So Much More

Hello, dear readers. I might not know you. I might not be aware of the struggles you deal with and the trials in your life. But here’s what I do know … a whole lot of people are searching for purpose that they just can’t seem to grasp a hold of.

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I want to both challenge and encourage you today. Your life could be so much more than what it is – than what you’ve decided you’ll just have to accept. God beautifully made you for so much more. For your good, and their good. And all of this magnifies His glorious name. And it is good. It is life-changing.

Perhaps you’re like: “What is she even going on about?”

Purpose.

I’m talking about purpose. Listen, the world’s idea of success isn’t going to cut it. That great career. That nice house. That swoony guy. More stuff. More degrees. More Instagram likes and Facebook friends. A flawless body. The perfect wardrobe. Another exciting vacation. The coveted applause and idolized fame.

Do you know how many people who have “had it all” and found themselves as desperate as ever for more?

Think Marilyn Monroe. Most beautiful or sexiest woman, or whatever she was voted. She had the body all the women envied. She had the beauty. The guys. The fame. The money. The career. The dream. And yet, as I understand it, she ended her own life.

So if all of that can’t satisfy, fix, or fulfill us after all, what can?

What’s the more that we need?

Simple answer: Marilyn Monroe needed purpose. Identity. And lasting purpose and identity is found in Christ.

We need Jesus Christ. Not just for our eternal salvation, but for our everyday salvation.

Our Creator said that the enemy comes to “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy”. But that He has come so that we may have life more abundantly!

So …

1) You need your Creator. The one who created you in the first place. Without Jesus, you really have nothing. Give it some thought.

Colossians 1:16-18

All things were created through Him and for Him17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.

If you are a Christian, you need 2) to be actively pursuing the One whom you call Lord, and who He uniquely designed you to be.

So stop running headlong after all the world has to offer. Their definition of success and happiness hasn’t proven itself. Stop and ask God what He wants for you.

Colossians 3:17

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.

What gifts and talents has He given you? What passions and interests has He knitted into your heart? What doors is He opening for you to serve Him and mankind?

I think we can agree that the world can be a dark place. We are needing you to push back against that darkness. God has a specific role He is calling you to fill. A unique purpose. He has places and people and jobs that are perfect for you.

Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

The question is, are you going to embrace your Lord and join in the kingdom work He gives His children, or are you going to follow yourself and remain as empty as ever?

Even if you are a Christian, living for yourself instead of God is going to only help spread the devastating darkness and hurt more people than you ever help.

1 Corinthians 3:1-4

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in ChristI fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal?

As I enter the sanctuary of my church, or sit in a Sunday school or Bible study class, or as I see all my friends posting Bible verses and selfies, I sometimes wonder … How many of us self-proclaimed Christ-followers are actually following Christ and doing what He calls us to? Collectively and individually? And what would it look like – our churches, friend groups, homes, communities – if we did? What would the impact be? How much brokenness that we see now could be healed if we were actually doing what we are created for … living with purpose. Living for God.

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;

I wonder, how many Christian boys and men aren’t stepping up and doing what God has put on their heart because of a secret struggle with pornography? How many girls and women are cowering in their own little bubble of life because of insecurity? And vice-versa.

Why have we, beloved children of God, let sin entangle us and lies define us so much so that we simply warm a seat on Sundays, quote a Bible verse every so often, and talk about our “past” like it’s not actually who we still are on the inside?

Brothers and sisters, Christ came to pave the way for not just change, but radical change! Not just life, but abundant life!

Are you really content with your life story reading: work, sleep, eat, 45-min. sermon on Sundays, and Netflix? Maybe an evening at the bar. Maybe some sensual music with lyrics that make your mind stray to places that you know dishonor God. Maybe a summer fling with that hot guy or girl. Maybe some movies with questionable content. Maybe many, many moments spent complaining, gossiping, saying hurtful things, and aimlessly scrolling on social media.

But it’s not like it’s that bad! You’re a good Christian and you won’t do the stuff you fill your eyes, ears, and mind with continually.

Maybe not. But neither will you do the things that you could have, should have, would have if you’d been pursuing the Christ you claim instead of the world.

Hebrews 5:12-14

12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is,those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

At the end of your life … minutes away from meeting Jesus … do you think that kind of life story is going to give you a good feeling?

And do you really think it’s going to satisfy you now?

Dear soul, you are made for so much more than Netflix, your smart phone, and flirting with sin!

Look, try something new. What do you have to lose? Really. In light of eternity, what do you have to lose?

Proverbs 19:21

21 There are many plans in a man’s heart,
Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.

Try surrendering and falling into Jesus’ arms.

Try making much of His name.

Try serving others.

Want to talk about purpose? Satisfaction? Joy? Delight?

Yes. This.

An intimate relationship with your Creator God is a divine sweetness you won’t find elsewhere. A close-knit community of believers is joy overflowing. Serving and loving others with your gifts is satisfaction and hope that fills deeply.

Ephesians 2:8-10

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

What do you love to do? Write, dance, sing, play an instrument, paint, travel? Do you have a heart for women? Teens? Children? Sick individuals? Orphans? Confused Christians? Third-world countries? Try opening your hands and saying, “Lord, use these. Use me.” Do it to make much of God’s name. Use the things you love to love on others.

