Friday, December 19, 2008

Unbroken Gaze

"May my life be

one unbroken gaze

fixed upon the beauty

of your face"

~Vicky Beeching

May this be my hearts lifes purpose. That I would have a strong unbroken gaze that is forever fixed upon the beauty of my precious Savior's face. That nothing else would ever matter as much as God's approval and His smile on what I am doing and who I am becoming. So often I am overcome by trying to please the world and everyone in it. Trying to match the stereotype of a "good" teenage girl, I continue to strive towards an unattainable image that really doesn't matter in the scheme of eternity. I am finding, as I continue to walk down this journey that we fondly refer to as "life", that the only thing that truly matters is whether or not my gaze is fixed on Christ. When my eyes start to wander off of the one who gave me life, is when they start to glimpe darkness and unsatisfaction. When I turn to the one who has existed since before the fabric of time, I find my satisfaction. I find the one who completes me and fulfills me. I find salvation and forgiveness. I find everything that this world doesn't offer. I find something that can't be bought for any price. I find unconditional love. Do you know how many girls spend their entire lives looking for unconditional love? If only they knew that it is just a prayer away. My gaze must remain unbroken; I cannot afford to lose sight of the one who first lovingly called me to Himself.

"Beholding is becoming

so as you fill my view

transform me

into the likeness of you"

~Vicky Beeching

This is my prayer Lord Jesus. May I live a live of holiness until your majesty is revealed. May I ever be captivated by you. May my life truly be one unbroken gaze fixed upon the beauty of your face.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Promise Of Peace

Okay, so we don't have our shipping stuff is supposed to arrive this Thursday...and it is pretty much killing me! My entire crate of book writing stuff is in there, so I haven't been able to work on it lately! My hands are itching to do some writing!

I have been thinking about my mom lately...more than usual it seems. When she was in college she did a semester of student teaching in London. I think that might be one of the reasons that my thoughts have been pulling in her direction of late.

Last night as I was trying to fall asleep, I kept thinking about how things would be if she were here. How certain things wouldn't be problems if she were here. How I wouldn't have so many responsibilities if she were here. How my sister would smile more if she were here. As I lay there thinking about all these things a tear ran down my cheek and I sniffled. Apparently my sister wasn't asleep yet, because she promptly asked me what the matter was. I swallowed and told her that sometimes I just feel like dying and that "...things would be so much better if mom was here." Shauna turned over and thought for a minute before replying "Yes, but God wanted mom to go. She wouldn't have gone if God would have had it another way." To some people, these words may not be comforting, but for me...they were exactly the ones that I needed to hear. For some reason, God has me walking this path that I am on. I may not understand it, and I may not know why, but God does. He is fulfilling His exact purposes for me in the midst of these trials.

This is one of the ways that Christians must sacrifice. A popular view right now, especially amongst people of religious beliefs is that "if you believe this, life will be easy. Believing in this God will take all of your problems away and you will live a care-free life." But is this view truly Biblical? I would like to suggest that it's not.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

Jesus promises that we WILL HAVE TROUBLE. Just because we put our faith in Jesus Christ, does not mean that He then shields us from every little pothole in the road of life. No, Jesus promises that we will see trouble in this life, but He also promises peace, to those who trust in Him. Often people say "Well, if your God treats you like THAT, I want nothing to do with Him." But don't you see? He is treating us with love! In my own life, the times of the greatest trials and the deepest sadness, are also the time of the greatest peace that I have ever known. There is no reason to fear affliction as long as I trust in my Lord. He promises to never leave me and I know that He will always be there to provide the comfort that I need.

"In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." - 1 Peter 1:6-7

Here is another reason we face trials. Griefs and trials of all kinds come so that our faith "may be proved genuine and may result in praise...". How do we as Christians, set ourselves apart, and give God the praise that is due? By persevering through trials. By trusting in the Father even in the darkest of valleys. By opening up our hearts to His comfort and peace when we are hurting.

