Monthly Archives

November 2015

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Uncertainty

This world that we live in is full of uncertainty. The events of last weekend have rocked the world and so many lives. Yet, again the Western world is faced with uncertainty, fear and terror–yet, we often forget those who this is their life daily. Some people have never experienced the peace and comfort of a warm and loving home or the acceptance of who they are, a stable government and so many people in this world live everyday in constant fear. I have never had to live my life this way, thankfully, but it deeply saddens me to see the fear in the world, the hurt and pain, the violence and terror and the never ending circle of innocent lives. At my most pessimistic I do ask God “why not end it all now?” But then I see the beauty, the love and goodness that can still be seen in this world–even if it may be hidden under the heavy cloak of darkness and evil.

I have finally gone to church, after being here for a little over two months, and last weekend I walked into a beautiful stone Church of Scotland, sat in a pew and felt a warmth. A warmth, that is surprising to find in a church of this one’s size and structure, but nevertheless, a warmth that made its way from my toes up throughout my being and settled deep into my heart. I felt that same warmth today as I entered that sanctuary and the familiar proceedings of a traditional Presbyterian service began. And these sermons, given by two different preachers on two different Sundays, reminded me of God’s goodness and reminded me that God has not left this world. God is very much alive, I can feel God’s heartbeat within my own heartbeat (and I am fairly certain you can too). I could get into the details of my justification of God and God’s goodness, and explain the meaning behind free will but instead I want to draw on the verses that the preachers drew on these past two Sundays and just remind you of God’s deep, faithful and beautiful love for us and for this world. And remind you that this evil, this hurt and this pain is not from the God that I worship.

John 18:33-38

“Then Pilate entered the headquarters again, summoned Jesus, and asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you ask this on your own, or did the others tell you about me?” Pilate replied, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests have handed you over to me. What have you done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate asked him, “What is truth?”

Here, Jesus states that this violence does not come from him. For his kingdom is not of this world, his followers were asked not to fight to free him.

Jeremiah 23:1-6

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, snd they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord.”

The flock has been scattered, the sheep are living in fear–but we must look to the end of this passage and realize that there is no need to live in earthly fear. God has given us a caring, loving and protective shepherd–one who will not allow the evil of this world to scatter us. That good shepherd is Jesus.

So yes, this world is full of darkness and evil but we are under the guidance and protection of a good and loving shepherd. We may have to face worldly evil and suffering–we will not leave this world unscathed but we are loved greatly by a God whose goodness never fails. Right always wins.

But be a light of hope, love and kindness in this heavy and dark world. The sermon today reminded us that we need to reach out to those on the edges, that we cannot let our human prejudices stand in the way of the love that God has asked us to spread. God asked to do for those who society deems unworthy, but they are God’s sheep and need to be shown love as well. So my dear brothers and sisters, let us go forth and love as God has loved us and has asked us to love.

We are about to enter the season of Advent. I read a book the other day that described it beautifully, a season of hope, the baby is coming (Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist). Remember what happens with the coming of this little baby–the promise of peace, everlasting life and freedom from death.

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

Pray my sisters and brothers. Pray for those who do evil, for those who have had evil done to them, for those who wake up in places we do not ever think about scared and in fear, for this world. Please do not give up hope, because hope is coming. The Prince of Peace is on his way (figuratively, we know that he is already here with us and there is the promise that he will come again) but the baby is coming.

Show the love of Christ to all, even those who least deserve it, they are often the ones who need it most. May the peace, love and joy of the Lord Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace be with each and everyone of you.

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Spiraling

This past week has been truly awful. I found myself haunted by those same insecurity ghosts, I have questioned why I am here and I have been very distant from God. My life has been spiraling out of control. I have been trying to drive this car, trying to keep my life on the tracks, but I have failed and I have felt empty, defeated and exhausted. I have cried ugly tears this week, I have let myself believe that I am unworthy, stupid and not enough. I have fallen into that same old trap, the one that tempts me and preys on my deepest insecurities. BUT unlike too many times in the past, I have grabbed a hold of the one constant in my life. I have reached for the one person who I know will wash away all those lies and pull me from the dark pit of insecurity I have found myself in. I have turned to God.