Romans 12:6-8

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

1 Corinthians 12:24-26

But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.

I look around my Sunday school class … what if each of us single adults reached out to a younger brother or sister in faith?

Y’all, we all need someone to disciple us, guide us, and show us how to mature in and follow the Lord.

Romans 12:1

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.

I see siblings and cousins and young people in my community who have so much potential and are in desperate need of a big brother or sister in Christ to come alongside them! To show them that they care. To guide them.

But how can we guide them if we don’t even know where we’re going in life? If we don’t have grown-up faith yet? If we are bogged down with the same old sin and insecurities that we’ve had since we were kids?

And the generation before mine … your work isn’t done yet. We need you.

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers12 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, listen. There is kingdom work to be done. Purpose can be found. Look up and find yourself in Christ. And then look around and find all the unique, exciting roles that He’s calling you to!

Some of the roles I’ve been called to are … SISTER. My eyes are being opened to all the opportunities for thoughtful conversations, honest confession, good example, speaking life, and showing love to the precious people that God has placed smack-dab in my life in this season of life.

DISCIPLE-MAKER. I’ve long had a heart to minister to women and girls. And I’m passionate about God’s design for womanhood, manhood, marriage, and the like. God has opened doors for me to start a book study on “Girl Defined” by Kristen Clark & Bethany Baird with some young ladies and it has brought me such purpose and joy already!

EXAMPLE. Regardless of my age or whatever, I am to shine light. At times, I realize that I’m called to be a Christ-like example to those older than me … or in situations where it seems like they should be teaching me. It can be tempting to step back in fear or insecurity. But what is my Lord calling me to do? Walk in purity, maturity, holiness, and love so that they might see Him.

1 Timothy 4:12-16

12 Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. 15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

FRIEND. Love. Encourage. Uplift. Sharpen. Spur on. Praise Jesus, some of my most painful experiences can now be used to help precious friends who He puts in my life. (Suffering is not in vain. Ask God how He can use it in a way that will make beauty bloom out of ashes.) It’s very good to do life together. Spend quality time with brothers & sisters in Christ. Laugh together. Pray together. Pursue God together. Serve together. Have fun together.

So what purpose-filled roles might be waiting for you to step into them?

So much more!

Beloved reader, if you are struggling with passivity, hopelessness, or meaninglessness, know that I am believing in faith for you that God is leading you to so much more!

Romans 8:28-34

28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.

Fall into His waiting arms. Let His hand guide you. I know you might be afraid, but you can do it by the power of the Holy Spirit. Only in His strength.

There is so much more.

There is so much more for you.

Step out.

Jeremiah 29:11-13

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.

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Sexy Christians

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As a Christian, how would you describe purity?

If we are image-bearers and adopted children of an absolutely pure God, how should purity manifest itself in our own hearts and lives?

We all know that pornography is a major issue for men … and increasingly so even within the Church. Something we may not realize is how big of an issue it is for women. Lately, it seems I’ve been coming across a lot of women giving testimonies of their struggle with porn and lust.

And it’s opening my eyes to the impurity that we as Christians have slowly allowed to saturate our lives.

I’m here to discuss entertainment and social media. Movies. TV shows. Books. Magazines. Blogs. Instagram. Particularly, faith-based entertainment. Christian movies aren’t as much of a problem, but women’s Christian literature is too often filled with sensuality.

Christian fiction.

It’s just a romance novel, you may say, It’s not pornography! It’s not like I’m looking at inappropriate images.

But if that scene is bringing up images in your head that you’re fantasizing over, how is it different from visiting a porn site? (And I know some women visit porn sites as well. But I just want to focus mostly on books in this post.)

There’s a different between reading about a sweet love story, and consuming a scene saturated with sensual imagery that stimulates a sexual reaction.

Christian authors, since when is it okay to write in a way that stirs up feelings that are only meant to be experienced between a husband and wife?

Married or unmarried, you should not be watching movies or reading books that awaken sexual feelings in you … That should come exclusively from your spouse! Not from peering into the private relationship of an imaginary couple on a screen or within the pages of a book. Why has this become acceptable?

Even if the books you read aren’t graphic or extremely explicit (most Christian books aren’t), would you watch your neighbor do what this fictional couple is doing? Why do we need to feel what she’s feeling when he kisses her? I know we want to feel like we are the character when we read a novel, but some things are better experienced in real life with the person you marry (married)!

Song of Solomon 2:7

I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or by the does of the field,
Do not stir up nor awaken love
Until it pleases.

If you are going to romance books, Christian or otherwise, to awaken that type of sexual feelings, you have an unhealthy addiction. A sin problem. And even if you aren’t searching for that type of content, if you keep coming across books that are exposing you to an intimacy and awakening of feelings reserved for a different time, I would caution you.

And I caution authors. Be careful of what you write and send out to the public!

Dear sisters in Christ, your purity is precious and valuable. Guard it. Go above and beyond to honor God with your body. Think of how beautiful and exciting it would be to come to your husband as a new bride and let him awaken true and pure love in you … unencumbered by worldly expectations, confusion, shame, guilt, impure experience, and addiction!

