Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Taste and See that the Lord is good!

That title seems so fitting. Taste and see that the Lord is good. All my life I've known He's good. I've tasted and seen Him before. But now, how much more do I know and love him! How much more have I tasted and seen Him! It is absolutely impossible to even scratch the surface of all that has happened since I arrived at Eagle Rock only 1 week ago. Since I became a YWAMer - or, as someone joked, a WAMlet. :)

My faith is already growing in leaps and bounds in this short time! I feel like I have learned more in this last week than I have in the last YEAR, perhaps more. God is growing me and shaping me more and more every day into who He wants me to be. Into who He has CALLED me to be. I have experienced the Holy Spirit in ways I never thought possible, and have been moved to tears by Him several times already. I am learning to say yes to God, no matter WHAT He asks, as I have a bracelet that daily reminds me. I am learning to be humble before Him. I am learning to hear His voice and listen to Him speak to me. I am learning the importance of having Jesus time every day - 50 minutes alone with Jesus every morning has been crazy amazing. I am learning to not judge others, as is so easy to do. I am learning (absolutely LOVING) to live in close, oh SO close community with my brothers and sisters. Already we feel as if we have known each other for years and freely share how the Lord is working in our lives.

Every time I think about it, I am blown away by Jesus. By the fact that I'm actually here - HERE, on top of a stunningly gorgeous mountain. By the fact that I'm surrounded by brothers and sisters who are constantly loving on me, encouraging me, and praying for me, as I am for them. By the fact that I get to live every moment with my Prince. By the fact that the Lord would choose to reveal Himself to me, and speak to me! By the fact that incredible men and women of God can daily show me more of Him. By the fact that I'm actually in YWAM!! I've dreamed about it for so long, and now I'm actually here.

God is so good. Don't ever doubt that.

God has called each of us. He has chosen each of us. For what? To be world changers and kingdom shapers. He has given us everything, absolutely EVERYTHING we need. We only need believe.

So trust Him. Because He is good.

I am so blessed.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"I have hidden your word in my heart..."

There is something I've come to realize in the last year or so. There is an unexplainable power in the memorization of Scripture.

My whole life, I've grown up memorizing verses or passages of Scripture. But until recently, it was something I did, just because. Because I was a Christian and that's what you were supposed to do. So I would half-heartedly memorize verses and things for church, school, etc. My sisters, mom, and I even memorized the book of James together when I was in middle school. But I am ashamed to say, I don't really remember a whole lot of it.

But then something changed. It was the first show week of Jane Eyre (yes, HPA again ;). There were about 5 of us together, waiting to run a scene with the directors. And two friends got into a conversation about memorizing lines. About how, for a show, we can memorize crazy long amounts of dialogue or monologues. But when it comes to the Bible, we often don't. Long story short, one of them ended up challenging the other to memorize an entire chapter of the Bible before the show closed the next weekend. The challenge was accepted, and I decided to do it as well. I threw myself into it, if for no other reason than to prove that I could memorize a chapter of the Bible in a week. We both did. She had it memorized within 2 days; I had it memorized in a little over a week. But it was crazy how much time and energy I put into it. When I woke up, as I was getting ready for the day, waiting for my ride, during my breaks, as I was falling asleep at night, I would read it, say it from memory, over, and over, and over... I guess that's what God means when He says to meditate on His words. Think of them over and over and over again.

And so a little more than a week later, I had all of 1 Corinthians 13 totally memorized. In KJV, which I had never heard before. But that was the translation my friend was memorizing it in, so I did too. It was really neat to hear it another way, you know? Sometimes when we hear something over and over it can lose it's beauty. Memorizing it in another translation really re-awakened that beauty for me.

But you want to know the best part of it? Or hardest part, depending on how you look at it? God used it to convict me so, SO much over those two weeks. You can't be thinking selfish thoughts, looking out for only yourself, or be impatient when you are saying to yourself over and over,

"Love suffers long and is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek it's own; is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

Ouch. Like, a million times ouch. I was astonished at how often my thoughts center around ME and what I want. It really opened my eyes to my selfishness. So, with God's help, I tried to start loving people - with real love. 1 Corinthians 13 love.

