Life-Long Learning

In less than four months I will be graduating with my Bachelor’s degree!

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I am, however, going an extra year to get my teaching license. This is honestly pretty exciting because though I am ready to be done with school, I also really love learning.

Learning isn’t confined to a classroom, though. Nor is it confined to any one period of time in our lives. As we live our lives we are constantly changing and growing. Any and every point in our lives is a great time to learn.

I love to soak up information about the season of life I’m currently in as well as future seasons. I’m not a mom yet, but I hope to be some day. So I do spend time reading articles and books and listening to podcasts that have to do with pregnancy and parenting because someday they will be relevant. I’m not a teacher yet, but I try to learn as much as I can to help me with that season of life. I am also currently a wife and a follower of Jesus, two things that I’m not going to stop being; however, there is always room for growth and development and thus I strive to learn and grow constantly.

We are not done learning when we are finished with school; we aren’t done until we take our last breath. Read books, go to conferences, listen to podcasts, read blogs. Learn. Grow. Change.

With love,

B

Photo credit: unsplash-logoNick Hillier

Heart-Matter

When we invite Jesus to be the Lord of our lives we become free from not only the penalty of our sin but from the Law as well. Though the books of the Law are still important and give us wisdom, we are no longer bound to it. While of course there are things that are simple – I mean, we really shouldn’t be out thieving and murdering – our lives are no longer solely painted in black and white.

This being said, a lot of people don’t live this way. The message of the church often seems to be full of dos and don’ts, cans and cannots. We have freedom in Christ and God has given us free will, but not everything is beneficial to us (1 Corinthians 6:12). The Bible also instructs us to use our freedom wisely (Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 2:16). Freedom in Christ isn’t about legalism, it’s about motive, which took me awhile to understand (Phylicia Masonheimer is very helpful with this topic).

The Bible lays certain things out clearly for us, but other things are vague or not mentioned at all, and what it boils down to is our motive. Is what we’re doing beneficial to me? Is it hurting someone else? Is it hurting my witness to someone else? And perhaps most importantly, why am I doing it? For example, there’s a lot of controversy over whether or not Christians should drink alcohol. Firstly, the Bible does not prohibit drinking alcohol, it prohibits drunkeness. That leaves us each with a choice of whether or not we choose to drink. Are we prone to making irresponsible decisions? Are we drinking because it’s “cool”? Are we drinking as a coping mechanism? By drinking are we encouraging a friend’s alcoholism? What is our motivation?

We have great freedom, but with it comes great responsibility. We shouldn’t allow ourselves to be caught up in legalism – in fact, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for that very reason!- but we should exercise our freedom wisely through prayer and self-examination.

With love,

B

Photo credit:unsplash-logoFlo Karr

Love Isn’t All Romance and Glass Slippers

I am a huge Disney fan. I love Disney movies, Disney World, Disney in general (my husband and I even have Mickey and Minnie Christmas stockings, and I’m totally wearing my Mickey pajamas while writing this post).

The downfall to Disney is that it distorts our view of love. Have you ever noticed that couples in Disney movies rarely have any conflict? In a lot of the movies you have one person from a high socioeconomic status and the other from a low socioeconomic status (for example, Prince Charming and Cinderella or Jasmine and Aladdin) yet they just seamlessly merge there lives together? Yeah, that is not realistic at all, and it’s not just Disney: the media in general portrays a false version of love. We expect constant passion and spontenaity, but love isn’t all romance and returning glass slippers, it’s a day-by-day, moment-by-moment choice. 

It is so easy for me to just do what I want to do and act how I want to act without taking my husband into consideration, but that’s not how marriage is supposed to work. We’re a team, a partnership, and since the moment I said “I do” my life no longer was about my needs. Love is serving. Love is selflessness. Love is not about you. It’s not always easy to act on, though, is it?

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In the past ten months of being married, I have learned a lot about what it means to love my husband, and I know that over the next several years I will learn so much more, but for now, here are some things I have learned.

