Seven Places

Where do you stand today?  What is going on in your life right now?  Do you feel like you have gone so far down the wrong path that there is no way you could turn back now?  Are you trying to fill that void in your heart and nothing is fulfilling you?  Have you accepted Christ, but have walked away from Him?  Look at your life right now; where are you?  No matter how far you walk away from Jesus, He is still standing right behind you with His arms open wide.  He is waiting to give you a life beyond your dreams.  He is waiting for you to accept Him.There were seven places where blood was spilled from Jesus’ body and each time He bled, yours and our sins were being covered.

1st place: John 19:1 “So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him.”  Jesus bled from His back.

 

Have you turned your back to the Lord?  Have you walked away from Him and decided to do your own thing?  Are you doing whatever you want to do, not caring what anyone thinks or says?  Are you focused on having sex outside of marriage, getting drunk, doing drugs, or becoming wealthy?  And are you doing everything you can to achieve these desires?  Understand, a life that seeks after these things will end in destruction.  The Lord bled from His back, knowing that you may one day turn your back on Him.  He covered your sins, you are forgiven!  You are able to turn right back around and He will be standing right in front of you.

2nd place: John 19:2 “And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head…”  Jesus bled from His head.

 

What goes on inside of your mind?  What are you usually thinking about?  How much you desire to please the Lord?  Or are you thinking about the guy you really like or how much you don’t like this guy or that girl?  Are your thoughts fixated on who is talking about you behind your back or are you thinking about what party you plan on going to this coming up weekend?  Do you think about your parents and how much you love them?  Or do you think about how unfair you think they are?  What is it that your mind dwells on?  The Lord bled from His head, knowing that someday you will have impure thoughts.  He covered those sins, you are forgiven!  Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything that is praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th place: John 19:17-18 “And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull…where they crucified Him…”  When Jesus was crucified, they drove the nails into each one of his hands and each one of His feet into the cross.  Then they stood the cross upright and He hung there, nailed to the tree, waiting to die.  Jesus bled from His right hand, from His left hand, from His right foot, and from His left foot.

 

Where have your hands been?  Have you hit a person before?  Have you stolen something before?  Have you used your hands to pour that bottle of alcohol into your mouth or have you used your hands to smoke that joint or take those drugs?  Jesus bled from both of His hands, knowing that someday you might use your hands against Him.  He covered those sins, you are forgiven!

 

 

Where have your feet run to?  Have you walked away from the Lord?  Have you run down the path toward destruction?  Have you found yourself in a situation that you thought would never happen?  Jesus bled from each one of His feet, knowing that someday you might run far away from Him.  He covered those sins, you are forgiven!

7th place: John 19:34 “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.”  Jesus bled from His heart.

 

Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…”  Who has your heart?  Are you holding onto it, looking for someone to give it to?  Do you follow what your heart says?  Our hearts are wicked and they will lead us into destruction.  Have you given your heart completely to a guy and now wish you hadn’t?  The Lord wants your heart.  He wants you to give it to Him.  Jesus bled from His heart, knowing that it is deceitful and desperately wicked; knowing that someday you might give it to someone else.  He covered those sins, you are forgiven!

 

His heart had burst.  He ultimately died of a broken heart.  All of the sins that you and I have committed He died for.  Our sins sent Him to the cross.  Jesus has died for every sin that you and I will ever commit.  And he died with you on His mind!  He loves you so much and He desires to give you eternal life.  If you are thinking that you have gone too deep and there is no way back, understand that that could never be more farther than the truth.  You can come back!  You can repent for your sins, because Jesus has already washed them clean.  He bled so you wouldn’t have to.

