A Simple Reminder

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This precious girl was one of the children I met in Moldova that lives in extreme poverty. I can almost guarantee this little girl did not wake up to presents under a Christmas tree this morning. 

As I was scrolling through my Moldova photos I was disgusted with our culture and my greediness. When I take my eyes off of Jesus and focus on myself I become selfish and greedy. It is so easy to focus on what I want, especially around this time of year. I often forget this world is not about me. I play a tiny role in the universe. 

While I may play a tiny role in the universe I am still significant to the One who created the universe, all because of Jesus. We celebrate His birth during this season of Christmas, but He was much more than a baby. He is the Savior! The One who took all the world’s sin upon Himself to die for us–to take our punishment. Not only did He die for us but He rose again three days later. Praise God!

When I return my focus to Jesus the other things diminish in importance. What I did or did not get for Christmas no longer matters. When I focus on Christ my priorities are put in the proper order: God, others, me. 

I am thankful for the gifts I received, but ultimately those do not matter. Loving God and loving others is what I should focus on, not only during this season, but all year long. 

One-Word Bible Study Method

The Bible instructs us to meditate on God’s word.

“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night…” Joshua 1:8

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Psalm 1:2

I had no clue how to practically “meditate” on God’s Word until this week.

On Friday I was talking with a wise woman about my low self-esteem and the thoughts I had while “beating myself up.”  She said I was meditating on those thoughts. She then talked to me about how to meditate on God’s Word. She advised me to start small. I should start with one word or a small phrase that struck me. I was still unsure.

Today I was reading “I Am Not But I know I Am” by Louie Giglio. In this book he talks about his, unofficially titled, One-Word Bible study Method (OBSM). He explains his method using John 1:1 “And the word became flesh and dwelt among us…”

He focused on the first word for one day. In this case “and” was the word. He said at first it seems hard. You have to be creative. He meditated on “and” as a continuation of the story. In the Old Testament God was silent for 400 years. This word “and” begins the next chapter, aka, Jesus’ arrival.

He continued with “the” on the second day, and so on. Giglio said this method is best done with the Epistles (the letters in the New Testament) as opposed to the Gospels or story based books of the Old Testament.

I’m going to try this method. I have been reading 1 Peter recently and have decided to start in 1 Peter 1:13 “Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

Here are my thoughts on day 1 “therefore.”

Therefore is an adverb, defined as “for that reason, consequently, so.” In verses 3-12 Peter talked about salvation and being born again. Therefore, in this context, means “Since you are born again” or “For the reason you are saved.” He is giving instructions.

Some things I thought about once understanding the context…
We can do nothing Christ calls us to do apart from Him. Peter is giving instructions that are impossible to follow without being saved. We can’t meet the standard God sets without Christ. It all comes back to the Gospel. Once we are saved, however, we have a responsibility. Therefore (since you are saved) live like Christ has changed you!

When Mama Cries

When my mama cries, it is the worst part of the day, week, month and year all wrapped into one.

You see, my mama is strong. Stronger than any person I know. She loves her four children passionately and takes our burdens upon herself. She holds our world together. With her beautiful hands she lifts our sorrows and pains off of us onto her shoulders. Everything that hurts us, she will take that pain away and she makes it hers. She holds our pain so we won’t hurt. She is so strong.  

But my mama, even though I see her as superwoman, is human. She cannot possibly hold the world all the time. Sometimes she cries. 

When mama cries she cannot hold our world for that brief moment. During that brief moment of sorrow she can no longer hold everyone’s worries and hurts. Mama shows us her human frailness for just a moment. 

Watching mama’s tears fall hurts worse than any other sorrow I have ever felt. When my superwoman cries, I am at a loss. 

I am not blaming my mama. No no no. My mama deserves to cry. She deserves to release the sorrow and worries and hurts she so selflessly holds for her children. I just wish I could help. How do you console someone who always consoled you? How do I take back my pain that I have given her?

Sometimes, I wish mama would let someone else hold our world together so she would not have to. But if she did, would she still be superwoman? 

Sanctification.

“And the Lord said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.’ 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. 3 And I said to her, ‘You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.’ 4 For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. 5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.” Hosea 3 

I feel as if I am very similar to Hosea’s wife. 

