Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My testimony

Since this blog is kind of about my life and my life actually belongs to Jesus, I figured I would share the story of how God saved me.  This is what I said before my baptism in March 2012:

God saved me the same way He has saved every other Christ follower: through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ on the Cross.  The details of my life leading up to my salvation are different than everyone else, but my salvation comes from the same God and through the same atoning sacrifice as every other Christ follower.  I grew up in a Christian family and went to church every Sunday.  I knew all the felt-board Bible stories, songs, and rhymes that little kids learn in Sunday school.  I was baptized at age 7 and continued attending church with my family every Sunday until I graduated high school.  At an early age, idolatry seeped into my life.  I was a dancer, and allowed my dancing ability and other girls to define my identity.  I was extremely shy, self-conscience, and unpopular during middle school and most of high school.  Dancing was my emotional outlet and began to consume my life at an early age.  In high school, I had very few friends outside of the dance team and became brainwashed by my coach.  My coach and team determined how I spent my time, what I wore, how I talked, who I talked to; literally every aspect of my life was consumed and controlled by my team.  Although I was never really accepted by the girls on the team because I was the “unpopular one,” I still considered them my only friends.  I thought of church as a Sunday morning routine, and lived my life under the authority of my dance coach rather than the Creator of the universe. 

My junior year of high school, I was in two fairly serious car accidents within 15 days (neither of them my fault!) that left me unable to dance.  My coach and team completely turned against me, leaving me hopeless.  My idol had been stripped from me, and my identity was in question.  I entered a state of deep depression and contemplated suicide.  I was terrible towards my family by taking out my emotional issues on them.  My parents decided to move the summer before my senior year of high school, which placed me even further away from my idol.  I began my senior year at a new school that was around 3 times the size of my previous high school.  I quickly began dating the captain of the football team and was thrust into a realm of high school popularity that I had never experienced.  My idol of dance had been replaced with popularity.  Instead of pleasing my controlling team and coach, I began to live to please my “friends” and fell into the party scene. I began to drink a lot and my partying lifestyle carried over into college. 

The summer of 2010, after my second year of college at Missouri Baptist University, God led me to Red Tree Church.  I had just spent a summer studying abroad (which is the college term for partying) in Europe and decided to finally give in to a friend’s constant invitation to Red Tree.  I began attending consistently because of how genuine the people were.  Something inside of me recognized that truth was being spoken, even if I didn’t want to believe it.  To me, going to church and really living the “Christian life” meant that I would have to give up on having fun.  I honestly didn’t want to stop drinking and living my life the way I wanted to.  (Which was in complete bondage to my sin). Despite my resistance, I began going to the Comstock’s Journey group because I loved how nice the people were.  I never felt judgment, condemnation, or shame.  I only felt love, acceptance, and peace. 

Over the course of several months, the gospel began to take root in my life.  I found myself wanting to party less- I actually found it less fun than it used to be.  I replaced nights of college debauchery with nights spent with people from church.  God was totally opening up my eyes to true joy that is only found in Him, rather than the temporary pleasures of the world.

In early May 2011, God sent me to Nicaragua.  I literally had no say in the matter.  I was added to the team less than 2 weeks before we left because Tara had just found out she was pregnant and dropped out, leaving me a spot.  God had been preparing my heart the previous few months for what He would reveal to me in Nicaragua.  I had been gaining mass quantities of head knowledge: God had been revealing Himself to me at Red Tree in big ways.  He showed me how perfect and holy He is, and how depraved and hopeless I am without Him.  He taught me about His Son, Jesus, and about the unbelievable sacrifice that He made on the cross-literally carrying every one of my sins (past, present, and future) and experiencing the fullness of God’s wrath for MY sake so the He may be more glorified.  God showed me how much I desperately NEED Him. 

