death & victory

It’s crazy because I died. I died, and just as it is appointed for man to die once, I can’t come back to life. I can run backwards and try to find that life that I used to have, but I am dead. I have died and risen with Christ. I’m dead to this life, to this world, to my flesh, and I’m only alive in Spirit, in Christ, in truth. And if I go back searching for my old life, I will never get it back because death is once and it is past. And how grateful am I that I can’t go back. How grateful am I that I can’t always get what I want, because most of the time I don’t want good things. What a blessing it is that I am dead to myself and alive in Christ. It is pure grace that I can’t be alive to sin even when I try. And that is the meaning of victory. This is victory. That Christ has defeated sin in me, that because it is finished, my flesh can never win. This is victory. That despite my fickle mind and my sinful heart, Christ has cleansed me and clothed me by His appointment. Sin cannot grab a hold of me even when I try to grab a hold of sin, and God will never let go of me even when I try to push Him away. That is what it means to be victorious, to be more than a conqueror. Not that I can attain victory or conquer by force but that Christ is victor and conqueror and He lives in me. And I can’t get Him out even if I try.

Honestly though, my life is more a series of failures than anything else. It’s weird that I’m becoming more okay with that as I realize that every failure is magnifying God. In every one of my broken pieces I see more of His perfection. And I can’t believe He still holds me in His hands.

Blue Like Jazz (private blog entry turned advertisement)

I’m reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller. I cannot believe I have not gotten around to reading this book until now. I mean, maybe I can believe it because I would not have wanted to read this book before when I thought I was great and that all Christians who struggled were weak and that I would never struggle because I loved God too much and I was radical and awesome and different. And it makes sense that I’m reading it now because all I feel like now is a terrible sinner who wants nothing but to keep sinning and run away from the church and avoid God and emotions and convictions but who cannot deny the faith that is deep in her soul for some annoying, pesky reason. And so now I am reading Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller and it is by far the most refreshing, convicting, truthful, relevant, and relatable words I have read in a long time. I’m sure the Bible would be plenty times more of each of those things but considering I haven’t read that in so long, I thank God for Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.

He writes about sin. He writes about how Christianity doesn’t make any sense and yet he finds himself believing it, more so because it feels like something is making him believe it rather than him choosing to believe it himself. Which is a true statement because I never felt like I chose to believe that Jesus was the Son of God; it was like He put something in me that programmed me to believe it and all of a sudden I just believe that Jesus is real and alive and my Savior. And I can’t stop believing it.

It never really made sense to me how I could love sin so much and want to get drunk and have sex and be greedy and selfish and yet not be able to un-believe in Jesus. If I am doing and wanting everything opposite of what Jesus tells me to do and yet I cannot deny Him, it must be because my faith is not in my own control. My faith does not rest in my hands. If it did, my faith would waver every time I sinned, every time I desired evil, and it would fall apart. I guess that’s what it means to have your faith rest in Christ alone. That it has nothing to do with me or how good I am at putting my faith in Jesus Christ, it has only to do with the fact that He chose me and He gave me the faith that I would never have been able to muster up on my own.

He writes about random thoughts. About how the church fails sometimes. But not because the church fails but because we fail. Because I fail. Because I am the problem, not this or that or the government or the republicans or the democrats but me. He writes about his non-Christian friends from Reed College who are like my non-Christian friends in Berkeley and how they’re intellectual and rational and how they hate the idea of God but understand the idea of sin but don’t want to be Christian because of all the rigid narrow-minded hateful Christians they’ve met. And how he finds intellectual, atheist Reed students more passionate, more active, more engaging than any Christian he’s met. Like how sometimes I learn more about God and love God more having conversations with Berkeley atheists or in a lecture or talking to non-believers at a party. And if that makes me a bad Christian but makes me love Jesus more, then awesome.

He writes about how he can see from his own experiences that we were supposed to be good. We were supposed to be good. But how we’re not. How we have to be taught to be good. How we have to be told what not to do as children. How little kids have to be trained not to do the bad things that they’re so naturally inclined to do. And how that shows we’re flawed.

I want Donald Miller to be my best friend. I bet we would have great conversations.

