Friday, December 20, 2013

An Offense to Christ

As I sat in my bed this morning, sipping my chai latte (THM approved, of course), a couple verses came back to my mind that I read this last Wednesday. I meditated on them a little then, but they still kept lingering in my mind.

Wednesday morning, I was laying on a bench in my chiropractor's office, receiving stem treatment to my knee, which I recently sprained. Since I just had to lay there for 15 minutes, I pulled out my phone. I have a daily Bible verse app on my phone, and so read the verse for the day. Then I decided that since I was just laying there, I'd pull up the whole chapter and start reading it. The chapter was Matthew 16. When I got to these verses, they really grabbed a hold on my heart.

Matthew 16:23-24 --- "But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."

I never noticed the second half of verse 23. Read it again:

"Thou art an offense unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men."

Even if you don't read the rest of the chapter, this small fragment of the verse is enough to pierce into the very heart of any Christian. Why? Why should this pierce my heart so?

Because I have so often chosen to follow my flesh, instead of my spirit. How many times have I chosen to not read my Bible first thing in the morning? How many times have I chosen to just dive into the day, without so much as a prayer to God, asking for His strength? 

Here are some other things to think about...

Is there anything in your life that is not pleasing to the Lord?
Does your dress reflect the way that God would want you to dress, or does it reflect a sense of worldliness?
What about your music?
What about your friendships?
What about your boyfriend/girlfriend relationship?
What about my thoughts? Do they please the Lord?
And the list could go on and on. 

The word savor here means to:
excercise the mind, entertain, or have a sentiment or opinion; to be mentally disposed; to interest oneself in; set the affection on...

My point is this: Whenever we set our affection on, or make an interest in anything that is of the world, and choose those things over what God wants for us, we are an offense to Christ
You hear those words? They sting to me...
To think that I have offended Christ. Why should I ever want to offend my precious Savior, who sacrificed Heaven's glory, and took upon Himself the lowly form of a servant, and suffered the worse death possible? And all of this He did for YOU and ME
I know there have been so many times when I have been an offense to Christ. But praise the Lord that He is ready and faithful to forgive, if we simply ask. And despite the many times we become an offense to Christ, He still goes on loving us, and doesn't hold it against us (which doesn't that say something about the way that we should treat others?). 

So how do we keep from becoming an offense to Christ?
The next verse says it: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."
The paralleling verse in Luke says "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me."

On a daily basis, we need to live as if we are basically dead. Because anyone carrying a cross knew that they were on their way to die the most gruesome death possible. 

Wait....What? Live as if we were dead? How is that possible?

I am reminded of another favorite verse of mine. Galatians 2:20 "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."

To take up our cross daily is to crucify our flesh. Kill our own desires. With every decision we make throughout the day, we might ask ourselves:
Does this please Christ? 
Would Jesus be doing this right now? 
Is this choosing the things of the world, over the things of God?

So, as Christmas comes, I really do want to give Christ something for His birthday. I want to give Him of my whole heart. This will not be easy, and I know I will fail at it so many times. But I know that Jesus is also right beside me to help me up, and to hold my hand, as I choose to make Christ first. 

This has just been the words that have been pouring from my heart, and from what Christ is working on in my life right now. I pray that it can be helpful to you as you strive to make Christ the center of your life. 

I pray that you have a very merry, and Christ-centered CHRISTmas, as we celebrate the Savior who was born to die for us! Be sure to thank Christ for His unspeakable gift to us, that very first Christmas. 

Redeemed by Jesus' blood,
Faith Christine 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Taiwan -- A Place I Love

I never did post anything on my blog about my trip to Taiwan. In fact, I really haven't uploaded very many pictures to Facebook of my trip either, and it has been five months since I returned from Taiwan. Despite this, I have been thinking a LOT about Taiwan, especially within the last month or two. My heart longs to return to what I felt was my second home. My trip to Taiwan was such a special time. The Lord taught me a lot of lessons on that trip. But also, I discovered how much I really loved Taiwan, and how much I felt right at home being there, and serving the people there. I don't know if Taiwan is somewhere that God is calling me to later in life, after I'm married or while I'm still single. But I do know that Taiwan, and the people there, found a special place in my heart, that I just really can't explain. So this will just be a short post, but I wanted to post a couple of pictures that will maybe help you understand why I miss/love Taiwan so much. So here's why I love Taiwan:

Small Chinese children sitting in my lap makes me happy, even if I can't talk to them very much.

