RCF Mainline Juniors Collabo Blog :)

We are Weak Warriors

I’m going to keep this short and sweet.

As I’ve talked to some people, I think the end of the year is making us as a junior class tired and weary. As I’ve thought about next year, I feel anxiety and feel no hope for the future sometimes. 

I KNOW in my mind that I need to trust in God and give all glory to Him, but I don’t truly UNDERSTAND this concept right now in the midst of my doubts. 

Tyler and I thought it would be a good idea to memorize a verse as a class. It will be our theme and a reminder of our purpose and our meaning. This is also a shout out verse to Lizzy because it’s her favorite. 

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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. 10 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.

When we are the most weak, God is the most strong. That is some gospel truth. Let’s continue to point each other to Jesus.

 

E*

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Let’s face it.  Most of us have a weird relationship with sleep.  It’s like how you related to that one boy or girl you liked when you were in elementary school.  Don’t lie.  You remember their name (Savannah, lol).  You teased them, you avoided them, you “hated” them. But whenever they were around you got butterflies in your stomach and you never wanted to see them go.  I think that’s how many people relate to sleep. Well, that’s how I relate to sleep. In once sense I don’t want to sleep.  I do everything I can into the late hours of the night (or morning) avoiding sleep.  But once I’m there I never want to let go.  It’s like that winning lottery ticket and we cherish it and cling to it ever so tightly.

Thus the dilemma many of us face in the mornings.  The alarm goes off, the cell phone buzzes, the roommates move around, or in my case you live next to the dorm hall entrance and you hear it open, close, open, close.  Pick your poison.  You are stirred out of your slumber and thus the dilemma.  You’re in bed, covers keeping you warm and the day’s responsibilities and schedule are ahead of you.  Most importantly, you know there is a Water you need to drink and a Bread you need to eat.  But that can wait you tell yourself.  Why?  Because “I need sleep.”  There’s an email or a text from someone important waiting in the Word for you. But that can wait you tell yourself.  Why?  Because “I need sleep.”  There’s a verse in there that if you meditate on it it will help you choose wisdom over sin today.  But that can wait you tell yourself.  Why?  Because “I need sleep.”  There’s an encouragement that’s waiting to be discovered and shared with that friend God has planned to send your way this very afternoon.  But that can wait you tell yourself.  Why?  Because “I need sleep.”

This morning I laid in bed, alarm blaring at 7:30. This morning, there was one thing ringing in me…this line, “I need sleep.  I need sleep.  I freaking need sleep.”  But in the back of my mind there’s a quiet and distant competing refrain. Consider it the holy spirit. “Ty, Ty, Ty. Wake up, you need me.” Holy Spirit gets no credit haha…

What do I really need?  And whose voice will I listen to?  Do I really need 15 more minutes of sleep or 15 more minutes basking in God’s promises?  Think about it this way.  Sleep offers you physical warmth underneath your covers from the coldness that’s “out there,” ‘be it your school, friends, insecurities.  God offers you spiritual warmth from the coldness that will overtake your heart if not communing with him.  Sleep offers you delay from the inevitable responsibilities, duties, obligations, tests, meetings, confrontations, and other assaults that will plague you today.  God offers you strength and encouragement to face the inevitable and endure through every test, trial and temptation.  Lastly, sleep offers you the joy of dreams and fantasy to escape the pressures and worries of life, and to for a brief moment imagine a life of rest.  God offers you the beastly promise; he grants peace to those heavy burdened and promises to make fantasy a reality and offer to you true rest for the soul and body.  So what do you really need in the mornings?  I’m asking you to reconsider.  I think I know what I need…but will I do it?

*If you’re able to wake up and do devotionals with God at other times of the day (afternoon, evening, before sleep) that is amazing and press on!  In this post I’m speaking of myself and how I look to wake up in the early mornings, only to lose my fight with my idol, sleep.

**Lately, I’ve also been subject to anxiety and a slight mental breakdown. For those of you (who read this blog) or feel what I feel, be encouraged by this verse.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God;believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

-JOHN 14:1-4

-ty ❤

That’s Why You Need Jesus.

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“I don’t really do a good job loving people.”

Upon hearing my random proclamation, my surprised hall-mate immediately shook her head and protested. “That’s not true! You make time for others – you care. You do more than a lot of people!”

I merely stared at her from my seat at the table we had managed to grab in the dining hall; I couldn’t help but feel conflicted. Part of me wanted to hear her reaffirm me. To let me continue to think I had always done my very best in my relationships with others. The other part of me felt ashamed. Why? Why did I feel guilty hearing her say those words?

