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Monday, December 28, 2015

Misplaced Priorities
When I decided to go back to school to receive my master's degree, I wasn't thinking about the college I went to. I didn't care, so long as it was accredited and got me a degree. My parent
s have never placed an emphasis on college and where I attend, and so I don't either. As Christians, it shouldn't matter where you get a degree from, in the sense of "prestige." Your importance is found in God, not in man-made institutions.

What I did not realize though was that it wasn't just the world who perceives choosing college to be extremely important, but it's also the Christians. While sitting among empty nesters one day, all I heard them talk about were how smart their kids were and which Ivy League school they were going to. One even mentioned that although their son had a full-ride scholarship to a certain university, he decided it was more important to attend an Ivy League school, and thus he was applying to those. I was shocked at the emphasis of "elite education" placed by these Christians upon their children. Why is this important to us as Christians? It's not important to God at all. God doesn't tell us we cannot enter into Heaven if we aren't accepted into an Ivy League school. He doesn't tell us that we aren't important unless we are extremely smart. Getting an education from Yale does not make you any better than the other Christian who lived his whole life without a degree and worked as a janitor. There are no spiritual gains to be had. And if God places no value of importance on the school you go to, why should we as Christians? That's the world's mentality- being important comes from education and where you get it from. They place self-worth on those things, but we know better.

It's more important to raise up children who love God and serve Him as Christians, rather than to raise a child who is so brilliant and yet so lost at the same time, never coming to a knowledge of Christ.

There's nothing wrong with going to an Ivy League school, but when that's what's emphasized and prioritized, then it is. When you go into debt to keep up outer appearances for something God places no value on, then it is. When you are stressing a child out or forcing them to conform to these extremely high standards so you can look good, then it is wrong.

It's so important to remember what God really values. Whether you got a degree or not, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that you live a godly life that is pleasing to our Heavenly Father. Don't worry about what anyone else thinks about you. And once you graduate, nobody will even care where you went to school! Nobody really asks that question. I barely get asked that question. So remember where your priorities really are. Our value lies within God and not the things that are here on earth. God's opinion of us is much more important than man's opinion. If only parents would talk about how their children are doing spiritually and emphasize that! Imagine what type of a conversation that would be! The world would be baffled, and isn't that what we want- a reason to share the hope that lies within us!

Friday, December 25, 2015

For Our Persecuted Brothers & Sisters in Christ

Many believers celebrate this Christmas day as a special time with friends and family, remembering Christ's birth to save us. It's a peaceful and happy time for most of us, but let's not forget our fellow believers all around the world who are at this moment being persecuted and in danger of their very lives. All is not well for them. 

The Middle East faces fears of Christian extinction, comparable to the days after Christ's ascension. We know that God has always spared a remnant and that no power or being on earth could ever completely destroy all of the Christians. 

As you celebrate this season, please lift up your prayers for our fellow believers, especially those in the middle east. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My Disappointment With This Christmas Season

I'm normally disappointed with Christmas and the way it's treated, but I've been especially discouraged by the way Christians are beginning to treat Christmas. Christians say Christmas is about Christ but when they talk about how all the children care about when it comes to Christmas are the presents, it's bothersome. And the fact that they cave in and let the kids have all the gifts they want just continues to breed selfish children. The other day I heard a "Christian" song on the radio about how Christmas is about getting stressed out, gifts, praying for parking spaces at the mall, and re-gifting. I was appalled. Who prays for a parking space? How disrespectful and ridiculous is it to pray to God for a parking space when the Christians in Syria are praying for God to stop ISIS? How stupid such a prayer sounds. All of our silly, "Johnny has a cold" prayer requests are outlandish. Well,  since when has a person died from a cold? Barely ever. There's no need to pray for such silly things like that as adults. Christmas is NOT about any of those things either. Our traditions are fun, but they should NEVER take the place of God. It's disgusting to see such rubbish being spread around. Maybe this is why we are in the condition we are today, because we have the blind leading the blind. This rang true when I found out one church allows Santa to come to their church for the children to take pictures with and sit in his lap. Why? Santa has no business being in the house of God. Such disrespect. Leonard Ravenhill was right. If Jesus were here, he wouldn't cleanse the temple, He'd cleanse the pulpit because we've made a mockery of the Church. It's no longer sacred. We let kids run around and chase each other in the church, we let our members eat pizza and drink coke during the sermon, we have fast food facilities in our churches, we have video game consoles too. How could any of this please God?

All of this has been extremely disappointing. As Christians, we've let the world infiltrate our holiday and allowed their secular holiday to become ours. We are to be different. We are to teach our children why we really celebrate Christmas. We are to teach them that gifts don't matter by de-emphasizing them or getting rid of them altogether. Materialism is at the heart of secular Christmas, let's not let that get the best of us. And let's quit mixing the world and Christianity together. The church building is meant to honor God. It replaced the temple after Christ's resurrection. The temple was sacred. It was not to be trifled with. Even Jesus became upset when He saw it used so disrespectfully. Please rethink the things you support being allowed into your church. Would God really be pleased?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Join Me in a Challenge gross
The other day in creative writing class, we discussed a student's non-fiction piece on the benefits and issues with social media, how addicting it is, and how it can be comparable to a drug addiction. Did you see that? A drug addiction. How many times do you go anywhere without your phone? How many times a day do you check your notifications or even your phone to see if you have any? Everyone in class had a love-hate relationship with social media, as I can testify too as well. You love it because you can "stay connected" with others, but you hate it because you spend too much time on it. And I've seen this become an issue within my life as well. I'm too addicted to my phone. It's the first thing I reach for in the morning. How horrific! Maybe this describes you too. Maybe you hate it as well. There's something wrong when it consumes us like that. So, I decided to try a 30-day challenge, in the hopes that it will become a regular habit, to curb my social media use. Here's the challenge, that I encourage you to join in with me:

1.) I will not look at my phone until I have spent time with God- read my Bible and prayed (for however long a commitment you have made to do for the morning)
2.) I will limit my social media usage so as to make the most of the time, as the Bible says the days are evil and I need to spend it wisely. (You may insert a time-limit here or a daily amount of times you will allow yourself to check notifications, such as checking it only three times a day instead of every 10 minutes).

Please join me in this and let me know what you think about it,
and how you're doing with it during these 30 days. Let's make an effort to put God first!

Monday, November 9, 2015


I teach the story "David Swan," by Nathaniel Hawthorne to my high school kids to promote the fact that it's only through Providence that certain things don't come to pass, good or bad. It's not a coincidence. And I remind them that although they're still alive, how many bad things has God prevented from happening to them in order to preserve their life? But how could anyone know this unless they had foresight? And most of the time we don't know that if we had arrived a split second sooner or not called in sick, we might not be here today. God is the one who has preserved us until now, and yet, do we ever give thanks about it when we can't see His hand of protection?

I thought about this as I driving to work, as usual, merging onto the freeway, something I despise doing. I don't like freeways. And today, even though I was paying attention to the cars coming out of the freeway, to ensure I wouldn't collide into one as I merged into their lane to get on the freeway, I was unaware that the coast wasn't clear. The ramp seemed to be a great place to hide cars from my view, so as I was merging, looking at my mirrors first and then looking over my shoulder, I couldn't see any vehicles, so I continued to merge, when all of a sudden I realize I was merging into a vehicle. Instinct took over and I quickly jerked back to avoid a collision. It was a poor initial reaction, as anyone knows that jerking a vehicle back too quickly can cause even more issues. I knew that but in the heat of things, sometimes you just think irrationally. And as I jerked back I felt my car pulling hard to the right, not able to drive straight ahead of me as I tried to correct, and then quickly pulling to the left, almost, and quite possibly, as if it were teetering and about to flip over. Though I didn't flip, I could feel the pull of the vehicle wanting to spiral out of control, and I can only say that God was the one who enabled my vehicle to stop pulling to the left or right and continue on the straight path. I had no clue what I was doing as the car kept pulling me. I knew it wasn't my "amazing" skills that had prevented an accident. It happened so fast I didn't really know what I was doing. It was all God. Needless to say, I was shook up about the whole thing. And I couldn't help but thinking about God's hand of mercy in it all. I don't think it would've been a deadly accident, just an accident, but who's to say what I was spared from? Only God would know. And He spared me from it. Shouldn't I be eternally grateful? I thought about what people do when they are eternally grateful to someone who has spared their life. They do anything for that person. They owe that person their life, and as I sat there driving to work still, I realized that's just what I said I owed God when I got saved years ago. I devoted my life to Him, and yet was my life really a testimony to that? I should've been eternally grateful from then until now. How quickly I had forgotten how God had spared me from eternal damnation. It took this even to wake me up and realize how poorly I have used my time, how much I have wasted it. It's disheartening, yet at the same time encouraging, because I have a chance to amend things. As long as I'm alive, I have a chance to serve God. And so do you. You are given this chance right now. What will you do with this chance?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Time Travel- Can it Really Happen?

