Speak Out

Speaking things out often helps give us determination and confidence, and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Words can be powerful when we allow them to be.

Many of you who have been following my blog have probably read my personal psalms and poems that I have shared. As I’ve been going through quite a lot at this point in my life, laying everything down at Jesus’ feet has been no simple task nor has simply putting all my faith and trust in Him. Part of what’s helped me get through things is through prayer and writing these psalms—speaking out with confidence that God is great, He is worthy to be praised, I am His child, He has healed me, the enemy is overcome, etc.(though many times I sure don’t feel like saying these things)

So my point is this:
No matter what you’re going through, you need to SPEAK OUT.  Even when you don’t feel like it. God is on our side and we have victory over the enemy—we can’t forget that! Usually when things are the hardest to say is when they are most needed to be said.

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It Is You

It is You, oh Lord, that I long for;
You satisfy my every thirst and fill my every hunger.

It is You, my God, that I need;
You heal me from every sickness and give me strength.

It is You, my Father, who makes my heart content;
Your love never ceases.

It is You, my King, who shall reign forever—who can better satisfy?

Hard Things

When someone loves another, they are willing to step outside their comfort zone for them, look for things to do for them even when they don’t feel like it, and even if it’s hard. Shouldn’t we do the same for God, since He should be first in our life?

A lot of times we show our love for Him in ways that are easy for us—which can vary from one person to another. We all have things that are easier, but we also have things that are harder for us as an individual that just don’t come naturally to us…and that’s ok. Thing is, we need to not “let it slide” and just don’t do the hard things—whether it be prayer, spending time with God, worship and praise, living out your faith in your workplace, etc. They are likely our weak points and where the enemy is most likely to attack.

Rather than a little here and a little there to get it off the checklist, we need to focus, tackle, and truly conquer our weaknesses. Let’s show our love for Christ by living for Him even in areas that it’s hard.

 

The Doctor

This is an odd but somewhat interesting daydream I had yesterday. I debated (with myself 😛) whether or not I wanted to share it but finally decided to. One of the strangest things was how it started:

I was standing on the side of the road in the dark. Next to me on the ground was an unconscious, barely alive, very injured man who had just been in a bad car accident. I stood there panicked as to what to do.

(An interesting note, at this point I tried and tried to get my mind on something else but somehow couldn’t—my mind kept flashing back to the injured man)

Another stranger pulled over, ran to see what was going on and if there was anything he could do. He looked the man over, and said with confidence, “I know someone who can help.” He asked me if I could come along and help hold the man in the back of his car. Without saying a word, I nodded and agreed.

We took him to what appeared to be a small hospital. It seemed to be extremely vacant except one man, a doctor, was standing at the door as though he had been waiting for us. We all went inside, and without saying a word the Doctor carried the injured man to another room behind two big doors.

After a couple hours, he brought the man back out—only now he was on his feet. I was rather shocked but more relieved than anything. He and the Doctor talked as if they’d been good friends for years. As I was observing their talking, the Doctor looked up and our eyes met. I suddenly realized that this was no ordinary Doctor. I didn’t know how I knew, but somehow, deep down I knew that this was Jesus who had healed this man.

What I got from this:
Perhaps others will get something different out of this story—that’s totally fine. What I got, is that there are some things only Jesus can heal—physically, spiritually, and emotionally. (As the man in the story was past the chance of survival with normal doctors) Sometimes we can be at a point in our life where we’re just at a loss as to what do because we feel like we’ve tried everything, and nothing we’ve tried has worked. We need to learn to do our part and trust God to do the rest.

One more point I wanted to make, is that when we see others who are hurting we need to be careful about trying to fix them ourselves when the One who can truly make them well again is Jesus. We need to take them to our Doctor.

Ok…I’ll stop now. 😉

Cannot Be Silenced

Lord, renew my strength so that I may praise You;
Breathe Your Spirit into me so that You will be exalted.
Even when persecuted, Your people will praise You;
When held back, they will only become stronger.
The voice of Your children will always be heard—
They cannot be silenced.
Great is Your name over all the earth—it will not be suppressed.

Jesus And Our Life Song

09BA7F0F-876F-4E2E-8659-9275CAB07178This evening as I was listening to some light piano music, instead of writing in my prayer journal as I intended, I began day dreaming…again.

I pictured myself at a piano trying to write a song. I’d get a few notes I liked, but then would get stuck as to what to play next. After awhile I became frustrated. Then Jesus came into the picture. (That’s always a good sign, right? 😉)

He came and sat next to me and had me start playing again. I started to play, but like before, I got stuck. Only this time Jesus immediately put His hand to the piano and played just a few notes that got me to where I immediately knew what to play next. We continued on like this and it was beautiful. Not just for the music itself, but for the way we were able to function together.

The song was my life, and allowing Jesus to help me in writing the song was allowing Him to help write my life story. It’s easy to want to write our life story all by ourselves and get all the credit. But to be sure, it’s not going to be anywhere near as beautiful.

A Small Voice

This is something I wrote in my teens (probably around 15) that I found on some falling apart notebook paper while going through some old things:

A Small Voice 

I say to myself, “What am I living for? What is my purpose?” Sometimes it seems like everyone else knows what they will do one day while I still ask myself, “What shall I do?”

Sometimes I feel I’m forgotten, in the middle of the billions in this world. “How could I be noticed or remembered? It’s like I’m not even here. How can I make a difference in others lives for the better? Is it possible? Or am I just too small and timid?”

I want to do something for Christ, to glorify His name, not my own. I want to help this lost world, save lives from eternal destruction. It’s like…I have a love for people that I haven’t even met. I want to show them how they can be saved, too.

I am trying to prepare myself to be ready to witness to others. I’m praying for God to fill me with His Holy Spirit so that He can work through me. I know already that I absolutely cannot do it alone. I am nowhere near bold enough. Even if I was, it takes more than boldness. It takes much, much more. It takes a faith that only comes from Christ. It takes a love so great that we are willing to endanger our own lives for the sake of others. It takes a wisdom from the Father to speak through us. It takes the Holy Spirit.
I want to do God’s will in my life—whatever it is. But what is it? What is God’s will for my life? That is a question I’ve wondered many times over the years. Now I must listen for a small voice as He speaks to my heart. Listen, and wait…

My Heart Grows Weary

My body becomes stiff and my heart grows weary.
My legs get to where they can hardly stand and my head can no longer be lifted up.

I fall to my knees before You,
For still You are worthy to be praised.
With my face to the ground I worship,
For You alone are to be glorified.

You are my source of strength and Your Spirit is the air that I breathe.
You, O God, restore my soul.
You, my Lord, keep my heart uplifted.

You Give Life

 

You withstand pain that the strongest man cannot survive.
You take hold of death that mankind cannot even see.
You bear the weight of sin that is not Your own;
You take all shame upon Yourself.
You take the punishment of death and offer restoration of life.
For a life that is broken,
You give life that is new.
For life that is short,
You give life that is eternal.
For a life that is empty,
You give a life that is filled.
A life that is in darkness,
You bring into light.

A Blessing To Serve

There are many days and nights I’m dreaming about what it’ll be like one day when I’m finally able with my own two hands to help special needs orphans overseas. Sometimes I think of how I’ll be able to help them, bless them—perhaps save lives even. This may sound selfish, but other times I think of what a blessing it will be to me.

I cannot even pretend that I know what it’ll all be like, but I know one thing: it’ll be a learning experience. And, I think, in a good way. Throughout my life, as I’ve done little things here and there to help others I can say it’s done as much, if not more, good for me as for them. As I grow older and do more for others I don’t expect that to change. There’s always going to be more for me to learn and areas for me to grow.

As we minister to others around us, it’s easy to feel good about ourselves because we did some “good thing”. When we are serving others we should, in fact, feel good—but not in a proud-like way—more like incredibly blessed, thankful way. Incredibly blessed with the opportunity to serve. The opportunity to use our God-given gifts to bless others as He has blessed us. The opportunity to see healing and restoration or whatever it was we took part in. And the opportunity to learn through those things.

We shouldn’t take opportunities to serve for granted. Truly, a chance to serve is a blessing to the one who’s doing the serving. When we walk past opportunities to serve I don’t think it’s commonly known how much we’re missing out on. The love, the joy, the satisfaction it brings…we need to look for ways to serve—we’ll be glad we did!

Seeking Wisdom From The Lord

With our hands we shed innocent blood;
With our feet we walk upon broken bones.
We point our fingers and accuse;
We cast stones by our angry words.
We boast in our belongings yet they are as heavy chains about our ankles—blessed is the man who is free from them!
We claim to know more than every previous generation, but we place our hands over our ears to wisdom.
Let’s put down anger and resentment and offer hands of kindness.
Let’s walk on a path that is right, and leads to life and peace.
Let’s give to those who have need, putting our hope in the unseen.
With a humble heart, let’s seek wisdom from the Lord and our elders, and our ways will be made straight.

A Dance With Jesus

One night at a recent hospital stay I was unable to sleep, so I played some of my praise and worship music and watched out the windows at the city’s lights in deep thought. As the music played, I pictured Jesus walking up to me with a smile on his face asking to dance with me. I accepted, and as we began to dance, of course, I imagined my clumsy self stumbling around, quickly becoming red in the face. But Jesus only smiled and encouraged—giving me confidence and over time gradually helping me make the correct movements in the correct timing.

It was a long dance. There were times of asking lots of questions and quiet times of contentment. There were times of joy and times of sadness—but it was all okay. It was okay, because Jesus was always there. I was in His arms and I knew He wasn’t about to let me go. And I was very grateful for that.

Later, as I thought about these things, I thought of how so many walk away from Jesus as He offers to dance with us. He waits for us. He wants to be near us–to love us, to guide us–but it’s our choice whether to accept, and allow Him to take us into His arms.

You Still Remain

Through storms Your voice can still be heard;
In lost places You are within arms reach.

When denied, You remain faithful;
When mocked, You continue to give;
While hate rises against You, Your love remains firm.

Over all sin and shame Your forgiveness reigns.
Over darkness and regret Your light overcomes.

You call to the weary, You wait at the door for the hurting.
You desire to heal the broken heart;
You long to restore every man’s soul.

You seek after the lost and bring food to the hungry;
You satisfy in a way only You can–
What the world brings does not last,
All that it offers does not fully fill.
These things become broken;
They do not stand through strong winds.

