Blog

Life…

Just a quick update on my life since I haven’t posted for awhile!

So it has been about a month since I last posted. This was not the way I planned it to be but life happens. It seems as though every night when I finally settle down I just want to go to sleep, and lately, that is what has been happening. Being that I hadn’t posted in awhile, I thought I would just give some update on my own life and let you in on why I haven’t been around.

First, I took a “ministry vacation” with my parents to an international conference put on my the ministry my mom works full time with. I say vacation as I chuckle because it was far from a vacation! We were busy all day long but I was able to meet some amazing people from all over the world and hear about their ministry in their own countries. Plus, the conference was in North Carolina so I was able to get my own official Tarheels gear to proudly support my favorite basketball team in all of the NCAA (on clearance I might add!).

Upon returning to Indiana, I jumped into an internship at a therapy clinic nearby. This clinic works with kids only and I have had a blast! I am learning so much about different things to do as an occupational therapist and what all is involved in a rural setting. This is going to be great as it prepares me for my future and what God is calling me to do.

I also have the opportunity to work with the Jr. High youth at my church. This is something that is very different for me. I keep saying that those kids are “something all on their own.” They are fun loving, crazy kiddos on fire for the Lord and I am loving hanging out with them. We are even planning an overnight camping trip for them where I hope to form some good mentoring relationships with some of the girls!

In the last two weeks I have been working hard on preparing for a camp that my mom runs for kids ages eight to twelve. It has been a lot of time spent at a computer readjusting schedules and planning activities and sorting through everything from the past year. With camp just around the corner I continue to spend large amounts of my time preparing.

I hope to have some sermon summaries up soon from the past month of sermons (that may take me a little while) and some music reviews (because as I am sure you are aware, there are some pretty good new ones out!).

As I am working on this I can’t help but stop and think about how closely this relates to a relationship with God. It is so easy in the summertime (or whenever routines are changed) to slack on my relationship with God. Suddenly reading my Bible and praying don’t maintain priority. I can get so busy doing all of these good things (I mean Jr. High, missions conference, Christian camp, right?) and neglect the most important thing. It’s easy to do but it isn’t right. I have to constantly remind myself that I need to make the conscious effort to spend time with God.

This summer has already been crazy and I am only a month in but I am excited to see what else God has for me as I continue!

Proclaim His praises!

~Sally

Below are some pictures from the summer so far!

The End of Freshman Year…

A reflection of my first year of college.

I woke up around six this morning. I had a terrible time sleeping last night and that carried over to this morning. I was just awake. I was wide awake. And I really don’t know why other than the fact that I am super excited to go home! I have one more final and then I am actually done with my first year of college.

I know I kind of touched on this in my letter to myself but I will say it again: this year actually went by fast. It is so weird that you hear people all the time saying it goes by so fast and you never think it will (and honestly this was the longest week of my life!) but then when you look back, the year really does go by fast.

This year taught me a lot about myself. The biggest thing was a new definition of introvert. I have NEVER thought I was an introvert. I have taught, acted, and been very social since I was young. I, like most people, was shy around adults, but I loved being around people. The thing is, I would always get a break from those people, usually at the end of the school day. In college I learned that there are some people who are literally with a lot of people ALL the time and they hate alone time! I am not one of those people. I still enjoy performing and teaching, but I have no interest in staying up with friends until midnight doing absolutely nothing. I like my alone time; and my sleep!

I also learned more about the fact that I crave deep, meaningful friendships. I want someone to invest in me. I’ve known this for awhile too but coming to college I really struggled to make friends and I think it was just because I would talk to someone and I would know that they didn’t have the “chosen generation” mindset that I do and while I could still be kind to them and grab lunch every now and again, I wouldn’t be able to go deeper with them; it would just be a surface level friendship. Thankfully through CRU I have found friends that also crave meaningful friendships and relationships. They were there many nights when I was crying about things going on at home and they listened and completely understood through a breakup that most girls my age would have said I was crazy for breaking up with him for. Because of my experience in craving and struggling to have meaningful friendships, my goal next year is to “find a freshman” (let God bring me that freshman) and to really invest in them and be there for them.

