August 2014 archive

What if we actually believed that we’re holy?

What if we actually believed that we're holy--He is Making Everything New

Last week I read something that was posted by Spiritual Ecology on Facebook. This is what it said:

The Babemba tribe of Africa believes that each human being comes into the world as good. Each one of us only desiring safety, disorder love, medic peace and happiness.

But sometimes, in the pursuit of these things, people make mistakes.

When a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he/she is placed in the center of the village, alone, unfettered. All work ceases. All gather around the accused individual. Then each person of every age, begins to talk out loud to the accused. One at a time, each person tells all the good things the one in the center ever did in his/her lifetime.
Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy, is recounted. All positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length.
The tribal ceremony often lasts several days, not ceasing until everyone is drained of every positive comment that can be mustered. At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe. Necessity for such ceremonies is rare.

Isn’t that beautiful? It turns out that this story is most likely not true, but it still really stuck with me and I feel that we can learn a lot from it.

Most Christians have some sort of conception of original sin. Depending on one’s understanding, this can mean a few things. One understanding is that everyone who is born automatically shares Adam and Eve’s guilt for eating the fruit in the Garden of Eden. Therefore, when you become a Christian you are absolved of your guilt and avoid the punishment you deserved. Another understanding is that everyone is born into a fallen world and shares in the brokenness of this world, meaning that when you become a Christian, you receive healing of your brokenness. Or it could be some sort of nuanced combination of these two perspectives. I personally hold to the second view, but either way the end result is the same–a life free from sin.

Paul writes about this transformation constantly. Here are just some examples:

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. -2 Corinthians 5:21
God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. -Galatians 4:5, NLT
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” -Galatians 3:13
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
And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. -Romans 8:11

After we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, the Holy Spirit comes and dwells within us. We are transformed into sons and daughters of the living God, we become co-heirs with Christ, and we are set free from the curse of sin. But I think as Christians, we often completely forget this. 

Read what Paul writes in Colossians:

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproachif indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. – Colossians 1:21-23

Did you all catch that? You were FORMERLY alienated YET NOW you are HOLY and BLAMELESS and BEYOND REPROACH.

How many times have you been told by your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that you are holy and blameless? How many times has that been taught on Sunday morning?

I think so many of us never make the switch of thinking of ourselves as holy, we continue to think about ourselves as sinners, alienated, hostile in mind, and engaged in evil deeds. And we forget the crucial words YET HE HAS NOW. You are not a sinner. You may sin but sinner is not your identity. Jesus did not disarm the powers and authorities by making a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross for you to continue to live out your identity as a sinner. You are a daughter. You are a son. You are equal to Christ (Rom 8:17). What if we really believed that?

That’s why I loved the story of the African tribe so much…Even if Christians don’t believe that we are born holy, Jesus makes clear that we are re-born into holiness. What if when one of our sisters or brothers in Christ sinned we didn’t think, “Well it’s inevitable that we sin because we’re sinners,” but instead gathered around them and reminded them of WHO THEY ARE, of their own HOLINESS through Christ Jesus our Lord?

I know in my life I’ve had a really hard time seeing myself as blameless and holy and pure in God’s eyes–Satan’s really good at convincing us otherwise. And this is precisely why in our communities we need to remind each other of who we actually are and call each other higher. Because the deepest reality is that you are HOLY. You are BLAMELESS. You are LOVED by the Most High who does not doubt your holiness.

Life in the Clouds #ecuadorgroupselfies

This past weekend has been super busy and really fun! Saturday we went on a Quito City Tour with our BC group. I walked with another girl who lives close to me to the fútbol stadium a few blocks away where we all met up and got on our bus!

The first place we went is called El Panecillo and it’s a huge hill that gives you a great view of the city.

