British Church and Upcycling

Last night at British Church (that’s what I call it, anyway) the speaker hit on something that I’ve been hearing everywhere lately. He was talking on a specific topic, but as he zoomed out to the eternal-perspective answer… the WHY behind how we are called to act based on Scripture, we got to see a view that gives hope and reason to most things these days. I wanted to share my notes, my paraphrase of his final point.

 

“We are living in the last days. 

After Jesus’ death, everything changed. Death and the old order of things were ushered out, a new order of things ushered in. 

God’s kingdom has broken in. 

 

But these days, blindness is thick. Truth is hazy. 

You know the war. 

But you also know Christ. 

His Spirit was given so that we may know Christ – and to know Him is to gather strength and clarity in these last days. 

 

We can’t comprehend the height of God’s calling on our lives (2 Cor. 6:16b, 7:1) — but the first step is living in that truth of the Spirit, and living in closeness with Christ. It is through this direction that He leads us into Magnificent Lives. 

 

After all, the purpose of the cross, and the administering of the Spirit, was not so that God may be convicting you and condemning you in every moment, but that so we may walk closely and in intimacy with Him in every moment. 

So that we might experience a restored version of the relationship we were created for.” 

 

I love this because it puts into perspective the intangible war between Good and Evil. You don’t have to be religious or Christian or spiritual or anything to know that the two things are in conflict with each other.

As believers we are on this side of Good, Love, Hope… the side that has already won. So all we are called to do is live in the relationship with God that Christ died for, and live it well so that others might know they’re invited into the same freedom. Yet so so so many of us Christians don’t remember the gift of the Spirit inside of them. Including myself… which is why God has been slamming me with truth about the Holy Spirit for this past month.

 

I also am in the middle of reading Love Does by Bob Goff. God’s been teaching me some really sweet things this semester, and somehow Goff’s life really exemplifies what it looks like to live out the things I’ve learned.

Really cool. I’m so thankful that God continues to grow and sanctify us… I tend to have those freak-out moments where I’m like, “I’m not getting better! I’m just a big mess, a pile of ugly hot mess!!!” And I look at where I am, in that moment, with that microscopic view I hold to myself. And I believe to the core that I’m truly still as big of a mess as I ever was. But then God gently helps me to zoom out, especially at “check-points,” or life transitions where I tend to process bigger chunks of life. Then I get to see how I’ve changed, the good I have gotten to do through Him, and the upswing, the rising trend in the presence of God in my life. Sometimes I think I’m a lost cause. But I’m really thankful, because God doesn’t seem to think the same way.

p.s. God loves to restore lost causes. Never think you’re too far gone, because it’s not true. If God had a business, it’d be a cool, vintage upcycling shop or a repairs store. No joke. He can make useful, cool stuff out of ANYTHING.

I’ve seen it.

🙂

blog-versary.

Well, today is my one year blog-versary. Happy Birthday, missjordanlee!

This blog has evolved quite a bit and several times as to what type of blog it is, and who my audience is supposed to be. Perhaps the target audience changes with every post 🙂 Not sure. But it’s always been a good place for me to process, and share my worldview.

 

Also, a lot has happened in my life outside of cyberspace since I first began the blog. It’s honestly been a pretty crazy year. God has done so many cool things in me/around me, and I thought I’d reminisce and recognize some of the big things here, as a one-year anniversary post. So here’s just a little bit of my journey:

 

Firstly, I began this blog because I was going to San Diego with Cru, on my second summer project. I remember my first few posts were written with suppressed nerves, as I was support raising and wasn’t sure if I would be fully funded before I left. But if you scroll all the way down and click “May 2012” in my archives, you can see for yourself that within my first few posts I went from being 25% to 68% supported in a matter of two days, and then the next week when I posted, I was 84% supported. I ended up going to San Diego completely supported, by people who really believed in what we were going to do. God takes care of His own, and it was evident to me once again in the way he provided for me financially.

 

Throughout last summer I learned a lot about myself, and made some great friends. We were starting a brand-new movement for Latino students, and it was difficult to start! Especially since we were a small group of mostly-midwestern white people who hardly spoke Spanish. But God came through and we found Courtney, who is now leading the Destino movement on the campus of San Diego State University. Today, they have several members, and are growing like crazy!!

