Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Fighting it

We have a problem at our house...
A squirrel problem.
My dad has this nice bird feeder and instead of the birds eating all of the feed,
the squirrels eat it all.
That's just not working.
A bird feeder is for birds, not squirrels.
So my dad is bound and determined to feed the birds.

He's tried many different, creative strategies to keep the squirrels from jumping onto the tree and then the bird feeder.
A few weeks ago, my dad hung a large lid over the bird feeder so the squirrels couldn't jump down from the branch above and onto the feeder.
This strategy did work, but didn't prevent the squirrels from jumping from the other trees.

A week ago, he hung a glass pot lid from the tree adjacent to the bird feeder in hopes it would block the squirrels from jumping onto the feeder.
The day after, I'm doing the dishes and looking outside, when all of the sudden I see a squirrel on the adjacent tree, staring at the pot lid and feeder.
"Surely," I thought, "he isn't going to be able to get to the feeder."
Sure enough, the squirrel jumped over the big pot lid and onto the feeder.
The pot lid seemed like a good idea, but I guess squirrels are smarter than that.

Then a couple days ago, my dad put some chicken wire halfway over the feeder to keep the squirrels from getting to the food, but still allowing the birds to get it.
I thought, "Okay this should work."
Once again, I'm doing the dishes and a squirrel catches my eye.
I stop what I'm doing and put my attention on the hungry (or greedy) squirrel.
Like the last time, this squirrel definitely has to put some thought into what he's going to do next.
His legs lunge back and I watch him go airborne towards the bird feeder tree. 
He passes the pot lid, lands under the big lid, and turns his body upside down (no joke) in order to get his head past the chicken wire so he could reach his afternoon snack.
"Are you kidding me?!" I said. "How in the world could he do that?! Wait until, I tell Dad."

My dad comes home that evening and I break the news to him.
"The squirrel hung from the feeder upside down so he could get past the chicken wire. Your plan didn't work. Maybe you should just give up."
But being the innovative and persistent man that he is, he replied, "Well, I have a few more ideas."

Clearly, my dad hasn't given up yet. That isn't a bad thing, though. He just wants the squirrels to stop stealing the birds food. 
But it makes me think (of course). 

It reminds me of when we're fighting for the sin in our lives.
We're in this struggle to keep the sin and justify it.
We may have part of our lives right, but the other, wrong.
We're fighting against it.
We don't want to give in and get rid of it.

In Ephesians 6:11-17, the apostle Paul tells us to "put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
Sometimes it's hard to be all in and not give in to the repentance of our sins.
We'll get rid of these sins, but not the others.

Paul tells us to "put on the whole armor." He doesn't say, "Put on just a piece or two of the armor of God."
He is telling us that it is worth it, to be all in.
To put our whole being into an armor of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation will help us to withstand the temptation of the evil around us, even our own sin.

I'm not sure if my dad will give up on the Mission Protect the Bird Feeder, and if he doesn't, that's okay. I'm not saying it's wrong, but a picture of how we can fight against ridding the sin in our lives.
Will we give up and give in to the life of repentance that Jesus has called us to?
Acts 3:19 says, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."

2 things to learn:
#1 never underestimate the intelligence of a squirrel.
#2 more importantly, never underestimate the power of the whole armor of God and the strength He gives us, so that we can repent from our old, sinful ways to a life full of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation.

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Away from the office

Hey everyone! 
I'm over at my friend, Fiona's,  blog today, writing for her series. 
She'll be writing for me today, too. 
I hope you enjoy it!
I know, I did!
Don't forget to check out her blog site too!!!

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Identity with Fiona

There are few things that I love about the internet more than getting the unique opportunity to see
a glimpse of God’s grace and goodness in one’s life through his/her blogs. This is the reason why
I’m thankful to have stumbled upon Chelsea’s blogsite one day.

Chelsea, like what I said in my first email I ever sent you, you have a gift for words and your love
for God is so evident in your writing. You are a true encourager and inspiration to many. Thank you
for the opportunity to write for you over here today! :)

Across the ocean on the other side of the world where Chelsea lives is where I am currently writing
these words down. I’m Fiona Alvero, a blogger (http://www.fionamaealvero.com/), an event coordinator and a follower of Jesus.

