How Can God Forgive Us?

   This past Sunday, the message covered Isaiah 53 and how God is able to forgive us. And in light of recent events, this message proved that above all things- God our Father is still good and still Holy. He is the only one Who knows the purple of each and every day to come and has it so intricately planned out. 

So really, how can God forgive us?

   Here’s the reason: God loves us so indescribably enough that He sent His only son. His one. and. only. son. to be placed on this cross where Jesus Christ would be pierced for our transgressions. 

   Another question was asked, so why didn’t Jesus speak up? If all Jesus had done was spread the good works of His holy Father then why was He crushed for our inquities (v. 5)? The Lord had laid all of our sin upon Him yet “all like sheep we have gone astray…” Why didn’t He speak up? 

   Here’s the reason: This was His purpose. Jesus Christ was to be crushed by the Lord, His own father, so that our own lives could be saved rather than His own. 

So who’s idea was this?

Isaiah 53:10.                                                   “Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush Him…”

   It was the idea of God to crush His own son. So that we as sinners may experience His fullness, His love, and His amazing grace. 

   This in it’s self is the assurance of God’s love. I mean God, the Creator of earth sent His only son to take our place on a cross where our sin is set free by His wounds we are healed (v. 5). John 15:13 says that “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” Knowing that there is assurance in His love, we can experience the freedom that He wants us to have. 

His love is active. 


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An Open Letter to the Elementary School Teacher Who Changed Everything 

Well, I did it.  I have finally graduated…

You were my favorite teacher back in elementary school. You helped me tie my shoes, you taught me all of the state capitals, and you taught me what it meant to be a good person. You cared for my peers and I equally and you expressed your genuine nature. Thank you. At the time I was 9 years old and thought I had time, but then I blinked. At the time, I found it hard to leave my elementary school; however, now I am preparing to leave this town all together.

Nine years ago, I stood in your classroom ready to learn. I walked in almost every morning with a smile plastered to my face, ready to be greeted by friends that I thought would last a lifetime. We would unpack our backpacks into our cubbies and then we would begin our day. Each lesson was interactive and fun. A day did not go by that I was not happy to be in your class. I left each day with a bigger smile than I had upon entering. You proved to each student that you would do anything to help them succeed. When my anxiety paralyzed me, you were there. You understood and helped me get through each day. When I felt challenged or overwhelmed, you helped me with the work. I always knew you were there.

When our final days at our elementary school rolled around, we went to visit our old teachers. Elementary school was a long time ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember saying goodbye to both you and the school that day. I realized that I had grown up quite a bit between the time I had you and then. I felt like an adult in comparison. 

Well, now I am actually an adult and I am really leaving. I will be leaving this town in just two short months and heading off to college. A lot has changed since I said goodbye to you in third grade. I came to understand that I could take the skills you taught me and apply them to whatever I wanted. I discovered a sense of confidence that I will carry forever.

Last week, my high school brought us all back to our elementary schools for our last time. This time was different. We were in our caps and gowns, the new elementary school students stood in the halls clapping and our teachers stood there in shock. We made our way around the building. Many of my other teachers from that school have retired or switched schools; however, I knew you were still there and I made it my mission to find you. Your past students were lining up to hug you and you were shocked by the fact that we were now adults. We made it with the help of your guidance. None of us can thank you enough, but we know we will make you proud.

Love, 

Your former student

20 Things High School Has Taught Me 

     High school is fun. High school is full of adventure, and excitement and learning. High school is full of so much learning, and not just in the classroom. As my last couple days of high school are approaching, here are just a few things I have learned over the past 4 years:

1. Girls are mean. They are manipulative and will do whatever they need to do to look out for themselves. Be so much better than that

2. Boys suck. They will rap you in with their contagious smile, then once they get bored they will leave without a word. Be cautious with boys.

3. Your first heartbreak is not the end of the world. Yes, he broke your heart and yes, you are allowed to eat a tub of icecream and cry until you cannot cry anymore. But it is not the end of you. Pick yourself up and move on.

4. Your best friends will save your life. They will be the ones who cry with you when your heart aches and laugh with you when your heart soars. They will be your “soul mate” when all of your relationships fail. Do not let them go. 

