Sunday, March 3, 2013

Dropping Stones; Removing Planks

Matthew 7:3
New International Version (NIV)
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

Today, in church, I was lucky enough to hear a sermon on my favorite passage of the new testament. Most of you have probably read John 8:3-11, but for those of you who haven't, here it is:

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”  They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.  Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said.“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

 I don't know if any of you have noticed, but Christianity has a pretty bad rap for carrying around metaphorical stones. When we see people doing something wrong, we want to call them out on it. We're eager to "throw stones" at them, because that takes the focus off of us and the things that we do wrong. Unfortunately, this is a habit that the Bible tells us to avoid at all costs. We are called over and over again to "drop our stones" or "remove the plank in our own eye" before we can even see the speck of sawdust in our neighbors' eyes.

The other day, I went to this big Christian concert called Winter Jam. During the concert, there was a speaker who talked about how we need to "reset" and "recharge." I'll explain what he means by recharging in another entry, but first, we have to reset. We have to drop our stones and remove our planks. Before we can get close to God, we need to take a moment to see what we're doing wrong in our own lives, and simply let God take that burden away. Start from a clean slate. Being a Christian doesn't mean that you're an expert at telling everyone else which sins they need to stop. Instead, work on your own faith journey; focus on your own weaknesses and how God can turn those into strengths.

When we initially drop our stones, we may feel a little vulnerable. We're unarmed. We're admitting that we don't have room to judge anyone, because we are all just as guilty of one sin or another. But it's a step forward on our faith journey. God can help us remove that uncomfortable plank in our eyes, but we first have to stop condemning others for the specks in theirs.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

You are Beautiful

Psalm 139:14

New International Version (NIV)
14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well."
Maybe it's because I'm a lady who has had my fair share of "I feel ugly" days in my life, but I think that just about everyone can relate this at one point or another:
In fact, I don't even think you need to have hair to have a "bad hair day." Sometimes, even if not often, I think that people can just feel insecure. When we take a good, hard look at our self-worth, we don't always see how we could ever measure up. But maybe, just maybe, this is simply because we sometimes forget the standard by which we should measure said worth. On my way home from class today, I heard the song "Beautiful" by MercyMe play on the radio. It went like this:
"The days will come when you don't have the strength
When all you hear is you're not worth anything
Wondering if you ever could be loved
And if they truly saw your heart they'd see too much

You're beautiful
You're beautiful
You are made so much more than all of this
You're beautiful
You're beautiful
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His
You're beautiful

And praying that you have the heart to find
Cause you are more than what is hurting you tonight
For all the lies you've held inside so long
And they are nothing in the shadow of the cross


Before you ever took a breath
Long before the world began
Of all the wonders He possessed
There was one more precious
Of all the earth and skies above
You're the one He madly loves
Enough to death

You're beautiful
You're beautiful
In His eyes."


Although I have heard this song a million times, this was the first time it really stuck with me. God doesn't see our "bad hair days." Even when we are feeling small, ugly, or insignificant, God looks at us and thinks, "These are my children. They are worth my life, and I created them to be beautiful." Over and over again, the Bible reminds us that God did not create us to feel insecure. He calls us "fearfully and wonderfully made," refers to us as his "masterpiece" (Ephesians 2:10), and tells us not to worry about our bodies or what we wear on them (Matthew 6:25). We are sons and daughters of the King of Kings! There is no need to feel like we are anything less than that!
No, we're not always perfect, and God knows that. But God sees past our outer appearance and sees us for who we are. And even when that's not perfect, He still thinks that we are to die for. Romans 5:8 states, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." God loves us so much. The most beautiful and majestic Being in all of history (and beyond) thinks that we. are. beautiful.
SO hey, the next time you have a "bad hair day," don't sweat it. You are God's masterpiece; you are beautiful; you are loved. Once we fully understand and embrace that, our insecurities become trivial, and we are able to look past them. When we see how beautiful the creation is, we can begin to better comprehend how beautiful the creator is, and worship Him for His true wonder.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Matthew 11:28-30

New International Version (NIV)

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Fun fact:
I actually didn't start writing this blog because I think that I'm holier than everyone else. In fact, I don't think I have any authority to tell others what they should think or believe. I probably cannot give any lessons that have not been given before, or share any insight that has not yet been shared. I'm sorry to disappoint anyone who is under the illusion that I'm perfect, but I'm not. Quite frankly, I started this blog for more of my benefit than that of anyone else.

