Focus On God...

"The sun's energy warms the world. But when you focus it through a magnifying glass it can start a fire. Focus is powerful!" - Alan Pariser

I read that quote yesterday and it blew my mind! So true! When our focus is on God, we can change the world. We can help start a fire to share the message and love of Jesus Christ to everyone around us.

I have a story that goes well with this. Yesterday I was playing basketball with a friend and I kept missing the shot. I told him, "I'm no good at this!" He said, "No you need to focus before you shoot. You're just shooting, once you stop and focus you'll get it." I was like Um.. sure! Yeah, right! But when I followed his advice and focused before I shot, it went in. Now, I'm no where near being a Shaq or Lebron James, but I can at least get it in.. sometimes. ;)

The point being, in life if we have our focus on God we will "shoot" and score. Even if everything is falling apart around us if our focus is on God we will stay in the game. In Matthew 14 Jesus walked on water. Peter asked to come out on the water with Jesus and he did, he was doing well, but then Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. Point is, he wasn't sinking until he took eyes (or focus) off of the Lord. We too will begin to sink if we place our focus on anything other than God.

My reminder to you is... don't let the world steal your focus. Cars, clothes, schools, people, jobs, social gatherings, all these things do not save you. Nor will they ever. Only Jesus Christ can and will save you. Keep your focus on Him and you will not sink. Keep your focus on Him and you will start a fire. And that fire is all-consuming and will grow and consume everyone that it encounters. Praise the Lord! Be blessed.


"That's Awesome!" No... It's Not...

"Wow! That's awesome!"

Awesome... that is such an over-used and mis-used word. In the dictionary it says that the word awesome means:

                                                   inspiring awe or very impressive.

Something I found very interesting... a few days ago was when I was spending time with God I came across a couple verses that describes God using, yep you got it, the word awesome. I thought for a minute about how much I've used that word and in the context I've used it. Then I thought about how other people use it. I figured out that we have got it all wrong.

Think about this with me for a second... we see a car we say, "Oh wow! That's an awesome car!" or we see a movie and we go, "Dude! That's an awesome movie!" We are saying that this car or movie has us in awe or is very impressive. But does it really? Were you really in awe of either of those things? Truth be told - no you were not. So when we say, "God is awesome!", do we mean it? Do we understand what we are saying? See you have to change the context in which you're using it. If you still have the mind frame that a car is awesome then you are degrading God down to nothing more than a cool car. If you throw that out the window and think about it, God truly is Awesome (and so much more!!!!) He brings me to my knees in awe of Him and He is way more than just "very impressive".

What I would like to challenge you to do (and this is not me telling you what to do, just an idea) is remove the word 'awesome' from your vocabulary for a while and only use it to describe something that is really and truly awesome. I've been doing that recently and I've seen how my viewing of things has changed and how it's really hard when you've used it for so long! Ha ha! But God has a plan in everything!! This is just one more thing that works in it. :) This was just something I had on my heart and mind and wanted to share it. Be blessed.

"...for the LORD your God, the great and awesome God, is among you." - Deuteronomy 7:21


Give Cheerfully...

I have been thinking about this for many days and finally decided to share my thoughts on it. In 2 Corinthians 9:7 it says,

"So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver."

I have been pondering about what it really means and looks like to give cheerfully. See a lot of times we give out of need (go read the verse above again and look at what it says, "not grudgingly or of necessity...") or we give because we will get something in return. Our world is selfish because in the flesh we are selfish, but we don't have to be remain that way or live that way. Jesus did give us a way out (the Cross). You see it all the time "call now and pledge to give _______ amount a week and we'll send you..." or "Buy this and we'll send ________ amount to _______ organization", but very rarely do people simply give because they want to help someone.

I'm not pointing the finger at anyone. I, too have been guilty of only giving to get. I confess and repent of that. I don't want to live like that anymore. I want to give cheerfully. I believe it reflects the heart of God Himself. He gave His Son for me that I might live for Him. He loves me even though I mess up all the time. That is true giving. Giving is sacrificing something and expecting nothing in return. Is it easy? No. Is it convenient? No. Is it worth it? Yes. I want to give everything I have. To God and to others. But if you do not want to do this, then don't. Give what you feel led to give. Don't give the biggest because everyone else is. You'll probably later regret it (and that would be giving grudgingly), give what you feel at peace with. If that is the absolute best you can give then that's great! If not, that's okay. It may take time to give without regret and give cheerfully. Pray about it. And then just do it. You'll see that "being a blessing is better than recieving a blessing."