This morning I woke up anxious, stressed, insecure and scared. But I realized that yes, I have a lot of work I need to get done but something needs to come first. My relationship with God has been put on a backburner, I have half-heartedly seeked God out and I have been completely unfaithful to our relationship. I have played the control card, half-heartedly calling out to God but mainly just trying to do things alone. But I cannot keep doing this. That fear and loneliness I felt this morning was caused by nothing but me. I have declared I am too busy to go to the One who loves me with an unconditional love. I have betrayed the One who loves me the most. And my heart was feeling the pain that I was causing, my life was spiraling out of control and I had no one to blame but me. But how lucky I am that I worship a God who will continuously welcome me home with open arms, who only desires to give me his unconditional love.

I was scared and I was tired, so obviously I did my best to avoid going to the One who gives me a home. I did the human thing and I ran, into the arms of people to distract myself, into the welcoming embrace of Netflix and away from the One person who can actually renew my soul and offer me the real solace that I desire. I know, I am a hypocrite, I often write about how we should be faithful to God, we should give God everything we have to offer but I am over here saying that I have run from God. But I am human, and I get scared of how much God loves me. I get scared because, as in many cases with humans, we don’t fully trust that someone could love us–all of us, the good, the bad, the ugly and the failures that we often can be. I feel like I keep letting down God and become ashamed and scared to go to him and face him with the knowledge of what I have done. But the one thing I know about God is that God loves with an everlasting and steadfast love. One that nothing we do and one that no matter how far we run we can never escape.

So today, despite the countless things I have to do, I sat down and I gave God the one thing he really wants, my time. I went into town, away from the distraction of my bed and Netflix and I sat at the table I am sitting at now, and journaled, prayed and did the many devotionals I have overlooked for the past month. I gave God my time, my attention and my heart. I have given God many hours out of my Saturday, hours that I could have used for my research for my next paper; but if I had given these hours to research rather than God, I would only be fueling the stress fire. Instead I have felt God reach into this unfaithful, broken and sinful human heart and I have felt God’s love, joy and peace fill it to the brim. I have been filled with something that can only come from God. I have felt the light of life (John 8:12) once again light up my heart and renew my spirit.

In this little coffee shop in the town of St. Andrews I have reconnected with my dearest and oldest friend and confidant. I have asked for forgiveness and I have asked for the one thing I desperately need, God’s presence. This week my life spiraled out of my control and today in this coffee shop, I gave the control back to the person who can actually do something, God.

Many people here, I am pretty sure, wonder how on earth I can believe in God. How I can have faith in God, especially in a world that is so anti-faith? I will tell you how, because I feel God. I know God is right here in my heart very much alive and at work in my life. I believe in God because God communicates to me in many ways but especially through my devotionals. Every single devotional I have read (and I have read a lot) today has dealt with circumstances and how circumstances do not define my disposition. My life, my heart and my identity are not defined by the circumstances I am in–my life, heart and identity are defined by my faith and trust in God. I believe in God because I can feel the work that God is doing on my heart, I can feel God’s hand continuously stitching my heart together.

God, actually just did something amazing. In this coffee shop I am sitting here, with my copy of Jesus Calling out on the table and my journal spread out in front of me, one of the young women I have seen who works here stopped. She stopped and asked me what I was studying and I soon discovered she is a Christian as well. I had literally just prayed to God for a community of faith, for people I can be open with about my faith and my love for God. And right here and right now, God answered that prayer. Using someone I have seen a few times but never met to remind me that he is here and he is faithful. This is why I believe in God, this is why I know that God is there because God proves to me continuously that he is faithful. That girl stopped and she gave me a gift, a reminder that God hears our prayers, answers them and that we are never alone.

Genesis 28:15

“Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

And there it is, the verse that led me straight to Scotland and into this beautiful mess I am in. And maybe led me straight into this coffee shop. I am forever thankful, God continuously whispers this verse to my heart in the times of my deepest struggles, to remind me that he is with me everywhere I go and in every moment that I find myself in.

So today, I have sat in this coffee shop for a few hours and I have felt the peace of the Lord. I have allowed my spirit to be renewed and hope back into my heart. I have tons of work hanging over my head but with God right here with me I know all things will come together for good (Romans 8: 28).

Psalm 62:5-8
“For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress, I shall not be shaken. On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is on God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.”

I knew exactly what I needed today, I needed to stop running away and run straight into those welcoming arms of my savior. My spirit is renewed and I feel at home, for the first time in a long time.

I hope that whatever path you are on today, that if your life is spiraling out of control that you stop running away and instead run towards God’s outstretched arms. Let the peace of the Lord Jesus Christ surround you and calm your fears. Let God’s love in and see just how wonderful God is.

1 Peter 5:6-7
“Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, becomes he cares for [and loves] you.