True Wisdom

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  James 1:5

To gain wisdom from God all we have to do is ask. All we have to do is ask? When I first read this verse I was so discouraged, because many times I’ve cried out to God asking for wisdom with seemingly no answer. I didn’t understand why, if God gives wisdom to those who ask for it, I hadn’t received the wisdom I so desperately want. After further examining the context of this verse, I was hit with the harsh truth that I wasn’t really asking for wisdom in the first place.

I cry out for wisdom, but what I really want is knowledge for my own selfish gain. I don’t desire to know God more fully, so I can fall deeper in love with Him. I don’t want to know how to preserver through trials, so the testing of my faith can make me mature and complete. Instead, I want to know what I’m supposed to do with my life. I want to know where I’m going to be in ten years. And, while God does want us to ask Him for those types of things too, I’m usually not asking for the right reasons. I don’t want this knowledge to bring more glory to God. What I really want is for God to show me the future so my life will be easier.

When I ask God to reveal these things to me, I think I’m asking for wisdom. But, the knowledge I seek is earthly and perishable. Like the grass and the flowers, it will wither and fall (1 Peter 1:24). It’s not lasting, eternal knowledge, but I still seek it above all else. I put it above God and the wisdom He grants. I make it an idol that I bow down to and worship. God offers me wisdom to persevere through trials making me mature and complete, lacking nothing, and I still choose to ask for selfish knowledge instead.

In order to really desire the wisdom James is talking about in this verse, I have to take my eyes of earthly things and put them on God. Like Paul said in Colossians 3, I have to set my mind on the things above. It’s not always easy, most of the time it is actually really hard. Earthy things are easy to focus on because they are right here. I can see them and feel them and experience them now. I can see how having knowledge about my future would make my life  easier right now, here on earth.

But God knows that the immediate gain I would experience from the knowledge I seek is not really what I ultimately need. He can see the whole picture of eternity and knows that having wisdom to persevere is really what will benefit me. It is what will make me mature and complete.

I need to trust that God knows best and fix my eyes on the things that He says are important. I need to set aside the selfish desires I have, so I am able to experience every blessing God has for my life. I don’t think this will ever be easy, but I know with God I can do it because I have died and my life is now hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3)

One Word 365 – GRACE

I’ve been hesitant to commit to a New Year’s resolution this year. When I set goals, I like them to be challenging but also realistically accomplishable. I’ve never picked working out or eating healthy as a new years resolution, because I know there’s no way they’d last past January.

This year I’ve had a hard time coming up with a goal for the year that fits these requirements. Then, today, I read a blog post about One Word 365. The idea of One Word 365 is that you pick one word to focus on everyday, all year. Instead of a resolution, you commit to intentionally focusing on one word all year.

I’ve decided to give it a try. The word I picked for 2014 is grace.

I didn’t need much time to deliberate about my word. It was the first one that came to mind. God’s grace amazes me, but I often have a hard embracing the grace he offers and I also struggle to extend it to others. I’m praying this year I will not only understand grace better, but also that it will transform my life. I’m not sure exactly what this will look like, but I’ll be blogging about my journey throughout the year, so stay tuned.

Study Break #2

 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him…  work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord Colossians 3:17,23

Another verse I’m trying to cling to as things get busy and it’s hard to remember why I’m doing this. Ultimately, it’s all for the Lord.

On a completely different note, if you need a quick break here are a few fun thing  I’ve found this week.

1. Fabian Oefner: Psychedelic science If you like either science or art, you’ll love this TED talk by Fabian Oefner. His art is both beautiful and thought provoking.

2. A Cat’s Guide To Taking Care Of Your Human If you own a cat or know anything about them, this video is hilarious. It’s a great 2 minute study break!

3. Carol of the Bells – Pentatonix Want to get into the Christmas spirit? Pentatonix is amazing! If you love them after this video, you can find their whole Christmas album on Spotify.

4. Grace for Your Unmerry Moments Because , if you’re like me, you probably need to be reminded of God’s grace right now.

5. HILARIOUS kid’s notes Need a quick laugh? Kids are SO funny!

Study Break

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by pray and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

I’m hoping and praying to make it through this finals week with both peace and thankfulness.