5. Go to every sporting event and every other event possible. High school goes by  quickly; don’t miss any opportunity you have to spend it with the people around you.

6. Senior year will stress you out; don’t let it. Balancing schoolwork and extracurriculars can be exhausting; don’t let it consume you too much. High school is supposed to be fun, make it that way.

7. Your ACT score matters. I know I know, your mom has told you this a million times. Don’t wait till the last minute to take it and don’t just wait until the night before to study for it. 

8. Your mom will always be your biggest fan. Yes, you two will fight, but in the end, she is always right. She just wants the best for you. Hug her everyday, you will miss her one-day.

9. TV shows sometimes trump textbooks. Trust me, you can learn some of your greatest life lessons from Gilmore Girls all while falling madly in love with Logan Huntzberger in the process. It’s kind of a win-win situation.

10. Take lots of pictures. Take pictures of you and your friends, take pictures of the sunsets, and take pictures of the things and people around you. People always photograph the things they are afraid to lose.

11. Fake it until you make it. No really, this is a real life strategy. Go out, have the time of your life, and fake happy until (surprise!) you actually are.

12. Do not let the crappy people ruin you. People will lie and cheat and hurt you. Do not become jaded or bitter. Use your pain to better yourself. It’s possible, I promise.

13. Date if you want to date. Don’t date if you don’t want to date. Chances are, you are not going to marry the person you date in high school and chances are he does not love you as much as he thinks/says he loves you. You are young.. Kiss boys and learn from past relationships, but do not ever convince yourself that you need a boy to be happy because guess what? You don’t.

14. Do not lose yourself while searching for ways to make someone stay. People will promise to never leave you. And then, they will leave you. It is okay to be sad when they do.

15. Be honest about your feelings – always always be honest. Send that reckless text at 3 am telling someone how much you like him or her. It will be terrifying at times, but always rewarding. Speak your mind even when your voice shakes. When they say honesty is the best policy, they aren’t lying.

16. If you are stressed, go to sleep. If you are sad, go to sleep. If you feel like your world is spinning in so many different directions and you are overwhelmed, go to sleep. There is nothing a good nights sleep (or just a good nap) will not fix, at least for a little while.

17. Wash your face every night. No matter how tired you may be, take off your makeup and wash your face. Your skin will thank you for that one.

18. Talk to people. Talk to the girl sitting next to you on the first day in a new class- she may become your best friend. Talk to your little sister about your problems- she’ll agree with everything you have to say. Talk to your friends, talk to your pet, talk to that cute boy across the room. Learn things from these conversations.

19. Don’t feel stupid because you don’t like what other people pretend to love. If you love old country music, turn it up all the way and roll your windows down when you pull into the school parking lot. If you wear t-shirts with jeans and raggedy converse every day while others dress to impress, wear them proudly. Trends will fade, love what you love.

20. Take a minutes a day to put your phone down. Please, I am begging you. Do something refreshing whether it’s staring nature right in the face or reading a few pages of a book you’ve been wanting to read. You will never regret time spent away from the constant nagging of your phone. 

Rising From the Wreckage 

So, they didn’t just let you down, did they?
Someone broke you.

Someone shattered your pieces.

Someone probably promised they’d never leave.

Promised their hands would never do anything but piece you together and keep you that way.

Always and forever. Or whatever.

Promised they’d never forget.
Right?
Until they did. Until they forgot. Until they left. Until they destroyed. 

I bet they talked a lot of talk and I bet you were skeptical, I bet you were doing the best you could trying to guard your heart. I bet you had your guard up, I bet you were uneasy.

So I bet they kept talking a lot of talk until you believed them. Until they had you wrapped around their finger. Until they intentionally had you hopelessly holding onto words with no weight. I bet they talked a lot of talk until they started walking. And then the walk they started walking, didn’t match the talk they’ve been talking.

And now instead of a hand to hold, all you have are words. Combinations of letters that formed sentences making promises that appeared strong and mighty, until you got up close and watched them get swept away like a box with nothing in it on a windy day. 

Empty. Weightless. Unstable. 

They walked away, they disappeared and the only thing you see or feel now is the wicked path of destruction left behind them on their way out. So what do you do with the wreckage? 

Try to hide it? Bury it? Burn it? 

