Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End of Year Thoughts Part 4: A Little More About Love

1. Find Someone You could Love for Who they are-not who they could be.
This is most important. I think both of us, me and my ex, idealized each other. I couldn’t live up to what he was looking for. I realized too, that he wasn’t what I wanted either.
The greatest lie you can tell yourself is that there is no one else. No two people will ever be a completely perfect fit--but, that doesn't mean you should settle.  Be honest with yourself about everyone that you date.
I didn’t think I could change my ex. Yet, I saw things  in the beginning in the relationship that made me think he wanted to change. He thought the same of me.
Lesson: don’t stay with someone just because of who you think they might be later. That is incredibly dangerous territory. Unfortunately, it sometimes takes a crash and burn to remind you what is right. 

2. Find Someone Who Is on the Same Page as You in Regards to Spiritual Matters and the Future.
Spiritually we were not on the same page. His morals did not align with mine. I was so focused on avoiding conflict and keeping the peace that I wouldn’t stand up for what I believed. It led me to allow things I never should have.
Find someone who will encourage your dreams; not someone who will tell you they are pointless or unattainable. Find someone who is willing to go through the journey of life with you. This isn’t to say that hobbies or interests need to be exactly the same. (I want my doll collecting and scrapbooking to be my thing.) Yet, It would be cool to find someone that shares my interest for things like books and the arts.
I also want to say that our ideals for a family didn’t align that well either. There were  aspects of having a family that were important to me. He was not interested or didn't agree with them. There were a few things about raising children that would have been a huge issue later. 

3. Lastly, Guard Your Heart.
It is so easy to lose your mind with someone you have attraction to. Infatuation can be powerful, as I have found. Whenever the time comes again, I am going to pray that my heart won’t become so enamored by them. I want to be able to give myself as clear a head as possible to make the best decision for both of us.
As Christians, the main relationship we must focus on is our relationship with God. Even when you get the guy, God should always come first.
A true man of God will treat you in the way you should be treated, and love you the way you should be loved. He will pray for you and with you. He will want to praise God with you. He will be eagerly willing to study God’s word with you. He will push you to be the best Christian you can be, as you do the same for Him! (1st Peter 3:7, Ephesians 5:25)

Next Article: End of  Year Thoughts Part Five: Life

Saturday, December 27, 2014

End of Year Thoughts, Part 3: Love

I know I have mentioned a lot about my last relationship. That situation changed me. I realized many things about the situation that I could not see before. As anyone who has been in serious relationships before, you know that you are not the same afterwards.

Here are the things I have learned from the relationship:

1. Every Relationship Serves Its Purpose. 
I recall a conversation I had with a friend of mine at school. I mentioned to them that I wished the relationship had never happened. I felt like it was, in some ways, a waste of time. There are many things I regret, and problems I refused to see. Before I started dating, there were many red flags I told myself I would never allow. I decided I would end the relationship if I found them. I was embarrassed that I didn't.

My friend told me something that really struck me. They said that if you learned something and grew from the situation, then it wasn't all for nothing. As soon as they said that, I was reminded that I needed to keep my perspective positive. I had acknowledged that growth occurred. I allowed the regret of what I didn’t do to be an open wound.

It is all about perspective. If you allow it, your mind can become your biggest enemy. I constantly have to remind myself of this verse: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8)

2. Be Yourself And Know Who You Are. Know Your Worth.
At the beginning of the relationship, I made the huge mistake of going to extremes to avoid conflict. I gave a tolerant, permissive attitude to things I should not have. Over time, it exhausted me. I became a fake version of myself. When we broke up, I went back to being the way I was before--only more wise.

My advice: Before dating, learn to stand up for yourself and your ideals. This is difficult for me, and something I am constantly working on. You can still be polite and kind while sticking up for yourself. If you can’t be proud of who you are outside of dating, then what makes you think you will be while you're dating? Love yourself enough to hold out for someone who truly loves you.

Don't stay with someone just because they appear to be interested in you.

3. Find Someone Who Appreciates Your Mind For What it Is.
One of the biggest issues between my ex and I is that our thought processes were worlds apart.

I’m constantly analyzing things and trying to find the bigger picture. It is how I understand the world around me. He was the type to take things at face value. That was his way of understanding the world.

Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing wrong with the way he thought. He just could not understand me. He was often asking why I was ‘over-thinking’ everything. I began to suppress that side of myself because I thought something was wrong with me.

Belongs to Walt Disney Company

We just have different ways of looking at the world. If someone just can't 'get' you when you've been together for a decent length of time, it may be a good idea to call it quits

Next Article: Part three, A little More about Love

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

End of Year Thoughts, Part 2: Spiritual Life

This year was a year of growth for me in many ways, including spiritually. These were lessons I already knew. Sometimes though, it takes experience to understand and know it. There was a lot that happened the past few years that put some things in perspective for me.

1. God is the only one who will never, ever, let you down.  When we put our complete faith in people, we will almost always get let down. (Hebrews 13:5) People are imperfect, where God is complete good. For a while, I ended up putting certain people above God-which was the worst thing I could have done. It often occurs when you don’t realize it is happening.  Always make sure that He is the top priority in your life.

