My Unspoken Spoken Word

Well, I started writing this a few months ago, and quite honestly forgot about it until today. I finished it, maybe? Is art ever truly finished? It doesn’t rhyme, so sorry about that. ¬†Theology goobs, you’ll like this. ūüôā

Please, Stott. I just Kant, Immanuel.

Theology so cracked out it makes me want to Barth, Karl.

Coming from every direction, false hopes being spread like butter on bread to people searching for affection. Searching for truth. But deceit and lies flowing from the lips of Lex, Luther.

Shaking inside, knowing Christ’s love for all, makes me want to look in the face of deceit and scream, “Berkhoff Satan.”

We need restoration and redemption I Begg, a Resurgence if you will, from top to bottom, Spurgeon all these false hopes, dreams and uncertainties of ¬†who we are meant to live for. And just…. Just give them Jesus.

Let’s pull a Studd and run from the Bell to run a rescue mission as close to hell as we’ll ever get, Christian.

Gather the saints, elevate the truth that God is Here and Now and Jesus is Lord. He is the way, the truth and the life. He made us, formed us to be like him and to know him. When he looks at us, I imagine him to say, “I Grudem.”

And Calvary, a joy so full in such a sorrowful day. When Jesus died for me (and you) so that we can know Him.

This ain’t no Calvin and Hodge comic strip. The urgency is real. If eternal life is found in Christ, and there are¬†one billion people having yet to hear the name of Jesus let alone the hope He offers, what are we doing?

Get in the Carson, take the Ottobahn, put the pedal to the metal and spread the gospel to all the nations so that one day people from every tribe, tongue and nation can…

Gather the Piper and sing praises to His holy name and be Soren on wings like eagles. Sproul‘d out, arms high in abandonment to the one true King, the Lord of Lords who forever reigns, Jesus Christ.

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David Platt is My HeartSong.

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Okay, okay. I’m a little late jumping on the “Let’s celebrate David Platt becoming the new President of the IMB” train, but I’d like to say that as always, I’m fashionably late. This was the best move the IMB could have done. He’s great for the job. So, now you know where I stand…¬†*SIDENOTE: The whole “my heartsong” is an inside joke with some Cru girls. I’m not in love with David Platt. I’m in love with someone else named Jesus of Nazareth, have you heard of him?

David Platt isn’t afraid to cast a big vision and boldly challenge the church in areas of missional involvement. He’s most known for his book “Radical,” and that he is. But you know what? I love it. While there is this “avant garde” feel to the Radical movement, truly, he’s just pulling us back to the foundations of our faith and what God has called us to.

We can see, and I can’t remember who said it (Al Mohler?), that in America there’s a market for Prosperity Gospel Theology because we create that market. It’s simple supply and demand. In general, our US churches have gotten so caught up in “American-ifying” Jesus that He doesn’t resemble the God of the Bible nor is he even remotely applicable to people in other countries. The real Jesus is for everyone.

A friend, called Cobylicious, was talking about how they were doing outreach in a third world country and dozens of kids gave their lives to the Lord only to come back disappointed the next day because their houses still had holes in the roofs and they were still poor. That’s what they had grown up hearing about Jesus. Believe in Him and you’ll be rich. You will, just not in the earthly sense of things.

One thing I think David Platt does a good job at is communicating the urgency of the gospel going forth-the life changing, eternity directing HOPE of the gospel. He sees the need for laborers to go out to reach people who have not heard. People who are praying to gods that cannot see, cannot hear and most of all cannot save. And instead of being in the despair of that, David Platt sees our (the church’s) specific need to be a part of missions and challenges us to let go of the “here and the now” so that nations can be “there in the end”.

David Platt, congratulations on the IMB position. I am hopeful God will stir hearts through your leadership and while the harvest is plentiful, many more laborers will answer the call to go to the nations.

 

Pink Sunsets and Africa

NEWSTAFFTRAININGCRUAlthough we’ve only really known each other for about 3 weeks, Elise and I ebb and flow together pretty well. We generally keep each other grounded to some extent. Well, last week was not one of those weeks. You see, we’re currently taking two Master’s level theology courses in two weeks. [Sidenote: help?]. It’s a lot of reading, a lot of studying, great projects, and very little sleep [ESTJ PROBS]. During this hellacious (um, maybe not the most appropriate word to describe our classes) prepatory training, we had a few minor [relative] spaz-oid moments. I was stressing; she was stressing too. We kind of fueled each other’s anxious flames… especially the day we got our placements, which will have to wait until another blog post.

