Live, Love, Learn

I long so much to be able to help special needs kids one day. As I’ve been doing what I can to learn anything that might be the least bit helpful, I can’t believe how much I have benefited from this…and I am very much grateful.

As I’ve learned things about how the human body works, how it should/shouldn’t be functioning, I’ve learned how to better take care of myself. As I’ve been learning what it is that these kids are going to need the most, I’ve been learning what it is I need most. As I try and make plans, I’m slowly learning that God has the best plan. I’ve been learning what is truly most important, what really matters.

Sign language has been a whole other learning experience. It has been a discovery of another way to worship God like nothing else…I can’t even put it to words. I love it and can’t wait to better learn it.

Anyways, point being, I encourage you to find ways you can serve others…you’d be surprised of what you learn and the fulfillment it brings. Not only that, as we allow God to prepare us, He will open doors for us to share these benefits with others, changing, and even saving lives!

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The Success In Weakness

As I sit in deep thought in my time with God, my head in pain, counting down the days till another brain surgery, I feel incredibly weak. But slowly I’m learning that that’s okay, and, in fact, is a good thing.

It’s when we become broken that we can be shaped in a way that glorifies God. When we are weak a strength that only comes from Christ becomes magnified and is a light to those around us. It’s when we become low that we are allowing God to reign in our lives.

I know this point in my life isn’t a mistake. It’s not coincidence. It has a purpose. Though I may not be able to do things I’d like to do right now—like go overseas and help orphans—I can still do my best to honor God in the situation I am in. And really, that is true success.

Surely I Would Be No More

Lord, You are my hope. The life that is in me. Where would I be without You? Surely I would be no more. My fear would’ve overcome me. My trembling would’ve caused me to fall, my sickness would’ve eaten me through and my perseverance vanished. My patience would’ve ended, and anger would’ve gotten the better of me. Without You I would’ve taken a road that made me lost forever. But instead, because of You, my faith is restored. When I tremble in fear You bring peace to my soul. You set a way for me to go and prepare me for Your calling. You have brought me by Your side and taken me under Your wing. Your love has transcended all fear.

Thank You, Lord, for loving me…

Thank You, Lord, for loving me,
For always holding me near.
When walking with me and talking with me,
You keep me far from fear.

You show me ways that I can grow to be more like You;
You teach me, Lord, that I may know how to love as You do.

You guide me through every stormy night;
You lift me as waters rise.
You keep me on the path that’s right;
You lead me by Your eyes.

You see beyond what I can see,
You know my every need.
You have a plan laid out for me—
Who You’ve created me to be.

You remind me that I’m not an accident,
A failure, or mistake.
Where I am I have been sent,
I am here for others’ sake,

To spread Your love and gift of life amongst the lost and broken,
To bring peace amidst the strife—
Share Your forgiveness of our sin.

 

 

What’s the problem?

Lately I’ve been reviewing algebra, and last night as I was checking the answer to a problem, it was not the same as the answer I’d come up with. So, I went back and tried to solve the problem again. I repeated this several times and became quite frustrated before realizing that I had the correct answer…only it was for a different problem.

All throughout our life we are finding answers. It’s a part of growing, learning, and the shaping of who we are. Sometimes, however, we can’t find the answers we’re looking for because we are trying to find answers for the wrong problem.

God always has answers, but we aren’t meant to have all the answers at once and not always as we want them. There’s nothing wrong with asking questions, but if we don’t receive an answer right away, then, again, we are trying to find answers for the wrong problem.

We need to seek God, and He will reveal answers to us as is truly needed and at the appropriate time.

Only For A Time

“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭4:18‬ ‭

Since I have had brain surgery (the last one was mid-September) I have not been able to sleep laying down and been waking up multiple times through the night with bad headaches. As I’m waiting for tests to be done and answers to be found there simply hasn’t been anything to do but wait. Of course, as with many other similar situations, I find God only using this situation for good.