So now onto less deep things: I learned that I have way too much stuff! I learned this while packing this week. It’s ridiculous but don’t worry, I can see out of my back windshield so all is well.

I have learned that meal plans are stupid (or at least ours is). We have a set amount of “swipes” that we pay for up front for our meals but here’s the kicker: those swipes don’t roll over! So what you don’t use goes to waste. As of now I have 13 so I’m pretty proud of myself but I’m only here for one more day and we can only use six a day so some are still going to be wasted.

I could never go on to say what all this year has taught me but I think my favorite thing is the reason I started this blog. I learned that people are really good at putting on a front. They can go to chapel on Thursday night and they may even go to church on Sunday morning but it is obvious they go out Friday and Saturday night. This is incredibly frustrating to me because I feel like it not only ruins their testimony but it doesn’t help me look good either (not that I am here to please man but we are to be representatives of Christ here on the earth). People associate people with people. Meaning, if I am going to chapel with the people who are going out and sleeping around, people automatically assume that I am doing the same thing and I am not! That’s why I am striving to be (and believe me not in my own power) the strange and peculiar person that God has called me to be. It’s hard. I am created with the same desires as every single girl in my dorm. I want to have friends. I want to be liked. But unfortunately for a lot of college students that means compromising your morals and I refuse to do so. Again, I am NOT doing this in my own power; I can’t. It takes daily surrender to God and to his Word for me to be able to do this. I pray that you, college student, professional, or whoever you are, never compromise what God has called you to.

Stay that strange, peculiar, chosen, and set apart person; creating the generation.

Proclaim His praises!

~Sally

P.S. Just a few pictures from Freshman Year. I’m really bad about remembering to take pictures so there aren’t a lot but here you go!

Summing Up the Sermon: The Greatest Sermon Ever {Parts 4-6}

Finally… the last three parts of The Greatest Sermon Ever!

So, as I mentioned in my previous post, the end of this semester has been absolutely insane! I have one more final tomorrow at noon and then my Freshman year will be over! Which is crazy and exciting and scary all at the same time…

But, I have time to catch up on some blogging and I figured that since I have three weeks worth of sermons (not including Easter) to sum up I would put them all into one post. To hear the sermons click here.

{Part 4}

“If I’m going to be a follower of God, I need to know what it looks like.”

This was the “opening statement” of the sermon. This should be true of us right? If we are going to do this thing where we follow Christ, shouldn’t we want to know how to do it right? And who better to get this information from than Christ himself?

In Matthew 6, Jesus assumes that we will be doing these three things: being charitable, praying, and fasting. We know this because he uses the words, “when you” and not, “if you.” This could be a whole different sermon but nonetheless it is included in this one. If we are serious about our relationship with Christ, then these three things begin to flow out of us- because of our relationship with him.

Jesus assumes that we will be doing these things so he addresses our weakness: that we can take good things and taint them and even begin to make them bad. There is something in the human heart that makes us take something good and taint it. Why? Because without Christ, our hearts are wicked. We begin to do things with the wrong motive and when we do that, those things are worthless.

Jesus says, “don’t be like the hypocrites.” They were giving, praying, and fasting, but they were doing those things with the wrong motives. They were people pleasers.

The things that we are supposed to be doing, we are to be doing unto God. When we begin to do that which is to be done unto God for man, we are being people pleasers and begging for recognition. If you want praises from men, that’s your reward; don’t expect anything from God. Bible. Not me.

I want God’s recognition; not man’s. If all I’m getting is man’s, and never anything from God, then I don’t want to be recognized by man at all. “Whatever you do, do (with passion) unto God and not unto man.” Sometimes, we forget who we serve. 

What is hypocrisy? A hypocrite is one who loves to be seen. One who tells others to observe laws, but doesn’t obey them themselves. You try hard to please people, but then those people see who you truly are (eventually) and they run off.

Here’s why hypocrisy needs to be addressed: Are people finding what they need in the church? Are they finding power and freedom? Or just a bunch of fakes?

God requires honesty! And an honest heart. A double minded man will not receive anything from God.

