Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly.

As I type this blog, I can’t help but imagine what my life would be without God at my side. It’s something that is quite honestly hard to imagine. Saying that life would be dark, lost, and without hope would be understatements. Yet, so many people around the world, and even on this campus, are lost. Either they haven’t built a forever relationship with Christ or they have never heard of him. My heart breaks for them. I can’t possibly imagine my life without God, and I simply wouldn’t want to. He gives me so much joy, and even in the darkest, bleakest of times, I still can this have joy. Even when the world crashes around me and I feel the slightest despair, I know I can always turn to the Light that is Jesus Christ.

For the millions upon millions of people in this world, there is no hope, no joy, and no assurance that there is something greater that loves and cares for people, no matter how broken. So many in this world have never heard the Gospel. And why is that? With the growing ability to communicate through ever improving technology, why is there so many people who have yet to hear the Greatest News of All?

Last week was Missions Emphasis Week (MEW) at UMHB, a week where 40+ missionaries came to our campus to get students excited for missions through special events, seminars, classroom visits, lunches, and simple conversations. It was a week where we discovered the numerous possibilities to be the Light in the darkness that’s in our university, our community, our country, and our world.

During MEW this year, we had a wall filled with the names of all the unreached people groups in the world. Some have millions, some just 100 people or less. Nonetheless, it’s the names of those who have never heard the Gospel. The Samoya people in Mali. The Domari Gypsy in Egypt. The Hani in Laos. The Arapaso in Brazil. The Galoli in Timor-Leste. The Mashadis in the United States. These are just some of the people groups in this world that have never been reached; people who have never heard the Gospel of Christ. By some accounts they make up 441 million people in this world. That’s more than 120 million people than the population of the United States.

It is my hope that one day there is no wall. Just as God brought down the wall of Jericho, my prayer is that He uses us to bring down this wall by spreading His love to the nations.

A picture of Shawn Shannon, our BSM director, and me in front of the Wall of Unreached People Groups

A picture of Shawn Shannon, our BSM director, and me in front of the Wall of Unreached People Groups

When planning for MEW 2015, our committee decided on the theme, Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. in reference to Micah 6:8 (NIV) which reads:

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

As a body of Christ, we have been called to do these things. We are to act justly in that we oppress no one, to treat everyone with the same dignity as beings who are created by God, and to do unto others what is right. We must love mercy in that we do not envy or have hatred towards one another. Instead, we are to love, be merciful and forgiving. And we are called to walk humbly with the Lord our God by relying completely on Him, seeking what He desires from us.

To me, this passage from Micah illustrates perfectly the call we have to be missionaries in every place we go, whether that is in India, England, Kenya, or Belton, Texas. We are called to seek justice and stand up for the oppressed. We are called to love mercy and have compassion for all of God’s children. We are called to walk humbly. Where He leads us, we must follow.

As I took part in the seminars and special events, my heart ached when learning about all the darkness in this world. So many people are following idols and false prophets. So many people have belief systems based on fear. While we as believers worship our Lord because we have joy and peace in Him, others worship to appease their false gods in hopes that those idols will not harm them. Others try through good works to please their gods. I am more than glad that there is nothing I can do earn God’s grace, for He has freely given it to this imperfect, mortal human being.

Throughout the week, I was more than overjoyed in knowing that so many people are working to tear down this wall, to make the list of unreached names smaller and smaller. If I have learned anything from this week, it’s the reemphasis that everyone needs Jesus, and we must shout from the mountaintops that Christ died to save us all so that we could have joy and peace in Him.

As I learned about more people to pray for, more people to ask God to show them the way through the life of myself and others, I thought about how God can use me. I am so amazed how broken I am, how much of a sinner I am, how imperfect I am, and yet He still wants to use me for His glory. Christ desires to use broken, messed up people, to share His love to the nations.

As MEW wound to a close, we had a cultural worship night during Worship in the Quad (in the BSM because of rain). We sang two Indian songs, listened to a Welsh hymn, heard stories about refugees, and sang “Great Are You Lord” by All Sons & Daughters. It was a night which made me realize that we all, every tongue, and every nation will proclaim the name of Jesus.

We ended, as we do every week, gathered in a circle, with joined hands, singing Sanctuary. As we sang these words, I thought of how we are all called to be a Living Sanctuary as we proclaim His name for all to hear.

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living
Sanctuary for You

As believers in Christ, we are all called to be a Living Sanctuary for God. We are to be a body of Christ that spreads the Good News of Jesus Christ so that every tongue can praise His name.

Sunday night, at the FBC College House, I heard a song for the first time which I think epitomizes missions. I was moved through the words of the song “Vapors” by The Liturgists. Part of the song reads:

You oh God are Holy
Trees clap their hands for you
Oceans they dance for you

You are holy
Infinite and holy
A billion suns rise for you
Clouds paint the skies for you
Mountains stand tall for you
Valleys bow down to you
Everything rising to
Sing all our songs for you

The impossible and holy
Kings become fools for you
Kingdoms to ruins for you
Vapor finds ground in you
Music finds sound for you
Everything rising
Everything rising

Come like dawn
Like waves
Like sunlight
Bring this world to life

Come like rain
Like breath
Like springtime
Bring this world to life

I couldn’t help but be joyous. In the end, everything will glorify His name, everything will proclaim that Christ is Lord of all. Kings will become irrelevant, kingdoms will fall as the trees clap and the oceans dance for the Lord Almighty. What a beautiful picture in that every part of creation will sing praise to God. As believers in Christ, let us bring the hope we have in Him to all the nations. Let us tear down this wall of unreached peoples!

