Three Simple Words

“Come to me”

These are the words I hear. These are the words that Jesus has been speaking to me.

He says “come to me and I will strengthen you. Come to me and I will make you well. I will feed you. I will quench your thirst. I will fill your cup and give you eternal peace. All you need to do is come to me”.

These are three simple words that are so easy for us to grasp. They are words that we might read over in Matthew 11.28-30. We may skip over the “come to me” to read the part that says “I will give you…”. Before we can receive, we must obey.

These are three simple words where Jesus is inviting us to be intimate with Him. He wants us to share our lives with Him. Just as you may go to a best friend, husband, or mentor, Jesus wants us to seek Him. He wants you to trust Him.

These are three simple words that Jesus speaks to us in our most difficult times where we are tired and worn. When we are weak and need rest.

These are three simple words where Jesus wants us to be obedient so that He can give. In Matthew 11.28-39 Jesus says, “come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”.

He wants to give you rest. He wants to remove your heavy burdens from you. He wants to bring healing to you. These three simple word offer is a hope of seeking Jesus and exchanging our heavy laden for His easy yoke. Take hold of His light burden and find rest for your soul. Breathe in the gentleness of Jesus and breathe out your burden. Feel the release of what is holding you back.

“Come to me”, He says.

Will you obey?

https://youtu.be/rYQ5yXCc_CA

Breaking “Naan” Together

I haven’t even been in Chennai for a full week, but I feel like I have months and months of experiences to share. On our first day here, we met with a lot of people. We had to meet the director of our program and the director of our department and everyone else. I honestly do not remember everyone’s name or what their role is and why they were important for us to meet. They were all very kind and asked us how we were doing in26168935_1971788559727217_1560699438504207285_n regards to jet lag. Honestly, It was so hard for me to stay awake towards the end of the day. I could barely keep my eyes open through one of the meetings.

By the time we got back, it was only around 4PM, but I allowed myself to lay down for just a minute and ended up falling asleep. After that, we decided maybe it would be best to just try and wake up earlier in the morning. I had an apple and went to bed around 6PM and got up around 7:40AM. I did wake up at about 10PM and thought I must have slept for four days straight because of how good I slept, but I still had a lot of sleep left in me.

The next day we proceeded to meet with a lot of professors and other important faculty members of the college. We were even invited to have dinner at the Principles house. Before that, we spent the majority of the day shopping for “kurtas” to wear to our field placements. There were so many options and so many beautiful colors and designs. It was very difficult to decide which ones I liked and to stay within my budget, although we did find some decent sales!

We left in our nice new kurtas for dinner at the principle’s house a little early to take pictures of the campus and with each other. Unfortunately, as soon as we stepped outside we realized that we would definitely need to learn how to use the flash on our cameras because it was dark! It wasn’t even 7:30PM yet and it was dark. Now, I realize that at home right now it gets dark around 5PM, if not earlier. But I guess we were just thrown off by the heat and expected that because it was so hot out, the sun would stay out later. But we were wrong! It was fun trying to take pictures in the dark though!

At the dinner with the principle another group of college students from the states joined us. They were taking a class for their “Jan term”. I did not get to talk with them very much, but I did get to chat a little bit with a faculty member in the social work department and a political science professor from Appalachian State that reminded me of my favorite political science professor from home.

So now you’re probably thinking, okay that’s cool, but what about the food? Let me tell you about the food! Honestly, I was a little afraid of Indian food because I knew coming here how spicy it was going to be and how I do not tend to eat very spicy food. However, we have been full blown thrown into the Indian food and you know what? It doesn’t have to be spicy! I really enjoyed a cauliflower gravy that we had on the first day. Then again, if anyone knows me, they know how much I love my cauliflower.

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One of the most important drinks besides water that we learned about is the fresh lime soda (pictured to the left). You can get this just sweet, or sweet and salty. Ironically, most students from previous semesters have only liked it sweet, but my small group loves the salty one! I have some foods pictured about with captions on what they are. One of the most 26169676_1971789799727093_6834011385391681998_npopular food items is naan (pictured to the right). Now, if you have never tried naan, you better go find a place where you can because it is the best flat brad I have ever had.

What I have noticed about the culture is how important meals are to the community. You eat with your hands and split dishes when out to eat.

