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Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sunday Snippets: Guess Who Has Moved!

Jeremiah 29:12-13 "Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart."

1 Chronicles 16:11 "Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his face continually."

Isaiah 55:6-7 "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."

I heard a quote recently that gave me pause. I can't remember who said it, or I would give credit, but anyway it wasn't me. ;) They said, "If you feel far from God, guess who's moved!" 


If I feel far from God...who has moved? Obviously if two people or things were once close, and they are now apart from each other, one or both of them has moved. We know for an absolute fact from God's Word that He NEVER changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So if I am far from God, He has not moved. I have.

More times than I can count, when I realize that my daily devotions are slipping, I shove the thought aside, thinking things will get better on their own. Stupid, Mykaela!! What I fail to think about is, if I'm not seeking God with my whole heart, how will my spiritual life improve?? Do I think that somehow I will magically draw near to God once more, when I am making no effort to do so? 

The verse in 1 Chronicles says we are to seek His face "continually". What is something else we have to do continually? The first thought that popped into my head was breathing. Can we just decide one day that breathing isn't that much of a priority...we can put it off for a couple hours with no harm done. Uh, no. That ain't gonna work, folks. 

Our walk with God should be just as important to us, if not more so, than our daily life-giving things like breathing, eating, hydrating our bodies, and resting. After all, Who is it that gives us the ability and strength to do these things? We are not guaranteed anything in this life. It is of The Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, for His mercies are new every morning. Did you ever notice in that verse how it says "every morning"? The Lord doesn't put off telling our bodies to wake out of sleep and have the strength to even get out of bed. Why do we refuse to seek the face of The One who gives us all things richly to enjoy?

It takes a conscious effort to draw near to God. He waits for us with open arms, like a Father asking His child to come; but we must run into His arms of our own volition. He is not going to force us to pursue close, sweet fellowship with Him. 

When we return from our selfish wanderings with repentant hearts, God will never refuse us His love! He will abundantly pardon our iniquities. All we have to do is turn from sin and call on His name. We tend to complicate everything, and yet it's as simple as crying out to our Father in the silence of our own hearts! God can do more in a moment's time to restore and make things right than we could do in a hundred years of trying in our own strength. 

We cannot live Godly without God. The very words are a contradiction. Without Him, we are nothing. 

Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up. (Hosea 6:1)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Fun Post! August and September Favorites

Hey, all you fantastic people! :) These past two months have been both wonderful and hectic, which is why I'm lumping two months together in my Favorites post. I can't believe that August is over, and September almost??? What is happening? Also, I'm turning 20 in less than two weeks. WHAT is happening. :D I'm officially ancient now. ;) Anyhoo, here is a little peek into my happenings lately! I've been:

Travelling to...
Oklahoma to visit Kimberly!! I had an absolutely wonderful time. I experienced my first roller coaster, (AWESOME), my first earthquake, (not so awesome...that was never really a bucket list item, but now I can cross it off anyway. ;). I saw four states total, and generally had a blast. Kimberly and I have way too much fun together. We went zip lining, (see a pic of that on my new Who I Am page), rode water rides till we were wringing wet, and chose that time to take a cave tour, so we both got hypothermia I think... ;) We ate lots of junk food, of course, and sang loudly and badly through our Les Mis and Sound of Music playlists. Such fun! :)

"The Penderwicks" series by Jeanne Birdsall again. This is a series that I can't fully recommend every page of, (due to some boyfriend girlfriend silliness at 13 years of age. Pssh.) It is, however, a very sweet series about a hilarious family...I have read them a couple times over the past few years, and always liked them. I've read a couple other books too, but they have flown my brain right now for some reason.

Cinnamon Roll Cake with Cream cheese frosting. Oh my goodness, guys. I'm terrible. :O This cake is SO STINKING GOOD!!! You can find the recipe here if you don't have any thoughts of eating healthy. I do, but chose to ignore those thoughts for the occasion of this cake. ;P

Wishing For...
A Journaling Bible! I really want one of these (in KJV, obviously), so I can practice Bible journaling in a separate place from my main Bible. I have seen the coolest examples of people that are way better than I'll ever be, but still...doesn't hurt to practice, right?

