Monday, January 31, 2011

White Out

If you live in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, or pretty much anywhere except for California, Texas, and Arizona, you may have experienced a winter white-out. You know how it goes: there is so much snow falling from the sky and so much snow blowing parallel to the ground that you can't see a thing. Like the road in front of you or the house across the street. This can be rather frightening at times.

I was thinking about this concept yesterday as Jordan and I were cross-country skiing. The freshly falling snow beckoned me outdoors, and I drug my wonderful husband along with. It was pretty windy out yesterday, and at times, I had a hard time distinguishing the snow on the ground from the snow in the sky; I had a hard time keeping my skis in the previous skiers tracks because I couldn't see them.

As I thought, "Whoa! White out!", I was reminded of the wonderful invention that white out it is. Think about it: you make a mistake while hand-writing something in pen. Don't start over! Just use that handy-dandy white out stick to make the mistake disappear. Covered up. Magic.

In life, we make a lot of mistakes. We're born sinners and we sin on a daily basis. No amount of white out could erase them or make them disappear - only Jesus can do that. And aren't you grateful that Jesus doesn't just "white out" our sins, but that He completely wipes them out? Though our sins grieve the LORD, He doesn't hold on to them forever or hold them against us when we repent and turn to Him. In Jeremiah, the LORD called out to Israel, who had abandoned Him for dead, worthless idols to come back to Him:

"'Return, faithless Israel,' declares the LORD; 'I will not look upon you in anger. For I am gracious,' declares the LORD; 'I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your iniquity, that you have transgressed against the LORD your God . . . '" - Jeremiah 3:12-13

Yes, we sin. We sin so much and feel so unworthy. But when we repent and return to the LORD, we are the only ones who remember our sins.

"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." - Psalm 103:12

"He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." - Micah 7:19

Praise Jesus!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Be A Window

"Help me spread Your fragrance where ever I go. Flood my soul with Your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly, that my life may be only a radiance of Yours. Shine through me, and be so in me that every soul I know would feel Your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me, but only You."

These are the lyrics to a song that the Concert Choir at AFLBS is singing this year and I haven't been able to get the words out of my head. It is based on a prayer from Mother Theresa, a missionary to India in the mid-1900s. The text that I italicized has especially stood out to me lately, as our director Mr. Hanson once heard-- we are to be windows for the Lord, not mirrors.

That really made me think as to what the purpose of a window as opposed to that of a mirror. Webster's defines them as following:
  • Mirror: something that gives a true representation
  • Window: opening ... for admission of light and air
To think of it in those terms gave me a different perspective. I do want to represent Christ on this earth, but how much more should our lives display Christ? Think of a clean window with light shining through it--do you notice the window or the light? Your answer, of course, is the light. If we are acting as a window for the Lord, people will notice God instead of us. What an amazing witness that would be!
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." --Matthew 5:14-16

Where does our light come from? In ourselves we cannot produce light-- we have nothing good in ourselves. The light that shines through us is Christ--let HIM shine through you today. So that people will look up and see no longer you, but Christ. This is my prayer today, I pray that it would be your's as well.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Faith like Job

Hey guys
I wasn't sure what I wanted to write about today, but I think my reading lately is going to take me sort of where I was hoping to go. I've been in the book of Job for the last few days. It's kind of a depressing book, especially the first few chapters. We learn that Job has been incredibly blessed - he has all kinds of land and livestock - and that life is just really good in general for him. Satan wants God to see that if he takes those things away from Job, that Job will turn away from God. So God allows Satan to take everything away from him - family included. However, Job does not respond as Satan expected. Job does get upset but he keeps his faith in God and refuses to blame Him for it.
We need to be more like Job. God blesses each and every one of us; however, sometimes bad things happen. What we can't do is blame God; He has our best interests at heart. Sometimes He works in funny ways, but we need to remember, as in Romans 8:28, that "in all things God works for the good of those who love him," and that even if we can't see the direction He's going to take things, it doesn't mean He's not going to take it in a direction that will ultimately benefit us. Next time things seem hard for you, or like you got the short straw, remember Romans 8:28 and just keep trusting in God.

P.S. I have a prayer request for everyone. Zach Gabbard, a basketball player from Perham (MN), collapsed at a basketball game a little over a week ago. He went unconscious and his heart stopped for a while as well. After some treatment at Sanford in Fargo, he stabilized enough to be transferred to the U of MN Medical Center in Minneapolis. He's still in a coma and doctors are unsure what the problem is. Please keep him, his family, and his doctors in your prayers.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Love Limited by Labels?

