Fighting for Our Faith

Our walk with Jesus is something glorious. In fact, it’s the most beautiful relationship we can ever encounter. Saying yes to Jesus means saying yes to a lifetime of love, joy, faith and peacefulness: a lifetime that lasts an eternity. By knowing Him, it’s impossible to be unchanged which I find myself experiencing everyday 4 years later. What I’ve also found out is that by coming Home, we become warriors. Soldiers. We are literally fighting the evil one daily for our faith. The road to eternity was never promised to be easy, but it was promised to be abundant. It seems a bit strange, maybe a bit exaggerated, but friends I tell you that it’s wholeheartedly the truth. The things we wrestle with, our temptations, and our daily failures are all part of being human. They’re part of a realization God wants us to find which is our dependence on Him and that to follow Jesus, we begin a battle that tells Satan that the war is already won.

Four short years ago, in 8th grade (literally can’t even. That long ago already???) I came to Christ. The years leading up to my salvation were filled with brokenness and suffering. In 6th/7th grade my parents were in the process of a divorce and things at home were shaken, they were broken and all I knew is that we weren’t a family anymore. All my friends parents were together and I couldn’t understand why of all people, here I sat at home with parents who couldn’t stand to be in the same building as one another. School was a challenge all it’s own. I was horrendously immature. Like so bad, everyone at bush probably remembers so if you’re reading this and recall my dark times, I am so deeply sorry, HA! No, but really I had no friends because of the way I acted and felt isolated out of my own actions. What can I say I guess? Natural consequences? Quickly I resorted to self harming thinking that I deserved it. That I wasn’t worthy. Satan told me I was ugly, fat, stupid, hopeless, worthless, disgusting, and that between my home life and school life it would destroy me and that I’d never amount to anything. In reality, God was protecting me, because while in my sin of self harm, it was consolation to the fact that though I wanted to, I was too afraid to take my own life. Something inside me kept me from having the willpower and I owe it all to God. He saved me. He had a plan for me and continues to have a plan for me. I know what He says about me and that I am His beloved, treasured by Him far more than anything else in this world. And friends, I’m not the only one. By society’s standards, I was the kid who easily should’ve been the one to seek attention from the wrong sources and I should’ve been the one who turned to drugs, alcohol, even sex but I was too scared for any of it (still am!). But don’t you see, this isn’t meant to be a story of pity, or a story of how bad my life was. This is a story of redemption and how God has transformed my life and guess what? He’s transforming yours too, wherever your walk with Him is.

Fast forward to 8th grade. One year later, I’m not self harming anymore, and I found a group of friends. Granted they weren’t the greatest influence, but still I had people around me that helped me through things and to sum up that year thanks be to God, I was saved. Since then it’s been a constant fight to preserve my faith. And it’s been a battle that I’ve been blessed to wage. Though the road has been laden with suffering, Christ has shared in that suffering with us.

You see, now that Satan sees that we have come to Jesus, he hates us more than ever before. His whole intent leading up to our salvation was to keep it from happening and his whole intent after is to distract us from it. He comes at what he feels are the most opportune times. He knows what pushes our buttons and what causes us to squirm. However, the beauty of our freedom gives us the option to catch onto his ploys and turn from them, making the enemy squirm. To turn the tables on him. We have the power because our Papa Bear is standing right behind us to send Satan running, we just have to catch onto his schemes before they gain a foothold.

With our God having our backs eternally, we can sometimes stray when times are easier thinking that we can just lay back and take matters into our own hands now that the load has been lightened. Little do we realize that the load will never be light enough to bear without Christ because just when we least expect it, the enemy will attack and we’ll be right back down to square one. Even in the vulnerability of the moment when we’re falling asleep is when we’re most susceptible. We all have a choice as in with all situations. Are we going to let our minds be filled with the peace of the Holy Spirit or the draining negativity of the enemy? By clinging to Jesus every moment of every day, and saturating ourselves with His constant presence we no longer see the enemy’s attacks on a plane of overwhelmingness over our heads, but instead from God’s view which is that Satan is dirt beneath our feet; clothing ourselves with a cloak of righteousness that we’ve been born into.

Brothers and sisters we are not fighting for our salvation, nor are we fighting for our Daddy to love us more. He loves us so much that we’re worth more than anything else in the history of the world. He died for us and paid with something worth far more than silver and gold so it’s already finished and it is won, so our battle is to keep sight of that in the brokenness of this world and to throw the enemy back where he belongs.

Finding Out God’s Will for Our Lives

With the busyness of our lives and society seemingly becoming more and more fast paced to “figure life out”, most of us have this idea to achieve a life of perfection. We all strive for particular goals whatever they may be to create a legacy worthwhile and it all circles back to the same thought/question: what am I going to do with my life? Or as Christians we say, what is God’s will for my life?