The past week has been full of questions concerning time travel. Can it happen? Has it happened? Will we ever be able to?  Perhaps a juvenile question to ask, perhaps not. After all, it did happen in the Bible. I want to take the time to talk about a Biblical perspective on time-travel and sort fact from fiction.

John is the most famous time traveler. Without him, we wouldn't have our account of the end times and the book of Revelation. Movies tend to portray time travel as some sort of device that transports you to a certain place. Because time travel is God-ordained and not man-made, or able to be replicated, it is God-induced. One minute John is on the island of Patmos, the next minute he's in another world! He constantly says that he was "taken up in the Spirit." At other times, he turns around and is suddenly in a new place (Revelation 1:10). He has no recollection at times of how he goes from one place to the next. Another interesting thing to notice about John's time travel is that he is able to see the future without actually participating in it. Notice how movies portray time travel to be something you actively participate in, perhaps for fun or to alter the future. This is not so in Revelation. John watches events unfolding in the future, without them actually happening in the present time. He's an innocent bystander watching the future. Although he may be addressed by the angels, he isn't participating in the future events (Revelation 10).

In all instances of "time travel" within the Bible, God is the one who picks a specific person to see the future to notify everyone else about what will happen. It has a purpose. It's not done just for fun or to even change the future, rather to warn. God does it to warn the rest of the world. And God is the one who ordains time travel. No machine could ever manipulate a way into the future. God has to be in control of time travel for it to work.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Reflections on a Life Well-Lived

This past week my good friend's brother, my friend as well, passed away unexpectedly. As I reflected back on conversations and the topic of death, I came to a few conclusions that I would like to share with you today. Every time I have written I have kept back from including references to literature, I am a literature major, but this time I felt it was fitting to include.

A couple of days before he passed away, I had just finished reading a book for school, Jane Eyre. The story line was a bit boring, but the ending was one of the best parts- for the sole reason that Jane ends the story, not about her life as married woman to her master Mr. Rochester, rather she focuses the end on the man she rejected to marry, St. John. St. John was a very Godly pastor whose sole desire was to serve the Lord. He had originally fallen for a beautiful young woman in the village who had fallen for him as well, but he ignored the idea of marrying her because he knew she wasn't fit for missionary work. She was too focused on worldly pursuits. As he prepared to go to India for mission work, he noticed Jane, who was not pretty, was strong enough for the work, she did as she was told, and she had taken up the dialect he had asked her to learn. He proposed to Jane in the hopes that she would be his helpmeet, telling her it wasn't for love but for help. He had chosen her because he knew she'd do well on the mission field. Jane said she would go but only as a sister, and St. John rejected the idea because of how inappropriate it would appear to bring a single woman with him to the mission field. Ultimately St. John left without Jane, and Jane tells of his ending:

Firm, faithful, and devoted; full of . . . truth, he labours for his race . . . His is the exaction of the apostle, who speaks but for Christ when he says -- 'Whosoever will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.' . . . His is the ambition of the high master-spirit . . . who stand without fault before the throne of God; who share the last mighty victories of the Lamb who are called, and chosen, and faithful. St. John is unmarried: he will never marry now. Himself has hitherto sufficed to the toil; and the toil draws near its close: his glorious sun hastens to its setting. I know that a stranger's hand will write to me next, to say that the good and faithful servant has been called at length into the joy of his Lord . . . . No fear of death will darken St. John's last hour . . . his hope will be sure; his faith steadfast. His own words are a pledge of this: - 'My Master,' he says, 'has forewarned me. Daily he announces more distinctly, -- "Surely I come quickly" and hourly I more eagerly respond, -- "Amen; even so come, Lord Jesus!"' (Brontë 385)
As I reflected on this fictional character's race, how it was obvious to everyone around him that he had run it well, I thought about my race. What will people say of my race, but more importantly what will God say?

When I heard the news about my friend's death I thought about how the last thing he had said to me was that he was praying for me as I faced some obstacles with school. Now it seems so trivial, but it wasn't to him. He had encouraged me to continue on serving the Lord, and I am now left with the memory that he had cared enough to check up on me and see how the Lord had answered prayer. And that memory has left the impression on my mind of the importance of setting aside the minuscule things in life: going on vacation, buying clothing, picking out home decor, having fun, etc., and focusing on the eternal things that matter: witnessing to others, taking care of ourselves spiritually, ministering to others, praying, reading the Bible, etc. His death has been a huge reminder to me of the importance of not wasting my life. He was younger than I am, and time is not on our side. We don't know when we too will be taken from this earth. I would encourage you to reevaluate your goals, purpose, and direction in life, because "only what's done for Christ will last."  (C.T. Studd)

I just want to end with this, another literary reference. In Jane Eyre, Jane had a childhood friend named Helen, who was about 13 in the story, who was a good example of bearing up under malicious and undeserved reproof. She humbled herself and took care to try to correct her faults, always looking to please God. She died of an illness, knowing she was dying, she did not fear death, because she could not wait to see God face to face. When she died, her tombstone bore her name and the word "Resurgam," which means in Latin, "I shall rise again." I am glad my friend will rise again, and I hope that this word can so nicely be placed on your tombstone as I hope it shall mark mine. Please keep my friend and her family in your prayers during this time.

 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Revelation 21:1-4 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

Saturday, September 19, 2015

We're All Equal

As I sat there listening to my instructor berate me, it was then that I realized one of the reasons we love God so much, why He is so great- because He shows no partiality.

Ever since I started graduate school I've faced many difficulties, and today I wanted to touch on the subject of "partiality," as mentioned in the Bible. There are so many places where God tells us we should show no distinction between the rich man or the poor man and that God Himself doesn't show partiality. He's fair, and He considers us all equals. There's no favoritism.

When I began the process of enrolling to grad. school I was directed to an advisor over the phone. She answered the phone and then asked what degree program I was going for, in her usual tone, and then when I told her my intended major for graduate school, her voice perked up and the tone changed. She talked to me for almost half an hour about how much I would love school and that of course my GPA was high, because all graduate students had done well in undergraduate school. And I have to admit, as I listened to her enthusiasm, I felt a bit like I had "moved up" in the world. She treated me better than she did the undergraduate students. I liked it.

When classes finally began, I expected all of the professors to be snobbish and look down upon us. I was surprised to find that half of them regarded the students as equals. They were kind to us, but then they'd tell us stories about the undergraduate students and how they could care less about their life, always implying how "foolish" undergraduate students were. But the professors took the time to learn about our ambitions in life, because we were suddenly "important."

The other half of my professors regarded themselves very highly. And one of them challenged me in an argument just to gloat over her superiority in the fact that she had a doctorate, I did not, and she would of course win the "argument" over how silly my religious beliefs were. She went on further to tell me that I couldn't know certain truths if those "truths" weren't written by scholars.

So as I sat there, I thought, I don't care what she thinks of me. I already know she thinks very poorly of me because I am not on her level of education, but that's okay. God thinks the same about me as He does the neurosurgeon or the homeless man on the street. He values each and everyone of us just the same, no matter what our education may or may not be. 

