28 March 2014

Loving Sinners like Me: Jonah 3 & 4

These are my two favorite chapters of the four in Jonah. In chapters 1 & 2 we discovered extraordinary mercy and now we are seeing this on a deeper level in chapters 3 & 4.

In chapter 3, Jonah heeded the call and journeyed to Ninevah to warn the people of God's plans if they didn't change their ways and turn to God. Instantly, we see the compassion of our loving Savior as he chooses to spare the people who have lived a lifetime of sin. So why was Jonah so angry? Didn't he do exactly what God asked Him to do - warn the people so they could be saved?

Jonah was angry at God for having compassion on such sinners. Not just sinners, mind you, but they were his enemies. I don't think I ever really payed attention to why Jonah got so angry with God until I reflected on it this time. I suddenly saw this characteristic of Jonah in myself and I, too, became angry...with myself.

I think we've all experienced Jonah's anger (I know I have). It is easy to see the sin around us. And it is easy to see the faults in others. We wonder how all these "sinners" keep getting blessing after blessing when we come up empty-handed? We become bitter, disappointed, frustrated, angry. Then, we begin to question our motives. We start our rant: we sit ourselves down, cross our arms and let out a big sigh, feeling sorry for ourselves. And then we wait for God to give us the "right" answer.

I have been a Jonah...and sometimes, I still am.

Just like God showed Jonah, I shouldn't be praying doom on my enemies and sinners who are just like me. I should be interceding on their behalf. Loving them when they don't love themselves. Carrying them when they don't have the strength to crawl. I should be thanking God for His compassion, His love for His people, His forgiveness. Because when it's all said and done, these chapters were about saving people from a lifetime of pain and agony, these chapters were about second chances, and God chose Jonah for this journey.
I'm thankful for a God of second chances and who sees what I can be and not what I am.

Ezekiel 33:11
"Say to them, As I live, declares the LORD GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; ..."

This post is a link up with She Reads Truth.

27 March 2014

Extraordinary Mercy: Jonah 1 & 2

The story of Jonah is so familiar to me. Sometimes so familiar that I don't pay much attention to little details after reading and hearing it so many times, which is one reason I decided to embark on the She Shares Truth journey. There's so much more to this story. This is a story of grace and mercy.

I easily see myself in Jonah. It all happens so fast in the first chapter and by verse 3, Jonah has already up and fled from the presence of God. The words "But Jonah rose up" caught my attention. The word "but" is used in reaction to fear, uncertainty, doubt or sometimes exclaiming a point. There are so many times God has spoke to me or called me to do something and my first reaction is to say "BUT God..." and what follows is countless excuses, fears, and reasons why I'm incapable. I could easily replace Jonah's name with my name in that verse.

When God called Jonah, fear got ahold of his heart. (When I become bound by fear, I can talk to God about them and He'll grace me with strength to carry on). Worries began to take control. The funny thing is that Jonah thought he could run and hide from God. Eventually he became tired of running. He was running in the wrong direction for so long that he became exhausted physically, mentally and spiritually.

Jonah was in the valley between his comfort and God's will. Real trouble comes in the valley in between.

Psalm 139:7, 9-10 says:
"Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me."

Wherever you're running to is not where God wants you.

In Chapter 2, we read Jonah's prayer. As Jonah is sitting in the belly of a fish, he finally realizes that he deserved death but God had shown him extraordinary mercy. Extraordinary mercy. Isn't that just like God to show us grace, mercy and countless second chances when we deserve death?

That same extraordinary mercy is chasing after you. Let God pursue your heart.

This post is a link up with She Reads Truth.

18 March 2014

I Have Forgotten

I began reading Restless last Sunday. I sat in my room, in my sofa chair covered with mismatched pillows, anticipating what this book would bring me. I opened the book and knew instantly that I was in for the journey of a lifetime. 

This is not a review of the book because I highly recommend you each go and grab yourself a copy, sit down in a quiet place and run head on into the questions, thoughts, and battles that we all face at one time or another. Jennie Allen created this intimate place to share in each other's disappointments and dreams and to collide with the surrender that comes in finding God's will for ourselves.

I poured through each chapter with an open heart. I prayed that my flesh wouldn't hold anything back as I took notes. This was my personal time, right? This is the time where I should be the most revealing with my deepest, darkest sins but, in reality, it is my hardest time because that is when I'm easily and constantly reminded of where I messed up, chose the wrong path and had to make my way back again and start over. It is one thing to believe in the relentless forgiving heart of God but it is another when it comes to actually forgiving yourself.

