Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Chase is On....

In the society we live in today, there are some many things that we chase after. We chase after relationships, love, money and power, but does any of it really satisfy us? I think I have reached a point in my life where I am beginning to become tired of chasing and are growing more and more paralyzed. Don't get me wrong there are some areas, like my career, that I am running towards a future goal but other areas, especially my spiritual walk, I feel have been stagnant for a long time. This is why I have recently embarked on a journey where I am striving to becoming healthier and more active both spiritually and physically. In terms of my spiritual health I would like to stop chasing all the things of this world and start once again chasing after the heart of God. One way I plan on doing this is by once again writing in this blog as I work through a study, called Chase. This will serve a multitude of purposes for me:

  1. It help keep me accountable to friends and strangers who stumble across this blog. 
  2. It will help me organize my thoughts and process them, which in turn means they will make a bigger impact on me than just staying locked in away in my head. 
  3. The study I have chosen to work with is actually designed to be a small group study, however since mine just broke for the summer, I will instead use the internet as my small group :)
So here we go once more, on a journey to improve my spiritual health and to chase after the heart of God. 

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Chapter 2: a decision or a commitment?

No matter how many times I might have read the same story in the past, there is always more that I can learn from it. This true for the story of Nicodemus .

It is a story of a religious leader who comes to Jesus at night in order to have a DTR moment with him. This seemingly innocent and insignificant detail is actually a very important one when you think about. I mean why come at night? Why not during the day? A man of Nicodemus's statue could approach Jesus whenever he wanted. But you see if he came during the day, it would come at a cost...his job, his friends, his respect, everything would be hindered or lost if he approached Jesus in the light. This is why he went a night, in the darkness, when no one would see him and when it would cost him least.

This is what I do. I come to Jesus in the secret, and at the moments which will cost me the least. However this is not what Jesus asks of us. To truly be a follower of Jesus, it means it will costs everything, even our lives. This is a scary thought my friends. I mean I like my life (for the most part) and I like how things are. Am I really willing to cast all of that aside for Jesus. I want to say, I know I should say yes but I am afraid. I am afraid of what that may look like. Of what people may say. I have worn the mask of the Christian for so long that I am afraid of  what people would think/say if they really knew how I felt or what I thought. I'm afraid how my fellow scientists will act. I'm afraid. 

In this chapter, Kyle poses a question that I have been wondering myself but haven't been able to form:
Question 1: Have you made a Decision for Jesus or Have you Committed to Jesus?
Although there shouldn't be a difference there is one. At least here in America there is. I feel like several times throughout my life I have made a decision to believe in Jesus but have yet to actually commit to him. No matter how many times I may speak the words, they are just empty words unless an action follows them.  I think the analogy for this that Kyle presents is very fitting:
"Imagine going to a wedding and watching a groom on his wedding day look a his beautiful bride, and with a tear in his eye he speaks words of devotion '...forsaking all others until we are parted by death.' You're moved by his words and the decision he has made. But imagine if the next week you find out that while the newlyweds were away on their honeymoon the groom was unfaithful to his bride, Suddenly those words would hold no value, They would be worthless. You would conclude that those words he emotionally expressed and publicly declared meant little because they were not validated by faithful commitment." (pg 32)
That's me.
 I'm the groom.

Each Sunday when I take the Lord's supper, I speak the words and ask God to help me be closer to him. To be a follower not a fan. And each time, I get up and leave the church and those words are forgotten. There is not action to support  the words that I cry. I might as well be cheating on God for all that I do.
While looking online for a picture to go with this entry I came across the picture above. I think its very fitting for this entry. For so long I have been interested in Jesus but not committed to him. Help me Lord to stop being a believer in the darkness and to become a follower in the Light.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Chapter 1: D.T.R.

I think its fitting that I am starting this book just as football season is beginning. Living in a college town during this time is always an interesting experience. Back in TN, about 95% of the town felt like this: 

Every Saturday, downtown was basically shut-down as thousands of fans made the pilgrim to their temple in anticipation of seeing the Volunteers win a game. However, the last few years I lived there, we weren't doing to well. The more games we lost, the less people went, or if they did went they would leave the game half-way though because we were losing. Most  people blamed the coach, but now that he is gone and another is in his place, you can feel the excitement and pride once more. 

The fans have returned! 

But that is what fans do. They are "an enthusiastic admirer." They stand in the bleachers and cheer on the players, but they don't actually play.  They don't actually go out onto the field and get tackled or worry about passing the ball to the correct person or anything. And when the players disappoint, they leave. 

