Struck down but not destroyed.

struck-down-but-not-destroyedYou know that awful feeling when you’ve done something wrong? That anxious guilt at the pit of your stomach? Or the nervousness of facing the consequences and not knowing how things will turn out?

We’ve all felt the weight of sin, regardless of whether we believe in God or not. Guilt and darkness and negativity – every human being is familiar with those things at some level.

We’ve all had those moments in life when everything feels impossible – when your shoulders are weighed down by the world in a way that feels worse than anything you’ve ever known. Or when you feel stuck in a cycle you desperately want to get out of but don’t know if you can. Some might say ‘it feels worse than death’.

Imagine choosing to take that feeling for someone else; for every single sin of every single person that ever walked this earth.

Jesus did that. A perfect and pure man took on every ounce of darkness, shame, guilt,  and hopelessness from all of us, onto himself.

Can we even begin to comprehend what that felt like? He experienced absolute separation from God, our Father- our connection to hope and peace and joy. His cry on the cross was raw anguish (Matthew 27:46)!

 

All for us.

All for love.

So that even when we feel like God isn’t there, He is.

So that we never have to be separated from God, if we don’t want to be.

So that we can be free from the shackles of everything dark.

 

The story we celebrate this Sunday is one of perfect love. A love of incredible sacrifice. A love that allows us to have victory, hope, and freedom no matter where we are in life, what we’ve done, or what situation we’re facing.

That feeling worse than death? It doesn’t have to be our reality. That’s what it means when we say that Jesus overcame death for us. That’s why we can say “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).

Stand on the promise of Jesus’ resurrection and know that you can trust in God’s victory in your life.

When life feels exhausting…

Note: Text written by pursuingHISwill. Background image taken from Microsoft Clip Art.

Note: Text written by pursuingHISwill. Background image taken from Microsoft Clip Art.

Isaiah 58:11

An Airport Run-In Fit for Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan

I Kissed My Date Goodnight

Airport DelaysI’ve been traveling a bit lately for both personal and work-related reasons. As much as I love life on the road, there are things about it that are just plain annoying. You know what I’m talking about, right? Wannabe-cop TSA agents, delayed-for-no-apparent-reason flights, airplane seats designed for Kristin Chenoweth, and non-existent airplane food and blankets. I mean, either turn the airplane temperature up by 20 degrees or give me a dang blanket already!

Now that airlines are charging for everything except breathing, one of the newly challenging aspects of flying is the no-holds-barred fight for overhead luggage space. No one wants to pay to check bags anymore, so there’s now not enough space for everyone’s over-packed carry-ons. That’s where Southwest comes in handy for me. Two free bags per ticketed passenger and I can stroll onto the flight with just my laptop and a medium coffee. Sigh. So nice!

Of…

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People Change (But Please Don’t Change Too Much)

Ever thought about all those unhappy married couples you know? I think we’ve all thought about how to not end up growing apart in marriage as so many people do. I was so encouraged to read this post simply because I know my “fears” are not just mine, but that many others are thinking about them as well.

I Kissed My Date Goodnight

What? A blog post on a Sunday? That’s strange!

Truth be told, I was horrified at the thought that my last post was published just a few hours shy of… gulp… two weeks ago. By posting now I’m avoiding hitting that terrible milestone that no bonafide writer should ever have to face!

Usain_BoltLast night I laid down in bed, exhausted after a long day of work. Do you ever notice when you’re most exhausted — physically, mentally and even emotionally — is the precise time your mind decides to run faster than Usain Bolt at the Olympics?

<< This guy. What a joker!

That’s exactly how I found myself last night. Exhausted to no end, yet frantically running through a list of to-dos and almost-dones and nearly-theres and oh-crap-I-forgot-to-do-that-one! So, I decided to shut my mind up by watching a quick episode of New Girl on my phone. And, of…

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“Never Too Strong for God!”

Just another reminder that although we may face more than we can handle on our own, nothing can overwhelm God!

A similar post: More Than You Can Handle

Word For Life Says . . .

