6.28.2013

Summer Fiction Series - Part 2


{To read Part 1 click here.}


Chrissy rolled over in bed for what seemed like the 100th time. She hated herself, how she felt, where she was at this point in her life. Yet, for the life of her she couldn't figure out a way to break free.
   
                                                           ~~
Just a few days before she had talked to someone who expressed no belief whatsoever in the Lord. She thought and prayed and then began her conversation, but he was more into arguing than talking. She prayed, ended the conversation, and went about her day.

But the Devil was working. He wanted to steal, kill, and destroy her for good.
Chrissy underestimated the Enemy and so she didn't prepare for battle as she should have. She went flippantly throughout her days, (for he had lead her to believe she was living "purposefully" even when she didn't follow her Lord's leading), and before long the doubts that were way, deep down started to surface.

Her Father had warned her. He had told her that trouble would come and she'd struggle to endure, but to not lose heart, to keep doing battle because she was not fighting for victory; victory was already hers through His Son! She knew that... yet today she chose to forget.

Depression seized her as struggled and wrestled with these doubts. Friends prayed, family encouraged, yet she was drowning in sorrow. She had forgotten that no condemnation existed for those in Christ Jesus, and so she felt that He was so angry with her for even thinking these thoughts.

"I have loved you with an everlasting love." 

Her thoughts became too much for her and Chrissy slowly slipped into deeper depression. She slept, got up to eat a little, then slept some more. This was her schedule for a few days. Sunday rolled around and still she was too depressed, too tired to do anything, but sleep some more.

Where was she going? Would she make it past the doubt? Was God still with her?

Come back next week to read the 3rd and final installment! 

6.21.2013

Summer Fiction Series - Part 1




Happy first day of Summer, y'all!! In honor of it being the first day of Summer, I decided to post the first part of this year's fiction series. I did 'She' (click here to read) last year and got a lot of good feedback so I thought it would be fun to do something similar. Be sure to check back this time next week for part 2! Love you all!!

--

Chrissy's Story: A Tale Of Doubt, Redemption, And Grace

Tears spilled over and this time she let them flow freely down her face.

She knew that the Father did not mind these "signs of weaknesses" as she had been brought up to believe tears to be. She knew He understood her more than she understood herself and so she found rest in His reassuring arms.

Chrissy was remembering the past today. Guilt, fear, and shame attempted to grip her. For a few short moments they did, only to be abandoned again to believe His words to her...

"I have removed your sins as far as the east is from the west."

Oh, those words stung at times, yet always brought peace and comfort to her tired, wearisome soul.

She had always learned the hard way. She had always known that. To think this situation could have been different had she listened to Him, instead of herself... well, those what-ifs played over too many times in her mind and she instead was choosing to believe that He was working this for her good.

Chrissy was a bright, bubbly, outgoing 18 year old. She had blonde hair, dark, chocolate brown eyes, and a curvaceous figure. College was in her future (or so she hoped), but up until this point she was focused on her relationship with her Savior- the most important relationship in her life. Though regretfully, she had strayed a few times from Him, His reassuring arms of grace always beckoned her back to Him. She stopped to think back.

The memories reminded her of the pain. The tears flowed again. This time, tears not just for pain, but for the beauty of His grace. She had not known how beautiful and priceless and unearned it was until that day a few months ago...

Stay tuned for next week's installment! Let me know what you think of this week's and be sure to share it with your friends.

6.17.2013

Abram - Worshiping God Because Of Who He Is - Monday Reflections

"Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. From there he moved to the hill country on the east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. And there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. And Abram journeyed on, still going toward the Negeb." - Genesis 12:1-9

I sat down to read through some of the Scriptures my pastor had used for the Sunday morning teaching.

As I sat and read the above verses I stopped and thought about how Abram, while journeying through a place he's never been and not knowing exactly where the Lord was leading him, still made time to build not one, but two altars to worship the Lord. TWO ALTARS. Um, I hate to admit it, but some days when I don't have a whole bunch of time in the morning for worship and Bible reading, I read the Word and then neglect to ever get any worship time in. Abram is walking through the desert! If he found time, so can I.

Anyway, that's not the point of this post. I was really led to ask myself a couple questions that I want you to ask yourself too,

  • Do we worship God regardless of our circumstances (true worship)? Or do we only worship Him for real when everything appears to be going well?
  • Are we drawn to worship God when we see the promises He's spoken over us? (If not, may I suggest that we really aren't believing or understanding those promises?)
Abram was worshiping God because of who He is, because of the promises He knows the Lord spoke over him. Are you doing that? I've at times been tempted to think that maybe God was punishing me by not giving _______ that I prayed for and forgetting how good the Lord is, I think well, should I worship You now? Umm... YEAH! Because regardless of feelings GOD IS GOOD! Regardless of circumstances, GOD IS GOOD!

God never changes. He is always faithful. Does that not excite you!? It should lead us to worship the Lord every time we think about it! Therefore, let's worship our unchanging and faithful God! Have a blessed Monday, y'all!

6.15.2013

Confidence In Prayer

She's laying in a hospital bed right now in the ICU.

