Saturday, April 30, 2011

I couldn't think of a title for this post.

I know I haven't posted in a while... a whole week! That is a record. I really have missed my blog. I did change the background though. Do you like it? I was hungry when I chose the picture. No kidding.

Well, a lot has been going on. My cousins, Kandace and I sang and played at Chick-fil-A Family Night on Tuesday, and again at a church on Thursday. We have been busy practicing and playing and my fingers are callused from my unforgiving guitar strings. But it really has been a joy!

Taylor and me getting ready to sing at Chick-fil-A. I didn't get a picture of me playing because I was busy... playing.

Last night was the Rite of Passage banquet at Smokehouse. It was so wonderful to see six other young adults celebrating the work they've done and having the desire to serve the Lord by being mature young adults. This world needs children that are raised to be adults with a purpose. A purpose that is so much greater than the "American Dream", but is God's purpose for our lives.

And then here is my favorite 6 year old sister waiting to eat at the banquet! Isn't she cute?!

And then, the garden. Here is a picture of our freshly planted garden. It must produce a harvest... it must! I really am looking forward to it's fresh fruit and vegetables!

Well, that really is all I have. I am working on a brilliant post which will eventually go from my brain to my blog... just not tonight.

Have a lovely Sunday and remember, Jesus loves you so very much. He died for you. He rose again for you. He loves you. Show Him how much you love Him back.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Because He Loved Us

There is a true story.

There was once a baby boy. He was born 2000 years ago to a poor family. He grew and lived a sinless life. He had come with one purpose. One that He did not have to fulfill, but one that He chose to. One Passover night He slept little. His stomach churned with knowing, knowing what must be done. He prayed in a garden and the pressure was so great... He sweat blood. He was betrayed by a close follower. He was accused. Sentenced an unfair sentence. Laughed at, mocked. Men spit in His face. His holy face. He was led to a post, stripped of His robe and was beaten. Shards of glass and bone ripped His skin. He breathed in ragged breaths. He whispered, "forgive them", and no one knew why. The blood of the Innocent of the innocent flowed. The gathering laughed and yelled. They beat Him longer than they were allowed. He loved them still and said, "forgive them."

The ones He loved threw him to the ground, hit Him and beat Him as they shoved a crown upon His head. A crown of thorns pierced His head as He grit His teeth. A splintered beam of wood was placed on His stripped flesh. He carried the weight of the world on His back as He climbed the hill. His arms shook from exhaustion. His mind was foggy but He kept whispering, "forgive them." His legs were so weak that He fell to the rocky ground. His scarlet face pounded the dirt. Someone carried the beam as He raised His head. The ones He loved, hammered the beam into the other. They shoved Him onto the cross of wood. His arms were stretched. He cried out as spikes were hammered through His wrists and His feet. They jerked His body hanging on a cross into a hole. He heaved in pain and gasped for air. Suddenly, weight of unmeasurable size fell upon His shoulders that made His physical pain seem small. It squeezed around Him. The darkness of the world fell upon Him. He tried to breath. The weight was beyond overwhelming. He was suddenly, for the first time, separated from His Father. He used the strength of a broken human to beg His Father, "why?"  

The angels of Heaven waited. They were prepared for His command to come to His rescue. They were ready if He had enough. They knew that He could stop it all. His accusers could be hanging on crosses at any moment He wanted. He was not under their control. All of creation waited as this man hung on a tree. The past, present and future relied on this moment. The angels waited, ready and prepared. But the man hung there, heaving for a breath so He could again say, "forgive them."

He lifted His head and said, "it is finished." He died. He died as the world shook with agony. It had been finished. Those below Him were confused by those words.  

He was taken down and laid in a tomb. He was sealed off from the world. He was dead. It was finished. This man was gone like all men who die.

But then... this was not just a man. He broke the chains of death as no feeble man can. He sat up and placed his feet onto the cold stone floor. He was alive. He is alive.