PREFACE - In no way is this post meant to be taken as an attack on any individual or group of individuals. The sole reason for writing this comes from my interaction with, study of, and continual return to life changing truth found in God's Word. It is through His word that the Holy Spirit communicates with those who believe in Christ, crucified, buried, and resurrected; those the world calls "Christians." These are thoughts in process, being molded by my Maker. -PREFACE

As a youngster I grew up attending the same church my parents attended. I found this building familiar. The people I interacted with at this church became like family. Reminiscing on my formative years would be incomplete without some mention of this local church body. It was through the countless hours sitting on pews, couches, and chairs, listening to preaching and teaching that God began His transformational work in my heart. Primarily, three men in this building shared God's word with me; Steve, Paul, and Matt. Three distinctly different men, shared one distinctly definitive message. My sin separates me from God, earning me death. God lived on earth without sin, died on a cross for my sin, and rose victorious from the dead three days later. This message is often referred to as the Gospel, Good News, or God's Word. Without doubt, it is soul saving and life changing.

This church I grew up attending is called Faith Church (AFLC) and is in Kalispell, MT. It's the part in parentheses that God has me thinking about lately. After attending the Association Free Lutheran Bible School, I now have a much better understanding of the definitive letters found within the parentheses. While my life continues to be transformed by God, I see fellow believers struggling to live the life they believe God is calling them to live. That life seems confined by the parentheses. The parentheses hold on to and remember our past, for better or worse. It is human differences labeling our transformed realities.

Within the segment of the body of Christ that holds to the teachings of Mr. Martin Luther, there are an overwhelming number of divisions. A quick search on the internet finds these labels attached to different Lutheran churches in North America: AALC, ACLC, ALCA, AFLC, ALCC, ARC, CALC, CLA, CLBA, CLC, CLC, Eielsen Synod, ELCA, ELCIC, ELCM, ELDoNA, ELF, ELS, EELK, GCEPC, ILC, ILF, LLC, LELCA, LCC, LCCF, LCMC, LCMS, LMS-USA, LCR, LCS, NALC, OLCC, Protestant Conference, ULMA, WELS, WCLA.

These are only the folks following Jesus who hold to Luther's teachings. What about our brothers and sisters following Jesus who call themselves Baptists, Presbyterians, Quakers, Episcopalians, Anglicans, Catholics, Greek Orthodox, or Protestants? How many labels are attached within these camps of Christian thought? A seemingly endless study of what is dividing Christians could be done. At this point, you may be wondering: What is he getting at?

During my third year of post secondary education, I found myself in Plymouth, MN studying the Bible. Days in the library were spent digging into the depths of what Steve, Paul, and Matt taught me years before. Conversations with teachers, friends, and family confirmed my conviction: my life was changed by Jesus Christ.

I did not convert to a label found in the parentheses on the sign at my church. My actions are not filtered the guiding principles of a denomination. It is God in me that has shaped my identity. During my studies, the book of John has shaped my life significantly. In the thirteenth chapter, Jesus tells his followers "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." This is why I am writing today.

Going into the world to make disciples of Jesus Christ is only possible by loving the way that Jesus loved us. Unconditionally showing unconditional love in a conditional world is how Jesus loved all people. Too often our focus is on what differences we find amongst those who are most like us; those who are following Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. By labeling our lives, we limit our love.

God looks at my life through a lens that is tinted red by the blood of Jesus. He sees a sinner saved by faith in Him. On the guest list to get into His party, the name Timothy James Herset (with nothing in parentheses) is written.

For I will YET praise Him!

I came across a verse yesterday in Psalm 43 that I've been dwelling on.

Psalm 43

1 Vindicate me, my God,
and plead my cause
against an unfaithful nation.
Rescue me from those who are
deceitful and wicked.
2 You are God my stronghold.
Why have you rejected me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?
3 Send me your light and your faithful care,
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy mountain,
to the place where you dwell.
4 Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God, my joy and my delight.
I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

Something about verse 5 resonates with me. It's easy to be downcast. It's easy to dwell on our troubles. But we have hope and joy and delight in the Lord. Oooooo He is so good to us! "For I will YET praise Him!" When I start to dwell on the Lord, He turns my sadness into joy indescribable and I want to shout from the mountain tops because I'm so blessed. I feel filled to the brim with the goodness of the Lord. My cup runneth over. 

Psalm 23:5-6

5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD

My cup overflows. I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever! God is soooo good! Ooooo He is so good! 

God is good. Put your hope in God.

Blessings on your week!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Feasts of the Lord

I have been doing a major study on the Feasts of the Lord the past couple of weeks and I've got to say that a new portal of understanding has been opened up to me. I've never really thought about the Feasts of the Lord very much before. I remember going through a small study of them about six or seven years ago, but all that I really remember from it was that they are a representative of our spiritual lives and that Christ was our Passover Lamb and that he fulfilled them all. What that really meant though, I had no idea. Well, I was led to do this study quite clearly by the Lord and it has become one of the largest blessings of my life in terms of understanding some of the things of Scripture and I hope that this post can be to you as well, and might even lead you into more study of the Feasts of the Lord.

In my mind I've always thought of the feasts as something that were simply a Jewish thing that God commanded them to do and to be completely honest, I didn't even know what all of them were. I had heard of Passover and Hanukkah and that is about where my understanding of them ended. It turns out that Hanukkah isn't even a feast or celebration instituted by God, though it is still one that ought to be celebrated and can be traced back to Biblical roots. The goal here isn't to explain every feast in detail, but to simply give an overview of what the feasts are and how understanding them is a blessing to us.

