A tradition I’ve kept over the last few years is to fast at the start of the new year. It always seemed like a good time to perform a whole body reset, and it has always been beneficial to me in some way whether physically or spiritually.
In keeping with this tradition, I did a fast of solid food for a couple days. After several weeks of eating frozen dinners and endless holiday desserts, it felt great! It also scared away the two or three pounds that managed to sneak on as well.
The next week, I decided to just eat fruits and veggies. I ended up eating fruit, veggies, and using cheese as my cheat snack. For six days, this diet allowed me to change up my pattern of eating, cut foods that I relied on, and force me to be a little creative when it came to meals.
I not only found this more tough than fasting, but I also found a new appreciation for vegetarians and some pretty decent meat substitutes.
By now, you’re probably asking if I lost any more weight because of those changes. Well, no. Mainly because those changes were temporary. Right now, I’m trying to keep my metabolism on its toes. I hear it’s good to keep it guessing.
These changes have helped me refocus. Now that I’m back to my normal tug-of-war with the numbers on the scale, I’m continuing to make plans for change. I started lifting small weights at home with the goal of making that a habit several times a week.
I’ve also decided that I need a professional consultation to help me once again. Hopefully science will help me get to where I need to be so I can actually be sharing some encouraging milestones with you. More to come on that in the future.
I hope your weight loss goals are coming along better than mine, but I’m looking forward to what the new year will bring.
I’m at least content to say that through vacation and Thanksgiving, I’ve been able to maintain my teeny weight loss.
I looked up the word “maintain” and the part of the definition that stood out to me was to “preserve from failure.” I’ve felt like a failure in this aspect of my life for, well, most of my life. But nothing hurts more than making the effort but not seeing much progress.
“How hard is it to lose ten pounds?” Someone said to me. You might even be reading these posts and thinking the same thing. All I got to say is, it turns out to be very hard for this girl at least.
I’ll take simply maintaining for now. I’ll ride that line between success and failure all day if it means I don’t fall into a place of no return.
Besides, maintaining is key. I could lose all the weight in the world, but if I can’t maintain the progress, then I only bought myself a window of reprieve. Been there, done that.
On the downside, that line of thinking has kept me from pursuing weight loss as hard as I can. I probably have it in me somewhere to take it up a notch or five, but I know I won’t be able to maintain that lifestyle, and I would be setting myself up for yet another failure.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.
Galations 6:9 (ESV)
I’ll suck up the failure of gaining a few pounds along the way, but the failure that I’m trying my hardest to avoid is the failure of giving up. I may have a difficult time believing that things will change for me, but if I give up, they’ll certainly change…for the worse.
Just let me get through the holidays unscathed by fudge (my specialty) and Christmas cookies.
Have you found any habits that you’ve been able to commit to for a long time? Please share them with me!
I try to be realistic about exercise. I’m not sure I’ll ever have a life where working-out is part of the norm, but I do need to incorporate more activity into my daily routine.
Instead of letting another gym membership fall by the wayside of my bank account, I’m starting to commit to some baby steps.
On the weekends, I started finding different places to take walks. It’s been good for me to get out of the house as well, so two birds, one stone. I’ve also managed to do a couple light work-outs at home. I’ll take what I can.
I downloaded a step-counter on my phone to remind me of my stagnation. Every day, the counter tells me how many steps I took the day before. What I’ve noticed besides “not enough steps” is that the numbers are always different.
That little fact reminds me that every day will be different. Results may vary. Take those results and find the strength to keep moving forward the next day.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Matthew 6:34 (NIV)
I also think this verse includes worrying about yesterday. I keep thinking of a time when I was 50lbs lighter. Do you know what I was doing then? Still trying to lose weight, still not feeling like I was in a good place, still trying to exercise more.
Oh, how little and yet how much can change over time!
My focus and my joy should come from–well, God’s love and faithfulness first and foremost, but in addition, it should come from knowing that I’m trying to do right by my health.
I’m only limited by today’s choices. So, today, I’m going to walk a few extra steps, go to the movies without having butter on my popcorn, and remember that I don’t need to focus on tomorrow’s result.
I took a break for a couple weeks because I didn’t have much progress to report. A couple pounds up then a couple pounds down and so forth. For the first time, I feel like my body has given up on the idea of losing weight before my will power has.
As I seek to figure out why that is, I’m currently confronting one of my strongest enemies. Routine.
Routines can make or break you.
For me, this is what a perfect routine would look like. I’d wake up before the sun and go out for a run (or let’s be honest, a fast walk). I’d return to a cup of coffee and enough time to read my Bible while I drink it. After work, I’d cook a healthy dinner. Once I took care of some things around the house, I’d sit in my office and get some creative writing done. Then I’d cap off the day with some more time with God just before I go to bed.
I’m not going to tell you what my actual routine is, but let’s just say, it’s not all that.
I think of a dialogue in one of the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
Elizabeth: “…and there will come a moment for you [to do the right thing].”
Jack: “I love those moments…I like to wave at them as they pass by.”
That’s what I’m doing. At this season of life, God has blessed me with time to myself that I could be using for good habits and healthy choices, yet every day, I wave as it passes me by.
I say this a lot, but I know it has to change. Never in my life have I found it so difficult to actually enforce that change though. Hopefully, recognizing it is the first step.
The next step is to make a list, set alarms, delete apps, and do whatever it takes to reshape my routine.
I’d love to know what your perfect routine would look like if you haven’t already mastered it. Maybe you think that the perfect routine doesn’t even exist. Let me know in the comments.
I wish I could end my post there. Why? Because what else is there to say? I got cocky, I made fewer good decisions, and now I’m embarrassed. Whose idea was it to bring you in the loop, again?
To be honest, this is kind of normal for me. I work hard for about a month, month and a half, then I run out of steam. I get discouraged about the results I’m not seeing and then I return to my normal bad habits. They’re slipping in here and there.
“Why don’t you have mac and cheese for lunch? You barely eat it anymore.”
“You can have a little snack tonight, you only had soup for dinner.”
And so on and so forth.
Remember how we find the good? The good is, at least it’s not six pounds, which would cancel any kind of progress I’ve made.
But if I don’t do better, it’ll be six pounds in no time. And we’re heading into the worst time of the year to try and lose weight. With Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas coming down the pike, I might as well be screwed.
If you have any suggestions for eating around the holidays, I’ll happily take them in the comments.
My goal now is to find my motivation to keep going and to survive the holidays with minimal casualties.
As I am typing this, I realize that the underlying issue is in my heart. I fall back on my bad habits because they’re comforting, that is, until I see the scale the next morning. Instead of going to God with my discouragement and mistakes, I give up momentarily.
I need to turn to God in order to keep me going. As my spirit and motivation wanes, I need His strength to keep me on track.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV)
Let me just start heading in a better direction with a simple prayer:
“Heavenly Father, forgive me for seeking comfort outside of your love and your grace. I need you to help me persevere, so that I can give you glory through my journey rather than wallow in defeat. Thank you for being with me both in trials and in victory. Amen.”
That’s right, five pounds down…consistently this time.
Last week, I told you I would incorporate a new strategy. Well, the only thing new that happened is that I got a promotion which caused my hours to change. The result, however, is that I’m so busy I don’t spend as much time on lunch.
My promotion is cause for celebration, which just happens to be one of my often used excuses for indulging in all the good food. My other excuses include: I’m bored, I’m lonely, and I don’t care. I’m happy to say, I didn’t indulge. My family went out to eat, and I got a salad.
Also, my first day in the new position felt like a good day to get Chick-fil-A. It’s God’s chicken after all. But instead of ordering my usual, four count strips with a medium fry, I ordered grilled nuggets and a cup of fruit. That may sound depressing, but it actually left me feeling good rather than guilty.
In the spirit of honesty though, I did also eat a donut this week. Not all decisions were winners.
My point is, I’m learning to adapt to eating a little different. Restaurants and fast food chains used to obliterate any kind of diet journey, and I had to shrug it off as a cheat day. That cheat day would snowball into a cheat week, and well…you get the picture.
Though I’ve been making good decisions, I haven’t been as strict as I need to be in order to get the weight off. I also haven’t made an ounce of effort to exercise, and I know that needs to change. I need to include those in the new strategy I promised last week in order to pick up momentum. I assure you, that’s coming.
For now, I’m thankful for my five, and I pray they stay away so I can reach my ten.
For one day, I rejoiced in the fact that I had lost 6.5 lbs.
Then it was over.
It might have been a fluke, but for that one day, I was on top of the world. I don’t know what it is about losing five or more pounds, but it makes me feel invincible. Like the next ten pounds will be a piece of cake.
They are not a piece of cake.
I know I need to try something different, because for the last six weeks, I’ve been dancing with the same four pounds and I’m ready to ditch the dancefloor.
Seeing the win slip away so fast has made this week a little harder. I haven’t felt as motivated. When that happens, I find myself not only losing what little progress I’ve made, but also getting worse.
Consistency is key here. I need to stay on the horse. I will keep making good choices and keep following the lifestyle changes, but now it’s time to incorporate new ones.
I’ve received advice telling me to weigh myself each day, so I can gauge myself and hold back more if I need to. Others have advised me not to weigh myself everyday because it’s too discouraging. What are your thoughts?
My goal is to come up with another strategy, one that challenges me, but also feels doable. I’ll let you know how that goes.
Whenever I embark on a weight loss journey, I find myself nitpicking all my habits and seeing where I fall short in every aspect of my life from biting my nails to my relationship with God. Everything goes under the microscope and I try to change it all in one fell swoop.
Don’t do that. Though I believe it’s wise to be aware of the areas in which I’m lacking, trying to change so much at one time is a recipe for disaster.
That being said, my shortcomings are a good reminder of my sinful nature. Knowing it’s so much harder to do good by my body, my relationships, and my responsibilities makes me realize how much I need to depend on God to help me change.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…
Hebrews 12:1 (ESV)
If I can talk to myself for just a moment… “Leah, the best habit you can adopt is easing off yourself and leaning into God. Then, see what He’s gonna do.”
This is a tough journey, but I want to feel like I did the one day I was down 6.5 lbs. So, I journey on.
Believe me, I’m glad there’s a number this time. Unfortunately, you’d think after a month of getting focused, I’d have more to show for it. This week, however, I’ve relished each pound down and kept reminding myself what got me there.
My eating habits aren’t perfect. I don’t think they ever will be. But when I go grocery shopping, I look at ingredient lists and I buy less junk food. That’s good.
I’m not a fan of salads, but I’ve been using them for lighter lunches and quick dinners. That’s good.
I’ve found other ways to fill up on dinner without using pasta, bread, and rice. I use cauliflower rice and more veggie sides. In doing so, I’m learning not to rely on the convenience of spaghetti noodles and macaroni and cheese. That’s good.