And all of a sudden it hit me that here I had been treated so well up until that point, not realizing that those who had not acquired my educational level were being treated as nothing. Nobody cared to hear about their career ambitions. Nobody cared about if they were enrolled in undergraduate school. The older adults looked down upon them due to their youthfulness, and maybe perhaps somewhat out of jealousy. But just because the professors didn't care about them, doesn't mean that God doesn't care.

And I'm so glad for that. God cares about you as a person. He delights in our communication with Him. He loves you just as much as the billionaire Christian or the Christian doctor. He doesn't care if you have a degree or not. He doesn't care if you live in a mansion. He loves us equally. And because He loves us equally, we must love everyone else equally. We must take care to treat those whom the world despises with extra love and attention. They are no different from us. And I have come to realize, that my "position" in the world means nothing. It is nothing to God, so it's nothing to me. And I pray constantly that God would never let it get to my head where I treat someone poorly or with disrespect just because they aren't like me. So examine yourself too and see, if you show partiality or do you treat everyone as equals? We need to be striving to ensure everyone sees that because God is no respecter of persons, neither are we!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Modesty & Double Standards

 I know, modesty is one of the most talked about issues. You've heard everything on it, but I feel like it needs to be reminded of again, because I'm not sure how modesty has been talked about so much and yet nothing is being done to maintain that within the Church.

The other day I sat in my faculty meeting as I listened to the principal discuss the importance of addressing the dress code. Now this was a dress code for homeschoolers, so you'd think that dress codes wouldn't be a big deal. But the common issue was students wearing short shorts and leggings without a covering. And interestingly enough, the principal said that shorts above the knee and leggings worn by themselves or had a cover above the knee were "not appropriate." And everyone agreed, as did I. What I cannot understand is that a Christian organization deems those to be inappropriate, yet why do I see Christians wearing these things?

Shouldn't this be clear cut? The Old Testament speaks of the clothing the priests were supposed to wear, and it mentions that they were to cover up their thighs. Now this was a dress code for men, not for women. And if God wanted their thighs to be covered up, how much more women? Not only that, but the skin tight clothing items are a big deal as well. When a woman wears leggings and isn't covering her bottom or her thighs, that's very distracting and extremely inappropriate. If God wanted us to show the outline and form of our bodies we wouldn't be wearing bottoms- just tops. This isn't just an issue for women though, because men are now into this too, not with leggings but other very skinny jeans. Tight bottoms are never a good idea for men or women who profess to be Christians.

Another thing that has been bothering me is that a lot of people I know before they are married have conservative clothing standards, and then all of a sudden, after marriage, they throw those out the window and you see them wearing bikinis, going around shirtless (men), wearing short shorts, and just inappropriate clothing in general. It's as if they didn't learn anything from their parents rules. It was more of, "I can now do whatever I want, so I am!" It's a very poor testimony.

Why are Christian brides allowed to wear strapless dresses but somehow that's inappropriate to wear in any other setting, especially in church? Why are Christian women allowed to wear short shorts and tube tops to the beach or even tankinis, but it's wrong to wear short shorts and tube tops outside of that setting? How are 50's swimsuits (which basically covers up the midriff and a couple inches of the thigh, but still show cleavage and lots of leg) okay to wear or any different from a bikini?

Does anyone realize that our standards have been warped? It's very disappointing and discouraging to me. And no, you don't have to wear shirts that button up to your neck. You don't have to look like you came out of the 1800s or any other era that was somewhat modest according to today's standards.You don't have to "say no to sleeveless." You can wear certain things within reason. Just be aware of what you're wearing and if it's appropriate or not. Christ died to give us new life, not so we could continue living and looking like the world.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Grief Part II

My dog Dakota
I decided to compile a list of ways to help friends and family members through a difficult time. Going through this has really helped me to think about others and my reaction towards those who lost a pet, and I've realized I didn't necessarily understand, so I was unable to empathize or really show compassion. And for that, I am very sorry. And I am grateful that through the loss of my dog, I have the ability to understand why other pet owners feel so sad. I have the ability to realize why it's even more important to pay extra special attention to those who have lost a loved one. And you don't have to go through the loss of anything to be able to utilize these tips. You can become the encourager to others right now without having to experience it!

1.) Pray for your friend/family member and tell them- Don't just say you'll pray. Do it. Pray every day for them. Remind them that you're praying for them. It's one thing for someone to say "Oh, I will pray for you." And it's another thing for them to text, email, call, or message you and say, "I prayed for you today." There's a difference. Give reminders to your friend or family member that you are praying. And when you pray, pray more than just a minute for them. Show you care by praying longer for them.

2.) Send encouraging words along their way. Someone will know you truly care when they receive a card in the mail, an encouraging Bible verse, a sweet note for the day, etc.

3.) Send a gift (completely optional)- It is really nice to know someone took the time to think about you by sending something, it doesn't matter if it doesn't wipe away the pain. It shows you care. Make up your own care package for someone who is grieving. Send them flowers to show you care.

4.) Learn how to respond to those grieving- When someone tells you they lost an animal or a person, don't just go, "Oh." Don't just say, "I'm sorry," and then continue on with your personal life and how horrible your week has been at work. That's really a slap in the face. Never say nothing either, because that hurts too. Acknowledge their pain, but be careful, some people get offended if you say you understand and you have never been through the same type of pain. It doesn't bother me, since it's intended for the best, but it can make others upset.

 When someone tells you sad news like this, tell them you are sorry, you will be praying for them, and tell them if they ever need someone to talk to about it, you will be there for them. Sometimes people who are grieving would like someone to talk to and sometimes they do not, so the best thing to do is let them know you're there whenever they need you.

And that's about it. Let me know about your thoughts below in the comments.

*And thanks everyone for your prayers, I appreciate them-I'm feeling much better!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Grief Part I

This topic is very much on my mind with the passing of my childhood dog this morning. She seemed to be in much pain, and we had to put her to sleep. It was so hard being there and watching. So with that bit, I just wanted to allow this post to be a place for everyone to share their feelings about what they experienced during the loss of someone or even a pet. I know pets and humans are different in their losses, but both losses can lead to extreme grief.

Nobody talks about what it feels like to lose something you love. I feel like it's not mentioned and no one cares. But I wanted to discuss this, because it's normal to feel these reactions. Here are some that passed through my mind today:

I made the wrong decision
I let her down
I betrayed her
I'm evil
I killed her
I hate myself
I'm sorry for doing this
I should've done . . .
I feel guilty
I feel inexplicable sorrow
If I would've have done this then this wouldn't have happened
I feel regret
I'm confused
I'm angry
I'm mad and I'm not sure at whom or what
I want to scream
I want to throw things and break stuff
I can't sit still
I don't want to eat
I can't sleep
I don't want to continue my daily activities
I don't want to be . . . (your job title, your status as a student, your role)
I want to quit everything
I have no desire to do anything
I want to go with her too
I want life to stop- why can't I get a break from it?
I'm tired of suppressing my feelings and pretending I'm fine.
I just want to talk to someone about it
Why doesn't anyone care?
What have I just done? Make them stop!
I don't want to be alone
I want to be left alone
When will the pain stop?
Why can't this pain be over with within a few days?
What happens to my dog after death? Does she go anywhere besides the ground?
I will never be able to see, feel, or pet her ever again

That's what grief feels like. Those were all emotions, questions, and comments I had. And they're all fairly normal, no matter how true or untrue they are. I've noticed what has helped me so far is asking for prayer. Knowing that someone is praying for me encourages me to realize I won't always feel this way. It may take a long time before I feel better, but I do believe prayer helps to alleviate some of the pain. How did/do you feel when you lost someone or something you loved very much? Sharing your grief with others can be very beneficial to healing. If you need prayer, let me know as well, and please keep me in your prayers during this time.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Lessons Learned: About Singles
I've been around many single young women long enough to notice they all seem to have one thing in common- they think the desire to marry is embarrassing, because they all tell me this:

I don't want to get married til I'm 30 or I'm happy being single.