There are actually 7 feasts that were instituted by God, and the order of their calendar dates and how they are to be celebrated is found in Leviticus 23. Now, to begin with, the word feast is not all that accurate of a translation for this Hebrew word. The word in Hebrew is "moed" and it literally means an appointed time, such as a time or season, or a signal. Thus the word feast is an appointed time by God for the people to come together to meet with Him. The Scriptures call this time a "holy assembly" or "convocation" and those words taken from the Hebrew word "migrate," which means something called out, such as a public meeting. It could also be thought of or translated as a dress rehearsal. All the meanings put together really sum up what a Feast of the Lord is. They were, and are, set apart times throughout the Hebrew religious year that God calls the people together to worship Him, hear from Him, and to practice or prepare for something that is, or was, yet to come. They are in all reality not the feasts of the Jews, though they were given specifically to them, but the feasts of the Lord and they are not meant to be put to an end but they will continue on for ever and ever throughout their (the Hebrews') generations. (Leviticus 23:2,4; Exodus 12:14)

The feasts can be divided up into two categories, the Spring Feasts and the Fall Feasts. The Spring Feasts begin with Passover on the 14 day of the Hebrew month of Nisan/Abib (March/April) and end with the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost fifty days after the Feast of Firstfruits which is the day after the first day of the Feast of Unleavened bread, which is a Sabbath. So, on the calendar they would look like this. Passover: Nisan 14, the Feast of Unleavened Bread: Nisan 15-21, the Feast of Firstfruits: Nisan 16, The Feast of Weeks: Sivan (May/June) 6. The Fall Feasts begin with the Feast of Trumpets on Tishri (September/October) 1, followed by the Day of Atonement on Tishri 10, and end with the Feast of Tabernacles/Booths on Tishri 15, which lasts for 7 days and is then followed by a Sabbath day.

Now, the fascinating thing about all of these feasts is that they are appointed by God for His people to meet with Him, and more than that, they were and are, a dress rehearsal or a shadow of things that were and are yet to come, meaning Christ, the Messiah. All of the feasts point toward the reality of spiritual truths and were quite literally fulfilled, at least the first four as of yet, by Jesus. They were/are prophetic times (signal) what God wanted and wants to do in our lives spiritually and ultimately physically in this world through the Messiah.

You may be wondering why I keep using phrases such as "were/are" in some of my sentences, and it is because only the first four, the Spring Feasts, have been fulfilled by Christ. Every detail was fulfilled down to the very hour and day upon which certain things were to happen during the feasts was fulfilled by Christ during his three year ministry and ultimately every detail will be fulfilled in the final three, the Fall Feasts in the days yet to come. The book of Revelation makes no sense until we come to better understand the final three Feasts of the Lord that Jesus has yet to fulfill.

I have just touched the tip of the iceberg with my studies, but I would encourage any of you out there that are led to get involved in some study of this. There are many books out there and one website that I have found extremely helpful is, By clicking on the dvd's you can listen to each of them for free and each one has a number of pages of notes along with it. It's super awesome.

You may wonder, "Well, what's the purpose of this?" Well, I've wondered the same thing, and though there are maybe many answers and they may be different is some ways for us all, there are at least two that come to my mind that are common to us all. One, it shows God's great love for us in that He gives us these times to come to Him, concentrated on Him and better understand His times and ways. Two, we live in dangerous times and as the end of the age comes closer and closer, looming like a a dark shadow, it need not be that for us, for we are children of the day, and we need not to walk as children of the night. God has given us understanding that has been lost to some degree because we have lost touch with some of the truths of His Word and He is and has been drawing many back to them and their is blessing for us in our learning of them.

Be blessed!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Practically Speaking

Over the past six months, the Lord has really been revealing to me the practicality of living as a believer. Not our church attendance or our participation in Bible studies. Not even our enrollment at AFLBS or other Christian colleges. Not just being involved in children's ministries or youth group events.

Practically living out the Gospel by giving food to those who are hungry. By giving water to those who are thirsty and clothes to those who have none. By giving love to those who have never felt loved before. By listening to those whom others turn from. This are the things which Jesus required . . . they are things which the Lord Himself did.

"'Is this not the fast which I choose, to loosen the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bonds of the yoke, and to let the oppressed go free and break every yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into the house; when you see the naked, to cover him; and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?" (Isaiah 58:6-7)

I pray that I will never be so involved in church activities, expecting the people to come into us that I miss those outside the church walls, those who are crying out for Jesus. "'It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.'" (Mark 2:17)

The problem is I don't exactly know how I should be carrying this out . . . I feel the Lord's call for the homeless, afflicted, and poor. I guess this is the part where I wait on Him who has greater thoughts and plans than I could ever imagine (Isaiah 55:8-9).

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Look to Him.

I don't know about you, but I love hymns. The tunes are rather catchy and get stuck in my head quite often, but it's the Scripture based text that truly gets to me. I try to have a "hymn of the day" every morning to start off with, so I thought I'd share mine with you today.

"Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus"-- #526 in the Ambassador Hymnal.
"There's light for a look at the Savior, and life more abundant and free!"
My pastor used a sermon illustration last week that really touched me. The gist of it was that a man would put some sort of food in front of his dog and wouldn't allow the dog to eat it until he gave the okay. In order to refrain from this temptation, the dog kept his eyes on his master the entire time.

Do we do that? Do I do that? When I'm faced with temptation, the only source of strength I will find to fight against it is in the eyes of my Master. But how easy is it to look at the food placed in front of us? Why wouldn't we want to look at it--it's desirable and we want it.

Friends, I encourage you to look into the eyes of our Lord and Master today. We're faced with decisions all of the time and you won't find comfort anywhere other than God.
"Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God" --Hebrews 12:2

Friday, January 21, 2011

loyalty and knowledge

"For I delight in loyalty
rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God
rather than burnt offerings."
I was reading these verses the other day in Hosea, and it could do nothing other than pierce my heart. Earlier before this verse, The Israelites are "repenting" to the LORD, but God knew their hearts, and that even though they said it, they were not loyal in saying it. "For your loyalty is like a morning cloud and like the dew which goes away early."

I couldn't help but think how loyal I am to God. I say that I am...I ask for repentance, but does my heart truly grieve over my sin? Do I try my best to not sin, or do I shrug it off, and ask for fogivness later?

God delights in loyalty rather than sacrifice. Before we give our lives to Him, and do service, before we live for Him, He wants us to have a loyal relationship with Him - He wants us to be real with Him. He also delights in knowledge of Him rather than burnt offerings. Before anything in life, what delights God is a loyal heart that knows Him. Is it my passion to please my Father, or to please those around me who see what I do, but do not see my heart?

Lord, give your people the passion to be loyal to you, and to want to know you more!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Seize Tomorrow Today

A productive day makes me feel strong. Efficiently using my time is like running for miles, maintaining the pace I've been training to sustain for the big race. For the longest time it seemed like my feeble attempts at organizing my life were not making any difference. A dude with less hair than me, a red goatee, and great taste in music that was produced during the years near 1990 played an integral part in developing my ability to effectively and efficiently use the time God gives me. Jason Holt taught me to "SuRF" my schedule. The first time I went surfing, was salty and I wore my "Daisy Dukes," but Jason had me essentially writing onto a blank calendar the ways in which I spend my time. First and foremost, where's my Sabbath? Second, write down all of my Responsibilities. Last but not least, fill in Friends and Family. If it doesn't all fit within the week, allowing time for sleep every day, something(s) have to be cut. As I spend my days juggling school, ministry, friends, and my own time, I have hope for the future when a day is lived well. In the Bible, Jesus talks a lot about hope.

Jesus had a group of friends, less-commonly referred to as Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Now, Marky Mark was a writer, who found great joy in recording in a very detailed way, what Jesus did with his days on earth. In the thirteenth chapter of his book, Marky Mark basically quoted Jesus talking about His second coming. This is some exciting stuff here. Jesus boils it all down to the fact that only God the Father knows the day or the hour that Jesus will return to earth for the second time. But, with that being said, Jesus tells his followers to pay attention, stay awake, talking and listening to God.

As frightening as some of the details may be, Jesus' second coming is more joyful, more exciting, and something more to hope for than any of earth's pleasures. Eternity will be spent in perfection, with new bodies, at the feet of Jesus! This all leads me to one simple phrase: Carpe Mañana Today. Literally translated, this means Seize Tomorrow Today. Everyday life on earth sure is swell, but by seizing tomorrow today, I look forward to the joyful day when Christ comes back to earth and we ride up into the clouds to spend forever together.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Zombies and Superheroes

Zombies and vampires and werewolves... Oh My!

Ah those imortal monsters, painted through out time as both gruesome and charming... ok well maybe the zombies are just gruesome. My brother turned twenty-one last Sunday and threw the most awesome zombie birthday bash ever. His guests did an awesome job arriving as either zombies or survivors. A few even turned zombie through out the night. I have to admit I had a blast creating blood splattered props and dressing up as a zombie myself.

I can still remember the first time I saw "Interview with a Vampire," my introduction to vampires that sparked a fascination with the idea of such an immortal being. Although these immortal beings are not a new phenomenon they're currently a hot topic. If you take a stroll down the young adults book isle at Target you'll notice a current trend leaning towards the phenomenal, the genre of vampires (especially), zombies and werewolves tip the scale.

Then there are Superheroes. Some are given supernatural abilities by fate and others are the wealthy elite with mega sweet gadgets and gizmos to aid them in their battle against crime, villainous villains, and arch nemesis. 

Whether immortals or heroes we've long been fascinated with eternal life and super human abilities. Hmmm, I wonder why? Could it be because there is such a thing as eternal life and beings with abilities beyond those of us mere mortals?

Weren't we after all created to have an intimate and eternal relationship with our creator?

On the way home today Abandon's "Hero" was playing on the radio.

