Church a Light?

What is the use of a lamp-stand if there is no light to shine from it?

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In the book of Revelation, the churches are referred to somewhere as lamp-stands, and it got me thinking … Do our churches in this day and age lift up Christ high and shine a light for miles in every direction?

Or are they glorified, but empty, lamp-stands; taking in ideas and thoughts, but not spreading the Message outward into the world?

I’ve heard some Christian speakers say: “The Church in America is more influenced by the Culture than the Culture is by the Church.”

That’s why we have Christian couples living together before marriage, and no one calls them out. That’s why pornography is rampant among Christian men. That’s why you hear so many Christians saying, “Well … I don’t know if the homosexual lifestyle is really a sin. The Bible doesn’t say anything about it …”. That’s why divorce is widely accepted in Christian circles and the Bible verses condemning it ignored. That’s why we have Christian women dressing in very sensual and provocative ways. That’s why we have Christians doling out verbal or emotional abuse and thinking nothing of it. That’s why we have Christians spewing out foul language, idolizing ungodly celebrities, getting drunk, speaking hatefully, and just generally living self-consumed, materialistic, entertainment-crammed lives.

I can’t help but wonder if we’ve gotten church wrong, and that’s why we find ourselves where we are today.

2 Timothy 4:2-5

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

Maybe church is less about checking a box, and more about doing life with fellow believers who are passionate about Christ.

Maybe church is less about numbers, and more about close relationships within the Body.

Colossians 3:12-17

12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

See, we have these huge churches and are constantly pulling people in. We call people to the altar, but offer no discipleship. And soon, our church building is packed full of people we know nothing about. Are they living Christ-like lives? Is there a habitual sin that needs to be addressed in someone’s life? Is someone suffering abuse at the hands of a faithful church-goer? Is someone drowning in anxiety and depression, but just pastes on a smile every Sunday? Are half of our members even Christians at all?

We don’t know.

There is no longer deep fellowship in many churches today. There is no keeping people accountable. There is no meeting the church people’s needs together. There is no discipleship and spurring one another on toward good deeds in their personal, day-to-day life.

Hebrews 10:19-25

19 Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

I think we’ve lost the ministry of calling people out, rebuking, and reconciliation. We’ve lost personal, deep, hard, beautiful relationships with our fellow church-goers. And this is a deep loss, indeed.

Matthew 18:20

20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

Church has become more about great music and an inspirational, 45-minute sermon. And then you slip out of the building and back into your life without anyone any the wiser about you, your presence, your life, your pain, your confusion, your sin. Anything.

As a result, we have Christian singles, couples, and families who are isolated and deeply struggling.

And we have churches watering down the gospel and adopting unBiblical doctrine, either because they think Truth is too radical and not bringing enough people in, or the church is already filled with a bunch of half-hearted Christians who don’t know their Bible and, ultimately, aren’t submitting to Jesus Christ as Lord.

James 1:22

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.

Many churches aren’t teaching their members what it means to follow Christ. Not really. They aren’t teaching people to live a passionate, set-apart life out of an unashamed love for Christ Jesus. They aren’t teaching people to have a deep, committed love for each other, the bride of their beloved Lord.

John 13:34-35

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

What can we do to change?

We need to get serious about fellowship and community. We need to sincerely seek God, as individuals, and then share what He’s teaching us with others. We need to ruthlessly kill sin, and relentlessly pursue love. We need to pray for our pastors, Sunday school leaders, and Bible study teachers. We need to challenge and encourage our brothers and sisters in Christ to live in response to a higher Calling. We need to get involved in churches and live boldly for Christ within them. We need young men to rise up and become bold but compassionate shepherds who are passionate about leading a church full of people closer to God and each other.

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

So, please, join the conversation. What do you think the is the Biblical mold for churches? How could we do better to unify and work together as the Body of Christ? To love Him. To love each other. To love unbelievers.

What can we do to shine a light, like from within a tall lamp-stand, to illuminate the world for the glory of Christ?

Acts 2:42-47

42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. 44 Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need.

46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

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Happy Christmas Season!

Hello, dear readers!

