9.30.2013

September Favorites

Here are some posts I found really encouraging and thought provoking during the month of September. Hope y'all do as well.

When Life's Hard Breathe In - This guy is one of my new favorite bloggers. He is so real with his struggles and in it God is being glorified. Loved this post he wrote.

Jesus Is Not Your Sin-manager - I think we've all forgotten from time to time that Jesus didn't die just to manage our sin but to kill it. This post is super convicting and filled with truth.

12 Ways Sin Helps Us Understand The Bible - Gotta admit when I first read this I wasn't sure where David was going with it but after reading through it I thought it was really good.

How Long Must This Go On, Lord? - Very informative and relevant message to anybody suffering through something.

How To Offer And Receive Criticism - This was super helpful to me because I don't react (and as the writer points out, not many people do) well to criticism, let alone how to give it. This post is extremely helpful.

With that we say goodbye to September and hello to October. Cheers!

9.25.2013

Peace

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:7 (emphasis mine)

In the midst of tragedy and suffering He (God Almighty) is guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus - our great Savior and Provider.

Could it be that maybe even when we don't feel that peace that it is still present? Is it a matter of the will on whether we feel it and trust Him? But can we say that even when we don't feel the peace that it is yet still present?

Yes. We can. His promises are true and they are sure.

Maybe it's after the storm, after the rain has fallen so greatly on us that we can see His peace and His presence have been there all along and that His grace never left us.

So, if life is hard right now and the peace is a struggle to find, keep holding on. Pray "I trust You, Jesus." as many times as it takes for your heart to become in line with the God who sees you and His plan.

He will never leave us. Hallelujah!

 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” - Deuteronomy 31:6

9.23.2013

Write a Letter to Iran’s President for Pastor Saeed.
























I've been following Pastor Saeed's story since I first heard it. I pray daily (or try to) for him and his family. For his faith, his courage, and his endurance in Christ to remain.

This week is a big week because the Iranian President is coming to the U.S. to possibly meet with our President and speak on United Nations affairs. Prayers over that are appreciated.

The main reason I'm writing this is to ask you to pray daily for Pastor Saeed and go to this website and be a part of the campaign to free him from the Iranian prison he is in. You can write a letter from the website that will be sent to the Iranian President along with many other letters.

Make your voice heard for this brother of ours. God bless you.

9.18.2013

Hang In There

Sometimes life isn't always happy. Sometimes finding the joy is the biggest battle you'll face today.

Because 13 people are dead after a shooting. And yesterday you had food in your teeth and nobody told you and you wish you didn't care so much about what you look like and other people's opinions of you and that you could just be content with the Lord and His love but He knows and you know... it's a fight.

His grace flows. His love pours.

The fears ring loud in your ear and He says, "Be still.". But you're scared and so you move and with each step you take you realize that He is still with you. Enveloping you with His presence and it's sweet.

His grace flows more. His love pours more.

So life isn't always happy or joyful and sometimes you'll cry yourself to sleep, but hang in there, sweetie, because we have hope. Always. Who is this hope? "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

9.16.2013

Frisbee, Grace, And Encouragement - Monday Reflections

Last night as I was getting ready to go to sleep I started thinking about the day I had just had. I played Frisbee with some cool people for a couple hours which prompted this post somewhat. Hope you get something out of it.

--
I think the Church works a lot like a good game of Frisbee (I know, I know. Stay with me, though. I believe God helped me see this).

You have 5, 6, 7, or 10 people tossing the Frisbee of encouragement towards our Savior back and forth. One person may not understand something that God has helped you understand so you encourage them with His wisdom revealed to you. Another person may have something to add that benefits our brother or sister and so the game* is going well. Then, a person who is going through a tough time falls into sin- i.e. drops the Frisbee- and now they feel like they can't possibly keep going after that mess up. I think this is when God picks up the Frisbee and says, "Okay, child. You messed up but My grace is more. Keep going." and with that He tosses the Frisbee for His children to catch and the encouragement keeps going. Grace pours down and encouragement flows.

What am I saying? Even when we "drop" or mess up, God picks us up. Even when we're failing, He provides people to walk alongside us because God knows we can't do it alone.

Oh, thank You, precious Father, that even we fail You, You still show grace and provide for us.

*To be sure, I am not saying following Christ is a game because it's not. This is just a parable of sorts.

9.13.2013

God Distorted - Book Review

I've been reading God Distorted for about 2 months (off and on) and let me just start off by telling you this book is a blessing from the Lord. He has been using it to unveil parts of my heart that have been broken and in need of healing from growing up without a father active in my life. (But God the Father has been active in my life since before I was born. :) )

John Bishop tells the story of himself as a child and what growing up without a father did to his image of God the Heavenly Father. He then goes on to share his testimony of how God has helped him to get through his fears, anxieties, and hurts and how healing has come.

