Monday, November 17, 2014

Teach us to be bold

There's a ton of selfishness that you see on any given day just by being among college students 24/7. Despite all of the stuff tripping people up, sometimes you'll get glimpses of people that are obviously living a life driven by something completely different. Who are these people and what makes them different? Today I witnessed something I didn't think I ever would on this campus. I was sitting in the union and this student walks in and starts sharing the gospel with people. I was blown away. This guy had no idea that any other believers were in there, he was just doing what Christians do. Why was I so shocked to see someone sharing the gospel? Why is sharing the gospel so rare if it's the only thing that matters? I'm grieved for the people who need the gospel but don't hear it because the very ones that have accepted it won't speak. I used to be without Christ and if I was relying on Christians to share Him with me I'd still be lost. Lord, teach us to be bold.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Am I enough?

I know many people consider me to be a really passionate person, and I would have to agree with them. If you read through my posts you'll find a lot of things that excite me as well as observations that make me mad and sad. I do love passionately devoting myself to things and because I love Jesus, I passionately devote myself to him. As I've walked with the Lord I've learned more about his heart and grown in my complete trust of his plan for me. The Lord and I have developed this relationship where I say, "whatever you ask, Lord" and he says, "Ok Nicole, do this, go here, talk to this person." The Lord has never let me down and there really is a thrill that comes from obedience when you know that you are a vessel for the Lord's love. Then the Lord sees your faithfulness in some "small" things (I'm not sure anything you do for the Lord is ever small) and he presents you with more opportunities and responsibilities. As the Lord gives me more opportunities I need him more and more. I get really weary sometimes from the constant war between my flesh and the holy spirit inside me. My flesh wants to pick and choose what I do for the Lord and the spirit doesn't give me an option. This will always be a struggle until I die. Fixing my eyes, the hope of my heart, and the joy in my soul on Jesus is the only thing that keeps me secure and steadfast. Naturally, a lot of things have changed in my life in the past 4 months and I find the Lord asking me over and over, "Am I enough, Nicole?" To which I always say, "Yes, Lord you are enough help me believe it and help my life to show it." The Lord has brought me through a quiet season it seems. It's not that I can't hear his voice, it's that he has taught me what it means to rest quietly in his presence. It's not that I'm waiting for him either, he's already there. I feel that I'm waiting quietly for him to show me the place, the people group, and the work he wants me to devote my life on earth to. I have to admit that school becomes very mundane day in and day out. I always envisioned myself overseas working with people who maybe had never heard the gospel. Instead I find myself in the bible belt where the gospel is all over the place and people are tired of it. Once someone asked me if I would be willing to leave everything here and be a missionary. My answer has always been YES!! However, the Lord still says to me, "Nicole, am I enough no matter your location?" "Yes, Lord I have learned you alone are enough for me." I guess what I'm trying to get at is that God is the same God whether you're teaching an unreached people group or sitting in engineering classes every day. God hasn't forgotten me and he hasn't forgotten you. There's a song I love and it says, "Here I am calling out Father can you hear me? I don't want to go without you. Here I am can you talk a little louder so I can hear you? I want to hear you." When I first heard that song it said all of the things I felt. I felt like the Lord had put me in a place and then didn't tell me what to do after that. I felt alone. Why would the Lord take away community from me? He almost always answers my questions by putting a verse on my mind. The verse that was immediately on my mind is in 2 Corinthians. The Lord says "My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness." His grace, his power, my weakness. Open your eyes and see that those around you need the gospel has much as those opportunities that seem so exciting in different locations. With everything that happens, again, the Lord asks me, "Am I enough, Nicole?" When I look back on my short life here on earth, I want to say, "Yes, Lord you are more than enough for me."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Jesus is better

I just wanted to drop in and tell you that the love of Christ is bigger than anything you might be dealing with right now. You already know this but make your heart believe it. There's a song I listened to when I first came to college called "Jesus is better" and my favorite part says, "More than all comfort Jesus is better. Make my heart believe. Than any riches Jesus is better. Make my heart believe. My soul's declaring Jesus is BETTER. Make my heart believe." I can't tell you how many times I have to ask God to make my heart believe that he is better. I struggle and I put things in front of Him and I have to beg God each morning to make my heart believe that anything this world can offer is nothing in light of Him. The glory of God is more. He is more. He gives you rest and grace and one day he will come from heaven and bring us to where he is. I want to be where He is. Friend, don't let anything take the place of God in your heart. Don't hold onto selfish ambition or relationships or academic status. Lay every bit of your life in front of the Lord in prayer. Offer it to him and then release it from your worry list. What really changed me was when I started daily confessing my sins and desires to the Lord. I laid my deepest desires at the feet of Christ. Lord, only you can satisfy. Make my heart believe that and satisfy me with your presence. Friend, there's no greater satisfaction than being in the Lord's will. Ask God to make your heart believe this and he will. He is better.

