My name is Jealous

This has been a topic that I have had marinating in my head for the last month or two. It was my boyfriend, Mario, who brought it to my attention (though not intentionally.) On this day a Jehovah Witness came to the door asking him if he knew who God was, to which he replied yes he did. The conversation quickly turned to talking about the different names of God. Although the person at the door was quite set on Jehovah as the main name to be used to describe God, it was Mario who mentioned that God has many names and even calls Himself Jealous. I had forgotten this and at that moment many things began swirling in my head, two of which were a) how could God call Himself jealous when it is shown to be a negative trait? and b) the song How He Loves by John Mark McMillan.

fullsizeoutput_2There are a few verses that I found that talk directly about God and His name Jealous. As I began reading some of these verses I came to realization that God’s jealousy is not the same as the jealousy we are told to avoid. God’s jealousy refers to His deep love for His people. 

“But you shall tear down and destroy their [pagan] altars, smash in pieces their [sacred] pillars (obelisks, images) and cut down their Asherim –for you shall not worship any other god; for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous (impassioned) God [demanding what is rightfully and uniquely His]–” Exodus 34:13-14

The verse above occurred after the two Tablets (The Ten Commandments) were replaced, since Moses had smashed them. This verse was a part of the renewing of the covenant between God and His people. But let us back it up slightly, why did Moses smash the original Ten Commandments? Well after spending a long time on Mount Sinai the children of Israel became anxious and felt like Moses was never coming back so they decided to build a golden calf and worshipped it. Upon seeing this, Moses threw the tablets to the ground because he was angered over Israel’s betrayal (Exodus 32). As a result, in God’s covenant renewal He tells Israel of His name – Jealous. 

I love the part that says, “… the LORD… is a jealous (impassioned) God.” He had intense, strong feelings for His people, He was angry and sad that He was not enough for them after all He had done. He had rescued them from slavery and performed amazing miracles that they lived through and saw! Yet, His people, whom He loved with a passion, deserted Him for a hunk of gold in the shape of an animal.

This notion made me question how this applied to me today. Since God is the same yesterday, today, and forever then this must mean that He can still be jealous. So I thought about my own life. Am I allowing God to have all of me? Am I serving Him, or am I serving something else? Do I see that God is enough, that He is all I need? Or am I readily willing to leave Him?

Zechariah 8:2

““I have longed to help Jerusalem because of my deep love for her people, a love which has made me angry with her enemies.” – Zechariah 8:2

The song How He Loves is a beautiful song written by John Mark McMillan and has been covered by numerous artists. The song starts “He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.” I feel like this sums up God’s jealousy for us quite nicely. Above I have linked two versions of Zechariah 8:2 because I thought they help get a better picture of what it means for God to be jealous for His people. He has a deep love. His love comes over us as strong as hurricane force winds and reaches out to us. He wishes that we would see that He is all we need. He is more than enough for us. He wants us to know that it reaches beyond us. There is nothing that can separate us from His love (Romans 8:37-39): He will always pursue us. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves…

 

*Sorry about the lighting… could not do a thing about the window behind me.

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She is…

This weekend I had the privilege of attending a local women’s conference at my church. The theme of the conference was “She is…” In keeping with this theme, the topics during the sessions were: she is confident, she is still, she is wise, she is desirable, she is loved, and finally, she is obedient. All the speakers had some great things to say, but there was one thing that almost every speaker said, “I don’t feel qualified to be here speaking to you.” However, I would have to disagree with them. For the sole reason that God had called them to that place, every single woman who walked onto that stage and spoke was very qualified. God put them there and that is all the qualifications anyone needs.

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Masquerade tea party

God has made each and everyone of us on purpose, for a purpose. In this we may feel unqualified, yet this idea is only based on what we would consider qualified. If God calls you to something it means you are qualified and are being equipped to handle the task set before you. And you know what is great? We are not the first ones to feel unqualified.

Gideon

 “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!” – Judges 6:15

Gideon was considered to be the least of the least, at least in the sense of position. He was the youngest of his family, belonged to the smallest tribe in the smallest nation. There may have been better warriors than Gideon, but they were not the ones who God asked to lead Israel against the Midianites. In the above verse we see Gideon questioning his qualifications to do what God had told him to do. To this God responds, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man” (Judges 6:16).

