Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Heart Cry.

13th Official Blog Post in AU. 29 December 2011
Heavenly Father,
I so desire to be the kind of woman that is set apart from this world. The more I strive to be an incredible woman, the more I see my shortcomings. I can do no good thing apart from You, Lord. 
What will it take to be beautiful; to radiate beauty in my attitude and everyday life? I need a change of heart, God. Destroy my self-seeking state of being. Take my pride and tear it to shreds. All I need is You.
I don’t know how to satisfy these longings apart from Your presence, Father. I don’t know how to grow and feel free to be my true self without believing You when You said, “this is who I’ve created you to be.” 
I have to be confident in the way you have designed me instead of looking to the right and left and suddenly thinking I should look and act more like this girl or that I will only be attractive if I live up to men’s supposed expectations. 
All that You are and all You have done should be enough for me to want to worship you with my lifestyle. My body is a temple– let me worship You by treating it with the best of foods, drinks, and activities. My gifts and talents are given to me for a purpose– let me steward them well instead of suppressing them in fear. My relationships were given to me so that I might proclaim Your Truth into the world– may I proclaim Your glory with grace, boldness and overflowing joy. 
You love me with an everlasting love.
Tell me who I am again, God.
Tell me of all You have purposed for me to be.
Fill my heart and mind with visions of the house I am to build.
Keep me from foolishly tearing it down with my own hands.
Teach me to dream again and be free again...
I want to love You with an everlasting love.
Messiah, my Love, Great God, Holy One; The Most Faithful of All.
I just want to be the best of what You’ve made me to be.
In Jesus’ Precious Name,

Friday, December 23, 2011


12th Official Blog Post in AU. 22 December 2011
Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.
We’ve been hearing a lot about them lately haven’t we?
Despite the fact that Australia’s atmosphere hardly carries the allure of Christmas spirit, I have been inspired by Pastor Jim Laffoon’s recent Twitter series and have gone back to scriptures about the birth of Jesus.
I have to admit that I haven’t even made it past Matthew 1 and Luke 1.
Though that may imply disinterest, I honestly cannot make it past those two particular chapters because of how much of an eye-opening affect it’s had on my life!
I definitely want to encourage you to read them for yourselves and determine how it speaks specifically to your life as well. 
Both of these chapters generally show us how Joseph, Mary, Elizabeth and Zacharias lived in faith and obedient action in response to what God had spoken into their lives. For the first time in these stories, I have begun noticing the fact that by believing what God had spoken to them, their choices defied their logic as well as the cultural expectations of the people around them.
What a sobering thought: there will be times–probably more than we expect– when we are faced with the need to discern who our loyalty belongs to. Do you know what God is leading you into? Will you walk in it or are you too concerned about the expectations of society, your culture, or the people around you? Though we are called to honor our parents, we are not worthy of God if we love them more than we love Him. If we are too afraid to take that one step into agreement as Zacharias did, we may never have our voice restored. Scripture shows how human we can be– Zacharias  asked the angel, “how will I know this for certain?” His doubts resulted in consequence (Luke 1:18, 20) Though Joseph was well-intentioned when he thought to send Mary away during her seemingly questionable pregnancy, it was actually in favor of God’s plan that he stay by her side. Even in the times we receive direct words from the Lord, it is so easy to take it and start dissecting it with logic, isn’t it? We rationalize it through, but have to reel our thoughts back into place if we want to remain obedient and in faith.
Luke chapter 1 is just LOADED with so much miraculous, faith-filled content!
Zacharias petitioned for and was granted a son from a previously barren wife.
She who was called barren is now in her sixth month.
For nothing will be impossible with God.
And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord...”
And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.
God, grace us with the diligence to cling to these promises! Nothing is impossible with You! We are blessed in our persistence of petitions and unwavering faith when we receive a word from You. First and foremost, may we live as bondservants– enslaved to righteousness by choice because we know that the reward and benefits of serving our Master far exceeds any life we could create for ourselves outside of Your Kingdom. I’d rather be a doorkeeper for You, than live according to my own desires. Nothing is too hard for You. According to our faith, let it be.
In Jesus’ Mighty Name,
Amen... (So be it.)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Love is Reasonable.

