by Thi Bui

From My Little Pony to a Husband

April 17, 2014 in Knowing God, prayer by Thi Bui

When I was a little girl, I wanted a my little pony or a furby. When I was in my teens, I wanted the latest fashions and smart phone. When I became an adult, I wanted gift cards and a husband. Fact is: our wants and needs always change.

Our idea of the “perfect” gift changes every year. One year it’s the iPhone 4 and the next it’s the iPhone 5. Things are always “perfecting” because in all honestly, nothing is perfect. We have an innate desire for the perfect and the best.

Good news: there is ONE that is perfect. He doesn’t need to be perfected, revamped, photoshopped. There isn’t a God version 1.1 or the perfected sequel that comes out 2 years later: Jesus version 2.0 newly released. He is perfection. The epitome of perfection. In Him we find all we need and all we want. Ever. He is far far far better than world famous McDonald fries, snuggies, or our idea of the perfect mate.

Psalm 27:4 says “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”

What is the ultimate desire of our hearts? If it’s always changing, we will never be satisfied. But God never changes. He is the ONLY one who can fulfil all of our wants and desires. The thing is, it’s okay to want other things. He puts godly desires in our hearts to meet them. He is the ultimate Giver, even better than Santa Claus himself. But when other desires take precedent in our hearts, we’re in trouble.

Take a minute and re-examine your heart. Is the heart cry of your life to know God intimately? Do you seek Him all the days of your life to gaze upon his beauty? Putting God first and over ALL will be the best decision we make in our lives. From it will flow a life full of joy, peace, righteousness, miracles, love, power, purpose, excitement, fun and more than we could ever ask, think, or imagine.

In Christ alone my hope is found

April 15, 2014 in Conviction, hope by HannahJohnson

Saturday morning I’m driving to school, sleepily rocking out to some worship music, ’cause obviously that’s the only thing that would make me excited to be up at 6 am…….on Saturday. And I realize that every song playing is about hope. Well cool, I’m down for some 6 am revelation!

Hope is such a complex word but so inspiring at the same time, even if you don’t really know what it means (like me). According to google dictionary hope is “a feeling of expectation/desire for a certain thing to happen.” Hope is a belief that something good will happen, it’s a person or thing that may help or save someone. Oy vey! So Hope is a feeling, a belief, or even a person. Jesus? Sounds about right.

Everyone has hope, christian and non-christian alike. We all believe and expect something/one is going to save us; whether it’s our career, friends, family, gifts, ect. Hope in Jesus, however, is by far the most freeing, life-changing, and life-giving. It brings Jeremiah 29:11 to life, and free’s us to look past our present problems or seeming ‘roadblocks’, and focus on others. Have confidence in your dreams, and trust (hope) in the God of your dreams to get you there. Rejoice in the hope you have, let it become your conviction. As hope becomes a conviction your faith soars,  “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:11.

Proverbs 13:12 says: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when the desire is fulfilled, it is a tree of life.” Without hope, our sense of purpose dies, and anxiety takes over. Keep hope and faith as your foundation live, really LIVE, in the freedom that takes over. Remember hope is a person and the person is Jesus Christ.

[Editors Note: Couldn't not link this old classic]

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WOAH. Hold the horses!

April 10, 2014 in Knowing God, Practical by pamuhlam

I picked up running about two years ago now. After 4 years of intense high school sports, I’ve slowed down. A lot. Running, to me is a love/hate relationship. I hope you can relate to me, unless you’re a fanatic runner, the whole running idea is awful but once I’m actually doing it, it’s great! I feel good about it and I feel healthier! I still crave French fries after I run, but that’s another story about how wonderful French fries. My favorite part of my running journey has been the winters. The wonderful, long, West Michigan winters. I love it so much because it’s an excuse not to run outside and, of course, I wouldn’t go to a gym to run on the treadmill. That’s not real running, so I’d wait until the spring to do real running.

Run to what God has for you!

Run towards God purpose for you! (Photo credit: jbelluch)

Well, this winter has not been my favorite winter. Some crazy person decided to make a running class a requirement to graduate college, so naturally I have to take it. The class has been fine, it helps that one of my good friends is in it with me because we push each other and we’re improving together! As you can see, I have no self-discipline in running so when Spring Break came, I did not have to go to class, and you can just imagine my running activity: 0 running.

I had to run, otherwise I’d fall over to the side of the road the Monday I would get back to class because I’d be so tired. So, dreading it, I went out and ran. It was beautiful outside. All the snow was almost melted, and it was a nice breeze outside; life was just beautiful.  I decided to run the back trail of the campus. It’s quiet there, a lot of woods, no cars, just peaceful. About ¼ into my run, I saw the road ahead of me full of snow. So I thought that maybe there were some open spots I could step on. Even though I knew it would be easier to go the path I usually go, I decided to keep going the way I wanted to. It was a mile full of regrets. I was running on sloppy mud with puddles, snow, ice, and god knows what was under the snow. Basically, it was the worst run ever. My socks were extremely wet, and my pretty, bright pink shoes were ruined. That whole time I wanted to stop and walk to a clear path, but I had to keep running or my shoes would be wetter, and then that’d be twice the mess all over again.

