Tag Archives: Faith

Joy in Trials

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4 (ESV) 

 

 I find so much comfort in this verse. Earlier this week I took a brake from my normal devotions to just take a look at the great promises that the Bible has about suffering, giving thanks and praise to God through everything, and the like. I found such encouragement from the words of the Bible, it is my very strength. As I write this I am pressing on through my current trial of pain in my joints. But I am reminded to count it ALL joy, not just a little bit of joy, not just taking it for what it is or just accepting it. No, it goes far beyond that. It’s taking joy in the fact that the trials God puts in our lives are merely tools for our holiness.

 The tough things are only momentary, even though everyone can tell you they don’t seem that way at the time. They seem hard. We ask God with raised fists, “Are you a fool? I can serve you better with this, I thought it was a gift that was good!” When we should be having the spirit of the author of Laminations, who when faced with the destruction of his beloved city, the death of his people as well as their rebellion, and his own health in a sorry state along with other horrible things, yet he rejoiced in the Lord! He uttered the words, “Therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.””(Lamentations 3:21b-24)

 I am in amazement over what God has already done with the trial of my joint pain. He is teaching me so much through it and I have this deep, deep peace that I am not sure I have ever experienced before. Though my body is falling apart right now my soul is being gently comforted and clothed by the grace and mercy of my King! It’s just wonderful! The joy that you receive when you let go of those trials is so much better than having the trials go away. I am not specifically praying for healing anymore, I am praying that God will do HIS will, not mine and that my will shall be conformed to His perfect one.

 I know that God is using this for my good, to conform me to His holiness, and to make me lacking in nothing. I can’t say too much how great this is. This is true joy, knowing that God is faithful even when it doesn’t look that way, truly knowing that “in faithfulness He afflicted me”. (Psalms 119:75) Words don’t even begin to describe this, I believe that’s because the language of joy is a foreign tongue that is learned as instructed and it’s truly belonging to heaven. Perfect, complete joy will only be found when we are in the wonderful arms of our Savior. He is good and He is faithful!

“Morning by morning I wake up to find
the power and comfort of God’s hand in mine.
Season by season I watch him amazed, in
awe of the mystery of his perfect ways

All I have need of his hand will provide.
He’s always been faithful to me

I can’t remember a trial or a pain he did
not recycle to bring me gain. I can’t
remember one single regret in serving
God only and trusting his hand”

(Sara Groves, He’s Always Been Faithful)

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Lessons From Life: My Everything

 “Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
   you hold my right hand.
 You guide me with your counsel,
   and afterward you will receive me to glory.
  Whom have I in heaven but you?
   And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
  My flesh and my heart may fail,
   but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
   you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
But for me it is good to be near God;
   I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
   that I may tell of all your works.” (Psalms 73: 23-28 )

 These verses have been ones that God has been putting on my heart lately so heavily that they are not ignorable. He keeps asking me the question, “Olivia, am I the strength of your heart? Am I your portion forever? Am I your all?” I wince as I respond to Him, “Lord, I love you, you know I do.” He gently yet sternly asks again, “How much do you love me?” I wince again. “God, I’ve given you my life, what more do you want?” He is persistent. “Are you willing to give me those little parts of your heart that you’ve kept back? Those places in your life that you want to hold on to?” I start to panic… He knows about those things?! “God, what do you mean? I’ve given you my dreams, I’ve given you my heart and life.” He shakes His head. “Not all of your dreams. Not all of your heart and life. There are still those things that you want to be in control of. Give them to me. I wont let you down.” We continue on. Me in my hesitation to surrender these parts of me and Him in His gentle and yet strong pursuit of me and my everything. Until finally I came to my breaking point.