11th Official Blog Post in AU. 1 December 2011
I read this blog post of my dear friend Mckenzie just after writing Isolation. and it really confirmed some thoughts from earlier that day. I just love witnessing the marriage she and David have. What seems to set them apart, aside from their obvious love for the Lord Jesus, is their attitude.
Any girl can write a blog about her life.
Any girl can talk about marriage.
But Mckenzie’s outlook on her life and marriage is what makes all the difference!
So many people in my general age group seem to get choked up with fear at the thought of marriage, loving someone fully, and allowing someone else to love them without feeling indebted or under conditions. Understandably so considering the divorce rate and dysfunctions of today’s modern family. At the same time, I think our relationships would be much healthier if we would stop allowing fear to rule over us and the decisions we make within our relationships!
We either:
  1. Run away from relationships because they include challenges. Nobody wants struggles when we constantly hear Hollywood preach that everything should happen easily and flawlessly; life is lived happily ever after... Roll credits. That’s a wrap.
  2. Run away because we are too comfortable with ourselves and fear the unpredictability of a relationship. Can you trust this person with your heart? How can you be sure? Do you really want to invest the time and energy this relationship would require? Especially when you have had your heart broken before. It is so easy to revert back to what experience has led us to believe. It can seem even easier to live for ourselves only.
As my last post encouraged: we need each other!
Also, life is done better together. Why? Partnership and community were God’s ideas!
Be reasonable about picking your partner. 
S/he may not be a super model or celebrity, s/he may not have perfectly airbrushed features, but can s/he do life with you on days you feel like less than a champion? Is s/he the kind of person who will love you when you are not squeaky clean? Will this person empower you to walk victoriously into all the the desires you know God has purposed for your life and see you through to its entirety? Do they carry the same conviction of commitment that you hold? Most divorces are a result of poor communication– how do you two communicate?
I know that last paragraph sounds so noble, structured and optimistic, but you come to know those things about people in the seemingly mundane details of every day life. While marriage will be an adventure, it may not be the kind of epic you envision it to be.
In the midst of what seems like a situation that counters the American Dream, Mckenzie says, 
“I love loving David. It blesses my heart, it gives me so much joy. It makes life so beautiful in the midst of the trials and tribulations that come our way... They have given us new eyes for one another, and I couldn’t be more thankful. I know this is going to be a time we’re going to look back on and remember as such a blessing. Though my heart definitely aches for the time we’re out of this valley!”
Through and through, her post gives me so much joy. Though they could easily turn on each other out of fear and stress, they cling to God’s promises and, as a result, are tightly bound to one another and filled with the joy of the Lord for strength.
Wow! Finishing up the passage in Ecclesiastes fits like a puzzle piece– how appropriate (and entirely unplanned):
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
(Ecc. 4:11-12)
Make God that center strand and He will give you the strength to maintain a simply joyful attitude in the midst of struggles. In His love, you are able to love another with more depth and longevity than you think you are capable of.
Here’s to a reasonable kind of love. In a world of hype, instant gratification, an “all about me” attitude and short attention spans– may we love unconditionally and faithfully to no end like He first loved us.

