the resurrection changes everything

Tonight at youth group, we were talking about the resurrection and how the resurrection changes things. We touched on four things that Jesus’ resurrections changes- our past, our future, our purpose, and our identity. We touched on all four of these points for a decent amount of time, until one of my girls brought up identity, and how she felt that she wasn’t good enough, or good at anything. This is something that I can wholeheartedly relate to often, and I bet many of you may be able to relate to as well.

It’s hard somedays to recognize what we are good at, what we thrive in, what we are here for. Her mentioning her identity flaws got the ball rolling of how untrue that statement she said about herself is. Lots of conversation began flying around the room we were sitting in, and at first I just observed this conversation and listened to what more of the girls and the other leaders had to say. I say, and listened and thought, and then I finally spoke up and said something along these lines:

Identity. Our society loves to tell us that we have to be good at certain things, that we have to thrive at something to be considered good enough, or important, that we have to be a certain way to be accepted. But the voices that are yelling that at us are so incredibly wrong. We get caught up and buy into this lie that our identity is in what we say and what we do. That our identity is in how good we are at something. That it i sin what we have to offer, and if what we have to offer is nothing or us not good enough, then we are worthless. No. This is so wrong. Our identity in Christ has nothing to do with performance. Our identity in Christ has nothing to do with being good at singing, or dancing, or encouraging other, it has nothing to do with what you look like, or if you are the most popular person at school, it has nothing to do with works, at all. Our identity in Christ is found in the pure fact that Jesus died for us. That He died for us because we are worth it. Not because we did anything, but because He loves us.

Guys, our identity in Christ has nothing to do with performance. You are called loved. You are called worthy. You are called beautiful. You are called enough. You are called brave. You are called child. You are called perfect— none of this has to do with anything you have done, can do, or will do. None of this is because of your works. It isn’t because of who you know, how you act, where you’ve been, where you are, or where you’re going. No, it isn’t because of any of these things, but instead it is because of the resurrection. It is because Jesus died for you because He loves you. Thank God that we can have a perfect identity in Christ.

I know, thats crazy right? In a world today, where everything we do is performance based and task-oriented, you have received an identity in Christ simply because of His love for you, which has nothing to do with anything you’ve ever done. No, it’s not crazy, it’s a change. It’s different than what we’re used to. It’s uncommon, but oh man, are we lucky.

The resurrection changes everything, including our identity. Will you let it change you? Will you let it continue changing you?

 

vulnerability and community

Vulnerability is hard, it is scary, and sometimes it even seems like it isn’t worth it. Personally, I have experience all of these things; hardship in vulnerability, fear in vulnerability, and worthlessness in vulnerability. By no means am I saying that vulnerability is easy, but what I am going to say is that it is so important.

Over the course of this semester in one of my classes, we read through the book Can You Drink the Cup? by Henri Nouwen, and something that Nouwen and our class discussed was vulnerability. Nouwen talks about drinking our cups in community with one another. In other words, coming alongside one another and doing life together. Taking part of each others joys, sorrows and all that falls in between the two. Part of that though, is being vulnerable and expressing these struggles, hardships, sorrows and joys. And the other part of that is being empathetic, understanding and loving to one another no matter what the contents of another persons cup is.

The journey of being vulnerable looks different for each one of us, but I am sure that some of my experience will resinate with each of you in some way (which is why I am sharing it with you.) For me, as I mentioned earlier, vulnerability has looked three ways for me: hard, scary, and worthless.

Vulnerability is hard. I feel that it is this way because there are so many unknowns that come along with being vulnerable such as “what will people think of me if I tell them __________?” or “What if I tell them __________, but they don’t understand?” or “What if I tell them __________ and they judge me for my struggles?” There are so  many questions that arise when attempting to be vulnerable with one another. And this is where scary comes in- you never know what is going to happen when you are vulnerable with a person or a group of people. I know that I have definitely experienced this before. You don’t know how they are going to react. You don’t know what they will say, and that is scary. This fear arises within us, making us afraid to be vulnerable, which then leads us to believe that being vulnerable isn’t worth it. It leads us to think that we don’t need to be vulnerable because we are already hurt so deeply, that we do not want or need to be hurt more. Can any of you relate? But do you know what else this fear does? It makes us afraid to walk alongside one another. It steals the experience of true community from us.

