Friday, March 25, 2011

The beauty and pain of waiting

God is faithful to deliver on His promises.

In His timing.

I am not confident that others would describe me as a patient woman, and for good reason. I don't like to wait, and I can be very impatient-especially when it is something I want so badly. 

I know I am not the only one that has waited for something, or is waiting for something. All throughout scripture God makes His people wait. Abraham and Sarah waited until they were 90+ yrs old before God gave them a son! That is LONG time. The Israelites were in the desert for 40 years. Abraham didn't even get out of the desert. The word patience can also mean "long suffering"--no wonder I don't like to wait.

Many of us have heard it said, "Good things come to those who wait", and I know that phrase can be true and often times is true. Waiting is worth it. God's timing is perfect. Yet it is SO hard!

This season of life is full of waiting. Full of unanswered questions. Painful surrender of life long dreams, in exchange for God's will to be done  in my life. It can be easy to lose hope, to want to give up. I occasionally find myself thinking, "Is this even worth it anymore? God do you hear my cries? Do you hear my petitions? I want an answer! I am tired of asking God, please just tell me something, anything?!" Dear friends, this is when the pain of "picking up our cross" becomes uncomfortable, painful and exhausting but Christ gives us the strength to carry on and we are reminded in His Word that our hope will be restored:

3More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
Suffering produces endurance.
Endurance produces character.
Character produces hope.
Hope does not put us to shame.

"Hope does not put us to shame" Do you ever find yourself telling yourself, "Don't get your hopes up" because you don't want to be disappointed or to be humbled if you don't get the outcome you were anticipating? Hope. Not the kind of hope that says, "I hope it doesn't rain today" or "I hope I win the lottery". But the hope that brings life, the hope that delights in the same things God does. "I hope I get to go on the mission field and serve people with the love of Christ", you might not set foot on foreign soil for many many years, but your hope is not limited by your location, you have a mission field in front of you everyday. "I hope that I can be a wife someday" that hope is not contingent on your beauty, charm, skills and abilities because you are already called the Bride of Christ. 

Is it not bad to want and desire something deeply. In fact the Lord says in Psalm 37:3-7a (emphasis mine)
3Trust in the LORD and do good;
         Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. 
    4Delight yourself in the LORD;
         And He will give you the desires of your heart
    5Commit your way to the LORD,
         Trust also in Him, and He will do it. 
    6He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
         And your judgment as the noonday. 
    7Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him;
When my hope is in the Lord, my desires are conformed to His desires. That is a beautiful process, being conformed into the likeness of God, yet it is not without pain. "Suffering produces endurance" in the pain we are made stronger through Christ in us. The hope we cling to in this suffering, in this waiting, in this desert, is not that the desires of our heart would be given to us, but rather that the desires of our hearts are going to be aligned with God's heart for us, and His ways are always good. Therefore, let us rejoice dear friends in the trials so that God may be praised and glorified, and through our weakness He may shine through.

~Set Apart~

Monday, March 21, 2011


"And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
Weakness. It is almost natural for us to turn away from that word as it applies to our lives. If someone were to ask me, "Casey, what would you say your top 3 weaknesses are?" I would probably be a little uncomfortable answering that question. I don't like to expose my weakness! I would much rather cover up my weakness and make it look pretty so that no one knows it is a weakness. For example, many of us over compensate for our weaknesses. We try to excel in another area of life in order to hide our weakness.

I don't think any of us would like to be described as weak, right? I also don't think that many of us enjoy exposing our biggest flaws, or weaknesses. Pride. I am a prideful person, that is one of my weaknesses. I don't like to be taken care of, I don't like having to rely on others, I don't like admitting that I can't do something, and I especially dislike being vulnerable.

I am realizing how much  this can hinder me, not only in my relationships but also in my relationship with Christ. When I don't want to expose my weakness, I am not living in the light and I am not allowing myself to experience the Gospel. If you or I could save ourselves, be perfect, or work for our salvation, we wouldn't need Jesus Christ. 

Pride can start a dangerous cycle. It starts small, not admitting when I am wrong, not asking for help, not sharing my struggles with my community, etc. As I continue to hide or cover up those areas of weakness, my relationship with Christ is hindered because I am now working to be 'good enough' or to 'fix' myself or a situation, I am not relying on Christ. Soon I am not only broken, but extremely exhausted trying to save myself and trying to pretend that I am strong and I am fooling no one. And then I am reminded:

"And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
Grace. My inadequacy, my weakness, my brokenness allows Christ to shine through me. Have you heard it said, "Broken is beautiful"? It's true. I can not live my life in fear of being vulnerable or of needing others. God has given us the Body of Christ because He created us to need people and most importantly to need Him!

