3.29.2013

Holy Week

God has been so good this week. Giving me to the strength to share this blog, stirring up some great talks with my boyfriend and friends about Him, giving me sponsors for my Baptism, and bringing His people together for the week's church services.

Although Matt and I have been together over a year and a half now, this is the first REAL Jesus-centered Easter we are sharing together. Since we go to different churches, this can be difficult, but I was SO happy to share Maundy Thursday with him at my church last night. It was such a wonderful night of fellowship and talk. I know this blog is going to be so good for us-- it already has.


Now that Maundy Thursday has passed, Good Friday is upon us. After a long day at work, I told myself I would come home and work on schoolwork, but first I wanted to dive into the Word for a bit. Oddly enough, I stumbled upon She Reads Truth, where a Holy Week study is going on.


Isaiah 53:4-11 really humbled me and reminded me what today is about. Verse 7 says, "He was led as a lamb to the slaughter." Can you visualize this? For all those vegetarians out there, I'm sure you can. What a horrific image. Still, God laid our iniquity on Jesus, so that WE might be forgiven. Talk about sacrifice and love.


John 3:16 was equally moving, as it always has been for me. This was one of the early verses I studied when I really started getting to know God. God sent His son so that we might be saved. I can't even find words to explain the feelings a parent might feel if they lost their child in the way that Jesus was crucified. Yet, God did it-- for you and I.

I hope you all take a moment out of your busy day to remember what today was about. To remember what it must have been like for God to give His son for US. To feel the LOVE He showers us with everyday.

Have a wonderful evening, and a great weekend!

3.28.2013

Baptism

bap·tism (noun): A person's initiation into a particular activity or role, typically one perceived as difficult: "his baptism as a politician".

What comes to mind when you think of the word "baptism?" Do you remember your own? Do you wonder what it is? Do you wonder if it's absolutely necessary in order to follow Christ? Do you sometimes feel like you're "less than" because you're not baptized? Do you feel like you need to be baptized again, that you have come to a point in your life where you really are ready to hand your life over to God?

Our answers to these questions might be different, but I know many of us can relate. 

Within the last 5 months or so, I have really become serious about wanting to be baptized. Wow, I never thought I would ever say those words in my life. A year and a half ago, I was, without a doubt an Atheist, and "proud of it." Now, I am SO ready to give my life over to Christ, and to commit eternally to Him in front of the people that have guided me over this time.

Although I saw myself as an Atheist, I still believed in a higher power. I practiced principles of Buddhism, and was fairly well educated on religion. That being said, I felt that all religion did was create problems, cause hate (of other particularly; other religions, sexual minorities, etc.), and create a false sense of security, while at the same time preaching we should love one another. I saw hypocrites. I, in a sense, was ignorant. I judged a group of people upon a few select experiences, experiences that in no way were accurate. One can be very well educated and still not understand something fully until they experience it themselves. [Turns out many people have these misconceptions, a topic I will be writing about soon]! Thankfully, God doesn't hold this against us.

I felt that life should be about GOD (or a higher power) and not an institutionalized religion. To be honest, I still have a hard time with this one. I think one's relationship with God should be central, but I also think the church is an important part of one's relationship with Christ (particularly for fellowship) UNLESS that church is unhealthy. An unhealthy church can become apparent in a number of ways, something I'd be willing to talk more about later if anyone is interested. I'm no expert, but I know that I was a non-believer, and now I'm not. Something changed, and I think a few healthy churches played a huge role in that. 

I believe that change came when I was in Scotland this winter. I found the most amazing non-denominational church, Central, that was exactly what I needed at the time. I have never walked into a room and felt God's presence so much in my life. There were many nights I was in tears, or had goose bumps throughout the entire service. This was particularly the case on the nights we held baptisms. All I could do was cry. I didn't even know many of the people, but I still cried. I couldn't believe the work God had done in these people's lives. To see them committing so publicly to Jesus was so incredibly moving. There were many times I wanted to jump on up there with everyone, times where I felt God pushing me, but I fought it.


