The God of Everywhere

god

I have this great opportunity that allows me to get paid for singing in church.

A member of the congregation at the First Presbyterian Church in my college town donated a grant to the choir program for college students to get paid for singing in the choir.  I love singing and I love church (and of course wouldn’t mind being paid!) so this is an ideal opportunity for me.  Every Sunday I go to the Presbyterian Church at 8:30am for choir practice.

I really enjoy singing in the choir.  It’s a small and informal practice every week.  Most of the other choir members are retirement aged members of the congregation, except for one or two other college students.  Everyone is extremely friendly and I think the typical conversation in the room is quaint and polite.  The music is lovely too.  I like to be kept on my toes by sight reading music once a week.

However, I didn’t grow up in a Presbyterian church.  I’ve found them to be a bit more traditional than I’m used to. At the same time, I am missing all three services at the church I prefer to attend.  When the service seems to drag on, I think to myself this:

The God of Hillside Church is the God of the First Presbyterian Church too.

In more applicable terms: God is present everywhere.  Where you are now, and wherever it is you want to be.

I would be will willing to bet that everyone has wanted to be somewhere else at some point in their life.  Maybe you have wished that God would have placed you in a more exciting line of work.  Or perhaps you wish you were in a slower pace of life.  Maybe you have been in a place where you don’t feel appreciated.  Human beings are pretty good at finding fault with what we have.

I have a lot of friends who are literally all over the world.  They are pursuing the desire that God has placed in their hearts to know Him and his people more.  It really seems like they are “out there” doing God’s work.  It often seems to me that going to college and getting a degree in theatre is a less glamorous option.   It seems like it doesn’t exactly align with the following verse.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” -Matthew 28:19-20

How often do we let that sink in?  God is always with us.  When you try something new, and when you fail.  When you do something scary or something bad, He is with you.  God is with you even when you wish He wasn’t there, and He is most certainly there when you need him most.

god

It’s hard to comprehend because there is nothing in this world that we can compare to the presence of God.  Recently God has been revealing to me some things that are simply head knowledge versus the things I truly believe in my heart.  I would say there is a difference between knowing that God is always with you and actually knowing.  This is something I am working on making more than just head knowledge- closer to wisdom of the heart.

What I’ve come to realize is that going to college and getting a degree in theatre is going out into the world.  God doesn’t make mistakes when He decides what direction your life is going to take.  Not everybody is called overseas to experience the vast world God has created, and you are no less of a servant because of the path you’re on.   The God of the world is the God of where you are right now.

Learning to Be Still With God

learning to be still with god

Recently I have been discovering what it means to be still with God.  And by “being still” I mean lack thereof.

My brain and my overall presence has been pretty frazzled recently.  I have basically been on auto-pilot for the last month in attempts to make it through this semester in one piece.  It’s taken all my energy not to throw in the towel on school and maintain a healthy attitude.

Flashback to winter break:

Break was great because I actually got to rest my brain for a while.  I spent a lot of time at home coloring and listening to music. 🙂  I also felt like I was in a place where I was available for God to speak to me- and He did.  My life was quiet, my brain was quiet, and I was still.

“Be still in the presence of the LORD, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.”  -Psalm 37:7

Well, I’ve been kind of failing at the “being still” part and the “presence of the Lord” part.  I didn’t even realize it until after weeks and weeks of a busy schedule that I haven’t been still at all.  That just goes to show you how effectively this world can sneak up on you.  It feels like driving a car and getting caught up in your thoughts until you realize that you’ve driven into the middle of nowhere.

I’d like to give you a little insight that I’ve picked up in the last couple days, so hopefully you can be aware of your own level of stillness.

Reasons why you aren’t being still

You may just be too busy.  I love to keep a busy schedule doing things that I love.  I get some cheap thrill when I make it through a season where I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but this is a surefire way to not keep your head in the game and your heart in touch with God.  In Brant Hansen’s book Unoffendable, he talked about a period of his life when he and his family spent a lot of time at home, together, doing basically nothing.  They started getting funny comments from their neighbors like “I’ve looked outside and seen your family.  I’ve watched you.  And when I see your family, I don’t even know why, but I think about God.”  Now, I don’t know if I could ever slow down my life to the point of doing “nothing” but I think there is something to be said for restfulness.  You can read more about Unoffendable in my review here.

