12.16.2012

Our House

There is freedom in knowing that I'm never going to find the perfect friend on earth. Nobody is going to be perfect, so why try to find the perfect friend that is able to take care of my heart the right way?

I like to think of my heart as a house. I own this house. It's decorated in every room to reflect who I am as a daughter. Every room has a purpose, and the most untouched part of my house is my bedroom. My bedroom is reserved for the people who I know will come in and really appreciate why I'm letting them in there. My bedroom is usually locked for the people I know will destroy it. There have been several points in my life where I have let people in there, boys and girls, and they have decided that it wasn't important enough to them. They either immediately left without appreciating it, or they decided to rip it apart. 

It's like if you showed your best friend in first grade your most prized treasure, but they decided it wasn't that cool or threw it on the ground and stomped on it. 

My heart is so precious. Your heart is so precious. It is most precious to Jesus. Jesus is the only friend who will perfectly appreciate every room of my heart. 

I have community because friends can come into my house and see the places where it is broken. They can point out that the picture in my living room is crooked, or they can tell me that my plumbing for my kitchen needs repaired.  Jesus gave us friends so we can spur each other on into a deeper relationship with Him.

So I will build my spiritual house up with the truths of Jesus, and I will not let the enemy or unworthy visitors tear it down with deceit which births sin.

11.10.2012

Worm theology is broken.

Who wants a father who is always disappointed in his children? There are many different people in the world with different family backgrounds; but what kind of father do you think of when you think of a good Dad?

I think of this:
A father who loves his children yearns for a relationship with them.
A father who loves his children is disciplinary when they do something wrong because he knows that they deserve better.
A father who loves his children calls them worthy to be his son or daughter.
A father who loves his children loves them without any conditions.
A father who loves his children sees them as beautiful and finds joy in their presence.
A father who loves his children finds joy in giving them gifts.
A father who loves his children keeps them safe from harm.

There are so many more aspects to loving father, but these are the qualities of a good Dad here on earth in my point of view. So when our earthly fathers fail in some of these aspects or all of them, the Heavenly Father can fulfill them all and even more.

My Heavenly Father delights in me. He loves my heart, and He loves my desires. My Daddy loves seeing me chase after my dreams.

John 3:16 "For God so loved Rachel Smith that He gave His only begotten Son, that if Rachel Smith believes in Him she will have eternal life."

God loved me before I was saved. It's so important to know that. It's so important to see that Jesus isn't this shield from God's wrath, but He's my identity. I can take on the identity of Christ and flourish within my purpose here on earth.

I can know that I'm a beloved bride who is being prepared for the bridegroom at the throne of Heaven. I am a worthy daughter who was broken and lost but is found and healed because of Jesus.

The Father loves you. He loves your laugh. He loves your smile and what you desire from life because He knows He can use that to advance His kingdom. He loves the way you worship. He calls you a worthy child because you are His creation.

"We are Your purchased possesion
We are Your royal priesthood

My dad, He's not angry
He's not disappointed with me
My dad, He's not angry
He's smiling over me

For soon is coming a day
Soon is coming a day
Of the gladness of Jesus' heart
The day of his wedding"
Marriage Wine by Jon Rizzo

9.20.2012

Responding to Jesus

So I was told to watch and respond to a video by a good friend of mine. The video is called "The Shocking Youth Message - Paul Washer," and it's on YouTube if you care to watch it.

As I listened to Paul speak, I can't say that I didn't feel an upset emotion within my soul. I don't want say that it was anger, but it was unsettling. I started to think about all the people in my life that I dearly love, and how I don't know if half of them have made a sincere commitment to Jesus. Then I started to think about myself and if I've even seen transformation of the Holy Spirit in my life. I really don't want to list out what has happened to me, so I'm going to give you all the benefit of the doubt and say that I have truly been changed and am still being transformed by Jesus' love.

That kind of message never settles well with anyone, but I think that it needs to be taught because power is no substitute for character. I can say that I've healed people in the name of Jesus and spoken the word of God into people's lives, but until I have personally been changed by Jesus I have no place in the Kingdom. Ministry is not salvation -- ministry is an out pour of the salvation we receive from Jesus. I think there are groups and churches that can lack one or the other.  Some groups of people are really avid on teaching the gifts of the Spirit and seeing the work of God in tangible ways, but they lack in teaching people about character and humility. In other words, their lives are about ministry and not taking care of the hearts within the body of Christ. Some groups emphasize that it is important to go to church and say the right words of salvation, but their lives are empty and without fruit. All they care about is themselves and the healing and transforming work of God is a distant truth to them. They may feel saved, but their "ministry" says otherwise.

