Love Will Win if We Let It

My mind has been circling for quite awhile now and I think with all the controversy that society has been culminating over the period of months, heck years, it’s all fueled a constant question in my mind: why are we so focused on the decisions and details of others that we feel the need to separate into different groups? We’ve got the homosexuals over here, and the Christians over there. We have the African American community over there and the white community over here. Oh and don’t forget the general female population, particularly the feminists.

The general mantra of society today it seems like has become “believe in equality and approve of everything or you’re a terrible bigoted, racist, sexist person.” As a Christian, I’m part of a stereotype of being the group that thinks they’re holier than thou and that people think I hate the gays or that I feel I’m too good for anyone else. While that’s maybe true for an uneducated few, it certainly isn’t for me, nor a vast majority of Christians. Just as untrue are the stereotypes towards all the different groups vying for a spot on a pedestal to claim equality.

Why do we say we strive for equality when our actions differ by way of separation? This generation is often dubbed as one of the most narcissistic generations in history and I can’t say I disagree fully. I believe that the best way to end this war over equality is to stop talking and start acting. Acting with love. If we’re all equals as humans which I believe we all are, then we need to start acting like brothers and sisters whether we’re gay, straight, male, female, black, white, etc. Agree to disagree and if someone has the same beliefs as you then great, if not ok. We’re all saying we want to be equal because of who we are, so shouldn’t our beliefs be included in that? How are we ever supposed to live in peace if we don’t love others just the way they are?

One of my favorite quotes is “Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” (Rick Warren) As a Christian I personally believe that a marriage was created between one man and one woman, BUT I also believe that loving someone for who they are and not what they do is crucially important. I believe in holding others accountable in love and that you better believe no matter who you are I will be there for you every step of the way with whatever battles life may throw at us.

We NEED to STOP separating ourselves by belief by way of condemning others for theirs if we want to see any change for equality in humanity. By equality I mean basic human rights. Stop the judging, stop the hating, just love others as God has loved us. And guess what else? God doesn’t hate you. He loves you, he created you, and he wants to know you regardless of who you are or what you’ve done. You are never far beyond the reaches of grace. Ever. I am unashamed to share what I believe to be the truth in this world. Maybe you don’t agree with my beliefs, I love you anyway. Maybe you hate me for it, I love you anyway. Maybe the girl who’s been oppressed all her life and identifies as a feminist is shouting from the rooftops for equality because actions aren’t speaking louder than words. Maybe the gay kid in the closet is terrified because regardless of how he comes out he knows he’s going to disappoint someone so he secretly speaks out for equality in hopes it’ll make things better in the future.

The problem is that with all these voices creates a clamor that suffocates our society into thinking that if we don’t approve of the lifestyles of others then we’re considered a bad person. The truth is that by only surrounding ourselves with likeminded people, society is going to stay exactly the same: separated and vying for a pedestal of equality (a little contradictory don’t you think?). If we lived in a world where we could voice our opinions and share our ideas with love and be met with a mere disagreement but affirmation that our beliefs are the proof and manifestation of us as an individual that matters in this world, then maybe this world wouldn’t be so ravaged by me, myself, and my beliefs, and more of us, we, I see where you’re coming from and I love you anyway.

When I say “stop talking and start acting” I don’t mean to stop standing up for what you believe in, I mean stop nitpicking others and separating into different groups based on social issue and LOVE. THEM. SIMPLY. Then standing up for what we believe in would become sharing what we believe in. You don’t have to agree with the choices they make or the way that they think but all in all I think this world would be far better if we stopped talking about our differences and started talking about what makes us the same. We all have a beating heart, a desire to love and be loved, and to have someone in our life that can see us for who we are: a human being with emotions, passions, love to give, and a soul to be nourished. I pray that regardless of who someone is or that maybe if I don’t agree with what they do or choices they make, it’s not my duty to judge, but because of knowing who I am and being steadfast in my beliefs of how loved I am, that I will unwaveringly hold till the day I die, then they can know how completely, wholly, and unconditionally loved they really are and that their voice matters so they may stop yelling to be heard because they know they finally have been.

Who is God?

