Raising Faithful Kids in a Broken World

“The highest privilege and purpose of a parent is to lead the child in the way of Christ.” – Max Lucado

 

Well, it’s that time of year again. Time to start gearing up for school. Doesn’t it feels like summer goes by faster and faster every year? It seems like I blink and it’s time to buy school supplies!! And while I really do love the structure of a school year, there are some things I dread. Things like homework, carpool lines, extra traffic on the roads, super early wake-ups, and did I mention homework? Yuck! While all of those things definitely stink, the thing I dread most is what my child is exposed to.

My daughter will be entering her 1st year of middle school this year and truthfully, I’ve been dreading this for a while now. Middle school is just tough. It’s bigger, there’s more kids, more responsibilities, and don’t get me started on puberty!! It’s like a world of its own. And these days, it seems kids are exposed to so much more at such a young age! Blame it on technology, or what ever else, but the fact is you really have to prepare your kids for info overload at a much younger age now. The biggest problem with this is some parents are choosing to just bury their heads in the sand and not address whats going on. They have the “not my kid” mentality. Well, if you consider yourself a Christian, I pray this is not your approach. Sure, there is no such thing as a perfect parent, but that doesn’t mean we get to just check out when it comes to raising well equipped kids ready to face the world. Today, my focus is going to be on what I feel it looks like to raise faith filled kids in a broken world. I believe in my heart that we as parents are called to be that light for our children. And I also feel we often times drop the ball. As Lindsey Bell puts it, “The goal of parenting isn’t to create perfect kids. It is to point our kids to the perfect God”.

Room to Grow

I consistently have to remind myself that even when we are away from our children, even when they are away from our authority, they are never away from God or His authority. As parents, we tend to want to hover. It’s just our nature! But, at some point we have to give some space. Space for our children to become who they are. And hopefully, if we have in fact done our job correctly, they will blossom in that space. I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t want my daughter to be who I want her to be more than I want her to become everything God created her to be. 

Many parents believe that parenting is only about fully controlling their child’s behavior and training them to be adults. And I really don’t disagree, it is important that children behave well and are well-mannered adults (eventually). But, don’t we as parents have to first control our own behavior and allow God to show us how to parent without controlling everything? It’s a fact that children learn what they live. So, if we are in fact showing our kids the love of Christ, teaching them truth and leading by example then don’t we at some point have to trust that they will make wise decisions? As scary as that is to actually do, it’s really the only way for your child to become who God is calling them to be. Now will they always make the right choices? Absolutely not. But that’s where grace comes in. I mean truthfully, do we as adults always get it right? No way! We need grace quite often ourselves! As parents our job is to take care of the possible, and then let God handle the impossible. It is not our job to control their every move. They need room to grow. 

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

Lead By Example

“God works through faithful parents who, in spite of dark and difficult days, walk obediently to Him.” (Elizabeth George) I always say, parenting isn’t for the weak at heart! I mean we all know parenting is nothing short of a wild adventure of faith. Faith that we are doing it right. Faith that these little humans we are in charge of turn out ok. Faith that we are screwing them up for life! It can be a lot to swallow. But, the good thing is we don’t have to do it alone! Our heavenly Father would love nothing more than to help us be the Godly parents He desires us to be.

Your kids are a reflection of you. How you behave, things you say and things you do. They are always watching, even when we don’t think they are! What if instead of simply telling them all the right ways to act, we instead showed them through our actions? Whether we like it or not, we are the model of Christ to our kids. We are the model of what it looks like to lead others, love people and worship Jesus. What do your kids see when they watch you? Are you daily reading your Bible? Do you pray for more than just dinner at night? Do you pray at all in front of them? How do you treat others? Is church a priority? Are you serving? Do you surround yourself with good, encouraging friends? Do you put others first? Do you make time for God? Do your words match your actions? These are the things your children need to see you do, and do well. We can’t fault our kids for not doing things we ourselves aren’t in fact doing. The best way to point your child to Christ is by living a life that exemplifies Him. 

Partnership 

Two combined influences make a greater impact than just two influences. Children raised in a Christian home, good! Kids who are involved in church, good! Both of those are good influences on their own. But, when combined they become great! It’s very important that church and families work together to impact kids. Christian parents play a very important role in their child’s faith, but they are not the only adult influences kids need. Parents need other adults pouring the same truths into their kids. I strongly believe your kids will have a much better belief in Jesus if they are not only hearing it at home from mom and dad. 

If you don’t have a church that believes this theory, find one. Get your kids in front of other believers who can and will reiterate the truth you are telling your kids. Your kids will thank you for it one day. And I truly believe it makes our job even just the slightest bit easier to know we have help. We have an entire group of people who want nothing more than to come alongside us and help teach the next generation who Christ is and what His plan for their lives looks like. And also they will pray for your child, love your child and listen to your child. Sometimes, kids don’t want to talk to mom and dad. Give them another Christian adult leader to share things with. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather them talk to someone at church than a friend at school who possibly doesn’t believe the same.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Final Thoughts

Being a parent is a lot of responsibility. But it can also be so rewarding. I pray that you are taking the role seriously and are making it a point to invest daily in your child’s spiritual life. They are influenced by so many things and so many people. If we aren’t intentionally pouring into our kids, trust me something or someone else will. Try not to focus so much on perfection and just be involved. Kids don’t need to see perfect parents. Actually, they need to see imperfect ones who heavily rely on a perfect God to help them. There are tons of great resources out there on parenting, find something that speaks to you and read it! Find other Christian parents and have them come alongside you! Maybe even ones that have already been through the parenting phase you’re currently in. Whatever way you find helpful, just stick with it. Don’t bury your head in the sand and pray it all works out in the end. Remember, God has given you this child, you are called to show and teach them the love of Christ. 

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Final Destination

“May you always pursue the narrow path, a life that calls for something more. And not perfection, but fullness. Something deeper beyond the shore.” – Morgan Harper Nichols

 

I’m pretty sure I’ve already shared this about myself but, I’m gonna say it again. I don’t travel well. Patients is not my best quality to put it nicely. I can’t sleep the entire ride, reading makes me car sick and it literally feels like it takes forever to get there no matter how short the trip might actually be. Occasionally we’ve even made a wrong turn and added an extra hour to the already long trip. That’s always a fun time…said no one ever! And don’t get me started on the traffic!! Geez. Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels this way?

But, while I clearly don’t enjoy the trip, I absolutely love the destination! Most often if I’m traveling it’s to the beach. Man, just get me to that white sand, let me feel that ocean breeze and I’m set. That 6 hour drive is worth every impatient moment. Annnnd then the dreaded ride home comes. Which we ALL know is worse than the ride there. And I’m back to impatiently wanting to reach the next destination, home.

