Featured

Getting over our stubbornness and learning to trust

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned throughout my spiritual journey and growing up Christian is we cannot do/be anything without God. That may sound harsh, but it’s the raw truth. He is the One who created every one of us, individually in His image, and without Him, we are lost.

I’ve personally struggled with stubbornness and wanting to do things my own way, without trusting God in the process. Although this may seem easier, and sometimes it really is, I’ve found that it usually results in failure or pain. God created us to have our own will, but that doesn’t mean we should abuse it and go against what He wants for us. At times it can be hard to know exactly what path He wants us to follow, but one thing I know for sure is that He is always listening. If you pursue Him, He will guide you.

God works in mysterious ways. When I take the wrong path, He never fails to show me the right way and His unconditional forgiveness. It’s completely natural for humans to want to go about things our own way and do what we want. It’s important to remember that God’s plan for us is far greater than we could ever imagine, and He has certain things to avoid only to protect us. One of my favorite verses says it perfectly:

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

There it is!! He wants the best for us always. Trusting His plan even when it’s not exactly what we want or think is the best for us will lead us on the right path. It can be hard; faith and trust in general can be difficult at times. Learning to be vulnerable and open with the Lord when we seek Him is the most rewarding thing we can do. When we seek, we are given.

 

Surround yourself with those who bring you up

This title may be obvious or self-explanatory, because who would want to be around people who bring them down, right? Your adolescence is when you really start to find yourself and come to some really important realizations. Especially during high school and college. I went to a Christian elementary school growing up, that really became a foundation for my later years. As I went on to a public middle and high school, I found it to be really difficult to stay on the right path. I had my friends from church and youth group, but they didn’t go to the same school as me. Most of the friends I made at school weren’t Christian and it eventually affected me more than I ever thought it would. Although I still attended church and youth group weekly, I drifted off the path and became more like my non-believer friends. Not that they we’re horrible people or anything; I’m still incredibly close with them. The problem was that they didn’t have the same values as me because they didn’t have the Lord. Since I surrounded myself with people who didn’t have any faith or belief whatsoever, it took a toll on my own relationship with God.

Not every Christian will experience this; as I had some friends who did just fine at public school while still diving into their relationships with God. I just want to emphasize how easy it is to fall off the path and go our own way. As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, God’s path is the right path and you will not regret taking it.

I ended up going to a Christian university and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Being surrounded by other Christians who hold the same values and beliefs is so important to stay grounded in your faith. It helped me a lot and it really holds you accountable. At the same time, it can be fantastic to be in an environment with people who don’t share the same faith as you because this is your opportunity to spread the Word. It can just be hard at times to remain who you are and what you believe is right. My mom always used to tell me, “the birds of a feather will flock together.” Therefore, you will somewhat become like who you spend your time with. This isn’t always true, but in most cases I’ve found it is.

So, don’t think I’m writing this to persuade Christians not to be friends with non-believers. I have many friends who don’t know the Lord and it’s great. We should never shun people who have different beliefs but instead love them as you would anyone else. It can always be a great opportunity to try to open their hearts to the Word of God. It’s just healthy to surround yourself with those who will bring you up and encourage you in your faith, as oppose to bring you down and away from God.

Do you have a good mix of friends who share the same beliefs as you and some who don’t? Will you take action to spread the Word to your non-believer friends?

Turning to God when there’s sin in our hearts

When God looks at us, He doesn’t see an imperfect sinner… He sees His wonderfully made creation. Sometimes we’re in the midst of a trial, struggling to believe that “the Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease” (Lamentations 3:22).

Since I am struggling to believe, that means there is some amount of sin in my heart, since unbelief is sin. (Hebrews 3:12).

There are times we face feelings of unworthiness in the Kingdom of God because of our sins and the choices we’ve made that don’t honor Him. Maybe instead of bringing our sin to God and His judgment, we avoid it all together and try to forget about it and move on. Since He is holy and perfect, it can be so hard to feel worthy of His unconditional forgiveness. This concept of unconditional forgiveness alone is mind-blowing to me. It is so unbelievably amazing that we can be forgiven and loved 24/7 no matter what we do. Of course this isn’t a pass to just do whatever we please, although God does give us the right to our own will. It is just an incredibly comforting thought to know that when we do mess up and fall short, because as we do constantly, He will always be there for us to cleanse us of our sin regardless of the circumstances.

This is exactly why Jesus died on the cross 2,000 years ago. He died for our sins so we can be accepted because of his righteousness. This will never not be cool to me. Jesus was and is the man.