How many times do we do this with Jesus? 
How many times will we stand there and cheer him on as long as things are going the way we think they should but as soon as they change we leave and forget him? 

I know I do this all the time and its something that I hope I can change. But I have to keep asking myself, do I want to change. And to be honest the answer is: I don't know. I want to say yes but a part of me is screaming NO!

In the first chapter of the book, the author, Kyle Idleman, asks us to imagine Jesus sitting down across from us at a coffee shop and asking us to have a DTR conversation. How would you respond? 

I know for me, I wouldn' know how to respond. I would be thinking something like this: 

but it will prolly end up saying something like this: 

Either way, its not good. Jesus would clearly be able to define what he wants in a relationship with me, but I would have no clue how to respond. Is our relationship exclusive? Is it casual or committed? I know what the answers should be but I also know how my heart would answer and unfortunately they do not match up. What about you?

Keeping all of this in mind, I want to ask you something dear reader. Now I know I may not actually know you personally but I want to ask you it anyways.  I also want you think very carefully about your answer before you reply and don't just reply immediately. But rather take your time and think: 

Are you a follower of Jesus? 

Like I said, before you answer I want you to truly think about how you are going to respond? What does it mean to be a follower? What does it mean to be a fan?  What standards do we use to distinguish between the two?

Here we go again

Hello again.

I think its been about two years since my last real post. A lot has changed during these past two years, (changed schools, moved to Texas etc.) but a lot has also stayed the same. I still struggle with my faith. I am still trying to figure out how to let God have more control of my life. I am still broken.

Recently I have begun wondering if I even really believe in Jesus. I have no doubt that God exists, I see him all around me and especially in my science, but Jesus.....he is still a mystery to me I fear. I mean I know all the stories and I know the songs but do I really know Jesus and believe in him?As I am writing this I am reminded of a scene from one of my favorite movies, The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Now you may be asking yourself, "what does this movie have anything to do with Jesus? I thought it was some dark weird movie about Halloween." And to some extent you would be right, but the movie is actually a lot more than that.  After a visit to Christmas town, Jack Skellington  (the main character of the movie) tries to understand the meaning of Christmas. He believes that there is a logical explanation there, so he studies all the books for Christmas and follows the scientific method. But just when he is about to give up all hope of understanding, its like a veil is lifted and he thinks he finally understands. Now we see later on that he doesn't actually understand the true meaning of Christmas, but that is not my point.

 My point is this,  no matter how hard Jack tried he just couldn't understand the magic of Christmas. It was foreign to him. Its like no matter how times I read the bible stories, sing the songs, or go to church, do I actually understand Jesus? If you actually look at the lyrics of the song, you will see many different parallels between Jack's struggle with Christmas and my struggle with my faith. Here are some the lines that I like the best for this analogy...

"There's so many things I cannot grasp
 When I think I've got it and then at last.
Through my bony fingers it does slip,
like a snowflake in a fiery grip." 

There are times, especially when I am at Church, that I am think am starting to understand. That I am starting to truly believe. But just a quickly, something comes along and the moment is gone. My pride makes it so that I do not confide in those around me and no progress is actually made.

"I've read these Christmas books so many times
I know the stories and I know the rhymes.
I know the Christmas carols all by heart.
My skull's so full it's tearing me apart.
As often as I've read them, something's wrong.
So hard to put my bony finger on." 

Like I said, growing up a Christian has made it so that I know all the stories, I know all the songs. I know how I am supposed to act and what I should say. But something's wrong,  do I truly believe any of it?

Or perhaps it's really not as deep as I've been led to think
.Am I trying much too hard? Of course. I've been too close to see.

Just the other day I was telling a girl at my small group who is struggling to believe that she needs to stop trying so hard. She is trying to force something and control something that is really God's to control. Advice I should probably take to heart.

The answer's right in front of me.
Right in front of me.It's simple really, very clear,
like music drifting in the air.Invisible, but everywhere.
Just because I cannot see it doesn't mean I can't believe it.

I feel like Jesus is right in front me, just waiting for me to see him but I'm scared. He doesn't fit in with my scientific view. God: yes...Jesus: I dunno.I want to believe. I want to be a true follower of him.

Today I was at the local Christian book store when I came across this book "not a fan." by Kyle Idleman.  Even just reading the prologue, it made me question myself, am I really a follower or just a fan? Unfortunately I am pretty sure I am fan and not a follower, however I am hoping that by working through this work it will help me to become more of a follower and less of a fan. I am once more going to try to blog my thoughts here after chapter and hopefully by doing so it will help to keep my accountable.