I look for love in all the wrong places.

I wander, like a little sheep.

I get lost and tangled up in sin.

Jesus calls me to Himself.

He beckons me with love.

I crawl to Him.

Too weak to run or fight any longer.

I surrender, so broken.

Tonight as I cried out to Jesus I begged Him to hold me. Hold me in your love. In your strength Lord, hold my brokenness. 

The story of Hosea redeeming His wife can be seen as metaphorical. The faithful husband is God; the unfaithful wife is us (more specifically the Israelites). 

“You must dwell as mine for many days…for you were bought with a price.”

Jesus paid our debt on the cross so we could have abundant life with Him. Jesus sacrificed so we could approach the throne of Almighty God. 

God later says in Hosea 6:6 “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” 

The God of the universe desires our love. He desires our hearts. 

We can come to Him broken. We can approach the God of the universe with tears stained cheeks.

We can do all of this because He desires a relationship with us, not good deeds.

We are incapable of saving ourselves.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

Thank you Jesus!

While Jesus holds us in our brokenness, He desires more for our lives.

“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor.” 1 Thessalonians 2: 2-4

God desires to sanctify us and He promises to complete it.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

Tonight I prayed I would be more faithful in following Him.

Praise God He is always faithful.

“If we are faithless, he remains faithful–for he cannot deny himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13 

Growing pains

For those that know me I didn’t grow much as a child. I’m quite petite. I stand 5 feet short.

But when I did grow it was in spurts and it was not pleasant. 

Hence the phrase “growing pains.”

I think I was about 12 when I had the worst growing pains. I remember one time waking up and crying in the middle of the night because my legs hurt. 

Growth hurts. Change hurts. 

Growing spiritually is no different. When we change and grow in the Lord it can be uncomfortable. 

I was reading a book yesterday that made a good point. A repentant heart without a change in behavior is pretty useless.

We can repent a million times but still run back to/fall into our sin. If we don’t choose to change our behavior that leads to sin we will always fall back into sin. We could have the best intentions to not commit sin “x” but if we don’t do anything practical to prevent sin “x” will we be able to stop? It’s unlikely.

To truly grow we must repent before God AND change our behavior. We can’t feel convicted and repent and then not change our behavior. Vice versa also. Trying to change our behavior without repenting is works-based faith.

The change of behavior is where it becomes uncomfortable. Sin becomes a habit, a pattern, that becomes comfortable and choosing to break that sin pattern can be uncomfortable.

Praise God he’s near to us, every step of the way. When choosing Him is hard, when choosing to be obedient is uncomfortable, He is right there. 

His presence and closeness provides comfort and peace that surpasses all understanding. He rejoices when we choose Him.

“So, if choosing obedience sometimes hurts, why do it?”

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3

I want to make this clear: what God commands of us is not the painful part. Choosing to give up sin can be uncomfortable (short-term) but choosing obedience is rewarding and fulfilling (long-term). 

Choosing obedience is hard in the moment but overall satisfying. Choosing disobedience is easy in the moment but overall unfulfilling. 

I’m growing. I’m choosing obedience moment by moment. The book I mentioned earlier talked about how we choose obedience day by day, but sometimes even a day of obedience is too overwhelming. Take it hour by hour until you’ve reached 24 hours. Then start over. 

Choose obedience and live in Christ’s victory over sin and death.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is,seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Colossians 3:1-5

 

Marriage

Recently all these articles about “Godly men” have been flowing around facebook. I LOVE them. #truth right?

They are all well-written articles about what really matters in a future husband. Based off Biblical truth I wholeheartedly agree with them. So of course I “share” them on facebook,  right? 

Well, today I read another one of these lists of Godly character traits, but at the bottom of this article was a link for an article written from a guy’s perspective. It was a list of 10 qualities a Godly wife should have.

So I read. It was really good. #truth again.

Then I asked God to search my heart. Am I those things? Now, I am single and young so I’m not looking to get married right now. But I do pray for my future husband (as I hope he is praying for me too). One question I had to ask myself was, am I praying for me to become more like Christ in order that when this guy comes along I will be ready? 