But You, O Lord, still remain.
With Your arms stretched out You offer a place.
A place of no hurting or shame;
Where no man can bring down.
A place of restoration and peace;
Where Your love overwhelms.

Your Light Will Overcome

I look upon You, oh Lord;
Day and night I seek Your face.
You take my every thought captive;
All anger and fear becomes dry as dust—Your Spirit washes away all doubt.
You turn my tears of sadness to tears of joy;
My distress fades away.
You restore my soul and weary heart;
By Your Spirit You supply me.
Your love is not measured out, but generously given—how great is Your love, oh Lord!
In You I remain confident;
By Your strength I continue to stand.
May all glory be upon You;
Kings and servants will be at Your feet.
No darkness will prevail,
For Your light cannot be overcome.
All deceivers will be revealed,
All truths will be brought out.
You alone will be lifted high;
Only You are worthy to be praised.

Confidence

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Something I’ve observed over the years is a lack of confidence despite many efforts. All the time I’m hearing people say things like, “I am worthy”, “I am special”, “I can do this”, and “I’m proud of who I am.” …yet this seems to be one of the most insecure generations ever!

Why is that?

Well, I think one of the main reasons is it’s like we’re talking to ourselves—we’re giving ourselves a pat on the back, saying, “Great job!”

To be sure, we need encouragement. We need reminded that we are loved and special—that we matter, and can make a difference in this world. But trying to provide these things with our own words isn’t going to build our confidence quite like when it’s coming from a different source.

So where do we find it?

While we need  to have people in our lives who help keep us straight and keep us going and who share words and do things that build us up not tear us down, there is only One who can always, without fail, help us remain confident no matter what the situation—and that is Christ.

I see many saying they don’t really care what others think about their makeup, what they believe, and how many followers they have on the internet, when clearly they do care as they spend hours trying to be presentable and going with what’s popular—being people-pleasers, and really—building up their pride.

Ironically, one of the most important things to build our confidence is humility…not pride, as the world often leads us to believe. If we build ourselves up in pride we are bound to fall at any moment, simply because we are imperfect humans. Rather than taking pride in ourselves, we need to take humility in Christ. With our confidence in One who never fails, we will not be disappointed!

Let’s humbly before God place our confidence in Him knowing that He gave His life for us—we are loved. He created us—we are beautiful. He has a calling for us—we are special. He gives us power through His Holy Spirit—we are strong. This is a confidence that never fails!

Ephesians 6:10 “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.”

 

A Wisdom Unknown To Man

Who can understand all the ways of the Lord?
Who can comprehend the works of His hands?
Who knows His every thought?
How can we know the every move of One we cannot see?
How can we explain the reasoning of One so great?
When does a child understand all the ways of his father?
When do sheep comprehend the thoughts of their shepherd?
His thoughts are higher than our thoughts;
He has a wisdom unknown to man.

“Do not correct a scoffer…”

1506404985274This. We SO need this:

“He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself,
And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.
Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you;
Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.”
Prov. 9:7-8

Many times on social media I see and hear situations where people are scoffing at Christians for their faith and beliefs. Often our instinctive reaction is to stand up in defense and not always with the best attitude.

Over the years, as I’ve come across these situations there’s literally been times I opened my mouth to say something but then quickly kept to myself what I may have said—saying something just hasn’t felt right somehow. These situations have reminded me of when Jesus was tortured, scoffed at, spit upon, and crucified like none of us have ever been before. How did He react? He was silent. Later, He even said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

So, I guess my thoughts I was wanting to share tonight are that when we are in these situations, rather than being quick to defend, let’s be quick to forgive. And hard as it may be, let’s intercede for and love them as Christ has for us.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

1506342058188Okay, you’ve probably heard this before, but for real—not only for the sake of those who hear our words and see our actions, but for ourselves—who we’re known as is going to be based on what is portrayed in our lifestyle, not just our words that come out in discussions, debates and daily conversations.

I’m so frequently blown away by the hours and hours spent, particularly on the internet, of debates that are obviously pointless. Stop. Just stop. Stop and listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit and ask yourself if you are responding in a Christ-like manner. If someone has questions and is willing to learn, by all means, answer their questions in a way that directs them towards Christ, encouraging them to seek Him on their own.

Now, believe me, I’m not knocking teaching…it’s something we all need. Part of our lifestyle should be teaching one another in love. But it’s easy to think teaching is strictly words when it is far from it.

Most of Jesus’ teaching was not done from a pulpit, but by walking side by side with His disciples amongst the lost and hurting. He seldom used words to teach them how to forgive others, show love to complete strangers, to fellowship with one another, to give, to be humble and respectful, and to seek after God and fully surrender.

He actually DID these things!

He ate with the sinners, He forgave, He fellowshipped. The words that He did speak He spoke in love to those willing to hear while living it out. What if He had only ever used words, and never actually lived them out? What if He had said to go to the sinners, the lame, the blind, the hurting, the beggars…and never actually did it Himself, but rather all He ever did was have discussions with the Pharisees? It would hardly paint the same picture or convey the same message. That is not the Jesus we read of in scripture.

As we’re learning things, let’s put them to good use and teach them as we live them out—not limiting it to ourselves and pointless conversations.

In other words, don’t be like the Pharisees…be like Jesus. 😉

He Who Makes Me Strong

My God, who loves me, brings victory to my soul.
Every fear He overcomes;
His joy breaks down all distress.

Through all pain he comforts my heart;
In all valleys He sustains me.
He is my protector;
The strongest of men cannot take me from Him.

He has laid before me the way to go;
He corrects me when I stray from it.
For every challenge He prepares me;
Through every hardship it is He who makes me strong.

Acceptance

1505610755832Jesus is so accepting towards us. We do wrong against him, sin, we’re broken, hurting—and sometimes flat-out hateful—but He is willing to accept us anyways.

Similarly, there are going to be people who do wrong against us. We will experience things we don’t deserve and there will be times we go through that are just plain hard. It is so critical that we be willing to accept these things!

To forgive, to love those who hate, to accept the painful, hard times as Jesus has for us. It is amazing the burden that is carried away from us when we learn to accept!

When we have hatred in our hearts there is less room for love, and we are hurting ourselves more than those whom we hate. When we dwell in our mistakes, weaknesses, and sadness, we are giving it a chance to grow and overtake our lives—leaving no room for strength, true success, and joy.

As Jesus went through just about the hardest time ever in the giving of His life, He got through it and is our Perfect Example of true strength, success, and joy that isn’t just temporary, but eternal.

So let’s look for things that we need to accept and not allow them to have a negative impact on our lives. Rather, let’s look for ways that we can learn, grow, and give through them.

 

 

The Easy Road Or The Right Road?

We make ourselves content with what the world has to offer;
We become proud with our earthly possessions.
We are vain of our fleshly being,
While allowing our hearts to become filthy.
We ask and expect so much,
While hardly giving more than empty words.
We are quick to receive grace and mercy while turning our heads from Your correction.
Instead of seeking You we follow the crowd;
Our discipleship is replaced by shallow friendship.
We serve when it is convenient and not too hard;
We give when we have no need.
We speak when we will receive no ridicule and our voice will be heard;
We say Your name when we will not be mocked.
We live in fear instead of by faith;
We walk where it is easy,
Not the straight narrow road.
We trust in ourselves,
Rather than our Creator;
We live for ourselves,
Rather than for our Savior.
We hear words,
But don’t take them to heart;
We allow only our outside to be seen while hiding what’s within.
Make our ways straight, O God;
Renew our hearts and minds to be more like Yours.
Open our eyes to Your truth and ears to Your wisdom;
Prepare us to receive Your Holy Spirit so that we may worship You in all our ways.
Replace our fear with confidence in You;
May our faith stand strong as You lead us on.

You Know What Is Right

O Lord, You know every part of my being;

No thought, word, or deed goes unnoticed.

Search my heart, O God;

Bring out any evil that is in me.

Guide me in a way that is good,

You know the way that is right for me.

You bring light into darkness;

You reveal to us our enemies so we cannot be fooled.

We cannot be brought down,

For You are greater.

We cannot be taken away,

For You are stronger.

The victory has already been achieved;

Every battle has already been won.

Each One Will Be Accounted For

We are as tiny ants that wander the earth yet You know us by name.
We curse You and do what is shameful yet You refine us and make us holy.
We doubt and deny Your existence yet You show us mercy and forgiveness.
May we fall to our knees in worship;
Let our faces come to the ground as Your servants.
No one who defies You will continue to stand;
Anger and hate will be brought down.
The jealous and the proud will not be satisfied,
But will tear themselves apart.
Your children who serve You will be brought to their feet;
For those who glorify Your name You prepare a better place.
Not one of Your servants will be left out,
Each one will be accounted for.

Our House

You, oh Lord, are our Shield and Protector;
When the enemy comes You bring us to a safe place.
Evil comes from behind where we cannot see,
But You look upon us and guide us away from its reach.
Where the wicked ensnare and bring death to the innocent,
You lead us on to a prosperous land.
On Your foundation our house will always stand;
Built on Your cornerstone it cannot be brought down.

Who Am I?

Who am I that you have looked upon me?
Who am I that you have laid Yourself down for me?
I have broken Your laws yet You make my ways straight.
I stumble and fall but You bring me to my feet.
I become broken but You make me whole again.
I become weak but You make me strong.
I become discouraged but You renew the life that is in me.
You show mercy and receive me as Your child.
Never will I deserve the grace You have shared.
There is no place I would rather be than in Your presence, my almighty Father.

One God Alone

May all who are hungry bless the Lord and His name!
Honor His Word in all you do so you will not be put to shame.
The proud will crumble, the stubborn brought to their knees,
There is no place at the King’s table for men such as these.
Make known to all people the goodness of our Lord:
Darkness cannot overcome the blood that He has poured.
His love is greater than all hatred on this earth.
He offers us new bodies—a chance of a new birth.
This life He gives cannot be taken;
His Kingdom above cannot be shaken.
Rejoice in the Lord, may your faith be made strong.
May we live in one accord,
As He comes before too long.
Even the wicked will bow at His throne;
All will see one God alone.

Who Has Control?

Teenage Problems, Social Issues and Bullying“It’s hopeless.” “There’s nothing I can do.” “It never ends.” “I’m broken.” “I’m scared.” Pain. Sadness. Darkness. … These are things that Satan will try and slip into our thoughts and feelings day and night as long as we allow him to.

