Thursday, December 22, 2016

Our Hope

Christmas is about adoring Jesus Christ. It is a time to rejoice in Him and in all that He has done for us!

Before Jesus invaded into this world, we were without hope. Without Jesus, we are dead in our sins.  The blood of bulls and goats could never take away our sin. We were stuck in spiritual blindness. Our guilt and shame could not co-exist with the Holiness of God.

Ever since Adam and Eve chose to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, we have been waiting for the Saviour of the world that was promised to us so long ago.  The whole creation has been groaning for Him to come.

While Israel was expecting a strong military leader to deliver them from their oppression, God sent them a Baby in a manger. A Baby who would forever change everything!

 This baby, Jesus Christ, is where all of our hope begins. He became like us in every way but He lived the perfect life we could not. He was still fully God and yet He became fully human.  Because He Himself was tested and suffered in every way we are, we can run to His throne of grace with confidence. He promises to help us and to show us much compassion.

Jesus came to give us a living hope. It is sure, steady and unchanging. This hope gives us assurance that our past can be redeemed, our present is held secure, and our future is filled with glorious promises through Jesus.

When Jesus died on the cross our hope continued!

Because Jesus came for His Father’s will and glory, He laid down His life for all of us, and He bore all the punishment we deserved. He faced God’s wrath for us so that we could experience His forgiveness.

Jesus came to show us what true love looks like.  It is filled with both truth and grace. It sacrifices. It never gives up. It pursues. True Love lays down His life even for His enemies.

When Jesus rose from the dead our hope was completed!

Jesus’ resurrection proved once for all that He was truly who He claimed to be. He is God’s Son. He is the exact representation of God. He is the Messiah.  He is our Saviour.  He conquered death and hell. He will save anyone who confesses that He is Lord and believes in their heart that God raised him from the dead.  The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love!

Jesus came so that we can have peace. Peace that is unexplainable. Peace with God, what else could be better?!  Peace in this life despite many trials, uncertainties and fears.

Amidst of all the festive activities, take time to draw near to Him and worship Him with all of your heart.  Rejoice that He has come! Celebrate and adore Jesus for not just for what He gives us, but for who He is!

Jesus came so that our hearts can be filled with joy! Joy that can endure the hardest of days and through every season.  The kind of Joy that isn’t dependant on life’s circumstances but rather is held in knowing Jesus personally and experiencing His salvation.

His light has invaded our darkness. His hope has taken over our despair. His Word has spoken life into this world and in our own hearts.

Jesus Christ is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace!


Come and see what He has done for us!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Remember

I’m sure we all have those kind of days.


The kind of days when our heart feels heavy and our mind is overwhelmed with many things. Nothing in particular may have happened but life can just be confusing and doesn’t always go as expected. Sometimes things have a way of piling up so that deep discouragement sets in.

What can we do on those days? How can we regain perspective?

I recently read through the book of Deuteronomy. It’s a book of the Bible that I didn’t expect to have such a big impact on my life.

One key word kept on popping up:  Remember

Does anyone else have a habit of forgetting the things they should remember and remembering the things they should forget?!  I do and I think it’s getting worse the older I get :)

The heart of God is so clear and amazing throughout Deuteronomy. His desire is to bless His people, to save us, to bring us near to Him and His goodness, and to lead us into an abundant life with Him
Why is remembering God so important?  Why does Moses spend so much time telling the people of Israel to remember all that God had done for them?  These verses give us some clues:
You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm… (Deuteronomy 5:15)

[ Remember the Lord Your God ] “The whole commandment that I command you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land that the Lord swore to give to your fathers (Deuteronomy 8:1)

The book of Judges gives a sad picture of what happens when we forget God and all that He has done for us:
And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.  And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. (Judges 2)

Israel was in an exciting time of their history!  They had witnessed God rescue them from all the oppression they had endured at the hands of the Egyptians but sadly just as they were about to enter the land God had promised them, the people chose not to remember the sure promise of God to bring them safely into the land. Instead they allowed fear and disbelief to stop them from obeying God in confidence.  They didn’t remember who their God was; they forgot that their God was strong enough to rescue them from slavery and to part the Red Sea so that they walked across on dry land.

As a result that generation had to wander around in the wilderness for 40 years and the next generation of people got to enter the Promised Land instead. Moses is speaking these words in Deuteronomy to the nation of Israel as he is preparing to pass the leadership mantle onto Joshua. Joshua would be the one to lead the people into the Promised Land.

As Joshua starts to lead the people, these are some of the words he said, “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’ “ (Joshua 1:13)

When they were facing the same daunting task as the previous generation, Joshua too encouraged the people to remember who their God was.