Your lens may be too small.  As in you “lens of life.”  (It’s cheesy, sorry)  But honestly, if you are getting caught up in day-to-day drama then you may need to zoom out to get a bigger picture of things.  Or perhaps you are one of those people who is always counting down to the events in the future.  I am pretty guilty of this.  Of course it’s ok to have aspirations and things to look forward too, but learning to be content in the present is essential when it comes to learning to be still with God.  Learning to be happy in the present moment means learning to be happy all the time.

Learning to be still

There is a concept in meditation that your objective should be to reach a state of simply letting things be.  For example, you may have a thought enter your head, but you should try to simply let it go and not get caught up in the fixation.  You should be able to look at something and not form an opinion of it.  I do not practice meditation (although I would like to) but I can definitely see the benefit of this concept.  You don’t have to have an opinion on everything.  Likewise, relentlessly holding onto your own opinions and feelings about worldly issues won’t do you any good in the long run.  Learn to let things go.

You can always surrender it to God.  If you’ve found that your lifestyle is just too busy to make time for God in your thoughts, then pray about it.  Ask your friends to pray about it too.  Maybe you just need some strength to get through this busy season, which is pretty much every student ever.  Pray for peace of mind and a stillness of heart so you can better hear God despite your busy life.

Get in touch with creation.  It’s summer baby!  Go outside and appreciate this beautiful earth!  I believe that one of the reasons why I became so close to God when I worked at camp was because I was outside all the time.  It’s hard to ignore God when you are experiencing his creation.

How being still can help you

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken.”  -Psalm 62:5-6

We all need God all the time.  Learning to be still with God is a practice that will constantly remind us to keep Him in our lives.  It is easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of school, work, family, friends, and whatever drama you are experiencing, but it’s worth the time and effort to learn to be still in Christ.

Even though I put Jesus on the back burner for a while, I don’t need to feel remorse or guilt for letting my guard down.  I don’t have to write a paper or stay after class.  I can pick up with God right where I left off, no strings attached, and that is what Amazing Grace is.  You can do that too!

There are several times in the Bible where stillness is expresses. Here’s a list of 25 Bible verses about being still. 🙂

Is quieting your mind and being still with God something you struggle with?  Leave a comment, I’d like to get a discussion going!

All Christians are Pretty Messed Up- Here’s Why

all christians are pretty messed up- here's why

Throughout the process of setting up and establishing this blog, I gave a lot of thought to the kind of content I wanted to post.  It’s taken a pretty different direction from what I first intended, but that’s ok.  I really want this blog to focus on living my life, but always incorporating my faith.  However, in the midst of organizing my brain and my thoughts, I’ve realized that I’m a pretty messed up person.

I remember my youth pastor was giving a lesson back when I was in high school.  I don’t remember what the lesson was about, but one point stuck out to me.  “Let’s face it, we’re all pretty messed up people, aren’t we?” he said.

Well, my first reaction was, “mmm… No, I’m not that messed up.”  Everyone probably thought so too.  Even today I don’t drink or swear.  I’ve never gotten into drugs, and I’m pretty nice to people.  I have good friends and I respect my parents.  It was hard for me to see in what way I was “messed up”.

Right now, I am at a point in my life where I am more confident, happy, and closer to God than ever before.  And right now, I am more aware than ever of just how messed up I am.

In this day in age, Christians have a pretty clear view of what a “good person” is like.  You can see it: they dress modestly, they smile a lot, they are involved in the church, they read their Bible every day, they are pursuing a future, they date other Christians and have Christian friends.  All these things tend to gain some brownie-points within the Christian community.  When someone doesn’t conform to these types of characteristics, they are sure to turn a few eyes here and there.  I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

Sometimes it seems like Christians are scared they will catch sinner-cooties or something.  Ya feel?

But guess what? We’re all sinners.

And yet, I’ve talked to so many people who feel uncomfortable simply stepping foot inside a church because they know they don’t fit the “typical mold” of a “good person.”

It breaks my heart when I encounter people who feel unaccepted, or even remorseful of the Christian community.  As Christians, we are called to minister to all people.  The fact that we get caught up in being a “good person” is truly messed up.

Jesus was notorious for associating with sinners, and even He got a lot of heat from the churches of His day.  Take a look at this passage from Luke.