Finding random cute kids on a long train ride, and trying to make friends with them.

Winning their hearts, and having them sit in your lap.

An accountability group who actually wants to hear how you are doing. This was the best group ever!

Opportunities to teach the children important lessons, in creative ways, while pausing so someone can translate.

Random opportunities to play "Orange Blossom Special" in the middle of the street in Taiwan, just because you can, and because there is a random man standing there playing his violin, who willingly allows you to play it.

An awesome group of classmates that flew all the way from America with you.

Awesome team of teachers, translators, and coordinators (this is just one group from one week).
I definitely miss Taiwan, and pray that the Lord will grant me the opportunity to go back some day. But even if that is not in His plan for me, I know that I will always have a special place in my heart for Taiwan, and a place for Taiwan in my prayers.

Have a blessed week! Hope you enjoyed just a taste of Taiwan! Hopefully some time, I'll post some detailed blog posts about Taiwan. Stay strong in Jesus, and have a blessed day in the Lord's house tomorrow!

Because of Jesus' Blood,
Faith Christine
Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 15:10

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Waiting on God

A soon-to-be cousin of mine posted a link to this blog. I don't know if I can fully endorse the whole blog, but I definitely agree with everything in this one post.
I know girls who sadly throw themselves at the first guy that comes along. They don't think about the long-term consequences of marriage. As this article states, aside from salvation, marriage is one thing that will change your life forever. But many people don't go into marriage with that mindset. Girls, it is really important to wait upon the Lord and His timing. I love this quote that I read:

"When God has called you to wait, it is because what He is doing during the waiting time is necessary for the best outcome."

That is so true. Girls, if God has you single right now, it is because He is preparing you, and/or He is preparing your future husband for you. If you are trusting God with your future, God has a special reason for you being single. 

Last weekend, I attended the Radiant Purity conference, taught by Sarah Mally. While I "knew" everything they were teaching, since I attended the conference last year, it was good to be reminded and encouraged to wait on God's perfect timing. I loved what Sarah Mally had to say about the purpose of our lives.

"The purpose of our lives is not to get married. The purpose of our lives is to glorify God."

So important for me to remember. Now that I'm 20, I can't help but wonder even more than before when God is going to bring "that guy" for me. But, I have to remember that my purpose in life is NOT to get married. My purpose in life is to glorify my Creator and Redeemer. He gave His life for me, so why should I not give my life to Him for His glory?
Before this conference, I had already determined that I didn't want to get married unless I could serve God better married than I could single. To hear Sarah, who is 34 and still single, say that was a huge impact on me. This is not to say that I want to wait until I'm in my 30's to get married. If the Lord wills, I would like to be married within the next five years. But I don't know that that is in God's plan for me, and if that doesn't bring the most glory to God, and if God can use me better as a single young woman, then I would rather stay single. This heart attitude has definitely been very difficult for me to come to. But I know that it is better to be single, serving the Lord, and happy, than to be married and miserable.
Something else Sarah said really stuck out to me:

"God is not going to keep us single one day longer than we are supposed to be single."

How true that statement is! God knows better what His plan is for us than we do! As long as I am single, God has a plan for my life! I have only to submit to His beautiful plan for my life, and He will fulfill it.
I am to be a waitress. A waitress does not stand around doing nothing. She walks around finding ways that she can serve, because that is what her employer wants her to do. The idea of "wait on the Lord" (as in Psalm 27:14) means that while I am waiting for God to bring the next phase of my life, I am serving Him, and serving others. I love this mindset of being a waitress, and pray that the Lord continues to remind me that this is my calling for right now.
So I write all of this mainly to encourage other young ladies. But, it can most definitely apply to young men. If we are following God's call for us right now, and keep walking down the path that He has for our lives, eventually our paths will cross with the person we are supposed to spend the rest of our life with. Our paths will join, and we will continue down the path together, running for the prize of the high calling in Christ Jesus.