I’m learning that in the times I most sink into discouragement and weariness, I need to remember God’s past faithfulness and His amazing promises the most. When I take time to think about all that God has done in my life in the past and when I remember all the promises His word contains for those who trust in Him, I find a new hope and strength to face the day. This life can be so hard and the pain we experience is real but those who place their faith in Jesus Christ are promised unfathomable things.

When we are tired and feel like giving up, God promises to give strength to those who wait upon Him.  He is most strong in our weakest times.

When we feel so alone and fearful, God has promised to never leave or forsake us. He is close to the broken-hearted; when we seek Him, we will find Him.

When sin and shame cause doubt of God’s love, remember that in Jesus we are already a new creation. He is the one who started the good work in us and He promises to be the one to complete it. Anyone who calls on Him will be saved. His mercies are new each morning and His faithfulness is great.

When it is hard to do the right thing and to live with integrity, remember that God’s ways are best and that His commands are not burdensome. Jesus promises that He came to give us abundant life and nothing compares to the surpassing value of knowing Jesus.

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I know we will all be in different seasons of life. It may feel really hard to remember God’s goodness or it may feel really easy right now. A friend recently told me that for so much of life, the battle starts in our minds. The truth of that statement has resonated with me deeply. The things I think about can either add to my discouraging and overwhelming times or they can remind me of the truth, despite my feelings.  In all seasons of life the death and resurrection of Jesus is the one thing that assures us that God is for us and He loves us so much. He gave everything so that we could be saved and experience true life in Him. He gave us is own Son! Remember that Jesus came not to condemn but to save; and to give us life, unfailing love, and hope in Him.  Not just for this life but for the life to come!


Each day take time to remember who God is and His precious promises to anyone who will come to Him.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

How His love and mercy follows me all the days of my life…

I wrote this blog last spring in the O’Hare airport while waiting for my connecting flight. I found a great seat that allowed me to people-watch for hours, all the while I was reflecting on the ways God had led me through that past year with such goodness and grace.  What amazes me through is as I reflect on this past year, which was filled with more challenging circumstances, the truth of the Lord’s faithful and loving guidance still holds true. So I pray this will encourage you, whether you are in a good season or a season filled with many tears and questions. His love and mercy really does follow us all the days of our life as we put our hope in Him.



The Lord is my shepherd;
there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life;
He leads me along the right paths
for His name’s sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger,
for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live. (Psalm 23 HCSB)


Oh how thankful I am that God continues to show me my great need for Him. It is completely His mercy that has opened my eyes to my desperate state. On my own I am trapped in my pride, selfishness and sin. I sink into deeper bondage to bitterness and discontentment. Life can start to feel meaningless. In my brokenness, I do things that hurt me and those around me. Worst of all, I am cut off from the only God who can heal my heart and save me from sin and death.

But Jesus steps into the middle of my mess and He, as only He can, restores my relationship with God by grace through faith. He took the punishment and wrath I fully deserve for my sin against a holy and infinite God; and when I place my faith in Him, Jesus gives me everything I don’t deserve- His righteousness and right standing with God. I experience a different kind of love and joy. My sins are forgiven and I am freed from the enemy’s condemnation and accusations. I don’t have to hide in shame anymore. He has begun a good work in my heart. God begins to heal my heart of its deepest hurts and regrets. As my heavenly Father, God walks with me every step of the way- I don’t have to do this life on my own anymore.  Life isn’t necessarily easier, it is just better as His faithful love surrounds me each day.  There are still many things that break my heart and cause me frustration.  When I am weary though, He offers me His perfect rest. There are many things I don’t understand, but I can trust in the One who understands it all. There are uncertainties ahead but I know the One who is in control of every moment of my life.

I am still a long way from what I should be. Every day a battle rages all around me and in my own heart. I am so prone to leave the God I love. Even though I have been freed from the consequences of my sin, sin still threatens the intimacy of my relationship with my Saviour each day. Even though I’ve had glimpses of the glorious beauty of Jesus, my foolish heart is still enticed by the things of this world and it still fights for control.   Because my heart is so deceptive, His Spirit gently guides me in the way I should go as He fills my heart with His love. He disciplines me when He needs to. It is His kindness that leads me to repentance. He destroys my pride for God opposes the proud but gives mercy to the humble.   When I am most broken and needy, He rushes to fill me with His love and grace once again. Through the resurrection of Jesus from the grave, I can see how God is able to bring the greatest good from the worse. Because God didn’t even spare His own Son to save me, I know He is for me and that enables me to rest in His sure promises.