When we go through any kind of challenge, whether it’s physical or spiritual, we pretty much have two options: to accept it or deny it and be stuck with it anyway. While much can be learned from acceptance, nothing good comes from denial.

What is acceptance? Looking for good in the situation and learning from it. Choosing not to be angry even when you don’t understand why you’re being allowed to go through a difficult situation.

I’m not going to deny that there have been times I’ve asked why, and there’s nothing wrong with asking why. We just may or may not receive an answer and need to accept it either way. In fact, what inspired writing this was my asking why and not receiving an answer.

I was, however, reminded that this is only for a time. And I find this is applicable to many other hard times we go through in life. I also find that it makes it much easier to bear when we fix our gaze on what we cannot see—God and our eternal life with Him, as is referred to in 2 Cor. 4:18.

One of the ways to shift our gaze to Christ is through prayer and worship. Just last night as I was kept awake from my head hurting and feeling quite miserable I was reminded of a chorus in a song called “Steady my heart” by Kari Jobe that goes:
“Even when it hurts
Even when it’s hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
‘Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart
You steady my heart”

So many times it’s like God is the glue that holds me together—and not just holds me together, but shapes me into something beautiful—and He can do the same for you.

So, remember that when you go through something, it’s only for a time, and God can hold you together through it. Focus on our eternal life with Christ. Our time on earth is such a small, tiny portion of that.

 

Don’t Give God The Leftovers

It is often easy to worship God when it’s convenient, and to praise Him when we’re happy. But this is the most shallow praise and worship ever. God doesn’t fall for it.

If a friend is willing to skip a party they wanted to go to in order to visit you in the hospital it’s going to mean a lot more than if they came because they didn’t have anything better to do. If they give you a compliment despite the fact that they’re exhausted and have just got off a twelve hour shift at work, their words will be quite more treasured than if they just felt obligated to say something nice.

Now, if they came to see you because the party was canceled, their visit would be much less meaningful. If they take your friendship for granted and never have anything loving to say it’s not much of a friendship.

We serve a jealous God. And God knows it’s exactly what we need.

There’s a special kind of peace and joy that comes when we serve, praise, and worship when we don’t feel like it. It’s not always right away, but it pays off. Worshiping and praising God at our weak points makes us stronger. Seeking Him when we feel like we’re too tired to think straight causes us to rely on His Holy Spirit.

Be willing to serve when you feel you can hardly stand. Praise Him even through storms. Worship Him even when it seems like it’s been the roughest day of your life.

Don’t give God the time that’s convenient for you. Don’t give Him the leftovers.

My Shepherd

1CC03A6A-DD99-473E-A72D-9D059BC50248My Father searches for me;
He saves me from the enemy’s hand.
He holds me in His arms;
I do not go hungry.
He leads me through every valley,
And is my light when the evening comes.
When I begin to stray He calls my name;
He brings me back to a safe place.
In His full protection, worry does not exist;
Where His Spirit surrounds me, thieves do not break in.

Taking Root

C6D7C6A0-BDE0-4725-822E-9C9F9F319C54“Every dream, no matter how big, starts out as a seed. And like a seed, it often goes underground for a season. That’s when we get discouraged because we don’t see any physical evidence of the dream’s progress. But it has to take root before it can bear fruit.”
-Mark Batterson

As this year has been quite a challenging one, this quote from “Chase the Lion” (and the book itself) has really hit home. Picturing a seed breaking open in order for what is inside it to take root and grow—meanwhile seeing no fruit of any progress—really seemed like an accurate description of me.

The most important thing in these situations is to be where we are supposed to be. To be in good soil where we will get strong roots—to be where God wants us to be.

A lot of times at these points in our lives it seems like we are distant from God, in the dark and unable to see the “Son”. But still, He is there. As long as His Spirit is “raining” down upon us, if we continuously seek Him eventually we will break through the soil. We will see Him and His light will cause us to flourish.