Progress is progress, whether the numbers represent it or not. Changing your lifestyle with food is a key part of any health program. At least I’m adding tools to my belt for later.
A new step I’ve added this week is a one day fast. Ever since I was in high school, my family has used fasting to deepen our spiritual walk with God. We’ll go without solid food for a set amount of time, and we use the extra time to pray and read our Bibles. Nothing refocuses us more than denying our body. It takes just a little more strength and dependence on God to see us through.
I know what I’m capable of, and I don’t abstain from certain vitamins or liquids. Fasting is not just good for dropping a pound or two; it’s like a reset for my mind and my body.
The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Psalm 118:14 (ESV)
A good choice I wasn’t so sure about was sharing my journey publicly. I like to pretend that I haven’t gained 30 pounds in the last three years or that I don’t feel anything but good about where I’ve let my body go. I also like to pretend that people don’t see the weight when they look at me. But they do.
I’m beginning to think that talking about it was a good choice though. I’ve received encouragement from strangers as well as people close to me. It puts me on the spot for a moment, but I’m touched people care enough to share their support. Thank you for that.
That’s my journey this week. I’m thankful it went pretty well.
Join me today in celebrating our good choices even if they have nothing to do with weight loss. Feel free to share those choices in the comments so I can be happy for you too.
Welcome to Fat Free Fridays, a series I’m starting because I’m gazing at a long road of weight loss ahead of me. I figure I’d take you along for the ride, if not only to hear about my progress, but also to eat ice cream with me in spirit whether in celebration or self pity.
Let’s start with the why. I’m gaining weight at a crazy fast pace. Only a handful of the clothes in my closet fit me, and when I look at photos of myself, I sigh and think about how far I’ve fallen from the slightly less fat version of myself.
The older I get, the tougher it is to lose weight. I used to drop 5-7 pounds in the first two weeks of trying. Not so much now. I’m afraid if I can’t get a hold of the numbers now, I never will. Part of me already feels that way because I’ve been trying to lose weight since puberty and I’ve never been truly satisfied with the results.
I’m a fairly confident person. I’m pretty comfortable in my body despite the weight loss roller coaster, but I know this isn’t the weight I should be. I know I capable of having better habits. Maybe this is my way of keeping myself accountable.
Moving on to the how. A while back, I visited a holistic doctor who told me I had a “sluggish thyroid”. Nothing crazy, but I bought some supplements to help aid my digestive system. She also gave me some suggestions for my diet, which made me a little sad but gave me a little direction.
I’ve stopped cooking with pasta and rice, and I’ve bought more fresh and frozen veggies. I’m incorporating smoothies or protein shakes as a replacement meal a couple times a week. I drink a bit more water and less coffee. And I stop eating by 8pm to cut out those late night eating habits.
Not a bad start, right?
My progress: no progress.
I played tag with a pound and a half for two weeks. This is typically when I turn to the ice cream, sprinkled with chocolate chips, and drenched with hot fudge saying what’s the point?
After a few days of sulking, I got back on the horse again, which is ironic because I’m terrified of horseback riding.
The fact is I need to see results. I can’t afford to gain anymore, which means I no longer have a choice but to do better.
I’ve also been reading Lysa TerKeurst’s book, “i’ll start again monday” which is a weight loss journey through the eyes of a Christian trying to glorify God with her body. I’ve found comfort knowing that I’m not the only one who has the same thoughts, feelings, and cycle of habits. Turning this into a spiritual journey is both a new approach for me and a great reminder of the deeper reason I need to get healthier, to honor God. Her book is where I got the idea to start this series. (not an ad)
I hope you’ll come alongside me as I continue to update you on how I’m doing. I would much rather post a before and after picture, looking slim and beaming with pride, but maybe some good can come from taking you through the journey in real time.
If you have any small suggestions for “good habits,” feel free to leave a comment. Until next Friday!
In 2012, I not only started my freshman year of college, but I also started a deep and beautiful journey in my relationship with God. I leaned on Him heavily as I navigated a whole new world of friends, responsibilities, and temptations.
As I began to see God manifest in my heart in more ways than I’d ever experienced, I knew I needed to write it down. With a full journal and some cheering on, I launched this blog in 2014. Now, I’d like to share my 5 greatest hits so far.
In a time when I could feel the burn out from clinging to my faith, I needed this reminder.
I started this blog to share with you the ups and downs of my heart and how God continues to teach me and walk me through them. It’s given me a space to work on my craft, to process my Christian walk, and to share my creativity.
Here’s to hoping many more greatest hits are in my future!
Did you agree with these top five? If you’ve been a follower of my blog for awhile now, do you have a favorite?
It’s funny what time does to hope. Not funny haha, but funny in the sense that I never thought I’d see my hope in something grow rusty and begin to crumble.
I think it’s easy to have hope early in the game. When you think you have all this time or when you think something is going to go a certain way. Your way. And when it doesn’t, BANG! SHATTER! Now, you have to put the pieces back together yourself into something that makes sense.
So what do you do when you find yourself adjusting the tapestry that God has given you of your life? And what do you do if you don’t particularly like that tapestry?
The right answers consist of praying about it, having faith that it’s for the best, and thinking more about others than yourself.
But those answers don’t necessarily make me feel any better, do you?
Other options include, taking control of your life and making whatever you want to happen happen. Or you could wallow and fester in bitterness and resentment.
Those options may sound tempting and cater to our wounded souls, but I don’t think either are healthy options.
Taking control of your life may sound empowering and give you a brief moment of inspiration, but what you don’t see happening is that you are putting yourself in a yoke of your own making.
You’re making yourself carry the weight of the world. You’re hinging everything on your goals and your dreams. And while you may have those for a reason, they shouldn’t tie up your identity, because after all that strife, they still might not go the way you planned.
Bitterness and resentment are also a yoke. A very ugly one at that. While it may seem like you’re approaching life with a realistic perspective, you’re often weighed down with that negativity and it leaves you feeling more lost than ever.
I guess that’s partly why Jesus talks about a different yoke.
28Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 ESV
Might I point out that His yoke is still a yoke. But He is on the other side, taking on most of the weight and guiding you on where you should go. You can’t get away from the yoke. So which one are you going to choose to have on you?
That brings me back to the right answers I mentioned earlier. The right thing is not always the easiest thing or the most empowering thing. It requires surrender. It requires trust even when you feel like you’ve run out of it. It requires effort, not in taking on the world, but giving your world to The One who can use it for His best.
I know it’s not glamorous, and quite frankly, I’m struggling with wanting to do any of those things. But I know those are the steps to wholeness, to peace, and to joy. How do I know that? Because, while lost hope may cause a tear in my tapestry, faith keeps it from completely unraveling.
I’ll hang onto that while I work on allowing God to mend the rest.
I talked to my grandfather the day before he died. I’m so thankful that I followed through with the urge to give him a call. I’ll forever be replaying that conversation and our final “I love you” before we both hung up the phone.
Even though we knew with his failing health, that the day would be soon, hearing he was gone still felt like a punch to the gut. I’d never lost a grandparent which made the reality all the more somber.
I never knew him as Grandpa. A friend of the family actually gave him his nickname. Papa John.
When we moved to SC from our home in western NY, we saw a lot of Papa John’s pizza joints. I wasn’t used to seeing them, so every time we drove by one, I thought of my own Papa John.
Papa John had a strong emphasis on family and that shines through in all my memories of him. He’d buy plenty of minutes so that he could call me and my brother every Sunday. Early birthday and Christmases, my cousin and I would get matching clothes and toys to make us feel like sisters. He’d be the first to throw us in the pool and call us a “Candy” if we complained about it being too cold.
Family can be messy, but he did his absolute best to keep us all together even when we were states away.
He bought a bunch of my books and shared them with everyone at his church. I’ve always appreciated how much he supported my ambitions.
I write to process things. So of course, I took to my journal the day he died.
“I’m selfishly upset that he will never read my future books, meet my future husband, and hold my future children. When I describe him, I will say that he was full of humor, opinions, and a strong desire to keep our families connected. He was a carpenter, a musician, a companion, a father, a grandfather, a great-grandfather, and a Christian. When you talked to him, you would find yourself in a conversation about end times, the Buffalo Bills, and Dot’s Sunday spaghetti.”
He wasn’t perfect. In fact, the family we have today is made possible through forgiveness, steadfastness, and all around effort.
Make that call, forgive that person, send that invitation, because you never know when it will be the last chance you can.
I miss him already, but I will take away his zeal, his humor, and his desire for truth, and carry it with me always.
I used to hate haikus. I thought they were the stupidest form of poetry, always so abrupt and confusing. When my poetry class got to the lesson on haikus, I rolled my eyes and scoffed. However, thanks to a professor of mine, I discovered what hidden jewels haikus have to offer.
I thought I’d give you a peek at my summer. As a camp director, I’ve gotten to do more “summer-y” things than I have in a long time. It was great and I look forward to more! I’m sure you can relate or at least live vicariously through these words.
Sun-kissed and sandy,
Bathing suits and Chaco lines,
Sleeping in damp cars.
Stretched out highways,
Feeding giraffes and perched monkeys,
Old picnic tables,
Too many waterbottles,
Mulch in between toes.
Thank God for air-conditioning!
Cut grass every week.
School is out, camp’s in,
Packed lunches and dodgeball games,
Back to school again.
Summer will always fly faster than any other season, in my opinion. If you were to describe your summer as a haiku, what would it look like? Feel free to leave them in the comments, I’d love to read some!
After how many years does post-grad life just become life? I haven’t decided, because truthfully, I feel like I was walking the campus merely a year ago.
As I creep up to my fifth year out of college, I’m once again reminded that time doesn’t slow down or speed up, it’s just gone before you realize it.
So, where am I now?
I’m dealing with growing pains.
When I was a kid, growing pains felt like tingling in my legs and a strange kind of soreness. It wasn’t painful per say, but it was uncomfortable.
These growing pains are equally uncomfortable. But instead of lying down and hoping to ride it out, I must take a more active role in nurturing these changes.
Over the last year I started a new job, one with the future in mind. I’ll admit it’s a great job for me. It’s the first time I’ve had a salaried position and a chance to move up. It allows me to participate in what I love while still having a little time to write. It couldn’t get better, but it could change.
And change is uncomfortable.
I also started looking for a house. I don’t want to rent. I want to build an investment. Again with the future in mind. But I don’t need to tell you about the housing market.
Between not having a chance at a winning bid and looking at some real fixer-uppers, it’s easy to see the possibility of owning slip further away. And while I really want a house, I’m faced with the expensive reality of being a homeowner.
Reality is also uncomfortable.
So yes, on the scale of discomfort, I’m a 4.5 out of 5. But here’s what I know.
While I’m experiencing these growing pains, I know that when I’m on the other side of them, I’ll realize that I’m just a little taller. Not really, I’m 5’1”, but I will have grown in some way.