 

Moses

But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.” – Exodus 4:10

 

In Exodus chapter 3 we find Moses standing by the burning bush talking to God. Here God reveals His plan to Moses about rescuing the Israelites from Egypt. Following that, Moses has lots of questions for God since it is Moses who is being called to carry out this plan. The beginning of Exodus 4 is entitled “Sign’s of the Lord’s power.” Verses 1-17 describe all the amazing signs that the Lord would perform (through Moses), but it is verse 10 where Moses finally tells God, the Creator, that he was not created for the job. Did God not know who He was calling? Was God wrong? Of course not! Yes there were better speakers (in fact it is known that Aaron, Moses’ brother, was a much more proficient speaker); however, they were not the ones who were being asked to confront Pharaoh. Moses was more than qualified in the eyes of God to carry out what was before him. God did not expect Moses to speak alone either. In fact we see in Exodus 4:11-12 that God affirms His power as Creator and Lord of the earth, then proceeds to tell Moses that He will be with him as he speaks and that He will tell him what to say.

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Ladies’ Tea Party

So here I have presented two people (of many others) who did not find themselves qualified to complete the job presented to them. Yet, they were the most qualified. God does not always choose people whom we deem to be “qualified” for a job, instead He reveals who He is through our weaknesses. God knows what He’s doing, it’s not an accident, or by chance the purposes He bestows upon us. And yet, we are still going to have moments where we are called to do something and feel like we are lacking and that someone else may do a better job, but guess what… We are qualified due to the simple fact that God purposed us for the job. In those areas we find ourselves lacking, God will fill in. Just like how God told Moses that He would tell him what to say. Also, we need to remember that God will not leave us either, which is what He told Gideon and Moses. He is equipping us for what we need to do.

Finally I would like to encourage the women who spoke this weekend. You are all qualified to speak and to share your hearts on that stage, and in fact you are all the most qualified. Thank you for standing there speaking from your hearts. You may not think of yourselves as being the best of speakers in the technical sense (or in the sense that there is always better and always worse), but you were all perfect for the job. Why? Because God purposed you for that. I would also like to encourage anyone who is reading this. Do not forget that you too are qualified to do what God asks. He does not make mistakes in His choosing. He knows who He is calling, what He is calling them to, and He will walk with us through that.

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Some lovely ladies I spent the weekend with!

Let’s change our thinking and stop selling ourselves short because she is qualified.

 

p.s. guys, you are qualified too 😉

 

1 Corinthians 1:25

Seasons change

It’s hard to have your heart in two places. France will always be considered my second home, and in so being, it will continue to hold a piece of my heart. There are few days that go by where I do not think of my time there and the wonderful part of my adventure it was. My heart aches to go back. I want to be in the place where God pushed me to trust Him, pushed me to believe in my dreams again, and pushed me to know who I am in Him. There are so many good memories that I play over and over again in my head. Almost a year has gone by and here I am still suffering withdrawal (of a sort). Here I am wishing that I could have the best of what I have here in Canada and what I had there in France. However, that is a wish that is impossible to be granted. This is what makes me cry sometimes, but this is what also brings me joy.

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Are you more likely to take a selfie than look at the view? Are you looking forward or behind? Is there something you’re missing?

I am very thankful that I was able to go to France and experience God’s favour there. I am grateful for the many friends I made and for what a support they became. I am glad that God did not agree with my plan while I was there and that He was able to knock my socks off in the way that He provided everything I needed. Yet in the same breath, I am thankful to be home. There have been so many amazing moments that I have lived since coming home. I do not think that I would appreciate all that I have here in Canada and my experiences in France if I had not left France. Sometimes it’s hard to know why we have to leave some things, but we need to, and we need to move on. It’s important to remind myself that I live here, in this moment. I cannot live for the past, since the past is gone and it is not coming back. Nevertheless, I will remember it.

(Proverbs 4:25-26)

When we are constantly looking back we miss what God has in front of us. God guides us through seasons and some are longer than others, but there is always more, always something to move towards; when there is finally nothing more for us to move towards, we move towards heaven. There are sometimes where I long to go back to France, to the atmosphere I learned to love (and hopefully one day I will go back and visit my beloved France), but I remind myself of the wonderful and amazing people and moments I have here – right now. Every season of my life matters. It’s ok for me to be sad, it’s ok that I miss France. The problem lies where I forget to look forward and enjoy the season I am in and where I am going.