Let us remember to Act Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly!

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.

Scruggs, Randy and John Thompson, 1982. “Sanctuary.” SongLyrics. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.

The Liturgists. Vapor. By Michael and Lisa Gungor, 2014. Web. 27 Oct. 2015.

Vapor by The Liturgists

Sanctuary by Jessy Dixon

When my faith is tested…

For the past few weeks, I have seen my faith tested in various ways. I have seen those I love struggle with so much, and yet they remain steadfast in their belief that God is greater than every situation. I have found it at times difficult to keep up with assignments and other obligations. I have cried and I have laughed. I have become angry every now and then when I think no one is looking, often times at little things. So many emotions have flooded my mind recently as my mind ponders various circumstances. And occasionally, I find my faith to be tested, as if I were questioning God why things were happening.

As many of you know, I often write of my family. They have become the cornerstone of my life as they have encouraged me, inspired me, and have pushed me to always trust in God, no matter the situation. Since Freshman year of high school, I have battled Crohn’s Disease, although I didn’t have the right diagnosis until Sophomore year of college. This has often been a struggle of dealing with constant stomach pain as I try to juggle my health with every other aspect of my life.

Meanwhile, my Dad is going through chemotherapy to treat his second round of colon cancer, and my family has gone through so many other things in addition to that over the past few months. All of this, among other things in life, have caused my mind to wonder, and at times cause myself to lose focus on the goodness of God and His plan for all of us.

As I was on my way to Wal-Mart one day, my faith felt as if it were on a roller coaster. I don’t really have the words to describe what I was feeling, other than simply saying that my faith was being tested. In the back of my mind, part of me was questioning God. The simple question of Why?

And then a song started to play. I don’t exactly remember what song it was, but in that moment, I felt God was asking me a series of questions, the questions, “Why do you doubt?” and “Can’t you see my goodness in your life?” “Can’t you see that I am going to use you and your family to glorify my name and spread my love to the nations?” And in that moment, a calm peace came over me, as if God was saying, “Don’t worry. I’m in control.”

If you were to ask my Dad or my grandparents about their faith in Christ, at any point for as long as I can remember, they would tell you, “He is in control!” And that is what I love about them. Instead of questioning why things happen, they constantly choose to give God the glory. My Dad, my grandparents, and all their wonderful adopted kids, have been the source of my inspiration. Any time I have felt my faith being challenged, they have motivated me to fully trust in God, no matter the situation. They are my superheroes, indeed!

So rather than questioning God, thereby weakening my faith, I will praise Him for all that He has done in my life, and in the lives of those I love. I will never cease to praise Him, to glorify Him, to seek Him in every situation, and to let my light shine for the whole world to see that I believe in Jesus Christ. He is my way. He is my truth. He is my life.

If my family has taught me anything, it’s to praise HIS NAME! Praise Him when times are great! Praise Him when times are not so great! We all face challenges, we all struggle, but He can use us for His glory. So why question? Why not shout His name at the tops of our lungs? I am not perfect, and my faith will most likely weaken again at some point. But I will strive, nonetheless, to see my faith grow, as I sing His praise!

Last week at ONE (a huge, awesome, monthly worship gathering on campus), a song stood out to me more than anything else that was sung or said during the entire service. It was “Great Are You Lord” by All Sons & Daughters. With arms stretched high, I sang at the tops of my lungs as tears rolled down my face.

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken

Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
To You only

All the earth will shout
Your praise
Our hearts will cry
These bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
To You only

As I listen to this song, how can I not get excited about singing His name for all to hear? Let every bone in my body, let every breath that I breathe sing glory to His name! God is life. God is love. He is the reason I have hope in various trials in my life. When hearts break, He is the only one that can fully restore them and make them new. And because of that, because He is so awesome and glorious, I will shout His name with every fiber of my being, so that the whole world hears how awesome our God truly is!

Psalm 34:1-3 (NIV) says this…

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

In every situation, praise His name. Will you join me? Will you join me in exalting His name, in glorifying His name? He is worthy of all of our praise. He gives life. He gives hope. My family has shown me that in Christ, we can have hope, so why not praise His name!? Why not glorify the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords!?

Join me! Together, let’s pour out our praise!

All Sons & Daughters. Great Are You Lord. By. Leslie Jordan, David Leonard, and Jason Ingram, 2014. AZ Lyrics. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 14 Oct. 2015.

Great Are You Lord by All Sons & Daughters

Great Is Thy Faithfulness/How Big Is God/How Great Thou Art (Medley) By Anthony Burger