Pour into These

When I was younger I thought that by the time I reached this age I would be living an  adventure. I thought I would wake up every day filled with joy and passion for living, and that I would feel like everything I was doing was meaningful, impactful, and fulfilling. (Clearly this is a fantasy because emotions.)

In the age of the internet and social media I’ve ready quite a few articles on how young people should live their lives. They tell me to quit my job and just travel for a year (um but how do you pay for it?), or to invest in my career (how do you even know what you want?), or to live alone for a while (again, is no one worried about money anymore?). But, while these all sound super tantalizing and nice, I know that they don’t actually satisfy they way they sound like they do.

The articles that touch me deeply are the ones that talk about how young singles should be living their lives for God. How we should be investing in our churches and our ability to say yes to things that come up. Mentor this person? yes! Support this person in ministry? yes! Volunteer for this event? yes!

What they don’t talk about is the mental challenges you face to do that. Apathy lurks around every corner when I start thinking about the lost. Doubt trickles into my mind whenever I think about taking a step towards mentoring. And let’s not even get started on how hard it is to go to a church and say “Hi. One of my spiritual gifts is administration. Let me run stuff for you.” (Besides the fact they usually already have someone, you kind of need a little more rapport than that.)

And so I find myself in an awkward place. I’m trying to live, but feel hindered by the regular facts of life. I thought I would be working in full time ministry, and instead I’m working elsewhere (and I do love my job, but it isn’t the same). But most of all I wonder if what I’m doing has impact. Or if it has worth. Is what I’m doing with my life meaningful? Expectations of what I should do seem to come from everywhere (but they’re probably all just in my head), and then I feel lost.

So I, like any good 20 something who doesn’t know what is going on with this adulating thing, I half-seriously asked my mom what I should do with my life.

You have a job. You have a church. You have a family. You have friends. Pour into those.

Pouring out is not a quick one time deal. Pouring is flowing from yourself into others. And I think this sums up what all those articles are saying. (Or what they’re trying to say.) Your life isn’t more impactful or more meaningful if you’re a foreign missionary. You have circles of influence and within those you have the ability to invest in their lives. You have the ability to show people the love of Christ. And hanging out and spending time with people is NOT a waste.

Over and over again in the Bible we are reminded of how we are to care for the lost and the broken. The least of these. In Galatians 2 they have a huge hullabaloo meeting about how to live as  Christian and if circumcision is really necessary, and what do they decide? The only thing they leave Paul with is to remember the poor (Gal 2:10). There’s the woman at the well Jesus decides to invest in (John 4). Healing the sick and afflicted (the Bible…). Elijah provides food and healing for the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17). etc.

Then there’s Jesus and Peter:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.

John 21:15-17

So you know the people you see every day? The ones that you talk to or hang out with and see often. Or maybe the one you see once a week and chat with. Maybe the one who is growing and looking for guidance. The one who is hurting. The one who is right there.

Pour into these.

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Live Redeemed

I haven’t blogged in over a year, which is fitting as I usually blog when I’m inspired to do so, and this was an uninspiring  year + a few months with some of the hardest, crippling moments of my life. It wasn’t all doom and gloom though because I had some pretty sweet moments too – like graduating! *insert London Tipton clap* Yay me!

Highs and lows aside, it was a year where I tried very hard to achieve some goals (and failed), and went through a massive transition which I’m only now getting used to (note: graduation & life after). It is also a year where I let a lot of not the best habits (exercise? what is exercise?) slip into my life with the excuse “I’ll fix/do that after I graduate” (spoiler: they have not been eradicated yet).

And so I found myself mid-December, doing one of my favourite things to do at Christmas time, reading Christmas letters from all of my parents’ friends. I mostly do this because I know who their kids are, but I also like hearing about what God has done in the lives of people I don’t know. This year my mom was telling me about who wrote one of the letters I was reading. She described her as someone who believed that we were all redeemed children of God, and that even in the midst of sins and difficult times we should live like we are redeemed.

Boom. New Year’s Resolution.

Ok, it took a little more thought and a few weeks before I reached that point. Let me break it down:

Live

The dictionary definitions I looked up for this basically said it meant you weren’t dead. Which is true. But I’m taking it a step further to point out that living requires one to live; which means you have to get up and do things instead of giving into the temptation that is Netflix, or whatever vice you have that occupies your time. (Not that we don’t need breaks, I full endorse sabbaths and breaks, and believe we were created to need them (see Leviticus 23:3 & Leviticus 25), though it may look different today than it did then).

Redeemed

When I think of redeemed, I think of three things: Jesus, Ruth, and Hosea (Francine Rivers may or may not have had an influence on the latter). Hosea with Gomer, and Ruth with Boaz, display for us in a very physical and tangible way, what Jesus does for us, which is a more conceptual thing (though his physical death was as tangible as it gets). “Redeemed” is defined:

1. to gain or regain possession of something in exchange for something else
2. literally translates from latin to “buy back”

Hosea bought Gomer out of prostitution into a different life (see Hosea), Boaz raised Ruth up from being an outcast to a member of society with worth (see Ruth), and Jesus paid for our salvation with his life, death, and resurrection (see the Gospels/the Bible). We were bought out of our sin, and brought into the light (Colossians 1:13).