 A few nights ago God got through. I’ve been having some daily joint pain in my hands and fingers that has been concerning me because it’s been going on for about three weeks. The things that seem to make it worse are typing (though only sometimes) and playing piano and violin (again this is only sometimes) which really worried me. The use of my hands and fingers are pretty much my life. I’ve always said that I could never live without my hands. The very idea that the pain in my hands could be an actual reason for concern (and not just my wild imagination) scared me. The thought of not being able to use my hands as easily as I would like made me scared. God gently yet firmly kept telling me to surrender it to Him. I complained, I protested, I objected, but in the end I had no choice but to let go. I had to put my hands into God’s hands.

 Earlier this week He had me weeping over the above passage. In more areas than just my hands, He has been showing me that I need to surrender, that HE needs to be my everything. He needs to be my strength, my beauty, my portion, my all, my desire, my life, my everything. I have been begging God for months to show me that. To let my heart truly know the words of this Psalmist and be able to sing the words of “Enough” by Chris Tomlin or Barlowgirl’s song based on Psalms 73 and know that I mean them with my entire being. Though in my brain I might of realized it would mean me coming to a breaking point first, it really didn’t set in until it was happening.

 In the last two weeks God has just been blasting me with the message of faith, surrender, and His wondrous sovereignty everywhere. From a theological note in my study Bible, to the Jerry Bridges video we watched for Sunday school, it’s been everywhere. God has really been trying to get His point across… that just shows you how thick sculled I am most of the time. I am so glad He finally got through to me. Wrestling with God isn’t enjoyable, and you don’t win, so it’s time to wave the white flag. I will leave my ramblings over what God is showing to me with the words of the song “Let Go” by Barlowgirl. These words mirror my heart so perfectly that it almost scares me.

Yeah I trust in You
I remember times You led me
This time it’s bigger now
And I’m afraid You’ll let me down
But how can I be certain?
Will You prove Yourself again?

‘Cause I’m about to let go
And live what I believe
I can’t do a thing now
But trust that You’ll catch me
When I let go
When I let go

What is this doubt in me
Convincing me to fear the unknown
When all along You’ve shown
Your plans are better than my own
And I know I won’t make it
If I do this all alone

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Great is His Faithfulness

 This fall and even the last year has been full of things that I just don’t understand. I have spent much time saying, “God? What’s your plan in this? I can’t see it. Please show me it!” Yet often time God gently whispers to my heart saying, “Just trust me. I know you and I love you. This is for your good and my glory. I have a plan, but it’s not time for you to see it yet. Lean on me until you can.” It can often be hard to just have simple childlike faith in God.

 We have temptations and struggles all around us and Satan in forever whispering lies in our ears. He is constantly saying, “God doesn’t know what He’s doing. You are crazy to trust Him at His word. He didn’t really mean that you have to trust Him with EVERYTHING, I mean, this is just way too big for God.” It’s the same lie he has been saying since the very beginning (Genesis 3).

 The Bible is so clear though, that God is faithful. He never forgets His people and He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. One of the themes of the Bible is God’s faithfulness. From Genesis to Revelation, God is faithful. Especially in the Psalms and the books of prophesy where it looks like God has forgotten His people. These are some of the verses that reflect that in the Psalms: 25:10, 57:10, 86:15, 89:2, 14, 33, 100:5, 111:7, 117:2, 119:90.

I love these words from Lamentations. After the author describes the horrors of the fallen Israel and the pain and strife of himself and the others around him, this is what he says; (Chapter 3)

 “21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. 23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”  25 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,  to the one who seeks him;  26 it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. 32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love.”

 God is still there and He is always faithful, even when we can’t see His purpose or understand His plans… He remains faithful. He is unchanging and always good. He always has a plan that is for our good and his glory. We need to rest in God and in the fact that He knows what He is doing. I pray that we will both do so and surrender our every single problem and need to Him. God bless.

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Longing for Persecution

I have to admit something to all of you; I am sick and tired of nominal and lukewarm Christians. It is one of my greatest annoyances. I hate how our churches and youth groups are filled with people that say they are Christians, have “prayed a prayer”, and don’t do “bad” things, yet it stops right there. They are without all fire and passion and even love. Their “Christian” life only extends as far as Sunday mornings and other church events, except for the fact that they don’t take the Lord’s name in vain or such. It is a sickening ailment of the American and Western church.