Learn how to love your spouse. One of the most helpful pieces of advice we have gotten is to learn each other’s love languages. My number one love language is Acts of Service. The best way to my heart is for him to do something that helps me out and shows that he understands the effort I put into maintaining our home. If I do the same for him, however, it doesn’t have that big of an impact. Knowing how to love our spouses in the ways that they need to be loved is huge – as is periodically reevaluating your love languages because they do change with time and with seasons of life. In addition to this, simply paying attention to how your spouse reacts to certain things will give you a lot of insight into how you can love them better.

Communication really is key. One of the most frustrating things in marriage is the fact that my husband can’t read my mind. That would make everything so much easier, wouldn’t it? Since that is (unfortunately) not the case, we have to intentionally tell our spouses what we are thinking and what we are needing. Not only that, but it’s important to tell our spouses how much we love and appreciate them, because they need to hear that, too.

Never stop trying. There was a reason Never Stop by Safety Suit was the song we danced to at our wedding. Never stop pursuing your spouse. Never stop trying to learn about them and love them better.

What are some ways that you show love to your significant other? Shoot me an email or connect with me on the blog’s Facebook page!

With love,

B

Photo credit:unsplash-logoJorge Martínez

Free Will

From the time humans were created, God has given us free will. Every day we use our free will to make choices on what we do, what we say, how we act, and how we react. Each and every one of those choices have consequences, whether positive or negative. This is a basic concept that people often teach their children as they are growing and learning (For example, if you don’t eat dinner, you can’t have dessert), yet we as adults sometimes have trouble grasping this concept.

We can’t blame God for the consequences of our own actions. If a relationship ends because you do not treat your partner well, that is a result of your own choices. There are things that happen outside of our control, but that is a post for another time. If we are ever going to grow and mature, we have to be willing to accept responsibility for our actions. Not only that, but we have to remember that others are prone to sin, and we have to extend grace to them.

Thinking about it this way makes free will seem like a drag, huh? It’s not. Free will is beautiful: if we didn’t have free will, we would never be able to love genuinely or really live. Yes, there are consequences for choices we make, but not all of them are bad: I choose to pour into my marriage, and as a result it is flourishing. That’s a beautiful consequence!

Free will is a gift, and we should use it wisely because our actions and words have tremendous power.

With love,

B

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Photo credit: Ryan Clements

We Are Meant to be Different

In last week’s post, I talked about how we are to be Christ-like, not necessarily Christian-like. This being said, I think there is a common misconception from both believers and nonbelievers that to be a Christian is to be a carbon copy of every other Christian. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Ephesians 2:10 says: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (NLT, emphasis mine). Does every masterpiece look the same? Of course not. So why do we think that we should look exactly the same as our brothers and sisters in Christ? God has given us each different talents, gifts, and passions so of course the way we live out the attributes of Christ are going to come across differently. Some people have a passion for opening their homes and leading Bible studies while others have a passion for working with the homeless while yet others have a passion for traveling as missionaries. Are all of them glorifying God and being Christ-like? Yes.

Additionally, while our core values may be the same, other values we have and the way we express them may look different from other people’s. For example, some parents choose to allow their children to watch television while others do not. Is either of them right? If each is doing what they are convicted about and believe is best for their own family, then they are both right.

For years this was a very difficult concept for me to grasp, but as I’ve grown and matured, I’ve realized it’s okay to look different than those around me. In fact, that is how it should be. There have been times that I have done things simply because it worked for other people, because someone else was convicted about it, or because someone told me to do it. While seeking wisdom from others is certainly important, we need to check this wisdom against Scripture and against our own hearts and then ultimately make the decision for ourselves.

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I love seeing the diversity in believers around me: no one’s life or home looks exactly the same. It is beautiful to see how so many different people can glorify God in so many different ways.