And those are the two LIES I hear all the time. When I ask someone who is in their twenties how they feel about being single, I hear one of those two. Or the tell-tale "I will never marry!" That one is a big giveaway that they're actually very lonely and having a pity party/low self-esteem. Almost any female who says this is down about how there is no one interested in them, no prospects, and thus they've resigned themselves to singleness forever. All of these sayings annoy me to no end, because they're all lies. How do I know?

Well for one, the people who tell me one of those two things give out clues about how they really feel when they slip-up in conversations or just by their actions. I've had someone tell me they wanted to wait a long time to get married and they were fine being single, and then several minutes later say how much they hate Facebook because all anyone posted on it were engagements and relationship statuses. I've known several young ladies who said they wouldn't marry for a long time or at least until thirty because they were so content, and then several months later they're in a relationship and soon after get married. Obviously they weren't content being single- they just assumed nobody would be interested in them and decided to pretend they were okay with that.  I think it's more embarrassing to be caught in a lie and for people to know you're really just playing the "I'm fine game," than to admit you have a desire to get married but God hasn't allowed that to occur yet and so you will continue on doing what God wants in the meantime. What's so bad about that? There's nothing desperate or embarrassing about that. 

And two, well, I'm single as well. I know how it feels. I also know that you don't want anyone to think you're desperate, sad, or lonely, so you feel the need to cover up and pretend that you're happy 24/7 with the single life. The truth is, being single has its ups and downs. One day you can feel completely fine, and others days you can feel completely horrible. It's okay to tell the truth and admit that sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it is absolutely wonderful, but ladies, it's time to be honest. The more you lie, the easier it is for everyone else to see the truth based upon your actions. So tell the truth, embrace your singleness, and don't be ashamed!

P.S.- If you need to talk about it or would like prayer, you can always let me know through the contact form. I'd be happy to help!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Biggest Mistake 20-Somethings Make

Ready for it?

Moving Away 

Okay . . . so what's the big deal about moving away? 20-somethings normally move away for any of the following reasons:

1.) There's an issue/lots of stress going on where I live, and if I moved, everything would be better.
2.) I can't find the right person- If I moved, I would.
3.) I hate my job- I should find a different one.
4.) I'm bored and need adventure- If I moved, I'd get that.

Do you see the pattern? We're dissatisfied with our current lives, so we think (and very wrongly) that if we could just move, everything would be different. So instead of facing the problem head on, we take it with us wherever we go, thinking we've gotten rid of the problem, but we've only compounded the problem. If you don't face your problems now, nothing will change when you move. You may feel fine when you move- for awhile- but the same issues you never dealt with back in your hometown will come back and be ready for you to tackle.

Moving solves nothing. 

Maybe you're having problems at home with your family, you're tired of them, you want to be left alone, very far from them. Maybe there's too much negativity. Maybe you have broken relationships with your family. Maybe you don't have any friends. Maybe you live in a retirement community where you can't make any. Okay, so you have a problem. Moving away will not fix your broken relationships. It will not fix the fact that your family will still call, email, or text you when you're away and you'll still have the negativity thrown at you, just not as much as before, and those same issues you had before will still be there when they get in contact. You'll still have the stress of having to deal with that. What if you move somewhere, thinking that you'll make friends, and when you get there you realize there's barely any way to meet new people who are like-minded? What if you find out that it's harder? What then? You can't move again, or maybe you can, but you might be going back to square one again. 

Okay, so you can't find Mr./Mrs. Right. So you move. But what if when you move, the place you move to barely has anyone with the same beliefs? What if you find out the denomination you adhere to, doesn't exist in the part of the country where you live? What if you moved to a town 
that does have a multitude of churches with the same beliefs but you get there, look around at all the churches, and all of a sudden you wonder, Where are all the singles? Or How come there's only women? I moved here to find Mr. Right, and they don't exist here either! What do you do then? Pack up and move to a town where you will probably run across the same issue? It's another risk you're taking.

The workforce is always going to be difficult for you at some time or another, but maybe it's more than you can handle right now. So moving and finding a different job seems like the best option, right? What if you are moving because you can't handle that awful co-worker or maybe a cruel boss, but when you get to your new job, you find out that what you were dealing with at the old job was nothing compared to the new one! What if your boss is 10 times worse? Or instead of having an annoying or disgusting co-worker you get one who berates you and makes fun of you? What do you do then? You're taking another risk by quitting.

So you're bored with your current life (I know the feeling). So maybe you're bored because you've been stuck at the same job, doing the same thing everyday for the past couple of years. Maybe there's nothing fun going on- it's just the same old routine: wake up, go to work, come home, go to sleep. Five days of boring in a row and on the weekends you don't have time for anything you want to do. It's become monotonous, so you decide to be spontaneous and adventurous and move. You find a job that sounds cool and take off. You get there, but what happens when the adventure wears off? What makes this new location so different from yours? You'll get into a work routine, again and forever until you retire, and eventually get bored. You've just set yourself up for the same problem to occur.

So what's the solution to all of these issues? First, you need to face the problem and be ready to deal with it. The root of all these issues is discontentment, and the solution to fixing them is becoming content with where God has placed you.

Now that doesn't mean that if you're having serious family issues, you just accept them. If there's something you've done wrong, make amends. If you're in a situation that is harmful to you, then it's important to get out. If you can't do anything else about your situation- like maybe you're just constantly irritated by a family member's presence, then maybe it's time to adjust your attitude about the situation. Pray about your situation. Ask God to change the negativity. Ask God to help you overlook the negativity of others and only care about what He thinks about you. Pray for God to mend relationships that are broken and to give you the endurance you need as you live among it.

Finding the right person is all in God's hands and timing. As long as you're in His will, doing what He wants, being where He wants you to be, you can't do any better. You just have to wait. I know, it's cliche, but it's very true. When there's nothing left to do, you just pray and continue in His will.

You are always going to have issues in the workforce, period. You can do two things to help out your situation: pray about it, that God would work in the hearts of those who are around you, if they're treating you poorly, and you can change the way you respond to the negativity. If you get angry and lash out because of the way they treat you or become annoyed and show it, then you really need to adjust your attitude concerning that. Pray for God to give you the strength to continue showing the love of Christ to others no matter what.

Being an adult isn't fun and games. You're going to have to give up certain activities in order to provide for yourself. Gone are the days of childhood when mom could find an activity to entertain you with every day of the summer. Life gets boring. Routines can be boring. But that doesn't mean you have to be bored to death! You can travel every now and then, you can do something for fun on the weekends, or you can make the effort to find a hobby. There are always new things to do that can be fun, even picking up a volunteer shift can change things up a bit!

So if you're planning on moving, please think about why. Are you doing it for the reasons listed above? Or are you doing it for good and solid reasons, as in this is God's will? Prayerfully consider whatever you decide to do!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Lessons Learned: About Men
I'm going to start a series on the different roles of men and women, and I wanted to begin with how women should be treating men. I've done a lot of observation and come to realize a few facts about how they want to be treated after a long day at work. I've worked for five years, and although office work is nothing compared to what others do, I've had my 12 hour workdays before, and I can relate to how and why a man doesn't want any of the following:

1.) He doesn't want to come home to problems- When you get home from an 8, 10, 12, 14 hour day at work, you want to relax. You really don't want to actually do anything that requires thinking, rather something mindless like watching t.v. or getting on the internet. You're tired. I understand moms are tired too and want a break, but wait on the problems. If something minor is broken or Jimmy was bad the entire day, give dad/husband some room before you bother him with the issue at hand. Let him sit down to eat and have an hour to relax before getting to the issues at hand. If something minor broke, either wait until he's off to have him fix it or think about learning how to fix it yourself. Your spouse will really appreciate having a help meet who can do things for herself every now and then and alleviate his stress. And he'll appreciate you for understanding how hard it is to work 24/7, just like you do if you're a mom.

