Attributes of the Church

Sunday, December 2, 2018

When I attended missions school, I had the privilege of studying out the attributes of the church. Just tonight I was looking through this study again, and thought it would be a joy to share those notes here! I was so refreshed as I read through, and I hope you will be as well. May we love His Word and hold it high, trying our every thought, belief, and attitude to it.

Prescriptive attributes of the church

Above reproach (Titus 1:6,7)
Hospitable (Titus 1:8)
A lover of good (Titus 1:8)
Upright  (Titus 1:8, 2:12)
Holy (Titus 1:8)
Disciplined (Titus 1:8)
Holding firm to the Word (titus 1:9)
Sound in doctrine (Titus 2:1)
Sober minded (Titus 2:2)
Dignified (Titus 2:2)
Self-controled (Titus 2:2, 1:8)
Sound in faith (Titus 2:2)
Sound in love (Titus 2:2)
Sound in steadfastness (Titus 2:2)
Renouncing ungodliness (Titus 2:12)
Renouncing worldly passions (Titus 2:12)
Living godly lives in the present age (Titus 2:12)
Waiting for Jesus (Titus 2:13)
Obedient (Titus 3:1)
Ready for every good work (Titus 3:1)
Speaking evil of no one (Titus 3:2)
Avoids quarreling (Titus 3:2)
Gentle (Titus 3:2)
Showing perfect courtesy toward all people (Titus 3:2)
Compassionate of heart (Colossians 3:12)
Kind (Colossians 3:12)
Humble (Colossians 3:12)
Meek (Colossians 3:12)
Patient (Colossians 3:12)
Bearing with one another (Colossians 3:13)
Forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven us (Colossians 3:13)
Loving, above all (Colossians 3:14)
Ruled in heart by the peace of Christ (Colossians 3:15)
Thankful (Colossians 3:15)
The Word dwelling within richly (Colossians 3:16)
Teaching and admonishing one another (Colossians 3:16)
Does everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:17)

Descriptive attributes of the church

Baptized with the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5,8, 2:38)
Heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7)
Loving (Galatians 5:22)
Joyful (Galatians 5:22)
Peaceful (Galatians 5:22)
Patient (Galatians 5:22)
Kind (Galatians 5:22)
Good (Galatians 5:22)
Faithful (Galatians 5:22)
Gentle (Galatians 5:23)
Self-controled (Galatians 5:23)
Have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5:24)
Complete (2 Timothy 3:17)
Thoroughly equipped unto every good work (Galatians 5:23)
Known by the Lord (2 Timothy 2:19)
Sound of mind (2 Timothy 1:7)
Called to holiness (1 Thessalonians 4:7)

Burn the Bitter Roots

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

I was driving home with my mom one evening when I received a message. A coworker's spouse had to go the emergency department and she wondered if I would pick up her shift the following morning at the assisted living facility so she could rest up after her eventful evening in the hospital. I quickly messaged her back and agreed to work the shift, and told her that I hoped her husband felt better soon.

My mind was cloudy that next morning. Running behind, I rushed to get ready, putting on a pair of light blue scrubs, tennis shoes, and a light jacket. I ran out the front door and started the car, noticing how icy and dark it was. The 6am shift was not my favorite, but I knew it was important for me to be there to care for the residents and support my coworkers.

As I pulled out of the driveway, the street seemed even more slick than I had first thought. I traveled down a hilly road, glancing at the clock. I could generally make it there in 8 minutes, but the inconvenient weather was going to hold me back.

Suddenly, coming over a small hill, I saw a down tree completely blocking my lane. I gasped, slamming on my breaks. It was too late. A sheet of ice beneath my car prevented me from coming to a stop. The large tree and the front of my car met forcefully.

I started to pant. What happened? Was I alive?

My airbag had never deployed, so my chest went forward into the steering wheel. I was ok, but confused and shaken up. Noticing the smell of smoke, I got out of my car in a rush. Was my car about to go up in flames? I stood outside in the low temperatures, on the other side of the road from my car. Freezing rain was coming down and the wind whipped right through my insufficient jacket.

Lord, help.

I called both of my parents, unsure of what to do. Because of where I had crashed, if another driver wasn't watching, they could drive right into my car, causing a second collision, so I waited in the cold.

I dialed the number of the assisted living facility, explaining what had just occurred. "Well, can you get here soon?" I don't think that will be possible for a while.

My dad graciously came and picked me up. While insurance was being handled and the police were called, I sat in my dad's car, sinking back in the chair.

In that season of life, I had been working to get past some rough experiences I had gone through. My heart was racing as worrisome, frustrating thoughts came to mind about certain people I had known.

Would they actually care about the way they treated me if I had died today?

They would probably wish I had been hurt.

I bet they think I'm too immature to handle anything; a job, driving, early mornings....

It was more than the ramifications of an accident. The circumstances brought some unpleasant thoughts from deep in my soul to the surface. I felt discarded, ostracized, and put down by a group of people from my past. I hadn't seen them recently, but it was apparent that I had been festering unforgiveness toward them. I felt that they did not value my life.

Instead of being grateful for the Lord's protection and rejoicing over His faithfulness that morning, I was moody and bitter. I wished there was a way to peek into the lives of those who had been unkind to me and see if there was a ray of care about the fact that I could have been hurt much worse that day.

My car was towed away and I was dropped off to work. I struggled to even smile at my residents; the weight within my soul was great. How do you make the choice to forgive when you're so entangled in traumatic memories, flustered emotions, and aching pain?

Do you ever find yourself asking the same questions? How can we walk in forgiveness when our own souls are so broken?

Painful, all-important redemption

In the introduction to “Choosing Forgiveness,” Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth shares the compelling illustration of Charles Dickens’ classic character Miss Havisham--known for her bitter heart toward her fiance who abandoned her on their wedding day and ran away with another woman. There she sat in her living room, still adorned in the very wedding dress she had chosen for the forgotten day. As the lace slowly lost its color, Miss Havisham’s heart continued in the opposite direction, becoming sharper and more animated with ugly unforgiveness. Broken and sad--hardly able to look beyond herself and the hurt she had sustained---Miss Havisham admitted, “the mice have gnawed away at it, and sharper teeth than teeth of mice have gnawed at me.” (1) Bitter resentment was eating her from the inside out.

These words caused me to pause:

Has the clock stopped in your life? Was there a moment when someone or something hurt you--and everything changed? Perhaps you can still remember the day, the time, the year, the scenery, the circumstances. Your hopes, dreams, and innocence felt the sharp sting of betrayal and disappointment. Ever since, the story of your life has been to recapture your loss and seek your revenge, either through outright action or the withholding of love and affection.”

She continues:

“Do you know full well what those gnawing teeth feel like? I want to say to you that you don’t have to live there. It’s time to pull back the drapes and move out of the darkness. To do so may seem risky--even impossible. The process may be painful. But there is life and health and a whole new world outside of the dark, musty walls of hurt and disillusionment behind which you have barricaded your heart. God wants to...set you free.” (2)

Like Miss Havisham, I found myself frozen in replays of ugly, heart-crushing memories; life occurrences I wished I could control and change, but could not. What my pain-stricken heart needed the morning of my accident was a fresh reminder about the reality of the forgiveness that had been shown to me and a resolve to walk in it, by His grace.

Do you know how much you cost Him?