You are not called to look like everyone else, you are simply called to live a life that glorifies God, whatever that looks like for you.

With love,

B

Photo credit: unsplash-logorawpixel.com

Christian-Like

“The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’ yet doesn’t keep His commands, is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: The one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:4-6, HCSB, emphasis mine).

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When Jesus was on Earth, He was the living, breathing embodiment of God. Not only is that mind-blowing, but we are lucky enough to have records of His ministry easily accessible to us. As Christians we are called to model our lives after Christ. Often times, though, I find that we end up trying to model our lives after other Christians. This in and of itself is not a bad thing; Paul even tells those in the church of Corinth to imitate him because he is an imitator of Christ. The problem lies in the fact that other Christians are human and just as prone to sin as we are.

When we are modeling our lives after other people there are a few things we should take into account:

  • Is the behavior we are wanting to imitate consistent with Scripture? If we are looking to another person to try to be Christ-like, we need to make sure that they are behaving in a way that is truly reflective of Christ.
  • Are we idolizing them? If we become obsessed with trying to model our lives after a person or persons, we are essentially worshiping them, making them into an idol. If this is the case, our focus is misguided.
  • Are we looking into Scripture for ourselves? Are we actually studying the Word and trying to understand what it means to be Christ-like, or are we simply letting others do the work while we copy and paste?

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We are created in the image of God (Genesis 1). Within us is the capability and responsibility to reflect Him. Other people can aide us in living in a manner worthy of Christ, but they can not be our only source or our faith will crumble. This is why so many people get “burned” by the church: they think that the actions of other humans are always reflective of the actions of God, which is simply untrue. If our view of God is only through other people, we are going to have a misconception of who God is because humans are imperfect and are bound to mess up, unlike God.

As followers of Christ, we should be encouraging our brothers and sisters and be making disciples. We should also allow ourselves to be encouraged and be discipled. This, however, cannot replace seeking God ourselves; we need to go straight to the Source.

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“Therefore, be imitators of God, as dearly loved children. And walk in love, as the Messiah also loved us and gave Himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2 HCSB

Photo credit: unsplash-logoAlexandre Chambon

Dear Seventeen-Year-Old Me

Dear Seventeen-Year-Old Me,

I know. I know your world is shattered, but I promise you, things will get better. I know that right now it doesn’t feel that way, but it’s true.

You’re going to cry yourself to sleep so many nights. You won’t always.

You’re going to wonder if your heart will ever heal. It will.

You’re going to wonder if there is anyone else out there for you. There is.

You are going to come out of this stronger.

Because you are not defined by your relationship status. Your life does not revolve around another human being. Your world will be put back together when you start wholly trusting in the One who created it. Don’t settle because you’re lonely; don’t settle for less than you deserve.

Live your life. It gets better.

Photo credit: unsplash-logoOlaia Irigoien

The Social-Media Christian

What is Christianity? A label in an Instagram bio? A t-shirt? Church attendance? A list of rules? Something you are because your family is? Tweeting Bible verses?

Being a Christian isn’t something you do one day a week, or something you present yourself as on social media; it’s something you are to the core of your being.

I imagine if I had this shallow attitude towards my husband when he and I were dating:

What if I posted about how great our relationship was on social media yet rarely talked to or interacted with him?

What if I saw him every once and awhile yet never invested?

What if I talked about how much I loved him yet never showed love?

If this were the case, there wouldn’t have been much of a relationship behind the label.

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Just like human relationships, Christianity is meant to be a relationship, not a label. Because of Jesus we get the privilege of having a direct connection with our Creator. We get to learn more about Him, how much He loves us, and what He calls us to do. We get to draw into an intimate relationship with the One who will never leave or forsake us. If this is the case, why would we ever settle for less?

Are we going to choose to actually invest in a relationship that changes our hearts, minds, attitudes, and lives, or are we going to settle for a shallow label that changes nothing?