I encourage you all, "Wait on the Lord, be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." (Psalm 27:14). God has a beautiful plan for each of us, if only we will trust Him and submit to Him. If we try to write our own story, or if we jump at the first person that takes an interest in us, or we are interested in, then we could mess up the beautiful plan that God has for our life. Not to say that God is not sovereign over everything, because He will even use our mistakes to fulfill His ultimate plan. But we do have a free will, and we must submit that will to the Will of God for our lives, and allow Him to write our story for us. Relinquish the pen to the great Author. He will write a story for you more beautiful than you could imagine.

Just some thoughts for tonight. I pray that you will take them to heart, and allow God to work His beautiful plan in your life. Stay strong in Jesus! Trust always in Him, and He will direct your path.

Because of Jesus' Blood,
Faith Christine
Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 15:10

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

20 years

20 years....
Out to dinner for my 20th birthday

God has allowed me to live on this earth for 20 years now. Each new year that the Lord grants me, I know is a huge blessing.
Last Wednesday, July 3rd, I turned 20 years old. It's such a surreal feeling. I know some of you who have come to and left this point already probably think I'm silly, but to me it just seems so unreal.
I have been thinking back over the last 20 years (okay, so as many as I can actually remember), and thinking of all the lessons God has taught me, with the last six years being the most significant. Six years ago, I attended the Journey to the Heart, and it changed my life forever. And out of the last six years, this last year especially has been a time of huge change in my life, and in my walk with the Lord.
I remember last summer having feelings of discontentment and anxiousness: anxious to get married (yes, at only 19). Not completely content where God had placed me. I had so many things that I was holding on to, of which I needed to let go. I am amazed at the work that God has done in my life just since last summer, and that He continues to do.
This last year, He has taught me...

Surrender
Trust
Patience
Contentment

I have definitely not perfected these things, but I find myself perfectly content where I am right now. I have surrendered my future into God's hands, and I trust Him completely with my future. Recent circumstances showed me that trying to write my own story was not worth it, and that I'd only end up making a disaster of my life. So who better to let write my story than Someone who is perfect?
I am also finding myself falling deeply in-love with Jesus. Wow...He continues to amaze me more and more every day, and I find myself falling deeper and deeper into an intimate relationship with Him. He has become my true source of joy. He is my contentment. He has provided for all of my needs. It is because of Jesus that I am the woman that I am today.
Because I have found such a deep love for Jesus, I'm not anxious anymore about getting married. I only want that to come if it will further deepen my love for the Lord, and if I can serve Him better married than I can single. I have learned that life is all about Him. It's all about bringing glory to Christ. Now when tempted to sin, I think to myself "but I love Jesus too much to do something like that." Oh that the whole world could know of Jesus' deep love for them, and fall completely and madly in-love with Jesus themselves!
I wish I could fully express my love to Him, and fully explain to everyone how much I truly love Jesus, and how much I want everyone to love Him the same way.
I am thankful that the Lord is teaching me to love Him and to delight in Him. I am looking forward to another 20 years of truly loving and serving Jesus, if He decides to grant me with those 20 years. I know the next 20 years will be filled with MANY changes in my life (as I do hope to marry and have kids within the next 20 years). As my brother said, "The next 20 years will be harder and more expensive."

No matter what the future may bring, I am resting in the knowledge that my Father has a beautiful story for my life, if I will only leave the pen in His hands. I am thankful for even the mistakes I've made in the last 20 years, as they have taught me many beautiful lessons.

Sorry if this post has seemed like kind of a ramble. But I'm excited to see how God will work in my life and use me in the next 20 years, and am thankful for these past 20 years. I encourage you all to let God write your story, especially if you're still young, and unmarried. Give Him the pen to your life, and He will write a more beautiful story than you could ever have imagined for yourself. Stay strong in Jesus! Cling to Him, and give Him your whole heart!

Because of Jesus' Blood,
Faith Christine
Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 15:10

Friday, May 17, 2013

Run and Jump

Tired...oh, so tired. Why do I feel like this?

