I read a quote this week that has really latched onto my heart. It was something like, “Religion means that I’m scared to run to God when I’ve messed up, but a relationship means I want to run to my Father when I’ve fallen off course.”
The Word tells us that God is love. Deuteronomy 7:9 says, “Know therefore that the Lord your God IS God; He is the faithful God, keeping His covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.”
Zephaniah 3:17 says, “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Romans 8:37-39 says, “In all these things we are more that conquerors through Him who loves us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Jesus is the prize. His love is the reward. It’s the key to a life that is full and good and never-ending. He’s the refuge we run to when we’ve fallen off the course. He is love.
Clearly, February wasn’t a great book month for me. I only made it through one book which means I completely missed my goal of reading four books a month. But, that’s okay because this has been a ferociously busy season in my life. Between working two jobs and now starting an internship it’s no wonder I’ve hardly had time for leisurely reading. I have to tell you though that I love being busy. I love working and getting stuff done.
Anyway, my book for February just so happened to be a historical fiction novel called “I Was Anastasia” by Ariel Lawhon. I fell in love with this book. Oh, it’s so good I could hardly put it down! The way it flows and how its crafted is unlike any book I’ve ever read before. The ending completely threw me for a loop. Not only did I fall in love with the book, it gave me a deep interest for the Russian Tsars, especially Tsar Nicholas II. If you’re a history geek like me or just want a good novel, I highly recommend this one. Happy reading!
What’s the thing that’s got you twisted and inside out right now? What’s the problem that’s eating away at your spirit? You know, that hurtful struggle that has sunk it’s teeth into you and latched on to every aspect of your life. I’m talking about that personal struggle you have. The one that you wouldn’t share with others if your life depended on it. You’d rather saw off your big toe than admit that struggle. That struggle that feels like it’s weighing down on you harder each second that ticks by. Yeah, that’s the one I’m getting at.
Maybe it’s an addiction, heartache, feeling of rejection, health problem, failure, or whatever brand of struggle you have breathing down your back right now. But, listen reader, God has a purpose for that devilish struggle. He’s going to use it to turn your life around if you let Him. Sit down and ponder… and I mean really think. That meditative prayer kind of pondering. Maybe you just need to ask God what the heck His plan is for all of this pain? Sometimes He’ll give you an answer and sometimes (more often than not) He’ll push you to grow through the struggle. It’s quite possible (almost affirmative) that His plan is for you to grow closer to Him and teach you to fix your attentive wide eyed stare right up at Him rather than at your struggle.
You don’t see the reason for the struggle but I can 100% tell you with a slap straight face that He knows. BIG BETS. He’s already weaved a purpose through your struggle. He already knows that outcome. And you ask why on earth won’t He share this with you? Because then you’d have the opportunity to say no. God is a God of action and He’d rather let you experience the flourishing purpose that is going to come out of your struggle.
Instead of asking God to take you out of your hardship, ask Him to prepare you for the purpose. Ask Him to get you excited about the strength that He is growing in you because there is a purpose for that struggle.
My memory verse for the month of February is Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this is not for yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”
How beautiful that we don’t have to earn saving. God doesn’t make us jump through hoops to get salvation. He saw the sin of His creation, so He sent a solution which is Jesus. This is only by the grace of God. There’s no getting around it. Everyone would be doomed if it weren’t for God covering us with His unchanging grace. We’d be stuck in that rut called sin. We’d never break free from the hopeless prisons that we confine ourselves too. We have no hope without grace.
Jesus comes from grace and hope comes from Jesus. Then God wraps it up with a big bow and freely gifts it to everyone who asks. We declare that God has covered us in His grace through our faith in Him. We have to have faith that His grace truly has covered us. Praise Jesus that His grace has saved me and not my own works. If you look around you can clearly see that we live in a world full of individuals who have put their faith in themselves while deeming them efficient enough to save themselves. As a result we live in a chaotic and confused world. But, thanks to the grace of God we don’t have to live in that confusion if we choose so. Allow yourself to be washed in His grace because it’s offered up for us, His most beloved creation.
Side note: Check out Jon McLaughlin’s new album, Angst and Grace, because it is one of my new favorites. (Insert all the heart eye emojis.)
