January 29, 2010


I think I might be onto something.

I have come to realize that I have a few thought processes that (shocker) may be in err, and misconceptions if you will.

I feel that unless I move to another state or another country, I'm not really being a good follower of Jesus. I feel like if I stay here, I cannot make a difference and I cannot be living radically enough.

I feel like I have to make dramatic changes to my life in order to truly be following Christ. I feel like I have to sell everything I have, quit my job, and move out of the area in order to truly be living the way He wants me to.

I feel like my life is too ordinary, too comfortable, too "normal" . . . too much like everyone else's. Does my life look different? Does my claim to be a Christian actually hold any weight, or am I living the way that the rest of the world is?

Talking to my parents this afternoon helped me realize some of my misconceptions.

I will admit that yes, I do tend to feel guilty about my circumstances. For the family I was born into, the lifestyle that I have been born and raised in, the education that I was given, the job, living circumstances, and current surroundings that I am in. I have way more than I deserve, and yes - I feel guilty about it.

I think about people less fortunate than myself, and I feel guilty or wrong for having what I do. Maybe that's part of the reason why I feel like I have to make such drastic changes. I don't know.

My parents tried to tell me that I have a talent - nursing . . . and I can use that gift to help people. They also tried to tell me that it's not wrong to have a well-paying job, and that it's not wrong to have money . . . after all, the more money you have, the more you can give away. They have volunteered time and resources that they would not have been able to if they didn't have money.

I still have a hard time with this.

But what if, instead of feeling guilty for the circumstances, material blessings and resources that I have . . . what if I used those to reach out to those around me? What if I tried to reach out here in RDU, instead of feeling like I'm no good unless I'm in a different state or different country? What if I viewed my workplace as a mission field? What if I am here for a reason . . . and what if God really does want me here right now?

This hurts my head. I'm still feeling rather lost, restless and worthless if I stay in my present circumstances.

I really just want to know what it means to LIVE out the Gospel, not just claim to be a "believer" of it, if that makes sense. I do not want to conform to the pattern of this world - I want to live the way Jesus is calling me to. If I can use my skills, gifts, abilities, resources and profession to do that, it would be amazing. Maybe I'm short-sighting God and myself when I feel that I have to move out of RDU in order to live the way I'm called. Why not start trying to live it out now, despite my current circumstances? Why not use what God has given me, in the area He has placed me currently? Hmmmm . . .

Again . . .it all falls to this - I want my life to be a huge arrow pointing to Christ. I want my life to shout the Gospel. I just don't know how to do that.

January 25, 2010


I'm sick of it.

I'm also very impatient.

I'm sick of my comfortable American lifestyle . . . sick of living in a bubble.

Sick of the American dream being shoved down my throat and into my system. Sick of chasing a status, a number, a self-image.

God has been graciously reminding me that I am not my own - I was, indeed, bought at a price.

. . . You are not your own; you were bought at a price . . .
- 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

". . . the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
- Matthew 20: 28

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession . . .
-Ephesians 1:13-14

If I am truly not my own, then I am daily laying down my own desires at His feet and surrendering the plans that I've made for myself into His loving hands. Yes, this is scary. Yes, this can feel risky. Yes, it shows me how weak my faith is and how much I have been depending on myself and my own decision making skills.

Jesus said that anyone who wants to follow Him, they would have to do this.

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."
-Mark 8:34-35

Do we take His words seriously? Do we even know what that means?

Jesus did not die on a cross so that I could occupy a seat at church, listen to "christian" music, and then mill around the other 6 days of the week, chasing the "American dream" . . . destined to get a good name for myself, make a comfortable living and be neatly framed in a white picket fence.

It's not enough for me to know the Gospel. But then again . . . if I truly know the Gospel, that means living the Gospel, not just reading it. And what does that look like?

I am so afraid of complacency and the mediocre, yet I feel that's what my life is currently. It's not enough for me to talk about ideas, dream, and vision cast.

Jesus got his hands dirty. He hung out with the poor, the destitute, the misunderstood, the outcasts. I need to not be afraid to get my hands dirty. I need to become allergic to my comfort zone.

