Land of the Free, Because of the Brave

“Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?”

On Monday, I was feeling very patriotic sitting on the top of my car listening to “The Star Spangled Banner” and “I’m Proud to be an American” while watching fireworks and celebrating my country. But here I am, Friday, devastated and speechless over the events that have unfolded since then. Not only in my country, but in my city, way too close for comfort.


Since Monday night, I have had the phrase running through my head — land of the free, because of the brave — because of our armed forces, our police department, our fire department, our country is able to experience the freedom and protection that we have today, but no matter how great of a job these people as a whole perform, corruption and evil continue to put up a strong fight. 

There is corruption everywhere. There are corrupt police officers, there are corrupt truck drivers, corrupt men and corrupt women, corrupt whites and blacks, corrupt people claiming every religion under the sun. And Jesus told us to expect nothing less.

There is evil running rampant in this world, and I hate it, especially this week. Dallas is my home. The skyline whose pictures are plastering every social media site is one that I drive past regularly. I have a friend who is training to become a Dallas Police Officer. To say that last night’s shootings hit too close to home is an understatement. It brought me to tears and to asking way too many “why?” questions that I will never have an answer to. So I could talk all day long about how awful these tragedies have been, how much hate is blanketing my country, but my Heavenly Father keeps gently prodding me with 2 things. 

1. He has already claimed the ultimate victory

“And He said to me, “It is finished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life. The victor will inherit these things and I will be his God and he will be My son.” — Revelation 21:6-7

After the Christina Grimmie shooting last month, I watched her cover of “In Christ Alone” on repeat. I cried over and over hearing her sing “No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry, to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny” Her final breath was way sooner than anyone would have expected, but as I listened to that song wash over me time after time, God began to wash over my heart with peace. He reminded me that He is not only the Creator of the Universe, but also the Sustainer of the Universe. No matter how dark the night looks, He still reigns victorious, and He is coming back one day to claim this world that He has never let go for a moment. In times like these, I have to cling to that hope and have faith in the promises of my Savior that He will never leave us alone. 
2. This is my chance to be a light in a dark place

As I began to think about that hope that I can have, even amidst all the chaos, hate, and darkness cloaking my city and my world, I began to realize how selfish I must be not to be proclaiming that hope everywhere I go. This world needs hope and peace and healing, and more than ever, they know that. Christians have been handed the golden opportunity to be the vessel God uses to bring that hope and restoration. The world is looking for hope and peace like never before. We hold the gospel, we hold that hope, and it’s our job to share it. 
It hurts that this happened. It makes it hard to feel safe even in my own city. It sparks despair and fear. But I have a choice. We have a choice. We can talk about the problem all day long, or we can look to our ultimate solution. Our Father that already reigns victorious. So join me in praying for Dallas and even more in being a beacon of hope to our dark world. Here in America we live in the land of the free because of the brave like those police officers who risked and lost their lives for us; and as Christians, we live free because of Jesus who paid the ultimate sacrifice of His life for us. So let’s start living like it. Not taking advantage of our freedoms anymore, but using them to spread our light. 

“No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry, to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny. And as He stands in victory, sin’s curse has lost it’s grip on me. For I am His and He is mine, bought with the precious blood of Christ.”

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Prayer Changes Things

Today is the National Day of Prayer and so I wanted to write an extra post today about what God has been teaching me over the past three years about what prayer really is and the impact it can have on our lives—–

 

I walked into the break room behind my coworker that had just gotten off of his last shift before moving away to college. I closed the door behind me and mumbled nervously,

 
“I want to pray for you before you leave”

 
I think I completely astonished him. Even though he has grown up in church, people just don’t do that. He consented, and we stood there awkwardly looking at the floor while I prayed in a shaky voice for his future, for God’s will to prevail in his life, and for all the people he would be able to be a light to on his university campus. I finished and he left, and I haven’t really talked to him since then.

 
That’s a silly story, but it was the beginning of an incredible journey for me. The beginning of God showing me the power of prayer, and that He really does know what He is doing.
I knew that day, I’d known for that whole week, that I was supposed to pray over my friend. To this day, I don’t know why, but I am so glad that I did. That was the catalyst that made my prayer life something beyond whispers in my bed at night.

 
That is one of many poignant experiences with prayer I’ve had in my life. I can point back to five off the top of my head that have taught me how powerful prayer really is, how it draws people together, and how it shapes and molds our hearts to be sensitive to God’s plan for our life.