1 Corinthians 6:18-20

18 Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I am increasingly bewildered and upset by what Christian authors are selling us. Some of it is none other than a trap for young women. An endangerment to purity. An unexpectedly captivating luring into sexual temptation and sin.

An intriguing adventure and rich historical setting. Flawless writing and authentic characters. …And a scene of our main characters making out that goes on for pages. They never actually go all the way. Of course not. That would never do for a Christian novel! But I think I’m correct in saying that pages of describing sexual feelings and scenes is inappropriate and bound to cause many a Christian woman to struggle.

God created us as sexual beings. But it was not meant for us to be exposed to some of the things that we are. Like when a man is bombarded with sexy, half-dressed women on billboards, it naturally awakens feelings and causes a reaction. But this is not acting on one’s sexuality purely, and such feelings & following thoughts must be taken captive and made obedient to Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

The Bible says that marriage is honorable among all. And the marriage bed is undefiled. It is a devastating thing that Christian literature may be defiling the sexual relationship that you have, or will have, with your spouse.

Hebrews 13:4

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

1 Thessalonians 4:3-5

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;

I want us to take note of this. Seriously consider it.

More and more Christian authors are coming out with books whose covers portray a sexy woman with a low neckline and sensual gaze. And many have scenes I feel are wholly inappropriate and uncalled for. Most of the novels in the Christian market have kissing scenes. “Scene” meaning it’s described in some detail. I’m not trying to make too big of a deal over kissing. Romance is a beautiful thing, and my heart always flutters when I watch a genuine, godly relationship unfold. But Christian authors, I just want to implore you to be careful. Crossing the line when it comes to sexual impurity is sometimes a very easy thing to do.

// Read my previous blog post on the subject of sensual content in Christian fiction – Does What I Read Honor God? //

If you’re writing a romance, be diligent in godliness. Pray and think. Ponder over the scenes you’re writing. Ask God for His imput.

Adding edgy details. Writing a glorified account of the past affair between two now-godly characters. Penning those swoon-worthy kissing scenes…

What is your motive? Is it glorifying to the Lord Jesus Christ?

Psalm 119:9-13

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
10 With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
11 Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You.
12 Blessed are You, O Lord!
Teach me Your statutes.
13 With my lips I have declared
All the judgments of Your mouth.

Why, writers and readers … Christians in general … has sensuality become so normal that we have Christian women flaunting their bodies on Instagram and even in church, reading edgy romance novels, and watching sex scenes in movies like it’s no big deal? Normal and acceptable?

What happened to the call to holiness? And let’s be practical about this. We are called to be different from the world. And we can be. We have the power of Christ at work in us. We can be holy – set apart.

There is no such thing as sexy Christians.

We are called to absolute purity – no room for compromise!

Ephesians 5:1-7

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

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. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.

Colossians 3:5-7

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

So be careful about the books you’re reading, the movies you’re watching, the songs you’re listening to … all the things you’re filling your mind with. As an unmarried, Christian person, there is no room to be indulging in sexual gratification. And as a married, Christian person, there is only room to experience sexual gratification with your spouse. No exceptions. God created sexual feelings and such for a man and his wife. The end.

To experience sexual pleasure anywhere else is to pervert God’s beautiful, flawless design. And it is a grievous thing, indeed.

Now, this is not to say that young women mustn’t know anything about sexuality, or romance, or read books on this subject. In fact, I think it is important to get a healthy view of God’s design for sex before the world exposes you to its twisted, yucky version.

With that, here are a few Christian books on sexuality & romance that I recommend:

Love Defined: Embracing God’s Vision for Lasting Love and Satisfying Relationships by Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird

Sex, Purity, and the Longings of a Girl’s Heart: Discovering the Beauty and Freedom of God-Defined Sexuality by Kristen Clark and Bethany Beal (haven’t actually read this one yet, but pretty sure I’m going to recommend it!)

Passion and Purity: Learning to Bring Your Love Life Under Christ’s Control by Elisabeth Elliot

Quest for Love: True Stories of Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot

Every Young Woman’s Battle: Guarding Your Mind, Heart, and Body in a Sex-Saturated World by Shannon Ethridge and Stephen Arterburn

Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge

And the Bride Wore White: Seven Secrets to Sexual Purity by Dannah Gresh

Answering the Guy Questions: The Set-Apart Girl’s Guide to Relating to the Opposite Sex by Leslie Ludy

When Dreams Come True: A Love Story Only God Could Write by Eric & Leslie Ludy

Sex and the Single Girl by Juli Slattery

***

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Psalm 51:10

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Politics, the Medical World, and More

Hello, dear readers. I recently watched a Youtube video that inspired me. It inspired me to get real. So, just briefly, I want to talk about those touchy topics that some of us like to avoid – politics, the medical world, and more.

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President Donald Trump

Building a Wall

Voting

War

Illegal Immigrants

Racism

White Privilege

Sexism

Toxic Masculinity

Feminism

#MeToo

Rape Culture

LGBT Community

Hate Speech

Socialism

Police Brutality

Pay Gap

Gun Control

Abortion

Birth Control

Vaccines

Antibiotics

New Age

Harry Potter and Witchcraft

What do you think about all these subjects?