Monday, September 22, 2014

College update

This is an update for all of the people I wish I could sit and catch up with but distance, time, and life have gotten in the way. I moved to college almost 2 months ago and it has been an interesting experience to say the least. The first few days I lived here I was surrounded by uncertainty and I still am! I just have a better idea of what trusting in God means now. I'm a person that loves structure and God just laughs at me because at least from my point of view I don't know what in the world I'll be doing in a few years. I'm in the same position as every student but a degree isn't my main goal here. I look across this campus and I simply want the people I see to know the love of Christ. The first few days I was here I turned to Acts 17 and studied how Paul proclaimed the gospel to a city full of idols. One of the first things I noticed was that he reasoned with the Jews & God-fearing Gentiles (verse 17). As much as we sometimes want to, we can't give up our efforts to impact other Christians. I was once one of those fake Christians but let me tell you, my parents never stopped praying for me. Don't lose touch with how important the mission within the church is as well as the outward focus. Only when they're paired together do we see revival take place. The second thing that I noticed in Acts 17:17 was that Paul went day by day to anyone that happened to be around him. Don't miss this part- he went DAY BY DAY. He continually went back with a purpose. The events in that chapter have motivated and encouraged me so much. As easy as it is to stop fighting against the status quo and join in with the powerless, lukewarm Christianity we often see, we have to remind ourselves what we're living for. Some days when I'm struggling I remember back to the beginning of this year when I simply prayed for God to show me who He was. I remember telling God I'll go anywhere you lead, I'll do anything you ask, I just want to know you. I want to experience your presence. I remember where my walk was when I prayed that. I've seen how far God has taken me and how close he is to me now. I've seen how he built me then in ways that are essential for me now. When people ask me about boldness I have to be honest and say that what gave me boldness was when I got on my knees and asked. I continue to ask God for boldness and-- good news-- he has an endless supply but have you asked for it?

Brief life update/ things to pray for -
I have a bible study on Monday nights going through Romans. I'm loving that study!
God has given me an opportunity to get to know an international student named Azizah.
I've narrowed my church search to 2 churches now.
Wisdom in reaching a group of atheists here on campus

Friday, July 25, 2014

25 things

Yesterday was my birthday so I spent time reflecting on life. To keep it from being too lengthy I just wrote out some things I've learned this year.

1. Passion without compassion is meaningless. For me, compassion is the highest quality anyone can have. You care so deeply that you HAVE to do something. I can't tell you how much I admire that.
2. Only with God can you be scared out of your mind & still succeed. He really meant it when he said he doesn't forsake us.
3. Expect times of uncertainty. 
4. Encourage everyone. Encourage everyone. Encourage everyone. Be one of those rare people that makes everyone feel like they belong & are loved.
5. My desire for God comes from God. I have to ask him for it.
6. Loneliness is one of the devil's best attacks. Take heart, friend. He hasn't left you.
7. Having times of silence brings about the clearest voice from God. Go in your room, sit on the floor, and listen. 
8. God does not owe me anything.
9. Everyone is searching. 
10. Never underestimate how encouraging a simple phone call can be.
11. Don't underestimate your need for deep times of prayer. 
12. Sometimes community can become a crutch. Get alone with God. 
13. The world satisfies nothing but the devil will tell you it has everything you need.
14. I have no power to change hearts. Only God can do that.
15. When I stop putting in effort, I stop feeling close to God.
16. I've learned to thank God for the saddest times I've experienced because I learned what the comfort of God feels like in ways I can never explain. 
17. Doubting God devastates your relationship with Him. 
18. Being willing to stand alone is completely necessary if you ever want follow God with everything you are. I promise you this isn't something you have to consciously strive for. If you only care about what God thinks then you will be that person without trying. Don't be afraid to be that person. Lead.
19. Listen. Stop speaking & listen to what people are really trying to tell you. 
20. The greatest things I've experienced with God this year came from directly obeying his word. 
21. Love is not something you speak, it's something you show. 
22. Times of not desiring God is something every Christian goes through but no one talks about. You're not alone. I said it for you.
23. Accept people for who they are. I never realized how much it means to people when you simply allow them to be as they are in front of you. 
24. God's love surpasses every boundary that we have set up between us & other people. Love God? Show it. 
25. The things you think about have extremely strong grips on you. Be careful. Don't fall.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What do you have time for?

I got an email from a lady requesting more posts so here's an update. Thank you. 

A question that has been on my mind lately due to some things going on has been -- what do I have time for? It's not so much of what can I squeeze in but more like what do I MAKE time for? Take a minute break from reading this, close your computer, and ask yourself this question. How do you spend your time?