John is a very real and very personal author and I love that about his writing. He doesn't sugarcoat a lot and isn't afraid of stating the truth knowing that it will hurt. He includes a study guide at the back of the book that is full of Scriptures to go with many of the questions and for me I found that quite helpful and encouraging. We need to go to Truth in order to be set free from anything and God's Word is truth.

I'm not going to say that my distorted view of God is completely fixed because I think that would be a lie. I still struggle with understanding God's love for me at times and seeing Him as my caring and loving Father God, but this book definitely has gotten the ball rolling in the right direction and by God's grace I will see Him as He is (probably not ever 100% accurate this side of Heaven but definitely a lot better... it's a growing process).

This book was a dense read for me so I would say don't read through it quickly but rather slowly and let God speak to you and reveal the hurts that need healing to you. For me there were times I had to intentionally put it down and journal or just pray and that's totally okay.

One thing I got out of this book and hope you do as well is to see that God has a purpose in our pain whether it be living without an earthly father present, being abused, or just not having a very good family life. God will use that for your good and His glory. There is purpose in your pain.

*Note: I received a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for reviewing purposes.

9.12.2013

The Weak Win (But Not On Their Own)

In Judges 7 there is a pretty awesome (and true, might I add) story. The story is of the 300 men and Gideon and how the Lord delivers them from the Midianites.

There are many interesting and encouraging things in this chapter but in verse 2 a really interesting thing is spoken by the Lord. He tells Gideon that He (God) cannot deliver them from the Midianites with as many men as he (Gideon) has. Why? Because then Israel will boast in their strength and not God's strength.
 
Don’t we do that? And doesn’t God sometimes allow us to get so “stuck” in certain trials that we know only He can deliver us?

I’m prone to pride, y’all. I don’t think it’s just me but I can for sure tell you that it’s a problem that’s a daily battle so I definitely understand what God is saying here to Gideon about the pride of Israel. Moving on…
In verses 3-8 the Lord dwindles down this army with Gideon until there are only 300 men left. Guess how God chose them? He told Gideon that anyone who drank water like a dog- lapping with their tongues- they are the ones that God will use to deliver Israel from the Midianites.
 
Does that sound crazy to anyone else? Yeah. But don’t you kind of love it? God didn’t choose the strongest, the coolest (if you saw someone lapping water like a dog, would you think they were cool? I didn’t think so.), or shall we say the most qualified (according to the world’s standards) but He saw something in them. Maybe it was their willingness because verse 3 tells us that those who were afraid were told to leave and go home. Maybe they showed signs of humility so God could count on them to give Him the glory for the victory He allowed (all victory belongs to the Lord anyway. Check out Genesis 14:20). Or maybe the most obvious reason was (it's most obvious because it is stated in the text) God knew in their weakness HE is still strong. Woo! Powerful.

This encourages me because I know I’m not the most qualified person ever. I mess up every single day and struggle with things I should probably be “done” struggling over. But even in my failures Jesus has saved me. Even in my sin God chose me. Even in the trials He helps me. And why is that? Because He is my strength, salvation, and Rock. He alone deserves the glory because He alone is holy.
God fulfilled His Word and handed the Midianites into Israel’s hands. With 300 men they defeated many. What made the difference? The Lord.

“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
 
I don't know your struggles but God does. Trust Him. Know that in your weakness God is still strong.

9.03.2013

When "That Awkward Moment" Really Wasn't That Awkward...

Sometimes I try too hard. Especially when I'm around people that I want so badly to like me.

In the past those attempts have proved unsuccessful and yet still I try so hard.

I had somewhat of an awkward moment with some friends earlier this week... or so I thought. I went around the house moping for a while, then I journaled some to the Lord and then I asked for help getting over it. Hours later I come home to find a message, "Hey, what are you doing tomorrow?"

Hmmm...

I tend to overreact to rejection or in this case perceived rejection. I know that nobody enjoys to be rejected and that when it hits it hurts. I try to put on a facade but God sees right through that.

I'm so afraid of being hurt that I allow it to hold me back. This living by faith I talked about? Yeah, it's even harder to do when you're afraid of being hurt and rejected by others.

Does that mean I just sit and do nothing? Wait until the pain won't come? The tears stop flowing? My life looks perfect? None of those things will happen. The pain won't always be there, but it will come back at times. The tears will stop flowing until something else causes them to fall, and my life will never be or look perfect this side of Heaven so it's time to come to peace with that.

Maybe you fear rejection or think you can't do anything right, like you are always messing something up. God is not mad at you or disappointed in you because you fail. He knows we're going to fail at times, He knows we're going to misinterpret things at times, and He's there to pick us up and help us understand when we're confused. Sometimes He just reminds us, "I am with you." and that is enough.

I think because we expect perfection from ourselves and others we are more prone to being let down. Maybe we should move from moment to moment trusting God to do what He wills in the everyday. Maybe your "awkward moments" will turn around with a, "Hey, what are you doing tomorrow?"