This week I will be looking for one opportunity (or more God willing) to give something cheerfully without expecting a thing in return. I challenge you to do the same. Stay blessed.


Giving Him Your Best In Worship...

Today I want to talk about worship. We are to worship God with our lives. But today I want to talk specifically about worshiping God through music.

Yesterday at church I had a lovely woman come up to me and say, "I love watching you worship. It makes me smile." I said thank you and moved on very happy and encouraged. A few years ago I was really shy and ashamed in my worship. I didn't want to lift my hands or sing too loud (because my voice is well... challenged at times haha!) and so I sang as low as possible without being silent and never closed my eyes or lifted my hands for fear of being judged. Then, I realized... it's not about who is lifting their hands and who is not, or who is swaying back and forth and who isn't, its about worshiping God with all I've got.

John 4:23 says, "Yet a time is coming and has now come when worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks."

God seeks people who will worship Him, not like everybody else, but in their own individual way with absolutely everything inside of them. Both through music and their lives. He wants us to worship Him in His Spirit and truth. If the Holy Spirit is in you (and if you've accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, it is.) then you should be getting to know the Lord more and more and if you know just a few things about God, how can you not worship Him all out?! When I think of who God is and all He does I must lift my hands and sing praises to Him. Why? Because He is so good!!!

My challenge to you is worship God your way. He deserves your best, so give it to Him. If you feel led to jump, then jump. If you feel led you close your eyes, close your eyes. If you feel led, to raise your hands, then raise your hands high! If you feel led to bow down, then bow down. Worship Him unafraid and unashamed because you have nothing to be ashamed of.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." - 2 Timothy 1:7


Dating Do's...

So a lovely blogger (go check out her blog!) posted a comment on yesterday's post saying that she's heard a lot about the don't of dating, but not much about what to do, like who to date, what to look for, and how they should treat you. So I thought today would be a good time to about it. :)

Okay through my experience I will tell you a little of what I have learned. First off, he or she must love Jesus. If they do not then as a follower of Christ it is best to let that person be. The Bible is clear to not be yoked together with unbelievers. Plus their priorities need to be right and if God is not first in their life then you need to not date them because they are our brother or sister before they are our potential boyfriend or girlfriend.

Second thing, if a guy or girl can't respect you... leave them. As my pastor and I talked about, the main thing girls (guys too but girls really need to hear this) is they must respect you. If they can't respect you and the beautiful person God created you as, then they do NOT deserve you. I should have lived by that when I was dating. Had I, then the wounds I have would not be there more than likely.

Thirdly, make sure God is at the center of the relationship. If God is not at the center of your relationship you need to change that. If only one person is willing to be completely surrendered to God seeking His will and not their own then you probably need to break up until you are both mature enough to make that commitment.

As I said yesterday, it is best to have a time of singleness to prepare yourself for a relationship that may lead to marriage. Prepare yourself to be the kind of person you would want in a mate and pray about the kind of person you want. And pray for them too because while you may not know who they are God does and He answers prayers faithfully! :) Stay blessed.


To Date Or Not To Date...

Dating. Oh what a wide topic... so much to talk about. For today I'm just going to state my opinions and you can do with it whatever you wish.

What is the purpose of dating? To find the person you will spend the rest of your life with, right? Then, might I ask, what is the purpose in high school dating? I have dated one person and through that (I learn the hard way unfortunately. haha) I have learned many, many things. The main thing being I am not ready to date anyone. Second thing, that's okay. Don't let anyone pressure you into dating, if you're not ready for that don't be ashamed. Boast in the Lord.

