My Chains are Gone

“My chains are gone
I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace.”

Unending love — What a promise!

A good friend of mine shared the song, “Amazing Grace” with me, reminding me that through all of our dangers, toils, and snares God’s love is and will always be there. In the midst of sin and in the midst of pain and suffering, the grace of God toward His children will never be exhausted.

My friends, God loves you. God loves you because He has chosen to do so. He loves you when you don’t feel loved, and He loves you when no one else loves you. Others may abandon you, ridicule you, and ignore you, but God will love you.

Always. No matter what.

— Max Lucado

Pain is a natural part of life, and you can’t escape it. There will always be broken relationships, missed opportunities, and tough seasons of life. When they do come, you can either become bitter or hopeful.

THE CHOICE IS YOURS.

In the midst of a depressing onslaught, Jeremiah says in Lamentations 3:21, “Yet hope returns …”

How can you have hope even in your darkest days? Always remember the Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue. You can always count on that!

When kindness comes grudgingly, remember His kindness to us and pray to Him to make you more kind. When patience is scarce, thank the Creator for His and ask Him to make you more patient. When it is hard to forgive, don’t list all the times you’ve been given grief; rather, list all the times you’ve been given grace and pray to become more forgiving. God allows us to receive first so we can give later. Drink deeply from heaven’s endless love, and in doing so, you will discover a love worth giving.

In Christ Always,
||Hannah||

Obedience — Live for Christ No Matter the Cost

My Dear Friends,

How often do you find yourself at a fork in the road? When you are torn between two things, town between decisions you must make, friends you must confront, or situations that you cannot be avoided? There are many times when our ways seem to be the right decisions, that somehow my way would be better than God’s. While I may not have outrightly said that, my actions still very well exhibit it. No matter how much our decision might have “seemed right” at the point, the outcome of disobedience never yields good fruit.

The result of disobedience is not reward, rather it always is always accompanied with hard consequences. We must not lose faith, however. God always has a reason for asking certain things, and His ways are always best. As Isaiah 55:8 says, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ saith the LORD.”

God always has a reason for asking.

As humans we are always trying to justify how our course of action is better than God’s; just like we all do when we are trying to find some way out of obedience. His way might appear too hard or too complicated but here is where the problem lies. Every one of these things is a focus on ourselves rather than God. I know better, I can figure it out on my own.

This is where a true heart of obedience doesn’t look for excuses. Rather, its disposition is: No matter how difficult it is, no matter how little sense it makes to me, I will do anything You ask of me because I love You and I know You do as well. We must never forget that God sees the whole picture. This is not just in our lives, but in the lives of every person who has ever lived, is living, or will ever live. In contrast to God’s Omnipotence, we see only the teeny tiniest fraction of what is happening in the here and now. When we look back through history, we can certainly see countless evidences that there is nothing outside of His control. We must never forget that despite the innumerable sins committed and all of the tragedies, deaths, and disasters, God still displays His love, faithfulness, grace, and sovereignty, and works “all things together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Remember that no matter what our obedience might cost us, it is nothing compared to the prize that awaits us in eternity. When we choose to disobey, we are depriving ourselves of something that could be an incredible testimony that displays God’s sovereignty and glory. Who is our ultimate example of obedience? Christ. Hebrews 5:8-9 says, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Nevertheless, Jesus’ obedience to His Father was not easy. Going to the Cross was most certainly the most painful, difficult, humiliating, and humbling experience anyone has ever had to endure. Jesus, the only perfect person who has ever lived, literally became sin for us and died in our place. Because of that obedience, He paid the debt for our freedom from sin and death.

“Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him. and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

So, how can we live by biblical obedience in our lives? 1 John 5:2 says it, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.” When we grow in our love for Him is by spending time with Him in His Word and in prayer our obedience to Him will not become a duty, rather it will be a delight! Grow also in your dependance in Him. Remember that living in full obedience to Christ our Savior is impossible in our own strength. We have to trust Him for the moment-by-moment grace that enables us to do what He asks of us.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

My friends, it is my prayer that if God is asking you to do something, don’t struggle with the decisions, simply submit to Him. Don’t depend on your feelings. I get it, it is hard not depending on feelings, but if you simply obey God He will give you the grace and the strength to do so. Living in obedience to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior is always worth it. The joy that is beyond the grave is beyond compare to anything of this world even if it means forfeiting our lives. He is enough because we get Him. Please remember that living for His glory is the highest honor we could ever have. I will leave you with a quote from Elisabeth Elliot:

“God is God. Because He is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what He is up to.”