The world can be a confusing place. We have passionate, vehement opinions being thrown at us from every direction. The media shows us terrifying or horrifying stories that make us inclined to believe this or that.

But, before you make up your mind on something, I want to encourage you to stop. Stop and research. Stop and think.

As Christians we are called to be in the world, but not of it.

John 17:14-18

14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 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.

Romans 12:2

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.

So yes, I believe we should have an opinion about the world, our culture, and the practices around us. We should be involved in politics and social issues. But no, we should not look like the majority of the people around us.

If you are following all the ideas and movements that the secular world is, I would plead with you to stop and examine your life and your beliefs.

You should not look like the world.

Don’t blindly follow or agree with something because it sounds good and that’s what the rest of the people are rallying behind.

That is being ignorant, passive, selfish, and careless.

And I don’t think any of those four adjectives should describe a Christ-follower, at least in a general sense.

Acts 5:29

29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.

We should be wise. Knowledgeable. Strong. Set-apart. Loving. Caring. Informed. Compassionate. Vigilant. Steadfast. Faithful. Truth-seeking. Passionate. Bold. Hopeful. Selfless. Hardworking. Courageous. Different. Godly. Biblical.

Matthew 10:16

16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

Stop buying into everything the media says and the culture tells you, and start digging into God’s Word. And I don’t mean surface-level digging … “Oh, Jesus ate bread, so gluten-free stuff is just a bunch of nonsense.” Whether or not the gluten-free lifestyle is a bunch of nonsense (I’m gf because of allergies, so I’m not saying it is!), that is just a very lazy way to approach things.

I mean dig deep. Study the Word. Study God’s character. Study science and biology. How did God create your body to work? What does God say about caring for our bodies? Study the food you eat, the shots you get, the products you use and figure out what exactly you’re putting into your body. Study history, politics, and economics. What logically makes sense if we look at the patterns and rise and fall of nations? What does God say about government, justice, and our part in it?

We need to stop thinking that our lives are just peachy and start learning about the world we live in instead escaping into other worlds by binge-watching TV shows.

This is not a game.

As Christians, we are called to live with purpose. Live intentionally. Take action. Make a difference. Love fearlessly. Fight for righteousness, justice, and truth.

We should not sit back and let wicked men dictate what our society looks like … Even going along with it because, oh, it sounds pleasant, peaceful, and safe. It sounds right and good.

What if you found out that some of the movements you’re supporting were really destroying people instead of helping them like you thought?

  • Abortion is about fighting for women’s rights!

But millions of babies are being ruthlessly slaughtered in the process. What about their rights? They are humans and this is murder.

  • We need to love everyone! Support gay pride and the LGBT community!

But such lifestyles are actually harmful and destructive – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – to the individual. There are studies showing that people who get transgender surgeries feel even more empty, depressed, and desperate than before – oftentimes committing suicide. How is it loving to push them – especially children! – into this? While God loves these people, their sin is bringing His just wrath. It is unloving of you to support their lifestyle.

  • Police brutality! We have too many bad policemen!

But don’t you understand how many good policemen we have? And how they put their lives on the line daily for your protection and comfort; they’re the first one you go to when in an emergency; they see horrible things you’d never want to see, etc. … and that your careless slander may encourage criminals to carelessly take policemen’s lives? Do you know how many police are murdered, and that they might actually need your support and prayers for protection??

  • #MeToo! Always believe the woman!

But do you know that sometimes the man is innocent (shocking, right??), and his reputation, career, and life is sent into upheaval because we want to cater to vicious and vindictive women?

  • People who are anti-vaccine are murders! They care nothing for their children! They are pure evil!

But have you ever talked to these people personally? Have you studied vaccines, health, the medical world, and our bodies in depth like they have? Do you know that some of the vaccine industries support abortion in the most awful of ways by putting pieces of aborted babies in their vaccines? (Can you be radically, truly pro-life and also pro-vaccine? Something that I think we, as Christians, need to seriously ponder.) Do you know about the anti-vaccine people’s concerns that vaccines are actually dangerous for their children, whom they love fiercely and want to be healthy and protected?

We need to wake up. Know what’s really going on in our community, country, and world. We need to be a bright, healing light by the way we’re involved in politics and social issues.

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?

So I would encourage you to take a few minutes to watch this video, and check out the other Youtube channels I mention below.

I’m not saying that Republican equals Christian. I’m not saying patriot before Christ-follower. I’m not saying my views are all for sure right. I’m not saying that these Youtube channels are spot-on and have everything together. But they give you something to think about. Something counter-cultural. Something radical. Something intriguing and honest and raw and real and hopeful. Something against the norm.

(Just for your information, not all of these channels are Christian (but probably the majority of them come from self-proclaimed Christians), some of them do contain some language, and I have certainly not watched all the videos! So I’m not saying that I agree with everything presented in these channels. But they’re a way to do some research beyond what the media is telling us!)

