Hosea: relentless pursuit//Sarah//VCU

Over the last couple months I have realized something about my heart, well a few things actually, but the first allows the others to follow after. I believe lies about who God is…I believe things about His character and about how He works. In reality they are the polar opposite of truth. They aren’t statements I say aloud, consciously think of or dwell on but they are often reflected in my attitude, thoughts and behavior.

I think He’s not going to fully satisfy my heart.

I think He’s angry with me and He’s going to treat me with a spiteful attitude.

I think He’s going to give up and turn His back on me.

Ouch. To admit these make me cringe. To read them makes me tense up. To confess this way of thinking to the Lord Himself makes me want to run and hide. I hate that I believe these things. I hate that these lies have clouded my thinking. The Spirit of God inside me rises up and reminds my heart that these things are just that, lies. And I don’t think I am alone in believing them.

A few weeks ago I started studying the book of Hosea (**insert praise hands here**). It quickly showed me a mirror into my own life. (I am not sure if you are familiar with it but I highly recommend it, but forewarning: the book will change your life if you let it.) To give a bit of background, Hosea is one of the minor prophets of scripture–which is a fancy way of saying he was a man who spoke the truth about who God is and pointed people back to obedience to Him. The book starts off with God telling Hosea to take a wife of whoredom (a woman of promiscuity and waywardness) and have children with her. Sounds romantic, right? If you continue to read on, you may be able to see the parallel between Hosea and God and Gomer and the Israelites/you/myself. In Hosea 2, God makes this vow-like covenant to the Israelites.376a9a992b18d17353972e4fcf4261e3

“I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.”

{Hosea 2:19-20}

From chapter 3 until the end of the book, we read the story of Israel’s rebellion and idolatry and God’s response of wrath and love for them. It’s a dramatic cycle of sin, judgment and restoration, over and over and over. By chapter 6, I’m ready to yell–How dare they turn their back on God? Hellooooo?? Do they not see how much He loves them and cares for them? Why would they make idols of silver and gold when they could have a real relationship with their Maker? Why would they look anywhere else but to Him? And why doesn’t God throw up His hands and walk away?

The Israelites were God’s chosen people. He pursues them so clearly throughout the whole Old Testament. “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” {Hosea 6:6}  God wanted their hearts, all their hearts, not their sacrifices. Sin takes over the Israelites and they begin to be apathetic towards Him. My heart aches when I read, “For Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces.”  {Hosea 8:14} It aches because I see myself in their idolatry, their selfishness, their apathy, their immorality. How often do we forget our Maker?

Like the Israelites, I so often believe that God alone isn’t enough, without even realizing it. I dwell on the approval of others, affirmation from my new relationship, the feeling of accomplishment when I run enough miles or speak eloquently to my small group girls. Not that those things are bad, but when they become the source of my worth and validation, I rip Jesus off His throne and start making idols made of modern day silver and gold. When we put something above the Lord, our worship goes to something of lesser value. It leads us to sacrificing burnt offerings, such as daily Bible reading just to check it off or attending Cru so you’re not badgered by friends. We offer our works to God instead of our worship. As a result, when I recognize my sin, I fear His wrath. I fear that He will finally get tired of redeeming me. I am scared He won’t be willing to buy me back again and again. I wonder if and when He will finally give up and walk away. This adulterous heart of mine doesn’t deserve such a faithful God.

And yet,

that is not who He is. Even though I don’t deserve Him, He is still faithful. He remains good even when we aren’t. Look back at Hosea 2:19-20 with me. He betroths us in righteousness and justice,
steadfast love and mercy. He betroths us in His faithfulness, then we shall know the Lord. Because of His faithfulness and His righteousness, not my own, He is eager to take us back, despite our idol making and wayward hearts. When I grow in my knowledge of His true character, I see how false my beliefs are about Him. He is ‘merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love’. He ‘satisfies the desires of every living thing’ {Psalm 145}.  ‘His going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.’ {Hosea 6:3}.

Through the pages of Hosea I see my story, our story sister, of sin, judgement and restoration. As I read, I recognized their deep need for Jesus, and quickly
my deep need for Jesus. He lived the righteous and idol-less life that you and I can’t. He took the Father’s wrath so that we don’t have to. The sacrifice of His life was sufficient in that when God looks at us, He doesn’t respond in anger or hostility but abounds in love and mercy. Jesus’s death and resurrection makes God’s purchase of us final and complete. Jesus made the restoration and reconciliation fully possible. The only thing that changes is who sits on the throne of our hearts. Our hearts pursue idols of silver and gold, while our Maker pursues the devotion of our hearts. I’ve seen in my own life that it’s exhausting to be tossed to and fro and it’s disappointing to look other places other than Him.