This was a man and was yet was God. The innocent One who allowed Himself to be slaughtered for me. God allowed Himself to be killed for a creation that had turned it's back on Him. He loved those that He could have banished. Before you or I knew we need Him, He knew that we needed Him. He kept the angels of Heaven at bay as suffered utterly alone. He took my evil upon His bloody shoulders and loved me anyway. He arose and still loves me. He didn't have to, but He did. I am not worthy to say His name. But He calls me His Friend. He loves me. He is Jesus, the King of kings. And one day every knee will bow.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Car wash, Greek and My Birthday

Disclaimer: This is a hodge-podge post. It is simply to inform you of the goings in my life. You may not benefit from this at all, but learn more about what I've been doing of late.

Well I am officially 17 years old, as of yesterday. Too close to 20 and too far away from 10 are my thoughts on it. I'm old. But I had a most wonderful day becoming "old" yesterday! It was such a blessing to get to participate in a car wash at Chick-fil-A raising money for the Mexico Mission trip. It was wonderful, even if I did get the job of scrubbing bugs off the front of every car's hood in Wilkes County... or so it seemed. But it was good. We raised a lot of money and had a wonderful time doing it. I actually drove myself to Chick-fil-A (I'd never driven without Mom or Dad in the car. I got my license last week). It wasn't that bad at all... well, except for parking entirely crooked. But Kandace got out of the car and had a fit and told me to park again.

But it was a wonderful car wash, it was such a pleasure to see other young adults, children and "older" adults working hard for the Lord. It was a joy. They even sang Happy Birthday to me and sprayed silly string all in my hair!

I went to Applebees last night and ate a low-cal blondie (low-cal, ha ha). Those things will be in Heaven, I'm sure of it. I had a great time with my family. Just enjoying being together.

Who says Andrew is wild??
It looks so good!

Now on to Greek. Dr. and Mrs. Black came to visit this past Saturday through Monday. It was a wonderful visit and we always miss them when they have to go. They spoke at church on Sunday and Dr. Black kicked off the Greek class we are doing at my church. My brain worked so hard it would have preferred math. Yet at the same time, it was so much fun. Dr. Black has a way of taking an easy... um, NOT so easy language and making it fun and exciting. I will be studying Greek for 26 more weeks. Right now I know the alphabet... I have some work to do. But I am looking forward to being able to read the New Testament in its original language so that I don't have to work through translations, but read exactly what God purposed for us to see. It'll be splendid!

It has been a busy and wonderful past few days. The Lord is so good to His children. Are you blessed? Me too. Remember to think about our Savior these next few days leading up to Easter, who 2000 years ago was getting ready to die for our sins and to raise Himself to life again so that we might be saved.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What Is He to You?

Since my last post was a comfortable... I mean, an uncomfortable one, even though it was on my heart by my Father, I thought I would lighten the mood and talk about something more light. Actually, this involves you!

God is many things to His children. He is a Father, Comforter, Rock, Hiding Place, Jealous God, High Priest, Wonderful Counselor, Friend, Redeemer, The Good Shepherd, Refuge and Strength, Bread of Life, Creator.... and so on. What has been to you lately? He is most often my Hiding Place and Comforter. He really is the One whom I run to and feel safe to remain in. When I think of Hiding Place I think of playing hide-and-seek. I used to love that game. I would be in a panic as Daddy counted down as I looked for a hiding place. I would look behind a door and think, too easy. I would try under the bed, too small. I would try the tub, too wet. I would finally find that perfect spot (like in the back of a closet) and sink down in peace. I was always the last one to be found because my hiding place was so good. It was peaceful knowing while I was hiding that my place was good and hidden. God is often my Hiding Place to a world that is coming after me like Dad and Kandace would do when we played. He is a place where my worries can leave. I worry too much. It is wrong and I know that. My stomach is the permanent residence of butterflies, or so it seems. But when I run to my Hiding Place, I meet the Comforter, the One who puts me at ease. He tells me that I'm safe. In Him, nothing can find me. Nothing.

So what is He to you? Please comment and share. What does He help you with? What word describes Him to you right now? I'm anxious to know!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

When The Church Compromises

Why do we compromise our Christianity? Dad was talking to me about dates for a certain event at church and how the church has to work around school schedules, sports, dance, vacations... you name it... the church has to work around it. The Church is constantly compromising. Not only does it compromise its schedule, but it does so morally. We all act great at church or around other believers but then we wear... that to prom?? We say this at school? Why? Where is Jesus in our actions? Why do we somehow make it to everywhere else in the day but somehow by Wednesday night... we're too tired? Where are our desires for the Lord? It is something I constantly wonder about. Why is it that God's stuff is put on the back burner? Ouch. That hurt me when I thought about it.