I was born and raised in a small town north of the Philippines where I spent most of my fondest
childhood and teenage years. I moved to the city of Manila - where I still currently resides today - at
sixteen to go to college and get a degree in Communications with the hopes of pursuing a career in
writing or journalism someday.

This picture, I feel, says a lot of me and what I do as an event coordinator

It was also in college where I met Jesus as a first year student. My life since then had a whole new
meaning. I began to understand my true purpose and calling in life. While I kept writing as
something that I love to do, God placed in my heart the burning passion for the youth and later on
felt the call of God to go full-time in campus ministry.

And so that was exactly what happened after I graduated college when God opened the door for
me to serve in the campus ministry of the church I’m part of. I was tasked to be in charge of the
communication needs of the ministry while coordinating few events on the side at the same time
and never for a second it felt like a job to me because I was thoroughly enjoying everything about

Later on, as God is faithful to grow our campus ministry, there was a time where we felt the
pressing need to separate the two functions I was doing and treat it as two different job functions
for two different people to do because the load of work was already big for me to do. That meant I
will either be tasked to solely focus on doing communications or coordinating events.

And of course, as someone who built herself around the fact that communications is something I’ve
always desired to do and I know I can do well, I was praying and hoping they’d entrust that job
function to me. But I was given the other position instead.

I didn’t take it well, to be honest. It was hard for me because I felt so insecure thinking that I wasn’t
good or competent enough with my talents and skills in communications. I was so hurt and
disheartened by that transition to say the least.! !

Why it became hard and painful for me was because I didn’t realize until it was taken away from
me that all along I’ve been using my job, my talents and skills as the basis of my identity. So when I
didn’t get the communications position, it hit me right to the core of my being. Because I’ve allowed
it to define who I am. Have you ever had any of those?! !

Cause I realize over time, it could be other things for many of us. That thing that we make as the
basis of our identity. Actually, if we will not be careful enough to check our hearts, it could be
anything - family, finances, beauty, relationships, power, media, health, economic status, trends,
words that people say about us.

Sadly, these things are all temporary things that will certainly change over time. And the tendency
for us is that if this is what we will allow to define who we are, we will always end up trying to
measure up.

Looking back today, I will never be grateful enough that God has placed me in a situation that
though painful for me to go through, it was worth it because it allowed me to realize and learn
many things in life. One being that it opened my eyes to see how blessed I am to have godly
leaders in the ministry who have been so gracious in guiding me during that transition period and
who have always been there believing in my potentials as an event coordinator more than I believe
in myself.

Mostly, I am thankful for it because God used that transition as an avenue for Him to teach me an
important lesson in life and it’s this:

The only time we will feel secure of who we are is when we place our identity on something that is
constant. On something that will never change. On something that is eternal.

And you know what I’ve learned that is to be for you and me? It’s the love of Christ.

The Bible says in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: while we were
still sinners, Christ died for us.”

It’s mind-blowing for me to think that when we were still at our worst as sinners, God has already
chosen to love us. It means that whether we mess up today or we do good tomorrow, God’s love
for you and me will never change.

There is nothing we can do for Him to love us more or love us less because He has already loved
us enough when He sent His son Jesus to die on the cross for us.

You are eternally loved by a good and holy God.

Let that sink in for a while.

Cause that, my friend, is the truth of who you are. :)

Friday, April 18, 2014


I can count on two hands, times where I have been so extremely thankful for answers.
Three that stand out in particular.
The day I found out I have Lyme Disease. All the puzzle pieces of strange symptoms came together.
The day (today) I found out the reason behind my chronic chest pain, as well as other symptoms.

Both times started out with, "Why??" and both ended with, "Ohh, that makes sense."
Both times it took awhile to arrive at.
Both times I dreaded the answer and yet yearned for the answer.
Both times that didn't feel good once I had my answer and yet a sense of relief.
Both times presented complex answers and complex treatments.
What started out with a "Why?", now ended with, "Now, I know why."

Now that I have these answers, I can be on my road to recovery.
It makes me think of this special day, Good Friday.
The day where our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified.
The day that has caused me (and I'm sure, many people) to ask the question, "Why?"

So many of the events leading up all the way to the crucifixion can seem puzzling.
Why would Jesus present the wine and bread as His body and blood at His last supper with the disciples? (Luke 22:17-20)
Why would Jesus heal the soldier's ear who came to arrest Him? (Luke 22:49-51)
Why did Jesus let Herod and the others mock him? (Luke 22:8-12)
Why did Jesus ask God to "forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing?" (Luke 23:34)
Why did Jesus tell the thief on the cross next to him, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise"? (Luke 23:43)
Why would Jesus die for me, a sinner? 