2. He will work everything out. We spend so much time worrying everything. The truth is, if you belong to God, you will always be taken care of. (Matthew 6:25-34) Our plans may not work out the way we want them to, but God will use our bad circumstances for good! (Romans 8:28) While the break up I went through broke my heart at first, I would not change a thing. It led to me getting a good job with sweet kids, and then starting at Freed-Hardeman University in August. I have met so many amazing new friends and have gained some wonderful experiences already. I know that it is only the beginning of God’s purpose for my life.

3. His will always prevails. We can always say that we are going to do this or we’re going to do that. Yet in the end, if it is supposed work out, it will. If not, it won’t. (James 4:14-15) You can pray for something to happen, but God knows what is best for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)

4. Lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ. I will admit that opening up about my struggles is a difficult thing for me. It is something I have to work on. If I can open up to you about those things, it usually means I trust you. It can be difficult to ask for prayers and help from my brothers and sisters. I have found when I step up and ask for prayers, it makes it easier to be stronger. Sometimes, we must seek out help from others. We can’t do this alone; no matter what society says. (James 5:16)

(Next Article: Part 3, Love)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

End of Year Thoughts, Part 1

My Calendar for 2014 :)
A few weeks ago, when I changed my calendar to December, I started thinking about how 2014 has been the most insane year of my life. However, it was a good insane; but the beginning of my year started off not-so-good. In February, my first boyfriend and I broke up. When you make plans and they don't happen, it can leave you confused wondering what direction to take next.

God has proved faithful. Time and time again throughout my life, I have found that when I hit a roadblock, He helps me find a way out. After the breakup, I prayed for Him to show me where I was to go and what I was to do with my life now. I ended up starting a new job working at a daycare with precious babies in April.

Last year, and earlier this year, I thought for certain I was going to be working in the beauty industry. Working at the daycare opened my eyes to something much greater and to me, more fulfilling. I never went into work wanting to be elsewhere, and I never left work feeling like I could be doing something better. I loved it.

Over the summer, when my sister came home from school, we had multiple conversations about me going back to school and careers. Finally, she suggested to me that I go to Freed-Hardeman with her. The more I began to think about it, the better it sounded. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I ended up signing up about a month before school was to start. Even within just my first semester, I don’t feel like the same person anymore. A few short months has changed me. I feel more confident, and I feel so much encouragement from my classmates and people I sing with in Chorale.

I have learned so much this year about being a Christian, love, being myself, and more of what it means to be an adult. In my next few blog articles, I will discuss more of what I learned this year about these things. As always, it is my prayer that my thoughts will be encouraging to my readers.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tips for Dealing with Anxiety and Depression

Life is hard. If you struggle with anxiety or depression disorders, you know how difficult it can be. It's like your brain is your biggest enemy. The scariest part is that you can't get away from it. You often feel like you’re caught in a rip tide you can’t get free from.

We've been hearing a lot about these issues lately-whether it be about Robin William's suicide, or Demi Lovato's openness about her struggles. This is a big issue right now.

Since I have started school, my anxiety issues have come up. It's kicked in because of being in a new place and new expectations. Yet, I am finding that I am better at handling my issues than before. A few years ago, I couldn't handle them as well.

It's not an easy thing to deal with day to day. Medication is one thing, but there are things that medication can't fix. Sometimes little changes along side it can have a very positive impact.

Do something you love

I know something that helps me is blasting music through my earphones. I am a music lover, and there is something so soothing and comforting about it. If this blog is any indication, I do a lot of writing. Find something that you can do that is therapeutic for you. And, yes, it is perfectly fine to have a hot fudge sundae sometimes. Or a chocolate chip cookie.

Get active

If my anxiety gets bad enough, sometimes I have just have to move. Going for a walk and getting outside can be very beneficial. Or, even turning on your music and dancing like a crazy person can help. It helps create good feelings and puts you in a better mood.

Have a strong support system.

Have people that you can go to when you're having problems. This is one of the most difficult ones for me, since most of my anxiety is socially based. However, I am getting better about opening up if I really need to. Having people you can trust is essential. Lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are supposed to encourage and help one another (1 Thess. 5:11, 14). 

Change your thinking

If you think, "I'm so stupid" or, "I'm so ugly", stop and try to look at the facts. Why are you calling yourself 'stupid'? For me, I sometimes tell myself this because of my social issues and learning disability. I try to take a deep breath and think this: "Yes, I made a mistake. What can I learn from this to do better next time?" Then I try to move on from it the best I can-even though it's not very easy to do so at times.

If you think "I'm so ugly" (which I'm sure many of us do at times) ask yourself why you're saying this. What triggered it? Did someone say something? Is there something beyond your control (scoliosis, acne) nagging at you? Is it really true?

You are God’s masterpiece-curvy, skinny, tall, short, and whatever else-you were made by His bare hands. You were made in His image. (Gen. 1:26, Psalm 139:13-16) As a Christian, your beauty should be defined by God.