Well, amid the glorious ruin of IBS classes, we made a great decision. While feeling a little¬†[also relative] stressed with all of our assignments, we thought, “Let’s go down and read by the water!” On our way down, we see these two men and their dogs. I looked at Elise and said, “I just need to play with a dog for like five minutes. I’m going to pet that dog.” So I did.

As I was receiving much needed pet therapy, we struck up conversation with these two older men about life, Florida, Chattanooga, and Atlanta. It came up in conversation [or maybe I just always miss Africa and love talking about it so I inserted it in there…] that I lived in Africa. We talked a little bit about what I did there, Senegal, and how they needed to bypass all other American Dreams, sell all their possessions and just go ahead and move to Africa [what’s life without a little adventure, right?]. Okay, so maybe I didn’t pressure them into selling everything, I did recommend visiting Senegal for mass amounts of time [nama naleen torop!].

Towards the end of the conversation, when the sun was setting, the man on the left said, “Do you know why sunsets here are pink?” Being a person who is baffled at the fact that the technology exists that can tell us at what moment the sun will set, I have no idea as to why the sunsets colors are the colors they are. Bypassing the first answer that popped into my mind, “Jeeessuuuss..”, I respond inquiringly, “Why?” He then leans in to tell me, almost like a secret, “Africa.”

“The sunsets here are affected by the heat and dust that comes off the Sahara belt. It makes our sunsets pink.”

Be still my wildly beating heart…

I walked away from that conversation enamored by God’s specific love for me. Of all the people I could have run into [’cause let’s be honest, Florida is full of old people with dogs…] God placed these two men there. As Elise and I were sitting by the water and the sun was setting, I slipped deeper and deeper in love with my Savior. He sees me. He sees my heart.

He knows that part of me is and will always be there. He knows the depth of my heart that cried out, “Why?” when we saw so few students giving their lives to Christ. He reminds me almost daily that while I love Senegalese people, He loves them more. He beckons me with every pink sunset to pray for lives within the 10/40 window to move from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of His glorious Son.

And being faithful, He will act.

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To A New Creation.

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One of the things that I love about the Lord is His faithfulness. He is so steadfast in His pursuit of us; He never waivers. This is an indescribably hard character trait to fully grasp since even in our most dire efforts, we can only copy His faithfulness. Our best efforts at reproducing this quality resemble a parrot mimicking his master. While with His help we can reflect His faithfulness, His faithfulness is always more steadfast, more pure, and more full than ours. Daily, I’m left wondering how He is so faithful. But He is. Always.

I have had several conversations over the past week that made me think, “Lord, you are so good and so faithful to me.” I want to share a little bit about one of those conversations, and how I am seeing His faithfulness at every stage of life.

To A New Creation

I chatted the other day with an ex-boyfriend [I know, first mistake right?] that I dated way before I became a Christian. He was asking a lot of really great questions about faith, life, and the different lifestyle I live now that I’m a follower of Christ. He made some kind of comment, that I believe was genuine, and to the tune of, “I just can’t see a free-spirit like you ever being caged to something like Christianity.” As I tried to explain the freedom that’s only offered in Christ, it hit me. The way that I used to live (getting plastered every night, doing occasional drugs, and other things we won’t address here) was his view of self-liberation. And it made me so sad.

I started praying through our conversation and just got so overwhelmed with the fact that even at those moments or utter rebellion, God saw me and was merciful enough to withhold so many consequences that my actions merited. As uncomfortable as this conversation was in some ways, the Lord was allowing me to remember where my future, hopes and dreams were before meeting Him. I was enslaved to sin. I was an addict of finding people’s approval to the extent of being walked all over in so many ways. I was not only caged, but I was dead. ¬†There’s only so long that “lifestyle” could have gone on before something happened.

I am so incredibly thankful that the something that happened was that the Lord stepped in and redeemed my life. As I sat there reflecting on a conversation that would generally make a lot of people frustrated, I just wept out of thankfulness!  It could not have been orchestrated any better. I just marvel at the work of the Lord in composing all the round about ways that I would come to know Him. He was faithful to me before I even knew Him. He is faithful to me today to answer my prayers in such sweet ways that draw me closer to Him.