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The end-of-the-year Destino dinner 🙂 7 members and growing!

 

When I went back to school, things were a little hectic. I was overcommitted, but excited about everything I was doing. I had committed to Servant Team with Cru, leading a Bible study of women. I was SO pumped! But God was also growing the theatre community group a friend and I were already leading, and I couldn’t hold both of those leadership positions and do well. After much prayer, I decided God was asking me to give up leading a Bible study (which I admit He’d never asked me to lead, I just assumed it would be a good idea). Instead I believe He was asking me to concentrate on getting the new theatre ministy off the ground, with two of my best friends in the theatre department. So I stepped down from my position on Servant Team, in order to focus on being part of the creative team.

 

It’s been amazing to work with the creative team, now affectionately called Off Script[ure]. We are all three theatre majors, but we still didn’t quite know what we were doing. We’d never had to write and perform our own work before! Especially when it came to organizing and leading other students. But we wanted to glorify Christ, and we were consistently being given opportunities! Our first skit series at Cru meetings consisted of just four of us acting onstage, three of us the leaders of the team. For each project afterward in Fall semester we struggled to find people, especially men. NOW, we have people who ask to be involved, us leaders can give roles to others instead of performing ourselves, and over half of the people we use regularly for projects are men! The last project the creative team worked on involved over 25 people (not including the video at the beginning, made by promotions team). They did a Les Mis song, and I am so impressed. Check it out:

One Day More Spring Emcee Transition Video

(I hope you can see this video even if you’re not friends with the people on Facebook…)

I wasn’t involved this past semester because I was in Spain, but it’s been amazing to see how God has used a ministry like this, and shown up countless times through our weakness. There were many times when we felt inadequate or unprepared, and then a performance or Cru meeting would seriously impact someone’s life. It has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my college career, to work with my best friends to lift Jesus high through the arts, and I cannot wait to return to Ball State and jump back in!

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Off Script[ure] at the Indianapolis Christmas Conference 🙂

Towards the beginning of fall semester, I was having second thoughts about studying abroad in the spring. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to leave my comfortable home at Ball State, my senior friends, and all the great things that were happening with the creative team. However, I still felt like God wanted me to go to Spain. And I believe that has been confirmed. He provided an incredible amount financially and emotionally during my entire experience, and I have stepped away having learned a myriad of valuable lessons. My Spanish skills are much better, and I can now function in Spanish culture. I have become even more open-minded than before, having met types of people I hadn’t even known existed. I learned much about my own culture from an outside view, and how much I appreciate things I had previously taken for granted. I got to see Switzerland, France, a whole lot of Spain, and now England, so that global thinking suddenly became relevant. This paragraph is supposed to summarize a whole semester, 3 months in another country, so I could go on and on about how I was affected by studying abroad. It was an incredible blessing and educational advantage. I won’t pretend that being in Spain was comfortable for me… It wasn’t necessarily a culture that made sense to me, or that I adapted to easily. But I see this as a blessing, because there are incredible things to learn from not being comfortable or in your element.

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All these fierce women!
My world over the last 3 months.
My world over the last 3 months.

 

In this current season, God has continued to provide in ways I never imagined. With much prayer and more nerves, I had been praying that I would find a summer job in Indy. It was important that I get a job on so many levels, but a little improbable trying to get one while still being in Europe. A job would also be the answer to the question, “what’s next for me?” If you know me at all, you know that I have hardly stayed one place since beginning college, and being home for a whole summer with nothing to do sounds SO worst-case-scenario to me (especially after the excitement of studying abroad!). I have had to trust God with the possibility of an empty summer. BUT I am so happy to say He answered my prayers by giving me a nanny job this summer! I will be taking care of and driving around 3 tweenage girls for the next 3 months. 🙂 I am excited to do work that is meaningful in a different way, being in the lives of these three girls, instead of just going to work at a restaurant or something. Praise be to the Lord! He doesn’t have to provide good or enjoyable circumstances for us, but He does so much of the time, and I am always amazed by His love.