NOTE: For the record to any speculation out there (aka my friends or family), NO I am not ready to get married; this attitude is based on season not on emotions or fear. I am a content single–thankyouverymuch– who would be equally content with a “one-step-at-a-time” level of progress. This is NOT an advertisement! Only a clarification. :)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011


10th official blogpost in AU. 30 November 2011

How do you make the word, ‘isolation’ sound less... cold? The first alternative word I can think of is ‘alone.’ Do you like to be alone? How do you respond to being isolated from others or things?
I should be an expert on this subject by now– the last eighteen months of my life have consisted of the most alone time I think I have ever had. At first I nearly lost my mind. Now, I find I can appreciate solitude a bit more since this city is full of at least a couple million people hustling and bustling through every single second. I am easily content to do things or simply be by myself for probably much too long compared to the average person.
But is it good to be isolated?
The fastest yet insufficient answer would be no, it is not good. However, I think being alone can be good and is necessary at times.
Jesus would go away from his disciples to be alone with God. The Bible speaks of seeking God and practicing certain things like fasting without publicizing it to your community. What God sees is what matters and God sees every action, motive and thought. It is good to find contentment in being alone when you know you need it to fellowship with God. To give all you extroverts some assurance, being “alone” with God is not actually being alone anyway! He is with you!
On the other hand, there is the part where God says, “it is not good for man to be alone.” In this context, scripture is pointing to relationship.
So what are the things you do by yourself? Why do you do them alone?
If you are choosing not to spend time with and invest in people out of fear, insecurity, or past pain incurred through other relationships, it is time to take that before the Lord and also find someone like a pastor or a godly mentor type of leader who you can talk with. There is something in your heart that has distanced you from letting someone or many others into your life.
It is not good for man to be alone.
The place most impenetrable to people is where the constant battle for your life is waged– your mind. It is imperative that, as Christ followers, we are constantly releasing thoughts into prayers and discussions to ensure that no temptation floats around inside our minds long enough to grow into sin. Have you ever noticed those times you can be upset about something and then once you say it out loud you realize how small and insignificant it is? All that time it was rolling around in your mind made the issue seemed massive! Surrounding yourself with people you can trust and who maintain a godly perspective can make all the difference. You can help them, they can help you and everyone has a lower risk of falling into sin.
I find the Body of Christ is often plagued with fear of sharing with each other. It is scary, I know! You have to be vulnerable! You have to lay out your innermost being and hope that human beings around you will give back God’s love and grace in return. Though that does not always happen between people (unfortunately), do not give up. Ask God for the people you need to be surrounded by and determine for yourself to rise above the behavior of those who have hurt you. Forgive them. Keeping our mouths shut and cutting off fellowship with others would only satisfy the enemy’s desire to cut off circulation in the Body.
Last, but never least, God said, “it is not good for man to be alone,” just before he took a rib from Adam and created Eve, his helper. 
A partnership... why is it better to have a partner? Having to work so closely in relationship with someone else can seem like an addition to your life that would complicate matters further. I cannot think of a better way of describing it outside of Ecclesiastes:
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their 
if one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
(Ecc. 4:9-10)
God has given each of us unique strengths and talents. We also each have weaknesses. Once we recognize that we can contribute and share strengths and gifts to each others’ callings and purposes, the workload eases up. It is no longer your burden to bear. The load is lighter because others are running with you and sharing your load. 
Let them share it.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Abstemious Perspective.

9th Official Blog Post in AU. 2 November 2011

We are so good at singing and praying such extreme prayers– I am desperate for you, God. I give you everything– my whole life. I need you more than the AIR I BREATHE!
I do realize how significant these prayers are; my intent is not to mock them. But if you are anything like me, it is easy to sing these songs and overlook the average, yet specific prayers that address our everyday lives. Try it with me:
I need You more than chocolate,
more than caffeine,
more than comfort food.
Father, I need You more than the stuff in my closet.
I need You more than my iPhone.
I need You more than internet.
I need You more than my friends. You are Lord.
I need You more than my brother and sister.
God, I need You more than my parents.
You are LORD.
I need You more than coffee dates and nights out on the town.
I need You more than the comfort of my warm, cozy bed.
Father, I need You more than Facebook.
I need to speak to You more than Twitter.