The boundaries of my world will have expanded. My strength and endurance will press on longer. My trust in God reach a little bit deeper.
These growing pains are setting me up for some great things like having a home, being independent, and becoming a better leader. I look forward to seeing what that will all look like.
Then, I’ll be able to relax and thank God some more. Until the next growing pains start.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20-21
I hope everyone had a fabulous 4th of July weekend!
We can say what we want about this country (one of our freedoms), but when it comes right down to it, we are blessed as a nation. I don’t want to take my freedom for granted, because it certainly didn’t come cheap.
I’m proud and thankful to be an American, and I hope those of you reading are too.
I’ve been dealing with mind mush for the past few weeks.
My foot hit the gas and I feel like I haven’t been able to slow down enough to put two words together in my writer’s brain. Or in even in my actual brain. Though I haven’t been able to control many of the circumstances surrounding this fast-paced month, I haven’t done a good job of seeking God’s peace in the midst of it.
I have a habit of always filling the silence with something, especially when I’m busy and I just want to veg out. It’s a mind mush of my own making.
I’d like to caution against this flaw in my routine, by reminding myself that the reason I feel like I haven’t caught up to myself in weeks is because I’ve stopped rejuvenating my soul with God. I’ve turned to other mind-numbing comforts instead.
If you need to know what a mind-numbing comfort is, check your appstore—you’re sure to find one.
So, how do I break out of that cycle? One choice at a time.
Delete the app.
Unplug the TV.
That’s a good way to start.
Instead, search for edifying content. Sermons, faith-building podcasts, peaceful music. Open your Bible and don’t close it until something has taken root in your soul.
We need to practice turning to God, who can actively build us a place of safety and rest, rather than turning to distractions and pretending that they have any value.
Somedays we’ll make great choices and feel good about ourselves, and somedays we won’t. The key is to continue to align our priorities with God.
I know that when I start to do that again, my mind mush will become clear.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” -Psalm 91:1 (NIV)
Captain America’s perseverance is a picture of what I believe faith should look like. The biggest threat we will ever endure, is the one to our faith. The Bible continually urges believers to hold on and keep going strong.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”
-James 1:12 ESV
I don’t know about you, but my faith comes to blows with enemies all day, every day. Disappointment slams me to the ground. Unanswered prayers beat me over the head. Hopelessness throws me.
The temptation is to give up. Stop fighting back and just stay on the ground. The battle is lost.
Not if you’re Captain America. He gets back up, and so will I.
Satan wants nothing more than to keep us down, to push us away from a faith that pleases God. If we let him, he wins. And I don’t want that.
Even when I’m at my lowest, wanting nothing more than to say I’m done, I’d much rather annoy the devil by getting back up again. If that’s the only thing it accomplishes, it’ll be enough.
Keep getting up, friends. We’re striving toward the greatest goal imaginable and trading it for a little bit of relief is not going to be worth it.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Remember what Jesus did? Remember why? Why should anything draw me away from serving Him, from loving Him, from being with Him? And yet, it’s hard. The temptation is still there.
That’s why I’m warning against it. Too many people have been lost because they believed their faith was a lost cause. They let go of the shield.
It’s so easy to forget that the battle over your soul is not between you and God. It’s between Him and Satan. Only one of them is for you. All you have to do is remember the team you’re on and not give up.
I’m writing this as a reminder for myself.
I don’t need Captain America’s faith. I need faith that endures to the end, just like Captain America.
More Verses for you!
[James 1:2-4] Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
[Hebrews 10:36] For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.
[Romans 5:3-5] More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
[Revelation 3:11] I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
Before there was an app and before there were even eight episodes, I stumbled on this show. Rather, I stumbled on a clip and went on an intense search for the source. I didn’t know what to expect when I paid to watch the first four episodes. Since that moment, I can say that I’ve never been disappointed in what I found.
‘The Chosen’ is the first multi-season, crowd-funded series about the life and ministry of Jesus. I didn’t realize my heart could be more captured by the story I’ve known my entire life until director, co-writer, and producer Dallas Jenkins reimagined the approach.
As much as I want to rave about the amazing cast, the authentic details, and the consistent tear-jerking moments, let me move on to describe several truths this show reminds me every single episode.
1. These people are real.
One of the most common praises is how the series successfully transforms the list of disciples’ names in the Bible into real people. People who had careers, hang ups, disabilities, families, and more. These quirks and personalities are so beautifully crafted that I’ve found myself connecting with even the most obscure of the disciples.
I’m used to seeing and brushing off the cookie cutter followers, but ‘The Chosen’ reminds me that they were people who literally walked, talked, camped, and served alongside Jesus. And down the road, these same people will suffer terrible deaths because of it.
Additionally, Jonathan Roumie’s exceptional portrayal of Jesus deeply reminds me of His humanity. He’s not someone who stares into the distance, preaches with a British accent, and only has one or two emotions. As a human, He wasn’t exempt from sweat, humor, annoyance, and exhaustion. (Chosen fans, that last one, am I right?)
2. Intimacy with Jesus is possible.
Seeing Jesus interact with his followers, family, and strangers reminds me just how relational He is. Sometimes it’s difficult to engage with Him in today’s world, because He’s not here in physical form where I can see His eyes, His smile, and get a hug from Him (things I desperately want). However, I’m reminded that even now, He listens to me, He teaches me, and He’s always there to comfort and guide me with wisdom and love. Just like with the disciples, I simply have to follow Him.
3. Following Jesus costs everything.
In a line from Season 2 Episode 1, Jesus states “I ask a lot of those who follow Me, but I ask little of those who do not.” Salvation may be a gift, but what comes after is less than easy. The disciples left homes, beds, money, jobs, friends, and family to walk in uncertainty, because they were certain about The One they were with.
I’m reminded of what they sacrificed and the conditions they endured, and I ask myself, “Am I willing to do the same?” The thought is both inspiring and sobering.
These are just a few of my takeaways. I also love how ‘The Chosen’ accents Jesus’s Jewishness which is often lost. And speaking of accents, I thoroughly enjoy each actor’s Middle Eastern dialect!
To be clear, I don’t watch ‘The Chosen’ as a substitute for my personal study of Scripture, nor do I depend on it to keep my faith in Jesus alive and well. This show is an excellent form of quality entertainment, and because of that, as well as these reminders, I will keep watching. I hope now, you will too.
To watch and donate to help others watch, go to www.thechosen.tv. Or search for ‘The Chosen’ and download the free app in your Appstore.
Meanwhile, I’ll be re-watching episodes as I wait for more of Season 2!
Have you ever felt like you were in a waiting season? I don’t know about you, but I don’t think anyone handles those well. For me, it’s definitely a struggle. I try to lean on God, but not before getting really frustrated with Him. Don’t worry, we work through it.
Even though it’s uncomfortable, the Bible is pretty clear that waiting is a good thing–a God thing. It’s difficult and that means God is using it to mold us (James 1:2-4 NASB).
Patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and it must be, because no other fruit makes me question my sanity more. When it comes right down to it though, I’d rather wait on God than do my own thing. I don’t have to tell you which one of us actually knows what He’s doing.
Meanwhile, I’ve dusted off the rhymes and awakened the angst to bring you this poem. Just like with any trial, you have to dig for the encouragement.
For the moon to appear,
For the first newborn cry,
For the snow to melt away,
For the candlelight to die
An unbearable test,
A neverending delay,
A wave with no crest,
A night with no day
The horizon is nearer than you,
The stars much simpler to grasp,
Is it all just a game to be played,
Is patience more like a trap?
If it all were to end,
And we say our goodbyes
Could I let you go,
Or would it just be a lie?
When it truly is finished,
And that moment arrives,
Joy may be thriving,
But hope won’t survive
Today, I choose expectation,
Tomorrow, the silent war,
Until the victor has won,
Wait for the Lord;
Be strong and let your heart take courage;
Yes, wait for the Lord.
Something I love about my best friend is that she will listen to me ramble on and on because it’s what I do and it’s how she takes an interest in my life. I’ve also told the same friend that having a relationship with Jesus is similar to our friendship. It’s two people making an effort to be connected with each other.
But I take it back.
I believe it does take effort to have a relationship with Jesus, but I no longer believe that it’s the same kind of effort it takes to maintain one with anyone else in your life. I always thought using examples of everyday relationships with friends and family would help people understand what it means to have a real bond with Jesus.
But it’s different. Why, you ask?
Let’s discuss the most obvious. He’s not really here—I mean physically. When my best friend is out of the town, we video-chat, but it’s not the same as having her with me in person. The dynamic changes.
Jesus and I don’t get to have coffee dates where we hug and catch up on everything that has been going on in our lives. I don’t get to see the glimmer in His eyes as He watches me talk. I don’t get to hear His voice or His laughter. It’s not the same, and I struggle with that fact.
I don’t mind prayer, but picturing Jesus listening to my nonsense seems less productive and more difficult than Him actually sitting across from me explaining His plans.
Which brings me to my next point. With Jesus being a sovereign being, He has a plan and doesn’t necessarily need to come to us for help. He doesn’t get into a bind and come running to us for advice like a good friend would. He doesn’t need our support or encouragement; therefore, we can’t treat Jesus like we would our best friend.
The two sides are too uneven. We go to Jesus for help, comfort, and direction, and it’s sometimes it’s hard to know what He’s telling us. Our prayer time then becomes all about us and that too seems lopsided.
I broke down in the car one day and I realized I was so upset because I couldn’t get a hug from Jesus and I couldn’t hear Him tell me that everything was going to be alright. And I thought, what kind of relationship was that?
Because He’s all knowing, He knows us too well. He knows our innermost desires and secrets, and sees the things we’re too embarrassed to show. And yet, we only know what has been written about Him, like an ancestry book. Reading about someone is not the same as picking their brain directly.
Don’t get me wrong, Jesus is alive and He does minister to us. It’s just not as black and white as I once believed.
I broke down in the car one day and I realized I was so upset because I couldn’t get a hug from Jesus and I couldn’t hear Him tell me that everything was going to be alright. And I thought, what kind of relationship was that?
It’s a relationship that requires faith.
He’s not physically here, but we can always reach Him. No amount of time can make Him forget about us. Jesus always knows what’s going on, and while He’s not standing right in front of us, we know He’s working on our behalf all the time.
He has a sovereign plan, and though He doesn’t need our help, He still gives us a purpose. He has gifted us with personality, talents, and passions that work in His plan. What a privilege to be apart of it anyway!
He knows us too well, and yet He still listens. We don’t need to put up a front or catch Him up on what’s He’s missed. He allows us to share knowing that He is already working on those prayers in some way.
With Jesus, it’s different.
For now, I will sit alone in my bedroom and pray, knowing He’s there. I will walk into work knowing He’s with me. And I will cry knowing that He understands.