How we react to being planted is so critical. Choosing to take root in where we’ve been planted will often affect our lives long-term a lot more than we realize.

Slowly, I am learning. Though it may be hard, I know it will be worth it.

God Is Never Late

One of the things I’m having to constantly remind myself is that God is never late. So many times I think I’ve figured out where God is leading me when suddenly it becomes impossible or quite delayed. My instinct reaction is frustration, confusion, and disappointment.

This is where it gets hard. It’s where we can’t rely on our own understanding. It’s where our faith, trust, and patience are tested. It’s where we need to be surrendering ourselves to Christ, allowing Him to shape our lives however He sees fit.

Slowly, I am learning. Learning that if I can’t do it, either it’s not God’s will for me to do it at all, or it’s just not time.

We need to realize that if we are allowing things like worry, anger, and doubt to reign in our lives we are giving Satan control and missing opportunities of a lifetime that God has in store for us! What good is that?

Instead of worrying, let’s put our faith in the One who gave His life for us. Instead of becoming angry because things aren’t working out like we expected, let’s put our trust in our Author. Instead of becoming frustrated with the timing of everything, let’s rely on the Creator of time.

Let’s remember: God is never late.

Time-Spending

I’ve been using iPhones for years now, and for the first several years I had several game apps and would spend anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours on them. If I had off work or just somehow had a lot of time on my hands it was sometimes longer.

One particular day, I’d had enough of it. I deleted all of the game apps in about 1 minute, dropped my phone on my bed, and looked out the window in deep thought. I was frustrated—perhaps even angry with myself. I knew God had something much better to offer. I knew He had greater plans, greater thoughts, goals…I didn’t want to be content with what the world had to offer me. Instead, I wanted to seek after God and make His thoughts my thoughts, and His ways my ways. I knew that wasn’t something I was going to find while getting points.

After not playing any for over a year, I went back to playing for a while as I underwent surgery and recovery. I had a TON of time on my hands, and with the bad headache (brain surgery) and meds I just couldn’t concentrate enough to read, so it was good while it lasted. It’s only been in the last couple weeks that I’ve quit them again and it’s literally been refreshing!

A lifelong lesson to be continuously learning is how to spend our time wisely…it’s a gift we are given by God, and as His children we are to give it back to Him in a way that glorifies Him.

The Weak, Hurting, and Broken

Last night, in my time of prayer as I was thinking of all the things I’ve been wanting to do one day and believe God is leading me to do, I was feeling rather discouraged. It was as though the Devil himself was there trying to discourage me—reminding me of things like how exhausted I get doing things as simple as coming up the stairs. But God had a really good comeback. He reminded me of how He uses the weak, the broken, and the hurting. I literally laughed out loud and prayed, “Well, I qualify for all three, don’t I?”

I think many—if not all—humans have experienced these hardships at least once in their life. Some simply don’t acknowledge the fact because of pride or cold hearts.

Here are some verses I wanted to share…you can always find more on google. 😉

1 Corinthians 1:27b “…God has chosen the weak things of this world to put to shame the things which are mighty;”

Psalms 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken and a contrite heart.
These, O God, You will not despise.”

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.”

Don’t allow yourself to be discouraged when you are weak, hurting, or broken…this only allows more room for God to be glorified through us!

A Car Ride To Remember

Tonight, while spending some time listening to some of my praise and worship favs, I was imagining Jesus in the driver’s seat of a car and myself in the seat behind Him. Before driving, He made sure I had my seatbelt on and frequently looked at me through the rear view mirror to check on me. When our eyes met it was like every fear, worry, and sadness melted away. Part of me wanted to lean over and look over His shoulder to try and see what was ahead, but somehow I knew I shouldn’t. Instead, I found peace in trusting that He knew where we were going and with the windows down I enjoyed the breeze and beautiful views that I may have otherwise missed.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

While trying to see far into the future and what is ahead of us it is easy to miss what is already here. People, events, opportunities…if we’re not careful it is easy for time and things that we could have taken part in slip by completely unnoticed.