Eventually, I got to the clear road. What a relief. I immediately remembered, if I took the easier route, it would have brought me to the same place but without all that messy mess! It took me twice the effort to get where I wanted to go. I laughed out loud thinking how silly that was of me (luckily no one was around). Dad, why did I do that? That was so unnecessary! Immediately God said to me, “Pam, you didn’t have to, but you got to where you wanted, didn’t you?”

WOAH. Hold the horses. No matter what path I would have taken I would have gotten to the place I originally intended. Isn’t that what happens with life? God has a specific plan for us, and no matter what path we take or how far away we steer ourselves out of that plan, he still brings us back to where He wanted us all along. It’s interesting to think how many clear paths I had in my life where I decided to take the muddy, snowy path instead of just going where he told me to go. Realizing that I didn’t have to struggle through that, makes me think twice about the path I will take to reach my goal and it wouldn’t take that long either. If we were intentional about the steps we take more often, imagine what could have been accomplishing!

So, lets be intentional about where God is taking us. Let’s reach for the impossible, because it IS possible if we choose it!

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Do Not Touch!

April 8, 2014 in Conviction, Encouragement, Knowing God, The Kingdom of God by Ben Sherwin

As a young child, at one point or another, you most likely heard the shouts of correction from your parents, keeping you from danger as you naively explored the wonders and sharp objects of life. ‘Don’t touch that, you’ll hurt yourself’ or ‘Ah ah ah! Don’t touch, that doesn’t belong to you’. I was always on the receiving end of a variation of these cautions my parents so frequently yelled, as I explored my fathers shed or as I robbed the belongings of a nearby child. I’d like to think that my attempts to see what the hamster tasted like and my need to know how hot the fire really was, all came from a place of innocence and opportunity and that they weren’t premeditated. Thankfully, I grew up with parents to protect me and warn me of impending harm. However, there were occasions in which I decided to ignore the better judgement and advice of my parents, who clearly knew better. The result was always the same, I would get hurt (or disciplined, which hurt) and often, someone else would get hurt too (probably my parents).

Do not touch!I was in Grand Rapids this week at an evening worship event at The Point. It was about an hour or so into worship and I was at the back of the auditorium listening to God and observing what He was doing in the room. I looked over and saw a friend who was operating the lighting desk, worshipping where she was stood, opening her eyes every few seconds to resume her operations. I figured, I know more than enough about operating a lighting desk that I can relieve her of her duty for a little while so she can get down the front with God and not have to worry about the lights. She told me that I didn’t need to touch anything so I would be okay. I managed to convince her that I could handle things and I sent her on her way.

Try and imagine the moment in that evening; God was there, moving and touching people’s hearts as the piano played a beautiful, soft and peaceful melody. Everyone was still and quiet in worship and surrender to God. I looked down at the desk and thought to myself, ‘I should move that channel slider a tiny bit to adjust the lighting which will obviously compliment the atmosphere of the room more appropriately.’ I slowly took my finger to the slider when all of a sudden, the lights went into ‘strobe mode’. The stage flashed violently as people in the room turned to cast their disapproving looks upon me. My friend raced back to take control, disappointed that I messed the lights up and worried about the trouble she might now find herself in for allowing me on the desk that she was responsible for.

I was trusted to look after something that belonged to someone else. I was given instruction on what to do and what not to do and my curiosity and confidence in my own ability caused me to act based on my own reasoning that ‘I could handle it’. It resulted in me looking stupid, my friend feeling disappointed, it affected others around us and it changed the atmosphere in the room.

Do not touch what isn't yours

Do Not Touch!

As Christians, we can find ourselves in similar positions in our lives where we place ourselves somewhere that we know we shouldn’t be or taking on something that we are not equipped for, despite caution from the better judgement of the Spirit of God who lives within us. I’ve been there. If God has told you that someone or something is not for you, stay away from them/it. Don’t act out of emotion of selfish reasoning to manipulate something to benefit you. If God says no, it’s because He has something so much better waiting for you. Don’t mess around with someone who will one day be someone else’s husband or wife, emotionally or physically. It’s damaging not only to yourself and the other person, but the others around who care about you.

In 2 Samuel 11, David remained in Jerusalem during a time in which he should have been out at war. His decision to stay where he shouldn’t have been resulted in him sleeping with another man’s wife and getting her pregnant before giving the order to send her husband, Uriah, into a battle in which he would surely die. You only have to read Psalm 51 to see how much this act of sin broke David’s spirit. He displeased God, he covered his hands and the hands of Joab with the blood of Uriah. He caused Bathsheba to fall into adultery and the son that was born to her died. All the result of David being in the wrong place, touching things that were not meant for him.

Gods plans and promises for your life are far greater than anything you can dream or imagine. If you’re somewhere in life that deep down you know you shouldn’t be, get out. The grace and love of Jesus is far more rewarding than a wilderness of pain and brokenness.