Getting Excited About...
The group we have coming down from Alaska in October! We have about 20 people coming to help us do a mass outreach here in Wenatchee over one weekend. We are housing quite a few of them at our place, and some at a rental house. I think it will be really good! I'm excited to meet everyone, and get so much outreach done in a very short time. Also in October, I am going to Wyoming, Oak Harbor, and Sumas, WA, for various conferences and retreats. Really looking forward to that!

The smell of fall in the air. Septembers here are the most perfect, glorious weather you could imagine. 70 degrees, sparkling skies with a couple of fluffy clouds, just enough chill in the morning to make the leaves start changing...perfection. I love fall. :)

A new coffee and cupcake place, about 7 minutes walk from work, that sells a 24 OUNCE hot Breve. (My go-to at any coffee shop). Ohhhh, snap. Most places don't sell anything larger than 16 oz. in hot drinks! And they are SO cheap, too!! Like cheaper than Dutch Bros., which is way cheaper than Starbucks. I am going to be walking down there on lunch break a lot. ;)

"A Living Sacrifice" with the ladies at church. Such a pretty song, with gorgeous parts. I am working hard on perfecting the accompaniment, and have already memorized the soprano part so I don't have to be constantly looking back and forth between that and the piano section. Singing parts is just sooo fun and special for me. 

Listening to...
A song I found by Charlie Siem, entitled "Canopy". It is amazing. You can listen to it here. The first part, with all the pizzicato on the strings, makes me miss being in orchestra so bad!! 

Ikea, for the first time in over 5 years. Wow, guys. I forgot how incredibly large and interesting that store is! Just a word of advice from a friend, not go to Ikea when your dad is gone, so you and your mom have to herd 7 children through Ikea in Seattle. Slightly stressful. Actually, a lot stressful. ;P

And that wraps it up for today! I hope to be able to do a Favorites post for just October, but we'll see. It's going to be a really crazy month with travel and everything. I hope you all are doing great...what have been some of your favorites this past month?

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Sunday Snippets: Liberty in Christ...a Free Pass to Live it Up?

Galatians 5:13 "For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another."

Once upon a recent time, in a land that lies very close to all of us, there lived a young woman. We will call her Jill. Jill grew up in a Christian home, and repented of her sin and turned to Christ for salvation as a child. During her teen years, however, Jill began to feel that her parents were way too strict and stuck up about this faith stuff. She mostly just went to church so she could hang out with her friends in youth group. Plus it was nice to have that routine on Sundays. She could check off her good deed for the week. Once she started going to college, she kind of left off with the church deal...I mean after all, she did lots of nice things to make up for it.

One day, Jill decided to try out a local assembly, since she didn't have any previous plans for that particular Sunday morning. As she drove into the parking lot of Bubbly Springs of Overflowing Happiness Church, Jill was already getting the feel-good vibes, and she loved it! People were smiling, there was a nice coffee and donut shop right inside the front door, the music was super trendy, with just enough reference to God that you could maybe guess that it was supposed to be a Christian song, not a rock song. As the pastor stood up to preach, he instructed the congregation to turn their eyes to the projector screen, where Galatians 5:1 was outlined in front of a gorgeous nature photo. Being careful not to reference the context of the passage, Pastor Stan the Man read off the text: "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage." 

During the following eighteen minute sermon, Jill's previous thoughts were totally confirmed...Since she now had her ticket to heaven, everything was permissible!!! She could live however she wanted to. She could do, say, eat, and drink whatever her flesh desired. In fact, she should glory in her liberty, and not let anyone bring her into the bondage of cumbersome standards or principles again. This was amazing!! Jill was beyond thrilled as she left the building. No more following endless rules and regulations for her! 

She began to live it up...drinking, partying, relationships--she had freedom in Christ! She wore whatever was all the rage, with no regard for any kind of modesty. She listened to the latest bands and artists, reveling in the way their music made her feel. If any well-meaning friend happened to mention that maybe she should think about trying to live for God a little more, Jill was quick to blow their self-righteousness out of the water. Who did they think they were?! She reminded them sharply of the fact that she was a Christian, but that Jesus had freed her--and they could just take their legalistic, old fashioned ideas elsewhere. 