2.) He doesn't want to be bothered at work, unless it's an emergency- Please, do not text or call your husband at work about minor things that can wait. I remember one time receiving a text at work saying, "Your dog is bleeding." Okay, so I have a dog, not a child, and I'm not a man, but I was busy that day and when I looked at my text, my automatic thought was, "Can't this wait? I'm busy. I can't do anything about it for eight hours. Why can't you fix it yourself?" But of course, I couldn't say that, because that was rude. So instead I instructed them how to fix the issue and told them I'd deal with the rest when I got home. Needless to say, I was stressed out when I got home knowing I'd just come home to another problem. Would this be an expensive vet bill? What could I do to stop the bleeding naturally? And on and on the thoughts went racing through my head about all the expenses. When you're at work, you are focused on work, not home life. If home life interrupts the work day, it can be very distracting and reduce your effectiveness at getting tasks done at work. Send calls and texts to encourage and positively communicate with your spouse when they're at work, but please refrain from texts and calls about issues that can wait.

3.) He doesn't need a honey-do list- Your spouse works at least 40 hours a week, and gets at least a day off, in some cases none for an extended amount of time. Have you ever thought about what it would feel like to have your only day off, or half of your days off sucked up with chores? Not to mention how belittling a honey-do list is. Honey-do lists say, "You don't lift a finger around the house to help, so I'm going to force you to with this list." Your husband isn't a child, even though he may be acting like one. Just because he acts like one doesn't mean you should treat him like one. Try a different approach to sharing the weight of the household chores in a reasonable manner. And even if your husband doesn't care to do anything around the house, you're supposed to be the submissive wife, so you can't patronize him to get what you want.*  Just be grateful he provides for you and think of how hard it must be to have the motivation to do anything after working so much. Pray for him to change if it bothers you that much. Remember, only God can change people, you can't.

Have any others to add to the list? Post in the comments below and share your tips for the women!

*As a side note, my information about wives being submissive to their husbands is a Biblical principle as seen in Colossians 3:18. This means that the husband is ultimately in charge of decisions made within the marriage. This does not in anyway mean that the husband should act aggressively, discount the input of the wife, or walk all over her like a doormat, rather when the husband and wife come together to discuss matters in a reasonable way, if there is some sort of disagreement on the issue, the wife must be willing to submit to the husband's decision (unless it goes against the Bible) and allow God to work within his heart if she feels that it is not a good decision. She should be in prayer for him concerning this.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder

Photo by Roger Kirby
I pointed to the "visible" marks on my face that bothered me so much. The lady at the makeup counter gave me a funny look and said, "Honestly, I don't see anything, but if you really don't feel good about your current concealer, we can try something different."

It was then that I realized that the way I perceive myself is quite different from how others perceive me. When I look in the mirror, I see a very flawed face. I see acne bumps here and there, red blemishes from acne that's disappearing, and lots of freckles.

Not only does my face bother me, but my body image does too. Everyone says I'm thin, but I say I could lose a few pounds. I say being thin isn't good enough; I need to be toned.

And yet, nobody says all those mean things to me; the only person who is being critical and belittling me is myself. I'm my harshest critic. I stare at my face in the mirror to find something I don't like on my face, so I can go online to figure how to fix it.  The thing is, nobody notices any of those things we as women notice about our own selves.

And how do we as women really know that nobody notices what we see in the mirror? Because of the lady at the makeup counter, because of a client who said to me,"If I could just wake up looking like you, I'd be so happy." And this is the truth I realized, "Nobody sees the flaws and blemishes in the mirror that you see. We as women are our own harshest critics. Nobody else is there pointing the finger at us but ourselves. And it needs to stop. We're made in the image of God.

So what if you have acne? So do millions of men and women. It's okay. Freckles? God gave those to you, and you can't scrub them off, so just leave them as is. That nose you don't like? Well, God made that one just for you. That curly hair you hate, someone else thinks is beautiful.  We're born into a sinful world; we won't look perfect. And that's okay. The majority of people are not staring at you looking for flaws. It's important to appreciate what God has given to you instead of complaining and trying to be someone different. It's important to step away from the mirror, to quit comparing yourself to other women, and to stop fueling vanity and discontentment. When someone tells you that you are beautiful, don't comment about all the reasons why you aren't. Accept their compliment and believe it, because we're made in the image of God.

The most important beauty is the one on the inside that spills out onto the outside. Take some time to cultivate that beauty instead. I've found that the beauty on the inside far exceeds the stuff on the outside. I've seen physically beautiful women who had ugly and mean-spirited attitudes towards other women, and all of a sudden they didn't look so beautiful anymore. And I've seen women who didn't appear to be "beautiful" who were so sweet and kind that I grew to think they were some of the most beautiful women on earth. Outer beauty gets us nothing in Heaven. Inner beauty has an eternal impact with everlasting rewards. As women, let's strive for the inner beauty and be content with our outer beauty.

Friday, June 26, 2015

The Supreme Court Decision & Us As Believers

Everybody's seen the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. And I'm pretty sure most Christians are disappointed. Disappointed is the word I use, because for some odd reason if you don't agree with gay marriage you're considered a prejudiced bigot who hates gays, because you don't tolerate sin. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I don't hate gay people, I just disagree with their lifestyle. The same could be said of parents with teenage children who are off living lifestyles filled with drugs and alcohol. You wouldn't approve of their choices that are harming themselves, but at the same time you don't hate them. That's the same way I feel about this. But I'm not here to address the non-believers though, because they don't conform to Biblical standards, and it makes sense that they would affirm gay marriage. I'm here to address the believers in Christ, or those who call themselves believers, because  we are the ones who should be ashamed that this ruling occurred. The ruling announced today was exactly what we deserved. I know we're told to speak the truth in love, but sometimes the truth hurts. And so today, I'm not going to sugar-coat anything, because it's a shameful day when we as Christians have failed God and our country, for allowing the acceptance of gay marriage. It's the fault of the believers. How is it our fault? We weren't for gay marriage you say?

Think about this- how many times did you pray to God about the gay marriage decision? Did you pray for 10 seconds every day maybe? Or a minute? Did you spend the rest of your prayers on yourself and Johnny who has a broken arm and Susie who has a cold? Or maybe you remembered to pray for others, but forgot about praying for your country. Because I know I  did, and I know most people pray like I do for our country, and in that sense we got what we deserved. Why would God answer us when we can't even take the time to get on our knees in earnest prayer, pleading with God to change the hearts of our Supreme Court Justices? We can't take things seriously. We're so focused on ourselves and our needs that we completely forgot about our country as whole.

Not only that, it's the whole redefinition of Christianity; "I can do whatever I want, because I have liberty." It's disgusting. We went from saying "No" to alcohol to now having Bible studies in bars. To saying, "Hey, it's okay to drink as long as I don't get drunk. I want to be like the world and do what they do, without crossing the line." You forgot about how your actions can cause a former alcoholic to stumble (Romans 14:13-23). You forgot that God says he hates anything that alters the mind. And how will you know your limit until you've tried some? Speaking of altering minds, when did doing drugs become acceptable? Now medicinal marijuana is okay, but you would've never have said so decades ago. But of course, we want anything to ease our pain in life, so we will compromise. And we want to fit in, so we accept things little by little. We are even okay with tattoos now, because hey, they look cool, why not? But why did God say no to them in the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:28)? Have you thought about that? What about the way we dress? Somehow it's only provocative and inappropriate for young women who call themselves Christians to show cleavage, but short shorts and dresses with open backs and lots of skin are acceptable. So now we all look like the world, except we don't show that one bit of skin we shouldn't. If it's okay to show all that skin, how come the priests had to cover up their thighs in Exodus 28:42? And they were men! Not only do we look and act like the world, we accept all the Hollywood movies they embrace.

So we've come to accept all these things that God is not for, and we've gotten what we deserved. You want to act like the world, you'll get the world. If you want to act like a non-Christian then just stop playing the game and pretending and trying to get other Christians to tolerate sin. Just put on the real self and go off and do whatever you want, because you cannot serve God and Satan at the same time. Choose one or the other and act accordingly. You can't drink, smoke, do drugs and then go to church on Sunday really believing you're pleasing to God. Because you're not. God spoke of you in Malachi, when He said that these people do everything they're supposed to concerning sacrifices but then they go off and commit unspeakable sins. They were disgusting to Him, and so is Christianity today.