Faith and Politics (Christianity and Politics)

***

Answers in Genesis

The Bible Project

Tipping Point With Liz Wheeler on OAN

The Patriot Nurse

PragerU

The Daily Wire

Brandon Tatum

Brittany Pettibone

Dr. Dale Brown

Genesis Apologetics

Zach Hing

Candace Owens

Hoover Institution

Patricia Dickson

Dr. Josh Axe

Students For Life

***

2 Chronicles 7:14

14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

 

To Live is Christ

Good morning, beloved readers!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the freedom that Christ gives us, and wondering … are we stepping into that freedom? Taking hold of it? Living it? Do we believe in that freedom?

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At the conference that I recently went to, the theme was missions. Reaching the nations for Christ. Pouring out your life for the sake of the Gospel. Going boldly into dangerous situations in order to tell every soul. I heard radical stories and saw hearts passionate for Jesus Christ.

When this kind of radical living is on display, fear often sneaks up on unsuspecting persons such as myself.

That sounds terrifying.

Would I be able to bear such things?

What if I’m called to physically give my life?

So the question is, how do we fight this fear? And how to we get to the place where these Christian figures are? Seemingly fearless and excited to follow God wherever He would lead. No matter the cost.

1. You must have an encounter with Jesus Christ.

And I don’t mean some man-made encounter where you recite a prayer, go through confirmation, or obediently get baptized. I mean a personal encounter, where you truly believe in your heart that Jesus is Lord, you glimpse His glory, you trust His love & sacrifice, and this transforms your life. You feel the Holy Spirit literally changing your heart.

Maybe this encounter comes in a moment for some people. For me, it was more like a process. An encounter over many moments, days, months, and even years.

A process where God pursued my heart, and kept drawing me back to seek Him.

And, slowly but surely, I’m changing from a very frightened, very insecure, very unsteady, very weak girl into an increasingly free woman.

A Christ-following woman who thinks:

If, someday, I am led to the flames to die because of Christ, I hope my heart will be saying to the Lover of my soul: “May this be a sweet-smelling sacrifice to You, O Lord.”

And this thought is peace-filled. Like somehow, into this frail heart of mine, the Holy Spirit is gently whispering that it would be an honor to die for my King. And that I would feel peace. And be glad to be a sacrifice for Him if I must be put to death by the wicked of this world. And that I would be inwardly rejoicing, so ready to see His face. So ready to be welcomed in His arms and into my home.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15

14 Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. 15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.

Psalm 116:15

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.

And I know, friends. To some of you, this sounds absolutely crazy. And it feels kind of crazy even as I’m writing it. And fear wants to rear his ugly head. I am, by no means, perfected. Sometimes I relapse back into my anxiety-stricken self. But, I promise you, this thought did press itself into my mind and on my heart … and it is becoming more firmly planted. This I know, God is working in and through me. And I hold onto that.

You must know Jesus Christ. You must have a real relationship with Him. You must believe His radical love for you. You must see His glory. Otherwise death, sacrifice, evangelism, yes, even the routine Christian life, is ridiculous.

1 Corinthians 15:14 & 17-19

14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.

17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

Why do we do what we do as Christians? It is because of Jesus. For His glory and because of His love. There is no other reason than Christ Jesus. And if we don’t see Christ for who He truly is, then we are confused and weak creatures indeed.

So you must have a real encounter with the living Savior. Accept His sacrifice for sin. And invite Him in as lord of your life. And then …

2. You must allow Him to grow you.

You have to grow, my friends. Don’t quench the Holy Spirit. Don’t allow fear, anxiety, pride, depression, pain, insecurity, weakness, and your own selfish desires to have free reign in your life. Fight them. Allow the Spirit into your decisions, that He may strengthen you to do what is difficult, and even what seems impossible. Surrender.

In essence, it wasn’t you who invited Jesus into your life, but Jesus who invited you into His, drawing your heart to believe in Him. So live in Him.

Continuing on. You need to grow. And I believe this growth comes in four parts:

// Studying God’s Word // Prayer // Community within the Body // Suffering & trials //

Open your Bible everyday. Study it. Memorize it. Read it from cover to cover. Let it refresh your soul. It is like your sword, your weapon of defense. Read Scripture against the attacks of Satan. Don’t cower under his lies – HE IS DEFEATED. Don’t be defeated with him!

Ephesians 6:17

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

Matthew 4:4

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ 

Pray. Pray continually. Invite the Lord into every moment and every aspect of your life. Wake up early to pray. Pray in the very midst of temptation and fear. Pray when you can’t sleep. Pray with friends. Ask people to pray over you. Commune with your good Father! Press into Him. Allow Him to be your hiding place.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

19 Do not quench the Spirit20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.

Become a part of the local Body of Christ. Get involved in a loving, tight-knit, Christ-like church. Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together. You need other believers, my dear friend! God gave you brothers and sisters in Him to help strengthen your faith, comfort your heart, and keep you in obedience. Don’t underestimate the power of doing life with other strong Christians who are passionate for Christ.

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 Christ13 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.

Suffering and trials. As hard as it is, don’t despise these things, but ask God to open your eyes to how He might be at work. For example, if you’re suffering from lingering health issues or a chronic illness, don’t get consumed in doubt, despair, and desperate prayers for healing. Now, to clarify, I believe it is good to pray for healing from sickness. For yourself, and for the brotherhood. But also, pray for God to draw you into closer intimacy with Him during this painful process.