Hypocrisy is NOT failing, sinning, or a Christian who sins. Failing is not hypocrisy; it is reality.  A hypocrite is someone who puts on an act and has an anterior motive. They are playing a game. They want be seen in one way when they are completely different. But God is not a fool and he refuses to be played a fool. We have no place for games and hypocrisy. It is time to walk humbly and honest before God and to “get real” with God.

{Part 5}

Are you ready for it? The most widely discussed topic in the world (of nonbelievers). JUDGING!

Matthew 7 and Luke 6:37 were used for this message. I felt like this was very well taught and almost gave me, as a “judgemental” Christian, some relief.

Point number 1: Jesus did NOT forbid Christians to judge because we have to make judgements daily because Christian love is not blind.

Philippians 1:9-10, “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,”

How are we supposed to discern what is pure and blameless if we don’t make judgements?

I encourage you to read Matthew 7:1-12 and Luke 6:37-38 as they are parallel passages but all of it relates to judging.

In judgement: What are you giving? What’s coming out of your life on a daily basis? Mercy? Grace? Or are you being cold and indifferent?

Next in Jesus’ sermon is the famous “plank and speck passage” that for sake of visualization we are going to change to a 2 by 4 plank and a piece of sawdust. Jesus says, “Why do you look at the piece of sawdust in their eye when there is a 2 by 4 in yours?” You need to get the 2 by 4 out of your eye so that you can help guide those around you. That means, judgement has to start with you!

Point number 2: You get what you give. Judging always begins with ourselves. If you are not examining yourself and judging yourself then stay out of other people’s business.

Judgement needs to begin at the house of God. Are we doing things the way God would have us to do it?

Why does judgement have to begin with us?

1)  When we begin to judge ourselves, we prepare ourselves for the final judgement

2) Whether we like it or not, we are being judged today

3) The purpose of judging ourselves is to prepare us to help others- to help them and to restore them.

If we don’t judge ourselves, we will become blind to our own issues. 

{Part 6} The final part

There were a lot of great things in this one so I’m going to try my best to pull out what I found most important. PLEASE listen to the sermon to get the full details! From Matthew 7.

In the final part of Jesus’ sermon he speaks about three things:

1)  Two paths

2) Two types of trees

3) Two types of foundations.

There are two types of people; those who sincerely desire to  follow Christ and those who don’t. 

Two Paths

Ultimately, there is only one way that leads to Heaven, and subsequently there is a way that leads to Hell. You need to evaluate where your road is leading. The road leading to Heaven is not majority populated, rather, it is the minority. But this is not new! God’s people have always been the remnant and the small minority. You, as a Christian, are going to be different. The Christian life REQUIRES this! The narrow road is not heavily populated because it requires you to do some examination. God has called you off the broad path and onto the narrow. What path are you on? I encourage you to really evaluate this by asking, “Has my faith cost me anything?”

Two Trees

Good fruit comes from good trees; bad fruit comes from bad trees. It doesn’t get much simpler than that! This part goes on to talk about the false prophets who will come as “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” Not everyone who confesses Jesus as Lord is a true follower. There are people who seem to have a form of godliness but deny it’s power (2 Timothy 3). But if you receive Christ’s sacrifice you can be free because of the power of the cross. That power comes in kneeling before the cross and surrendering-denying yourself, taking up your cross, and following him.

Two Foundations

If you don’t listen to this sermon for anything else, please listen to hear my pastor “sing.” It is an old bluegrass gospel song that has the lyrics, “I’m working on a building, it’s a Holy Ghost building.” Those building’s foundations are going to be shaken. You are going to face challenges but the Word of God and the truth of Christ will sustain you. Building on the Rock means that you are reading the Word of God and you are acting on it in obedience. 1 Corinthians 3:9 tells us that our foundations are going to be tested and those who hear the Word, respond, and lead others in obedience to the Word, their foundation will stand.

All this information is great for those who are abiding in Christ but the question is: Are you fully following Jesus. If not, please reach out and talk to someone!

If so, then my challenge for you is to reach out to those around you who you know are not. Help them build their foundation on obedience.

Proclaim His praises!

~Sally

Dear Self on Finals Week

Just a quick study break. Some thoughts about my first year of college and where I’ve come.

