Sheltered, Perhaps.

To those who are taken aback when I’ve never heard of a particular song, seen a particular movie, or heard of a particular person: Sure, maybe I’ve been sheltered. Sheltered under God, and I don’t mind one bit because there are some things I just don’t need in my life right now that likely would only have a negative impact on me anyway…so why chase after it?

Give me a biography of someone who gave their life for a good cause, not the latest top-novel. I’d rather be filled in on something educational than shameful. I’d rather spend time with my little sister than watch my favorite show on Netflix. I’d rather look for ways to fix problems, not gossip about them. I’d rather build relationships, not watch them fall apart. I’d rather live with a purpose than just wait and see what happens. I’d rather look for ways to bring light into this world instead of drowning in the dark.

It’s God that I want to make sure I stay in tune with. It’s His work I want to focus on. It’s His will I want to follow. It’s His love story I want to share. I want to hang on HIS every word, not my favorite movie star’s.

Okay, rant over—for now anyway… 😉

“If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” -Paul

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Are you in good health?

I can definitely say from experience, if you have physical pain, you’re going to (or at least you should) want to find out why so it can be treated and you can be healed. Being sick and in pain is not something to be ignored or you will find yourself in an unhealthy, pretty miserable state. …seems simple enough.

Something that is, in fact, often ignored is our spiritual health. We are often afraid of failing tests, our wounds being exposed, and diseases being recognized. But until some examining is done, we cannot find our weak points. Until we are aware of our weak points and acknowledge any areas we are sick, we cannot get the proper treatment and exercise to become strong and in good health.

Make it a habit to run a check-up. Examine yourself, but more importantly, allow God to examine you. He is the best Doctor out there, and to be sure, knows the best cure. But first, we have to be willing to receive the diagnosis.

 

You Are All

All that I am, You have made me;
All nature around me, You have created.
All that has happened, You have allowed it—not a bird falls without Your knowledge.
All our sin You have taken upon Your own shoulders—You have been bruised and beaten for our iniquities.
All our punishment You take on Yourself if we allow it;
All fear of death is taken away if we walk the Way of Life.

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. 😉

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?

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!

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.

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.