So here we go ahead, on my journey toward Jesus and becoming more than just a fan and actually becoming a follower.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Stand in the rain

"Stand In The Rain"

She never slows down.
She doesn't know why but she knows that when she's all alone, feels like its all coming down
She won't turn around
The shadows are long and she fears if she cries that first tear, the tears will not stop raining down

So stand in the rain
Stand your ground
Stand up when it's all crashing down
You stand through the pain
You won't drown
And one day, whats lost can be found
You stand in the rain

She won't make a sound
Alone in this fight with herself and the fears whispering if she stands she'll fall down
She wants to be found
The only way out is through everything she's running from wants to give up and lie down.

So stand in the rain
Stand your ground
Stand up when it's all crashing down
You stand through the pain
You won't drown
And one day, whats lost can be found
You stand in the rain

So stand in the rain
Stand your ground
Stand up when it's all crashing down
Stand through the pain
You won't drown
And one day, whats lost can be found

So stand in the rain
Stand your ground
Stand up when it's all crashing down
You stand through the pain
You won't drown
And one day, whats lost can be found
You stand in the rain

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Please guard and protect my heart, O Lord.
This I pray with every fiber in my being.
I cry out to you, please protect me.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Ch 2: God is Willing (pt 2)

The second half chapter 2 begins by talking about blessings and how parents are so happy to give their children the many blessings that they are able to bestow upon and how God loves to do the same. Now I have heard the same thing over and over again since I was little girl and in fact the song "Count your many blessings" starts to run through my run but to be honest....this concept is nothing new and therefore doesn't impact me as much. That is until he quotes 2 Samuel 12: 7-9
This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: "I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul..I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why do you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in my eyes. 
To give you all a little bit of background about this quote. These are the words that Nathan, King David's prophet, to King David after he admitted his adultery with Bathsheba.  This passage makes me stop in my tracks and take a long and deep look at my life. Am I thankful for the many blessings that God has given me? I reminded of a picture I have seen on-line:

All often do I drift during the day, going about my "busy" life without stopping and thanking God for everything he has given me. Better yet, how often do I ignore those blessings and instead sin and then rub that sin into the very face of the one you has blessed me so? Way more often than I would like to admit. November is supposed to be a time of thanksgiving, I time when families and friends gather together and talk about how God has blessed them during the last year. However this is not something that we should limit to just one day or even one month. It should be something we carry with us always and I think the question posed in the picture above is a very good daily reminder of that. How much would you have if you only had what you thanked God for the previous day? I know I wouldn't have much....that's for sure :(

Therefore I want to challenge all of you out there on the inter-webs. I challenge you all to take five mins of your day and just stop, pray, and thank God for the many MANY things he has blessed you with and just be thankful for the life he has given to you. I wonder how much of an impact this challenge will be on our lives. I'm guessing a large one but we shall see. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ch. 2: God is Willing (pt 1)

How many times have we come up with reasons why we won't ask God to help us? We come up with 10,000 excuses/ reasons such as "My problems are so insignificant that I really shouldn't bother God with it" to "God will think I am so selfish for asking for this therefore I won't." Or my favorite "I got this, I can handle it...I'll let God help me with the next problem I have." However none of these statements are true. they are all lies! Lies that we tell ourselves over and over again. God is willing and waiting for us to come to him with our struggles...we only need to ask.

To illustrate this point, Bill talks about a story found in Luke that Jesus told about a Judge and a Widow. In the story, there is a window who has been wronged and she seeks the help of a local judge. However, the judge doesn't care about anyone beside himself. Its only after the window keeps bugging him that the judge finally concedes and helps the widow. Bill goes on to say that this story is typically misinterpreted by many people in which the see God as the judge, someone who will only help if you pester them long enough. In fact the exact opposite is true!
Will not God bring about justices for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly- Luke 18:7-8
I know I am guilty of thinking at times that God only cares about the big important things. He doesn't want to help me with the little things as well. Or that I need the right formula/key in order to get God to answer my prayers. Once more these are all lies that I tell myself and the truth of the matter is that he does care. GOD DOES CARE ABOUT ME. He cares about everything that has to do with me. From the smallest thing I struggle with to the largest. All I have to do pray to him and ask for his help and he will be there. I just need to keep reminding myself of this fact but that is easier said then done sometimes...

