Thursday, June 4, 2015

Until the Whole World Hears

Recently, the Lord has showed me not only the importance of being a true follower of Christ, but also all that that entails. As Christians, we should be sharing the Good News to everyone we come in contact with, but often this can seem like a daunting task. “How do we share the Good News without it being awkward?” “What if they ask questions that I don’t know the answer to?” I’ve often found myself asking these very same questions but recently it has become more and more evident to me that when the Lord calls you to do something, you don’t need to worry about the details because He’s got covered.

As we continue to read Scripture, it becomes unmistakably clear that we are to share the Gospel and Christ’s amazing love to all people. The fact of the matter is this: How can we experience Christ’s amazing love, mercy, and grace and not want to share it with everyone we meet? I mean, if we have been set free by Jesus (which we most certainly have been) and are no longer held captive by this world how could this joy not just leak out of us and be displayed in everything we do? I don’t know about you, but to me this sounds pretty impossible. But yet we often do lose sight of everything that God has done for each and every one of us. And I really do mean “us”. I often get distracted by the little, unimportant things that fill my day-to-day routine so much that I forget all that the Lord has truly done. Not only has He died for my sins, but He has also encouraged me through His Word, answered my prayers, comforted me and guided me, and shown me more of just how amazing He is. How can I not praise Him for all that He has done, continues to do, and will do in the future?! For me, this just makes me want to shout from the mountain tops that the Lord is so awesome!

So that still leaves the question “how do we share all of this with the world?” Honestly, I think the enemy wants to make this seem complicated in order to intimidate us and keep us from sharing the Gospel. The answer is truly so simple: the Lord has placed each of us in strategic places where He can use us to tell others all about His wonderful-ness. He uses us in our relationships with others and our “spheres of influence”, which includes our family, friends, and even our co-workers. Everywhere we go is our mission field because everywhere we go God provides us with opportunities to share God’s love. It doesn’t have to be us standing on a corner preaching God’s word either, but it could be simple little things that spark a conversation (such as letting people you will pray for them and then checking up on them later that week, praying in public, or even just smiling and saying “hi”). People will notice that there is something different in the way that we, as Christians, speak and act and they will undoubtedly wonder why we’re so different, providing us with the opportunity to sharing about all that the Lord has done.

The Lord provides us with opportunities to share the Good News with those us every single day; we just have to not get distracted by life so we can recognize those opportunities when they come. As for worrying about what to say or being asked a question you don’t know the answer to: don’t worry about it! God doesn’t call the qualified, but qualifies the called (it sounds cheesy, I know, but that doesn’t make it any less true)!

I hope this was encouraging! I by no means have perfected this but, just like everyone else, I too am a work in progress. If you have anything to add feel free to comment below! I would love to hear your thoughts!

Have a blessed rest of the day and don’t forget to look for those people in need of Jesus that the Lord has placed in your life J

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity" Colossians 4:5

"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

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Work in Progress

One word can describe this year at college so far: Wow! God is soooo incredible. Truly words cannot explain how great He is! I say this not because of any particular thing He's done for me rather I say this because He's God! He is so holy and powerful beyond words and yet He chooses to have a relationship with us and use us in the process.

This semester I have the honor and privilege of being a transfer orientation leader. The students in my group are great! I had a great time hanging out with them during orientation week as I showed them around campus, got to know each of them better and even cleaned up the community together. God taught me so much during that week and continues to do so as we continue to hangout. He helps me to get out of my comfort zone and to reach out to people on a deeper level, rather than just asking "How are you" and leaving it at that. He's been showing me just how small I am when compared to Him and His sheer greatness. I also realized how selfish I often am, thinking of my needs and how often I forget about putting others' needs above my own. As He continues to work within me, I'm drawing closer and closer to Him and let me tell you, it's such a great feeling to feel Him moving inside of me as I begin to forget about my own wants and serve Him and His people instead. It's funny that saying that teachers (or in my case, leaders) often learn more from their students is so true.

Also, I've been going back to my home church on the weekends and I could definitely feel God using me there. I led worship a couple of weeks ago for the youth group and it was so great! The youth before would hardly sing and kinda just stood there as the worship team played. But now I can see that changing. Last time I led they were singing and you could tell that they were beginning to not be so concerned about what their neighbors thought of them and they just began to worship our Lord. It was such an amazing thing to see take place because I've been praying for this to happen for a little over a year now. Not only that, but that same Sunday I had a girl who's in junior high open up to me about her experience with peer pressure. What she said she was going through was exactly what I went through (and still do sometimes). As she was explaining herself to me, I said a quick prayer for God to give me the words to say. God totally took it from there. I began to tell her my experience, what I learned and what God says about it. He totally gave me the words to say and they seemed to just flow right from my mouth. It was truly incredible.

