin (at 6:30 p.m. CST).  The best athletes in the entire world will compete on the highest level representing their countries and going for the gold.

Several of my friends are there competing, specifically Amanda Furrer, Sarah Scherer (who happens to be related to Charles Spurgeon) and Jonathan Hall, among others who will be reppin’ the USA in shooting.

I cannot tell you how happy I am for these amazing shooters and people who have overcome so much to be where they are right now- in London just about 24 hours away from the Opening Ceremony! They have each worked so hard and I am ridiculously proud of them and can’t wait to wake up in the middle of the night to watch them compete.

However, if I let it, it hurts my heart.

Because I’m not there.

You see, this was going to be my Olympics. I even told someone that in an interview when I was 13 years old. (You can read the article here… please don’t judge my picture or my perfectly-parted-down-the-middle hair… wow.)

From the time I first realized shooting was an Olympic event, I was going to win the gold. It was my dream forever. The hours of training, the traveling for national competitions, the expensive equipment, the elite camps, were all stepping-stones for my way to the World’s Stage where I would compete and win gold.
At least that’s how it was perfectly planned in my selfish, me-centered head.

But God.

…had other plans.

Better plans.

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man,

but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.” (Proverbs 19:21 ESV)

He knows my dreams and my heart’s deepest desire and He isn’t a God who will see that and then give me the exact opposite because He’s cruel. Absolutely not. He doesn’t promise to give me what Sophie thinks is best, He promises to give me His best. And I’m living it out.

I would not trade where God has me right now for competing in five Olympic Games.

God has allowed me to experience Him in ways that I never imagined through a job that I love, discipling a group of girls I adore and learning from some of the greatest people I know, all of whom are following hard after God.

So, back to what I said earlier: if I let it, the realization that I’m not there hurts my heart.

Emphasis on “if I let it.” It’s a choice, just like everything else in life. And I choose to be ridiculously happy for my friends competing in the Games and with where God has me right now, knowing it’s for my good and His glory and preparing me for a future only He can see. 

I will watch the Opening Ceremonies tomorrow night and cry as the athletes walk in and then I’ll proceed to cry during every medal ceremony. They won’t be tears of selfishness but tears of victory; victory with the ones winning the medals and victory with the One who created my heart and has fulfilled it to the uttermost.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold [Olympic gold] that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”(1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV)

Praising Him for my life that is going exactly as He planned,

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Michael Carneal and Me

Dad had his morning radio news playing when I woke up yesterday morning. The local AM talk show was giving updates when the person said, "Courts are deciding whether or not Michael Carneal waited too long to withdrawal his guilty plea to the 1997 Heath High School shootings."

As my mom continued getting vitamins for my dad I just stood there in disbelief over Carneal.

Fourteen-year-old Carneal is escorted off Heath High School
 property by officers after he opened fire December 1, 1997,
killing three and wounding five more. 
Why doesn't he just admit to the shooting? I mean, he was the one. It's on video. There's eye witnesses. Evidence. And he already plead guilty once.

My cousins were there that morning. The day he opened fire on the other side of my medium-sized town in western Kentucky. I remember their fear.

Why is he trying to say he's innocent now? Three people died and five were injured. Why did he admit to it and now change his plea?

Then it hit me like a spiritual spanking:
That's just like me.
I am just like Michael Carneal.

No, I haven't murdered anyone in a high school shooting, but I've had anger without cause and Jesus says that's the same.

But besides that, I've tried to defend my sin.

How many time have I stood before God in guilt and, despite evidence and eye witnesses, tried to play it off like I wasn't guilty?

Welcome to my whole life before surrendering to Christ. And, unfortunately, too much of my regenerated life after being saved.

I hate sin.
And Satan,
and my pride,
and my ugly, ugly flesh.

Francis Chan said this, "Confess sin, don't defend it."

Yesterday's 10-second news spot reminded me of that and showed me how fast I am to judge the sins of others when I do the very same thing.

What's crazy is that after confessing my wretch sin (and every sin is wretched), my Judge, the Ruler and Creator of the universe, doesn't pronounce me guilty, but free. Completely innocent. 