Disclaimer: I should be studying for finals right now but I need a break. FINALS-MEME-10

 

This is only my second finals week but I declare: this has to be the most I have ever studied in my entire life… Lord, please get me through Tuesday and the Introduction to Cell Biology Exams! I can’t even!

 

So to destress I decided I needed to blog. (Side note: Introduction to Cell Biology is the reason there haven’t been any posts the past couple of weeks. And I have some good information! COMING SOON: The Greatest Sermon Ever: Parts 4 and 5, Goals for the Summer, and some Music Reviews!! Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Without further to do: Dear Self on Finals Week

Dear Self,

You’ve almost made it. In five days you will have completed your first year of college. This year went by so fast. You’ve met so many new people, began to form great friendships, and you have grown up more in a year than I ever believed you could.

As you enter finals week, remain calm. Know that all the effort you have put in this semester will pay off. Know that you are not defined by your grades, but they are important. Don’t find your worth in your GPA; find your worth in Christ and who you are in him. That being said, I’m pretty sure Christ wants you to try hard and to be successful on your finals so that’s going to require some effort on your part.

This year has taught you so much. You have learned that you can do things you never imagined you could do. You have started to learn how to “adult” a little bit; however you aren’t really willing to admit that you are one yet. You have learned that seeing your parents every day is not a necessity, but you have learned to appreciate the 72 hour weekends spent with them. You have learned that, in some ways, yes, college is not like high school, but in others, it is. Just a little bit more of teaching yourself concepts. You have learned more about who God has called you to be. You have learned that God will use the gifts and talents he has given you to do things that may be outside of your comfort zone. You have learned how to talk to people with beliefs different than yours in a way that is respectful and non-confrontational, while still standing your ground.

Self, I am proud of you. That may sound a little egotistic but I really am. I just wanted to let you know that incase you are ever doubting yourself. I want to remind you of your accomplishments incase you are feeling down.

Just something to get you through this next week from your archery coach: “Forget the last arrow; keep your eye on the target; then see the outcome. Persevere through the final 15-meter round. God’s got your back.”

Proclaim His praises,

Sally

Summing Up the Sermon: The Greatest Sermon Ever {Part 3}

What I loved from part three of the sermon series of The Greatest Sermon ever!

Sorry this is coming super late! It has been a crazy week of projects and papers at college but, better late than never! This week’s sermon was challenging. I had to listen to it on podcast (I wasn’t home) and as I was sitting in one of my favorite study areas I was convicted. To hear the sermon click here!

Again, we are in Matthew 5, picking up in verse 27. One of the first things said in this sermon was, “You know it, but are you practicing it.” This quote alone is convicting. How many times growing up in a Christian household do you hear about Jesus’ sermon? I have heard these verses all of my life but practicing it is so much harder!

The part of Scripture talked about this week is radical!

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”

Let’s be clear: Jesus is not saying to literally cut off your hand or foot or to gauge out your eye; that is not going to solve the problem. The issue is really at the heart. However, we also can’t water down what Jesus is teaching. In this passage, Jesus is saying it is better to go through life without an eye than to live in sin and to enter Hell with both.

Back to the teaching, cutting off your hand isn’t going to solve the problem when the problem originates in the heart. Before sin is committed where people can see it, it has already been committed in the heart. The teaching: it is imperative to guard your heart even if you have to implement radical changes. Those radical changes may be hard but they have to be made. Cutting off your hand is radical. Changing your friend group is radical. But it is better to make radical changes than to go to Hell living in sin.

Here’s something that I found interesting- I just hadn’t thought about it before. God doesn’t take away what is tempting us to sin; instead he teaches us what to do and how to deal with that sin. But he doesn’t leave us to do it alone; he gives us the power we need to overcome the temptation.

Here’s the deal: Because Jesus is being so radical in his sermon, he must know something about this that we don’t. Jesus believed in a literal Hell. “For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.” Right, He wouldn’t have said it if he didn’t believe in it! He was saying: Do whatever you have to do to avoid Hell! Jesus has don’t everything he can to keep us from Hell- now you (I) have to do everything you can to avoid Hell.

