An Open Letter To You!

An Open Letter To You!

This little blogger-writer over here had a grand old idea in February to name her blog Scattered Journal Pages.

And, um, there haven’t been too many of those. I feel as though this lovely little blog is more of a…

You know what, I have no idea. It’s one part website, one part hangout spot, one part Bible study inside my head, one part splotched and weathered journal page, and one part bookshelf. It’s a lot of fun, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

However, it’s called Scattered Journal Pages for a reason, and I’d like to share something that perhaps is remotely journal-related.

You know, something I would write on notebook paper.

A letter maybe.

How about that today. I love letters.

*sharpens pencil* *pulls out fresh sheet of paper*

Dear Person Reading This (yes, I am talking to YOU, the lovely person that’s reading this right now),

Hello. I’m Amanda. You may be my good friend, or you may have never even heard of me.

Maybe I know you, maybe I don’t.

But that’s not really the point here. The point is that YOU are reading MY blog, and this letter is addressed most definitely to you.

And no matter who you are, I’d like you to stick around so I can tell you a few REALLY important things. Because we all need to hear them.

Dear One, you are loved.

You are loved ever so much by your AMAZING Creator, and He wants to have a personal relationship with you. Yes, you. Not just your cousin, aunt, spouse, neighbor, or friend, but YOU.

You wanna know why? Because God is gracious, and love has nothing to do with anything you’ve ever done. Jesus died so that your sins would be forgiven, and He rose again to prove it.

This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (1 John 4:10, NLT, emphasis mine.)

Lovely Person, no matter where you are in life, you are absolutely never too far gone.

It is always an option to come to God for forgiveness. And once we have accepted forgiveness, we are counted righteous and blameless.

Come to your Heavenly Father. His grace is for you.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Dear Reader, God has a plan for you.

He knows what He’s doing. He’s in control of your life, and all things are going to work together for the good of those who love Him. If you love Him, that’s you. Your future is bright, even if you’re ninety-three.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

My Friend, I know that it’s not popular to think this way, but it’s imperative that you know that Jesus is the ONLY way to God.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

And lastly, Wonderful Listener (seriously, if you’re still here, you get a sticker), don’t be afraid.

 

God is always with you, no matter what you’re facing. I don’t know exactly what you’re going through, but whatever it may be, you don’t need to be afraid. God will give you strength and He will help you.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)

Friend, God is for you and not against you. He loves you more than you can fathom. Don’t reject that, but receive it.

Sincerely, Me.

*aj

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How Does Romance Fit In?

Blue Flowers

(This has absolutely nothing to do with this post, but I updated my About Me page last night, because it needed some help. Check it out after you read this!)

I’m just going to come out and say it.

I’m a hopeless romantic.

I cry over chick flicks. And books. And songs. And I watch, read, and play them over and over and OVER AND OVER AND OVER.

Do you want to know why?

Yes, before you say it first, I’ll tell you that for one reason, I’m a girl. A girl who asks her mom and dad over and over again the story of their friendship, dating relationship, engagement, and marriage. A girl who has a Pinterest board of wedding dresses, engagement rings, wedding themes, favors, locations, photo ideas and all that.

But the fact that I’m a girl is really beside the point.

The fact that I value romance is more where I’m going with this.

I value True Love. Not the cheap Disney love that has the prince and princess meeting eyes, and getting butterflies, and getting married the next day.

Because I’m so so sorry…

But that love does not exist. It’s an emotion.

I don’t value that fairytale emotion like I value love.

I value selfless love. I value love that chooses to wait and not settle for second-best. I value love that puts another one’s interests above their own. I value the courage that it takes to love, even when it isn’t easy. I value the promise of love, even when the other person doesn’t seem lovable. I value generous love; love given to one who does not deserve it and can not pay it back.

And I value marriage, which is a commitment for life to love the other person.

The thing that I love about this thing called marriage is that when the “magic fairydust stage” (or, “honeymoon phase”) fades away, the promise still stands.

And each person has committed to stick together, in the toughest of times.

There is no, “I take you to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife, as long as you make me happy, I don’t get tired of it, and things go our way. And then when I have decided that I’m not happy anymore, I’ll leave.”

Because as much as love can be expressed in a feeling, love is a choice.

Ask anyone, the fairydust stage of a marriage doesn’t last for very long. But that cannot be an excuse to move on.