As followers of Jesus, we're well acquainted with the fact that apart from the grace of God, we would be condemned forever. Our sin is so ugly and opposite the the beautiful holiness and purity of our perfect King. All the people of earth had no hope of restoration, dying in their sins; it would have been entirely just of our God to allow us to face the consequences of our rebellion against Him. Bring this truth close to heart; it would have been rightful for God to allow me to spend the rest of eternity separated from Him in hell. Yet He sent His only Son, the Perfect Lamb, because He is worthy of each life He has created for His glory.

What mercy.

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23).

"We like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).

"In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7).

The Most High passionately pursued our souls. In His great love, He fought for us, even when we had spat in His face.

The only reason I can say: "I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living" (Psalm 116:9) is because Jesus was "cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people" (Isaiah 53:8b).

The greatest work of forgiveness in the history of the universe was accomplished by our God, willing to sacrifice His own Son's perfect life so that He could redeem us fully, if we would yield our hearts to Him. As 1 John says: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (vs.9).

Jesus is the only reason I do not have to face the wrath of God, which I deserve to have bestowed upon me. John continues: "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world" (2:1-2).

How redemption empowers us to forgive our offenders

I was hit right between the eyes with words from a woman I have often pictured as a loving mentor-like figure in my life:

“We never so fully experience the ocean of God’s love as when we forgive our enemies” (Corrie ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord). 

The very woman who was put through death camps, persecuted by the Nazi's, lost deeply loved family members, and had her very life as she had known it taken from her, shares out of her renowned child-like faith, “Here’s how you can know His love--forgive.”

God supplies grace for me to walk in forgiveness toward others even when I may not feel equipped for it emotionally. “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart" (Corrie ten Boom).

His Word calls me to forgive those who have hurt me:

"Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you" (Colossians 3:13).

"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:14-15).

"And if [a brother] sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, 'I repent,' you shall forgive him" (Luke 17:4).

As I chose, by His grace, to forgive those who had hurt me, I began to feel immense freedom. It became clear that bitterness was a weight I carried on my shoulders; I had allowed my mind to be the breeding ground for frustration, unforgiveness, and continual replay of hurt-filled memories. When we confess our bitterness and unforgiveness before the Lord, it's amazing to see how He will cause our lives to be a display of His mercy to those around us.

Is there a memory in your life that fills you with dread and anger toward someone in your life? Are you holding on to unforgiveness in any capacity in your life? Enabled by His grace, are you walking in forgiveness toward those who have treated you unjustly?

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. // John 8:36

I encourage you to get away with Jesus and allow Him to expose your heart. Is your all on the altar? Is your greatest longing for Him to be lifted High?

If so, forgiveness will be simple. It may be painful and hard, but as we go about each day abiding in Christ, we can walk in freedom and strength.

He has given you everything you need for life and godliness. Including the grace to forgive fully.

Those who harmed me in my past left my soul feeling bankrupt, unloved, and cast aside; the beautiful thing is that as I pushed forward and chose forgiveness, I had a greater understanding of the cost of my own redemption--the great weight of the truth that Jesus has removed my sins from me as far as the east is from the west. And because He is enough, I can show the forgiveness of heaven to both unbelievers and believers around me. Displaying the pardon He has shown to me. I don't deserve it, and there is nothing I could ever do to repay Him for it; yet He lavishes His love on me.

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (Oxford University Press), 82
Nancy Demoss Wolgemuth, Choosing Forgiveness (Moody Publishers 2008), 27


Sunday, November 18, 2018

It was June. Not even one month after graduating as a Certified Nursing Assistant, and I was practically on my tippy toes, just waiting and hoping to help others with any kind of medical need they might have. I would even go so far as to pray that if there had to be an accident in the day that I would be the first to see it on my drive home. I longed to put my first aid training to use, as we didn’t have a plethora of emergency situations at the assisted living facility I worked at.

That summer I temporarily moved to Colorado. During my first week of school, we had a lecture on campus safety and were asked if anyone had medical training, and I was so thrilled to raise my hand into the air! Yes! Yes! Yes! I am happy to help with absolutely anything medical! I practically had to bite my lip to keep from saying it aloud.

I kept my eyes open, looking for any opportunities to serve others in this capacity, but at first, nothing, as far as I was aware, had come up. I sat down outside the 300 dorms and opened up the assigned book for that week. As I flipped to the page where I had left off, I glanced up at my water bottle; it had a medical symbol on it with my name below. It was like there were ants in my pants or something. No one had punctured an artery, taken a tumble on the sidewalk, or fallen unconscious into the campus lake, which was good. But at the same time, what’s a passionate CNA girl to do?!

At last, a month later something had { finally } come up. All 105 or so of us students were having an evening of fellowship at a local park. Some were playing volleyball or ultimate frisbee, while others were just enjoying talking with one another. Being the stellarly athletic type that I am, I avoided the competitive games and sat down in the grass, picking up a conversation with several ladies who I hoped to get to know better. Suddenly one of the girls said, “Cassidy! Someone’s down over there! Can you go help?” My back had been turned to the frisbee game in which a guy had landed wrong on his ankle.

Quickly, I jumped up, feeling elated and trying to recall what I had learned about sprained joints. Only a few feet away from the scene, I looked over to see a staff member also running in that direction. She said to me, in a gracious tone of voice: “Why don’t you go back and sit down?”


It felt like one of those slow-motion moments. “Oh ok.” I said, feeling my heart drop. With disappointment, I turned around and went back to the same spot where I had previously been seated.

That evening was a good one for my soul; it was a reminder that truly serving others is so not about me. If I am not needed, then it may be best to stay out of the way. There had been an RN involved on the scene of the sprained ankle, and plenty of other individuals nearby who could help.

A few weeks later while I did my chore in the Lakehouse, I spotted a friend. I started a conversation with the lady coordinating volunteers for the upcoming 5K and mentioned that if they happened to need any medical help, I would be thrilled to provide any care I was able to. I also passed along the name of a classmate who was an LPN, who I was certain would be just as excited about this opportunity as I was; maybe we could work together!

Eventually it was 3:30pm.

Internet hours…. I refreshed my email several times, thinking about how amazing it would be to look over the volunteer assignments. I pictured pulling my hair back and placing my pink stethoscope over my shoulders. I could bring my first aid kit, pulse oximeter, and purple sphygmometer; each of which were sitting sadly on the top shelf in my dorm room, only used on occasion or when I pestered someone about taking their vital signs. I didn’t want to just ask others if I could practice taking their blood pressure anymore, I wanted to be there answering the call when someone pulled a muscle, broke a leg, or fainted of heat exhaustion.

A few days later, a subject line in my email rekindled all the excitement. “Volunteer Assignments For 5K.” I scrolled through the list, urgently looking for the column of “Nurse/First Aid.” I glanced at my phone with utter thrill; I was assigned to be the 5K first aid provider!!! And my LPN friend was going to be working with me; it seemed like the most exciting day ever! I jumped out of my chair and told my excitement to a nearby friend. The 14th of July could not arrive fast enough!

As I prepared for the day, I had to restrain myself from shrieking for joy; I put my student ID on the same way I had worn my medical ID during clinicals. Even if no one would get hurt that morning, just the idea of being available to meet the needs of others had me about jumping up and down. I threw all my medical supplies into my backpack and headed out the door.

When I got there, the volunteer coordinator needed to speak with me. It turned out that one of the other people involved in coordinating the 5K had already arranged for three other people to provide medical care for the day. A nurse's station had been arranged with an RN, EMT, and first responder.

