December 30, 2009

seeing isn't believing

Listening to Danny Franks on Sunday convicted me/reminded me that while it's easy enough for me to open up scripture and read (or sometimes skim - yikes.), I need to study and meditate on God's word - and one good way to do this is by reflecting and writing.

I can get in a streak of writing in my journal for a while, then I just get lazy/"busy"/forgetful. It's when I write about my readings that, as Danny said, the text really comes to life. God reveals so much to me when I'm spending time unpacking and digesting His word. I not only can gain understanding, but insight - and discover how I can actually apply what I'm reading to daily life. I can see God most at work in me when I'm investing and soaking rather than skimming.

I write all of this to encourage anyone reading to do the same, and to preface this post.

So I read 1 Samuel 17 this morning, which is the story of David and Goliath.

It's funny sometimes reading these stories in the Old Testament - even though I know the outcome, I still get a little bit captivated and nervous for David.

So, as a little bit of background (and paraphrasing) . . . the scene is this:

The Israelites and Philistines are about to have it out. Each army is on one side of this valley, and they're waiting to see who's gonna make the first move.

So then, this over-9-feet-tall gargantuan dude, covered in armour, well-fitted with weapons comes storming out of the Philistine camp with a giant smirk across his face. He's all like - Aight. I gotta deal for you fellas (well, he was a little more insulting than that). If one of you little Israelites is bold enough, come step up to this pretty line and fight me - mano-e-mano. If you can kill me, we'll all become your servants. But if I win, then you will become our subjects and serve us. Now . . . who want it?!!

And of course, what is the Israelites response?

On hearing the Philistine's words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.
[1 Samuel 17:11]

Can you see their hopelessness and fear? How it must've gripped them - and I'm sure they felt doomed to fail. They looked around at their army, their resources and then compared it to that of the Philistine's.

But this went on for 40 days. So every day, this giant was prancing out before the Israelites, taunting them with his size - daring someone to step forth.

Again - despair, fear, hopelessness must've paralyzed Saul and his army.

Well, God has a funny way of using the most unlikely people to do His work and display His love and glory.

So this random kid (and he's actually been anointed to be king, but Saul doesn't know that yet), David, comes traipsing up to the camp to check on his older brothers and get a report on how this whole war thing is panning out.

And he sees this punk Goliath, defying the Lord, shouting at and mocking the Israelites. Somehow, he gets the idea that he's gonna take this dude down.

So . . . he proposes the idea to Saul, and Saul's like - no way man. You haven't even hit puberty. But David's like - hear me out! I watch over my dad's flock, and one time, a lion snatched up a sheep . . . so I marched over there and took it out of his mouth. When he turned on me, I killed the lion. And it happened with a bear too. So if God delivered me from a lion and a bear, surely he'll deliver me from this giant.

So Saul's like - fine, have at it.

So, Goliath takes a good hard look at David and laughs to himself . . . and continues to taunt and curse him.

"Come here," he said, "and I'll give your flesh to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field!"

David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands."
[1 Samuel 17:44-47]

And we all know how the story ends - David, wearing no armor and carrying nothing but a slingshot, launches one stone into Goliath's dome and it's over.

I'd like to point out a few things about David and what we can learn from this. David didn't see as the other Israelites in the army did. He wasn't crippled by fear, and he didn't limit God's ability to work by his ability to see. (the abilities and resources he saw before him). He saw this battle as Almighty God versus a human Philistine, not tiny David versus the all-around champion and giant Goliath.

Once he saw this battle as the Creator of the universe versus a creation, it was clear who was going to come out on top.

He had amazing faith. He stood very firm and confident that God was not only going to deliver this Philistine into their hands, but the entire Philistine army. It was obvious to everyone that David didn't stand a fighting chance against this dude. However, David wasn't relying on himself or his resources (I mean, he didn't even have any) at all. He was relying fully on the Lord.

So David . . .

-recognized that this was God's battle, not his. He fully trusted and relied on God to do everything. He saw that God was much bigger than Goliath, an army, or any form of weapon.
-didn't rely on what he could see (his circumstances), his abilities, resources or strengths.
-was completely fueled (and very firm) by faith, not fear or pride.
-was at rest, fully confident in what God was going to do.
-went into this for the Lord's fame and glory, not his own.

What if we all had faith like David's? What if we had the same trust, ability to rest and stand firm with confidence in all areas of our lives?

What if we quit freaking out because of the horrible scenarios we picture in our minds when we think about the future? What if we quit worrying about the future based on our limited viewpoint, current resources and circumstances?