For the last couple of months, I have experienced extreme exhaustion. I experienced that right after coming home from Taiwan, but knew that was definitely from jet lag. But the last couple of months? Why have I felt tired? There would be mornings I just found it difficult to get out of bed before 8, and even then I would be groggy, and could barely drag myself through the day. I was not going to bed extremely late at nights either. Supposedly, I should be getting enough sleep. This could not be a hangover from jet lag.

The middle of April, I walked into my local blood donation center to give blood. Overall, I was feeling well, but still had this feeling as if I had been awake all night. I waited for a long time, and finally they called me back into the room to test my levels, and have me answer a bunch of questions. They pricked my finger, and took my hemoglobin levels. "12.0. I'm sorry, you can't give unless it is 12.5." Disappointed, I left the donor center, with an appointment to come back in a couple of weeks.

The Wednesday before last, I went back for my appointment. After waiting a while, they finally called me back. Again, I got to have my finger pricked. "11.8. Your iron is too low. You can't give blood today." She gave me a pamphlet on low iron, and food to avoid, and foods to eat. She said that I might consider the fact that I am borderline anemic.

I went home, and did some researching on borderline anemia, and found that I had all the symptoms of it. But at least now, I know the cause of my extreme exhaustion, as well as some other problems I've been having.

Since last week, I have had my ups and downs. There would be days I would feel just fine, and then other days I just could not pull myself out of bed before noon, because I would be so tired.
Yesterday was a pretty terrible day. I felt completely exhausted, and every time I would stand up, I would start to black out. I had to pull myself together to go teach yesterday afternoon, but I barely even made it through that, and just crashed after I got home.

There have been times when I just felt like crying. Now, I know that this may not be a big deal as compared to people who suffer from diseases, or cancer, or other serious health issues. But it was frustrating to me. I am so tired of feeling tired. So tired of not being able to accomplish really anything, because of a lack of focus. Because of this, I have not really been able to do school like I ought for the last couple of months. And that only added to my frustration. Yesterday was definitely a day where I just felt like crying. Yesterday, I also had some other struggles, that I kept having to give to God.

Now, you're probably wondering why I have told you all of this. I am setting the stage for how amazing God is in all of this. 


Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, I listened to my audio Bible on my phone. I love the dramatization of the Zondervan audio Bible, as it gives me a new perspective on the Bible, as it makes it come alive. I have been reading through the Bible, and was in 2 Samuel last night. Because of extreme exhaustion yesterday, I did not get a chance that morning to read my Bible. So this was my go-to, with the little time I had left before bed. 2 Samuel 22 started playing, which is pretty much word-for-word of Psalm 18. The Lord caught my attention with these two verses.

"For by thee I have run through a troop: by my God have I leaped over a wall. As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him." 2 Samuel 22:30-31.

I had been frustrated, yet not griping or complaining to God about it (because I realized that I break 130 commands when I do that, so I can't do that anymore). But when I heard these verses, they became more alive to me than ever before. I felt as if God spoke to me through these verses and said, "Faith, by me, you can run through all these struggles as if they are not there. You can jump over the walls in your path, such as health issues, no matter how high or difficult they might be, if you only look to me for your strength. My way is perfect, even when it may seem thing are going wrong." I was overwhelmed by this. I realized that I had not been seeking Him for all of my strength. I was not trying to do anything in my own strength, but I was not asking Him to fill me with His strength. Through Him, all things are possible, even the difficult things.

Thankfully, I know that I can fix my problem by eating a high iron diet, and by taking some supplements to help raise my iron levels back to normal. Hopefully in a couple of weeks, I will feel normal again. But I am choosing to thank God for allowing me to experience this in my life, to teach me yet again that I cannot depend upon my own strength, and that I have to ask for His strength. By His strength, I can get through anything in life, no matter how difficult the situation.

So my challenge to you is this:

Seek His Strength! Become completely weak, so that He can be made strong. Remember that His strength is made perfect in our weakness. And make sure that when you know you are completely weak, that you do ask Him to give you His strength.

I pray that the Lord is able to use the lesson I have learned to help you in the future. My goal is to glorify Christ in every situation, even in the tough situations of life. Stay strong in Jesus!

