Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Each time my heart in love to Christ says YES when my human nature says NO, there the cross is taken up. There I become a little more like my Master, there I live in Him, there I participate in His work of fulfilling the Father's will on earth."
                  - Elisabeth Elliot in The Path of Loneliness

Monday, February 20, 2017

When Dreams Must Die

 This world tells us to dream...and to dream big. I don't see anything wrong with doing so as goal-setting and aspiring to high things is a noble endeavor. So many historic and prolific achievements would never have come to pass had somebody not had a dream to begin with...
 If the founding fathers of our country never dreamt of liberty, the United States never would've become a nation.
 If William Wilberforce had never dreamt of a world where people of all colors could be treated equally, the abolition of the slave trade never would've taken place.
 If Thomas Edison had never dreamt of the lightbulb, we never would've had the gift of electricity.
 If Alexander Graham Bell had never dreamt of a device whereby people could hear one another's voice, we never would've gotten the telephone and means to span distance through conversation.
 In short, dreaming has changed our world in so many ways. In and of itself, dreaming big isn't a bad thing.
 But here's the thing...we don't know how to let dreams die. Because sometimes, God asks us to give up what we love most in order to receive His best.
 When I was younger, I had a dream. I had a certain field of volunteer effort and study that I was passionate about, and I had devoted nearly ten years already to it, starting in my teens. All of the paths seem to line up that I would walk through the right door at the right time and begin doing the thing I cared about so much. I loved it. I loved the people involved in it. I saw so much that could be done.
 But...God's plans intervened. And He asked me about two years ago, to put that dream to rest. It was by far the hardest thing I'd ever done. I never thought God would ask me to let go of what I'd been working so much toward for so long. It was death of sorts. And it hurt. Many tears were shed as I had to keep aligning my aching heart with God's will. Saying "yes" to Him when everything in me screamed out "no" was so difficult. I thought there was no way I could come to love anything else I did as much as I did my previous work.
 And yet...God eventually did something within me that I never would've expected. He replaced that dream with a new one. And I realized something profound: sometimes dreams have to die for new ones to come alive. Most likely, I never would've ended up with the job I have or the people I have met in the last couple of years had I held out hope that the dreams of the past would still come to be. If I hadn't been willing to give up my own plans in exchange for His, I would've missed out on blessings that have since changed my life.
 I still have dreams. Some of them haven't yet come to fruition, but God's delays in these matters don't necessarily mean they're His denials. And so I wait patiently and accept what He has given...not allowing His not-given at this point to spoil the amazing life I have.
 I don't know what your dreams are...maybe it's a job or a big promotion; maybe it's a future spouse; maybe it's having children; maybe it's a better place to live, or a better education for your kids. Whatever your dreams are, I want to encourage you to trust God with your future. Dream big, and dare greatly. But live life with an open hand and don't make the fulfillment of your goals and dreams the be-all end-all of your existence. Life is about so much more than getting places and accomplishing stuff.
 And realize too that, in some cases, the death of our dreams isn't the end of us but is actually the beginning of our true purpose. God may ask you to give up something or someone that is incredibly dear to you in order to receive a bigger and better blessing. In that moment, don't be afraid. Rather, let your faith in the goodness of His plans override your doubts, your questions, your heartaches. The end of one thing may, in reality, be the start of a heart-miracle you didn't even know you needed! 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Quote of the Day

"Every morning as I walk with Jesus, I ask Him to open our eyes more and more each day.  Because when we see Jesus clearly, then we can follow Him. One of the scariest questions we have to ask ourselves is, what if we aren't seeing Jesus properly? What implication does that have for our lives? What if Jesus isn't who we think? I believe he's always catching us off guard, creatively challenging us, pursuing us, loving us."
                  - Jeff Bethke in It's Not What You Think

Friday, February 17, 2017

Prayer of the Day

"May I never give Thee rest until Christ is the pulse of my heart, the spokesman of my lips, the lamp of my feet."
                               - The Valley of Vision

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Quote of the Day

"As Christians, we should not enjoy just an ordinary level of cheerfulness, we should go way beyond those of the world both in quality and quantity. Our happiness should be sweeter, higher, and more constant than any carnal man." 
                           - Samuel Ward in Voices From The Past