I can pursue deeper relationships with God and with others because of the abundant grace I am shown each and every day.  I am free to admit when I am wrong and to seek forgiveness. I am given a new power to love others, even when it is challenging to love.  When situations feel hopeless, I can have confidence in God who has the power to change anyone and anything. In the midst of my fears and doubts I can run with boldness to God because He has experienced `every pain and temptation I do and He promises to meet me with grace. When my emotions and feelings don’t match what I know in my head to be true, I can cling to His unchanging word. His word is living and active, and it leads to abundant life. His love isn’t based on my behavior but His love and word changes it. He delights in me simply because through the work of Jesus on the cross, I have been made His child.

Someday our King is coming back and He will defeat Satan and sin once and for all. Everything will be made new and right.  Until that that day, may I live for Him and not for myself, with a passion to make the saving power of Jesus known. This salvation is too great to keep to myself and I want others to experience the love of Jesus as well.   I long to be a living example of how Jesus came to save, and not to condemn. God’s Spirit alone empowers me to be the hands and feet of Jesus in this world; and to point people to the truth that sets us free. 

When I see Him face to face the only claim I will make is “Your grace on which I stand.”   Those who love Jesus cannot imagine what is in store for us.  He will wipe away all our tears, all of our pain and all our mourning. We will see Him face to face, and we will be made like Him. His glory will be our light. The hope of heaven changes the way I live this life. God’s good gifts on this earth are meant to remind me that there is something much greater coming. In the end, my time on this earth will seem so short and I will know that Jesus was worth it all. I’ll bow my knee before Him and sing with the angels “holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty!”  As I lay my crowns at His feet, I’ll worship my Saviour with great delight because Jesus has dressed me in His righteousness and He is not ashamed to present me before His Father with great joy!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

He Could Have Walked Away

He could have walked away! That thought kept running through my mind. I was in high school and was at the movie theatre with some friends watching “The Passion of the Christ”. It was a time in my life when I was going through a season of being angry at God. Life wasn’t going as I wanted it to and God felt very distant.  As I saw the different scenes in the movie of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus being betrayed by Judas, Jesus being whipped and ultimately being nailed to the cross; I was reminded that this was the same Jesus who had the power to control the wind and the waves. He could call down more than 12 legions of angels anytime He wanted. (Matthew 26:53) As John 10:18 tells us, no one forced Jesus on to the cross, He freely chose to lay down His life.  The simple yet profound truth that if Jesus loved me enough to die on the cross for my sin, I could trust Him with my life renewed and changed my heart that night.

The “Passion of the Christ” clearly depicts the pain Jesus went through on the cross to save us. It was horrendous, words can barely describe it.  Therefore, I am ashamed to admit the number of times I have just skimmed through the narratives in the Bible describing everything that led up to and happened at the cross.  The story has become so familiar that I am afraid it has lost its significance on me. Can anyone else relate?

Jesus talked about the importance of having a child-like faith and the more I watch my two young nephews, I am becoming convinced that their wonder in life is the wonder we should have for Jesus.  It doesn’t matter what it is, if it is something new and/or exciting, they are instantly captivated
.
Have you ever heard someone talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus with such passion and emotion that it deeply moved you?  This week while attending classes, I was blessed to be able to again.

Here is some of what I wrote in my journal in response:

Lord please give me fresh eyes and a fresh heart to understand more of the magnitude of Your unending love and grace. Familiarity breeds boredom. God, I don’t ever want to bored of hearing about Your great love and the great sacrifice of Jesus. Help me to understand more deeply the depths of my need for You- how I was a slave to sin and had nothing to offer you but my filthy, disgusting rags of sin and pride. I was dead in my sin and I couldn’t see or hear You. But just as You took Jarius’ young daughter who had died and took her by the hand and raised her up to life, you did the same for me. You brought me out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Your glorious light. Now I can see all the times I grieved you when I chose to go my own way but much more amazing, I can see how Your grace is so much stronger than all my sin and shame. You’ve given me everything I don’t deserve. Instead of experiencing your just wrath, I know what it feels like to be forgiven. Instead of experiencing separation from You, I can personally know and experience you.  Lord I want to be amazed by you and in awe of you. I want my heart and mind to be so impacted by what You accomplished on the cross that it colors what I say, do and think each and every day. Help me never lose the wonder of Your amazing love.

This is my prayer for myself, and each one of us this Easter…

Happy Easter Friends!

Image result for cross

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Oh, Come to The Light!

Well, I guess we no longer have to go to Florida for Christmas! We are having a tropical Christmas right at home this year J  It’s hard to believe Christmas day is just a couple of days away! I love all the traditions of this time of year…the parties and events, the music, catching up with old friends, driving around looking at the lights, and many other things.

