Real Life

As time goes on, I realize that life isn’t always what I think it should be. It seems that the Christian life is portrayed as a life with no problems or that if problems do arise, we are sad for a moment and then are miraculously  better. I’ve come to realize that this is not true in the slightest. Life as a follower of Christ can be just as difficult as that of a non-believer. Tragedies still happen, depression is still a real thing, stress still exists. The list goes on and on. The difference is that having hope in the Creator of all things, having hope that the One who paints the sky and crafted nothing into a functioning universe holds our lives in His hands, having hope that He can make beauty out of ashes brings us peace. But even as followers of Christ we sometimes still have a problem with holding onto that hope. We let the problem consume us and it enslaves us, making our God seem small. Our God is so much bigger than any problem or circumstance, but if you hold onto the problem, your heart hardens, when all you can talk or think about is your situation, you become bitter. God waits with open arms and I bet it breaks His heart to see us clinging to our problem instead of Him. God has shown me to worship Him through the storm I’m in, because the thing is, worship isn’t based on how we feel, it’s based on who He is, and He is good and deserving of our praise. Bad things happen in real life, but we get to choose how to handle them, we choose what to cling to.

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Photo Credit: Daryan Shamkhali

God Says

My, oh, my. The Christian walk doesn’t always feel easy, does it? There are some days that I just get so fed up with myself and my inability to do what I know God wants me to do. Some days I am just too tired to be nice or to go out of my way to help someone. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by guilt and shame because I deliberately go against what God says. I feel like a dirty, broken sinner.

And I am.

I am a sinner with blood on my hands and lies in my heart.

But I am also so loved by God.

The other night I was talking to someone about letting go of guilt and shame and embracing the love of God. I remember saying something along the lines of, “When we wallow in the fact that we sinned, when we let the guilt chain us down, we are focusing on ourselves. We get this self-righteous attitude because we’re making it all about us. We ignore God’s promises in favor of our self-pity. It’s so hard to face God with blood on our hands rather than running the other way, but we have got to stop making it about ourselves. Jesus didn’t die so that we could get caught up in ourselves and our inability to live the life we are called to live. You see, it’s not about us, it’s not about what we can’t do, it’s about what He did. Jesus died to cleanse us, to free us. We need to take the focus off of ourselves and put it on the One who saves us, the One who set us free, the One who loves us despite our sin, the One who died knowing already every act of treason that we would commit against Him, the One who said ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do’ as He was dying.” 

I finished speaking and I sat back. I said, “That wasn’t me. Those were not my words. I needed to hear that so much.”

God put words into my mouth to say to someone else that I desperately needed to hear. It’s not about me.

When I look at myself, all I is that I feel worthless, undeserving, broken, tainted.

But when I look at God, all I see is mercy, love, grace, forgiveness.

I stopped in the middle of writing this post to go to church. Tonight we sang – and I heard for the first time – “Who You Say We Are” by Steven Curtis Chapman. The song really resonated with me and paralleled so well with the message in my heart that I had been writing about just 3o minutes before; I smiled and praised God about how amazing His timing is.  While I was singing I just thought about the words, “Hallelujah! We are who You say we are.” God says we are His forgiven, clean, and loved children; hallelujah indeed

I encourage you to embrace God’s truth:

 God is calling you to live outside of guilt  (Hebrews 10:22  “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”);

He has made us clean (1 John 1:7 “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”);

He gives us peace (Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”);

All because He loves us (John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”)

And wants us to live for Him (1 Peter 2:24 “‘He Himself bore our sins’ in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by His wounds you have been healed.'”).

My brothers and sisters, do not turn your face away from God, He loves you despite all you have done, all you will ever do; turn towards Him. He loves you so much.

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Steven Curtis Chapman – Who You Say We Are

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Photo Credit: Christopher Campbell

The List

Yesterday morning I began the book of Matthew.  I haven’t read it in over three years and it’s one of my favorite books of the Bible, so I’m pretty excited.

So I began chapter one, the first half of which is the genealogy of Jesus.  Now, I’m pretty sure the first time I read it, I skipped this part.  Since then, someone has pointed out to me how cool genealogies can be, and I’m going to elaborate a bit on the cool stuff I found in the genealogy of Matthew 1.

  • It shows how God fulfilled His promise of the Messiah through the line of David.
  • It shows that Old Testament stories are more relevant than we think – did you know that Rahab the prostitute that hid the Israelite spies is the mother of Boaz who married Ruth? or that Ruth and Boaz were the great-grandparents of David?
  • It shows that God can use anyone and everyone – Tamar seduced her father-in-law, Rahab was a prostitute, David was an adulterer and murderer,  Mary the mother of Jesus was a virgin.
  • It show’s God’s faithfulness.  The genealogy starts with Abraham – the first to be called by God – and it continues through a list of unqualified, messed up people who were each a part of God’s plan to bring the Messiah into the dying world.

Every part of God’s Word is alive and relevant. This list of name after name points to the faithfulness, love, and ability of the Father.  God orchestrated the lives of hundreds of people to bring the Messiah into the world in the exact context that He wanted Him to, yet we think God doesn’t know what He’s doing when it comes to our lives.  Scripture says differently.

Remember, you are loved by a mighty God. Until next time, lovelies.