In our society (especially in the south) people make it seem like if you're not in a relationship with someone, then there must be something wrong with you. There's absolutely nothing wrong with waiting 'til you are ready even if that's years and years from now. I think that in high school it is pointless to date. My reasons being, you don't know who you are yet, emotionally and physically there is a lot going on (which makes for a lot of confusion and drama), and adding another person to the mix of that causes problems. As my lovely Pastor said (I have no clue where he got this quote from! So I'm giving him the credit!! haha), "It's better to single and lonely than married and miserable." How true that is! I know you can love someone a lot, but can you be in love with someone in high school? I think in a very special case, yes. But it has to be very special. Otherwise I think emotions are being confused, you're not "in love" you are in lust. That's a very dangerous place to be.

My advice is this: Wait. Wait on the Lord to reveal to you when He knows you're ready. In that time don't think of being single as a burden because truly it isn't. Singleness is a gift. It allows you to be completely focused on Jesus and nothing else. Get to know God very well. Get to know yourself in God very well, and like I said when you're ready God will tell you.

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." - Psalm 27:14


Being An Example...

So this week I worked V.B.S. at my church. Oh what a blessing it was!! God is faithful in everything He does and has a purpose and plan throughout it all.

I had a nice reminder this week to go along with all of that. Because at V.B.S. you are around a bunch of little ones it important to keep guard on your mouth and keep watch over your actions. Children are very impressionable and the way we act can have large impacts on how they act as well.

It's the same way the people who are babies in Christ. I know this because when I had just gotten saved I was trying to figure out what pleased God and what didn't. When I thought I had figured some stuff out, someone who I felt was more mature in the faith and who I looked up to would do something not right and then I would go and do the same thing because I figured it was alright since this great follower of Jesus did it. As I've matured in Christ and become confident in Him I've found that now people look at me and watch to see what I do. Like it or not, people are probably doing the same thing with you and either way you are representing the Lord in every single thing you do and if you say or do something wrong and don't acknowledge it as wrong and repent, but continue doing it, you are leading someone astray more than likely.

James 3:9 says, "With it (the tongue) we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God." What it's saying is, we praise Jesus with our tongue and sing and worship Him, but we use this same tongue to hurt our brothers and sisters who have been made in His image. Why? When we hurt others we hurt Christ. Ears listen to the things we say. We are representing Jesus Christ and how we talk is one powerful thing (though actions are always more powerful in my opinion but that's a topic for a different day haha). When we say something ugly or mean chances are someone will pick that up and start doing the same thing because it seems okay.

My point and encouragement in all this is for you to be the best example of Christ you can be. To be aware of how you act and talk and be mindful that people are watching you to see if you are for real or if you are fake. Live according to His Word and you will be fine. Bless you.


Less and less...

"He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less." -John 3:30

We live in a very selfish, self-centered world. We live in a world that says "Do what you can for yourself." instead of saying, "Do what you can for others." What's sad is that its not just people who don't know the Lord that live this way, but people who do know the Lord live theirs lives more for themselves than they do for others. I've been guilty of living this way, but God has renewed my spirit and set my heart on fire for Him and I no longer desire nor want to live this way and so each day I choose not to.

See, in our minds we think that the things of this world are so amazing and we want, want, want and everything is "mine, mine, mine!!", but really we should give, give, give until there is nothing left. Give to God and then give to others. Until we begin to see as Job did that when everything is taken away, when all we have is gone, God is still there and truly He is all we NEED, we will live our lives the same way the world does. Psalm 9:10 says, “Those who know Your name trust You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek You.” Did you catch that? God never forsakes those who seek Him. Meaning that if we keep our eyes on Him and live for His glory and not our own, He will not forsake us. As we begin to flee from selfishness and worldliness and live for the Lord Jesus He will become greater and greater in our lives.

Through many difficult situations I have learned to completely trust the Lord. When everything that mattered most to me was taken away, I found that God really is the only One I truly need and I found that throughout many searches, God is Who I want the most. I want Him to become greater and greater in my life and I want to become less and less because without Him there is no good thing in me. Let go of the world and the lies it likes to spread and begin seeking God and living according to His Word. In the end it will all be worth it. Stay blessed.