I have been dreaming of working with a church plant for over a year now. It's exciting to think about something like this - hypothetically. When it comes time to take action, it's rather unsettling.

I was talking with a friend about it Saturday night, and she was encouraging me to live the way I say I want to live - more radically, and different from my peers. But then, fear started to creep in. The gods of comfort, security, self-reliance started to tear away at the flesh of my heart and make a claim over it.

I thought . . . but I want to get married one day, I want to have a family, I want to have a secure job.

Really, Sarah? Is God only allowed to provide for you if you're staying in this area and relying on what your human eyes can see and what your 24-year-old human brain can comprehend and predict?

I'm really underestimating, doubting and short-sighting God when I do this. I'm putting Him in a nice little box and telling Him what He can and can't do . . . what areas of my life He's allowed to touch, and which areas I'm gonna buckle down and take care of myself.


I amaze myself with my stubbornness, lack of faith . . . and the amount of credit I give myself in decision-making.

I need to take a step back . . . and rely on Him to take care of the pieces of my life falling into place in His timing and in His loving control.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
-Proverbs 3:5-6

So, red light flashing here. It says that HE will make my paths straight, not YOU will make your own paths straight. Duh.

Anyway . . . I'm so convinced that God does not call us to live a life where we acknowledge Him for a few hours on Sunday and then take the reins back over our own lives. I'm so convinced that He did not die on a cross to see lukewarm "christians" be lazy, complacent and self-seeking. That includes me, whom I'm preaching to.

I keep on living as if my universe (my bubble, or RDU) is the only thing that's out there. I keep on convincing myself that it's all about me.

But it's not! Once again . . . the world does not revolve around me, as much as I'd like it to. I am not my own . . . God reminds me that in His word, and He reminded me of that when He saved Tori & I on the side of a mountain a few weeks ago.

Why am I so shackled to the world? I love having community, having a group of friends, being close to my family, having a church home, having a stable job. I love being comfortable. I want to get married and have a family. I don't want to lose these things.

Do I love those things enough for them to hold me back from something greater? After all, what is the privilege of marriage compared to the greatness of knowing Christ? I have such restlessness in my heart - an urge to just DO something, but not sure what. I want to live in a way that points to Christ. I want to look people in the eyes and tell them that their redeemer, their rescuer wants a relationship with them . . . that they are loved and valued more than they can even imagine. That a better life is right here.

What in the world am I going to do with myself? Work with church planting? Go to Haiti? Change my lifestyle? Surrender my dreams and hopes to the One who created me, trusting that He knows what's truly best for me, no matter how much I want to hold onto my own plans?

I have no clue. I told God that if He would provide a way for me to go, I'll go. Whatever it is. I want to go. I don't even know what that means right now, but I want to do it.

January 11, 2010


Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
- John 15:13

I have seen God's answer to prayer in the past week. Lately, I've been praying that God would give me a burden for the lost, and I can see Him stirring that up in me.

But what does it mean to be burdened? What do I ask for when I ask for the Gospel to lay this on me?

I re-listened to Jason Gaston's sermon from October, and he laid it out pretty well. He talked about Paul's urgency in Romans.

I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers . . .
-Romans 9:1-3

Paul has a pretty serious claim here . . . essentially, that he's willing to go to hell for his brothers, if that means he could save them.

It is a claim that I could honestly not make myself.

When we think of the lost, are our hearts stirred within us? Do we have sorrow and anguish as Paul did? Do we feel a burden for these people, who do not know the Lord?

I think the way I most see it manifested is when someone dies, and I am unsure of their standing with the Lord. What saddens me is not so much that their life on this earth was taken from them, but the thought of hell absolutely terrifies me and brings me grief.

The thought of being in a place that is hidden from God's face, tormented for eternity . . . horrifies me. It is something that I would never wish upon my worst enemy.

The thought of hell makes me want to run out into the street and become one of those crazy preachers you see on college campuses. OK, maybe I wouldn't be that harsh, but you know what I mean. It makes me want to throw all caution to the wind and go nuts, yelling and preaching all day long.

If I was in a room with someone who didn't know God, and there was some ultimatum where one of us had to die, I daresay I would take the bullet. I would rather die at an early age, knowing what awaited me on the other side . . . than know that the other person had to face the reality of hell. I would rather die in their place and have them be saved on my accord.