by Nicole Leitz

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Mid-Summer

Well, we approached mid-summer this weekend and it was filled with adventure.  On friday, we had the opportunity to go kayaking around the famous Mendenhall Glacier.  The weather was absolutely perfect and the water was still.  I didn’t wear sunscreen like an idiot and got fried (with a nice bandana line and sunglass tan).  We kayaked approximately seven miles and it was such a great workout, yet relaxing at the same time.  That night all of us girls got dressed up and went and got dinner at the Sandbar.  I had chicken strips that were drenched in grease.  It was good, but made my stomach hurt.  On Saturday, we hiked up Thunder Mountain.  It was super fun at first, but towards the end it got extremely difficult.  I wanted nothing more than to give up.  I know for fact I would have given up if I were by myself, but my sisters were there to keep on pushing me.  Going back down the mountain was awesome.  The top of Thunder Mountain is still covered in snow, so we got to sled down on our butts for a little bit which was probably the MOST fun I have had in my entire life.  I haven’t laughed so much or so hard in a long time.  We also saw a ginormous bear at the end of the slope.  I think we scared it more than it scared us.  The hike was six miles altogether and it took eight hours.  On the way down, my shoes were completely covered in mud and snow and I fell probably about twenty times.  So that was a little discouraging.  Needless to say, I was glad to be finished when we were.  It was by far the worst of project, but also by far the best.  It was definitely a challenge mentally, spiritually, and physically.  That night two girls from here in Juneau and I drove out to Eagle Crest and camped out in the back of one of their trucks.  It was a perfect night and a perfect view.  Great way to end a day and I loved getting to get to know some locals better.

This morning I went to a different church than I usually do.  I went to Chapel by the Lake which is a Presbyterian church, but I really liked it because it was a little more traditional, yet had a contemporary vibe.  It kinda reminded me of my church back in York.  The sermon was over Mark 4:35-41 when Jesus calms the storm. This spoke to me in a way.  Lately, I have really been struggling.  I have been battling against myself and struggles within myself.  I have also been struggling with connecting with the women here on project and developing intimacy with them.  I’ve been letting the chaos of my life take complete control of me and forgetting about the Lord’s promise and trusting in Him.  If I would just look to Him instead of myself and give HIM my summer instead of my stubborn self trying to control everything – then He will fulfill His promise and most certainly “calm the storm.”  It may in fact be MY OBLIGATION to reach out to these women and stop being so hard headed and displeased.  I can either make the best of my summer or sulk in my own self-pity.  I can’t battle against myself anymore or have this fear of not fitting in or being liked anymore.  I need to walk with the Lord and glorify Him for who He made me and love others the way He loves me.

Philippians 1:9-11  “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.”

Love Note

Tonight I went on a date with Jesus.  In fact, I still am on it.  We went to a coffee shop called the Waffle Company and have been spending some valuable time together.  Some things I have been learning about Him that I wanted to share with all of you are some characteristics about His personality.  I challenge you to think about these characteristics and see them for yourself in our amazing savior.  Some things that have become prevalent about Him are that he is playful, honest, generous, fierce, and cunning.  I am reading a book called “Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldredge and it is really revealing a whole new side of Jesus to me.  And it is simply amazing.  Take away all the religious fog that has filled our lives and unveil the true Jesus Christ that the world needs and who came to save us.  He is amazing and the bible flat out shows us His personality but we overlook it.  I encourage EVERYONE to buy this book and dive into it whole heartedly (is that a word?).  I am not even done reading it, but it has made me fall even more in love with Christ already.  Tonight has been so peaceful and Jesus has definitely been the best date I have ever had.  Here is a love note He wrote me:

Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,  to have a deep soul relationship with another, to be loved thoroughly and exclusively.  But God says to a Christian: “No, not until you are satisfied, fulfilled, and content with being loved by Me alone.  With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me, with having an intense personal and loving relationship with Me alone.  Discovering that only in ME is your satisfaction to be found.  Then you will be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for you.  You will never be completely united with another until you are united with Me; exclusive of anyone or anything else, exclusive of any other desires or longings.  I want you to have the best.  PLEASE allow Me to give it to you.  I want you to stop planning and stop wishing and allow ME to give you the most thrilling plan existing, one that you cannot imagine.  I want you to have the best so just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things and listen and learn the things I tell you.  You just wait-That’s all.  Don’t be anxious.  Don’t worry.  Don’t look around at things others have received or that I’ve given them.  Don’t look at things you THINK you want.  Just keep looking to Me or you will miss what I want to show you.  And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than you could dream of.  You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready, (and I am working even at this moment to have both of you ready at the same time).  Until you are both satisfied with me and the life that I have prepared for you, you won’t be able to experience the love that exemplifies your relationship with me, and this is the PERFECT love.  And dear one, I want you to have the most wonderful love.  I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me and enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union of beauty, perfection, and love.  Know that I love you.  I am God.  Know it, and be satisfied!”

Testimony

Hey everyone!