In Christ Always,
||Hannah||

Trusting God through His silence

There comes time in our lives when we trust Him, where we obey him in a decision we must make, or a situation we must avoid. It can be hard trusting His overall plan when the results don’t go as planned, or when we can’t hear God’s voice through the circumstance. God’s providence is present in every  chapter and season of our lives, even when we can’t clearly see  it. Although there are times when God seems silent, don’t interpret that to mean He’s not involved or doesn’t  care about what’s happening  to us. God cares deeply and He is very present, actively working out every detail to bring forth His best plans for you and me. Our lives are securely held in His hands of God our Father, who loves us and wants the very best for us.

Heavenly Father, sometimes it’s hard to see how You are actively working in my circumstances. Honestly, it doesn’t always appear to be good. There are times when I need You most and I sense silence instead of guidance. Help me to trust You completely, especially in terms of uncertainty. To believe that You have my best interest in mind. To remember that Your love for me wraps around every situation I’m wrestling with. And to trust that because I am Your child and I’m desiring to seek Your will, my life is securely positioned in Your providential plan.

In Jesus’ name.
||Amen||

In Need of a Great Savior

Dear friends, it’s been a while; I know. I pray the Lord is continuing to guide your life in a closer walk with Him. Today I want to share some encouragement with anyone who has had a rough time lately.

We come to Christ when we are in our hour of deepest need. We abandon the ship of good works, and we realize, like Peter, that spanning the gap between us and Jesus is a feat too great for our own two feet. So what do we do? We beg for help. We hear His voice, and we step out in fear, hoping that our little faith will be enough.

  Lord God All-Powerful, who is like you? Lord, you are powerful and completely trustworthy.

— Psalm 89:8

We must live a confident faith; a faith that God is enough and that He will guide us and protect us. When we decide to step off that boat and into the arms of Christ, we must trust and rest assured that He’s got us. He will not let us go, no matter how much fear or doubt we have in our minds.

Like Max Lucado says, “God doesn’t condone our sin, nor does he compromise His standard. He doesn’t ignore our rebellion, nor does He relax His demands. Rather than dismiss our sin, He assumes our sin and, incredibly, sentence Himself. God’s holiness is honored; our sin is punished; and we were redeemed. God does what we cannot do so we can be what we dare not dream: perfect before God.”

In Christ Always,
||Hannah||

Choices

Even through all its ups and downs, peculiarities and unevenness, the Bible has a simple story. God made man, man sinned and rejected God. God will not give up until He wins man back. Even through the rough times and the good times, God will whisper, He will shout. He will touch and pull us back. He will take away our burdens; he’ll even take away our blessings. Even if there are a thousand steps between us and Him, He will take all of them but one. He will leave the final one for us; the choice is ours.

Understand that His goal is not to make us happy. His goal is the make us His. His goal is not to get us what we want; it is to get us what we need.

“And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.”

–Hosea 2:19

It is my prayer today that everyone might live knowing that God is always loving, He wants us so badly in His arms. Do not seek after the things of this world; do not seek after things, or people, or approval. Rather, make Christ your sole focus, make Him your prize.

In Christ Always,
||Hannah||

There is Hope

Hopelessness. It’s one of Satan’s most destructive tools in his bag of tricks. He uses it to try and slowly strip away the best parts of us. Likewise, he tried to convince Job that life from that point on was nothing more than a downward spiral which ended in darkness. However, even on Job’s darkest days of hopelessness, he still cried out to God, asking for assurance and a pledge of security.

Lay down now, put me in a surety with thee; who is he that will strike hands with me?

— Job 17:3

This is just like a tiny shoot of hope pushing its way through the cracks of the concrete of hopelessness. If we believe in Him that God is always good, He will always come through for us. Job’s emotional words were raw and real. He held nothing back, allowing his darkest thoughts to spill out of his mouth onto the feet of his Maker. What does God do? He let Job speak. He didn’t silence, shame, or correct him, rather God let Job express what was on his heart. Even though God remains silent, His mercy, love, and compassion were powerfully active.