Let's get serious. This is why the non-believers tolerate gay marriage and embrace it, because we haven't even stood for anything to make them think differently. We don't stand out anymore. We look like them, but just have a few wacky morals like purity, and then throw out all the rest of the things God says we shouldn't do. Maybe if Christians didn't look so much like the world, we wouldn't have this problem. Maybe if Christians would've stood up, would've prayed, would've been in God's Word more, we wouldn't have this problem. So don't go blaming it on the gay rights advocates. It's just as much the Christian's fault as it is the unbelievers. We've only got ourselves to blame. We're in deep trouble. Oh yes, non-believers are in fear of God's wrath, but we should be in fear too, because we know better, and yet we look no different.

1 Peter 4:17- For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the Gospel of God.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What a Difference!

Photo by Bev Lloyd-Roberts LRPS

I've been thinking a lot about the difference salvation can make in the life of a person; in particular, about the difference it had on me as a child. I was saved at the age of 11. I had an understanding of the Gospel when I started attending church a year before then, but I didn't really care about it. I wasn't interested in that. It wasn't until Easter day as an 11 yr. old that I realized where I was headed, and because I knew it wasn't Heaven, I was ready to repent. It's funny to think of an 11 yr. old repenting. What do they have to repent of? They're probably not alcoholics or rebellious like teens just yet. Probably not into drugs either. But we're all sinners and in need of change within our life regardless of what sins we struggle with. I remember a total change in my thought process taking place within my life afterwards. All of a sudden, I remember the age of 11 as being the year I started actually thinking about God constantly. I became concerned. I became aware that I needed to read and pray everyday, and I did so very faithfully. Not only that, I enjoyed those things as never before. I enjoyed listening to the sermons at church and was convicted by them constantly, whereas before I tuned them out and felt nothing. All of a sudden things began to change.

One change I vividly remember was that of my clothing. I mean, for a 10-11 yr. old, it's probably not going to be bad, but still, I remember church skirts being short and wearing short shorts year round as kid. Yeah, I was't quite yet a teen or a woman, so it wasn't that big of a deal to anyone else, but it became a big deal to me eventually. I remember one day looking down and seeing all the leg I was showing and thinking, "This is not what I should be wearing as a Christian." Nobody told me it was bad to wear shorts or anything mini. I don't even know where I got the idea from- I assume the Holy Spirit, because mom tells me now that back then I started telling her how to dress too. Even though nobody else thought the way I dressed mattered, at the time, I decided to quit wearing shorts. I like to say I haven't worn shorts since I was 11, because except for a few times when I bought board shorts and wore them, I've really never gone back to wearing shorts. It was a conviction brought up at just the right time, before the teen years began. Don't get me wrong, shorts can be worn by women as long as they're long enough to be appropriate, but I just stay away from them since it's hard to find long shorts anyway.

I also remember that around the same time of dealing with the previous conviction, a bunch of the youth group at church, of which I was not a part of at the time, got to speak at the service to tell the adults and little kids (like me) about what God had shown them through going to summer camp. At that time musicians such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, N'SYNC, Backstreet Boys, etc., were very popular, and I listened to them all. I had never thought twice about what I listened to, even though some of the lyrics were inappropriate. It just never phased me, until one of the teens who was a year older than me mentioned that she broke all of her non-Christian cds and decided to never again listen to non-Christian music. I was so moved and convicted that well . . . I didn't break my cds, but I got rid of them. I stopped listening to secular artists and moved on to contemporary Christian music. I won't say it's sinful to listen to secular music, since I might occasionally listen to secular artists once in a blue moon, but I don't recommend doing so just because you can get used to secular music and then let it seep into the rest of your life where you constantly listen to it. And as we know, most of the time secular artists are not people we want to look up to as they normally spout off vulgar language or have godless lifestyles that we don't want to mirror. As Christians we really should be directing our thoughts towards God constantly, and I have found that it's better to get a song about God stuck in your head than a secular song that can't glorify God. You're forming God-centered habits and making God the center of your life through Christian music. With that being said, I'm not saying all Christian music glorifies God, because I don't agree with certain Christian artists and their music. I just feel that you're more likely to glorify God by listening to music focused on Him.

With that being said, kids can repent and have convictions outside of their parents and other's opinions. I like to look back and think about all the changes God has made in my life and where I'd be now if it hadn't been for Him. It's really wonderful just reflect back on God's goodness then and now. What a difference a day made!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Friends & Change

I've never really experienced any big changes in my life or around it. Recently, a long-time and close friend of mine moved out of state. I'd never have thought that my friend would ever leave. It was the furthest thing from my mind. We also had busy lives, so we didn't see each other too often, but I knew she'd always be there if I needed to see her. At least, I thought so. But those were all misconceptions that I had believed that I now regret believing. Now that she's gone and I won't be able to see her whenever I please, I'm left regretting the way I treated our friendship. I'm left full of sadness, like there's an empty part of my life I won't ever get back. And it can all be traced back to the way I thought about and treated my friendship.

So here are some practical ways to treat your friendship, so in the end you can react better to any situation that arises in the form of change:

1.) Don't take your friendship for granted- This was a big mistake I made. I assumed that my friend would always live 10 minutes away from me, no matter what. It seems silly. but when you've known someone for a long time and both lives seem settled in the same area, you don't think twice about it. Sometimes God has a different plan though and things can change very quickly. I assumed she'd always be around, so I didn't worry about whether I saw her often. Don't assume anything.

2.) Don't let your "busyness" get in the way of checking up on each other often- Because I assumed my friend would always be around, I didn't get together often with her. I thought it was also okay to work my friends around my busy schedule, not into it. In reality, in order to make a friendship work, you can't just say "Sorry, I'm busy. Come back when I'm not." You have to make the effort to fit in time with your closest friends even when you are busy, otherwise you're acting completely selfish, expecting your friend to work around your schedule. Because I didn't find out about my friend's move until just a couple of months ago, I realized the importance of making time to visit her every week until she left. And you know what? I don't think I'd ever had so much fun and made so many good memories with her and her family. The last time we got together before she left, I realized how sorry I was that I hadn't done this sooner. So go out and get together with that good friend of yours on a regular basis, beginning now! Make this a "no regrets" friendship.

Now of course, those feelings of sadness aren't going to disappear just because you make the best of your friendship. But you don't have to feel regretful about what you didn't do with your friend when you make the most of a friendship. And you'll always have plenty of fond memories to ponder when you're missing a friend.

I'm pretty sure it will be a while before emptiness closes, but I know that changes are ordained by God for the individual and that there are so many good things in store for them that we cannot see ourselves. I can at least have a peace of mind knowing that the best is yet to come for my friend, and as a friend, shouldn't I rejoice in that instead of selfishly wishing to keep a friend from God's best?

Friday, May 8, 2015

I Hate My Job, Now What? Part III

I'm introducing the last and final reason for quitting a job-

3.) The Lord calls you out of it- It's a simple reason, but not always the choice God gives to us. If you've prayed about your job to the Lord and felt led to leave then, you should leave (once again, remembering that it's very important to have a job lined up before quitting.) Unfortunately, many times, the Lord doesn't usually call us out of our job, and instead, He wants us to continue working at the job that we dislike in order to improve our character and mold us more into the likeness of Christ.

Because this is so generic, I'm going to give you some reasons why not to quit a job, so that way you can see why it's so difficult to listen to this last response:

1.) I don't like my co-workers- they're mean/rude/lazy/make fun of me . . .

2.) My boss isn't a good boss/ My boss belittles me/ My boss is mean/ My boss can't do anything right/ My boss doesn't have any direction or organization/ My boss is demanding/ My boss makes poor decisions . . .

