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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Through the Psalms- Part II

Sometimes it feels like God has forgotten us and our prayers. Maybe we've prayed for something for years, like the salvation of a friend or relative. Counting up the amount of time you've spent praying for that one thing over the span of several years equates to quite a bit of time begging the Lord to hear you. And because of that large quantity of time spent without a change in circumstances, you might be wondering, Has God forgotten me?
Asaph felt the same way as he wrote Psalm 77. Just as you and I pray because we believe God hears us and will respond, so Asaph begins his journey of begging for deliverance: "I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord . . . ." It's unclear what is bothering Asaph, but it's enough to make him physically ill, " . . . in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted. When I remember God, I moan; when I meditate, my spirit faints. You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak." Perhaps you can relate to Asaph's feelings. You are so bothered by your circumstances that you're up at night worrying, wondering, and waiting. Maybe you even pray more so at night on your bed, and like Asaph feel tired and worn out with your cries.

 Asaph can't find comfort in praying. He's not finding peace and rest, and as his mind tries desperately to find a way to peace he remembers something, "I consider the days of old, the years long ago. I said, 'Let me remember my song in the night; let me meditate in my heart.' Then my spirit made a diligent search: 'Will the Lord spurn forever, and never again be favorable?" Asaph goes back in time, thinking about what God did for him years ago. Unfortunately for Asaph, he has been in distress for years, perhaps just like you, as he has to carefully recall the past and retrace his remembrance of God's help for him. He begins to ask himself rhetorical questions. He knows the answer to them: "Has his steadfast love forever ceased? Are his promises at an end for all time? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?" We all know the answer to that- No. God will not forsake us. Asaph reminds himself of that and a lightbulb comes on: "Then I said, 'I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.' " He decides to repeat back to God about the promises we know are to be true of Him and appeal to God to answer through God's own words He gave to us. This brings Asaph hope, and it should to you as well.

Perhaps you have not been able to find comfort in praying. Don't stop. Do what Asaph did and recite the promises God has given to us. Make a list. Sometimes you have to remind yourself that God hears and will respond when it's in His timing. This seems to be the turning point for Asaph who then continues on, "I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds." Asaph decides to remind himself of all that God has done for him the in the past, how God answered him in the past. And I know we all have those moments to look back onto too. Remember the time when God answered your pray almost immediately after you finished praying? What about all of the other prayers He answered? Bringing to mind all that God has done for us in the past helps to assure us that He will be faithful to continue to answer in the future. It reminds us that God is in charge still and that our God is great enough to conquer even this problem.

Asaph recognizes this as he says:

What god is great like our God? You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. You with your arm redeemed your people . . . When the waters saw you, O God, when the waters saw you, they were afraid; indeed, the deep trembled. The clouds poured out water; the skies gave forth thunder; your arrows flashed on every side. The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind; our lightnings lighted up the world; the earth trembled and shook. Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Asaph ends his Psalm with a recognition that God was big enough to lead His people through the sea, leading the reader to conclude that God is fully able to do so with Asaph's problems, and not just his, yours and mine too! Think about all of the miraculous ways your prayers have been answered, prayers full of impossible requests that God granted. And if you can't think on those, do what Asaph did and go all the way back to how God helped the Israelites, His people.

Although Asaph couldn't end with letting the reader know his prayers had finally been answered, he was able to end his Psalm with hope. Hope is what kept Asaph going, and it's exactly what should keep you and I going. Whatever your circumstance, whatever the request, whether you've been praying for five days or ten years, God will answer, we just need to wait and remind ourselves of His promises and His faithfulness as our God.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Through The Psalms- Part I

I'm reading the Psalms again, for the fourth time this year, I believe. I just can't get enough of them. With that being said, I decided to share what God has revealed to me through reading the Psalms by creating a mini-series on the Psalms.

Many of the Psalms are written by men crying out to God for deliverance, mostly from physical enemies, but regardless of the type of opponent, these passages apply to us even today. Psalm 73 is a psalm written by Asaph, not David. In Psalm 73, Asaph expresses a fault of his- envying the lost, the unbelievers, the wicked. He starts off with praise to God, obviously looking back and reflecting on an event God got him through, "Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped." Asaph decides to let us know what almost caused him to sin, "For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked." He then explains why he was envious, "For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind."

How many times have we thought that about unbelievers? How many times have you looked with envy at that person who got a great high-paying job, while you are barely scraping by? How many times have you envied someone who seems to have a great life traveling here and there without the hindrance of a spouse or children? Or what about the unbeliever who has been in many relationships and you're still waiting? Maybe when you look around you, you wonder why they seem to have it so good when they don't even acknowledge God for what they have. Asaph did that too. He focused so much on what everyone else had that he did not have, focusing on how unfair it was because he believed and trusted in God, yet God had not given him something honorable and good to desire that the wicked had, but he should have had. When he took his eyes off of trusting God and looked at his circumstances he almost despaired, "All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning."

How many times have you given up like Asaph? How many times have you thought, "I can't do this anymore. God's not giving me a good desire that I want when I repeatedly ask." The despair is real, and sometimes it seems like you just can't continue on with the day. It's a struggle. And so it was with Asaph, "It seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin . . ."

When Asaph made the effort to get up and go to the house of the Lord, to seek Him continually, to keep on worshipping the Lord despite his circumstances, that's when God opened his eyes and allowed Asaph to realize the error of his ways. God will punish the wicked, maybe not now but eventually. Asaph realized that his momentary suffering was better than an everlasting suffering that the wicked will experience. And when he fixated his eyes on what God had given to him- eternal life- he was able overcome his sorrow over his circumstances.