I don’t know about you, but my spiritual life can sometimes look a lot like my travel life. Every now and then, I have to admit, I’m impatient with the journey. I want so desperately to know the final destination He is calling me to! But, we all know it just doesn’t work that way. At times we think, I made it! I’m there. Only to have Him call us another way. Or we reach what we think is our calling only to find somewhere along the path we made a wrong turn. It isn’t always easy to take the steps asked of us, especially when we don’t always clearly see the destination ahead. But just like it says in 1 Corinthians 5:7, (For we live by faith, not by sight,) we have to have faith that the final destination will be worth the bumps in the road, the unknown paths, the things unseen. Today I want to talk through a few things I think we tend to mess up along the way. Lets check out what scripture has to say about traveling down the path to our final destination…

Control

While we are being honest, we might as well add in the fact that most of us like to be in control. Maybe this means you always drive on road trips, or you have to control the music or the car temps, either way you and everyone in the car knows you get the final say! Well, this doesn’t always work so well when it comes to our spiritual destination, does it? We like to think we have complete control but really we all know or have been shown that’s not the case.

Trying to have complete control can and will often times lead us down the wrong path. Instead, we should be seeking Gods word for direction in our lives. Allowing scripture to control our steps typically opens the door for Gods divine direction in our lives. Psalm 119:105 says, Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path and Psalms 37:23-24 says, The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for The Lord upholds him with His hand. What that says to me is that as long as we allow the word of God to direct and guide He will be there along the way. And honestly in my opinion, that’s a much better idea! I mean really, I might know how to pick some good travel tunes but when it comes to picking the paths I need to travel in life, I think Gods a much better person for the job. So, I guess you need to be asking yourself these questions, Do you believe that God keeps His promises?  Do you trust Him enough to give up control? Because ultimately that’s what this faith thing is all about.

Roadblock

More often than not, we tend to create our own roadblocks when it comes to walking in the freedom offered by Christ. We let fear of the unknown creep in and stop us dead in our tracks. But why? Why be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God? Lets think about Job. Did he know what his future held? No!! Not at all. That man lost everything! But Job didn’t need to know. He knew God and for him, that was enough.

Philippians 1:6 tells us to be confident! That if He started a good work in us, He will see it through to completion. We have no real reason to fear. Sure, storms will come along the way. Situations will arise that make things look grim, but not all storms come to disrupt what is happening in your life. Sometimes storms come to simply clear a path. And more so than not, difficult situations often lead to beautiful destinations. Look at Job again. He ended up ok in the end. He just had to endure the storms of life!! God took care of Job. Never lose sight of what your being called to because of a current situation. Your current situation is not your final destination. The best is yet to come!

Courage or Comfort

When it all boils down, we ultimately have to choose courage, or comfort. We simply can’t choose both. Having faith that God is along the path and will direct our steps doesn’t eliminate questions. It doesn’t mean we won’t always wonder if we are making the right choice. That’s just human nature. But, what it does mean is when those questions or doubts come, we will know who to take them to. We can take them to Him. Truthfully, I’m no longer afraid of failing. I now worry that I will allow myself to become comfortable in my walk and will only be succeeding at things that simply don’t matter.

Listen, you’ll know that you are on the right path when you have complete peace in your heart and freedom in your soul. And that doesn’t mean you have to always know exactly whats going on! Remember, God is ALWAYS doing many different things in your life and truthfully you may only be aware of 3 or 4 of them. You’re never going to have all the answers. But, I’ve read the last page of the Bible. And I’ll let you in on a little secret, its all going to be ok in the end! You just have to hold on to what you know to be truth.

The following is a list of affirmations I’d like you to begin saying when you feel yourself start to question your direction. It has helped me at times to just be reminded of truth in times of doubt. This is just another way to remain confident that God is going to see you through.

  • He will finish what He has started.
  • I will walk by faith even when I can not see.
  • I don’t know what my future holds, but I’m grateful for slow and steady progress.
  • Where God guides. He provides.
  • I will follow the path God beckons me toward.

 

Final Thoughts

I absolutely love The Message version of Psalm 119:32! It reads, I’ll run the course you lay out for me if you’ll just show me how. Down deep Isn’t that really all we as Christians need? To simply say, God I will run to who I’m called to be if you will just show me the way. And guess what? We are in luck! Because that’s exactly what He wants to do for you and for me. He is simply waiting on us to have the courage to step out in faith and say God I give you control, lead me.

I get it. The journey isn’t always an easy one. Some seasons of life are tough. But man, the final destination is worth every single bump in the road. I myself can’t wait to stand before the throne and hear the words, well done good and faithful servant! Ultimately, that is The Final Destination I’m striving towards. I pray that this blog, these words, will give you the courage and strength to allow God to show you the path He is desiring for you. Always know you are valued and so loved. Thank you so much for reading and for sharing. Have a blessed day!

I Don’t Fit The Mold

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”- Dr. Seuss

 

I don’t know about you, but when I read that quote a few names automatically pop into my head. Names of friends who without a doubt stand out. They don’t go with the crowd, they don’t let society tell them who they are and they are true to themselves. They have strong faith and share it boldly. They have a real relationship with Him and it shows! They simply stand out, and do it quite comfortably too I might add.

Growing up, this was never my strong point. I wasn’t the girl who could walk into a room and automatically become the center of attention. I didn’t have the stand out personality or the big group of friends. I was never the trend setter so to speak. I believed in God but never really openly talked about it. I was just me. I was ok with just blending in. I just wanted to be liked. I just wanted to be comfortable.

BUT GOD…

A few years ago, God began to show me quite clearly that wasn’t actually how I was intended to live. That truthfully, I shouldn’t worry if I’m liked or not, and that blending in wasn’t really how God wanted me to go about my day. He was calling me out of the shadows and into the light. His light. This was not an easy transition for me. One I most definitely fought. I didn’t have a clue why He was asking this of me. Why couldn’t I just quietly have a relationship with Him? Why did it matter so much if I shared my faith so openly? I worried, “What will people think of me if I am more bold about my faith?”. “What if I lose friends?”. “What if I fail and disappoint myself and my family?”. What if, what if, what if? Fear was keeping me down.

Fast forward to today and I can honestly say, standing out and standing up for Him was the best decision I’ve ever made. Have people always agreed with my opinions? Nope. Have I lost friends? Yep. Have I done things perfectly? Ha! Absolutely not. BUT, I no longer live in fear of the unknown or worry about the thoughts of my peers. I don’t fit the mold and that’s ok. I wasn’t born to fit the mold remember? Listen if I don’t fit in, guess what? I’m probably doing the right thing! I was made for far more than being in the background. I am created by Him in His image to do great things and that requires bold faith. Faith that doesn’t fit in. Faith that steps outside the box and breaks the mold. So I write. I post scripture. I parent my child biblically. I live my life according to scripture and not opinions. I focus on relationship and not religion. I chose to daily life a life focused on things not of this world. I make it a point to live my faith out in actions and in love.

 I Don’t Fit the Mold.

Today’s blog is much different from my normal writing. It’s really just me sharing my thoughts. But this was on my heart to share. And so here I am, sharing! I don’t know where you find yourself and if this post was for you or not but I pray either way, you’ll begin stepping out of what society says your supposed to be and in turn step into who He is calling you to be. Different, bold, changed, victorious, fearless, restored, brave..those are just a few of the words that come to my mind when I think of who I now am because of Him. Why? Because I decided I no longer wanted to fit the mold.