Until I can finally see His face, I will be content in the knowing.
I love getting to connect with new authors and Gina is one you won’t want to miss! As someone who also loves devotional writing, I’m so excited to share Gina’s newest release with you!
Here is my interview with Gina Stinson about her upcoming devotional Reclaimed: The Stories of Rescued Moments and Days that releases THIS WEEK!
What can readers expect from Reclaimed: The Stories of Rescued Moments and Days?
Reclaimed is a sixty-day devotional, inviting readers on a daily devotional journey where Jesus is the rescue hero of every story. Each easy to read, humorous and hope-filled devotion encourages readers to gain the victory over their own set of life circumstances. Hope in Jesus Christ resounds through each story, bridging the hearts of the discouraged and down-trodden to the heart of the good Father.
60 truth packed storytelling devotionals
100+ stop and reclaim Scripture passages
A reclaim today journaling spot
One-minute tips for reclaiming your days
Links to free online resources from the author
What inspired you to write it?
After years of living in fear and defeat, I finally got tired of the enemy getting the victory! Reclaiming God’s Word as the foundation of my life—as the loudest voice I hear— has given me the confidence to walk in the truth of who God is and who I am.
As I began looking back on my life through the lens of God’s Word, I began seeing a theme over and over—God could take what the enemy meant for evil and he could turn it for my good and God’s glory. Giving those circumstances over to him released me to be able to reclaim and thrive every day.
Why did you choose 60 days?
After mom-blogging for many years, I had more material than you could imagine to work from! I began perusing the stories of my life and was astounded at the faithfulness of God. As I began piecing together some of my favorite and lifechanging moments, I saw that God was scraping together a beautiful story that would point others straight to him.
I began thinking of devotionals that I had successfully read myself and most of them were 30-60 days—a manageable length for those who want to start a devotional regime or want an encouraging pick-me-up with solid truths to lean on throughout the day. This devotional is designed for a Monday-Friday read. If readers read Monday- Friday they book will be completed in three months.
What about the writing process did you enjoy the most?
The actually writing portion of the book is my favorite part. Re-living the events of my life has been humorous and healing. As with most people, I’ve had my share of sad moments and happy moments. As I wrote about each of those moments, I was reminded over and over and over again of the goodness and faithfulness of God and others in my life. It was encouraging and inspirational.
It was also fun sharing some of my childhood with my own children. When I came across a story I thought they would enjoy, I shared it with them. We had so many fun moments reminiscing about my upbringing!
How did the process of writing this devotional affect you personally/spiritually?
The writing process was extremely humbling. There were things I needed to take care of as I wrote the book—confessing past sins, forgiving myself, forgiving others. It was a revealing process and I am changed because of the journey.
There was a moment that I remember breaking down and in tearful gratitude thanking God for allowing me to have this opportunity to share his story. While the humor and the hurt are all mine, the real message of the book is the hope and healing that God’s provides. I think I re-learned that lesson a hundred times in the writing process.
Born and raised in the deep south, where accents melt your heart like butter on a biscuit, Gina’s gift of storytelling drips off the written page. Her hospitality welcomes readers into real, truthful, honest conversations about God.
Gina was raised in Georgia and homeschooled by her parents— before homeschooling was cool. In college, she earned a degree in Education and Bible. She’s put that degree to good use homeschooling her own children and teaching elementary school throughout the years.
In between raising kids and teaching, Gina has enjoyed serving with her husband, Bruce, in full-time church ministry for 27 years in Texas. She’s been involved in women’s ministry, music and children’s ministry. She’s served her fair share of hotdogs and pizza at youth lock-ins.
These days you can find her writing on her own website blog, in Journey Magazine, Pathways to God Devotional and other online and print publications. She is also a contributing author to Yvonne Lehman’s Anthologies, Remembering Christmas, Pandemic Moments and Divine Moments.
A few of her favorite ways to pass the time are crocheting, playing piano, crafting and spending time with her family at home. She also enjoys browsing small-town markets and fairs.
Reclaimed: The Stories of Rescued Moments and Days will be available through Amazon on October 15.
You can connect with Gina on all her social media outlets:
A husband and wife had a child, and because they were good, they raised their child to be good as well. The child grew up loving his parents, and because he loved them, he wanted to obey them and do right
When the child asked to play with his friends, his parents agreed, but gave him a warning.
“Don’t play under the bridge where the brothers Fear and Terror play. They are nothing but trouble.”
The child obeyed, avoiding the bridge even though some of his friends liked to play there. But one day, his friends took him to the bridge to meet Fear and Terror. The bridge’s dark underbelly reminded the child not to go there but turning away would mean being ridiculed by his friends. Instead, he followed them.
To his surprise, Fear and Terror were friendly. Out of the shadows, they loomed intimidating at first, but they gave him high fives and put their arms around his shoulders saying things like “Welcome, Friend!” and “We’ve been wanting to meet you!”
The child relaxed a bit. As long as he was careful, maybe he could hang out with his new friends. When he felt like leaving however, Terror grabbed hold of him.
“Don’t go yet!” he’d say. And when his parent’s warning began to ring in his ears, Fear would start another game and beg him to play.
The brothers began to dare the child’s friends to do dangerous things, and one by one, the friends complied even if it left them miserable and in tears. When Fear and Terror met his eyes, the child froze.
“Your turn!” said Fear. “See that waterfall? Let’s see you jump off it!” He pointed to a place where the water under the bridge spilled onto rocks and a shallow pool below.
“No, I don’t want to do that,” the child said.
“We thought you wanted to be our friend. You’re not a friend, you’re a coward,” Fear guilted.
Before the child could answer, the brothers picked him up and carried him to the waterfall. His heart pounded when they set him down, feet in the water, right on the edge.
“If you don’t jump, we’ll push you!”
The child didn’t know what to do. He looked around for a way out, but even his friends couldn’t save him. Determined not to jump, the child turned back and faced Fear and Terror. Before they could push him over, he lunged at them, kicking, screaming, flailing, and splashing them. They only laughed at him, shoving him into the water. Then they picked up stones and threw them at the child. He cried out in pain.
A commotion of footsteps stomped through the water. The child heard the angry shouts of his mother and father. For the moment, he thought they were yelling at him, but then he felt his mother scoop him into her arms and saw that his father took Fear and Terror by the collar and hauled them away.
Though his mother was silent, she dried his tears and tended his cuts and bruises. When his father returned, the child bowed his head in sorrow. The father’s face was stern at first, but then bent down and kissed his child’s head.
From then on, the child stayed away from the bridge where Fear and Terror played.
As a white person, I don’t have to talk about race. I mean, I have the privilege of choosing whether to acknowledge and think and talk about it—or to think of it as other people’s problem. As a white person, it’s way easier not to think about race at all. But as a person of faith, I see this as part of living into the life of love God has called us to.
When people ask me to tell them about my novel The Means That Make Us Strangers, I usually say something like, “It’s young adult historical fiction about a white, American girl who grows up in Ethiopia and then moves to South Carolina the first year there are African-American students at the white high school. It’s a story of belonging and identity, and race as part of that.”
I then wait to see how people will react. Usually people’s eyebrows go up a little when I identify the character as white, as if they’re surprised I should mention it—as if it would go without saying. Sometimes people stiffen at the word race, like I’ve said something impolite or mildly offensive. Most often I get this reaction when I’m speaking to another white person, and, unfortunately, it happens so often that I’ve come to expect some variation of it.
Maybe everything that’s been happening in the U.S. over the last few weeks has made it more acceptable for white people to talk about racial justice—I hope so. There are a lot of conversations we need to have, a lot of stories we need to hear.
White Christians especially have, for too long, turned a blind eye to our brothers and sisters who have been unjustly accused, killed, locked up, misunderstood, and shouted down. Worse, we as the white church have participated in harming our brothers and sisters—and have refused to acknowledge that—for years, decades, centuries. We have splintered the church by giving preference to people who look like us rather than people who follow the same God we do.
As a white person of faith, I’m troubled by my complicity in the harm my brothers and sisters have suffered, and so I process and respond as I know how: by writing about it.
Racial discrimination is part of my story, too. I grew up as a racial minority, surrounded by racism. The difference was, I was the privileged minority. I was born and raised in Latin America, where my light-colored hair, pale skin, and blue eyes won me favored treatment. I fit the ideal: I looked the way people pictured an “American,” even before they knew what kind of passport I held. The split-second associations people had when they saw me made them assume things would go well for them if they were nice to me. I got picked for lead roles in elementary school productions not because I could sing (I can’t), but because I looked “angelic.”
Now, as an adult, I live in the suburbs outside Chicago. One time I was driving home around midnight in the car I’d recently purchased. When I saw the police lights in my rear view mirror, I knew I was in trouble—my car didn’t yet have plates, and the temporary license plate taped in my back window was expired. I’d broken the rules and deserved the consequences. The cop shined his flashlight in my face and flashed it around the car a bit, then politely asked for my license and registration. A few minutes later, the cop came back and returned my papers, saying he’d let me off with a warning because I “didn’t look suspicious.”
I was furious. What did the cop know about me that would qualify me as “not suspicious”? He didn’t know I taught Sunday school and got a Christian character award in high school. He based that decision mostly on what I looked like. And I knew the chances were pretty high that if one of my black or brown friends had been driving that same road at that time of night—even without the blatant violation of no license plate—the assumption of innocence wouldn’t have worked in their favor.
We live in a world where people make assumptions based on appearance. And, unfortunately, in U.S. society, there’s also a deep-seated tradition of valuing white lives more than our darker skinned brothers and sisters, a tradition that goes back to black slaves being considered property, when it was written into our Constitution to count slaves as 3/5ths of a person.
This tradition was reinforced in daily life under Jim Crow laws, and it was enforced through lynchings and other acts designed to control black people through fear. It continues today in a judicial system that is six times more likely to arrest an African-American man than a white man, and—after arrest—is more likely to send the African-American man to prison and give him a stiffer sentence than a white man would get for the same crime.
As a Christian, I believe that these things should trouble me. The Bible is pretty clear: God cares about how we treat other people, and he cares about injustice. A lot.
Throughout the Old Testament, God repeatedly told the Israelites to not oppress those who were vulnerable in their society. Usually that meant orphans and widows, but the law also includes protections for minorities. For example, Leviticus 19:34 says, “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.” The Old Testament prophets railed against the way God’s people turned their back on him and mistreated and oppressed others.
When Jesus came with his revolutionary love that gave dignity to social outcasts, women, and the poor, his command to “Love one another” (John 13:34), wasn’t limited to the members of God’s family who look and sound like us.
When the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost (Acts 2), the church exploded to include Jews who spoke different languages and had radically different backgrounds and life experiences. Some of the first challenges of the early church involved dealing with racial and cultural divisions. It is to such a church that the New Testament says, “We love each other because [God] loved us first. […] Those who love God must also love their fellow believers” (1 John 4:19, 21).