The sermon was wrapped up with a story from the Old Testament that demonstrated the importance of not blowing past God’s warning signs. The story is about Balaam’s donkey. If you haven’t heard this story go to Numbers 22 and check it out. In short, God will put road blocks in your path to keep you from Hell; it is your choice whether you heed those road blocks.

The challenge: What is it that is causing you to continually sin? Begin to allow God to lead you to that source, then deal with it radically. 

Proclaim His praises!

~Sally

Featured Image Photo credit: Cameron † Evans via Visual hunt / CC BY

 

Who Am I?

Here it is! My testimony!

It is the most dreaded part of college. The first day of a new semester. You walk into the room, pick your unassigned assigned seat for the class, and sit awkwardly staring at your phone hoping someone will text you. Then, the professor walks in, introduces themselves and then says, “Let’s go around the room and say who we are and something about ourselves,” or at least something to that extent. It is then when you go, “Who am I? How do I explain where I am from? Do I even do anything interesting with my life?” I hate the first day of a new semester.

In this post I have decided to answer the “ice breaker” question for myself. I want you to know where I come from and why I think the way I do. The “Christianese” word for it is testimony. You can call it my story.

I am from small town Indiana. There are smaller towns but I think mine is pretty small. I grew up in great home! I have excellent parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles and so on. I was literally  placed in a perfect home. My parents kept my brother and I in church and we were “raised in the ways of the Lord.” When I was in kindergarten my mom became very involved with an after school ministry called Good News Club. It is essentially vacation Bible school after school. It was that first year of starting the ministry in the school I went to that I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and to be Lord of my life (I probably didn’t say it like that when I prayed but you get the point). Two years later I was baptized in my small country church.

I don’t remember the exact time that this happened but not long after my mom became involved with the ministry she decided to go full-time. This meant that she would not be working in the corporate world anymore and that she would be a full time missionary. I was young so I really don’t remember my feelings about it- I just told you all that to say, “My mom is a full time missionary.”

Through the ministry that my mom is involved in I was able to be a “Summer Missionary” for about six years. I loved it! This is where I found my calling. It wasn’t to be a missionary in the sense that we think of it but it was to be an occupational therapist. I have this “thing” where when I see a child with special needs I just want to be with them. I want to talk to them and I want to help them learn. Through some research, I discovered that occupational therapy  would be a great profession for me.

When I was in seventh grade my mom decided I should be homeschooled. This part of my story doesn’t last long because that only lasted for a year. Homeschooled life was not for me. The next year I started attending the Christian school that I would graduate from.

The first year at the school was pretty great. I loved the people and I loved the school. The next year wouldn’t be as great. There were some things that happened that made me feel like I wasn’t important and that made me feel like I had no purpose. One of my friends left the school in a dramatic fashion and for the rest of that year I felt so alone. I hated school. I cried almost every night. I dreaded going to school and looked forward to the moment I would get to come home. The story is a lot of downs and not a lot of ups but I found myself being a great third wheel in people’s friend groups.

I remember one day talking to my principal about how I was feeling and I told her I just didn’t feel like I had a purpose anymore and she told me that my purpose was to glorify God and to win the souls of others. It took me a long time to grasp that. Half way in to my sophomore year I finally did.

You’ll remember in a previous post where I talked about sophomore year being the year that I started to discover God for myself. I had lived off my parent’s faith for my entire life, never seeing what God had in store for just me. Finally, what pulled me out of this rut that I was stuck in was the book of Job. I was intrigued by the fact that even though Job had everything taken from him, he continued to praise God. I remember thinking, “If Job can praise God through losing everything, I can praise God in my rut too.”

Now, I bring you to junior year of high school. This is the year I got my driver’s license. I was a little late but that’s okay. I had been attending the same church my entire life and while there was some youth there it wasn’t what I was wanting. We didn’t have any kind of youth group and I was going to the adult Sunday School classes. I loved that church and I still do. Let me be very clear: I still love that church. Every time I walk in there I feel a sense of “home.” I love the people there. But I felt like it was time to move on. There was a church in the area that one of my friends went to and I had been going to their youth group on Sunday nights. I began to attend that church regularly as soon as I got my license and I soon joined the church. This is the church I still attend today.