I was looking at some prom pictures from some girls I know and I was absolutely mortified at the blatant immodesty of some of them. It breaks my heart that girls that call themselves, daughters of God would wear dresses like that. We expect so much out of ourselves in other aspects of life, but when it comes to God, our expectations tend to be so very low. I can't help but look around at the things we watch, way we dress, the way we spend our money, the things we say and wonder, "Why do we compromise?" Satan convinces us that it's okay. We separate God and life. We sing Christian songs at certain places (like church) and then vile and brash songs are played in Christian homes across the board. We compromise in dating. I fail to understand why teens (or any age for that matter) that have been dating for two weeks are holding hands, kissing and acting like married couples. We compromise in so many things. We put what we consider "life" before the One who gave it to us.

There was once a friend of mine who moved here to the "Bible belt" of the South. He once asked soon after moving here, "There are a lot of members of churches around here, but I have a question... where are all of the Christians?" Isn't that an eye-opening question? Especially here in the South, many claim to know Jesus as their Savior, but few really live with Him as the Lord of their lives. Those of us who are followers of Christ desperately need to raise the bar. We do not to compromise the Church and God for everything else.

Do you see how my mind can take a five minute conversation and spin it into a lengthy blog post? Ha ha! I just wanted to share with you what the Lord has helped me see over time. I have seen that we as Christians need to get a backbone and not compromise to the world. We need to stand up... now.

Thanks for taking time to read something like this that steps on all of our toes, mine most certainly included.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Just Having Fun

I went a week ago yesterday to see the Annie Moses Band and hear Anne Graham Lotz speak in Winston Salem, N.C. It was truly wonderful. Since then I have been thinking about what Mrs. Lotz spoke about. She talked about "knowing what time it is in the world." She spoke from the verses Matthew 24:6-8

And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

Tsunami in Japan.

I realized just how many things are happening in the world that appear to be "birth pains." She made the comment that there are many brilliant and intelligent people in this world. People that can make sense of the technology we use, those who can stop nuclear explosions in Japan, those who work for NASA. But all of this worldly knowledge means nothing if we don't have wisdom to know what to use the knowledge for.

Thinking about this led me to think about all that we do here in the U.S. The world is in pain, it is in deep crisis. It is obvious that the time when the Lord will return is not far off. I really believe that. There are so many that need to hear of Jesus and of God's love. Then on the other hand, there are those in the Middle East who are trying to figure out how to do away with us and China is over there holding our debt. All of this is going on and I thought, "Hmm. What are we doing?" We are meanwhile, hanging out eating pizza and watching TV. We are doing so very little to prepare ourselves. We don't need to live in fear, but we need to prepare for what may happen.

My whole life I have heard that America is almost "invincible" in a way. We are the world super power. Everything we go up against tends to work out for us. I believe it is has because God has helped us. He has done so because we have been a nation that has sought, for the most part, to do His will. We were built on Christian morals. Over time, these morals have decayed. My point is that, America is not "God's chosen people." He has shown us favor and has taken care of us, but because of our unfaithfulness, I believe He is removing His hand from our nation. We are so busy having fun that we don't see what is going on. The world is in turmoil, in need of a Savior and we are so busy working for whatever and going on vacations that we don't even see it. That's an "ouch" to me too.

We as Christians need to live, knowing that the end could come at any moment. Just as in a real birth, the contractions come closer and closer as the time for the baby to come arrives, so will the pains in this world become more frequent as Jesus' coming draws near. When that day comes I want to be able to say that I didn't waste my time living the American Dream and I was living the dream Jesus set before me. If we would realize as believers of Christ, why we have been put here and seek Him, He will heal our land. I'm just afraid many are too busy having fun. There is nothing wrong with enjoying life, but do we have to separate "fun" from Jesus? Serving Jesus is the funnest thing I've ever done!