Did you think about how you've spent your time just within this last week? Time is always the first thing people throw at me for an excuse when it comes to doing anything. I don't let it bother me because ultimately you have a set number of years on this earth and I get it if you don't feel the urgency in that fact. You can spend those few years how you want to or you can use all of your short time here to radically change the world around you. I mean radical, insane, indescribable change. For those of you who pursue that legacy with everything you have- don't ever stop. Not even when the people around you give up and you're the only one left. Hold onto what The Lord has compelled you to do and finish it. 
Now I'm left with the question I've always wanted to ask to those who say they don't have time. What do you have time for? We "manage" and "schedule" our time like it's ours or something. Have we forgotten that every breath, every heartbeat, every blink of our eyes was given to us so that we could expand the kingdom? We've been given time. We've been given life. What for? To spread this all-consuming love that rescued us from eternal death and redeemed us to a personal relationship with the very God we disgraced. Doesn't that make you want to DO something? Don't you feel a responsibility to share that with everyone? How can you know that and claim to believe that and then say you don't have time to share it?
A friend once told me to make my "No list" bigger than my "Yes list". I thought ok cool...what does that mean? Your schedule could be filled with all of these awesome small groups and bible studies every night of the week but what time is left to reach the lost? I was talking to a barista one time and she said there were bible studies all the time at the coffee shop she worked in. She told me how she would walk past and listen in sometimes but NO ONE EVER TOLD HER ABOUT JESUS!! Do you see how the "coffee shop bible study" mentality has completely SHATTERED our witness so many times? Make your no list bigger than your yes list. Sometimes you might have to turn down that Christian fellowship to actually DO what they sit around and TALK about. I want you to ask yourself this question and I've asked myself this too-- Am I a friend of sinners? 
Just compare how you spent last week. Are we making time to be around the lost in order to make an impact on them? Jesus himself was a friend of sinners. He went to those places and sat down with them. Are we doing the same thing? How are we spending our time? 
Think of all the excuses you've ever made in your life..if you're like me it's a lot. Ok now think about reading that list off to God. Somehow my excuses just lost all of their importance. So to those of you reading this, I've made excuses and I'm no better but we have to change our hearts. We have to see people as either lost or saved and see everyone as worthy of hearing the gospel. The gospel is for everyone to hear. Jesus is for everyone to know. My excuses are for me to confess and repent.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Life in Tribulations- Kay Lynn Bryce

Let me explain this post... I woke up this morning and I honestly felt very lonely. I gave myself a pep talk and decided I had 2 choices. I could be sad all day or I could take what I'm feeling and use it as fuel to do something for someone else. So I thought about what I could do. I decided to drive to my favorite bakery and get a bunch of cookies and go pass them out to whoever I saw. I went in and bought the happiest looking cookies they had-- sprinkle! The bakery workers filled a bag of cookies and I headed out with no plan other than making someone's day. I prayed that God would lead me to people who needed encouragement. I was driving down Poplar Ave. and I saw a lady sitting on the curb outside of Starbucks. I pulled in the Starbucks parking lot and grabbed my bag of cookies. I sat down on the curb with her, asked her name, and handed her a cookie. She started telling me her story and I asked if she knew Jesus. She said she did know Jesus! After listening to her for a while, she said she wished she could get her story out there. I said well I have a blog and you could post on my blog if you wanted to. So she spoke and I typed and here is what she said. [she told me many things some of them too painful to share with you but this is her story.]

My name is Kay Bryce. I was born with an AVM (arterial vascular malformation) and I found out when I was 34 and am now 56 years old. On the day I found out I had AVM, I was so bad off that when someone finally found me I was dead. I died 4 more times in the ambulance & one more time at the hospital. They got a hold of my sister and I made it to Green Bay Hospital. I was in the hospital 3 months and I had a trach. My youngest boy wouldn't even come up to me because I looked so scary with the trach. To treat me they shaved all of my hair off and cut my head open and put stitches in. I asked them how many stitches they put in my head and they said one big one. I had to go through a lot of therapy. My family left me and on Feb 4 2009 I drove my van from Wisconsin to Memphis. I lived in my van. One evening my van was locked and I went to a restaurant downtown and my van was gone when I came back. I called the police to see if there was a shelter for me and there wasn't one unless I had a kid. I told the cop he must be crazy if he thinks I want a kid to go through what I'm going through. I stayed under a bridge at Lamar Ave. and Bellevue for 2 months. A lot of bad things happened to me in those 2 months. I had to find a way out. Now I rent an apartment.
Today I met Nicole outside of Starbucks and she let me post on her blog. Nicole asked me to share one thing I think society has forgotten over the years. I would tell you that your life isn't as bad as what you think. Just knowing me, my life is 20 times worse than yours is I promise you. I live in Orange Mound but Jesus protects me against everything. Life has its ups and downs but if it wasn't for Jesus I wouldn't be here. I feel that he wants me to talk about what I've been through. I can't walk on my own. I have to use a walker. I can't take care of my kids now. But Jesus has enriched my life a lot. He's brought many people into my life some of them are called angels. I want people to realize that their life isn't that bad. If you're able to walk and talk be thankful. God will be behind you. 

Nicole typing now--Kay had many things to share with me. Some of them brought her to tears and I am truly broken for this lady. She has had a very rough life but it's clear that God has watched over her because she is still alive. What I would like anyone reading this to gather from Kay's words would be that we have to care about people. Kay and I read a passage in Luke over lunch and one verse that sticks out to me is Luke 12:48. "...from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked." I've been blessed with being cared for all my life. God has given me much and so I have a responsibility to show love to those who have not. No exceptions. Show love to everyone. God has given much so God demands much. 

^ Kay 
^ my bag of sprinkle cookies