As I turned my gaze to my plate, realization dawned upon me: just the night before, I had decided to give up on a friendship. I had become bitter and impatient, hurt by an outcome that I didn’t truly understand. Hadn’t I tried to explain my position and clarify matters? Hadn’t I tried my best to not be judging, to be open instead of angry? Why, then, had this particular friend chosen to ignore me for more than a week?

The emotional and mental stress had become too much to bear – I wanted to get rid of it. After all, I felt that such a person didn’t deserve my friendship in the first place. I didn’t want to be so easily crushed and stepped on. Besides, one of the verses my mother often recites came to mind: Be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
As far as I was concerned, I had been honest and innocent in my actions. Now, it was time to be shrewd.

That all changed after Pastor Skinner’s sermon. Despite my unwavering determination to end the relationship, I couldn’t help but feel that something wasn’t right as I stood and sang worship songs, as I attempted to pray and focus, as I sat there and pretended I could still be righteous before God’s eyes. I couldn’t help but feel that God would not have wanted this, that I was being too rash.

It wasn’t until near the end of the sermon that the cold, stone walls I had built came tumbling down with Pastor Skinner’s question to the congregation:

“Think of God’s main two commandments. 1) Love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, all your mind, and 2) Love your neighbor as yourself.” He paused for a moment and then asked, “How is your compliance with the great commandments going?”

The silence that came after seemed to stretch on forever. I could feel my resolve weakening; I began to reevaluate myself and my actions. Acknowledging my bitterness and faults was like taking a huge gulp of salty water and accidentally swallowing it – it stung. Nonetheless, the words that Pastor Skinner uttered next gave me the courage to overcome the pain. He smiled and remarked, “Well, that’s why you need Jesus.”

I was shocked at how far I had fallen. Here I was, giving up on someone while Jesus had never given up on me. Being shrewd didn’t mean to stop caring, to stop loving the person. In fact, refusing to be stepped on vs. refusing to love my neighbor as myself were two completely different matters. I wasn’t being shrewd. Instead, I had chosen to become full of spite and anger. If I thought I had been mistreated, what must have Jesus thought as he lay upon that cross?

Quite simply, Jesus loved. He continued to love even as he lay there, bearing the weight of our sins and despair. He loved even as we hurled insults at Him, turned away, spit in His face.

As a follower of Christ, could I do the same? Could I love as He loves? Bluntly, the answer is no. No one can ever love to the extent that God does. Nevertheless, as I stood to sing the concluding worship songs, I knew that I had been freed from my chains – I could still try to emulate Him in the best way I could.

It took me a while, but I managed to pray and offer the situation to God. I then had a chat with my friend over the phone. I was still hurt; heck, I was still bitter. But these feelings now came out of a willingness to repair a relationship instead of a determination to throw it away. Rather than coldly turn my back on the friendship, I decided to bear the full pain of my emotions and work through them in order to rebuild what had been lost. True, my rebuilding wasn’t perfect and I still feel unsure of what will happen next. Still, I had chosen to care again. I had chosen to love. Most importantly, I couldn’t have done it without God.

Thus, how is your compliance with the great commandments going?

Well, that’s why you need Jesus.

1 John 4:19 – We love because He first loved us.

FEET

The other day I was thinking about my feet. I realized that our feet are hardly used when it comes to worshipping our Lord. Obviously, we aren’t going to sit and put our feet together to pray or lift up our feet to worship Him, lol that would be really awkward. But I DO believe our feet have such an important role in our lives. Like it is said in The Bible, together we make up the ENTIRE body of Christ. So what good are our feet? Are they only for standing and walking?

Let me begin with my epic ankle sprain at the end of last year. If you have heard this story, you know how bad it was. The doctor said I was extremely close to breaking my ankle. I was a cripple for a couple months. Although painful, it was quite a humbling experience. For the first time in my life, I knew what it felt like to not be able to walk with such ease. Let me tell you, it sucked. I was pretty bitter. Derek and David, my motherly-like roommates <3, pretty much took care of me. God bless them. I felt like such a baby. And simple things like getting a glass of water, or taking a shower were tiring.

Now that my ankle is almost completely healed, I look back on that with a very different perspective. It was very eye opening, and even a blessing. God has taught me that we are like cripples. When it comes to our walk with God, we are always lacking and slow, always tripping and hurting ourselves. I believe this is because our feet are not always pointed in the right direction. However, God is our crutch. He is the one we can lean on when we are struggling.