 

As I finish this blog post I’m thinking, “Woah. I can summarize the big moments of my last YEAR in 7 paragraphs?” But the truth is, there’s more. There’s always more, because God has been present in every detail and moment of this past year. These are just the things that have marked my life and memory over the last 12 months.

If you were a part of my life and what the Lord has been doing around me this year, thanks for being there. It’s been an amazing journey that I’m excited to continue. This year has flown by because of studying abroad, but God’s hand has been apparent in guiding my every step! I get to live a magnificent life because of following Him. Jesus never promises life with will be comfortable — in fact He says it will be difficult. But it would not be an exhilarating adventure if it were not challenging at times! He is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine, and he says that He will use us to do His work if we ask. Which means we will see amazing things that we never thought of or imagined would be in our lives. I love following Jesus!

My life is just one journey, just one snapshot of all that the Lord is doing in the world. He’s doing huge things all over! I can’t wait to see what He continues to do in my tiny life. A summer filled with teenage children and my crazy, musical family. My last year of college… soaking it up, working hard, finishing my degree, listening to the Lord to figure out my next step in life, and blogging along the way. I can’t wait to live every step with Jesus. Here’s to another great year!

this one’s for the girls.

So this is a post for all my ladies out there.

Something that keeps returning to my mind these past few weeks is the topic of women and self-image. And as we’re about to celebrate Mother’s day and all those lovely women who work so hard for us every day, I thought this would be an appropriate blog topic.

YOU, GOD’S WOMAN

It’s no secret that within a woman’s thought-life, it’s common to compare, critique, and believe lies about ourselves daily. In certain seasons of my own life, it’s been such a constant undercurrent in my head, that I would almost forget it was there. Lately, I feel like I’ve seen lots of girls who don’t know their own innate beauty and value; you can tell in the way they carry themselves or sell themselves short in relationships. This breaks my heart! When God created Woman, He made a majestic creature. We can’t forget this.

I love this quote from the book by Priscilla Shirer, The Resolution for Women, because I think it illustrates our uniqueness:

“You, God’s woman, are designed both strong and vulnerable.

Powerful yet tender.

More than able yet willing to yield.

You are smart, wise, capable, equal in worth, and secure in yourself as you relate to others yet content in your God-given role.

You are a paradox—a potent mixture that surprises with your controlled energy, who inspires and entices by your mysterious grace, whose lifestyle causes others to reconsider and refocus their presuppositions, drawing them toward the God who makes a woman so rich, deep, and captivating.

So purposefully feminine.” 

As women, we have an unbelievable ability to be so completely focused and daring, high-achieving because of the way we are built. Yet many of us are built also with a desire to serve and humble ourselves. Like the quote says, we are a surprising paradox. We are capable of being a bright light with our ability to sense what people need, and then boldly encourage them accordingly.

SO… 

So stop trying to be like other girls. You were carefully designed. Be who you are.

Do what seems right to you, not what seems like it will make you more attractive to men.

Go a week without makeup. You’re beautiful without it.

Work out and eat healthy because it’s healthy, not because you don’t feel good enough the way you are.

Your worth is not determined by the way you look on the outside, or even how funny or charming you are (Prov. 31:30).

Your worth is defined by the fact that one Man came all the way from heaven to live on this earth for 33 years, before dying a humiliating death so that YOU could have true life. So don’t ever let any man on this earth make you believe you’re not absolutely precious, and worth being cherished and pursued. The God of the universe says you ARE.

In a world where the devil is always trying to diminish our natural, God-given beauty and unique attributes, we have to choose to reject the lies that creep in. YOU are beautiful. Do you believe it?

I’ll be the first to say I’m getting kind of cliché here, but we really don’t believe these truths enough.

Oh, and this post isn’t meant to knock men in any way. They have their own strengths. 🙂 But tomorrow is Mother’s Day… it’s a day to celebrate strong women all over the US! So as you read this post and remember your worth, make sure you remind your mom of hers, too. She deserves it!

Speaking of, this post is dedicated to my own wonderful mother, Debbie Thomas. She’s one of the strongest, most giving, hardest working, humble women I know. Love you, momma! ❤

I have a confession.