26168400_1971789489727124_456591246775005378_nThe picture to the left is chicken tendoori. The sauce in 26733962_1971789546393785_8065471813138728710_nthe middle of the plate is kind of minty, but I loved it! In the other picture, the rice dish is called biriyani and is basically rice cooked with a meat. Underneath all the rice is a giant chicken leg! The other dish is a gravy called paneer butter masala. The masala was my favorite as well. Lastly, the picture with the little silver bowl that has little white dots in it, is sauf 26219515_1971789943060412_594420738681354459_nsugar coated fennel that tastes like licorice. It is given at the end of meals, just as we would get our olive garden mints. People take them in handfuls! They were very good! At another restaurant they actually gave us mini sugar cubes too!

 

 

As much as I would like to say the food agreed with me and everything was fine, I simply cannot. You better believe that on the second night at 2:30 in the morning I was sicker than a dog. Actually, I don’t think I have ever felt so terrible before in my life. As I laid on the bathroom floor I found myself thinking, this is it. This is the end. I am going to die because I tried to be adventurous and go to India for a semester, but my weak body couldn’t handle the food.

There was also a point somewhere between laying on the bathroom floor and in my bed that I thought I would not be able to survive the full semester here. In fact, I was one Google search away from finding the cheapest flight home. It’s not exactly “whimping out” if I’m sick is it? I mean come on, health should always come first. However, despite the fact that I was letting these negative thoughts overtake my mind while I was ill, God helped me through it.

After feeling defeated (I will spare you the details), I felt like God was saying “that is what the enemy wants you to think”. I thought about this for a moment. Then realized that I shouldn’t let myself give up so easily just because I got sick within the first week. Despite the fact that it felt like I was dying, I had enough strength to recognize that God was trying to tell me that I cannot do this on my own.

I cannot just go day-by-day in this foreign land and expect to be successful. I simply do not have enough strength to carry on in a place where I have to try extra hard just to understand what someone is saying. I need a supernatural strength, a spiritual strength. It’s the same strength that God gave me to get through all of the other overseas trips I have been on. It is the same strength God gave me through all of my other college semesters.

It was like God had to take away all of my strength to show me that I need to use His to get through this semester.

I spent the majority of the next 24 hours resting and when I was not, I was in class (which was held in our room so that I could stay in bed). It was the reminder I needed to keep inviting God into my daily life. Sometimes we forget to do these things when there is so much change happening in our lives. But God wanted to remind me that despite all of the change, He is that one constant.

There is much more I can tell you about my first few days in India for the semester, but I think I will save it for the next post. What I want to leave you with is to just bask in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Remember that God is good. He is such a giving God. When we are weak, He is strong. When our lives are forever changing, He is forever the same. Where our circumstances seem to defeat us, God reigns in victory because of these truths. It may be hard, but as my best friend texted me this week “Don’t give up!”

 

Deliverance

Have you ever been held up in chains? Taken captive by the lies of the enemy? Been controlled? 

Have you ever prayed for something, devoutly, I might add, and the Lord never brought it to be? It’s not that He ever said a clear “no”, but just led your life in another direction. Or, maybe He did say “no”, but you don’t want to let go of that desire. But in the midst of actually trying to make an effort to let that desire go, or maybe for the chains to be broken, you are tempted to continue praying for it. After all, we are told in scripture to have faith of a mustard seed right? 

This is something I have been going through. 

Let’s start with a Bible passage. If you have the word of God near you, please open it to Matthew 4. Read verses 1-11. In this passage, Jesus is drawn into the wilderness by the Spirit… to be tempted by the Devil. 

I know what you are thinking because I am thinking it to… what the devil? why would the Spirit draw Jesus to the wilderness for that particular reason? We will get to that in a moment, but continue reading with me. 

Jesus fasts for forty days and forty nights. Then, Satan comes along and begins to tempt Him. The first thing to notice here is that the Devil calls Jesus by His identity. He recognizes that Jesus is the “Son of God”. Interestingly, in the last verses of Matthew chapter 3 after Jesus is baptized the voice from Heaven says “This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3.17). Take note of the fact that the Devil knows who Jesus is. 

Then, the Devil goes on to say, “command these stones to become loaves of bread” (vs. 3). Jesus responds by the one thing He knows by heart (literally). He states, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (vs. 4). 

Recognizing that Jesus was not going to fall into that specific temptation, he tries again. What he does next is risky on his part. He quotes scripture thinking that it will most definitely get Jesus to stumble. He takes Jesus up to this very high point and tells him to jump off. He says, “He will command his angels concerning you,” and “on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone” (vs. 6).