Like about how he doesn’t want to deal with his brokenness, just like I don’t want to deal with my brokenness. He writes about how he just wanted to escape from the world because he couldn’t stop thinking about how self-absorbed he was, how selfish and broken he was. How he just didn’t want to deal with his depravity. Just like how I can’t stand living in this body of mine, this heart of mine, with this mind of mine. How I just don’t want to think about it, don’t want to deal with my sinfulness and my depravity. But then he goes on to say how much Jesus wants to communicate to us the idea of our brokenness. And I just know. It’s true. He does. He is teaching me how broken I am, and even though I don’t want to deal with it, it’s the only way to a true understanding of grace and the gospel.

I love this book and everyone should read it.

Everyone’s just trying to get it right.

There are some crazy deep struggles and sins and messed up ways of thinking that show up from time to time in my heart that I don’t tell anyone - maybe because I don’t want to but mostly because I just don’t know how to explain it, I mean, I don’t even know what it is. It’s not a tangible sin that I can categorize; it’s just a straight up, inexplicable, fallen human heart. And those are the times that I realize Jesus. knows. exactly. how messed up I am. He’s the only one that actually knows all the black crooked corners of my heart. And it’s comforting, yet terrifying. Because He’s my best friend who knows me inside and out, and the King of the universe who will judge the world. But by His blood I am saved. Through His blood I am righteous. He knows me fully yet loves me the fullest - and that makes me want to love Him more.

I wonder

what it’s like to be so out-of-your-mind busy running around and stressing out and never sleeping doing something you love. And if being stressed out doing what you love is better than being stressed out doing something you don’t love. And if there are people doing that in this world today. Like if there are people who are stressing out about presenting to the clients, about teaching the lecture, about opening the art gallery, about planning the wedding, and love it and wouldn’t be doing anything else. Because if there are, and I’m sure there are, I want to be one of those people.

holy crap Jesus is so amazing and grace is so annoying cause it’s like Jesus is chasing you around offering you grace and you’re running away cause you’re like wth stop joking around and He’s like no seriously and then eventually you get tired but He never gets tired cause He’s God and then He catches you and you’re like omg the grace is real that’s impossible and He’s like no I chose you and I don’t break my promises and you’re like but that’s not fair how is grace fair and then you realize how powerful His blood is and how strong His grace is and how once you’re in you’re in and you can’t get out and you hate it but you love it and even though you don’t understand how you can want sin and God at the same time He gets it and Paul understood it and King David got it and Peter got it so they tell us over and over again to keep fighting and to know that even when we fail He is faithful and wow I’m so terrible but He’s so wonderful I don’t even deserve to speak His name

I love photography. Not because it can freeze a moment in time but because it cannot quite capture the beauty of the world. You think a photograph of a sunset is amazing until you see a sunset in real life and it takes your breath away. No photograph of the sky compares to looking out of an airplane window and seeing the blanket of clouds covering the earth. I wonder if I could fall into the sky. I’d love that. The beauty of this Earth never ceases to mesmerize me. I love photography because it’s a simple reminder that no intelligent device of man can ever quite capture the artwork of God.

I want to be transformed every time I hear God. Every time I hear God speak, I should never be the same again. I want to fall in love all over again with every whisper of His voice. I want to be renewed with every minute I spend with Jesus. Every second I spend in prayer should be new. Every moment I spend in prayer should change my life. I want to learn something new about God every day. I want to be captivated by His infinite love every morning. I want to be amazed by who He is every night. I want to read His Word and be blown away. God, I want You to be a mystery that never fails to delight me. Because You are. And if I don’t see it, it’s not because You’re not. It’s because I’m not. So help me, God.

How there can be such a peace in the midst of this chaos, I can only attribute to Christ my King. In the face of storms that throw fear, doubt, anxiety, and hopelessness in my face, His love compels me, moves me, and drives my every thought and action. He didn’t just change me, He killed me and made something entirely new. Without even trying, I find myself counting everything else as lost. I can’t tame it, so I won’t hold back, I won’t sit down, I won’t be quiet. I’m gone, and I’m not going back; I’m completely lost in His arms and abandoned to His heart.

Stillness. Everything is so still. No obligation to talk to anyone, no deadlines, no pressure, no movement. Stillness. It’s so beautiful.