Yesterday something happened in me that I want to share. And it includes a confession. But first, a little history. (Oh, and please enjoy the subheadings throughout the post, just a little somethin I’m tryin out… I like the pop of pink but the words will only be pink if I make them a hyperlink. So I’ve attached mystery websites. Maybe they’ll be related, maybe not… hehe. You might want to just keep reading and click them all when you’re done.. I can’t be serious for my life. Anyway…)

 

A LITTLE HISTORY FOR YA

Until I was 19 years old, most of my belief in God stemmed from what I had experienced, and since nothing I’d experienced was particularly radical, I didn’t live very differently than most people. I was nice, tried to be good and successful. Nothing wrong there.

Then, I rather spontaneously dedicated an entire summer to serving God in Chicago with a ministry called CRU. I began to grow in my faith due to even more experiential encounters with God, and godly people speaking truth to me. I began to learn more about what the Bible says and why it’s trustworthy… experientially.

For the first time I began to feel God’s love and began to experience a relationship with Him.

From my upbringing in the Church I already had a foundation of theological knowledge, and from most standpoints and applications in life, what my parents had taught me seemed to work out.

I found that when I applied the biblical concepts that my new friends believed in to my own life, things seemed to work better, as many of Jesus’ teachings are practically wise.

I liked being in a biblical Christian community, because for whatever reason, friendships seemed to work out more easily and with greater depth within that construct.

I heard lots of things about Jesus and God that I didn’t have factual evidence for, but they came from the mouths of people I trusted and esteemed. So I didn’t do any further digging.

But one day, I started to have doubts. And they kept comin’. It wasn’t too long before the initial novelty of clean, fun Christian community was beginning to wear off, revealing that there were still a lot of things I didn’t quite understand. What if the whole thing was actually… crap? What if the holes in my understanding (the ones I’d been ignoring) couldn’t be filled?

Suddenly my faith didn’t feel good anymore — I wasn’t seeing this God of Israel like I’d seen him in the past. There was too much mystery, and I didn’t REALLY trust him.

But I wasn’t ready to give up. I spent a full year trying to find answers to big questions — about the validity of the Bible, Jesus and his reality, and the supernatural/the Holy Spirit.

With tears, small victories, and a whole lot of crying out to God, I got many questions MOSTLY answered during that time. I learned a lot about FAITH. Which is key. But after my battle of faith and reason, I still really just had a lot more experiential evidence, a few more facts from scholars and pastors, and a new-found ability to trust God without having all the answers. Which was all good, because the important thing is a relationship with Christ.

But I still didn’t have all the answers.

And this left annoying, lingering doubts that I had learned to push away.

In regard to that time,

I have a confession to make.

 

I HAVE A CONFESSION TO MAKE

I have talked to a lot of people about my “year of doubt.” It was a pivotal time for me, and I don’t want to undermine that. But I have to come forward and say: my research of my own Christian faith was feeble and biased. It was ineffective, inconsistent, unsystematic, and the entire time I really just wanted to skip the doubt. I wanted God to come down and say THE BIBLE IS TRUE AND JESUS IS THE TRUE SON OF GOD. CASE CLOSED. I wanted to return to the comfort I’d felt in my ignorance. And I especially wanted to believe based on more experiential evidence, instead of putting Jesus in our world today and seeing if He stuck. When I “finished” my year of doubt, the truth is, I was still seeking. I never stopped.

But yesterday I finished a book called The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus by Lee Strobel, and suddenly I am aware of exactly how little (and how aimlessly) I did my own research.

 

COURTROOM EVIDENCE FOR CHRIST? 

If you’ve ever read a book by Jodi Picoult or watched a court trial on TV, you know what it’s like to be sucked in by a fascinating case. As evidence after piece of evidence is laid down, everyone is on the edge of their seat wondering if the defendant will be declared guilty or innocent.