So here’s to looking ahead, focusing my eyes on what God is putting in front of me and living this next season. I am His, He is mine.

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

P.S. the one thing I do not miss about France is all the protests. 😉

“Bible Glasses”

Well it has been a few months since I’ve written a post, but I finally have a moment to sit down and write (and it does not have to be related to school!)

Lately I have really been thinking about this idea that I like to call “Christian-alysing.” This is the when Christians analyse things around them with “bible glasses,” or where everything has to some way relate to the bible. I, myself, know that I have analysed things (movies, music, literature, etc.) in this way. However, I think that by doing this we have missed the point. Sometimes we need to take these stories for what they are and not try to fit them into our bible. Let me explain what I mean by this.

This is not the first time that I have thought about this topic of “Christian-alysing,” what really spurred this thought process was when I was told (many a year ago) that C.S. Lewis did not write The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as an allegory of the story of Christ. Yet, this puzzled me since 1) C. S. Lewis was a Christian and 2) Aslan seemed to fit the role of Jesus pretty well. Nevertheless, Lewis wrote on this subject to explain that his work was not allegorical in nature, rather, “at first there wasn’t anything Christian about them [the images that began the “Chronicles of Narnia”]; that element pushed itself in of its own accord.” Elements of Christianity obviously made their way into Lewis’ works, there is really no surprise in this because he was a Christian and that mindset seeped into all he did. At the same time this does not imply that it is an allegory. This idea he addresses by saying:

If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity in the same way in which Giant Despair [a character in The Pilgrim’s Progress] represents despair, he would be an allegorical figure. In reality however he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, ‘What might Christ become like, if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?’ This is not allegory at all.

There is no denying that there are certain aspects of Christianity presented in the “Chronicles of Narnia” (specifically The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). In the same breath, we cannot use this story as a replacement for the true one. Our faith should not be determined by what we see as “Christ” figures (or God figures for that matter) because they simply are not Him. They are characters that carry some attributes of Him, but they are not perfect representations. They are not Him.

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Know who Jesus is. He is inspiring.

Why is it so important to some of us to find a Christian message? (That is for you to answer yourself.) For myself, when I watch something and I feel like I see a “hidden” Christian message I try to take a step back and think about it. Is it really a pure Christian message? I mean there are lots of religions that preach a similar message, (peace, love, kindness, self-control, generosity, etc.) But… Jesus taught us differently. He said “… love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you.” (Luke 6:27-28) Jesus as the son of God, who died and then was resurrected from the dead, is what sets Christianity apart from other religions. He is inspiring! Truly inspiring! So there is no wonder why there are books and movies (even some songs) that possess a character with some of the attributes of Jesus.

I think when it all comes down to it, I do not want my personal perceptions of Jesus and God left to others’ depictions, representations, or interpretations of who They are. The only way to know Them is to be with Them. As inspiring as Jesus is, He is the only one. No one can portray Him better than He Himself. So I’ll try to let literature be literature and movies, movies. Learning from them in the simplest way, but knowing Him by other means. Taking the “bible glasses” off.

A year

It is quite crazy to think that a year ago I was starting my journey in France. Really I had no idea what was in store for me. All I knew was that I had to let go, surrender completely to the will of my Father and trust that He would be faithful.

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First back in Canada selfie

Coming home from such an incredible journey has been challenging. When I first came home people would ask me how I was adjusting and if I was suffering from culture shock, and for the first month I said that there were things I missed, but I wasn’t really culture shocked. However, I was really wrong in that. It definitely took me a good month and a half to actually recognize the fact that I felt like there was a piece of me missing. It’s actually a very frustrating thought for me and what is more frustrating is that there aren’t many people who can understand what I have been going through. There are times where I feel like I am lost in a world that is moving too fast as I try to find a piece of me that will never come back. Honestly I can barely understand my own feelings, so I don’t really expect others to, yet I feel upset by the fact that I can’t explain what I’ve lost.

My time in France enabled me to grow – a lot. I’d say in almost every aspect of my life I grew (except the physical part… I’m still only 5’1”).

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First hike with Champfleuri

The reliance that I had to have on God was a crucial part to this growth. There I was in a country that I didn’t know, low confidence in my language skills (especially when it came to speaking), and really having no idea as to what to expect. Nonetheless, God definitely exceeded all thoughts that I ever had on how my journey would go. I believe that’s why it’s been so difficult returning home. Having had these great God moments and having lived close to their epicentres, moving away from them sometimes makes it easier to forget the amazing things that I have had to go through. Their memory lingers in my thoughts yet they have began to slowly fade and I can’t go to the places to remind myself.