3.) I hate this type of work/ dread going to work

Those are all difficult situations and I can fully sympathize, but the problem with this mentality of quitting because of your circumstances around you being incompatible with happiness is not a good reason to quit for several reasons- there will be always something you don't like at a job. Believe me, 99% of the time you'll have at least one co-worker that you don't get along with very well. No matter where you go, these problems are likely to follow. You can't be defeated by one person's attitude or character. Good bosses are hard to come by. There's always going to be something you don't care for in a boss, but you just have to deal with it. Think about all the worse things your boss could be and you'll probably realize that you have it better than you thought. You can't just give up every time you are hurt or annoyed. Life isn't meant to be a bed of roses. God sometimes wants us to deal with these issues in order to strengthen us, to make us rely on Him more, and to be in constant prayer. I can understand the feelings of frustration, the worry over if you will have to stay at this job forever, how long the dread will last, etc., but just remember that everything in this world is temporary and it has an end. Focus on the positive aspects in the meantime while you're waiting on God, show the love of Christ to others repeatedly no matter what, and continue doing your best for the Lord in your calling until He calls you out of it.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

I Hate My Job, Now What? Part II

So maybe you went through my first post on when to quit your job and decided that reason #1 didn't fit your situation. Maybe you're not forced to compromise your standards, but maybe reason #2 applies to you:

2.) Your job takes away your time with God or family- This is a hard pill to swallow. Sometimes certain jobs call us to work long and unhealthy hours. If you work a normal 40-50 hour week, you should be able to make time for God, and family if you're married. But maybe some of you are required to work more than 8-10 hour days. Perhaps you put on 70-90 hours a work week. If you're single, are you able to still have a decent quiet time with God? I don't mean 15 minutes in the morning either. If you find that your life is becoming all about work and that's pretty much the only thing you are able to do, it's time to find something else. Having a time-consuming job can also have a bigger effect upon having a family, as it's harder to balance God, family, and work all at the same time, especially with long hours. Dad may be the best surgeon in the world, but what kind of man is he if he is too tired to read God's Word or misses seeing his family for days at a time? How will his children react to a situation like this? What about the men who leave their family for extended periods of time- I'm talking about being available to the family only for a couple months out of the year. There are jobs like that, which are fine for singles but what happens when dad is gone most of the time? Children need their dad just as much as their mom and moms need the support of their spouse just as much.

As I said before, these are tough choices to make. If you've spent your whole life working in a job that was time-consuming, it can be difficult to get out of- but it's worth it for God and your family. Here are the questions to ask yourself-

1.) How much time do I have for God with this job?
2.) Am I even able to spend quality time with God while working this job, or am I too exhausted most times?

If you answer in the negative, it's time to prayerfully consider quitting. Deciding if you should just quit before having another job offer lined up or quitting after you find another job is a matter between you and God that you need to be in prayer over.

If you found that this didn't apply to you, stay tuned for my next post which is Part III of this series!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I Hate My Job, Now What?

Photo by Catalin Pop. Used with permission.
Most of us can relate to that statement. If you can't, then you're very fortunate. But for those of us who are bogged down with this question, I have a three-part series to share with you in response to this daunting question.

Sometimes we just get bogged down with the demands of work or a new boss or employee and all of a sudden things are very different and very unpleasant. Sometimes it's unpleasant from the start. Most of the time it's not necessarily the job that's disliked, rather it's the employees or the leadership that is disliked. We live in a fallen world with sinful human beings, so it's expected to have an unreasonable boss, a lazy boss, lazy co-workers, etc. We're always going to have to deal with something we don't like in the employment world. So when do I know, as a Christian wanting a Biblical standpoint, when it's time to call it quits when I'm sick of my job?
1.) When it calls me to compromise my standards or do something unethical. There are many businesses that call for unethical practices, and sometimes they're businesses we don't expect that to come from. Here are a couple (true) examples of this:

Example #1- My boss has a suspicious backroom that is restricted to certain employees. I one day happen to stumble upon this restricted door, to find it open, and then find out my boss is growing pot.

Example #2- My boss tells me that as the teacher, if I don't give my students passing grades, I'll be fired.

The first example is an issue of breaking the law. Working for a company that breaks the law looks bad on you as well, even if you're not in on participating in the illegal act. You too can be caught up in the entire operation and risk going to jail as well. Not only that, it's not good for your reputation as a Christian. There might not be many people who believe that you had nothing to do with breaking the law. We should always value our ability to represent Christ well and do our utmost to be sure that's not ruined. Working for a company who blatantly refuses to follow the government's standards means that you're condoning what they're doing by not quitting or addressing the serious issue. By ignoring the issue, you're brushing it aside and compromising your values, casting a blind eye on something very serious to God- obeying the government.

The second issue confronts your moral standards. Will you do what is right in God's eyes or man's eyes? We answer to God, not to man. The answer is easy, but the action is harder. Is my job more important or is God? Do I trust God to provide if I happen to lose my job? Our actions show what we really believe about God.

These are two examples of instances when it is appropriate to leave a job, or just do the right thing and leave it up to God. Maybe it's a test to see if you'll do the right thing- maybe you won't be fired. Whatever the ultimate end, you must make the right choice.

I'll be back in a few days to follow up with Part 2 for more reasons to know when it's time to call it quits. Stay tuned!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Who's First in Your Life?

Photo by Jesper Noer. Used with permission.
           "Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to me."                              
                                                                     A.W. Tozer

A very true statement. Sometimes the things we do, see, and become in life seem harmless to begin with and then infiltrate our lives, gradually blinding us to the fact that God's now on the back
burner of our life. Reading our Bible is one of the ways we can put God first in our lives. A couple of weeks ago I talked about the importance of prayer, and this week I wanted to talk about the equal importance of the Bible in our lives.

Take some time to think about these questions and honestly answer them:

What's the first thing you think of when you wake up? Is it about all the errands you need to run? About getting to work on time?

What's the first thing you do when you wake up? Check your phone for notifications?

What do you do with your money when you first receive your paycheck?

 Do any of those firsts begin with God? You can always tell what your focus is by finding a pattern in your life of firsts.

I can honestly say the first thing I do when I wake up is check my texts and emails. It's a very bad habit that has infiltrated my life. But of course since when is reading texts and emails sinful? Not usually unless the content is bad. But then that's the scope of what we deem as wrong and we continue to let seemingly harmless things into our life turn into an addiction.  There's nothing wrong with reading books with appropriate content or even exercising, but when these harmless hobbies become an addiction where I spend more time with them than God, this is sin.

Evaluate your responses and see what's keeping you from making God first. I'd encourage you to take the challenge- instead of reaching for whatever it is you do first in the morning, reach for your Bible instead. Instead of thinking about your long to-do list, clear your mind with prayer and read your Bible first. Try doing this for a month and see how it goes, and at the end of the allotted time I too will get back with you to let you know how it went as I begin to put God first.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Results of 30 Days of 30 Minutes of Prayer

After the 30 days of prayer, I was really excited to see just how many prayers God had answered within the month. Some of them were really impossible situations that I was placed in that God got me out of. The results were uplifting and allowed me to better trust in God for whatever is going on in my life.

The best thing about one of the answers to prayer was that I had been praying for something since last October with no results; of course, I'd been praying about it a few minutes a day, what'd I expect? So by mid-March I received an answer to that situation- a good answer. This really showed me the importance of the quantity of time. Quality of time in prayer is good, but if I'm praying for two minutes a day about something very important, how is that quality time? Does it really mean that much to me if I barely spend any time praying about it? We would never tell dads that 5 minutes with their children after work is quality time, even if they had a good 5 minute conversation. We would never pat a dad on the back for that. We'd be appalled if he chose to spend a few minutes of his time with his kids on a daily basis.  Quantity is just as important as quality; in fact, they both go hand in hand. You cannot have quality time with God if you are only spending a few minutes of your day with Him.

Because of praying for an extended amount of time longer than I was normally used to, praying for extended periods of time is easier for me to do on my own. It isn't as hard as it was at the beginning. I began to form a good habit! Now granted, it didn't make me able to effortlessly spend 30 minutes a day after that, but it wasn't as hard to pray for a long time as it used to be.

So what were the results like for you? Post in the comments below!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Occur?