Also, if you are looking for study break (or work break, life break, etc.), I recently listened to an excellent sermon on 1 Corinthians 4:6-21. It’s not actually related to finals or school in any way, but there is a great part on thanksgiving that was an encouraging reminder in the midst of a stressful time.

 

Romans 8:28

Lord, be gracious to us;
we long for you.
Be our strength every morning,
our salvation in time of distress.
At the uproar of your army, the peoples flee;
when you rise up, the nations scatter.
 Your plunder, O nations, is harvested as by young locusts;
like a swarm of locusts people pounce on it.

The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
he will fill Zion with his justice and righteousness.
He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.

Isaiah 33:2-6

 

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.  For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.  For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:18-28

 

Most of the book Isaiah is about the suffering and destruction of the Israelites because they turned from God. Isaiah 33 and the preceding chapters are especially focused on the hardships they suffer because of their disobedience. In this chapter, Isaiah prophesizes that the Israelites will be destroyed and betrayed, brave men will cry in the streets, no one will be respected, the land will dry up, and there will be everlasting burning. The chapter continues on like this listing numerous other miseries that the Israelites with undergo because they disobeyed God.

But amongst these passages of destruction and death there is Isaiah 33:2-6, a prayer of God’s people exalting Him and crying out to Him to be their strength. Even at this time of complete devastation there were people who turned their eyes to God and cried out to Him. They didn’t turn from Him or blame Him for their distress; instead they ask Him to be their salvation and strength. They had been brought low, so they rightfully put God up high. Despite their circumstances they trusted God would fill Zion with his justice and righteousness, be the sure foundation, and be a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge.

Although it’s been a long time since Isaiah was written there are many similarities between then and now. As believers the Bible assures us that, like the Israelites of Isaiah’s time, we will suffer. Because we are not yet completely free from our bondage and decay, we must wait groaning in the pains of childbirth for the redemption of our bodies and the freedom and glory of the children of God.

However, despite our present suffering, like some of the Israelites did in Isaiah 33:2-6, we should turn our focus to God and trust in the promises He gave us. Our present suffering doesn’t compare to what we will be revealed. We have been assured that if we love God, God works together everything, even the most challenging things and the ones that hurt the most, for our good. So we can still praise God when we suffer. We can always exalt His name.

Chicken and Rice Hotdish

My roommate and I made this yummy recipe the other day. The original recipe came from Tasty Kitchen. It was quick, simple, and really yummy! The best part of this recipe is that it contains ingredients that I typically keep at home. I didn’t have to make a lot of substitutions or go out of my way to buy a bunch of weird foods I would never use again.

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Ingredients:

2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (cooked and shredded)

4 cups Cooked Brown Rice (We used rice-a-roni which worked really well)

¾ cups Frozen Corn

1 bag of frozen peas

15 ounces, fluid Can Black Beans, Drained And Rinsed

1 cup Plain Greek Yogurt (or Sour Cream)

½ cups Salsa

Approx. 2 cup Cheddar Cheese + some for topping (The original called for only a cup, but I love cheese! To make the recipe healthier you can use the original 1 C or even less)

2 Tablespoons onion powder or other seasoning

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°

2. Cook the rice and the chicken

3. In a large bowl combine all the ingredients. Mix until the yogurt and cheese is evenly distributed.

4. Transfer to oven safe pan and top with cheese

5. Bake 20-25 minutes

The original recipe included chilies. Making it without the chilies was still delicious, but when I make it again I’ll probably include them to add some flavor. Enjoy!

Follow Me

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.  “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  At once they left their nets and followed him.

Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.

       Matthew 4:18-22

 

It always amazes me, no matter how many times I read this story, that Jesus’ disciples drop everything and leave their lives behind forever. Jesus says “follow me” and they do. No questions about where they are going or what they’re going to do when they get there. They just do it.

I want to live my life the way they do. I want to have such a complete trust in God that I will go and do whatever He wants.

When I don’t have all the answers

When I don’t know where I am going

When I don’t know what I’ll do when I get there

When I don’t even know how I’ll get there.

I want to be so devoted it’s only natural I would follow Jesus wherever he leads.