About a month after show, I dove into John 15. Then Psalm 63. And although I'm ashamed to say that I neglected my Scripture memory over the summer, I'm back at it again, this time with Ephesians 1.

But even beyond how the Words you memorize speak to you, there's something else I've found with Scripture memory: it brings you closer to God. His words are powerful. Oh, so powerful. And when you spend time in them, all the time, and continually meditate on them, you are spending time with HIM. And you grow closer to Him, too. And that's what we all long for, right?

We talk about knowing things not only in our head but also in our heart, about really understanding. This is what God has been showing me: the incredible power of Scripture memory.

Will you join me in hiding His Word in your heart?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Yearning

I'm sorry it's been so long since I've posted on here, dear friends. This summer has been a whirlwind, and it flew by so quickly! I graduated high school, nannied full time, traveled to Ukraine on a mission trip again, vacationed in Grand Traverse Bay with my family, had a wonderful reunion with some dear long-time friends, camped with our small group, and visited Dad's side of the family in New Jersey (and swam in the ocean)!! Anyhow, maybe I'll post more about those things at a later time, especially about all that happened in Ukraine... but for now, there's more I need to share with you.

Namely, the exciting news of my plans this fall!! Actually, let me back up a bit. Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved missions. I think it started, or at least grew a lot, the year we studied different countries and cultures of the world when I was in 5th grade (thanks ECC and MFW!!). I loved hearing about missionaries, seeing their pictures, and reading, no, DEVOURING countless missionary biographies. I was fascinated. As I grew older, this desire only grew with me. In fact, desire is almost to shallow of a word to describe what I'm now feeling! It's more like a deep longing, a yearning... A yearning to share the name of Jesus with those who have never heard. A yearning to love on those who have never experienced real, unconditional love. A yearning to pour myself out to the utmost for Him who poured Himself out for me. A yearning to live a life totally dependent on Him; trusting Him for absolutely everything. And a yearning to live and serve in culture totally different from my own.

In the last few years I have come to realize that this deep longing in my heart is the Lord calling me into international missions. This was confirmed when I went to Ukraine for the first time last summer, and even more so when I returned this summer. The sheer joy and fulfillment I felt upon entirely pouring myself out for the Lord and for the kids was unfathomable. It was hard, but I loved every minute of it. It's so... oh, there's no words for this! It's so beautiful, incredible, and awesome to do what you know you were made to do. The fulfillment, the joy it brings is just beyond words.

I praise God that He has found me, saved me, chosen me, and called me to serve Him in this way! Thus, I have decided not to attend college at this time. I don't know if God has college planned for me in the future or not, but I do know that's not where He's leading me right now. Instead, He's led me to participate in a Discipleship Training School (DTS) with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). So basically, at the end of September, I'll travel to Denver, CO. I'll spend 3 months there, on top of a mountain, with about 50 other students and about that many staff. Primarily, I'll just spend time getting to know God more and learning about Him - in head knowledge, but also in heart knowledge. Then, for 2 months after that, I get to go on an outreach trip! Aka, a 2 month international mission trip. :) I have to decide between a trip to Thailand, Kenya/Uganda, or Mexico/Belize. At this point, I have NO IDEA where I'm going to go, but I'm confident that God will show me where He wants me.

I cannot tell you all how absolutely EXCITED I am for this!! Time and time again, God has confirmed that this is where He wants me right now. It has been such an incredible, faith-building journey already to see him speak to me, lead me, guide me, and provide for me - more than I ever could have imagined!

I can't stop thinking about this verse. It is the echo of my heart right now. "Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty work within us, to do exceedingly more than we could ask or imagine." {Ephesians 3:20} Glory to God!