Since moving to Ohio this past summer, I have struggled with finding a church home. Although I know that a person can agree with the theology of Christianity, regardless of whether or not that person attends church regularly, I felt that I could not personally better myself as a follower of Christ without having people to help me keep my focus on my relationship with God. Because I was not finding a church here in Ohio that could do that for me, I created a website. This way, I could be more intentional about spending time with God regularly, while also receiving input from those who decide to read my entries.

Unfortunately, however, I have lost sight of the reason why I wanted to start writing these entries in the first place. I've gone over two months without writing a single "vesper," because I haven't felt all that close to God lately. Sometimes, I think that Christians think that we have to be good people before we can spend time with God. It's as if we know that He deserves the best, and it would be unfair to Him if we went to Him as anything less than the best we can be. The trouble with that, however, is that we sometimes feel like we cannot talk to Him when we aren't our best, which is what I have been struggling with over the past two months.

This is not how God wants it to be. God doesn't just want us when we have our stuff together. He wants us when we are broken and doubtful and stubborn and sinful and crazy and angry and happy and sad. He wants us when we feel His presence; He wants us when we feel like He's a million miles away. We don't have to be perfect and pristine when we go to God. In fact, if we are waiting to go to God until after we feel perfect enough, we'll be waiting forever. Instead, God wants us to come to Him with all of our flaws and failures, so he can remove those burdens from our shoulders.

Every day, we face situations that are too hard to handle alone. We make mistakes that we cannot undo by ourselves. We face decisions that are too important to decide without help. Unless we bring all of that baggage with us when we go to Christ, we're going to grow weary. God wants more for us than that. Amazingly enough, this all-powerful, holy, righteous, beautiful being actually loves us more than we love ourselves. He wants to take our burdens from us and give us rest. He wants us to spend time with Him, even in the midst of our failures.

Although I have been avoiding God these past two months, ashamed of my flaws like Adam and Eve after eating the forbidden fruit, it's time for me to stop running. Instead of trying to hide my imperfections from Him, I'm going to bring them to Him and ask for His help. Tonight, I'd like to take a second and invite you all to do the same. Let's go to God with all of our fears and failures and let Him lighten our load. For He is gentle and humble in heart, and through Him, we will find rest for our souls.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


1 Chronicles 16:34

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.

I got out of work an hour late tonight. It's been a long day. I have a test coming up in my hardest class. I'm not prepared. Work. School. Homework. Work. Homework. School. That is my life these days. Teachers, coworkers, classmates are asking me if I'm okay because I'm so tired...all the time. My family reluctantly listens to me complain almost everyday. And in those moments, I'm not feeling all that grateful.

But you know what?

God has blessed me with a job, which is more than a lot of people can say. He has blessed me with a somewhat steady income, with which I can sponsor a beautiful child in Burkina Faso. Although class is rough, I'm getting an education. An education! A 14-year-old Pakistani girl was recently shot in the head for promoting that very idea! I live in a country where I have the opportunity to be somebody. I have a family. I am blessed. There's no denying it. I. Am. Blessed.

In 1 Chronicles 16:34, we are told to give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and His love endures forever. This God of ours doesn't just love us for the time being; His love endures forever. He is always good, and He proves it to us every single day. Even something as simple as letting us watch the sun rise in the morning or set in the evening demonstrates how good He is to us. He provides us with air in our lungs and and a beating heart in our chest. We all have so much to be thankful for!

Unfortunately, we often take these little gifts for granted. It is human nature to focus on our problems rather than on everything that is going well for us. I know I can't be the only one. Maybe the "be thankful" speech is overused and a bit cliche, but there's a reason for that. We often only want to thank the Lord when life is going our way. When we experience struggles, however, the "be thankful" message goes in one ear and out the other. It's hard to remember all the good that He does for us when we're stretched more than we'd like.

Nonetheless, even when we are drained emotionally, mentally, and physically, God is there for us. Matthew 11:28 states, "Then Jesus said, 'come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.'" Even when we are exhausted and struggling and barely hanging on, Jesus is providing for us. If nothing else, this right here is an amazing reason to be thankful.