So, what’s stopping you from breaking the mold?

Tonight I challenge you, spend time in prayer and ask God to reveal what you can do to stand out for Him? In what areas of your life do you need to be more boldly stepping out in faith? In what ways are you letting society control your life? Prayerfully ask the Lord to reveal to you who He is calling you to be.

 

As always, thank you for reading and please feel free to share. You are loved.

Forced _________

“You can’t make something beautiful with force”. -Unknown

 

Alright. Truth time! How hard is it for you to say No? Are you one of those “yes people” who no matter how busy you are, will always say yes when asked to pitch in? For some this is a huge struggle! You feel forced to _________ (you fill in your blank). You give of your time whenever asked even if you are already maxed out, you tell your kids yes to this and that even where there is no more time in your day or money in the bank, you offer to host everything and anything, you fill your calendar up with all sorts of events that you know you will struggle to make it to, you feel overwhelmed and ultimately end up stressing yourself out!! Trust me when I say I get it.

This was me for a long time, in many areas of my life. Unable to simply say the word, No. I felt forced to perform at a certain level in my marriage, in my parenting, in my friendships, you name it. I put a great deal of pressure on myself. Now, don’t get me wrong, we should absolutely be striving to be the best we can be in ALL those areas, but the problem comes when we decide our best is never going to be good enough so we push and we push and we push until we break.

Now, lets flip it around. If you took this same principle way of thinking and used it in your spiritual walk, how do you think that would turn out? If you only made time for scripture reading, church attendance and serving yet never went to work or if you gave all your money away instead of paying bills or if you offered to host an at home Bible study even though you really didn’t know enough to teach or maybe you decided to serve your community but not your own spouse and/or children. Now, do you think any of that would be beneficial? Sounds a tad bit different huh? We can see we need to say no to those ideas! Sometimes it’s all about perspective. We need balance in our daily lives. There is a time and a place for everything and while our relationship with our Creator should absolutely always come first, it can’t be our only focus because then it becomes forced. We need balance and we have to learn when it’s ok to say no and when it’s ok to push ourselves. If we aren’t willing to step out in faith and get uncomfortable at times, we will never experience true spiritual growth…. but we also need to be sure we aren’t doing it for the wrong reasons.

Now, I don’t ever want you to say yes to something because you feel forced! Not everyone is meant to teach or to lead Bible study, etc. BUT, you do need to find what it is you are called to do, even if it seems hard, and do it. Today I want to cover a few areas we tend to force ourselves into thinking its how we should be or need to be either emotionally, physically or spiritually. I hope you are able to identify with one or all of these areas and are able to see something in a new or different way, perhaps, a way to challenge yourself to improve.

Forced Feelings

Spoiler alert!! Not everyone sees, thinks, feels or grows the same. Shocking, I know. We are all different. Thank goodness, right? Can you imagine if we weren’t? How boring would that be! But, I will say we do seem to struggle in this area regardless. How often do we compare ourselves to those around us? We tend to think we are supposed to react a certain way, to feel what others feel about situations, or to even show emotion and be open with our feelings. And when we can’t or don’t, we automatically think, What’s wrong with me? Why don’t I like to open up to people? Why can’t I share my feelings? OR on the flip side we judge! And think why can’t He or She just be open? Can you believe they feel like that? I can’t believe they reacted that way! Both of these are wrong. We are not supposed to be like everyone else and we most definitely are not meant to judge anyone.

God created us each in a unique way. While some may be ok talking and sharing, others maybe like to journal their feelings. And guess what? That’s ok! Now, I will say this, if you are in a bad place, struggling with heavy issues, or anything along those lines by all means, even if you are uncomfortable, talk to someone immediately! The devil will and can use your fears of opening up against you in situations like that. Do not give him control! Find someone you trust and spill it! But, if you are in a good place mentally, don’t force yourself to feel a certain way. Don’t force yourself to be open. It’s ok to be a private person when it comes to your own feelings. The only person I will say that you should be open to talk to no matter what, is your spouse if you are married (or your parents if you are a young unmarried adult). Communication is huge in a marriage, so find a way to communicate feelings with one another, it’s very important. Other than that, you be you! And be confident in how you feel. Don’t force yourself to be someone you’re not.

Forced Perfection

Ohhh this is a big one! And a huge pet-peeve of mine I must admit. “I want to have the perfect life! Come home from my perfect job and spend time with my perfect spouse and with my perfect kids in my perfect house and pet my perfect dog on my perfect couch blah, blah, blah blah…”. Too many people claim to live the perfect life when there is truly no such thing. What? No way, you can’t mean that? Actually, yes I do! There is only one perfect place and that’s heaven, and only one perfect person and that’s Jesus and guess what? You aren’t Him and this ain’t heaven honey! So stop striving for perfection, cause it isn’t possible.

We live in a sin filled world. There is no way around that. There is nothing we can or will do that can change that. People are flawed because of that. Period. Now, does that mean we should just give up, give in and not try? NO! It just means we all have to understand we will mess up, and that’s ok. If we really sat here and believed we would never make a mistake again where would grace come into play? I don’t know about you, but I am so incredibly thankful for grace because I know without a doubt I need it daily!

Society makes us feel like we have to come off as these perfect people who never mess up. People who are perfect parents, spouses, friends, Christians, etc. Problem with that is we start to let that theory take hold. We decide we can only post the good stuff and never the bad. We decide no one can know I struggle with __________. We create this persona of who we “think” we are and never let the real, unfiltered us be seen. Well, I hate to break it to you but, God sees and He knows so you aren’t foolin’ Him. Stop forcing perfection! It doesn’t exist. Strive to be who God made you to be, who He is calling you to be. Be the best version of you possible and be ok with that version. God loves you for who you are and He accepts you!

Forced Growth

Now this one is a tad tricky compared to the other two. And that’s because we do need to continually seek growth, to always be pushing ourselves to learn more, and to never be comfortable with where we are spiritually. But, we also need to know not everyone grows at the same pace. And to me, that’s where the problem stems from. There is nothing you can do to earn salvation. There is nothing you can do to earn forgiveness. Always remember that truth. But, there are ways you can grow in faith. Ways we can grow in our relationship with Him. Now notice I didn’t say grow your religion. Faith isn’t about religion, it is about a relationship. There is a BIG difference. All to often we see others around us growing and/or changing, but wonder why we aren’t. So we try to force it to happen and get nowhere.

Building a relationship with Jesus takes work. It takes time. And it can’t be forced. He wants us to want that relationship! Stop thinking of faith as a list of do’s and don’ts, and start thinking of it as a true relationship. If you want to see growth, spend time in the word and in prayer. Get to know your Heavenly Father and stop comparing your walk to those around you. Real change comes when we stop trying and start trusting!

Final Thoughts

Life is tricky. We are pulled in all kinds of directions and if we aren’t careful, we don’t leave time for the things that really matter. Even God took a day of rest on the seventh day! Don’t get caught up in the business of life and miss out on what life is really all about. It’s ok to say no. I spent many years unable to see this as something I struggled with. And now looking back, there are many things I should have said no to! But, we can’t go backwards. So instead, I’m making the choice to put my priorities in the correct order and no longer forcing myself to be someone or something I’m not. I’m an imperfect person who follows Jesus. And that’s ok. Don’t force yourself to be anything other than the best version of you!