"You Were Born For This"

"God still performs miracles today, but I don't think I'll be apart of one on this earth." That was my thinking a few weeks ago. I mean I've never thought much about miracles except that I know God can do them if it His will to change someone or something miraculously. As far as how He did them and who He used I didn't have a clue really. When I saw this book I thought, yes I must read that! What better way to understand something a little better than to get knowledge on it? So I got the book and started reading. Let it be known that Bruce Wilkinson is one of my favorite authors and I will read anything by him. I think God speaks amazing things through this man. This is one of the best books I've ever read. There is so much information in it regarding not only miracles but also Bruce talks about how to be the person who expects miracles to be done, if it be God's will, each and every day and what a true godly person looks like.

I've read many interesting things but one particular thing has stuck out to me in this book (aside from the fact that God can use me to do miracles in people's lives) was in Chapter 3 where he talked about Heaven. We all have our view of Heaven in our mind... how we think it looks like, what people are doing, etc. and for some reason I didn't really think about what God might be doing while we are here on earth. Here is a quote I really liked, "While most of us think God is still resting from the demands of Creation week, the Bible shows another picture. He has a real-time, right-now agenda on earth." Could not have said it better myself! God is not resting in Heaven, He is doing work. And He chooses to use us to help Him accomplish this work here on earth.

As I have read this book I've noticed God changing many things within me. My attitude is changing, my heart is changing, and just the little nudges that we all know God gives us at times (you know, like when God tells you to talk to someone but you are nervous or afraid to.) I have been able to say, "Yes, Lord." God has helped me get out of my comfort zone and Bruce talks about some things that will convict you and make you want to get out there and tell the world about Jesus and help with miraculous things all by asking people one simple question, "What can I do for you?"

I encourage you to pick up this book. It has been a blessing and has left me with a really great attitude and a lot more knowledge and wisdom than I had before I read it. God bless you!

Note: I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multanomah Publishing's Blogging For Books program for review purposes.


My Joy Is Complete!

My heart is extremely happy. I mean happier than I have ever been in my life! I was thinking about this yesterday, and I know it is because Jesus Christ in me has made my joy complete. In a lot of areas in my life I am right where He wants, of course there are always places that need improvement, but God is showing me truly that in every single thing that happens in my life, if I am obedient to Him, He works everything together for my good! (Romans 8:28)

I've read many times in the Bible that if you trust God and live for Him and obey Him, your joy will be made full (or complete). John 15:11 says, "These things I have spoken to you that your joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be complete." That verse fits my life perfectly. Basically Jesus is saying, "I have told you everything in this Love Letter not to punish you, leave you out of things, or  hold you back but to save you and give you have true, lasting joy." That's my interpretation of it at least.

I've had many moments in my life where I have been sad, depressed, angry, weepy, etc. but this is my first time to be truly joyful and it last longer than a week. That's God right there! No matter what has been thrown my way this month (and there have been some interesting things happen) I have had this joy within me throughout it. That's the Lord. Completely and totally Him.

To have full and complete joy you must be in His will and walk in His ways even when its hard and satan is attacking you. Even when your car breaks down on the interstate and it takes the tow truck 20 minutes to get there making you late for an appointment. Or when your ex calls you and is a complete jerk. Or when you need something that just simply isn't there. I have full joy in knowing that God is always there, no matter what! Even when life is hectic and crazy God has got you. Trust Him. Your life will be blessed because of it.


Just Be Like Him!

So for those who don't know me personally, I can be a people pleaser at times. Not all the time... really I would say depending on the person (for example, my mom) I will try extremely hard to please them (her). And at times I'm really torn because I want to live for God, I want that person to like me.. and love me, and I want to do what Jesus would do.

The other day I was having a really hard time day and I was praying that God would just give me the strength to get through it. As I was praying this came into my head, Stop trying to make people think you are _______ (fill in the blank) and just be who God made you, eventually they will figure it out.

That's one of those moments I'm like, "Jesus! Wow, You are good!" Really letting that sink in I realized how hard I try to please certain people and how I just want them to be happy with me. I don't like having anyone unhappy with me. But what I am learning is that God accepts me as I am and if I am in need of a change He will show me and help me to change if I am willing. If God can accept me just as I am (a complete and total hot mess!!) then other people will learn to do the same. I don't have to go out of my way to make anyone think I'm "cool" or "amazing" or whatever. The best thing I can do is be like Him. That's my goal is to be just like the Lord so that when people see me they actually will see Him. I believe God will help me each and every day be more like Him and in that become who I am created to be.