I know that is a very bold statement and it's all hypothetical, but I hope and pray that if it did come down to it, God would give me the courage and ability to make that sacrifice. After all, this life is way too fleeting and temporary.

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
-James 4:4

January 8, 2010

Jesus, take the wheel

Yesterday I was reminded of God's grace, sovereignty, protection and presence . . . on the side of a mountain.

We had a retreat in Gatlinburg, TN earlier this week for the college ministry . . . a few girls and I left early due to snow that was coming - there was a chance we'd get snowed in for an extra day or two, and none of us really wanted to get caught in it.

It was hardly snowing when we left the cabin, so we thought we were golden - and we took the winding mountain roads around Cherokee because that route saved about an hour from the trip, and hey - the weather didn't look bad.

Well, we were almost out of the winding roads and by this point it had been snowing more heavily and pretty steady. the road was white for the majority of the roads, but it was just dust - nothing sticking.

However, as we came around a corner, I looked up and saw a ford explorer coming towards us, fishtailing out of control. There was a truck in front of us that had come to a complete stop . . . that I actually didn't see - I couldn't take my eyes off of the explorer, and I was sure he was going to hit the truck in front of us.

Did I mention we were in a sedan?

Next thing I know, Tori, who was driving, starts saying "hold on!" . . . she hit the brakes, but there was ice beneath us - and she was losing control. We were going to hit the back of the truck, and then land in the ditch on our side of the road, so I held on and tried to prepare myself for impact.

Well, the impact never came . . . so I opened my eyes. To both of our surprise and shock, everyone was on the road, and no one had crashed.

We had another one of the girls, Katie, following us in her sedan - who had successfully stopped behind us.


All I could do was pray - thank you Jesus for what you just did, but PLEASE get us off of this mountain! We cannot handle any more excitement!

None of us could believe what just happened. I didn't even see Tori drive around the truck because I closed my eyes! Somehow, her sedan passed the truck without hitting the truck or landing in the ditch . . . and on the other side of the road, the ford explorer had finally come to a stop, without hitting anyone on the road.

I still cannot believe it.

It was one of those moments where you know that God just intervened. It was as if He put a shield around our car, and then grabbed our car like a little kid playing with matchbox cars.

It was such a reminder of God's faithfulness, provision, protection and sovereignty.

And what did we do to deserve it? That's where the grace comes in.

I mean . . . so many things could have happened. All 4 cars could have collided, it could've happened at a more steep part of the mountain, someone could've gone off the side of the mountain . . . if someone was going faster or if the timing had been different, we could've had a nice visit to the hospital, or worse.

I am so thankful and amazed at what happened . . . it was scary, but such a huge reminder of God's provision, sovereignty and faithfulness.

I can't stop saying it.

Anyway . . . isn't it funny, these moments where everything becomes so clear? It's so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and monotony . . . sometimes we feel that God is far away or He's not working in our lives. But then, you go on a retreat to Gatlinburg, almost die, and God says - hello, I've been here along. Why is your faith getting weak, crazy? I GOT you on lockdown!

I almost wish I could have situations like that every day. God needs to hit me upside the head and remind me of how He's always right by my side, guiding and protecting me.

And yet, he has the grace to do so in such amazing ways. And He still loves me and grows me when I'm being stupid and stubborn.

I love these moments where I can clearly see God's hand in my life. Those times when there is not even a trace of doubt in my mind that God just did something. Like breaking up with my ex a few years ago and the healing that came, my current roommate situation, the selling of my car and buying my current car, and this.

God is kind and gracious enough to give us these moments. And I am so thankful.

I just don't know if I want to go back to the burg anytime soon. ;)

January 4, 2010

Identity theft

I have an identity crisis more often than not.

I have sin and idols that like to pop in and tear me down when I'm least expecting it.

A huge one is just this - finding my identity in anything and everything but God.

We had a guest speaker this weekend at Summit, and I'm really glad he addressed this.