The Chorus goes like this:

There He goes - a hero
A Savior to the world
Here He stands with scars in His hands
With love He gave His life
so we could be free
The Savior of the world

Catch the whole song here:

Jesus is the ultimate Superhero who died on the cross and offers us life eternal with Him in paradise.

God's blessings on your week!

Don't forget our PASSION contest ends January 22, so be sure to comment on our blog to be entered for a chance to win a free registration to PASSION April 1-3, 2001 in Ft. Worth. See original contest blog for more details.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dragon Skin

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is, without a doubt, one of my favorite books ever written. I highly recommend that you read it. Don't watch the new movie; it doesn't due CS Lewis' masterpiece justice.

In case you're unfamiliar with The Dawn Treader, I'll give you a brief rundown. Edmund, Lucy, and their annoying brat cousin, Eustace Clarence Scrubb (what a name! "And he almost deserved it.") are brought into Narnia while King Caspian and his men are on a noble quest to discover what happened to seven faithful lords of Narnia as they sailed east and to find Aslan's country. Edmund and Lucy are, of course, ecstatic at the reality of being back in Narnia. Eustace, on the other hand, is not . . . to put it mildly. This spoiled boy who has always gotten what he wants has no way to get out of Narnia, which he so desperately wants. So, he pouts, complains, and is a real pain to all those on board the Dawn Treader.

After surviving nearly two weeks in the eye of a hurricane, the ship docks on an unknown island. There's a brief rest and meal, but then everyone sets out to repair the ship. Everyone but Eustace, that is. In short, the boy sneaks off for a nap, ends up finding a dragon's cave filled with treasure, and because of his own greedy, dragon-ish thoughts, becomes a dragon as he sleeps. This poses a real problem to everyone involved when it was time to leave the island: what were they to do about Eustace? He couldn't exactly fit on the ship, and would he be able to fly along with the ship?

Such a dilemma can only be solved by one: Aslan. During the night, the Lion leads the dragon Eustace to a pool. Before Eustace can enter for a bath, however, Aslan tells the boy-dragon that he must undress first. Three times, Eustace tries to shed his dragon layers . . . and three times, he is disappointed to find that there is yet more dragon underneath. Finally, Aslan informs Eustace that he must do it. The pain of Aslan's deep cuts hurts incredibly, but, Eustace's dragon skin is finally completely removed and he is a boy once again.

All of Eustace's efforts to get rid of his skin failed. Similarly, all of our own efforts to get rid of our sin fail. Only Aslan could remove Eustace's dragon skin. Only Jesus can remove our vile sin. The process to become a boy again was painful for Eustace; the process to shed our sinful nature and become more like Jesus will be difficult. But it will definitely be worth it!

"'Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain . . . '" (Hosea 6:1-3)

This song is written by Kendall Payne. The lyrics wonderfully capture the truth of our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ. May you be encouraged through it as I was - and may you become more like Jesus each and every day.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I Want, I Want, I Want!

I want a family.
I want to go to Africa.

Those are two of my biggest desires in life. However, I'm currently a single women living in America. Doesn't exactly match. This week in Tuesday chapel at the Association Free Lutheran Bible School (AFLBS), senior Hans Tanner spoke of the True Vine and the branches from John 15. As he described the process and need of pruning he said something that cut straight to my heart. To paraphrase, he said that sometimes God prunes us by taking away good, godly desires in order to draw us closer to Him. Specifically, he mentioned Africa and a relationship. Was he talking directly to me? I think so.

James 1 says, "Every good and perfect gift is from above". So if God is good and my desires are good, shouldn't I receive them? This used to be a legitimate question of mine--as I believe others have questioned as well-- but as I grow older I have noticed that it doesn't always work that way. Another portion of Scripture I used for my argument was Psalm 37:4 which states, "Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart". To me, this sounded like an "if-then" scenario. I could handle delighting myself in the Lord if God would give me what I wanted. Easy enough right?

Oh how wrong I was! While arguing this point of mine to a friend, he told me that the verse from the Psalms could be translated that He will make His desires become our desires. Now that scared me. I knew what I wanted, and I didn't want to want what He wants! Sound a little silly? Those were honestly my thoughts though.

So while my desires have not changed, I know that God is able to surpass my every wish. And He is able to surpass your's as well. Draw near to God, that's exactly what He wants of you right now.

Friday, January 14, 2011

One Thing Necessary

Don't people just drive you crazy sometimes? Or you wish they would just change there ways? Maybe there is so much on your list of things to do everyday, or you are involved in ministry, and you are just so overwhelmed by the amount. But you are doing it for Jesus, right? Or maybe the songs at church aren't as upbeat as you like. Maybe kids at school keep teasing you about being a Christian. There are many things that we encounter during the day, whether it be other people, things to do, or a heavy weight on our shoulders called Worry.