This is essentially what it was like to read The Case for Christ, except my whole belief system was on the line. Now don’t get me wrong, the book is very, very, very, very, thorough… which means it doesn’t read QUITE like My Sister’s Keeper. It’s basically a systemized legal investigation/analysis of the Bible and the person/ministry of Jesus Christ, which means I kept wishing I’d had a pen with me as I read to circle the words I didn’t know. It’s not a difficult read by any means, but I wanted to be extra careful to make sure I knew what was being said at all times. So I wasn’t sitting rapt as I read 13 involved interviews of triple-degree scholars, but my interest was obviously held. As the book progressed, the Jesus of history started to take form, and I was able to stack Him up against my Jesus of faith. Through the second half of the book I repeatedly teared up, as some of the remaining holes in my belief of these foundational things — the validity of the Scriptures and Jesus’ ministry — were finally being filled.

I don’t think my faith was ever invalid or incomplete for the past 20 years because I didn’t have all the eyewitness, rebuttal, documentary, corroborating, scientific, medical, historical evidence put into place for me by recognized theological, psychological, medical, and archeological scholars, but I have to say… I don’t know if I’ve ever believed in Jesus Christ as much as I do right now.

 

POSITIVELY HISTORICAL 

Granted, I never had the time, resources, or training to do an investigation like Strobel’s. But this is why the book is so great — he did the investigation for me, and documented it extremely well.

If you’re a Christian already, there are many things that knowing factual, historical evidence for Christ can do for your faith. For me, it is helping to merge the world I live in and my relationship with God. Sometimes they feel separate, but finally I’ve seen Jesus picked up out of the cartoon bible-land of my childhood, and placed into the realm of secular research. Reading a book like this has not only supplemented my faith, it has built onto the foundation.

If you’re not a believer, but have any interest in religion, the existence of a God, or the person of Jesus Christ, this is an interesting book that was extremely non-objective (I thought) and thorough in its research. Since Lee Strobel starts his investigation as an atheist, he goes in trying to disprove that Jesus is God. Spoiler alert: he does end up deciding it’s extremely plausible and necessary to follow Christ. But he encourages you to found your own opinion as you read, and decide on your own verdict. I’d recommend this book to anyone.

 

HOLEY FAITH BATMAN 

So yes, I confess I didn’t do my research thoroughly, and although I have been confident in my mostly experiential faith without having filled all the holes, it wasn’t responsible of me to have left any of them in the first place. I say this simply because I know so many non-believers, and seem to get into conversations with them about faith and life on a regular basis. Sometimes I don’t have answers for them. I could have cut out the time to do my own scholarly research, but I didn’t because I didn’t know where to begin. However, I always want to honor 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

So as a believer I would challenge other believers to fill those holes if they have them. That doesn’t necessarily mean read The Case for Christ, since there are so many other books with logical evidence for Christ. In fact, Strobel cited a good number of the resources he used. But maybe it means to go to scholarly sources and find out for yourself what critics and scholars say.. just find out what they say in one way or another. I would say that TCFC is a great, digestible place to start learning more of the concrete evidence for our faith. It’s out there to be learned and committed to memory. So we should know it, right?

 

THE ACTION THAT FOLLOWS

I’m not saying that I read one condensed book of historical research about Christ and now I have all the answers. There’s still more action that follows, namely, more diggage. The book is pretty clear that when you get into the details of the resurrection and other supernatural elements of Christ, those things aren’t as easy to pin down. But if everything of God was completely digestible and understandable, would He still be God? What’s important is that the foundational evidence for this “case for Christ” is solid. I’m so glad to know that now, in addition to feeling it.

However, even as I walk through an existing relationship with Christ, I am going to continue my research. This is why we do Bible studies, right? This shouldn’t be overlooked. The parts of God we struggle to understand are the supernatural ones, namely, the Holy Spirit. But according to what I’ve just learned, Jesus is incredibly alive, real, and trustworthy… and HE says the Holy Spirit is inside of me. I believe it too, because I’ve seen and felt Him do amazing things in and through me. But I’ll admit I still get confused a lot. Therefore, the next book on my list is Forgotten God by Francis Chan (who I respect greatly). I hope to also do a lot more intentional bible-study concerning the Holy Spirit. This is something we may never nail down, but our God is not a God of confusion. I always would say that when I was confused… I suppose wanting Him to magically take my confusion away. But I think instead it means He’s set up a number of things in this world that prove Him, explain Him to us and help us know Him better, if we’ll look for them. I think I’ve been convinced of that through reading The Case for Christ, and of course, the Bible.