Because like I said, love is a promise.

I value love. Real love.

And I can’t WAIT to get married someday. (Emphasis on someday, but nevertheless I’m really excited.)

So as I was brainstorming for this article, something popped into my mind.

What if my desire for human love is just the tip of the iceberg?

No, really.

What if I crave something even deeper than that?

I do, as a matter of fact.

And it’s not like I didn’t know this before, it’s just hitting me harder and harder as I get older.

You know how I said that I value selfless love?

I’ve been given that selfless love by my Creator.

And before you stop reading and dismiss this as another one of those cliché articles about how being single really isn’t that bad, listen up for just another minute.

Through God’s AMAZING love for us, we see some really cool things.

Like these.

He is selfless. He loved us enough to let His Only Son die for our sins.

John 15:13

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

He lavishes His love on us when we can not pay Him back and do not deserve it.

He loves us even when we are unlovable. (AKA constantly.)

Romans 5:8

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Psalm 36:5

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.

What I’m learning daily is that the yearning in my heart for love can only be truly and deeply satisfied by the love of God.

AND IT IS! I AM SO COMPLETELY SATISFIED!

I can rest in the security of His amazing grace and love because that love will never fail.

So, here’s where you probably say something like, “Wait, Amanda, where does marriage come into all of this?”

That’s a good question, and I hope to answer it well.

When I said that perhaps marriage is just the tip of the iceberg, that’s really true.

Because as amazing as marriage and human love truly is, it’s only a reflection of God’s love for us. His love for His people existed long before the first marriage took place.

Which is kind of mind blowing, seeing how prominent “love” is in our culture.

If love is so big in this world, how much more great and beautiful is the love of God, who Himself is infinite?

One thing that I always need to remind myself of is that marriage is not the loneliness cure, or the meaning of life.

Sure, it can be beautiful! And I can’t wait for it myself.

But it cannot be the standalone thing that we seek. My heart yearns for love. But deep down, I need to be loved more than just by my (future) husband.

If I don’t accept the amazing sacrifice for my soul, and the crazy amazing love shown in that, I can’t possibly accept another human’s love.

To reject that would be to reject satisfaction. To reject true love. To reject completeness.

Because whether we are married or not, we can all experience True Love on this deep level.

Selfless love. The choice of love. The courage to love. The promise of love. The generosity of love, especially when we do not deserve it.

1 John 4:9-12

In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

*aj

Four Life Lessons from SoulFest 2015

SoulFest 2015

Good morning, my friends.

Just as a heads up, this post is going to be shorter than usual, for it is already 1:30am on Friday night as I’m starting to write this and I’m exhausted and about to pass out. That delicious chocolate hazelnut coffee I had at 9pm has stopped working, so I’m on the verge of collapsing.

I’ve been at SoulFest in New Hampshire since Thursday, and Friday night I was at an amazing show until midnight. Hehehehe.

So as a tribute to this amazing annual Christian music festival…I’ve gathered up a few life lessons to take home with me and share with you.

  1. The Gospel is NOT something to be ashamed of.

Over and over again, artists and speakers alike are sharing their faith in front of thousands of people. You know why? Because the Gospel changes lives from the inside out. It’s not a cult…it’s a relationship with the Creator of the universe; a relationship that we were made to crave. It’s so amazing, and so inspiring when someone shares their story, because it is so true that we will never be satisfied in life until we know the love of God.

  1. God sees us as beautiful, and there are no mistakes.

We all have a story being written. There are no mistakes written by the pen of God, only beautiful purpose. And beauty comes from broken things, like us. We’re all sinners, saved by the amazing grace of God. We are seen as flawless in the eyes of our Creator, for our being saved has absolutely nothing to do with what we’ve done. His perfection is given to us, for He is the picture of love.

  1. God isn’t finished.

Just because life is dark, it doesn’t mean the night will last forever. The sun hasn’t died. His love for us is as sure as the sun, as is His purpose.

He never will leave or forsake us, and He can see it all. Like a song I heard live today says, “To You, my future is a memory.” (Already There by Casting Crowns)

He isn’t finished. Just keep trusting!