Earlier this week I was looking at Luke 10, and God drove several words right into my heart that crumbled the walls around me, and left me with out any defenses before Him. It was the story of Martha and Mary welcoming Jesus into their home. Martha was distracted with preparations, and wanted help from her sister Mary, who was sitting and doing nothing (in her eyes). Complaining to Jesus about this, Jesus hits the nail on the head, and responds in this way:

"Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42)

After reading this section, I knew that if I replaced Martha's name with my own, it would be true of me as well. I have welcomed Jesus into my life, given it into His hands to guide as I follow Him - I am committed to live for Him. The voices of this world say "good enough! Now get busy! Then you will have much success!" And I am distracted with preparations of sharing Jesus to others, and even by doing them. I am distracted by other people who drive me crazy, or who I wish I could be more like others. I let others take the rudder of my life and I fill up my life with things that I think are necessary. But in God's eyes, I am just worried and bothered by so many things - things that don't even matter without Jesus. I see that I am a Martha.

But what was Mary doing? She was not sitting and doing nothing, but sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him! Jesus said that this was THE ONE THING NECESSARY. It isn't necessary to worry or be bothered by things. It isn't necessary to keep your schedule so full you overlap. The only thing necessary is to be with Jesus - to sit at His feet and listen to Him.

But that isn't telling others about Jesus? That isn't "going and making disciples." How can that be the one thing necessary?

In this passage, Jesus is emphasizing the importance of the Greatest Commandment - to love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And when you do this - when you sit at Jesus' feet and listen to Him and fall in love with Him every day, everything else falls into place. We are able to share about Him to others. Our busy lives are accomplished with more energy and in it all, Christ's love can't help but spill out of us, because we are full of Him.

God brought several questions to me to honestly answer Him: "Are you living with Christ, rather than just for Him? Are you willing to do the one thing necessary?" Neither He or I were satisfied with my answers, but only by His strength can come before Him, sit at His feet, listen, and am filled with Him. My prayer is that God would mold me into a "Mary" who can't help but just sit at His feet. O, Jesus give me that passion.

Strive for the "one thing necessary," and watch Christ work in your life. I can't wait to see what He will do in mine!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Perception of Perspectives

Snow flakes falling from the sky produce different reactions in different people. Elderly people cringe and complain. Kids laugh and lap up falling flakes with outstretched tongues. Drivers in the city dread the traffic jams that come as a result. Skiers rejoice and wake up earlier than snowplow drivers, cramming cold feet into plastic prisons, waiting for first chair. Pedestrians slip and slide, cursing the ground they walk upon. Maintenance men fire up diesel engines, put plows on pickups, and shoulder shovels like an infantry, attacking the white gold that has covered the driveways and sidewalks on their beloved territory.

Perspectives seem right when they are your own, but looking at things from another point of view can also benefit you. When Grandpa sees the joy on the face of Suzy, his frustration becomes in line with her fun. The commute home from work may seem like it takes forever, but it is providing work for road crews who need to put food on the table. Looking at life with someone else's set of eyes is like walking a mile in another man's shoes.

One day, long ago, a group of friends went for a weekend trip away from their home town. Minnesotans like to "Go Up North" for the weekend and that's because it's biblical. Jesus and his disciples are documented doing that same thing in Mark 8. While walking to a place where people worshiped many false gods, Jesus asked his buddies "Who do people say I am?" They told him what the masses have been mumbling; some think Jesus is John the Baptist, others suggest he may be Elijah, and there are folks who thought he was simply a prophet. Then a guy by the name of Pete (who may have been the "teacher's pet") chimes in and says to Jesus, "You are the Messiah." He was correct.

Jesus goes on to tell his friends that he is going to suffer a lot of brutal abuse, be rejected by the people in the church they respect the most, and then he would die. If that's not shocking enough to hear, he tells them that he will come back from the dead three days later. Now, good guy Pete pulls Jesus aside, telling his teacher not to talk all crazy like that. Jesus responds by saying something strong, powerful, and perfect; "Get behind me Satan! You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from Gods."

These were words that I needed to hear today. After receiving the news that an elderly couple perished when their house burned down the other night, I struggled to see things from God's eyes. Memories from my childhood spending afternoons at that home flooded my mind. Their grandchildren were my friends from Sunday School, to confirmation, through youth group, and now we catch up when we are in the same place on rare occasions. Losing loved ones is not something we look forward to, it hurts, it brings memories back to the present, and it puts questions in my mind.

As God walks with us through times like these, His hope is that we look at life the way He does. Eternity knows no time constraints. God is eternal and offers eternal life to all of us. In John 17: 3 we see that eternal life is to know God and Jesus Christ who was sent to earth. The Holy Spirit helps us know our Father, walk down dark roads with our Friend, and be held in the embrace of God Almighty.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

He Knows Me

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13

The Lord told me to buy a pair of shoes the other day. You may think that sounds ridiculous, but it's the truth.

He's been teaching me a lot about what it means to be His beloved (as we all are) and so He sent me on this quest to buy a pair of shoes. I even knew just where to go, but yesterday I didn't go where He wanted me to go and didn't find anything that was even close to what I was looking for. Today though I went where I knew I needed to go. The whole time I was there, as well as yesterday, I had this idea in my mind of what the perfect pair of shoes would look like for me. As I looked though I sensed the Lord was telling me to be open to something else that He might bring along. I was like "Ok, but who knows what that will be."