This is probably the most important. I remember the words of Abraham Lincoln: "I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go."

Sometimes, you need a good cry and a prayer. Let it all out to the One who created you. Tell Him how you're feeling, even in you can't pinpoint why you are feeling that way. People may fail us or are unavailable, but God is there 24/7. Ask Him to give you wisdom and strength to get through your struggles.

Remember-Satan will try to use your illness to destroy you. (1 Peter 5:8)

If you are physically harming yourself, or contemplating suicide, please tell someone! There are better ways to cope than harming yourself. Trust me; there is always a better option. Just being brave and admitting you need help is the first step. It can and will get better. It may be hard to believe at times, but your life is worth living!

These are little things that are very helpful to me. I sincerely hope that something I've said can be helpful or encouraging to someone.


Friday, October 3, 2014

Post with Poetry

The Storm

What beauty fills my eyes
At this dark night hour
The sky cries tears of joy
Dancing with fingers of light

My lungs breathe out a sigh
My breathe starts to cower
The storm my heart employs
And I praise the maker bright

Amidst the storms of life
We all just rush on by
We take no time to see
To be in awe of God

People, in all their strife
Passing by, ask me why
Some think me crazy
Some think me quite odd

But it is pure wonder
In the flashing of light
The rolling of thunder
Of the Lord's creative hand

And oft do I ponder,
While seeing this great sight,
How most their awe hinder
Eyes on the mundane, not grand

How different life could be
If we only took the time
To take in the beauty
The creator gave to us

If only then we see
Would our hearts the more pine
For the Artist we need
Who formed us from earth's dust

The storm displays His pow'r
Reminds me of His strength
In my life of weakness
In the midst of life's trials.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Obsessed with Celebrities

The internet is filled with articles about celebrities. Everyday the news stations talk about the famous. Our society loves to hear about them.

I can't deny that I do as well. I am fascinated by people in general, famous or no.

Before we begin, let me just say that there is nothing wrong with having admiration for someone. There are plenty of celebrities who I feel are good role models. I believe many of us even admire people in the bible, such as Queen Esther or Paul. When admiration becomes worship, it is a problem.

There is a young woman who has spent a lot of money just to look like Kim Kardashian. There are teen and tween girls who argue back and forth about whether One Direction or Taylor Swift is better. There are girls, even within the church who can tell you the most popular song on the radio, but can't even quote one scripture.

People have a tendency to put celebrities on a pedestal. Others talk about them as if they are the scum of the earth. The truth is both are wrong.

I have seen many Christians forget that celebrities are made in God's image, just as we are. They are not meant to be worshipped. They also have as much right to come to the Gospel as we do. 

When I see the horrible, hateful things said about these people, it breaks my heart. Whenever a celebrity dies, I have often heard some Christians say, "Oh boo hoo, they were super sinful horrible people. Not worth our mourning!"

First of all, we are also "super horrible sinful people" too-but God found us and saved us (1Corinthians 6:11)! Why shouldn't we mourn? If someone has lost their soul, that is tragic!

Jesus came to die for every person. Those in the spotlight are no exception. How could we forget these beautiful words:
"For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have ever lasting life." (John 3:16)

"And He said to them: 'Go into the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized shall be saved; but He who does not believe shall be condemned." (Mark 16:15-16)

We should make it a habit to pray for celebrities and politicians (1 Tim.2:1-2). It doesn't matter who you are or where you are from- God wants you and loves you. Also, there are some who are members of the Lord's body. Pray for them to stay strong in the difficult world of Hollywood.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Obsessed with Beauty

I attended beauty school last year. I have always had an interest in that area. It appeals to my artistic side. I still have an appreciation for the industry and I believe it does have its place in society.

Women have been beautifying themselves for thousands of years. We even read of many examples in the Bible. It is something that we will continue to do.

The problem is that women are prone to obsession with appearance. In doing so, they can end up destroying their self-esteem. This leads to them forgetting what matters--their heart. Even with the makeup and hair dye, many still hate what they see in the mirror.

In the modeling industry, I have heard it said that many thin models hate plus-size models. Likewise, many plus size girls criticize thinner models saying, "REAL women have curves."

Guess what? Somebody somewhere is going to complain about our appearance no matter how we look. No amount of makeup, surgery, or amazing clothes is going to change that.

God tells us that a woman's beauty should come from within and from her actions (1st Peter 3:3-4, 1 Timothy 2:9-10). He tells us to keep our dress in moderation and to focus more on being a woman of God.

Modesty is about helping us keep our focus on what is most important. It is about projecting our priorities to the world.

When we dress or put on makeup are we displaying pride or meekness? Is our outfit tasteful, feminine, and humble? God doesn't want us to be obsessed over our appearance. When we become obsessed with something, we take our eyes off of Christ.

I'm by no means perfect in this area. I've made some poor choices in my appearance. I've also compared myself to others in the past.

But I got tired of it.

We must stop shaming ourselves. Stop the fat shaming. Stop the skinny shaming. It is petty and un-Christlike. God loves us and created us (Psalm 139:13-16). We are made in his image (Gen. 1:26) and are therefore beautiful.