I need You more than Skype.
Holy Spirit, I need your voice more than YouTube, podcasts, movies, and great musicians.
Sovereign King...
I need You more than a boyfriend.
I need You more than a fiancé and a diamond ring.
I need You, God, more than I need a husband– even if he will be the most incredible partner I can have on earth.
You are LORD.
I need You more than this degree.
I need You more than a career.
I need You more than money, God.
I need you more than I want a family.
Dearest Jesus, I want to be moved by You more than I am persuaded to make my life unfold according to social norms. My schedule should be shaped around spending time with You and going where You lead instead of letting everything else define the meaning of productivity and accomplishment.
Whom do I worship, oh Lord? Who defines my life?
How dare I call you Lord– Master if my life does not reflect such submission before You.

“Do not be quick with your mouth, 
do not be hasty in your heart 
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.”
-Ecclesiastes 5:2

Monday, October 17, 2011

Mistaking Seasons.

8th Official Blog Post in AU. 17 October 2011.
Moments ago, I was sitting outside. It is a slightly cloudy, spring day here in the southern hemisphere and I had planted myself on a low brick wall near a small fountain. Moments of warm sun came through as the clouds passed by overhead. Brief gusts of wind combed its cold fingers through my hair.
At one moment, I looked down to kick something away from my feet. There at my heels were a small bunch of dried up leaves.
Fall! I moaned in my thoughts, It is supposed to be fall right now, not spring time... look, there are even dried leaves on the ground. Where are the pumpkin spice lattes? What about all the leaves changing color and dying...?
Sarah, I felt the Holy Spirit say, you have repositioned your life before Me. Why are you expecting old patterns to remain the same? You have misunderstood: I have not called you to come and die or be be buried away. Indeed, your season is spring! Flourish, my dear. I have called you here to expand and bloom.
In the confusion of a new season, sometimes it would be nice to burrow deep into soft, warm, darkness underground. However, it is not fall, but spring. The rain keeps falling, sun is shining, and the wind is blowing. The surrounding elements are coaxing me to strengthen my roots, push out from the dirt, expand these leaves and finally bloom.
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven...He has made everything appropriate in its time... I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should fear Him.”
–Ecclesiastes 3:1,11,14 (NASB)

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Confessions of an International Student.

7th Official Blog Post in AU. 6 October 2011
At the start of the semester I recall hearing someone talk about how international students tend to have a lot of emotional ups and downs during their time at university. Honestly, I did not really believe them. Call me naïve, proud, stubborn, or all of the above, but I have been determined to be as strong and steady as possible... or, at the very least, maintain the appearance of it.
It is amazing how many challenges arise once a person has determined to be strong.
Blogosphere, it is about time I come clean and confess that I am not as strong as I try to be. Truth be told, I am that student who goes through the ups and downs when (hopefully) nobody is looking. My loved ones have never felt so far away as they have in the last few days; especially now that I am face-to-face with the final stretch of the semester. The few friends here that I have felt some sense of camaraderie with will be going back to the familiarity of their homelands while I remain here, try to stay focused, and figure out what in the world God wants me to do with this life I have been given- at least in regard to my near future.
“What do I do here in the waiting?
What do I do with my unsatisfied heart?”
(Laura Hackett)
I feel really vulnerable to be posting on this subject, but if you have kept up with my blogs at all, you know my aim is not to be popular, but quite transparent. I just need a space to write with the hope that you can relate and/or be inspired by these posts.
Sigh... loneliness.
What do you do with loneliness? How do you cope?
I feel caught in this corner because, even though I long for my community at home or for a more established one here, I have this deep conviction that I cannot go back to where I came from and I cannot stay here. My only good option is to keep moving forward and press on to the end of this degree so I can experience whatever this mysterious future is that I will be living in this time next year. That does not mean I have no interest in the people here, I definitely want and need to grow deeper with some people around me at present. It is simply getting past the subconscious understanding that your presence amongst each other is temporary.
“The past is so tangible, I know it by heart.
Familiar things are never easy to discard.
I was dying for some freedom but now I hesitate to go.
I am caught between the promise and the things I know... 
the future feels so hard and I want to go back,
but the places that used to fit me cannot hold the things I’ve learned...”
(Sara Groves)
Through it all, there is only one presence that remains constant from before I was born to the end of my life and onward. All I know to do in my loneliness is cry out to God because He has always been my Constant Sustainer and the One to satisfy every area of lack in each season. In the end, I come out of these struggles with thanksgiving because nothing else creates opportunity to exercise living by faith quite like painful circumstances.
I have never felt so clueless and disconnected before. So many days pass by where I feel like I am in over my head; like I am inadequate and have no sense of belonging in this place. Sometimes it feels like I have only brought a part of myself to this city while the rest of my spirit and personality remains at home with my friends and family.
Yet God is with me and He has gone ahead of me so there is no reason to fear or worry as I set my gaze on Him. He is the Author and Perfecter of my faith- He knows exactly how to write my days for the sake of deepening my trust in His great character. If this is how I have to learn to trust Him more, then let it be. I am determined to see crisis as opportunity leading to the best things. My life is in the hands of the God who loves me even more than I could ever even love myself, so I will let Him have His way in me. Trying to control it all is too exhausting anyway! Let it be, dear Lord, let it be... Your plan is not to harm me, but to give me a hope and a future. You make all things work out for the good of those who love you and are called according to Your purpose. I am more than a conqueror through You, the One who loves me; this I know full well. You did not even spare Your own Son, but instead gave Him up for my sake and the sake of all people so how will you not also, along with Christ, graciously give us all things? Nothing can separate us from Your deep, abundant, everlasting love. I am in the most capable hands.
I started writing this post feeling empty; now I am filled again. Thank You, Lord...