My Project 384-001

“He delivered me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me;
For they were too strong for me,” 2 Samuel 22:18

 

“Is there anything too hard for me?” is a question God asked Jeremiah, (Jer. 32:27). “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” was the question God put to Abraham after Sarah laughed at the possibility of having a child in her old age. Luke 1:37 tells us, “For with God nothing shall be impossible,” and yet, when faced with things in this life we don’t understand and heartaches untold, we often feel our situations are out of His reach. As if the problems that overwhelm us are too strong for Him, also.

Due to the anointing on his life, David faced enemies who hated him for no reason. He spent many days with his life hanging in the balance. But, in the end he declared, “He…

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God’s One-of-a-Kind Love

Copyright Gospel Communications International, Inc – http://www.reverendfun.com

“Is there a such thing as good and bad people?”

Silence. Awkward silence.

I couldn’t tell if my class was stumped or disinterested by the question. I tried to do the whole uncomfortable silence thing in hopes that one of them would respond but that didn’t last very long (Did I mention, I love to talk?).

“Ok, well, let me ask you this: Think about something you’ve done wrong and felt guilty about. Do you guys have something in mind? …Ok, now, let’s say someone somehow knew about what you had done and proceeded to classify you as a bad person. What do you think about that?”

Every time we listen to a sound byte on the latest celebrity scandal, there’s usually a label thrown into the mix. Drug addict, alcoholic, rich kid, or just plain messed up. We like to categorize based on the things we know. But do we ever take a moment to step back and consider the injustice of seeing a person as the sum of their mistakes rather than taking the time consider the beautiful person God created them to be? How would we feel if we were on the receiving end?

People could think of me as smart or professional or quiet. Or they could label me as boring, overly emotional, religious, or stubborn. Yet by doing so, they lose the essence of who I am – the goofy girl who loves to laugh, sing, read, and write. The girl who spends her mornings getting ready with Hindi music in the background and dances in the bathroom while she combs her hair. The girl that God lovingly observes when she’s really in her element.

I had an aha moment during my first foray into job searching post-undergrad. It had been a frustration of fruitless efforts for several months. After years of knowing exactly where I was going (for the most part), I was lost in the whirl of figuring out what to do with the rest of my life, doubting my decision to major in a liberal arts field, and questioning my competency. As I sat and worked through all these things in my head, one thing became crystal clear to me. God loves me regardless!

If I fail, if I succeed, if I take a wrong turn; he loves me! His love is not conditional. Even when I sin, he loves me. Granted, he hates the sin, but he LOVES me! To God, who I am has nothing to do with what I’ve achieved, where I’ve been, or where I’m going. He’s the one who created me in the first place. He loved every aspect of what he was putting together when he made me. And he sent his son to make sure that my sins wouldn’t ever separate me from his love.

No one else can love me that way. No one.

13 When you were spiritually dead because of your sins and because you were not free from the power of your sinful self, God made you alive with Christ, and he forgave all our sins. 14 He canceled the debt, which listed all the rules we failed to follow. He took away that record with its rules and nailed it to the cross.

from Colossians 2

[New Century Version (NCV)]

Challenge: “I Just Want To Be Okay”

For anyone who has struggled through change and questioned life’s difficulties, this is a post worth reading. Essentially, the author is talking about what it looks like to be content in all situations as Paul learned to be. It may seem daunting to accept life’s uncertainties, but God will help you with that. You never have to do anything alone or on your own strength.

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

– Philippians 4:11-13

The Highest Form Of Flattery…

This is a great perspective on the impact we have as Christians. I’ve often been reminded that people watch me much more than I realize. Whether it was college roommates who were waiting for me to mess up or friends who have apologized for cursing in front of me; I’ve come to recognize that the way I live my life is noticed. So, as followers of Christ, are we trying to live a life that reflects God’s love? Because truly, we lead by example.

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

Youth Ministry Incognito

fake lapto

There are a lot of blogs, books, and other media out there on how to be an effective youth pastor. They range in advice from how to set up a volunteer base, to how to teach lessons, all the way to how to ask someone to leave your ministry (yeah, I know, right?). But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my tenure as a youth worker that can help absolutely anyone in there ministry it’s this:

Be the person you want your students to be.