That's it. We need no other confirmation of our worth or attempts to measure up. God has spoken and that is enough.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Obsessed With Social Media

Recently, I was watching Girl Meets World. The main character Riley receives an assignment from her teacher (her Dad). The group she was in had to do the assignment without a cellphone, and without the internet. That left only one option: The Library. (Dun dun dun!)

So Riley and her crush were finally able to have a real conversation. Before that, they had only talked through text. By the end of the episode, her group found that real interaction was better. Riley even found herself liking the guy even more.

While cute and funny, this episode shows a big problem in our society. You can’t walk out into public without seeing multitudes of heads looking down at their phones. As a society, we have decided that we will die if we don’t check that Facebook status or tweet.

I admit I’m one of the worst offenders. Lately I've realized just how much I use my phone. I find myself getting irritated at how much I use it. I could get a lot more done by switching off my phone sometimes.

I’m sure we’ve all heard of the problems of constant phone use. Sara Thomee at the Gothenburg University of Sweden conducted such a study. She was a student who wanted to study the effect of constant cell phone and computer use on the minds of college students.

Her test subjects were computer science majors and medical students. She noted, “…intensive computer use…was a prospective risk for sleep disturbances in the men, and stress, sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression in women.” (Thomee, 65)

Also, “frequent mobile phone use was a prospective risk factor for reporting sleep disturbances in men, and sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression in women.” (Thomee, 65)

For a few days recently, I turned off my phone after breakfast. I didn't turn it back on until late at night. I noticed that it was easier to fall asleep and to focus.

I’m not saying that computers and phones are bad. Many people have received the Gospel because of them.The problem lies in the obsession of it all.

 Lately I have left my phone at home when I go to worship or bible study. It is because I have often browsed before and after church, missing out on fellowship. When we are looking at our phones, we miss those opportunities to encourage one another.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

If our heart is not in the fellowship, we might as well be saying that we are “neglecting to meet together”. If our focus is on the phone in our hands, how can we grow and encourage each other as God commands?

I'm saddened when people use Facebook and text during worship and study.

You are there to worship and learn from our almighty Creator. If God were sitting in the worship assembly, would you be browsing on your phone? What if Jesus were to return in that moment? As Hebrews 10:31 says, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

I think we all, myself included, should consider how much we use our phones. When we are online, do we use most of that time to encourage others? When we aren’t, do we take enough time for fellowship and good works? (Ephesians 5:15-16)

There’s so much life to live. Why waste so much of it staring mindlessly at a screen?  (James 4:14)

Friday, July 11, 2014

Obsessed With Love

I think we can definitely say our society has an obsession with love. Often, people are so desperate to be loved and cherished. People want badly to be in love and feel like they matter. Many believe to not be in love would be a miserable existence.

People have bought into the lie that you need to be "in love" or romantically involved to be content and happy. The truth is, it's a difficult mindset to be free of. I can't deny that my thinking has gone this route before.

This mindset has led people to make terrible, often soul-costing decisions in their lives. I believe that a lot of it has to do with a great misunderstanding of love. Even religious people have fallen into this trap.

Many who do believe in God often try to make justification for why they should be in a relationship that the bible says is wrong. In their minds they say, "God is a God of love. So I should love whomever I want. He wants me to be happy, right?"

God is a God of love, right? Yes. (1 John 4:8, 16) And, as stated in the previous article of this series, happiness on earth isn't to be the end goal of the Christian. It is to honor God and to find happiness at the end of our lives here.

Back onto the subject of love. I believe many do have a skewed definition of love. Part of that may be because of how our language is. What do I mean? Well, the New Testament was originally written in Greek. The Greek language has many words to describe different kinds of love. We only have one word that describes them all.

Examples of the Greek love include:
  • Eros (sexual/romantic)
  • Storge (family)
  • Philia (brotherly love/deep friendship)
  • Agape (self-sacrificial) 

It may surprise you that the only two mentioned in the New Testament are "Philia" and "Agape". Even in the verses referring to the relationship of a husband and wife, "agape" is the term for love used. (Ephesians 5:25, Colossians 3:19)

Since we only have one word to describe all these things, it can make sense that there is some confusion about the subject. We must be careful in merging societal ideals with the word of God.

Agape love is a completely unselfish love. It means putting others needs before your own. We saw this in our savior when he washed His disciples' feet (John 13:1-17). We also saw it when He was scourged, tortured, and mocked (1 John 3:16).

In 1st Corinthians 13, the chapter describes in depth what "Agape" love is:

"Love is patient, and kind. Love does not envy. Love does not behave rudely, and is not selfish. It is not easily angered, and thinks no evil. Love does not rejoice in sin but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails..."-1st Corinthians 13:4-8

Go back and read that verse again, replacing "love" with "Agape", and remember what it means. It gives you a whole new perspective on God's definition of love, doesn't it? When interpreting God's word, word studies can be quite helpful in coming to the meaning of a passage (history can help as well). This is no exception.