When I look at the American and Western church then also look at the persecuted church, I am shocked by the difference. In the underground and persecuted church, people risk their lives to just go to a church service or to own a Bible. In the Western church, most people miss church to spend time at their cabins and to go hunting (at least where I live) and Bibles are in abundance, yet we barely even take time to read them. The persecuted church will not deny Christ even if it comes down to dying, when the Western church will deny Christ for the sake of popularity.

Now I know full well that there are Christians in the Western church that are willing to die for their Lord and Savior and have a passion for him, as well as people in the underground church that deny Christ or who betray others in the church. This is just a generalization of the majority.

There is such beauty in the persecuted church. I have been reading Tortured for Christ by Richard Wurmbrand and the stories he tells of himself and others that have been persecuted for Christ’s sake under the communists are amazing and heart wrenching. The love expressed by the underground church is nothing less than beautiful.

We need that. We need faith that stands the roughest storms. We need courage that will take a stand for what they believe and say, “Here I stand I can do no other”. We need lives that are ready to be laid down. We need passion alive in the hearts of those who claim to know the King of kings. We need to have the fire and power of God at work in the church of America. We need the stuff of the persecuted church.

The change starts with you and me. If we don’t have passion, fire, courage, strength, and faith present in our own lives we can’t expect it from the people around us. We are to lead by example and show the radiance of Christ in our own lives. I also think we need some persecution and testing to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. We know nothing of persecution, but I know that in the years ahead we might get a taste of it. I know that it will be good for our church and will take away the dead and nominal Christians and just leave the ones that are truly followers of Jesus. Then maybe we will start to show some of the beauty of Christ. God bless.

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Interview (Isaac)

 A few weeks ago I was reading the “Get To Know You” thread on the rebelution forums. I saw that this one guy named Isaac had put mono-skiing and hand-cycling as hobbies. I was wondering what he was talking about. Then I read down and he said that what grieved him was people looking down on him because he was in a wheelchair. So I decide to ask him for his story and he gladly gave it to me. I was blown away by the story I am sharing with you. He also tells it really well. So I hope you enjoy reading his story and some questions I had for him.

A little bit about myself: I was born a healthy strong baby. I was happy and I would always run around the house throwing my ball, it was my first word(ball) and it was the only thing I played with all day. My mom was sure I was going to be a ball player when I grew up and that made my Dad really happy. Then around my first birthday i got an ear infection. The doctor gave me some antibiotics and it went away. About a month later the ear infection came back.At thirteen months old my mom put me down for a nap after lunch. I woke up screaming my lungs out. My mom couldn’t figure out what was wrong but I wouldn’t stand up. She picked me up and I just flopped around. She went and put me in my highchair and I couldn’t sit up. By then my mom is absolutely scared out of her wits and crying. We lived in a small mountain town way up in northern Colorado so we went to the Larimy, Wyoming hospital. There the doctors had no idea what was wrong with me they just knew I was paralyzed from the neck down so they suspected child abuse and asked my mom a lot of questions. They finally got a hold of Children’s Hospital in Denver, Colorado and flew me down there on flight for life. There it took till two o’ clock in the morning to know what was wrong. I was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis. Transverse Myelitis is a neurological disorder caused by inflammation to the spinal cord. The inflammation causes damage to the nerves which causes paralyzation. The inflammation comes from an immune deficiency or not enough blood to the spinal cord. Through therapy and Gods power I can walk with crutches and I am a happy person. I have gotten into mono-skiing ( like a sled suspended on one ski and then I have outriggers, little crutches with skis on the bottom) since the rest of my family are really good skiers. But through this whole experience my parents have not let me count myself out because i have a wheelchair and don’t make up excuses for me. I have found in this that God shatters our dreams so that we may see his bigger and better ones. But we can only see that when we get past ourselves.