I just met this sweet woman about a month and a half ago. In that short time I've been blessed by her meekness, and her courage to speak up when she feels she needs to (considering she told she doesn't like to talk a lot, but she does anyway. ^_^ ).

Car accident. 9 broken ribs. Broken pelvis. Several other injuries.
1 friend dead. Another injured.

And so I thought this morning about how hopeless this situation would seem to someone who doesn't believe in the Lord. I thought about how difficult it would be to find something to see hope in. Then, I thought about how much hope we have in and through Christ. We have the reality of praying to the Father and knowing He hears us.

And He answers.

But sometimes His answers are slower than we want. Sometimes His answers are no's and sometimes His answers come in such unexpected ways.

And those unexpected answers can bring great delight or great distress, but we must remember that we serve a God who works all things together for good.

And so I'm praying with a whole lot of others. We're believing the Lord for a miracle. I ask you to join us, praying for this lovely woman and her friend and their friends and family who are quite concerned. Pray God uses this to draw others closer to Him.

Lord, Thy will be done.

 "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him." - 1 John 5:14-15 (emphasis mine)

6.14.2013

Social Media Obsession (and one of the reasons I quit)

Everybody is on Facebook and Twitter, right? Not so. But there are quite a few people on there (to make an understatement). I want to start off by saying that I am not condemning anyone on Facebook or Twitter but am stating something that is close to my heart and has been blessing me in my relationship with God and others. Also, these are just my opinions.

Let me ask you a question: when was the last time you went without going on one social media website? How long did you stay off?

We go to church and people are on their phones.
The grocery store? People are on their phones.
Football games, walks, restaurants? Still on their phones.

I went out to eat with some sweet friends the other night and looked over at a family. The husband and wife were enjoying their meal and conversation. They laughed and looked fully alive and loving it, but their son stayed on his phone the whole time.

This is a problem.

We live in an extremely self-centered, me-first society and it just gets worse every day. Yet, I'm constantly reminded by some of my brothers and sisters in Christ of the fact that when Jesus is at the center, His love changes our selfishness into selflessness.

So I did something a little strange to the world... I quit Facebook and Twitter.

There were many things that lead up to me deleting them, and many times I had considered doing so. The more I was on those sites the more it became about looking Christian, while often times (sadly) I was neglecting the present and the gifts (people, time, life) God had given me. It was more about what picture I chose for that month as my profile pic than about ministering to others. And when I did minister to others it became painfully apparent that I was way too concerned with the retweets, favorites, or likes I got than anything else.

I would like to suggest a few questions for you tweeters and facebookers out there to ask yourselves and answer honestly:

  • Is this drawing me closer to the Lord and helping me love Him and others more or is it a distraction from those things?
  • Am I more concerned with pleasing others and making them like me or am I seeking to please the Father by being on here?
  • Am I being selfish or selfless? Does my life exemplify His character or my pride?
  • Is this eternally worthy? (Meaning will it last past this world?)
This isn't to say that we won't have these problems with pride and self-centeredness outside of our online life (because we will), but I think we should all question our motives in what we're doing and ask whether it's to glorify our Father in Heaven.

Also, ladies, do you really think it's so romantic being asked out over a Fb message? Yeah, me neither.

In case you were wondering, I have not regretted deleting either of those pages. Though, I do have some online friends that I miss talking with, I've learned to appreciate the people in my every day life much more, and not to just post Bible verses, but live them. :) Happy Friday!

6.10.2013

Keep On Hoping - Monday Reflections

*All photos are mine. Please don't use them without permission. Thanks! :) 




















 
 



Sometimes we get so bogged down where we are. Our souls are restless and we're just plain tired. Or as Tenth Avenue North's new song so wonderfully puts it, we're worn.

I can get so used to where I'm at in my little corner of the world that I forget there is much more to this world than I can see physically right now. SO much more!

Do we not get there spiritually as well? Do we not forget the hope of Heaven and the hope of Christ's return? Do we forget that He has the whole world in His hands and that He will have His way? We get used to seeing only our disobediences, our sins, our lack and we forget to look at His fullness, His obedience, His perfect, sinless life.

Are we looking too much at "me" and not enough at Him?

Hmmm. Just think on and pray about that.
How many times have you seen the Lord's faithfulness in the Bible? Multiply that (uh oh, math peeps are gonna love this, but if y'all are like me I've almost lost you, but hang on there! ;) ) by how many times the Lord has been faithful to you when you came to know Him, before you came to know Him, and in just this year.

CRAZY FAITHFUL.
That's our God. He is greater than our doubts, fears, present trials, etc. Because of His crazy faithfulness we should trust more, yet it sometimes seems we doubt more after seeing His faithfulness.

I don't know where you're at. Honestly, I don't think it matters whether I do or don't know because God does. He does the work in your life. Sure, we play our roles, but He causes the growth (1 Corinthians 3:7). So, trust the God who grows things and keep on hoping. Even when you don't think you can, fall on the One who always can and does. He is so much more than we can see or know. Keep pursuing.