There was no one characteristic that stuck out to me. I think Christ has matured me to where I do each of those 10 things, to a certain extent. God doesn’t give us a checklist for marriage though, so regardless of whether I do those 10 things, I should be praying to become more like Christ each day, but not only for my future husband’s benefit.

I want to be seeking God first and foremost, growing to become more like Christ, and whenever this guy happens along, well God will take care of that.

http://sheismore.com/the-husband-list-12-non-negotiables/
http://goodguyswag.com/the-wife-list-10-qualities/

Time & Money

I dragged myself out of bed today. Skipping church and just sleeping in sounded really good when my alarm went off this morning. But nevertheless, I got out of bed, made some coffee, and drove to The Chapel on the Campus.

And I am so glad I did.

Today was the start of a new series at our church. We just finished “I am…” about our identity. Now we’re going through a series titled “Something’s Gotta Give.” Kevin McKee, pastor at the Campus location this morning, talked about as Christians our new priority is Jesus. 

Jesus is our new priority and what Jesus prioritizes we should also prioritize. In the three years Jesus did ministry he spent his time doing 5 things: spending time with the Father through prayer, teaching and discipling others, reaching the lost and broken, being in community, and resting. 

Mr. Kevin brought up the “day-planner.” I live out of my planner basically. It has what I need to do and where I need to be and when I need to do everything. LOVE it. He said in his junior year of college he threw his day planner in one of the LSU lakes because he realized he had become a slave to his schedule.

One of the first things that he focused on this morning was we are NOT defined by what we do; who I am is not equivalent to what I do. This kind of thinking, usually subconscious, is work-based salvation theology. I was like “nah that’s not me.” I know I can’t do anything to earn my salvation. Again I reassured myself “nah that’s not me.” 

Then conviction (through the Holy Spirit) started to work on my heart…

“Really, Brynne? Do you really live like you are saved by grace alone? Do you live out that doing many things at a mediocre level is pointless? Do you really live like Jesus is the reason behind all your actions? Really, Brynne?”

Um…

“Do you prioritize what Jesus prioritizes? Do you realize everything is His, from Him and for Him? Do you believe with your whole life that nothing is ours and we don’t earn anything by our works? Do you put Jesus as #1 priority in every aspect of your life or are you compartmentalizing? Does Jesus have all of you or just parts? Does He Brynne?”

No. I don’t. He doesn’t have all of me.

There’s no huge, obvious sin I feel super guilty about in my life at the moment…and I feel like that’s the hardest sin to rid yourself of.

There is the sin of being selfish with my time and money. “It’s my time Jesus. It’s my money. You can have 10% and a few hours a week. That’s it Lord.”

Do I say this out loud? No. But I do it. And I am realizing more and more that there is a contradiction between what I say I believe and what I do. Actions speak louder than words.

Jesus is over all. Everything I am given is given to me by Him to be used for HIS glory. I am given 168 hours a week and a paycheck to be used for HIM. HIS glory, NOT my comfort.

168 hours a week:

56 hours to sleep

16 hours to attend class

28 hours to work

6 hours to eat

25 hours to do homework

That’s 37 hours left over.

Now I don’t want to create legalism. There will be things I don’t schedule that happen. But looking at how many hours I waste on stupid things and how many hours I could be spending prioritizing what Jesus prioritizes…well it’s eye-opening. 

Praying for this week. Praying God would keep working on my heart, to mold me to be more like Christ. 

A Letter to the Ladies

Dear ladies,

You are a daughter to the Most High God. He loves you with an everlasting love. He desires for you to know Him as your Father, your provider, your lover, your everything. Everything we will ever need can be found in Him alone. 

As women we long for affection, to be cared for, loved, respected, admired. We long to be deemed special, worthy, significant. We search and dream and wish and hope and pray that our prince charming will come along and fulfill these desires. 

We date different guys. Some are good, some are bad; none of them truly satisfy.

Yet we still try to be satisfied by boys. We try harder. We put our identity in our relationship status. We put our hope in our dreams of the perfect marriage. 

Even the best guy, even the best relationships and marriages, without Christ, will never satisfy.

The desires we have to be loved, cared for, seen as special and significant…those desires are from God. The amazing news is that through the blood of Christ we are those things! He loved us so much that He sent His son to die in our place to make us worthy to stand before His throne. Our mistakes are washed away by His blood. 