Rejoicing in Jesus,
Elizabeth

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Faith, the Simple Act of Trust


You know what it's like. The big decision that needs to be made. The problem that needs to be solved. The question that demands an answer. We try to figure it out. We really do! We read all sorts of books and do all sorts of research. But once we're through, days, weeks, months, or maybe even years later, we realize we're not any farther along than when we started. And we wonder what's wrong. What's going on. Why is my plan not working? Why don't I know where to go, what to do? In that moment, it seems so hard, so complicated. If only this would work out, I could get on with my life! If only I knew WHAT to do next, I could do it! And that's where we stumble. We lack faith. We lack trust.

In the midst of planning out every detail of our lives, we forget that it's Jesus who plans lives. We forget that it's GOD we're talking about here! The same God who orchestrated the creation of the world out of nothing. The same God who put the stars in the sky, and the fish in the ocean. The same God who not only cares for the world, but cares for US! The same God who loves us more than anyone else EVER has, or ever will. The same God, who put the sun in the sky, cares about every tiny little detail of our lives. He cares about this decision. He cares about this problem. He cares about this question. And yet, in our human minds, we don't think He's worthy of our trust! How fallible, how mixed up we are! If only we would trust Him.


"But how?" I know you're asking. It seems difficult, but really, it's simpler than anything we could have ever imagined.


Have faith. Believe, with all of your heart, that He will lead you. He will guide you. He will speak to you. I know it's hard to let it all go. But really, we're letting it go... so Jesus can pick it up. And I'd rather have Him holding my problems any day, wouldn't you? And not only does He carry our burden... He just scoops us up right along with it! We only need to rest in His arms. Because He won't drop us. He will carry us to where we need to go. He will show us with path to take. He will never leave us, no matter WHAT we're going through.

Thing thing is, though, we have to first BELIEVE that He can, and will, if He so chooses, to do whatever we're asking of Him. If we don't believe He will speak to us, or answer us, He likely won't. But how can we come to so fully believe in Him like that? Well, WE can never on our own, know Him deep enough to trust Him. That's why Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit. We get to know Jesus more, and hear him better, through prayer, and staying in His Word. If you are waiting for the Lord's guidance, you must seek Him!! You cannot expect to hear from God if you do not spend any time with Him. He is pursuing us, but we can't grow closer to Him by just ignoring Him. So pray. Pray for His Guidance. He will show you the way. Spend time in His Word. There is nothing more precious, more beautiful, than listening to His Words of peace, and truth, and love reassuring us through the difficult road.

Now, this is a not a quick and easy formula, a "believe-and-it-will-happen". None of this means that if we believe, the Lord will speak to us today... or tomorrow... or even next week. It may be awhile. The Lord never promises that He will answer us when WE want Him to. He has his own timetable... but it is so much better than ours! Learn to trust in His timing, just as you are trusting in His Faithfulness to answer you and speak to you. I don't pretend to know the ways of God, but I think that often, when the Lord doesn't speak to us right away, it’s because there’s something He's trying to teach us first. Likely, he wants us to learn to have faith and trust Him! :) Because that's so hard for us humans to completely give up control. Yet when we do, he blesses us beyond measure, and gives us what we truly desire – a closer relationship with Him. And along the way, He often gives us the guidance we were looking for. We have to realize that our end goal is not to receive guidance - it's to know Jesus more. Only when we grasp this can we begin to see things in a new light.

So don't worry about your decision, or problem, or circumstance. Jesus is holding you. He will show which path to take. I don't say that in a careless way, shrugging off whatever it is you're struggling with. Rather, I say it to encourage you - JESUS is holding you! You don't need to worry, because the Creator of the universe cares for each and every little thing in your life.

Here are some verses that the Lord used to draw me nearer to Him while I was seeking His guidance. I pray they will be a blessing to you as well. 

“If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” {John 15}

“Search for the Lord and for His Strength; continually seek Him.” {Psalm 105:4}

“O my people, trust in Him at all times. Pour out your heart to Him, for God is our refuge.” {Psalm 62:8}

“The Lord is close to all who call on Him, yes, to all who call on Him in truth.” {Psalm 145:18}

“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.” {Psalm  143}

Resting in His Arms,
Elizabeth