Photo Credit: Michał Grosicki

Journaling Through Life

Tonight I got home, got into bed, and settled in to read my Bible and to journal before watching Netflix.  I’m moving through Job (admittedly the hardest book of the Bible I’ve read) and tonight I was on chapter 38 which is God’s first response to Job and his friends.  After I read it I was journaling about how humbling the chapter was and my thoughts about it (I may do another post about it, but ya’ll should read it).  I was going to blog about it but my computer was taking for-ev-er to turn on, so while I was waiting I flipped through my journal.

I started this journal November 30 of last year – almost a year ago exactly! Admittedly, I’m not a very faithful journalist so my entries tend to be rather spread out, but as I got to looking through it I’ve seen how God has moved in my life this past year: terrible heartbreak, a whole different kind of heartbreak over losing my Papa and my Granny,  moving sermons, my first time leading someone to Christ, my change of heart about teaching, lessons in love being a decision and not just a feeling, the fact that my handwriting is hardly legible a majority of the time, healing God has brought over the heartbreak and losses, God opening new doors in my life, miracles, breakdowns, praise, choosing joy.  The list goes on and on, and all of this in under a year!

Though I’m not the most religious journalist, God has definitely used this journal to show me how He has healed me, changed me, and grown me over the past year, and that is one of the biggest blessings I think a person can receive.  On an ending note, here’s a quote I found in my journal from a man who came to speak at my school:

“Start journaling your journey and watch God.” -Dr. Bobo

Until next time, lovelies.

 

 

The Missing Peace

Let me set the stage (cue lights, audio, and other technical things I don’t know about): Something happens, something bad, something you just can’t get out of your head.  Maybe you were in a car wreck, or you lost your brother, or you are experiencing heartbreak for not the – but just as painful – time.  You relive it over and over again in your head, especially at night when you have nothing else to keep your thoughts from wandering to the infamous ‘thing’ that haunts you.  They say time heals but it’s been weeks, months, years and you don’t feel like you’ve healed much at all: you’re just stuck in this endless cycle of remembering.  Or maybe in your case it’s not even that, maybe it’s just the balancing act of life that’s got you stretched beyond what you can bear; you have finals and bills and your car broke down and your job doesn’t pay enough and you’re sleep deprived and you just yelled at someone for no reason and the list goes on and on.

Sound familiar?  What’s missing in the scenarios above?

Peace.

Things happen that we cannot control – you can’t control the fact that your sister has cancer or that your landlord raised the rent a hundred dollars that you can’t afford to pay – but you can control how you deal with the situation.

I know, you’ve heard it before.  So had I.  Did you let that sink in, though? You do not have to fall victim to things that happen outside of your control, even the things that happen because of your own bad decisions.

Jesus didn’t die so we could live miserable lives.  He died to give us hope.  He died to free us from sin. He died so that our trials can build our faith instead of ruin our lives.  He died so that death would not be the end for us.  Jesus didn’t die for us to fall victim to a lost and dying world, Jesus died for us to have hope even in the gravest of situations because He overcame the power of the grave. 

But how do we do it?

Philippians 4 is such a great chapter of the Bible and is so relevant.  Check out the whole chapter (it’s short, it won’t take long), but I’m going to leave you with verses 6 and 7.

“Don’t worry about anything instead pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all that He has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds all anything we can understand.  His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

Don’t worry.  Pray.  Give your needs to God.  Thank God. The result? Peace that soothes your soul.  God can handle your mess, I promise.

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If you have specific passages, chapters, or books of the Bible that have helped you through hard times, leave me a comment.

Until next time, lovelies.

 
Photo Credit: Aubin A Sadiki

 

 

Hope in the Healer

As Christians we sometimes find ourselves refusing to show God’s love to people because of the right we have seemingly given ourselves to cling to our pain.   Someone hurts us and we cling to the brokenness inside us rather than to God; we turn the brokenness into an idol.  When we refuse to forgive those who have hurt us, when we refuse to show mercy and grace to those who we have unjustly declared unworthy, we are depriving people of the chance to see the character of God. Instead, we are showing them the selfish, sinful nature of ourselves.

This doesn’t just apply to when other people hurt us, this applies to every kind of brokenness. God wants to take our brokenness and turn it into a powerful testimony to further His kingdom, but how can He do that when we are hoarding our pain?  We hold onto the pain, opening the wound again and again, to remind ourselves of how untrustworthy people are or to drown in our little pool of self-pity.  By doing this we are saying that Christ’s death wasn’t needed, we don’t need healing, we are perfectly fine in our state of brokenness.  But we are called to live a much bigger life, we are called to be free from the chains of sin and the hurt that comes with it, but we won’t have that if we cling to pain. But if we let go, if we stop being selfish, God can close the wound, He can sew it tight with His hand, and it can turn into a beautiful scar, a sign of His healing. He turns the darkest of nights into a beautiful sunrise and then we can show our scars to those with wounds and give them hope in the ultimate Healer.

When we allow Him to heal us, we find we can forgive others, we can be merciful and graceful to them, because we have let go of our selfish ambitions and our focusing on our Creator and His beautiful creation rather than ourselves. It is then when our stories being to glorify God, it is then when we can then love them like God does, see people through His holy eyes rather than our sinful eyes, we can see the brokenness in others and point them to the cross rather to themselves, to the way of healing, because by HIS wounds we are healed, not ours.
Please share. Someone in your life may need this message.

“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5