We need to allow God to be our driver, let Him do the focusing on the road ahead, and see where He takes us.

Quality Of Life

Before I had my first brain surgery, a lady who was explaining the surgery asked a few questions. One of the main questions she asked was something along the lines of how less valuable I considered my life because of my epilepsy. (This was 11 months ago, so I don’t remember exactly how she asked) I was rather confused by her question and I think she was somewhat confused by my answer. I quickly and quite determinedly replied that I didn’t consider my life any less valuable than if I was in perfect health.

Still, to this day, I can’t see how anyone could ask such a question. I still got the surgery and am working my way towards improving my health, but I don’t believe it has any impact on my quality of life.

I believe when a person is in a relationship with Christ and truly seeking to be who He has created them to be, their quality of life is immeasurable. It is beautiful, and it is perfect. This is true quality of life.

Don’t Settle For The Fast Food. :)

Sitting down in the kitchen, waiting for the granola I was fixing for breakfast, I pictured Jesus sitting next to me—only dressed as a normal guy. He began talking about what we put into our time spent in private with Him, reading His Word, praying, etc., is like the time we put into preparing food. Food that is a box dinner, frozen, etc., and requires little time and effort is going to be a less healthy, inviting, pleasant meal.
———
….just something I found in a prayer journal I wrote back in 2011.

Is It OK?

Sometimes the sin and darkness in this world just makes my heart grieve. I’m not always sure if it’s more because we are hurting ourselves or because we are hurting and dishonoring God.

We dishonor our God by our sinful words and actions, bringing shame upon ourselves before Him. And not only by our own words and actions, but by approving/supporting those who practice them. (Romans 1:32)

We have allowed the enemy to creep in. He finds ways to make things look good and acceptable—sometimes even appealing. We have let our guards down. We take in whatever we are surrounded by. Our standards should not be what is “normal” around us. Just because “our other Christian friends” are okay with something doesn’t make it right.

Dig into the Word for yourself. Speak to your elders. Most importantly, seek after God and allow Him to speak to you.

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.

 

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.

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.

Confidence

IMG_6334

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.”

 

“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. 😉

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!

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.

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.

“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.

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.

 

 

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?

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.”

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.

Moving forward, not backwards

So many times when I’m learning something I put a sort of picture to it that helps me remember it. A picture I’ve imagined for the lives of Christians is people coming from all different directions climbing a mountain, reaching the top being the end of our race, when we are in heaven in victory with God.

Something else I’ve also associated with that picture is it takes work and effort to climb that mountain, and if we aren’t putting any work and effort into moving forward, we start sliding backwards from things in this world that naturally pull us away from God as they are headed the opposite direction.

To get to the point:
We need to watch out for things that distract us, slow us down, or put us at a higher risk for falling. So many times we accept things thinking a little is okay or it doesn’t hurt. Well, if it’s keeping us from something better, then it is hurting us.

Just thought of the day… 🙂

Is God Our #1?

 

God should be our number one,
His love seen in our ways.
By His hands we see the sun,
He created all our days.

Looking back on our timeline,
Of all the things we’ve done,
To see what it is we find…
Are we pointing toward the Son?

Are our hours spent for our self-pleasure, or for others?
Are we living only for ourselves, or are we for our brothers?

My True and Perfect Love

You’ve given me a chance to choose,
You never wanted me to have to lose.
Placing before me two ways to go,
Sharing Your light so that I may know,

The life You have laid out for me,
The person that You want me to be.
You are in my heart, and here to stay,
I know inside this is the perfect Way.

Holding me up, when all else slips away,
Speaking through me when I lack words to say.
You see my heart through and through,
You know my thoughts before I do.

You are, and forever will be, my True and Perfect Love.