I haven’t been as frequent and timely about posting on here, and some of that is because I’ve been sick. Not terribly sick, but sick enough that it has been interfering with my schedule over about the last week and a half. And with physical ailments often comes anxiety struggles for me. So bear with me. I’ll try to be posting on both Tuesdays and Saturdays again soon here! 🙂

Anyway. Happy Christmas season! ❤ I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving, and are enjoying the start of the Christmas season. I’ve come to love this season … the feelings of joy, peace, and hope, and the celebratory mood that comes with it. It’s a wonderful time to be still before God and just reflect on Him, His coming to us as a baby and Savior thousands of years ago, and His second coming that we know will happen.

This is the first year that my family and I are participating in Advent. I came up with a plan and found a devotional on YouVersion called Advent: Christ is Coming!. My parents, siblings, and I started going through it a couple days ago.

Each evening we gather in the living room, read Scripture on prophesies in the Old Testament on the coming Messiah & such, discuss a little, sing songs (last night we sang O Come, O Come, Emmanuel), and eat a special snack. We’ve had sparkling water with fruit in it, and a veggie tray thus far.

I love traditions and have wanted to celebrate things like Advent, so this is really exciting for me.

This season is about Christ, and I love to find ways to remember and celebrate that! What a joy to belong to the eternal King and Savior of the world! I am His and He is mine! ❤

So tell me in the comments:

DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN ADVENT?

DO YOU LOVE THE CHRISTMAS SEASON?

HOW DO YOU CELEBRATE?

HOW DO YOU TREASURE CHRIST CLOSE IN YOUR HEART, ESPECIALLY DURING THE HOLIDAYS?

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What is Beauty?

The other day, my sister wanted someone to practice her photography skills on, so she popped into my room and asked if I would come be her “model”. 😀 I wasn’t exactly feeling up to it, but my mom said something to the extent, “You should go and help her out.” So I was like, okay, sure. It’ll probably end up being fun.

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I got ready. Washed my hair. Put on a little make-up. Tried on an outfit that, in my mind, I imagined would look perfect. Well, when I stood in front of the mirror, the outfit on me, it didn’t look so perfect after all.

I tried on a few different variations, but nothing looked good. A headache began to pulse behind my eyes and my stomach knotted … Thoughts filtering into my mind: You never look good.

Finally I changed back into the original outfit and told myself, You know what, it doesn’t matter. This isn’t about me anyway. And beauty, or lack of it, isn’t who I am. I grabbed my Bible and headed outside with my sister into the crisp, cold air. Let’s highlight something else about me. Those precious moments when I stop worrying about my outward appearance and delight in being my King’s child.

I did enjoy the photo shoot … besides being cold! :p

And I want to tell you all who struggle with insecurity like me: Outward beauty truly is fading and subjective. But a woman who delights in the Lord, a rare beauty illuminates from her.

And part of delighting in the Lord, I feel, is saying confidently to your Creator and for your own heart to hear: I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.”

And: “How mighty and glorious You are to have made me pure and whole! And how good You are, the way You keep sanctifying and beautifying me on the inside.”

Philippians 1:6

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

Hebrews 9:14

14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

1 Corinthians 6:11

11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.

See, I don’t think the Father is pleased when we tear ourselves down constantly. Insulting His creation.

Genesis 1:27

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

We’re living after the Fall, and there is no longer perfection, so we need to stop grasping for it.

After photo shoots, I might find some pictures with just the right lighting and where I’m standing at just the right angle, and I determine that I might look kinda pretty. But I usually find other pictures that make me feel bad about myself. I see all my flaws and wonder anxiously if this is what people see me like everyday. What are they secretly thinking about me if I look like that?

There have been times I’ve wanted to hide myself because I felt my flaws made me unacceptable.

But this is ridiculous. I have to continually reject that lie. Why would I mock my Creator’s design? How does He feel when I listen to people’s opinions rather than His voice of love, and this cultivates an ungrateful heart within me? Why would I make everything about me and my fear, and hide myself away from God’s love and sharing that love with others?

Ephesians 2:10

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Dear women, beauty is not all that important.

But I do think every woman innately wants to feel beautiful and treasured, so I just want to tell you that beauty is subjective and people have different perspectives. Maybe there have been some people who’ve said some hurtful things about your appearance … but I can almost guarantee there are also others who find you beautiful.

Song of Solomon 4:7

You are altogether beautiful, my love;
    there is no flaw in you.

And, I’ve told myself, even if every person thinks I’m kind of ugly and awkward, but my eternal Father and Savior finds me beautiful, that’s quite enough.