Wondering how it could be that another medical opportunity had fallen through, I walked over to my LPN friend to let her know that we would not be needed at the nurses station that morning. She told me she was relieved; she had been willing to help if there was a great need, but hoped to instead participate in the 5K. I understood her relief since she was such a hard working nurse, but I did not share in her relief… I still felt restless to help others.

A few days later, I lost my water bottle with the medical sign on it. It was like everything I used to identify myself as a medical professional was nonexistent.

Jesus was, in a way, speaking to me. I was finding the whole of my identity in medical care.

The position of my soul is not in nursing, CNA-ing, blood drawing, first-aid administering, CPR-giving Cassidy. My position is in Christ, and I was getting a crash course in it. I had been living in the clouds, with “Oh for the day when I’m finally a nurse” type thoughts dominating my heart and mind. I had no grid for any other kind of future than one of charting, injecting, observing, and compassionately caring nursing.

I think it’s a common phenomenon of girls of the 21st century to misplace their identity. We somehow come to a conclusion that we have to be identified with something, be that good grades, a thriving career, a certain interest well pursued, a boyfriend nearby, or something else, whatever it may be.

Despite what our culture daily attempts to instill in us, our identity is not in our personality, our accomplishments, our abilities, or our passions; our identity is in Christ alone. (May He ever be out all-consuming passion!)

Here I am, over a year later, looking back with a smile. I now work in the emergency department and get to do many of the things I was dreaming of. The other day I administered over 91 compressions to one patient. My weekly life includes obtaining and charting vital signs, ambulating patients, assisting in high acuity traumas, taking EKGs, drawing blood, and sometimes praying with patients at their lowest point. There are moments I about squeal for joy! But there are also moments I long to go home.

Getting to help people in emergent and traumatic moments of their lives often thrills my soul, but it does not satisfy me completely.

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the Living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps. 42:1-2).

I wasn’t created for myself. I was not made to follow my heart and dreams. (Prov. 4:23).

I was put into existence for the glory, honor, and praise of Jesus Christ. (Is. 43:1-7, Eph. 3:20-21).

That does not mean the vision He has planted in my heart--as I offer it up to Him in full surrender--has no eternal value, but it is not my purpose for existing on this earth.

God did not create me merely to chase whims, hopes, and wishes.

I was made to know the very Source of life Himself.

The essence of who I am, even in this fallen world, cries out His praise. "All my bones shall say, 'O Lord, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him" (Ps. 35:10a). My fulfillment cannot be found in a job, human being, life setting, or particular circumstances. I need something more than things and people; at the core of who I am, I long for the Author of Life.

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him! Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints, for those who fear Him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing...The Lord redeems the life of His servants; none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned" (Ps. 34:8-10,22).

Knowing the Most High is not a hobby or merely one segment of life. It is an all-consuming pursuit. As A.W. Tozer has said: "Too many persons try to make Jesus Christ a convenience. They reduce Him simply to a big friend who will help us when we are in trouble. This is not Biblical Christianity! Jesus Christ is Lord, and when an individual comes in repentance and faith, the truth flashes in. For the first time he finds himself saying, 'I will do the will of the Lord, even if I die for it." [1]

Putting Jesus first and claiming Him as my identity means death to self and living for Christ. "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Col. 3:1-3).

Living in Pursuit of a Heavenly Agenda

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain...Let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Phil. 1:21a, 27a).

People who are without Jesus live in light of what is temporary; it's all they know to give themselves for. Flashing headlines like "Live your best life now" sum up the mainstream attitude. As citizens of heaven in a broken earth, may we display the loveliness of an existence surrendered unto the Alpha and Omega. Happily stepping into the mud and mess to share the all-important secret with all who will hear: Jesus is Lord.

Oswald Chambers has shared an important piece of advice on God's intent for His children:

"His purpose is not the development of  a person--His purpose is to make a person exactly like Himself, and the Son of God is characterized by self-expenditure. If we believe in Jesus, it is not what we gain, but what He pours through us that really counts. God's purpose is not simply to make us beautiful, plump grapes, but to make us grapes so that He may squeeze the sweetness out of us. Our spiritual life cannot be measured by success as the world measures it, but only by what God pours through us--and we cannot measure that at all [...] 'He who believed in me...out of his heart will flow rivers of Living Water'--and hundreds of other lives will be continually refreshed. Now is the time for us to break "the flask" of our lives, to stop seeking our own satisfaction, and to pour out our lives before Him. Our Lord is asking who of us will do it for Him?" [2]

Ultimately, my identity as a Christ follower is not about me. It's about the Savior who is worthy of my utmost and entire givenness.

Know that the unique way He has made you is for a purpose, yet the longer my eyes remain upon self, the less I can be used. If I spend my days worried if my gifts will be spent well, I am not seeing myself in perspective. I am not the story and I am not the main character. He has made me a part of His plan and Kingdom, but not so my name would be known, but so He will receive more glory, honor, and praise.

He is the One this is all about.

I was made uniquely for His glory because He is worthy of praise in a billion different ways.

Do I still love the emergency department and sometimes achingly long to give CPR? Yes. Yet, I must leave my desires in the hands of the One who created my heart and knows my every dream so intimately.

God is my Creator and He knows my purpose far, far better than I ever will. This means the best way I may accomplish the intentions He has for me is by obeying and yielding to Him. 

1. Tozer, A.W., and Gerald B. Smith. Mornings With Tozer . Moody Publishers, 2008, p. March 24
2. Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest. Oswald Chambers Publications Association, Ltd., 1992, p. September 2

Spurgeon Speaks to Patient Care

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

I spend a lot of time with patients these days....Some are simply the sweetest and others are harder to show love to. I sat to read some Spurgeon the other day, and was blown away by these encouragements:

“I venture to say that our Savior never taught us to confine our giving to the deserving. He would never have bestowed His grand gift of grace on any one of us had He carried out that rule. We cannot afford to cramp our charity into a sort of petty justice and sour our giving into a miniature court of law. When a man is suffering, let us pity him, however this suffering has come...[Jesus] came to the sinner, not with reproach but with restoration. Jesus saw his disease rather than his depravity and gave him pity instead of punishment. Our God is kind to the unthankful and to the evil; be therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful...Let us imitate Him in this, and wherever there is pain and sorrow, let it be our joy to relieve it.”

 “Our Lord was at home amid this mercy, for here was room for His tender heart and powerful hand. He feasted His soul by doing good. Let us learn this lesson, dear friend, that in the times of our brightest joys we should remember the sorrowful and find a still higher joy in doing them good....blessed are they who, like the Lord Jesus, visit the sick and care for them.” [1]

It's probably fair to say that it's our human nature to ponder if our patient is worthy of our kindness. When fits are thrown, voices are raised, complaints are made, or a patient is just plain difficult in some other way, is it my delight to show them the boundless love of Jesus?

I have been working in the emergency department for nearly two months now, and a recurring theme seems to be: "You need to learn to lay down the law with patients who struggle to make good choices. Don't be too nice to them."

We certainly have to be cautious with patients who are violent or emotionally unstable, but we must also remember that we walk with the Lord Jesus at every moment when providing care. When He was so worthy of our everything, we spat in His face and disdained Him. Even so, "when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:6).

The passage continues:

"It is rare indeed for anyone to die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Therefore, since we have now been justified by His blood, how much more shall we be saved from wrath through Him! For if, when we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through His life! Not only so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation" (Romans 5:7-11).