I know many will say, “But you don’t know what I’m going through.” or “You just don’t understand.” and you’re probably right. I probably don’t know or understand. Everybody is different. But no matter what we’re going through, we can choose what to do about it. When we’re opening up our ears to what Satan has to tell us, we are letting him take advantage of us! God has made you worthy of so much more than that!

God is not a god of evil, hate, anger, sadness, etc. When we allow these things in our lives, they come between us and God–replacing His love, joy, and peace. We are allowing a wall to be built around us shutting out the good and containing darkness. We are allowing ourselves to be chained up rather than set free. Who wants that?

We need to ask ourselves what it is we truly want…not just accept whatever is put in front of us. We go through hard things in life–it’s not a perfect world. A lot of times when we’re going through something, we assume certain feelings and reactions go along with the package and we just have to accept it. This is not the case.

Someone can steal from you, and you can choose whether to be angry or forgiving. Someone can be diagnosed with a life-threatening condition and choose to live in fear or peace knowing they have eternity with God. Someone can make a mistake and hate themselves, or they can accept God’s forgiveness and live in joy knowing they’re fearfully and wonderfully made.

Let’s replace Satan’s thoughts with, “I messed up, but God has forgiven and made me new.” “I’ve been broken, but God has healed me.” “My body is weak, but He keeps my spirit strong.” “Satan pulls me down, but God lifts me up.” “Some make me angry, but I will forgive as Christ forgave me.” “I was afraid, but I’ve been reminded that God is greater than all things.” “I used to only see hate, but now I see God’s love.” “I didn’t think I could have joy again, but God’s joy is far greater than Satan’s darkness.” 

Don’t let Satan have his way. He will pull you into constant tears and misery if given the consent. This is your life…are you giving it over to God, or to Satan?

My Voice Is Heard

I cry out to my God and He hears me;
I call upon His name and my voice is heard.
I look upon His face and He sees me;
I run towards Him and He reaches for my hand.
I open my heart before Him and any darkness is taken out.
All fear and doubt slips away;
All sin and evil has been overcome.
No hate or anger is greater than His love;
No shadows can cover His light.

Allowing God To Rain—Being Made Clean

1504093198378Coming home this evening with my family from a visit to my grandparents we had just had rain and you could tell simply from the air. It had that fresh, cleanliness about it—where you just want to stop, take a slow, deep breath and enjoy it for a few moments.

It got me to thinking of how important it is for us to allow God to let His rain fall in our lives. It reminded me of His blood and how it washes away our sins and makes us holy.

Living in this world, the air that we breathe very easily becomes polluted. Similarly, what we are breathing in as Christians can easily become intoxicated by what’s around us as we are hardly in a perfect world. But if we allow Him to, God can wash away the hate, anger, selfishness, pride–the evil–by His love and precious blood. We don’t have to allow these things into our lives. He can fill us instead with the air that is pure–the wind of His Holy Spirit.

To do this we must come to Him. Out of the darkness. It’s easy to hide away where a lot of the pollution goes unnoticed especially when we don’t particularly want to see it. Something that has caught my attention is how there are many things you don’t see until you’re in the light. When we see the sun’s rays shining in a window you can see dust and tiny things floating in the air that you couldn’t see before. Likewise, if we look towards the light, (God) we will see unhealthy things that need taken out of our lives that has before gone unnoticed.

Let’s do some examining in God’s light. Not only of ourselves, but what we are taking in—what we are breathing in on a daily basis. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable at first, but it’s what we very much need…and afterwards can be so refreshing!

His Mysterious Works

My God brings rest to my soul;
He calms my spirit within me.
By His hand I am lifted;
I am carried away from every darkness.
All shadows are behind me;
I stand before His glorious light.
The Lord of love fills my heart to overflowing,
There is no place left unfilled.
He brings peace to my mind and relief to my bones;
His strength brings life to my body–He keeps me upright.
His feet are firm upon the ground;
No man can make them move.
His strength cannot be measured,
Nor can we understand it.
Great and mighty are His ways,
Mysterious are the works of my Father.

Yet To Be Discovered

Your joy and peace extend beyond the world;
Your love heals every broken heart.
The seen and the unseen reveal Your majesty,
The known and the unknown surround every living thing.
So much of Your work is yet to be discovered;
So little of Your creation is yet to be understood.
Not one can grasp the mind of God;
No man can comprehend it.

I Find Hope And Peace

Your face is beautiful, oh Lord;
Your hands gentle but strong.
You look upon me with eyes of love and kindness.
You wipe away my every tear and bring healing to my soul.
You bring me out of every darkness and free me from the chains of the enemy.
You make my brokenness into something beautiful;
My weakness You make into something strong.
You have taken me into Your arms as Your child,
Nothing can pull me away.
You surround me with Your presence,
By Your Spirit I find hope and peace.

Where Our Eyes Are Set

IMG_6139“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

It is SO critically important where our eyes are set. Many times we only see what is right before us, whether it be joy or sadness, comfort or pain, healing or brokenness.

While we can’t always choose the here-and-now, it is our choice where we have our eyes set. We are in a fallen world, and there will be negative things in our lives as long as we are here on earth. Jesus Himself, who was far undeserving, lived a life of endurance and sacrifice for our sake and the joy of having us as His own children by His own choice.

If our lives are in His Book of Life as His children running the race with our eyes fixed on Him, we should be laying at His feet every weight–every fear, doubt, sin, sadness, brokenness–and allow it to be replaced with confidence in our faith, hope, restoration, healing, and joy. To do this, we absolutely must continuously remind ourselves that our lives here on earth are only a small, tiny, fraction of our eternal lives with God! When our eyes are fixed outside the boundaries of this world and time it can give us an entirely different mindset, way of thinking, and perspective. It is quite different than having the mind of this world, and SO relieving! It brings a peace that no one but God can give!

Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and not be caught up in the here-and-now. Let’s run the race with no turning back.


About an hour after sharing this post, God laid this song upon my heart like never before to share with this:

We Will Make It

 

IMG_6125Often my mind is quite far away, thinking of children that are hurting and hungry. Children that because of their special needs aren’t given the chance to experience being a child, to know what it is to be loved. I dream night and day of when I am able to hold one in my arms, to be surrounded by these precious gifts that have been hidden away in one place to stay for all their years. To bring joy into their eyes for the first time.

How I will ever reach this point, I don’t know. How long it will be before I can be of any help to these hearts that are yearning I can’t predict. But God will make a way where there seems to be no way.

Wherever God leads us, if we are following, nothing can get in the way. There will be things that seem to get in the way that are actually better preparing us. It takes faith, patience, and a whole lot of perseverance, but if it’s where God is leading us He will get us there.

We have to trust that if it’s where He wants us, we will make it.

If I Could Change My Body

Woman watching the horizon sunsetIf I could change one thing about my body what would it be? This is actually a question I’ve asked myself before, and my answer would be nothing. Not because it’s particularly what my body wants as much as because I know it’s what will allow me to best glorify God, and what is best for me eternally.

I have epilepsy, and it’s not been easy. I currently can’t work, can’t drive, and just had brain surgery. No matter how difficult, there’s a reason God created me the way He did and allows me to go through what I go through. Sometimes I wonder if I had a more normal life what I would be like. Would I be more selfish? Proud? There is no way for me to know exactly, but I do know I couldn’t ask for a better plan than God’s plan.

He has eyes that see what I can’t see; He knows what I don’t know. He is outside the boundaries of time and has an understanding I will never have. I know for sure that I’ve learned SO much from going through what I’ve gone through, and honestly, I think it has affected me in a positive way.

So, my point is, instead of saying, “I wish…” say, “There’s a reason…” Instead of being stubborn we need to be willing to learn. We need to be willing to be broken.

The Grasp of Doubt

My God delivers me from fear of the enemy;
He takes me away from the grasp of doubt.
He lifts me up when I begin to sink;
He brings peace through every storm.
Through every trial He carries me,
In every pain He gives me strength;
He sustains me through every trouble.
He brings healing to my brokenness and guides me in the way I should go.
He knows me from my first to last breath;
On His path He will lead me.
Every way He puts before me He will guide my heart;
He prepares me for His work.
In His hands He holds me;
With His light His glory is shown.
My life is within His arms;
Not my will, but His will will be completed.

A Simple Life But With A Calling

Sitting outside in the woods in my tiny little garden on a spring morning, listening to nothing but the sound of the birds, just me and God…one of my favorite ways to spend my time as a teen growing up. Unusual, perhaps, but beautiful. Beautiful and perfect.

I’m pretty introverted, but at the same time I’m not afraid to get out and do something different. I don’t want a normal life. I want to make a difference in the world for the better. It took me awhile to reach that point, but I’m here.

Feel free to laugh at this–I laugh at myself for it sometimes–but growing up I’ve always been intrigued by nuns and how they live. Now, I’m not Catholic, but just the simple way of life they have, with a humility and love seen in what doesn’t seem like could be much more of a sacrifice of their life, somehow seems so peaceful and perfect to me.

For awhile I pretty much wanted something not too far different…to be out of this world as possible. Get away—live in the middle of nowhere if need be. When I looked at the world around me, I didn’t like what I saw. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it.

When I was around 20 years old, God placed right in front of me something that changed everything.

Without even looking for any job of the kind, I was asked to be a personal care attendant for a special needs child. I took the job, started working within three days, and I began to see things I had been so blind to before. I began to realize that around the world there are thousands and thousands who are hurting—spiritually and physically.

God opened my eyes to see more clearly that He wants more from us than just a relationship with Him. While our relationship with Him should come first, He also wants us to be sharing His love with others in a tangible way. We were meant to make a difference in this world. We all have a calling. I realized how selfish my way of thinking had been, and He slowly but surely has continued to help me focus on Him in a way that opens my eyes to do what He has called me to do.

I’ve got a long way to go, but hey, that’s life! ;D

Born Again

“And the vessel that he had made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter; so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make.”
Jeremiah 18:4

We are far from perfect—nor can we make ourselves to be—but we can choose to allow God to reform us into something beautiful. It requires letting Him hold us in His hands and allowing Him to reshape our lives, many times quite drastically.

“No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and the tear is made worse. Nor do they put new wine in old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But they put new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”
Matthew 9:16-17

I think we often try to hold onto parts of our old lives that are hard to let go rather than fully surrendering to God, and this quickly creates a problem. As long as we are holding onto our old bodies—our old ways, traditions, lifestyle, selfish desires, and such—we are naturally going to be rejecting God without even meaning to. We aren’t going to be ready to receive His Spirit and His blood upon us to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. We won’t have His desires within us. We won’t be fully equipped to share the gospel as long as we are like this.

