My Life Verse

"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

Friday, February 24, 2012

RUN.


"Never, Never, Never Quit." Winston Churchill

I keep feeling the Holy Spirit nudge me to go for a run. I hate running and I always have. It's hard and it's not fun. But, I've been complaining to God about how I feel crappy and He keeps reminding me of the obvious- I feel this way because I am not eating healthy and I am not exercising. Of course I am not feeling great because I'm not taking care of my body. God's Word teaches about this exact thing."Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 I am clearly not honoring God with my body when I am eating nothing but sugar and I am not putting in the effort to exercise. No wonder I have felt crappy!

"The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won't." Henry Ward Beecher

Another reason I believe God is telling me to run is so that I can relate it to my life spiritually and my relationship with Him. The scripture that comes to mind is Hebrews 12:1 "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, 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." Some days it is easier than others to run the race with perseverance. Some days it's really hard and I feel as though I can't even pick up my feet. On these days, I think of Finding Nemo where they say "Just keep swimming, just keep swimming" and I tell myself "Just keep running, just keep running". :)  But what I discovered yesterday is that I was able to run the race (physically go on a long run) and it wasn't hard at all. I started to question why it wasn't hard and ask God to speak to me. He revealed to me that my physical run yesterday was easy because I was focused on Him and relying on Him to help me complete the run. I wasn't looking to the finish line or feeling as though I wasn't going to make it. Instead, I was simply putting one foot in front of the other. This made me think about the spiritual parallel. Some days it is easy to run the race with perseverance that God has marked out for me. Other days I feel like I'm falling apart and I can't even move. I don't even want to continue running. I have no desire to persevere. In both cases, God is faithful to help me. The days that are hard and I feel like giving up, He gives me the strength to endure and press on, no matter how short of a distance I go that day, He is still there by my side. The days that are easy, I realize that I am fixing my eyes on Him and thankful He is helping me. Another thing I thought about is that in my weakness He is strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says "for my power is made perfect in weakness." This was Jesus speaking to His people. Running is a weakness of mine, but yesterday God's power was made perfect in my weakness when I was able to run farther than normal and complete the run with perseverance. God showed me that when I am weak, I can pull from His strength and my weakness will shine.

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something that this thing must be attained." Marie Curie

The study notes from my Bible said the following about the Hebrews verse:
Long distance runners work hard to build endurance and strength. On race day, their clothes are lightweight and their bodies lean. To run the race that God has set before us, we must also strip off the excess weight that slows us down. How can we do that? (1) Choose friends who are also committed to the race. Wrong friends will have values and activities that may deter you from the course. Much of your own weight may result from the crowd you run with. Make wise choices. (2) Drop certain activities. That is, for you at this time, these may be weight. Try dropping them for a while; then check the results in your life. (3) Get help for addictions that disable you. If you have a secret "weight" such as pornography, gambling, or alcohol, admit your need and get help today.

Another point God has been making to me when I do go for a run is that exercising builds and strengthens my physical muscles. Therefore, when I'm not running, I'm not building and strengthening my physical muscles. The Lord was bringing to my attention that it is easier for me to run the race with perseverance spiritually rather than physically. I don't mind stepping out in faith and I love growing in my walk with God, so I willingly run. (most of the time...see previous blog on endurance...it's not always easy to run spiritually) He showed me that I exercise my faith muscles often, but I rarely exercise my physical muscles. This is another reason why I have decided to run and asked God to help me stick to this whole physical running thing. :)

God also reminded me while I was running of a word a friend of mine gave me before I went to Ghana. It said "Don't look up from where God has you" This spoke to me because it reminded me that right now, I'm exactly where God wants me to be. I'm learning what He wants me to learn. I'm growing. I'm being stretched. I'm blessed. I'm me. And, I must embrace it and not look up from where God has me, because I won't ever be able to go back to today or this season that God has me in. I need to enjoy every single moment.