I’m going to be completely honest. Lately, I feel as though I’ve wandered away from The Lord. I’ve been in this pit of desiring to want that closeness, but feeling too weak to even begin to try and pursue it. Between the winding down of senior year, broken friendships, family dysfunctions, and my grandma being placed in assisted living where her memory has deteriorated so significantly that on some occasions she doesn’t even know who I am, has seriously taken a toll on me mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. On top of that I’ve been working and doing other odd jobs like crazy to earn money so I’m constantly exhausted creating this depression where every thought has become bitter, negative, weary, and anxious. Sometimes in my head I’ve found myself saying, “I’ll get around to getting close to you eventually God, but I need to figure out how to figure this out on my own,” but day after day the eventually grows farther away. It seems like day after day I’ve lost sight of the fact that He’s never left my side and that I don’t need to figure things out on my own. I say all this not to gain pity or sympathy, but to point it all back to God and to testify to the fact that I am his sheep and He has found me and brought me back where I belong. Time and time again lately, Jesus has revealed Himself to me and I felt that I just needed to write all of what He is to me because I am absolutely filled with the utmost gratitude of everything He’s been doing in my life to pull me up and out of the turmoil and into his loving embrace that enfolds every single part of who I am. Sometimes in our greatest trials and struggles when we wander away all it takes is a small reminder of who exactly we belong to.

John 14:1-4 says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would’ve told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” What is profound to me in this verse is how Jesus says “in my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would’ve told you.” Essentially, to me anyway, He is assuring the fact that there is a spot for each and every one of us in His house and because of what He did it’s possible. God is not a father who has a few kids that he gives a room and then cares for them because he has to and grows weary from time to time because being a parent is hard, but out of pure love and sacrifice He’s making it so every single one of his children may have the very best. God is the One who gives us the gift of being royalty. He is the One who though we stray will reassure us time and time and time again that He is everlasting. Never can we annoy, be too needy, too problemed, too messed up, nor wander too far from His love. God is the One that in the midst of my darkened mindset of depression about the world around me, He whispered in my ear until all I could hear is that He loves me. God is the One who has taken on every burden and turned it into something light and fruitful. He’s the one that’s softened hearts and mended friendships, He’s the One who gives me hope. Jesus Christ is the one who has provided me with strength to see every day as more than just surviving, but instead living to unabashedly love Him with everything I am. God has taken every aspect and turned it into a grand perspective. Not only has he placed peace in my heart, but because of who God is, my grandmother has peace in her heart and increasingly becoming more accustomed to her new home. Because of who God is, He has used me to speak into the lives of those around me that so desperately need to hear His Word just as I do. His abundant provision of all these new opportunities to make money for my mission gives me the strength and the motivation to make it through my shifts at work and to be happy again doing the things I love. Often times instead of being consumed with bitterness and just trying to make it until when I can sleep again I’m filled with thoughts of how I can tell and who I can tell in this world about. It’s been on my heart that through this testimony and all that He has done for me, He is doing for you too brothers and sisters. He doesn’t just have a room for me in heaven because I call myself a Christian and try to be a good person. When I hear a nonbeliever say that they won’t become a Christian because of their poor experience with the church it breaks my heart, but I’m also reminded of the fact that they encountered the Christian, not the Christ and basing the faith off of a fellow broken one is sure to cause disappointment, but when you encounter Jesus and all that He is it’s absolutely impossible to be unchanged. He has given me, and you, and all those who believe a room because of His greatness. He is a God of redemption, rest, comfort, love, mercy, justice, forgiveness, relentless pursuit, overabundant joy and peace. He took everything so that we may be free to love Him, love others, and spread this great joy and hope. God is everything to me though I stumble. He’s everything even when my actions say otherwise because the root of the matter is that Satan’s attempts to hold me down have nothing on the power of Jesus Christ.

Wherever you’re at with your walk with God, I wholeheartedly feel that if you’re reading this that God is speaking directly to you. Some of the lyrics of one of my favorite songs “For My King” by Newport says, “What is this life, so sweet and pure that you would die to call me Yours, and at the cross You bore my sin. You conquered death so I could live.” I truly believe the He needed me to convey this simple reminder of who He is so that we all may be reminded of His goodness because the smallest gestures of His presence have a profound impact on the way we live our lives. It points us in the direction of Who we need live our lives for instead of searching for what we want to live our lives for.