Jesus has done this incredible work of redemption. There is something wrong with my perspective if I am still looking at others with a measuring stick and saying, "If you do this, and don't do that, then I'll care about you and be kind." If such a standard had been held upon us by our Savior, redemption would be completely impossible and I would be forever stuck in my sin, on my way to an eternity of destruction and torment. That is what I deserve! It's what we all deserve! "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). And yet He did not allow my unworthiness to stop His grand plan of redemption. In the midst of my mess, He showed me mercy.

Our God is all wise, and He Himself was moved at a heart level for the broken. He didn't shut up His heart because, "I'd burn out if I took all that to heart" (He is all-sufficient, after all). He let the sadness, sickness, and brokenness others were experiencing affect Him:

"And a leper came to Him, imploring Him, and kneeling said to Him, 'If you will, you can make me clean.' Moved with pity, He stretched out His hand and touched him and said to him, 'I will; be clean.' And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean" (Mark 1:40-42).

The word there for "moved with pity" is splagchnizomai. Strong's defines this word: "[to] feel sympathy, to pity -- have (be moved with) compassion." [2] Splagchnizomai speaks of the seat of affections of the heart [3]; Jesus was not simply pondering head knowledge on the situation; He felt the depth of the need.

Whenever we feel tempted, as healthcare workers, to disconnect our emotions from our work for the sake of self-preservation, may we remember our Lord Jesus who wept with Mary and Martha over the death of Lazarus, to the point that the Jews who had been observing Him said: "See how [Jesus] loved [Lazarus]" (John 11:36).

May our work display the same; "See how Jesus has loved you." Because we know, as Elisabeth Elliot has said, "You are loved with an everlasting love; that's what the Bible says! And underneath are the everlasting arms" (Jer. 31:3, Deut. 33:27).

We have the opportunity to wrap the broken in hope or push them further into despair. By His grace, may we bear His light into the darkness sick people are facing. Jesus is the Light of the World, and He has placed us here--displaying His light--for such a time as this. May we feel compassion for the broken as our Savior does. May we stoop down into the mud with the dirty, listen with care and attentiveness to those who weep, advocate effectively for the confused, and--with every patient--be moved at a heart level; displaying the "splagchnizomai" of their Creator.

"Jesus, the Light of the World, caused His light and truth to dawn upon your heart, removing the veil and fog of unbelief that once blinded you to Him. He gave the light; He did the shining, and you found you could see God for who He truly is and love the Gospel for what it really is" (Kristen Wetherell). [4]

We know that hope is not merely a feeling or put together circumstances; Hope is a person named Jesus. And this Hope isn't bound to ease or situational peace; He is willing to rescue the lost and restore shattered souls.

"Wherever there is pain and sorrow, let it be our joy to relieve it" (Spurgeon).

(1) Spurgeon, Charles, and Lance Wubbles. Discovering the Power of Christ's Miracles. Emerald Books, 1995, p. 15,14
(2) Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, as found here.
(3) HELPS Word-studies, Copyright © 1987, 2011 by Helps Ministries, Inc.
(4) Wetherell, Kristen, and Sarah Walton. Hope When It Hurts: Biblical Reflections to Help You Grasp God's Purpose in Your Suffering. The Good Book Company, 2017, p. 19

Enabled, Empowered and Equipped

Sunday, October 21, 2018

The other day, I was assigned as the compressor for an incoming patient in the emergency department. I walked into the trauma room and was instructed to apply gloves and stand on a stool right next to the hospital bed. As the patient was brought in by EMS, I began CPR. With one leg on the hospital bed, I furthered my reach as the patient was transferred from the stretcher to the hospital bed. I started counting each push into the patient's chest.

one. two. three. four. five. six. seven.

I did my absolute best to give quality compressions. The fast-pace emergency started to play out slower in my mind; I thought about the time between each compression, the depth I pushed into the patient's chest, the respiratory therapist to my right. Would this patient come out alive?

If my patient had refused care and told us, "Nope, I'm not experiencing cardiac arrest; keep your hands off me," then we would have been unable to rescue the patient. (Obviously if the patient was conscious and talking then we would not be doing compressions anyway).

In a similar way, every human being to ever walk the earth has a terminal disease: sin (Romans 3:23). If we refuse to come to grips with the truth that our sin separates us from God and that we cannot save ourselves, then we will die in our sin and spend all eternity separated from our worthy God. The Great Physician longs to rescue the broken, fallen, and sinful.

The notably religious people of Jesus' time were the Pharisees; they followed extensive ritualistic laws, taught in synagogues, and were admired by many. They looked spiritual, but their hearts were full of pride.

Jesus said to them: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness" (Matthew 23:27-28).

"Those who are well have no need of a Physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17b).

Those who are self-righteous aren't needy for God (truly they are, but they refuse to admit it); Jesus did not come for those who believe that they have it all together, but for broken sinners who acknowledge their need for a Mighty Savior to lift them from the miry clay. My redemption could never be accomplished through human whims and performance. If I don't acknowledge my need for Him, I resemble the Pharisees. Do you know how Jesus felt about the Pharisees' hearts? He was "...grieved over the hardness of their heart" (Mark 3:5). Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has said,

"If I lose my my neediness, I lose my usefulness."

It's in our desperation for our Savior that we may be used in the way He intended. He is the only One who can give us new life and cause us to walk in His fullness. "God isn't looking for sponsors; He's looking for servants. He isn't looking for people who have sufficiency" (Leonard Ravenhill).

My only wholeness is in Jesus.

"And ye are complete in Him, which is the head of all principality and power" (Colossians 2:10).

He is Lord, and I am not. I need Him to lead, teach, help and sustain me. Despite what this world loudly proclaims, no, I am not enough in and of myself. If all there is is me and that has to be sufficient for this entire lifetime, my am I in trouble.

In my own pockets, I do not find the strength, hope, grace, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, love, or self-control I need to triumph in the journey ahead. I am so empty of all good and full of what is wrong apart from Christ.

But in Jesus, because He laid His perfect life down for me, I have what I need.

"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge [epiginosko] of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires" (2 Peter 1:3-4).

As we abide in Christ, by His transforming grace, we are changed more and more into His likeness.

"Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And He who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers" (Romans 8:26-29).

My patient had to come into the hospital acknowledging their need for resuscitation. (In regard to medical situations, passing out is a definite acknowledgment of needing help). Even so, we fall at the feet of Jesus, desperately lacking, but willing to give our everything up in full surrender to the only One who can revive us out of our spiritual disease and deadness. We must come to Him with humbled hearts; we do not have it in the bag. We are not everything we're meant to be. Oh how we need our Savior to work in us; as believers, it's only by abiding in Him that we can bring forth any fruit that will glorify Him.

This abiding is restful, enabling, and empowering. By running to Him for strength, we are equipped to " a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10).

Lean. Depend. Abide. Be desperate for Jesus. He will empower us as we look to Him for grace to continue onward and inward.

The well of Living Water never runs dry; He cares about our needs even more than we do, and provides for us. Jehovah Jireh dwells in us and goes before us; He is gladly willing to meet the needs of His desperate people, if we will acknowledge our need for Him.

H e l l o || n i n e t e e n

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The past 365 days have contained more than I would have known to dream up. Today I leave 18 behind…

This time last year, I was finishing my final weeks at missions school. Homework, class sessions, sleeplessness, to-dos, and time with Jesus filled my time in Colorado to the max. As a Michigan native, the sweeping, majestic mountain view from the small campus often left me in awe. And the sunsets regularly left this talkative extrovert wordless; the depth of the blazing red and orange skies caused me to ponder how detailed, creative, and brilliant our Maker is.