I write about race because, as a person of faith, I see that my brothers and sisters are being treated unfairly. When your family is hurting, you do something. And for me, that means writing fiction that looks at some of the problems around race, not because it’s easy or a trendy topic, but because I think facing this painful topic and talking about it—even if we accidentally say the wrong thing and need to ask forgiveness and try again—is helpful and healing to the family of God.
What else can someone do to help against racism?
Most importantly, listen. Pay attention to black people who are willing to share their experience, whether that’s a friend or neighbor, a TV show, a movie, or books. If you say anything, ask a question. (Just make sure the question isn’t trying to prove or defend anything.)
Educate yourself about history. Equal Justice Initiative has some great online resources to help. They also have a museum and a memorial to help the U.S. face its history of racial violence. Learn facts that can help correct your own thinking and that you can point others to.
Work on yourself. Acknowledging “whiteness” as a subculture that influences how we view the world can be an important step to helping us come to terms with our own complicity in a system that privileges us. Lament and repentance are also important. When your own assumptions about other people come to the surface, notice that and take time to repent. Practice speaking truth in love when people around you are saying things that are untrue and unloving.
Christine Kindberg is the author of The Means That Make Us Strangers, a YA novel set in 1960s South Carolina. Christine lives in the Chicago suburbs and works as a Spanish-language editor at Tyndale House Publishers. When not reading or writing, she enjoys running, cooking with friends, and watching shows that feature British accents. You can find out more on ChristineKindberg.com, and you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
We all have a desire for better things. A hunger for more. We make plans and we dream dreams. They can range anywhere from vacations, to starting businesses, to owning a home, to getting married and having children. Those are all great, and they matter. But what about the dreams of God?
God has a specific purpose and plan for each of us. He has uniquely gifted us to do His will. We are not here just for our own goals, and we are not here to merely exist. You and I were made for bigger things.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10, NIV
God-sized dreams require one key element, God. There are many things I can accomplish in my own abilities, and never bring God into the equation. The God stuff is bigger than us. Impossible without Him. That’s one way you know it’s from God.
Has God given you a dream? If so, has it happened yet? Or, has your God given dream died? Maybe you have no clue of what dream God has for you. It’s time to ask Him. It’s time to cry out to Him, and seek His will for your life.
There are times when He drops His dream for us right in our lap without us ever asking. This was my experience. I never wanted to be a writer, ever. God planted that seed in me over twenty-four years ago when I wasn’t asking. My husband had a dream to write a children’s book. I assumed my role was to be a good, supportive wife. God had other plans. After many years of avoiding what God wanted me to do, I finally published my first children’s book in 2018.
You are the only person in this whole wide world that can do what God created you to do. He has given you talents and abilities, and ultimately, faith. You know the saying, God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.
Are you afraid? Have you made too many excuses?
I’m too old.
I’m too young.
It’s too late.
I’m not a “good enough” Christian.
God needs your willingness and your weakness.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. James 1:22, NIV
There are many things that can hinder our God given dreams. Life is hard, and sometimes we are in survival mode. Intense trials come, and the last thing on our minds is to dream the things of God. Crisis can be the fire for our faith that will bring us to our knees, and really force us to seek God like never before.
Comfort can also prevent us from pursuing those God dreams. Stepping out is scary. It’s easier to play it safe. I stayed comfortable for many years. The thought of writing a children’s book was overwhelming. But God was unrelenting in His pursuit of me. I finally surrendered and stepped out. Yes, it was scary. But He provided every single thing I needed to accomplish His will. He’ll do it for you too!
Make a decision today, to do one thing toward your God given dream. Seek Him first, above all, and He will show you the way. Be patient as you wait on the Lord to reveal His plan for you. He’s always after our heart first and foremost.
Love you all,
Meghan never dreamed of being a writer, but God had other plans. After many years of avoiding what God called her to, she wrote a Children’s book and now she can’t stop writing. She loves to encourage others through the written word. Follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or email her at email@example.com. Be sure to visit her blog for more encouragement!
Check out her Middle Grade Christian Fiction book here!
Why should you care about Israel? That’s the question I aim to answer today. First, a little backstory so you know where I’m coming from.
My name is Liat, I was born in Kfar Saba, Israel into a Messianic Jewish family.
Do you think your childhood was kind of crazy? Maybe think again lol
I was born in Kfar Saba, Israel and lived all across Israel. There was the scorching dry desert of the Negev where we spent our days scrambling on top of donkeys & camels, meeting local Bedouins and sitting in front of whirring fans – attempting to escape the blistering heat.
We can’t of course forget about Northern Israel with its trees drooping with ripe fruit and catching fish with an old water bottle in the Sea of Galilee (a local trick).
Most memorable however would of course be Jerusalem.
Jerusalem. A perfect mixture of ancient and modern. Of celebrations and of struggle.My memories of growing up on the outskirts of Jerusalem range from mountain top moments to crushing disappointments.
A simple day of running errands near the Old City would mean hearing beautiful violin music waft through the air from street performers & listening to a harp player sitting near Jaffa gate.
Arab merchants, on the other hand, were attempting to coax customers into their store with promises of coffee and tea. “My friend! Join us!” They said with heavy accents and hopeful smiles.
I of course, stop along the way to chat with strangers (there is really no such thing in Israel, we are more like one big family) and taking in all the incredible sights, sounds and scents from the market nearby.
I love walking down the streets of Jerusalem cherishing the sense of life, beauty & belonging.
I don’t want to deceive you however, life in Israel is by no means rainbows and butterflies. It is often a daily struggle of intense stress, chaos and fight for survival.
With the cost of living so extremely high and salaries so low it’s typical for families to be in debt struggling to make ends meet and cover basic expenses such as rent & groceries. At times, that’s the least of our worries.
It was just a regular day after school. My brother grudgingly agreed to come pick me up instead of me having to take the hour 1/2 bus ride home. It would eat up some of his time but save me from getting bus sick as I often did on the windy, narrow roads.
I climbed into the car and peered out my window mindlessly, my thoughts consumed with whatever middle school girls think about. Then suddenly I heard it. “BOOM.” I jumped. It resounded throughout the city.
“What was that?” I asked breathlessly. Confusion etched into my brother’s face. “Did something fall on our roof?” He asked dubiously. I glanced up at the unharmed interior of the car and shook my head.
We cautiously rolled forward and continued on our way. Ambulances & police began flying by us racing towards my bus station. My brother fumbled with the radio. “A bomb was planted on bus by Palestinian terrorist…. critical condition… first responders on scene…”
It stammered in and out.
Later it was confirmed. Another terrorist attack at the central station in Jerusalem, right where I would have been standing. Several killed, dozens badly injured.
This tragedy happened several years ago but there have been hundreds more like it since.
Just a few days ago a young Israeli soldier was killed by Arab youth throwing rocks at him. He was his parents only son. My heart breaks a little every time more news rolls in of another death, another attack, more pain, more struggle.
It can be hard to grasp the complexity of Israel, more importantly God’s heart for Israel and the Jewish people when being so far removed. It can seem like Israel is so far away and it can be difficult to discern what is even the truth behind current events since mainstream media portrays a very skewed reality.
Every single believer should care about Israel and the Jewish people. Not only care about it but be willing to lay down their lives if necessary. That’s a pretty bold statement but it’s exactly what we’re called to do by following Yeshua’s example.
Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24)
As believers we need to recognise that the Jewish people are God’s chosen people. When Yeshua came to earth scripture says He came for the lost sheep of the house of Israel!
“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His prized possession, above all peoples on the face of the earth.”
Why are we chosen? Are we chosen because we’re better than everyone else? Stronger, smarter, holier? I don’t think so.
“The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples.” (Deuteronomy 7:7)
Israel is by no means perfect. We see throughout the bible their rebellion, sin and failure. Just like us, they need God’s mercy, forgiveness and redemption.
In the Old Testament (Torah) we see horrific acts of child sacrifice, sexual immorality, violence, corruption… the list goes on.
I’m grieved to say that In modern day Israel, there are still ungodly practices that go on: abortions, prostitution, homosexuality, etc.
Believe me when I say that Israel was not chosen because of their lack of sin, exactly how it’s not our actions that justify us before God but our faith in Yeshua.
photo above: gay pride parade Tel Aviv
“I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew.” (Romans 11:1-2)
The truth is that God will never forsake His people Israel, despite our sin and flaws He will always choose Israel to be His special treasure above all the earth.
There is a theology circulating around some churches that states “Israel messed up too many times with their sin, rejected the Messiah (Jesus/Yeshua) therefore God abandoned them and has replaced Israel with us (Christians.)
This could. not. be. further. from. the. truth!
We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are all in desperate need of His forgiveness and mercy.
God has not, and never will replace Israel. What we has done however is open up the way so that whoever wants to follow Him has the opportunity to do so, regardless of their ethnic background.
So what about the nations? Where does that leave those who are not Jewish?
The original question was not “how can I be Jewish and believe in Jesus?”
The original question was “How can a non-Jewish person believe & follow a Jewish Messiah?!”
This was such a foreign thought in biblical times yet God clearly provides us with an answer.
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Yeshua the Messiah.” (Galatians 3:28)
We are one in the Messiah.
Through Yeshua we are one united people. There is no separate standard or favouritism. The goal if you’re a Gentile is not to ‘become as Jewish as possible.’ Like-wise the goal for a Jewish believer is not to ‘abandon all Jewishness, traditions & culture to prove your salvation.’
I’ve seen both occur and it’s simply not the narrow way that leads to life that God instructed us to follow!
2. If you love me keep my commandments.
The entire focus of our faith is love. When a man in the New Testament asked Yeshua what was the most important commandment in the Torah He said “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment…” Matthew 22:37
How do we show our love towards God? Yes of course by spending time with Him, but equally as important is obeying Him. Living our life in a way that is pleasing to Him. We can’t claim to love God and then blatantly disobey His commandments.
Photo above: Jewish girl praying at Kotel (Western Wall, Jerusalem)
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15
What commandments are you talking about? You might be asking?
I want to make it clear I’m not promoting legalism or rabbinic man-made laws. In fact Yeshua was vehemently opposed to that kind of religion!
However at the same time Yeshua kept and encouraged us as His followers to keep the Torah.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them.” (Matthew 5:17)
A few examples would be ‘the Sabbath: one of the Ten Commandments, Kosher Dietary Laws & the biblical appointed times (holidays such as: Passover, Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles, Shavuot/Pentecost, Purim etc)
If you’re completely new to all of this it can be a bit overwhelming. The good news is that God isn’t in a rush! Take your time to prayerfully seek Him in embracing His will for your life. Gaining an understanding of the role we can play as believers in regards to Israel and the Jewish people gives us so much more purpose, clarity and passion behind our faith.