This comes back to the vulnerability thing. I didn't feel like I knew Jesus well enough to be baptized. I felt people might think poorly of me, knowing that I had only been coming to church for a little over a year. Seeing me as a "fake" and so on.... I didn't want to make a fool out of myself. I also didn't want to expose the fact that I wasn't already baptized. [I think so many people assume I am. Even my pastors from my home church told me they were shocked when I came to them wanting to be baptized because they already thought I was]. I also felt passionately about being baptized where I first started to get to know Christ, in a Lutheran church. I knew I was growing closer to Christ, but when did I pass the "baptism threshold" to where it became acceptable for me to be baptized?

It took me some time, but now I realize that no one will ever fully know Jesus. We are each at different stages in our relationship with Him, and that's OK! All He asks is that we are willing to commit our lives to Him, to let Him lead us, and to trust in Him no matter what. He WANTS to have a relationship with us. He wants to provide the kind of love that we can only get from Him. I can confidently say I am ready for that. He has been working so much in my life over the past 18 months or so, and I am so excited to show Him that I'm ready!


Tonight I asked a precious couple, Mark and Linda, to be my sponsors/congregational representatives at my baptism this summer. They took me under their wings from day one. Invited me over for dinner, gave me a place to live when I was in a transition, called me just to say hello. They are wonderful people and I am so happy God put them in my lives. I can't wait to stand up there with them and make this commitment!

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

 

Acts 22:16 And now why tarry you? arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

3.27.2013

Simply put: LOVE DOES

Let's be honest, I should really be getting ready to head to campus for a long day, but all I can think about is blogging. I am so grateful for the support and positive comments you have all sent my way, I knew this was right. I could barely sleep last night thinking about what I had to say today.



I start every morning reading a Psalm, and then doing a simple Bible study I found online. It's not much, but it keeps me going. Since Matt and I finished "Love Dare" a few weeks ago (I will talk more about this in future posts I am sure, but if you're in a relationship I HIGHLY recommend it), I have been looking for something as fulfilling to dive into. That lead me to Bob Goff's, "Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World." If you don't already know me, I am a total book worm, and will share a lot about my current reads here.


Although I am not quite finished with this book, it has already brought me so much joy and fulfillment. It's one of those books that really helps you take a look at yourself, and although it also makes you realize what areas of your life need help, it makes you feel as if the life you want is completely redeemable through Jesus. And it is.

Bob, through a series of short stories, shares a number of eye-opening truths and encourages feelings of empowerment, all while bringing you closer to Jesus. This isn't a typical Christian book, it doesn't tell you how Christianity or the church are failing, or how YOU are failing (as many I have read do), instead it shows you a new way to live, while maintaining your true self. I'd recommend this book to everyone, even those guys out there!

My favorite quote thus far from "Love Does," goes something like this: "In the end, love doesn’t just keep thinking about it or keep planning for it. Simply put: love does." -p. xvi

Let's think about this one. LOVE DOES. I think Bob uses a story about wanting to drop out of high school and run off to Yosemite. Upon telling his Young Life leader this, he joins him for the ride, free of hesitation, judgement, or even words. He just says, "Bob I'm with you." Turns out the morning Bob stopped by his house was the morning after his wedding day, but still, that didn't stop him. How amazing is this? Would you do this for someone? I can't honestly say I would have. But you know what? God would. God is always with us.

Wouldn't the world be so much different if we just did things for others without hesitation? If we became more like God in this sense? If we stopped saying "one day" or "maybe later." This book has truly challenged me. I am an incredibly busy student, and to be honest, after a long day all I want to do is read and lay on my couch. I turn down so many offers to spend time with friends, all because I am too worried about myself. Other times, I become a terror to be around all because I am stressed or exhausted. I'm ready to step out of my comfort zone and really just do things because I love people. I want to cook my boyfriend dinner for no reason without expecting help, I want to comfort a friend when they are in need even if I feel like saying "I told you so," I want to show people that I am with them, no matter what decision they make. Does this sound drastic? It's not. All it takes is a decision to act, without thinking. For those fellow Psychology students out there, this is also known as mindfulness: the trait of staying aware of (paying close attention to) your responsibilities.

Therefore, I challenge you to join me. Make a sacrifice for someone you love, or even a complete stranger. How would your life be different if you said to someone, "I'm with you."

A few of my other favorite quotes from this book:

“I used to want to fix people, but now I just want to be with them.”

“But the kind of love that God created and demonstrated is a costly one because it involves sacrifice and presence. It's a love that operates more like a sign language than being spoken outright.” 

“The thing I love about God is He intentionally guides people into failure.”