What's even more amazing about this passage is that Asaph did what many of us do when we're upset about our circumstances- we become angry with God, "When my soul was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you." He admitted how cruel and evil he was to God, not realizing that God had given him so much more than he deserved. God's reaction to Asaph's cruelty is a perfect reminder, "Nevertheless, I am continually with You; You hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory." No matter how we treat God, He will never treat us back with the same cruelty we gave to Him. He takes us back when we don't deserve it, and that's what also helps Asaph to realize that even though his circumstances haven't changed, his perspective has, and that makes all the difference.

Asaph ends with the realization of who God is and who he, Asaph, is as a person, "Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Because Asaph's focus has been directed towards God, he realizes that God is all he needs. Asaph acknowledges that this life will bring us down to despair, but God will give us hope to strengthen us during those times- there's no doubt about that!

Asaph then resummarizes what he has learned, "For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge that I may tell of all your works." Asaph knows that the ungodly will suffer greatly, and he is thankful that though he may not have what he so desires from this earthly life, he realizes that God is greater than anything on this earth, and that as long as he has God now, he will have him eternally.

What a powerful Psalm! Whatever you may be struggling with, remember Asaph's pattern of redemption from his despair. 1.) Asaph continued serving the Lord despite his circumstances. Maybe you want to take a break from volunteering or your Bible study or other church activities. Maybe you want to skip a church service. Don't do that- follow Asaph's lead and continue on. God sees perseverance and rewards that. 2.) Direct your focus on what God has done for you and not what He hasn't done yet. Continuing to read the Bible, to pray constantly, and to worship the Lord allows us to redirect our focus on God and not the problem. 3.) Give praise to God even when your circumstances don't change. Remember that God will reward you in due time. Don't lose heart!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Women Are Weak

Our society has taught us to believe that woman are strong and can do anything a man can do. The feminist culture has brought this lie upon us. As much as I'd like to believe that when I see pictures of thin and petite women flexing, it's laughable at best.

I have an independent and strong-willed spirit (not that that's a good thing), so I don't like to hear that women are weak. I want to believe that my feisty attitude means something, even when it's laughed at by the opposite sex. Contrary to how I wish to really be, women aren't strong. It's a fact. We can pretend all we want, but we're not. We have our vulnerable moments where we break down and feel overwhelmed. Even physically we are not on the same level as men, no matter how hard we workout. I hate saying that just as much as you probably despise hearing that, but even the Bible confirms it. The Bible refers to us as the weaker sex (1 Peter 3:7). Weaker refers physically, but  I'm also reminded of the other type of weak in this verse:

"having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions" 2 Timothy 3:5-6

I'm not here to counter the feminist movement about the strength of women, rather, here to assert a prime example of why women are weaker. I've noticed more and more women get sucked into following certain rising Christian women leaders- Jen Hatmaker, LysaTerkeurst , and Ann Voskamp, to name a few. Honestly, as a woman, I'm baffled as to why these women have such a large following from Christian women.

Jen Hatmaker recently came out as saying that homosexual relations are "holy," (she didn't mind homosexuality either). I never read anything of hers to know whether it was good or bad, but judging from her responses in an interview, her warped mindset was probably obvious to begin with.

I wouldn't say Lysa's teachings are heretical, but when I went through her Made to Crave Bible study, I was appalled at how she twisted the Scriptures into something they did not say. I don't believe it was intentional, but I felt it revealed that she really needed more guidance in interpreting the Scriptures before going out on a limb by herself. Ever since then, I've avoided her. Hopefully she's improved since then.

Ann Voskamp's writings are pure heresy. I will say that. I've read her One Thousand Gifts and was quite disgusted that she would even speak about such a holy God in such a sexualized way. How disappointing. And yet, Christian women still follow her.

I see Christian women following bloggers who encourage their followers to do unbiblical things like, "Oh, you're a mom. You don't have to spend much time in the Word. God knows. It's okay. If you can't, you can't." And they blindly believe these women who probably aren't even saved themselves. It's like the blind leading the blind, and part of the reason for this is because of the fact that women aren't in the Word. Women are weak because they stay out of the Word and soak up everyone else's word. And so in turn, women who aren't in the Word become the women of 2 Timothy. They're captured by false teachers or misled teachers because they are too weak to overcome the teachers. They want to feel good about the things they're not doing, so instead of letting the Word confront them, they have other women lift them up to push the guilt they have aside. The cycle is vicious and it will continue as more heretical "Christian" women rise up.

Women don't have to be weak mentally though. Women can be strong in the Lord through spending quality time with Him. When women read the Word they're able to discern false doctrine from Truth, immediately, not after reading all twelve of their books or figuring it out years later. God gives wisdom to those who ask, so why not soak up God's strength and become a strong woman who can decipher between good and bad?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

God's Faithful, How About You?
It's interesting that almost every book of the Old Testament I've read, I've encountered the same theme: God is faithful even when we are not. But it doesn't stop there. It's not just that He is faithful; it's that He does whatever it takes to bring us back. God pursues us even when we slam the door in His face. He is relentless in His quest to bring us back to Him. It's incredible!

Hosea's marriage to Gomer the harlot is the perfect example for us believers. It's a parallel comparison of God's pursuit of the Israelites. Hosea represented God's role as the relentless pursuer who kept bringing Gomer back to himself, even though she'd been unfaithful to Hosea and had left him to go back to her prostitution. The Israelites represent Gomer the harlot.They have gone after other gods, despite how good God had been to them. The same with Hosea. Hosea treated Gomer well, but for some unknown reason that we are not told, she chose to leave him for her old life. Although the entire book of Hosea is about God's love for His people, there's one part I wanted to focus on.