I might as well say it: it’s not easy—not if we’re doing this 100%. It takes a continuous surrendering, but it is worth it. Let’s allow God to fully renew our bodies so that He can fill us to overflowing with His Holy Spirit, His desires, His strength, His love, His wisdom, His peace, His joy, and so much more.

Make The Most Of It

There are many things we have no control over, but it is still up to us how we accept those things and react to them.

What got me to thinking about this was a few weeks ago at a doctor’s office for a pre-op appointment. While in the waiting room I noticed that literally everyone there was doing something on their phone. I have an iPhone myself, and there have been many times I’ve been waiting doing who-knows-what on my phone, but when I noticed this I didn’t like what I saw, and soon decided I wanted to do something about it.

I didn’t particularly want to be in a doctor’s office waiting room–who would? But I’ve been realizing something: no matter what our situation is, we should be seeing it as an opportunity.

Despite the fact that it seemed like there wasn’t anything else to do, I put away my phone. Before long I was able to strike up a conversation with someone. Nothing of great significance, but still–it was a conversation. Though I didn’t have the chance to share the gospel in the short time we were talking, it was enough time to communicate to the person that they are noticed and respected; a person can look at them and smile.

Small things like this can mean a lot more to someone than we might think—and I’m saying this from experience. I distinctly remember the few conversations others have started with me throughout the years. People who didn’t know me that came over and gave a compliment or just started talking about something completely random in such a kind way. They’ve been very uplifting and encouraging—I don’t easily forget them.

There have been many times where I was not feeling well and let that get the better of me by being impatient or unkind. I have no control over not feeling well, but I can choose how to react. No matter what our circumstances or what we own, we are capable of impacting others in a good way or a bad way. It is our choice.

It’s easy to let opportunities slip by while being distracted, or we can simply be unwilling to step out and do something for the benefit of others. This is a selfish way of living, and whether we realize it or not, living selfishly is not healthy for us as an individual.

So let’s make the most of whatever our situation is, and make a difference in someone else’s life for the better.

What is your “focus”?

As I believe I have mentioned in a few previous posts, I will soon be getting brain surgery. (July 26th to be exact…prayers appreciated!) We are hoping to find the “focus” of where my seizures are starting from and remove it to stop seizures.

So, trying to learn something from this, I was thinking how everybody is different. Not everyone has epilepsy. Not everyone who has epilepsy has a “focus”–a part of the brain that if removed can prevent seizures.

It reminded me of how everybody is different and what may be a problem for one may not be for another. For example, some things may be fine or even good for one, while for another that same thing may cause them to fall into sin, lead them away from Christ, or both.

We all sin. No matter how hard we try, we simply can’t be perfect. However, we can and should run from sin and towards Christ. Sometimes there are things in our lives that aren’t inherently bad, but are unhealthy or even toxic for us as an individual.

With my surgery/hospital stay, most of the time will be spent carefully analyzing seizures to find where exactly they’re starting—the surgery itself will only be a small fraction of the hospital stay. Similarly, where our problems are coming from can be quite a precarious task, and often times harder than actually taking care of the problem itself, but it is quite critical that we are doing this.

Many times we look for a quick fix–try taking out one thing, that doesn’t work, try something else, etc.–and that can easily make things even more complicated. One thing we can be sure of, and that’s that God knows exactly what our problems are. So guess who we need to go to if we want to find the root of our problems? Yep. You guessed it. God doesn’t hide these things from us, but if we’re not careful, our natural human tendency is to ask with our hands over our ears because we’re not so sure we’re going to like the answer.

Something I want to be sure to communicate is that no one is a perfect listener. It’s something that we can mature in, but as long as we are in our earthly bodies we aren’t going to have perfect ears. There’s been more times than one where I thought there was something I needed taken out of my life that I later realized I was wrong. But that’s ok. It is better to risk being overly-careful than being neglectful.

So, we need to take our hands off our ears and listen. Is there something that perhaps may be having a negative impact on your life that God may be asking you to take away, either for a time or permanently?

Is Christianity Decreasing?

As I’ve heard more and more of the percentage of the American population that claim to be Christians decreasing, it has really got me to wondering how many truly know what Christianity is. Perhaps I am seeing this wrong, but what I am seeing is less people claiming to be Christians who weren’t truly Christians in the first place. Not all, but a huge part of what America considers “Christianity”, has become very shallow and insincere. I think a lot of it is because much of the modern-day church has become very fact-based.

When I look around me and see the amazing detail of the creation of the world and how we can’t make a single blade of grass I wonder how people could even doubt God’s existence. The way so many things function—where if one single detail were off it wouldn’t work at all…can this really be a coincidence?

But I am slowly beginning to see that as I grew up in a Christian home, I had faith in Christ first—before all the details. And that’s where real Christianity starts—with faith.

God didn’t go to the Pharisees and perform a miracle to prove Himself. He went to the sick, the hurting, the hungry…those who were seeking and willing to step out in faith. God then reveals Himself to those who put their faith in Him.

A lot of the Christian church has been trying to prove themselves with facts—but to no avail because many non-believers already have their own “faith”. They already have something they believe, that they’ve grown up being taught and you simply can’t replace faith with facts. There’s nothing wrong with having facts, to be sure. I’ve been very fascinated by the history of the Church and all the details of God’s creation, but it’s not where my faith is based.

There’s something I have to give atheists  credit for, and ironically, it’s their faith. Their strong belief that there is no God. It’s not really something they can prove, but nonetheless, they believe it.

A religion that stands is going to be one that is based on faith. It’s where your heart is set, what no words any man can say will convince you otherwise. Sadly, a lot of Christianity is no longer faith-based. What I’ve been seeing is as there have been so many discoveries and the world has learned new things, a lot of sincere Christians with a faith-based religion mistakenly have been raising up a generation of fact-based religion…which does not stand very long.

And this generation I am speaking of is not our current generation, but previous generations. There was a period in time where many families were growing up saying, “Well, the Bible says it, so it must be true.”, and “good people” keep the Ten Commandments and go to church. This is hardly “faith” that is being passed down, but facts.

I believe the decline of people who claim to be “Christians” is people who never had a faith-based relationship with Christ in the first place. Many grew up in “Christian” homes that literally had no faith…just facts. And then as they grew up, became more independent and were out in the world they were quickly surrounded by a “faith”, but not a faith in Christ…a faith that there is no God.

We need to realize that Christianity takes faith…without it, it won’t stand. Don’t build your life and family on facts, but faith in God and His Word to us. True faith won’t decline, but will grow.

What Faith Can Do

Even if it seems impossible, that’s ok. Even if I have no idea how I’m going to reach the goals before me, that’s ok. Even if I can’t say exactly where I’m going, that’s ok. Because God is great, and He knows. With faith in Him I can reach the impossible, I can go further than I’ve ever dreamed possible, and can achieve things that I hadn’t even thought of achieving. He is my God. He goes before me and knows the way I am to go…nothing can come between me and God.

Facing Our Problems

We’ve all got problems. Who doesn’t? It’s a part of life. Where it becomes a BIG problem is when it’s not taken care of. The roots of the problem grow deeper, and it becomes a lot more to deal with…more than we can deal with on our own.

Identify
Before a problem can be worked out, we have to know that it’s there, and what exactly the problem is. We can usually tell when something isn’t right, though sometimes if we’ve been ignoring it for a long time or have put our hands over our ears to God it becomes as though it isn’t even there. Sometimes it takes some digging to find out what exactly it is, but with the power of the Holy Spirit, God will help us see what needs healed or removed from our lives. Until we find out what it is, we can hardly do anything about it.

God is Bigger
Thankfully, our God is able to handle ANY problem, no matter how big. But in order for that to happen we have to lay it down at His feet and give Him control.

The Roots
Once God reveals to us what it is that needs healing or removed, we need to find the ROOT of the problem—what has caused it, where it is from, and what can be done to prevent it from happening/being there again. Sometimes there are things that we need taken away or something we are used to doing that needs to stop. It’s not always easy to do, but without being willing to remove the root of the problem, the problem will likely grow back.

Healing and Restoration
As children of God, He is our Protector, our Healer, our Guide, and so much more. It is in Him that our trust should be found. No matter how much it may hurt to take away things that need taken away, God is able to heal, restore, and bring things into our lives that are MUCH better. He brings a satisfaction that nothing and no one else can bring.

So let’s not ignore our problems any longer, but rather face up to them allowing God to heal and restore. We’ll be glad we did.

Our Fullest Potential: God’s Will

Everyone is in a different situation, but no matter what country you grew up in, culture, religion, wealthy or poor, there’s something we can all have, and that is potential.

What is your potential? Our potential is often much more than we realize because we’re often determining by our own mind what our potential is, rather than allowing God to do the determining. Without a doubt, God’s will for us is our fullest potential. He has created each of us with unique gifts, knows our every need, our every strength, our every weakness, and how we can best live our lives in a way that glorifies Him and spreads the gospel of His love. So, really, this question falls back on asking God: “What is Your will for my life?”

Asking this question like you mean it is a daring question; accepting the response even more so as it is not always what we want or on our own timeframe. A lot of times we’re going to wish we could have a complete layout of what God’s will is for the rest of our lives—it sometimes seems like it’d be easier that way. But why would we want that? Most likely because it would make us feel like we’re in control and give us confidence in both ourselves and in what we are doing…and that could be a problem. It would lessen our confidence in Christ, faith, patience, trust, reliance on Him, and would very quickly make us feel like we no longer need to stay in constant tune with Him, which would be very dangerous.

There are many reasons—many of which we don’t know—that God doesn’t reveal everything in great detail for the next several decades of our lives. We just need to remember that if we are in close communion with God we will know what we need to know when we need to know it. God knows our fullest potential, and if we are willing to accept it, we can be sure He is going to one-by-one open and close every door as necessary to reach that point.

So, if we are seeking with sincerity God’s will for our life, even when we hardly know what the next day is going to bring we can take each step with confidence in Christ—knowing that we are living our lives to the fullest potential.

A Lasting Strength

Through the crashing waves our Lord speaks;
By the rolling thunder His voice is known.
He calls us out to step in faith,
to follow where He leads.
He reaches down and guides us on to where we’re meant to be.
His Spirit in our hearts is placed;
He makes His presence known.
His love for us can’t be erased;
His magnificence is shown.
Everywhere is seen His mighty hand and a quite intricate art;
A lasting strength that doesn’t fade–it can’t be torn apart.