So I will boast in these weaknesses my dear friends, for when I am weak, He is strong. I struggle with doubt, I am impatient, I struggle managing my finances, I am prideful, and as much as I try to hide it, I do need the Body of Christ and I most definitely need Jesus. So let down those walls friends, risk the pain of being vulnerable, and allow Christ to say to you:
"And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
As for me, I am going to go find a friend and get a great big hug, because I could really use one, and maybe you do too. Today let us remind each other that there is grace is enough for everyone, and there is always room at the foot of the Cross. He is enough.

~Set Apart~

Thursday, March 17, 2011


"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God which surpasses all comprehension , will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" Philippians 4:6-7
 This week, has been a roller-coaster of emotions, filled with tons of questions without answers. The enemy would love to get me to despair, worry and stress out over things I cannot control and cannot fix. Thankfully, God is faithful to remind my heart of the truth. When I pray and seek God with a thankful heart, He gives me peace, guards my heart and my mind! His Word is true, imagine that!

Each day this week, something has come up that has the potential to ruin or severely hinder my attitude. And each day God is faithful to remind my heart that it is in Him that I have hope and joy. And each day I have been able to love those around me, and be loved by the Lord. He truly fills us up to be poured out.

As I sit here, and reflect on all the ways God has refreshed me and sustained me just this week I am moved to tears. As you all know from my previous post, this season of life is difficult. But when everything else fades the Lord remains. He is faithful to my heart. (which is a great song, click here to listen)

I am so blessed by the Body of Christ that is encouraging me, speaking truth to me, loving me and praying for me. I may be unsure of a lot of things in my life right now, but you know what, that doesn't change God's promises, they are true regardless of my circumstances. The name of my blog, The Beautiful Promises of a Set Apart Life, is fitting isn't it? I always need reminded that God's promises are true and He is faithful to fulfill them.

Take heart my friends, Jesus has overcome the world. He is faithful. He will never let you go. He loves you with an everlasting love. He is jealous for you. He holds all things in His hands. He works all things together for good.

~Set Apart~

Monday, March 14, 2011


God is constantly growing and refining my faith in Him. Have you ever experienced the growing pains in your relationship with God? Those roads you walk down that make you face your deepest fears, insecurities, doubts and unanswered questions?

That is where I find myself lately. I would be lying to you if I said this was easy or without pain. I would be lying to you if I told you that I am not afraid. Here is an analogy of where I am at in a few different life situations:

I have traveled a long way, many days and nights, many miles through unexpected paths and rough terrain. I have endured harsh storms, and enjoyed days of sunshine. After traveling for so long, I think I am closer to seeing my life long dream come true. I approach a the door of a house. The Man that lives in this house, He has the power to make my dreams come true. I stand at the door, and I knock. I wait. No answer. Maybe I am not loud enough? I knock loud and longer this time. Still no answer. Maybe I am early? I know this is the right house, I know He lives here.
I start to fear, thinking all this time was wasted, that this painful journey was for nothing. I can't go back empty handed. I know this is where I will find my answer. So here I will wait. I will wait for answer.

Recently I have been trying to process my emotions and line them up with the Truth. I doubt, I fear, and I am anxious. I am unsettled. I am afraid. I fear that God will not come through, that I will have done all this for nothing. Shouldn't I be able to just trust completely and not experience these aggravating emotions? Shouldn't I just be able to be certain?

As I continued to think about this, I remembered the story in Daniel 3 of Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego and being thrown into the fiery furnace. Their reply to the king struck a chord within my heart.
"If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king.
 But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up." Daniel 3:17-18
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were not certain that God would save them from their death (even though He did), yet they still went forward. So here I am, at the door knocking, hoping and knowing that nothing is certain, except that God will have His way. 

I may not know whether or not the money I need for Ethiopia will come in on time. I may not know where God is taking me with ministry, school or my friendships. But I do know this:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight" Proverbs 3:5-6  
~Set Apart~

Monday, March 7, 2011


I have been thinking about beauty after hearing MercyMe perform their song "Beautiful" in concert this past week. If you are a woman, you are all too familiar with the pursuit of or pressure to be 'beautiful' as others define it, no woman is immune to it. Now this post is not going to be about how American culture defines beauty, or 5 tips to enhance your beauty. This post is me, being real about what God has been showing me the past few days.