You know, as I reflect on all that God has done so far this school year for me and those around me, I can't help but remember what David said in Psalm 8:3-4: "When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?" (NIV). These verses have always had a special place in my heart, but now they have become even more precious to me. It's just a wonder to me why God would choose to use someone like me. I mean, what do I have to offer? But truly that's the beauty of it: none of us deserve Him or to be used by Him. But through His Son we can have a relationship with Him and as we draw closer to Him we will begin to hear His voice telling us where to go and how we can further His kingdom.

And this isn't to say that I still don't find myself stuck in my selfish ways. No not at all! But God is definitely doing a work in my heart and I pray that you will draw closer and closer to Him everyday and let Him use in amazing ways.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

He Makes All Things Work Together For Our Good

"The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." ~ Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

I have some exciting news to share with all of you! This is going to be a longer post than usual, so please bear with me. :)

 It all started about two weeks ago when my parents and I were sitting on the patio talking one night. We were just talking about my first year of college. Not long after, the course of our discussion started to change as I told them that I had been thinking about switching majors.

As many of you know, I am currently working two jobs: one as an architecture intern and one as a tutor helping little kids. However, many of you probably do not know that I have been praying and giving some serious thought as to whether or not I should switch majors. I've been seeking God's will for my life and asking Him for guidance on what He wanted me to do. As my parents and I talked about this, things began to become more clear.

All my life (and when I say that I truly mean as far back as I can remember), I had wanted to become an elementary school teacher. When I was little I had this corner in the room my mom and I shared where I would play "class" with my stuffed animals. I remember how I had it all set up like a classroom and how I went so far as to buy things from actual school supply stores. I would sit there in my corner (or classroom, as I had called it) until my legs cramped up and I couldn't sit there any longer or until my mom told me to go to bed. Whenever I had free time, you were guaranteed to find me in that corner. Not only that, but whenever I imagined what I would be like in the future I always pictured myself as a teacher.

So that was my plan, I was going to become a teacher, until my senior year of high school when I took ROP Architecture. I fell in love with buildings and architecture. I found architecture to be very intriguing. I loved that class and felt like God was calling me into that particular field of work. It wasn't until this summer though that I seriously began to question if this was indeed the right field of work for me and began to truly ask God for guidance.

As I prayed about all this, God started to reveal His plan to me. This debate of whether I should change majors or not soon became the thing that occupied most of  my thoughts. I began to feel a little confused and frustrated because I didn't know what God wanted me to do. Before long though I could here God whispering in my ear, "It's all okay. I have a greater plan for you and will guide you through this. Even though you might not see it now, I have amazing things in store for you."

Throughout the following week, I weighed all the pros and cons of both majors in my head. As I did, I began to discover that I love working with children and that I don't love architecture, but rather just appreciate it. My dad helped me to see that when he told me: "I think you like building things, but not necessarily actual buildings." I found that quote running through my head for that entire week (and still to this day).

Not long after the conversation I had with my parents, I knew that I wanted to become a teacher and at that point it just became a matter of it that's what God wanted me to do. As I sought His will, things just began to fall into place. I realized how much happier I was going to my tutoring job when compared to my architecture internship. On the days when I went to tutor, I could not wait to get there and teach the kids! I also kept thinking about how much fun I had during VBS week singing and playing with the kids and how sad I was to see that week end. And it was then, on a Sunday while I was leading worship at church, that I heard God's answer to my prayers.

So it is now with great excitement that I announce that I have switched majors! I am now majoring in Liberal Studies so that I can become an elementary school teacher and help to build homes inside my students' hearts rather than physical buildings.

You know, it is truly amazing how God works. He blessed me with two jobs this summer. Not just two random jobs that would give me a source of income, but rather one in each field that I was debating on going into. He helped me to see this summer that architecture isn't really what I want to do for the rest of my life and that my heart truly wants to teach little kids. Man, just the thought of me being a teacher brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes (which is a feeling that I never experienced when I pictured myself as an architect)! God is so good!

So thank you to all of you who have been praying for me. Words cannot describe how much I appreciate it! Please continue to pray for me as I embark on my journey with this upcoming school year.

And if you are having a hard time with anything, stop and pray! Wait on and trust in Jesus! By waiting on Him, you'll grow closer to your Creator as He reveals His plan for your life, which will blow your mind away!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Crazy Fun at VBS Week

So the fact that I'm writing this right now is proof that I made it through VBS week alive! It was a busy and hectic week, but oh so much fun! Leading worship was a blast! I will never forget seeing the kids' smiles as they sang and danced while praising Jesus. The week prior to VBS was just as crazy as the worship team and I tried to learn ten brand new songs...that's right ten! We were all a little worried going into the actual week of VBS, but those worries soon went away as we just began to have fun praising God.