I am thankful for my mom urging me to go to UTC. I am thankful for Andy W. and Doug B. who introduced me to Paul and Jason. I’m thankful for Megan H. who dragged me to the Cru Bible studies the first few times. And I am eternally grateful to my spiritual father, Paul, for laying down his rights and making Christ known to college students.

Y’all this is the reminder that I need, daily. Christ not only changes lives, He is the author of life. That life we thought we had before was counterfeit, a sad replicate, to what Christ offers. There’s true freedom, joy so deep, genuine acceptance and everlasting hope found in Jesus. That’s the message I am excited to bring to college students stateside.

He is faithful and true. His love endures forever.

The Surprising Sovereignty of God

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Sometimes I am shocked by God’s sovereignty. It shouldn’t surprise me, but it really does every time I experience Him as my sovereign Lord. It sets me back a little bit in humility thinking, “Wow, Jesus! You care that much to show up in my life in THOSE details and in THAT way.” It just really does amaze me.

Tonight I sat down to spend some time with the Lord and just began to pray. I am on steroids that have been dubbed as made by Satan himself, so I have been feeling so moody, grouchy, hungry all the time, and struggling with insomnia. [Sidenote: Prednisone, you’re horrible]. I sat down to pray about my emotions and really wanting to push through those to meet God in a sweet time of worship through the word. Over and over I kept hearing, “Feelings and experiences do not equal truth.” That’s odd. But thanks for that Jesus, I guess.

But you know what? I needed to hear that. I struggle, really, with projecting emotions and past experiences onto other people and God. And as a result, I have a hard time believing God’s word.

I started to look at a journal from STINT and was encouraged by the entry for April 29, 2013. It was on the miracles of Jesus in Matthew 11. It noted that we can know and trust that Jesus was the messiah because He fulfilled every prophecy concerning the promised savior. I was so excited to read that, “Matthew 11- evidence Jesus gives that he is the promised Messiah: blind receive sight, deaf hear, lame walk, dead are raised, poor in spirit have good news. Isaiah 61:1-3. In all these miracles, we see Jesus is reversing and undoing the impacts of Genesis 3.”

I began reading where my ESV yearly devotion left off, in Isaiah 30. I began reading about Judah not trusting the Lord’s promise to save them from the.. ugh.. history is so not my thing. Assyrians? Anyways, instead of trusting the Lord, they rebelled. They sought out protection from tangible allies (ie Egypt. Less we forget, God had to rescue them from the Egyptians via Moses). They ran back into the arms of oppression due to fear and lack of trust. They allowed their emotions to steer them away from trusting the Lord.

Depressing right? Well, it gets better.

I continued reading in verse 15, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength…” The Lord had already promised protection and deliverance. He’s asking them to trust Him. Repent. Trust. Be still and know.

I continued reading and then all of the sudden something clicks. In the promises of God from verses 19 onward, we see something eerily (probably not the best word) similar to Matthew 11.

[19] “You will weep no longer. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry, when He hears it, He will answer you.” The deaf hear…

[20] “…He your teacher will no longer hide himself, but your eyes will behold your teacher.” The blind receive sight…

[21] “Your ears will hear a word behind you, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’….” The deaf hear, the lame walk…

[29] “You will have songs as in the night when you keep the festival. And gladness of heart when one marches to the sound of the flute, to go to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel…” The poor in spirit will have good news…

Amazing.

The soverign God of the universe, who holds all things together, orchestrated this time together with me. I am just so amazed at how the Lord speaks to us and sees us. How funny is it that this was my reading for today and it aligned with something I read while living in Africa exactly one year ago today. Amazing.

Is He speaking to you today? If so, comment below with how! ūüôā

The Longest Plan of Salvation, Like Ever.

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I’m a details kind of gal. I can’t help it. I blame it on my ADD. Mom used to say that when she would ask me to clean a room, she’d come back 45-minutes later to see the room looking like a disaster. But let me tell you, the window panels were cleaner than the day we got them. I’ve always been like that. I tend to be very focused on the details that make up the big picture.