So, is it OK to turn to God even when we feel at our lowest in shame? The answer is always yes. Some may ask how you do this, and it is truly in faith alone.

The important thing to remember is that God can comfort us when we feel completely consumed and overwhelmed by our guilt and shame. Don’t feel unworthy to come to God when there’s sin in your heart because He genuinely wants us to pursue Him. He wants to forgive us of our sins and heal us from broken to whole. He is the only One who can.

YOU are worthy, loved, and forgiven unconditionally.

Jesus can set us free. His love is real. His resurrection is real. His forgiveness is real.

 

How a mission trip changes your reality

The happiest and most fulfilled I have ever felt in my life was in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in one of the worst slums of the Western Hemisphere. That sounds a little strange, I know, but it was at a time when I felt my absolute closest to the Lord. I went to Haiti on a mission trip with my youth group from church two years in a row, and both times changed me completely in the best way possible. I would highly recommend to anyone to go on a trip, whether they be religious or not. Mission trips will change your perspective on life and most likely change you, too, as they did me.

I mean, come on; look at those faces.. they’re precious! For my trips specifically, our focus was children, so we organized a VBS (vacation bible school) for the kids of the community, which happened to be the worst ghetto in the Western Hemisphere that I just mentioned. However, all mission trips can be different. Some trips focus on work projects: building homes, schools, churches, etc. Others simply evangelize to the communities that have never heard God’s Word. To me, this is the coolest thing about missions — being able to go to the nations that have never heard of Jesus’ name. I have not yet been able to do that, because Christianity is very prevalent in Haiti. Scripture says that Jesus will come back when every ear has heard His name. There are so many nations and tribes of people who have probably never heard of Christianity or Jesus ever before. This is so incredibly sad to me, which is why it’s so important to go out into the nations and spread the Word of God.

“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15

It can be scary to get out of your comfort zone and travel to a place you’re not familiar with that may be unsafe and broken. I won’t lie; it was hard for me the first time. The hardest part was being surrounded by so much poverty, struggle and brokenness and there was nothing I could do to stop it. It is very difficult to see starving and depressed children with parents that have no hope for the future. It will break you, yes. This isn’t negative, though. Witnessing how other people live, especially coming from an entitled and privileged country like the United States, is eye-opening. All of this struggle you will go through is so unbelievably worth it considering what you gain in the end. You will gain a better appreciation of what you have, where you live and the rights you have. You will realize how precious life is, and even the ones who seem to have nothing, have it all. These people may be poor materialistically, but they’re rich in love. The children I got to develop a relationship with despite a language barrier were so joyful just to be in our arms. Yes, you could make the argument that all children are like that. These children were different. As much as they wanted the necessities like food and water, they craved our attention and love so much more. This broke my heart and made it fuller at the same time.

So, overall, I highly recommend going on some sort of mission trip in your lifetime. Whether that be within the country, or on the other side of the world. Everyone needs the Lord. Jesus heals even the most broken of nations. If you feel called by God to do something like this but you’re afraid of what that entails and what might happen, don’t be. God’s got ya. He provides and He protects.

Will you take the challenge and go on a mission?

“Time heals…”

All throughout my life I’ve been told that time heals. That time will eventually heal a broken heart, loss, depression, etc. Sadly, I learned that’s not the case. Things usually do get better over time, but only Jesus can heal our wounds. To say that time heals is simply a myth. In reality when it comes down to it, Jesus is the only One who can truly heal us from what really damages us.

I remember my first true heart break. Call me dramatic, but it really did have an emotional toll on me. It’s hard feeling abandoned by the person you’re most comfortable with, who you spend most of your time with, and who you’re probably most attached to. Of course, it wasn’t the end of the world, but it did hurt me a lot. I would try filling the void with things that would temporarily make me feel better, or things that would just end up hurting me more. Through all of this pain I learned how nothing of what I was doing was helping me whatsoever and how much I just needed God. Once I realized how Jesus was the only way, it became easier to be happy again. To let go, and let God.

We are so incredibly lucky to live on such a beautiful Earth created by our Heavenly Father. Life is wonderful, but as we know it’s also extremely difficult at times. Whatever you’re dealing with, I want you to know you’re not alone and something good can come from a tough spot you’re in right now. How many of us have looked back on a hard time we’ve faced and thought of the impact it had on us and how it changed us for the better? I know I’ve been there. It is such a comforting feeling knowing Jesus is consistent and will never fail to pick us up when we fall. Even when we feel the whole world is against us, Jesus will always be for us.