8.23.2

At El Panecillo is a huge statue of the Virgin Mary, tuberculosis who protects the city. Those tentacles she’s stepping on represent demonic forces/Satan that she has crushed. At the time of the statue’s installation, resuscitator the Virgin was facing the entire city and protecting all of Quito. But since then, more has been added to Quito and much of it is impoverished housing. So the people who live in that part of Quito say that she has her back turned to them.

8.23.7

Then we headed to the Historical Center of Quito, which was super pretty! There were lots of colorful houses. We saw the President’s house (top left)–it’s not where the President lives, only where he works. We also visited two churches–La Iglesia San Francisco and a Jesuit church as well, both built around 1570. They were both absolutely beautiful and so ornate–everything was coated in gold. We ate at a restaurant here and it was super rico (yummy). Steak is pretty cheap here so almost all of us had it and it was quite tasty!

8.23.6Then we headed to the volcano Pululahua. This volcano is still active, although there hasn’t been an eruption in around 500 years. Still I would not want to take the risk that a whole community is taking by living and farming inside this volcanic crater! Yes, that’s right! The elevation is so high that we were literally standing inside a cloud which was both amazing and cold. At first we couldn’t see anything inside of the crater:

8.23.4But then the wind shifted and we got to see a little glimpse of the community that lives below:

8.23.3That was a really special view :)

I’m really loving the group of BC students studying abroad with me and I feel like they get me because they are totally on board with my love for group selfies! Here was our first group selfie. Everything is white around us because we are in a cloud! (You can find us at #ecuadorgroupselfies).

8.23.1After this we went to La Mitad de Mundo, the center of the earth! I’m so happy I wore my pretty sandals because I, of course, had to take a picture of my feet as I straddled the equator.

8.23.5

And here we had to do our second group selfie :) Of course you can’t really tell where we are but oh well!

8.23

Last night most of us went out to the Foch, which is the area of clubs and restaurants. Yes, guys, I went clubbing. So not in my comfort zone but I actually had a lot of fun :)

Today we went to Papallacta, which is a hot spring that is fed by waters heated by a volcano! I don’t have a picture of it but just imagine crowded outdoor hot tubs. It was nice but we were scheduled to be there for 5 hours which was a little overkill! We stayed a couple hours and then took our bus back and then got ice cream at the mall. Today we did another group selfie, this time on the bus with “not-impressed” faces in response to the Papallacta thermal waters. Although I enjoyed myself :)

8.24.1I can’t believe I’ve only been in Ecuador for a little over a week. It feels much longer! Classes will start this Wednesday and I’m excited to get into more of a routine here.

God continues to be so faithful to me here. I’ve continued to have sweet times with the Lord and today I finished reading The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. It was one of the best things I’ve ever read. I’m so glad my friend told me to read it since so many people write it off and skip it when reading the Chronicles of Narnia. Don’t skip it, people! There’s one chapter with Aslan that is so powerful–I was blown away by the goodness of God and just crying at how amazing He is. I feel like it added a lot of insight for my Lion of God research, which I’m loving :) I have a lot of blog posts I want to write and I’m going to try to alternate those with my Ecuador updates. Thank you all who keep checking in on me and praying for me! God is so amazing and so good and He keeps surprising me and amazing me with his love and affection every day :)

My First Days in Ecuador

www.heismakingeverythingnew.com

The view from my living room

I’ve only been in Ecuador for 3 days but it feels much longer! My flights on Saturday all went well. In Miami I met up with two other BC girls who are studying abroad with me and so when we got to Quito we were able to navigate immigration and customs together, dosage both of which were super easy. Our host families were waiting for us at the airport and greeted us with hugs and kisses. I rode to my new home with my family. I live in an apartment in the northern part of Quito with my host mom and two of her three kids–a 24 year old son and 29 year old daughter. They are all super sweet! There is also another daughter who lives on her own with her almost 3-year-old son.