The only One who’s opinion really matters says: I made you and it is good.

Flaws and all, I am His.

His adopted daughter. Cherished. Secure. Loved.

1 Peter 3:3-4

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.

My identity and confidence don’t come from others opinion of me. They’re just people.

My God and King, it’s His voice I will listen to. And in His presence, I’ve never felt Him say: you’re ugly. I’ve never felt Him turn His face away from my flaws. Instead, I picture His gentle hands forming everything about me in my mother’s womb. I picture His strong arms always open to me – welcoming me in. His smile brilliant, His eyes filled with bottomless love.

I’m so complete and beautiful in Him.

And even when I’m old and shriveled up. Thousands of wrinkles, coarse gray hair, and body sagging – all the earthly definition of beauty fading away before my eyes – I will still be so complete and beautiful in Him. As I’m His and His alone.

Truly, if you chase outward beauty, you will never be satisfied. You will never feel beautiful enough. There will always be a girl that you see as better than yourself. If you chase popularity, charm, and wittiness, you will always come up feeling empty. You will never be quite celebrated enough. Have enough.

These things are fleeting. Deceptive. Empty. It can all be tactics Satan uses to lead us astray.

Chase Christ. He will satisfy. His Word says that a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised! So let’s put more stock in character and faith than a gorgeous face & body and a witty mind.

1 Samuel 16:7

For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Beauty and charm are ultimately ugly without Christ. It will come out that this kind of woman is living only for herself. And you will see the selfish way she chases the high. The arrogant way she pushes others aside. The cruel way she tramples people to elevate herself.

Proverbs 11:22

22 As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout,
So is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.

That’s when you see that beautiful suddenly isn’t beautiful anymore.

But what about a woman who fears God? A woman who genuinely follows the Lord Jesus. Who wholeheartedly believes God’s love for her and loves Him. A woman with a heart for people, who sincerely cares for them. A woman passionate about doing what God has called her to. A joyful, radiant woman. A woman who cares for herself and her household. Who hungers for the Word. Who delights in being with Jesus in prayer. A woman who walks in confidence not found in herself. A woman comfortable in God’s design of her femininity. A woman who laughs a lot, complains seldom, and doesn’t look to you for validation.

Now that’s a woman of lasting beauty! That’s a woman who shall be praised. That’s a woman we should admire.

So, dear sister, I want to tell you that you’re beautiful. But don’t chase perfection in outward beauty, chase perfection in Christ.

That’s beautiful.

May we women grow in this beauty together! ❤

Proverbs 31:30

30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,
But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

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Love Them – PRAYER

How is your prayer life, my friends? I must admit, mine isn’t as consistent and deep as I would like it to be. As I know it should be.

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My Sunday school leader reminded us just a couple days ago: You can’t have a good relationship without communication. You can’t have a good relationship with God without prayer. You need to be communicating with Him. Spending time with Him.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Communication and quality time make for a strong, healthy, intimate relationship.

I have been hearing a lot about prayer lately, from so many different sources. I’m reminded again and again how important and needful and powerful it is!

Matthew 7:7-11

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

I’ve asked someone to keep me accountable in my prayer life. I want to be setting a time aside to pray every day … whether it means getting up extra early, or going into my room in the evening, putting in earplugs, and asking my little siblings to let me have “alone time” for awhile. 😉 Whatever little sacrifices or maneuvers it takes.

Because I want to have an intimate relationship with my eternal Father. Jesus Christ, our own Savior and Lord, set the example for us on how to have close relationship with the Father. He went out often to be alone and pray and be in God’s presence. Below is just one example in Scripture.

Luke 6:12

12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

And, I oftentimes have heavy burdens on my heart that really need to be wrestled over and poured out in prayer.

Ephesians 6:18

18 praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

Which brings me to the point of this post … love people through prayer.

Is it a family member?

A friend?

Your spouse?

A co-worker?

A child?

Father? Mother? Brother? Sister?

Uncle? Aunt? Cousin? Grandparent?

Who is heavy on your heart right now as you read this post? Whose lifestyle or attitude brings you grief? Who are you worried about because life is weighing heavy on them? Who in your life doesn’t know Christ? Or isn’t following Him well?

I want to really encourage you –

Pray for them.

