Sunday, January 29, 2012

Returning to my First Love...

I can remember a time not so long ago, before I possessed the title of wife or mother, that I could simply be called a woman who was in love with God. I remember being single and in love with no one except the One who had created me, and that season of my life now seems like such a distant memory. Since getting married and then giving birth to our wonderful son, I have continually strived to keep God my #1 love and I have recently been made increasingly more aware of my failure to do so successfully. 

Don't get me wrong, I am so blessed and so thankful to be Mrs. Ricley. I have grown and evolved because of my relationship with Brett, and I know that God has given him to me to challenge me, correct me, help me lighten up a bit and constantly love me despite my shortcomings. I am also so incredibly blessed and thankful to be Jonathan's mom. My heart has grown so much since he entered the world and He has taught me more about being selfless, patient and gentle than I ever thought possible. With that said, and even though it is difficult to do at times, God still tells me to love HIM more.

So, the sermon in church today was centered on this very thought, that we cannot forsake our first love. The passage referenced was from Revelation 2 and the letter to the church at Ephesus. They were told, "you have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first", and I feel like that is what God has been saying to me repeatedly over the past month. I have allowed the other loves in my life to take precedence over the One that should be first. I have been searching for my satisfaction, my value and my contentment in the wrong places and I need to return to the only place where those needs are truly satisfied.

I want to return to my First Love, my God and the One who deserves so much more than I give Him. I am daily humbled at the fact that God is revealing and teaching me these things about myself. I am thankful that even though I fail Him daily, He keeps reaching down and reminding me that I am worthy of His love. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Live Dead Challenge

Live Dead. What a strange statement. How can two simple words, portraying two completely opposite concepts, be put together into a single statement and make sense to someone? Having been a believer nearly my entire life, I am still trying to fully understand not only what that means for me as a follower of Jesus, but also what that looks like in a tangible, practical every day way. Jesus says in Luke 9:23-24, "“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it", and while sometimes this means actually losing one's life to a physical death caused by their belief in Jesus, more often than not I hear those words and the inherent call to a daily commitment of dying to selfish thoughts, selfish ambitions and worldly desires and doing everything for the sake of Jesus and bringing Him glory.

So, our church has given us a challenge for the month of January, which is to devote ourselves to spending extravagant daily time with God. As a medium to help us do that, we are going through The Live Dead Journal which is a compilation of devotions written by missionaries all over the world and focused on what it means to truly "live dead". On the back of the journal is their explanation of what it means to live dead: "To live dead is to live life wholly for Jesus. To die to self, knowing God will do a greater work through you. To announce the life of God among those who are unreached."

I read that and my heart aches. One, because I know I still have a LONG way to go in my faith journey, and as much as I want to say I live dead every day of my life, I know I don't. Not even close. My heart also aches because I know what joy and peace can be known through a relationship with the one, true living God and I want others to know how that feels too! Many of the missionaries featured in the journal serve in areas of the world where the name of Jesus is completely foreign, but there are also some that serve here in the states. Yes, believe it or not, there are people here that don't know the true heart of Christ. Because of that often forgotten truth, Brett and I are committed to serving college age students in Salt Lake City. There are so many students, in Salt Lake City and across the nation, who don't know the name of Jesus, and we have seen so many more that have a distorted view of what it means to truly follow Him. Imagine what could happen if these students, who are beginning to explore and search for their place in the world, found the God who loves them, and who is watching, waiting and yearning for them to come home? (Insert goosebumps here...)

Needless to say, I am excited for the next 28 days and what God is going to teach me through reading and praying through this journal. I want to discover, even more intimately, His heart for His lost children and I want to be able to share and show that heart to those who need it the most. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer said "when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die", and it is only then that we find out what it means to truly live.