Walk With Me

And He walks with me and He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share as we tarry there
None other has ever known
It's pretty amazing, the idea of taking a leisurely stroll with the Creator of the universe. I imagine that scene in the Garden of Eden, where Adam literally walked with God, the One who made him and all of creation around him.
Can we just take a step back and be stunned by that?
Equally stunning is this concept that we can wake up every day and take a walk with the same God -- yes, the very same One. I read somewhere that we naturally as a people are unfit for even the name of God to pass our lips. It's so true. That is how holy, how awesome, how magnanimous He is. And yet, in the stillness of the morning, just before we open our eyelids, He is waiting to walk with us. He walks with us every day, through trivial moments and heart-wrenching trials and months of numbness. He is always there to take our hand and bid us walk on with Him.
But can I just be honest and admit that countless mornings, I blatantly ignore that precious outstretched hand? That some days I look Him in the face and purposely turn away to do less important things? The most compellling excuses we find to neglect devotion with Him are often the most pitiful, meaningless ones. Have you found that to be so? It really is pathetic, how made of flesh we are. But can I also say that even on days when we so desire to ignore Him, He continues to love us and walk by our side? Is that not so beautiful? No lover, no friend, no family member on earth could ever be so devoted!
Dear reader, walk on with Him.
I started this blog a little over two years ago at a point in my life where I was really just beginning to learn how to walk with God. He spoke to me so tenderly and clearly in my little college dorm room in the midst of my junior year, and this blog has given me the chance to voice some of the things He has shown me. Though only two years ago did I really begin this journey, I am so much a different person from that time. That is one of the amazing things about our walk with the Lord -- we find as we walk that we are consistently changing, growing in grace with every step.
And that is not simply a trite phrase, "growing in grace." The farther along we are in this journey with our Savior, the more we realize how amazing His grace really is. The more we grow in such a truth, the more we watch all areas of our life blossom and bloom into breathtaking beauty. This is our God. He gives more grace (James 4:6). He makes all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Anyone in Christ is a new creation, all things becoming new -- an ongoing, regenerating process (2 Corinthians 5:17)!
Because of His grace, I am still walking. At this stage in my life, I am overwhelmed by His blessing nature and steadast love. He has filled my heart with joy and gratitude. I do not deserve such a Savior in my life. I am also very much aware of just how human I am, disturbed by my countless limitations, but overjoyed at the thought that in my frailest state, He can use me best. So I look forward to that. I ask Him for the strength to surrender all of me on a daily basis -- a moment to moment basis, rather. And He carries me when I just don't have the strength anymore. All the way my Savior leads me, who have I to ask beside?
It is at such a place in my journey with the Lord that I have decided to stop blogging. If I decide to pick up blogging again, I will probably start from the ground up again, and I am not sure when that will be. We'll see where He leads. I hope this work has been encouraging. I love writing so much, and I hope you have enjoyed reading some of my posts. I wouldn't have kept writing and sharing if it had not been for you, dear reader, so I thank you sincerely for sharing a bit of the road with me.
Genesis 5 tells that Enoch walked with God, and he was no more, for God took him. Could it be that Enoch had such a close friendship with his Lord that one day, God just had to take him up to be with Him because He missed Enoch so dearly? What if we walked with Him like that? If you will pray for me, reader, I will pray for you, that such a walk can be ours. That we can take advantage of as many opportunities as we possibly can to be close with Him. He has loved us with an everlasting love and cares for us beyond the sin and shame.
Keep walking close to Him.
The voice of my Beloved!
Behold, He comes,
leaping over the mountains,
bounding over the hills ...
My Beloved speaks and says to me,
"Arise, my love, my beautiful one,
and come away ...."
Song of Solomon 2:8,10


Not For A Moment

"For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'"  Heb. 13:5


He Will

Trust in the Lord, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act. 

Psalm 37:3-5 



We will use these stones to build a memorial. In the future, your children will ask you, "What do these stones mean?"
Then you can tell them, "They remind us that the Jordan River stopped flowing when the Ark of the Lord's Covenant went across." These stones will stand as a memorial among the people of Israel forever.  -- Joshua 4:6-7

If each one of us looks back at his / her life, we can clearly trace a beautiful pathway of God's faithfulness to us. Just as someone embarking into new territory leaves a trail of pebbles behind him to bring him back to the beginning again, it is vital for a Christian to remember those moments of God's deliverance, His miracles, His faithfulness, by recording them upon a page, by marking them upon his heart, or by sharing them aloud with others beside him. With these testimonies, we can leave a trail behind us for others to follow and for us to fall back upon when we have forgotten the way to the Father.