In reading this book, I was able to develop a stance and my feelings on what community in my life has looked like, why it is important, and how we lack in community. Part of that lacking is vulnerability. We need vulnerability to have deep, meaningful community.  But these fears, uncertainties and these doubts of the worth of vulnerability make it so difficult to do. But, another thing that makes it difficult is that these fears, uncertainties and doubts did not just fall out of thin air- they exist because of previous experience. The way that we have approached what is in our brothers and sisters cups have given them a reason to steer away from vulnerability. The way we view others struggles and approach them have made people shy away from sharing those things because of the responses they have received in prior experiences.

Guys, we need community. We were created to desire community. And to need community is also to need vulnerability. I believe that you cannot have one without the other. I believe that they go hand in hand.

Yes, being vulnerable is hard. Yes it is scary. Yes, at times it does feel worthless. But, the community that can come with vulnerability is so satisfying.

Earlier, I mentioned that we need to be empathetic, understanding and loving to one another, no matter what the contents of another persons cup is. I cannot stress this enough. Everyone’s journey is different, and then so is their cups, but that doesn’t change the fact that each one of our cups is filled with both joys and sorrows. We need to embrace our cups, realizing that we are all different, but we also need to realize that we have a lot more in common than we think, and that in being vulnerable and in community with one another can be so beneficial.

We all struggle differently, and that’s okay. Sin is still sin, no matter what it looks like. Just because someone’s sin looks different than your sin, doesn’t give you the authority to judge them for that, because sin is sin no matter what it looks like. In our struggles, we need to encourage our bothers and sisters in Christ, not bring them down. In our sorrows, we need to encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ, not invalidate their feelings or way of grieving. We need to make communities in which we feel that we are allowed to struggle. Where we are allowed to grieve. Where we are allowed to be vulnerable. We need to be empathetic. We need to be understanding. We need to be encouraging. We need to be loving.

To be transparent with you all, I have struggled previously with self-harm and suicidal thoughts, and currently with depression and anxiety. I share this things with you, not to receive pity, or attention, or whatever. Rather, I share these things with you for three reasons: 1) You are not alone. If you have similar struggles, I want you to know, you are not alone. 2) You can overcome these things. Even when it seems like there will be no end, that there is no light at the end of the tunnel, that you are hopeless, there is hope. You can get through this (and as I have ranted about it, you dont have to do it alone, that is why we have community.) and 3) to show you that being vulnerable, although is scary, and hard at times, can help and bring hope to someone who is struggling.

We weren’t created to drink our cups alone. We we’re created for community, and with that comes the need for vulnerability.

We need to work at being better to one another. Better at being the brothers and sisters we are called to be in Christ. We need to make safe spaces for each other. We need to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, and also allow others to do the same. We need to drink our cups- together.

 

 

The Great I Am

Today as I sat through our chapel service at school, which I do on a regular basis, every Thursday at 11. Something that I particularly love about chapel, is that I get to come together with my friends, peers, and professors to worship God through prayer, a sermon, music, and offering. It is one of my favorite parts of the week.

This morning particularly, I was moved to tears during worship. This also isn’t necessarily an uncommon experience for me, but today something about it was different than usual. I am in a class called Principles of Christian Worship this semester, and it is such a thought provoking class. I really enjoy it a lot. Earlier this week, in class we were discussing the different names for God, which I have always found incredibly interesting. I love learning about things like that.

As we worshipped this morning, I got captivated by the song, “Great I Am.” I don’t know what it was, but just being able to proclaim that God is the Great I Am. That no one is above Him, that no one else is worthy besides Him. Every single word this morning sent chills through every inch of my body. There is something so powerful about a room full of people proclaiming the greatness of God, let me tell you.