Because of Jesus Christ and for His glory,
Faith Christine
Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 15:10

Sunday, April 21, 2013

My Father Makes Me Smile

I know it has been FOREVER since I have posted on my blog, and can't believe it's almost the end of April already! This year has gone by crazy fast, especially with my Taiwan trip at the beginning of this year. I'm praying that I'll be able to sit down soon and write some blog posts to document my Taiwan trip, so I don't forget, and so others can hear of God's goodness to us in Taiwan. But, I wanted to write a quick post to praise the name of my Father in Heaven. He is so good to me, and has shown Himself so faithful in every single way, and even in small things.

I want to share with you right now something that made me smile. Something I knew God did just to make me smile, and thank Him, and praise His holy name. God is our Father, and what Daddy does not just love to make his children smile, and see them happy? I know that my earthly father definitely does, so why not our Father in Heaven, who is the absolute Perfect Father? God has made me smile in so many ways today, but I will share the extra special blessing with you.

As you may know from reading my description page, I am a photographer. Recently, a family in our church asked me to take some family photos of them in the beautiful Texas blue bonnets. Of course, I was delighted! They had asked if we could meet at the church before Sunday school services, and go to a field nearby with blue bonnets. Now if you live in Texas, then you understand how crazy our weather has been. So not as many wild flowers popped up this year. I arrived at the church early today so that I could drive around and find the best spot for pictures. I drove around close to the church, the whole time praying "God, could you please give me some blue bonnets? Like lots and lots of blue bonnets. You created them, so I know you can give them to me." I drove around...and could not find a single good thick patch. I prayed again, "God, I just need lots of blue bonnets. I know you can give them to me." Then, I remembered! Last year, as I was driving to the college that I test at, which is near our church, I saw a huge patch of blue bonnets right next to the college. It was only a 4 minute drive from the church, so I headed that direction. I kept praying, "Father, I just need a lot of blue bonnets. It's so simple for you. I know you can give them to me!" I arrived at the location, and guess what I found?
Blue bonnets! Lots and lots of them! The very thing I had asked my Father to give me! Of course I had to share my story with the family that I photographed.

But my story does not end there! If you are a photographer, then you probably have some of the same "fears" of shooting outside, especially if you live in Texas.

Hot weather.....
Sun so bright that everyone is squinting their eyes all the time....
Lots of wind.....
(Aren't they a great looking family, and aren't those beautiful flowers?!)

So yes, I may have slightly feared these things....but God gave me a perfect temperature, partly cloudy skies, and very little wind (I think it was going about 9 mph). It was perfect! And not only that, but the family that I worked with today had the sweetest most obedient kids, who were more than happy to pose in whatever way I wanted them to. The parents were even willing to make a silly face for one of the pictures (and did a great job of it too, I might add). And even by the end of the shoot, they were asking me to take pictures of them in a certain spot. Then the oldest girl wrote me the sweetest note later thanking me for taking their pictures. That really made my day, especially since my major love language is words of affirmation. I definitely felt my Father in Heaven looking down on me saying, "See Faith? I care even about the little things! I clothe the lilies of the field. I feed the ravens. I do care about making my precious daughter smile, and I do love to see you smile." So I could not help but smile all day today, knowing how faithful my God is even in the tiniest of things. If God cares even about tiny things like giving me good weather, and lots and lots of blue bonnets, then I know He cares about the "bigger" things. Because they are all the same to Him! Because He is a big God!! And not only all of these perfect things, but the location was perfect! My church is located in an industrial area, and so there are a lot of ugly signs, or tall buildings. But there was this awesome little "forest", and awesome trees, and no ugly buildings in the background!

We are commanded over and over in the Bible to bless the Lord, or to sing praises to His name, so I wanted to do just that. Why do I feel so much joy? Why do I smile so big? Because I know I have a Father in Heaven who is smiling down on me right now, and that makes me smile too. :-D God is so good to me, a wretched sinner. I am so undeserving of His love, yet He loves me anyway, and shows His love through small things like good weather, no wind, a partially cloudy day, and lots of blue bonnets! I praise you, oh my Father! You created this wonderful day, and I lift thanks up to you!

Don't forget to thank God every day, especially for the little things! Remember His faithfulness endures forever. Trust in Him, and give your all to Him!

Because of Jesus' Blood,
Faith Christine
Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 15:10

P.S. It's good to finally get a blog post out....
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