6.06.2013

For the storms in life...

 
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." - Romans 15:13

I actually had a post ready to go today, but didn't have the time earlier to post it and then life happened and then I realized that maybe somebody just needs a reminder that God is with them, He loves them, and whatever the storm you're going through He will get you through so hold on.

So that's what I'm doing. :)

I went for a walk this afternoon and passed a house with the most precious married couple. The wife has been confined to a wheelchair in her old age and every time I pass at a meal time I see him fixing her meal. Every time! Any who, today an ambulance came to take her to the hospital (pray for her and her husband) and I was reminded of how many people are going through storms in life.

Thank God He is our hope!

Friend, whatever you're going through remember that God has not forgotten you. Stand firm, for the testing of your faith produces endurance. Trust in the Lord who is working all things together for your good (Romans 8:28). He loves us with an everlasting love. Oh! What a joy that is! If you're not feeling the joy, just think on His everlasting love for a bit. It will blow your mind (and heart). Be faithful to our always faithful Lord. It's worth it. Hang on to Him and know that He is holding on tightly to you. He is your shield, so take refuge in Him. <3

"This God—his way is perfect;
    the word of the Lord proves true;
    he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him." - Psalm 18:30

6.03.2013

The Comparison Game- Let's Please Stop!

Skinnier. Healthier. Prettier. Smarter. Uglier. Dumber. Not as cool. Not as holy. Not as good. Nicer clothes. Bigger House. More valuable.

We all do it. Comparison is a "fun game" we like to play. We play it constantly. You notice a girl who wears a size smaller than you. You envy her and head straight to the gym. You notice a guy who always seems to be the life of the party. You commit to becoming more like him.

But why do we play it and what does it lead to?

We play it because we assume that outwardly or inwardly (or both) we don't measure up the way others we see do.

What does it lead to? Jealousy, anger, and hatred.

When we compare ourselves constantly to others and forget that we are children of God, made in His image, we lose sight of our identity and Satan jumps at us with attacks of how inferior we are.

How do we combat it?

GET IN THE WORD! When we equip ourselves with the Truth (and Jesus Christ and God's Word are the truth) we can fight back when we hear lies.

We also should seek to love others and ourselves more like God does (that's hard one, eh? Philippians 4:13. :) ). 1 Corinthians 13 is a great place to start. Pray that you would love others and yourself more like that.

This doesn't mean that you pretend like you're better than everybody else or that you can do everything. There are some people who are gifted in areas you aren't, just as there are areas you are gifted that they aren't. Acknowledge their gifts, be thankful for them, encourage them in using them to the glory of God and focus on that.

It's not about who is prettier or nicer or whatever. It's about letting our lights shine so that others may see our good works and glorify our Father in Heaven. When we seek His kingdom, the things that seemed oh so important before just fall away. You begin to look at that person you once envied and love them/appreciate them because they are using their gifts to glorify God.

In no way am I close to ending this game we like to play, but each day I'm choosing to listen more to Him, less to myself, and less to the world. I'm learning to let Him define me and not my pants size.

God, be glorified.

6.01.2013

Reclaiming Love - Book Review

You could say that I'm going through a season of learning to love. I mean really and truly love like Christ loved. I'm constantly amazed at how little I really know of what love is and what is looks like. I'm thankful for His grace in being patient with me and showing me what love is. Simple answer? Love looks like the cross. Sacrifice. Grace. Patience. LOVE.

In Reclaiming Love by Ajith Fernando, Ajith says, "Love is going to be our preoccupation for eternity. Our present lives are but a training ground for the opportunity to fully experience and apply love."

That being the case, we need to get it right here on earth through the power of Christ so we are prepared and ready in Heaven.

As I've read through Reclaiming Love, I must admit it's quite a convicting and edifying read. I read it rather quickly (2 days), but I would suggest taking some deeper time to look at what the author talks about and really study 1 Corinthians 13 (as I will be doing in the near future).

Ajith discusses love in action, not just in word. He beautifully illustrates that with stories and scenarios all throughout the book which are quite relatable.

I particularly enjoyed chapters 3-5 which discuss love in patience. In our world we lack patience more than anything. We hate waiting, so it's not really a shocker that people tend to give up on God and each other and love far too quickly. Ajith addresses patience in sin, in weakness, and in encountering justice and brings up many wonderful points in all three and how these all relate and affect the way we love God and others.

This book is one you definitely want on your shelf if you take 1 Corinthians 13 seriously and want some insight on how to put it into action daily. But that is a very important point not to be missed in this book- we aren't to just read it and move on. We must be changed by the power of God and seek His help to love others in action daily. This is quite the process as I'm sure you already know, but thankfully God doesn't leave us to do it alone!

You'll want to read and re-read this book to soak up all the truth. I want people to be able to say at the end of my life, "Though she had a difficult life, she knew that Jesus had been good to her. She had a loving Savior, and this gave her comfort. Her life was most influenced by the love of God, not by the unkindness others had shown her." (pg. 180) Don't you?!

Note: this book was given to me for free by booksneeze.com for reviewing purposes.