Brazil

Got back from Brazil this week. Our church does a short term mission trip there every year. It was my first year to go and it was incredible. I’m still trying to process everything.

It was so cool to see how God answered prayers while we were there. We even got to see some of the fruits of our work while we were there. There were some rough times for me personally but overall it was just wonderful and I can’t wait to go back next year.

I might write something more detailed about the trip at some point in the future. I’ll have to plan it out.

Normal Anxieties

Remember how I was excited about getting back to my goals? Well, I ended up catching a cold. Coughing, sneezy, runny nose, body aches. So much for watching my diet and exercising. Haven’t eaten much. Haven’t moved much. Pretty much sucks. This kind of sick just has to run its course. It better hurry up, because I’ve got stuff to do!

One week until I start seminary school. Later this week is orientation. I’m super excited to get started already! I’m ready to learn! I’m also getting nervous. What if it’s too hard? What if I can’t keep up? What if I fail? These are normal anxieties. A lot of people feel this way when they step up to something big. But that’s why they’re big dreams. Not everyone has the courage, will, and determination to do it. So here I am, making my attempt, answering the call. And I will be successful. It’s a path that I’m ready to take on. Each step will lead me to bigger and bright things in the future.

 

“May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,

your saving power among all nations.”
(Psalm 67:1–2)

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.”
(Isaiah 60:1)

Isaiah 43:2

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.”

Isaiah 43:2 ESV

 

Camping in the Ouchitas

This story begins with an idea that started with a thought. The idea was that we go on this backpacking trip. We get all our gear together. We gotta plan the routes. Find out our water cache locations. And then hit the trail. Shouldn’t have been a big problem. And in the end it wasn’t a big problem at all. We arrived Thursday night at 1 or 2 AM and slept in the car. In the morning we looked for the water cache locations but it was taking a long time. We decided to give up on trying to find the water cache locations an instead get some campsites for the rest of the length of our stay. We arranged that quite easily. Two of us went on a short 3 mile hike,. While I stayed at camp and rested after the relative chaos of the past few weeks. Saturday we hiked 8 miles. 2.5 to the Potato Hill Vista. Then we continued on to our 4 mile marker. We ate our lunch and then head back just in the nick of time before it got completely dark. It was a great hike, getting us right back to our campsite. So much fun! Sunday we did a shorter hike. Three miles around the lake. Leisurely. But we were still tired. And glad that we only did 3, anymore it would have been excessive. From there we drove out to Panorama Vista to see the sunset. It was beautiful and worth it.

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We talked about our journeys through life. We made sarcastic jokes. We got along well. We talked about Jesus. It was a good time to connect and learn about our group. It wasn’t the trip that I had planned. But it was the trip that we needed to do. And I still want to go backpacking with these girls sometime in the future. God always knows his plan, and God is always putting his plan into action. We just have to go along with it. The next trip will be different, but it’s going to be wonderful.

Jesus

Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. He died. He was God’s only son. The one and only. God sent him to live a life of suffering. He suffered so much. All of those things you’ve been through, Jesus has gone through as well. He was rejected. He was bullied. He was ostracized. He was laughed at. He was called a drunkard. People said he was a lunatic. People did not believe him. He was betrayed. He was tested in the wilderness by all the things that frequently lead us astray, but he endured it. He endured it all until the very end. His death was prolonged agony, the epitome of suffering. It was horrific. But he endured it. Until is life gave out, he cried out “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:48 ESV). Fully man, separated from God the Father. This was God’s sacrifice of his only son for one purpose. The purpose of Jesus on the cross was while Jesus was perfect, he took on the sins of the people of the world as his own sin. And he put them to death. In the most terrifying way possible. So sin is put to death. Woo hoo! Then Christ is miraculously retuned. He came back . He stripped off all our sins. So that we can live a life forgiven and free. We are no longer slaves to our sins. We no longer have to be ashamed. Jesus took our shame for us. We no longer have to feel abandoned. We are God’s children. We are no longer hopeless. Jesus IS our hope, “For in this hope we were saved” (Romans 8:24 ESV).

