Happy Easter(?)

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I’m not that big on religious Holidays.  Not that I’ll protest them or even really express any particular dislike for them, but they’re just not a huge deal to me.  If anything, the day after them is really when everything sets in.  How many people will talk about Jesus’ birth the day after Christmas?  In this case, how many of the multitudes will study the Bible the week after their yearly “return to church” on Easter Sunday?  I don’t mean to be cynical, if anything I want to solicit a reaction.  Will you study the Bible, or will you just let this pass by like another event?

Romans 6:3-4 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

Even though Easter is celebrated as Resurrection Day, I’m continually grateful for the great joy I’ve had to share in His resurrection through baptism. Yesterday, countless people who never set foot in a church the rest of the year attended, many people who never speak of God posted scriptures on their social networks and talked about how grateful they are for the cross. However, in this time of hypocritical spirituality, very few are willing to truly study the Bible out and change their lives.

I’ve reflected on what the cross means to me, and it drives me to work harder everyday.  As the new churches are preparing to be planted and the Bible studies are picking up, I couldn’t be more grateful for the life I’ve been given.  If you’re interested in what I’ve been up to, an update is coming soon.  However, I would love to hear from you.  Make a comment, send me an email or even give me a call if you want to know more or just want to catch up.  Hope to hear from you soon.

~Tori Lynn

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My First Year

One year ago, my life changed entirely.  However, it was truly just the beginning of a new journey.

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When I said the words; “Jesus is Lord.”  I realized that life would always ask me, “Is He really?”

I can genuinely say that I’m not the scared little girl I was when I went down into the water, but I’m not necessarily the girl that came up out of them either.  Though I died to myself a year ago, I have learned the truth in this verse:

Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Daily.  Every single day from here on out I am becoming more of Him and less of me, and it’s been fantastic.  There are the obvious changes, of course, learning what it means to be a woman as well as living as a Disciple.  But a friend of mine asked me the other night, “Besides those, how have you changed the most?”

It caused me to think deep, but being able to answer that question was evidence enough.

I used to carry a thick notebook with worn pages and a cover that was falling apart.  I called it my “Thoughts” notebook, but secretly referred to it as a “Breakdown notebook.”  Every time my mind could no longer comprehend things, I would write frantically, hoping to calm myself down.  Shortly after this time last year, I simply stopped using it, and one day took it back to North Carolina and left it behind.  As I was explaining, I realized what caused this difference.  Openness, the freedom to express the depths of my heart with people whether or not they will understand.  As I poured out my heart with the brothers and sisters this weekend, the reality of this beautiful truth set in.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

Perhaps I no longer need this form of therapy because now I have learned to trust God and talk to the people He has given me, and to listen to what they have to say.  Honestly, I know these are still my first steps, but the mountains ahead are thrilling, and my heart can only harbor so much hope.  Sincerely and truly, I want to thank all of you who helped me get this far.

As I reflected in the mountains this past weekend on the year before, my heart was overwhelmed with a joy unspeakable.  Standing in the same places I had cried out to God for clarity the year before welled up gratitude within my heart.  Where last year I was filled with questions, this year I have been immersed in a deep love.  From the depths of my heart, God, I am grateful for Your kingdom and Your salvation.  When people ask me how it’s been, my answer remains: “It’s the hardest life, but it’s the best life.”

Philippians 3:7-8 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ

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It’s been a wonderful journey so far and I can hardly wait to see what this year holds.  Somewhere along the line I realized that it’s no longer a trip or  simply an adventure, but the life I’ve been given, and a splendid one at that.  And I want to say, thank you Lord for loving me! ❤