Israel has left God and gone back to the foreign gods, whom Israel falsely believed gave them the good things they had in life. They didn't realize that it was actually God who had cared for them the whole time, even while they were in sin. Because they believe in a lie and are deceived, God devises a plan to bring them back,

. . . and went after her lovers
and forgot me, declares the LORD,
"Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth . . .

And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me 'My Husband,'

Hosea 2:13b-16

God loved them so much, he wouldn't give up on them. He wouldn't let go. He knew that his effort would pay off. Isn't it a beautiful picture for us? Whenever we feel like we've blown it and can't come to God for forgiveness, He's actually pursuing us to come back to Him. He desires for us to come back, in spite of our sin. Nothing you can do as a believer can push you back so far that God doesn't want you back. His love is unconditional and unlike any other's love. God will never go back on His promise to be faithful. He will be faithful to you even when you are not. Shouldn't His boundless love
compel you to run to Him? So, what are you waiting for?

Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Reminder of God's Forgiveness and Love
The book of Jeremiah tells an incredible story of love from God for His people, Israel. Most people look at this book as a judgment from God upon Israel, and rightly so, but there's so much more to it. In the beginning, God presents his case to Israel, and gives them all the reason why they shouldn't have ever have abandoned Him.

"What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? They did not say, 'Where is the LORD who brought us up from the land of Egypt, who led us in the wilderness, in a land of deserts and pits, in a land of drought and deep darkness, in a land that none passes through, where no man dwells?' And I brought you into a plentiful land to enjoy its fruits and its good things, but when you came in, you defiled my land and made my heritage an abomination . . ." Jeremiah 2:5-7

"Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the LORD your God, when He led you in the way? And now what do you gain by going to Egypt to drink the waters of the Nile? Or what do you gain by going to Assyria to drink the waters of the Euphrates?" Jeremiah 2:17-18

There are so many reasons why the Israelites shouldn't have abandoned God. God establishes a case to show how good He was to them, to show that His future actions in punishing them are justified,

"for my people have committed two evils: they have forsake me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water." Jeremiah 2:13

"Yet my people have forgotten me days without number." Jeremiah 2:32

but not only that, to show His great love for them that even though they have sought out people and things that cannot save them, He still wanted them back.

" 'Return, faithless Israel, declares the LORD, I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the LORD; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the LORD your God . . . and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the LORD." Jeremiah 3:12-13

What's even more incredible is that not only does God want them back, all He requires of them is that they just repent. All they need to do is ask for forgiveness from God, acknowledging the wrong they have done to Him and just come back. That's it. It's so easy. Instead, they refused these simple terms.

What I found most interested was how relatable this passage was to us today as Christians. We are God's people, if we are saved, and sometimes we tend to falter in our spiritual life. We might neglect reading or praying, and all of a sudden we've become just like the Israelites, forgetting our God for days and days. But yet even when we've done wrong, God calls to us and reminds us that all we have to do is repent and He will take us back. We don't have to think that it will take years before God will accept us again. It's not a process; it's an immediate event. Once we repent, we're right with God. Sometimes I think we as Christians tend to think that "coming back to God" is a process that takes months and maybe years, but that's not true. It's an immediate transition graciously given to us by God and a staunch reminder not to be like the Israelites who ignored God's call, bringing misery and death upon themselves.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Remember the Single Parents

It's very difficult to put yourself in someone's shoes when you have no idea what it's like to be in their shoes or don't even stop to think about it. I never really thought about how hard single parents have it, until I listened to a message by John MacArthur, in which he read a letter aloud to his congregation. The letter was from a single mother whose circumstances left her without an involved and working husband, so she was forced to work full-time and juggle the handful of children she had. The single mother was exhausted from work, only to become more exhausted by the demands of her children, their need to be fed, paid attention to, and helped with homework. This mother realized her children were struggling with the new situation. They were acting out because they lacked the specialized attention they used to receive, and their mom had no way to give them the time they needed. Not only that, going to work everyday was a struggle for her, because her role had always been a stay-at-home mom. She reached out for help from her church, and they wouldn't give it to her. I felt so sad for her. There are many single parents today in our church who for whatever reason are going through life alone. It's our duty as the body of Christ to help each of those single parents out. We don't do what that lady's church did in action and say as James 2:15-16 says, "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you tells him, 'Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,' but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that?" We must not only remember to pray for the single parents, but also take action to help them out in a practical way. There are many simple ways to help them out, and I've come up with a few:

1.) Offer to babysit, for free- Not every single parent will accept your offer, but it's worth a shot. Perhaps the single mom or dad is working late unexpectedly; now they know they can call you for help. Maybe it's just much easier to run errands without having to load up all of the kids, and single parents need a break, because they don't have that regular break couples get when they switch off watching the kids. In no way does this mean that you should let someone take advantage of your help. If you see that happening, you will have to be firm with the individual to stop it.

2.) Make a meal for the family- Single parents really don't have time to cook a meal. Most likely they will rely on pre-made meals. Offer to make dinner for them.

3.) Offer to help out with the kids and their homework once a week.- Maybe one of the kids is struggling in a particular subject, but a tutor is not something that the parent can afford at the moment. Your free intervention will be a blessing! And if they don't need a tutor but have questions about homework, at least the parent gets a break from that, even if it's once out of the week!