Now I’m pretty sure most of us can walk on two feet. If you think about your life, isn’t it amazing how much of it you’ve walked? How many of those miles do you think you walked for Jesus? How many do you think you’ve walked for your own benefit? If I think about it, I haven’t walked much at all for Jesus. In my mind and heart I know I am a sinful and weak man. I deserve to be like a cripple. BUT, God has blessed (and healed) me with strong feet which allow me, not only to walk, but also to RUN with Him. How amazing is that? To know that He loved us so much to give us feet.

We are called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Jesus was perfect; He walked perfectly with our Lord. Yet, He stooped down on His feet and washed the feet of His Disciples, humans sinful like us. It is the same pair of beaten and bruised feet that carried the cross and all the sins of the world. The same feet that were nailed. No lie, He had some pretty awesome feet.

I know it sounds goofy. But our feet are very important, because in light of Passion Week, they can be used to glorify God. We say, “my WALK with Christ.” We say it all the time, but we never think about that statement. I believe if we let our spiritual walk translate to our physical walk, our lives will be transformed. I pray that we focus completely on Jesus’ walk/feet so that we may also use our feet selflessly to do His work.

John 13:14-15 – “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.”

SELAH

-CDOH

mud pie

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I’m so sorry it took so long for me to write a post! I literally hate writing- which is why I am a business major- short and to the point kind of writing. But anyways…

I have been really passionate about sharing the gospel to the people in my life and recently God has placed many opportunities for me to do so. Now that I think about it, it is crazy how He knows that I get nervous about randomly bringing it up but all these situations God has made it so easy to bring Him into the conversation.

Every day on the way to work, I have been praying for all of my non-Christian friends but I didn’t think I would be presented with so many situations to share the gospel at the same time. I definitely was reminded by the power of prayer.  Around this time of year, some of my friends are dealing with rejection from internships, self-confidence and doubtful of their future. I mean let’s be honest, we all go through this; however, we know that God already has His perfect plan for each of us. Listening to my friends struggle through some of these issues makes me realize that I can’t help them in anyway but give them Jesus. Sometimes I just sit there trying to thinking of a solution that I can do to help but I realize that they need to know that they are loved by the King. I wish they could truly understand that God sees that we are not perfect but He picks up those broken pieces and loves us for who we are despite all our insecurities. I think my problem is that I feel like I need to do get them to understand but I need to realize that I can’t control that. Only God has the power to transform someone’s life. Humanly, I get frustrated because I know that God can give them peace and help them through some of these issues but sometimes they don’t see that. I remember in a sermon I listened to, the pastor said that it is just like how our parents may make us the best home cooked dinner but we run outside and make a mud pie and eat it instead. This is literally one of my favorite images because its so true and I’m guilty of not seeing God’s best right in front of me and choosing the other option. God is giving us salvation and a peace that this world can’t understand yet we chose to be consumed by the world.

So I have a few prayer requests if you don’t mind helping me pray for my friends, especially their heart and their willingness to be open to hearing about Him. For God to reveal Himself to them in a very real way that they can’t deny that He is real. If you could also pray for me not to make excuses and be comfortable; most importantly, to be zealous for God’s house and His name to consume my life.

I was reminded by the power of God’s words, I sent this bible verse to one of my friends in John 14:27, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

This verse brought tears to her eyes. Then I thought about it, I have known been reading the Bible ever since I could read, why haven’t I shared it with more people? Whenever I find a really great book I always recommend it to people. So why haven’t I recommended the only book that is the key to our life here on Earth?

Breathe, Stretch, Shake, Let Him Go

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P. Dwight gave an awesome sermon awhile ago about 3 questions we should be asking ourselves each day:

  1. Who is God?
  2. Who am I, in relation to God?
  3. Who are the people around me, of course, in relation to God?

Coooool questions. Hahaha. Think about it. In any given situation or moment in life we are living w/ a set of answers to these 3 questions. Now we have 2 choices: interpret our reality through the answers that God gives us OR we can interpret our reality through our own answers, reasonings, conceptions…

Imagine you’re having the perfect day. Everything is working towards your favor. You get all the green lights, professor cancelled class, you win a raffle-drawing for a new iPad. You’re enjoying yourself and your life. In that very moment, what are your answers to those 3 questions. It’s probably something like this…

  1. God is good! Tweet PTL! Hey, He must surely be blessing me for something good I did, right?
  2. I am loved by God.
  3. People are such blessings/encouragements in my life. What could I do without you guys?!