As always, thanks so much for reading! I’d love to hear from you in the comments and for you to share my blog with others. My goal in writing is to share the love of Jesus with as many as possible. So thanks for sharing! You are loved.

 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15

It’s Friday, but…

“Good Friday is good because it reminds us that the good is often painful; that Gods will for our lives demands that we love until it hurts.” unknown

Oh Friday, how do I love thee..let me count the ways! I’m sure you too love Fridays just like so many of us. It’s the start of the weekend for most and that means time well spent with friends and family away from the hustle and bustle of a nine to five job. It means ball fields and games for some while for others, it’s time at the lake or simply being free to relax on the porch with friends. Whatever it means to you, I am sure it’s often the highlight of your week. A time for some much-needed rest and relaxation.

Well for Jesus, one Friday in particular didn’t really feel this way. It wasn’t a day of rest or relaxation, He wasn’t looking forward to spending the day with friends, and there was no fun to be had on the ball field. I’m sure you already figured out I’m talking about “Good Friday”. The day Jesus willingly took on the sins of the world, hung on a cross and died. A day He chose to endure because of love. A love He has for you and for me. So maybe you find yourself wrestling with the question, what makes this a “Good” Friday then? Well, my answer to that is pretty simple really. It’s good because it has forever changed the world!! You see without that Friday, we wouldn’t have Sunday. And without Sunday, well we wouldn’t serve a resurrected Savior!

Today, I want to talk through a few takeaways from Good Friday. Things we can apply to our daily lives. Things I think we sometimes miss or forget. It’s easy to Celebrate His resurrection, but you can’t skip Friday. All to often I think we focus on Easter Sunday and miss out on what it took to get there. And while Friday is hard to sometimes face, we have to keep in mind Sunday is coming…

He Chose The Nails

“He knew the price of those sins was death. He knew the source of those sins was you and since He couldn’t bear the thought of eternity without you, He chose the nails.” (Max Lucado) Do you fully understand the gravity of that quote? The first time I ever read it, I honestly felt so guilty! It’s easy to read the Bible as nothing more than a story book, but to put yourself in it, to look in the mirror and say I put Him there, well that can be a little harder. But, that’s the truth. Jesus hung on that cross for you, for me, for all. It was our sins that put Him there. And even if you were the only person who had ever sinned, He would have died still to save you. He chose the nails. It was His love for you that held Him there.

All to often I hear people say, “I’ve done too much. He could never forgive all my faults. I’m not worthy of forgiveness.”. Do you really understand what you’re saying in that moment? It’s as if you are saying He went to that cross and chose those nails for nothing! Sounds a lot worse when you think of it like that, doesn’t it? On that Friday, Jesus Christ died on that cross in your place. In my place. He took our judgement, our sins, our death. He didn’t pick and chose who those nails were for. No matter your past mistakes or even your future ones, He did it for you, for me, for all. It’s done, paid in full. So please, Don’t keep letting His death that Friday be mocked. Accept the forgiveness. Accept the unconditional love. And lay your sins at the foot of the cross. Jesus is calling…

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

It gets Better

So lucky for us, we have the entire story! We know the ending. We know Sunday happens. We know death could not hold Him. But, those who walked with Jesus weren’t so lucky. To them, Friday was awful. It was literally the worst Friday, and most definitely not a good Friday. (Well, that is until Sunday happened.) Can you imagine what they must have felt like those 3 days? Lost, hopeless, confused, down, those are just a few of the words that come to my mind. I’m sure they questioned, “Was this man really who He claimed?”. “What now?” “What do we do?” “Were we wrong to believe Him?”

If we are honest, aren’t we sometimes guilty of asking those same questions? Or of doubting His plan is always better than ours? We let circumstances, often out of our control, knock us down and cause us to question Him, or His plan. Life is sometimes full of surprises. And I’m not talking about birthday surprises! I’m talking about real life hardships. The kind that can knock the wind out of our sails. But we must remember, God didn’t send those hardships. God doesn’t punish us! He took on our punishment on the cross. So why is it in those moments we tend to lose our focus? We tend to forget it does in fact get better.

God knew exactly what He was doing when He sent His son to walk this earth, die on a cross and on the 3rd day, come back to life. See, because we know the entire story, we never question that. We don’t doubt the plan that was in place. Instead, we celebrate it! And as hard as things may seem for us here on earth at times, we need not forget there is a plan at work now just like it was then. Learning to be patient and to trust is difficult, but it’s also very necessary. It’s what builds our faith. Friday was a horrible day for Jesus’ followers. But oh what a celebration Sunday was. Things got better for them then, and they will for you too. Hold on, your Sunday is coming.

Oh What Love

Would you like to know what unconditional love looks like to me? It looks like a man who will wipe your tears, even after you left Him hanging on a cross for your sins. A man who willingly died so that He could spend eternity with you. A man who was beat, belittled and mocked all in your place. Now I don’t know about you but in my opinion, there is no greater demonstration of true, unconditional love. So my question to you is, what’s your response to that love?

If as Christians we are called to love like Christ did, why is it so hard sometimes to love others? Why do we struggle to love our enemies? Why is it easier to just walk away and be angry? I look around these days and to be completely honest, I don’t see a lot of love. I see plenty of judgement, name calling and hate towards others instead. I often sit and wonder what He sees. I wonder if He thinks, “I wish they could see I died for all. I love all. And my grace is for all.”.

It’s so easy to sit and point fingers, to get up in arms over things we see happening but, what are we actually doing about it? Can you imagine if instead of fighting each other we decided to love each other no matter the color of skin, the political stance or the thoughts on religion? What is fighting really helping anyway! The blood shed on Good Friday was shed for all. And we all bleed the same, so why are we so divided!! How do we fix this mess we find ourselves in? If you ask me, love is the answer. We need more open hearts, and less closed fist. We need to love like Jesus. And oh what Love He has freely shown us! I think it’s high time we start showing others that love, don’t you?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”. John 3:16

Final Thoughts

Good Friday is really a day of reflection for many. It’s a day to remember what Jesus willingly did out of love. A day to be thankful for grace. He died to save us and to ensure that we are able to spend eternity with Him. And while Friday was an awful day for many reasons the fact still remains, without Friday there would be no Sunday. I hope you know He died for you and that He loves you so very much. And I hope your response to His love is to love others. What are you doing daily to further the kingdom? How can you shine so that others see Him? We can always, always find ways to love better and shine brighter. So I challenge you to get out there and be the hands and feet of Jesus! And as always, thank you for reading and please feel free to share!

If You’re Free, Prove It!

“Either sin is lying on your shoulders, or it is lying on Christ, The Lamb of God- and if it is resting on Christ, you are free.” – Martin Luther

 

Do you consider yourself gullible? Will you believe anything and everything out of someone’s mouth? You are someone who trusts easily, and you take people at their word always! Or are you more of a sceptic? You want proof! You’ve been fooled one too many times and it’s not happening this time. You don’t believe it unless you see it for yourself. To be honest, I’m kinda both. It really depends more on the person and/or the situation for me. I wanna believe everyone, but sometimes what others are claiming well, it’s just too far-fetched for me.