4.) Give practical gifts- Most single parents struggle to provide for their family. Gift cards for groceries or even buying groceries are a great way to help out the family. Gift cards might be something you choose to do anonymously, but either way, it will be greatly appreciated.

5.) Offer to maintain the lawn as needed- If you have a single mom within your church, it's more than likely she doesn't have the time to do this, and paying someone to do so is an unnecessary expense. Form a group from your church to take turns mowing the lawn on a weekly basis to ensure that there's one less thing she needs to worry about.

6.) Ask if there's any way you can help out- Hopefully the single parent will divulge and let you know what is needed. There are probably other things they need help with that would be a huge blessing.

Encourage them when you can as well! Check up on them regularly. Ask how they're doing. Give them Scripture verses and write notes letting them know you're praying for them. Single parents need encouragement and help as they parent alone. Got any more tips? Post them below!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Tips to Help You Read Your Bible

Sometimes reading the Bible can be a challenge in the mornings for various reasons. I've found that I just don't feel like getting up. I'm still sleepy and will sleep in as long as possible until I have to get up. Unfortunately this cuts into my Bible reading time. I've found a few ways to ensure my Bible reading doesn't get cut out:

If you wake up early in the morning to spend time with God:

1.) Consider getting ready for the next morning the evening before. If you shower in the mornings, try switching to evening showers.If you spend time ironing, do that the evening before. Spend time prepping your meal to take to work? Do it the night before. Are there items you can't find at the last minute that you need, like your keys? Make sure you place those all in a place where you will easily find them and cut out wasted time looking for lost items. All of these little changes can increase the amount of time you have left to spend in the Word.

2.) Cut out the social media until lunch break. Social media sucks up a lot of time. Answering messages and responding to notifications can cut into a lot of time that could have been spent reading the Bible in the morning. I've found that it takes 15-20 minutes for me to respond to that, which is a large chunk of time when you are getting ready to go to work. Wait to respond to those notifications until after you have read and prayed. Besides, it's nice to look at your phone on lunch break and see that it can't even show you all of the notifications you have!

3.) Get a good night's sleep- If you can't get to bed early due to insomnia or various reasons, take advantage of that and begin your reading right then and there! It's an excellent alternative to worrying about why you can't sleep.

4.) Wake up early- this really goes hand in hand with getting a good night's sleep. You can always wake up earlier to spend time with the Lord.

Do you have any more tips for helping improving your quiet time with the Lord? Post below!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Basic Etiquette
I know this blog is to help others out in their Christian walk, but I really feel like basic etiquette, manners, is extremely important for Christians to cultivate too. The opposite of not having manners leaves you with someone who is rude, and how can we accept that title as Christians?

So I want to go over a few things to remember:

1.) If you are invited over to someone's house for a meal, a meal for a wedding, or anything in general where the host is being generous and paying for you, then it is extremely rude to back out or accept at the very last minute, unless there's some sort of emergency. I've seen this happen to some gracious hosts. They need to know how many people to plan for, and when you back out at the last minute just because you forgot you had other plans or something better came up, you've caused them to waste money on your portion. And when you just all of a sudden decide to show up, don't be surprised if there's nothing left for you. Your host is not obligated to give you free food at the last minute. Also, don't be surprised if you get left out of being invited over to someone's house. Nobody wants a rude guest. If you've done this, make amends by apologizing and offering to bring something to the meal next time around for everyone to share. By the way, that's what needs to be done in the first place!

2.) When you are given gifts, especially at weddings and baby showers, it's extremely important to say "thank you" and then give them a little thank-you note. Of course, it's not necessary to do this with small gifts, but when you receive things like cash, it's rude not to give a thank-you note back. Now that I'm older and give gifts to younger kids and teens, I'm not as happy to hand out gifts knowing that I won't even receive a "thank you" in return. I especially don't like sending out gifts in the mail and not even receiving an acknowledgement from the person that they were received. I understand that it may not occur to people to send thank-yous, but once you're the recipient of an ungrateful person, you realize how important it is. It only takes a few minutes to express your gratitude, and you can be sure that if you did this at your wedding with gifts, people will gladly give you baby shower gifts. If you don't, you'll probably see less gifts coming your way.

3.)When you go out with friends for a meal, remember to make it clear that it's established who is paying for whom. If you want to pay for everyone, let them know up front that the meal is on you. If you want to get together but want each individual to pay for their meal, make that clear. Nobody is going to be upset if they have to pay for their meal, unless you told them you would from the start. I had a friend tell me that her boss told her and her fellow workers that they would go out to eat and she, the boss, would pay for everyone. My friend said that when they arrived for lunch at the restaurant and were gathered at the table the boss said, "I'm sorry, but I didn't know how expensive it would be to pay for everyone's meals. I'll pay for the meals of those who are leaving, but is it okay if everyone else just pays for their own meal?" I was shocked. What were her guests supposed to say? Of course they had to say yes! Never back out of an agreement you've made, unless it's for a legitimate emergency. You said you'd pay for everyone's meal, you do it, even if you didn't realize it'd put a dent in your pocket. Your word is important, and keeping it is more important to God. Just look at the Bible verses where Jesus says to let your yes be yes and your no be no and how he tells women to make sure they keep their vows to God. It is honorable to keep your word when you've made mistakes.Believe me, it's not easy, but it's important. I remember a time when I accidentally sold something for $1 on Ebay. That was not the price I had intended, but it's the price Ebay listed, so I honored it. It would have been wrong for me to say, "That wasn't the price I wanted to sell it for!" I should have caught my mistake sooner, so I told my customer that they had gotten the best deal ever, and I earned a happy customer.