I’ve struggled to adequately sum up my time there; messages like “The Majestic Jesus” and “The Lowercase f,” along with regular devotional thoughts on the nature of God, as revealed through His names in Scripture, opened my heart to a new level of knowing our incredible Jesus. I could use the word awe again and again, because that’s what I experienced nearly every day. He’s just so worthy!

There were also some rough patches in my time there right after my birthday last year; though they aren’t all easy memories to look back on, I trust the Truth of His Word that absolutely everything will be worked together for good, and that nothing in all creation can separate me from His love (Romans 8:28, 35-39).

In all honesty, I came back broken. Probably more so because of myself than anything else, but life was a struggle.

I began working at Bishop Hills again two days after arriving home from school. I had received my license as a Certified Nursing Assistant five months before, and felt it would be wisest for the time being to continue gaining experience in assisted living. As I previously chronicled on this blog, not every moment of working as a CNA has been a breeze, but caring practically for those who are hurting has been such an eye-opening experience. This past year of employment as an aid has been so important; Jesus was graciously giving me opportunities to humble myself and take the lowest place. The truth is, I’d love to be through with school and already have the position in healthcare I anticipate having in the future. It’s been a continual opportunity to lay every desire at His feet and trust His perfect timing and leading.

There’s a reason for this season. Every day of assisting my residents with their ADLs {activities of daily living} and other needs is preparing me for the future. It’s been my deep hope to serve well at Bishop Hills, even as I simultaneously see it as a “stair step” in my experience in caring for others facing crisis or just needing assistance.

In addition to that job, I also ended up nannying for three different families at various times throughout the year. Little Miss Lucy was my “regular.” Every Monday when her mom and siblings went off to homeschool group, Lucy and I got to hang out. She has the most precious smile and laugh; her strong will, love for her family, and curiosity have made my day many a time. Home life over the past year has been on the unstable side with my parents’ separation, but amid brokenness, Jesus was using little things to lift my eyes to Himself. Lucy was one of them!

Many tears were shed as our family worked through logistics, and all things life-change that come with the dividing of a home. It left me with an assurance within my soul that I was entirely and completely unable to do anything apart from His grace. Looking back, I see the pain and sorrow, but I know He was bringing about beauty from ashes.

I’ve always had the propensity to keep everyone at an arm's length, which created more ramifications than it helped while I was walking through what one might term “rawness” of soul. I’m the one who would prefer to cry in the bathroom, and not come out till I can put on a convincing smile and go on in conversation as if nothing ever happened. I did that a fair bit last year; people would reach out to me mercifully, having heard a piece of what was happening, and rarely did I feel comfortable enough to actually open up and share with others. Learning to be vulnerable in a way that also honors those around me has been a difficult lesson. I tend to be silent about the “deeper,” more achy things that are going on in my life, but I have been seeing afresh that because of the hurt I have walked through, Jesus has given me a special door of entrance in showing mercy and care to those facing similar circumstances. You learn to truly mourn with those who mourn when you have suffered yourself. I’m grateful He graciously uses what has been trauma in my own life so that I can meet other women where they’re at and remind them that our God is always faithful, even when our hearts are breaking.

I walked out of our local movie theatre, after watching a pro-life film with a sweet friend and saw Laura Alexandria, the Director of Operations with Grand Rapids Right to Life. A brief conversation had a new idea excitedly planted in my mind...They were looking to hire a new staff member, and my friend recommended me for the position.

I was conflicted.

Should I even apply for a job that I would be super passionate about, but that wasn’t in the industry I was pursuing??

Three interviews and five months later, I was the Student Trailblazer of Grand Rapids Right to Life.

Since I accepted this position, I have had the privilege of coming alongside high school and college students as they seek to advocate for the unborn. It has been sort of strange to be the eighteen year old visiting the college Students for Life groups with the desire to encourage and mentor individuals--many of whom are older than me--in this battle for life. My passion to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves has continued to grow as I have worked with GRRTL. From tracking down the Democrat pro-choice table at the Women’s Convention and having intentional conversations about life, to meeting amazing Students for Life group leaders for coffee and getting the opportunity to uplift them and pour into their lives; I feel like a kid in a candy store.

The longer I know Jesus, the more I feel entirely unable to do nothing about the incredible injustice of abortion. He deeply loves every single person He has created, and I long to share all the more in His incomparable compassion for those who are at-risk.

Speaking of knowing Jesus, this summer marked 7 years in Christ. In Scripture, 7 is often a mark of completion, which I know is so intentional on His part; He knew this would be a year of turmoil and loss, and now more than ever I see the reality that I have never been complete apart from Jesus (Col. 2:10). Within a culture that constantly proclaims a message of self-sufficiency, ever saying, “Yes, you are enough!” I have been comforted with the exact opposite. I’ve never been enough on my own; it’s trying to see myself as enough that turns into a culturally-applauded fiasko of self-adoration which leaves my soul feeling bankrupt and insecure. But when I take my eyes off of myself and my innumerable insufficiencies and instead place my heart and mind on the One who has taken my place, suddenly, my perception of life changes. No longer does my peace and joy hinge upon what I can and cannot do; instead it’s about Jesus and all He is. He never fails and always gives me exactly what is needful for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

Jesus is enough!

It’s been a theme this year. The easter drama I was in was named “Enough.” My job as a CNA began to change when I chose to stop centering it on perfectionism and instead saw it as an opportunity to worship the Sufficient One. My daily life changed as I consciously rested my heart in His enoughness.

 I also started multiple blogs, led Bright Lights, moved, drove my car into a tree, got bodily fluids on my scrubs on several occasions, witnessed many babies saved from abortion, and did the dishes more times than I’d like to count, but through it all Jesus has been completely faithful. New critics, new friends, a new town, and all sorts of life changes surround this season of life. And I know every day of nineteen, He will faithfully lead me. From sleepless night time studies, to continuing to write all 640 some youth Pastors in the Grand Rapids area about the pro-life movement, it shall be anything but boring!

(Yep, I’m still an incurable nutcase like that…)

My sweet friend Bri Stoltzfus shared these words with me on our birthday last year (we were born on the same day!):

“Isn’t it exciting to think that we can give 100% for Jesus every single day of 18?!”

And that is my prayer for 19 as well, because His grace is always enough through every year of life.

Dead Dreams but a Living Jesus

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

I made my way down the dorm building stairs; it was a weekday evening and Bible survey class was on the agenda for the evening. With my Bible and notebook in hand, I walked past the campus lake’s delightful deep blue haze, expectant to learn a lot and take many notes.

I took a seat next to a friend as our teacher expounded on the passage of the evening. I was around three weeks from completing the on-campus portion of the missions program and was mentally planning all I hoped to accomplish when I arrived home. Work, family life, and a million to-dos seemed to spin around in my mind; I knew much was ahead.

As the class wrapped up, I was approached by one of the school’s staff members. It was a conversation that would echo in my mind for months after I left.

“Knowing all this [ministry] stands for, [I need to tell you something].”

When the words had been spoken and our conversation wrapped up, I quickly approached the chapel door, with my heart racing in my chest. I felt like a thin piece of paper floating down to the ground; I deeply hoped no one would see or talk to me for the rest of the evening.