Ladies, you are beautiful, loved, cherished, treasured, precious and pure before God through Christ’s sacrifice. 

Live like you believe it! Live as if you truly know how precious and loved you are by the Creator of the Universe. God is jealous for our hearts. He wants us fully devoted to Him, first and foremost. He wants us devoted to a life worthy of the calling we have been given; a life of love and purity. 

Purity is such a magnificent thing. We have been washed clean by Christ’s blood. We are made pure in His sight. Nothing we have ever done will be seen. Only the precious blood of Christ, which pays our debt. We are a new creation in Christ. Praise God!

It is important to remember though, Christ’s sacrifice does not give us an excuse to stay where we are. We are forgiven, washed clean by the blood of the Lamb, but He desires greater things for us. He does not want us to still search for satisfaction in boys (that don’t truly satisfy). He is our everything now. He offers us life and life abundantly. Take this free gift. Don’t stay where you are. 

Ladies, you are cherished by your Heavenly Father. He desires for you to know Him intimately; deeper than you would know your husband. This bond we have with Him is eternal while the things of this world are fleeting. 

In Christ, Brynne 

Waiting on the Lord

I get excited about the future easily. After _____(time)  I’m going to  _______. For example: After college I’m going to move to Moldova.

I get caught up in what I’m going to do and the fact that I can’t do it right now. I’m impatient and impulsive. I am easily swayed by emotions. This has become an increasingly worse problem in my life. After realizing this was a problem I started praying about it. 

“God, give me patience” was usually how my prayer began. I soon realized that I have patience (Holy Spirit) but I don’t have a strong trust. I know God is in control. But I rarely act like it. I worry, stress, cry, and worry again about my future plans.

What I thought was me needing more patience uncovered a bigger issue: desiring to be in control. I like to be in control. I told someone this recently: If I could plan every day of the next four years, I would. Overkill much?

So I came to a place where I was vulnerable before the Lord. I surrendered. I surrendered again. It’s a daily thing. Surrender and take up my cross. 

I’ve now come to the point where I’m waiting. Sometimes with patience, sometimes I begin to worry. But I am waiting because I am not in control. Then the thought occurred to me: What should I do while I wait?

I came across this sermon about waiting on the Lord. “Waiting is the process of becoming what God wants us to be. What God does in us while we wait is as important as what it is we are waiting for.”

I also recently listened to Christine Caine’s message from the World Mandate. 

Waiting is not a passive action. Waiting to move to Moldova (for example) should not be just me sitting here waiting for 4 years to pass. While we wait we grow, change, mature, pray, and seek Him above all else. 

So that’s what I want to do. It feels like I am waiting on all the exciting things to happen. But while I’m waiting in the every-day I am seeking Him, praying for growth and maturity, being discipled, getting in the Word, and trying to lead and share with others.

There’s work to be done inside us while we wait. Without the refining process of waiting we would never be mature enough to move on to the “next big thing.” 

Going Home

When I am upset I usually want one of two things: to rest or to go home.

These are normal desires. In our society, which has taught us that business is normal, many Christians get burnt out easily. When we are tired from being busy all the time we desire rest. Most times we rest at home. So for me, these desires are very much related and linked. To rest and to go home are one in the same almost.

Recently though I have had this desire to “go home” and I couldn’t find the rest and peace I was seeking. I didn’t know where home was. As I am not living with my parents right now I thought maybe I desired to return to them. That didn’t give me peace. My house where I currently live, while good, isn’t the true home I desire. So I thought maybe my home truly is Moldova. If I don’t find peace in America, it must be elsewhere. I kept trying to find my peace in a place, not in a person.

The sermon at the Chapel this past Sunday was about waiting. Waiting for restoration because we know this is not our permanent home. The world is broken and we long to be reunited with Christ.

And a light bulb went off.

Hebrews 13:14 describes this perfectly: “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” 

This is not our home. As Christians we long and wait for the world to be made perfect again when Christ returns.

Now, as for finding rest. 

And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14

Like I mentioned above I was trying to find my peace in a place and not in a person. Abiding in Christ is where we find true peace and rest. The Lord is with us; He is walking with us. He will give us rest through His spirit while we are here on earth, until we go home.