God is the author of beauty, in fact, God is beautiful. (Psalm 96:6) I will be the first person to admit that I have wasted a few years of life in the pursuit of beauty. When I think about how much God has changed my life, and changed me, I am amazed. If you look here you will get a better idea of what I am talking about. People are often astonished at the physical transformation that has taken place, they ask me "What happened?" and all I can do, initially is smile-really big. You see my friends, the true key to beauty is not your hair, your size, your clothes, your make up or whatever, it is Christ in you

Now some of you may say, Casey, you don't know me, you don't know my situation. Oh but I do, maybe not exactly, but each woman faces the same lies. Listen, the most beautiful thing that we can do, is have an intimate relationship with Christ. By His Holy Spirit working within us, we become beautiful because God is beauty. Look at nature, it is beautiful because it is God's workmanship, we are no different! The Holy Spirit dwells in us, and we, being God's creation, are already made in the likeness of God. Does that blow your mind or what?

Have you ever heard it said, "A woman's heart should be so wrapped up in God's heart, that a man has to seek God before he finds her heart?" (or something like that). Well, I think the idea is right on. It is my hope that a Godly man pursues me, not because of what I look like, but because of my passion and love for the Lord. Can I just tell you, my friends, how beautiful it is to see someone (man or woman) operating in the role God has designed them for? How moving it is to watch someone worship God? To see some one's face light up when they talk about the Lord and who He is? 

Our bodies, they will grow old, and the 'standards' of beauty will change, but a passion and love for the Lord, that will never grow old and will always be beautiful. Take heart my sisters, the God of the Universe cares for you, loves you, adores you. He has a perfect plan for you, and He is faithful to complete the work He has started in you. Walk out today in the identity and beauty that is found in Christ.

~Set Apart~

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Vulnerability and the Body of Christ

The last week or so has been pretty intense spiritually. The Lord has been opening my eyes to some really life wrecking things. I have been praying that the Lord would shine His light on my heart and continue to refine me. He is faithful answer.

My leadership group and I have been going through the study, Jesus on Leadership by C. Gene Wilkes which has exposed just how prideful I am. OUCH. Pride is ugly. I have also been reading the book The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns, which has been pretty eye opening. Like I said in my previous post, I tend to turn a blind eye to the hurting, because it makes me uncomfortable. The Gospel is not comfortable, walking with Christ and carrying the Cross, is not comfortable, in fact it is down right painful.

I am also fundraising for my trip to Ethiopia, I need $1100 by the end of the month to secure my spot on the trip, I am not sure how that is going to happen. If/when I go to Ethiopia we will be working with HIV communities, and I will be seeing the broken, hurt, and 'least of these' with my own eyes, and I will not be comfortable. I will be wrecked for life.

I have been praying "Lord have Your way in me, wreck my life for the gospel". Well that it is happening. Also, because of the things the Lord is doing in my life, I have been bombarded with attacks from the enemy, the lies that I used to believe were coming back with a vengeance. You know those lies that hit hard down to the core of your being? The lies that sound so real, and so true?  
"You are so unattractive. Why are you even trying?" 
"Who are you to do ministry? All you care about is yourself"
"If they knew your past, they wouldn't love you"
"Why are you trying to change, you'll always come back to this struggle?"
"You will never see your dreams come true"
"You are so stupid, such a disappointment"

Sound familiar? I am sure we've all heard these lies, or ones very similar, many times. I had to call in the reinforcement of my brothers and sisters in Christ, because I was losing the battle, I was crumbling under the weight of the accusations Satan was throwing on me. 

We have to rely on the Body of Christ my friends, we can't do this alone, we need Christ and His Body, scripture is clear that we must build each other up and pray for one another. I had to go to my dear friend Rachelle, tell her about the lies I was being hit with and that I was believing them, that required being vulnerable(which is difficult and uncomfortable). Being vulnerable is hard, but if we keep our struggles and sin in the dark and don't tell anyone we continue to stay in bondage of the enemy. Scripture illustrates this in 1 John.

1 John 1:6-10 (New American Standard Bible)

 6If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth;
 7but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.
 8If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.
 9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us.
So by being vulnerable with our trusted friends about what is going on in our life, we are letting Christ be glorified in our weakness. We can't do this on our own, the enemy would love for us to believe that. If we could fix ourselves we wouldn't need Jesus, and if we could handle our own issues God would not have given us the Body of Christ. There is love and acceptance at the foot of the Cross, and in the Body of Christ. Let us humble ourselves, confess our sin and pray for each other so that we may be healed.

~Set Apart~