The apartment is really nice–I have my own bedroom and bathroom which is awesome! Sunday was my first full day here. I woke up and showered. The shower was pretty cold which I found out was because the water is heated electrically and needs 3 hours to heat up! I was glad to know not all of my showers will be cold. My host mom made pancakes for breakfast which were delicious and after we all left and when to the market. The market we went to was really large and they sell pretty much everything. We were there to buy fruits and veggies. There were a ton that I’d never seen before! In Ecuador it’s super common to make your own fruit juices and so we bought naranjilla, breast which is a fruit native to this region, drugs to make into juice. We drank that with dinner–I thought it was good and reminded me a lot of dragon fruit.

www.heismakingeverythingnew.com

Las naranjillas are the orange fruits above the onions. The red fruit above the naranjillas is called tomate de arbol and is another fruit from this region. I haven’t tried it yet, though.

After the market we went to Itchimbia, which is a park at the top of a hill so you can see all of Quito. That was pretty awesome! At itchimbi there is also a building called the Palacio de Cristal where there are art exhibitions. We flew a kite at the park–it’s super windy here and colder than I was expecting! The highs have been around 70 degrees.

Our kite--Cometa

Our kite–Cometa

Yesterday we went to our school, la Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ). The university is in Cumbaya, about a 40minute-1 hour bus ride away. Our host moms went with us on the bus to show us the way. I take one bus for 2 stops and then get on another that brings me to Cumbaya. I have several other girls who live close to me so we can take the bus together which is good! The busses are pretty easy to navigate. The driving here is a little on the crazy side but not nearly as bad as in Haiti (but that’s not saying much at all!).

We got a quick tour of USFQ (which is very pretty) and then started our BC orientation and also took a Spanish placement test. This next week we will be taking an intensive Spanish class with the BC coordinator to help us especially with grammar. I definitely need the help!

USFQ

USFQ–Aren’t these mountains unreal?

Every evening I eat dinner with my family. A lot of the host families don’t really eat dinner–they have a large lunch and then something small for dinner. But my host mom is from the coast of Ecuador and there they eat 3 large meals a day, ha! So I get to have dinner with my family, which is nice. A normal dinner always has soup and rice and also meat (usually chicken) and veggies, plus fruit juice to drink. During the weekdays for breakfast I’ve been eating bread with cream cheese and jam along with fruit. My host mom is always trying to get me to eat more! We eat lunch at the school–there are a ton of restaurants nearby. Today I had a crepe with nutella and strawberries. It was THE BEST. I’m so glad nutella is a thing here!

www.heismakingeverythingnew.com

Quiet time with Froggy and Olaf!

The whole time I’ve been hear I’ve felt like the peace of the Lord has been over me. This adjustment has been better than I could ever have imagined and I know it’s because of all the prayers that I and others have prayed over this time abroad. For all of you who have been praying for me, THANK YOU! Your impact has been immeasurable. I continue to be blown away by the faithfulness of God. I’ve had sweet quiet times with the Lord each morning and am starting to study the image of God as a lion in scripture. This is a picture that has been significant for me this past year and keeps coming up, so I’m excited to see what God has to teach me :) I’ll probably blog about what I learn as well!

The physical adjustment to Quito has been a little harder than expected. My migraines haven’t been worse than usual (praise God!) but I have still had them. The altitude (over 9,000 feet) has made me feel really tired and also has made it hard to breath. My first two days here my heart started racing whenever I did anything the least bit active (aka make my bed) and my chest feels really tight when I breath, which I’m not so much a fan of. I also haven’t had much of an appetite. These side effects should hopefully be completely gone in the next few days!

Funny story–in my last post I wrote about how God told me to study abroad in Ecuador. I was really excited to come here but my first question was, “God, is it humid there??? Please don’t send me to a humid country!” Praise God for his faithfulness in the little things because Quito is super dry! This is great news for my hair but means I’m always thirsty and always need chap stick. But let’s be real, I only really care about my hair ;)

Right now I am watching Catching Fire en espanol on Netflix. Ecuador Netflix is sooo much better than in the U.S.! There are so many more options. It’s the best. Lots awaits me the next few weeks–lots of traveling, getting to know Quito better, the official USFQ orientation, and the beginning of classes! I’ll be sure to keep you updated on it all :)

The Start of My Adventure!

adventures in ecuadorTomorrow morning I am leaving for Ecuador! I will be studying abroad in Quito for my entire Junior year.