Saturday, September 17, 2011


6th Official Blog Post in AU. 17 September 2011

I wrote this letter to a girl I met last night. We met on the train because she had too much to drink and really needed some water. I just happened to be the person in the train car with a bottle of water to spare. As transit concluded, I realized how much I wish I could have said or done, but I hope the little I had done and said was enough for God to use in their lives...

My dear girl,

I wish I could have embraced you and told you, “there is more to life than this, I promise.” I want you to know just how beautiful you really are- you don’t need the sexy dress, the sparkly shoes, or braided hair to achieve it. You are precious as you are- a diamond shining through the dirt of what people think you should be.

Sweety, please don’t waste your life listening to your friends when they say, “suck it up; drink some more.” That life will only leave you empty; it will void out your sense of meaning or purpose. Please, please hold tight tonight. Be smart; smarter than the voices around you and often times even wiser than your own voice of compromise. You are not alone in this. Step out and be different- don't be afraid.

I wish I thought quickly enough to say, “Jesus loves you,” or invite you and your friend to church with me tomorrow. My greatest hope is that you and your friend don’t look at me like I am just a good person. As flattering as it was for your friend to say that people should be more like me, the truth is that people really shouldn’t be more like me, but more like Jesus- the one I weakly aspire to imitate. I am praying you see past me and see Him instead.

Honey, you are so dearly loved... so very, dearly loved. Please, I pray you spend the rest of your life getting to know True Love. My heart longs for you to live a full, satisfying life of hope and promise with the God who keeps all His promises and fills you to overflowing.

I love you because Christ first loved us...


*Hephzibah means "My delight is in her." (I believe this name is a reflection of what the Lord wants to call this girl who remains nameless to me.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Aren't YOU Lovely?!

5th Official Blog Post in AU. 30 August 2011

"Embracing Hope."
That is the title of the blog I have been trying to write for over a week now, but I just can't connect all of my thoughts well enough to communicate that subject in its entirety just yet. However, within the last few days, I have felt inclined to bring up another subject for all you lovely ladies out there (and any men who are curious to listen in on girl talk!)...



Do you know you are beautiful?
I mean, do you really truly know that and believe it?