All too often we get confused or have certain emotions we try to process towards something whether it be school, a relationship, a job, something we want, etc. we take those feelings and emotions and mistake them for God’s will. Sometimes it’s easy to think of God as a magic 8 ball (S/O to my pastor Rhyan Smith since this came from one of his amazing sermons) where we ask a question and hope we’ll get this divine yes or no answer with the clouds parted and angels singing in the background. He’s not though. He’s the God of the universe and He clearly states in Scripture what His will is for us.

“And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” (‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5‬:‭14-24‬ NIV)

The 4 aspects of God’s will to sum it up are simple.

1). Sanctification- Meaning we are to be set apart from the world in our actions and our faith for we’ve become set apart for our new lives in Christ.

2). Staying Joyful Always- This is a challenging one. (ok, maybe not so simple, oops!) no matter what trials may come we must always stay joyful. People often mistake happiness and joy as being identical. They go hand in hand, but they’re not the same. Happiness is the product of joy. We may not always be happy with a circumstance, but we can always find joy in even the direst suffering by having faith in our Lord. Through constant joy emerges happiness and a humble heart.

3). Pray, Pray, Pray- Sometimes we forget that God can see every little action and thought and though He knows what we need and will intercede, how do we expect Him to answer a prayer if we don’t first ask Him? He wants us to come before Him and lay down our struggles as well as our praises. We need to stay persistent in prayer because it produces in us a heart for relationship for Jesus. He doesn’t need the prayer, but He knows we do.

4). Give Thanks- Not just for the good, but for the bad and the ugly as well. Praises for the good works He’s done for us are wonderful, but we mustn’t forget that in times of heartache, anger, sadness, and grief, those are also times of praise as well. We don’t yet understand what The Lord is doing in our most painful times, but soon we will so better to thank Him now instead of looking back and regretting how you got mad at Him in the heat of the moment later.

Nowhere in Scripture does it say that you can or cannot get that job, you can or cannot put your kids in this activity, or the seemingly popular high school topics (in my observations at least), you can or cannot go to this college, or you can or cannot pursue that relationship (assuming that all these things are being pursued for the right reasons). The beautiful thing about God is that when we’re living for Him, and living to glorify Him, our dreams and His become one. We don’t have to stress out about what we’re going to do because:

1). Whatever God wants for our lives He’ll make happen.

2). We have to keep in mind that what we do isn’t for salvation, to do what’ll make us look like the best person and try to make God love us more since that ain’t happenin’, but to do what will glorify Him.

God gives us these hopes for our lives in our hearts. He WANTS us to dream, that’s why He put them there. If whatever you’re striving for is ultimately for the glory of God, there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t pursue it. Just live with an open hand and realize that no matter, what, his will, will be done.

Problems arise when while trying to pursue what we think God wants for us, we end up trying to control the situation. We get so caught up in thinking about the future that we aren’t even promised tomorrow and NEWSFLASH: that’s called idolatry. Looking at James 4:13-17 it says, “Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”

What really hit home for me was when it says, “anyone then who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” God calls us to love others and to love Him above all. He’s given us His will and that should give us peace. The goal is to become more like Jesus every single day and if what we want is a reflection of that, He’ll make it happen either way in His own time.

These are things I totally find myself working through everyday. It’s a balance of making sure we’re keeping Christ at the center and having our dreams left open with an open hand and being open to the fact that God could have something completely different, which, lemme tell ya friends, it almost always is but it’s always so much better. Two questions I ask myself and would like to leave you asking yourselves are (another Rhyan Smith sermon shoutout):

1). Does what you want to do line up with scripture, in other words, is it honoring to God?

2). What are other, wiser Christians saying about it? Are they in support or do they oppose it because of reasonably valid temptations leading to sin?

Why Everything We Could Ever Need is Met by Trusting in Jesus

I’m just a follower of Christ who is desperately passionate about her Lord and Savior. I have a fire in my heart to live for Him and talk about Him (it’s like word vomit really) and what He’s doing in our lives. This is a way for me to “do life” with people and encourage those the way I’ve been encouraged by relating to others in experiences to let y’all know, you’re not alone in your walk! I’d call it a way to let The Lord use me, for I take no credit whatsoever in the things I say, but instead allow Him to work through me. SO, we’ll see how this goes.:) (PS- not really a writer, more of a thinker, so if my thoughts are a bit scatterbrained, #sorryboutit.)

So lately, God’s really been hammering this little thing called trust in my head. Ok, not so little. Probably one of the hugest things The Lord could beat into one’s head.