This reminds me of the children of Israel once they had left Egypt. There comes a time where Moses sends out twelve spies to go search the land that the LORD had promised them. Ten of the twelve spies spread lies about what they had seen, which causes many of the Israelites to lose trust in God and his ability to deliver on His promises. In fact, they wanted to overthrow Moses and go back to Egypt! The nation that oppressed them and made them slaves! (Numbers 13-14:4) It didn’t matter that God was continually doing miraculous works for them, the memory of what God had done for them began to fade and they began to see the next challenge as being bigger than the one who freed them from their slavery. And this is the importance of Passover.

“You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’” (Exodus 13:8)

1462613878154Passover commemorates what God did for the children of Israel, in Egypt. There needed to be something to remind the Israelites of God’s faithfulness and might. Our memories aren’t the most amazing things all the time. And realizing that the Israelites would not forever remember what happened in Egypt with the same passion as when they were leaving, God created a week, every year, where the Israelites would spend time reflecting on the miraculous work of the LORD and what He did to free them. (Exodus 13:3-10)

Now unlike the Israelites, I never built a golden calf and started looking to that as my help, but there have been moments where I have began to rely on myself. Since coming home there have been some challenges that I have had to face and in some of those moments I have looked at them as giants instead of remembering the many amazing works that my Father demonstrated to/for me while abroad. However, through these moments I am thankful for the grace He has for me and that He is patient. When I stray a little off side He waits for me to comeback.

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Hillsong Encounter 2016

I am very thankful that I have written many of my experiences from France down because I am able to look back now, and even though I am not around the places where all these wonderful events occurred, I can somewhat relive them. I can remind myself of what a faithful Father God is. No matter how lost I feel at times, I know who goes before me and I know who stands behind.

What a difference a year makes…

The Tiring Truth

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Well this week has just started off as a complete disaster, and for the last little bit this verse has been sticking with me. This is the verse that my parents chose for me when I was born. The thing that sticks out to me about this verse is the fact that Paul addresses the fact that doing good is tiring. Heck ya it is! There are a lot of moments where it is so much easier to just do whatever, casting away all cares as to what would be considered good or wise; however, there is no benefit to that. Sometimes we try to do our best and it doesn’t seem to be enough. It wears a person after a while of trying and failing to meet certain expectations as to what is good enough. But here Paul reminds us to not become tired of doing good and to not give up.

“Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:8

Life isn’t fair. I have lost count as to how many times that statement has been told to me. As much as I hate to admit it, they are true as can be. Because life isn’t fair it can become challenging to respond rather than react to certain situations we find ourselves in. The question that needs to be asked is what am I planting? The verse basically says that if I do things to please me then I will receive the fruit of that, which in the end is destruction. Doing things for myself only brings temporary satisfaction. However, if I choose to follow the Spirit, the guide given to us by God, and I do what is perceived to be wise, or good so to speak, then it says my reward is eternal life.

“And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that.” Luke 6:33

Ouch! Isn’t it so much easier to be nice to people who reciprocate? It really hurts to have to take the high road sometimes and be nice to people who have we deemed to be undeserving of our kindness (for one reason or another.) And this is why it gets tiring to do good! There is so much more work involved to be nice, or do good, but it is a relief to know that God recognizes this. He sees our hurt and pain, He understands that it is not the most pleasant thing to be gracious to some people, and He walks us through. He renews us when we are low on “goodness juice”, or when we have been hurt and have no desire to show love. Yet, Jesus said to love our ennemies and to show mercy because he loved us in and showed us mercy in our dark state; undeserving of either. Luke 6:35-36

“If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink. You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads, and the Lord will reward you.” Proverbs 25:21-22

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Do not be overcome by evil, overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21

Hate doesn’t beat out hate, bad doesn’t defeat bad, it is when we choose to follow God and His Spirit that we are able to overcome moments where we don’t always want to do good, or be kind. We all make mistakes, we all hurt each other in some way, but what makes us different when we are followers of Christ is that we respond to our injustices and our “enemies” with love. No matter how hard, or how tiring, doing good will prevail in the end. What I can’t see now, I have faith and trust that God will fulfill his promises that I will reap good fruit, and like Galatians 6:9 says, it will be in its season.