And those are just a few pieces of etiquette I wanted to clarify. Hopefully this will help you to remember to think before acting out in public situations. When you think about your future actions, you're able to determine whether you're making a rude move or not.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Getting Rid of Pride
Pride is an issue we all have to a certain degree. Maybe you got a new job, beating out hundreds of applicants. Perhaps you placed first in a competition. Or maybe you are excellent at a specific hobby, in which others praise you for. Whatever the case, pride is a very ugly sin that needs to be beat down, constantly.

It is also a sin that slowly creeps upon a person. It's also the least preached about sin that I know of, and I wonder if it has to do with the fact that many famous preachers today ooze with pride. I remember visiting the church of a famous preacher, excited to hear him firsthand, but disappointed to hear his unwelcoming words for his visitors. He sarcastically mentioned he wished the church would stop growing and that new people would stop coming. He pretended like he was joking, but I could tell he wasn't. And at that moment, I suddenly realized that this man whom I had thought so highly of had a disgusting wound oozing out which was exposed for everyone to see: pride. When I hear famous preachers speak of the achievements they have accomplished or hear that they place all of those achievements on display for others to see, I cringe a bit. They let pride continue growing to the extent that now it's on display for the world to see.
But here's the thing: you don't have to let pride get that bad where it's exposed to everyone. In fact, you can stop pride before it ever reaches that point.

I pondered that the other day as I noticed that pride was welling up within my heart. Instinctively I realized i needed to combat it. Feelings are hard to combat, but taking actions to prevent pride are key to helping quench the feelings of pride.

1.) When you begin to become prideful remind yourself of Scripture verses pertaining to humility, our weakness and dependence upon God, and our insignificance.

1 Corinthians 1:28-29- God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.

Philippians 2:3- Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

Romans 12:16- Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Job 38:4- "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding."

2.) When you begin to become prideful, remove areas of your life that cultivate pride. Social media is normally the place to brag, although it's not typically called that. In fact, it's considered posting the highlights of your day, week, month, etc. It just shows the world you're happy. Perhaps that is true to a certain extent, but other times, not so much. Many times those posts are just bragging posts. If you are prideful about something you accomplished, don't post it on Facebook for all of your friends to see. You'll just be seen as a show-off, and your pride will continue to grow as friends like and congratulate you.
3.) When you begin to become prideful, pray. Prayer is the best way to combat sin. The Bible says that the effectual prayer of a righteous man avails much (Jas. 5.16), meaning that God will hear your earnest cries and respond by replacing pride with humility.

You may begin doing these things and not feel any different. Perhaps you still feel prideful. It doesn't matter. Keep repeating these steps until what's expressed on the outside is expressed on the inside. Pride is a constant battle that will need to be worked on for an extended amount of time, and it will always be a lifelong battle.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Don't Call Yourself a Christian Anymore


As you get older you'll get a glimpse about what the Bible says about the separation of the wheat and the tares at the end of the age. It seems like once children who grew up in Christian homes become adults, they decide Christianity isn't for them and throw it off, but there are quite a few who accept Christianity and the world, together. They want their ticket to Heaven but also the things of earth, and it's to these people that I say, "Just don't call yourself a Christian anymore."I can excuse unbelievers for the things they do that don't line up with the Bible. They don't know any better about God's standards, and they choose to follow their own standards. But what bothers me is when a person who has grown up in a Christian home their entire life knows God's standards and decides to accept the world's standards and God's standards, but you can't have both. I've seen young people who call themselves believers dress provocatively, make sexual remarks, and curse often and then tell everyone how glad they are that God is in their life. Still others hold to the idea that wealth and status are everything, and then end up being enslaved to working for money, knowing full well that the Bible says you can't serve both (Matt. 6:24- "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the others, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money."), knowing full well that the root of evil is the love of money. They continue on though and throw God into the mix. And yet others who get a taste of the world like to parade around their drinking habits as if it were a badge of honor. Yes, I know the Bible doesn't say drinking is a sin, and that getting drunk is, but frankly, I find it offensive, and the Bible says that if something you do offends your brother, you should stop. And yet, I've mentioned this before and they still parade about their drinking habits to me. I would rather not hear about them, and honestly, who cares? Not only do they parade about their drinking habits but other things like the tattoo they want and things that are bordering on inappropriate. Because all of those things scream "I want to be like the world," I assume these things are done for attention. I assume these things are done to be rebellious. I assume these things are done because the Bible doesn't explicitly say not to, so we will take that literally and push the limit as far as possible before we say no. This leaves many "Christians" looking exactly like the world when drinking is okay, smoking is okay, tattoos are okay, piercings are okay. The Bible says that we should not be conformed to the world, rather transformed (Rom. 12:2). When we okay all of these formerly inappropriate values, what's left that isn't wrong?My question is, why even be a Christian if you want to follow the world? Why? Can you answer that for me? If you want to live exactly like the world and look exactly like the world, why not just throw in the Christianity towel and become part of the world? God does not like the lukewarm; in fact, He says that because they are not hot or cold that He will spit them out of His mouth (Rev. 3:16). He would rather that you were hot or cold, not in the middle. Make up your mind. If you don't want to give up those things that make you appear to be part of the world, quit calling yourself a Christian. I'm tired of hypocrisy and deceit. If you really want God, quit seeking out attention from others, quit trying to be "cool," or fit in, and accept that God is the only one whose opinion matters, and He is no respecter of persons. He doesn't care that you don't fit in. In fact, that's what He wants from us as Christians. And isn't the approval of a Heavenly Father much better than any person's approval on this earth which is dependent on our actions? So I bring a proposition from Joshua 24:15, "And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served int he region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD." 