So as I watched Paul speak, I asked myself what the most important aspects of salvation were, and then I remembered what I learned in the summer from a friend of mine:

Salvation in Greek is sozo which can be translated to three words: saved, healed, and delivered. When we are saved, we claim Jesus as truth and put our faith in Him. When we are healed, anything physical that we may be dealing with can now be set free because of the cross. "By His stripes we are healed," says Isaiah 53. When we are delivered, the chains from the sin we have been identifying ourselves in are broken. We no longer have to live in bondage, and we can now repent. This all happens because of the power of the Holy Spirit that was given to the disciples in Acts. The Holy Spirit is the key to our complete salvation -- without it we are destined for hell.

I think what Paul Washer was trying to communicate needed to be communicated but not the way he decided to communicate it.  Personally, that kind of message doesn't necessarily make me want Jesus more, it just makes me feel guilty for who I am and how much I've sinned. Conviction is important, and believe me I become convicted when my sin is brought to my vision. But that type of broad condemnation of where I will go if I don't "get it right", aka bear fruit and repent, makes my relationship with God full of strife. I don't necessarily desire to run to Jesus in that moment because I don't feel good enough. So, I don't really think that that message would have brought me to my knees for the right reasons. The Lord brings me to my knees whenever I can see His tangible love on my life, and I am instantly brought into a form of worship when that occurs.

9.18.2012

Dear brother

A very thoughtful brother wrote a note to me and sent it to me through the mail room today. He wrote:

"Dear Rachel,
   I read part of your blog last night. It is encouraging to know that a sister-in-Christ is trying so hard to live for God, especially in a place like Grove City, where complacency is so prevalent. Perservere and continue to look for the opportunities God will present to you.

1 Peter 4:12-19
1 Timothy 4:9-16
Colossians 3:1-17

In Christ,
A brother"

Not only did I almost fall over in being hit with love, but I also wanted to figure out who you were so I could thank you.  This seriously made my heart soar, so I am replying to you where I know you will read it.

Brother,

Your note means a lot to me, and the verses you put in it edified my soul.  I really love Colossians 3. It's a great reminder to me, especially, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." That statement should reign over Grove City Community. Of course we as Christians find peace in salvation, but do we find peace in our assignments and responsibilities? We usually view those things as tasks to be done, and we don't recognize that they are an allowance to drown in the peace of Christ.  Life is going to throw a lot at us, things that will be a lot worse than what Grove City College assigns to our to do list. Christ desires for us to abide in Him. A good sister of mine has been reminding me of that lately too.

I hope we can talk in person, or you are welcome to remain a mystery. I appreciate you a lot for who you are and what you gave me on a small index card.

Love,
Your sister.

7.31.2012

The Abyss

I am saved.

What does it mean to "be saved"? Saved from what? Death? That may be true, but what does being saved mean for my life? That I should be good every day, do my devotions, and go to church? 

I've done that for a while now. Of course I'm not always good, and I don't always do my devotions. I even don't go to church all the time. GASP. I am a sinner.

My relationship with Jesus doesn't revolve around the religious activities I'm involved in or the devotions I read. Those things are good and edifying, but what keeps me whole is accepting the gifts Jesus has for my life. Every single day, Jesus showers me with gifts I don't deserve at all. He allows me to live and be apart of the Kingdom He is advancing on this earth. He has a purpose for my life. That purpose is full of blessings and suffering because some of the Lord's blessing comes through suffering.

Suffering is extremely hard. Everyone in the world understands suffering in some kind of way. Whether it's being heart broken over a relationship or grieving from a lost loved one, we all know suffering on some kind of level. On Friday, July 20th I got my tonsils removed. I knew it would be a hard recovery from what people had said to me, but I didn't know how emotionally and physically difficult this recovery was going to be. I couldn't eat solid food for a week straight, and when I ate liquid foods it still was the most difficult task to perform to survive. I guess that's how a lot of our sufferings are in life. We think we can be prepared for what's ahead, but in reality we don't have a clue how to survive and keep going. What keeps us going is the strength of Christ. I didn't necessarily kneel down and ask the Lord to give me strength every day, I just kept going because I knew I had it. I knew God was giving me strength.

God blessed me through suffering. He blessed me with patience. He's been giving a lot of that to me lately with several things in my life. My relationship with Christ has been consistent not because of my consistency, but because Christ is consistent with me.

Jesus Christ is consistent with me.

Most of all, Christ is patient with me when I don't want to be near him. 

Christ died for me. I am saved because of His ultimate suffering and sacrifice. He has given me a purpose in life to love others and share burdens with them.