What makes you feel beautiful?
Is it your outfit? Maybe your hairstyle? Did you have time to exercise or put on make-up this morning? Do you feel beautiful because your significant other or best friend told you so?

I just want you to know that none of those things are what make you beautiful.

You were made uniquely; with a capacity to love so deeply and more faithfully than what you probably allow yourself to practice at present. You have so much talent inside of you just waiting to be made manifest on the earth. Your ability to nurture and serve people around you really does go a long way. Don't get discouraged if you don't see the results of being generous. You are more influential than you know. You don't have to be a CEO, supermodel, or the perfect mom to achieve greatness. Your beauty flourishes as you grow more and more comfortable with your true, honest-to-goodness, self.

Take a second while you're getting ready in front of the mirror to look yourself straight in the eyes and say, "You are stronger than you think. You are more beautiful than you realize."

I know the whole talking in the mirror thing seems really tacky. I am kind of embarassed to admit that I have done this a few times recently. However, I'm willing to admit it because I am honestly shocked at the impact it has on my thought life every single time!

You are stronger than you think.
You are more beautiful than you realize.

“Like a lily among the thorns,
So is my darling among the maidens.”

~Song of Solomon 2:2
(That's what God says about YOU!)

I can't resist closing with a couple pick-me-up songs...


Monday, August 15, 2011


Fourth Official Blog Post in AU. 15 August 2011

I must warn you that in this present moment I feel like writing about this subject may be a bit premature. Perhaps this will be the preliminary post before I publish a more thoroughly thought through version in the coming week or so. My creative inclination to write is bubbling over today which is why I have decided to proceed on the subject matter anyways. Here goes...

Every day I study and discuss nation states and the issues each one contains: war, genocide, human rights abuse, child soldiers, the concept of government approved torture, poverty, hunger, AIDS, malaria, water conditions, land ownership, colonialism, racism, religious divide; the list seems endless.

We also analyse how to resolve these problems. What are human rights? How do we solve the issue of poverty? How do we understand the psychology of human beings and their use of aggression versus choosing a more peaceful approach? Is war the best method to deal with conflicts between nations? Are the institutions we have set up to preserve human rights and peace even effective? What needs to change so that the world can finally change for the better?

All of these issues and questions can be so... ridiculous at times. Today I was involved in a discussion about global currency and a global community. The professor quixotically stated that these reforms would be the resolution to the lack of equality in the world. My classmates and I were far too practical for such a suggestion. We then asked her whether that would mean the end of national borders, etc. As the conversation continued, I began to add up how much the concept of nationalism has to do with our problems.

na·tion·al·ism   /ˈnæʃənlˌɪzəm, ˈnæʃnəˌlɪz-/ Show Spelled[nash-uh-nl-iz-uhm, nash-nuh-liz-]
1. national spirit or aspirations.
2. devotion and loyalty to one's own nation; patriotism.
3. excessive patriotism; chauvinism.
4. the desire for national advancement or independence.
5. the policy or doctrine of asserting the interests of one's own nation, viewed as separate from the interests of other nations or the common interests of all nations.

Now I am not saying I am in support of a global community, global currency or anything like that. While I will not be surprised if it happens eventually, I don't see it as a realistic possibility until all nations come to a near balance economically as separate societies first. (I just had to get that out of the way...)

My uneasiness with nationalism has gradually surfaced more and more as I've grown up. As mentioned several times over the course of this blog's existence, being of mixed cultural heritage has always made it difficult to have a sense of loyalty to solely one place/nation/cultural group. Now that I am living abroad in an incredibly diverse city, I come face to face with the influence of nationalism around every corner.

Introductory conversations here tend to begin by asking, "What's your background?" In other words, what is your ethnic background and nationality? I cannot help but notice how often I have been placed under certain assumptions because of the fact that I am Indian, Filipino, and American. Suddenly, I am expected to know all of this Asian history I was never taught and live up to all the stereotypes of being American.

