my daily Spurgeon.

I have this really great app on my phone called “Spurgeon Morning and Evening” which has some kind of post – you guessed it – every morning and evening. I’m a Spurgeon fan. Who’s Spurgeon, you ask?

Charles Spurgeon was an English preacher during the late 1800s. He wrote dozens of books which have been translated into many languages and is quoted in sermons every day across the world. He’s one of the most influential Christians to date. That’s quite a legacy.

Spurgeon wrote a book called Morning and Evening: Daily Readings, which is what this app is all about. Both this book and the app have daily readings for both morning and evening for a year. I love the convenience of having Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening on my phone so that I can recap or reread wherever I am.

Reading Spurgeon every day is like reading a Shakespearean sonnet of love and devotion to Christ Jesus. His words are like those in the King James bible with the “thou” and “thy”s, but it’s strangely refreshing. These daily readings make me stop and really think. Not only do I have to really process what he’s saying sometimes, but I also have to translate it to make sense in my brain. It’s really beautiful. This is a daily reading where I don’t catch myself glazing over the words or skimming just to come up with a summary.

Both of today’s readings were about prayer. Prayer is something that is sorely taken for granted. We get to speak directly to the Creator of the universe and know that we are heard. How amazing is that? I’ve decided in the last few months not to tell people that I’m praying for them unless I’m willing to commit to actually praying for them. All my life I’ve both said and heard people say, “I’ll be praying for you.” I know in my life, I’ve said those words and not always followed through. I don’t want to give people that feeling of being prayed for if I’m not willing to actually do it. Since I made that commitment, my prayers have become stronger. If I decide to verbally tell someone I’m going to pray for them, I know that I’ve made a promise and I’m going to follow through with it. Christ gave His life to close the gap between the Father and I. I won’t take that for granted. I’m not sure if we throw out the word “pray” too much, or if we don’t say it enough.

One of my favorite quotes from today’s readings is something that I posted on The Twitter. (Yes, I’m aware it’s not actually called “The” Twitter.)

If that isn’t encouraging and reassuring…I don’t know what is. The morning reading also says,

“Think not that your prayer, however weak or trembling, will be unregarded. Jacob’s ladder is lofty, but our prayers shall lean upon the Angel of the covenant and so climb is starry rounds. Our God not only hears prayer but also loves to hear it.”

No prayer is too low for the God of my heart to hear. There is no cry or tear that is beneath Him. He wants us to lay our worries at His feet. 1 Peter 5:7 says for us to cast our anxiety on Him because He cares for us!

I encourage you to get this book of daily readings or download this app. If you can’t do either, websites like these have email subscriptions where you can get the morning and evening readings sent directly to your email account every day:

http://www.heartlight.org/spurgeon/

http://www.christianity.com/devotionals/morning-and-evening-charles-spurgeon/

Or if you’re on The Twitter, you can follow the “Prince of Preachers”, himself…

“God cares about little things…He really does.” (John Piper)

Currently reading Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur (and I’m obsessed with it.)

curse you, Eve. (insecurity: part 1)

I’ll have some choice words with her when I get to Heaven. We’ll need a mediator.

I’ve been a part of a Bible study that meets on Tuesday mornings. We’re going through Beth Moore’s book “So Long, Insecurity.” It’s been awesome so far. At first, it was difficult for me because I wasn’t exactly sure what my insecurities were. It’s hard to fill a hole when you can’t find where it is, after all. As I read the first chapter, I immediately discovered what I struggle with: validation and acceptance.

Everyone wants to be loved in some way. I like when people like me, pure and simple. I tend to go out of my way to please people and make sure everyone’s happy. I’m sure my parents are nodding as they read this. I’m that way to my core and I always have been. I used to be lacking in confidence, and I still am to a point. Where does confidence come from? Magazine covers and movies? Hollywood and runways? Yeah, for a lot of people. But as Christians, where should our confidence stem from? From God, of course. What’d you think I was going to say?

Our confidence should come from our validation in Christ. His sacrifice alone proves we are worthy of love. He loves us no matter what we do or think. No one on earth can offer that same promise.

How do we do that, though? It’s easy to say: My confidence is in Christ. But how do we reach the point where our heart agrees with our souls? We have to find who God is. When we do that, we’ll start uncovering our identities in Him. My prayer is, “I am who You created me to be. I’m not concerned with anything but glorifying You.” At first, I may not have fully believed that prayer, but I wanted to be able to say it whole heartedly. And in time, that’s exactly what I believe. I don’t care what anyone says about me. I only care what God has said about me and His plan for my life.