What if we trusted that God was going to win the battle in our lives, whatever it may be? (our doubts, lack of faith, future plans, personal flaws, baggage, wounds, heartaches, desires, hopes, dreams, fears, struggles, shortcomings)? That it's ultimately His war, not our own. Knowing that He is going to take care of us, just as he took care of David and the Israelites.

December 29, 2009


As I am working to train for an 8k or 10k this spring (that's right . . . I upped my mileage), I can't help but draw a few parallels between daily physical training and my daily walk with God.

I think I could go on and on, so this list is not all-inclusive . . . just what popped into my head first.

1. I'm in this for the long haul. This is gonna require persistence, patience and consistency.

- If I'm gonna do this right, it's requiring behavior change - on a daily basis. If I'm only doing this for a get-thinner-quicker scheme, it ain't gonna work. If I'm going to be successful in completing a 10k, I've got to condition my body - over time. I can't go from 0 to 10k overnight.

- Sanctification is a life-long process. It takes time. God is working in me every day - and thankfully He is gracious and patient enough to walk with me and guide me every single day. Over time, I can see Him transforming me and revealing Himself to me. But I also must be seeking Him daily and communing with Him daily - not just once a week at church or Bible study.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.
-Philippians 1:6

2. I'm going to face the danger of a plateau effect, distractions, laziness or my ADD-ness.

- I cannot become complacent in my walk with God. Just as I should not have the same spiritual maturity I did two years ago, I can't only run two miles one day and expect to complete a 10k the next day.

-There will be times that it will be hard to get back on track with my exercise plan, or times that obstacles get in the way of me spending time with God (the struggle to prioritize life, distractions, ADD-ness and laziness factor). But it's when we persevere that we grow and change.

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.
- 1 Peter 2:2-3

Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly.
- 1 Corinthians 1-3

3. If I lose sight of my goal or prize, I'm susceptible to losing motivation or just going back to my old ways.

- Just as training for a race gave me new perspective, purpose and drive to get in better shape, if I lose sight of my first love, I will fall back into my old patterns of destruction and despair.

. . . let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
-Hebrews 12:1-3

those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
-Isaiah 40:31

December 28, 2009

More Than A Woman

As much as I hate to admit it, I struggle with the issue of beauty.

I hate it because I don't consider myself very girly at all.

If I'm being honest, I don't feel beautiful unless I get dressed up, do something with my hair, put on heels and makeup. Which hardly ever happens anymore. I used to go out with my girlfriends in college and get dressed up, but for some reason I don't do it often enough now.

I also don't feel beautiful unless someone tells me that I am . . . but if it comes from family or other girls, it doesn't count.

When I was in a relationship, I felt beautiful. When my ex told me I was pretty, I believed it.

. . . but other than that, I walk around, believing that I am generally unattractive and moderately invisible, just a random chick under the radar, unnoticed.

I guess I could blame myself, for mostly wearing jeans and t-shirts, and usually not wearing very much makeup.

Why is it that we as women struggle with this? And who defines beauty anyway? What does it mean to be beautiful? Is it subjective . . . as they say, "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"?

God created us in His image . . . and He is both beautiful and captivating. Is that why we long to be so? Did God put a desire to be beautiful in women?

. . . or is it a result of the fall? When God told Eve, "Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." [Genesis 3:16]

Does that mean that we, as a result of sin, are cursed to desire the praise and approval of man . . . and this is why we want to be seen as beautiful? So that we will be acknowledged, accepted and sought after by a man?

Or, again - are we meant to be beautiful? Is it placed on us by God?

Or is beauty just another idol and evidence of my sinful condition?

Well . . . clearly this is not a new issue or struggle. The Bible speaks of beauty . . .

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
-Proverbs 31:30

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.
- 1 Peter 3:2-4

So what should we be more concerned with? The fading and fleeting nature of outward appearance, or the unfading beauty of inward appearance and character as Godly women?

I was also reminded of this today, reading 1 Samuel . . . when God is about anoint David as the new king, and Samuel thinks that David's brothers look more fitting than he does, but God tells him . . .

"The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."
- 1 Samuel 16:7

If the only one whose acceptance and approval of us matters, God, looks at our hearts and inward appearance . . . where should more of our time and energy be focused?

And I'm not trying to write off outward appearance altogether. After all, if I end up getting married, my husband better find me attractive and vise-versa. It's just a matter or what is more important, and seeking God's opinion on stuff like this.

Beauty is definitely a struggle for us as women, but to know that our Father loves us unconditionally, no matter what we're wearing, how much we weigh or if guys find us attractive.