 
Prayer changes my heart. Jesus understands me when no one else can, and He is more than faithful to work in my heart when I ask Him. Sometimes, I’m limited to a few broken words,

 
“Jesus, I don‘t know how to pray. Help me.” 

 
And He always, always answers. He give me the words to say, and I can point back to so many times He’s asked me to pray for faith, and I can see the resulting events. This bridge of Hillsong’s “Oceans” has been my prayer so many times…

 

 

Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander so my faith would be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.

 

I can see how God allowed me to walk through deserts and desolate places. Through valleys and up mountains that I never thought I could be strong enough to climb. I wouldn’t have chosen them, and I didn’t have the strength for them. But the same God who brought me to them, gave me faith to make it through them. He carried me up the mountains and through the storms, and strengthens me to come out on the other side more like Him, more of the person He wants me to be.
Prayer has profoundly impacted my life, and I know that God uses prayer not only individually but corporately.

 

“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” –Matthew 18:20

 

I don’t want to be afraid of praying over people. I remember one special day two years ago when my youth group surrounded a young woman fighting cancer, we all had tears streaming down our faces, as we prayed aloud simultaneously to the Creator of the Universe to bring healing to this woman’s life. I remember feeling awkward initially. I remember being self conscious of the people around me hearing my prayers. But I also remember God’s presence in that moment. I remember His Spirit moving and the bond He created between the people there in that moment.

 

Prayer is powerful! Prayer is the power of God. Why should I ever be self conscious of asking God to intervene? Of allowing God to do a miracle through my humble words?

 

“Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” — James 5:17-18

 

If prayer has this kind of power, why aren’t we crying out? Why aren’t we praying over everyone we know that’s hurting? Not just a sentence prayer whispered in the confines of our own room, but laying hands on our brothers and sisters in Christ and crying out for God’s power. Making prayer a normal, consistent part of life while still rendering God the awe and respect He’s due.

 

I don’t want prayer to be something I do to check off a list anymore. I want to marvel at the power of prayer and the glory of God it reveals. I want to pray without ceasing, and I want to pray fearlessly. Whether that’s praying for things that sound too big and too crazy, or praying out loud over someone who thinks I’m strange, I’m ready to invite God’s power into my life through prayer. Will you join me?

Just Keep Walking

“God, please make Your will abundantly clear. Please give me peace about what You would have me to do.”
This is a prayer that I’ve prayed more times than I can count. With every twist and turn of life, I want to make sure I’m following the plans God has for me. I want to make sure my actions line up with His will for my life. That’s good, that’s the way it’s supposed to be… Right?

Well yeah, of course. But what happens when I don’t feel God’s divine voice speaking into a situation? Am I supposed to wait idly by until God decides to reveal to me exactly what I’m supposed to do? Am I supposed to wait until I haven’t the slightest sliver of doubt before I do something? I had honestly never thought about that until this past week. I was lying in bed praying that God would give me perfect peace about which path to take. And all of a sudden, God made something crystal clear. The right path to take… is the path where I keep walking.

My biggest fear has always been that I will do things outside of God’s will for my life. That I will somehow mess up His plan. But as my best friend likes to remind me, God isn’t going to fall off of His throne if I make a wrong choice. He’s still God, and He’s still faithful to work things for good. I realized that God wants me to keep moving, keep serving, keep loving, a lot more than He wants me waiting around to make absolutely sure I don’t make the wrong choice.

“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.” — Eric Metaxas

What I felt God was pointing out to me, was that Satan wanted me just standing here waiting. Not doing anything because I was scared of doing the wrong thing. Being an inactive Christian and not doing anything for the kingdom of God. But I know what God has called me to do. He doesn’t need to send a special revelation for me to know that. I know He has called me to love everyone, I know He has called me to make disciples, I know that He has called me to glorify Him in everything I do.

“Make Your ways known to me, LORD; teach me Your paths.” — Psalm 25:4

God has already made so many of His ways known to me through the example of His Son. Jesus is my example, and as long as I’m doing my best to follow Him, to go out of my way to serve and love passionately, I’m following Him.

If an opportunity is placed before me that I know lines up with what He says to do in the Bible, and that I have peace about doing for His glory, I’m ready to take it. Yes, I’m still going to pray first, but I’m not going to spend weeks and months wavering in uncertainty before I take the first step. I’m going to keep walking, and knowing that God can show me if I need to redirect my steps. I don’t want to be a Christian that does nothing for the kingdom anymore. I want to run towards Jesus. Whatever that looks like.

“Think about Him in all you ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.” — Proverbs 3:6