He pointed out how we tend to get our identity from 3 places:

-Production (human doings versus human beings)
-Recognition (who listens to us, accepts us, agrees with us for validation)
-Sociality (relying on relationships, the thought of being alone is terrifying)

I know that these three are certainly true in my own life. How easy it is to get validation and worth from how busy I am, how much I've accomplished, who my friends are, who accepts me, who agrees with me and how many social events I get invited to.

If I had no job, no agenda/schedule, no friends . . . how would I feel? Would I feel worthless and rejected? Yes.

I mean, this blog can even be counter-productive. I feel more validated if I know someone is reading this, and even more so when they comment or agree with me.

How often do I chase after things and people to give me validation and worth? How often do I measure myself by how full my schedule is, the clothes I wear, the people I know, my relationship status, the attention I get, the job I have, the hours spent at the gym, my outward appearance, my own self-acceptance, etc. etc.?

Living in our culture certainly is no help to any of this.

Another way to ask the question is - who is the authority over my life? Who do I run to when I question my identity or value?

Do I believe that I am who God says I am? Do I live in His reality? Do I trust Him with my deepest questions? Do I believe that He is victorious over every area of my life, especially the areas that the devil is claiming right now?

Do I chase after validation from things and people of this world, or do I rest in His embrace . . . knowing that in a world rejecting me, He accepts me and loves me without condition. And He always has. He died for each and every one of us. Even those who are hostile toward Him. If that's not love and acceptance, I'm not sure what is.

And who does God say that we are?

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation the old has gone, the new has come! All this from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ . . .
-2 Corinthians 5:17-18

. . . he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ . . . In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.
-Ephesians 1:4-8

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
-1 John 3:1

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
-Ephesians 2:4-5

So there you have it. A new creation, redeemed, reconciled, adopted as sons/daughters, holy and blameless, loved and accepted. And that's the short list.

Thank goodness that God is patient with me. I may be a new creation, but the old me likes to break through a lot. My unbelief and distrust sure do manifest themselves in a lot of ways. I find that most of my problems stem from unbelief. Again - thank the Lord for grace, patience and steadfastness.

It's so much easier for me to measure myself by the world's standards. It's so much easier to believe that I am worthless and rejected. It's so much easier for me to try to chase and work for validation. It's so much easier to believe that I will never be enough. It's my default to try to take comfort in the world and people.

Hallelujah for a God who is so much bigger than my own understanding, self-worth . . . and for a Savior who has overcome the world and claimed victory over every painful part of our lives.

Be thou my vision, oh Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that thou art
Thou my best thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, thy presence my light

Be thou my wisdon and thou my true word
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, and I thy true son
Thou in my dwelling, and I with thee one

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance, now and always
Thou and thou only, first in my heart
High King of heaven, my treasure thou art

High King of heaven, my victory won
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's sun
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall
Still be my vision, O ruler of all

January 3, 2010


I think I need to stop drinking coffee when I have my quiet time.

All I want to do is jump up from the table, do my laundry, hit the gym, run all my errands . . . and we all know how easy it is to get distracted when we should be spending time with the Lord. I'm getting too hyper to sit still . . . and this brings me on to my next point. Patience.

One thing I'm noticing about David as I read 1 Samuel is his patience and humility right now.

He's in a period of waiting . . . like what J.D. preached about a few weeks ago.

Think about it. David was anointed as king way before he took the throne. He was anointed as king before the whole death match against Goliath. Saul kept the throne until his death, much later.

Wouldn't that be hard? To know that you were the next king, but you had to wait? How would you battle the temptation of pride . . . and to take matters into your own hands?

Instead, David served and obeyed Saul, and sought after what the Lord had for him during this period of waiting.

David is even hesitant to marry Saul's daughter and become the son-in-law of the reigning king at the time.
["Do you think it is a small matter to become the king's son-in-law? I'm only a poor man and little known." -1 Samuel 18:23]

I know it's true that during these times of waiting, God is growing us, maturing us, and disciplining us. We probably wouldn't be fully prepared or equipped for whatever it is, if it happened when we wanted it to. It just can be so much easier to wish the time away, and only look forward to what the future holds.

However, everything happens on God's time table, not ours. There's a reason why everything happens when it does . . . the only hard part is, God knows the reason . . . and most of the time, we don't (until it's over).
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