All of these questions are often chased around with different, complex theological possibilities.
Answers that sometimes we get caught up in.
However, amongst all the possible complexities, we can rest assured on one simple, yet powerful answer...
Because He loves us.
Because He wanted to show how far He will go to forgive us.
He did all of those things, because love completes His being.

We can question, search, discuss all the details about Christ's journey to prove His love, but we can always end with the beautiful truth...
"How deep the Father's love for us.
How vast beyond all measure,
that He would give His only Son,
to make a wretch His treasure."
It's that answer that I will forever be most grateful.

Check out the song by "Why" Nicole Nordeman!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Guess what I saw?!

Have you ever wondered what the Kingdom of God looks like?

Well this past Sunday, I had a chance to get a glimpse of it and let me tell you, what a sight it was!

Dave and I went to Church Under the Bridge.
It's pretty self-explanatory...church...under...a bridge.
No walls. No air conditioning. No heating. 
A group of people worshiping God under a bridge in Waco. 

I had always heard of this unique church setting and I was finally able to experience it!

We parked in a hotel parking lot, walked across the highway access road, and found ourselves in a little bit of Heaven.
As I looked around, I saw chairs set up in rows. I saw animals on leashes and animals without leashes. I saw food being shared. I saw people with disabilities. I saw smiling faces. I saw pain. I saw people with raggedy clothes. I saw people with nice "church" clothes. I saw hugs being exchanged. I saw people of all colors. I saw people of all ages. I saw kids playing games. I saw people serving. I saw people receiving. I saw families. I saw individuals. I saw people being reunited. I saw people's eyes opened. I saw people's lives changed. I saw joy. I saw new beginnings.

I saw the Kingdom of God. 

I saw a lot, I felt a lot, and I knew that Jesus was smiling down on that gathering under the bridge on that windy Palm Sunday.

Once we sat down, a sense of uneasiness rushed over me and my eyes began to water.
"If only more people could experience this, maybe our world would be different" I thought.
"Why can't more churches be like this?"

A place where people of all circumstances are welcomed. 
No expectations. No rules. No walls. No judgment.
Simply, a group of people with dirty lives meeting to learn and worship God.
A safe haven for all where all are fed, both spiritually and physically.

I'm so glad I was able to get a snidbit of God's kingdom here on Earth.
I pray that more churches like this begin to pop up around the world, because I know it is pleasing to God and life changing for many.

While we were there, Dave and I ran into one of his friends. She used to be homeless, but now has her own place and a husband and continues to come to Church Under the Bridge. Please pray that she continues to succeed and more importantly, delves deeper into her relationship with God. It truly was a joy to meet her and witness the impact of Church Under the Bridge on her life.

May we all experience the Kingdom of God everyday. 

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Serve me!


I was watching The Ellen Degeneres Show a week ago and she began the show by discussing coffee.
Oh, how I love coffee.
Of course, when you talk about going out and getting coffee, Starbucks is usually one of the popular options.
So Ellen asked the audience, "Who goes to Starbucks everyday?"
Hands shot up in the air.
She points out one young lady and says, "You really go to Starbucks every day or Monday-Friday?"
The girl replies, "I go everyday...Monday-Sunday."
Ellen, of course, gave a look as if to say, "Seriously?!"
Instead, Ellen said, "Did you know that there are 87,000 drink combinations at Starbucks? So what do you get?"
With a shameful look on her face, the girl replies, "Earl Grey Tea."
Ellen about lost it. "Plain Earl Grey Tea everyday?! How much do you pay for it?!"
The girl laughs and says, "$2.50" (I could be wrong with the price.)
Ellen in disbelief says, "Don't you know you can go to the store and buy a box of it and drop a bag into a mug?!"
With a chuckle, the girl says, "Yes."

Next thing she knows, she's running down the street to buy Ellen a coffee (at Ellen's request) and herself a tea. She comes back to deliver Ellen's coffee and is sent back to buy George Lopez a latte. 
It was pretty comical. 