So will you serve God or serve self?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Trust & The Psalms
I've been reading the Psalms for quite some time, because I just don't want to get out of that book! Rereading it has been extremely encouraging, and studying it has helped me to see some things I had never noticed before. In particular, the Psalms have a common theme, and that is, trust in God.

But it's so much more than trusting in God. It's easy to say, "I trust in God," and it's a different thing to actually follow through with those words, especially when the outcome looks bad. The Psalmist takes trusting God to the next level, in which he decides that even though there's no glimmer of hope or light at the end of the tunnel, he plans on trusting anyway. And that's what makes this type of trust in God so much more admirable and convicting. So today I want to take a look at the Psalms and the Psalmist's unwavering faith in God.

In Psalm 116:10, the speaker says, "I believed, even when I spoke, 'I am greatly afflicted.' " This is a powerful statement. The Psalmist decides to trust in God through the midst of suffering, not afterwards when he can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but right through the darkness, when it seems like there isn't any hope. We tend to have the ability to trust God when we can see a glimmer of hope, knowing that God can work things out. It's much harder to trust in God when it seems like whatever we are going through will never end. Through the Psalmist's words, we are encouraged to stand even the midst of difficulties and say, "Lord, I trust You."

Psalm 116:10 isn't the only instance in which the Psalmist repeats his desire to trust, even though he can't see what the outcome will be. Psalm 27:7-9 says,

Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, 'Seek my face.'
My heart says to you,
'Your face, LORD, do I seek.'
Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger.
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!

 So we see from this passage that David, the Psalmist in this Psalm, is in great distress, calling out to God for help, from whatever he is battling, whether it be inward turmoil or outward turmoil. And the end of the Psalm doesn't provide deliverance, rather an interesting mindset:

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living!
Wait for the LORD;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the LORD!

Even though David's prayer wasn't answered right away, he chose to believe God would work in his impossible situation even though he couldn't see how. He decided to place his faith and God and believe that God would work everything out, he just needed to wait on God's timing. Not only did he need to wait, he realized he needed to hopefully wait. He was optimistic. We know that the outcome to David's pleas were heard by God, because other Psalms tell of how David was delivered from his trials. The fulfillment of his cries is seen, and David and the other unknown Psalmist remain as testimonies for us believers today to hopefully wait on God in the midst of circumstances that feel like they might not ever disappear. Pessimism is not the answer. Optimism is. When we are optimistic, we are trusting in God and exhibiting the faith that is required, that tiny mustard seed which is necessary to the response to our prayers.

Monday, April 4, 2016


I've come to realize that selfishness is an innate character trait within every person. And it's a character trait I don't think most of us young adults realize we have, at least, not until we are faced with a selfish person. I realized this one day after a conversation with a friend, in which I asked, "How was your week?" and that turned into an ostensibly twenty minute monologue about how they were doing, not once asking about me, and as this continued to happen with other young people I talked to, I started getting very irritated. Not only that, it caused me to wonder, Do I do this too? After pondering that question, I realized certain conversations I have with certain people are always one-sided, about me. I also realized that I only ask, "How are you?" to be polite and because I hope the question will be returned back to me. The Bible says in Philippians 2:4, "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." So when I was only interested in hearing myself talk, I was being selfish. And yet, I wouldn't have ever noticed this character trait had I not first seen it in others.

Lou Priolo has a book on selfishness that I've read, and it explains how to get rid of the bad habit. It goes through a test to see how selfish you are by asking specific questions. After you've finished the test and determined you have an issue, steps are given to combat that issue. What I realized was that selfish people take and never give. So if I'm not giving of myself, and I'm constantly taking in a relationship, then I'm selfish. That really helped to put things into perspective. Priolo's healthy solution is to replace selfishness with selflessness, so instead of just saying, "I'm getting rid of being selfish," there's more to it. It would be something like, "I'm going to do selfless things and become a selfless person in order to rid myself of selfishness." You replace the bad habit with a good habit.

After I reflected on Priolo's book, I was able to examine what I was doing wrong and what I needed to fix. I would encourage you to examine yourself too, especially if you're young.When was the last time you asked how someone was doing? Was it genuine? Or when they started to tell you about how terrible their life was did you automatically think Why did I even ask? When was the last time you did something nice for someone just because? When was the last time you volunteered, for anything? Are your motivations in conversation for ulterior motives, self, or because you genuinely care about that person? Are your conversations always about you? If you're like me and realize you have a problem, I would encourage you to take a look at what the Scriptures have to say about replacing selfishness with selflessness and make the effort to do so and join me on my journey to eradicating selfishness!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Reverence for God

There's a fine line between reverence for God and disrespect. As a society, we have seemingly dulled those lines, and social media is a huge outlet for disrespect towards God. I'm not talking about the disrespect unbelievers have for God, rather the disrespect believers have for God.

Jokes are fun and good when they're not inappropriate, but I don't think Christians stop to think how inappropriate it is to make jokes about God and Jesus. I've seen jokes made in regards to Christianity and it's an okay joke, but then there's cussing in it. I've seen other humorous memes turning a Bible verse into modern-day teenage lingo. One of them said something like, "When things go cray cray, God's got my back." And then it was listed as a Bible verse. I saw Christian's laughing at it, thinking it was funny. It's not. It's completely disrespectful. These are just a few of many disrespectful memes and jokes about Christianity.

There are a couple things I've noticed about humor that make it disrespectful. First, any joke made about God or Jesus is going to be completely disrespectful. Don't say it or laugh at it. Second, any joke or meme that twists the words of the Bible or turns them into today's lingo is disrespectful as well. Third, playing games that joke about God and the Bible are probably disrespectful as well.