1 Peter 1:6-9

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christwhom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.

James 5:13-16

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 Lord15 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.

Perhaps He is trying to teach you something that you are stubbornly resisting. Or perhaps it’s just a general growing of perseverance and faith. Whatever the case, God knows you, your body, and the plans He has for your life. Trust Him.

3. You must seek Christ as your supreme treasure.

You desire Him. You long for His love. You want to see His face. You want to live for His glory.

I fully believe that as God grows you in Him, Christ will become your supreme treasure. And that is the key.

To be FEARLESS. JOYFUL. CONFIDENT. FREE.

If Christ is your all-in-all, then you know that nothing can take away your greatest treasure. Because it is Christ and no one can take Christ from you. No one can snatch you from your Father’s Hand. And your perspective shifts from the here-and-now to the eternal, because your beloved Jesus Christ is eternal.

Apostle Paul says in his letter to the church in Philippi that for him, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Like, living life and obeying Christ are one and the same. Living and glorifying Christ are synonymous for him. There is not one without the other.

Philippians 1:21

21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

He does not hesitate because of discomfort or run away because of danger. He does all for the glory of God. Each decision he makes is made with glorifying God in mind.

To disobey. To be led by fear. To live for his own glory … that is not living at all.

Paul knows that to be spiritually dead is much, much worse than physical death. In fact, actually departing from this world is gain, because he gets to be with the Lover of his soul! Death means going home! Death means uniting with Love!

Revelation 22:3-5

And there shall be no more curse, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him. They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheadsThere shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever.

To live for anything less than for Christ is to not live at all.

Do you want to live?

Perhaps you don’t feel the magnitude of this concept, but it is mind-blowing for me. And so completely freeing! I can stop struggling, tripping, and being violently dragged here and there by the slave-master, Fear. And I can step into the freedom of simply living for the glory of Christ. To make every decision to His glory. To put His glory above all else and rest fully in His love.

And the best thing is, the Holy Spirit will enable me to do this!

Philippians 2:13

13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

Acts 1:8

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Oh, hallelujah! Praise the Lord, o my soul!

Whether He call me to far-off nations and daily danger, to crowds of people listening to my little voice, or to a simple, quiet life of making disciples in my small, American community & living as an example in a self-consumed culture … I am free to live fearless and all for His glory.

I am free to hide myself in His love, knowing He is absolutely capable of caring for me.

Psalm 31:19-20 & 23-24

19 Oh, how great is Your goodness,
Which You have laid up for those who fear You,
Which You have prepared for those who trust in You
In the presence of the sons of men!
20 You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence
From the plots of man;
You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion
From the strife of tongues.

23 Oh, love the Lord, all you His saints!
For the Lord preserves the faithful,
And fully repays the proud person.
24 Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the Lord.

Dear readers, to live is Christ.

I pray that you will live in Him and for Him. I pray that I will live in Him and for Him. And may we band together and love & strengthen each other in this lifestyle!

❤ Lady Grace

My Quiet Time

Good morning, readers and friends! I hope this second Saturday of the new year finds you well. ^_^ Today I wanted to take a little bit of time to share with you what my quiet time looks like.

It is so vitally important to be reading the Word and talking to your Heavenly Father. And just literally having quiet time. Where your mind is at rest and you quiet your heart. When the stress eases away and you can sort through your thoughts or simply be still.

So, make a goal for 2019! Make time for God, and for rest.

***

First thing I do when I wake up to a new day … PRAY. The more I discover prayer, the more passionate I am about it. Prayer is a heart-changer, a life-changer, a world-changer. It strengthens your soul, calms your heart, and shows you the sweetness of communion with God like few other things can.

I want to pray more. So this year I took the leap. I’m getting up at least a half an hour earlier than the rest of my family so that I have quiet time to pray. Now, I do not like getting up early. I am not a morning person. But I knew this day would come. So here I am, getting up before I “have” to … and loving it.

So, talk to God for a half hour or so.

Then I get up, get ready for the day, and usually do my Bible-reading while eating breakfast. I started my second read-through of the Bible in October of last year. So I’m currently in Deuteronomy and Mark. (*whispers* … a little behind, but I’ll catch up!)

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I highlight, underline, and write things on sticky notes. Yep, I’m that kind of person. And it’s helpful for me!

Also, I read the NKJV as of now. What translations do you all like to read?

I started a little gratitude journal. So usually jot down some things in there each day.

I’m currently not working outside the home, so after breakfast I clean up the kitchen and do other chores … whatever needs to be done. Many times I put in my earbuds and either listen to music or sermons/inspirational talks/whatever while cleaning.

J.D. Greear, John Piper, Matt Chandler, Dale & VeronicaPriscilla Shirer, Daily Disciple, FarAwayDistance, Paul & Morgan, Girl Defined, Joseph Solomon, Emily Wilson, Coffee Girls … there is a surprising amount of godly brothers and sisters on Youtube who have some amazing wisdom to share.

Of course, I love to read! My goal this year is to read a Christian Living nonfiction for every novel I read. (I go a little more into this on my other blog.) So perhaps during lunch I’ll pull out my nonfiction or novel and do a little reading. Now with nonfiction, I like to highlight and underline. That way I can go back through my books and re-read those bits of wisdom that I had gleaned.