Jesus, was not having any of this. Knowing the Word and the heart of the Father, Jesus states, “Again, it is written, ‘you shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (vs. 7). Satan was not giving up just yet. 

He took Jesus to the top of a very tall mountain that overlooked kingdoms and cities. He told Jesus that if He bowed down to worship him, he would give Him all the kingdoms. But, our faithful Jesus responds with, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘you shall worship the Lord your God and Him only shall you serve’” (vs. 10). 

Then, the Devil gave up, recognizing that Jesus was not going to give into the temptation.

So, back to my introduction questions. . .

When you feel bound up in chains, or when you are trying to “let go” of that one desire  the Lord is clearly saying is not for you, do you ever feel tempted? 

When the Devil tries to tempt you does it sound somewhat familiar to what he said to Jesus? 

He may say, “if you are a son/daughter of Jesus” or “if your God really is all powerful” then “can’t He makes this happen?” or “then why would He withhold something so ‘good’ from you?”. 

This is true. God is all powerful and can do the impossible (Matthew 19.26). But maybe your impossible is not getting this one thing you have been praying for. Maybe your impossible is setting your eyes to Jesus and letting go so that God can bless you in other ways. 

Friends, the enemy is just as relentless as God. He knows who you serve. He knows who he’s up against Heck, he knows your name. If he can recognize that Jesus is the Son of Man, then He knows you are a child of God too. And sure enough, he’s going to use that to his advantage. After all, doesn’t it sound more appealing when someone calls you by your identity or name then just “hey kid”? 

Another important thing that we need to look at in this scripture and how we can apply it to our own lives is how Jesus responds to Satan each time. Jesus is consistently responding with the Word of God. He’s not just pulling some random knowledge out of nowhere, nope, He’s quoting the very word of God. Specifically, He pulls scripture from Deuteronomy 8.2 in verse 4, Isaiah 7.12 in verse 7, and Deuteronomy 6.13. 

Do you know what is so significant about the Word of God? Look at Ephesians 6. In this chapter, Paul is telling the church of Ephesus to put on the armor of God, because they are going into battle. Not a battle with flesh and blood, but a spiritual battle (Ephesians 6.12). Throughout verses 14 to 17, Paul is telling them to put on things that will protect them, a belt, a breastplate, shoes, and to carry a shield. But lastly, he states to pick up the sword. This is what they will be doing their battling with. It is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (vs. 17). 

Jesus used His sword when battling the temptations of the Devil. He is setting a perfect example of what and how we are supposed to overcome and begin to step into deliverance. 

Now, back to the reason Jesus was led into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. Do you remember in the Old Testament where the Israelites were delivered from Egypt? If not, please glance over Exodus 14. In this chapter, Moses parts the Red Sea and the Israelites are led into freedom. 

You may recall, however, that things were not “la-dee-da” fine and dandy after that. They were promised this land of milk and honey. But, they were disobedient to the law of the Lord and led into the wilderness for 40 years (woah, that’s a long time). They still had a hard time gripping this concept of the Ten Commandments. They continued to live in their sin, casting up idols and worshiping other gods. In other words, they were unsuccessful in being tempted by the Devil. 

That is why Jesus, the perfect image, the Son of Man, the one that reconciles us to the Father, had to go into the wilderness before starting His ministry. He had to be victorious because the Israelites could not. 

With all of that being said, friends, we are all going to be tempted. We are all going to be thrown into the wilderness, there’s no doubt about it. How we respond is the key. We need to pick up our armor, including our swords, and fight this battle before us. And we can pray the part in the Lord’s prayer that states “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”, knowing that Jesus already reigns in victory! 

Saturate Me

// October 16 //

I know I have missed the past four days or so of blogging, but the truth is, I really have not made time for it. I let other things become the priority instead. But I guess we all slip into that at some point in our lives don’t we?

It’s a human thing really.

Today, I turn 21. It is my 21st year of being on this Earth that God created. 21 years of breathing, eating, sleeping… It feels like just yesterday my best friend and I were driving after a shopping trip saying how crazy it was that we just turned 16 and could drive ourselves.

The thing is, I never really looked at my birthday as a start of a new year or anything like that. Not like we do New Year’s. I’ve never really thought to myself that I had a goal before I turn the next set of digits and get another year older. But this year I was challenged to look at things differently.

This thought may have come up just because I am reflecting on who I was a year ago. I look back and see how much I have grown- both spiritually and personally. I look at the picture of who celebrated my birthday with me then and compare it to the friends I have plans with tonight- they are all the same. There is something about consistency in relationships despite personal change that really speaks to my heart.