It was clear. I had not met the standard of the school and was not considered to be a very godly woman; my word choices in an attempt to encourage a staff member had not been ok. It was communicated to me that I was seen as a flatterer and not one who uplifts others, despite the fact that it had been my hope to point to the work Jesus had done in her life.

Later in the evening, I rushed into the dorm bathroom and sobbed. I felt like there was nothing left; strength seemed to flee and my heart felt as though it had been broken in a million pieces.

I hadn’t shared the hope with a single soul on the campus, but secretly, I wondered if one day I might work for this ministry. Maybe I would get to walk with other women through the valleys of their life and be able to point them to Jesus and how He would triumph gloriously in their existence. Maybe I would contribute to their renowned Christian women’s magazine. Maybe I would move nearby and go to college in the area, thousands of miles from my home in Michigan. So many hopes and dream surrounded the little missions school.

Suddenly those dreams seemed far away and impossible. The hopes were dashed.

An ocean of tears seemed to flow as I thought through the heartrending evening. I was not their desired alum. I wasn’t someone they would want influencing other women. I wasn’t fitting the mold.

“Cassidy.” The tap on the shoulder came. It was a few weeks later, and the day had come to return home. It was 3am and I was down to my last half hour on the campus. Life was about to change. I tried not to think back on what had happened just a few weeks previously so I could end my last bit of time on campus without going “there.” It wasn’t my roomates or friends fault that I had messed up, so I reasoned that I needed to hold it in. Don’t burst out in tears. Don’t whine about how things ended so roughly. Just smile.

I got in the car and took a final glance at the campus. I was sad to be ending this season of life and to probably not see many of my classmates again, while simultaneously feeling that I maybe shouldn’t have come in the first place.

I eventually arrived home, got back to work, and the flow of regular life began once again.

Yet my heart seemed affected. I couldn’t just fly away from the things that had happened; like a broken record, my mind replayed the mistakes I made, what I should have done, and how everything could be so different if I had not said this, and done that.

Some deep dreams had died, but even then Jesus was at work.

Amidst personal failure, Jesus had not failed for one moment. He was ready and willing to take even one such as me--one who did not reach the bar--and heal me and give me new vision and hopes for the future. He reminded my soul of ways He had been burdening me for the vulnerable. He gave me new hope for ministering to the women around me. He stirred the desire to keep writing for my own blog, even if my feeble words would never make it around the world. It could reach one hurting soul who follows me on Facebook who might never even hear of the magazine publication I previously dreamed of contributing to.

Life was not over.

It seems like an obvious statement, but at that time in my life it was a new revelation. It was possible for deep hopes, the secret ones you only tell Jesus about, to die but then be used in the way He intended.

A grain of wheat must die and fall to the ground if it will bring forth its crop. I was seeing that truth play out in my personal life. When I freshly surrendered and laid my dreams down at the foot of His Cross, they could finally be used.

For the Broken Soul

To any friend who has stumbled upon this post amid personal pain and hurt, may I remind you that our God is gracious and He loves to meet us where we are at. His love has never hinged on what you can offer Him (Eph. 2:8, Rom. 3:23), so when we feel empty and don’t think we bring anything of value to the table, it’s great to remember that it’s all about Jesus and His sufficiency (Col. 1:18). It isn’t about all the times I have failed, all the ways I don’t measure up, or all the things I cannot seem to do well. It’s about Him. We know that He so graciously works even the worst of the worst together for good for those who love Him (Rom. 8:28).

If you are in Christ, then absolutely nothing in all creation can separate you from His love (Rom. 8:35-39)! Your God loves you and desires you; He does not quit pursuing our souls when we mess up. He provides grace for us in the exact measure we need it. When we feel like nothing, Jesus remains everything. He lovingly holds us in the hollow of His hands, and attentively watches over us.

If your dreams have died at a measure or even entirely, may I remind you, sweet friend, that your God has not! When our future is confusing and we don’t know what’s next, He always does. Place your soul’s confidence in the One who has taken your place and stood in the gap for your soul. He values you so much that He shed His very life’s blood to set you free and make you His own.

“By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16a).

The utmost display of love was made to us; ultimately to place every eye upon Jesus, who is worthy of all the glory. Jesus pursues His bride and calls us ever deeper in knowing Him, even though we are imperfect and unworthy; yet He loves us entirely and draws us closer to Himself.

In this broken world, sadness and mistakes are bound to happen; but our hope does not die then. Hope is not a mere feeling or experience, but a Person named Jesus. Keep your eyes on your capital h Hope, who never fails, never slumbers, and always cares for you.

When our hearts feel dead for the weight of failure and pain, what freedom there is in running to the Saviour who has never failed us and ever lives and intercedes for us (He. 7:23-28).

As Corrie ten Boom has said, “If you look at the world, you'll be distressed. If you look within, you'll be depressed. If you look at God you'll be at rest.”

Lift up your heart to the One who knows your every weakness and simultaneously loves you more than you could ever comprehend. Our past, our brokenness, and our lack do not intimidate our God. He delights to redeem from the dust; no matter how much you may feel that you fall short, you are not beyond the reaches of His perfect grace.

Run to Him with expectancy that He longs for you to come away with Him.

In Isaiah, there is a beautiful passage that gives us a glimpse into the work of redemption God was working in Israel, as He shared with them through the prophet Isaiah:

“Remember these things, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are my servant; I formed you; you are my servant; O Israel, you will not be forgotten by me. I have blotted out your transgressions like a cloud and your sins like mist; return to me, for I have redeemed you. Sing, O heavens, for the LORD has done it; shout, O depths of the earth; break forth into singing, O mountains, O forest, and every tree in it! For the LORD has redeemed Jacob, and will be glorified in Israel” (Is. 44:21-23).

In the verses leading up to this passage, the Lord exposes the folly of idolatry. Would they have dead, meaningless idols or the Living God?

“Do not tremble; do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses--is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock--not one!" (Is. 44:8).

Even so we must offer up our dreams, plans, and desires to the God who knows all things. Even the desire for good things can become an idol if we do not relinquish our grip in surrender to our Sovereign King who knows all things and will never fail to lead us.

As Lilias Trotter has so eloquently put it:

"The fair, new petals must fall and for no visible reason; no one seems enriched by the stripping. And the first step into the realm of giving is a like surrender. Not man-ward but God-ward; an utter yielding of our best. So long as our idea of surrender is limited to the renouncing of unlawful things, we have never grasped its true meaning. That is not worthy of the name, for no polluted thing can be offered.”

As we place our everything at His feet, with the prayer of the Psalmist on our lips: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” (Ps. 115:1), our hearts find meaning and healing.

HE is the reason we exist. Because He is worthy, and because He loves us. When our lives are all about Him and are utterly dependent upon His grace, life changes. No longer is it a constant cycle of meaningless and suffering, but of knowing Jesus and experiencing His sufficiency, amidst our great lack. We have been pursued and redeemed by the one who lacks absolutely nothing!

Place your soul’s confidence in the One for whom nothing is too hard. He will triumph wondrously in your life, even amid brokenness, as you keep Him first. It may not appear that way to every on-looker, but what matters is having our focus on Him.

When our dreams seem dead, our God is alive. He will never fail, and He will always be glorified; therefore I have confidence that the most heartrending things I may ever face can and will be used to magnify Him more fully. Because of His grace, I am free in Christ. He is my Healer and He is my Provider; never will I lack what is needful.