And don’t stop. Even if nothing seems to change. Even if things seem to get worse. Even if it takes years to see the fruit of your prayers. GOD HEARS YOU. Keep lifting up that person to Him. Over and over. Day after day. Month after month. Year after year. Don’t give up.

Romans 12:9-12

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;

At times we are so burdened and grieved over people in our lives, and we wonder what we can do to make a difference or bring about change. We have to realize that we can PRAY, and this is a great PRIVILEGE, and a POWERFUL WEAPON.

James 5:13-18

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. 18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Matthew 18:19-20

19 “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

So please, get on your knees before a faithful and mighty God.

Don’t give in.

Satan wants you to give in. To throw your hands up and say: They won’t change. It’s not worth it. I guess I have to just accept this and live with it.

But Satan is a liar. And he is not the victor.

John 8:44

44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

Love the hurting and hurtful people in your life through prayer. And wait in expectation for God to move. For He came to give life, and life more abundantly! And He isn’t desiring that any should perish in sin, but that everybody be in relationship with Him!

1 John 5:14

14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

So, my dear sisters and brothers in Christ, will you commit with me to being prayer warriors?

Will you grow closer to your Lord through prayer?

Will you love people through prayer?

Will you be blessed and encouraged through prayer?

Will you wait expectantly and faithfully for God to move?

Will you just rejoice that He has given you prayer?

  • A comfort.
  • A delight.
  • A hope.
  • A blessing.
  • A weapon.

Colossians 4:2

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving;

The Danger of Shame

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Dear sisters in Christ, today I want to talk to you about the dangers of shame.

Shame is something that a lot of you may carry. And it’s something that needs to be dealt with, lest it destroy you.

I think shame is oftentimes, if not always, Satan’s tool. Not God’s.

Shame says: You are wrong. Not: You’ve done wrong.

Shame is an identity.

An identity that suffocates you and leads you into darkness and confusion.

You  might feel shame because of “really bad” sins in your past.

You might feel shame because of something done to you.

You might feel shame because of emotional or verbal abuse.

You might feel shame simply because your personality, perspective, or circumstances make you more vulnerable to it than others.

But the truth is, as a daughter of God, shame should not be an identity you claim. Yes, there are times of guilt, remorse, conviction, and repentance.

Psalm 51:17

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

But when you can hardly look at or think about yourself without being drenched in shame, then you are embracing a  lie straight from the mouth of the Evil One.

Because, if you are a daughter of God, you are redeemed. Made pure. And as a human being, you are made in the image of God!

Yes, mankind chose sin and perverted perfection. But if you trust in Jesus Christ as your Savior, then when God looks at you, He sees Jesus. As He accepts Jesus, He accepts you in Jesus. As He loves Jesus, He loves you in Christ Jesus.

Ephesians 1:3-6

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

Don’t hold onto shame.

It will pollute you, your relationships, and your life.

Particularly when it comes to romantic relationships, shame can be very dangerous.

A girl might accept all kinds of nonsense from a man because she doesn’t believe that she, personally, could get any better treatment.

She might participate in sin because her boyfriend communicates that she’s worth no more, and she accepts that because of her identity of shame.

She might settle for a guy who abuses her. Emotionally. Verbally. Even physically.

She might stay with a guy who is unstable or self-absorbed because, well, at least he wants her and doesn’t seem to care that she’s this, this, and this.

I mean, who could want a messed-up, stupid, failure of a woman like herself? If this guy will actually take her, she better make this relationship work.

A Christian girl might imagine herself unworthy of a godly man, for whatever reason. Therefore, instead of waiting for a man who will lovingly lead her toward Christ, pursue God with her, and truly strive to live out marriage as the Bible commands, she will run headlong into the first relationship that, unbelievably, comes her way.

But, my precious sisters, that is not how you follow Christ.

God is not pleased when your boyfriend (or any person) treats you badly, carelessly, or with selfish intent. God calls people to love you as He loves you.

John 13:34

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

God is not pleased when you make ungodly, unBiblical, insensible, foolish, harmful, careless, or hasty decisions based on your self-claimed identity of shame and your idea that you couldn’t possibly have a good and beautiful marriage like godly people get.

God makes people godly.

Romans 8:1-4

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

Breathe in His grace. Sit at His feet. See yourself as He sees you to be. Breathe out His love. And accept every good and undeserved gift He gives. Rejoice and glorify Him through that gift.