At this church I met people my age who had a passion to serve God and were “on fire.” The youth pastor was incredible. The pastor was incredible. Every sermon challenged me. I was worshipping God with my whole heart. This was the place that I needed to be. I began to get involved at the church with the nursery and the children’s church.

I am not the same person I was when I was a sophomore in high school and I pray that God will constantly be molding me and shaping me as I continue in life. I hope that four years from now I will be writing and saying that I am not the same person I was in my freshman year of college.

Sometimes when you hear people tell their testimony you will only hear the first part that I shared with you; their “salvation story.” But to me, a testimony is so much more than that. It is how God is constantly molding you and shaping you to live life according to His purpose for you.

What’s your testimony? Never thought about it? I challenge you to think about what it is and write it down. Then, share it with a friend. There’s something powerful about sharing your testimony. God uses them in a powerful way. Let God use yours!

Proclaim His praises!

~Sally

 

*Featured Image: Photo credit: Noukka Signe via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-ND

Music Review: Praise the Lord

My thoughts on Crowder’s “Praise the Lord”

The great David Crowder has made this song popular in my house! (Disclaimer: After doing some research I think the song was written by Sean McConnell. I found a version that I think he sang, but I just know Crowder’s version!) I used to have this thing about David Crowder that I didn’t really like. He had some great songs when the band was together (David Crowder Band), but then when he went solo I felt like he sort of dropped off the Christian radio stations. Then, I was working at a camp this past summer and one of the deans for teen camp had me listen to “Run, Devil, Run” and I actually enjoyed it! After going home that weekend and having my parents listen to the song my mom proceeded to buy the whole American Prodigal album. I have to say that this is a great album! There really isn’t a song on it that I don’t like. We laugh at my house because my dad is obsessed with the guy, but Crowder’s music hits home and connects with each listener in a personal way. I think that his song “Praise the Lord” can speak volumes to the people who listen to it.

I’m just going to bring out a few things about the song that I love. First, the chorus.

But now I just don’t buy it anymore
No, I’ve tried and I’ve tried to know everything for sure
But I find I know less as I come to know You more
You’re not who I thought You were
Praise the Lord

What he isn’t buying anymore is talked about in the first verse. I considered leaving that out for the purpose of this post but, eh, we’ll leave it in. I love the line that says “But I find I know less as I come to know You more…” Isn’t that how this thing goes? When I was younger I learned so much about attributes of God and who Jesus was and I could talk about who the Holy Spirit was at a young age. I went to a Christian school where we studied doctrine and over and over these things were rehearsed in my head. Don’t get me wrong, those Bible classes were very important to me and I don’t know where I would be without them today, but I think that sometimes in my life and maybe in yours, we get sidetracked with doctrine. We get sidetracked when we look deep into things and we forget about the foundational truths of who God is. God is loving, gracious, and forgiving! “You’re not who I thought You were. Praise the Lord!”

The next line I am pulling out is from the second verse.

I think that when we get to Heaven
We’re gonna laugh when we can see
How hard we try to make it
And how easy it should be

I think about this all the time! I think it is crazy that there are so many denominations in the church today and they all have differences and some are so small that you often thing, “does that really even matter?” But a denomination different than you would say YES! and then they would proceed to tell you about why they are right and you are wrong. And sometimes those small differences in denominations matter for salvation. What? Are you kidding me? I think it is going to be funny when we get to Heaven. I’m not saying the whole world is going to heaven because that’s not true- you must believe in God and receive the gift of His Son, Jesus, who died on the cross for your sins- but some people add to this. Or they say that salvation can be lost entirely in a person’s life. I think its going to awesome when we get to Heaven and the only thing that matters is that we are going to be at the feet of Jesus, worshipping the one who gave his life for us. We aren’t going to be talking about what our denomination believes. We aren’t going to be in our own little corner with our church people. We will be as one, crying, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!” And that is all that is going to matter.

I encourage you to listen to this song! You will probably fall in love with Crowder’s music after you do so don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Let me know your thoughts!

Proclaim His praises!

~Sally