Therefore, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. Really, He is. Even when we are feeling weak and broken, God is there for us, loving us. We have so many reasons to thank Him, so show Him your appreciation. He more than deserves it.


Thursday, October 18, 2012


Proverbs 3:5-6

New International Version (NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

This past weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate my birthday with some old friends and family up in Michigan. Not only was I able to meet my brand new nephew and see my niece again, but I also was able to see how my old friends were doing and how college is treating them. After the weekend was over, however, something really dawned on me. For once in my life, I actually felt like I was getting older, and it didn't feel good. This is pretty much what dawned on me:

I'm a young adult over here, and yet my life is in a state of limbo. I'm getting older, but I'm still not even sure what I want to do with my degree when I get it. My friends are all moving forward with the next stage of their lives, and I'm still between stages. Heck, I'm still living with my parents! So this morning, I climbed into my car, all stuck in a rut, and turn on my radio. It's set to KLove, and the first song I heard started like this:

"At twenty years of age
I'm still looking for a dream
A war's already waged for my destiny
But You've already won the battle
And You've got great plans for me
Though I can't always see"

Ironically, my high school youth pastor used to tell me that this song reminded her of me. I listened to the song all the way through and remembered, "Hey, I don't have to have it all figured out. That's God's job, and I trust that He's going to take care of me." What a great feeling!

In Proverbs 3:5-6, we hear that, if we genuinely trust in the Lord with everything in us, He'll make sure our paths are straight. All we have to do is lean on Him and seek His will; He'll take care of the rest. Furthermore, we are not to "lean on [our] own understanding," because that's not what real trust in God looks like. I have no idea where I've heard it before, but I remember a phrase goes something like this: "Nothing ruins life like our perception of how it should be." If we keep limiting ourselves to our own little thoughts of how our life should be, we're going to miss out on the big plans that God has for us. We need to stop leaning on our own understanding and start trusting in the Lord, so He can make our paths straight.

Of course, this is all easier said than done. The fact that I know in my head that God will take care of me does not completely remove the feeling in my heart that I should have it all figured out by now. However, it is a step. After being reminded that my future is in His hands, I can learn to trust it in my heart. God is going to take care of me. I just have to trust Him.

Therefore, trust in the Lord completely, with all your heart. Don't let your perception of how you thought your life would be blur the reality of His goodness. He will not forget about you. If your plans differ from His plans, it's because He has something better in store for you. Just be patient and let Him guide you. He will not lead you wrong.


Monday, October 15, 2012

The World

Romans 5:8

New International Version (NIV)
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

The other day, my little sister and I were listening to a popular song that we both enjoy. The song is called "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz. Anyway, my little sister and I are singing along to this song in this kitchen, and she asked me if I watched the music video yet. I informed her that I hadn't, and she told me I should. Then, she said something like, "I don't mind if other people interpret it differently, but Bree, I don't think he's just singing about a girl. He's singing about the world."

Naturally, I watched the video (above) and looked up the lyrics, and I'd have to say that I agree with her. The three choruses of this song are listed below:

"'Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We've got a lot to learn
God knows we're worth it
No: I won't give up"

"I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up, still looking up."

"I won't give up on us (no I'm not giving up)
God knows I'm tough enough (I am tough, I am loved)
We've got a lot to learn (we're alive, we are loved)
God knows we're worth it (and we're worth it)"

Take a minute to really digest those words. Let them sink in for a minute.

Maybe this song is just talking about a guy who really doesn't want to give up on his girl, but for the sake of this vesper, let's just pretend that my little sister is right here. Even the stars -- they burn. Some even fall to the earth. We've got a lot to learn, but God knows we're worth it. Even the best of us mess up. Some of us completely fall apart. We are not perfect by any stretch; none of us are. But God knows we're worth it.

In Romans 5:8, we are told that, before any person in the world was free from sin, God loved us. Before anyone was truly forgiven for all of the mistakes they made, God was on our team, rooting for us. He sacrificed His only child -- let His son die -- because God thought we're worth it. He knows we're worth it. We mess up every day, we have failed him over and over again, but He still has faith in us. C.S. Lewis once said, "He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less." He cares about every single person in this world, and wants to have a relationship with all of us.