I also find that when I struggle with beauty, I'm seeking the approval and acceptance of man. But man was never intended to give us validation or reconciliation. Plus, it's inevitable that we'll all get saggy in some places later in life.

If we find all of the approval, validation and satisfaction from Christ . . . which is the only source of lasting joy, refuge and life, our need to be found beautiful will be in His eyes.

December 24, 2009

the first noel

I wanna dedicate this blog to Linus and Charlie Brown . . . in all the Christmas specials and movies, at least Linus knew the true meaning of Christmas.

I've been singing a lie for 24 years (or less . . . I'm sure I wasn't singing/listening to this song when I was one.):

The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds
in fields as they lay;
In fields as they lay, keeping their sheep,
On a cold winter's night that was so deep.

PAUSE - come on, people. Who wrote this song? Do you really think that sheperds would be out chillin' (well, maybe literally) with their sheep on a cold winter's night?

They didn't have carhartt, north face or columbia jackets back then . . . not even under armour. Plus, (as watching a recent episode of The Big Bang Theory reminded me) - our celebrating Christmas sort of conveniently coincides with an old pagan holiday around the winter solstice. Christians just happened to merge what we know as Christmas with this in an attempt to Christianize it (if that's even a word). All that to say, Jesus definitely wasn't born in the winter time.

They looked up and saw a star
Shining in the east beyond them far,
And to the earth it gave great light,
And so it continued both day and night.

And by the light of that same star
Three wise men came from country far;
To seek for a king was their intent,
And to follow the star wherever it went.

This star drew nigh to the northwest,
O'er Bethlehem it took it rest,
And there it did both stop and stay
Right over the place where Jesus lay.

Then entered in those wise men three
Full reverently upon their knee,
and offered there in his presence
Their gold, and myrrh, and frankincense.

Then let us all with one accord
Sing praises to our heavenly Lord;
That hath made heaven and earth of naught,
And with his blood mankind hath bought.

The rest of the song is totally legit. I really do like this song, I just think the beginning is funny. I mean, amongst all of the myths and random stuff that we have during this season, you'd think that we would at least get the songs about Jesus right.

an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us."

-Matthew 1:20-23

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

-Luke 2:8-15

. . . I really like what Zechariah prophesies about after the birth of John The Baptist concerning Jesus:

"And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
to give his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
because of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
to shine on those living in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace."
-Luke 1:76-79

Merry Christmas :) . . . I hope everybody takes time this season to reflect on what and why we really celebrate.

December 18, 2009

an addendum to bitterness

This is an addendum to the post titled "hide and seek" . . .

And let me start by stating that I have no original thoughts. Just in case that wasn't known.

It's so easy for me to become bitter and cynical when I am in a period of waiting, or when something in life has disappointed me. In this case, it's guys and my desire for relationship and marriage.

Plus, when all you've known is a failed relationship, when all you see is guys that are not interested or just too immature . . . when all I know about sex is what the media portrays (and clearly, it's very unattractive) . . . when I have a million fears about relationships (which I'm sure consist of a lot of misconceptions) . . . it's so easy to become angry and frustrated.

Maybe I just haven't seen enough of what it's supposed to look like (a healthy relationship/marriage), or maybe I'm just becoming hardened by a period of waiting.

God is going to provide, whether that means one day getting married, or that He will give me peace about the whole thing and take my desire for marriage away.

In the meantime, how do I prevent this process that has already started? Well, J.D.'s message last week stuck out to me on the issue of waiting and bitterness.

What if there was a purpose to the waiting? What if it's not by chance or an accident that I'm single? What if God is developing me, shaping me, working though I don't realize it . . . and that there are crucial things about me He needs to change in this season of my life?

Am I going to harbor bitterness or trust God with my future?

If I become tired of waiting on God and take things into my own hands, I could be aborting work that God is doing in me right now.

Plus . . . I need some strengthening of my faith. If I'm not firm in my faith, I will not be firm at all (Isaiah 7:9).

. . . if I'm not more firm in my faith, how can I say no to bitterness?

I need to relax and remember that God is never late. He is in complete, loving control of our lives - over our paths, over our provision, over our desires and hopes and dreams. I need to surrender my bitterness and trust that what He intends for my life is far better than anything I can try to come up with . . . whether that involves marriage or not.

Sometimes the hardest thing for us to do is to rest in Him . . . and to know how much He loves us and is sovereign over every situation.

Just to know that God is doing something in each of our lives . . . to have faith and confidence in that . . . to quit trying to fit the puzzle pieces of life together on our own efforts . . . just to rest, and trust.