The Judge says I did the sin but Jesus Christ did my time. He took the punishment then took the death penalty that I deserved.

"Sealed my pardon with His blood, hallelujah, what a Savior!"
"For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God." --Colossians 3:3  

"Because the sinless Savior died my sinful soul is counted free,for God the Just is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me." 

Humbled and in awe of the Lord's remarkable grace,

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Morning Munch No. 1- Word Study: Equip

Welcome to the very first Monday Morning Munch! It is my goal to post a short devotional-esque blog every Monday morning on something God is teaching me that week. I hope you will continue reading and that God would encourage, refresh and feed your hearts so much with His words, not mine.

This week, as He often does, God has zoned in on one particular word for me to chew on. Word studies are one of my favorite things to do; if there is a word burning in my mind or if I’m trying to better grasp what a word means in relation to the Bible (the real Word), I’ll look up the definition then every verse that has that particular word in it and try to gain a better understanding.

Clearly you wouldn’t want to do a word study on the word the, and, or so.

Anyway, this week the word was equip.

It all started when I was praying Hebrews 13:20-21,

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with every good work that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

During Passion 2010, Beth Moore defined equip to mean:

To prepare,
to adjust,
to fit,
to readjust,
to supply,
to mold,
to complete.

So put that definition in the verse:
Our Lord Jesus, by the blood of the eternal covenant, prepares, adjusts, fits, readjusts, supplies, molds, and completes us with every good work so that we may do His will.


So then I looked up the other verses with equip in it.

Turns out there are only three passages in the Bible with that word in it.
Short study. 
But so good.

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” -2 Timothy 3:16-17

Not only does God Himself equip us through life experiences, trials and other people, but His primary way of preparing, adjusting, fitting, readjusting, supplying, molding, and completing us is through His precious Word (which He breathed out).

Question for application:
  • Am I ignoring or overlooking this method of His equipping or am I diving head first into His Scripture to be as equipped as possible?

This next verse was my absolute favorite.

“I call you by name, I name you though you do not know Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides Me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know Me, that people may know from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides Me; I am the Lord and there is no other.” –Isaiah 45:4b-6

How awesome to consider that before we knew God He knew us and was equipping us to make His name famous. Think about that. Before salvation ever took place, God was equipping (preparing, adjusting, fitting, readjusting, supplying, molding, and completing) you for the very things you are facing today.

How deep the Father’s love for us!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Morning Fuel

Gone are the days of waking up and going out to get the morning paper in your fashionable robe while the coffee is brewing then returning inside and pouring a steamy cup of joe while you pore over the daily news.

The Internet is the preferred reading of choice nowadays and, even though I'm a journalist, my morning reading has gone from feeding my humor in the comics section of the local paper to feeding my soul with hearty blogs of people (particularly women) seeking hard after the Lord.

My sister got me started on this little morning snack for the soul and the following are a list of the blogs I check each morning after spending quality time in the Word.

P.S. I do suggest waking up your brain with some light reading before you dive into your Bible reading for the day, that way you don't have to read one verse 50 times to actually comprehend what it's saying and you don't waste valuable time in the Word. I do this by reading Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening. (Note: This is a link to the daily devotionals but, while I definitely recommend this book, if you will get distracted on the Internet before getting time alone with God in His Word, I would suggest reading an actual book so as to maintain your heart's undivided focus.) 

I hope these blogs will encourage you on your walk with our Savior and help you to fall in love with Him more as your hearts are refreshed and you are pushed to the cross.

Real Truth Matters  (shameless plug for the awesome ministry where I am blessed to "work")

Treasuring Christ (this is my brother-in-law and sister's ministry... love it, love them. It's so awesome to see them pursuing God with everything they have and encouraging others to do the same. this blog has something for everyone, male, female, young or old-- you won't be disappointed.)

Every Bitter This is Sweet (my sister introduced me to this blog and I love, love, love it. Sara's transparency in sharing the ups and downs of daily walking with the Lord, and four adopted children, is beautiful.)

A Holy Experience (Ann Voskamp, author of One Thousand Gifts, gives us another beautifully written, inspiring and often challenging blog.)