Though I don't always know why something happens, I do have peace. Though my heart is uncertain, I can stand on the promises that Jesus gave. That the afflictions and trials that God gives to me are not just random sufferings, but that they are playing a role in aiding the larger plan. A plan that is not mine, but Gods.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Beautiful Memories

The gentle tap of rain drumming on a windowpane. The sweet pleasant smell of cookies baking in the oven. The wonders of the wind, that you can't see, but you can feel. The cozy feeling of being at home surrounded by people you love, and who love you in return. The beautiful sight of a purple and scarlet sunset, that causes your heart to swell with wonder and awe. The delicious taste of ripe summer fruit. The wonderful fellowship of faithful friends. The quiet enjoyment of a good worn book. The warmth and security of somewhere to call "home". The glorious sound of the ocean waves as they break upon sea-stained boulders. The beauty of a memory that continues to linger in your mind.

All of these things are blessings. When I actually take the time to stop what I am doing to just dwell on all that God has given me, I am truly amazed. It brings happiness to my heart to think on what God has given to me, but it brings humbleness to my heart to think on what God has done for me.

Indeed, the moments when my hands were folded in prayer, when my heart skipped a beat because of the passion it contained for my Savior, when my eyes were pouring forth tears of joy because of the freedom that was mine, when all feelings of guilt and shame were wiped away with one prayer, when my heart grew quiet within me at the stillness of His presence, when my voice was raised in a praise to the rock of my life, when He comforted me with the peace that passes all understanding, when Jesus took me in His arms because I could walk no longer, when all became nothing in my eyes except doing the wonderful will of my loving Savior......yes, those are the moments that I remember. The moments that make my life worth living are the moments where I grew dim and my Savior shined forth. Where my flesh faded, and our wills meshed into one.

I hope that I never forget all that God has given me with the beautiful sunsets, gentle winds, delicious fruit, family, friends, and more....but even more than that I pray desperately that I would not forget my first love. That I would remember the times when He stooped down to meet me even in my brokenness. That my mind would always be tuned in to my creator, and that I would remember the tender moments and memories that make up the beautiful relationship that I have with my loving God.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Worth Fighting For...

Broken. Have you ever been broken? Truly broken? I am not referring to being broken in body, but broken in spirit. Have you ever been so cast down that the only place you have to go is into his loving embrace? Where your darkness has blinded you so much that you can no longer see the Son?

These places are humbling. They are painful. But they can be strengthening if we choose to turn our gaze back to the Father instead of getting discouraged about how far we have fallen. Discouragement is one of Satan's biggest deceptions. He uses our own minds against us. He wants us to feel like giving up. His motive is to make us feel hopeless and worthless; vessels unfit for the Master's use. This is where he deceives us and leads many dedicated believers astray. After one slip up, Satan somehow convinces them that they are no longer worth the price that Jesus paid on the cross. That they are no longer worthy of His love or forgiveness. What a horrible wretched lie! Jesus did not die for us so that we can spend our lives feeling discouraged about our imperfection! He died so that we may be free. Free from sins strongholds in our lives. Free from Satan's deceptions. Free from our guilt and our shame. Free from being controlled by the snares that "so easily entangle".

Discouragement crept into my mind this afternoon after an incident with my little sister. Leaning against a closet door in our bedroom I cried out to my Father. With tears in my eyes I asked Him why it is always so hard to choose love instead of hate, peace instead of anxiety, smiles instead of frowns, joy instead of sorrow, and hope instead of discouragement. Right at the peak of my discouraging thoughts Satan started whispering..."it's true you know. You always fail. You will never get it right. You cut your sister to pieces with your words. How can you be so unloving and hateful? You are just worthless. You will never learn to control your emotions. You always let them get the best of you..." and on and on it went. At last, God seemed to turn a light bulb on in my head.

"My son did not die, Emily, so that Satan could continue to invade your mind with thoughts that are not of me. He has no power over you. You are forgiven because of the cross. Every day is a brand new day to try again and if you fail despite your best attempts, well....forgiveness is waiting for you."

DO NOT let Satan discourage you! Just because you fail again....for the hundredth time...does not give you any reason to become discouraged! This life is a continual fight! The enemy wants you to retreat and back down. His greatest desire is that you would give in and just stop fighting the fight. Don't do it! Jesus is stronger and He is on your side. Do not be taken captive in your mind and let Satan slowly destroy you using the weapon of discouragement!

Praise God for His wonderful love towards us. I will not be discouraged because my God is a God of second chances. He longs to empower me so that I can live in victory. Even when I fail and say and do things that are not of the spirit...His wonderful forgiveness is right there, waiting to cleanse me, and give me a second chance. I will keep fighting, because the love that Jesus gives is worth fighting for.
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