But it’s hard and it’s scary and most of the time I don’t trust that God has everything under control. When I don’t have every detail planned out or when something seems impossible, I question whether I am on the right path. I start to doubt decisions I’ve made and become uncertain of where God is leading.

It’s easy to trust God when things are easy and clear and safe, but when they get hard and uncertain and risky it becomes a lot more difficult.  Instead of dropping everything to follow God, I decide it’s best to wait. Instead of putting more trust in God, I pull away.

I pray for God to reveal His will to me, but the problem isn’t that I don’t know His will. The problem’s that I want an easy and simple answer. He already revealed His will and now He wants me to trust and follow Him. He wants me to believe in His plan even when it’s not easy or completely clear.

 But like I said it’s hard, especially when I focus on knowing what God has in store for my future instead of on just knowing Him. When I focus more on my life than on my relationship with God I end up with only fear and doubt. Those are the times I chose not to follow, when I decide to wait when I should go. However, when I focus on God trust and devotion grow from my desire to know Him. Then I act like His disciples did. When He calls I follow.

His Power in My Weakness

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 1 Corinthians 12:9-10

I look at the lives of my Christian friends and see incredible people filled with joy and love. Men and women of God who are so filled with the Spirit of God that it overflows into everything they do. When I see God working through them in wonderful and amazing ways I’m overjoyed they are experiencing God so fully. However, sometimes I’m discouraged that I don’t always feel the way everyone else seems to.

Instead of always feeling blessed by God, I just feel broken. Despite knowing in my head that through Christ I am redeemed, I sometimes feel hopeless instead of hopeful. I’m just as sinful and broken as I’ve ever been. How can I really be a child of God who walks in the light if everything in my life is such a mess?

I read 1 John 1:6-7 and feel dismayed. I know that I’m often not walking in the light. So I’m a liar who doesn’t live out the truth or fellowship with God? How can I feel anything but miserable?

Fortunately, the chapter does not end there. It goes on in verse 8 and 9 to say that anyone who claims to be without sin deceives himself and if we confess our sins God is faithful; he forgives and purifies us. I can still have joy, because it is in my weakness, when I feel most broken, God shows his power. He shows His power to forgive even the worst parts of me and His power to make me new. I rejoice because God not only forgives me, but is also turning me into something beautiful.

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Frozen Trail Mix Bars

This is a great, easy treat to make during these hot summer months. The original recipe can be found here

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Ingredient:

2 C Greek yogurt

1 ½ C chopped fruit (I used apples and strawberries)

½ C chopped nuts (I used almonds flavored with coconut, which was SO delicious)

¾ C granola (oats might also work)

 

Directions:

  1. Mix the ingredients in a bowl
  2. Line pan with tin foil (I used a 9×13)
  3. Spread mixture in the pan
  4. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze
  5. Let thaw a few minutes and cut into bars.

Freezing the bars in a pan and cutting them after they froze worked, but it was a bit messy. Next time I might try to make them in an ice cube tray to avoid the mess. Enjoy!

The Best and the Worst of Paris Summer Project

 The Worst:

1. Not knowing the language was difficult. Most students spoke English, but in the suburbs, where we lived, most people only spoke French. The language barrier made it very hard to communicate and understand, which was very overwhelming, especially at the beginning.

2. Talking to students every day was exhausting. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 and 2 Corinthians 12:9 are two verses that I really identified with while I was there.238

                For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.  Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9

                But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

3. Being away from family, friends, and a familiar environment was tough. Living in a foreign country for six weeks without much communication with people back home was a challenge.

4. France is very spiritually dark and is a difficult place to do ministry.

 

The Best:

1. France is BEAUTIFUL. Pictures don’t even do it justice; it’s one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been.

2. Getting to know the 19 other people on the trip and spending time with them was a blast!

3. French students were VERY nice and polite. Meeting and getting to know them was a lot of fun.

0564. I got to learn SO much about France and French culture. There many things I learned from French students I would not have been able to learn from a book.

5. French students are very open about their beliefs and were usually very willing to tell us what they believe about God.

6. Being part of the awesome things God is doing in France was such a blessing! While we were there our team had 1080 spiritual conversations, 495 gospel conversations, and we saw 5 people accept Christ. I am so thankful God allowed me to part of that!

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Corinthians 2:1-5