“Just keep swimming!”

As I’m doing all the learning I can from books, lectures, and studying to hopefully one day be able to help special needs orphans, there are many times it feels like I’m getting nowhere, as there is no fruit to be seen, I have soooo much more to learn, and really, always will.

It’s easy to be discouraged and quit when there is no fruit seen of our efforts. But we shouldn’t be discouraged. What is happening is our roots are becoming stronger and deeper. Our branches are thickening and spreading further, preparing to be able to hold the weight of the fruit. This part of the process of fruit-bearing is so very important to a good, healthy harvest!

It takes determination, motivation, discipline, and many other things to keep going, but if we choose to, we CAN keep going. (And this is where I picture a cheerful Dory saying, “Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming…”)

I think we all have different ways/things that help us keep going, and it’s important we find what those things are. Something I’d say we all need is accountability: people that ask us regularly how it’s going, what we’ve been working on, encourage us to keep going, and are caring enough to tell us when we’re slacking or overdoing it. Something that helps me is reminding myself of what in the world I’m preparing for, and what needs are out there that I hope to help with one day.

So, if you don’t have that accountability, get some. If you don’t even know what your goals are, make some, but get the accountability first. Sometimes others can see what we are capable of better than we can see ourselves, can help us set goals, and then help us reach them.

And remember: it’s a process. Sometimes it’s long and hard, but it’s worth it. 

 

 

Is God Our Focus?

What should our life be like if we are keeping our focus on God?

1. Praising Him
You may wonder why I began with praising Him. Well, it is easy to praise God in the rare situations that everything is perfect and things just seem to be falling into place…but what about when we’ve lost a loved one, we feel like we’re failing, or just have no idea what in the world we should be doing? It is these times that it can be the hardest to praise God—but it’s these times where it is most needed, for our own sake.

By praising Him anyway, it helps us remind ourselves of our priceless blessings of eternal life, God’s love, mercy, and grace that are way more than anyone else can give. It helps us shift from regret, fear, anxiety, and sadness, to contentment, faith, peace, and joy.

“My lips will shout for joy, when I sing praises to you; my soul also, which you have redeemed.”
Psalm 71:23

2. Following Him
Especially since I lost my license, (due to my epilepsy) I can TOTALLY be a backseat driver. I probably don’t have to get into too much detail to say that it’s not typically something that brings good results, and neither does trying to tell God where we need to go. There’s many times I need God to tell me something like, “Will you just let me drive?”

He can see far down the road while we can only see what’s right in front of us. We need to give Him control. If our focus is on God, then He is in front of us doing the steering.

3. Listen, talk, listen, talk…
Obviously, if we are a Christ-follower we need to have good communication with Him, commonly known as prayer. It’s easy to put our communication with God in a box–a certain timeframe of the day only, giving Him no attention the rest of the day. But what kind of relationship is that? He’s always with you, and doesn’t only speak through words.

Watch out for situations where there is someone in front of you in need and listen to see if God is asking you to help that person. When someone gives you encouraging words, don’t only thank them, but thank God who likely was speaking through them. Look for situations where He may do the same through you.

5. Relying on Him
We should be desperately seeking God for help, not placing our trust in the world or ourselves. While He many times helps us through others, we need to understand that it is still from Him. He alone should be our source of strength, wisdom, love, patience, and many other attributes that are critical to living our lives as a true follower.

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
Psalm 121:1-2

I started to add a sixth thing on sharing the gospel but then stopped myself as I thought of something. (It’s amazing what you can learn from blogging! 😉) I felt like that would indicate it being something we should take the lead in when it’s not. If we are in constant communication with God, relying on Him, letting Him take the lead with a desire for His will, then His will will come about, including the spreading of the gospel. We need to focus on following Him, and let Him take care of the rest.

(Okay, just curious who noticed I skipped four? 😜)

 

Despite the Clouds

1499576730603Taking trash out after a shower, in my pj’s with wet hair, stepping outside into the dark—beautiful picture, right? 😉 Well, putting that aside, there was something about the cool breeze and the beautiful stars that caught my attention and I was soon sitting on the porch steps stargazing in deep thought.

As my family will soon be moving out-of-state, one of my first thoughts was that it is getting closer to the last times of sitting out on the porch looking at the stars while living in this home, in this town, and in this state. Looking around at the many different constellations, I soon thought of how they never change. When we move and I’m out stargazing again, each star will be the same as before.

I began to think of how God never changes. We go through different chapters of our lives on earth as time passes by, where many things can be drastically different, but still, God is the same as He ever was and always will be. If we allow Him to be our foundation, we can be a part of a house that will never fall and a home where death itself has no effect.

One last thought I want to share, is as when clouds keep us from seeing the stars, when there are things that make it difficult to see God it shouldn’t affect our understanding that God is still there. Despite the clouds, He is ALWAYS there.

Instant Gratification

The desire for instant gratification in this country has grown astronomically over the years. When we want something, we want it NOW…and this doesn’t just apply to physical things such as a car, a house, a movie right when it comes out, or an awesome cell phone upgrade with all the new features. There are other things we desire to have without too much effort such as achievement, respect, honor, healthy relationships, and the fruit or reward of our hard work.

As we’ve become more and more impatient, we’ve been trying to satisfy ourselves with things we can easily access or achieve. We’ve been satisfying ourselves with all the times people accept or send friend requests on Facebook instead of truly bonding with others as Jesus did with His disciples. We choose our occupation based on what pays the best and isn’t too difficult of a goal to reach. We accept what only gives us satisfaction for the moment rather than a lasting memory. We do kind things for others just to make ourselves feel good, though deep down we know we are capable of doing even more.

We need to stop settling for the instant and fight for the authentic. It takes time, discipline, faith, love, grace, trust, and a whole lot more but that’s a part of the journey and it’s worth it.

Don’t give up. Keep pressing on.

 

 

Don’t Lose Hope—But Check It.

Whether it is in our job, our family, our friends, or things we own, it is so easy to put our hope in all the wrong places.

“And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, that in my flesh I shall see God.”
Job 19:26

There is a special kind of hope that nothing can take away. This is something I’ve been learning more and more as I’ve lost my job, my car, my license, and am getting closer to surgery. I should still have a positive mind and be thankful for what I have, (like my family who loves me, the roof over my head, and the food on my plate) but not put my hope in those things. We should be able to go through the unthinkable—losing every tangible thing on earth but still not lose hope when it is firmly placed in Christ.

“And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You. Deliver me from my transgressions…”
(Psalms 39:7-8a)

So often we forget how we have been saved from eternal death, and not only that, but that we have the gift of eternal life! We take it for granted. It sometimes has little to no effect on how we live our lives.

Why?

Well, as humans, we tend to be very self-minded. We tend to think about the here-and-now, not really taking the future outside the boundaries of time for ourselves or others into consideration.

It is so easy to get distracted. If we want to truly live for Christ we have to continually ask ourselves who and what we are living for, then watch what we are doing and how we are spending our time to see if they go together. Often times they don’t and we simply don’t realize it.

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Colossians 3:2

We need to be setting our minds on things above, not on things on earth, or we are bound to be disappointed and discouraged—to lose hope.

“Instead we ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.'”
James 4:15

This verse has stuck out to me a lot over the years. There are things I would like to do one day. I love helping children with special needs. I’ve been working towards it and would like to one day be able to do it in some way if the Lord wills. For quite awhile, I was saying, “I hope to do that one day.” (and still catch myself saying that when I’m not giving it much thought) But ultimately, I’ve learned I need to hope for what God wants. I’ve learned what I think is best isn’t always what is best.

This has caused me (in a good way, I think) to refocus; to not only try to set goals that will glorify God and reflect Him in my life, but doing it with the mindset that if the Lord wills, it will happen. Knowing that if somehow it doesn’t happen, then it simply wasn’t God’s will for my life.

So, my point is: Though hard it may sometimes be, we need to be thanking Him for what He blesses us with and accepting what is taken away. We need to continue to strive to honor God with our hope in Him, knowing that no matter what happens, He loves us, He is with us, and we have eternity with Him.

This is a hope that will never be let down and cannot be broken.

——————–

“My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.”

God’s Love

PicsArt_1365227845523

We cannot have love if we don’t know the Creator,
We cannot share love without its Initiator.

Love cannot stay where hate still resides,
We cannot be filled without the One who provides.

Its very existence is unstoppable,
Without God we are incapable.

Love is something that can’t be substituted,
It is where our lives should always be rooted.

Don’t Fight God

“But…but…why? What about…?”

It’s easy to find ourselves questioning God—what He allows, His motives, and what He desires for us. But we can’t see the big picture. We aren’t outside the boundaries of time. There is a lot we simply don’t know, can’t see, and there’s a good chance we never will see.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with asking questions. What’s easy to miss is that continuously questioning God is fighting Him. Where it becomes a problem is when we don’t receive an answer right away or don’t like the answer, and then refuse to accept it.

Not fighting God doesn’t mean giving up.

One of the most challenging, brave things to do is trust when we don’t understand. We need to choose our battle. There is plenty out in the world to fight against, and it’s very dangerous when what we’re fighting is ourselves or God. When we do that, what we are doing is allowing Satan to control our lives. (Who else would better want us to fight God?)

We need to remember who we are fighting and how. God is our King, but if all we are doing is questioning Him we aren’t allowing Him to reign. He is our Defender, but if we are defending ourselves against Him we are not allowing Him to defend us. He is our Guide, but if we are trying to guide Him we certainly aren’t allowing Him to guide us.

Let’s turn around, face our real enemy, and allow God to be our Victor.

Selfish Fear

One of my least favorite words: Fear.

As I’ve shared in previous posts, I very much want to help children with special needs. Even more than that, I don’t want to live a shallow life knowing with faith in Christ I could’ve accomplished so much more.

I wish I could say I’m living fearlessly, but nope…there are still plenty of times I am afraid. I am afraid I won’t be good enough or will be unprepared. I’m wondering if it’s worth the risk—if it is a risk I am willing to take.

Something that God reminds me that helps keep me going is that living in fear is selfish.