Before you crack a joke or post a religious meme meant to incite humor or sarcasm, think. Is it tasteful? Am I showing God the respect He deserves? God deserves our utmost respect. He is holy, and we should treat Him and the Bible with extreme reverence. When we joke about Him, we only reveal how little we know about God and that we don't really know who He is, otherwise we would fear Him. Isaiah 8:13 tells us that we should honor God and, "Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread." Hebrews 10:31 says that it's a terrible thing to fall in the hands of God, and this should be in the forefront of our minds when we speak. God demands and deserves our respect. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Book Review- The Ministry of Motherhood

I tend to pick up random books at the clearance section of the Christian bookstore, and I happened to find this one by Sally Clarkson, "The Ministry of Motherhood." It was endorsed by Nancy Wolgemuth, and because I believe in preparing for the future, I decided I would read it.

Sally goes over five important character traits to cultivate in moms and in the lives of their children. She mentions the gift of grace, the gift of inspiration, the gift of faith, the gift of training, and the gift of service. Sally has some basic points, and then she has some not so obvious points, like the importance of praying together as a family and reading the Bible as a family. Sally uses examples in her own life to demonstrate how these five gifts should play out in the life of a family.

I'm picking out the best points I saw from this book. Sally addresses something I've thought about since I was a teen, the importance of encouraging your children to pursue God's plan for their life. She does so though through encouraging her kids in their special gifts and including God in those specific talents. I am a huge fan of this idea. I believe that each person has a specific God-ordained purpose on earth, and it is the parents's responsibility to pray for direction for their child and include their children in prayer in regards to this. I feel this is vital to ensuring a child has a sense of purpose and not laziness or confusion or even regrets. Many young adults go to college confused about what to do and unsure if they've made the right degree choice. How much heartache and regret would be avoided if parents prayed for their children before college was even on their radar?

Another aspect I enjoyed reading about was Sally's commitment not to just telling her kids to read the Bible and pray, but showing them how to do so as well. Sally used a crisis situation in which her husband came home overwhelmed with a huge financial loss at work and had no clue what to do about it, and she turned that situation into a family prayer meeting. Not only did Sally exhibit a Godly example for her kids to emulate, she also displayed some excellent character traits of a wife. She stayed calm and didn't panic. She found a solution to the problem, not adding to the problem. She built up her husband, encouraging him and giving him the only hope we can rely on, God!

The last thing I really enjoyed and took away from was Sally's importance of serving others. I have thought long and hard about this ever since I started volunteering a few years ago, and I came to the conclusion that children must be included in charity work, acts of service in order for them to become selfless and understand the importance of what it means to love like God does. Sally agrees with this and mentions that it's one thing to tell a child that serving others is important and it's another thing to do it. Involve your kids in volunteer work, even if it's sending random gifts to friends and family who need an encouraging word.

There are some great points in this book concerning motherhood, and I came away with some new ideas that I felt were beneficial. Hopefully you'll want to pick up this book too. There are some things in it I don't care for, but Sally's point is to guide mothers, and I believe you will find some benefit in it too!

Do you have a book you want reviewed? Let me know in the comments, and I'll see if I can take a look at it and write a review!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Parenting Techniques
There's always going to be a debate on parenting techniques and who is doing it right and who is doing it wrong, but there are some things that the world does in regards to parenting that Christians seem to be forgetting is the world's way of parenting, not God's way.

Recently I read a short post about a man who said he would work as much as he possibly could for however long he needed to if it meant letting his kids do whatever they wanted to do in life, ultimately bringing happiness to them, or so he thought. The world applauded him and felt he was doing his kids a service by being a good dad. But is that really being a good dad?

I want to pick apart this idea from a Biblical standpoint. The first thing wrong with this mindset is that the father's life centered around his kids. It was children-focused and not God-focused. We know that we should do all things from a Biblical standpoint as Christians, and the first thing this man did wrong was to center his world around the kids. The father encouraged his children to do as they pleased in life, knowing that dad will provide for them no matter what. This actually encourages an unhealthy character trait called laziness. Laziness is a vice of mine, and I'm sure it's a vice of many others. We shouldn't be tempting our children with such a terrible sin. Laziness should not be fostered. The children will realize that dad will always provide for them and therefore if they wish to work part-time for the rest of their life, they may do so. If they don't wish to work, well dad will still provide anyway. Another reason why this mentality is wrong is that the dad is no longer as involved as he should be when he is so busy working to allow his children to do as they please. An involved dad is a good dad. When dad doesn't have time for his children anymore, because he purposely places himself in that situation, children can get out of hand and take advantage of this. Dads are so important to children. Uninvolved dads are almost as bad as having a non-existent dad. This mentality is really doing a disservice to the child, as the child will never learn what it means to grow from hardships that occur in life because dad shields them from all of it. We know that God allows good things and bad things to happen to us in life to shape us and grow us. God would not be a good father if He let everything go our way. How would we learn to trust in Him? God is our pattern to follow, and if God allows negative things to occur in our life, then shouldn't we pattern off of that and allow our children to learn how to care for themselves too?

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What You Should Look for in a Relationship

Now that I've mentioned what you shouldn't look for, I want to move on to what you should look for. As a Christian, these three should be top priority on your list.

1.) A Christian- If he or she doesn't profess to be a Christian, then don't even take a second glance. The Bible tells us not to be unequally yoked. We must obey that command first and foremost.