 The first day of VBS we were all a little nervous. I remember getting on stage, looking at the 70 kids that made up the audience and feeling nervous. Then, one of my little friends, Rachel (who's about eight), called my name and motioned for me to come to her. I rushed over towards her (because we were about to start soon) and with a big smile she handed me a folded piece of paper. I got back onstage and opened it, only to find that it was a picture that she had colored for me. It was the sweetest thing and I could feel God just saying, "See, it's all going to be alright!" After that, I could just feel all my nervousness go away. As the rest of the worship team and I started to play our songs I could see that we all weren't as nervous. Sure we messed up, but we were all just having fun as a band, praising Jesus!

This year's VBS was set in the medieval times, so most of the leaders dressed up (which made it more fun for us and the kids). I got the awesome opportunity of bonding with some of the little ones at church as we played games and learned more about God through the Epic Bible Adventures each day. Throughout the week, the kids learned that God's love, family and friends, prayer, trusting in God and the Bible helps each of us to stand strong when the storms come. Sir Kermit and Lady Tamara each did a great job as they acted out the epic Bible story each night. All the kids learned a lot and man, so did I! 

This whole week has been such a blessing as I bonded with the worship team and the kids! Man, I've thought this before, but now I'm thoroughly convinced that the biggest blessings come in the smallest packages! God taught me so much this past if only I could get those songs out of my head! 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

With Everything I Have

"Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, the God of my salvation." Habakkuk 3:18

So last weekend my mom and I decided to go to my grandparents' house. It had been a little while since we had seen them and spending time with them was really nice. While we were out there visiting, we went to church. My grandma has always found pleasure in us going to church with her and fellowshipping with her friends afterwards, but I have to admit I didn't really want to go this time (only because I missed home and was eager to get back). However, despite my eagerness to get home, we went with them to church and let me tell you: God sure knew what He was doing (not that I'm at all surprised)!

We took a seat in the pews and that was when I first noticed this elderly woman who was seated in front of us. She looked like she was about ninety. Her hair was messed up, she had on a night gown that had stains on it, and she had an oxygen tank. Seeing me look at her, my grandpa nudged me saying, "That's Susie. She's hasn't been feeling well lately, but she prayed and God helped her to make it to church." As the service continued, I found my eyes wandering in her direction. It wasn't hard to tell that she was in pain and that she was really struggling. But what really got me was she was still worshiping the Lord with all she had. We would be saying the Lord's prayer and she was saying it at her own pace (which was a little slower than the rest of the congregation), but did that stop her? No. She was truly worshiping the Lord. Towards the end of the service I got a chance to meet her. I said hi and God bless you. She reached out her shaky hand to shake mine and simply responded in a croaky voice, "Bless you darling!" Throughout the rest of the service I couldn't help, but just watch her. It was such a wonderful sight to see her praying and praising the Lord. I was sad to see her and her husband leave early because she was in pain. 

After the service, I had mentioned Susie to my mom and just how awesome it was to see her praising the Lord. She said she had the exact same thought. Whenever I remember her in service, giving God all she had, I can't help but tear up (even now as I write this)! It was truly so beautiful to see.

The Lord taught me so much through Susie. What started out as me just having compassion for her soon turned into jealousy. I found myself longing and craving for the relationship she had with her dear Savior. He showed me that day exactly what true worship looked like. It isn't about how well we can sing, how we feel, how we sing or what others think about us, it's about thanking God for all that He has blessed us with (in the good and bad times). I always knew this, but God used Susie as an example of what a true heart of worship looked like. 

Habakkuk 3:18 has been my favorite verse for a long time and now I love this verse even more! Every time I read this now I can't help, but remember dear Susie. So I encourage you guys: worship the Lord with all you have!  You don't have to the best singer or even musically gifted. Just worship the Lord because let's face it, He truly deserves everything we have to offer (no matter what our circumstances might be)! And worship is not only confined to music, it also consists of our words and actions. We should let our love for God shine through everything we do, so that others might see it and want the same relationship with Jesus. I know it might sound cliche, but by living our lives in this way we could truly start a revolution! We'll be growing closer to our Savior and leading others to Him in the process, just like Susie did and continues to do. 

"And on that day when my strength is failing, the end draws near and my time has come. Still my soul will sing Your praise unending. Ten thousand years then forever more! Bless the Lord oh my soul. Oh oh oh my soul. I worship Your holy name. Sing like never before. Oh my soul. I worship Your holy name." (Lyrics from 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman).