No, none of us deserve an awesome spouse – because we aren’t awesome.

But God is awesome.

And He chose you. He wants you. He loves you.

He has a specific plan for your life. Things like love. Joy. Peace. Purpose. Ministries. Relationships. Fellowship. Marriage. Children. Jobs. Mission Work. Education. Passions and hobbies …

He works through any and all these things to glorify Himself in and through your life, and draw you and others ever closer to Himself.

Jeremiah 29:11-14

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

You may not feel you should get a godly spouse. That a godly man would want you. But if God wants to give you marriage, then by all means, accept that amazingly godly man and shout praises to your Father in heaven. He is awesome!

Let Him wash away the shame.

When you are His, washed clean by the powerful blood of Christ Jesus, you are CLEAN. All clean. No more shame, sweet girl. Bask in God’s love and let God’s love sanctify and change you.

You may have some more growing to do before you are ready to partner with and serve alongside a godly man.

But rest assured, if God is leading your heart toward marriage, He would have you choose a godly man.

Don’t settle for a man who will pull you away from Christ, or even sit back and watch as you strive for faith. Wait for a man who will push you toward God. Who will run the race with you. Who will worship God wholeheartedly with you.

2 Corinthians 6:14-16

14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.

Wait for a man who will see you as God sees you.

Beloved.

What Am I Feeding My Mind?

On Saturday, I did a post sharing some of the Youtube channels that I follow. I think it’s appropriate that I follow that up with a post considering what you feed your mind and the consequences of that.

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Because what you watch, what you listen to, what you read … the things you fill your day with … these bring with them consequences in your life, whether you realize it or not.

Youtube videos. Music. Movies. TV shows. Books. Magazines. Social media. What you expose yourself to through these things will impact your thoughts and your actions.

Have you considered this? Or do you brush off the inappropriate sexual scene in a movie because: oh, it’s just a movie. It’s not like I’d actually do that.

Do you brush off the swearing, inappropriate language, and misuse of God’s name in the songs you listen to and TV shows you love because: it’s not that bad. There are worse things.

Ephesians 5:3-4

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.

Have you considered that maybe the erotic romance books you read are leading you toward sin in your mind and your heart?

Have you considered that the secular songs you listen to day in and day out are desensitizing you to the unholiness of culture?

Have you considered that by watching countless movies with sex scenes and countless TV shows where fornication and adultery are portrayed as normal, natural, and even acts of true love … that you might actually start to kind of believe that God’s design for sex is outdated?

Hebrews 13:4

Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

Have you considered that the celebrities and people you follow on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube are perhaps feeding you a secular worldview, and not that of what the Bible supports?

2 Timothy 1:13-14

13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.

Have you stopped to consider that maybe culture, the media, and entertainment are influencing you more than the Word of God?

If you listen to, watch, read, and discuss secular, ungodly, worldly content countless hours a week, and hear/read the Bible one, two, or maybe three hours a week … how do you expect to really act like a Christian (a Christ-follower)? How do you expect God’s Word to shape you?

How can it, when it is drowned out by the all-too-loud world that you’re giving an all-too-willing listening ear?

Many of us Christians don’t realize this. We wonder why we can’t control our minds. We wonder why we can’t change. We wonder why Christians are starting to act more and more like the rest of the culture.

We have to come face-to-face with the fact that we are cramming way more secular content and “facts” and entertainment in our minds and hearts than we are the words and ways of God.

Romans 12:1-2

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

We aren’t spending enough time talking with our Father. Sitting at His feet and listening to Him. Asking our Creator and Lord what He would have us do. How He would have us act. We aren’t spending enough time pouring over His precious Word. Learning about Him and His ways and His love.

We are letting the world change us to become more like them. When, in fact, we are supposed to be set-apart. We are supposed to be lights. We are supposed to be the salt of the earth.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

Matthew 5:13-16

13 You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

14 You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

John 17:15-18

15 I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.17 Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.

Oh, but we are losing sight of this. Forgetting our first Love. Forgetting that GOD must be our delight and our authority.

So I challenge you.

I challenge you to ask yourself:

What am I feeding my mind?

If you are feeding your mind darkness, and lies, and sin, don’t be afraid to be ruthless in cutting these things out and getting rid of them.