Satan uses insecurities as his battle cry. He is the writer of insecurities. They’re simply lies that Satan has fed the world that the world, in turn, feeds to us.

2 Corinthians 4:7 [The Message] says, “If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.”

Insecurities cause us to question God. We wonder if He knows what He’s doing, if He really knows us. We lose sight of the gift God has given each of us and our view of the world gets all wonky. His voice is the one we need to hear. It all comes full circle back to the Fall of Man in that Garden of Eden. Eve believed the lies of the serpent that God was holding something back from her. She fell to the ways of sin and we pay the price for it every day. As nice as it would be to push all the blame solely on her, that’d be a lie. We’re pretty guilty, ourselves. We choose to believe the lies of the world rather than trust in the truths of God. Why are we like that?

At the end of this post, I’m posting a video of one of my favorite songs. (One thing about me is that I have a lot of “jams”. This is definitely one of them.) My favorite line in this song is “Why are you looking for love?/Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough?/To where will you go, child/Tell me where will you run?” That’s one of my insecurities all tied up with a pretty ribbon. We are constantly searching for our prince charming or true love, but the kicker is…He’s already here! Our culture feeds us the lie, ladies, that only a man can make you happy and fulfilled, but true fulfillment lies with the Father, and the Father alone. Why do we tell ourselves any different? I’m excited to see what this Bible study uncovers about me and I’ll write about my discoveries in insecurity as we go.

-Caitlyn

Listening to: “By Your Side” by Tenth Avenue North

“The Jersey Shore” episode in my life.

Lately, God’s been teaching me about selfishness. I decided to stop praying for patience for a while since God has really been delivering in that department (meaning He’s given me a lot of chances to be patient.)

Aren’t we all selfish? I mean…cards on the table. Everyone knows what they want out of life and would do anything to get it. Sometimes we step over people to get there, but it’s all in the name of reaching goals, right?

What about this: have you ever stepped over a friend in order to get something you want? Yes. Yes, you have. Ok, I shouldn’t assume…but really. Most people can say that they have. I have. I pushed aside my best friend in order to gain the friendship of another girl who turned out to be a horrible friend. Long story. Maybe another time. Maybe not.

Lately, I’ve been talking to a friend who’s been caught in the middle of a selfish triangle. My involvement might have turned it into a selfish square, which is much catchier. No, I’m not making jokes about selfishness..ok…yes, I am.

Two guys like her. They’re best friends. She has mega chemistry with one, but not with the other. What’s a girl to do? Let me tell you what’s happened:

A big selfish mess. Seriously. It’s dramatic and ungodly. And I’m emotionally caught up in it, too. God never intended us to push our friends aside to seek our own selfish gains. Christ wouldn’t say, “Alright. He’ll get over it.” The Father doesn’t want that kind of life for us. He wants us to face every trial with our Jesus Glasses on. Oh, you don’t know what Jesus Glasses are? I’m sure they’re on EBay.

I’ve chosen sides, of course. I want my friend to win out in this situation. I want her to get the guy and ride off into the sunset. And bring me back a souvenir. Now that my friend has decided to remove herself from the situation, and I’m latched on like a spider monkey, that means I’m standing on the outside as well. This has really brought the darkness into the light.

1. One guy was selfish by not recognizing how this relationship could ruin his friendship and really hurt his friend.

2. The other guy was selfish by not putting aside his own feelings and seeing a relationship that could be really amazing and centered on Christ.

3. The girl was selfish by not stopping everything before it began in an attempt to save a friendship she was about to walk right into the middle of.

4. I was selfish by not adivising my friend in the best interest of her faith and relationship with God.

Right? One big selfish mess. The jealousy, vengeance, hurt and manipulation isn’t of God. It comes from the one who would see God’s people scattering in all directions in order to see their own wills be done. All parties are guilty.

So what are we all supposed to do? My friend has decided to remove herself from the situation, like I said. The friendship between these two guys can still be repaired, if it’s God’s will. It seems the rivets in their relationship go much deeper than the fight over my friend. They’re trying to solve the issue with her before repairing the foundation and that’s backwards.

Everyone has been trying so hard to figure out what’s right, that we’re not giving God a chance to speak. He has to be given control of the situation. Even if they don’t feel it in their hearts right now, they need to be praying, “God, help me to have the desire for You to control this situation.” Eventually, He’ll change their hearts.

And a Come-to-Jesus meeting needs to happen. Living in darkness isn’t God’s way. He wants us to be in the light, as He is. (1 John 1:6-7 ) Secrets and whispers are not fruitful for anyone. Unless you’re a Nazi. Then you’re good. But I’m pretty sure none of those involved in this issue, including me, are Nazis.