So where am I going with this?
It's not to dis anyone and their Starbucks daily rituals, of course, but a perfect analogy about service.
Everyday, this young lady would go to Starbucks to buy a drink that didn't require much work.
It wasn't a complicated coffee with soy milk, light whipped cream, 4 packets of Splenda, and caramel sauce, but a simple tea that could be easily made at home or the office.

Many people may say, "Well, she's just lazy" and maybe they're right to an extent, but I think it goes deeper than that. 
I think she likes to be served.
I don't think it's completely her fault either. 
We live in a consumer society, so it would be hard not to buy into it.
When we live a life desiring to be served, we diminish the Gospel in our lives.

A little fact about me: I don't like to cook. That doesn't mean I won't. I just don't like it. So of course, if I had it my way, I'd go to a restaurant. Not because I'm lazy, but I simply don't like it.
 Not to mention, it's nice to sit at a table and have food and drinks served to you. 
I'm not saying we should completely eliminate Starbucks and restaurants from our daily lives, but to dig deeper into the heart of service to others.

Here is the problem. If I applied this to my social life, I would no longer be spreading the Gospel.
Acts 20:35 says, " In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Sometimes we may be too tired to serve. Sometimes it will be uncomfortable to serve. Sometimes we just want to be served instead of serving.
In those times, we should remind ourselves of Jesus' words, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

I would think the young lady on the Ellen show enjoyed "serving" Ellen and George Lopez more than Ellen simply buying her beloved Earl Grey Tea. 
I could imagine her telling people, "I got to buy Ellen Degeneres and George Lopez' coffee!"
Serving can be fun and life-giving, even when they aren't celebrities.

Instead of wanting to be served, we should be wanting to serve because that's what Jesus did.
 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” ~Mark 10:45

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Music Monday: Cannot Keep You

Well, I just got back from my LLMD (Lyme Literate Medical Doctor) and had a great appointment! So many of my symptoms are gone and my physical exam was the best yet! He even is letting me stop some of my meds...wohooo!! I'm closer to the finish line than ever before and it feels good :) Please continue to keep me in your prayers.

Anywho, today is Music Monday!
A lot of times I discover songs through Pandora. So I have random pieces of paper laying around the house with different song titles. Today's song was written down probably almost a year ago and I'm finally sharing it with you! Oopsie. 

It's called "Cannot Keep You" by Michael Gungor. One of his most popular songs is, "Beautiful Things" (love, love, LOVE that song), as well as, "White Man" (too cute...you know you want to look it up ;) ,  but "Cannot Keep You" isn't as well known so I figured I'd shine the spotlight on it today. 

Cannot Keep You
"They tried to keep you in a tent
They could not keep you in a temple
Or any of their idols, to see and understand

We cannot keep you in a church
We cannot keep you in a Bible
Or it's just another idol to box you in

They could not keep you in their walls
We cannot keep you in ours either
For you are so much greater

Who is like the Lord?

The maker of the heavens
Who dwells with the poor
He lifts them from the ashes
And He seats them among princess
Who is like the Lord?

We've tried to keep you in our tents
We've tried to keep you in our temples
We've worshiped all our idols
We want all that to end

So we will find you in the streets
And we will find you in the prisons
And even in our Bibles and churches

Who is like the Lord

The maker of the heavens
Who dwells with the poor
He lifts them from the ashes
And He seats them among princes
Who is like the Lord

We cannot contain, cannot contain
The glory of your name

You took me from the ashes
And you healed me from my blindness
Who is like the Lord"

Not to bash the church, because I love the church, but it has to be said...sometimes we (the church) like to keep God all to ourselves. The truth is, God isn't only for the church but He is for all, even those who don't believe in Him. Sometimes we focus on the people in our church more (which they should be cared for). Sometimes we focus on our own ministries more, when instead we should be getting outside of the church walls. That's why I love this song, because it gives us a visual of our God who doesn't dwell only in buildings. 

"So we will find you in the streets and we will find you in the prisons and even in our Bibles and churches. Who is like the Lord?" God is not only pursuing the church goers, but He is pursuing the people on the streets. He is pursuing the people in the prisons. He is pursuing the people in the hospitals. He is pursuing people in America. He is pursuing people in every nation. He cannot be put in a box and if we keep Him there, we are doing a disservice to Him and all of the people who do not know Him. Therefore, if God is pursuing all people, we should pursue all people for "we cannot contain the glory of Your name." 

What lyrics speak to you? 
I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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