I’m going to try and give an example. Let’s just suppose you somehow know in a couple weeks you’re going to be near deep water where people could easily drown if they don’t know how to swim, and you somehow know you are going to be in a situation where you are the only one who can save a child from drowning if you have the skills to do so. Now, suppose you don’t have the skills to yet, but you have the time to learn. Would you be willing to learn so this child has the chance to live? I would hope so. Being afraid to learn to swim, afraid you won’t swim fast enough, afraid of the water—that would be a selfish fear.

A lot of us are living in this selfish fear. We should be doing our best to “learn to swim”. We should be willing to “jump in”, even if we’re not 100% sure our effort will be a success.

So, is this selfish fear keeping you from doing anything for the benefit of others?

Reflection

1498682497718.jpegA glimmer and light in ripples they flow,
temporary reflections of the person they show,
A mirror, an image, a face they perceive,
Making a man think that he truly believes.
He walks away and forgets what his natural face was,
the Word is not shown in all that he does.
He was a hearer of words, but didn’t take them to heart.
He saw the example but he still took no part.
He has now been deceived, but of his own choice.
He will live for his pleasure, temporarily rejoice.
His happiness will fade as the truth is revealed,
That he has put off for later, and that has been concealed.
The facts of life are often ignored,
it’s our choice now to listen, rather than keep it all stored.
Why wait till the end, and be filled with regret?
When we still have the choice that we haven’t made yet?
Make it now while there’s time, be prepared, watch and pray.
The hour is soon coming, when before us may lay,
The consequences of what we have chosen to be, what could have been erased, we could have been free.
Yes, there are struggles, we may suffer in our choice,
There will be trials and often pains, but even through it we rejoice.
Be glad in the Lord, he has paid for our sin. Examine yourselves. This faith…are you in?

Taste and See that the Lord is Good

IMG_5744I’ve been trying really hard lately to eat healthy. Pretty much living off of smoothies with fruit, veggies, protein, nuts, grains and such. (Maybe I should’ve said drink healthy. 😛) After a couple weeks or so I got used to the change and now I really like them.

Just a few moments ago I was offered some chocolate pudding, (Okay, I know this sounds really random but hold on a minute, I’m going somewhere with this lol) I took one bite and thought something was wrong with it. I looked at the packaging and tried to figure out what was wrong with it—I usually love chocolate pudding! I just plain didn’t like it…it didn’t have the same kind of sweetness as the fruit I’d been having daily.

Now to the point:
It made me think of what we are feeding ourselves and digesting spiritually. We are surrounded by things in this world that we try and satisfy ourselves with, and many times we think we are satisfied even though we’re not because we don’t truly know what it means to be satisfied.

I think many of us haven’t really had enough of a taste of what God has to offer to where we want more of Him and no longer can satisfy ourselves with what the world has to offer. (Like I can no longer satisfy myself with chocolate pudding 🙃) It takes some time to adjust. It takes self-discipline and perseverance, but once we are adjusted it’s like a different lifestyle with different appetites. We no longer want the fake stuff, but rather have a distaste for it.

To truly taste and see that the Lord is good it takes time. We have to watch what we are feeding ourselves and before long we will have more of a desire for God than anything else in this world.

Fix Our Eyes On You

Only in You do I find hope; in Your arms my heart finds rest.

Where the weary fall and the weak faint I will not go, for Your strength carries on.

You bring healing to the broken and provide peace to those who trust in You; Your faithfulness continues on.

The wicked do not understand Your ways; no, even Your children cannot fully comprehend.

Much of You remains a mystery to all, even as we seek Your face.

Fix our eyes on You, Lord; draw our hearts nearer to Yours.

Let Christ Define You

Many people who know me would define me as “the girl who plays all those instruments” or “paints all those paintings”. I’m working on that. When people look at me, I don’t want them to see me, but Christ in me. I want Christ to define who I am.

I’ve only known a small handful of people who when described to someone that has never met them one of the first things said is something of their relationship with Christ–how they truly love the Lord, serve others with a humble heart, and have a rare kind of joy–people who Christ tangibly defines who they are. Over the years I’ve noticed people with this special kind of trait have become increasingly rare. Why is that?

To put it into one word: Selfishness. The world has become more and more self-centered, self-reliant, greedy, and just plain selfish!

Why the increase? Well, my answer to this is just my opinion from what I’ve observed: We’ve grown. We’ve found so many ways of making life more convenient and comfortable, our overall knowledge has increased, (not to be confused with wisdom) we have invented so many things that cause us to rely on ourselves, and oh, the entertainment…I am blown away at how much people put into their own pleasure. And yet, despite these things, this seems to be just about the most unhappy, unsatisfied generation ever!

We are surrounded by SO MUCH. It used to be just “the grass looks greener on the other side”, but now with the way we can easily drive from state-to-state or get online we can see thousands of “greener hills”. The more that’s available the more we aren’t as easily satisfied and are therefore greedy. We find ways to make providing for ourselves easier, which gives us the idea that we can fully rely on ourselves. We know a lot, but we assume we know more than we really do. We see people who’ve got an easier life than we do, making us think of how hard our life is and making us self-centered. We’ve found things that make us “happy” that have distracted us from knowing what true joy is really like.

I could be wrong, but I believe we have a whole lot more temptation going on with these things than we did just a few generations ago. It is so easy nowadays to have this jealous, self-centered, self-reliant mindset, which is hardly the mind of Christ but quite the opposite.

We don’t have to let the world define us, but it’s no easy task to prevent it. That’s where we are denying ourselves and surrendering to God.

Now, before you say, “I’m not selfish!” look at yourself. Are you living selfishly? When you get on your feet each day are you doing and saying things for your own benefit or for the benefit of others?

It has sadly become quite normal to live selfishly. We are typically living how we feel like it. Occasionally we are helping people when it’s not too terribly inconvenient and we feel like we ought to, but then it ends there.
Let’s not allow this selfish way of living define who we are. Let’s see if we can figure out what it really means to die to ourselves. Let’s break this habit that we’re surrounded by and allow Christ to define who we are.

God’s Seed

Hearts are hardened as stone and you ask why the seed does not grow?
The seed is planted among thorns and you wonder why when sprouted the plants are choked up?
It is no use to plant where the ground is not prepared to receive it;
time is wasted when you plant where nothing will survive to harvest.
Search for ground that has been prepared;
look for land that has not been swallowed up.
Plant where it will be well-tended and fed;
if there is no water and sun it will whither away.
Be sure the roots go deep so that a storm only makes it stronger;
plant among others so that it may bear fruit.
Do not keep the seed to yourselves or hide it away, for if you do when the Master returns it will be taken away.

 

 

The Walk–And The Story Behind It

1498185379975So, something I never really shared from about 6 years ago:
While spending some time with God–nothing fancy, just stretched out on my bed staring at the ceiling–I pictured a beautiful girl on a beach in a simple white dress, walking and talking with God, carefully listening to every word He said and speaking with a special kind of joy and laughter. After awhile she began to collect seashells contentedly in a basket, later tossing them back onto the shore again. Next, the sky grew dark and a storm came over causing strong winds and harsh waves. She was on her knees through the storm, hurting and in tears before God. After a time of weeping, while still in pain she began to worship; the sky grew clear and the beach calm again. She stood up, leaving what had burdened her on the ground and raised her hands before Him, the tears of sadness changing to tears of joy. She then began to dance and sing in praise to God.

After awhile of thinking about this, I remembered hearing of a verse about “a time to dance”. I had no clue where it was, so I had to look it up. I found it and thought it went well with what I had seen:
“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing; A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away; A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-8‬ ‭

I later wrote a poem (which I have shared on my blog years ago):

The waves reach out, and they slowly pull back,
As she walks on the shore in delight.

She follows the steps, she knows the right track,
Footprints she sees ahead in the light.

Often storms of great force arise, and waves crash with violence and strength.

With clouds so dark, she could not see the skies,
She struggled often for times of length.

On her knees the tears quickly came down,
She lifted her hands in praise.

She was lost, but now she has been found,
On the ground her burden lays.

She lifted her head in awe to the God who can save,
On her feet she stood with confidence in the True One.

She humbly gives thanks to Christ for the gift that He gave.
Across the sea she watches the rising of the sun.

In the Light she dances,
Her heart overwhelmed with love.
She’s been given so many chances,
By her Father above.

In gentleness and peace she now follows,
Through laughter, through pain, and through sorrows.

He has taken her hand,
She walks closely by His side.
Taking steps in the sand,
She goes by her Shepherd’s guide.

The Will Of The Lord Will Come About

The Lord is my foundation; firmly He holds me in place.
I cannot be torn down, for my God is with me.
In His word I find peace; His statutes guide me through the night.
He holds me tight within His arms; He protects me with the strength of His wings.
I am not alone, for the Lord is with me.
I do not need to be afraid, for the enemy flees from Him.
Nothing can separate me from the will of the Lord; He is my desire, the One that I seek.
He knows my every need and weakness; He cares for me in ways that I cannot see.
His ways are perfect and cannot be stopped; the will of the Lord will come about.

A True Friend

A true friend never loses hope. A hardship is when true faithfulness is shown. One who is trustworthy never gives up, but encourages you in all your days. Their words of kindness are strength to your bones; their words of truth help you grow. Their honesty brings wisdom to your heart; their confidence helps sustain you.

Who Can Satisfy?

Who can satisfy but the One who puts the desires within me?
Who can fill my hunger but my own Creator?
In my Father’s arms is my place of rest;
The Spirit of the Lord is my strength.
Where on my own I can’t continue,
He carries me through to a safe place.
My Father alone will forever be praised;
Even His enemies will fall at His feet.

Oh, the internet…

IMG_5620.JPGSo this may seem a bit drastic, but were we really created to spend our free time the way we do today? Every time I watch another movie, TV show, or spend way too much time going through my news feed, I get this feeling of emptiness, knowing I could’ve had something way better.

If you think I’m saying we should never watch movies or have anything to do with the internet you’re missing the point…they’re not a bad thing unless we allow them to be. I’ve seen plenty movies and articles online (and here I am writing one) that had a great message and things were learned from watching/reading them. I just think we are investing TOO MUCH of our lives into things like Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Spotify, email–and on the list goes, increasing every year–when we could be investing our lives into something much healthier and, believe it or not, more satisfying, relaxing, and stress relieving.

I think a lot of times we use the media/entertainment to try to escape from the real world, to get our mind away from life’s problems, and to find something that just sort of makes us “feel good”.

Now, of course we shouldn’t dwell on our problems, but going to the movies is only a temporary fix…many times causing us to avoid facing up to our problems, therefore causing them to increase, and build up even more stress. Sure, we’re going to need time to “cool down” and rest our brains from a hectic world…but is this really the best way to do that?