What is the worse part about being in a wheelchair?
The worst part of being in a wheelchair is that so many people tell me how sorry they feel for me and that my life sucks. It is so annoying that some people think that my life is not worth anything and that I am unable to do anything. Yes i have limitations, but who doesn’t? and even though I have limitations i find ways that I can do those limitations, just in a different way than the “norm”.
Do people ever treat you like you are a little kid?
Funny you ask this, people treat me like a little kid all the time. They talk to me slowly and in a little bit of that baby tone. It is always funny when I tell them the answer to the question or just say something and their face is just like wow how are you talking. And then also when I drop something or go and get something I am only like two feet away and they’re like ” Ohh I can get that” and I am like “So can I”. it always makes me laugh though and it doesn’t really make me mad.
What is the most important thing God has taught you through this experience? God has taught me two very important things through out my life. One is that people will be people. They will always be curious and intruding. Like when random people come up to me and say, “Ohh my are you okay, what happened?” If you are rude about it, what is it going to do in your life and in the life of others? So I always, no matter how the person asks the question remember that we are here to proclaim the love of God and His grace always.
I have also learned that no matter what we see God has a PERFECT plan for our lives. We are his children and his creation, made to do his will. Why would he try to hurt us or make us defects, he wouldn’t! We are the only things that separate us from God, so we can try and stay close to him and follow his perfect plan or we can separate ourselves in anger from God and be self rejects who are sorry mad people that will let the Devil use self pity to blind God’s plan.
Have you (or your parents) even been mad at God because of this?
I have never really been mad at God for making me who I am. Because that is exactly what I am , created as I am supposed to be. People ask are you mad God made it hard for you to walk and what i tell them is I was not made to walk normally right now. This is how God created me and he has no regrets. My parents haven’t really been mad at God either, but pray all the time that I will walk without crutches or any support, which I know God WILL do all in time.


I was so encouraged by this story! It is amazing his faith in God. It is when people go through the storms and still praise God, when he is glorified. The kind of peace that passes all understanding is the kind Jesus promises to give us. Not just the joy that comes from having perfect lives. Remember that God is perfect and he makes no mistakes. I hope this interview will help encourage and strengthen you. Also, I pray that it will give you a better perspective on people in wheelchairs. And the coolest thing about this story is that someday Isaac WILL be able to walk. When he gets to heaven someday he will have a perfect body. I am sure that gives him such hope and strength to face everyday.

In Christ alone,

Olivia/Nobody <><

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Marks of a Christian

Okay,

In my last post I talked about the transformation of the outside when you become a Christian. I want to explain it more here. I am referring to the process of sanctification. Now that is a big, confusing word. Though the idea is really simple, it means to become like Christ. Some people believe that to get forgiven you have to do good things (sanctification) and then you will get forgiveness of your sins (justification). That is not true. Only the cross and Jesus dying on it can get us forgiveness, not anything we do. If we could get to heaven by ourselves Jesus would never have came.

 So what does a true Christian look like? Well to state it plainly, like Christ. Christian actually means, “little Christ”, so let’s please try to live up to our namesake (though we can never truly succeed at that). So what does that look like? Well this is Romans 12’s “Marks of a Christian”.

9Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal [lazy in passion], be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints [Christians] and seek to show hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it  to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Now that is a pretty hefty list. I think that I am going to be hanging it on my wall to remind me how to act. We all know hypocrites! We all know how annoying it is when they start preaching at you and you are sitting there thinking, “Yeah, sure say that. Look at your life!”. Now my life is far from perfect (hard to believe right?). These are things that I am working on, but as I grow in my faith, as I become holy, more like Christ, through the holy spirit’s work in me.