2.) A Strong Christian - So he or she lines up with #1. Great! But what's their spiritual status? Is it weak? Is it strong? Is he or she making an effort in their walk with God? There are many people who call themselves Christians, but they don't even live it, or they do half-heartedly. Stay away from those people. Maybe you have a girl/guy who claims to be a Christian, goes to church, does what he/she is supposed to but never reads the Bible or prays, or even makes an effort. There's no interest in spiritual things. Stay away from that person. Pray for them though. It's important to find someone who is at least willing to live a Godly lifestyle, even if they're struggling in the moment. I would recommend waiting awhile if you find someone struggling spiritually. It's never a good thing to delve into a relationship when a person is struggling spiritually. For all you know this could be a turning point in their decision to reject Christ. Seeing how someone reacts to spiritual struggles is a good test of knowing how this person will act their entire life as a Christian.

3.) A Strong Christian Who Shares Your Beliefs- You're an Arminian, but he's Calvinist; those two don't mesh! You have to be like-minded in your denominational beliefs. If you don't believe in baptism for salvation, then don't be with someone from the Church of Christ church. That's a huge Theological difference that should be important enough for you to step aside from this person. Think about the differences in your beliefs. What's unimportant and what's not? Maybe you have the same beliefs, but his church is liturgical. Is that a big deal? Probably not. Think about how it will affect a long-term relationship, such as marriage and future children. How will you raise your kids if you both believe in two opposing opinions on a very important matter? That should be a defining guideline in gauging what's important and what isn't.

There are a lot of other important qualities, like being good with finances, has a job (if the provider), maturity level, etc., but the three aforementioned should be on your top priority list.

If you liked this post and want me to delve deeper and go into specifics that I didn't have time to get into in this post, shoot me an email in the comment submission form, or follow-up with comment and I'll follow-up with another post.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

What You Shouldn't Look for in a Relationship

I've heard lots of opinions on this topic, and I've come up with a list of what is important in a relationship and what isn't. I want to start off though with what is NOT important in a relationship, as Christians. I will explain why, as some of these ideas are very counter-culture to the world's idea of what is important in a relationship.

1.) As Christians, it is not important to find someone who is "compatible" "clicks" or "ignites a spark within us"- I've found this to be an issue for guys more so than girls. I've asked some guys what they find most important in a relationship, and this is their number one. The three terms I used are relative terms. Feelings change, and one day that spark you initially had at the beginning might be gone. What do you do then? Is it really important that you and Laura like to play bingo, go to baseball games, and love sushi? Nope. It doesn't matter one bit, especially because Laura can easily fall out of liking those things. I'm not exactly sure how having the same interests, unimportant ones, equate to a successful relationship or marriage. There are plenty of couples out there who are polar opposites and work just fine without being "compatible."

2.) As Christians, we should not nitpick about frivolous matters- This includes: nitpicking about the type of clothing he or she wears (it's tacky/gaudy/ugly/dated/etc.), nitpicking about the type of music he or she listens to (unless it's vulgar or inappropriate), nitpicking about how his or her hobbies are something you have no interest in, etc. Get the picture? You cannot say no to someone just because you dislike a very tiny aspect of their life that has no bearing on their spiritual life. If it does, then that's different, but most of the time I hear people nitpicking about small things that are not as important as what's inside.

3.) As Christians, we need to stop looking at the outside and instead examine the inside- This can be a tough one to swallow for many females, but it's important not to say no to someone just because you think they "aren't cute." Obviously looks are not an important factor as someday that cute guy walking down the street will be an aged 70 yr. old non-cute man. Appearance is relative. It's fleeting, and it's fading. And it's not just age that can change a face. Take into consideration that perhaps you might end up with someone who eventually becomes a burn victim, an acid victim, or in some other tragic accident that might horribly disfigure them. It's in those times that you cannot base your relationship on outward appearances.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Spiritual Goals for 2016 & Update

I love the beginning of a new year. It reminds me of a fresh start, of a blank slate, of the hope for change, especially spiritually.

I've come to realize that although the world bombards us with bucket lists and materialistic goals, there's something far greater that we should strive for- that of spiritual goals. Going to Europe or climbing Mount Everest are nice things to do, but in the big scheme of things, as Christians, they're not important. God's concerned about what we did for Him, how we lived our life out, and that's why I enjoy creating spiritual goals each year. Spiritual growth is extremely important.

This year's goal is to read the Bible several times over, not because I want to appear super spiritual, rather to spend more time in the Word. It's a funny thing when you start off spending more time in prayer and in The Word, because once you begin doing it, you realize how little an amount of time it feels and really pales in comparison to the amount of time you have left to do whatever for rest of the day. It gradually gets easier to spend time with God, at least when the expected happens in life. Because of this, I've also slowed down my reading to take it all in, and I have learned so much from slowing down in my reading time. For now I am working on consistency in the Word and in prayer time, and once I can maintain both of those things, I will move on to other areas of my life to work on.

I would really encourage you to create a list of spiritual goals for the year and to work on them. It's so rewarding and exciting to work towards a goal! So tell me, what are your spiritual goals for this year?

P.S.- I mentioned how I would put God first in the mornings instead of my phone. I did it for 30 days, and I did mess up several times, but for the most part I stuck to it. It was extremely difficult for me not to look at my phone first thing in the morning, and that difficulty never ceased. It just showed how bad a habit I had. I'm doing much better in Bible reading and prayer though, and I think it is a good thing to continue working on putting God first instead of the phone. I also plan on installing an app to limit my phone usage, which will help me out a lot! Let me know if you tried this challenge out as well and how it impacted you!