Specifically, the part of the song that goes,

“The mountains shake before You, the demons run and flee, at the mention of Your Name, King of Majesty. There is no power in hell, or any who can stand, before the power and the presence of the Great I Am.”

I’m not even sure that my words could do justice to explain how powerful it is to hear a room full of college students, professors, and staff, that want to worship the Lord, and wholeheartedly find these words to be true, belting these words.

Our God is strong, and He is powerful. Nothing can stand against Him, and He is fighting for us. If that doesn’t comfort you, I don’t know what does.

Following that, an MCC alumni spoke on the second verse of the Lord’s prayer which reads: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

This is something that I feel is so important for us to understand, and even more important than just is understanding it, praying it.

The Kingdom of God can be defined as this: The rule and reign of Christ in the hearts and lives of people.

If this is how we define the Kingdom of God, then we must recognize that we make up the Kingdom of God. And we must also recognize that the willow God comes from the heart of God. When we pray the prayer, “thy will be done” we are asking God to rule and reign in our hearts- hence, the Kingdom of God. When pray “thy will be done” we are asking God to align our hearts with His will.

This can be incredibly challenging at times, because it is so easy for us to look at our lives and say, “My will be done.” But typically, whenever I think that my will, or my plans or ways are higher than His, my world is turned upside down. God knows what He is doing in my life, and His will is so much greater than mine, if i would only take more time to pray and be obedient to Him and ask Him for His will to be done.

There has never been a time that the Great I Am has lead me astray in life There has never been a time that I have looked back on God’s will and have said to myself, “Psh, my will was way better than His.”  He KNOWS what is best for us as His children. 

God has chosen the broken and flawed to be the hands that help build His Kingdom. Did you hear that? He has chosen the flawed and broken- thats you. thats me. that is us.

We are His masterpiece. We are His handiwork. He has chosen us to help advance the Kingdom. All we have to do is be willing to pray the prayer, “thy will be done.” 

 

 

falling victim to fear

Something that has affected my day to day life is falling victim to fear of not being accepted or being good enough. I face these feelings with my peers, my family, my friends, and even within myself in certain moments.

This is something that I have come to realize being thrown into a new place with new people. I often times find myself cowering at the thought of walking up to someone to talk to them because I feel unworthy of their time and their attention. Although I am very outgoing and friendly (if you know me personally you can vouch that that is a true statement), I do have a bit of social anxiety. I fear rejection, and that affects how I go about  living my life everyday.

It is exhausting, if you know what this is like. It is emotionally tolling to constantly fear being enough for people. It is by no means easy, and it is something that I feel most people feel but are too afraid to admit, or even talk about. Often times I feel lone in this struggle, and goodness do I know that that isn’t true, but let me tell you, it sure feels like its true at times.

Feeling afraid, and feeling as if you have to walk through those fearful moments alone us tough. But by no means are we ever walking alone as believers. God carries us through these times. He walks with us through the fire. He is constant, when nothing else is.

It is so easy to lose sight of the truth about God, and His faithfulness and pursuit of us, though. In a world where intentionality is becoming less and less important, it is easy to lose sight of our unshakable God. But that is why we aren’t supposed to cling to this world. We are supposed to cling to Christ, because He never changes.

This is something that I am walking though right now. Wrestling with falling victim to fear. But in Christ, I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God. Every single day I have to keep telling myself that I have to constantly make the decision to believe that and know what is true about me in Him. It’s not an easy decision to make; not because its hard to believe what God says is true, but Satan is RUTHLESS and will stop at nothing to steal our identity to lessen our effectiveness in the Kingdom of God.

I am no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God. 

I hope this is as encouraging to you as it has been to me.

 

 

finding your place

Over the course of the last semester, I have encountered many different kinds of people, experiences, trials and things that are praiseworthy. The beginning of my new life in Kansas has been off to a great start. I have met so many new great people, and I have been loving the classes that I am enrolled in. Being in a new place, and not being comfortable has been hard, but it has been so good for my spiritual growth. I have been challenged by many people here in the questions they’ve been asking me, and just by basic conversation that I have had with some of my new friends here.