Anyway, I saw this pair of shoes and as soon as I saw them I was like, "Those are pretty cool, I'm going to try those on." Now they weren't exactly like the pair of shoes that I had in mind but they ended up fitting well and were a really good deal. I put them back on the shelf and the Lord said, "Be open to something else." I picked them up again and ended up buying them. As I was walking out the door, I remembered something that I had prayed about a few weeks before, about seeing a certain pair of shoes and saying "Man, I sure would like to have something like those someday, Lord." Well, it turns out the shoes that I bought are shaped more or less like the shoe that I saw then, but I like these even better.

Now, you may be asking yourself why on earth I am telling you this story about a pair of shoes. Well, the answer is simple. It really doesn't have anything to do with the pair of shoes. I honestly could care less about the shoes, but they are what I expected them to be. A tangible reminder of God's great love for me. He knows me better than I know myself, for He knit me together in my mother's womb. My frame was not hidden from Him and He knew my unformed substance and all the days that were written before me before I was even born (see Psalm 139 for even more details of how He knows us).

He's been trying to pound this sense of being my beloved into my head, no, more into my heart for a long time, but I couldn't really grasp it. Today I grasped it. He knows me better than I know myself. He knows when I rise and when I sit. He perceives my thoughts from afar. We serve a great and mighty God who has taken the time to specifically knit us together. Think about that. Knit us together. That means that He was hands on involved. Not just some distant deity saying, "Be born" and out we popped. No, He put us together. Our eyes are blue or gold (are there gold eyes?) or green because He wanted them to be. We are right or left handed or ambidextrous because He wanted them to be, and not only that, but He rejoices over us with singing.

We serve a great and awesome God who loves us so much, and that reality was reinforced to me today. Yes, merely with a pair of shoes, but with a pair of shoes that were more than what I could have imagined myself owning, and He who knows me well directed me to them.

Again, it's not about the shoes, but they do leave me in awestruck wonder of how beloved we are to Him.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Living Water

Did I ever tell you about our youth and family missions trip that took place the first weekend in December? It was an amazing weekend - despite the weather that caused our group of four to leave at three in the morning and the collapse of the Metrodome.

Our weekend in Minneapolis consisted of a variety of activities: helping with the For Him ministry outreach to kids in the Projects, a night of ministry with a church in Frogtown, packing Manna Packs for Feed My Starving Children, and working at the Operation Christmas Child Warehouse. The weekend was extremely impacting for me, especially some of the things we were told about children in developing countries, such as Uganda and Haiti, while serving at Feed My Starving Children. Things like:
  • Children who eat rocks at night in order to trick their bellies into thinking they are full.
  • A little girl who had surgery on her stomach; only to find that there were eight pounds of stones in her stomach.
  • Mother who buy Dirt Biscuits in the marketplace - a mixture of mud, water, salt and shortening. Another method to trick their children's stomachs into thinking they are full.
It's shocking and sobering, isn't it? Not to mention the hurt in our country, in our own cities - places that we tend to avoid, calling them "sketchy". While working with the For Him ministry leaders, they informed us that many of these children have parents who drink all day, collect their welfare checks, and continue to drink. These kids know no love, let alone the love of Jesus Christ.

The other day, I read this verse from the book of Isaiah. As I read it, I couldn't help but think about those who are hurting right here in Beulah, in Minneapolis, in Haiti, in Uganda.
"The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst." (Isaiah 41:17a)
We are surrounded by starving and thirsty people - but their hunger and thirst runs deeper than the physical realm. That verse in Isaiah continues on, where the Lord proclaims that "'I, the LORD, will answer them Myself, as the God of Israel I will not forsake them.'" (Isaiah 41:17b) Praise the LORD! Where we can only temporarily help to satisfy the physical need, Jesus has come to give the ultimate, the purest, the realest, water man shall ever need - "'Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.'" (John 4:14)

Though it is the LORD who provides that living water, we must be willing to share the joyous news the the afflicted and needy around us. Are you willing? Are you serving? May the Lord find us all to be His faithful servants.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Day By Day

I enjoy having set plans. If something goes wrong in my plans I tend to get rather flustered. However, I hate making decisions. These two don't necessarily go together, as one would need to make a decision in order to have plans to follow.

Do you ever feel like life is going too fast and suddenly the world is telling you that you've grown up? Being a little kid again sounds glorious, to have no worries in the world. Now everything seems to worry me-- money, where I'm going to school, jobs, everything!

The hymn "Day by Day" has seemed to have a common theme this past week for me, as it was sung for special music at Chapel this week and one of the hymns at church this morning. As I was driving to church I was trying to figure out my life and all the plans that are running around in my head, but unable to do so because I loathe making decisions. It finally hit me in church that God calls us to live for Him day by day. My sister would always tell me that God laughs at me when I try to plan my life. He must find me rather amusing then!