So what are we supposed to do when we have to choose between what we want and what’s right in the eyes of God?

1. Pray. I’m a huge fan of prayer, as you probably already know.

2. Try to view the matter from the outside. Take away your own attachment and try to see it through  your Jesus Glasses.

3. Make sure you’re not abusing God. Are you saying things like “Well, God wants us to…” or “I think that God…”? (GUILTY!) Bust out the ol’ Bible and check and make sure you’re right, or if you’re just using God as an excuse to justify a choice.

Maybe these will help:

-Check out 1 Samuel 18. It’s about the friendship between David and Jonathan. Super powerful.

-Proverbs 12:26: “The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”

-Proverbs 16:28: “Troublemakers start fights; gossips break up friendships.” [The Message]

-Psalm 25:9: “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.”

-Psalm 31:3: “For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name’s sake, lead me and guide me.”

-Proverbs 2:6-9: “For the Lord gives wisdom;  from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.  He holds success in store for the upright, he is a shield to those whose walk is blameless, for he guards the course of the just and protects the way of his faithful ones. Then you will understand what is right and just and fair—every good path.”

-Proverbs 3:5: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

-Philippians 3:7-9: “I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ  and become one with Him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with Himself depends on faith. ”

What advice would you give to these people? Or me? Have you ever been in a situation like this?

-Caitlyn

Listening to: “Brave” by Nichole Nordeman

a song about Myspace.

I have a tendency to think certain songs were written for me. Literally written for me. I met Britt Nicole a few years ago and had a really good conversation with her. Then, all of a sudden, she wrote the song “Hanging On”. To this day, I think that song is about me and the chat we had. There’s another song I can strangely relate to:

“MySpace Girl” by The Afters

Now, I have met The Afters, as well. But, that was after the release of this song, so I don’t have any claim to it. Why can I relate to this song? Because it explains my walk with God.

Go with me on this one.

If you haven’t heard it before, click on this link in order to get acquainted with the song, first. And if you already know the song and you haven’t ever seen the music video, click it. It’s pretty entertaining.

Are you ready for this? Here we go.

“You asked me what I wanted…/I replied, ‘I’ll have some fries’/So mesmerized, my heart was over driving through.” When I was younger, I would pray for various things, such as help on a test or help with a friend. God wants to give us so many things, such as his love and grace, but sometimes all we ask for are little things here and there. We hyperfocus on whatever it is we’re asking for and when he delivers, we move on to something else.

“I searched within 500 miles to find/Any clue just as to who I’ve fallen for/’Cause you’ve got me and I’ve got time.” When I went to church camp for the first time, I felt God’s deep and perfect love scoop me up. I wanted to know the source of that love and everything about Him that I could. If He had a Myspace, I would have friend requested Him. Then after a while, the high went down and I forced God to wait until I was ready to really follow Him.

“I saw your picture on Myspace/Maybe someday we can turn it into our space, baby/I don’t care how long it takes/I’m saving space in my top 8 for you.” I got to a point in my life where I was ready to follow God and truly pursue Him, but wasn’t sure where to start, so I saved Him a seat in my heart. I caught a glimpse of what my life could be like fully circling around Him,  but thought I had to be an adult so I could make choices like “should I go to church this morning” and God would love me more. I kept looking for the future so that I could really let God in and be a part of my life. I fed myself the lie that because I was young, I couldn’t make a change or really connect with God, but the Bible says in 1 Timonty 4:12, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” Don’t let anybody, especially yourself, feed you the lie that you aren’t good enough or old enough to really pursue God.

“The second time you were so nice/I loved the way you told me to enjoy my day/But I know what you meant to say instead/Was really that you wanted us to run away.” When I came to the realization that God had a purpose for my life (Jer. 29:11), I ran back to His ever-open arms. God doesn’t greet us with a “where the heck have you been” or a “it’s about time” when we come crawling back, but rather He welcomes us with love and forgiveness. God doesn’t want us to repeat these situations, though. He doesn’t want us to have a life where we pursue our own interests, then come back to Him, then repeat. He’s not a shampoo bottle. He wants us to fall completely in love with Him; to live a life with Him forever.

“I said ‘Let’s go, I’ll pack my clothes/Just promise me you’ll wear that purple dress you have”/You look so cute when you’re confused/You backed away and asked me how I knew about that.” Remember in this situation, God is the “I”. This is the stage I’m at in my life. I’m ready to really fall in love with God and I’m actively pursuing Him. I’m in the lusty stage of a relationship with Him, which I feel like is a sin…because it’s lust. It’s like I have a super huge crush on God. Stop laughing. It’s the only way I can think of describing it. God’s gung-ho about our love and has spoken to me through many avenues lately. Through Beth Moore’s bible study called “David: Seeking a Heart Like His“, God’s been speaking to me daily. I’m amazed at how what I’ve been studying has weaseled it’s way into my daily life and I’m shocked at how God knows more about my heart than I do.