Keeping the Torah & God’s biblical holidays are not burdensome rituals. They hold so much meaning & richness that enhance our faith.
So why should you care about Israel?
Because God cares about Israel.
“If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.” (Psalm 137:5)
“For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His home: saying, “This is my resting place for ever and ever…” (Psalms 132:13-14)
As a believer you have an active role to play in sharing God’s heart for Israel & the Jewish people.
God promises that those who bless Israel will be blessed and those who curse Israel will be cursed.(Genesis 12:3)
Thank you for your prayers & support towards Israel and for helping us bring the Word of the Lord out of Zion to the nations!
It’s true. From the outside of the famed story of Noah’s Ark, it’s easy to assume I’d be faithful enough to believe Noah and join his family in safety. But one day, I paused and reflected upon my skeptical nature.
I’m a stubborn person. I wouldn’t classify myself as a “Thinker” or one who needs to have every fact and statistic to understand something, but I’m bull-headed in the sense that it’s difficult to change my mind.
If I were living in Noah’s day, as the person I know myself to be, here’s how I think it would go.
I would believe that The Designer existed. Looking around the world, I would imagine that only someone great could create such beauty and life. I would also revere my ancestors, Adam and Eve, whom I was told gave birth to everyone around me. I would believe that the earth is vast and unexplainable.
And as for my purpose, I would believe that I was made to simply enjoy where I was placed. Everyone I knew set out to enjoy themselves, why shouldn’t I? I’d work for my food and relax with my friends. Who cared about what I did so long as I enjoyed myself?
Until one day, I’d hear from my friends about Noah. Noah was one of the oldest patriarchs of the land. He kept to himself and his family. He claimed to walk with The Designer. No one believed him because no one else had walked with The Designer.
When Noah wasn’t shouting doom and gloom at the people, he was building what he called an Ark. Out of curiosity, I would probably check it out. An impressive feat of engineering, I would think.
Perhaps when Noah was taking a break, wiping the sweat off his brow or getting a drink, I would strike up a conversation with him.
“Why are you spending these years building this? What do you intend to do once it’s finished?” I would ask.
“It’s for those Elohim intends to save,” he’d reply. Elohim, The Designer.
“Save from what?”
“From the water that will fall from the sky and kill every living thing.”
“Water doesn’t fall from the sky,” I’d argue. “How do you know it will come from the sky?”
“Elohim says so.”
No matter what I’d ask, Noah’s answer would be the same. Because Elohim said so. How could I deny it if The Designer says so? But I would deny it. I’d never seen water from the sky. I’d never heard The Designer’s voice. If everything were to be destroyed by this water, shouldn’t The Designer tell more people?
So, I’d watch as the Ark continued to form. Years would go by. Still no sky water. And though all his talk about the death of all living things would sound depressing, I would be fascinated by his words and how he acted different from everyone I knew. So, I would go back and talk to him.
Before I would leave for the day, Noah would ask me, “Will you join me on my Ark? If you believe, you can be saved too.”
But I would laugh and humor him saying, “We’ll see, Noah.”
Even when I would notice the throng of animals heading toward his Ark, I would manage to reason with it. Noah was storing up food, of course it would attract animals. And I would laugh with my friends as they joked about taking care of those loud, stinky creatures.
Armed with questions and rebuttals, I’d visit Noah and his family. His wife would tell me about the new animals coming in and his son’s wives would talk to me while the men were working.
Noah would come and say to me, “The Ark is almost finished. Will you join me and my family?”
Stirred by his kindness, I would hesitate. But then I would sigh and shake my head.
“It just sounds too far out for The Designer to destroy what He created. And with water from the sky no less! It’s not logical, and you have no guarantee that it’s going to happen. I don’t want to say you’ve wasted your time, but I would just need to see it for myself.”
Noah would lower his head in disappointment, which would make me feel guilty, and he would walk away.
I’ll apologize tomorrow, I would think. But in returning the next day, I would find no one on Noah’s property. And the massive door of the Ark would be closed. I would hear the animals making their usual noises inside. I’d call to Noah from the ground, but no one would answer from the massive structure.
For seven days I’d return to see if Noah and his family had given up and come out of the Ark, but they hadn’t. This was the craziest they ever looked, and my friends made even more fun of them. But I wanted to reason with them. I wanted to talk with Noah. I wanted to make him understand how foolish they looked. They were even making The Designer look foolish.
And the day everything would change was the day I would approach the closed Ark and step in a puddle. My heart rate increasing, I would look around to see water trickling up from the ground. My feet would squish in the mud around me. As I would get away from the water, I would feel that first drop. Like a cool pin prick on my shoulder. I’d touch the damp spot on my shirt and look up.
As more drops hit my face, I’d run up to the Ark and scream, “I’ve seen now!” hoping someone would hear me and take pity on me. But Noah had already given me the chance. Chance after chance. Just like I thought he’d wasted his days, I would realize in an instant that I’d wasted mine.
And as the water would creep up my ankles, I’d cry, knowing my comfort and enjoyment was about to come to an end.
It’s good to question the things we believe in, but there comes a time when our stubbornness and our desire to understand everything needs to take a back seat.
In the end, the Bible says it will be like the days of Noah. People have and will continue to stake eternity on needing proof it exists. But it only takes one moment of faith to change everything.
I truly believe that if I were around in Noah’s day, I would have drowned, because of how I think, because I’m slow to accept things unless you give me a good case. I’m hoping that realizing this will help me in my own walk towards truth—towards The Designer.
"...because just as Jonah was in the stomach of the sea creature for three days and three nights,[b] so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights." -Matthew 12:40
Today, I started thinking of that first day. And the second day. And the third day. The disciples (excluding John and Mary M.) had fled; they weren’t there for the crucifixion. Maybe they watched the trial from afar. Maybe they heard the chants “Crucify Him!” in the distance.
No matter where they were, I’m sure they felt the ground shake when the earth split. Did they think it was a coincidence?
But when it was all said and done “finished,” I wonder what it was like? When the disciples found their way back to each other for the first time, did they collapse into each other’s arms and cry over the massive hole in their hearts?
Were they huddled together in silent dismay? Did they break out into arguments over what the Pharisees did and why Jesus let it happen? No doubt, they must have been searching through the fog of grief trying to grasp all that He’d said to them beforehand.
Yes, He had told them what would happen, but the Bible says they couldn’t comprehend it. Perhaps, they never heard it until He allowed them to remember at the proper time?
Did they question all that they’d experienced with Him? The man who called Lazarus out of the tomb was now in a tomb Himself. Was He not as powerful as they thought? Had everything they’d seen been a hoax?
I can imagine them tossing in their sleep, grasping at their final moments with Him. Maybe they couldn’t shake the thoughts about the pain He endured and guilt knowing they could have been with Him but weren’t. After all He’d done for them.
Maybe they woke up the second and third day and looked for Him, but then remembered the terrible ache of knowing He wasn’t there.
In those three days, who took the lead? Who fell silent? Who was the comforter? Who grew depressed and angry? Who was starting to make a plan?
And did one of them, even in the back of his mind, consider the possibility of what was to come that joyful morning?
Opening credits of The Chosen, the first multi-season show about the life of Jesus, created and directed by Dallas Jenkins
For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed a few posts and videos having to do with a show called The Chosen. Now some of you may be wondering what The Chosen is and why I am so excited and passionate about it. If you have a few minutes and don’t mind a little reading, I’ll tell you.
Hi Father, I know we’ve talked about this extensively, but I just wanted to bring it up again because, well, it never leaves my mind.
Yes, my love. I know.
I know you know how I feel. I know you feel my ache. Sometimes, it’s just dull, but sometimes it feels like it does right now, like an ocean swell that never crests and laps onto shore.
What else, my daughter?
I long to just let myself burst and deflate. Is that too much to ask?
It will not satisfy.
I know You’re the only One who satisfies. My flame glows for You alone, and I love it.
But I’m still a puzzle that’s incomplete.
You don’t trust that I have all the pieces in due time?
Of course, I do, but the puzzle is collecting dust. The picture’s a blur. It’s not like I can pretend it’s all together.
What will you have Me do?
I’ve been looking around.
How about this one, who says I’m a jewel destined to be treasured?
He has found his jewel already.
This one says he isn’t looking for something serious, perhaps just for a time?
Time that will be spent in pain more than happiness.
I saw this one and he looks wonderful and we have so much in common and I think it could be so great.
You see what’s possible, I see what is. And it would not be good enough for you.
Okay then, I’ll just have to wait.
But I’ve waited so long! I’ve done everything you’ve asked. You’ve watched me wade through the options. You’ve seen me get so attached to nothing. You’ve been with me through the most pain and sat with me at my loneliest. How much more do I need to endure?
If I had let you go with any of the options that crossed your path, you would be drowning in mistakes and sorrow. It may feel like suffering now, but you’ve yet to see the suffering I’ve kept from your heart.
Then how will I know? I can’t trust myself to make these decisions.
You can trust Me.
I know. But I have so many fears and doubts. Maybe I’m better off going without. Maybe I need to learn to be content in this suffering.
I know what is better for you.
Yes, You do. What would I do without You?
I hope you never have to find out.
Me too. Thank you, Father.
You’re welcome, my love.
See you tomorrow?
Tomorrow and forever.
Ladies, have you ever had a conversation like this with God? More like, how many times did you have this conversation? For those of you who are battling that overwhelming swell of loneliness, I understand.
I don’t like to admit to it much, but I acknowledge that that is a human feeling. Loneliness isn’t a sin, but it certainly can lead to it. Have this conversation with The Father instead.
However, despite these feelings, I’ve never had as much joy and contentment in my life as I do now. I look back at my crushes and my almost relationships and I say, “thank you God for knowing better because WHAT WAS I THINKING?!”
I don’t want less than God’s best and that’s not just a saying on a T-shirt. The relationship I want and the relationship I need absolutely cannot be any less than what God wants for me because I don’t see the point.
I’ve had people tell me my standards are too high or I’m not looking enough. They have good intentions, but if you hear that too, don’t listen to them. Let God prepare you and let God prepare him for the right time.
Please do yourself a favor and focus on Jesus, who is always there, who doesn’t fail you, who knows what you need when you don’t know it yourself. Spend those unbearable times with your eyes fixed on His blessings, His provision, and His unique companionship.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
Colossians 1:9-12 (NIV)
Once there was a Fellow with his Friend. One day, the Fellow said to his Friend, “Hike up this mountain with me, for I’ve been told we will find the purpose of life. Wouldn’t that be the most beautiful sight to see?”
But his Friend shrugged with a frown on his face. “I am not good at climbing mountains. I’m scared of heights and many dangers lie in the wilderness,” he said.