But, there is definitely one thing I am hopeful people believe about me personally. I hope that I daily prove it through my actions and through my words. What is that one thing you might ask? Well, it’s that I’m free. You see, I have found freedom in Christ Jesus. And I know that I am no longer a slave to fear. That my true identity lies in the freedom He has given me and that I no longer need to carry the weight of all my sins. I am Free! And, man what an awesome feeling that is. When you truly believe you are free it changes you. And you can’t deny the difference it makes in your daily life. So, today lets talk about what freedom looks like to me. I want us to all see what it really looks like to live a life that proves you are free indeed. My hope is that this weeks blog helps you see ways to live a life where others don’t have to ask you for proof because they can see it with their own eyes.

Walking In Freedom

“Freedom is being so in love with Christ that you do exactly what you want to do and it accords with Christ.” (John Piper) I love that quote!! So many times when you hear people speaking of Christianity all you hear is talk of “rules” or “laws” as if you never get to do anything! That is sooo wrong. What most don’t realize is, to live in obedience for God is actually to know freedom. As backwards as that may sound to some, it’s true. Christ came to set us free. Not to set up a bunch of rules and regulations we must follow to be free. But, it is up to us to decide we want to walk in that freedom. And truthfully, we are often our own roadblock because we get caught up in the “rules”, the do’s and don’ts.

Freedom isn’t found in following rules. It’s found in Him. In truly seeking to know Him. Jesus isn’t concerned about religion, He is concerned about the relationship. He wants to walk in freedom along side you. 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of The Lord is, there is freedom.” That same Spirit lives in you! Do you understand the power of that? I hope you do. Listen, religion sets rules. Jesus sets free. Know the difference!

Repeat After Me

Repeat after me: I Am Free!!! Did you believe it, or just say the words? There is a big difference. Saying you are free and actually believing it (and acting like it) are very different things. If I were to ask your co-workers or 5 of your closest friends, what would they say? Do they know you are a Jesus follower? How about your Facebook page. Do the things you write, share, or post show your freedom found in Christ? People around are always watching. And as the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

“The freedom of the Christian is not the freedom to do whatever he or she wants, but freedom to obey God-willingly, joyfully, naturally.” (John MacArthur) This freedom we claim to have should be evident to all around us. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have off or bad days, come on! we are still human! But, it does mean that we try our best to be obedient. To daily say we will willingly pick up our cross and follow Him publicly, on social media, in our workplace and where ever we may go. Not just on Sunday mornings when it’s easy. Christians should be the best employees, parents, friends, etc. Why? Because we are called to stand out. To live a life that points to Him. That leads others to say: I Am Free!

Called To Live In Freedom

“You my brothers and sisters, were called to be free.” (Galatians 5:13) Alright, so you believe it, live it and are walking in freedom. Others know it and you are working hard on building your relationship with Him. And then boom! Out of nowhere your past comes creeping in. You let the devil in your head and you start doubting your freedom. This is exactly what the devil wants. He is trying to keep you from living the life you’ve been called to live.

Look, I’ve been there. I get it. It is so easy to fall back into believing you aren’t forgiven, you aren’t free and that your past defines you. I was that person. But here’s the deal. Christ came. He died. And His resurrection set us free no matter what the Devil wants us to think. There is nothing so big or so bad in your past that He can’t forgive. Christ has set you free from your past and He has called you to live in freedom from bondage, from fear, from addiction, from lies, etc. Don’t pick up what He has already handled. It’s done. Its forgiven. And you are free of your old self. Listen, you will know you’ve made the right decision when there is peace in your heart and freedom in your soul. That’s what freedom in Christ will do. Don’t be so busy holding on to your past that you miss out on the freedom right in front of you! Even if that means looking in the mirror every single day and saying to yourself, “I am not broken. I am not hopeless. I am not forgotten. I am not bound by sin. I am a new creation. I am Free.”.

Final Thoughts

I really do hope you’ve found freedom in Him. It’s so amazing! And it never gets old. Sharing my story with you all has really meant stepping out of my comfort zone but I’m so thankful that I have the freedom to do so. And I tell my story not so that I get fame, but so that others may know Him. That they may seek to know Him better and more freely. Because ultimately, that’s all life is about. Growing the kingdom of God one person at a time. Thank you so much for reading and I do hope you will share my blog with others who may need to find the freedom He offers to all! You are loved.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand Firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

 

A Forgotten Identity

“I am the daughter of a King who forgot my name.” – L.L. Tyrrell

All to often you hear on the news or from a friend about stolen identity. Someone pretends to be you, opens up a credit card, bank account, or something along those lines and it creates this nightmare of a situation for you to deal with. Or maybe you have a loved one who has dementia and is slowly starting to forget their name, or even their identity all together. Both of these situations are awful to live through. One causes you a major headache, while the other horrendous heartache. But, that’s not the situation I’m talking about. You see, there is another situation I’d like to talk about today. One, unlike the other two, that we tend to create ourselves. I’m talking about forgetting our true identity. The one we are given at birth.

Our heavenly Father calls us chosen, His children, forgiven and free. So why is it we aren’t able to always look in the mirror and see ourselves that way? Why do we seem to struggle to get past our past? Our failures don’t define us, yet we all to often seem to camp out there. We allow the world or people in to tell us our worth. We let our bank account define if we are successful. We let our size define if we are pretty. I could go on and on! The Bible doesn’t say anywhere we must be perfect, a certain stature, wealthy or specific size to deserve to be called a Child of God, so why do we add that in there? Today I want to discuss what it looks like to have a case of forgotten identity. To show you who He says you are to Him, and why that matters so much.

Chosen

I am not the girl with tons of friends. Never have been. I don’t have a busy social calendar, or host tons of people over at my house. I’m not typically what most would consider popular. And to be perfectly honest, that used to bother me. Like, a lot! I would often (especially in my younger years) sit and wonder what is it about me that doesn’t attract people? Why do I often get left out? Why don’t I have more friends? Now obviously the older you get, the smaller your circle tends to become but for me, my circle was never really big anyway. I was often the “tag along” friend, or at least that’s what I labeled myself. I struggled to really find where I belonged and it didn’t help that I was over weight even in to my mid 20’s. So, yet another label I created for myself was the “fat friend”. Both of these labels affected my relationships with others. As the tag along friend I never really let myself feel appreciated by others. I assumed they just let me tag along. Not that they chose to be my friend. And by labeling myself the fat friend, I assumed people only saw my weight and not the real me inside. Lies. All Lies! I was letting these lies I made up about myself control me. For many years I lived this way. And I honestly feel I missed out on some great relationships due to these labels I placed on myself.

