Friday, October 16, 2009

what a wonderful world :)

Matthew 6:19-21 says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

For years, Matthew 6:21 has been one of my absolute favorite verses for several different reasons. This past weekend I added another reasons to my list. When I was at Disney World (yes, DISNEY WORLD!), there were so many children whose dreams were coming true and parents who were so excited for their little ones to experience the magic of Disney. It was absolutely beautiful, and it made me wish I had a little girl to dress up like a princess and a little boy to dress up like a handsome prince!

I got to see some of the most gorgeous things, and I got to meet most of my favorite characters...including my childhood and present idol, BELLE! Although this was my third visit to Disney, I was able to truly appreciate the whole park more this time because I was old enough to understand how much time and effort had been put into making it so beautiful.

The whole time I was experiencing this awesome park, all I could think about were these three verses. If Disney World has the power to make people feel so alive and add so much joy to the lives of people of all ages, just think how AWESOME is Heaven going to be!

Jesus said that he was going to prepare a place for us in Heaven, and that it would be beyond our wildest dreams. Just think about that for a second. If I could have every single thing I ever wanted here on earth, it still wouldn't compare. I could watch One Tree Hill all day long while eating cheesecake and banana pudding and laying in my warm bed with rain pouring down outside without gaining a single pound. That's what I wish I was doing right now more than anything...and Heaven will blow that out of the water! I can't even wrap my mind around the thought of Heaven being the most peaceful experience I have ever known and, at the same time, the most thrilling experience I have ever known. But I love it!

My treasures on earth don't even scratch the surface of the treasures that await me in Heaven, so where should my heart be? The correct response is Heaven. but so many times I choose to put my heart into things that won't last beyond the day without giving my whole heart to Jesus, the one who died so that my heart could be pure.

Jesus wants my heart to long for him and to ache when I fall away from him. I'm almost positive that Disney World doesn't feel the same way.

So today, I choose to be in love with Jesus. Not with the world or anything it has to offer. None but Jesus.

Monday, May 25, 2009

this little girl they know.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been known as two things: "the sweet little angel" and "the strong one" to almost everyone who meets me. Flattering as it is, that's not the only thing that makes up Anna Michelle Henderson. When I am put on a pedestal like that, there is no where I can go but down. I am not more righteous that anyone else on this whole planet, but the very moment I mess up or make a mistake, I feel like I have to hide that from everyone around me because I have to be "strong" or I have to put on that million-dollar smile and pretend like everything is okay. Most of the time when people ask me how I am doing, their question isn't sincere because they think they already know the answer: "Great!" Now don't get me wrong, I do strive daily to be a light to people who may not see any light the rest of the day, but I do have bad days. I have them more frequently than most people realize, even my close family and friends.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, "come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." He sees my smiles, my giggles, and my happy dances. But he also sees my tears, my heartaches, my cuts, my bruises, and all the other yucky stuff that's hidden in the deepest parts of me. It's so easy for me to just open up to him and tell him all the things I do wrong every day. The world, on the other hand, sees my mistakes and points at each of them individually. So what do I do? I hide them. And why do I hide them from the world? Because the world isn't forgiving. And as long as Satan is the prince of this world, it never will be.

But that doesn't make it okay. Just like the Good Book says, we are in this world but not of it. We are of God and saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. When I hide my sin from the world, I am telling myself that I have to be the best. But the thing that is wrong with that mindset is pride. And pride is sin. So really, by hiding my sin I am only just covering it up with more sin.

I remember the exact moment that God completely rocked my world and I began to see him for who he really is. Dustin Willis was speaking at Awanita when I was in 8th grade, and he said "we must have a reaction to Jesus Christ that shows no concern for our reputation." That is a quote that I will never forget but by hiding my faults and failures from the people around me, I forget to live by it. And I have this crazy feeling that I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Jenny and Tyler (one of my latest obsessions) wrote a song that hits right on this issue, and one of the lines in one of their songs says: "I can't let them know about my sin 'cause what will they think of me when they finally see that this little girl they know doesn't let her bruises show?" But God says it doesn't matter what the world thinks. He's the one in charge here, and he wants us to be transparent to the world so that lives will be touched and maybe even changed. We are the messengers of Jesus Christ, and how will His Word be spread if we all walk around like we're perfect? News flash: it won't.