When I sit down to study scripture, I am the same way. I spent about nine months in the book of Colossians, daily dissecting every single word in the book. I have to remind myself before studying to read the book fully first. I have to see the big picture, so I won’t miss the forest for the trees.

Today I sat down to study Romans. Lord bless it. I was in 1:1-4 for two and a half hours. I love connecting with the Lord that deeply, but I know (time wise) that’s not sustainable for everyday life. I wanted to share some thoughts on how cool these verses are:

1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our lord,

Why are these verses important?

It’s important because it sets up verses 5-6. Well, and all of Romans concerning God’s plan of salvation.

I tried to sum up what these verses were saying. Here’s what I got, “The gospel of God was promised by God through His prophets in the OT. The gospel was always about Jesus-who was a descendant of David in the flesh and the Son of God in power, proven by his resurrection.”

Why are the Prophecies important? 

I thought to myself, “Why is it so crucial that Paul is confirming Christ’s fulfillment of prophecy to the church in Rome?”

One reason, I think, was to reaffirm that YHWH, the Lord our God, is the one true God and is sovereign over all creation. Looking back at the early Roman church, most of the people there were gentiles having come from a long line of polytheism. It’s essential to point out that there is only one God and He has made a way for redemption.

One cool thing is that these verses show is that Jesus Christ dying for the sins of man and conquering death through resurrection was God’s plan of redemption from the beginning of time. It wasn’t a “Whoops! Let’s see how this turns out and if I like this generation I’ll choose to save them, and if not oh well!” kind of thing. This was His plan because of who God is. The Lord’s character is consistent and has been since the beginning of time. His plan attests to that.

From cover to cover, we see that this was God’s plan and He has been faithful to complete it for His glory.We can see in Genesis that it is God’s plan for Jesus to crush the head of the serpent. In Revelation, we see Christ’s second coming and conquering sin, death and Satan for all eternity. It’s the same promises in all of scripture for all time that are all fulfilled by Christ. We know this to be true because of 2 Corinthians 1:20.¬†There is not one promise that He has made that is not fulfilled in Christ.

These verses in Romans help show God’s goodness and His steadfastness to creation for thousands of years. And y’all, something I struggle with and fight to believe in? The fulfillment of His promises (that have already been fulfilled and will be fulfilled in Christ) are in no way dependent on me or my works. His plan for salvation was never “If you’re good enough, I’ll send a savior.” It was His plan to send a savior, and He is accomplishing it for His glory through which we benefit from that grace. It’s not about me. That’s a humbling position to be in.

Where in the OT is Jesus prophesied about?

Firstly, who even claimed (besides Paul) that the prophets were talking about Jesus? Well, in Luke 24, Jesus claims that!

In regards to the prophetic books, I don’t know about you, but I only ever really think about Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and Isaiah. I think of all those verses that we look at around Christmas about the birth of Jesus. I looked it up in my ESV Study Bible (Thanks Steph Norris!) and found that there are former prophets, minor prophets and the main four everyone typically thinks of. And you know what’s cool, if you add up all the prophetic books in the OT, there are 22 in the OT. We all know, thanks to the help of the Jesus Storybook Bible, that all the stories in the Bible are about Jesus. It doesn’t matter if they are a “prophetic book” or not. But what is so cool is that the promises of the prophets in the OT are concerning His son, Jesus. That’s really cool! 22/36 books in the OT testify to Christ’s coming. Awesome.

Just to encourage you today that the gospel is God’s plan for salvation from the beginning of time, here’s a few verses I found in the OT that encouraged my heart that this whole Christianity thing isn’t made up. It’s too consistently true over mass amounts of time to be a lie.

Micah 5, Isaiah 53, Isaiah 42:1-9, Daniel 7:13-14 (cf. Mark 14:61-62 and Rev. 19:11-16).

Respond

One thing I think we can do as we reflect on these verses is ask God to make this truth deep to us. Worship Him that it is true and seek to dig deeper into His gospel of Grace, Mercy and Redemption.

He’s so good, y’all.

 

SkyBridge Blog: 7 Tips to Prepare for Purposeful Living Overseas

I always get so excited when I get published on other places, well you know, other than my own blog. 

I HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED!!

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I figured all you beautiful 62 followers needed the link to be able to read this post I wrote for an online community of expats and ex-expats. Check it out HERE. Let me know what you think. 

XOXO

Mary Lou