Saturday, July 31, 2010

Daring to be a David

Seven months ago, at the winter retreat in January (Blast), I made a covenant with God. I promised to do whatever He wants me to do, say whatever He wants me to day, and go wherever He wants me to go. The biggest reason I ended up making that covenant was that, even then, I was worrying about the fact that God might call me to a different part of the world, and I was afraid that I would be too scared to answer that call. Thus, the covenant really gave me some accountability while also opening me up to whatever God had in store for me.

A year ago, I had toyed with the idea of one day going to Costa Rica for a vacation so that I could walk through the rainforests and go white-water rafting and things like that. Not long after Blast, Brooke (tech programmer in our Promiseland children's ministry) started talking to me about how she had gone on a mission trip to Costa Rica and all the things she did there and how it changed her. I eventually felt God tugging on my heart, saying that I should go. I didn't know why He wanted me to go, but the feeling didn't go away, so I started doing some research, and eventually I found out that one of our other church campuses was going to be getting a group of high school kids together to go to Costa Rica for the summer. I started a chain of correspondence with one of the leaders, which led to an interview, which led to a couple of meetings, while led to me sitting on a plane shaking my head at how crazy this situation was. I was following what I think was God's voice, and it led me to flying on an airplane (which I am not exactly comfortable with), to a place that none of us on the team have been to before.

Thing is, I now know for sure that it was God's voice. There is no other way that everything could have happened the way it did. It was no accident that I went with eight other people to Cartago, befriended several of the Ticos, and now am longing to return there. God used me in a huge way while I was there, and I am so glad that I answered His call!

Of course, now that He has worked a great deal in my heart over the duration of the trip, I am still, even two weeks later, suffering from culture shock. In addition, I can no longer see more than a few centimeters in front of my own two feet on this path I am on. I thought my future was pretty much set: Go to Northwestern, go to medical school somewhere, do my internship/residency, get a job, try to have a family. Now, all of that is fading and blurring. I don't know if that's what God wants for me anymore. He's shown me something so different throughout the duration of the trip. He's shown me that my future is not limited. I could do so many different things! In a way, that's not comforting at all; what am I supposed to do about a major in college? Then again, in a way it is comforting, because it means that I have this freedom to pursue anything I want to and anything that God calls me to, because no matter what, He will make sure that if it is His will, it will happen.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


If you're not interested in reading a super long post, I suggest you skip past this one. ;)

I just got done reading a section about worship in a devotional book called A Call to Die by David Nasser. It brings up a point that struck me big time a short while after I became a Christian, sometime back in early 2009 I think, a point that was brought even more clear to my mind when I saw a couple of other people at school attack the subject of worship.

I love worshiping God, a huge reason being because it gives me room to cry out the prayers that are in my heart. However, the one thing that bugs me the most regarding worship is when other people think that worship is just walking into a room, singing a bunch of songs to the ceiling, and then walking out and continuing on your merry own way.

How much more wrong can you get?

Worship is giving God glory, giving Him some of the credit He deserves, telling Him that He deserves everything you can possibly give Him, showing Him that your love for Him is so great that you can hardly contain yourself. You are not merely "singing a bunch of songs to the ceiling" when you are truly worshiping God; you are singing to Him and for Him! The words turn into your prayers, into the cries of your heart, into your desires.

The way I see it, if you don't believe something a song says or you aren't truly praying to God through the song, if you don't really want God to move through your life based on the words in a song ("This life is Yours and hope is rising..."), then, reader, whoever you are, please don't sing. God prefers an honest heart to one that is just going through the motions. And don't think that throwing your hands up in the air makes you more of a Christian than anybody else, if you're that sort of person, reader. I know these are harsh words, but God prefers the humble to the prideful. If you're only raising your hands to Him to look better, your intentions are way off. I don't know about you, reader, but I feel extremely vulnerable and completely surrendered to God when I raise my hands to Him and ask for His Spirit to reign in me.

If only we realized just how mighty God is and the kind of power we invoke when we worship Him, maybe we wouldn't be so quick to simply just go through the motions and shrug it all off afterwards.

Reader, just be honest with God. He already knows where you are, after all. Your worship to Him, whatever form it's in, should come from the depths of your heart. Whether you are happy, upset, confused; whether you feel like you're on top of a mountain or in the deepest pit of your life; true worship expresses Your heart to God and gives Him the glory above all else, no matter the circumstance.

