search party of one

11 Oct

“He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” John 20: 15 (NIV)

I came across this particular verse during my current YouVersion devotional on women in the Bible. I haven’t been reading it as frequently as I should, but when I do, it’s a slap in the face. This time, it’s the story of Mary Magdalene that has captured my attention.

If you’re wondering who the heck she is, here’s a quick side note: Mary Magdalene became a devoted follower of Christ after He healed her. Since then, she followed him wherever he went.

Based on scripture, she didn’t come across as a I’ll follow Jesus today, but I think I’ll take the day off from Him tomorrow type of gal. NO! She didn’t want to miss anything from Him – his miracles, his teachings, etc. – she wanted to be present for all of it.

I’m praying that through this devotional, I can learn what it means to be desperate for Christ’s love. Not in the “let me try this Jesus clique thing out until I get what I want and then I’ll go back to my ways” kind of desperation. But instead, from the perspective of, “I want to know what it means to follow in your footsteps and learn from you every waking second.” To understand that his love is unfailing, unconditional, endless, and meant for everyone.

Reading John 20:15, I try to imagine how Mary sounded speaking those words to Jesus. What was her tone? How did she act? What were her facial expressions?

In this verse, she was searching for Jesus’ body at his tomb and expecting a body to be there. Yes, she was shocked to see an empty tomb. I probably would’ve run around like a crazy person to be honest, but thankfully, Mary seemed to be more composed than me.

So when Jesus appeared to her, she didn’t even recognize Him. She looked at this man who appeared before her and all she wanted to know was where  Jesus was so she could get him. Her search was simple – where is my Jesus? She didn’t ask the distance, if he was in another town, or anything of that nature because she would’ve gone to any length to find him.

How many times have we stopped to ask that question without the fine print?

Where is my Jesus, but if it’s inconvenient for me, I’ll come back to this Jesus thing another time.

Where is my Jesus because He’s taking a little too long to answer my prayer.

Mary didn’t have a but or because to her question. She had a purpose. No matter what it took, she was going to find Him.

Once He called her by name in verse 16, “…She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means ‘Teacher’),” she knew it was Jesus. Just by calling her name.

I don’t know your life story, but He does.

Stop searching for answers in an empty tomb. I’ve done that so many times and it’s in those moments, I need to ask, Where’s my Jesus? Do it because you genuinely want to find Him.

And you know the beauty of it? He’s already gone the distance to find us and He’s calling us by name.

-B

Is there a scripture verse or Bible story that has been popping up in different areas of your life lately?

finding a pocket to fit in

15 Aug

It has been a terribly long time since I’ve posted on here. It’s a little painful to see the gap between this post and my last one. I’ve attempted to write a few posts during my internship at Elevation Church this summer, but every attempt has ended with me falling asleep mid thought. The subject of this post has been on my heart for awhile so I hope it encourages someone.

I want to briefly dive in to what the word acceptance means and look beyond the surface meaning of it.

The world constantly dangles this word above our heads. We’re lead to believe, one way or another, we need to be linked to something. We have an innate need to belong and that has either been a positive challenge for us or it has been one of the primary reasons we take a downfall.

If I don’t find a way to fit in at school, I’ll always be an outcast.

If I don’t dress like everyone else, I won’t be accepted into the cool cliques.

If people know I’m involved in this “church thing,” I’ll be looked at as weird.

We’re concerned with how everyone else looks at us that we rarely take a step back and think about how God sees us.

In those times when we feel unwanted, remember we serve a God who wants our imperfections and quirks because he’ll utilize them to carry out the calling He has placed on our lives.

Jesus was rejected by those who knew Him closely and by those who only knew about Him by word of mouth. He never failed to exhibit love to those who mocked him. Jesus didn’t wait for people to want Him; He pursued them regardless.

We struggle with finding our place in this world and where we fit in the fabric of life, but Christ has wanted us from before we were born.

Jesus wasn’t concerned with who’s popular list He was on because His interest was to spread the gospel. He didn’t walk past the rejected; He invited them to join Him.

Zacchaeus, the immoral tax collector [Luke 19:1-10]

The woman accused of adultery [John 8:1-11]

Those individuals didn’t live perfect lives, but Jesus wanted them anyways. No matter how much you’ve messed up, Jesus wants you.

The world can say anything about you, but know, you’re already accepted by the King.

I couldn’t think of a better example than the song “Wanted” by Dara Maclean. It perfectly demonstrates the unfailing love of Jesus and I hope it touches you as much as it has touched me.

-B

the price of a king

24 Mar

The birth of Jesus. A story that has been retold more times than we can count.

Mary, a virgin and betrothed to Joseph, is told by an angel she’ll give birth to a son. She’ll name him Jesus. Meanwhile, King Herod is quivering in fear, trying to figure out how he can prevent this “messiah” from taking over his throne.

Soon after Mary gave birth, she was approached by three wise men who said they came to see the king. They presented the young couple and their newborn son with extravagant gifts. These gifts weren’t bought at a nearby thrift shop. The gifts retailed for a price no normal man could’ve afforded. However, the physical gifts given to this family couldn’t compare to the price this baby would someday pay for man. Including you and me.

Jesus was born in a stable, which if you think about it, wasn’t the most sanitary of conditions for a birth. I lean towards the side of a germaphobe (those who know me may exaggerate my sanitizing tendencies a little) so the mention of this makes me a little uneasy. The woman who was carrying the king of kings in her womb, wasn’t provided with a clean space to give birth because there was no room for her and her husband. Even when Jesus came into the world, it wasn’t in the cleanest of conditions. It was in a space that wreaked of animals and who knows what else. He entered this world covered in blood (don’t seem surprised by this because we’re all aware babies aren’t born sparkling clean), and He left it covered in blood. He suffered with the intent to save us from our impurity. But through all of the torture – having his skin ripped from his body with each beating – he didn’t hesitate to utter a phrase of redemption on behalf of the individuals who inflicted the pain:

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

We tend to reflect on this story only when Easter Sunday approaches. Somehow, we feel convicted to attend Church. We sit in our seats and wait for the story to be regurgitated to us once again, but it’s more than a story. It’s about the king making the decision to clothe himself in flesh, walk among man, and willingly sacrifice.

He paid the price, knowing a return policy didn’t exist.

All He’s asking is we accept Him. Once we take the first step, we just have to follow His lead. It isn’t risk-free, but it’s guaranteed to change our lives.

20/20 vision

17 Mar

If you haven’t seen The Bible on the History channel, you’re missing out. In case you aren’t familiar with it, here’s a quick rundown:

It has had two episodes so far and will continue to air on Sunday up until Easter. Each episode tells two to three well-known Bible stories – from David and Goliath to the death and resurrection of Jesus.

This show has had me hooked from the beginning and it doesn’t hurt the actors are great.After watching the most recent episode, I started to reevaluate my walk with Christ.

I’ve grown up listening to these Bible stories, but this time, I kept thinking about how many times these great men of God fell short of their call.  They told themselves, admirers, enemies, and God, they would follow Christ wholeheartedly.  Sometimes, I think we forget the meaning of that promise. We don’t realize how much we have to sacrifice until we’re asked to abandon the things that don’t glorify Him.

When temptation came their way, these men gave in. Samson told Delilah the source of his strength, David slept with his friend’s wife and then had him purposely killed in battle, and the list goes on. They were humans, yes, but they were given a command and failed to obey. Did God see their one mistake, refuse their request for forgiveness, and then toss them aside? No. He continued to use them. God forgave them. That type of mercy isn’t something you can receive from just anyone.

We often view God as someone who will love us only up to a certain point; but that’s the beauty in having a relationship with Him. He loves us, in spite of our shortcomings. When Samson was deceived by Delilah and his enemy physically blinded him, God still used him to bring down the walls. He may have his sight, but then he was able to focus on God completely and the purpose He had intended  for him before he was born. I’m not saying you should poke your eyes out, but don’t get caught up in what you want because then, you’ll only see what you want. Don’t forget to ask, God is this what you want for me?

Even though David let his lust for Bathsheba lead him to kill his best friend, God still used him throughout his reign as king.  God saw the desire of his heart was to serve Him.  This man defeated Goliath and now, he wanted nothing more than to be forgiven of his wrongdoings.

We’re so busy casting a spotlight on our limitations, we’re allowing it to blur our vision.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11) (NIV)

He’s waiting for us to throw away our old way of seeing life and accept that we’ll see our life through His eyes.

-B

If you’ve been watching The Bible, what are you thoughts? What story has hit close to home for you? Would love to hear what you think!

music wonder

13 Mar

I know the phrase American Idol doesn’t seem to have as much popularity these days. Honestly, I haven’t watched the show in awhile. I will however, catch clips of contestants from time to time or read about some of the performances online. 

There’s one contestant this season who has managed to catch my attention – Angela “Angie” Miller. From the minute she opens her mouth to sing, you wouldn’t believe she has 40% hearing loss in one ear and 20% in the other. Her voice is unbelievable, but I’ve already voiced my opinion so you can decide for yourself with these two clips. Hope you enjoy!

If you have any songs you’d like for me to share on here, feel free to leave a comment and let me know!

-B

 

 

 

twisted without consent

11 Mar

No matter how many times you go to the gym, you’ll never look good enough.

You’ll never find someone who will love you.

You can study all you want, but you’ll never succeed.

Lies. They have of way of entering our head, vacationing there, and inviting their friends over to hang out and drive you crazy.

How many times have you heard a form of one of these lies? You can be on the happy train and all of a sudden, you’re derailed to depressionville all because you let one lie get the best of you. Here’s your solution: don’t. No if’s or buts because really, it’s that easy.

A few Sundays ago, my pastor posed the question –who told you those things?  Negativity is a powerful thing because it can automatically flip your world upside down. We underestimate its ability. So when these lies come at us, we unexpectedly give it permission to enter. 

We’ve been told these things time and time again so it has to be true. But it doesn’t. We’re stronger than we believe.  The next time a lie starts to slither its way into your thoughts, remember who you are. 

be you

-B

a faithful heart

25 Jan

When I was writing this blog post earlier, I had a completely different subject in mind. In fact, I was halfway done with it when I was interrupted by a text from my sister. Instead of ignoring it, easily distracted me took a quick glance at what she had to say.  To my surprise, I couldn’t believe what she had just sent me. I wasn’t sure how to react to the message.  I was in shock.  I didn’t know what emotion I was supposed to feel at that point in time.

I wanted to be angry, to scream at the top of my lungs (though that was impossible since I was at work), and to yell, “WHY!” I was tempted to throw my fists in the air (not Jersey Shore style) and start asking, why now? Why couldn’t this happen to someone else? I wish I could provide you with more details, but all I can say is, it was big a enough deal that it could have ruined my day.

Just when I started to feel the fumes start to form, the Bible story of Elisha and Elijah came to mind.  Elisha was given the opportunity to learn from one of the greatest prophets in the Bible and he jumped at the opportunity.  He left his life of tending oxen to follow this man of God.  All he knew is that Elijah found him and told him his reason for coming to him.  Elisha didn’t question Elijah’s motive but instead, followed this man without hesitation.  He learned from him and in return, Elisha asked God to give him a double portion of what Elijah had.  He observed the relationship Elijah shared with God and all he could think was, man I want to be like him.  After taking Elijah up to heaven, God honored Elisha’s request.

After going through this in my head, I realized my situation was similar.  Maybe this unforeseen event occurred as an opportunity to reevaluate my priorities in life.  Initially, when I told Christ I was willing to follow him wholeheartedly, did I sneak some oxen (bear with me) along for the ride? Are there things in my life, our lives, we’re hesitant to let go of?

Maybe this event happened for a reason I can’t wrap my head now. Perhaps, my family has been given this breath of fresh air to reexamine our walk with Him.  If we’re going to follow him, we have to do it with the understanding that He’s the only focus.

I want to be able to know that mistakes and all, I’ll hear Him tell me one day, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” (Matthew 25:21).

 

Are there any oxens you’re refusing to leave behind?

-B

happiness in the low

12 Jan

In my small group on Wednesday, we went through several bible scriptures and discussed a range of topics.  However, there was one passage that has resonated with me since that night.  It says:

“5 I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 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.” (2 Corinthians 12:5-10)

As my small group leader read this out loud, I silently read along, mouthing every word.  Now, I’ve heard these verses on multiple occasions, but that’s it.  I’ve heard them.  They’ve gone in one ear and out the other.  I have failed to take the time to actually reflect on them and consider how they can apply to my life.

Throughout this passage, I picture Paul letting his guard down.  I imagine him exposing his humanity to strangers, in a light we rarely want to show others – as imperfect. We want to go around bragging about our strengths, but instead, Paul is encouraging us to do the opposite.  He’s saying we should “delight in weaknesses.”  Are you serious? How am I supposed to have an ounce of happiness if I’m being kicked to the bottom of a pit? It isn’t easy, but it’s possible.

I’m sure you don’t go around bragging about your weaknesses, but if we don’t let our guard down every once in awhile,  how can people realize the necessity of accepting Christ in their life? We’re lying to ourselves if we pretend we can go about our everyday lives solo.

We need to step away from this societal masquerade we’re engaging in and realize this simple truth – without Christ in our life, we’re weak.  Yeah, that might put a dent in our ego, but who are we to say we can handle everything without His assistance? Admitting we’re strong without Him is the worst weakness.

Take time to absorb what Paul is saying and you’ll start asking yourself, when was the last time I delighted in my weakness?

-B

there’s adventure outside of the parallel lines

4 Jan

By now, I’m sure you’re putting the final touches on your list of resolutions for the new year or it’s already complete.  The goals you didn’t get around to last year have made a second appearance onto this year’s list. After all, this year is when you’ll really get down to business, right?

Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in repetition this year – If x, y, and z aren’t finished, we whinge about our inability to accomplish anything, things start to spiral downward, and blah, blah, blah.

Lets change it up then. What if we don’t make a list at all? This year, I’ve decided to not make one. No, I didn’t leave my sanity in the year 2012. There are things I want to do this year but the important things don’t need to be jotted down because if they’re that important, I’ll remember them.  Everything else, I’m leaving up in the air.  Call me insane or non-traditional but there’s nothing wrong with coloring outside of  the lines every once in awhile.

I’m not implying that taking a chance is an automatic freebie to act stupid.  All I’m saying is what if we take this year to actually live? That isn’t terrible.  Besides, everything else is up to God because I want to make sure I’m following His plans for me this year, not mine.

I’ve made it this far because I’m realizing who I should put my trust in.  I’m sorry, but I’m bidding adieu to new years resolutions. It’s time to live this year with an open mind (let me reiterate, that doesn’t mean stupidity) and look at this year’s resolutions with avidity.

I believe that’s when the unbelievable will happen.Smile

-B

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land, there is no other life but this.”

–Henry David Thoreau

motivation, where art thou?

10 Dec

So, I should be studying for the final I have on Wednesday but what am I doing instead? Everything else that doesn’t include textbooks and being productive. I’m browsing on Pinterest (don’t judge me because I know most of you are doing that too), doing some online Christmas shopping,  watching clips of the soon-to-be released movie Les Miserables, and writing this post – all forms of procrastination.

I’ve been given the daunting task of studying, knowing I don’t have any classes to attend for the rest of the semester.  I blame my lack of motivation on senioritis since I graduate in the spring.  Basically, I’m thinking of everything to justify my unwillingness to sit down with my books and study. Yes, it’s sad but the majority of college students is experiencing the same thing.  At least that’s what I say to make myself feel better.

I guess I should get down to business but at least I’m aware of my problem 🙂

For those of you studying, I wish you the best and don’t give in to the deceitfulness of procrastination. Okay, we’ll lean toward something a little more reasonable. Try to stay focused at least 50% of the time because you don’t want to find yourself stressing out last minute. Now, I just have to remember that too.

-B

finals

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