Courtney Veasey (i actually just found this blog yesterday and spent way too much of my afternoon reading entries about what the Lord has taught this seminary student getting ready to leave california.)

Kisses From Katie (the blog of Katie Davis, the 24 year old who moved to uganda at age 19 and has since adopted 14 beautiful ebony-skinned daughters. awesome for perspective and to remember the call to the nations every Christ-follower has.)

Domestick Kingdom (the tagline says it all: applying the Gospel to the mundane.)

Desiring God (there's not really much to say about this wonderful ministry of John Piper. solid, solid stuff.)

Noel Piper (wife of John, Noel Piper is a tremendous encouragement for women seeking the way of the Lord.)

Lysa Terkeurst (if you want to read something you can relate to, look no further than Lysa Terkeurst. fabulously encouraging and so applicable to daily life.)

Living Proof Ministries (the blog of Beth Moore's ministry. awesome resource for girls' ministry and just plain ol' soul food.)

My Utmost for His Highest (take a fork and knife to this one, you might be chewing for a while. and that's always a good thing when it's about our Lord.)

here's to strengthening our soul with a delicious breakfast (lunch or dinner),

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Mind is Blown


What I felt after watching the following video on Steve Saint.

Steve Saint (son of Nate Saint who was martyred in Ecuador with Jim Elliot and three other missionaries in 1956) was paralyzed on June 13th. He was conducting a test on a small aluminum airfoil mounted on a rolling test stand when it became unmounted and struck Steve in the head causing cuts to his head and resulting in whiplash and a major spinal cord injury.

The following is a video of him during rehabilitation after his surgery on June 20. I pray that it ministers to you in the midst of whatever trial you’re in and that our perspective is not that of a self-seeking, flesh-gratifying human being, but of one who can see the gift of God even amid suffering.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Rescue

Wonderful, merciful Savior
Precious Redeemer and Friend
Who would have thought that a Lamb
Could rescue the souls of men?
Oh, You rescue the souls of men

-Eric Wyse & Dawn Rogers

Lord, thank You for rescuing me.

“He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me… He brought me out into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.”
 –Psalm 18:17,19

Blows. My. Mind.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

journaling, a private obsession

There aren’t many things that get me more excited than a warm patch of sunshine, a steaming cup of coffee, my Bible and journal. Especially if that journal is new. 

A journal contains fresh, clean and crisp pages just waiting to catch your most treasured thoughts, prayers and reflections as they pour out of your heart through your pen.

If I blogged half as much as I wrote in my journal there would be even less of you reading this and the Internet might collapse. I journal a lot.

My journal isn’t a diary or even a collection of thoughts about my day; it’s a prayer journal and a way to process what God is teaching me. A place to write down Scripture, Bible study notes, sermon notes, doodle and most importantly worship through pen and paper.

It’s a small sanctuary I can hold in my lap and experience the Lord through. It’s one of my most treasured objects and my favorite times of the day are spent with it and my Bible (see first paragraph).

invitation to write

Because I am such a fan of journaling, I took some photos of my journals hoping to inspire you to dive into your own journal and write to God. Bare your soul to Him, He knows it anyway but you’ll learn more than you can imagine through just the simple process of writing it out.

And even if you just use your journal to write Scriptures or quotes that stand out to you, what an awesome way to (literally) write them on your heart. However, if you decide to write out your prayers or prayer requests, you get the awesome ability of looking back and seeing how God specifically and strategically answered your prayers. And who knows who might read your journal years and years down the road and be inspired, challenged and encouraged by what God taught you.

Some people say they don’t have time to journal. Okay, then don’t write a novel. Maybe just summarize what God showed you that day in a sentence. It is always an encouragement to look back and read previous entries and see that God is not absent in our lives even when He feels silent.

P.S. You can click to enlarge any photo and bring up the entire gallery. 

Sometimes my journals get extra loved and I have to rebind them. This one hasn't had surgery yet.

Sometimes my journals hold important letters, like this one from the Marquette basketball coach.

Record victories and answered prayers.

Word study on the words of our mouth.

One of the most worn out pages in my journal. It's exciting to go back and put dates beside the people who have since come to Christ.

Journal lyrics to the current song of your heart.

Biblical to-do lists.


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