Photo by Andreas Krappweis

"But when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me. So I am to them like a lion; like a leopard I will lurk beside the way. I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs . . . ." Hosea 13:6-8a

The other day I was studying Hosea with a friend, and I came across the answer to that well-known question that many of us tend to ask when something bad happens. I wouldn't say this passage in Hosea is the ultimate answer to all of the bad things that occur in life, but I do think a majority of them occur because like Israel, we too forget God. Isn't that how many are saved? They rejected God, forgot about Him, lived for themselves, and then when something bad occurs they are drawn to God, at least that's how it is for most people. And I believe God uses bad situations, as in the passage of Hosea, to draw us back to Him, or even draw us to Him through salvation. It's for our ultimate good. There's a purpose to the pain. God is a jealous God, and if we lose sight of Him, won't He do whatever He can to bring us back to Him?

It's so very true that when things are going well we don't feel the need to pray or read our Bible as much. We begin to let the world start to consume us with things we think can fill us, and then when something bad happens we're reminded that only God can fill us. I'm glad that God has given me a bad situation in life, because it keeps me from forgetting Him and ultimately causing something worse to happen to remind me that God's in control of my life. It reminds me to pray and remember that I need Him, constantly, all the time.

And for those who currently aren't facing a bad situation, whether that be the loss of a job, a family member, or even a sudden health issue, think about your good circumstances in life and take heed of this passage. Remember that when you're full and satisfied things can get dangerous. Continue to praise God, thank Him, read His word, and pray each day. Don't be so full you forget Him and He causes adversity in your life to occur so you can remember Him.

Friday, March 20, 2015

No Regrets

Have you ever regretted something you didn't do in life? Some path you never chose? In college I majored in English, something I had prayed about and felt led to major in- I didn't take my career choice picking lightly. I knew that whatever I chose would be what I would end up doing for quite some time- it would be what I did for most of my life even. I enjoyed English, writing, and literature, and I still do, but towards the end of my degree I started realizing I was drawn to the medical field, anything and everything about it fascinated me. I wanted to learn as much as I could about how the body worked, surgery, etc. I absolutely loved it. And at the same time I knew I could never be a doctor- that wasn't my calling. Neither was being a nurse. But as I became more and more aware of my enjoyment with the medical field, I began to doubt. I doubted if I had actually been sure that God had shown me that English was the right field. I wondered if perhaps I had mistaken my calling. Surely medicine was it? But it was too late. I had finished with a degree in English, and there was no turning back.

One day while I was at a library book sale, I stumbled upon a book on genetics, a topic I love to read about, and I immediately picked it up, feeling waves of regret over not majoring in that field. As I looked at it and inwardly sighed, a woman beside me asked me if I was majoring in Genetics, and I said "no" and explained that I had majored in English, but I'd always loved the medical field and wanted to get a degree in it. Nothing in my voice denoted that I was sorrowful or regretful, yet right away she continued on and said her daughter had majored in Genetics and went on to work in D.C. She went on to say that her daughter regretted it and so did she. The woman told me it was a terrible environment to work in and that I was fortunate I had not majored in it. I was stunned. It's as if she had read my mind. It's as if God had placed her in my path to make me realize that I hadn't made a false move. I had done as God had asked, and I shouldn't have any regrets.

Sometimes the "passions" we have in life are not Godly passions, meaning they're not necessarily bad in and of themselves, but they're not God-given either. God wants us to follow His will. Do I regret not getting a degree in the medical field still? No. Not anymore. That's not the path God wanted me to take. It's great to learn about it, but I don't want to fuel a desire that isn't God-given. I want to quench it. Over the years I've realized that the degree I majored in was God's best for me. I love what I majored in, and I'm glad that's what I got my degree in. Through various circumstances such as the aforementioned, God has revealed to me why He didn't allow me to receive a degree in the medical field, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate God's intervention in my life to show me that what I initially thought I wanted wasn't best.

Are you having any regrets? Take heart in knowing that God knows best.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Is the Holy Spirit Better than Jesus's Physical Presence?

Photo Credit: John Nyberg. Used with permission.
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. - John 16:7

I used to wonder why Jesus left us here on earth, proclaiming that it was better for Him to go and leave the Holy Spirit with us. I was dumbfounded. What could be better than Jesus's physical presence? I had always thought how wonderful it would be to have Jesus here on earth still- to be able to speak to Him face to face, to have my questions answered automatically, to not have to wait for an answer to prayer. There would not be much to pray about if the one who could answer your prayers was right there with you- so why did Jesus say it was better for Him to ascend to Heaven? I believe the answer lies here in this passage about the Holy Spirit:

"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you." John 14:16-17

That's just it. The Holy Spirit dwells with us forever- from the time we are born again as Christians til we die- His presence is always with us. The people of the Old Testament weren't as fortunate as we are. The Holy Spirit descended upon few people and for a short period of time in the Old Testament. After Christ died and rose again, He sent us the Holy Spirit to help us in our Christian walk. Not only have we received such an amazing gift, but if Christ were to have stayed here on earth in His physical body, we wouldn't have Him with us as our constant companion 24/7. Jesus was in bodily form, therefore He was unable to be with everyone at once. He stayed in the land of Israel. Think about all those who didn't get to see Jesus who lived in the same time period. Wouldn't that be depressing? Wouldn't our hearts be sad and lonely if we knew Jesus were dwelling in Jerusalem this very day and thousands of miles stood in the way of us going to Him? And even then if we traveled for a week to visit Him, we'd have to come back and do it all over again, constantly. Would we even have the reassurance of seeing Christ if He was wanted just as much by others as by me? No, we would not. And I am glad that Jesus knew best and sent the Holy Spirit. We don't have to worry about crowds drowning out our voice or petition, or wondering if we will ever have the chance to meet Jesus on earth. We have the Holy Spirit to intercede for us and guide throughout this life. And isn't that wonderful?

Friday, March 6, 2015

Prayer: A Challenge

So I listened to your comments on my survey and as per requested, which ironically was something I'd been thinking about writing on from now on, I am going to start sharing things I learned in my Bible reading or study time, not exclusively though.

Photo Credit: Jesper Noer. Used with permission.
 In particular I've been thinking about the importance of prayer. This year I had made some goals and one of them was to be in prayer for half an hour everyday by the end of 2015. This is a big step for me, as I have always had a hard time being consistent concerning prayer time. Recently I read this in Nehemiah 9:1-4: 

Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the people of Israel were assembled with fasting and in sackcloth, and with earth on their heads. And the Israelites separated themselves from all foreigners and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the LORD their God for a quarter of the day; for another quarter of it they made confession and worshiped the LORD their God.

I was awed by the fact that these people spent 12 hours in worship, confession, and reading God's Word. 12 hours. If they could spend that much time with God, shouldn't I be making the effort to increase my time with God too? Granted, this was a one day event, but could you imagine having a worship service that lasted 6 hours or a reading of God's Word for 6 hours? Incredible. I was put to shame on the spot. Think about this, there are:24 hours in 1 day. Most Christians are told to spend 15 minutes a day in Bible reading. Nobody is told how much to spend in prayer. Let's pretend I decided to spend 20 minutes a day doing both together in total. That averages out to LESS than 1% of our daily time. If the Old Testament encouraged us to give 10% of our money to the Lord, don't you think God expects at least that much of our time? The Bible says "To whom much is given, much is expected." If God took the time to save us and we are supposed to live our lives for Him, shouldn't we be trying to spend more time with Him? How can we know our God personally if we spend 7% of our week on Him? I don't know about you, but those statistics bother me. If we want to spend at least 10% of the day with our God, we need to be in the Word and prayer for at least 2 hours and 40 minutes. I'm not saying we all need to do this, rather it's something to think about. 

What changes need to be made to spend more time with our God? My challenge for you is to join me for the rest of March, whether you prayer an hour a day or 10 minutes a day, challenge yourself to increase that. Make a reasonable increase and stick to it for the month. See what happens. Let me know if it becomes a habit. Has it enhanced your walk? Did you receive faster responses to your prayers? Let me know, and I'll let you know what has happened in a month as well.