Try to distract yourself? Try to unwind yourself? Try to rewind and re-find yourself? 
Right?

And when it doesn’t work, when all of your best efforts to fix yourself don’t work;

What do you do?

Where do you go?
The Cross. 

But here’s what most people won’t tell you. Your wreckage doesn’t have to be the remains of a relationship. Your wreckage doesn’t have to be the doing of someone else. Many times our wreckage is our own doing.

Many times, too many times, the weightless words and broken promises we hold onto come from the whispers of the enemy, who dwells and revels in you drowning in your own mess.

Your wreckege does not have to be the end of your story. 
Don’t you see it? 

It can be the beginning.

Wake up. Rise up. Get up. 

Look up. 

I know someone Who specializes in wreckage control. And He’s already on the scene. He always has been. All He’s waiting on is you. To come to the end of yourself. To stop pretending. To stop putting on such a show. To admit you can’t do it on your own.

But I bet you never noticed. I bet you’ve been so distracted by the words that looked pretty with no meaning, with no weight, that you didn’t see Him. Or feel Him. Or hear Him. I bet you were so distracted by what never filled you up, to sink your teeth into what will.

So how long are you going to let it go on? 

How long are you going to let yourself be distracted by what is never going to fill you up? 

How long are you going to tune him out?

God didn’t forget about you. And no matter how many times darkness tries to convince you that He has, no matter how many times your emotions cloud your judgement and work to persuade you into thinking that you are alone: remember this.

 
Remember what I’m telling you. Remember that no matter how far you’ve run, no matter how long you’ve been gone, no matter how deep you’ve fallen into the wreckage; remember what is always in reach. Remember to look up.

Just look up. Please. Remember

He meets us where we are.

And His promises? They have more weight than any of us could ever begin to even comprehend. And those words? Those are the only words that I choose to hold on to.

They have never failed me. They’ve taken my breath away. They’ve taken a lot of hurt away.
And they are my rise in every wreckage.

Revelation 21:5

Happy New Year 

This year, I met my insecurities. They walked up and introduced themselves to me. I learned their first names and quickly learned that I didn’t want to keep company with them for long. I saw them for what they really are- liars. Frauds. Deceivers.

Once I met those insecurities the blindfold fell from my eyes. I could see, and what was even more beautiful? I could dance. I could run free. I could sing and my heart could swell. My heart could ache and my heart could rejoice. Yet in all of that, I could actually live, no longer held back by the lies that had become my heart’s reality. 

Because fear can really drag the life out of you if you really let those insecurities convince you it’s worth your time of day 

The freedom came when I realized that it wasn’t worth my time of day. +incredibly thankful for this year 

You Will Make a Way 

You brought me to the desert, so you could be my way
You brought me to the fire, so you could be my shield 
You brought me to the darkness, so you could be my morning 

If you brought me that far…

Wherever you lead me, I know you won’t leave me 
Wherever you call, I know you will make a way
Wherever we’re going, I will be holding on to the promise you have made 

You will make a way

When I’m in the valley, you will be my comfort 
When I’m at the end of me, I find you there
When I’m in the battle, you will be my present peace

You brought me this far:.. and you will make a way

Be Brave

I’ve officially survived my first semester of senior year & let me tell ya- it has not been at all what I expected. 

Recently I’ve been feeling a bit lost. I’ve felt let down, questioned friendships, and wondered why I wear my heart on my sleeve so often. 

But, ironically, a friend shared with me something I want to share with you all: “You are so brave. It’s so brave to feel. It’s so brave to wear your heart on your sleeve & let love in. To show all your cards. To expose your broken pieces and the pieces you aren’t really sure fit anywhere and the ones that radiate and shine and have already found their place” 

Now this truly stopped me and made me hit the pause button so I could dwell on these words for a little while. 

I’ve learned this
You will not know who you are, until you know Whose you are. Then you’ll know everything. You’ll know that you have to be brave in order to be vulnerable and find a place for that kind of love. You’ll be surprised of how full you’ll be when you “let go and let God.” 

Following Jesus. Putting your hope in Christ. Surrendering your heart to God. I could write for the rest of my life and still not have the words to describe the return of the investment in the Lord.

So yes, I might be lost. But if there’s anything I’m sure of this- you have to be lost in order to be found