I have always love the idea of the Ebenezer, the monument of stone set aside to remind us of what God has done. A stone is an immovable object -- something that withstands the test of time. Just like God, who is immovable, who is our rock:
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength in whom I will trust -- Psalm 18:2
For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? -- 2 Samuel 22:32
Such said David, a man who endured the most chaotic circumstances in his lifetime. Nothing in his life was ever quite stable -- except for His God. He was the rock David leaned upon in all things. What an encouragement to each of us that in the midst of what may be crazy, turbulent times, one thing, one Person remains the same. He is God, our Rock.

I just want to encourage whoever may be reading to not give up. Look upon the trail behind you of every incident in which God came through for you. He has answered every prayer and heard every cry. Even if the trail behind you may be hard to see in the darkness of forgetfulness, there is one stone at the very beginning which shines brighter than all the rest -- that is the moment of your salvation, when Christ first walked into your life. From even before that day, He has walked beside you and performed wonders in your life. You are a miracle of His grace.

Keep leaving those stones of remembrance behind you. They are not only testimonies for those around you, but they will guide you back home. I imagine that on the day when we stand before the throne of God, when our past is playing before us, we will see a dazzling, macadam pathway tracing through our entire life reflecting His immaculate glory. He is with you always, dear one, even to the end of the age.

Morning by morning, I wake up to find
The power and comfort of God's hand in mine
Season by season, I watch Him amazed,
In awe of the mystery of His perfect ways
All I have need of, His hand will provide
He's always been faithful to me

**From the hymn "He's Always Been Faithful," as sung by Chelsea Moon 


The Gaze of Grace

Some thoughts, after I cried tonight when I heard these tender lyrics:

Jesus bends to hear you breathe
And His tender hands are holding you tonight
And His heart is ravished when you look, when you look at Him
And oh, the endless mercy in His eyes

It's alarming yet immensely comforting that there is nowhere I could go to escape His presence.

I've come to realize that one of my biggest fears is that of being pursued, chased. I admit sheepishly that my heart rate increases and chills run down my spine when I feel someone running, or even walking close behind me. Granted, if a person chased me with the intent to harm me, then the reflex to run is probably a safe one. But my heart hurts when I realize that I do this to God Himself.

His closeness is chasing me. And I run. I know I've mentioned before that I fear intimacy. There remains this fear of turning around and looking directly into His eyes -- the endless mercy in His eyes. Why does it hurt so much, His tender gaze? Because deep down within, my pride is burning in a painful demise.

In worship, whether I'm singing on a stage or in the quiet corner of my living room, I am always given those moments to turn and gaze. Actually, worship literally means to "turn and kiss." So we not only turn around in moments of worship to face His visage. Worship entails action: adoration, connection, vulnerability, surrender.

Maybe it's falling. Releasing clenched fingers of pride and self-sufficiency which cling so desperately to the ledge of merit and will, and falling into His arms of grace. Grace is so humbling. It's certainly unfair. I could be a Pharisee my entire life, yet all of my pride built upon religious ritual would melt beneath it's warmth and light. A grace so glorious.

I never had a "conversion" so to speak, a dramatic turn from sin which thrust me suddenly at the foot of the cross. I have always known who God is, who Jesus is. I lamented to Jesus one night, "God, why don't I have a testimony like so many others? I need a radical conversion." But He whispered gently into my ear, "You don't need a radical conversion, Noelle. You need only to experience my love and grace full-fold." It has been such a gradual process to adopt this idea of grace, even throughout the years of remaining close to the truth of Christ. But the older I get, the more I recognize the sinner within myself, the more I recognize my need for grace the same as anybody else.

Maybe Grace is something we will wrestle with our whole lives, something that we may never understand while we are trapped in this fleshly vessels so prone to prideful ways.

This verse rings loud and clear ever and always: By grace we have been saved, through faith. We didn't earn it ourselves -- it's a gift from God. It's not of works, even if we are tempted to think so.

I think that the more we make a heartfelt, honest attempt to grasp grace, our eyes will be opened to His hands that are holding us, to the beaming smile of the Father of lights, to the endless mercy in His eyes. Grace is freedom from hiding and shame. Its fervency chases us. If we understand this great grace, our natural response would be to turn and kiss, to worship and embrace, to hold onto the joy that it brings and never, ever let go.

Oh Abba, thank You for Your great grace!

** Lyrics from "Little Light" by Matt Hammitt
   Verse a paraphrase of Ephesians 2:8


I Shall Not Want

A hymn that has been speaking to me (or rather, speaking for me) lately,
performed by the beautiful vessel that is Audrey Assad.

"When I taste Your goodness, I shall not want ..."



Because of the strong urging of a friend tonight over coffee to go home and write something, I'm going to oblige and share very briefly (or maybe not so briefly) a few verses that have spoken rather loudly to me in this season:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,
who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials ...