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Love is Patient, Love is Kind, Love is SIMPLE

With all the busyness of senior year winding down I find myself making things extremely complicated, more so than they need to be. Not sure if you guys are the same, but the ever constant need to stress, to over think, and to be overwhelmed becomes normal and pours out into aspects of our life like our faith. Our capacity to understand things in their simplest form becomes nearly impossible. Specifically my intention to convey is how we live out our faith. Do we simply love, or are we conforming to our earthly need to follow a set of rules over-complicating to condemn others and recording rights and wrongs where no love is to be found?

By way of human nature we’re bound to feel the need to achieve justice when wronged or internally being judgmental to the point where our own sin feels non-existent compared to what we mentally rank as which wrongdoing is worse. “Well they wronged me so it’s worse than anything I’ve ever done,” or “they make different choices than I do and scripturally it’s wrong so I’m going to become angry and mentally condemn them because I’m morally better.” We never stop to think that we’re exactly on the same level. Personally, I’ve been battling a lot of bitterness towards people so I understand and can relate to those self-gratifying thoughts of the fact that they’re wrong and I’m right. Maybe for that situation, but guess what? I have always been and always will be wrong in different ways. My daily sins put me in full dependence on Jesus and the fact that I know this washes every rule of right and wrong and legalistic views down the drain. I realize that in that bitterness of figuring out good and evil it takes the focus off of Jesus and onto religion. This is EXACTLY why He calls us to love Him, others and leave the rest to Him. We need to SIMPLIFY.

Honestly though, who are we to sit here and judge others? This is part of why we live in such a world that’s so against Christianity. It’s ok to not support and encourage something, but what’s not ok is becoming intolerant, angry, and judgmental. Homosexuality, divorce, murder, gossip, lying, cheating, impure thoughts, they’re all the same. God has already taken that wrath and placed it on Jesus so instead of getting so worked up about matters that Jesus has in His hands, have grace and love them. How can someone possibly even desire to change if they aren’t shown the light? How can a person possibly experience who Jesus is if some of His followers are hell bent on being angry that homosexuality is becoming more normalized, divorce rates are skyrocketing or that these people aren’t following scripture word for word. I get it; it’s easy to do and to be perfectly transparent, judgmental thoughts run rampant in my mind everyday about the minutest of things. I’ve found that in all this anger, all this bitterness, and all this uproar about the way Satan works, God’s purpose for us is being lost. His love is being displaced by an over complicated set of rules that drive people away from Jesus and into the secular world they feel accepts them. Since when is it ok to make people feel like they can’t acquire that unconditional love no matter who they are or what they’ve done?

My task from this point forth is to pray that we can all become Christians who can set aside legalistic motives and put our focus back on what truly matters. Simplify the way that we love and use Scripture as a tool to strengthen our relationship with God instead of picking and choosing verses to argue with someone about why they’re one step closer to hell. I want everyone to know how dearly loved they are despite the intolerances of others. If you’ve had sex before marriage, if you’re divorced, gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual, if you’ve lied about someone or gossiped, if you’ve ever hurt someone emotionally and physically, if you’ve had impure thoughts or anything of the like (which all of us fall into some category), know that you are FIERCELY loved and nothing can ever change that regardless of the hard heartedness of those around you. Jesus sees you and wants to embrace you. He’s not angry and He’s not condemning you. His grace will consume you and I pray you come to see that, and for the fellow Christians out there I pray that His grace may consume us as well to clearly see His vision of love in order to soften our hearts. We all have one thing in common and that is the fact that we are all equally in need of that purely simple, all consuming love.

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Why Dating is Called Dating and Not Marriage

Wow! It’s been awhile since my last post and I’ve been so busy and overwhelmed with life and fully intended to post this sooner, but got preoccupied with a million other things. Oops!:) Anyways, this is something that has been on my mind quite frequently and with Valentine’s Day come and gone I thought, “Well isn’t this just a perfect opportunity?” Soooo I’m taking it.

Relationships can be wonderful. They’re something most high-schoolers will be in while they’re trying to navigate who they are, especially as a young Christian. Someone to share in the struggles, grow with, and spend time with can be so uplifting and amazing. To have that special person who makes you feel like you’re a million bucks, heck sometimes even a billion is something many strive for. However, among all the affirmation, affection, and attention, it’s all too easy to become consumed with your significant other. It’s so common to see posts or people saying “my everything,” “forever and always,” or “my one and only.” A big reason why I feel this is such a prevalent issue especially in Christian dating (specifically high school) relationships is that we have this idea that dating is for a higher purpose, which it is, but instead of dating to see how things work out and giving it to Jesus by scoping out traits you want in a future spouse, the relationship itself is treated as a marriage which can be incredibly dangerous. We have a jealous God who fully wants our hearts and minds on Him before He can give us that forever love. With that being said these are the reasons why I feel dating is called dating and not marriage.