I have no idea what kind of overall message this blog has. I guess it's just food for thought. It's what I've been discovering in the massive abyss of wisdom Jesus contains.

5.12.2012

I have a boyfriend.

And His name is Jesus.

Relationships are hard. Period.

They add a whole new plane to the balance of life. You have to guard your heart emotionally and physically. You have to spend time with friends and keep them close rather than spending all your time with the person you are dating. You have to know where the lines are in the relationship. You have to be able to communicate well. You have to be Christ-like and humble in all your actions towards them and others. You have to basically lay down your pride every single day.

I am very perceptive towards people. God blessed me with a discerning heart and an observing personality. I observe relationships. I observe how people interact, and I also look at my own experience.

These are some of the things I've seen:

Each person desires something out of the other. This expectation is the product of our language of love. Either one interprets love by touch, time, gifts, service, or affirmation. Too much of one of these can ruin a relationship and allow it to be an idol.

  • Too much time can allow either person to put the other on a pedestal. This causes hurt not only within the hearts but also in other people around them. People are offended by losing their friend. Also, God is offended because someone has stolen the heart of his son or daughter that is rightly His is in the first place.
  • Too much touch can cause hearts to harden and turn away from God. Future spouses feel robbed of the part of the heart that is given away physically to the previous broken relationship.
  • Too many gifts can feed our pride. The girl can think she can take advantage of the guy and entice him to get her anything she wants. She's taking away money that is rightfully God's in the first place. This causes hearts to love materials rather than the Lord.
  • Too much service is taking away the service we first owe to the Lord. Our hearts of service are for God, and if He asks us to bless one another then we obey. 
  • Too much affirmation can pierce our faith. A girl can put too much weight on what a guy promises to her. A guy can have too much faith in himself to carry through.  We put our faith first in the cross, and that allows us to have faith in one another. 

People always say that, "You should put God first before the relationship." I never really understood what that meant. I thought it had something to do with praying and devoting time to God. It's really not about that. It's about laying down your built up pride about yourself, even backwards pride, which is thinking that you're so undeserving that you shouldn't have the blessings given to you, and making your day about the Lord. It's about serving God with both of your hands, and not with one hand holding someone else and one hand lifted to Him. Both hands of each individual are lifted, and both encourage one another to walk in purity and service to the Lord. 

5.02.2012

Let His will be done.

I find college to be a very interesting concept.

We stick however many thousand young adults on a piece of land with buildings and make them learn something. Maybe they'll get a job for what they've learned. It's weird, but we put so much thought into one phase of our lives that could be better spent in other places. Although, I know I'm supposed to be here at Grove City serving the Lord. It's just odd how we decide to end up in such a place like this.

One of the most important aspects of a campus is community. Think about it. What really put you over the top to go to your college of choice? For some it's academics, for others it's doctrine, and for a lot it's about community. Most people that decide to go to Grove City say the community is one of its best aspects.

I chose Grove City mostly for the community. For an entire semester, I didn't really find it. I found friends, and I saw friend groups forming. I tried to do things with groups, but I found myself dissatisfied, still looking for intentional community. I didn't know why, but I felt really alone. Where was the passion and drive to act on the passions God has given us? Grove City seemed so stagnate to me for a while. I heard and talked a lot about Jesus, but I didn't see Jesus. I didn't see communities actually listening to God and seeking to live the way Jesus did. Everything that was said to me seemed so dry. Complacency threatened to take over my spiritual life.

One day, towards the end of first semester I went to my mailbox to check my mail, but who gets mail the day before they leave? A student on campus approached me asking if she could share with me what God had told her about me. I was amazed. I didn't know anyone on campus with that kind of boldness. So we sat down on the mailbox bench, and I listened to beautiful pictures that this passionate girl had for me. She shared with me encouraging words specific to my life... and she didn't even know me! She had just met me for goodness sake!

We prayed for an hour. It wasn't a bow our heads and pray for a good day prayer. It was a let's listen to God and hear what He would like to speak to our hearts prayer. This wonderful friend in Jesus spoke to me so many different words of wisdom. I was completely blessed. She brought me into a community that was exactly what I was seeking. God answered a prayer I didn't even necessarily pray! I just desired something, and He heard that desire. I've been diving in this community this whole semester, and I can't wait to experience more of the fullness of His Spirit. At Grove City, I never felt the sharing of the Spirit of God like I felt it that Saturday night.  It was open and completely God-honoring.

God works everything out in the end. Our choices about college and who we spend our time with is essentially not our own.  We just have to stop pretending we can control our own lives and leave it up to He who knows all things.