A sweet little girl I met while doing mission work in Texas/Mexico.

If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14-15

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More Than a Play

I keep coming back to post a new blog and for some reason... I don't have much to say. This is scary! So I am going to let someone else speak for me and save you one of my rambling posts!

Please check out Justin Gourley's blog post about the part he played in this year's Passion Play. He played the Apostle John and did a wonderful job. He was one of the poor guys that had to wrangle me when I was playing "demon-possessed"! His blog post is excellent and described exactly how I felt about my part in the play as well. Read it and be blessed... Signs of the Times: John: Becoming A Real Disciple.

It is truly amazing how the Passion Play can make you see the Passion of Jesus. Even those of us doing the acting were left in awe of His sacrifice. Justin and I both agreed that kneeling at the cross leaves you teary-eyed. We could say "it's just a play" but it really happened... for us... and for you.

Friday, April 1, 2011

God vs. Disney

I'll never forget when Daddy told me Santa Clause, the tooth fairy, and the Easter Bunny aren't real. I was one of the gullible children who had to be told, because I believed it up until the last moment. No matter what kids said, I said, "My mommy and daddy tell the truth." Daddy calmly told me one day that for years they had pretended so that I would enjoy Christmas, loosing teeth, and Easter more. I was mortified. But the question I asked still surprises me to this day. I was little and so with all honesty I asked, "Is Jesus real then?" Daddy was taken aback and said, "Of course He is!" To which I replied, "Well, that is what you said about Santa too."

I was genuinely confused. I didn't understand why certain things my parents said I was supposed to realize was just for fun or cute, but some other things that I had been talked to about the same way was to be what I planted my life on. I went into a head spin. What about this movie or that story? What is TRUE? I was desperate to know.

My family started talking about that last night and I began to think about how people and young people especially do not take the Bible seriously. They, like I began to, think that the Bible is just another cute book of stories. Kandace said she had asked some kids her age how many Gospels there are in the New Testament. They didn't know! Do we know how many books there are in the Bible? Did Paul write Ephesians? Was Luke a doctor? Do we know? Ask around, you'll see that people know little to nothing about the Bible. Yet it is what we say we base our lives on?

For a short while I wondered if the Bible was just another book of stories that can be made into cartoons.

Boy, this looks realistic, doesn't it? *sarcasm*
 When I was googling for that picture, as I typed in "Noah" the first thing that came up was "Noah's ark" and then to my amazement "Noah and the whale." Not the ark... the whale. Wow. But anyway, look at the cartoon below. Then look at the one above again. One is real, the other is false. Can a four year old tell the difference?

I am so afraid that many children and young adults see the Bible as nothing more than another story. They may say, "I'm saved," but their faith is so weak, that if confronted with a crisis of belief, they would crumble. If we believe that the Bible is the living Word of Almighty God, then is treating it no better than the story of Cinderella good enough? No. Why? I am the reason why. I was terribly confused. My parents spent much time after that showing me how the Bible alone stands. They taught me that Esther is a better role model than Ariel (the mermaid). They told me about the walls of Jericho and how they were uncovered showing that they fell flat down as it said in the Bible. They showed me scientific evidence that the Bible is true. Dad and Mom poured into Kandace and me the Word of God. When I saw that it rose to be the highest priority in their lives, I believed that they must think it is true and I chose (I chose on my own) that I too would believe in it and to prove that I did, I would allow it be what directs my life. Many 18 year olds drive off to college without that firm foundation of faith and when told that Jesus was just another man and that the earth was not created by God, they lose what little faith they had. They look back and chuckle at their old churches with their preachers, Sunday school teachers and parents that said that the Bible is true, but never said why. They just remember them holding the Bible saying, how much it means to them but other than that, the Bible didn't play much impact.

Belief in the Bible takes faith, just like belief that the world began by a bang in space takes faith. If we believe in the Bible and the stories it contains then it should be more than another story we get between Toy Story and Cars.

Jesus is more than Santa. Jesus is my Savior and Lord, the one that died upon a cross and rose from the dead. If we believe Him, then I believe that we should know about Him and what He says in His Word. It is so much more than another story... it is my life.