I just wanted to share with you the testimony I will be giving tomorrow about Cru.  I will also be singing for worship so I would love some prayers.  My testimony is a work in progress so bare with me.  I’d love all of your opinions :)

I’ve been asked to share my story with you of how I came to know the Lord and I just want to start out with identifying a couple common themes in my life, which are:  God’s faithfulness even in my faithlessness and my feeling of inadequacy all my life.

I thought I have known Christ all my life, but to truly know the Lord is to love Him.  My relationship with Christ was never a fulfilling one and it was never about the relationship with Jesus I was seeking, it was a label.  I literally had the label of the Christian goody two shoes, except the Christ part in my life I wasn’t living.  Because my relationship with Christ wasn’t real, it led me on a path to find satisfaction and worth in a world of destruction.  In high school, it appeared to everyone that I had it all, I was on all the varsity sports, 4.0 GPA, dating the stud of the school, class president, and so on.  Although it looked like I had it all, on the inside I was dying.  In college, I wanted something more.  I was tired of trying to live the “perfect” life and put a front on.  I needed something more and I didn’t know what it was because I thought I had everything.  As you all know, college opens a world of opportunities to you and it introduced me to a world of alcohol, drugs, and boys.  I was constantly searching for my worth in a guy or trying to find the next big party.  For a while it was filling some voids in my life and would numb the pain and emptiness I often felt. I became addicted to diet pills because I was obsessed with my appearance and had to always have the attention on me.  I didn’t care how I came off to people as long as I had friends and all the guys wanted me.  Every night was filled with regret and guilt and the hole in my heart was gradually getting bigger and bigger.  I wanted a change, but it seemed as if in a matter of seconds my life was spiraling out of control.  I would try and turn to Jesus, but my shame made me believe the lie that He would never accept me.  I soon realized that my friends were there only when I wanted to drink and nothing more.  I also realized that I was only wanted for my body and not for me.  I couldn’t take this life of insecurity, worthlessness, emptiness, and loneliness anymore.  I was TIRED of always longing for something more and never getting it.

This past October, I had reached the point where I couldn’t search anymore.  I remember crying my heart out and thinking that there had to be more to life.  I couldn’t take it anymore and I was tired of reaching for something that wasn’t grabbing back.  That night I was going to commit suicide.  I had the medicine in front of me and was ready to take it all when I received a phone call from a friend I had met on a mission trip in Honduras.  He told me that he felt like he needed to call me and tell me how much Jesus loved me.  He had no idea what was going on and that night the Lord heard my cry.  He not only grabbed my hand, but embraced me in his arms and that night I surrendered my life to Him so that he could carry me the rest of my life.

Things since then haven’t been easy.  It is hard.  I am not saying that after that night, things became perfect for me because they didn’t.  For a long time it still hurt and I was still searching.  There was still a longing and a bit of emptiness in my life.  How long did I have to seek out my Father before He answered?  I have learned that His timing is perfect and if you seek Him fervently then He will answer, every time.  For the longest time, I thought I already knew God and loved Him, but I never thought He was capable of healing my brokenness.  Nor did I think He wanted to.  One morning it became clear to me that He wants NOTHING more than to take care of me and heal my brokenness and love me.  When I finally understood that is when I felt God.  My life changed for the better and I can look at things in a different light.  I know Christ has been with me all along and I kept pushing Him away and now I have finally let Him in completely and I can’t even begin to explain how it feels.  It is by far the best decision and the most important decision I have ever made in my life and He has blessed me so entirely much it is ridiculous.  Because of Christ, I now have purpose in my life and a reason to wake up every morning.  I still have my struggles, but ultimately I know now that my identity is in Christ and that is all I need.  I still struggle with putting complete faith in God and I even still struggle with depression, but I am walking with Christ through that and He is drawing me closer to Him.  We have to let God take us through things and let Him work in us so our mess becomes our message.  Difficult things that we have endured in our past prepare us for God’s blessings in our future.