In Philippians 4:12, Paul tells us that he has matured to much in his walk with Jesus that he can rejoice in any and every situation that he is faced with. I believe that that is God's desire for everyone of us. And if God desires it, then it is his will. And if it is his will, then it's our responsibility to try our very best to do what he says. Why? Because he promises that he will never ask us to do something that we cannot do (1 Corinthians 10:13).

As Jenny and Tyler put it so perfectly, "it's not what they think, it's how You think of me." Let Jesus be your judge, not people. Jesus died for you and me to be free, not to live a life filled with guilt and regret. Let's start living the way he intended us to live! Deal? :)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

all I know.

“I don't know how the stars hang
Or how there's night and then there's day
I don't know how you spoke into the black
and made it all obey

All that I know is the bleeding in my heart
and the healing in your touch
All that I know is that you gave everything
so let that be's all I know, it's all I know

I don't know how your love works
Or how you cover me in grace
I don't know how you swallow all I am
when I can't stand my taste, oh

All that I know is the bleeding in my heart
and the healing in your touch
All that I know is that you gave everything
so let that be's all I know

And I can't explain your mystery,
but I know the answer

All that I know is the bleeding in my heart
and the healing in your touch
All that I know is that you gave everything
so let that be's all I know, it's all I know”

WOW! Matt Wertz sure knows how to write a song that hits your heart in all the right places! This song absolutely blew me away.

We can't see God in the form of an actual person, but we can see all the things that he touches. Just like the song says, I don't know how God makes everything work together (for his glory, might I add), but there is no way that I would ever doubt that he does. The song says "All I know it that you gave everything," and it floors me how just one little sentence can have such a HUGE meaning.

JESUS paid it ALL. And because of that, we are completely covered in his grace. Forever. And ever. Once we ask God for his grace, he gives it to us day in and day out, even though we have never deserved it-never even once. Why? Because he is GOD and he LOVES us! So many times I forget the weight of that.

Over 2000 years ago, Jesus took ALL my sin (past, present, and future) and made it his. And on June 21, 1998, I told him just how much it meant to me. I've been his ever since.

I don't have all the answers to the questions people ask me about the history of the church or every little detail in the Bible. In fact, I usually answer most of those questions with one word. But that one word is filled with a million other great words: Jesus. It's all about him. None but Jesus. When we fix our gaze on Jesus, everything else in the whole world seems a little less significant. Jesus is the only thing that is worth giving your life to in this life.

"All I know is that you gave everything, so let that be enough." God says, "IT IS ENOUGH!" When we glorify and praise his name, we tell him that we love him. And if we love him, what else even compares? Love is the ultimate gift you can give anyone, and God wants it more than any of us here on earth do.

God WANTS us. That single sentence in itself it amazing! Who in the world would ever think that the God who single-handedly created the ENTIRE universe would care if anything happened to me? He doesn’t need us, but he wants us.

The funny thing about that is that even though God wants us and doesn’t necessarily need us, we are the complete opposite: We NEED him even when he’s the last thing we WANT. In Mark 2, Jesus says, the sick people need a doctor, not the healthy. And contrary to what you may believe about yourself, we are all sick. We sin, and are, therefore, in constant need of a savior. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t make it through one single second of the day without him walking beside me.

My prayer for you is that you realize that you don’t need all the answers to follow Jesus. Hebrews 11 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” When you follow Jesus, one thing is for sure: you will not always have the answers. But one of the AWESOME things about Jesus is that we don’t need them!

He knows how incapable we are, so he will never ask more from us than we can give (1 Corinthians 10:13). But what we can give, we should give it to him. Why? Because he demands it.