It reminds me of our individual relationships with God.

Even though I am someone completely different then who I was exactly one year ago today, my friends are still the same people and those relationships have deepened.

In scripture we are constantly reminded that Christ is making us like Him in His image. He is working us to complete perfection for when we are to enter the gates of Heaven and see Him face-to-face. But despite our growth and changes, in an constantly changing world, God is always there with us. In fact, we even grow closer to Him. It is such a breath of relief to know that.

I have never set a goal for myself between birthdays, but this year I am going to. It’s not a goal like lose amount of pounds, less Netflix and chill, or stop spending so much money on unnecessary Starbucks. It’s a goal that actually has no end. It’s a lifelong goal, but I am setting in expectation that I will see growth in one year from today.

This next year, I want to grow spiritually. I want to be taken into the throne room with my Jesus.  I want to see HIS face and hear HIS voice. I want to be covered in HIS blood everyday of this next year and to recognize HIM. I want to be a person of peace that has faith in the LORD. I want to be saturated in the Spirit.

It’s not about being a certain amount of spiritual. It’s about becoming closer to Jesus, my Beloved and my Friend. I want to be so close to Him that I don’t miss a thing He has for me. I want to be so immersed in all that He has for me that I stop worrying about my future plans and finances, but give up control and trust in Him.

I want to know Him as the Good Shepherd, the Lord of Hosts, and my Beloved.

Isn’t this something you desire to? Don’t you want to be intimate with the one that created you? Think about it, we have the opportunity to be in unity and relationship with the creator of the entire universe- doesn’t that make you want to just seek HIM?

He is the only King that literally left His throne to die for us. He loved us that much. I want to love like Jesus. I want to be saturated in that love more and more each day.

Psalm 73.23-24 reminds us of Jesus constantly being with us:

Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.

Friends, family, brothers and sisters in Christ, people on the other side of the world that may be reading this, join me in seeking our Father in Heaven with all that is within me. Let’s be saturated in the Lord together.

Step Out 

// October  11 & 12 // 

I am aware that I completely missed October 11. To be honest, I did not know what to write about. I sat in the prayer room digging through my thick pool of topics, but nothing intrigued me. In fact, I actually ended up falling asleep. I am going to attempt to incooperate both days into one. 

First, I woke up Wednesday morning at 5:30 am to be at work on time. You can bet your bottom dollar that the first thought that went through my mind was “Lord, please let them send me home early”. Well, God answered that prayer and I got to leave two hours early! It was such a blessing and gave me time to rest from being sick. 

Today, I accomplished a personal goal. A few months ago some friends and I that were brought together with the likemindedness of missions gathered around two small tables at the smallest Starbucks I have ever been to to talk about things we could do to spread missions on our college campus. I had this idea of asking students that had been on a missions trip or had cross-cultural engagement experience to speak to other students and share. 

I didn’t think it would ever happen because our missions club fell through for the semester. But God gave me another outlet- through the cross-cultural engagement office that I work at. When I told my boss, he was all for it. 

I began contacting people, applying for it to be a spiritual-formation opportunity (so students grt credit for being there), and just asking the Lord to guide the evening. Well, tonight it finally happened. 

Now, let me tell you, usually when I am trying to lead something or put on an event of some sort, I get aggravated easily when things don’t go as planned or when people don’t respond. But this time was different. I felt so calm about peaceful about it. When a student told me last minute they couldn’t speak, I quickly prayed and God provided another. 

I wasn’t nervous speaking in front of a small group of people, but I actually enjoyed it. The best part, however, was hearing the students speak about their experiences and how God shaped their hearts and lives from the trips they took. It truly was an incredible experience and I am honored that the Lord allowed me to help plan it. 

That being said, I want to encourage you to step out. Take that leap of faith. Trust the Lord with your dreams. He is BIGGER and MIGHTIER than all of your dreams. Know that if you submit to Him, He will bless you greatly and make your dreams come true. 

When we lean on the Lord and show Him our dependence for Him, He opens doors and uses us in ways we never imagined possible. Three years ago if you asked me, I would never have thought I’d even be capable or adequate to put on an event like this. The Lord can take those insecurities and reign in victory over them! 

Step out my friends! Step out! Just like Peter, we too can walk on water when we fix our eyes on JESUS. We just need to step out! 

“Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. Matthew 14.19