Baby steps

I have been so extremely busy, it’s hard to find time to even breathe.  I started my first full week of work this week and it was so much fun, but unbelievably exhausting.  God is definitely challenging me with this job.  I have to be on my feet all day and ALWAYS happy or at least act like it.  The crabshack prides itself on customer service so I have to be extra outgoing, which can be a little bit exhausting.  It is exciting meeting people from all over and having conversations.  Last week I volunteered with a few others at a homeless shelter and we cleaned and painted a room.  We even got to eat lunch there and talk with some of the people living there.  I met a man who was from Nebraska which was crazy.  On Saturday, we did evangelism downtown which was extremely nervewrecking.  It turned out not being too bad and Sarah and I ended up having some really interesting conversations.  I have met some really cool people on the bus and have felt the holy spirit within me working to connect with people.  It is a crazy feeling. Yesterday and today we volunteered at a thing called Celebration 2012 and it is a huge event for the natives here.  It was cool to see the culture here.  I love it here, but it has been a struggle emotionally.  Girls are hard to connect with that is for sure.  I pray and hope by the end of the summer that we are all like sisters.  I can feel and see God working in my life like never before.  I’ll try and keep updating more, but like I said it is hard.  Plus I am a horrible writer.  I don’t even know if anyone reads this.  I am going to be singing and giving my testimony at Cru on Wednesday so prayers are appreciated! :)

Juneau Bound

I was a little weary on what to expect of the road trip up to Alaska.  The first eight hours in the car were with three guys that I never met and myself.  It turned out to be the adventure of a lifetime and loved every minute of it.  We stayed in Fort Collins, Colorado for a night and picked up another girl and met up with another caravan.  Little did I know that these men and women would become my brothers and sisters.  We clicked instantly and it made for the perfect road trip.  The ride up there was so beautiful and I got to see God’s creation for myself and not in pictures.  It was truly incredible.  Mountains, the ocean, snow, bears, seals, whales, caribou, elk, and so much more.  The water was so pure that you could see the mountains reflect off the ocean.  We camped on freezing cold nights while it rained and stayed in a warm welcoming church while each of us shared a bond no one could break.  We took a ferry from Skagway to Juneau and arrived at 2:00 in the morning on Tuesday the 22nd.  We waited all day for the rest of project to arrive and picked up the rest of the girls at about 9:30pm that night.  The next day we had orientation with the whole project and the rest of the week searched for jobs and just hung out.  On Thursday, it was absolutely beautiful.  We went for a hike and went camping at Blue Mussel.  We stayed in a cabin right next to the ocean.  The sunset was beautiful among the mountains with the sounds of animals and life all around.  All of us girls shared one anothers testimonies and cooked dinner.  It was a tremendous blessing.  I did learn that I am highly out of shape though and the hike kicked my butt.  Last night, we played ultimate frisbee with the locals and that kicked my butt as well.  I was very sore this morning, but it was really fun.  Frisbees are hard to catch and throw.  I got hired today at the Tracey’s Crabshack downtown and I am super excited about it.  It’s downtown and a huge hit with tourists.  Hopefully I catch on quick and like the food.  I am excited to see what this week has in store and the summer.  These girls are amazing and Juneau is incredible.  I am surrendering myself completely to God and cannot wait to see how He works in my life this summer.

The Reality

The reality is, every man is a sinner, (Rom 3:10) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). If you are reading this and have never put your faith in Christ, but desire to be reconciled to God, there’s no better time than now to fall on your knees and seek him while he may be found and confess your sins to him and turn to him to forgive you of your sins and be reconciled to him, now and forevermore. But if you’ve read this and cringe at the thought of trusting in Christ.. I will say.. I know where you are. There was once a time when I felt that very same feeling, but coming from someone who knows that feeling of rebellion, I beg you to at least pray to God about what you’ve just read, because life is too short and God is too good, to just waste your life and pass off God as someone’s opinion. God is a not an opinion. He is holy and just. He made the heavens and the earth. And though you may reject his very existence, you carry the evidence that he exists in the very prints of your fingers, in the vibrant colors of your eyes and in every beat of your heart.. And the implications of rejecting this great God.. are eternal. So seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)

 

Where You Are – Mandi Mapes

Alaska Summer Project

Juneau, Alaska — a city of 30,000 — is located in one of the most breathtaking places on the planet. It’s also one of the more remote: The only way to get into or out of town is by boat or by airplane. Because it’s geographically isolated and its weather is often gloomy, Juneau can be a spiritually dark place. We strive to be a light this summer in the community of Juneau — ministering to the locals, and encouraging the local body of believers.

The Juneau Men’s and Women’s Projects is all about equipping young men and women to be missional, Christ-centered laborers for a lifetime, and working alongside the local body of believers to put the Gospel within arm’s reach of everyone in Southeast Alaska.

Members of the Juneau Men’s and Women’s Projects will take back to their campuses the practical training and experience they’ll need to impact others with the message of Jesus, create authentic friendships, and lead as men and women of God.