But the Fellow pressed his Friend. “I will journey with you and protect you. Is finding the purpose of life not worth the risk?” And with the Fellow’s encouragement, his Friend finally relented.
So, the Fellow and his Friend journeyed up the mountain and the Fellow did just as he said. He helped his Friend up the steep rocks and kept a lookout for dangerous wild animals. As they kept on, his Friend grew more comfortable with his surroundings and he was glad he came.
After much traveling, the two came to an overpass. Across from the overpass, another mountainside towered over them. It was much grander than the one on which they stood. Hoping this wasn’t the end of their journey, they looked for a way to cross. It didn’t take them long to find but a single rope bridge hanging between each mountainside. With glee, the Fellow started for the bridge, but his Friend became hesitant once again.
“Haven’t I told you I’m afraid of heights? Surely more treacherous dangers lie over on that mountain.”
The Fellow replied, “Is finding the purpose of life not worth the risk?” But his Friend became obstinate and stood his ground on the side of the mountain where he had grown secure.
“I do not think a bridge like that would be safe enough to cross. It looks as if it has been here since the beginning of time!”
“Surely, it is trustworthy,” the Fellow pleaded. “Come, I will cross first, and you will see that the bridge is secure.” The Fellow grabbed hold of the rope rails and gingerly made his way across the swinging bridge. When he successfully stepped on solid ground, he turned back to his Friend.
“See? I speak the truth!” But his Friend shook his head.
“You may have made it to the other side unharmed, but how do I know that it will not break underneath my weight and cause me to plummet to my death? No, I cannot go any further. I am safe on this side of the mountain and I will stay here.”
The Fellow’s face fell. “As you wish,” he said. “but I will not stay with you. I will follow the path, so that I can find the purpose of life.” With that, the Fellow turned away and disappeared in the woods.
His Friend, however, set up camp on his side and waited for the Fellow to return. But the longer he waited, the more impatient he grew. What if something terrible had happened to the Fellow? He approached the bridge which swayed gently, but fear swelled up in him when he saw the long way down. In fright, he ran from the bridge.
Perhaps, the Fellow was just taking his time. His Friend began to wander around the mountain as he waited for the Fellow. Suddenly, the earth rumbled and began to shake beneath him. The ground split and rocks crumbled, falling down around him. He charged back toward the bridge, hoping he could still flee to the other side before the whole mountain collapsed. If he ran fast enough, he would not fear the bridge anymore.
But as he cleared the shaking trees and the roaring earth, he gasped, finding that the bridge was no longer there. It had detached from his side of the mountain and he found no other way of escape.
The mountain crumbled to dust, and the Friend’s last thoughts were of his Fellow, who had safely crossed over the bridge.
“Be the woman who fixes another Queen’s crown without telling the world it was crooked.” -unknown
In this ‘follow me, subscribe to me, look at me’ (guilty!) world, it’s easy to forget to focus on the people you’re reaching out to. But what if we take a moment to stop looking at ourselves and making sure our crown is standing tall, and instead, take a look at the crowns God has given to others.
The above quote is packed with truths about how we should treat people. Everyone has a crown of some sort. Sometimes, life happens, and emotional things cause the crown to fall or become crooked. By you acknowledging that the other has a crown, you are acknowledging that they are precious in the eyes of God, now in the eyes of you, and help them to walk in that. You take them aside and do what you can to make sure that crown is sitting straight and gleaming like the starts in the sky. How do we do this? Let me break it down for you for the moment you need to straighten someone else’s crown.
1. Examine yourself
Before any of the following can be done, you need to peek behind the curtain of your heart. Why do you want to reach out to this person? Is it to help? Is it to gossip? Is it so you can feel good about yourself? You also need to check on your own sins. You’re not better than the person you’re helping and sometimes you need to help yourself before you help someone else. Run yourself through a list before you send that first message.
When you let someone know you’ve been thinking about them (in a not creepy way), you’ve just added value. You’ve let them know that for a second, someone in the world took a moment to acknowledge you. Not only is that comforting, it also helps you stay connected. Who is going to listen to anything you say if you haven’t tried to contact this person since high school?
In order to feel valued, one must be given something of value. Something they can use in their life. People like free stuff. Now, I’m not talking about a bunch of gifts. I’m talking about priceless stuff. Being the shoulder to cry on, the sound board to bounce off of, the ears to simply listen. Those actions can sometimes be more encouraging than trying to fix a problem with advice.
“We need to build each other up in Christ and in order to do that, we need to stop focusing on the surface while ignoring the deep stuff.”
Branch out from your typical Christian responses (not that they’re bad) and look for more original ways to bring the love and hope of Jesus. If you read my last post, you’ll understand why. Jesus brings life. If you’re caring for a Christian, don’t be ashamed to ask them how their relationship with God is going. These things aren’t easy to talk about, but maybe they got some things to get off their chest. And as a Christian, you can be there to hear, understand, and not judge them. If they’re not a Christian, be gentle and maybe share about how God has gotten you through tough times. Our job is to shine God’s light not to blind them with it.
5. Respect boundaries and privacy
These moments of edification should happen in private and in appropriate settings. Exercise discernment and caution with who you reach out to and what you talk about. Don’t broadcast other’s problems or make sure everyone can see that you’re being nice in public. Be direct but loving. We need to build each other up in Christ and in order to do that, we need to stop focusing on the surface while ignoring the deep stuff.
” Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”
James 1:12 (NIV)
If you’re wanting to be the one helping with people’s crowns and you’re not sure how it should look or what it should feel like, just look at the fruit of the spirit in Galations 5. Does your interaction demonstrate the Godly attributes it needs to? You might not get the results you want, but it’s never wrong to offer someone something good. It’s never harmful to make someone feel treasured. It’s never wasted to share the love of Jesus.
Strengthen your brothers and sisters. Offer them someone better to look at than just you. Show them love, show them Jesus.
I first heard the term ‘Christianese’ in college. My Christian college. Since then, my eyes have been opened to this whole other language that’s exclusive to us believers. That may sound obvious, I mean, doesn’t every group have their own go-to phrases?
But Christianese has more negativity attached to it and that’s
the complete opposite of what we want. Can it be avoided? What do we do about it?
Do we need to do anything about it? These are the questions I want answered!
***Disclaimer: I realize I may even have some Christianese
sprinkled in this blog. That’s my point.
I’m not going to call out these phrases specifically, but if you’d like some examples of Christianese, just take a listen to the people in your Bible study, your church, and unfortunately, Christian comedians. Take note of the statements you hear repeated almost verbatim by different people. These are the phrases that get satirized by the world and even our own people. And that can’t be a good thing. Who will respect the God we worship if we don’t even respect Him?
As Christians, we want to appeal to those who don’t know for themselves the life-giving power and love of Jesus. We want to encourage and edify others, not sound like worn out bells. We can’t let our comfort in the words and phrases we’ve heard or grown up with inhibit others from taking the gospel seriously.
We’re in a tough place. As soon as we mention Jesus or God or the Bible, we’ve entered into churchy language. That can’t be helped, and those who take offense are those who probably don’t want to hear about it anyway. I feel like that’s the type of Christianese that can’t be avoided. I want to talk about Jesus! I don’t want to preach, but I want to share what Jesus is doing in my heart, and I think there’s a difference.
Now, the other extreme would be to quit talking about God or
biblical things altogether to avoid sounding Christiany. That would be
compromising your beliefs and your testimony based on cultural opinion. I don’t
want to scare you out of saying certain things. Don’t be ashamed! Just be aware.
So, though the lingo is part of the territory, I think we need to be conscious of how we’re delivering it. Are we just reciting the church script or are we speaking from the heart?
The words of the mouth are deep waters, but the fountain of wisdom is a rushing stream.
Proverbs 18:4 (NIV)
Let’s take the time to examine our words. Do we actually know what these familiar concepts mean to us? Process the verses, digest the truths, and meditate on how they affect your life. Maybe when you’re faced with an opportunity to share with someone or pray for another, you can do so confidently knowing what you’re talking about.
It’s not about saying something correctly. It’s not about memorizing the jargon to feel like you belong in the group. It’s about understanding what’s going on in your heart and being able to articulate it to others in the most authentic way possible.
Now, don’t clobber me if you feel like I’m attacking people
who use these phrases. I do it too! But ever since I noticed it, I became
frustrated by it, and I set out to use that awareness to better understand my
beliefs and express them in a way that maybe
can help people relate more. I hope this information will also enhance your
ministry as well.
What are your thoughts? Am I making too big a deal of this? Or
is Christianese too sacred to tweak? Let me know in the comments!
“We all learn lessons in life. Some stick, some don’t. I have always learned more from rejection and failure than from acceptance and success.”
2019 has held promise, but that promise has been suspended
above me and I haven’t been able to reach it. Instead, I’m standing on a
tightrope and rejection keeps giving the rope a shake, threatening to make me
Trying to figure out what to do is pretty much the motto of your twenties and this year has been no exception. I took some risks, held out hope for amazing job opportunities, auditioned for ministry projects, and sent out some stories and manuscripts to several publishers. Can’t get anywhere unless you put yourself out there, right?
For months, I received rejection after rejection. I surprised myself at how well I handled it at first. As a writer, you quickly learn it’s is part of the competitive industry. But when more areas in my life were met with rejection, I found myself starting to stack it against God.
I always pray that God’s will be done instead of mine. I firmly believe in Him opening and closing doors according to His will. But how many doors can you get slammed in your face before you start taking it personally?
I doubted my ability in every sense of the word, and I
doubted God. It’s easy to believe He can do all things, but will He do them for
me? I started listing all the rejections I’d received and the more I dwelt on
them, the more discouraged I became.
The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand. Psalm 37:23,24
It’s easy to let Satan use the rejections and failures in your life to steer you away from trusting God while God’s trying to use them to steer you toward His purpose. We need to remember that IF we surrender our way to the Lord, He will guide our path.
Use the roadblocks, the pitfalls, and the detours to your
advantage. Praise God for His direction and constantly remind yourself to trust
that He knows the way for you to go. He’s got the job for you, He’s holding the
opportunity for you, and He’s saving the place for you to be.
Our trust honors His promise and He is faithful just as we
should be. Don’t let the rejection fuel your worries. Don’t let the failures
define your worth. It’s a waste of time.
Meanwhile, I’ve got my first book coming out—the first, I hope and pray, of many. (see ‘Books’ page)
In a previous blog, we discussed how to honor God with
a career that’s not necessarily Christian. Now, we get into the nitty gritty as
we answer the question: What do we do when we work in an environment that
doesn’t support Godly principles and people who don’t believe the same way we
This is probably a situation that most of us will fall
into when following a career path. If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves
blending in with a toxic environment and fail to be the light that Jesus wants
us to be. So, if you want to know how you can “do everything for the glory of
God,” here are some helpful tips.