December 16, 2009


I will be the first to admit that I do not like winter. (and it's not even winter yet).

I love the spring and summer . . . tank tops, mini skirts, beach trips, driving around with all of my windows down, soft summer nights, being able to do almost everything outdoors, the fact that it stays light outside after 8pm . . .

But I gotta say - I'm glad God gave us seasons. I think if it didn't get so cold and dry in January & February, I wouldn't appreciate the warmer months. Honestly, I'd get sick of it being the same temperature year round. And there are different things to enjoy in each season, not just my favorite ones.

There's something beautiful in waking up and seeing the sun with a huge halo around it because of the clouds covering the sky. Hot soup, chili and coffee taste so much better when it's freezing outside. Even certain music sounds better when it's cold outside.

And God gives us seasons in our life. If we didn't go through struggles, I doubt we'd appreciate the good times. If we didn't go through waiting periods, would we appreciate His goodness when He answers our prayers? If we didn't have the winters in our lives, could we delight in the spring as much?

December 15, 2009


Can I just say what a difference purpose and intentionality can make?

This really stood out to me, of all places, at the gym.

For the longest time, I was running and working out primarily to burn calories and drop weight I've gained since college.

But a few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to run a 5K in the spring . . . so then my runs started to have a purpose and intention - to build endurance for a future race.

I actually respect my body when I'm trying to train and prepare, versus trying to destroy it out of hatred for the sake of a number I see on the scale.

Now my intent at the gym is to see a higher number or mileage on the treadmill, not the length of time I spend on it . . . which really can make a difference. Before, I was so frustrated with lack of progress and change - but for me, there's not too much motivation when you're working out in hatred to punish yourself . . . I was left feeling like I was hitting my head against a wall. I'm much more driven (not to mention with a healthier attitude) when I have a bigger purpose to the gym.

So all that to say - what a change having purpose and different point of view can have. I want to apply this change of perspective to all areas of my life, not just my fitness regimen.

We can truly make a difference when we do things with true intention.

December 7, 2009

Hide And Seek

I don't know how to transition into this subject, so I'm just going to catapult into it.

I hate how our society and culture is so overly saturated with sex.

Our media worships sex and the god of beauty.

Every time I'm at the gym, my eyes naturally gravitate towards the 10+ TV screens suspended from the ceiling. MTV, lifetime, daytime soaps are always on - and it's always sex. I either try to divert my gaze, or just run in front of the sports channels instead.

One day I walked into the break room at work, and "vanilla sky" was on - and of course, I had to walk in during the sex scene between Tom Cruise & Cameron Diaz. One of my coworkers was talking to me, and I attempted to turn my back to the TV, but it was still in my peripheral vision. Normally I would've turned it off, but I guess I thought it would be too awkward to interrupt her to walk over and turn it off.

Turn on G105 (or any popular radio station) and lady gaga or britney come on - "poker face" and "3" . . . I need not say any more.

And it's not just that the media is showing people making out or hinting at the idea of sex. The lyrics in these songs and that scene in vanilla sky are pretty graphic. They reveal too much to me. Shows on MTV (and other reality shows) have girls jumping all over these guys . . . and practically having sex with their clothes on.

I recently saw commercial for dolce & gabbana watches on TV - and it was pretty much the epitome of britney's song, if you catch my drift. Once again, a little too graphic.

The songs by britney and lady gaga aren't portraying monogamous, heterosexual relations, either. So . . . not only is it too graphic, but it's also skewed and disfigured.

I feel like I've been over-exposed to sex, and it's not been intentional. I feel like I already know way too much, seen too much. I feel like porn is all over the radio and TV.

I liked it better when sex was something . . . mysterious and beautiful. When it actually had significance. When people valued it.

And you wonder why girls think that it's no big deal anymore. That it's ordinary. That they are ordinary. That it's something they want to give up, asap. That so many people are just throwing it everywhere.

I liked it better when I knew enough to look forward to it one day, to discover and enjoy with my husband.

Now I just feel like I've been over-exposed and it's left a bad taste in my mouth.

It makes me not want to have sex. Just so I won't have to deal with it. Because honestly, it looks ugly, sloppy and animalistic - at least the way it's being portrayed. Like it's not even worth it.

I'm still trying to believe that God created it with purpose, beauty and meaning. I want there to be mystery. I don't want to know everything. But I'm having a really hard time doing that.

It's like taking a perfect rose, throwing it in the middle of a landfill, dousing the landfill with the contents of a septic tank, stirring it up, then steam rolling it, put a little flame-thrower action in there . . . and then fishing out the rose and offering it to me. Do you think I want that? No thanks.
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