When God tells us to love one another, this is the love He means. He wants us to believe in each other. Pray for our enemies. Sacrifice our own wants for our neighbor's needs. When we understand that God believes in us, we can start believing in ourselves. We can believe in each other. Anyone can read a newspaper and know that the world is a rough place. Sometimes, it's easier to become cold and apathetic than to feel the pain of empathy. However, if we continuously try to pour out our love into all who cross our paths, including complete strangers, we can make an impact on this little world of ours. Maybe not a huge impact, or one that we will see right away, but an impact nonetheless.

Although Christians are not meant to give into the desires off this world, they are not to hate the people who do.  Christians are not meant to feel like they belong to this world; their treasure lies in a different place. Let there be no misunderstanding, though; just because we are called to avoid the sin of this world does not mean we are to give up on the people in it. Striving for a holier life does not equate to turning your back on humanity. People are worth our love and attention. Even sinners. How do we know? Because while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

He did not give up on us. We will give up on them.

Therefore, love one another. Have faith in each other. Pray for those in your life. Show kindness to a stranger and forgiveness to an enemy. God knows we're worth it. This world has a lot to learn, but if we continue to look up and give it all of our love, we can make it a better place.


Thursday, September 6, 2012


John 13:34-35

English Standard Version (ESV)

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

The more I pray, read my Bible, go to church, and center my life on Christ, the closer I feel to him.  Some days, I feel like I'm making so much progress in my faith walk that God is practically shining through everything that I say and do.  Then, they come along and ruin it all. I can be feeling perfectly kind all day, but when I have to be kind to them, I completely regress back to my mean and selfish ways.  I'm sure many of you can relate; after all, no one can really get under our skin in the same way they can.
If you already guessed that when I'm referring to "they," I'm referring to our families, you have guessed correctly. In the book, When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric and Leslie Ludy, Eric Ludy explains that, although our family has the power to drive us up a wall, they are the perfect training ground for marriage. Well, I'd like to take this concept one step further and declare that family is not only the training ground for future romantic relationships, but for all human interactions we will face throughout our lifetime.
Hear me out here for a moment. Most people have probably lived with somebody, whether it is a sibling, parent, grandparent, friend, or guardian, who truly cares for them. Most people have probably hated living with that person at some point, even if only for a moment. Most people probably have, unfortunately, done or said something hurtful to this person in a moment of weakness that shouldn't have been done or said.
This picture below shows how you were probably feeling when you did or said whatever it is that hurt the person.
Pinned Image
The picture is funny, but it's also true in some regards. The people closest to us can be the people who can best drive us insane. Inconveniently, however, God commands us to have a forgiving, unconditional love for strangers and family members alike and actually display that love on a regular bases. This can be so hard. Nonetheless, if we cannot even show kindness for those closest to us, how can we expect to show unconditional love for total strangers who come and go throughout our lives?
As I stated earlier, family is the training ground for future relationships. Once we master loving and respecting our family members, being kind to everyone else is a breeze. The habits we put into place concerning how we treat our family will follow us in our future friendships, marriages, and acquaintanceships. Eric Ludy, the author mentioned earlier, had a pastor who once said, "You are only as holy as you are in your home." Thus, if we want to be like Christ and have healthy, loving relationships now and forever, we have to start practicing at home.
Although I have been writing in generalizations throughout this passage, I understand that some of you may not have the typical family environment that others are blessed with. Perhaps you come from a broken home with silenced hurts and a family that is less than supportive. Even in that situation, however, you can use "family" as a training ground. Pray for your parents or siblings, even if they say or do hurtful things. Pray for God to grant you the forgiveness you need to make amends with past pains and move forward. I'm not pretending it will be easy; trust me; I know from experience that it can be hard, but it's worth it.
When you accept the family that God has given you, and embrace the lessons that they teach you, you will be able to maintain healthier relationships in the future and obey God's command to love one another.  Even if they aren't blood related to you, your family is there to love and support you; we should cherish them, rather than get annoyed or frustrated with them. When you get discouraged, go to Him for help, and allow His spirit to work through you.
"May He equip you with all you need for doing His will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever! Amen." -Hebrews 13:21