Now, imagine your worst day. Nothing is going in your favor. You get all the red lights on your way to school, your professor spontaneously announces a pop quiz, which you end up failing, and you lose your brand new iPad. You’re hating yourself and your life. In that very moment, what are your 3 answers? Maybe a ‘lil some-something like this…

  1. God is so far away and doesn’t care about me.
  2. I am a failure and probably worse than nothing. Tweet FML.
  3. Why are people so annoying? GO AWAY, you.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that the scriptures reveal that despite the situation we find ourselves in, the answers to these 3 questions should always be…

  1. God is for me and never against me and he is working all things out for his glory and my good. (Romans 8:28)
  2. I am a sinner saved by grace more sinful and harmful than I can ever imagine BUT, in Christ, more loved than I ever dared hoped for. The gospel, anyone? (Ephesians 2:8; Tim Keller quote)
  3. People are fellow image-bearers. We are all struggling in the same mess of sin and its devastation as I am, none better and none worse than me apart from the grace of God. (Genesis 1:26-27, Colossians 3:1-17)

Not before long will you recognize that your answers are a lot more governed by your own construction of God than informed by God himself. Today and each new day, you’ll experience either good or bad situations guaranteed. Some days, you’ll get all the green lights and others, all red. How will you answer these questions in those moments? In that moment of sadness, depression, anger, pride, road-rage, happiness, etc, what will you believe about God, yourself, and others? Take a step back, breathe, shake it off, then act, according to his will. Be shaped and molded by the word alone.

-ty

Confession

I was a bully. I just wanted you all to know that. My friends from my home church came to visit this past week, and they reminded me and told some of you (general RCF community) of my past as a bully to them.

But let’s backtrack first, earlier this week I was thinking about prayer techniques because I like to lead prayer during our community group on Wednesday. One theme of prayer that I had when I was in middle school was to PRAY BIG. My youth minister encouraged us to pray for God to work in big ways because if you don’t believe in God’s great power, how is He going to work in your life? This is in reference to Matthew 16: 13-17 where Jesus asks Peter who He is. While some people said that Jesus was a teacher or a prophet, Peter answered that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. If we don’t believe in who God is and all that He is, he will only be a prophet or teacher to us. However, if we believe that God is the Messiah, then Jesus says “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (vv.18-19). What I wanted to do for prayer this Wednesday was encourage for people to pray specifically to work in their lives. For me, this means asking God to work in a certain time span, not testing God, but letting God show his greatness. I decided to pray on Sunday to Wednesday that God would reveal to me the Gospel in the new way so that I could share a testimony of how God had worked before asking my community group members to engage with God.

I once learned that prayer is FOR US. God is going to do His will no matter if we pray to Him or not, but when we pray to Him, we see and are conscious of how He is working in our lives.

I WAS a bully, and I am ashamed of it. I did not treat my friends right from kindergarten to seventh grade. I sat on them, and threw leggos in their face. I said a lot of mean and hurtful things. I know that what I did was wrong and that maybe those actions and words have left permanent scars that I cannot take back. But God can. Being a bully doesn’t define me because God’s grace covers me and my sins. God answered my prayer and he made me experience the gospel once again.

A couple verses that stuck out to me this week are from 1 Corinthians 1:20-31. Here, Paul is talking about how God’s foolishness is wiser than our wisdom. He shows that God calls us from foolish and shameful backgrounds because that is when we boast in the Lord.

I can’t boast of my past, but I can boast in how God has redeemed me from my past as a bully. I have even looked back and reflected how He has done that and it is amazing. I stopped really bullying people in seventh grade when I went to a retreat with my youth group in the fall. I realized that I had put up with people in my life who had bullied me and put me down, which made me turn around and do the same to others. However, I realized why those people bullied me from the context of their lives, their family, the pressures they faced.

Another powerful testimony is how my younger brother and I used to bully my older brother who has Downs Syndrome and is half deaf. You can see his cutie face in my old profile picture on FB. When my young brother and I were young, we used to run away from my older brother because we thought he was a monster like little kids think of the boogie man or the monster in the closet. We would slam the door in his face and play without him. Oftentimes, he would sit at the closed door and cry, but those sounds of pain and crying just sounded like weird moaning and annoyance to us. We even treated him so badly that it gave permission to the other kids at church to treat him the same way.

It wasn’t until fifth grade when my mom sent me to a workshop held by the Children’s Hospital in Boston called “My sibling has Downs Syndrome,” that I realized for the first time that my older brother had feelings. This was one of the first real life experiences where I learned compassion, empathy and grace. The fact that my older brother and I are so close now and have so much love for each other shows that God’s grace can really cover a multitude of sins. The love God has put in my heart for my brother surpasses just loving him but all those who are neglected. This is one of the reasons that I feel so passionately about helping God bring justice to this world.

So I guess I just wrote a mini testimony. I hope it encouraged you or you learned new things about me. =D

E*

P.S. Happy World Downs Syndrome Day!!