Living Redeemed

I like how John says it (Chapter 10):

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Jesus came that we could live our lives abundantly. To have more than we need in it. So that covers LIVING, and I think to do it redeemed is to give the life we are living back to the one who gave it to us. This crosses into the familiar territory of allowing God to redeem and restore (the entirety of) our lives. AKA the sanctification process. There are a lot of parts of my life that I haven’t allowed to be redeemed. But if I am redeemed, then all of me is redeemed and the life I live should reflect that.

Living Redeemed isn’t something I expect to start and succeed at right away. In fact, I don’t fully understand what it will look like. What I do know (and have been reminded of many times already) is that I cannot do this redeemed thing without God. It requires me to admit and accept that I am a sinner. I did not redeem myself, and I cannot redeem any part of my life either. However, in him I am redeemed and by him I can live abundantly.

This resolution isn’t about doing a 180 and suddenly being perfect. It’s about facing what I’ve been running from, falling in the dirt, and getting back up again. It’s a resolution I’m going to fail at, but that I, by grace, get to keep trying at, knowing that one day I will be fully restored to live with my redeemer forever.

 

Centre-Filled Life

Do you know those songs you sing in church about Jesus being the centre of your life/it all/be the centre/all that other stuff about having everything in your life revolve around him? They usually have a some really pretty melody that you feel like you butcher when you try and sing it because you aren’t anything like Darlene Zschech (or maybe that’s just every song…). And they also usually are accompanied by words like “surrender” and “all of me” and other big abstract concepts like that.

What I’ve been considering lately, especially as I go into this last year of school (the number of times I’ve said “7 months” in the last week is beyond ridiculous), is what it really actually LOOKS like to do that. Especially at a time where I have a last-chance to develop habits and routines that will (hopefully) follow me into that scary world of being a “real adult”. What does it mean if I choose to live out Jesus being the centre of everything – the centre of my life. Surrendering everything I have to him, and trusting that He’s got it all planned out and he’ll never leave my side? What does that really truly look like?

I don’t know

 

Yep. I don’t. I’m still learning – so far from perfect (SO FAR). But I have learned a few things…and one of the mind-blowingly simple things I’ve been reminded of is that to have your life revolving around Christ at the centre, you need to have him in the centre, and the only way to do THAT is to choose to focus on him and let him fill you (you know – that other cliche saying we have about filling up on Christ so you can pour out to others!). The first step to having Jesus be the centre of my life, is by allowing him to be the centre of my 8:00-8:30 morning break time. It isn’t my life, but starting to cut out time allows him to fill up a little part of me. And the more that I allow myself to fill up on Christ, the more the little bits start to overflow into the rest of my life. It’s choosing him over whatever I’m doing – throwing my phone across the room when doing devos so there are no distractions, stopping mid-thought process and turning back to praise.

BRINGING IT FULL CIRCLE…that hypothetical chair we’ve got at the centre of our lives – do we let Jesus fill it? Actually let him sit on the chair without trying to push hi off or sit on the corner. And then do we let him being there permeate the rest of our life or put up some walls around the chair to protect other parts?

So…I think that living a “Jesus-centred life” and being “filled with Jesus” go hand in hand. And when we let him fill the centre spot we have in our life, and start trying to align each individual decision, each thought every day, towards what he wants. Asking for a renewed heart daily (I know for one, my heart needs renewing multiple times a day). It is then that Jesus fills the centre of our life, and we have a centre-filled life.

By all means, I am NOT perfect. I still like to centre my life around myself or section off parts of my life that I don’t want God to touch. But I’m learning. Learning to let go. Learning to be filled. Learning to let him be the centre. Learning to be centre-filled and not centre-empty.

So many illustrations overlapping – hope that all made sense. Thank you for reading my thoughts~

Into the Holy of Holies (Hebrews 9-10)

Hebrews is steadily becoming one of my favoured books of the Bible.

Today we learn more about the significance of Christ being the high priest for us. He overcomes the sacrifices that were necessary before. Instead of constantly sacrificing animals for our sins, we are covered by the blood of Christ. Now he can enter the earthly holy of holies and beyond, into the physical presence of God. And now we can draw near for the curtain has been torn. Knowing this, we can have assurance in our salvation, and we can continually remind each other of the good news. Continuing to persevere and push each other on as the second coming of Christ comes closer. Isn’t it neat how this ties into community? We can now band together and try to live the way we are called, ever aware of eternity at stake that defines our every moment.

Now that’s a pretty neat two chapters.