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~Tori Lynn

Alive

This is my story.
My journey.
The beginning of something else.
Before
I do not write to you as telling you what I think of your life, but opening up my own.  I hope that these words may mean something to you, but once I open them up, I can no longer control them.
I’m alive for the first time in my life, I’ve woken up.  I lived in the dark, believing myself to be in the light.  I tried my best to seek the light, I sought it out with all my being, but I convinced myself at the same time that I had already found it.  As I lived clinging to hope and faith, I still found myself crying out in the chains of my sin and confusion.  Despair tormented me, I couldn’t find a place despite how I strived for one.  Pride found a way into my veins, I was filled with it.  I thought myself superior- an exception.  I fought what I noticed, but most of it went over my head.
Hours of searching, asking questions and praying through tears led me here.
I fought it.  Packing up and moving to California?  What kind of crazy talk is that, and all for a church?  As much as it sounded crazy, I couldn’t fathom anything else.  The idea chased me, it seemed to be the answer to every question.  I wanted to believe I was okay, but I felt like a cancer patient refusing to admit that I was sick in the slightest.  I filled myself with hope, but my heart felt sick.  I grasped at every straw of hope, but they slipped away like sand.  I filled every hour with all I could imagine, searching for love and hope, any shred of God that I could find.
Proverbs 13:12 “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
 but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life”
Costa Rica changed me.  I spent more time seeking God than I ever had and the answer that had been drilling into me for over two years became clearer than ever.
No more fighting.
I had been eighteen for a few weeks, my excuses were gone.  As I landed in RDU, I knew beyond a doubt that I would not be in that state for long at all.  As hard as it was, I had to leave it all behind.
Everything.
Not just my home, or the people I loved, but the pride, the mixed up ideas in my head.  I had to be willing to put the Bible above my own thoughts, I was ashamed at how much that took.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Through the intense love I was shown and the studies in the Bible, I found myself cut to the heart to the point of unimaginable mental pain.  My mind refused to rest as it mulled over the truth and tradition.  In the mountains, my heart cried out in despair and confusion.  Clarity was further from my mind than it had been in the first place, but then it came.
As we read over what’s known as The Great Commission, it hit me.
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
I was never made into a disciple.  I never counted up what it would cost me, I never went over what sin I needed to give up.  I wanted to believe I had, but none of that happened before my baptism.  My heart sunk and my voice caught in my throat for what felt like an eternity.  Finally, the words came from my mouth;
“I want to get baptized.”  Confusion was gone and a sober acceptance and peace filled me.
As I poured over Jeremiah, I was shaken in the image of God that I had somehow come across.  His might and glory and unshaken love and power overwhelmed me, I had never felt so small- and yet He gave it all, knowing so many of us would still turn or be deceived.  Deep sorrow to the point of pain filled me as I read through His lament, and I saw that we haven’t changed much- but He hasn’t changed a bit.  He never does change, why would He be different now than He was then?
Jeremiah 5:30-31 An appalling and horrible thing
has happened in the land:
 the prophets prophesy falsely,
and the priests rule at their direction;
 my people love to have it so,
but what will you do when the end comes?
A whirlwind of studies, tears, hugs, ecstatic joy and overwhelming gratefulness, I found myself counting up the cost on Sunday morning in Starbucks with some of the most amazing ladies I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.
Shaking hands and the grandest excitement filled me throughout the service.  I couldn’t cry, though.  I was surprised at myself, to be honest, but anticipation overwhelmed all sorrow and even joy.  My soul longed for the moment I would come out of the water, to die to everything I was.
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And when that moment finally came, such a joy as I had never known filled me to the brim and a warmth settled into my heart.  When I went under, I left a weight behind me, and when I broke the surface of the water, a smile welled up from deep in my soul, the purest, most sincere smile I’ve ever had.
Romans 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Over the past couple days, I’ve still not lost my smile.  I’ve wandered about all my life, even though I only ever lived in one place till now.  I always felt like I was in the only place I could be, now I feel like I’m in the only place I should be.  I’ve only dreamed about being somewhere like this until now.
I’ve finally found where I belong.  I’m alive.
As elated as I am, even greater delight fills me with the knowledge that this is only the beginning, and I’m not afraid.  Oh God, thank You for bringing me here.
~Tori Lynn