We are enough for Jesus. Every last one of us. No matter where we come from, how old we are, or how much we know, he still loves us just the same. It’s time for us to start loving him.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Jesus is not religion.

Last February, I got the amazing privilege to go see Shane & Shane perform a concert. David Nasser, an evangelist and writer, was with them and spoke to us that night during the intermission. He had so many wonderful things to say about Jesus and the Gospel, but I distinctly remember him saying something that really confused me. He said, "Jesus is not religion." Everyone in the crowd seemed to understand what he meant when he said that, but I, on the other hand, did not. When I went home last that night, I prayed and prayed over what that meant, but I never really got my answer.

After a couple of days, I brushed it off and stop worrying so much about it. Then, I went to NewSpring a few months later and Perry said the same thing that David Nasser did: "Jesus is not religion." He explained what he meant by it a little bit, but I was still lost in the clouds. I had always been told that when I loved Jesus, I was being religious. And people who judge others for their beliefs always say, he/she is "acting all 'religious.'" I've heard it a million times. So that's why I was so confused.

I wondered what was so wrong with being religious. I had always taken pride in my religion, so I couldn't understand how it was such a bad thing.

Later that week I was reading in Matthew about all the times Jesus stuck it to the Pharisees and Sadducees for their corruption and abuse of the scriptures. And then it hit me. Those big-shot "religious" guys were all messed up but they thought they had it all together. Jesus was and is RELATIONAL. Religion is not. That was the second best light bulb moment in my life. Second of course to my first encounter with Jesus!

Jesus IS NOT religion.

Religion says, "Do this, this, this, and, this and then you'll be acceptable."

Jesus says, "I knew you would never be good enough because of your sin, but I love you anyway. I love you enough to take your sin and make it my own."

All the other religions of the world are about what we have to do to get to it. Christianity is all about what JESUS did to get to us. Christianity is all about how JESUS RESCUED US. What a beautiful picture!

When Jesus came, he messed up religion. For the first time, it wasn't about certain steps you take to complete a process. It was about loving something so much that you couldn't stand the thought of living without it. And that's what he did for us. How amazingly and incredibly AWESOME is that!

We are blessed by the best. And if we don't want to be in God's presence here on Earth, why would we want to go to Heaven when we die? Like Perry said at the Easter service at NewSpring, "Hell is a place where you can have for an eternity what you wanted on Earth."

We have a choice to make. Jesus or religion.

I choose JESUS! And my deepest and most heartfelt prayer for you is that you will choose him, too. He didn't come to start a new religion. He came to bring us life.

Jesus died so we could live. So are we living?

Friday, March 20, 2009

oh how he loves us.

The love of God is indescribable. This week was my spring break, and I was able to spend it in the beautiful city of St. Louis, Missouri. God showed his faithfulness and love in so many ways this week that it almost blew my mind. God is so good!

This past week I worked at the Wesley House in St. Louis with FLOCK X! We had so much fun together. We grew so close that we actually didn't want to leave each other...which is usually uncommon when a group spends so much time together. But it was so awesome! God definitely blessed the socks off of our group and we were able to be witnesses to everyone around us. Angela, Anna, Hope, Caitlin, Heather, Savannah, Sarah, Emily, Kyle, Kit, and Bryan were all INCREDIBLE! I feel like I went to St. Louis with eleven acquaintances and came back to Clemson with eleven siblings. I am so grateful for each of them. All of them brought something unique to the group, which made it even more fun.

The Wesley House in St. Louis is a place where children come after school and during the summer, and it is sort of like a day program for them. Mr. Jimmie, Linda, Sharon, and Dorrie were the four people in charge and they were so awesome! Mr. Jimmie and Dorrie were so eager to help us whenever we needed them, and they were also able to hang out with the kids with us. They were awesome at some kickball, too!