Right now I’m working through One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp (which has been amazing), and Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. I’m not sure why I hadn’t discovered this little Christian allegory before! It’s been quite lovely.

A glowing sun-orb fills an August sky the day this story begins, the day I am born, the day I  begin to live. ~ Ann Voskamp

This is the story of how Much-Afraid escaped from her Fearing relatives and went with the Shepherd to the High Places where “perfect love casteth out fear”. ~ Hannah Hurnard

I’m also going through Max Lucado’s Grace For The Moment. It takes so little time to read each day’s devotional, but if I feel like it gets to be just one thing too many, I may put this book aside.

I know a lot of people say they don’t have time to read, but I would encourage you to make time. Not only is reading a chapter or two a day said to greatly help to reduce stress, but you can glean so much helpful & amazing wisdom and information from books! Connect with your brothers & sisters in Christ from all over the world by reading their books, and let them show you what God has been teaching them!

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I would like to journal more regularly this year. It’s a way sort through and process things, reduce stress, and record what God is doing in my life & heart! I also enjoy writing letters to my future husband on occasion in a journal. 🙂

These are ways for me to slow down and refocus.

And listening to music! Listening to great songs, worshiping, dancing around the house, lifting up my hands and soul to the Lover of my soul! That’s some time well-spent, I believe. There’s something about good music that can definitely relieve tension and stress. And good lyrics that put my focus back on Christ & glorifying Him. Right where it needs to be.

Well, there it is. That pretty much sums up my quiet time and restful, stress-relieving activities. I’m trying to live my days intentionally, to the glory of God, and these things help so much.

Now, to become intimately part of the local Body of Christ! ❤

TELL ME ABOUT YOUR QUIET TIME!

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C.R.O.S.S.19

Happy new year, my dear readers! I pray that January 2019 began full of hope for you. And that you continue in the strength and joy of the Lord each day!

I have the absolute honor and joy of telling you about what God has been doing in my life & heart already this brand new year. Friends, He is so good. I’m nearly in tears just thinking about this past week and my faithful Father.

The year of 2018 had some tough points for me. So good things, too. But it seemed that amidst all the little blessings in December, I did a lot of wrestling and just struggling against anxiety and depression.

Like, what did I even do to make a difference this year? Am I any different? What is my life? I can’t do this, Lord. I don’t know what it’s all for. I don’t know why I’m even here.

I have a family. But I don’t feel like I belong in my home.

I have a church. But I don’t feel like I’m intimately a part of them.

I have people. But I don’t feel like they see me. Really.

I have ministries and opportunities. But I don’t think I’m using them to their full potential.

I have Christ. But I feel like I’m drowning and keep losing sight of Him.

So I prayed. And prayed. And reached out to godly friends for counsel. Had many phone calls. And prayed some more.

I couldn’t do anything but pray! And God began to teach me something powerful through that.

Surrender, Shantelle. I’ve got this.

You worth is not found in what you accomplish, Shantelle. Or in other’s opinions of you. Or if someone validates you. Your worth is found in ME.

Pray, Shantelle! It’s the best thing you could do!!

Do you not see how mighty I am, Shantelle? I’m taking care of you right now, daughter.

***

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So. My long-distance friends asked me if I’d like to go to a conference about missions with them. And I was like … I guess? I mean, I hadn’t seen them for about three/four years and really wanted to! And maybe a Christian conference was just the refreshment God wanted to give me.

After some prayer, I decided to go. And then I prayed a lot leading up to the conference, for a variety of things.

And God worked out every detail beautifully and in His time. What food I should pack (what with all my diet restrictions). Travel and transportation plans. The needed funds. Peace. Confidence. And even what outfits I would wear.

The beginning of this year I traveled to the C.R.O.S.S.19 conference, met up with my friends and their church group, and experienced one of the biggest blessings of my life.

I’m not exaggerating. It was beautiful. ❤

I prayed for provision. Peace. Grace. Outfits. Manageable travel plans. Food. Joy. Fellowship. Friendship. Growth. Community worship. Awe for Jesus Christ. A deeper understanding of what my part is in global missions.

And I believe God answered each of these prayers so richly through the C.R.O.S.S. conference.

I caught a glimpse of what it is like to be part of a tight-knit, loving, Christ-like, passionate, local church. And that vision has captured my heart.

Hebrews 10:23-25

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 works25 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.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14

12 For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.

I have moved and bounced around from one big church to another for almost all of my life. I’ve never been intimately involved in my church. I’ve lacked solid, godly, loving people to disciple me and shepherd my heart. I’ve rarely (if ever) associated godly, beautiful fellowship with Sunday morning worship. I’ve suffocated under the burdens I bear, feeling like there was nowhere to turn to for help. I’ve grasped desperately for faith & cowered in terror under unanswered confusion … while pasting on a smile every week at church.

I feel like I’ve been alone … living inside the scary realm of my mind, for most of my life.

But at this conference, one of the big focuses was the importance of being part of your local church. Truly part. Like, they’re your family. They know you. And you know them. And you work together for the glory of God. You love each other deeply. And you together share a heart to reach all people for Christ. Ephesians 4 sums it up so perfectly!