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Summer So Far

Well, it’s been about a month since I finished my first year of college (still can’t believe it) and man oh man has the Lord blessed me! First, when I had first gotten off for the summer I started to look for a job. I spent about a week and a half calling places asking if they were hiring, filling out applications and turning in resumes until finally I got a job at a tutoring place right down the street. During the interview, everything just seemed to fall into place. I found out that my boss had attended Azusa Pacific and that he and his wife had attended my church and been part of the home school group there for a brief period of time. That night, after the interview, he called me up asking if I could start working the next day. Of course I was super nervous at the beginning, but I had prayed and did a Bible study before I went in and I could just feel the Lord calming my nerves and telling me that it was all going to be just fine. Now, I've been working there for almost a full month and my boss is giving me more clients and hours as time progresses.

Since I've only been working afternoons, I've also gotten to see some of my friends that I haven’t seen in a really long time, one of which I haven’t seen since we graduated from high school last year. It was so nice to see her again and catch up with one another, but what made it even cooler was that instead of it being awkward at first, we just seemed to pick up right where we left off. We had a blast hanging out together and hopefully will do it again sometime soon! The Lord has completely blessed me with amazing friends and it’s just really awesome getting to catch up with each of them and seeing how God has been moving in their lives.

It’s also really nice to be able to spend more time at home with my parents and my family. At school, I was so busy that I didn't quite realize how much I missed being at home and just how much I missed my mom and dad. It’s funny because there really is never a dull moment with me and my parents. They are both hilarious and such blessings in my life. I cherish every moment I have with them whether that be shopping in the grocery store and dancing in the aisles, saving little ducks, or just kicking back at home together. I love you guys more than you’ll ever know!

Lastly, this past year I started to lead the youth worship team at my church and now because I have more time, I've been leading it more often which has been a complete blessing! There’s just something about leading His people in song. It’s a feeling that is hard to explain, but it’s such a privilege to be able to lead the youth at my church into God’s throne room. It’s funny too because I had joined to help fill in a gap that was left in the worship team (at that time there was only one other person to lead), but of course God had a bigger plan. He has taught me so much about Himself, worship, music and teamwork. Now, the worship team has grown and it’s even better doing worship with my friends finding harmonies, experimenting musically and just having a great time as we worship the Lord together!

So yeah, you could say that this summer has been pretty awesome so far! I know I keep saying it, but God has blessed me soooooo much! Everything I do is all for Him, whether that is at my job, leading worship, or just going about everyday life. So that in everything, God may be glorified (1 Peter 4:11)! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Don't Worry Be Happy!

"But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:33&34 (NIV)

I read this verse a couple of days ago and since then God really has been speaking to me. What is it about us as humans that makes us worry and doubt so much? God has done so much for me in this past year, let alone the rest of my life so far. I remembered that I had worried about graduating from high school and starting college.  But guess what? Everything turned out just fine. Actually more than fine! God had completely blessed me with amazing professors and even more amazing friends. I had worried about the work load and God totally helped me through that as well. I had prayed all year long for God to guide me and to help me succeed. This past semester I got really good grades, not by my own means, but through the grace of God.

Yet after all that, I still find myself worrying about a lot of things. My major (architecture), school, finances, friends and family just to name a few. So far this summer I have had a lot of time to myself which just gives my thoughts more time to wander so I tend to worry more. I begin to ask myself "did I choose the right major? Will I be able to do succeed in the architectural field? What if my peers are better than me?" But in the midst of all this worrying I forget one very important thing: when I began to study architecture in high school, I felt God calling me to pursue architecture so I can help the less fortunate. If God called me to do it, who am I to question? God reminded me of this crucial point yesterday when I looked at the my Bible verse for the day. It read: "He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:24). Sure I might not be the best at it yet and the  road before me might not exactly be clear, but God called me to do this specific major and school so I need to fully trust in Him. Period. No ands, ifs, or buts about it. And who knows God might call me to a different major later on and then I'll just have to keep trusting in Him, following Him one step at a time like I am now.

So what I'm trying to say is: don't worry! God has something amazing in store for each of us and the more we worry, the more we are distracted from our mission and calling. In Matthew 6:33&34, God tells us to strive after Him. Once we begin to do that everything else in our lives will fall into place. Our circumstances still won't be perfect, but God puts each of us exactly where He wants us. When I read this passage,  I picture Jesus just shaking His head in unbelief as He tries to get in through our thick little heads that worrying doesn't solve anything. Think of all the time you and I have spent worrying. Where did that worrying get us? Nowhere! We could have been using all the time that we were worrying to pray and fill our hearts with Scripture instead.

This verse also begs the question: why don't we just trust in Him? We say that we do, but do we really? I mean if we (and I do mean we) spend all this time worrying, are we really trusting in God? And why aren't we? It's so simple. God wants to take all these burdens that we have away, but first we have to let Him do so.  He's done nothing short of amazing for us (even when I thought everything was going horribly everything turned out better than I could even imagined)!

So instead of worrying what next month, week or even day will bring, focus just on today and right now. If you don't, you could be missing out on some incredible opportunities for God to use you and the small blessings that He has in store for you!