Are you encouraging them to pray more? Then you should be praying more, a LOT more.
Asking them to study the bible? How apparent is your study?
Want them to get involved with church and its ministries? How involved are you?

People (and especially minors) are incredibly well taught by example. This is why their parents will always be one of the biggest influences…

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God Gave Me a Break (Another look at burnout)

The US packaging

Do you know what God did for me today? He literally gave me a break.

This week I decided to attend a nondenominational church I often visit, especially because I knew the pastor would be talking about marriage. I left having connected with the Holy Spirit and gained some food for thought about relationships. I then headed to my home church to catch part of service and most importantly, to teach my Sunday School class.

All was going as planned until I rounded up the teenage boys who comprise my class. As I waited for the last two to come out of the sanctuary and head upstairs, I found that no one was in the classroom. When I looked back, the other two had also disappeared. I spent a good 10-15 minutes searching the entire church twice and even the parking lot, only managing to find one of my 6-7 students.

Giving up the search, I headed back to my classroom defeated and I decided to pray. I’ve been challenged quite a lot through this class; whether it be with my students’ questions or personal feelings of failure. There have been many times I’ve come home feeling rejected by my students’ lack of interest that day. I’ve often questioned whether I was the right person to be teaching and whether I’d correctly read God’s will for me.

I want to share my prayer from this afternoon:

Father, today my students literally hid from me in order to not go to class. A part of me is hurt by that but then…I shouldn’t take it personally.

Father, at times like these I wonder if this is really what you’ve called me to. How capable am I really? But I know you don’t need me to help these kids understand you. I only need to be willing and you’ll take care of the rest. So, I put these kids in your hands and ask you to bless them with a keen interest to know and love you. Open their hearts to a deep understanding of your love. Draw them into strong personal relationships with you. Let their lives be centered on you and you alone. Help them turn to you and rely on you. Let them know that only you can provide the fulfillment they seek.

Father, please use me as you see fit. Be with me and guide me and bless me in this ministry you’ve given me. Encourage me, Father, and help me be heartened. In your name I pray, Amen.

The one thing that guarantees burnout is the fear that whatever you’re doing has been useless or is not appreciated. More than anything, that is what drains me of the desire to continue. However, what I thought of today was the post I put up earlier this week, especially this quote – “Take the time to be fed so that you can effectively feed others.”.

I re-read that post and I realized that today, God allowed me to take the time to be fed through the morning sermon and through the fellowship of friends at my home church.

Yes, I feel discouraged by what happened today but maybe God wanted me to take a break. And in that case, it just makes me more capable to “effectively feed others”.

Also, I may not have held class today, but I did have the opportunity to pray for my students and that is probably the most powerful thing I will ever do for them.

What is burnout?

“Take the time to be fed so that you can effectively feed others.” For those of us involved in any sort of ministry, we can all identify with the concept of “burnout”. It’s especially true when we’re in a situation where there isn’t a good support system or we’re working in an organization that isn’t very organized.

For me, burnout is also strongly related to time and the investment of time. Because my ministry is through Sunday School and Youth Group as a volunteer, I have to make sure that I take the time to rest and refill regardless of my work, school, and social commitments. Otherwise, I’m not really doing justice to the calling God has given me. Take a look at the wisdom of this post to read more.

Youth Ministry Incognito

burnout0

You seem to hear it everywhere.  Youth Ministry is one of the top burn out jobs in ministry.  I don’t know about you, but when I heard that early in my ministry I thought burnout was this explosion that happened and you up and quit.  Things would be going just okay and one day, BAM!, you’d be done.  But the longer I’ve been in ministry, the more I realize just how gradual a process burnout can truly be.

The sad part about burnout in ministry is that it starts on your first day of ministry.  All ministers are slowly ‘burning out’ constantly.  This is why I don’t like the term burnout.   A slow burnout process makes me think of a candle; the problem with that is it’s hard to add to a candle, so when it’s gone it’s gone.  I prefer to think of it as being ‘dipped out’…

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