“I know you’re scared/I know our love is crazy/And I’m so crazy/You make me crazy for you.” This summarizes my weaknesses. “Crazy” is a good word to describe His love, because that’s exactly what it is. And yes, I’m scared of the magnitude of that love. God’s love is beyond words. John 3:16 tells more about His love than anything else I can think of and it says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” For all you parents out there, think about sacrificing your only child. Can you imagine loving anything else enough that you would sacrifice your child to protect it? God loves us so much that He was willing to do that. He wants us to spend an eternity with Him instead of an eternity in the hands of the greatest fun-sucker of all time.

This entire post hit me while my IPod was on shuffle last night. Part of pursuing God is that you find His beauty in everything, even a song about Myspace.

And The Afters, if you’re reading this…I know this blog is stretching the entire premise of the song into the stratosphere, but I hope it made you chuckle…even just a little bit.

Are there any songs you guys can manipulate to be about God, even when you know they weren’t written for that purpose?

-Caitlyn

Listening to: Obviously I’m listening to “Myspace Girl” by The Afters.

when i think of prayer, i think of “Evan Almighty”.

Do you know the scene I’m talking about? When God tells Evan’s wife, Joan, that when people pray for patience, He gives them an opportunity to be patient. (Get it? Joan? Ark? Add an ‘of’ in there…and we’ll be on the same page with the laughter…)

I think one of the most underestimated things in the world is prayer. It’s easy for us to pray for a Thanksgiving dinner or as a team before a big game, but what are the normal times that we pray? I think I feel some categories coming on!

When there’s pain involved:

Whether it’s a physical injury or a matter of feelings, we humans take pain very seriously. We especially try to avoid pain before it  happens. (The song “Haley” by Needtobreathe comes to mind.) For some people, they become a Christian when they need some help, when they need a spiritual doctor. I think going straight to the source of love and healing for help when you’re hurting is a great way to go. I know from experience that nobody can comfort more than the God of comfort, the God of the universe.

When there’s a contest afoot:

It’s okay, I’m guilty of this one, too. Don’t forget to offer up some reasons to support your plea, such as: I’ve worked so hard or I really deserve this…those are real crowd pleasers. I love this one because we use it to remind God that He loves us…like He owes us, or something. If God doesn’t answer these prayers in the way we intended, we get angry. We assume that we’re worthless and that God didn’t hear us. He had better things to do, greater prayers to heed. When this happens, we can sometimes miss the point God makes, the line He draws. There have been times when I’m so focused on how God “wronged” me by not granting me a wish, that I didn’t see His glory shine in the outcome. Don’t miss those. “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:3). Oooh. Conviction alert!

When there’s healing to be done:

This is something I’m proud to say that I’ve witnessed. Not in a mystical mist kind of way, but over time. I have to say…I think my home town is cursed. Van Alstyne, Texas, has seen so much heartache, injury, and disease over the last few years that I’m surprised they aren’t testing the water. Children and teenagers have died from cancer, tornadoes and car accidents, and the community has come together in an amazing way to pray for the students and their families. My grandmother suffered multiple bouts with cancer for 30 years, and her continuous prayer and faith kept her going, along with the prayers of others.

I fervently believe in the power of prayer. I used to believe that it was a script to be recited at certain times, but now I find myself in constant prayer. We all have things in our lives that could use some constant prayer, don’t we?

God knows I’m forever praying about my GPA, so that I can keep my scholarships. I don’t just pray for A’s, though. I pray for the strength to keep studying, even when I get tired. I pray for encouragement from people around me. I pray for reminders of why I’m in college and what my life has to gain from a few years here. We have to go deeper, pray deeper; really connect with the Father, pour our hearts out to Him because He’s listening and He cares.

One of my favorite things is praying with my friends. Recently, I received a text from a friend, asking me to pray for one of his coworkers that had lost a precious baby. My best friend was with me at the time, and we both received the same message. We stopped what we were doing, which was watching Celtic Woman, and prayed together for the girl and her family. I love that moment. It’s so precious to me.

“Our prayers are heard by the same God who answered Moses’ prayer for water in the desert, the God who gave Abraham and his barren wife a son, and the God who made the slave Joseph second in power only to Pharaoh”. (Crazy Love)

What are you praying for? Have you seen any prayers answered lately?

-Caitlyn

Listening to: “Say Your Prayers” by The Wedding