This morning God and I had one of the best conversations that we’ve ever had together. I’d like to think it was two-sided, but honestly I did most of the talking and He did a lot of listening. Isn’t it amazing that God already knows every single thing that’s going on in our lives but He chooses to listen anyway? That’s right, He CHOOSES to listen to our requests and rants when He could simply dismiss us.
I’ve had so many girls come to me discouraged because their prayer life is bland. They don’t know how to pray and they don’t know what to pray about. In fact, they had almost given up on prayer altogether because they got distracted during their conversations with God and no longer saw a point in it at all. This made me sad, but I realized that I was in the same boat. I typically think that prayer is the hardest part of my relationship with God. How ridiculous is this considering prayer is our most prominent line of communication with God. My mind is terrible about getting distracted when I’m talking to Him and I know that it’s the enemy trying to break up our communication.
This morning I realized it’s okay to get distracted. It’s okay if my mind wanders off for a few seconds. Think about it. In our daily conversations with other people there are times when our minds wander off. Maybe even sometimes our eyes glaze over and we look like we’re on Mars. The point is that God knows we’re human. He knows we all have a little bit of ADHD in us. What was different about my conversation with Him this morning is that I decided I wasn’t going to let the enemy break up my conversation. In fact, the enemy’s goal is to distract you which leads to discouragement that will make you quit.
I didn’t worry about the words I chose or how theologically educated I sounded. I just talked to Him. Sure, I my mind wandered a little bit at times, but I didn’t get discouraged. I picked up where I left off (as best I could) in my conversation. Don’t be discouraged by distractions. All Jesus wants is His time with you and He wants you to tell Him EVERYTHING.
Proverbs 13:3 says, “The one who guards his mouth protects his life; the one who opens his lips invites his own run.”
After reading this verse in my quiet time this morning, I knew I had to blog about it. It reminded me of how in today’s society the Church can be just a bunch of noise. From the outside looking in we can look like a bunch of protestors making a whole lot of commotion. We say way too much on social media than we should which only stirs up anger and turns people away. In our modern culture today we could change this verse to say, “The one who guards his fingers from typing protects his life…” It hurts my heart to see some of the things Christians put out on their social media, things that hurt other Christians and turn away nonbelievers.
High depression rates in people today is no doubt the effect of social media. Don’t get me wrong, social media can be used as a great asset to the Church and in a lot of ways it has been, but it has damaged the view of Christianity for a lot of onlookers. We HAVE to strive to use our tongues and keyboards to spread the Word of Jesus, and not to bash those who fall.
For instance, our job is NOT to ridicule and slander the homosexual community and abortionists all over our social media. Our job is most certainly to educate, but over all our job is to put down our smart phones and go out and love on gay people, abortionists, and get this…wait for it… even people who have different political views than us! Okay… don’t hyperventilate… just take a deep breathe. Jesus followers, it is our job to love others through our posts and actions and love them well. Everyday your social media, actions, and words should be a reflection of Christ.
Happy Friday, ya’ll! The Lord has really placed the importance of Sabbath on my heart lately. I know that I’ve blogged about the importance of taking a Sabbath before, and now I want to give you some of the guidelines I follow for myself in order to have a fun, relaxing, and rejuvenating Sabbath. I’ve recently learned that a Sabbath day isn’t just a day to be lazy, but it’s a day of celebration. It’s a day to look forward to and even “treat yo’self”! On my Sabbath day, which is Saturday, I don’t always just stay in my pajamas all day and sip coffee (which is one of my favorite things to do) I do things that are fun and that I wouldn’t always do during a typical “work day”. Here’s a list of things I cut out and implement on my Saturday Sabbath day.
- No calorie counting (It sounds awful, but lately I have been monitoring my calories on a daily basis. Ew, I know.)
- No social media.
- No emailing or checking emails.
- No laundry or cleaning. (whoop whoop)
- No babysitting. (Sorry, parents.)
- No lesson planning. (I’m a preschool teacher.)
Now, here’s a list of my favorite things to do on my Sabbath day.
- Be with family and friends.
- Go to parties/gatherings.
- Do fun things like going to movies, plays, dinners, etc.
- Binge reading.
- Binge writing.
- TV watching. (Ya’ll know I had to put Netflix somewhere on this list.)
- TREATING MYSELF – Because Sabbath is a CELEBRATION!
Now, your list doesn’t have to look anything like mine. You have to figure out what your day of rest looks like to you and remember to celebrate!