So bottom line, I’ve been really encouraged and strengthened by this book. Also, let’s not go through this life with holes in our faith, or worse, not knowing what we believe at all! There are answers if you’re willing to keep looking. 🙂

This message was brought to you by The Seeker Who Still Lives Inside of Jordan, written for Seekers and Intellectuals everywhere. Love you guys. 

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.

It’s undeniable that things change.

For instance, oh, I don’t know…

You graduate.

Your friends graduate.

You study abroad and it’s hard to keep in touch with friends.

 

Today as I was thinking about all the change that’s taking place back home at Ball State and all the people that will change, I found myself wondering about all the graduates who will be moving around… all the wonderful friends that’d been made in 4 years — if they’d all really continue to be in each other’s lives.

Kind of a cynical thought, but this is really what I was thinking about today.

In order to stay friends with people, it requires faithfulness. We are either faithful in staying in touch and making sure we keep up with others, or we aren’t.

This is kind of a daunting thought, because we’re all only human, we often discontinue our faithfulness to each other when life gets crazy.

This isn’t my year to graduate, but it’s coming up fast, and that means all of my current friendships will be put to the test — even more than they have been with me just being gone these past 4 months. What if my friends and I eventually let life get in the way? What if someday we stopped being faithful to one another, by accident?

I admit I’m prone to this kind of fearful thinking about relationships, since I’ve moved around so much and things have always changed. These major transitions in life always carry a few doubts and hesitations for me. But God clearly knows how to comfort me… as I was mulling this over, my thoughts were interrupted by a verse I had written repeatedly on the valentines I passed out earlier this year:

 “…I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”        (Jeremiah 31:3)

 

Amidst my distrust in myself, and admittedly, others, God was stopping me in my tracks to remind me of something incredibly important: HE will never change, and he will never leave. 

 

Unlike in human relationships, God never discontinues his faithfulness. In fact, he has made countless promises that he will not fail us.

 

From the original and famous Promise (Genesis 12:2-3),

which is repeated again and again to leaders and prophets of Israel,

fleshed out in the story of Hosea,

to the way that He fulfilled that promise through Christ.

 

And he continues to remain faithful to his followers. When I look back at my life, I see He has done what is the best for me, and even pulled me out of some tight places (okay, a lot of tight places). What’s more, I see His faithfulness in the lives of my other Christian friends as well. Even when we are unfaithful, we don’t trust Him, we don’t obey Him, we live like He isn’t with us… We discontinue our faithfulness to Him. But He NEVER, ever lets go of us.

 

It’s our choice of whether to trust Him in this or not. At times I let uncertainty come into my mind and it skews that trust for a bit. Yet He always reminds me of truth, like he did today. Another sign of His faithfulness.

 

This certainty in Christ is an amazing truth because it means that in a world of constant change and instability, we have an unshakable foundation. We can walk in a peace that has nothing to do with circumstance or the people in our lives. We will still fail our friends, and sometimes relationships will drift apart. But when we keep our eyes on Christ, focusing on our relationship with HIM, good circumstances and good people become add-ons, blessings. We place our hope on Jesus, and it creates freedom to truly enjoy our relationships! It takes the pressure off of people to be perfect friends, which we’d probably all be grateful for. This is just one “side-effect” of a relationship with God. Not a religion, not rules. This living, breathing, grace-filled relationship with Christ offers us constant freedom.

 

This is good to remember for every moment in life, but especially as everything changes here at the end of the school year. I know I needed this reminder as a few of my close friends graduate, and I’m not even there in Indiana! Maybe you’re graduating, or like me, some of your best friends are. You’re moving somewhere else for the summer, into new circumstances. Things can feel a little crazy and unstable, and for those graduating, a blank canvas yet to be painted. Amidst the natural heartache that comes with changing relationships, goodbyes, endings, and new beginnings, I hope you will take comfort in the fact that God is constant. We might not always be capable of continuing our faithfulness to each other, and I can’t promise we will always be comfortable in our circumstances. But I can promise that God loves you, He will do what is best for you, and He will never let you go. He taught me this all over again today, and I’m thankful for the ability to walk into a new season of life with confidence, resting on that truth.