Ephesians 4:11-16

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ13 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.

My long-distance friends who went to the conference with me have an awesome home church. So, simply being part of their group for four days gave me a taste of belonging to a church family and encouraged and strengthened me in ways I cannot even describe. My heart is so full!

I had good conversations with almost every one in the group. (And for my quiet, rather introverted self who sometimes takes long to really open up and show my real self … especially to men … I found this an exceptionally wonderful surprise.)

We had incredible prayer time together. In little groups of two or three during the conference, praying for unreached peoples. And with our whole group of eleven. And seriously, this was one of the highlights of my week. Seeking God & sharing your heart with Him along with some of His other children who you know care about you. It’s amazing! Beautiful! Delightful! It shifts something in my heart, soul, and mind.

We sat under the incredible teaching of God’s Word together. We learned. We shared. We exclaimed in excitement for what we were hearing. We encouraged each other in the Lord.

We worshiped together! We praised the name of Jesus together. The worship truly was sweet. Lifting our voices together along with about 7,000 others. Seeing your brothers’ and sisters’ awe for the Lord can so encourage you! We sang a lot of hymns, which was so lovely.

We laughed together!

We ate together.

Got coffee together. 🙂

I saw personally the passion and seeking hearts of ten of my brothers & sisters in Christ, being within this group for a time. And this strengthened me in my own faith.

I was able to go to members of the group with questions or concerns I had. And they gave me godly advice and thoughtful guidance. This is such a gift! It’s like a beautiful, awesome revelation that I don’t have to struggle through this life alone. God did not mean for me to.

I made lovely connections, and remembered what it was like to have close girl friends who are my own age! Such a sweet joy!

I felt comfortable and safe to talk with my brothers in the group. And this strengthened my heart … I think just seeing their passion for the Lord, and them caring enough to stop and talk with me. I feel like it’s vital for women to have brothers in Christ who speak into their lives … without it having anything to do with romantic interest.

I received hugs from old and new friends alike! I like hugs. 🙂

My friends’ pastor was with our group, and he is such a shepherd.

1 Peter 5:2-4

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Numbers 27:15-17

15 Then Moses spoke to the Lord, saying: 16 “Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation, 17 who may go out before them and go in before them, who may lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be like sheep which have no shepherd.”

I don’t know if I’ve ever met a pastor with such a shepherd’s heart. He saw me. He cared. He empathized. And he gave me solid, godly, loving wisdom. I was beyond blessed. I felt like he shepherded my heart for a brief time, and I came out more grounded in Christ because of it.

One thing he told me that especially stuck out was: “Every decision we make, we make to the glory of God.” Basically, don’t let feelings of fear, pain, vulnerability, pride, despair, etc. get in the way of you bringing glory to God in every area of your life.

I was welcomed into this group. Treated as part of them. Seen. Cared for. Discipled. Guided. Given wisdom. Prayed over. Prayed with.

It was incredible.

***

But now to the actual conference! I heard from absolutely amazing speakers such as J.D. Greear, David Platt, John Piper, Trip Lee, and so on. I learned about missions, making disciples, goers and senders, local churches, God’s glory, God’s love, Jesus Christ, discerning a call, and just so much!

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I would very much recommend going to the C.R.O.S.S. website and listening to the sermons and outbreak sessions! So much wisdom and practical advice!

So I sat under phenomenal teaching.

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I was prayed over by strangers and friends alike.

I was encouraged in the gifts and talents God has given me, bolstering my faith that He is indeed doing a work in my life and is going to use me in His kingdom, for His glory, and for the reaching of souls!

I received a bunch of free books!

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I had Christ and His love & glory proclaimed to me along with a group of thousands, and also was taken aside personally and taught from the Word of God. Which is just an extreme blessing! Even to be taught individually … I felt like my heart is being guided in Christ.

I found a peace about being a sender for now. But also a passion about being a disciple-maker as part of a local church, and an openness to going the mission field should God ever call me there in years to come.

Matthew 28:18-20

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

I was able to encourage others.

I was convicted that my view of God has been too small. I was amazed by the POWER of the Holy Spirit! Even in my own insignificant, weak, struggling life!

I was led in prayer for unreached people groups.

I heard awesome stories of God’s glory, love, power, and grace!

I saw unashamed passion for Jesus Christ from so many!

I was able to get some valuable and helpful advice from breakout sessions … “Should I Just Do Something?: Discerning a Call to the Missions” by Kevin DeYoung and “I Think I’m a Sender?” by David Platt.

Oh, my heart is full and I am just in awe. What a perfect way to start a new year.

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I would highly recommend that you go listen to The Gospels: The Commission of Christ by J.D. Greear, 1 Corinthians-Jude: The Significance of the Church by Trip Lee, and Revelation: The Urgency of Eternity by David Platt. Or just go listen to them all! I learned from each of them.

I hope to share more with you about what I learned from the main talks and breakout sessions specifically, but for now I’ll just leave you with a question Pastor J.D. Greear asked, and pray that you consider it as you start off 2019:

“Am I going to take up a supporting role in Christ’s story?”

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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.

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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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.

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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?