New Covenants (Hebrews 7-8)

Ok seriously I need to stop writing about what the next day’s readings are. Legit. Plus, there is my answer to who Melchizedek is, right there in chapter 7.

mm…I sense inklings of old and new covenant theology things here, but I don’t know much about the nitty gritties involving that, so we’ll just stick with observation and some basic interpretation for today.

I love how through explaining Christ as the eternal and perfect high priest, we are able to see how our lives are different because of it. He constantly can intercede for us, and he can save anyone. In fact, he already has paid that price. And through this new order, there is a new covenant. And this new covenant remedies the faults in the old one. In this one we have the law written on our hearts (it says so) and we are God’s people and he is our God. That is actually one of my favourite phrases from OT. It just sounds so intimate whenever God says it to his people. It’s like a promise of eternal, deep, loving friendship. Sort of like a marriage contract: you will be mine and I will be yours, together we shall be one. Not saying we’re one with God, but the intimacy and seriousness of that saying always hits home for me. Plus, he is merciful towards us and forgets our sins. That is pretty beautiful, you have to admit.

Anchored (Hebrews 5-6)

So yesterday talking about the high priest thing sort of jumped the gun, but i will continue today.

I noted that I’ve read about the order of Melchizedek in Psalms, but I actually still didn’t know what it was…so I looked it up 😀 Apparently he was the dude in Genesis who blessed Abram after he rescues Lot (and by dude I mean high priest ..). Therefore, it makes sense that Jesus is from his “order” in that he has taken his place as high priest, but he will take it forever.

However, I think my favourite part comes in verse 19:

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain”

Because Jesus has fulfilled this high priestly role, we can have confidence in Jesus’ intercession for us, and through him our salvation. An anchor holds a boat in place despite currents and winds, just as our confidence in Jesus holds us in place despite the turmoils and storms of life. Now that is encouraging as I gear up for school.

Jesus is Supreme (Hebrews 1-2)

I haven’t read Hebrews in a while, so I’m looking forward to this week.

Reading Hebrews 1 and most of 2, I can’t hep but be struck by the supremacy that is Christ’s. It’s interesting that angels are used as a comparison, but it makes sense for new believers who had previously only heard about God and angels through the OT/Jewish Canon. Even so, pulling out all the old scriptures showing how Jesus is esteemed above all other things and then moving on to show how he humbly went to be lower than the angels he was above is kind of cool.

AND it is through this action that we are able to be saved. It gives salvation that humble side. Remembering that an all powerful being sacrificed of himself for broken humans, not esteemed angels. If you really think about it, isn’t that something worth telling people about? Isn’t it worth praising? Isn’t that someone worth following, even if you get nothing in return?

Christ at All Times (2 Timothy 1-2)

I am not ashamed of the name above all names
For it has the power to heal and to save
A strength for the weary, peace to the troubled soul.
Peace to the troubled soul.
It’s the name of Jesus. It’s the name of Jesus.
Mightier than mountains, He lives among the weak.
Ruler eternal, a lover to me.
Jesus, name above all. Jesus, name above all.
– Name Above All (Vineyard)

I was reminded of the lyrics of this song as I was reading Paul’s writing. In so many circles I’m a part of, it isn’t hard to be unashamed. Actually, it is easier to be unashamed of the gospel than it is to be ashamed of it! Clearly that isn’t the situation Paul is talking about here. It is the times when we are out and about and the name of Jesus is not looked upon with favour. These are the times when we actually need the reminder of who it is we serve. The challenge to pursue the higher things like faith, love, and peace.

Paul somehow figured out how to latch onto the hope he found in Christ so that it was real to him every day. Whether he was embraced by people or persecuted heavily, he was able to rest in knowing that God had called him to do these works to further the glory and gospel of Christ. I think that it is this reason that Paul is a role model to so many. His ability to rely on Christ in all times.

Next Steps (John 21)

This last chapter is one of reconciliation and commission. In forgiveness, Peter is sent to take care of those whom Jesus loves. It is similar to our own salvation stories. As we are saved and pulled out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light, we too are commissioned to go and share the good news with others that we see. We aren’t supposed to worry about what all the other people are doing – God will continue to work in them as he has already planned in his great master plan. We are to do what we are called to do. Which is good, because if I start excessively worrying about other people I can barely finish what I’m doing myself.

Death, Resurrection, and Belief (John 19-20)

There are so many emotions as I read these two chapters. Sorrow and awe at the death of Jesus. John hasn’t used very many scriptures to prove Jesus’ authenticity (unlike Matthew), but he pulls them out here. It blows my mind every time that Jesus was able to think about other people and fulfilling things even when he was in what must have been excruciating pain.

Then we move into the resurrection and the joy and craziness that came with it. Jesus is alive! People are seeing him around places! I have to laugh at Thomas just from reading this account – he got what he asked for, but I’m not sure if I would have the guts to actually stick my hand into the holes. Seeing would be good enough for me.

I also like John’s random little blurb about how all these things don’t even scratch the surface of Jesus’ life, but that these ones were picked out to be written about so that we could believe.