8.31.2013

August Faves

Here's a few posts from the month of August that have inspired and encouraged me. I hope they do the same for you. Feel free to drop a link in the comments to one or two of your favorite reads this month. :)

Breaking Up With Your Ideal Self by Allie Marie Smith - know a girl? Love her enough to share this.

Where I Left My Heart - I just really like Gennean's blog. ^_^

Food, Weight, And The Gospel - This is part 3 but the links to parts 1 and 2 are listed in the post.

The Simplified Life - The heart of this blogger is beautiful.

Who Do You Believe? - We've all struggled with lies vs. truth and this is an excellent post about it.

When You Don't Feel Like Doing The Great Commission - really enjoyed her authenticity and willingness to share her struggles. Oh, and "the fact train"? Yeah, love it!

And now we can say bye to August and hello to September. Here's to a new month (and can we all thank God it's football time!? ;) ) and to new journey's with the Lord!

8.29.2013

Walking By Faith

Following Jesus is hard.

If someone told you otherwise they were lying. Following Jesus is hard and it's a fight. You will wrestle more in this life because of it but guess what? It will be worth it in the end.

2 Corinthians 5:7 says, "And we walk by faith, not by sight."

That verse is something I've been praying for a while and asking God's help in living that way because on my own I'm helpless and hopeless. God has been answering that prayer for a couple of months in various ways.

One thing I love to do is worship God through song. Music has always been something I've loved. I can sing all day and when I began living for Christ worship music then became a passion of mine. I've since learned that it's also an awesome tool for fighting against Satan's attacks but that's an entirely different blog post.

A few weeks back I was reading an Amy Carmichael devotional where she said there are times that God will ask us to live out what we sing. I read it and thought, Wow. That's good! and then moved on, but last night that quote entered my mind. I've been asking God for help being bold and courageous but unknowingly (or maybe partially I knew) I've been choosing my own comfortable ways. I haven't been living by faith. So last night I was challenged to do something I knew I needed to do. Before preaching began at church we had worship time through song. God knew the song my heart needed and He let it play. I sang the words and as I sang His gentle voice said,

"Will you really, child? Obey Me."

I knew exactly what He was telling me to do and so I began praying for boldness, for the words to speak, for His Spirit to empower me. And you know what? He provided! I stood before several people and did exactly what He told me to do. I was scared. I thought about turning around, but He helped me step up, step forward and speak life to people who need it (and we all need Him).

Maybe we shouldn't be so afraid. God is for us. Who can be against us? No one. We read all these amazing stories of God working through people and saving/changing lives and allowing these men and women of God to be apart and we always think, Yeah, I want to do that, God! The thing is, we can't do it but He can. We must be willing and then we must do what He says. Maybe Katie Davis, Jim Elliot, John Piper, Amy Carmichael and __________ (insert name) aren't that able to do these things for the Lord* (because God alone supplies us with everything we have.), maybe it's just that they're willing.

I'm learning more and more what it means and looks like to rely on Him. I'm learning to live by faith.

*I in no way am disrespecting these brothers and sisters in Christ. I'm encouraged by their lives of faith! My point is just to remind you that we all have ministries the Lord wants to move in and through, we just need to be available.

8.26.2013

Who Understands Me?! - Monday Reflections

I like to be understood. I want to be understood. I want people to know me; to "get" me. I mean really, who doesn't, right? But as I was spending some time with friends over the weekend and pondering different things in my life I began to wonder, how bad do I want people to know and understand God?

Ouch.

Yeah, that one hurts.

Many times I make such an effort to make sure people get where I'm coming from and the thought doesn't really cross my mind that maybe they don't know the LORD or maybe understand Him and His life-changing ways (though we can never fully understand His ways, we can get a better grasp on them as He allows).

So my conscious challenge to myself and to you is: 1. ask yourself whether you're living to make sure everybody understands and knows you or whether you're living to make sure everybody knows the God who made you. and 2. I challenge you to rest in who you are in Christ, letting Him define you and let that be what you desire others to understand- that only Christ can reveal our true identity.

Happy Monday, y'all! :)

8.22.2013

All In - Book Review

"When are we going to realize that indecision is a decision."

And so Mark Batterson dives into a 170 page book on going "all in" for Christ.

Mark Batterson does an excellent job of stopping and making you think with his easy to read writing style. He takes every day situations and reminds us that with God truly all things are possible.

Each chapter has at least one story of someone who has gone all in for Christ and has been blessed because of their obedience to the Lord. Mark does a wonderful job of driving home how important it is that we live for eternity regardless of the difficulties and challenges it presents here on earth because as he states on page 155-156, "When everything is said and done, our only regret will be whatever we did not give back to God." YES.

As I read this book I was deeply challenged by statements like,  "We focus on what Jesus asked him to give up (talking about the rich young ruler in Matthew 19) but fail to consider what He offered up in exchange." (pg. 27) "You cannot be the hands and feet of Jesus if you're sitting on your butt." (pg. 77) I don't want to be half-way with Christ. I want to be all in.

I've read two Mark Batterson books (well, I skimmed The Circle Maker) and while I agree with most of what he says (sometimes our opinions differ) and I respect him as a brother in Christ, his writing style doesn't speak to me as much as it may someone else. Hence why I gave the book 3 stars. It just wasn't a favorite, but that in no way means it won't be one of yours. God may use it to change your life! Or your perspective... which may change your life.

Included in the back is a list of all 70 resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. I really like that the author included this because it shows yet another example of someone who really went all in for Christ and modeled it in his actions and words.

If you like upbeat, encouraging yet challenging books then I recommend you pick up a copy of All In.

*Note: I received a free copy of this book for the exchange of a review.