Another good list to work on is the fruit of the spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. (I did that from memory, thanks to the song (the fruit of the spirit’s not a coconut! *knocking on my head and clicking my tongue*))

 We as Christians are called to be “holy as I am holy” (God is saying this to us). That is beyond human capabilities, but that doesn’t give us an excuse for not pursuing it(Outdo one another in showing honor)! We are commanded to strive for more than we can reach. As a friend of mine pointed out while studying Do Hard Things, “When we set a higher goal and higher bars, we might not reach that, but we will sure do a whole lot better than having a lower standard and not even reaching that.”. I hope this helped you all. If you have any questions leave a comment and I will do my best to answer. Soli Deo Gloria!

In Christ Alone,

Nobody <><

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Message to My New Bros and Sisses (What’s Next?)

 Ok, so you have just became a Christian. Congrats! Now what. What do you do? This is a hard question for most people. There are so many books, so many resources, so much of the Bible, so many questions, where do you even start? How do you go about making your life different, making it an offering to the one who gave you eternal life? Well I hope that I can answer some questions. I would also love for you to send me some questions, either via comments or by email. So here are some things I would advise both new and even older(if they are not doing so already) Christians to do.

  1.  Find a good church. Churches are truly a place where you can learn and grow and worship together with other Christians. The Church (big “C” church) is really just any and all believers. So find a place to fellowship with others. See if what they believe is Biblical. (This may be a hard thing for you new believers but ask someone, anyone who you know (even me) who is a firm Christian to help you find out if what the church is saying matches up to the scriptures.) 
  2.  Start reading the Bible. There is so much to learn. I have grown up in a Christian home and my dad is actually a pastor (only for about 3 1/2 years though) and I still find that there is ALWAYS more to learn. Now the Bible seems sort of scary, it is REALLY long for crying out loud! Where do you even start? Well a great place to start is probably the gospel of John. It tells the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and since that is the bases for our faith, it is a great place to start. After that I would advise reading Romans. It is filled with amazing insight about our salvation and life in Christ.
  3.  Find some strong Christian friends. Having fellowship with other believers, (like going to church) is very important. Also, when it comes to you old friends that do not know the Lord, I don’t encourage you to totally ditch them, but in the Bible it says that believers and not to be yoked with non-believers. So the people you are closest too, the people that effect the way you live, the people you share your hopes and dreams with, need to be Christians. I can not tell you how much of a blessing my Christian friends have been to me! Having people that will encourage you and come along side you when you fall and most importantly PRAY for you, is awesome!
  4. Share your faith. My dad often says that new Christians are great for sharing their faith with their friends, 1) they still have close connections to the non Christians, 2) the reality of Christ saving them is still fresh. This isn’t an easy thing, not at all. But you should let people know the change that has gone on inside of you. Matthew 10:33 says that Jesus will deny any one who denies him. Don’t be ashamed of Christ, or he will be ashamed of you. Like the Newsboys song goes, “I’m not ashamed to let you know, I want this light in me to show, I’m not ashamed to speak the name, of Jesus Christ”.
  5. Start the outward transformation. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of you mind, that you may by testing you might be able to discern the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” I want to make it perfectly clear that your heart is changed when you become a Christian, you are given the spirit of Christ in you, you are a new person. But the outward transformation isn’t as easy. As Gregg Harris (the dad of Alex and Brett from the Rebelution ) said in his session at the Do Hard Things conference, “We may have the heart of a lamb, but we have the body of a wolf. And we are constantly fighting our old ‘wolf’ ways.”. I am going to put another post (since this is getting long) of what we are to aspire to as Christians.

 

Okay, I hope this benefited you. I will be posting another part to this article soon (though I don’t know when because I am REALLY busy, speaking of which I need to practice violin…). If you have any questions or comments, please contact me. Also, if you are a new Christian, I would love to find out who you are and talk to you. If you have any questions feel free to ask.

Also. If any of you regulars (or even people who stumbled on here) have any topics that you would like to hear about let me know. I have an idea for some, but it is always good to have more. The series I am going to start will have videos (Trey, you might get some emails from me if I can’t figure it out on my own!) and they should be really cool! I am so excited!

In Christ,

Nobody <><

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