“After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth.  ‘Follow me,’ Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.  Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them.  But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’   Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'”  -Luke 5:27-32

If this happened today, a sinner like Levi would be equivalent to a drug dealer, a murderer, or the Kardashians.  That’s how radical Jesus’s actions were.  If we are to be Christ-like, then we too must extend grace to our fellow sinners.

I don’t even realize it sometimes, but I try pretty hard to be a “good person.”  I try to be nice to people, but I realize that sometimes I’m nice simply because that’s what I’m supposed to do, not because I really care about them.  I’ve realized that sometimes my “acts of kindness” are really “acts of selfishness” because I do them for my image rather than to make other people feel welcome.

How about worry?  I am willing to bet that you and I both spend a lot more time worrying about things than we should.  It messes with our heads.  However, there is an all-powerful God that is watching out for us throughout it all, and yet we still devote so much energy to worrying about worldly things.  (Here are some helpful verses to help combat worry.)

Oooh!  How about this?  Have you ever wanted to fix someone or something?  I have.  Touching people’s hearts is not an easy thing to do, and for some reason we think we’re qualified to do such a thing.  I have definitely wished I could change some people just by telling them what they’re doing wrong.  Once again, there is an all-powerful God that cares about every one of us, why would we try to take matters into our own hands?

See?  Messed up.

All these things are simply human nature.  It’s just that human nature has majorly tripped us up.  That’s why we need God so much- we can’t even trust ourselves.  We are not messed up because we are Christians, we are messed up because we are human.

However, the greatest mistake we can make in this case is believing that we aren’t messed up.  Assuming that because we are Christians we have some sort of authority in our own lives (or anyone else’s life) is a surefire way of doing some real damage.

Now, these are just some observations that I have discovered in my own life, but I realize that everyone has their own “messed up” lives, with different versions of how we fall short as Christians.  Still, we are united because we all desperately need Jesus.  Just remember:

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”  -Romans 3:23-24

Let’s Rethink the Way We Look at Honesty

Let's Rethink The Way We Look At Honesty

“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”  -John 8:32

Dishonesty is a defense mechanism, at least it is in today’s culture.  People lie all the time to get out of trouble, clear their name, or even make money; and that’s acceptable.  If you have to lie to protect yourself, surely no one will hold it against you.  I think this especially applies to the politicians and celebrities of today’s world.

Honesty, on the other hand, isn’t such a virtue today.  Sometimes honesty is viewed as a vulnerability.  When you are completely honest, you look weak.  Your flaws and insecurities are exposed, and that’s not acceptable.  Even when you have only good things to share with the world, honesty can sometimes be considered annoying.  When you’re a Christian, people might not want your honesty at all.

Shouldn’t we do a double take about now?  There is a truth that is meant to set us free, but this doesn’t seem like freedom at all.  Lying is second nature to many, but maybe just telling the truth can move us towards freedom.

I think it’s about time we rethink the way we look at honesty.

Being Honest With Yourself

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?”  -Jeremiah 17:9

Wouldn’t it make sense that we have the ability to understand our hearts?  I mean, it’s not like anybody else can tell us our own thoughts and feelings.  For whatever emotion we are experiencing, there must be some reason for it.  But have you ever wanted something that you know is bad for you?  This is what Jeremiah 17:9 is talking about: our hearts deceive us.  They make us think we need something in our lives that would hurt us to pursue; like money, fame, success, relationships, respect.  Our heart makes us think that we are entitled to these things, and though these things are not evil in themselves, you could waste a lifetime of energy on pursuing your hearts desires.

Oh, but shouldn’t we follow our hearts?

Well, perhaps.  But, that doesn’t mean you should follow your every whim.  Our hearts are a major way that God communicates with us, so pray that He would live inside yours.  In truth, it is the unguarded heart that will trip you up, so make sure you are always praying that God would live in your heart to protect you from it.

Being Honest With Others

“Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.”  -Colossians 3:9-10

If you are a Christian, that means you’re a Christ-follower, but it’s more than that.  Christians are meant to be people who strive to be like Christ.  And of course, we know that Jesus always told the truth.  That is what the Bible is built on; telling us the truth.  There are a lot of lies that people tell us in this world, but the Bible is the one thing we can rely on to always speak the truth into our lives.