So don’t grow tired of doing good because soon enough you will see the fruits of your labour and they will be – good.

Galatians 6:10

The heart of the matter

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” 1 John 3:18

Remember that saying, “easier said than done”? To me this verse presents us with a challenge: quit talking about loving people and actually do it. Although not the first place we find the command to love, in Mark 12 Jesus responds to the question, “which commandment is the most important of all?” (Mark 12:28), with, the most important commandment is to firstly love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, then secondly to love our neighbor as ourselves. (Mark 12:28-31) So here we are with a commandment to love and challenged to love actively.

First Love God

Heart, soul, mind, and strength. These four words describe how we are supposed to love God. Really these words encompass all our being. The heart is usually associated with emotions; the soul is often related to spirituality, the mind can equate to rationale, and lastly strength is physically. I find that sometimes it is much easier to section these parts of myself and give them to God at different times. With my words I can say that I am loving God with all of who I am, easily, but when it comes to putting action behind what I say the challenge ensues.

Here is what I have found for myself as I continue to actively love God. Loving God requires me to trust Him. I need to trust that He will always fulfill His promises, that He will not leave me (Deuteronomy 31:6), that He will guide me (Psalm 23:1-3), and that He is walking before me and with me (Deuteronomy 31:8), among other promises. Loving God also requires me to actively surrender my life to Him. I say actively because sometimes it’s easy to try and take back all the “control”, but when I try to take it back, it reveals that I lack trust in God. Surrendering shows that I value God’s will for my life and that I want to put Him first before myself. Thirdly, loving God requires me to do everything in His name. Colossians 3:17 Paul writes in his letter that everything that we do should be in the name of Jesus, and it wasn’t until recently that I had an epiphany about this statement. At first I thought this as a private declaration, that whatever I do I should, in my heart, know that I am doing it for Jesus: yet (here’s my epiphany) I think that we should also be able to declare publicly whatever we are doing in the name of Jesus. Jesus should want His name attached to whatever I am doing; I need to be a great witness to the world in His name.

Second Love Myself

I believe that it is important to point out that in Mark 12 Jesus says that we should love others as ourselves. There have been many times where I was taught that others were above myself, but there are a few problems with that. For so long it became taboo to profess self-love, which is why there is such a strong push now (especially in the world of women) to love who you are. We have singers, like Meghan Trainer, who sing about how we need to love who we are, we have many other celebrities and just the average woman fighting to promote this idea that we all matter and that we should love who we are not strive to be anyone else.

My Creator formed me with perfection and precision. (Isaiah 64:8, Psalm 139:14) He created me with purpose and love, therefore when I look at myself I should see that. I should care for myself, not because I’m selfish or self-centred, but because if I cannot care and love myself, how am I expected to love others? In saying that, I need to make the effort to not talk with both sides of my mouth. The words that come out of my mouth should be reflected in my actions. So if I say that I love who I am, my actions should reflect that, otherwise how true are the words I say?

Third Love Others

We are called to love one another. This is pretty tough, I mean it is one thing to love a God who is perfect and who loves us more than we can imagine, it is a whole other thing to have to love others who may not have our best interest in mind. What makes it easier is when we break down the boxes that we put people in, strip everything away and are left with “who” they are – people. It really hurts to see how there are Christians out there who are ready to condemn people because of “what” they are, and not ready to love. Nonetheless, I realize that it is difficult to show love to everyone, but if I am bent on receiving what I am giving, then what is the difference between me and someone who does not follow God? (Luke 6:32-36) I am supposed to love others regardless of my feelings toward them. Love is a choice, not a feeling. This is also why we should not rely on others to replenish our “love tanks”.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

Now here is where the love comes full circle. If we profess to know God and to love God, then we have to love others. In 1 John we see why these two go hand-in-hand. God is love, therefore if we say we love but do not show it we really do not know love.

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We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

So here we go: we love ourselves because of God, we love others because we love ourselves, and we love God because of who He is and in turn we love others (He is love after all.) Now it is time that we stop talking about love and how we will love God, ourselves, and others, and actually do it. We can take what James writes in James 2:14-17 and apply it; although he refers to faith we can also use the concept in relation to anything having to do with our talk. There comes a time where our talk becomes meaningless without having action to backup what we say.