Even if you’re feeding yourself something that isn’t necessarily a sin, if it is burdening you, entangling you, or making so you “don’t have time” for God’s presence, be brave to make the sacrifice and find the greater joy.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Sacrifices will look different for different people.

Maybe you need to delete your Instagram account.

Maybe you need to unfollow some ungodly influences on Instagram, and rather follow some godly ones (such as desiringgod, girldefined, and set apart girl)!

Maybe you need to get to bed earlier in the evening so you can rise early enough to have a couple extra hours for prayer, studying Scripture, and just quiet time listening for God.

Maybe you need to shut off the loud music for awhile and listen to a sermon while eating lunch or doing chores. (J.D. Greear, Matt Chandler, Priscilla Shirer, and John Piper are some great Christian speakers/pastors.)

Maybe you need to turn up the music and dance and worship! 🙂

Maybe you need to cut back on the amount of movies you watch.

Or carefully examine the content of the movies you watch. Search for awesome Christian movies! (Such as The Grace Card, War Room, Courageous, Fireproof, October Baby, I Can Only Imagine, and Woodlawn.)

Maybe you need to go to a Sunday school class before the church service or join a Bible study on Wednesday nights!

Maybe you need to search out some strong fellow believers and get together with them weekly for uplifting, beautiful, godly fellowship.

Maybe you need to swallow your pride or fear and ask that older woman (or man if you’re a guy) if they could be your mentor. Confess your faults. Ask for wisdom, advice, and accountability.

Maybe you need to give up romance novels.

Maybe you need to be very careful of what books you read, even in the Christian market, but can benefit from some godly, beautiful romantic fiction! (Don’t even get me started on books I recommend! 😉 Bread of Angels by Tessa Afshar and Dare by Tricia Mingerink are two I’ll leave you with for now. Feel free to contact me if you want more recommendations!)

On that note, maybe you need to read some recommended Christian Living books and Christian biographies! (Such as Breaking the Fear Cycle, Love Defined, Daring to Hope, and Silencing Insecurity.)

Trade bad content for good content.

But cut back on entertainment altogether if you’re not getting enough time with God and His Word.

Your relationship with Him is the thing that is lasting. And your relationship with those of His other children.

Ephesians 2:10

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

So don’t let entertainment, art, culture, and social media lead you to a burdened, entangled, unsatisfied, mediocre life.

Delight yourself in the Lord. Fill your hours with Him through whatever means you can.

And Shine.

1 Peter 1:13-16

13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, Be holy, for I am holy.”

Youtube Channels with Faith Content

Good day! This has been a bit of a busy week or something, because I feel like I haven’t had time to sit down and think & write. So today is just going to be me quickly sharing some Youtube channels I follow!

I’m actually not going to be home when this post goes up … but hope you enjoy! 🙂

Desiring God

Desiring God

I recently started following this Youtube channel and have really appreciated hearing John Piper’s thoughts on different Biblical and life issues.

The Chat with Priscilla

The Chat with Priscilla

Priscilla Shirer is a Christian speaker, author, and actress. (She was the lead in “War Room” put out by the Kendrick Brothers). I just subscribed to this channel and have loved some of her videos! She is such a passionate and bold speaker.

Daily Disciple

Daily Disciple

Just found this channel as well, and have already enjoyed many videos on Christian Living and also spoken word poetry.

Dale Partridge

Dale Partridge

Dale & Veronica Partridge have an organization called Ultimate Marriage. They dive deep into Biblical truths on marriage and strive to teach other couples what it looks like to live out God’s design for marriage. Most of their videos are on this topic, but Dale also speaks on church denominations, homeschool, and being an entrepreneur. And they have a few family vlogs.

Paul and Morgan

Paul and Morgan

Paul and Morgan are a young married couple who like to speak on life, love, and dating. They’re humorous and silly sometimes, but also serious about seeking God and following His Word instead of what’s acceptable in culture. I have enjoyed a lot of their videos.

Revive Our Hearts

Revive Our Hearts

I don’t watch this channel’s videos regularly, but I have truly appreciated some of their content. I think this ministry was founded by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Girl Defined

Girl Defined

And I know I’ve mentioned these girls quite a bit on this blog! Kristen Clark and Bethany Beal are beautiful women of God and I’ve been encouraged many a time by their ministry.