In Nicaragua, God moved everything He had taught me from my head to my heart.  He showed me how big He is and how small I really am.  He showed me what it means to be adopted as His daughter.  He showed me how much He LOVES me, which, by the way, absolutely blows me away because I am so undeserving.  He showed me what it means to give up everything and trust Him.  God completely changed my heart in Nicaragua; I was no longer a lost sinner, but a redeemed daughter of Christ.  I wanted nothing to do with my past life, and everything to do with glorifying the Father and serving His Kingdom.  I’m still a sinner (that won’t change until I enter heaven and am fully in His presence), but now I’m free from the bondage of sin.  My sin no longer defines me.  Christ is the author, sustainer, and definer of my life.  He is everything.

Although I was baptized as a child, I don’t believe it had much meaning.  I know I had head knowledge at that age, but God didn’t awaken my heart to the gospel until less than a year ago and I will never be the same.  Galatians 1:12 says, “For I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”  Salvation belongs to the Lord and according to His perfect plan, He revealed Himself at the perfect time in order to bring HIMSELF most glory.  I thank the Lord that I was raised by godly, Christ-centered parents who helped instill biblical concepts from birth, but my salvation doesn’t belong to them.  They are excellent parents, but only God saves, not man.  I thank the Lord that He pursued me during the years that I wanted nothing to do with Him.  I know He protected me from SO MUCH during my years of blatant rebellion.  I could never thank Him enough.  I exist to glorify and praise Him in everything.  He is my Creator, Savior, and redeemer.  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Day 1!

Hola! After a very long day of traveling Friday, we have arrived safely in Nica!  We met at the airport at 4:15 am (yikes!) for a 6:20 flight to Miami.  Upon arriving in Miami, we sat and blankly stared into space for 6 hours.  Long layovers are miserable in general, but are even more so when you slept 3 hours or less the previous night. The internet connection is having issues so it doesn't look like I can upload any videos yet.  Here are some pictures from this morning.  The younger boys had a semifinal soccer game and WON! Here's a fun game: watch Alisa progressively turn to the beautiful shade of lobster.  The little kids laugh because the gringos turn rojo in the sun! Anyways, God is already doing incredible things here and I can't wait to upload a more complete update.  Unfortunately, it is really late and we have to be up really early for church tomorrow.  Continue praying for our team and for every person we come in contact with.  God is revealing Himself in mighty ways!!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Break me, God

T minus 4 days until our team heads to Nicaragua!  I am ecstatic to be back with the kids that captured my heart last May.  I have missed them so much over the past few months.  No amount of Facebook chatting or Skype video calls can replace seeing loved ones face to face.  God completely changed my life through the Nica trip last year.  Since last May, He has been breaking me of my pride, selfishness, and self-righteousness and replacing my brokenness with His righteousness.  God has been revealing so much about Himself to me over the last few months, and is shaping me into who I am in Him.  Jesus is awakening my soul to know Him in a more intimate, personal way.

Last night at Revive at Red Tree Church, I was internally screaming to God.  I was asking why I felt like I was falling, and why He seemed so distant.  I pictured myself hanging off the side of a cliff, alone and gripping the ground above by my fingertips.  I was asking God why He wasn't pulling me up- why was He allowing me to dangle on the edge of a massive cliff, with certain death at the bottom of the valley?  Why wasn't He pulling me back up to the safety of solid ground? Where was He?? As I was screaming for help, God completely changed my perspective of this scenario.  Like zooming out on a camera lens, God revealed more of the picture than I was seeing.  The bottom of the deep valley was not death like I had thought.  Jesus was standing there with arms open wide and ready to catch me.  The "firm ground" that I was gripping was not safety; it was my pride- which led to the certain death I had feared.  He wasn't letting me fall from safety to my death; He was saving me from my pride and asking me to let go and fall into His presence.  I instantly became overwhelmed with awe, comfort, and remorse for my own sin.  My sin was widening the gap between myself and God, and was robbing Him the glory and worship He deserved.  The only response to such a revelation from God is to collapse in worship of Him.

He is everything.

I am nothing.

He loves me.

I don't deserve it.

He sends me.

I go.

"For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.  Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.  All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.  Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.  We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."  2 Corinthians 5:14-21