Thankfully I no longer allow those lies to control me. At the stage of life I’m in currently, and after many shed tears (and lost pounds), I no longer see myself as those labels. Sure, I still don’t have many friends and I still carry some weight on my hips but you know what? That’s ok. Wanna know why? Because God. Because Scripture tells me different. Because I learned that who I am in Christ matters more than what I think or even what others think or tell me about myself. Only He is allowed to label me. And that label reads CHOSEN. It doesn’t read bad mom, unforgiven, over weight, friendless, lost or dumb. So who am I to add to the list of who He says I am? Do I still struggle from time to time? Of course! Who doesn’t? But, I now know where to turn and who to turn to when I have bad days. Because He will always find a way to remind me of my true identity which can only be found in Him.

1 Peter 2:9

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

His Children

While my story isn’t the norm so to speak, I also know I am not the only person out there who has lost both parents early in life. I know there are also those who have parents that are simply uninvolved or not in the picture. It’s a tough way to go through life either way. You feel a sense of abandonment. As if the world has dealt you a crappy hand. Trust me, I get it. I felt that way for many years. Angry at God for leaving me an orphan in my 20’s. But the truth of the matter is, I was never alone or an orphan. I just simply chose to see it that way. I needed a healthy dose of perspective which He gladly gave me.

While some of us have lost our earthly parent or parents, that does not automatically equal orphan. It is an awful thing to experience and I wish daily I still had my parents here. That will never change. But I still have a Father. One who loves me unconditionally. Who cares for me far more than gold. One who sets the example that I am to follow. Someone who leads, guides and directs my every step. Sounds a lot like a parent, right? Your Heavenly Father will never leave you, never forsake you and loves you more than you will ever comprehend. You are His. And he calls you His child. So no matter the hand life has dealt you when it comes to parents, please know you are not alone and you are not an orphan. He gives your orphan heart a name, and that name is Child of God.

 John 1:12-13

 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God  children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

 

Free and Forgiven

Out of all the identities found in Him, this is my favorite! Mostly because this is probably the area I struggled in the most. For a long time I decided I was unworthy of forgiveness. That I could never be free of the mistakes of my past. That the choices I had made, the consequences of my actions well, they defined me. Some of this logic came from what I thought of myself, but a lot of it came from what others had said or thought of me. And I let that in. I let the thoughts and opinions of others make me feel unloved and unworthy. As people chose to walk away, judge me and talk down to me I decided they must know more about me than I do. They must see the me I refuse to see. The unlovable, unforgivable me. As I started to believe this about myself, I quickly spiraled downhill and turned into a person I’m ashamed of. Angry, bitter and full of hate. Not qualities I’m proud of at all. I took it out on anyone around me, anyone and everyone. I built up walls and refused to let anyone in ever again. I turned to things like alcohol to make me fun, to make me numb. But at the end of the day, none of that fixed the root problem. It really only added to it.

Over the last few years, God slowly started tearing those walls down. In order to heal, He knew we needed to deal with this one layer at a time. I had wounds buried so deep that I had honestly forgotten how they even got there. Things I had been called, lies that had been told, all twisted words that had taken such control over my life that I believed they were who I was. For awhile I wore a mask, I didn’t want people to see the ugly truth..that I was a mess! That I had issues that for years had gone unresolved. But, Jesus told me it was time to take off that mask. It was time to reveal the real me. The me that was lost, the one who was broken. Because I couldn’t heal with that mask on. And healing was what I desperately needed. So today, as I write this blog I am free. Free from my past, free from the judgment of others. And forgiven of the choices I made. Yet, I am also beautifully broken and that’s ok too. I had to learn that God can use broken people to do His work and that’s why I write. To show others what He can do when we let Him have complete control. I’m so incredibly thankful for the freedom I have found in Him and that He forgave this broken mess.

Galatians 5:13 

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.

 

Final Thoughts

I hope that you read this blog and find encouragement. I hope that you see that God can use anyone no matter where they are in life. And most of all I hope you see how loved you are. Gods love, His forgiveness and His acceptance is for all. Don’t believe the devils lies. He will use people, situations or anything He can to make you think you are unworthy. For years I let Him win. But no more! I took a stand and I will not back down. I am so thankful for the people God placed along the path to who I am now. The ones that got me here. People who spoke truth into my life. People who could help me see who I am really am. People who prayed for me and for my family. I hope you have those people in your life. If not, I pray God sends them your way. As always, thanks so much for reading. I’d love for you to share my post with someone who you feel may need to read it. Have a blessed day, friend!

Face the Facts

“Denying the truth doesn’t change the facts.”

Facts are facts. There is no changing that truth. For example, you can’t argue with someone about the fact that we will all die one day. No matter what you do, how much you exercise, how well you watch what you eat, etc. you will still die one day. Depressing for some of you to hear, I know. But sorry, it’s true. Sometimes though, we face some things in life that we often like to pretend we can change when in reality we know that’s not really the case. I mean, who wouldn’t like to change the fact that money doesn’t actually grow on trees? Or that eating an entire bag of chips isn’t in fact good for you?

This is true as well when it comes to our faith. There are so many facts throughout the Bible that all to often we think either don’t apply to us, or that if we try hard enough we can even change. Oh! And lets not forget to mention, we also sometimes just simply struggle to understand how to apply what we read. But… you may be siting there thinking, “Well actually isn’t Christianity more based on blind faith, and less on facts?”. Truthfully, my answer to that is yes and no. It does take an aspect of blind faith to call yourself a Christian. You’re deciding to believe in something and someone you can’t actually see yes, but I also believe the Word of God is written truth full of facts about Jesus and about what He has in mind for believers. I’d like to talk about a few things I believe are true facts about Christianity. Facts that some people either struggle with accepting, think they can change, or simply don’t feel applies to them. I know sometimes it’s hard to face the facts, but we don’t grow when things are easy. We grow when we face challenges.

Weapons

Fact 1. God never said that weapons would not form. He said they would not prosper. All to often I feel some people come to Christianity with this idea that if I “Believe” or when I “follow” I will become invincible. Nothing bad will happen anymore. No one will come against me any longer. Well I’m sorry, but that just isn’t true. That’s not how this works. I mean really, don’t you think if that were the case churches would have lines of people wrapped around the building waiting to get in?

In this life, you will face troubles. You will experience hardships that seem to knock you down. We all will, believers and non-believers. That my friend is a fact. But, the difference is as believers, you never have to face it alone! Why? Because He has overcome the world. (John 16:33) What ever comes against you in this life will not prosper nor will it keep you down. God will give you the strength to fight and He will see you through. That is His promise to you. So stop trying to change the fact that He isn’t some magical fix it all genie, but instead celebrate the fact that He is on your side working day in and day out. Oh, and here’s an extra piece of advice. God doesn’t give us the strength to get back on our feet after an attack for us to simply run back to the very thing that knocked us down in the first place. It’s never a good idea to pick up something God helped you put away.

 “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

Actions

Fact 2. The devil doesn’t care if you go to church or read your Bible, as long as you don’t apply it. Being a Christian is about more than sitting in a chair, or reading a book. Unfortunately, we live in a society where some truly think that’s a fact they can change. A generation of Christians are out there who believe it’s actually possible to accept Christ without forsaking the world. Beware of this type of Faith. Christians whom have a faith-based on their own feelings and not on Gods word alone is dangerous. That my friends is what I call going blind! You have gone blind when you can see NOTHING wrong with something that God has clearly called a sin. There are consequence’s for actions, good or bad. You can not change that. Billy Graham puts it like this, “Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion. It’s a DAILY process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.” It takes action. It takes work. It takes dedication.