I read Chapter 3: Die to Live and I was shocked. In awe. I thought to myself, I've had all these same thoughts that Jennie is talking about. I've had a divided heart. I've felt like God had forgotten His promises to me. I felt like He forgot how hard it was down here. I felt that He had given up on me in my struggle and sin. The following is an excerpt from Jennie's book, sharing a personal story from her life as she sat next to a hospital bed to one of her dearest friends. She, too, asked those same questions of feeling like somehow he had forgotten and messed up in all of this:

(Page 22)
"Or is it us who's forgetting? Maybe we forget that we see days and you see eras... 
You get to be God whether we like it or not. You get to decide how this goes, and we can only beg at your feet. And when you seem forgetful to me....I walk past the statue and you yell to me from your cross: 
I have forgotten nothing. And I am not passive about my approach to this problem. 
I deal. I deal with this sickness and pain and death. 
I do not forget. I bleed out for this. 
So as you walk past me on that cross, Jennie, into a room that feels out of control and full of suffering, don't see a weak, distant, forgetful God. 
You see a God who tells oceans where to stop and a God who tells evil where to stop. 
You see a God who bleeds out for those you hurt for. 
You see a God who suffered first. I AM with you. 
And I have a plan here."

I sat in my little sofa chair with a heart full of pain and agony and tears that wanted to pour from my eyes. I began to wonder how I could ever think He had forgotten when He died for me in the first place. He knew every moment I'd have to turn around and start over yet, He loved me anyway. When we think He has forgotten, it is really us who have forgotten. He feels the pain we feel but we can live with the understanding that His view from up there is much more beautiful than what we see down here. 

Take heart, my dear friend, He has not forgotten. I'm learning this along with you. 
He is only just beginning in fulfilling your calling. 


"My passion is to inspire a new generation of women to encounter the invisible God. I love words and I believe God uses them to heal souls and to reveal Himself to people."

You can learn more about Jennie Allen here

Want to join in on the #restlessproject? You can purchase her book, Restlesshere.

14 March 2014

A refuge for us

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my salvation and my glory;                  
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.

Psalm 62:5-8 ESV

I needed this today. This was one of those moments where God stopped me and was like, "Hey! Slow down and take a breath, I'm right here." He reminded me of who is in control of my chaotic life.

Lately, I have been constantly maintaining deadlines. Deadlines for papers, assignments, scholarships, nursing, work and getting all the beginnings of a bible study lesson prepared to start with one (or a few) of our youth's young women. I'm in this mode of schedules, decisions, and things I "have" to get done. It's such a sweet refresher when I can come across scripture, in perfect timing, to remind me I can pour everything on Him and He'll gladly take care of me.

When I'm all about needing God to step in right now with a step-by-step list of what I need to do and where I need to go, His word says to trust in Him at all times. When I'm overwhelmed by all the decisions life throws at me, His word says pour out your heart before him, because even while you're waiting in the silence, He listens. He understands. He shares in our feelings. He knows.
He is a refuge for you.

When you read these verses, and I mean really absorb their meaning, I hope you are encouraged as much as I am.
God is a refuge for us... and that's all the hope I need.

07 March 2014

Committing to the Call

Conviction. I read these scriptures and conviction overwhelms me. I ask myself the questions in Romans and realize what a pitiful job I've done of spreading the Gospel. Simply sharing His love, His Word. So selfishly have I kept the good news to myself in opportunities I should have been outspoken. Sure, there have been times where I have shared the Good News to others.

But the job is never done. I could never do enough. I should never be content with what I've done.

You ask, "Why would you never want to be content?" My answer?  Because there is always so much more when it comes to serving the Lord. You can always be drawn closer. You can always mature deeper in your relationship with Him. There is always a place for you to grow. And like I said before, the job is never done and that's a good thing.

There are so many individuals, adults and children, who will never know the the unfailing love of God. How are they to believe, how are they to know, if they have never heard? The past week I've been reading of Paul's ministry and his commitment to the call is so compelling. We were given that same call in Mark 16:15 And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." We are to proclaim/preach the Gospel. Who am I to ignore that call? 

I have made it my goal (now and forever) to somehow spread that good news in every encounter and not just when it's convenient for me. I can do this by living a life of that is Christ-centered in all I do (first impressions sometimes say enough), sharing an encouraging word, giving a Bible study, lending a hand or a listening ear, putting my schedule aside for the sake of others, sharing the trials that God has brought me through as well as the blessings He's brought me to, and [re]introducing someone to their Savior. "Beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news" Romans 10:14-15.

Have you had encounters where you may not have answered the call completely? Start fresh. Live out the call.
What are some of the things you have done or want to do to proclaim the Good News?

Romans 10:14-15 ESV