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

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“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.

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.

For such a time

If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)

Oh the wonderful heroine tale (well more like actual events) of a common girl turned queen, who uses her position to save her people. I do not envy Esther’s position at all. The idea of being a princess is kind of a turn off for my historian self. They find themselves in too many unsettling near death positions (Esther not excluded.) However, God places us right where we need to be, so I guess for me it’s ok that I don’t want to be a princess. Maybe Esther was like me and didn’t want to be queen, but that was the position she found herself in.

Sometimes it’s scary to see where God places us, but there we are. The one thing that we will always have is a choice in how we react or respond to the places where we find ourselves. In the verse above we see Mordecai reminding Esther of that. You see the prophet Jeremiah had prophesied that after 70 years of exile God would deliver his people. (Jeremiah 25:12) We know that God always keeps his promises and fulfills his prophecies (2 Corinthians 1:19), in saying that, if Esther had kept silent and had not gone to the king (uninvited) then there would have been someone else that God would have used to deliver the Jews. Still there would have been consequences to her silence, which Mordecai also details. In reading this verse there is something that sticks out to me: the question that we find at the end.

From before we are born God has placed in us a special task that he wants us to complete. Sometimes they are more blatant than others (some we may never be aware of), but the one thing is certain, we have all been placed on this earth for “such a time as this.” Our whole lives God has been preparing us so that when the time comes we are ready to accomplish what we need to. We can see how God prepared Joseph, Moses, David, Paul, and Jesus (just to name a few), we can see where they came from and what they did. We have the hindsight that they didn’t. This should be encouraging for us to know that God is working beside us as he readies us, and the people we find in the Bible are testaments to that – they become our own hindsight to the faithfulness of God.

Reading the story of Esther I saw that God had orchestrated all the events and they worked together so perfectly. God had prepared the way for Esther right up until the moment where she had to choose: fulfill the purpose God had placed on her life even though it could end her life, or stay silent and wait for death. Not really enticing options. * Spoiler alert * In the end she does choose to follow God and she lives as well as saves her people from the impending doom.

When you find yourself in a situation(s) where you have the choice between following God and following your heart know that you were made for such a time as this. God prepares us and places us exactly where we need to be. We are given everything we need to accomplish what he has purposed us for because God equips his children. So I pray that when God says that it’s the moment (or moments) we have been preparing for, I will be able to step forward and do it, even if the stakes are as unstable as what Esther had to face. I know that God is for me and to use the words of Esther, “if I die, I die.” (Esther 4:16)

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Walk towards God and the path will be made straight. God may surprise you in how the path is paved, but you can be sure that it will be there. (Isaiah 43:19, Proverbs 3:6)

*P.S. I’m very cool with being God’s princess because he is a King who will never be dethroned.

#yolo

“It is better to go to a home where there is mourning than to one where there is a party, because the living should always remind themselves that death is waiting for us all. Sorrow is better than laughter; it may sadden your face, but it sharpens your understanding. Someone who is always thinking about happiness is a fool. A wise person thinks about death.” (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4)

Looking at these verses, I don’t think Solomon was invited to many parties. I mean, seriously Solomon? Don’t you know #yolo ?!* We need to live life footloose and carefree, having fun, following our dreams, and living for the moment! Well, fortunately, Solomon did realize that we only live once, and that’s why these words should definitely be heeded.

The point that Solomon is making, I believe, is that death is more thought provoking than the life of the party. Death makes us stop and evaluate our lives, realizing how short and tenuous they are. To be in a euphoric atmosphere is to disguise the reality around us. This is good, it is good to have fun, and to be in a place where happiness takes priority; however, if we are never brought back down to earth, our lives will be filled with frivolous activities. We need both happiness and mourning: a balance of the two is necessary.

Our lives are short. Yet, it is hard to believe that it will end one day. This past week my great-grandma died, and although she was 95 it still makes me think. I think about when I get to be that age, what will I see when I look back? Will I be satisfied with what I have accomplished, or will I wish I had done more?