  1. God can use anyone.

Our life purpose doesn’t necessarily have to be singing on a stage in front of thousands of people, or it might be. Our ultimate life purpose is to bring glory to God and others to know Him, so whether that’s singing every day for a living, being a light in your school, raising kids as a stay-at-home-mom, or whatever it may be, God will use all of us. Are we willing?

When I come to full consciousness, I will have more to say. But for now, I do not, and I’m just going to ponder these four truths in my mind for a while (*cough cough* as I sleep).

Enjoy your lovely Saturday. I’m praying for all of you!

*aj

Knowledge and Belief: From The Head To The Heart

Waves in Ocean

My head knows, but my heart doesn’t always accept it.

Yes, oh yes, that’s how a lot of my life goes.

I know the truth. I know it.

But sometimes, I have a hard time believing.

There’s a saying that goes something like, “The eighteen inches between the head and the heart are the most dangerous eighteen inches in the world.”

Or something.

The point being, it’s not enough to just know something. It’s imperative that it’s also believed.

See, in my head, I know that God is good. Great, in fact. I know that He has great plans for me, and that He will never leave me or forsake me, and that I’m never alone, and that He has everything under control, and that I don’t need to worry.

I know all this. I really do.

But do I actually believe it?

Now here, I’m not trying to second-guess myself or anything like that. I’m not trying to “prove” that I believe and not just know, or “try to be better,” or whatever.

But it’s definitely more reassuring when I can believe something and not just know it.

For example, I can spout out facts all day long about how strong a trapeze is, and how there’s a totally-safe net under it, and how I have a tight harness, and how 105% secure I am on that trapeze. But it’s not very reassuring if I’m asked to get up there and don’t believe that I’m actually safe.

Right?

Because unless I believe something in my heart, pure and raw knowledge alone won’t get me to trust God with my life.

See, I know that God is good. Like I said. Like it says in the Bible. I know that He will take care of me, and I don’t need to worry.

But when the pressure turns on, and I have to trust God and trust Him alone, it’s hard. It’s hard to bring what I know in my head to be what I believe in my heart.

And every day I have a choice.

Because hard things happen, and life breaks us, and tears jump out of our eyes, and Satan stabs away our joy, we have a choice.

Do we jump on the trapeze in surrender and trust, or shrink back and spout out facts that we’ll never put into practice?

I’m going with the former.

I heard another quote, and it’s like this.

“Surrendering to God isn’t losing or giving up. It’s winning, because once we surrender to God, we have transferred to the ‘right’ side and we have already won.”

God has fought for our souls, and we have proof that He is good.

The Cross has proven to us that the love of God is great enough for us, that the grace of God is enough to carry us through it all, that the forgiveness of God is enough to change us from the inside out, that the peace of God is great enough to comfort us in terrible times of despair, and that the mercy of God was made manifest in the torture of His own Son – because of His compassionate and loving heart.

Doubts will creep in, and waves will crash down on me, and despair will plague me, and there will be times when I question if God is really enough. Times will come when I can’t see God past the cloud of worldliness. There are going to be days when I can’t feel the goodness of God, and it feels like Satan is winning.

But when I look at the Cross, it is the most powerful thing. The Cross is greater than all my doubts, insecurities, faithlessness, and hopelessness, for death itself has been defeated by what Jesus has done on the Cross for me.

The step of getting what I know from my head to my heart is a mere eighteen inches, albeit a very important eighteen inches.

The Cross is where knowledge turns to belief. There is proof.

Romans 5:8

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God loved us from the very beginning, but He proved it by sending His Son to save us.

Once we accept the Cross, there is a bridge between the head and the heart.

I pray that we would all accept the bridge, for it’s never worth it to live in unbelief!

*aj

Majesty Meets Mercy (Part 2)

Misty Mountain and Ocean

On Saturday, I shared part 1 of Majesty Meets Mercy. I focused more on the majesty and splendor and marvelousity of God. (Yes, I just invented a new word. I like the word marvelousity.)

Here’s the last thing I shared, and I want to dig even deeper into this today.

 

God. Designed. It. All. He designed it all, and has an eternal plan.

 

And yet, He cares. He’s not the giant mural artist who ignores the little specks of paint. No. No splotch of color is too small for Him to see. We are the specks, and He cares for all of us. ALL OF US!

