Tuesday, December 25, 2012

rid me of myself, i belong to you

Jesus, let my desires be in line with Yours. keep my selfish ambitions away from my desires and show me daily which path to take. keep my mind and heart clear from confusion and fill it only with your peace, clarity and wisdom. i can make all the plans in the world but i know that if my plans don't fall in line with Yours, Yours are always going to be far superior, whether i know it at the time or not. :) i know Your timing is perfect, so please help me to not rush things so that they fit my time frame. You rarely run on my clock, but You are never late. please help me to remember that. even when You are seemingly silent, it's actually just You being patient (and teaching me patience as well.) i pray that i would draw close to You and in turn be able to clearly see Your guidance. lastly, help me not to follow my heart, but instead help me to learn to discern Your still small voice and allow that to lead me. i know that You will never leave me empty because You don't want to withhold good things from your children. if You are asking me to put something down, please help me to trust it's because you want me to move on to bigger and better things that will help me further my relationship with You and be further transformed into Your image. thank You Jesus! we love you

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

"i want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. and i don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. i want to eat cold tangerines and sing loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. i want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and i want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift." 

Monday, December 3, 2012

hi God, i can hear you now!

sometimes i feel like i can't hear God. i have recently come to the realization that He actually is trying to talk to me, i just wasn't making the necessary time in my busy schedule to be quiet before Him so that i could hear Him speak. it was a thought provoking concept. yes, i pray, read my jesus calling devotional and i try to read my bible every day... but i hadn't actually stopped to ponder the fact that God can and does speak to us in a variety of different ways. He WANTS to communicate with us.

God has a perfect plan for my life, and He wants to be involved in every single intimate detail of my life. His plan will lead me to a place of peace and contentment, but how am I to know what His plan for my life is if i'm not hearing from Him? i certainly don't want to believe that i am wise enough to run my own life. to acknowledge Him is to recognize His presence and power in my life, and care about His opinion instead of trying to do things my own way. through a lot of reading and thinking, i've learned a lot about how God speaks to us that i feel is worth sharing :)

Jesus always has something new to say about the situations we are facing. Jesus spent three years, day and night, with His disciples and he indicated to them that they still had more to learn. THANK THE LORD that i don't know all there is to know about Jesus and his goodness. as our Lord, He knows and understands our needs and we can trust Him to lead us to the right path every day.
more than that, i can EXPECT to hear Him. He wants to lead me step by step to the good things He has in store for me, and He cares about the desires of my heart. in psalm 139 it says "all of my days were ordained in your book before one of them came to be." if that is so and God knew all of my days before i was born, it's important for me to be able to hear from Him because it is not only exciting, but will keep me on the right track. furthermore, God will tell me the way to go, but then i have to do the walking. a walk with God takes place through one step of obedience at a time. we may not always know what exactly we're supposed to do, but every time we reach a fork in the road, God will guide us.

my biggest problem in college as it pertains to hearing from God is creating the right atmosphere to hear from Him. seeking Him with my whole heart is a full-time job. to enjoy the fullness of God's presence, i have to consistently maintain an atmosphere conducive to seeking Him, and that is hard work. if i truly want to hear from God, i have to check my attitudes at the door and learn to be led by the Spirit in all of my ways. having a listening attitude will keep me from becoming dull in my hearing. another thing i struggle with is knowing whether or not things i hear are God actually speaking to me or if the things i hear are just the things i want to hear. i've learned that if God is speaking directly to me, i will have a peace in my heart about whatever it is that i'm hearing. if i don't have peace about it, then it's probably not from God, because He knows my whole story and isn't going to lead me astray.

as a christian, i have to maintain an attitude of faith in what God tells me, even when no one else believes it with me. when i hear from God, i don't need to wait for three more people to tell me the exact same thing - i just need to have an attitude of faith and wait for God to show me the next step. God may call me to do something that i'm not used to doing, but an attitude of faith will keep me moving toward the fulfillment of my calling. as far as wisdom goes, in order to hear God, i have to be willing to wait on wisdom out of a desire for God's will to be done in my life more than anything else. i've started to figure out that i'm going to hear from God more clearly if i'm not rushing to make the next move in the heat of my emotions or fleshly desires. i have to wait for sound wisdom before i act on an impulse that i think is from God.