1. There’s a reason why scripture doesn’t talk much about dating: it didn’t really happen.

In biblical times, the marriages were arranged. No, I’m not saying that we should have arranged marriages, but my point is that by human design we were not created to grow so close to someone romantically without those covenantal vows soon after. Mark 10:8 says, “The two shall become one flesh,” referring to a union between man and wife. So when dating and a break up happens, the bond that has formed between two people is now broken apart causing it to hurt that much more. Nowadays we spend years dating starting in high school and things become hard when the possibility of marriage isn’t near that can create a strain that breaks apart the relationship or prolongs the temptations that occur before vows.

2. Sacrificing friendships for the sake of a relationship in high school isn’t worth it.

Quality time is a crucial part of any relationship, and that includes the preexisting friendships that were there long before that bf/gf came into the picture. Yes it’s fun to spend so much time with them, but it is so not worth becoming consumed and shutting people, activities, and other aspects of life out. Just because a relationship goes into effect does not mean it goes above anything else. That in itself becomes idolatry since the only One meant to go above anything else in your life is The Lord. When we’re married is when that one person is meant to be with us in all that we do, even then it’s ok to be individuals and independent with our friends and the things we enjoy. There’s no guarantees that a relationship through high school will be lasting and forever, but building friendships and memories are what we will want to be telling our kids about. Not how we didn’t have a life in high school because we wasted it all on something that may not have lasted.

3. Purity, purity, purity.

Obviously as Christians we are full aware of how sex is for marriage and that staying pure is what The Lord intended. On both ends for the guy and the girl, dating creates so many temptations that just grow stronger as the relationship goes on, even longer so by dating in high school. By living intentionally with likeminded boundaries and the understanding that the relationship does not have the same standard as a marriage keeping things casual and fun (within reason people), it takes the pressure off of growing intimate and regretting things later.

4. Don’t miss long run opportunities that The Lord may have for you to fit it around your boyfriend or girlfriend.

This goes along with a generalized idea of not planning the future. James 4:13-17 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.” Every time I read this verse I get hit like a ton of bricks because it applies to everything I hold near and dear to me. We aren’t even promised another day left on this planet so what makes us think we’re promised a lifetime with our high school sweetie? By realizing this it puts things in perspective that we’re supposed to live in the moment with our eyes fixed on God, and living each day in grateful humbleness that we get to do life with that special someone. They’re not guaranteed until the day you say “I do.”

5. Security in marriage is not the same as security in dating.

Security in marriage means that you made vows on your wedding day to work through it all, thick and thin. Frequently, (and I’ve found myself doing this in the relationships I’ve been in), a common misconception in a dating relationship is that if things just aren’t working out that things need to be fixed. If it’s not working out that is OKAY. Working to fix things to a point where you just need something different than what they can give you just means it’s not working out. It doesn’t make them a bad person, your person is just elsewhere. If there is a conflict then I’m not saying don’t try to solve them, relationships grow from two people trying to make it work. Just don’t compromise who you are as a person for anyone else! Security in dating simply means that you’re aware of the mutual feelings and are content in that. If anything changes, it’s time to move on. Time and Jesus heal everything (but mostly Jesus) 🙂

As a senior in high school I am fully aware of our constant need for Jesus, especially in this season of life in high school. If you’re reading this and aren’t in high school anymore my prayer is that you just encourage those that you know as they navigate this time. Relationships are a prominent want in these years preconceived to be a need. We’re young and trying to figure ourselves out in more ways than one, myself included. Again, my intention for this post was not to belittle high school relationships, but instead to build them up in a healthy way by pointing out that they should be beautiful and wonderful because of so many fun filled memories that are being created as a blessing from The Lord instead of placing a pressure to create something that consumes/bears the weight of marriage that we won’t be ready for until The Lord brings us there. Enjoy high school friends, and make a firm foundation of your love for Christ and yourself before adding anyone else. Always remember that a relationship is an addition, not a completion. You are infinitely loved and don’t need a significant other to heal you, complete you, or make you happy. Live intentionally and guard your hearts. Your self-worth can only be defined by The Most High and my prayer is that you or that those in high school that you may know may know that.