Several years ago I applied to be a part of a National Geographic student expedition where I would have the opportunity to travel to another country and do photography. I had to choose with countries I wanted to go to most and for some reason my first choice was Ecuador. I knew nothing about Ecuador and to this day I have no idea why that was my first choice (when I had other options like Spain, dermatologist Italy, web Australia, plague Iceland, etc. to choose from). But Ecuador was my first choice! However, I ended up not getting a scholarship to go and so I didn’t go to Ecuador.

A year or two after that, a group of people from my church were planning a mission trip to Ecuador and I was ready to go. However, the mission trip never materialized and so I didn’t go.

A few weeks into my freshman year of college I was in bed getting ready to fall asleep when God said, “Why don’t you study abroad in Ecuador?” and I said, “Sounds good!” The next day I looked up my university’s study abroad programs and turns out there was one in Ecuador and it had everything I wanted–a host family program, awesome trips, everything in Spanish, and a great psychology program! This program was made for me and it was finally time for me to go to Ecuador.

I’m not sure why Ecuador is significant for me but I know that God has called me to this nation for His purposes.

I’ve had some super sweet times with the Lord this summer. I’ve received more words and pictures from Him and words from other people than I ever have before. One of my biggest words for Ecuador is to step out with a heart of adventure. I’m excited for God to continue cultivating a heart of adventure in me during this school year.

I plan on blogging a lot during my time in Quito, both about the adventures I’m having and about the usual theology, psychology, etc. But for now, here are some things you can be praying for me for this first semester!

~Fun classes
~Great volunteer placement
~Increased Spanish ability
~Strong friendships and sense of community
~Thriving faithgroups
~Blessing over my host family
~Safety–that nothing will be stolen and that I’ll feel safe during my time in Ecuador
~No migraines!
~Deep intimacy with the Lord
~Revival!

I look forward to writing more…my next post will be from Ecuador!

 

Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World by Nish Weiseth | Book Review

Speak by Nish Weiseth | Book Review | He is Making Everything NewI first heard of Nish Weiseth when I read her posts about the whole World Vision disaster. I appreciated her heart and her ability to share her story about her trip to a Bolivian World Vision community. Her love and passion for sharing stories as a way to connect with people is the core of her new book Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World.

Reading this book made it pretty clear to me that Nish and I have a lot in common! We are both determined women who love Jesus and hold firmly to our beliefs. And while these traits are generally good things, Nish and I, as well as many other believers, can tend to get a little over-passionate when it comes to defending our understanding of Jesus or our theological convictions. I know it’s easy for me to see theological opinions as clear-cut and black and white–this is correct, this is wrong, and that’s all there is to it. But what that often leads to is further divisions in an already fractured Bride as well as a lot of resentment and hurt feelings. So what’s the solution? Nish shows us that one of the best ways to bridge disagreements and start authentic and Jesus-honoring conversations is to share our stories.

The truth is almost always way more complicated than we allow.

In this book, Nish shares some of her stories and also shares stories written by other bloggers that were originally posted on her website A Deeper Story. This book really challenged me to listen more deeply to other’s stories, even when it’s really hard. It also encouraged me to share my story more–it’s almost impossible for people to understand where you’re coming from when it comes to how you live and what you believe if they don’t know your story.

Cons: While I really enjoyed reading this book, I found that a few days after reading it I had forgotten a lot of it.

Do I Recommend It? Yes! Speak is easy to read and the stories are poignant. It left me to deeply consider how my life would be different if I shared my story more often than my opinions.

Speak will be released tomorrow so be sure to pick it up!

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Book Look Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.