God speaks to me every day in different ways, but i think that one of the most interesting ways that God speaks to people is through prophecy. sometimes the Lord will reveal His will for our lives in this way. prophecy inspired by God will encourage, strengthen and comfort the one who receives it (1st corinthians 14:3). a personal word of prophecy should confirm something that was already in my heart, which is nice because i know that the person prophesying to me didn't know what God was already telling me. if a prophetic word is actually from the Lord, he will make it happen in His own time. even when i have clear direction from the Lord, i am going to wait it out in order to let him fulfill his promises in my life without manipulating their manifestation.

something that completely blew my mind while reading was that if a believer spoke a prophetic word over me, opposition is one of the greatest signs that the word was from God. when i first saw that, i started questioning it, thinking to myself that if i encountered opposition it would make me think twice about the decision i was about to make. then i was reminded that the devil wants to make sure that the Lord's will is not manifested in my life and will place obstacles in our way to make us doubt what God has told us. prophecy is meant to encourage us with God's promise to us while we wait for Him to work it out in our lives.

it's been a season of learning, pondering and prayer. i can't believe i'm almost done with my first semester of college. God is teaching me more than i ever expected to learn, and i'm excited to see what else he reveals to me in the next three and a half years and the adventures and experiences he places before me!

Friday, November 9, 2012

i was created for community.

one of the biggest obstacles i've encountered since coming to college is finding a group of people that can daily encourage me with my walk with the Lord. i've been blessed enough to find a group of girls that are so so wonderful and i love them to death. however, it's a huge adjustment getting used to the fact that i'm not gonna be surrounded by the same amazing 56 people that i graduated high school with for college as well.

what is biblical community, and why is it so important?

genesis 2:18 says that "it is not good for man to be alone". even though man was walking with God in the garden without sin, this relationship was still not ideal. in the Gospels we see that Jesus' final words before the cross were a prayer for unity among His people (John 17:21-22). it's evident that the concept of community isn't a completely strange idea, but rather essential to the "outworking of God's purpose in the world" (matt chandler). God is glorified when he's properly reflected, and by living in unity with other believers, we rightly image Him.

i believe community is so important because without a solid group of christians around you, you will eventually end up feeling empty. a person can only pour into others in a limited capacity if he or she is not being encouraged and challenged in his walk in return. community is so important in order for people to grow, myself included. you grow closer to the Lord through community; through "doing life" with other believers. Jesus and his disciples did everything together: eating, living, serving. i want a group like that.

witness is another big thing for me. i've learned recently that if you are living differently than other people, it shows. i've always heard that phrase. "don't feel like you have to do what everyone else is doing. people will notice and wonder what makes you so different." growing up in a christian bubble, i never had the opportunity to be that "different" person... until now.  people notice when you're living your life differently and not conforming to social norms. how much better would that witness be if you were in a community of people who were doing the same thing? Godly community is the best way for people to come to understand and know the gospel. (john 17:23).

so that's what i'm doing. i have amazing people in my life, whether they be here or away, and i am excited to see who else the Lord brings into my life in the future - more people that i can "do life" with and share the gospel with through our words, actions and community :)

"and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near." -hebrews 10:24-25

"two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!" -ecclesiastes 4:9-10

"for where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them." -matthew 18:20

Monday, October 22, 2012

have faith.

the same word has been recurring a lot in different aspects of my life lately. FAITH. sometimes it just pops into my head or i read it in my Bible, or sometimes someone mentions something about having faith, but it has caught my attention and has caused me to think a lot.

hebrews 11:1 (message) - "the fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. it's our handle on what we can't see."
2 corinthians 5:7 - "we live by faith, not by sight."
2 timothy 2:13 - "if we are faithless, he is still faithful, for he cannot disown himself."

it struck me recently that whenever we have an area of life in which we are not living in joyous expectation of good, it gives the chance for the devil to seize a foothold in our lives. why would i want that?? it is so easy for me to become fearful, especially of the future. i frequently have to stop and remind myself that the Lord is in control and He has already determined each and every one of my steps. His plan for my life is PERFECT and far exceeds any of my wildest dreams or expectations.

the fact of the matter is that faith is the opposite of fear.  the command repeated most often in the Bible is "do not fear." when i fear, it overtakes the foundation of my relationship with Christ - my faith. fear is essentially faith in devil; the doubt that God is as powerful and sovereign as He says He is. faithlessness is the same as fearfulness. my fear and my faith cannot coexist; they work against each other. who am i to doubt the power of God? He is on His throne and is taking care of every single intimate detail of my life. when i pray, everything is possible if i believe that He WILL do it. i so often find myself saying, "i have no doubt that God can answer this prayer." well of course he can, haley.... even the devil knows that God can answer prayer. true faith would be declaring His promises over my life in full expectation of Him answering my prayers. and that is my goal.