I don’t know where you stand, but I know I wasn’t forced to follow Christ, I decided. I don’t worship to hear my voice, I worship because He deserves it. I don’t read His word because it’s a good story, I read because I want better understanding of Him. And I can promise you this, I won’t deny any of that to anyone, for any reason. Titus 1:16 says, “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny Him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good”. What do your actions say about your faith? What do your Facebook post say about your walk? What do your conversations with others say about you? Remember: you are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice. Fact is, God is looking for more than chair warmers in a building. He is looking for true followers whose actions match their words.

 “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17

Change

Fact 3. Too many people don’t hear Gods voice because they have already decided they aren’t willing to do what He says. They aren’t willing to change. Change is hard. That’s a fact. But, another fact I’d like you to think about is this, the sinner will not convert the sinner. The ungodly man will not convert the ungodly man; and, what is more to the point, the worldly Christian will not convert the world. We have to be different. We have to be changed. To truly walk out our faith daily, we have to accept that there are things about our lives we must change in order to reach the lost. Think about how sad it would be to live an “almost” Christian life only to find out you “almost” made it to heaven. I don’t want that for you or for me! All because I wouldn’t let God have complete control? No way!

Kirk Cameron says, “Put your nose into the Bible everyday. It is your spiritual food. And then share it. Make a vow to be more than a lukewarm Christian”. Everyday, everyday we should be seeking to change from our old ways of thinking, our old ways of living. Why? So that we are in turn able to do the work God has called us to. To fulfill what we were created for. To share the love of Christ with others. Because ultimately, that is what it is all about. The fact is until we are fully changed we are unable to change others. Believe in who He says you are. And if you call Him Lord and Savior, then He calls you His Child. He says you are changed. The old is gone, the new is here. You were formed by Gods hands, dreamed up in His heart and placed on this earth for a purpose. That is a fact! So be changed and go change others. And listen for His direction.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Final Thoughts

How sad it would be to miss out on all God has planned for your life simply because you didn’t like the facts. Simply because we didn’t face the facts. Don’t be a lukewarm Christian. Instead, be changed. Show love. Let your actions speak. And know that the Lord your God is fighting your battles. It won’t be easy. And you may lose friends or even family because of your choice to be who God is calling you to be, but I promise you it will be worth it in the end when you hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your masters happiness!” (Matthew 25:21) Isn’t that an awesome fact? To know that He is waiting for you and preparing a place for you. I personally can’t wait to hear those words. And that my friends is a fact!

I hope you enjoyed this weeks post. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please feel free to comment. And I’d love for you to hit the share button as well if you feel someone else could benefit from this post. Thanks so much for reading! You are loved.

Fan or Follower?

“If our lives do not reflect the fruit of following Jesus, then we are foolish to think that we are actually followers of Jesus in the first place.” David Platt

Man, what a game! That will definitely go down in the books as one of my all time favorite football games for sure. The Georgia bulldogs winning The Rose Bowl in double over time with a score of 54 to 48. I am a big fan of college football, and have been a dawg fan for as long as I can remember. Growing up if the dawgs were playing you can bet it was on the TV in my house. My dad lived and breathed Bulldog football! And now, as an adult, I rarely miss a game. There is just something about watching the dawgs play that is embedded in my blood. It’s tradition. It’s memories. It’s who I am.

When it comes to football, it’s no doubt I am a fan. I enjoy the game and all the fun that comes along with watching. But to be honest, I don’t really follow the game. Does that make sense? I don’t wake up every morning to check stats. I don’t have books I read about the game. I couldn’t tell you every players name. I don’t always even know all the rules of the game. I’m just an everyday dawg loving fan.

But what about my Faith. What about when it comes to Jesus, am I a fan or a follower? Do I just enjoy faith or do I actually work at it? Do I wake up every morning and check in with God or do I just wait to hear from Him? Do I read my Bible regularly or do I just wait to hear what the preacher reads to me on Sunday? These are real questions we should be regularly asking ourselves. You see, it’s very easy to be a fan of Christianity. The real work comes when you decide to be a true follower of Jesus. So, which one are you? Not sure? Well, today I’d like to cover a few basics of being a true follower as well as what it looks like to simply be a fan. I hope this weeks blog will help you decide which category you fall into as well as challenge you to become the follower you are meant to be.

Fan of Jesus

“What has the Church gained if it is popular but there is no conviction, no repentance, no power?” A.W. Tozer. That’s a pretty loaded question, huh? But, really think about it. If the church is full of people who simply come because it’s the “right thing” to do, is the church really going to be effective? Francis Chan wrote a book titled Not a Fan, which I highly recommend by the way, all about this very subject. And in it he talks about the fact that we can never grow closer to God if all we are doing is living life. It takes genuine attentiveness and pursuit. It takes work! There are many people sitting in rows in Church’s who give no real evidence of being saved, yet they remain quite confident that Christ has saved them because they are a good people. I hate to break it to you, but there is no amount of Christian activities that will ever add up to an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ.

So what does a fan look like you may ask? Let me start with this quote from Kyle Idleman, “He is looking for more than words of belief; He is looking to see how those words are lived out in your life. When we decide to believe in Jesus without making a commitment to follow Him, we become nothing more than fans.” The way I see it, being a fan of Jesus means you are happy to follow Jesus as long as following Him doesn’t require any significant changes or as long as it doesn’t have any kind of negative implications. It’s as if you are saying, “Listen God, I will follow you but…”. I’m sorry to break it to you friends, but there can be no BUT at the end of that sentence! You are a fan if you have not surrendered EVERY aspect of your life to Him.

If I’m going to be completely honest with you, this was me for many years. I went through the motions, occasionally picked up my Bible, rarely missed church and was a pretty good person for the most part. But, that was it. I still did what I wanted and really only turned over the parts of my life that I wanted to. I was following on my terms, not His. I was a fan. But last year all of that really changed for me. It finally clicked. I began seeking Him out, reading more often and asking God what He wanted of me. That is what opened my eyes to the fact that even though I believed, even though I confessed to be His, I really wasn’t. I was missing the point. After a few months of searching for answers and Him speaking into my life, I decided if I am going to do this Christianity thing, it was past time that I do it right. He showed me that I can’t truly call myself “Christian, followers of Christ” if I’m not willing to follow Him completely.

There is a story found in Luke 6:46-49 of two men building houses, one with a solid foundation and the other without. The Lord compares the foundations as examples of those who hear His words and puts them into action and those who hear and do nothing. Which one are you?  Are you going to just sit and Listen like a fan of His words, or are you going to decide to follow the teachings and put them into practice?