Another way that people tend to misinterpret this story is that they think that we as humans are the widow. Once more this is not true and as Bill describes in the book, the widow was abandoned, had no family and no connection with the Judge. Whereas, we are not abandoned, and in fact are a part of God's family. Now as I write this I think about my family both biological and otherwise and I know that for most of the members, if I ask them for help with something they will give it without hesitation. How much more do you think a perfect and loving being like God will be like? Granted the help he provides may not always be in the form that we like/chose but it is always in a way that is best for us.
Taste and see that the LORD is good - Psalm 34:8

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Ch 1. God's Presence, God's Power (pt 2)

As I pick my book back up and begin to read I am reminded of a podcast of a sermon that I heard over the weekend on my drive to South Carolina. In the podcast he Pastor of the church that I attend talked about Prayer and how even as a pastor, he still struggles with prayer and by preparing the sermons for us forced him to sit back and reevaluate his life especially his prayer life and how it always needs more work. The funny thing is that I heard this sermon BEFORE I received the book that I am reading. Sometimes God just really has to make things obvious to us before we get huh? lol. Anyways, these are thoughts that race through my head as Bill Hybes describes his own struggles with prayer and although he knew A LOT about prayer, he RARELY ever practiced it. I think he describes it best when he says:
I have a racehorse temperament, and the tugs of self-sufficiency and self-reliance are very real to me. I didn't want to get off the fast track long enough to find out what prayer is all about. (pg11). 
However he did take the time to get off the fast track and delve into prayer, and it wasn't until he did so that he felt like he truly knew God. He went from a very causal, "Hey God, How is it going?" type relationship to a very deep, hours long of conservation type relationship. Deep down this is what i yearn for. I ache to be closer to my creator but I am not 100% sure I am ready to get off the fast track that I have put myself on. Hopefully though as I dive deeper into this book I will be able to have that deep connection with God. It is only when we are pray and become connected with God can we truly enjoy his power and majesty. There is a saying that is something along of the lines of  When we work, we work; but when we pray, God works. This is another thing that I need to try to keep in mind as I struggle each and every day.Bill provides us with an example from the bible in Exodus 17:8-13. In this passage, the Israelites are fighting the Amalekites and Moses sends Joshua to fight them while he goes and prays on top of the hill. He prays with his hands stretch towards the heavens but as you would expect his arms get tired so he lowers them. As soon as he lowers his hands, the Amalekites begin winning! panicked Moses raises his hands once more, turning over the struggle to God and the Israelites as a result win the battle. So often I find myself trying to fight my own battles and to do things on my own and it isn't until I truly hand everything to God that the battle is finally won.
It boils down to this: if you are willing to invite God to involve himself in your daily challenges, you will experience his prevailing power -- in your home, in your relationships; in the marketplace, in the schools, in the church, wherever it is most needed (pg15). 
In my description of the passage, I left out one very important detail.  While Moses knew if he let his arms go down once again they would lose the battle, his arms still got tired. He wasn't alone though, he had two friends up on that hill with him, Aaron and Hur. They found a stone for him to sit on and held his arms up when he was too weak. They believe that much in Moses and the power of prayer that they in-convince themself to help their friend. While i really do believe that God is always there for us and that he will give us the strength we need to carry on, it is important to note that sometimes that strength comes in the form of friendships. I am very happy to say that I have been blessed with numerous friendships with people who I know will be there to help strengthen me and lift me up as I journey through life and they know I would do the same for them. I thank God for blessing me with these people and I hope that you, my readers (whoever you may be), have been blessed as well. If not, I will be happy to help :)

Already behind

So I just started re-blogging and I'm already skipping days. Ugh! To my credit though, there was no point yesterday in which I was at a computer long enough to read and blog here. From teaching in the morning, lunch with the Chancellor, doing research at my lab and then watching my friends son while she is out of town I never had a few momemnt to stop and read. But I guess that is the point of this blog. It's to force myself to stop and read my Bible/Christian book and blog my thoughts. Of course today while I have ample amount of time in between lab expeirments I leave my book at home. FAIL. Oh well. While I was sitting at my computer today I stumble across a poem which I feel apply to my current topic/struggles. Hope you enjoy and I promise to write an actual post later tonight :)

I Didn't Have Time

I got up early one morning
And rushed right into the day!
I had so much to accomplish
That I didn't have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me,
And heavier came each task.
"Why doesn't God help me?" I wondered.
He answered, "You didn't ask!"

I tried to come into God's presence;
I used all my keys at the lock.
God gently and lovingly chided,
"Why, child, you didn't knock!"

I wanted to see joy and beauty,
But the day toiled on, gray and bleak.
I wondered why God didn't show me.
He said, "But you didn't seek."

I woke up early this morning,
And paused before entering the day.
I had so much to accomplish
That I had to take time to pray!

By Grace L. Naessens