So, I encourage you today. If you are a believer, run the race God has set before YOU. And remember, your race won't be the same as your neighbors. Your race won't be the same as your mom or dad's. Your race won't be the same as your best friend's. Your race won't be the same as anybody else because your race is your race. God has a unique purpose for your life and it won't be like anybody else so don't focus on his or her race or even what you think your race should be. Don't even compare the pace that others are running because I believe that, too, can distract you from running your race. Your job is to evaluate the path you are on with God, and assess whether or not you are running the race with perseverance that He has marked out for YOU. It is your job to take one step after the other. It is your job to run even when it is hard. And I encourage you to Never Give Up. I got this thing (see picture below) when I finished my teaching credentials and graduated from College because it reminded me of how I never gave up. God was my helper and I was able to receive what I needed to teach because of my perseverance and reliance on God.




"We are made to persist. That's how we find out who we are." Tobias Woloff

Friday, February 17, 2012

Endure Hardship

This past week has been one of the roughest weeks of my life. The Lord keeps bringing to mind this whole idea of enduring hardship. To be honest, I am very blessed. Sure, I've had struggles in my life before and my family isn't perfect, but last week was the first time in my life that I was truly undergoing hardship. I want to share with you some things that Lord has taught me as I've learned to endure hardship. 

The teacher in me likes to look up the definitions of things and it also helps me, too. I found these definitions from the back of my Bible in the concordance.

Endure: the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; to carry on despite suffering

Hardship: difficult or tough experiences

"But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." 2 Timothy 4:5

"Endure hardship, as discipline; God is treating you as his children...No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces are harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:7, 11

In the past, I've gone through various hardships, but it's been nothing like this past week. Have you heard the saying "When it rains, it pours"? It has been like that for me. One thing after another. I was feeling very discouraged, upset, and angry. Even praying seemed to take a lot of effort so I didn't do it very often. Instead, I cried, talked through things with others, and reached out for prayer. One moment I was strong and the next I was falling apart. I woke up wondering how I was going to even make it through the day. (By God's grace and supernatural strength, I made it through the entire week)

*Listen to "Never Let Go" by David Crowder Band (youtube video wasn't uploading)

Without going into too much detail, I will share a little bit about what I was going through that felt so overwhelming. Keep in mind, each of us are different, so what I feel is overwhelming, you may think that's nothing or question my hardships, but for me, what I'm about to share has truly been difficult for me. I experienced opposition about my decision to go to YWAM in April. This has happened a couple of times and I know that I know that I know that I'm supposed to go because I heard very clearly from God, but it's been difficult hearing from others, even those that I'm close to, that maybe this isn't God's will for me. (It all worked out for the good- Romans 8:28, don't worry) I've been lacking the funds I need in order to go to YWAM in April. This has been a test of my faith because I know God said go, yet the evidence of my finances is questioning that. However, we live by faith, not by sight, and God is faithful, so I know He will provide. In His timing, however He chooses, which most likely won't be the way in which I thought the funds would come in. *Read more about this in a future blog about YWAM. God has called me to be a Missionary, which means I'll be asking for money and living off of other people's support financially. This has been a challenge to accept because if you know me, you know I feel bad really easily and I feel bad constantly asking people for financial support. *Further details in a blog about YWAM or It's All Part of the Process. There is a personal thing going on in my family that is taking a toll on the entire family. This is difficult and bad timing as I've got plenty of other things on my plate (at least it felt that way earlier this week) and it's not an easy thing to be going through.