This idea of love is pretty different from how much of the world views it. People make the excuse that they should be with who they want because God is love-but this idea of love is clearly not biblical. You can especially see how that gets blown out of the water when  you read verse six: "Love does not rejoice in sin, but rejoices in the truth."

In view of eternity, romantic love means little. People think that if they can't be with or find that right person, or "soul-mate" you life will be miserable. Even in the religious world, the idea is often pushed that if you just wait on God, He'll send the right person. God created marriage to be a beautiful and fulfilling relationship, but it isn't required. We see so many single people who were powerhouses in the work of the Lord-such as the Apostle Paul, for instance.

One thing that many miss and forget (I've forgotten it too) that there is absolutely nothing greater than God's love. Nothing (Romans 8:38-39, John 3:16). When you throw yourself into a relationship with God, He will never let you down. Even if you do find that "special someone", putting God first will help you love them even more.

In our world, people mistake that romantic feeling of love/lust for real love. Just because something "feels good" does not mean you are entitled to it. It may make you feel exhilarated or good to be with someone, but that doesn't make it right. Feeling that you are entitled to something is pride ("love isn't proud" 1 Cor. 13:4). People today are doing the same as in the time of the judges in the Old Testament. People do "whatever seemed right in their own eyes" (Judges 17:6, 21:25).

God is the ultimate good. Trying to find complete happiness in earthly things will only be temporary. Whether you want to admit it, things that are defined as sin in God's word will have consequences-here and in eternity. God is the only constant there is and He will never let you down. Sure there are bad things in this world, but He will help you through them. (Hebrews 13:5, Joshua 1:9, Isaiah 41:10) All He asks is for you to love Him with "all your heart, soul, and mind" (Mark 12:30). And, if you do love Him, obey Him (John 14:15). This brings joy (John 15:10-11).

It is incredibly difficult to break away from the world's mindset on things and to not fuse them with what God's word says. But with a humble and obedient heart, one can ask God to help them separate fact from fiction in study. Love is no exception.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Obessed With Happiness

Our world has an obsession with happiness. A lot of people are constantly pursuing happiness; often in positive ways, and often in negative ways. Happiness is not a bad thing at all-yet, many base that happiness on things that won’t last. People are so obsessed with the idea of happy, that it has led many to distort God’s word in the process.

Does our wish for happiness for ourselves as well as others get in the way of how God would have us to live? If that’s the case, we’re looking for happiness or encouraging others to find it in ways God never intended for us to find it.

Many religious people today have bought into the lie that a person’s happiness should be preserved at all costs. Many believe that it is wrong and unloving to tell someone that they are doing something that displeases God.

As soon as you tell someone that they are wrong, they always say, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

They are throwing this part of scripture horribly out of context. The problem lies in the fact that many do not take the time to read ahead or study the context in which it is being said. (As a matter of fact, when you tell us we're wrong for judging you're also judging us for judging. Interesting paradox, huh?)

Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or, how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your own eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”  (Matthew 7:1-5)

Jesus is not saying here that we shouldn’t judge . He’s saying to make sure to be careful in how you approach the situation. We have to remember that when we are making a judgment we must also remember that we also are not above the law (the religious leaders of Jesus' day often thought this way). We must examine our intentions behind bringing this issue up to the person. We must also consider if we are committing the same sin.  If we were not supposed to judge in any way, Jesus would not have said in John 7:24: “…judge with righteous judgment.”

When we judge, it must be done from a place of wanting to help others and to please God.

The bible says, “to speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). We are to tell the truth of the entire Gospel, including what God expects of us as His followers. To speak this truth, we must speak it with patience,  and kindness. We must speak it without jealousy, and without pride or arrogance. We must speak it without rudeness, without selfishness, and without anger (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

 In this passage, in verse 6 it says, “[Love] does not rejoice in sin, but rejoices with the truth.” The bible also says in Ephesians 5:11, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless seeds of darkness, rather, expose them.” (emp. Added)

So we are to judge, but in the way described above-with great care, love, and honesty.

If we as Christians wish someone happiness in something God has deemed wrong, we are being dishonest to our fellow man. In Romans chapter one, it lists things that God has deemed sinful (26-31). In verse 32 it says, “…who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them.” (emp. Added) Those who applaud and encourage those doing wrong are just as sinful in God’s eyes.

Encouraging others in their sin, even in the name of happiness, would be dishonoring to their God to show support of something He has said is sin. 
That being said, you can live anyway that you want, you have that free will to do so, and we can’t stop you. That is a decision you have to make, but know that God's word says it won't lead anywhere good. (Matthew 7:13)

Happiness in this life is not our main goal. Our goal as Christians should be to live for the next life, so that we can be with our savior in Heaven. That and only that is our ultimate prize (Philippians 3:14, 20-21). We as Christians find happiness in this life knowing that we are doing God's will and that He is going to take care of us (Matthew 6:25-33). We find contentment no matter what situation we find ourselves in because He is with us (Psalm 23, Philippians 4:11)

 But, the true followers of Christ see the physical things of little importance in the long term. We fear God first before man. (Matt. 12:4-5)

Sure, there are a lot of wonderful blessings in this world given to us by God, but there is also pain-and a lot of it. For us, we know that after we leave this life, there will be nothing but pure, awesome joy in the presence of our God (Revelation 21:4). When we tell you of His Word, and tell you something that may not be what you want to hear, we have the best of intentions. We just want the same joy and peace for others that we have for ourselves. 