What makes me feel most disconcerted is when people bring up negative aspects of the United States, mostly in relation to its political actions. The struggle begins somewhere inside because I wonder if I am supposed to defend the U.S. since it is where I was born and raised. I don't know how to feel about the fact that I have no inclination to defend it. What am I supposed to say? Do I say they are wrong when I know they are not? I cannot pretend like I have this deep inset conviction that the United States is the greatest nation on earth. Please, do not mistake me for being anti-American or some sort of extremist. I simply don't feel that way about any nation on earth nor do I believe I ever will (perhaps the quote in my blog heading relates to this).

What I am trying to say is that, I think that has always been our problem. We pick teams and make assumptions based on the flag we bear instead of knowing each other as individuals. I don't want to be looked at and identified as a certain kind of person because of deep rooted life circumstances I had absolutely no role in determining! I did not choose to be Indian and Filipino nor did I choose to be born in the United States of America! All of these aspects are things I am extremely grateful for, but they are not a part of me because I have chosen them. I think being mixed and being raised in a family that embraces people from every nation has opened my mind to simply embrace people with all types of cultural backgrounds because they are people and that fact comes before the place they come from.

Ultimately, I want to be known for the good character I am constantly seeking to establish in the strength of Jesus Christ. I want to be known for love and faithfulness; for patience and service toward others. I want to be known for walking in wisdom and being a good steward of what life has placed in my care. That is the same way I see and seek to know others by.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Cold, Hard Heart.

3rd [“Official”] Blog Post in AU. August 2, 2011

This is sort of meant to be a counterbalance to my last post (“The Wellspring of Life”).

Before diving into this post’s content, please prepare yourself to do some deep down heart analysis. Get your journal, get a Bible, and get alone.

Ask yourself the following:
Do you keep yourself and keep people at a distance?
Do you keep up a good front but struggle to be real?
Are you able to show your emotions?
Do you feel like you always have to keep it together?
Are you known to be “the strong one”?
Do you find it difficult to ask for help?
Do you resist change?
Do you find it easy to minister to others yet struggle to be ministered to?
Do you tend to wish other people could keep it all together like you can?
Do you look down on others who express emotions because it seems immature or weak?
Do you have difficulty receiving love or intimacy?

Many times, these things can be subconscious. They are symptoms of having a ‘heart of stone.’

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”
-Ezekiel 36:26 (NASB)

Over the course of this past week I have been listening to the ‘Heart of Stone’ sermon from Emanate pastors, Alyn and AJ Jones. As the week led into the weekend I kept praying about, obviously my own heart condition, but also whether to blog about this particular subject. Various conversations and another relevant sermon confirmed and complemented my rumination.

I think it is safe to say we all have areas in our lives where we don’t want to let people or emotions in. In Alyn and AJ’s podcast, AJ gave examples from her own life. I especially related to her when she would use the term “bracing for impact.” There were times when God would bless her with something amazing - a new car only $300 above cost because the car dealer was a Christian and knew her full-time ministry salary couldn’t afford the average sales cost. However, she would not get excited. She would tell herself, “Don’t get excited. If you don’t get excited, you won’t be let down if it falls through.” That is even how she handled her engagement to Alyn! Since she had previously been married and her first husband walked out on her, she began managing her heart in such a way that she wouldn’t allow the excitement and joy to overcome her for fear that Alyn might leave her too. For non-married folks, I think that can be the same in dating relationships or in the period of considering whether to date someone. One has to figure out whether they trust the other person, but also if they can get past fear or other anxieties that now exist as a result of experiencing the failure of previous relationships and the mess of all its complexities when that relationship fell apart. In that time of waiting and wondering, it can almost be an instinctive response to brace for impact because of being unsure whether that person mutually cares for you or how s/he would respond to your affection. We put our faith in disappointment rather that Christ.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
-Proverbs 13:12 (NIV)

When we brace for impact we rob ourselves of the joy in those circumstances! We don’t live freely in giving God glory for His provision, we don’t bask in the glory of experiencing something good that we have waited on and has now come to fruition. Bracing for impact robs us from living in the good things about what is right now. We have begun looking too far ahead or comparing to what was rather than appreciating what is present.