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Quote of the Day

"...The answer to our loneliness is love - not our finding someone to love us, but our surrender to the God who has always loved us with an everlasting love. Loving Him is then expressed in a happy and full-hearted pouring out of ourselves in love to others."
                            - Elisabeth Elliot The Path of Loneliness

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Word About Love

 Well...it's Valentine's Day. For those who have a special someone in their life (spouse, fiancee, boyfriend, girlfriend), it's a day to let that person know you care about them and want to show them your love. For the singles out there, it's a day to remind yourself that you don't have what others have...and the longing can set in. 
 Honestly, I feel like this day is rather silly. Because, we don't need just one day to be reminded to love those around us. We should be loving them fully and deeply every day of the year. And love isn't contained to merely a romantic relationship as this day suggests. I feel like Valentine's Day (while well-intended) just adds to the notion that you can only love or be loved if a "special someone" is in your life. And that only such a relationship can satisfy or fulfill you as a human being. 
 I want to take a moment to encourage us all...regardless of whether or not we are currently in a serious relationship that love isn't limited to who, where, or when. Of course, there are varying levels of love and certain depths of intimate affection that can only be reserved for our dearest and closest relations and family. But, just because we are or aren't in a relationship doesn't have to define how we love or whom we love. Or even if we feel loved at all. 
 In my younger years, I used to think that I could only be loved deeply if I had a guy in my life. (Even you male readers out there know what I'm talking about here.) We all struggle with this concept that our special someone is the solution to our happiness or lack thereof. We set expectations for the people around us to satisfy our deepest longings, our innermost needs. But the crazy thing is...even when such people are in our lives, we can still feel alone. We can have the best of human love available to us and still feel left out, lost, and distant. 
 Because here's the thing...human love is fickle. Even as deeply as we are given the capacity to care for one another, we fail often in our love toward each other. We fall short of how much we could be demonstrating that love in countless ways...because we're selfish; we're arrogant; we're in a rush; we're more concerned with being right and being heard than loving deeply. Thus, we have equally the same capacity to hurt and divide as we do to care and love. And we're successful in this far more than we'd like to admit. And there is only one cure for such a broken condition of the heart...
 God must teach us how to love. 
 Apart from the most perfect and divine Example of what true love looks like, we have no idea how to lay down our selfish aims for the good of another. We have no concept of how to love without limits, of how to forgive without reservations. He must show us the way. In like manner, we must have first experienced His love in order to feel valued in this one life we live. Otherwise, we cannot give what we have not known for ourselves. 
 Loving takes a lifetime...and often multiple failings in it...to understand and learn. This is why I feel that our culture takes loving too lightly. We treat it as a feeling instead of a way of life. We think that, as go our feelings, so can go our love. But God demonstrates to us that love outlasts feelings. Commitment to the people in our life who matter doesn't depend on how we feel that day...because there will be days that you don't feel so loving to those around you. It is in that moment that you must decide to continue in that love, regardless of how you feel. Love is demonstrated trust in action. Trust that outlasts the ever-changing winds of our emotions. 
 And only One truly gives this in the most true and honest way possible. People come and go in our lives and not everyone who is here today will be here tomorrow. Even though we may be blessed with an amazing circle of love in our lives, we will still face days where we feel let down by those people. Even times when they hurt us...deeply. We will face hours of intense loneliness when even their love is not a cure. 
 This is where God's love must be foremost. When all other loves are aligned with His, our worth doesn't have to change with the people and situations around us. We can know that we matter...every day of the year...because of Him. His love is not confined to one day or one place or one person. His love reaches greater, higher, deeper, fuller than anything any person can ever offer us on this earth...including ourselves. All human loves fall short in light of His limitless affection for us. 
 So...on this Valentine's Day...whether you're single, dating, engaged, married, or even widowed...take joy. Feel loved...because the King of Kings calls you so. Feel valued...because the God of the Universe cares for you. Feel satisfied...because your happiness is found in Him. So let the chocolate flow, the dinner dates happen, the romantic movies commence...but know this -  (and know it deeply) - you are always loved because He is always good.