For example, the past few weeks have been pretty challenging, sacrificing things I didn’t want to sacrifice, trying to make sense of how He’s working in my life and why He’s doing what He’s doing when things already seemed so perfect. It was difficult and obviously seeds of doubt, uncertainty and worry filled my head, but then something amazing happened. I trusted Him. Fully surrendered. He knows how we hurt and how we yearn for things. Little do we know that the yearning is for Him. By placing my trust in Him and stopping to listen, He revealed to me through His word what He needs from me in this new season of life. Through Scripture He told me, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (‭Mark‬ ‭12‬:‭30-31‬ NIV) That in itself has been the greatest blessing; to have Jesus speak to me personally, and I’m sure you all can vouch for me on that. And if you can’t that’s ok! My prayer then for you is that you can stop to listen. Listen and hear the most beautiful voice one can ever experience. Forget all the noise, forget all the distractions and dysfunctions of this world and just hear out Jesus. It’s worth it, I promise.

I suppose it makes total sense that the God of the universe who created you and loves you more than anything would want you to trust Him. And I don’t mean, “ok God I trust You, BUT…” I mean, “Lord, I have NO IDEA what You’re doing in my life, but I’m going to trust what You’re doing regardless of what’s going on.” I’m probably the first one guilty of doing option número uno so trust me, I know easier said than done, but after awhile you feel this weight on your shoulders. A weight that, guess what? You’re not meant to bear. Don’t you see friends, our Daddy CREATED us to trust Him and be wholly dependent. He created us to unload all our pain, suffering, and difficulties before Him so we don’t have to deal with it on our own anymore because He already dealt with it on the cross. Can I get an amen?;) Now that doesn’t mean the pain and suffering goes away and everything is all peaches and daisies. Jesus never told us the road with Him would be easy, but He did promise Himself to walk it with us.

Trials come in all shapes and sizes. They beat us down and make us feel discouraged. We wear ourselves out thinking about all the possible scenarios of the outcome and run ourselves ragged until the enemy swoops in to get just what he came after us for. Then there comes a point where we must decide that enough is enough. Time and time again I’m sure God has given us signs of His constant presence, but we get so wrapped up in the enemy’s plot we fail to see it until much later, if at all. The Lord is probably face palming like, “HELLO DO YOU SEE ME NOW????” Ok, maybe not, who knows, but that’s a rather amusing visual isn’t it? See, the thing is, amidst the adversity trust is ever so crucial, but as humans we tend to lose sight of the big picture. We get focused and hone in on the situation at hand. We’re all human, we all do it. The real question is, how do I get through it? Not to sound cliché or Sunday school teacher-ish, but Jesus is indeed the answer! I don’t know about you guys, but sometimes the fundamentals need to be refreshed since on occasion they get muddled over time. When in doubt, the answer is Jesus (I always tell my preschoolers that anyways:)). But what about Jesus gets us through these hard times? In Revelation Jesus speaks to John and says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (‭Revelation‬ ‭22‬:‭13‬ NIV). The impact of reassurance that that verse has is absolutely mind blowing. My brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus is telling us that HE is the first and the last and that HE is the beginning and the end. This means that He knew what you would be dealing with before it happened, He knows what you’re dealing with now, and He knows the outcome of what you’re dealing with! Not only that, God has repeatedly told us in scripture that He works for our good:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (‭Romans‬ ‭8‬:‭28‬ NIV)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”(‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29‬:‭11‬ NIV)

“For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”” (‭Acts‬ ‭18‬:‭10‬ NIV)

We have a God that is constantly by our side, friends. Really and truly we do. Now that we’ve accepted through hardship that we can fully trust in Christ, we can better start to see things through His eyes. He begins to reveal to us His plan for us all along since I mean, He knows EVERYTHING. We can begin to realize that the pain and suffering is all part of our good. It produces faithfulness, perseverance, and a dependence on our Lord. All He wants is for us to turn to Him and when we don’t, it breaks His heart. When He takes everything away, we realize that He’s all we need because God is creating in us something bigger than ourselves. Our situation transforms into something greater than what we could’ve ever imagined. By human nature when we first encountered our trial at hand it was everything to us, we thought “this is never going to get better” or my personal favorite, “this sucks. A lot….” But then by trusting Jesus we see that there’s so much more depth to the situation than we originally thought. That this whole time it was a plan. Masterfully crafted by the One who knows us and loves us more than anyone else. He knew the devil was going to try to get us down in the process, and He knew how the devil would try. Personally, I don’t even understand why Satan tries because guess what? He’s already lost and God along with all His people (that’s us guys!!!!) have already prevailed.

So friends, if you’re in the face of adversity start looking into the face of Jesus. My hope and my prayer for you all is that you can take your circumstance and just take the time to praise God for it and TRUST Him. You don’t know why, and you don’t know how, but just do it. Trust that He will carry you through it all. He’s already carried the burden, you just need to lay it down. Lay it down knowing that He has everything under control, taken care of, and finished. He’s eternally working for our good, don’t forget it!