In the same way, I find that most Christians live sheepishly in their areas of gifting. I fight through it daily! We think we are being so humble by denying it when someone points out our GOD GIVEN strengths!

“But, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” [Jer. 9:24] For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”
-2 Corinthians 10:17-18 (NIV)

There is a difference between improper pride and recognizing what the Lord has given you. When we live with false humility, we suppress our God given gifts from bearing fruit that should be springing forth to glorify the Lord in the expansion of His kingdom and/or the strengthening of His people.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
-John 10:10

God didn’t design us with such vast individual qualities and capabilities so that we could blend in with everybody else or just get by in a mediocre workplace or livelihood. We were meant to bring Him glory and part of bringing Him glory is living in the fullness of all He has for us. We have to recognize God’s authentic character and all we were made for; that He backs us up with power and strength when we live in fellowship and obedience with Him.

In the same way we can keep people at arm’s length, we tend to keep the Lord at a distance. In my own experience I have found that the way I handle human relationships and circumstances tend to be a direct reflection of the way I am in relationship with God. When I push away from either parties, it is usually to guard myself from being vulnerable in whatever shape or form vulnerability takes in that context. I don’t like to ask for or accept help/generosity very often (heart of stone symptom!) because it can be difficult to believe that people just want to help or give without any strings attached or expectation of being paid back in some form or another. I don’t want to be seen as greedy or needy or inconsiderate of the other person’s time, energy, or resources. When I don’t allow God to be my help, it is often because I don’t trust him to deliver (even though He will never, ever betray His character) and usually feel incredibly unworthy of His abundant grace and unconditional love.

How many lies have been surfaced here?! How many pretenses do we live in about ourselves, each other and about God? It is so healthy to take time out of our schedules for the sake of understanding why we are the way we are instead of just accepting our tendencies as natural.

Look back on your life and ask God to reveal any situation that may have been the catalyst for building walls up around your heart. It could even be something that happened in early childhood or even infancy. You might be surprised at some of the random circumstances that can be brought to light: things you may never even think about can surface as being the root cause. Forgive whoever played a role in hurting or disappointing you. Let go of what happened; it has passed.

Ultimately, when that is said and done, we must break down the walls and press in to what is ahead for us. Allowing God to replace a heart of stone with a heart of flesh is risky. You have to be willing to stay vulnerable and risk being hurt or disappointed again. However, I find the uncertainty is worth it. Why? Besides the fact that it will make you a healthier individual internally and relationally, living without walls allows the Lord to work in your life beyond the limitations that were once set inside a stony heart. Living with a heart of flesh allows God to be Himself- to do exceedingly and abundantly beyond all we ask or imagine.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Joy Rant.

Dear world,

I just want you to know how happy I am today! It's actually amusing to notice how happy I have been literally every single day. Even though each day has not necessarily been easy or free from stress I have been bubbling over with joy. I remember over a week ago there was one day in particular that began with tears and ended as one of the best days I've had here.

It is hard to explain this happiness. I think the best description is the biblical term, "the joy of the Lord." It is this deeply rooted internal satisfaction that is just straight up awesome. I'm so gracious for all this joy as I'm still so new to this place. I can't even get over it! Ha! Oh if only I could articulate all of this well enough for you to feel it too.

I'm about to start studying on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. Yet, I'm squirming in my seat, tickled by joy.

Random: I'm currently listening to Mae's The Everglow album. So good. Old, but doesn't get old too quick.

Okay. Done with this silly little rant. Time to focus. Augh, the part of my brain that is used to school feels so rusty & it hasn't even been that long. Goooottttta focus....