In a study through the book of James that my women's small group and I are going through, we were asked to read through these scriptures, taken from I Peter 1:3-6 in regards to experiencing trials. James had said that "blessed" is the man who endures great trial -- how is that? Well these verses above tell us.

I'll be honest -- these past few months have been some trying ones for various reasons. My church body and women's group have all been experiencing trials simultaneously, and we have been in need of some comfort. After reading these verses however, we were simply blown away at what comfort there is for us.

For those of you reading who are struggling with various trials (note Peter says various -- there are so many different trials that can come our way), please take heart with me in the incredible promise we have in Jesus, the resurrected Lord of all who has defeated death (please pause and fully embrace what that statement actually means for you) and right now keeps a place for you in His heaven.

 His mercy is great. Our God is one of compassion -- always. He is mercy and He is hope. There is hope for you, oh saint! When Jesus rose from death itself, He becomes now and always a living, breathing hope for us! He lives forever and waits for us to join Him in eternity, where He can hold us close in a fervent, fixed embrace.

 We have an inheritance. Because God has chosen to call us His children, we have the inheritance of eternal life. Think of what that means! We don't have to fear death anymore, and we have a vast amount of heavenly wealth stored up for us in Christ. We didn't earn it, so we don't have to worry about losing it. It remains because of the grace of Jesus, our Savior.

God's power guards us. Guess what, believer? We are protected by God Himself! We are guarded through the faith we have in His goodness, and by Jesus' gift once and for all, we have salvation -- which I do not think we will fully recognize until we reach heaven. That is why we will be floored and want to worship Him forever and ever ...

And so we rejoice in all these things promised to us!! But Peter acknowledges that, yes, we will be grieved by trials. He doesn't say that we can avoid them, nor does he say that we will necessarily walk through them easily. Trials are grievous. They're hard. Jesus knows that. He endured more pain, emotional and physical, than I think we realize. He embraced it. He didn't stop himself from weeping at his friend Lazarus' death, nor did he stop the sweat from pouring as He prayed anxiously in the Garden. He felt. He grieved. What makes us think we are above Him as to not be grieved in the same way? It's okay to grieve and go through pain. We are humanity living in a fallen world.

But, for the joy that was set before Him -- that heavenly storehouse waiting for Him to return to -- He endured (Heb. 12:2). As we are called to endure. And He did so to death -- even the death of the cross (Phil. 2:8). We, His servants, are certainly no greater than our Master. If He endured trials, so must we. And as He rose from death, so will we -- when we leave this place, we will be called to our real home, that great Home in God Himself which gave our Jesus the strength to keep persevering.

Beloved, we serve a God of mercy. We have a living hope. We will partake of a glorious inheritance. We are guarded by the power of God Himself through our faith. What cause to rejoice! Be encouraged. We will walk through trials, but there is One who has walked the road before us who to this day chooses to walk with us. You are loved, child of God!
"Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been proved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him."  -- James 1:12




See from His head, His hands, His feet

  Sorrow and love flow mingled down

    Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,

      Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

      Were the whole realm of nature mine

    That were an offering far too small

  Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all


Kingdom Come

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.          Matthew 6:33

Lately, I've found that my life has been about the "things" -- as a human being, I have a natural tendency to contract attention deficit disorder, letting my fleshly eyes dart around with worldly distractions. Jesus knows how we humans become so consumed by our mortal lifestyles, from the food we eat to the clothes we put on. Why do you think He would make an entire sermon out of our craving for these things?

Hey, I'm guilty. I'm a nervous wreck about what foods I can and can't eat. I covet what other people wear. And I have the nerve to let all of this stuff stress me out and make me anxious. 

I think I get what Jesus was really trying to say in this verse. He knows how easy it is for us humans (He did create us after all) to become absorbed by the earth we were created from. He understands how our little minds barely have the capacity to focus on our daily needs, much less the greater good. But there is more. We don't have to be anxious. What good does that do us? And how can we be anxious when we realize what -- or whom -- the kingdom of God really is?

He says today, there is something so much better out there. There is so much more to this life. There is a kingdom, reigned by an Almighty King, such as the world has never seen before. We envision failures of men when we try to think of rulers. But this King is perfect in passion and great in grace. 

Through all the worry, I have seen the kingdom of God grow dimmer and dimmer in the distance. So He told me, Seek My kingdom first, and My righteousness which prevails upon all men (my own is like filthy rags), and the rest will be added unto you. 

What does He mean by that? He means to say that if we allow ourselves to be entirely consumed by His kingdom (and when we truly know Him, we will see the true worth of that kingdom) and His righteousness (and the great sacrifice in which He gave us that perfection and beauty), everything else will merely be added. All that we think our lives revolve around will be but an addition, a bonus to our existence. 

When we offer our lives to be consumed by the living God and His kingdom, the things of this world could not possibly make us anxious. We will have all we need in Him. His kingdom is all beauty and providence. He calls all to His gates.   