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not what I say?” Luke 6:46

Follower of Jesus

Let me start off with this, “Following Christ is not a casual or occasional practice, but a continuous commitment and way of life that is applied at ALL times and in ALL places.” (Elder Oaks). Does what you do and what you say on a daily basis represent that of a follower of Christ? Are you acting in such a manner that you are living proof of a loving God? I really pray your answer is yes to both questions. Being a true follower of Christ is rarely the popular choice, even at times amongst other Christians. But, Jesus didn’t say follow Christians. He said follow Me. When being obedient to Christ contradicts what you think will be popular, you have to stop and ask yourself, “Do I really love Him, or do I merely seek acceptance?”. Because truthfully there are already plenty of people around the world who identify themselves as Christians, yet biblically are not followers.

The God of the universe created you with one purpose in mind. You are created in His image, and created to worship Him. He Created you intending to have a loving, lasting relationship with you. He doesn’t need fans. He needs true devoted followers. People who are willing to get out of the driver seat and say wherever you want me, there will I be Lord ready to do your work. He loves you with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. What is your response to that love? Is it Church going? A few songs of praise on Sunday? The occasional prayer or Bible reading? Don’t you feel He deserve more than that? Maybe it’s time you examine where you are in this area. Maybe it’s time you take the next step and truly decide to follow Him.

Final Thoughts

Look, I get it! Life is busy. There never seems to be enough hours in a day to accomplish all you need or want to get done. But, have you ever stopped to think about the fact that if not for Him you wouldn’t even have those hours in the first place? So, do you not think He deserves some of the time back that He so graciously gifted you? You don’t want to wake up one day and realize it’s too late to have a meaningful relationship with Him. Find time for Him today. Make the choice to change today. Spend time developing a real relationship with Him. Don’t just be a fan. Be a Follower of the God who created you.

“They will wage war against The Lamb, but The Lamb will triumph over them because He is The Lord of lords and King of kings-and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.” Revelation 17:14

Fill in The Blank

Dear 2017,

Well here we are! The end of another year. Ready to tackle what 2018 has in store. This has been quite the year, huh? As always, we’ve had some ups and downs, good times and bad, but all in all I think it’s safe to say it was a good one. I overcame some pretty big hurdles, made a few new friends, said goodbye to a few old friends and challenged myself to try something new. So, what now? What’s in store for 2018? Time for me to set new goals, try some new adventures and find new ways to be the best version of me possible. Time to fill in some new blanks. Thanks for the memories, 2017…and the lessons.

Sincerely,

Me 

This year I’m going to______________. Ahhhhh, Goals. How many have you set over the years? Isn’t it funny how the years seem to pass so fast the older we get. I mean, wasn’t it just New Years Eve 1999 and I was pumped to graduate high school that May? Yikes! Crazy how fast it goes. And while it does pass faster than I’d like I must say there are times I do like to reflect on how much I’ve changed over the years. To think back on the lessons I’ve learned, (often the hard way), the memories made and the fun times had. Time is a funny thing ya know. We wake up on Monday wishing for Friday, and yet are guilty of wishing time would slow down when we see our growing children.

Every New Years Eve I try to slow down and reflect on what I did with the 365 days God gave me. Of course as we all know, there is always room for improvement and that’s really why so many people set goals for the coming New Year. Goals to lose weight, read more, make more money, etc. But the older I get, and the more I grow in my faith, those goals seem to be changing. Do I want to be in shape? Sure! Who doesn’t. Read? Yep, I even got 3 new books for Christmas. Those aren’t bad goals to set. BUT, I’d like to take it a step further and challenge you to set more personal goals. Goals that will have you looking back on 2018 as the year you saw true change, real growth and hopefully, you will see it as the year you became a version of yourself to be proud of.

So, set goals, sit down and write out what you’d like to see in 2018. Not just for yourself, but what you’d like to see in your friendships, your marriage, how you parent, your church involvement, and most of all in your relationship with God. Set big goals! Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself this year. I’m not going to go into great detail about how this should look simply because I feel it should be unique to you and where you are, but there are a few basics to cover to ensure a great 2018! So, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read what I have to say and then sit down and fill in your 2018 blanks.

Be Realistic

As kids, many of us set huge, crazy goals. Things like, “When I grow up I’m going to be the President”, or “I’m going to play professional football”, or maybe you said, “I’m going to live in a mansion”. Now I’m not saying those goals never come true, I mean hello! We do have a President, Pro ball is on every Sunday during football season and there are many mansions people currently live in. But, the reality is not very many of us meet that goal. It’s unrealistic. If every kid who said they were going to play Pro ball did in fact play well, lets just say there would be some pretty crappy football teams over crowded with players! (Wait, maybe that did happen lol)

Goal setting is important at any age. And while we typically tell our kids they can be and do anything they set their minds to, as adults we know that’s not really always the case. I say that to you because I want you to succeed. I want you to set realistic goals in 2018 that will challenge you yes, but more so ones that you can and will see through. It’s not likely you will read the entire Bible in 6 months and retain anything you learned. It’s not likely you will drop 40 pounds in a month and keep it off. And it’s not likely you will completely change your habits in mere days. Take some serious time to think about what you want to change in the coming year. And find a way to see those goals through. One day at a time, one step at a time.

Don’t Give Up

So, you’ve been there done that. You set goals every New Years Eve and six months in you mess up. You forget to read for a week. You eat 5 donuts. You slip up and go back to whatever it is you are trying to walk away from. Which in turn makes you feel like a failure, like this is pointless. Wrong. Goals aren’t easy. You will mess up. Why? Because you aren’t perfect. Because change is hard. But you know what? Nothing worth changing is ever easy. And it most definitely doesn’t happen overnight.

Don’t let one or two little slip ups here or there make you quit. You can and will accomplish your goals. Sure, it might take longer than you thought. Or it might take some adjusting along the way, but that’s ok. Have accountability partners. Get advice on how to handle what it is your facing. Prepare for the bad days and reward yourself for the good ones. Just don’t give up. In the end you’ll be so glad you pressed on even though you wanted to give up. And you’ll be so much stronger because you didn’t.

Keep God in The Center

Whatever goals you do decide to make one thing is for sure, if God isn’t apart of them they probably aren’t the right ones. God has a plan, a perfect wonderful plan for all of us. And that plan includes Him. It includes a relationship with Him. Time spent seeking Him daily through scripture and through prayer. I promise if you seek Him whole heartedly He will help those goals become your reality. Trust His guidance.

God wants nothing more than for us to love Him, and for us to live a life with Him at the center of it all. He so loves you, and wants to know you. He delights in our joy! So of course He wants to see us succeed. But only if He is included. Don’t push Him out. Make 2018 the year you draw near to God so He can draw near to you. That my friend will be the best goal you will make in 2018!

Final Thoughts

I hope that you have had a wonderful 2017 filled with love and joy. And I also hope 2018 is your best year yet! I truly think with God nothing is impossible, so set those goals and make Him the center of it all and see what happens. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed one bit! Thank you all so very much for the support you’ve shown me by sharing and reading along each week. This blog was one of my goals in 2017 and without you reading it wouldn’t have been an accomplished one. Happy New Year! I pray the Lord blesses you and your family in the coming year.

I’d love to hear a few of your 2018 goals! Feel free to share in the comments so that I can be praying He helps you accomplish them.