But, something I have been struggling with is where God wants me to be involved here at MCC. It has been a struggle for me not knowing what God wants me to be doing here, and I have been praying about.

I was studying with a suite mate of mine and the only conversation we were partaking in was about how much we didn’t want to do homework. nothing led into the next thing she said to me which was, “hey, are you going to run for Stugov?” My immediate answer was, “Yes, I am.” I prayed and asked the Lord to place in front of me what I was supposed to be doing, and He did just that.

Previous to this conversation, I had a conversation with someone else about what I should be doing, and he said, “Maybe the Lord just wants you to “be”. I thought that was a cool idea, but i thought to myself, ‘nah, the Lord definitely wants me doing something.’

I tried out for Stugov and didn’t make it, and I was bummed of course, but I knew that the Lord had something else in store for me.

Later that evening, I was talking to one of the RA’s and I was explaining to her about how I feel like I am not sure where I am supposed to be, and she said “that is exactly what I was going to bring up to you.”

So, I have been trying to come to terms with just “being” and letting that be enough for me, because that is what the Lord has for me right now. don’t get me wrong, it has not by any means been easy, but I guarantee that God is going to use me in amazing ways by just “being” and I cannot wait to see what those things turn out to be.

It is difficult not knowing what you are supposed to do, or where you are supposed to be, but the Lord is faithful. Not in my time, but in His time will He reveal to me what I have been waiting to know.

beauty I

beauty is something that is unrecognized for what it was meant to be. beauty has been  transformed into this physical idea, that things have to “look” beautiful to be beautiful. that isn’t the case. beauty is not about what is on the outside. it’s not about what our hair looks like, how skinny you are, how perfect your face looks with makeup on. it’s not about your clothes, or how fit you are. it’s not about the things that are so quick to fade away. things that are fleeting and temporary. when we will realize that beauty, true beauty, lies beneath the skin? when will our generation realize that beauty is heart that is kind and shows that kindness to a hateful person. that beauty is a person who extends grace to someone who doesn’t deserve it. that it is someone who is willing to listen rather than speak and be ignorant. that it is the peace that intercedes when there is conflict. that it is going out of your way to make someone smile. true beauty does not come from the outside, but it lies beneath the skin.

for all the broken people:

For all the broken people, and all the hurting hearts, here is a message for you:

you are beautiful. you are loved. you matter.
there are going to be many times that you are wronged in life by many people- people close to you, and people you don’t know, but let me tell you something: your worth is not defined in those people. your worth is not defined by the words that come out of other people’s mouth when they’re angry. your worth is not defined by the way that males and females are displayed in the media, on TV, in magazines. your worth is not defined by how tall or short you are, or how slim or heavy you are. your worth is not defined by the color of your skin, hair, or eyes.
you are worth so much more than all of these things. you are God’s treasure, His handiwork, His masterpiece. God made you UNIQUE AND DIFFERENT FOR A REASON. you are unlike anyone else that walks this earth. you are special and valued. God made you who you are, He drew you up, and He breathed life into your body. He made you imperfectly perfect. He made you fearfully and wonderfully. you are the way you are for a reason. the freckles you hate, He loves. your brown eyes that you wish were any color but brown, we’re so intricately colored in by His hands and made so beautifully. the for your nose that is too big, or your hips that are too wide, or your thighs that are too big or too small, God loves those things about you, after all, He made you that way.
just because we don’t always “look” the way society says is “beautiful” doesn’t mean you’re not. you are all beautiful, and your beauty isn’t from the surface, it’s from your heart.
beauty needs to be redesigned. because it’s isn’t about how you look that makes you beautiful. it isn’t about all of that; it’s about knowing who you are, doing what you love, and embracing the way God created you that makes you beautiful.
so for all of the broken people, and hurting hearts, here is the illogical love story I would like to share with you, the main characters name is Jesus Christ.