If you want to know more about the Spirit of God (and go to Grove City), come to Sticht Auditorium from 7 - 8:30 pm on Thursday, May 3 to hear a conversation on the Spirit of God between Dr. T. David Gordon and Jim Baker.

4.25.2012

Changes

Wow.

God has changed me.

I just realized that I don’t say, “I feel loved,” all the time anymore. I used to say that all the time in high school. The Lord literally changed my heart. I don’t say that anymore because I know I am loved. The Father loves me perfectly, and he changed my heart in way that made me open to that. I was searching for it in the people around me before, but I refocused who I decided to recieve that love from first and foremost. I recieve it from the Lord. I depend on the Lord’s love for me rather than some guy or some friend that I may have.

Love is one of the most beautiful feelings we have for one another as people, and we all need it. The Lord is the only entity that provides the kind of love that helps us see beauty in ourselves, others, and most importantly the Lord himself. When He loves us and we accept that, He fills us with His Spirit. It’s absolutely amazing.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, you may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” - Ephesians 3:17-19

3.08.2012

My heart on the subject.

I want to change names in this story because I guess that's just the right thing to do.

Releasing John from my hands was hard. He was like this big present I carried around, but there was nothing good for me inside the present. It was a bunch of gifts meant for someone else. On the outside it seemed like everything inside would be good for me and happy to explore through. It ended up just being a bunch of gifts that were addressed to another person. I’m not bitter about what happened, in fact, I'm so glad that I was able to grasp my own personality through healing from this relationship. Here's my heart on the whole subject.

When John left for college my senior year of high school, I was really sad. I hoped for a relationship at some point, but it didn’t seem very likely. We sent letters, but I was getting more and more used to the idea that it was really done. Then, he came back for Christmas and gave me the impression he wanted more. Of course I wanted more, I liked him a lot! He really didn’t know what he wanted or what was right. After he left for school again, he ended up telling me he didn’t want a relationship with me. I sat there thinking, why did this happen again? What have I done wrong? Is there something I could have done better to look like a better match for him? I wanted to change myself so badly for someone who wasn’t going to be happy with me no matter what. That was completely wrong to think. When summer came and John yet again started to pursue me, I realized I didn’t want that anymore. I told him that I loved him, but we can’t hangout anymore. I don’t like to be pushed around. Then when we were about to leave for school, John expressed to me that he wanted to keep in touch. I agreed because I do care about him. Then he started to flirt, and I flirted back. I realized the same cycle was starting again. I told him that he needs to make a decision. He came back a month later and said, “I want to be just friends.” I told him two days later that I can’t be friends with someone who pushes me around. I didn’t want to talk to him any longer.

The relationship between John and I was long and hard, but I’m glad it happened. I don’t feel regret from it anymore, I’ve learned from it. I feel empowered by it. I started to move on from John once he left for school. I began a long healing process that had some relapsing, but I finally moved on from him last October. He’s a friend, with whom there have been rough spots, but I still talk to him and learn from him. He’s a brother in Christ.

Being single is a gift. You’re not focused on one person on earth, you’re focused on the Lord and your responsibilities. I truly valued that my senior year. I discovered the Lord as my dear Father in Heaven who loves me with the deepest passion. I’ve learned a lot this past year too. I’ve learned to forgive and communicate well with the ones you love and are living close to. I’m definitely not perfect, but the Lord has been teaching me to keep my humility and let His Spirit increase in my heart.

2.24.2012

I think

I find myself thinking way too much. As I re-read notes from a class for an upcoming test, my thoughts wander, and I begin to think about what is going on around me rather than the piece of paper in front of me.

I think about why someone said a comment to me, or why that certain person acts the way they do. I end up making up this big fantasy in my head that simply should not exist. People are people, and I need to let them be people. My friends aren't always going to be completely honest with me, and I won't be completely honest to them. We fail each other all the time, but what redeems us is the cross. I can forgive the people that offend me because of Jesus' sufficient sacrifice, and they can forgive me for just the same reason.

I cannot dwell on the fact that people wrong me. I wrong people too. We are all people.

The one wrong thought that keeps coming into my head is the fact that I deserve to be given honesty with someone I am completely honest with. That's wrong. It all comes back to the fact that we were dishonest with Jesus from the beginning, but He knew us. He knows who we are, and how we've sinned.

I guess I need to marinate in all that's occurred this week. My thoughts seemed jumbled, and a blog post can do no better at helping me if I don't first dwell in the Word.

"But behavior in the human being is sometimes a defense, a way of concealing motives and thoughts, as language can be a way of hiding your thoughts and preventing communication."
-Abraham Maslow