 

This God – El Shaddai, Elohim, Yahweh, Adonai – in all of His majesty – is Abba. Father. He cares about us, because He is our Designer, Creator, Sustainer, and Provider. He is our Father, and loves us more than we will ever comprehend! He has mercy on us – His children – though His majesty is overwhelming. He is a BIG God, and yet he is a loving Father.

 

Mercy.

(Hillsong UNITED wrote a song called Mercy Mercy. I love it. It embodies this message, so I highly recommend that you listen to it.)

So what exactly is mercy? Mercy – mercy is when we are not given what we deserve. When we are guilty, but no charges are pressed.

When you think about that, that’s pretty amazing.

You don’t need mercy, you say? Well…hmm. I know we all need mercy. Here’s why.

God gave us free will – to obey Him, or to disobey. What did we choose? Disobedience, and utter abuse of freedom. What was meant to be a wonderful thing – freedom – became an ugly thing; Dr. Jekyll became Mr. Hyde; paradise became pain; love became hate.

We’ve all sentenced ourselves to death.

There’s no room for pleading here. We all deserve our fate. We all deserve an eternity in Hell, separated from God. We deserve to be cut off from holiness.

But wait. This is where mercy comes in.

Mercy says that God, in all His splendor and glory and marvelousity and infinity, became nothing, to extend His grace to us. Mercy says that when we deserved death, He gave us life. Not a life of slavery. Not a life imprisoned. Not a life of duty and obligation. No, mercy says that God freed us from sin and the curse that it brings. We were given freedom when we deserved death.

Philippians 2:5-11 explains this better than I can:

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

 

Mercy says that God became man – a servant, even – to extend His mercy and grace to His beloved children.

Yes, we are His beloved. We are His estranged children, the ones that He is calling to Himself.

We are loved and we are found. Because of His Amazing Grace, we are given mercy. The majesty of God has met mercy. We are loved and forgiven, sin washed away and we are free. And all we have to do is accept it.

Romans 10:9 says,

 

“Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

 

That’s it.

Mercy has brought me to my knees.

I have seen what I deserve, and I don’t want to go there. I deserve to be a slave, and in exchange, I have been freed. What is this love that is so marvelously lavish?! I do not deserve it! I fall to my knees in awestruck wonder, because majesty has met mercy. God has met me where I am. This, my friend, is the mercy and grace of God.

I don’t know if I will ever understand it.

But oh, am I overwhelmed. I am so thankful. And now, why would I ever want to go back to my old life? Why would I want to crawl back into my old, cold prison cell? Why would I ever want to live as a slave to sin?

Truthfully, I do not want to. Mercy has rescued me. I am a new creation because I am in Christ, and I am not ever going back.

*aj

How Much of the World is Too Much?

 

 Oh, it is very much a difficult feat to write a blog post at the time that it should be posted. (It will supposedly auto-post early Saturday morning, at 12:00 A.M. if I’ve finished it.)

But I’m committed to it and I love it, so it’s not a burden at all.

Maybe a lot of our lives are that way.

Maybe you enjoy school. Or you have the perfect job. Perhaps you have tasks that you do every day – not just because you should – but because you want to.

And then there are also things that go the other way around. For me, it is getting out of bed in the morning. I could sleep until 10:00 A.M. every day – but I wouldn’t get anything done, so I don’t do that. Instead, after hitting snooze probably four times, I drag myself out of bed and shove myself into the shower. Painfully.

This is an example of doing something despite the fact that I passionately do not want to do it.

Dear friend, I think we approach so many things in life with a less-than-“enjoying-it” attitude. For example, reading the Word of God.

That’s right. The Bible.

How many times do we take for granted what we have access to?

Most of us probably have at least five Bibles in our homes. Or maybe even one or part of one. (Including digital copies, my family most likely has over twenty…But that’s probably just us.)

When did reading the Holy and Inspired Word of Truth become a chore?

Seriously, we have no idea how good we have it. Freedom to read (let alone own) a Bible is a privilege. Friends, this book is ALIVE! There is no other book that has the power of the Inspired Word of God.

Here’s one of my favorite passages in the Bible. It’s Psalm 119:9-16.

How can a young man keep his way pure?

    By guarding it according to your word.

With my whole heart I seek you;

    let me not wander from your commandments!

I have stored up your word in my heart,

    that I might not sin against you.

Blessed are you, O Lord;

    teach me your statutes!