8.21.2013

Enduring Despite Your Circumstances

We all sat around the room and opened our Bibles. 

Our Sunday school teacher opened her mouth and began to read Psalm 1. 

We read with our eyes.

"Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
 
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.           


Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction." (emphasis mine)

Then she asked us, "What does the word prosper mean?" 

We all sat there quietly thinking and finally the Lord gave me a response,
"Enduring despite your circumstances." 



She looked at me, said thank you for responding and went on with her lesson.

I listened but I was pretty intently focused on what the Lord had just spoken to me. You see, that response came from a place deep within me. It came from the sweat and tears I've shed in the months past. It came from the grace of God. She didn't know, nor did anybody else (except God), how meaningful those words He gave me to speak were. 

In the months past He has proved that prospering is not having a fancy house, nice clothes, a cool car, a cute boyfriend, or endless numbers of friends. It doesn't matter how cool, nice, or fancy your life is. What matters is are you following His way? Are you living life like the one who really prospers?

Maybe God is giving you a word right now. Are you listening? The Bible says when we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. Are you near? In that moment on a Sunday morning, He helped me prep my heart to listen for His voice. How's your heart? Are you prospering or is your life looking more like chaff which the wind blows away? He'll help you if your life is like that. Cry out to Him.

Father, give us Your Word and open our ears to hear it. Help us to endure all the trials we go through, knowing that You are the One who causes us to prosper. Help us to live our lives like Christ lived His- all to glorify You. Thank You for Your Son and thank You for the grace we have now. 
In the name of Jesus,
Amen.

8.16.2013

Coming Back Stronger

The darkness will lift.
Jesus will come.
Hope will flood the soul and tears of thankfulness will flow.

I know this because God has shown up in my life time and time again (as He has these past couple of days).

You may not see it now. You may not feel His presence, but O child, He is here with us.
So keep singing.
Keep praying.
Keep seeking after Him.

Because He is faithful and does not lie.

I can't tell you why life so hard for you right now. Why these trials keep coming. But I can give you His words and pray they will be enough to quiet your soul:

"Jesus answered"It was neither that this man sinnednor his parents ; but it was so that theworks of God might be displayed in him." - John 9:3

Jesus was speaking of healing this man so that God's power may be displayed. Maybe the trials you're going through right now are so that His mighty hand may be displayed and He alone receive the glory for what He alone does.


Lord, receive our praise. Help us to trust You for you do not lie and are completely trustworthy. Forgive us when we forget that and help us to believe You at Your Word because You are our Almighty, Faithful and True Creator. Thank You for Your grace that sustains us through each trial. Hold us still, Father, in Your arms. Remove anything that resists You and help us to submit, regardless of what that entails. 

Amen.

8.11.2013

When It's Better To Wait...

I got some ice-cream at Micky D's today (because they know what to do when it comes to ice-cream cones! Anybody feelin' me on that one?!) and while I was there what I'm writing here came to mind.

When I got there the ice-cream machine wasn't ready yet. It needed to chill a little longer to be ice-cream. I told the girl there I'd wait (yeah, I really wanted some... haha!), but she thought maybe the machine was ready. She checked it and it came out like water. Not cool enough yet.

I sat and waited for about 10 minutes.
10 minutes or so later I got some.
Was it worth it? YES!
Why? Because I got a chocolate dipped cone that wasn't watery and was the right consistency.

My encouragement to you is this: sometimes you're going through trials that you don't think you'll ever come through. Sometimes God seems so far away and you wonder if He even cares (1 Peter 5:7... yes, He does.).

KEEP WAITING.

If there's nothing else to do but wait on Him, do it. Why? Because maybe not today or tomorrow or even the next month, but in Heaven when you hear His words, "Well done, My good and faithful servant." you'll be glad that you waited. It will be worth it.

Also, in case you were concerned, God does not leave us to try and wait on our own. His grace supplies us with all the strength we need to wait (Future Grace by John Piper has, by God's grace, helped me to grasp this a lot better). He, indeed, is holding on to us.

"Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord." - Psalm 27:14 AMP

Oh, Lord Jesus, help us to wait and trust you.


8.09.2013

Blown Away By His Grace

This week has been a week of processing God's grace over my life and wow! Y'all, isn't it beautiful how even though God knows how unworthy we are He still sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for us?!

This week I was really comforted by Philippians 1:6,

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

I really don't need to say anything more but thank You, Jesus!!

8.07.2013

Drawing Nearer When It's Dark

Sometimes life is crazy and it's a fight to believe the words He's spoken over you all your life and you know them to be true yet there seems to be a veil that tries to hide them from your eyes and you pray, "Lord, open my eyes."

and yet the emotions that flood over your despairing soul threaten to take you down and all the while you hear His voice, however small it may sound, and He says, "Keep walking with Me."

You say okay because who else will you go to? You know He, the Great I Am, is the only One who has the Word of Life. HE IS THE WORD OF LIFE.

So you pray for faith over doubt and belief over unbelief.

He knows you. He knows you. He knows you.

"There isn’t any temptation that you have experienced which is unusual for humans. God, who faithfully keeps his promises, will not allow you to be tempted beyond your power to resist. But when you are tempted, he will also give you the ability to endure the temptation as your way of escape." - 1 Corinthians 10:13

He knows we're just humans and we fight to understand His ways which we will never fully understand and we cry when He seems so far away from us. Still He says, "Draw near."

It's dark. Near sounds so far away but in faith you say, "Yes, Lord, nearer to You I will draw. Even in the dark. Lord, help me to praise Your name."

Today is another day to rely on Him. Even in the dark. Even when there's pain like you've never felt before. This test will pass. Blessed be Your name, O Lord.