Each child that we were able to hang out with and get to know was so different, yet so alike. Antwonette was full of funky dance moves. Terrence was busting out back flips like nobody's business. Antwon had a smile that could make anyone smile and the cutest little voice to go along with it. Johnny was absolutely precious and ran from all the girls because we had cooties. Clarence was fearless when it came to dance offs. These children will always hold a special place in my heart. Especially Terrence, because he claimed me as his girlfriend and wouldn't let any other boys come near me. He knew how to make a girl feel loved!

All of the people from Flock X and Crazy 8's were so amazing. Everyone was so willing to do whatever it took to serve the Wesley House, and it was so encouraging to watch them interact with the kids. Everyone got along so well too, and that made things even better. Everyone cheered each other on and just had so much fun trying our hardest to love those little ones the way that Jesus loves us.

In twenty+ years when I look back on this week, I can garuantee that the one line that will come to my head will be "oh how he loves us." Because that is exactly what this week was all about. His love for us and, also, this: If we profess to be followers of Christ, we will strive to love others as he has loved us.

Jesus loves us so much that it's almost impossible for me to grasp my mind around the concept of it. And the part that absolutely BLOWS my mind is that he still loves me although I mess up a million times a day. I don't deserve his love, but he still gives it to me day in and day out. This is HUGE. It's so easy for us as humans to turn our backs on people who hurt us without even second-guessing our actions, but that's never even an option for Jesus. If we loved people the way that Jesus loves us, just imagine the change we would see.

When we are able to love people despite their flaws and imperfections, that's when we begin to see people the way Jesus does. Loving someone the way Jesus loves us means giving 200% of your heart when the world says that isn't safe. It's showing no concern for how something will affect you, because all you want is for someone else to feel that joy that you have. Love is so powerful. Our love for people puts our love for God on display. If you don't believe me, take a look at 1 John 4.

I believe that love is the greatest gift God gave us. I'm not talking about love of worldly things like money or possessions, I'm talking about the love of him and our brothers and sisters in him. I believe that a little bit of love can change the world. What if we all loved each other just a little more? Just imagine how awesome that would be!

Oh how he loves us. Oh how he loves us. Oh how he loves us so.

If we could get that in our heads, we reach so many more people. God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and LOVE and of a sound mind. We've got love in all of us; even the people who act like they don't, do. To love is to serve and to serve is to love.

The big question that Brad Cooper asked the group in St. Louis this week was "Selfishness or Salvation?" So which one is it? Only one comes out of a heart filled with love.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

new beginnings.

January is the month that everyone counts on to get them out of their bad habits and into new and better ones. Often, these hopes are crushed within the first few weeks every year. But that doesn't stop people from consistently believing in them. Hopes and dreams are good things, but the ones that are met sometimes not even what we had in mind to begin with. We expect things to happen, but sometimes our expectations for ourselves are just not good enough.

Sometimes our expectations of how things should be sell us short. Our expectations are things we hold on to to make us think that everything is going to be okay. The expected is safe. It's the unexpected that has the power to change your life. People are afraid of change, but everyone knows that it is inevitable. Without change, there is no growth. There is no endurance. And we all know that when things change and we stay the same, we get left behind. So what's worse? Changing or being alone?

God has been showing me just how great change can be. And when I do go through changes, I know that I don't go through them alone. I don't even have to ask myself which is worse, because neither of them are as scary as they once were. Moving on from something you once knew is always hard, no matter what the case is. But we have to face those fears and move past the darkness of life's disappointments and step into the light.

Sometimes things find you when you need them to find you. Sometimes they find you when you don't want to be found. No matter where you are, change will find you. I know it does me. I hide from it, push it away, and do everything I can to escape it. But it finds me every time. And when the chase is over, I end up feeling relieved, not disappointed.

Unexpected things happen to me everyday, and God is teaching me just how great they can really be. All we can do is live in the moment. And when things turn out differently than we planned for them to, that's when faith steps in. Most of the time, that's when I'm weakest. But that doesn't bother me, because I know that God is strongest during those times. These days, I look forward to the unexpected. Not because I'm confident in myself, but because I am confident that Jesus Christ has the power to bring me back up again.
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