Psalm 107:19-21 Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind.

When you feel you’ve hit rock bottom and don’t know what road to take, remember that Jesus heals, and more than anything He wants us to pursue Him, as much as He pursues us.

Even when you’re broken, Jesus can make you whole again.

 

Who are you in line for?

This title may confuse some of you for the way it’s worded. When I think of waiting in line, I think of amusement parks, grocery store lines, etc. But there’s a lot more depth to this simple question than you think. This question of “Who are you in line for?” really stuck out to me last night at a church service I attended called The Belonging. It was an excellent service with intense worship and a powerful message; I highly recommend attending if you haven’t before! The speaker started by describing a dream she had recently where she felt God ask her who she is in line for. As anyone would be, she described her confusion by this question and the way God presented it to her in her dream.

belonging

The speaker went on to say how much this question boggled her mind and made her realize what God was really trying to get across to her. It’s so easy for us as Christians to get caught up in our own lives, aspirations and dreams and forget who the real motive is. The phrase “all the glory goes to God” says it quite perfectly. We are undoubtedly entitled to accomplish our goals and be successful, but remembering the reason of why/how we even got to that point is so important. God provides, guides and satisfies. He gets us to where we need to be and always answers our prayers within His will.

Considerably, we all get caught up with our busy lives and what we’re onto next, and we don’t always stop and think: does this glorify God? We are all guilty of getting wrapped up in this life, and that’s OK. It is important though, to stop and think who we’re in line for: The Almighty One, or ourselves.

Another point the speaker touched on was “Staying in line”. Imagine you’re at an amusement park and you’re in line for the newest roller coaster. The line is obviously crazy long, but you decide to wait anyway. An hour and a half have already passed, you’re hungry, thirsty and tired and you decide to forget it. Later in the day, before you and your friends are about to leave, one of them suggests to ride the coaster from earlier before you go. The line doesn’t look any shorter, but your friends really think it’s worth it. Yes, you can get back in line, but you have to start all over again. When you’re tempted to get out of line, you’re forgetting the reason and worth of what you’re waiting for. This is like our walk with God. There will be many times in your life when you want to say forget it and do your own thing instead of following God’s plan because life is getting too difficult, and maybe you have no idea what God could possibly have in store for you. Yes, you are always welcomed back on the path with God, since He is forgiving and His love is unconditional. But just like the line for the roller coaster, you have to start all over.

The speaker made that analogy during her message, and at first it bothered me. Why would we have to start all over if we fall off the path of God, if He is supposedly so forgiving? Well, if we’re straying off the path of God and what He wants for us, but then decide to go back, it’s difficult to naturally pick up where we left off… Especially with reading His word, making time for your relationship with Him, and turning our life around.

All in all, what we need to hear isn’t always easy to hear necessarily. The speaker’s message stuck with me so much mostly because it wasn’t just fluffy, encouraging words. As much as we need those too, it’s valuable to be reminded of words like these. So, stay in line. You probably won’t regret it.

Who are you in line for?

Prioritize some Jesus in your everyday life

Being a full-time student, maybe with a job or a sport or other obligations on top of having a social life, can get extremely stressful and busy. We’ve all experienced it. Finding a balance in your schedule for extracurriculars or even just some down time can be difficult, let alone finding the time in your schedule to spend time with the Lord.

IMG_9573Of course attending church, youth-group activities and Bible studies are important and good for the soul, but actually isolating yourself and spending time solely with God is crucial for your relationship with Him.

He always wants to talk to you, listen to you and guide you to what you need to hear. Sometimes it can be hard to just sit down and read the Bible. Maybe you ask yourself, “Where do I even start?”

I’ve definitely been there, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. One thing I’ve always found helpful to do in that situation is praying to God before you open up the word to show you what He wants you to hear. I’ve always found that reading the Bible right when I wake up is the absolute best. Starting your day with important wisdom and encouraging words from our Creator is starting your day right. It’s like a cup of coffee in the morning: refreshing and necessary for the day!

Along with reading the word and spending time in prayer, listening to worship music and praising Him is so spiritually filling. I love music, so I often try to listen to worship music when I’m relaxing or driving or whatnot. There’s nothing better than a long drive with some Jesus jams. I highly recommend Hillsong United and MercyMe; they’re super-talented Christian artists with some great stuff!!

So, even though life can get crazy busy, stressful and miserable sometimes.. Making time for God and immersing in your relationship with Him is so important. It makes for a happier, healthier life!

P.s. – a link to listen to one of my favorite worship songs 🙂