Photo Credit: freestocks.org

You Love Me Anyway

Last week I was looking at the verses I had highlighted in Deuteronomy. When I was reading the highlighted verses in chapter 31, God moved my heart.

20 When I bring them into the land I swore to give their fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey, they will eat their fill and prosper. They will turn to other gods and worship them, despising Me and breaking my covenant. 21 And when many troubles and afflictions come to them, this song will testify against them because their descendants will not have forgotten it. For I know what they are prone to do, even before I bring them into the land I swore to give them (emphasis mine).

God knew that the Israelites would turn away from Him, but He gave them the promised land anyway; they were still His chosen people.

We read the stories of the Israelites turning from God and we think, “How could you be so… well, stupid?” But we do the same thing. We are in the same boat as the Israelites.

It reminds me of a line from Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing:

“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it/ Prone to leave the God I love”

We have a tendency to try and fill our lives with anything and everything – just like the Israelites did. When God gave us free will in the very beginning, He knew that this would be a side effect, yet He chose to do it anyway. He knows our hearts are prone to wander, yet He loves us anyway. No matter how far we go, He’s waiting. No matter what we try to fill the God-shaped hole in our heart with, He’s waiting. What beautiful, gracious love.

To me, this kind of love makes me want to do anything but stray. It makes me want to draw near to the Father who loves me so fiercely, the Father that would send His son to bridge the gap between Him and me, the Father that sees the blood of Jesus rather than my trespasses.

Photo Credit: Cristina Gottardi

What is the Importance of Biblical Law?

As some of you may know from following me on social media, I have been reading the Bible chronologically since July. As of this week, I have finished the first five books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) as well as Job! I have now finished the Torah, or the books of the Law (those first five books), which aren’t always the most exciting to read; however, I learned a lot.

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I have read Genesis and Exodus before, but God’s Word is alive and speaks to our hearts. I took away things I didn’t get the other times I have read those books. The latter books of the Torah – the books that really dig deep into the law – were foreign territory .

Since beginning a relationship with Jesus, the Law has always been a perplexing concept. If Jesus came and died for our salvation, what is the importance of the Law? I have struggled with this question for six years. It’s part of the reason that I never read past Exodus in the books of the Law up until recently.

I still have questions and there are still things that I do not understand, but during my journey through these books, I have learned why, as Christ followers, it is important to read the Law:

  1. The Law reveals to us what is important to God’s heart.
    • For example, there are severe consequences for idolatry. This reveals to us that this matter is important to God. Exodus 34:14 tells us that God is a jealous God. He is our Creator and our Father. Just as an earthly father desires a relationship with his children, our heavenly Father desires a relationship with us.
  2. The Law shows us that we are not good enough by ourselves.
    • The Israelites were given the Law and they struggled immensely with living by it. God knew that it would be that way – that’s why He gave them the regulations for sin and guilt offerings. There are 613 laws in the Old Testament – that’s a lot to remember! The Law points out our inadequacy and our need for a Savior.
  3. The Law shows us the importance of Christ.
    • When Matthew 5:17 says that Christ came to fulfill the Law, that means when God looks at someone who has been covered by the blood of Christ, He sees a check mark next to each law. I have read this verse of Scripture several times, but never truly understood the meaning until recently. Jesus does not make the Law irrelevant, He makes it complete. 

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Having a personal relationship with the Creator without being bound to the Law is amazing. Jesus is our mediator, our sin sacrifice, our fulfillment of the Law. This is the best news!

The Law is not pointless, it’s just no longer the way to reach God. Jesus is the link to our Father – the only link. When we believe Him and accept Him, He meets the requirements for us, and we are blameless before the Father. As a follower of Christ don’t skip over the Law, but let it remind you of the beautiful sacrifice of our Savior.

Reading through the books of the Law has humbled me greatly. I expected to be utterly bored, but this process has strengthened my relationship with Christ in ways that I never thought it would.

Photo Credit: Ben White