Years passed. Jill married, had a successful career, and raised two kids who were allowed to do just exactly what they wanted. Jill never quite understood why John and Susie didn't turn out like she would have liked them to: after all, she and her husband gave them everything a kid could want! Oh, well, if they were happy, that's all that mattered. Jill grew older, retired, had grandkids, and one day, she became ill. Surrounded by her family, Jill died. And a moment later, she stood before the Creator of the Universe, Jesus Christ.

Jill looked on The One who gave her life, and hung her head. She had nothing. Nothing to show for the years He had given her on this earth. She realized now that as she had used her liberty in Christ as an occasion to the flesh, she had wasted the one most precious thing she had--to bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ. God had created her with one purpose, and one purpose only, and she had turned away from it so she could enjoy the things this world had to offer. In pursuing wealth, love, accomplishments, praise of man, bigger and better cars and houses, and entertainment, Jill had rejected the sacrifice Christ had made. The sacrifice He had made not only to set her free from the law and the second death, but to give her the power to serve Him with her whole heart!

Jill entered heaven with no crowns to lay at her Saviour's feet. Will you do the same?

I realize this was a bit of a sad story. I don't want to be a downer, but I'm going to be honest. I know a Jill. In fact, I know quite a lot of Jills. They waltz through life with the mindset that since they now have their ticket out of hell, they can live the good life and squeak into heaven by the skin of their teeth, so to speak. But they never realize the heartache it will be to live without fulfilling God's glorious purpose for their lives, and then enter His rest with not one treasure laid up in heaven. 

I implore you to think carefully about this. Are you living every day with the realization that you are a Child of the Most High God? Are you bringing Him glory? Or is God just Someone you might think about on Sunday morning as you cross off your mandatory church attendance box? May none of us be guilty of living like this!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Sunday Snippets: What Do You Mean, I'm Selfish?!

Romans 15:1-3 We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me."

My dad preached a message this morning in church that was really convicting for me. I normally write my Sunday Snippet posts on Saturday night, but I'm glad I didn't this time, because this sermon really touched my heart. Here in Romans 15, Paul is speaking about other brothers and sisters we have that are not as far along in their Christian walk as perhaps we may be. He is saying that we need to help them, bear their burdens alongside them, and not just "put up with" the scruples they have that are different and maybe a little strange. In Paul's day the big thing was with food--many Christians rightly understood that it is not what enters our body that defiles us, and that we have freedom in Christ to eat meats, or other things that some early Christians had hangups with. (I am of course not including alcohol, drugs, etc. in that list. It's a given that we are not to put that type of stuff in our bodies. We don't use our freedom in Christ to sin.) Anyway, we should be standing beside these weaker Christians and helping them to grow, not bashing them for what they believe is the right thing.

Let's broaden this out, though. Instead of just thinking about convictions, so to speak, let's apply this to all of life. We are supposed to "not to please ourselves". We ought not to please ourselves. It bears repeating. Every one of us is born with a natural desire to please ourselves. We are totally me-focused. We lay in bed at night planning out the next day, and what we can do for ourselves to make the day go well, or to have fun, or whatever. Me me me. But look at verse 3...can you think of any time in the entire Bible where Jesus Christ pleased Himself? Even one time? He talked about how the foxes have holes, and the birds have nests, but Jesus didn't even have a little shack to call His own, because His entire life on this earth was spent in serving others and not Himself. He was the King of the Universe, and yet the humblest of servants. What does this reflect on us, as we bicker and snap at one another to maintain "our rights" (as if we have any, as slaves of righteousness)? Wow. 

In God's Word, He speaks of the hireling that flees when the wolf comes, because he cares not for the sheep, and the wolf takes them away. Selfishness. The Prodigal Son, who wasted his living and brought great grief to his father for months or years. Selfishness. Amnon, who stole his half sister Tamar's purity and subsequently caused irreversible anguish and heartbreak that lasted for years and affected so many. Selfishness. David, who took Bathsheba for himself and had her husband murdered, causing a curse to come on his household, as well as making his old friend Ahithophel, (Bathsheba's grandfather) to turn against him. Selfishness. Ahab, who saw Naboth's vineyard and wanted it so much he was willing to commit murder to get it, and did. Selfishness. Need I go on? All throughout history, man has lived for himself, and not for God or others. And we are still doing it today. If you look at any normal day, I can promise you that a LOT of what you do is selfish. It is for me!! I think probably about 98% of what I do is selfish! :( That's why this message hit me so hard.