'I learned that faith isn’t about knowing all of the right stuff or obeying a list of rules. It’s something more, something more costly because it involves being present and making a sacrifice. Perhaps that is why sometimes Jesus is sometimes called Immanuel– “God with us."'

"The challenge that comes into sharp relief is whether we are willing to give up all we have to follow Him, to know God. Are we willing to trade up?….In that sense, Jesus isn’t requesting a sacrifice at all.  He’s asking us to play Bigger and Better, where we give up ourselves and end up with Him."

3.26.2013

Sage's Debut

Welcome to Sage, I am so happy you have decided to join me on this new journey I'm undertaking! Although I am still waiting on a fabulous template to give this blog a pop, I figured I might as well dive right in with my first post. For those of you that don't already know me, please stay tuned for an "About Me" section, which I hope to have up soon as well. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your stay.

For the past month or so, I have had such hesitations about this whole blogging thing. In the past, I never would have seen myself as the blogging type. Although I have recently gotten into journaling, blogging is so different because others get to read your private thoughts.

Despite this, there are a few brave ladies that put their hearts out on the line regularly. These women have been SUCH an inspiration for me over the past year, and one more recently. As you will later read in my about me, I am just starting my journey as a Christian. A year and a half ago, I would have told you I was an Atheist- my how things have changed! In the early days of learning about Christ, and trying to figure out what He meant in terms of my life, I was fortunate enough to "stumble" (thanks God) upon Renee and Cassie's blogs. These women, via social media, have been able to show me what a love relationship with Christ really looks like, and how to be a Godly woman, two things I was oh so unfamiliar with and really needed guidance in. More recently, I have been blessed to find Nicole's blog, and she too has been an incredible inspiration on why I am starting this new journey. Her love for Christ literally keeps me going some days when I have doubt (something I'll talk a lot about here because I feel it's not mentioned enough [although it is incredibly normal] due to a fear of being seen negatively by other Christians). I have realized that I too want to be that inspiration for someone, even if it does require me taking a risk.

I have gone back and forth about whether or not I could handle another commitment, but to be completely honest, I could feel God's hand on my back pushing me to move forward. I think part of my hesitation also had to do with the fact that I knew my heart would be exposed- out there for everyone to see. If you know me, that's scary. That's where the name of my blog came from.

For the past few days, as I have become more serious about blogging, I have been thinking about a name. Of course I wanted something cute, but I also wanted something personally meaningful. To me, this journey is going to take a lot of vulnerability on my part, something I'm not totally comfortable with, especially when it comes to talking about religion. I have an extremely hard time talking about Christ and my love for Him, especially with those who knew me before I found Him. Even with my boyfriend of a year and a half, who I know God used to bring me to Him, it's not easy. It's even more difficult with my parents and friends, who I used to preach AGAINST religion to. Therefore, these posts are going to take a huge amount of vulnerability on my part. But I 'm ready for that. I have been scared to be too "in your face" as a Christian, or to put my love for Christ out there, which I justified with Matthew 6:5 (And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others). I think I have been deceiving myself by using this verse. I think, in reality, I am really just scared of being judged. I am SO ready to overcome that, and as Bethany Dillon says, "I want to tell the world about Your love."

Anyways, that was a tangent. So, I decided "vulnerable" wasn't quite what I needed, so I looked up synonyms. That brought me to the word "sage," which means wise. I couldn't exactly figure out how the two were in any way related, but I liked it. I then tried to find a verse that touched on the topic of vulnerability and I found John 5:31 (see my tagline). Although I know this verse is taken out of context in this instance, it still spoke directly to me. This verse made it even more clear that I needed to share my journey with others, and to be honest, it brought me so much comfort. It brought into perspective that even though I have quiet time with God daily, and express my love for Him during that time, it means nothing if I can't share with with others. Now, I can't WAIT to share with you all (so much I'm totally blowing off homework tonight which is SO unlike me). The ladies mentioned above have been my only source of fellowship, and I haven't even shared my testimony or anything about myself spiritually with them. I love my church, but there aren't people my age, and my boyfriend is really the only other GOOD Christian friend I have. It's more clear now then ever that I need to do this and I am SO ready to share what God has been doing in my life.

The conclusion to this story is when I later when back to locate "sage" in the thesaurus, I realized I had looked up the world "venerable" instead of "vulnerable." Funny, Lord.