This book has wrecked my heart, in the best way possible, and torn down the lies that I have subconsciously believed and idols I so often build. Jesus is so needed and so sufficient, my friend. He extends us grace when we run away and allow our hearts wander. He is the Ultimate Lover of our hearts and shows us He is because He has paid a high price for them.  In the words of Hosea, “So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” {Hosea 12:6} Let us fix our eyes and hearts on Him. Let us tear down the idols that we build. Let us allow scripture to dissolve the lies we believe. Praise God for His relentless pursuit.

 

img_8350Hello sweet friends! I am one of the many Sarahs of this world. Next May I will graduate from VCU with my degree in psychology and minor in religious studies. I am thankful for Cru, running, Jesus, cookie dough and YOU! Thanks for letting me share a little bit of my heart with you and how I have learned that Jesus is always better.

What Are We Doing?//Kathleen

As the new intern on the TRVA[tidewater + richmond] Cru team, I’ve come to meet many new people, discover fun things about Richmond, and learn all the lingo that I was not previously privy to. I faced numerous challenges getting to Richmond such as finding housing after my plans fell through, raising all my support, and maintaining my sanity while living at home. I thought once I finally moved, I would be in the clear, but God had some more challenges in store such as: a break-up, buying a new mattress by myself, making new friends, and a handful of other things.

No no, this isn’t a pity party. This is me gathering my thoughts and catching you up to speed. It’s so easy to get caught up in life’s messes, in the exciting things, and even in the trivial day-to-day things (aka grocery shopping always). However, I’ve been faced with a question time and time again upon arriving to Richmond:

–WHAT ARE WE DOING?–

This question comes from a new f397ea274a5a85328f0d85739cfe91371riend who is a fellow staff member. He constantly challenges us as a staff team when we are planning events, when we have conversations, even when we’re not talking at all. He has a great grasp on the eternal- the everlasting results of our work and of God’s ultimate plan.

The apostle Paul writes to us saying, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10). Paul is challenging us to truly seek from where we receive our approval. If you continue reading that passage (which I highly encourage you do so), He assures the audience that the Gospel he has been preaching is not a man-made teaching, but rather a Truth from God most high, from our Creator, our Savior.

So what are we doing? Are we toiling our time away on Instagram to receive praise? Are we watching Netflix instead of doing work? Are we choosing comfort instead of God’s plan (trust me, His plan usually isn’t all that comfortable)? Yes. I can say yes to each of these but daily, I pray and work to be able to one day say no to these. I pray that you will ask yourself these questions and ask those around you– What are we doing?

Find friends that are willing to challenge the status quo.

The friends that will choose to serve others and love tangibly.

Community that loves and encourages.

People that ask tough questions and share Truth.

What good is Christian community if we’re not discussing deeper things and sharing the grace we’ve received from the God of Grace?

 

Heart over Sacrifice//Emma//VCU

This summer has been one of refinement and learning God’s true heart and character. I am a do-er and since becoming a Christian a little over a year ago I get caught up in works. Constantly feeling like I must repay God for what he has done for me and proving that I am worthy of his love and attention by what I do. After “giving my summer to the Lord” I expected to be in a state of spiritual bliss all summer – sitting in Jesus’s lap and enjoying his presence because “look at me God, I chose to serve you this summer.”

I did not realize this was my mindset until about half way through my summer mission with Cru[in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire] when I was plagued by spiritual dryness and just feeling burnt out. I was envious of the girls I was with as they shared how their intimacy with the Lord was growing and growing. “Lord, why? My quiet times have been extra long, I spent extra time on the beach for outreach, I prepared extra for Bible study, I don’t give in to (insert sin struggle here), etc” I thought.  Then I remembered  Luke 10:41 “Martha, Martha…” I immediately blocked that out because I didn’t want to hear it, and Martha might as well be my middle name.

As the summer progressed God continually brought me to a place where I had no choice but walk by the Spirit. After continually trying to earn his love and constantly failing he taught me to press into his grace. He taught me that he wants my heart over my sacrifices. He wants surrender not perfection. 1 Corinthians 13:3 says, “and though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing”. I can give all away and do all that I can but God cares about my heart. Not only that but he blesses me according to his grace not according to my performance. He loves me because that’s who he is and he loves me despite my prideful attitude this summer. Falling in love with Jesus feels like actual falling sometimes but this summer has taught me to love freely and rest in his grace.

 


emma

 

Hey all! My name is Emma and I am currently a second-semester “super” junior. Meaning I am old and should be a senior by now but life happened so here we are. I am an Exercise Science Major at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. I am a lover of Jesus, fitness and anything that has to do with peanut butter. I am currently training for my next powerlifting competition and I absolutely love how the Lord has used it so powerfully to teach me perseverance through set backs. I also spend most of my time discovering the endless quirks of Richmond with my best friend Roxy, who just happens to be a Doberman.