And singing is only one form of worship. Dancing, painting, drawing, writing, acting, lighting/sound, stage design, other forms of art not mentioned, serving others, and praying are all forms of worship. In fact, doing whatever it is you do for God is worship! Whether you are making some sort of video to glorify Him or whether you are lying beneath the stars, thanking Him for creation, as long as it is with your whole heart, you are worshiping Him.

One last thing. Romans 12:1 = "Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship." What does it mean to be a living sacrifice for God? It means that everything you do stems from Him. It means that He is working in you and causing you to want to live for Him. And that living for Him is what it means to give your life up for Christ, the whole "Christ died for me, so I live for Him" type of thing you sometimes hear.

Once again, reader, just be honest with God from where you are.

Worship songs that have changed my life because of how God spoke to me through them or how I cried out to Him through them:
  • Invitacion Fountain - The Violet Burning
  • I Could Run Away - Brandon Grissom
  • Amazing Grace - Various Artists
  • Everything - Lifehouse
  • Our God Reigns - Delirious
  • Wrapped in Your Arms - Fireflight
  • Came to My Rescue - Hillsong United
  • All I Need is You - Hillsong United
  • You Hold Me Now - Hillsong United
  • With Everything - Hillsong United
  • Till I See You - Hillsong United

I pray, reader, that the next time you decide to worship Him through music, you really look into your heart, listen to the words you are singing, and really mean them.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

He is in control

I am currently reading In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson (at, unfortunately, an incredibly slow pace because I've been so busy). Now, our youth pastor plus the youth pastor at the retreat I went to this past winter both taught from this book and highly recommended it; in fact, the youth pastor gave it to me for free. In addition, last week, a passage that I had just read from the book was shown on the screen during the church service! It's been so weird to see how often things from this book pop up, and I can't help but exclaim how cool it is. So today I wanted to share something I found in the book that I dog-eared to come back to later because of how much I liked it and how much it meant to me during a recent time when I was overwhelmed with trying to process through what I wanted and how I was feeling.

Research has shown sighing to be a way of processing grief, a response to distress, a way of venting any sort of emotion when there's no way to verbalize it.

Ted Loder's Guerillas of Grace:

How shall I pray?
Are tears prayers, Lord?
Are screams prayers,
or groans
or sighs
or curses?
Can trembling hands be lifted to you,
or clenched fists
or the cold sweat that trickles down my back
or the cramps that knot my stomach?
Will you accept my prayers, Lord,
my real prayers
rooted in the muck and mud and rock of my life,
and not just the pretty, cut-flower, gracefully arranged
boquet of words?
Will you accept me, Lord,
as I really am,
messed up mixture of glory and grime?

Part of me wishes that I had read this book sooner and had found that poem in the book sooner. Because guess what? The Lord DOES accept you for who you are, no more and no less. He accepts me for who I am. He accepts everyone where they are. He knows us from the inside out; we don't even have to verbalize what we're saying. He knows what all of our sighs mean. He knows each and every one of our unvocalized thoughts. And He loves us not because of what we've ever done (or haven't done), but for who He is. It's a reminder that I need constantly, the fact that I can trust Him with my entire life because He wants the absolute best for me because He loves me.

"Nothing is more difficult than praising God when nothing seems to be going right. But one of the purest forms of worship is praising God even when you don't feel like it, because it proves that your worship isn't circumstantial" (67).

So why am I writing all of this, then? Where is it stemming from? Well, remember how I said, reader, that a short while back I had been overwhelmed with things and trying to process it all and make sense of what I wanted and what I felt was best? It was during that period of time that I made a very hard decision that pretty much brought me to tears. I saw God at work in the situation, and it was just so hard to let go and let Him take over; simply allowing Him to do so was one of the hardest things. I know He knew how difficult it was for me and how I disliked it. But I came before Him and worshipped Him and let Him know that I needed Him more than anything to bring me through, that He always is everything I need and nothing less.

Incredibly, God blesses those who obey Him. Let's just say that one day, I was struggling to hand a situation over to God, and the next day God is granting me a completely unforseen blessing. I know for a fact that He has blessed me; there is no other way to explain it. Because of this, I know that there's no way I could ever take this for granted. I thank Him every day and pray that His will, not mine, be done, no matter how difficult it all may be. If anything, what has happened these past weeks has taught me that God truly is in control! He really works in the most unbelievable ways!