If we are in a healthy relationship with God, then spending time with Him should be the most stress-relieving thing ever. I think the book of Psalms is in excellent example of what our time with God should consist of:
1. Being completely honest…if you’re angry, frightened, or hurting in anyway, say so and why.
2. If you need help in anyway, ask for it.
3. Thank the Lord. We have so much we should be thankful for and it has been scientifically proven that gratitude is good for your brain. (No joke)
4. Praise, worship, and surrender to Him with a humble heart. There is a lot of stress with authority…when we give everything over to God…well…it takes away the stress.
5. Listen. At a time of day where there’s no pressure on time (if possible, lol) just take some time to listen. Even if you find this boring or awkward, do it. That means you need it even more. We were meant to do things like walk in the garden with God since the creation of earth.

Whether you’re writing in a journal, taking a shower, sitting on the porch, or going for a walk in your neighborhood, this is SO MUCH MORE restful, beneficial, relaxing, and stress-relieving. You NEED it.

Be attentive to how you’re spending your time. If you can’t watch a YouTube video without it turning into a marathon, or get glued to Facebook, fast from it awhile. If that doesn’t work maybe consider doing without it all together. (I’ve had to do this with Facebook, word games, and YouTube more than once…had to stop the word games all together because every time I went back to playing them I always ended up spending hours playing them—now I’m spending that time reading, writing, in prayer, and blogging instead…though there are still times I really want to redownload an app and make some words, the change has been way more satisfying!😊)

So, hope this was helpful. It’s definitely something I will be working on my entire life. Before you go back to Facebook, YouTube, or your favorite movie, listen to yourself and to God…what do you really need?

His Strength Does Not Give In

The depths of Your love are deeper than the oceans floor; the height of Your wisdom is higher than the highest mountain top.
The length of Your mercy goes beyond what the eye can see; Your grace sustains forever.
Great and mighty is the Lord of all; He doesn’t bend at the strongest wind.
His strength does not give in;
He perseveres through the night.
He walks where no man can stand; He speaks where we cannot utter a sound.
He perceives what not one can understand; He creates what we cannot see.
He brings light to the darkest places; He exposes the works of the evil one.
There is a hunger only He can fill, a thirst only His Spirit can satisfy.
He gives to those who ask of Him; He provides for those who humbly seek for Him.
All the earth proclaims His majesty; by His people is His presence made known.

Something Beautiful

Your love, oh Lord, is sweet–even in days of bitterness.
Nothing can separate Your love from the hearts of those who worship You.
You piece together what is broken into something beautiful; You recover what is lost to a better place.
You reveal Your truth to those who seek You; You quench the thirst of those who long for You.
You give wisdom to those who ask and are willing to accept it; You sustain the strength of Your children who follow Your ways.
You carry what we are unable to bear; You overcome what is outside our control.
Your reasoning is more than we can understand;
Your knowledge more than we can comprehend.
Great and perfect are the works of Your hands;
Not one task goes uncompleted.

The Mind of God

Who can grasp the mind of God?
Who can understand all His ways?
Who knows the days before they come and what the future holds?
Who can comprehend what is seen let alone what is yet to be discovered?
Who can officiate the earth’s beauty, or even make a blade of grass?
Who can create and breathe the breath of life into man?
Who from nothing can bring anything into existence?
Not one can compare to the greatness of our Lord;
Not one can grasp the mind of God.

The Spirit of the Lord

One who runs from darkness is not ashamed; they listen not to the voices of evil and destruction.
He who stands in the light is strong in the Lord; the weak walk in shadows to disguise their pain.
A warrior of God does not sit back and laugh at wickedness, but puts it to shame.
One who defies the Lord will be torn down, and those also who walk with them.
You who sit in silence are the same as those who practice evil.
Take heed to the voice of the Lord, accept not the deceiving words of the evil one.
He takes what is corruptive and makes it appealing to the eye;
he makes what is poison pleasant to taste.
Do not take of what is acceptable in your own eyes, but rather take what is good and acceptable in the eyes of the Lord.
Seek His wisdom and discernment, not the ways of this world.
The Spirit of the Lord knows good from evil, and so does one within whom He dwells.

Edification

IMG_5615A lot of times we think people need to be more like ourselves. When we find what our own calling is, it’s easy to think everyone else should be doing that exact same thing. Well, that’s just about the most selfish and painful thing we can do to a person.

If we really care about someone we should want to encourage them and help bring out the best of them. We should see things from their perspective, what they are gifted in, what their dreams are, encourage them, and pray for them.

Everyone has a gift and a purpose. God has a calling for each one of His children; He equips us all in a unique way. As we find what our own calling is, we need to be sure that we’re not tagging that on all our brothers and sisters in Christ.

While we certainly shouldn’t be going around telling people what to do, we should be trying to encourage one another with love. Give a compliment. Tell them thank you and how much they’re appreciated. Don’t let them stop, but rather encourage them to use their gifts to their fullest potential by the power of the Holy Spirit. Help build up the Body of Christ, not tear it down. 

He Is Able

1497323130678A song I heard frequently growing up was a worship song called “He is able”. (Yeah, it’s pretty old. 😛) It has been going through my mind frequently the last couple weeks as I try and remind myself that He truly is able!

“He is able, more than able, to accomplish what concerns me today.”

Life has been pretty hectic as of late as my family is in the process of preparing our house to sell and move out of state while also awaiting my brain surgery next month. So this part of the song has been a good reminder that I shouldn’t be worrying about the future, but taking one day at a time, remembering that God is with me and there won’t be anything too hard to accomplish.

“He is able, more than able, to handle anything that comes my way.”

This has helped me remember that He carries the burden if I simply choose to lay it at His feet in surrender to Him.

“He is able, more than able, to do much more than I could ever dream.”

This line has stuck out to me especially, as I tend to have some pretty crazy dreams and wild ideas of things I’d like to be able to do one day and set high goals that seem next to impossible,(Particularly in helping special needs orphans/missions) but it helps me remember that with God all things are possible…even greater things than I can imagine!

“He is able, more than able, to make me what He wants me to be.”

This line I find to be the most important. There’s nothing we should want more than God—to do His will, and be who He wants us to be.

So, that’s the song. Check it out on YouTube if you’d like to hear the rest of it. (I like the Maranatha version) What I was hoping to communicate through this post is that we should never underestimate God. He is able.

 

Who Can Understand It?

I pour my heart out to You, my God, Protector, and Healer.
You are my refuge; You keep me in a safe place.
Your eyes are upon me, Your child; You never look away.
You are my Strength when I am weak, and my Deliverer when I am lost.
You lift me up from the darkness; Your fire burns within me and guides me through troubled times.
You keep me in a safe place, and embrace me with Your love.
You pick me up when I have fallen; Your mercy continues on.
Nothing can stand against You; You are Lord over all the earth.
You are an All-Knowing and Powerful God, You understand what we cannot see.
You build as with bricks that which we cannot touch.
You piece together what we cannot separate, and hold together what would otherwise be scattered.
You carefully arrange the works of Your hands; in order You give them a place and function.
You take what seems to be useless and create a beautiful art; nothing can compare to the magnificence of what You have made!
Not a fraction of Your creation has no purpose; all that exists is put to good use.
Every star in the sky is within arms reach; the boundaries of time do not contain You.
The earth has been carefully placed, and cannot be moved without Your consent.
The days are carefully numbered; time does not pass without Your knowledge.
The world cannot comprehend Your ways; Your authority shall never be taken away–who can comprehend it?

A Positive Mind

IMG_5594While difficult it may be, we can choose to take control of our minds. Satan will attempt to take control of our minds by leading us to thoughts of fear, hate, revenge, and doubt by ways that seem “fair”—such as being afraid of something most humans would be afraid of, hating someone who deserves to be hated, seeking revenge on someone who deserves punishment, or doubting what seems impossible.

This is not the mind of Christ!
We should ONLY be fearing Christ (The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. Prov.1:7), we should be FORGIVING people who don’t deserve forgiveness (But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Mat.6:15), LOVING our enemies (But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! Mat.5:44), and remembering through Christ, ALL things are possible! (I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me. Phil.4:13)

What is going through our minds is critically important. As long as we are on this earth we will not have a perfect mind, but we can do our best to learn what it means to have the mind of Christ, how to do that, and live it out. By the work of the Holy Spirit, our minds can be renewed. The thoughts of anger, fear, revenge, and doubt can be replaced with something much better.

I’m going to share a verse I’ve shared before and I’m sure everybody’s heard, but as you read it, determine whether you are truly taking on the mind of Christ:
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭

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Lower Risk of Alzheimer’s

1497061112944I watched an interesting lecture on Alzheimer’s today (going through a course on understanding the brain) and learned that in addition to a healthy diet and exercise, studies have shown that “working your brain” can greatly lower your risk of getting Alzheimer’s and similar kinds of dementia later in life. Learning shouldn’t stop after high school or college! Your brain needs it, and it can have many benefits. Instead of hours of entertainment, try spending even just half of that time learning. Save some money by watching some DIY videos on fixing your car. Read some books or take classes to find ways to advance in your career. Find something that fascinates you and learn how it works. Learn. It’s good for you. 😉

An interesting article on “neurobics” to improve brain health: http://drjockers.com/using-neurobics-to-improve-your-brain/
#ilovetolearn #notashamed #itsgoodforyou

A Prayer for the Sake of Praying

Why do we pray? A fairly simple question, but not one that is always easily answered. I think we sometimes allow prayer to fall into a category of things we do habitually like turning the lights out, locking the doors, and brushing our teeth before bed.

I’m one of those people that gets rather annoyed when people say, “Hey! How are you?” and then walk away without giving you the chance to answer. I get annoyed because it doesn’t seem like a question of honestly caring how I’m doing, but more of a habitual question that has very little meaning or sincerity. We need to be sure when we pray it isn’t a habitual recitation, but a conversation with heart-felt requests, listening, thanksgiving, and praise given humbly before our Lord.

Prayer is definitely something we should do, but not just for the sake of praying. Think about the word “communication” for a minute, and how humans communicate with one another. We don’t only use our words but also our tone of voice, our facial expressions, our body language, our actions, and over-all attitude.