I know what I've said isn't popular, and some may hate me after this article. Yet, I encourage you to go back and read the scriptures in the article. I'm only a messenger trying to spread God's word. I am writing this because I want everyone to know of the joy and peace that comes from God when you fully submit to Him and release the grasp on your life. The truth is, it's hard to keep what you are passionate about to yourself. I care about every soul reading this. You are loved very deeply by God (John 3:16).

Romans 10:17
Mark 16:16
James 2:17-26
Acts 2:38
Romans 10:9
Luke 13:5
Revelation 2:10

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Modesty Disconnect

It's a shame. There’s always that one girl-you know her- the one who complains about not being able to find a man who respects her. Then, you turn around and see her Tweets and Status updates, and the posts are sexually suggestive. The photos of themselves display “come hither” glances and poses.

And they just can’t figure out why they can’t find a good, respectable, well-mannered man.

I’m going to admit, I have little dating experience, and I recently got out of my first relationship. I haven’t had men knocking down my door (not that I’d want them to-an introvert can only handle so much). Here’s the thing: I could have that much attention if I wanted to. If I posted suggestive statuses and photos, I most likely could get more guys to pay attention to me. It would be all too easy.

But yet, it’s not the kind of attention that would lead to me to meeting the kind of man I want. The truth is, many of the good guys are going to get pushed away by posts like that. They want women who actually seem to value themselves. The guys who just want sex are going to be the ones coming after you. It’s true that you attract what you put out.

I don’t post stuff like that because I want others to see me as a person, not a sex object. I want a man to see me as a potential help-meet. So many women complain about why they should have to behave or dress modestly. Here’s the thing: modesty and decency is a humble way of demanding respect. The way you dress and act speaks volumes to others on how they should treat you.

God asks of us as women to be modest, moral, gentle, and humble (1 Timothy 2:9-11, 1 Peter 3:3-4). We know how much different this is from how women are told to act today.  Don’t lose heart if you are striving to live this way. You will be ridiculed and made fun of by other women, yes (and maybe even a few men) but God is happy with you, and you should find comfort in that.

Sure, men might not be knocking down your door, but who wants that? What woman wants a bunch of men treating her like she’s the next big thing to sleep with? I’d rather attract guys who will love me because I’m striving to be a woman of God. First, our aim is to please God (Acts 5:29). If that is your aim, you’ll most likely end up attracting the same kind of people with the same goal. They may be far and few between, but you may end up with more quality people than quantity to choose from. The best man for you is going to love you for your Godliness and good heart.

If you are still single and waiting, it’s okay. I am too. There are a lot of us waiting. Whether you find someone you want to marry or not, remember that you are God’s daughter. His love is infinitely better than anything else in this world (John 3:16, 1 John 4:9-10). Sometimes, it can be hard to remember that, especially when our society puts such an emphasis on romantic love. Never forget that there are more important things than romance. God’s work is of much more importance.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

"Shake the Dust Off Your Feet..."

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine shared a photo that dealt with a current moral debate. It was completely wrong, and had a horrible misuse of scripture. I wanted to speak up because it broke my heart that this photo was going around giving such a false impression of God’s Word. I had a whole argument built up, backed up with scripture. Yet, Facebook malfunctioned that night and I was not able to send it to them.

That night, something dawned on me: most of the verses in my argument were ones I had given to them before in previous conversations. I shared God’s word and tried my best to encourage them to change. That night, I knew then that this person does know the truth. They just don’t want to change, or are too afraid, for whatever reason. That is such a scary pill to swallow because they are forfeiting their soul.

As the adage goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

The truth is, you just have to let people go sometimes. This is difficult for me because I care about others so much. I have had a few people tell me in the past that I care too much about others and that I should stop. On one hand, they are right-I can’t let it wear me down. On another hand, it goes against my nature and who I am at a deep level. Much of what I do is because I want to help others and encourage them.

In the end, we have to remind ourselves that people have free will to live as they wish. Arguing God’s word will get you nowhere most of the time. We need to make sure that when we talk about it to others that we are coming from a place of love, honesty, and gentleness. At that point it is in their hands. To get to the point of arguing with someone will only serve to push them away further.  Jesus instructed the disciples to “shake the dust off their feet” when they came to a place that refused to accept God’s word. (Matthew 10:14)

 I am sad when I’m not able to lead others to Christ, which I know many of you feel that way as well. Often, whether it be a situation with a friend, or issues with the world as a whole, there is usually only one solution: prayer. If you are about to teach someone the gospel, or you already have and they did not accept it, take it to God in prayer.

James 5:16 says, “The prayer of a righteous man holds great power.”