So I just want to encourage you to walk with the Lord and in His ways and just be who He made you to be, strive to be like the Lord, and be content with that. God's best is the best. Amen! Stay blessed! :)


I Will Praise You!

"I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High." - Psalm 9:1-2

I read that verse last night. It really couldn't have come at a better time. I most definitely needed a reminder that God is good all the time regardless, and He deserves all of my praise. Really He deserves much more than my praise but that's about the only thing I can give Him.

Yesterday I was given a few trying things... and it was a rough day but I went to church and released it all and really forgot about it. Then, I got home and that's when I started having issues again. I had someone say some not very nice things to me and they hurt mostly because this person never made an effort to get to know me so I felt like I was being judged and condemned and I was just tired emotionally and physically. Matthew 11:28-30 says,

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

A good friend reminded me of that verse last night and then this morning I woke up and it was the first verse I read online (definitely a God moment!!!) and I really was just thinking, you know so many times I don't give God my all and put like no effort in at all and then when something difficult or hard happens then I start to get closer to Him. I forget that during the process of things trying times will come and sure they might hurt and I might not be too happy with it but its in those times that everything becomes so clear to me.

I have realized that truly at the end of my life all I will have is God. Nothing and no one else. Same for you. At the end of your life all that will remain is you and God. That's not something to regret or waste. There is a quote that says, "The more time you spend with God on earth, the more time He will spend with you in Heaven." - Unknown  I love that! Because I just think that's an amazing way to put it!

I just want to encourage you to keep God first and give Him your all and remember in trials and persecutions and things like that, its in those times that everything becomes clearer. I will give Him all my praise because He deserves it all. Even the worst of time He never leaves me! Ever! And He never leaves you either. Truly, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!! If you are facing trials you should read James 1:1-4 its a passage that always brings me comfort and builds me up anytime I read it. I love you brothers and sisters!! Stay blessed!


The Starving Baker

This is the story of the starving baker, i'm not exactly sure where it came from but its not mine and I take no credit for  it. :)

There was a man who was a baker and had this amazing bakery. He made cookies, cakes, pies, pastries and all of them were incredible! People lined up for hours to eat of his wonderful creations. One day people started noticing that this baker was getting thinner and thinner, so they watched him for a few days and noticed something... he fed everyone, cleaned, served and did all these things yet he never took the time to feed himself. He became the starving baker.

Spiritually we do the same thing a lot of times. We serve and feed the people around us but we never stop to feed ourselves. Spiritually we deprive ourselves until we barely have anything left. God did not design us for that at all. The one thing that is not selfish at all is to make sure you have a quiet time with God everyday. Sometimes that means saying no to someone. As hard as it may be (I know that if a friend asked me to hang out and I needed to spend time with God I would be somewhat bummed, just being honest). It's something you must make time for. I told a friend last week, sometimes I'll tell myself well i'll spend time with the Lord tonight... what do you think happens? I end up either never doing it, or being so tired that I wish I had spent time with Him earlier.

Don't become the starving baker. Feed yourself spiritually and don't let anything get in the way of you and the Lord. Have a blessed day!! Love you guys!!! :)


Mission Trip 2011

I just came back from a mission trip. It was one of the best experiences of my life getting to share the Lord on the beach with all these people. My youth group is amazing and I'm proud to be apart of the church that i'm at right now.

I'll share one story that sticks out most to me with you guys, I met two sisters on the beach. One came to join with us in making salvation bracelets and hanging out and playing games. She had a sister who is two years younger and she was shy so we decided to make her a bracelet and go give it to her. We did. She decided to come hang out with us. We exchanged numbers and went our seperate ways. While talking with her recently she told me that she had never been so accepted and loved by people before. It pleases me and my heart so much to know that I was able to share the love of Christ with them by being friendly and loving on them. I know we'll be friends forever and that experience will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I will share more soon. Love y'all!! :))