May our hearts trust Him in the deepest place, no matter what tomorrow may bring.

The Social Media Exception

Monday, July 2, 2018

I don’t know about you, but I post a wide array of things on social media; pictures of my cat, an article about at-risk children in the womb, random thoughts, an encouragement to a coworker, some favorite Lilias Trotter quotes….

Lately I have been pondering the difference between person-to-person communication and what we do on social media. In person, we’re using eye contact, other senses, reading non-verbals, and we generally build up the relationships we already have, and get acquainted with those we do not yet know. Right?

Well…. Then there’s this awkward thing about social media.

I’m currently on break from social media because it has been too hostile for me.

Though we might attempt to be winsome, respectful, listen well, and show over all kindness to those we interact with in person (even when we don’t see eye to eye), that is not a trend I most often see on Facebook.

Things I’ve observed….Need to rant about how horrible your family is? Post it in your status update on Facebook. Tired of life? Post a selfie on Instagram and tell people you need compliments. Angry with a stupid politician? Then just tweet about in in 280 characters, and you’ll definitely feel better. Bored? Scroll through Pinterest for an hour; you’ll start planning your non-existent wedding before you know it!

I appreciate that we have a way to communicate with people out of our vicinity and are able to discuss a vast array of things, but in my personal experience, social media can sometimes become a space where people will voice criticisms against one another they might put more graciously in person, react angrily whenever they disagree, take sides and shun friends, and in many cases treat others like they are less valuable if they do not agree with them.

Facebook has their cute little add where everyone smiles and shares pictures of cute babies, and it’s just such a nice little place with happiness, encouraging posts, adorable kids…

Um. Such things are posted at times, but I more regularly see frustration, disdain, disapproval, and venting on our personal opinions on everything. And it is not refreshing to our souls.

This morning, I woke up and checked social media. Before I hit the “notifications” button, I was a lot less discouraged. When I did hit it, a nice long comment of disapproval was waiting for me.

Maybe I’d have the experience with social media that Facebook describes if I wasn’t so politically incorrect…I don’t know?

It’s one thing when those who do not know Jesus get angry with us. In such cases, we know that they do not have grace for dealing with people because they are not in Christ!

It’s quite a different thing when those who profess to love and worship Jesus are quick to voice anger, unlovely comments, and try to pressure us into being different and not having the convictions that we have been given as we have pursued Him.

In the past week, I have gotten more of what one might term “flack” from other Christians and pro-life activists than entire months combined. It is exhausting.

I do not like that we use social media to pressure people. Yep, I’m the persuasive first-born type too, but our personalities do not justify ungracious choices.

Evaluating Social Media in Light of Scripture

I’ve been pondering this idea that everything the Word says about the tongue should also apply to our social media etiquette.

Life and Death are in the Power of the Tongue

“From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits” (Proverbs 18:20-21).

The words we use have the power to build others up and strengthen them, or to tear them down and hurt them. Do we think about this before we hit “post”? I’m a firm believer in sharing strong truth even if the world disagrees, but we must do so within the nature of our God. He understands all things, is the wisest of all, and yet treats us with such mercy and kindness.

I think of the verse from Jeremiah oft-quoted by Elisabeth Elliot: “The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness’” (31:3). When we speak with those who do not see eye-to-eye with us, it’s important to remember that when we were far off from Jesus--far away from capital t Truth--that He did not shun us and tell us how ridiculous we are, even though He is so worthy of our lives. He pursued us with lovingkindness! I want the way I interact with those who disagree with me to reflect the nature of heaven.

Presented with the Wisdom that is From Above

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (James 3:17-18).

This passage in James points out some serious differences between earthly wisdom and wisdom that is from above. Are these words that describe our interactions on social media?

Are our words marked by bitter envying and strife (vs.14)? James describes this kind of motive as “...earthly, sensual, and devilish” (15). In the following verse he says, “For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work” (16).

Are our social media words pure, peaceable, gentle, easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy, and sown in peace? If so, I do believe social media will become quite a different place.

This morning, as I evaluated these passages, I also took time to pray and ask for an extra measure of grace for the way I interact with others on Facebook, Instagram, etc.. I want even my online demeanor to be one of grace, abundant kindness, and joy, even when we have hard conversations. Jesus is worthy of our everything; He is worthy of worship in the way I treat others.

May our interactions with one another on social media show forth His glory.

Only One Life || My High School Grad Speech

Monday, May 28, 2018

It's hard to believe that it has been over a year since I graduated high school! So much has occurred since then; Jesus has truly been so faithful to hold me fast through everything that these past few years have included. He truly is our Strength and Shield; ever and always watching over us. 

Today we are sharing the speech I gave at my high school graduation. It was an immense honor to be able to share with my class; each of us were heading in different directions, but it was the plea of my heart to every single one of them to hold fast to Jesus, regardless of the pressures around us.

As a disclaimer, I wrote this presentation before I understood hermeneutics..... And thus I failed to give context for the Scripture passage I quoted, or the condition of the promise. So, please, as usual, don't take my word for it, but be a Beren and try every feeble word of mine to THE Word. :)


“Only one life, t’will soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last. And when I’m dying, how happy I’ll be, if the lamp of my life was burned out for Thee.”

These words were spoken by a spectacular missionary to China, named C.T. Studd, in the 1800s, but every letter of it is applicable to us today. We are graduating. Wow, It’s starting to set in that it’s for real now, isn’t it?! 

It’s kind of like we’ve all been taking a nice walk together for the past twelve years or so, and now we’ve landed in the airport, all about to take off to different destinations. Some of us will soon be found serving kids in developing countries, others, writing notes on Calculus 2 (it won’t be me!); some of us will adventure into our own apartments, while others will take true delight in sharing a dorm with four new friends. Some of us will travel far away and cross oceans, and some of us will enjoy the cute town of Rockford longer.

But wherever we go, whatever may change, there is one thing that does not change. Or I should say, there is one Person who will not. "I the LORD do not change” (Malachi 3:6a). Most of us are about to be thrust into an environment that completely denies our Jesus. I have a friend who came from a spectacular Christian family, and had a great, bright future when he graduated from high school, going forth as a believer into an extremely liberal college. Sadly, after several years of school, this guy has decided his professors have greater credibility than our Maker. He has decided that our God isn’t as “trendy” as his twenty-something friends. I am shocked each time I see him, and I am also confronted with a question:

Will I be there in a few years?

Have you thought about this, grads? Have you watched others walk away from the foot of the Cross, wondering if you can truly stand, going against the current?

I have news for you: if you walk out of this room today in your own strength, you will definitely be taken under in the strong flow of our culture. You can’t do this. Simple as that.

But if you know you cannot do this alone, if you have come to grips with the fact that only Jesus has enough strength to carry you through, then, with a sense of your great need for your Savior, will you be able to stand. Not because you’re strong. Not because you were home schooled. Not because you grew up in a Christian family. Not because you go to church on Sunday. We can each leave this room victorious over the powers of the enemy because of Jesus! He never fails us; whenever we feel unable, it’s a great reminder that we need Him. He is always able; He is never limited by our circumstances.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken, nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you… In righteousness you will be established: Tyranny will be far from you; you will have nothing to fear. Terror will be far removed; it will not come near you. If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you… No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me’” (Isaiah 54:10,14-15,17).

We only have one life. Each of us. If you live to age 72, then ¼ of your life is already history. It’s already in the books.

“Lord, stamp eternity on my eyeballs!” 