My friends, just like Job, we can cry out to God in our times of need. When we feel hopeless, know that He is our source of strength and security. God wants us to be real and honest with Him, even with our rawest emotions. He will never forsake us or shame us

“For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

~Hebrews 13:5b

He will always be there to comfort and shower us with His compassion just like 2 Corinthians 1:3- 4 says,

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforters us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

God promises hope and assurance and those are always available to us, even in the seasons of life when our hope is strained by our sufferings and hopelessness. Because of Jesus, we can always approach God’s throne of grace with a confident hope, knowing that we will receive His mercy and grace to help inner time of need. Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior is our living hope and in Him we have the joy of eternal security and salvation. May you always live with the reassurance that Christ is always there for us, and that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He loves us so tremendously, that He will go to the ends of the earth to bring you back to His loving arms.

In Christ Always,
||Hannah||

Home 

Dear friends,

Six weeks flew bye so much faster than I ever expected. I remember stepping off of the plane for the first time, I kept thinking “wow, six weeks! That’s so long!” But I’m saying, “that wasn’t enough time!”

When I returned home, I saw our culture, I experienced the ‘teen drama life’ and I fell in to this moment of depression, pain, and sorrow at the first world oppression. It hit me hard, and I was lost, but praise God for brothers and sisters who can redirect my steps when I slip.

I mentioned it in a previous blog post, but Les challenged us to make a commitment to steps of obedience. My steps of obedience start in the schools. Each morning I looked forward to the devotional. Not because I got swarmed with hugs each morning, or even because of the music, but because I got to see the joy of God on the faces of the children. I got to see God working in them right there as they were praising God. It was heart-wrenching (in a good way?) to see the kids pouring out their entire beings and their souls out to the Lord. They don’t have a lot materially, but they have so much in Christ. That passion they have impacted me, it made me reflect ‘how can I bring this back with me?’ I realized throughout my trip and more so at the end of my time that I began to have thoughts of sorrow, and of guilt. Guilt of how North America and more specifically for the United States is so dead. So spiritually dead. I’ve never seen passion so big as what I saw in Guatemala in the US. I don’t see kids so eager to read God’s Word and so eager to worship Him through song. I began to feel guilty, saddened, and depressed. I remember we talked at the beginning of our time and I expressed that I was a thinker, and analyzer. That was definitely true as thoughts of sadness and depression sunk in. It got worse the closer to our end and especially our plane ride home and walking through the airport. Sunday came around and I broke. It was Sunday night and I was playing church volleyball and I couldn’t handle it anymore and I went and hid in the washroom. Praise God for brothers and sisters! My best friend Victoria came in and we went for a walk and talked about everything that I was feeling and thinking.

So many thoughts were racing through my brain, and a question that was asked was , How do I cope with all of the depression of the first world culture; how everyone loves their oppression in North America but in Guatemala everyone hates their oppression? It hit me that night and Monday that there is a place for sorrow, but what does it lead to? Repentance. Likewise each of these feelings and thoughts have a bridge. I was reading 2 Corinthians 7 this morning and verse 10 was shown to me by a friend.

“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

God lets us experience pain so that we can conform our thoughts to believe His Truth over the devil’s lies. The pain and anguish I was felt for the broken church is to be used to fuel my passion and lead me to the other side of the bridge. He blessed me to see the depravity in North America as “not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of Heaven…” (Matt. 7:21a) Through this trip, I was taught that Satan IS very real. He wants us to see all of the flaws at home so we are displeased and turn from God. But the hope lies in what action I will have next. God has already started to develop me although I may be hurt at first. God has a divine purpose.

All of that said that kind of encapsulates what led to my steps of obedience, I made my step of obedience before I left Guatemala while we were staying at Seteca. As I am a thinker, if ever I have thoughts of sorrow, pain, or depression about the spiritual state of the United States, I will write them down in my journal, and find a Bible verse that counteracts my thoughts as well as reaching out to my friends about my struggles. 

My prayer to you is that you recognize what needs to be changed in your life. Make the decision, don’t let the devil stand in your way

“Follow your bridge. Find your mission. Obey now!” -Toby