With my lips I declare

    all the rules of your mouth.

In the way of your testimonies I delight

    as much as in all riches.

I will meditate on your precepts

    and fix my eyes on your ways.

I will delight in your statutes;

    I will not forget your word.

 

There’s a lot of truth we can pull from this. First of all, we learn how to remain pure.

How can a young man keep his way pure?

    By guarding it according to your word.

With my whole heart I seek you;

    let me not wander from your commandments!

I have stored up your word in my heart,

    that I might not sin against you.

 

We must guard our lives according to the Bible! We can’t expose ourselves to the world purposefully, then cross our fingers for good luck, hoping we won’t be influenced by the world too much.

I’ve thought about this question a lot lately, “How much of the world is too much?” But I’ve realized this is the wrong question.

The question cannot be “How much sin can I get away with and still be a Christian?”

Grace isn’t about God forgiving our sin and letting us get away with whatever we want because He’s not going to punish us. When we understand grace – undeserved forgiveness when were so hopeless – we realize that we were saved from being a slave to sin, not just being condemned to Hell. Why would we want to go back into sin when we were rescued from it?

Think about it. If your house was burning down, and someone rescued you and your family from it and got you out, would you go back in there? You’d better not. Because that burning-down house is l.i.t.e.r.a.l.l.y. fleeting from existence. “But my cash is in there…”

Human, do you want your wallet, or your life?

Do you want your fleeting-pleasure-sin, or eternal life?

Listen to the Bible. Don’t be a part of the world because “It’s cool.” In a hundred years, when you’re dead, cool will not matter. Eternity will matter.

The better question would be, “How much of my life can I possibly spend living for my Savior? How much can I grow to know Him more?”

That’s the best way to spend our lives. Live. For. Him.

Now please don’t get me wrong here. I am not saying that if you don’t read your Bible, you can’t truly be a Christian. That is NOT what I am saying at all. But the difference between reading and not reading is the difference between surviving and thriving.

Blessed are you, O Lord;

    teach me your statutes!

With my lips I declare

    all the rules of your mouth.

In the way of your testimonies I delight

    as much as in all riches.

I will meditate on your precepts

    and fix my eyes on your ways.

I will delight in your statutes;

    I will not forget your word.

The Word of God is amazing. It shows us who God is. How to live. His majesty. Splendor. Love. The most priceless artifact in all the world. And it belongs to us, the children of God.

Don’t let the Bible become that dusty book on the top shelf. Let it be the Book that has a cracked binding because it’s been read so much. Let it be the Book that is never “put away.” Let it be the Book that has so many pen and highlighter marks that you can barely read the words anymore. Let us buy a new Bible because the old one is so worn – not because we think it has gotten “boring.”

The Bible is beautiful. Will you read it along with me?

*aj

Where Is God?



Happy Tuesday everyone, and happy early Easter! Because of the undeniable-yet-almost-unbelievable fact that Easter is right around the corner (despite of the three feet of snow on the ground right now), I have decided to do an Easter-themed post again. I love Easter because of what it means. I hope you find the same thing!

Many people are taught to think that God is “over there”. That He doesn’t care. That He wound up the world like a clock and then stepped away. That He couldn’t really be involved with us. 

But that, dear friend, is a very sad and misleading lie. 
God is love. How do we know what love is? We get to know God, because we CAN, and what God (through Jesus) did for us. 
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 John 3:16, ESV)

Why would Jesus lay down His life for us? Because He loves us.

Greater love has no one than thisthat someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13, ESV)

We sinned and broke our relationship with God. Sin equals separation from God. So why again did Jesus come?

To show us love. To lay down His life for us. To restore our broken relationship with God.

We need to lay aside the facts of our past and what we’ve done to think that we could never accept love from God. 
It’s true that we don’t deserve it. But that is how we know true love, that he reached out to us when we had run away…far away…too far away to be found by anyone accept God.

God wants to know us. And we can know him too. We know God because we accept His amazing love that He has shown us. 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, ESV)

God is not “over there”. He is here. And His love reaches far…no matter how far you are, you can always come back. 

I know this post is extra short today, but seriously, what more is there? 
Love is here because God is here; God is Love. 

Thank you Lord for your amazing love.

*aj

Category: From The Bible
Tags: love, Jesus, Easter, amazing love, God’s love, God