On the flip side of this, what is the opposite of selfishness? Selflessness! Just like Christ, we need to live every day to please others. Denying ourselves, not just for no reason (think monks who live as hermits, in poverty, etc.)--that is not the right kind of self denial. The kind of self denial that is pleasing to God is when we give up what we want in order to be a blessing and a servant to those around us. Selfishness can destroy families, relationships, churches, and lives. Let's strive to live each day pleasing others, not ourselves.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Sunday Snippets: But for the Grace of God, There Go I

2 Kings 8:10-13 And Elisha said unto him, Go, say unto him, Thou mayest certainly recover: howbeit the LORD hath shewed me that he shall surely die. And he settled his countenance stedfastly, until he was ashamed: and the man of God wept. And Hazael said, Why weepeth my lord? And he answered, Because I know the evil that thou wilt do unto the children of Israel: their strong holds wilt thou set on fire, and their young men wilt thou slay with the sword, and wilt dash their children, and rip up their women with child. And Hazael said, But what, is thy servant a dog, that he should do this great thing? And Elisha answered, The LORD hath shewed me that thou shalt be king over Syria."

A bit of a longer passage today, but this is a very interesting and sad story, with a serious application to our lives. The background is, the king sent this servant, named Hazael, to ask Elisha if he would recover from a sickness. Elisha told the servant that the king would surely die. After he delivered this news, Elisha the man of God began to weep as he looked on the servant, Hazael. His heart broke as he contemplated the future, showed him by God. He told Hazael that he would become a heartlessly cruel man, doing violence and evil throughout Syria. As Elisha described these horrors, Hazael was shocked and offended by the mere suggestion that he would ever do such a thing. The words, "Is thy servant a dog...?" shows just how disgusted he was by the picture Elisha had painted; in Israel it was the deepest of insults to call someone a dog. Hazael thought that he would never, ever sink so low as to commit such great sin. Let's look at what happened in the next passage.

2 Kings 8:14-15 "So he departed from Elisha, and came to his master; who said to him, What said Elisha to thee? And he answered, He told me that thou shouldest surely recover. And it came to pass on the morrow, that he took a thick cloth, and dipped it in water, and spread it on his face, so that he died: and Hazael reigned in his stead."

First mistake: when Hazael returned to the king, he told him that he would recover from his sickness, even though Elisha had expressly told him otherwise. Then, the very next day, Hazael must have decided the king was taking too long to die, and he suffocated him! What?? He had just been adamantly protesting the idea that he could do such things! Hazael then went on to do exactly what Elisha had predicted, becoming an evil and cruel ruler.

I heard a message on this passage years ago, and it has stuck with me ever since. Do you know what Hazael's problem was? He looked at certain sins, and said "I am above that. I could never do such a thing." How many times do we do this? Do we hear a story about some pastor's child that jumped off the deep end, maybe running off with a boyfriend or getting deeply involved in drugs or we hear stories like this and gasp, "I could never do that!!!" No. I'm sorry. You could, and you would if you got the chance and the temptation. We all would. We are not above ANYTHING. I am not above anything. There is no sin that I could not fall into, without the overwhelming love and grace of God that prevents me. Without Him, I am nothing. So when I look at someone else's sin with disgust, and the attitude that I am better than they...what am I thinking?? 

My immediate response when I hear a story such as the examples above should be these two things:
1. Pray for the person who has fallen. Pray that their eyes would be opened and their hearts softened to repent and return to The Lord.
2. Pray that God in His mercy would keep me from falling into the same sin, realizing that it is 100% possible without His help. 

We must look to The Lord and Him alone for strength to resist temptation of all kinds. "Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to presentyou faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." (Jude 24-25)

Have a blessed week!