We, as Christians, should be doing the same for others.  Whether or not the people you encounter on a daily basis are Christians, you should always strive to be honest with them.  Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and make yourself vulnerable.  Tell your story; God has done amazing things for you, and it would be lying to say that you haven’t been changed by Him.

Being Honest With God

“Then hear from heaven, your dwelling place.  Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men)”  -1 Kings 8:39

This seems kind of silly to say, but you can lie to God too.  Of course God knows every part of you, so it seems like lying to him wouldn’t be an issue, but when you aren’t honest with God, it means that you aren’t putting all your trust in Him.

Sometimes I’ve lied to God when I’ve said I’m ok.  I’ve found myself wanting to pray about something that’s bothering me, but then I don’t because I realize that there are some people who have it so much worse than I do.  However, God cares about all of our little problems that we face in life.  By refusing to pray about something that’s bothering me, I’m basically saying “Never mind God, I’ll handle this one!”  That’s certainly not what He wants, and I probably can’t take care of myself as well as he can.

I just realized this today, but the root of the word “honesty” is honor.  I’m sure this means more than just telling the truth.  If God desires us to be honest, then having a truthful attitude brings God glory.  It think this verse sums it up nicely.

“Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”  -John 12:16

Honesty is more of a matter of the heart than about whether or not what you say is truthful.  So, do a double take, reconfigure your code of honor, and don’t be afraid to tell the truth.

Much love,

Delaney

6 Verses to Combat Worry

I think it is my best kept secret that genuinely I get really worried sometimes.  I like to be the one person that stays cool when everyone else loses their heads, but I have certainly have my moments of gripping panic.  In the midst of a normal day, I will suddenly get suffocating thoughts about who-knows-what.  Can you relate?

-managing money

-time budgeting

-keeping my grades up

-reputation and success in general

-friends and family

-am I good enough?

In these moments, it’s important to turn to God.  That’s what he asks us to do actually, it’s a huge exercise in faith, but it is such a relief to know that the creator of the universe wants to take care of our problems.

worry

 

Some of these are a bit longer than a single verse, but that’s because they’re important!  They are also all out of the NIV.  Let’s dive in!

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight.”

I love this.  This verse straight-up tells us that we don’t have all the answers to solve our problems.  So don’t put that pressure on yourself!  As long as you follow God, he will take care of the things you worry about.

Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Wow.  “Peace that transcends all understanding.”  Can you even imagine what that’s like?  And of course, our hearts and minds are where most of our worries lie.  Do you ever worry about something and then realize you were just over thinking it?  (#me)  Well, that peace of God will guard our hearts and minds from exactly that.

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.”

There are a lot of things in this world that claim to offer us comfort.  Money, health, relationships- and even though these things aren’t bad, they cannot give us the peace that God is offering.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that reaching you next worldly goal is the key to being happy, and drop the worry that comes with it.

Proverbs 16:3

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”

This is something I clung to when I was searching for the right college.  Talk about worry there!  In truth, it doesn’t matter so much what you do and where you go as long as you commit yourself to God.  You will surely be a success to Him.

Psalm 55:22

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you, he will never let the righteous fall.”

This is definitely the source of Finding Favour‘s song “Cast my Cares”, which I love!  If you haven’t heard it, listen to it!  Both this verse and that song give us a strong message about how we should handle our worries.  Actually, God wants us to give Him our worries, that’s how he sustains us.  It is not always easy to let God handle your worries, but if worry is something you struggle with, use it as a tool to draw closer to God rather than letting it drag you down.

Matthew 6:25-34

Ok, this one is obviously a lot more than a verse or two, but it’s honestly so good!  Please pick up your Bible and read it right now.  This passage contains my favorite verse of all time, which I thought need a bit more of a presentation.

Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or stow away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more important than they? -Matthew 6:26

Are you not more important than they?

My friends, there is an all-powerful God that cares enough about the insignificant little birds to feed them.  Do you really think he would neglect those who He’s created in His own image?  This passage does a great job of putting that into perspective, I’d even say it makes whatever worry we have look silly and small.

Worry is not fun.  It’s not.  I’d say it is one of the most miserable things we can experience as humans.  So why hang on to it?  Here we have the all-powerful God asking us to surrender our worry to him, won’t you take him up on this?  I’m not going to lie, it takes practice to surrender your worry, and there is always room for improvement.  But combating the worry in your life has long-lasting benefits.  No matter what, God always wants the best for you, so take a stand against worry.