Through all of this hardship and a really rough week, God has taught me many different things that I hope you can take with you as you do your best to endure hardshipI've learned that when hardship comes, I must endure it. I spent a majority of the week not enduring these hardships and I got nowhere but down in the dumps. I was tired of just trying to make it through the day and feeling so discouraged. And in addition to that, I was bringing others down with me. It felt like a pity party. I've also learned that I turn to others instead of Him. One time a friend of mine expressed something to me about how I have so many mentors. The Lord has truly blessed me with amazing women of God and mentors, and I love each of them so much, but this can also be a weakness. Having lots of mentors hasn't always been a plus for me. It has meant that I always have someone to text or call, and if one person isn't available, most likely the other person is available. I've always had someone to lean on and call upon for encouragement and support. However, more often than not, I turn to these people and not to God. My friend, on the other hand, only has had God to turn to, therefore it is evident in her solid relationship with Him as she doesn't rely on others but on God. Thankfully, God is teaching me this right now. He has also told me that what others have to offer me won't satisfy what I'm looking for because only He can offer what I need the most. When I rely on Him rather than others to help me endure hardship and give me what I need, I am stronger. What He offers me is so much greater than what anyone else can give. (Don't get me wrong- asking for prayer is important, but this is different because I'm referring to a continual reliance on others for prayer rather than simply praying yourself) An ex-boyfriend of mine said something similar to that. He didn't like to pray for someone else if he knew they weren't praying for themselves. In other words, the person needing the prayer must be praying alongside the people who are praying for him/her. The Lord showed me that I've been that person- reaching out for prayer and expecting to get better, but the whole time I wasn't putting in the effort and doing my part to pray. I wasn't connected to the vine so I wasn't bearing any fruit. (See John 15) I wasn't praying or reading my Bible (two disciplines that keep me connected to the vine) and it was evident in my life. The Lord also told me to Strengthen myself in the Lord. He reminded me that I can't always rely on others to lift me up, but I must strengthen myself in Him so that I am strong and able to endure hardship. Lastly, God showed me that I am not the only one who is experiencing hardship in their lives. This knowledge helped me take the eyes off of myself and the pity party and put my eyes on Him. I realized that it's not all about me and life does have to go on. Therefore, I must pick up my head and hold on through the hardship. God told me that this probably won't be the only time that I will need to endure hardship. And next time it might be worse. But take heart, because He has overcome the world and He is with me. I am not alone.

*Listen to the song "You Carry Me to the Cross" by Kutless (youtube videos weren't uploading)

So, you might be wondering, how did I get to a place in the midst of all this hardship to hear from God and be encouraged in all of this. Well, I remained attentive to God's voice and recognized that I didn't want to continue walking in discouragement. On Thursday morning (it took me at least a few days to get to this place), I woke up early to spend time with God. He spoke so clearly to me and really encouraged me through His Word. I also continued throughout the week, to meditate on the following scriptures, even when I didn't feel like it. Instead of worrying, I'd say the scripture in my head and be encouraged knowing that God's heart for me is good things.

"For we are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed but not in despair; persecuted but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed." 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and self-controlled. Your enemy the devil prowls around looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen." 1 Peter 5:6-11

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance,;perseverance, character; character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us." Romans 5:3-4

"Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." Romans 12:12

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul." Hebrews 6:19

*Listen to "My Hope is in You" by Aaron Shust

"let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:22-23

"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1

"And without faith, it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him." Hebrews 11:6
*Listen to the song "Stronger" by Mandisa
Another thing that helped me was something that my mentor said. She said that I may move past this feeling of being overwhelmed, but it may come back. But, if I do feel overwhelmed again, I need to keep on keepin' on. (This was on Sunday, prior to the family situation so it definitely got more overwhelming) She also told me that because I have 5 weeks until I leave for Israel, then I'm gone for 2 weeks, come back for 1 week, and leave to Hawaii for 6 months, I need to be very intentional and purposeful with my time and fundraising in the next five weeks. I need to know that I can't do everything, but to do what I can do. On Saturday night at His Hands and Feet Christian Ministry (HHFCM), I was given a word from someone that said patience but action. I learned that I can wait on the Lord and still take action. A person on staff with YWAM that I spoke with on Monday said the founder of the organization, Loren Cunningham, always says, "We believe God for the impossible and we do the possible". This definitely went right along with what I was learning in regards to trusting in the Lord for finances for YWAM. And it also tied in with the fact that I am responsible for doing my part. And so, I continue to endure hardship, but I do so with the joy of the Lord as He has taught me so many great lessons through this all that I can carry on through the rest of my life.


"You can't change your circumstances, but you can change in the midst of your circumstances."