It's refreshing to hear these words that Jesus spoke, yet how many times do we continue in our fleshly pattern of worry and distraction? I'm guilty again. So I'm encouraging you (or maybe simply reminding you) to make His kingdom priority. Trust the King more and be rid of that fear. Relinquish control of your own life, let the King have control, and quench that anxiety. Get over your own life and wrap yourself in His. Stop seeing His kingdom as merely the means to all the "things" and see it as the beginning and end of all things. I am guilty of all of these, but I want to turn around and run toward His kingdom gates.

When we let ourselves become lost in the glory of His kingdom and the beauty of His righteousness, I think we'll actually begin to live the way we were meant to. Everything else will be simply added.


An Ant at the Door

Cut and pasted from Spurgeon's beloved Morning & Evening Devotional.
This is God's voice speaking to each of us -- be encouraged!

"I will help you, says the Lord." Isaiah 41:14

"This morning [and every day] let us hear the Lord Jesus speak to each one of us: "I will help thee." "It is but a small thing for Me, thy God, to help thee. Consider what I have done already. What! not help thee? Why, I bought thee with My blood. What! not help thee? I have died for thee; and if I have done the greater, will I not do the less? Help thee! It is the least thing I will ever do for thee; I have done more, and will do more. Before the world began I chose thee. I made the covenant for thee. I laid aside My glory and became a man for thee; I gave up My life for thee; and if I did all this, I will surely help thee now. In helping thee, I am giving thee what I have bought for thee already. If thou hadst need of a thousand times as much help, I would give it thee; thou requirest little compared with what I am ready to give. 'Tis much for thee to need, but it is nothing for me to bestow. 'Help thee?' Fear not! If there were an ant at the door of thy granary asking for help, it would not ruin thee to give him a handful of thy wheat; and thou art nothing but a tiny insect at the door of My all-sufficiency. 'I will help thee.'"
"O my soul, is not this enough? Dost thou need more strength than the omnipotence of the United Trinity? Dost thou want more wisdom than exists in the Father, more love than displays itself in the Son, or more power than is manifest in the influences of the Spirit? Bring hither thine empty pitcher! Surely this well will fill it. Haste, gather up thy wants, and bring them here-thine emptiness, thy woes, thy needs. Behold, this river of God is full for thy supply; what canst thou desire beside? Go forth, my soul, in this thy might. The Eternal God is thine helper."


Preliminary Praise

I love the idea of "New Year's" -- the concept of starting over, of wiping the slate clean from the past year, and being invigorated for whatever changes lie ahead. I am all for a fresh start. Sometimes, I catch myself favoring the simplicity and excitement of New Year's over the hustle and stress of the Christmas holiday (how unfortunate our society has made it that way).

This past year entailed many transitions for me, and consequently much personal growth. I cannot say I am fully adjusted to such transitions quite yet, but I am holding onto the hope that Jesus is with me through this growing process and will see it through.

But outside of the personal, I am growing ever excited to see what God has in store this year for His children around the world -- those present and those yet to be adopted into His family.

If there is a fresh fire stirring in my own little chuch in Southern California, I have great expectations that fires are spreading across the globe. Something is about to happen. God's people are being stirred up. We are getting attacked and tested on all sides. Preparation for a great work is in motion.

Some thoughts shared by my beloved pastor in regards to this new work that is on the horizon:

God's past faithfulness demands our present trust.

We must trade the greatness of our task for the greatness of our God.

If we never step out of our own means, we'll never see what God means.

Let us stay close to Jesus to see what He might do ...

I am anticipating the revolution of God's church. I truly hope such a revolution is not limited to my own local church body, but that it will arise from all across the globe. Our God is a big God with magnificent plans.

Oh, that we would not limit Him, nor that we would not limit ourselves with tiny prayers burdened with fears, doubts, unbelief. Oh, that we can pray bigger. That we can get closer. Fall deeper. Carry more hearts inside our own.

Our Jesus prayed for us so fervently in that upper room so long ago:
I do not ask for [the twelve disciples] only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
With this fresh start that we have been given, it is my prayer that we would take God seriously, that we would pray more for the unity of the church (for such brings us in closer unity with God), that we would have no reservations or walls around our hearts, and that our soul's intention would be to make God's kingdom even bigger by drawing more souls to Him. The kingdom of heaven is very near. There is no time to waste.

Let us be praising our Father God for what He is going to do.

 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

For yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls. 

**John 17:20-21 ; Hebrews 10:23-25 ; 10:37-39



O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

I Corinthians 15:55-58

Death is done away with for you and me.

For every defeat in our lives, there is a greater victory in Jesus.

So stand fast in the Lord, you who have been redeemed from death and the bondage of the law, and serve Him wholeheartedly this next year and always.

Happy New Year!