 As much as Christmas can be a joyful time of year, it can also be a very painful time of year. More than ever we can see the world isn’t as it should be and Christmas can evoke a whole range of emotions.

We were never meant to have to experience the pain of conflict and loss. The world is supposed to be like the world Adam and Eve experienced before they sinned. They had complete communion and harmony with God and the world around them.

When sin entered the world, everything was ruined.  All the sadness, pain, discouragement, insecurity, regret, loss and darkness we experience is because of sin.  From the very beginning we see sin brought darkness.

The older I get, the more darkness and brokenness I see in the world around me and especially in my own heart and soul.

This doesn’t sound very Christmassy I know but the Christmas cheer is coming….

Some of the pain I experience is because of wrong decisions I’ve made and other areas of pain simply come from living in a world broken by sin.   In John 9 the disciples asked Jesus why a man was blind. They wondered if it was from his or his parent’s sin. Jesus said it was neither and then explained God’s purposes through that.

Recently God has shown me the reason I keep falling into certain patterns of sin is because I’m trying to go to other things besides Jesus to find healing and comfort.  There are many, many things in this world that can mask our pain and brokenness but only Jesus can truly heal our hearts.

The times we feel the depth of the brokenness of the world and in ourselves are exactly why Jesus came as a helpless baby in a manger.  He knew we would be helpless in the darkness and would need a merciful High priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses, because he was tempted in every way we are, and yet he was without sin. Because of that we can draw near to God and find mercy and grace to help in our times of need.(Hebrews 4:15-16) I love the way Isaiah says it, “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light.” Jesus is the light because He is Emmanuel, God with us. He has come to show us the way out of darkness and into a restored relationship with God so that we can have hope that one day God will wipe away every tear from our eyes when He ushers in a new creation.

Being close to the Light reveals all of my impurities but it also gives warmth and life. I am in desperate need of the light of Jesus each and every day. I don’t deserve it but I am deeply thankful for it because…
When I go to Him in my brokenness, He heals me.
When I come to Him hungry and empty, He fills and feeds me with His presence and word.
When I go to Him with my sadness and weariness, He gives me His perfect comfort and rest.
When I go to Him with my guilt and shame, He floods my life with His grace and forgiveness.
When I am at my weakest, He is at His strongest.
When I go to Him with nothing but my heart, He gives me everything.


The Light shines brightest in the darkness; let’s praise God this Christmas for that incredible truth!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

My List of 30

The weeks leading up to me turning 30 years old were filled with some good times, but also some challenging times. Things haven’t gone as anticipated for this fall but that I have seen God at work through it all.  I have done a lot of self-reflection and it has led to moments of regret and discouragement. But, those moments have been beautiful for they have let me experience God and His amazing grace in deeper ways. Lately I’ve had many moments I feel so thankful: thankful for the life and the many blessings God has given me, and so thankful that we don’t have to do this life alone.  The following is a list of 30 things I’ve learned through other people and the circumstances of life over the last 30 years that have most impacted my life.

1. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, if you’re with the right group of people- things tend to be easier and more enjoyable.
2. Cats are better than dogs…no need to explain further :) (I’m totally just kidding on this one)
3. Sleep is a precious gift, too bad we don’t learn this until we can’t take naps whenever we wish!
4. The ability to work hard and accomplish things is also a great gift.
5. I need to ask God constantly for a teachable and humble heart.
6. When I feel the most broken, God most floods my life with His steadfast love. He is truly close to the broken-hearted.
7. There is great freedom in confession of sin and repentance.
8. It is much more productive to look at my own sin and weaknesses rather than looking at other’s 
9. Whoever invented coffee is absolutely wonderful!
10. Mentors are important. Have people in your life to learn from.
11. Good friends are one of God’s most precious blessings to us.
12. Every family has their ups and downs but those relationships are worth fighting for and pursuing
13. Find a good, Bible-teaching church and get involved in it- it makes all of the difference in the world for it helps to make faith come alive in deeper ways.
14. Invest your time and money in things that will last forever
15. God’s plans are so much different than mine. Most of the time I don’t understand them, and some I will never understand this side of eternity; but in the end, they always end up to be better because God is a God of love.
16. Trust and obey for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus.
17. Playing pranks on people add to the spice of life!
18. God’s word is alive and active, and it changes people’s lives.
19. God isn’t disappointed in my progress as a Christian. He is the one who it started and He is the one who will complete it. God won’t ever be disappointed in His own work.
20. It is better to listen more than talking. This is a really hard thing to learn how to do.
21. Quiet, rest time is essential to my sanity. 
22. Music is powerful. Listen to what will encourage you and spur you on in the most important things of life 
23. There is a beautiful paradox in Christianity:  We can completely rest in what Jesus accomplished on the cross for us but it is hard to live for God. No one falls into godliness. We pursue God not to be saved but because we can grow to know and experience Jesus more. Ultimately the desires to pursue Jesus are from God, so all glory goes to Him. 
24. Everything flows from my heart. When I pay attention to what is going on in my heart and allow God to work in it, life goes better.
25. Work to assume the best about people. 
26. Every season is beautiful in its own way. Having only one season would be boring.
27. Contentment is a hard place to get to and to stay at.
28. Children are a great gift from the Lord.
29. I can’t let my emotions drive my life. It is necessary to talk to myself often and remind myself of what I know to be true.  Sometimes the things that are hardest to do in the moment will bring the most joy later.
30. Most of these lessons I’m going to have to learn over and over again for the rest of my life! :)