“Jesus & a Latte: Evangelism Over Coffee”

Two cups of coffee. Two lattes actually. Two rose flavored lattes to be specific. So delicious. I mean, just yum. So good. I highly recommend a rose latte or two.

Today was a rather weird but good day. Not sure what kind of head space I’ve been in all day. I’ve been feeling pretty good lately. But while I was on my way to meet a friend I suddenly started feeling pretty down. I was thinking about some past relationships, and it just really bummed me out. Got me into thought patterns about not being good enough. This is pretty typical of me, and I don’t know where it stems from. Meeting up with my friend was good though. We had a good conversation about some of this. We reminded each other about how much God loves us.

Rose Latte. It was sweet, but not too sweet. Definitely flowery. I had asked the barista if they still had the Lavender Latte. He picked up the lavender syrup to show me that they always have it. As he was putting it back I noticed a bottle that had pink petals on it, so I asked, “Is that rose syrup?” Sure enough. He looked at me strange as if a rose latte was weird. But I am here to tell you that a Rose Latte is like, the best thing, ever. Now I have to go buy rose flavored syrup to make rose lattes at home. I’ll have to separate it into smaller bottles to take with me whenever I go to a coffee shop, and spike up my latte with rose syrup.

It’s not simply that Jesus loves me. He does. But what that means is that he wants to care for me. He wants me to spend my time with him. He wants to see me succeed in the plans that he has laid out for me. He calls me beautiful. He calls me his own. He calls me worthy. He gives me grace when I mess up. He loves me even when I forget about him. He pursues me because he needs me. He gave his life for me. He says what he means and means what he says. He listens when I’m sad. He comforts me when I cry. He sings with me when I’m joyful. He’s happy when I’m happy. Because he loves me.

Rose Latte. Highly recommended. The latte chose me. It was meant to be. Jesus. Highly recommended. Jesus chose me. It was meant to be. Jesus and a latte do not equal each other. But maybe that should be the name of my book, “Jesus & a Latte: Evangelism Over Coffee.”

 

My Take on Judges Ch. 2

“And they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the LORD to anger.” (Judges 2:12)

The book of Judges goes through several stories after the rule of Joshua during which there was peace and obedience to the Lord. During this time the Israelites had forgotten all the things that the Lord had done during Joshua’s time. They were a generation that was corrupted by the world around them. They served other gods above the Lord.

“Whenever the LORD raised up judges for them, the LORD was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge. For the LORD was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them. But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.” (Judges 2:18-19)

These Israelites literally served other gods. Idol worship existed in every household at that time. Although the god of the Israelites asked them to follow only him, they went their own way and basically tried to assimilate into this local culture and it brought them destruction.

In our world today idol worship means a very different thing. In our world we worship wealth, prosperity, power, relationships, careers, sports teams, politics, hobbies, comfort, all these things. You could add a multitude to this list of things that we put above god.

Now, there’s this story in the New Testament about a Samaritan woman at a well that meets Jesus. (See John 4:16-26). They chat a bit. They talk about worship. Jesus says to the woman, “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (John 4:22-23)

The Old Testament God was angry. “Whenever [the Israelites] marched out, the hand of the LORD was against them for harm, as the LORD had warned, and as the LORD had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress” (Judges 2:14). But god keeps giving them rulers (judges) to bring them back to himself. He gives them chances to be redeemed and forgiven.

In the story of Jesus and the Samaritan, he is telling her that worship should be directed at the Father and no one or thing else. Everything else is a false idol when we put them above god. They can be tools to bring others to god, but they cannot replace god. Plus these idols do not have the ability to forgive our sins the way Christ can. Ultimately we are all ruled and judged by Christ himself and he is good, forgiving, and gracious. The story of the Israelites and the Judges is what we deserve when we are disobedient. When Christ died, he was sacrificed with all of our sins on him so that we no longer bear them. We are free from the wrath that the LORD would have put upon us. Because he has already done it by sacrificing his son.