You never know how God is working (Eph. 3:20). For whatever reason, a person’s heart may not be at a point that they can accept Him, and need more time. Maybe they never will come to Christ. Either way, you can never go wrong praying. Not only can it help to bring about change, but it will also build your faith as His follower. It helps Christians to let go and relieve them of some of the burden. Isn’t awesome that our Savior bears our burdens with us? (Matt. 11:28)

Do what you can, the best that you can (Eccles. 9:10) and let God handle the rest. If you do your best and others exercise their free will, do your best to move on and give His word to someone else. Take comfort in the fact that God has your back.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Freedom Isn't Free

On Memorial Day, we take the time to pay respects to those who have fought for us and all of our freedoms. Those men and women who have lost their lives for our nation deserve the utmost respect for their sacrifices.

Our Lord said, “Greater love has no man than this, than to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Jesus understood this better than anyone. He did just what He stated in the verse above. He loved everyone in the world so much, that He was willing to die for us.

At the beginning of our nation, our founding fathers fought to be free from a government which sought to control everyone. Jesus fought spiritually for us to be free from Satan’s oppression of sin—if we choose to love and obey him. (Romans 6:7-9)

His sacrifice was so great that He claimed the ultimate victory over sin (Romans 6:8-10). While the victor has been declared, all humanity now has a choice which side they will choose: the winning side, or the losing side. There is no middle ground to stand on, or fence to straddle. These belong to Satan.

For us to be free, we must make a choice. The Christian life requires sacrificing those things that hurt God. Do we want God in our lives to the point that we’re willing to do whatever He asks? Because that is what it takes! (John 14:15, 21-24, Matthew 10:37-40)

The world so often pushes things that we deem important, but in view of eternity, mean very little: love (romantic), money, jobs, social status, and sex. Not to say that any of these things are necessarily bad in and of themselves, but are we using them in the way God intended us to have them?  Also, just because we want these things, doesn’t mean we should have them. That is what gets people in trouble spiritually-people think they are entitled to something and so therefore they do anything they can to get it.

On the warfront physically, and spiritually, you’re not entitled to anything. As a matter of fact, for soldiers to be victorious, they must remove all selfishness and realize that the cause is much bigger than them.

“Finally, my brethren, put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against principalities, against powers, but against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication for all the saints…” –Ephesians 6:10-18

It’s not about us. It’s about God, and sharing His message of salvation to mankind (Mark 16:15). Just as a soldier in a war, we as Christians must learn that God has given us a great task to fight for and to endure, no matter what happens (Revelation 2:10, 1st Timothy 6:12). There may be times when we may be afraid or be uncertain of what to do, but God will always fight with us and give us strength (Exodus 14:14, Philippians 4:13, 2nd Corinthians 12:9-10).

The truth is, freedom isn’t free. It isn’t free because to gain freedom, we must realize that we need to put away selfishness and pride to obtain it. Whether it is our freedom we have in our nation, or that we have in Christ, we must realize that freedom for both came with a price. We must never forget that.

Monday, April 28, 2014

My Thoughts on the "Blood Moons"

Currently, there is an issue making many religious people look up at the sky in wonderment. This phenomenon is called "Blood Moons". I was intrigued, and wanted to know more, and why so many are getting excited about them.

The reason is this: It is a series of four lunar eclipses and a solar eclipse within a two-year span. The first lunar eclipse was on April 15th this year during the Passover. The second one this year will being during the Feast of the Tabernacle in October.

Then, on April 29th, (which is the day after which I am typing this blog post) the solar eclipse will be visible in Australia. In 2015, the lunar eclipses will occur again on the same Jewish holidays. The last time this happened was over a thousand years ago.

Many in the religious world are saying that this is a sign of Jesus' imminent return. They reference this verse:

"...and I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs in the earth below, blood and fire, and vapor and smoke; The sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon into blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day." (Acts 2:19-20, Joel 2:30-31)

So, here's the question: Based on these verses, is this a sign of Jesus' return? Probably not. Here's why: This has already happened before, for one. As already stated, this happened over a thousand years before. Last time could have very easily been the end as well, since it was after the start of the Lord's church.

Second, I find it highly doubtful that an event so spread out would signal His arrival. Could there be a sign in the sky at the time He comes? Absolutely, the bible even says so, in the verse above and a few others (Mark 13:24). There will be things happening in the sky, but scripture points to everything happening in that moment. The bible says that "He will come as a thief in the night" (1 Thess. 5:22)
and "at an hour at which you do not expect" (Matt. 24:44).

We won't know until the event is completely upon us.

As for the timing of these events, I will admit that it is highly interesting. What these blood moons do for me, more than anything, is make me fill in awe of my Creator. Time and time again I left wondering how in the world someone couldn't believe in God! I love astronomy, and the more I learn about it, the more convinced I am of His existence. I just can't see how this all happened by accident. I can't.

Everything is so fine-tuned and timed-it is God's creative symphony. The universe is music that we can touch, see, taste, feel, and hear. It all works together seamlessly and beautifully. Comets blaze across our sky in a timed gravitational dance, as are the planets and the sun. Everything in the universe is a part of this dance, as well.