***

That’s all for now! Do you follow any of these channels? I hope you check them out if you haven’t! 🙂

What are some Youtube channels dedicated to faith content and Biblical truths that you would recommend?

Choosing Joy

What does it look like to choose joy each day? To see through the eyes of gratitude? To embrace every gift He gives?

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What does it look like?

To choose joy even when I don’t have what my heart desires.

To choose joy even when I’m not sure what my purpose is.

To choose joy even when I feel like time is ticking in my ear and I’m not certain what I should do with it.

To choose joy even when my imperfections – be they physical, emotional, or spiritual – are trying to reach up and wrap themselves around my lungs and suffocate me.

To choose joy even in the struggle, the messy, the pain, the questions, the overwhelming, and the unknown.

How to choose joy?

It seems like an insurmountable mountain at times. How can I climb to the top of that sheer cliff and grab hold of joy when I already feel overcome by weariness?

Maybe it looks a little differently than sheer willpower.

Maybe it’s about choosing Jesus.

Like, going straight to your Bible and sitting in His presence when you feel depression creeping in.

Seeing His hand in everything.

Like, noticing every little, sweet thing in each day.

Trusting His truth.

Like, remembering the verse in His Word that tells us not to worry about tomorrow. Trusting that He will take care of you because He said He would.

CHOOSING JOY is living fully immersed in the moment – whether talking to your friend, laughing with your little siblings, making supper, or going to that fall gathering. Stop constantly living in your mind, thinking: when am I going to get a chance to pour out everything that I want to say? Maybe I should get back to my social media/texting/project. How long is this meal going to take so I can eat? Will I finally make some girl friends or meet a special guy here? Live that moment, and in doing so, it is perhaps like thanking God for giving it to you.

CHOOSING JOY is making the most of the day you’re in – even if you sense that you’ve wandered and God will be calling you somewhere else in the days of tomorrow – just living this day as faithfully as you can. Spend quiet time with the Lord. Glean wisdom. Love on whoever may be around you (siblings and parents?). Serve people, even in just little ways, that you know will bless them.

CHOOSING JOY means reading Scripture. Let the words of God wash over you, heart and soul. Read those verses on joy, and thankfulness, and peace, and hope as many times as you need. Whenever bitterness, depression, or listlessness start welling up … Read Scripture verses on joy. Meditate on them. Memorize them. Write them on sticky notes and post it around your house.

Psalm 100

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing.
3 Know that the Lord, He is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

Ecclesiastes 3:11-12

11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.

Psalm 103:1-5

Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 94:19

19 In the multitude of my anxieties within me,
Your comforts delight my soul.

Philippians 4:4 & 6-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Colossians 3:15-17

15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

CHOOSING JOY looks like writing a list of everything you see as beautiful and blessed. (See One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp) Take time to notice and appreciate every gift God puts in your day. Sunshine. Rain. Fall colors. Insects chirping. Laughter. Little brother playing with your hair. A child’s innocence. Inspiration. Warm socks. Good books. Family around the table. Savory food. Don’t just glance over the everyday-life things. Praise God for each simple gift and special moment.

CHOOSING JOY is found being out amidst nature. I don’t know about you, but being outside in the forest and warm rays of sun makes everything look up for me. There’s a stillness. A peace. A feeling of closeness to Creator God. So put aside some time to get outside. Walk through the woods. Go hiking. Drive around and enjoy scenic views. Visit the mountains. Go camping. Dance through an open field. See God’s handiwork. Feel His goodness. Worship Him in all of His majesty and love.

CHOOSING JOY is an empty house, worship music turned up, and dancing. Even with your broken heart, your wounded soul, your present struggles, gripping pain, heavy burdens, and twisting fear … turn up that music and dance before your God and Father. Lift up your hands to Him. Surrender it all. Cry freely over that unresolved issue in your life. Give everything back. And simply rejoice in being His. Rejoice in Him making you feel whole in that moment, even though you know nothing about your outward circumstances has changed. (See Isaac by Hollyn)

CHOOSING JOY is giving someone a genuine smile.

CHOOSING JOY is always coming into His presence with thanksgiving in our heart. Pray, friends. Pray often! And even if you’re coming before Him with a heavy burden or hurting heart, choose to praise Him. Praise Him for being your God, your Father, your Savior, Redeemer, and Friend. Praise Him for being your Creator, your Lord, your Guide, and your Provider. Praise Him for being your Healer and your Hope. Praise Him for being the true and eternal Lover of your soul.