We wouldn’t tell a friend (or at least we shouldn’t) that we’d like to do something to help them and then go have a party with someone else. We wouldn’t tell them we love them while we treat them with a lack of respect. We wouldn’t ask for help and then complain when we don’t get exactly what we want right away. We wouldn’t get together with them and not let them get a word in edgewise. We wouldn’t accept a gift without saying thank you like we meant it. We wouldn’t treat them as though they had no value. We wouldn’t say the same. Thing. Every. Day. Neither should our communication with God be this way.

It’s easy to think of prayers as a one-way communication, requests and a few thank you’s written out on paper, put in an envelope, stamped, delivered to some far-away place, and hoping we get something back one day.

Well, God hears it, but there’s not a lot of communication going on there, and there’s going to be some serious set-backs in growing in our relationship with Him if this is the only way we communicate.

Before we pray, let’s think about why we are praying, how we are praying, and how we should be praying. Don’t pray for the sake of praying, but to ask hard questions, to seek wisdom, to worship, to give thanks…and even more importantly, to hear what God has to say. Prayer is simply a part of devoting our lives to Christ by communication.

So, let’s make sure we keep the communication of prayer along with our lifestyle with real meaning—not just a habit.

 

High Expectations

1496698263886

“For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:13‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

First, I want to mention that I realize there are many people out there such as stay-at-home moms that are needed 24/7. In my opinion, you’re already saving lives, so, keep up the good work. 😉

Each and every one of us are capable of doing great things. Hard things. Problem is, most of us don’t realize it…or if we do, very few of us are willing to try. We see great things that have been done or need to be done but our instinctive reaction to the very thought of us achieving them ourselves is, “Oh, no…I couldn’t do that!”

As I’ve thought about it more lately, I’m realizing how just plain selfish that is! We all, not just some, but all, are capable of saving lives. Yep. You read that right. Believe it or not, YOU are capable of saving lives.

Before you roll your eyes and go away like you don’t care, read on:

There are SO many ways we can save lives. One way I want to mention first is by our relationships. As followers of Christ our relationship with Him needs to be put first, but it doesn’t stop there. Perhaps you have an unsaved family member. Or, maybe you have a friend who is saved that just needs to be loved and reminded that their life is valuable. We should all be living this way and our saving lives doesn’t need to stop here either.

We can help by meeting the physical needs of others. There are so many places you can volunteer whether it’s in your own neighborhood or in another country. Even if it’s for one week out of the year…you can make such a difference!

Something I specifically wanted to make clear in this post is that you are unique! We each have our own gifts as an individual to reach out to others that no one else has.

Now, there are things we can do fairly easily that don’t require training/experience, and there are things that may take months or even years of preparation. That’s where it requires setting high expectations of ourselves, and that is where so many of us tend to give up.

Well, you don’t have to give up. Whether it’s by learning another language, studying to become a volunteer nurse where there are people dying daily from things that could easily be treated if there was someone willing to give their much-needed time and effort to help, using your skills as a photographer to help spread awareness of a need, preparing to teach, cook, build, mentor, and many other possibilities…just face it…no matter your current education, profession, age—whether you’re prepared right now or not—you have the capability of becoming prepared, setting high expectations, and yes, to save lives!

Perhaps I’m coming across as being too harsh…I sure don’t mean to, but I just couldn’t keep this to myself today. So many of us here in America are just plain lazy and selfish. We can spend hours in entertainment—but saving lives? And which is truly more satisfying?

So, take some time to ask yourself a question, “Am I willing to do this?” Not, “Can I do this?” because without a doubt, you CAN. Question is, “Are you willing to do what it takes to save lives?”

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Mercy & Forgiveness

1496586397779Life isn’t always “fair”. Sometimes we’ll go through pain, trials, and temptations. But there’s a few things that can never be taken away from anyone unless they allow it.

One is God’s presence…His Holy Spirit inside us. He will protect our hearts and our minds. When we are going through physical pain or struggles He is able to bring us peace and, yes, even joy in times of suffering…if we allow Him to.

Something else important to not only remember, but also be thankful for, is God’s mercy and forgiveness. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the here-and-now struggles that we forget we’ve been saved from what we deserve–an eternity of something MUCH harder. We shouldn’t be taking the gift of eternal life for granted, we should be continuously living with a grateful heart and mind!

Perhaps you are thinking, “I know, I know…but I can’t help it. I can’t just make myself grateful and happy.”

Well, you are right…you can’t. But, God CAN. He is able to renew our strength to endure, replace worry with contentedness, create in us a clean heart, and change our attitude from one of hate to one of gratitude. It takes surrendering our lives to Him, but it is worth it. While we can’t choose what every chapter of our life is going to be, we can choose how we go through it.

Here are the lyrics of a few verses of a song I thought would be good to share. Take a moment to pray before God and allow Him to be in control of your heart instead of allowing any pain or suffering to overcome you.

“Take my life and let it be
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days,
Let them flow in endless praise.

Take my hands and let them move
At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be
Swift and beautiful for Thee.

Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be
Filled with messages from Thee.”

Worthy of Respect

1496422852023We are all capable of being worthy of respect by the authority given to us from Christ. It doesn’t necessarily mean we will receive it, but even when we don’t, it gives us a sort of confidence that makes us stronger and gives us the ability to do even greater things.

A person who is worthy of respect is someone who has humility not just in their actions but in their heart. They take pleasure in giving and accept gifts with gratitude. They give up their own pleasure to do good for someone else even when it is going to be completely unnoticed. They seek to learn from their elders and strive to live their lives to their fullest potential. They do their best to use all they have been blessed with to the benefit of others and to glorify God. They take care of themselves and act responsibly with all that is in their possession. They use their time wisely, and seek God with all their heart, mind, and strength.

No matter their profession, wealth, or popularity, these are the kind of people I most look up to, honor, respect, and hope to become more like.

With humility and from the heart, seek to become a person who is truly worthy of respect…to be more like Christ.

Days of thought

1496375180351Once a month or so I find myself in deep thought for hours-sometimes for an entire day-so much so that having conversations, reading, studying, or getting anything that seems useful done is pretty much hopeless. For awhile it was pretty annoying, but then I got to thinking: (again, haha) perhaps this will cause me to make better use of the rest of my time.

I soon realized I needed to take this opportunity to re-evaluate what in the world I am called to do, if I’m where I’m supposed to be, and if I’m headed the right direction. Because if I don’t stop, think, and earnestly pray to God asking if I’m where I should be, I could be off track for days, months, or even years…so busy and engrossed in what I’m doing that I don’t realize that something is seriously wrong, and I’m wasting away a whole lot more than a day.

For me, these times of deep thought usually begin when I’m very moved by a person in need, hear of Christians that are killed for their faith, or see the way the church in America has become so weak and watered down. It’s almost like I’m seeing these things for the first time, or seeing them from a different perspective. It’s a very humbling and sobering experience, for sure. Though in a way it can seem kind of depressing, at the same time it stirs up something inside me to help, to do something about it, to make a difference…to really live my life to the fullest potential as a Christ-follower.

Though everyday I try to ask God to shape me into the person He wants me to be and offer my life as a sacrifice to Him, it really helps to have these hours of really digging deep to remember why I’m doing that, to see what exactly that should look like…and I want to encourage you to do the same.

Take some time to evaluate, refocus, and prioritize. God will likely place something totally different on your heart as we are all unique…perhaps it’ll be coworkers that you know are living in anger and don’t have the love of Christ in them that you may have the opportunity to witness to. Maybe He will give you a desire to help the homeless. Perhaps your very own children are straying away from Christ and simply need a good relationship to support and guide them in their faith.

It helps to remember what our goals are and how we are going to reach them so we can better prepare ourselves for the journey…the Way God has called us to. The Way God has called YOU to.

Examination

IMG_5548Nobody likes being tested. But, like it or not, it is a good thing and is something we need. By seeing where we are at, we can see where we need to grow.

“Examine yourselves to see if your faith is genuine. Test yourselves. Surely you know that Jesus Christ is among you; if not, you have failed the test of genuine faith.” (2Cor.13:5)

So how do we know if our faith is genuine? Well, there’s the fruit of the Holy Spirit that should be seen if He is inside us:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Gal.5:22-23)

But, this is the fruit of the Spirit. Being what seems like a loving, kind, and gentle person doesn’t necessarily mean the Holy Spirit is inside us. To see whether we are in the faith, we have to go deeper than that, to the roots: our mind.

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; (Isaiah55:6-7)

Where is your mind “set”?

“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 understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”
(‭‭Phil.‭4:6-8‬)

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
(‭‭Col.3:2)

We are human. And to put it simply, our desires and thoughts as an earthly human aren’t always that great. But we have a choice. We don’t have to be of this world. It takes continuous earnest seeking, surrendering, and faith, but we can have the mind of Christ!

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. (Rom.8:5)

As long as we are here on earth our mind will not be perfect just like everything we say and do cannot be perfect. What we can do, however, is surrender to God’s perfect will. Allow Him to work us and shape us into a vessel fit to glorify Him.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”(Rom.12:2)

Now, this isn’t to see if you’re “good enough” or if you “measure up” but to see if you have genuinely put your faith in Christ, are no longer relying on yourself, and are truly surrendering and seeking God with all your heart, mind, and strength.

A scripture that has been special to me and I read/pray everyday is Psalm 51:10.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”  I think one of the reasons why it has stuck out to me is because it starts with “create in me a clean heart”. Part of having the mind of Christ, is getting rid of the old mind, making room for something much better, and MUCH stronger.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” (1John4:4)

So, take some time humbly before the Lord and do a check-up. See whether you are in the faith, and remember, God looks at the heart.

“The proud man worries, the humble man waits.”

Silhouette of a Senior Caucasian Male PrayingMany times when we think we know what God has called us to and things don’t go as we expect our instinctive reaction is to worry. While it is possible we were misguided in where we thought God was leading us, it is also possible it’s just not time.

God has a great plan for each and every one of us, but something that is especially important is being prepared.

“Worry will not help our cause at all. It will, in fact, hinder our progress.” -Joyce Meyer

Don’t worry! Many of us have heard that God works all things together for good for those who love Him, but we have to know and really believe that. Living in fear only brings us down, and frankly, is a waste of time. We need to be taking each day God has given us to glorify Him, putting our trust in Him, and letting Him take care of the rest.

If you know where God is leading you, don’t let having to wait worry you. Take that time to learn, to prepare, to grow. Perhaps having to wait means you just aren’t ready. Seek God with all your heart, mind, and strength and He is fully capable of bringing about where He is calling you. We serve a great and mighty God!