PS- Being single ROCKS by the way if you find this post unrelatable because you’re single. Preparing myself to be a wife someday and waiting patiently for God to put that man in my life is so rewarding and if anything one of the most amazingly free feelings I could ever experience. Loving God with my whole heart and allowing him to mold me overfills my very being. Relationships are not bad, singleness is not bad. Just put Daddy first peeps!

XOXO

Alexa

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Literally Can’t Even: Having Anger and Knowing What to do With it When Life’s Not Fair

Sometimes, life can really really seem to suck (sorry for lack of a better term) keyword seem, and no it really isn’t fair, but who said it would be? Sometimes it seems that we’ve done nothing to deserve what we’re dealt and while it may be very very realistic that we’ve been wronged by something or someone, guess what? Life doesn’t suck!!! Yayyy! How? Oh I’ll get to that, but first, to my question: how do we go about things in such a way that doesn’t harm us or others in the long run?

First things first (I’m the realist?) I don’t want to come across that it’s not ok to be mad, sad, frustrated or upset, because we are completely validated in our feelings. What I’m trying to get across is that in those human emotions how can we process them in a Godly way so that “in our anger we do not sin” (That’s a Psalm, look it up). Now I wouldn’t consider myself an easily angered person, but when circumstances do actually get me upset it’s typically for a very understandable reason. Anger for me is a rarity so if you ever somehow manage to achieve that, well congrats (#sarcasm) you’re one of very few and not sure about you friends, but I can completely relate to those out there who would’ve liked to rip a face or two off at some point in their life, but is that something Jesus wants us to do? I don’t think so. We especially don’t want to act or say things out of anger because 9 times out of 10 it’s something we’d regret and how does fueling more wrong to a wrong make it a right?

I think at some point in our lives we feel a little bit entitled. Or a lotta bit depending on the person. We have this mental ranking system of those who are worthy of our grace and those who are too far gone because they’ve wronged us too much or maybe too many times. Guess what though? Grace isn’t a right for us to withhold from others because we receive the gift and privilege of it daily when it’s the last thing we should be getting for our sinfulness. Could you imagine if God had our same way of thinking and we only had a limited amount of forgivenesses (is that a word?) that maxed out eventually at the terrible things we did? We’d all be in the same boat, most likely a sinking one.

The way we think has such an impact and that’s a concept that is hugely taken for granted. We allow people or circumstances to dwell in our hearts growing bitterness because we either a). Are still upset about it
b). Haven’t forgiven
c). Refuse to confront the situation
d). All of the above
In Scripture, Jesus presents so many new ways of thinking that go against the grain of society and for good reason. I mean, have y’all seen the discord in this world from the pridefulness of refusing to come together and work out our differences? Why do we have to be the same? Aren’t Christians supposed to be set apart? Sorry for all the questions, they’re mostly rhetorical but good to ponder. Matthew 5:21-22 says “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘ Raca,’ (translatable to idiot) is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
That seems pretty harsh, like anger = murder, but if we aren’t right with others then we aren’t right with God.

The Lord calls us to be people of reconciliation. Sometimes it’s not as simple as talking to them and they listen as in Matthew 18:15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.” Or maybe it is, which hopefully it is. If it’s not though we have to recognize that God will provide for us and He will make the path straight for us. Nothing that someone does messes up God’s plan for us. He saw that coming before you were born, so instead of focusing on that human emotion we can better channel it into, ok God how’re you using this situation to get me closer to YOU? Once we realize that, we can let go of that anger and frustration because of what God does for us and more importantly for what He’s already done.

Therefore we see as mentioned previously, life doesn’t have to suck! God gives us a way, there’s ALWAYS a way and that’s to Him. When we see Him for His glory, everything else on this earth falls away and we take notice of His presence and that no matter who or what is dragging us down, we are lifted by His grace and as Christians we are called to “pay it forward.” If any of you are at odds I challenge you to reconcile, and if that’s not possible right now, then I pray that you may find forgiveness in your heart to be at peace so God may work for your good. It’s not up to us friends. That in itself is a beautiful thing.

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?