How do you choose joy, my friend?

Or are you stuck in a cycle of joy-lessness, ingratitude, depression, or bitterness?

I would encourage you today, at the start of this new month, to find a notebook or journal and just start jotting down each good thing you see. Big or small. Enormous or minuscule. Even if it seems silly, such as: soft carpet under my feet.

Just write it down.

Just choose joy.

Psalm 95:1-7

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.

I Can’t Change!

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As Christians, we are called to a life of love. Of serving. Of kindness. Of truth. Of giving of ourselves, of our gifts and time, and thinking of others before ourselves.

If you’re anything like me, this can feel like a heavy burden on your shoulders.

How on earth am I supposed to live this all out in the mundane, trial-riddled, day-to-day life? How can I possibly love like Jesus Christ loves?

We may have all these grand, godly ideas and nice-sounding words to share, but when it actually comes down to loving sacrificially or serving when it gets in the way of our own plans, we feel selfishness and resistance creeping in.

Maybe you worry that you’re not a good enough Christian.

You don’t read God’s Word very often.

You seldom pray.

You don’t feel a relationship with God like some of your family and Christian friends do.

You don’t feel like loving and serving other.

Or forgiving imperfect people.

How do we come nearer to God? How do we grow in godliness? How do we love like Jesus did?

I believe the answer is profoundly simple.

Surrender.

I don’t mean surrender like give up.

I mean surrender like give your life to God.

Surrender your heart, your life, your control, your everything to Christ.

Galatians 2:20-21

20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Matthew 11:28-30

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

James 4:7

Therefore submit to God.

And let Him change you.

Let Him work in you.

Let Him love through you.

Let Him grow a genuine delight for Him in you.

You see, we are human. We are imperfect. And no amount of striving is going to help us hit the mark. Reach the goal.

That’s why we need Jesus Christ. To forgive our sins – and to radically change our lives for His glory and our good. And all people’s good.

John 15:3-8

You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

Still, on earth we will never hit perfection.

Philippians 3:12-14

12 Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

But if we surrender our lives to Christ and wholeheartedly follow His lead, He will do His work in and through us. He will bring what no one else can.

Change.

You will find yourself growing. And being sanctified. And hungering for God’s Word. And sincerely seeing – and loving – other people.

2 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

When you surrender, sometimes you will feel God prompting you to spend some time in His Word instead of watching that movie.

(This is not to say that we can’t watch movies. But oftentimes we’re consuming massive amounts of entertainment at the expense of quiet time spent with the Lord.)

You may be reluctant, but you obey because you’ve surrendered, and you know you are loved by God. He knows what’s best for you. You want to love Him back. You want a more intimate relationship with Him.

But, you know, as you surrender and spend more and more time in God’s presence – in His Word and prayer – it becomes a delight.

Psalm 16:11

11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Don’t take my word for it. See for yourselves. Experience it for yourselves, my friend.

Are you tired of not feeling good enough? Not measuring up to your own standards? Or other’s standards? Are you sick of living selfishly? Never feeling satisfied?

Surrender. And seek.

You know when I started seeing a change in my own character and behavior?

When I surrendered.

Jeremiah 10:23

23 Lord, I know the way of man is not in himself;
It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.

When I said: Lord, I’m not good enough! I’m not reading my Bible enough or getting up early to pray. I’m trying to control everything. But I don’t have a job, I don’t have my life together, I’m not loving people well; I’m failing at everything! I’m insecure, I’m angry, I’m holding onto pain, I’m anxious, I’m afraid, I’m hopeless. But … but you love me anyway. You call me “daughter”. You want me.

I found peace in His presence. I felt whole and secure and desired. Desired by God! I started hungering after and delighting in His Word for perhaps the first time ever. I found the strength and motivation to start serving people more. I found my heart softening toward people I was struggling with. I became passionate in my prayers.

1 John 4:16-19

16 And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. 19 We love Him because He first loved us.

I’m still a work-in-progress. I still have much to learn and much growing to do. And I battle shame and hopelessness still, at times. But I fight it. Because my identity is found in Christ Jesus, and it is His strength which justifies and sanctifies me.

I see Christ changing me. And that is precious and awe-inspiring.

He will never fail me.

Riley Clemmons – You First