James 4 reads, "You do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that". How often do we make our plans and throw a tantrum when things seem to go against our will? I know I do quite frequently. But we are called to give our requests to God, all of our plans and hopes for the future--He knows what to do with them.

I want to leave you with the first verse from that hymn today. As you go about your week, remember that following God is a daily relationship and God gives us the power to meet all of our needs for that day.

Day by day, and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He, whose heart is kind beyond all measure,
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


The past few weeks have allowed me to value my vacation and realize the reality of God's redemptive work in my life. For a while at the end of last semester, it felt like I was riding a horse while hanging by one stirrup, slamming my head into the dirt, using all my energy to simply survive.

Responsibility is sometimes hard to handle. Lack of responsibility sometimes makes me feel lazy. The past couple weeks have been a balance of the two, really bringing me back to a place where I am ready to get back on the horse. Friends and family, skiing and sleeping, laughing and learning, writing and reading, and simply being loved have got me back in the saddle of a wild, buckin' horse. Let's rodeo!

With the beginning of a new year comes resolutions, goals, and change. I have resolved to set some goals that will help me change. That sounds vague, but it's true and I hope it sticks with you.

Who is going to guide your everyday life?
What do you want God to change in your attitudes?
When will you find time to sit in silence, listening to God?
Where does God want you to go in life?
Why are you alive today?
How do you want to share Christ's love with someone right now?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Follow Him

Living out in western North Dakota has its many benefits, such as: a fantastic view of the endless miles ahead of you, a large man-made lake with a disputable name pronunciation and learning to walk crooked in order to brace yourself against the wind. But, it also has it's downfalls, especially when your family lives eight hours away, and your husband's family lives thirteen hours away.

Often times, after a trip at home, or up to the Langness' in Michigan, I start thinking things like, "Man! It'd be so nice to live closer to them . . . if we lived somewhere in the middle of Sioux Falls or Ishpeming; or if we lived pert near close one of them - that would be so wonderful." It's not common for me to dream up of a day when Jordan and I will pack up the ministry in Beulah and head farther east - closer to family.

It's at times like these that I am most struck by Jesus' words in Matthew 10 -

"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me." (vs.37-38)

It's easy for me to want to live closer to family - but I have to remember that as servants of Christ, Jordan and I will follow the Lord wherever He calls us . . . and that might even be farther from "home".

Am I willing to give up my selfish desires for the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ? I pray that I am willing to go wherever the Lord leads.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Helplessness without Christ

Hi there everybody! I'm filling in for Kate this week as she's busy sunbathing in California! I didn't have a lot of time to prepare something so I thought I'd just share with you a little of whats been going on this Christmas season and what God has been teaching me through it!

James 1:27 says: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (NIV)

I've always looked on this verse and felt an undeniable calling in my life to help those that are forgotten. So you can imagine my excitement when my parents told me that over Christmas break this year we'd be hosting a 9 year old orphan girl from Ukraine, and later that they were hoping to adopt her and her 2 year old brother. We picked her up from the airport and within hours I was hooked! She was the sweetest, most charming girl, with a sense of humor and a really loud voice. She fit right in. But, like any 9 year old would, she began to get on my nerves. The added noise, the language barrier, and the random outbursts of anger that can be expected from any child who has never had a family before began to drive me over the edge. I'm ashamed to say that I began to resent her being in my house. MY house, disrupting MY Christmas time and being rude to MY mom. Can you imagine any more selfish words?

After a day of feeling this way the Holy Spirit's conviction was STRONG to say the least. But instead of doing something about it I chose to sit on my feelings for another day or two. It wasn't until I recognized that these feelings were related to my sin that I brought it before God. This was a problem of my selfish nature. Trying to correct it on my own was doing nothing! So I began to pray. The night I began praying I came home from work and walked into my room (that I've been sharing with the girl) and sort of threw my stuff on the floor. I turned around and on her bed, there sat Anya, just looking at me and smiling right before she burst out something that sounded like "BEEYEKAH!" which is how she says my name and gave me a huge hug as she continued her rant of words I didn't understand. It was as if God was saying "Hey, look what I can do when you let me."

So, the point of all of this is that without letting God in I was helpless, crabby and selfish. I was allowing myself to become "polluted by the world" in their selfish ways of thinking. With him I have joy! I have happiness, and I have a new sister. Who I love!

So I challenge you, in all situations where you might be keeping God an arms length away, to let him in. Whatever you're giving up to let God in is so trivial and meaningless compared to the all surpassing joy and peace that comes with knowing Jesus Christ.

I hope you all have a great week!


Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year

Hey guys
Hope you all had a good New Years Eve! Resolutions are a big part of welcoming the new year for many people. Often broken and ridiculed, they can also be a good excuse for moving forward and improving yourself in many aspects of life. I'd like to encourage everyone to make (and keep) one resolution dealing with a spiritual aspect of your life. A couple things that come to mind include being more consistent with daily devotions and giving time to help the less fortunate. Whatever it is you decide to improve, give it a shot. Make sure you do it consistently for a couple weeks, and soon enough it will become something you do out of habit. Good luck!