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You will be missed, Oma. One day we will see you again, and when we do, there will be rejoicing!

“Everything you do or say, then, should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks through him to God the Father.” (Colossians 3:17)

“You don’t even know what your life tomorrow will be! You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears.” (James 4:14)

So often we say tomorrow. Ah, I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll talk to that person tomorrow, I’ll do better tomorrow, or I’ll try tomorrow, the list goes on. But the thing is, what if tomorrow never comes? I like to remind myself that I don’t know if I have tomorrow, or even the next five minutes, but I have right now. I have this moment. I really try to live like that – making moments count in a meaningful way, not always for my happiness, but to bring glory to the name of Jesus. Because, if everything I say and do is supposed to be in the name of Jesus, then it better reflect the heart of Jesus.

“Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do.” (Proverbs 6:4)

There is really no time to waste in life. Every moment that we live may be the last. My life is so short here, but what happens here determines my life for eternity. So if you see an opportunity that God is giving you, I encourage you to take it. Don’t let fear dictate you, don’t let laziness guide you, allow God to give you the courage and determination needed to accomplish what he has purposed in your life. So that on that day where you find yourself at a funeral and are evaluating your life you can know that you are living your life with meaning and purpose, feet planted on a solid rock, and not living for fleeting emotions.

 

So choose now. Start living now. God will call us all home: will you be ready?

 

“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

 

 

 

*yolo: You only live once (for readers who are not familiar with the acronym)

Bodily functions

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12)

Unity, such a small word with some not so small implications. According to the dictionary the definition of unity is, “a whole or totality as combining all its parts in to one.” As humans this is a hard thing to fully accomplish. Nonetheless, it is something we, as Christians, are called to strive to achieve.

God is a very creative God. This is made evident in the way that he created us. Not one of us is exactly the same. There is intentional variety in the world we live in, which reveals God’s care and love for us – we aren’t mass-produced in a factory.

Think about who you are in the body

“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (1 Corinthians 12:18)

Unlike our physical bodies, our jobs and purposes can change, and we can also have more than one! Our lives consist of seasons. Relationships, experiences, and opportunities, they all cause change and propel us into a dynamic world. Who we are is not static. For one season of life you could be a “hand” and in another the “eyes” and “ears”, but the important thing is not necessarily finding out which part we are, it is more about knowing that we are a part(s).

I have a purpose!

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Be confident in God. He is the Creator, not a creator. He gave us a network to use… so use it 🙂

Think about who others are in the body

 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)

We are not Elastigirl. Our arms are constrained to certain measurements. It is necessary for us to recognize the part that we all play as being parts of the body of Christ. First we realize the part that we have to play; now it is all about recognizing the other parts.

It is really easy to compare, we all at some point fall into this trap. Comparing each other, and ourselves, is very destructive, why? Because as my parents have wisely said, there will always be someone worse and someone better. When we compare we will always be bringing someone down. What we should concentrate on is encouraging each other to be better in the positions we are in.

See how we fit together

“So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26)

A few months ago I suffered from a sore pinky toe. Now that tiny toe really made a difference in what I did. For over a month my life revolved around this toe! But it really put in perspective the verse above.

We are all united under the head, which is Jesus. In him as well, we find our importance. For this reason we should be concerned with the health of the body. And what does a healthy body of Christ look like? One that is concentrated on showing the Father’s love to each other, one that is focusing on The Cause (which is to share the good news of Jesus), and one that strives to lift each other up, not to elevate one person over another, but to encourage. We are all needed, we are all necessary, and we all have something to bring.

Be united

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:15-16)

Jesus is the head of the body (hence body of Christ). It is under him that we can be united. If we focus on Jesus everything else comes into place. We will see things through his eyes and be able to accomplish what we have been commissioned by God to do. (Matthew 28:18-20, Matthew 22:37-39)

 

Now here we are, all many parts that make up one body, united by the head, to accomplish amazing things.

(Hebrews 10:25)

(1 Corinthians 12:12-31)