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Deeper Joy!

My heart is being filled with a new kind of joy these days. Oh, I still have lots of rough and discouraging days but sometimes, even on those days, a deeper joy remains. This joy doesn't come from suddenly improved circumstances. The sources of this joy are from things that aren't easy to talk about and  especially to live out.   This is what I’m learning: confession, repentance and obedience bring joy.  There is nothing better than having a clean heart before God; but God is the only One who can create a clean and new heart.

Even though these things aren't easy or popular to talk about, they are worth talking about because of where they can lead.

Where does this all start? No one naturally has the desire to confess and repent of their sin, and be obedient to God’s leading. A few months ago I was listening to a sermon when the pastor said something that grabbed my attention. He claimed that the thing that sets apart thriving Christians from struggling Christians is the amount of time they spend drawing near to God for He promises when we do so, He will draw near to us. When He draws near to us in His perfect timing, we begin to see there is nothing more beautiful in the world than Jesus. As that happens, we begin to hate the things that get in the way of us drawing near to God.

My own heart is what draws me away from God the most. It is deceitful above all else (Jeremiah 17:9). I like to think that I know what will bring me happiness and a good life. Yet so often, when I make life all about me, I’m miserable.  There are a thousand things I could name that draw my heart away from God but here are a few specific ones I struggle with every day.  I can’t be too busy. I have to make sure I schedule out specific times during my week to spend seeking God and allowing Him to reveal what’s really going on in my heart. I can’t watch much TV. If I do, I start to care too much and it overtakes the things I should be doing. Lastly, I go to food rather than God to help me deal with life. It has taken me a long time to be able to admit that, but my dependence on food has been a major thing that has kept me from drawing near to God.

This is where confession and repentance comes in. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance. I can honestly say that as I confess my sins to God and to the people in my life, God is healing my heart just as He promised He would.  Ezekiel 36:26I says “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you.” Everything I’m talking about is only possible when I become a new creation in Christ by God’s grace through faith in what Jesus accomplished on the cross. There is a way that seems right but its end is death and destruction; but Jesus came to give us life and an abundance of it.  Repentance is simply turning from our natural desires to chasing the abundant life Jesus longs for each one of us to experience. Repentance at the most basic level is choosing to love Jesus above all else.

Repentance then leads to a desire to obey Jesus because we have tasted and seen that He is good. We become more and more convinced that His way is so much better than the selfishness, bitterness, envy and self-promotion of comfort and attention we have tried to find joy in. Jesus frees us from all of that! There is freedom in not having to pretend we are something we’re not or that we have it altogether. There is freedom in not having to depend on people, on ourselves and events for our joy. There is freedom being able to say “I’m a mess but look how amazing Jesus is!” Because we have experienced so much love and forgiveness in Jesus, we are freed up to offer the same to others.

I’ll be honest though, many times obedience to God is very hard. Even though I know I am deeply loved in Christ and that He is trying to lead me into the deepest level of joy, I want to do what feels right in the moment. His way is totally different than ours.  He calls us to love our enemies, to forgive those who hurt us, to lay down our rights and wants for others, to give everything to follow Jesus.  Obedience can be very costly. Even in the times I manage to obey God through His grace, I usually fight Him in the process.  Even though I often don’t understand His ways, I can say with all my heart, He is worth it all!  I can never out give God. My emotions often follow after my obedience but nothing compares to the joy that is possible in following Jesus and allowing Him to give me a new heart. Despite my sinful heart that is so slow to trust and obey Him, I know God still loves me with an unfailing love and grace. The same is true for anyone who will run to Jesus. How amazing is that?!

He is worth it all!!



Here is a song that has been a large inspiration to this blog: