Earthly Treasures

The American Dream

A dream so big, a white picket fence, children playing in the front yard, bills paid for, food on the table, and freedom in all things. What a peaceful life that we paint as our American dream. The American dream seems to cover all we might ever want, but the reality is that the society that we live in today screams, you need more. Another pair of shoes, a nicer car, a bigger home, all the things that people have grown to believe make a person who they are. They believe when someone looks at them and sees all their earthly treasures they will be thought well of. However, I’m more concerned with whether you know Jesus then if you’re driving a Cadillac or wearing a one-thousand dollar pair of shoes matched with your fifteen-hundred dollar purse. These are all areas that we have been brainwashed to think make us a better person. The truth is, there is freedom in Christ, freedom to stop depending on earthy treasures to satisfy us. The bible also teaches us that hard work is a good thing; therefore, I see nothing wrong with having nice things as long as they aren’t what you depend on for identity. We are free to spend our hard earned money on what we decide, as long as we are good stewards of the gifts God has given us. I see too many men and women looking to what they have and feeling like they need more, or taking an unhealthy pride in all they have. I write this blog speaking to my own tendencies to fall into this earthly lie that we can be satisfied by what we have. Through my quiet time today, the Lord has spoken to this area and gently reminded me of His truth and shown me the lies I have bought into.

The Lords Dream

Matthew 6:19-21: ” Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal;  for where your treasure is there your heart will be also” If I were to add up how many hours a week I worry about what I don’t have or think we need to get this for the house, I could probably add a couple extra days to my week. I’ve let myself fall into an anxiety trap that I need more than what I have and that I am suppose to be going on all these special trips,  because I’m in my mid-twenties. I find myself unsatisfied, when from an earthy standpoint I have what I need. I have a house, food, clothes, and the ability to enjoy going out with friends, dinners out, and special weekends away. Somehow, I still sit here with a longing. The truth is friends, I’ve placed my own identity in what I have or don’t have, I’ve believed society that certain things will make my life better, instead of looking to the cross and my sweet Jesus to satisfy. Where has that lead me? In transparency, to a place of depression and severe anxiety that has taken root. A place where Satan is feeding lies and taking away the hope that Christ gave to me when he died on the cross for me. Yet, the beautiful thing is this: Jesus is pursing me constantly. He isn’t stepping out of the pictures because of my struggles, He is offering himself fully to me to rest in. The biggest joy of this all, is he offers us all this rest. He gives us the opportunity to stop chasing the things in life that lead to dead ends, and to rejoice in all He has given us. Eternal life, a daily relationship with Jesus, and freedom to live within the graceful bounds he has given us, this is reason to rejoice.

Satisfied Needs

Christ, is beautifully showing us in the latter portion of Matthew 6, that as we seek Him first, all the necessities we need will be given to us. I wonder what life would look like if we truly trusted in the simple goodness of Christ and His provision. If we let go of the tendencies to provide for ourselves and allowed our hearts to rest in what Gods word tells us. Matthew 6:28-30 says: “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe, how the lilies of the field grow; they no not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you the not even Solomon in all of His glory clothed himself like on of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith.” This is our reality, we have no need to worry. There is no reason to depend on ourselves, because then everything else becomes about us. How do I look? How does my car look? How does my house look? Am I enough for people? We have freedom to not have to ask these questions, we can look to Gods word and know exactly what our identity is . The truth about living out our identity in Christ, is we are living in a way that He has created us to. A unique being that He has a specific plan and purpose for. A person whom He has given specific gifts to further His kingdom and to share His name amongst all peoples. Our lives have the potential to look radically different if we would surrender to the King of Kings. As christians our lives are not our own, but our life through Christ is one that will be filled with love, joy, and peace.

 

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When The Fairytale Becomes Just a Tall Tale

I Like You

Oh, the moment when they tell you they like you, the butterflies start to fly. The words swoop in and just like that and the fairy tail begins to unfold in your mind. Whats the fairy tail? The white dress, the picket fence, the husband coming home every night for a family dinner with two little faces asking their mommy for their dinner. Thats the fairytale. Marriage, kids, the whole shebang. Reality is this has all gone through the woman’s mind in about the time it took the man to blink. The man is thinking: “Oh, this is a cool girl, I think I like her, maybe I’ll ask her on a second date” That is it. No more, no less. Its simple. Society teaches women from a young age what love is suppose to look like, but just like most things in this world life doesn’t generally turn out to be roses and all things easy. Neither does love. What if we taught children from a young age reality without taking away their innocence in life. Through this “liking” stage promises that might or might not be fulfill are exchanged. Hopes are sent skyrocketing and in the majority of cases plummeting taking with them the heart of the one involved more than the other.

I Love You

Okay, I love you. There is some commitment. Here the woman has your life planned out till age 80 who knows maybe even further. In some cases the man might be the one with the plans. What comes with love? Possibly, it could be as simple as the deeper commitment but in most cases there are physical aspects now involved between the two individuals. As the commitment gets deeper, physical aspects are intertwined and if the relationship doesn’t work out there are a few months ahead of shipwrecked emotions and a confidence level of zero. Truth be told it might be years. The questions and statements thrown around: Am I not good enough? I am not worth anything. I can never get that back, I am a whore, I am nothing. Yes, all Satan’s lies but all attacking the individual demeaning them. Is there a beautiful side to love when it works out? Of Course! However, no love will be easy  if it is strong enough to walk alongside the other person every day for the rest of your life. That’s a big question to ask yourself. You’ll never find a perfect person so don’t expect that you’ll be let down every time. Realize your own faults. Strive to place the other person before yourself. Love them through whatever is brought your way. Don’t use the term love lightly. It is not a light term and it caries with it weight beyond our understand. God so LOVED the world that He sent His only and begotten Son to die for us.That whosoever should believe in Him shall not dies but have everlasting life. John 3:16 Thats a love we’ll never comprehend. Oh, how I wish that more relationships would mirror HIS love and his selflessness. Things would change.

His Love

What if we mirrored to our kids this love and what if this is the love we told them about? What kind of world would it be if the fairy tail young girls dreamed of was their relationship with their heavenly father? Jesus being the one dancing around the floor with them? Jesus being the one taking care of all their need? I think the world would change, one little girl or boy at a time. When young girls grow up and their relationships fail don’t you believe they would have more hope knowing fully from a young age who their true love is? The word love has the potential to cause a large amount of damage. Within love is vulnerability, hope, selflessness and so many other aspects that when broken can cause irreversible damage to an individual. I can only hope in knowing the Lord works ALL things together for the GOOD of those who know Him. His narrative of love is perfect and sacred full of hope, joy, peace, and most of all SECURITY to know we are fully known and fully loved. Thats the faithfulness of our true love, its no guessing game. He loves you beyond your comprehension and He will for eternity.

Grace Abounds

I am not strong

Aside from Christ my greatest attempts at being resistant towards temptation dwindle to just that, mere attempts. When I start to lean on my own strength/wants and set aside the promises of God towards temptation, I fail. Going back and reading through my blog from Ireland the promises of God poured back in: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin. Hebrews 4:15. The Lord is ABLE to empathize with our weaknesses and He is able to provide us with the strength to respond “no” to temptation. We have a great hope.

He is Strong

He is able. He is good. He is compassionate. He is strong. What are almost all our responses to sin? A immediate ocean of guilt sweeps in, the lies of satan attack. We resort to feelings of failure, unworthiness, hopelessness. I’ll be first to admit I struggle with this. I wrestle with the following verse: For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 2 Corinthians 7:10 To what type of sorrow am I feeling. Is it my heart breaking because I have failed to honor the Lord with all that He deserves and with all that I am, I want to run the other direction from the sin facing me? Or is it a sorrow that I mope around feeling sorry for a couple hours but then I’m on doing the next thing and turn around indulging in the same sin that slowly numbs the convicton? Psalm 51, has been a stronghold for me since the summer after my freshman year of college. In verse 17 it says: “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” God does not call us to response to sin with guilt or shame but with a “broken and contrite heart”. Davids plea is one that I hope we all might seek from God: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” Psalm 51:10-12. It is Christ who is steadfast, faithful, and strong as we walk in relationship with Him the promise to sustain us will stand firm.

He is Kind

Another honest statement: I fail to embrace how loving of a God we serve and praise Him for how patient He is with us. Romans 2:4: “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” Have you ever thought when you sin that God is mad at you? Your response is “I promise next time I’m going to do better” I’ll join in with you and say I struggle at times with this being my response. However, the Lord so kindly taps on me and reminds me He is kind and has more patience than I could ever begin to fathom. Everything is for Him, He will use all our weakest and most ugly moments for His glory. When we think we’ve fail the most, He has a plan for beauty. His love is abounding and He is eagerly waiting patiently for you to turn back to Him. He is kind. 

He is Your Identity

When you start to allow sin to affect your worth allow the weight of the cross to set in.  You are not defined by what you’ve done or when you fail. Your identity is in what Christ himself has said about you, and friend those truths are the sweetest identity you could every desire. You are holy. You are blameless. You are worthy. You are righteous. You are cleansed. He has taken all sin upon Him and He has proclaimed “It is finished” All past records are cleared the moment you accept the Lord as your personal savior. You have a new identity. “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Romans 8:34. He is interceding for us pleading our case before God.  “Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.” Colossians 1:22 These are the truths about you and what God has done for you.

He is Your Freedom

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 We are free because of His sacrifice. We do not have to feel in bondage to sin.” “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 Although, there are times that when were staring sin in the face it seems impossible to say “no”. I’ve been there, I’ve failed. In those moments grace abounds, we are given the precious gift to ask for forgiveness and allow for recognition of how big God is. We have the freedom to tell of  the goodness of God and the gospel no matter what our past holds. There are so many bondages that satan attempts to place on us. Lies about life, relationships, self worth, and hopelessness.  The sweet truth is we can proclaim to Him the freedom Christ has offered us. That is a freedom to be celebrated.

Encouragement

“When God looks at Jesus then looks at you His face doesn’t change”

The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are;he remembers we are only dust. Psalm 103:8-14

I’m writing this just as much for myself as for anyone reading. Time after time again, I have to sit back and ask the Lord to remind me of His promises to me. I too soon turn to self focus instead of focusing on all that the Lord is and how powerful He is. Then once again I’m overwhelmed by how beautiful of a God we serve.

 

Rachael.

 

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12- A summer in Ireland

This summer the Lord took my eyes and opened them to the depths of grace He offers and showed me glimpses of the fullness of all He paid for on the cross. Beginning this summer we took part in a two week course ran by Serge, called Sonship. As we journeyed through Galatians and an in depth study of the gospel I couldn’t figure out what the Lord was trying to show me. My journal would reflect my asking, as these life changing sermons were being given, what are you trying to teach me Father? My own pride kept me from seeing. I was wondering why we were going through what I knew we were coming to share; however, God was slowly and gently humbling me as I resisted. He wanted to show me how big, loving, kind, gentle, and good He was. He wanted to love on me and fill me up before we went out into a country primarily against Him for the summer and He wanted to change the way I viewed Him. He wanted to show me freedom.

The concept of freedom was one I had been taught. I knew that Christ had died to set us free and when I accepted Him as my Savior that freedom was mine. However, I had not been living in that freedom but in bondage to viewing God as someone I had to be perfect for. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10” In every way Satan wants to steal this freedom from us and he was having success in placing bondages in my life that were keeping me from having life abundantly. These lies of perfection and feelings of inadequacy in the eyes of God when I failed were what Satan was whispering and I was listening. This lead down a path of self dependency of trying to “fix things” when I would sin. Having an “I” will do better next time attitude instead of a realization that God was the one shaping and molding me. It is His sacrifice that will enable me to refuse that temptation the next time. It has nothing to do with me. My greatest attempt to resist temptation aside from the Lord will fail. Yet, when I do fail thats where the beauty of the cross comes in and the overwhelming love and grace of God is abundant. Its not a freedom to live anyway we want but its a freedom to know that the Lord tells us: “For he knows how weak we are; he remembers we are only dust” (Psalm 103:14). When we sin and our brokenness is in the open the Lord is turning our eyes to the cross to show us His love and power. Through experiencing the Lords love and grace in a new way it has enabled me to start to turn off the self focus and turn to others and love them in the way God has loved me. I have no other response because when I truly see how broken I am I know theres nothing I can say I’ve done I can only hope in the promise and redemption Jesus paid for on the cross.

A quote shared at our debrief that sums up the beauty of the love of God I saw : “When God looks at Jesus then looks at you His face doesn’t change” Because of Jesus we can stand holy and blameless before God that is a loving Father.

Throughout the summer we were on the move the majority of the time. Spending no longer than two weeks in one place. Our team split up into outreach teams that went into different communities throughout the Republic of Ireland into Northern Ireland for two different two week spans. Each team was paired with an ongoing ministry where they would aid in whatever way would best benefit the church and community. There were multiple kids and youth clubs put on throughout the summer. One of the O-teams had three boys give their life to Christ at the end of their kids club. Mid-summer we had a four day silent retreat between outreach teams where we were given time to be alone with the Lord and spend time in His word. After each outreach team the entirety of the team came back together and debriefed our time.

The Lord is working in Ireland and as many said on the team He is doing it in His time which may seem slow to most of the missionaries there. It is not a surprise to hear “God doesn’t exist”, “I am my own God”, or “I created God” from individuals there. Although, when I heard this it made me wonder how many I’m in contact with everyday that may say the same thing if asked. Please keep Ireland in your prayers and the missionaries who have given their lives to be there. Every inch of Ireland is beautiful and I’m thankful for my time spent there. It was an opportunity of a lifetime.

The Lord is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.He will not constantly accuse us, nor remain angry forever.
He does not punish us for all our sins; he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For his unfailing love toward those who fear him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth. He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west. The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him. For he knows how weak we are;he remembers we are only dust. Psalm 103:8-14

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

In Christ,

Rachael

Joy Unspeakable


          These individuals faced poverty, unsafe conditions, starvation, and yet were joyful beyond understanding. They had faith that the Lord would provide for them- and He did. They had faith AND they believed in what they were asking for. When I find myself asking the Lord for things I ask hoping but in the depths of my heart I find sometimes there is uncertainty lurking. Do I really believe that what I’m asking for is going to happen- am I trusting the Lord with my whole heart? A lot of times unfortunately I find the answer is no. I’m manufacturing a back up plan to help me just in case what I’ve prayed for doesn’t happen. These individuals showed me what true trust looks like and their freedom radiated from their joy.


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Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. Psalm 34:5

In the Kenyan culture, relationships reign as one of the most importance aspects of life. They depend on each other and take care of each other. This intentionality was poured out on us as these kids would specifically remember us the minute we stepped out of a Matatu (Transportation) or we would have homes opened up to us and meals offered when in reality the individuals may not know where the next meal is coming from. A specific instance stood out to me: I met a man named Zed- He was a potter by trade. He took time to teach me about pottery and we related it back to the Lord being the potter as we are the clay. I tried to make a bowl and the clay kept falling in on itself, or I would have to take a layer off the top molding it to where it would be the “perfect bowl” I was overcome by how the Lord takes us and molds us and how hard molding the bowl had been for me. There were times when I was frustrated, didn’t want to grab a new clump of clay and start again, and at one point I wanted to give up. However, the Lord never gives up on us, He never stops molding us no matter how many times we chose to run away or chose to walk our own way, He wants to mold us to be more like Him. When shaping the clay you keep at least one hand holding it at one time while it spins around. The Lord is always holding us and never lets us go—if you let the clay go it will fall in completely and looks like a ruined mess. Thank the Lord for His faithfulness.

And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand. Isaiah 64:8
And yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, and you are the potter. We all are formed by your hand. Isaiah 64:8

When we would visit Little Lambs Peter would tell me of what he had learned the past Sunday at church. He told me of how their church took part in discipleship. If someone at their church missed church on Sunday the preacher would go to their home and ask them if something if everything was okay. There were multiple individuals who shared their testimonies and stories of redemption. This was amazing to hear the stories of individuals weighed down by worries we could never fathom of having here and when they came to know the Lord their burdens were lifted and they chose to live in the freedom the Lord offered. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18-Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Peter taught me.
Peter taught me.

What is your view of God? When you see heaven what do you picture? Is it one race, one color, one group of people? Will,who I served with this summer, wrote a blog in relation to worshiping with the Maasai people. “As I’ve experienced this country, in all its beauty and tragedy, God has actively been teaching me more about himself and his heart for each of his children. Sometimes I limit God. In my attempt to understand Him in all of his majesty, I place walls around Him. But I’m learning that He isn’t containable. While He is outside of space and time, He is also outside of language and culture. He surpasses those things that define our existence. So, while we live within boundaries, He does not. Their lively dancing and singing was the outpour of hearts that had experienced God’s Grace in a way that I can’t attempt to imagine. Tears welled up in my eyes as I joined my brothers and sisters in heartfelt worship. It’s a magical moment when two completely distinct languages and cultures join together to praise the same God.”

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Here is an orphan sitting alone looking out at the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. I think I recognized more in this moment than any other while in Kenya. In this moment, the Lords faithfulness overwhelmed me. Here is a boy alone but he is taken care of. The Lord says He will be a father to the fatherless -Father to the fatherless, defender of the widows- this is God, whose dwelling is holy. (Psalm 68:5), He says he will defend the orphans and take care of the widows -He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:18) The poor will eat and be satisfied. All who seek the Lord will praise him. Their hearts will rejoice with everlasting joy. (Psalm 22:26). Where does their hope come from? And so, Lord, where do I put my hope? My only hope is in you. (Psalm 39:7) This is where their hope is found in Christ alone because He is a faithful. God continues His purpose through all generations so that those from every nation, tongue, and tribe may worship at His feet. Every one of these verses I was able to actually see their fulfillment. I think sometimes people have a hard time with a relationship with God because He isn’t a tangible God. Oh but He is here, we just have to look and have faith.

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