"for the one who has faith, nothing is impossible. there are NO impossibilities where there is faith, and there are no exceptions to that." -bill johnson

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

what i'm thankful for today

it's so easy to get caught up in our day to day lives and get stressed out over little things, but there are literally so many things to be thankful for. two big ones stand out in my mind today...

i am so thankful for the Lord's continual grace and for the fact that when i mess up his love never ever runs out. seriously. i do NOT deserve that and knowing that He is constant in my life is always a good reminder when i forget. :)

i'm also thankful for this guy! a year and a half together as of today and still best friends... go us. i think he's pretty awesome.

among the other things i'm thankful for today...
  • naps- seriously, college has made me so sleep deprived.
  • hugs
  • happy people
  • sweatshirts
  • heart to hearts with good friends
  • SKYPE.
keeping everything in perspective and talking about what i love and am thankful for just simply makes me happier than dwelling on what could be better in my life. sure does help keep me less stressed out. God is good :)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

the purpose driven life.

it's not about you.

that was my takeaway from our bible study tonight. the leader of campus crusade talked to us about what our purpose was while we were here on this earth, and mentioned those 4 little words - it's not about you. after some pondering and some reading, the first chapter of rick warren's book "the purpose driven life" hit home with me, motivating me to be more selfless in my day to day life and prayerfully work on finding out what my life's purpose actually is.

"for everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, ... everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him. -colossians 1:16

the purpose of your life is far greater than your achievements, your family, your friends, your peace of mind or your happiness. if you want to know why you were placed on this earth, you must go back to God. you were born by and for his purpose.

the question about what our purpose is in life has puzzled people for thousands of years. why? because they always start with themselves. we ask ourselves self-centered questions like "what do I want to be? what are MY goals, MY ambitions, and MY dreams for MY future?"

focusing on ourselves will never reveal our life's purpose.

many people will try and use God for their own self actualization, which is turn will leave them feeling empty and dissatisfied. we were made for God, not the other way around. life is about letting God use you for His purposes and His glory, not you using Him for your own purpose. the Bible says, "obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life."

so many of our ideas of success today come from the ideas, "consider your dreams. set goals. aim high. go for it. never give up." while these ideas are good and can lead to great success, being successful and fulfilling your life purpose are not the same thing! you could have all the success in the world and achieve everything you could possibly wish for in this life and still miss the purposes for which God created you.

thankfully, we don't have to speculate about what our purposes for our lives might be and can rely on what the Bible says about life... because the easiest way to discover the purpose of something is to ask the creator of it, right?

God hasn't left us in the dark to wonder about what our life's purpose is. the source of life is found in Him and through Him we find our purpose and can live life abundantly.

1) you discover your identity and purpose through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
2) God was thinking of you long before you ever thought about Him. His purpose for your life predates your conception - he planned it before you existed, without your input. you can choose your career or your girlfriend or boyfriend or spouse or hobbies, but you do not choose your purpose.
3) the purpose of your life fits into the bigger purpose that God has designed for eternity.

"it's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we're living for. long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

a constant reminder.

over the past few of days i have seen the same Bible verse pop up on facebook, my instagram and on twitter that keeps catching my attention.

Matthew 11:28-30 (NCV): "Come to Me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Accept My teachings and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit, and you will find rest for your lives. The burden that I ask you to accept is easy; the load I give you to carry is light."

this verse is so easy to overlook because in the back of our minds, we know that God is with us and is our comfort and strength. that knowledge comes as second nature to a Christian which often leads us to forget that the ALMIGHTY GOD of the UNIVERSE has the power to give us REST and remove our burdens. just soak that in for a minute. #boom.

i know i am not the only one when i say that the first semester of college has been difficult due to adjusting to a new routine, managing my time with schoolwork and social events, being away from family, friends and my boyfriend and having to be separated from all that is familiar. it's been too easy to get caught up in the newness and excitement and constant "go go go" of college life, and now that i've been here for almost 2 months, the excitement of it all has worn off and i, as well as the large majority of my friends, are now feeling overwhelmed and want to go back to what we know.

a good friend of mine reminded me the other day that we don't know that the Lord's will is for our lives, but all we know is that the Lord desires us to be sanctified with him and that we need to put ourselves in situations where that is happening. perhaps He is calling us to be uncomfortable so that we learn to to solely depend on Him, or perhaps after a period of time He will call us to a different location. but at the same time, it doesn't matter where we are: the devil is trying to pull us down and tell us otherwise. he does not want us to be encouraged and especially does not want us to be lights in this world. everything that happens is a part of His plan the Lord wills us to become more like Him every day. God is faithful and will provide as we walk on the narrow path, and all we can do is trust His bigger plan.

so that's what i'm doing. despite me being out of my comfort zone and overwhelmed, i am going to grow where i'm planted. i will rest in the fact that He already has the next four years planned out for me and i will pray that the Lord uses me for His purposes and His glory, and wherever He leads me i will go.