Apart from the gravitational part, I feel that the Blood Moons may be just one of those things a part of our system's clockwork.

Genesis 1:14 says, "And God said, 'Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day and night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years."

As stated in this verse the universe is set up to tell time. You may have never thought about it before, but, time wouldn't exist without the sky. There wouldn't be days. We wouldn't know what time we were to meet up with friends. There would be no clocks or calendars. Our life would be completely unorganized and even more uncertain than it already is.

Maybe the blood moons (since they fall on the Jewish holidays so perfectly) are marking an interval for something we don't know about. Or, they could just be another thing in nature to help us believe in Him.

Romans 1:20 says, "For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that are made, so that they are without excuse."

I believe that we shouldn't wait for 'signs' that Jesus is coming back. At that point it could be too late. The only sign you need to start living for Him and obeying Him are the words of Jesus himself: "Take up your cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)

Friday, March 28, 2014

Danger of Comparison

Has this thought ever crossed your mind: "Well, if I were more like her...". If we're being honest, the truth is everyone thinks like this from time to time.

I can admit that I have. There's one person in particular that I've compared myself to a lot over the years. This person has a lot of qualities that I wish I had. She's better at socializing than I am, and she's witty as all get out.

For years I was so jealous of her. I felt often like I couldn't compete with her when she was around. And, yes, I had that thought,  "Why can't I be more like her?" There have been many times I've questioned if I'm good enough. So, I'm not like her. Her attributes are completely different than mine.

A few years ago, I realized how ludicrous my thinking really was. Then, one question came to the surface that I was kind of ignoring: "Am I striving to be more like Christ?"

After that question is asked, nothing else matters. The only person that I, or any other Christian should compare themselves to is Christ and HIS character.

Are we humble? (Matthew 23:12, James 4:10)

Are we long-suffering and patient with others as God is patient with us? (Luke 15:11-32)

Are we gentle? (Matthew 11:29, Titus 3:2)

Are we kind, compassionate, and forgiving? (Ephesians 4:32)

Are we honest? (1st Timothy 1:10, Revelation 21:8)

Do we strive for purity? (Philippians 4:8)

Do we weigh every word we say? (Ephesians 4:28, Ephesians 5:4, Colossians 4:6)

We all struggle with some of the things I named above. As Christians we need to be always striving to be as much like Christ as we possibly can. Is it easy? No, but we do the best we can. When we mess up, we just dust ourselves off and try harder again next time.

We need to stop envying each other! What good does it do us to compare ourselves to anyone but our Savior? When we are looking at each other, we stop looking at Christ. Instead of comparing, we should encourage and push each other towards Christ.

God made us all unique and different. The burden of envy is a heavy burden to bear. Be happy in who you are and make Christ your sole focus-not another person.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Accepting Life's Little (and Big) Surprises

Recently, I went through one of the most difficult weeks of my life. A lot of changes were coming at me at once, and everything that I had been expecting to happen were falling apart in front of my very eyes. Everything came to a screeching halt.

I didn't want to do much when everything happened. However, I kept forcing myself to do things because I knew that it was better than wallowing. I was even tempted to skip out on going to church services because I wasn't sure I could sit through services without bursting into  tears. Yet, I went anyway. I'm so glad I did, too.

I'm sure that God worked out somehow for me to hear certain things, because I needed to hear them. During the time, I was staying with some friends, and at the congregation they attend they had been studying about Mary, the mother of Jesus.

In Luke 1:26-38, Mary is being told that she is about to be the mother of the Messiah. As would be expected, she had some surprise and confusion, especially since she'd never been with a man before. This is HUGE-think about it-you're a good, wholesome God fearing young girl and you've just been told that you are about to bear a child. I'm sure if many of us were in her shoes in her time we'd be afraid and wondering what this would do to our reputation.

What she does next shows us just how much she trusted her God. When the Angel of the Lord finished telling her everything that was going to happen, she simply said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (38)

She accepted it and trusted God enough to work everything out, even though she didn't completely understand everything yet. And in some verses later on, we see Mary joyfully singing to God in awe, humbleness, and thanks (46-55). This event came in and completely changed the direction of her life. She simply let go, and allowed God to work in whatever way He saw fit.

This made me think about my situation a lot. While my situation isn't quite the same as Mary's by a long shot, I realize that God is working. While I don't entirely understand yet why things took a turn the way that they did, I know that He is completely in control. He sees my story from beginning to end. There are things He wants me to learn, experience and figure out. He's leading me to the next stage in my life. He'll use my situation to help me grow.

Over the week afterwards, I noticed something happening to my heart. It didn't hurt as much. It was because I released my grasp on the situation and gave it up to God. I was (and still am) a little sad, but my heart was starting to fill with a joy of knowing that I'm not going through this alone. God is holding my hand, and He makes me strong (Philippians 4:13).

God's plans are usually a lot different than our own. I've been learning that lately. No matter how I or anyone may try to resist, His plans always prevail. But, I know that it'll turn out okay. One of my very favorite verses says, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

There's also this one: "And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)

The truth is, every thing is going to be alright. Release your grip and let God do what He's going to do.