Jonathan Edwards cried out. It’s a worthy cry for us as well!

When I’m dying, how happy I’ll be, if the lamp of my life was burned out for Thee, Lord. May today be a launch pad for all of us; it’s time to stand up, in His great strength, and go forward. There’s a dying world who needs Jesus out there. Let’s go, friends!

7 Practical Encouragements For the New CNA {part 2}

Monday, April 23, 2018

On Saturday, we started a series called “7 Practical Encouragements For the New CNA.” Today we will conclude the series with part two. Missed part 1? Click here to read it!

As we continue our discussion on being CNAs, today we’ll be looking at a few especially real-life points. There are so many opportunities as a Nursing Assistant to either speak words of life or discourage those around us. As we look at four new points, I’d love to focus in on a few practical ideas for keeping your head up even in an extremely difficult job, encouraging your coworkers, and lifting all eyes to Jesus! Let’s dive in!

4.  Give thanks and don’t lose heart

It’s easy to complain when you work in healthcare. The truth is, I don’t usually go five hours at work without someone accidentally getting some kind of bodily fluid on me. Sometimes people yell at you. There are days coworkers lose patience and take it out on you. Every now and then, you’ll serve to the best of your ability, and a patient will lecture you on the things they think you should be doing differently.

Do not lose heart! If Jesus has called you to it, He will absolutely bring you through it!

If you want to thrive as a CNA, be willing to completely pour out and expect no recognition from anyone around. In a sense, your job as a CNA does seem to fall to “the bottom of the totem pole” in others eyes. People sometimes do treat you like “just a CNA.”

When others don’t expect very much from you, don’t fall to their low expectations. As we talked about earlier, you aren’t doing this simply so you can leave on time and chart everything right; you are here to worship Jesus and serve others.

What kind of a servant was Jesus when He was physically on earth? Think about this: He is God, and yet He served in the everyday, mundane tasks of life, all to glorify the Father. He was a carpenter! People probably didn’t thank Him very often, either!

In the second chapter of Philippians, Paul exhorted the church at Philippi to serve others just as Jesus did:

 “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (2:5-8).

If you find that you get discouraged often in your job, try memorizing the above passage, and bring it to mind whenever you’re tempted to lose heart. Jesus is with us in the hardest moments of our job.

Instead of griping over all the things you would change if you could--be that better hours, improved medical technology, respectful patients, less showers assigned to you, or a certain coworker you’d prefer not to be around--make the conscious decision to praise Him, even in the worst. Speak words of thanks to those around you, and share what you’re thankful for. When you get home from work, instead of venting about all the pressures, choose to speak of all the things there are to be grateful for (even if you can only think of a few). Start somewhere.

5. Encourage your coworkers 

Better than anyone else on the outside of healthcare, you know how hard it can be to work at the facility you’re employed at. Use this to your advantage. When a new CNA joins the team, go out of your way to welcome them and express gratitude that they have started working with you.

If you notice particular coworkers looking overwhelmed, if you are free, take a moment to ask them how you can help. Encourage them and thank them for pouring out; call to mind a specific memory of something they did especially well a few days before and tell them why you appreciated it.

There are so many practical ways you can encourage those you work with. For example, where I work, every shift each CNA has to take out a big bag of trash from their wing. One day, I realized my trash was gone! My coworker had taken both their own and my trash for the day. Sometimes it’s the little acts of service that go the longest way.

When others encourage you, take time to honor those who have trained you and taught you. A certain lady I work with took me under her wing when I was new, and she helped me organize my tasks, gave me practical tips on handling specific situations, and sometimes even made beds for me. It meant a lot. She knew that, at first, I had a hard time picking up my pace, so she came alongside me and made sure I felt confident in my job. The other day at work she told me: “Wow girl, you’re really doing it!” when I had finished all my tasks early; instead of assuming it was just experience, I realized she had been one of the main reasons I was able to improve. In giving words of encouragement, she gave me the opportunity to honor her for all she had taught me.

Think about your job… Who trained you and showed you how it’s done? Thank them. Who gives you a hard time? Encourage them.

6. Embrace the art of caring for others as a CNA

I’ve always loved the art of music and drama, but I had never considered nursing to also be an art. It’s always felt like a systematic science kind of profession to me, but then I read these words by Florence Nightingale:

“Nursing is an art; and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion, as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body--the temple of God’s Spirit? It is one of the Fine Arts; I had almost said the finest of Fine Arts.” [1]

It’s so neat to take this perspective on your job as a CNA. We have the incredible opportunity to care for human beings; we care for the temple of the Spirit of God. What an honor! By His grace, we are working to sustain and improve life--rather if that is helping them fight off a bacterial infection in the hospital, or maintaining independence in assisted living--we get to care for the only creations made in the image of God: human beings.

We are CNAs. We wipe away tears, clean up messes, put smiles on faces, respond to moments of emergency, give hope to the hopeless, share a laugh to encourage those who face heavy diagnoses, give bed baths, reposition patients, shower, bathe, dry, and maintain the health of the largest organ in the human body: skin!

Take a moment to realize the honor you have in being a CNA. Even if you would rather be an RN or a doctor someday, while Jesus has you in the place of serving as a nursing assistant, do it to the fullest of your ability. Most likely, if you get a different position in healthcare in the future, you’ll never again have as much one-on-one time with your patients. Embrace it while you have it!

See your residents as individuals with real needs, realizing that the Lord has uniquely equipped you to serve others by assisting them to maintain their health (within your scope of practice).

7. Remember those who have gone before you

When I was training to be a CNA, I read through a biography of Florence Nightingale’s life. It was so encouraging to me to be able to see the example of another nurse who had experienced many of the things I see on a daily basis in my profession.

When we have examples of other healthcare workers who have gone before us in serving others, it can give fresh inspiration, especially if you have a job that tends to be repetitions of the same skills again and again. It’s easy to feel like you just need to get through the day as an aid, but when we see the “full view” of a life of a nurse--through a biography, documentary, etc.--it inspires one to think of how care can be given in light of improving the individual’s overall life.

When you go to work every day, you don’t always realize that the patterns and habits you set make a lasting impact. We can share Christ’s love intentionally or we can float through from one day to the next. Let’s purpose to be the kind of CNAs who do the former! We have special opportunities to care for others needs that not many other people do. And we can do so with joy unspeakable!

There are a few particular resources I have enjoyed so far:

And there are so many more that could be added to this list! Learning to care for others well in the healthcare setting truly is an endless frontier in and of itself. I don’t know about you, but I am often very encouraged by those who have gone before me and have been faithful to live life to the fullest, right where God had them.

My friend from missions school who is a Registered Nurse once made this statement:

“Yes, I care for people’s physical bodies, but it should only be a tool to rescue their souls. This life is so feeble and insignificant in comparison to the eternity… people are experiencing” (Emily Stoltzfus).
Regardless of where we work--a hospital, homecare setting, long term care facility, or anywhere else--we know Who it is that has called us to serve others: Jesus. He is with us at every moment and will lead us through each task and patient He places in our path. The only reason we can serve others well is because the Servant of all dwells in us; He is the One who will give us the grace, kindness, and strength we need for every task.

All because of Jesus, we can face our often difficult jobs as Nursing Assistants with joy, and find purpose in each task, since it can all be done as worship to Him.

[1] Florence Nightingale, as quoted by S.L. Page in her book How To Pass Nursing School (S.L. Page, 2013), p. 5