Respect those in higher positions (Romans 13:5)
We may not always agree with how our
bosses choose to run the show, but they’re the ones who have been placed in
authority for whatever reason. The more respect given, the more respect earned.
Remember, the truest testament of respect is when it’s demonstrated without the
what you say (Ephesians 4:29)
Nothing hurts you faster than your
own words. One statement in poor taste can damage your reputation, your
relationships, and your witness. It’s wise to practice self-control when it
comes to what you say. Being true to yourself doesn’t mean saying whatever you
want. People speak with enough negativity to last several lifetimes. You should
be the one to speak with encouragement, compassion, and love.
down the complaints (Philippians 2:14)
The verse is self-explanatory. Don’t
complain. Don’t argue. People say they don’t want to work in a drama-filled
environment, yet it’s amazing how much drama we still find in our workplaces.
Sometimes it can be boiled down to those two traits. If you remember Who you’re
doing the work for, maybe that will help when the job frustrations eat at you.
Praise the Lord for your job—you have it because He blessed you with it.
honest (Proverbs 12:22)
The Bible says let your yes be yes
and your no be no. No gray areas. Let your work be just as honest and your
words just as sure. Because one day, someone will come against you and your integrity
(or lack thereof) will speak for itself. Be the person your managers and
coworkers can trust.
It doesn’t take long to realize the importance of
these qualities in someone especially in the workplace. What you need to ask yourself
is what kind of employee do you want to be? What kind of Christian do you want
You don’t always need to stand on your desk chair and
proclaim Jesus to the office. You don’t need to carry the thickest Bible you
have under your arm everywhere you go. You can, however, always ask God to give
you opportunities to shine His light, because He will. In the meantime, walk,
talk, and work according to His Word and you will give Him the most honor wherever
If you’re a Christian twenty-something-year-old, you’ve
probably prayed more than once for God to lead you to the right job, and you just
hope that that job incorporates something you like doing with the security of
being able to pay your bills. However, sometimes life doesn’t work out like
that right away and you take anything just to keep you from being homeless.
*BACKTRACK: don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying if you’re
in that boat that God hasn’t answered your prayers. It just means that you’re
in a different step of the answered prayer.
Anyway, that’s not what I want to talk about. I want
to express to you the importance of being able to honor God wherever He places
you whether it’s a transition job, a job you hate, a job that’s not ‘Christian,’
or a dream job.
When I say job that’s not ‘Christian,’ I’m referring
to a career that’s not necessarily in the ministry like a church, a Christian publication,
a mission field, etc. If you don’t have that type of job, that’s okay, you can
still be an instrument for God where your passions lie.
If you’re like me, you may be working a side-hustle
that allows you to put your efforts into your passions like writing, acting, or
music. In that line of work, God has taught me that I can make an impact doing
the most ordinary things.
I believe that working in a way that’s pleasing to God
is much more a head and heart deal than it is the physical tasks you’re doing.
Let me explain.
First of all, you need to ask yourself if you even
want to honor God in your career or workplace? If you don’t feel the need, then
you will probably act so accordingly. No worries, I’ll let you talk to God
about that yourself. BUT if you do want to take the steps, here are some things
Seeking His will. His will is a very large umbrella
that covers most of our lives. Even Jesus Himself surrendered to what God
wanted rather than His own desire in the moment of His crucifixion. It’s also part
of how Jesus taught us to pray. “Thy will
be done.” If we truly want to do what God wants us to do, we will continue
to submit to God’s purposes even if they don’t always line up with what we want.
“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him that He will do it.” Psalm 37:4,5
You may be wondering…how do I know that what I’m doing
is in God’s will? That’s a whole other blog, but the short answer is this: you
don’t. At least, not 100%. But it goes back to what God has given you from the
start: talents, knowledge, passions, experience. If this is something you’ve
already committed to prayer, I believe God will make it known to you in some way.
He did for me.
Going back to His will, two foundations you’ll need
are wisdom and trust. All you need to do is continually pray for wisdom (James
1:5). Trust can be a more complicated issue. Proverbs makes it simple though.
Say it with me now…
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”
The key word I want you to zoom in on is ‘all.’ Trust requires all your heart and in all aspects of life. But the good news is, if you both are going toward the same goal, He goes before you so that all you need to do is just keep swimming. That’s why you can trust Him.
I’ve only scratched the surface of this topic, so be
on the lookout for a part 2 where I dive deeper into Godly conduct in a less
than Godly career.
How do you feel about God in your line of work? Take
some time to think about how God has woven your life to get you to this moment.
School’s out, sun’s out, and we’re outside to enjoy it! Whether you just graduated, took the summer off, or been out of school for a while, you’re in for some kind of routine change these next few months.
It’s easy to get lost in the slew of sunshiny activities, new schedules, vacation days, and more, but one thing you don’t want to lose is your time with Jesus. Here are some activities to help enjoy summer and keep your time with God a priority.
If you have a regular devotion time, you probably already started doing them in the comfort of the morning sun. I love being able to enjoy the birds and the breeze and the calm of the morning while reading my Bible and devotionals. Sit on your porch, balcony, or bring a blanket out to the lawn. Have a cup of coffee or smoothie to combine with the perfect morning pick-me-up.
I love to play around with painting. My favorite place to paint is on the porch with a sermon or some worship music playing in the background. It helps me focus, feeds my spirit, and exercises my creative juices. I paint rocks, shells, and canvases. Some have verses or images pressing on my heart. Even if painting isn’t your thing, you can do something else like wood carving, knitting, puzzles, sketching, while allowing God to minister to your soul through teaching or music.
Nothing brings the heart closer to God than nature in my opinion. Its unmistakable beauty can be such a clear representation of God’s fingerprint. Bring a friend or a group and hold a Bible study at a picturesque location. Don’t get too distracted by the scenery—the point is to be surrounded by God’s beauty as you fellowship and dig into His Word.
The summer is the perfect time for a retreat. Longer than a hike, camping takes you out of the luxuries of the world and brings you back to the basics. Camping can be a good time to escape from every day distractions so that you can pray under the stars or spend time in the Bible by the fire. If you can’t go far, you can take a mini-retreat via tent in the backyard.
Night of Worship
Sticking with the camping theme, a simple worship and fellowship around a small bonfire can be so refreshing. It’s a time to get intimate with people, with yourself, and with God. Time to share feelings, encourage others, and simply worship. I guarantee you and your friends or family will want to have another one soon.
Nowadays, summers fly by, so make sure you’re relishing this one with thanksgiving. Before we know it, the nights will turn cold and coats and boots will be coming out of storage. Be thankful for the sun, the rain, and the time with family and friends. Be aware of new life, new blessings, and the change that summer sweeps over your life.
No matter how much you do this summer: vacation time, friend time, family time, work time, beach time…it will never be as fulfilling as Jesus time. Shine some light on the soul this summer. Have fun, make memories, and grow into the next season of life!
Do you remember jumping on the trampoline when you were a
kid? You couldn’t wait to get your shoes off and throw yourself on the taught
black netting. You’d squat down and launch into the air, land and propel even
higher the second and third time.
The thrill was that feeling in the pit of your stomach. You
know the one. When you’re at the peak of your jump with your stomach lifted
into your ribcage and your hair floating and outstretched like your arms. It
was the moment of flight just before you returned to the springy mesh for
Do you ever feel like that in life? I know I have,
especially this past year. I felt like I had jumped higher than I’d ever jumped
before, reaching for a pivotal moment in my life, and then…I just stayed there.
I hovered with my intestines wrapped around my lungs and my feet flailing in
the air, anticipating the descent, but never getting permission to land.
I was stuck. Stuck because I had done all I could and I just
had to wait for something to happen. Stuck because this could change everything.
My life felt halted even though time did not. I kept thinking, “if I only knew,
if I could only speed things along, I could get on with my life.”
But it was a season. A necessary one even though I still
don’t know all the reasons why it was necessary. If you’re still in the air,
let me give you some advice while you’re up there.
It’s okay to know that this is how you feel
and it’s uncomfortable. But it’s also okay not to know what’s going on. If you
trust that God knows what He’s doing, you know that this unpleasantness is not
just to make you squirm.
I’ve never felt more dependent on God than
I have this year. I could do nothing but make little attempts at controlling
the situation, but ultimately, God had the final word. It could be a word you
like and it could be a word you don’t, but know that it’s coming and the best
thing you can do is pray God will help you wait for it and that He will help
you prepare for the result.
Don’t make impulsive decisions
When I get impatient, I start making rash
decisions and paying for them later. As soon as you start to take matters into
your own hands thinking you’re helping God along rather than the other way
around, I guarantee you’ll regret it. They either hurt or do absolutely nothing
to help the situation.
Remember it’s temporary
I read something on Twitter that said, “all
suffering has an expiration date.” I relate that to trials of any kind whether
it be temptations, suffering, overcoming people and places, even feelings. All
of it lasts for a season, even if it’s a long season. The best way to help the
time go by painlessly is to let God do His thing, and to do less kicking and
screaming and more surrendering. A drowning victim has a better chance of
surviving when they stop fighting their rescuer and just simply let themselves
get dragged to shore.
Did I already say this? It’s worth
repeating. Jesus wants to walk alongside us, especially through our moments of
extra struggle. If we just grit our teeth and plow through on our own, we could
miss out on valuable growth in our relationship with the Most High, who wants
nothing more than our heart. Talk to God as much as you need and ask Him what
He’s trying to say during this time. He’ll answer the way your heart needs to hear
I thought I knew what it would look like to
finally come down from being suspended in the air. I thought I would drop and
hit the ground running full speed ahead. Whereas that might be true for some,
it wasn’t for me. Instead, God eased me down so slowly, I didn’t even know He
was doing it.
He lowered me back to earth, rested my feet
on the ground, and now as if I’m a child, He’s shuffling me forward one step at
Remember what goes up, must come down
eventually, and it will be at the pace you need with the next step laid out in
front of you.
Your time of being unstuck is coming. But
whether you’re stuck or unstuck, trust in the Lord with all your heart, and
just keep going.
The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like spring whose waters never fail.
It’s that time
of year when the sun shines and suddenly you’re aware of every piece of dusty
furniture, smudged glass, and clogged gutter and you dedicate every spare
moment taking part in the reluctant but necessary ceremony of spring cleaning.
I’m not going to give you literal housecleaning tips. You’re going to have to
jazz that up your own way. However, I would like to encourage you to take the
duster around your heart in case any cobwebs have started to build up. Here are
some ways to get started.
Look for the dirt
choices or habits that just aren’t working for you? Do you find yourself in a
rut rather than a routine? Now’s the time to stop in your tracks, look those
bad boys in the eyes, and say “We’re gonna fight.” It’s time to be active not
passive. Take the time to make a list of the things in your life that are
missing, not working, or just plain harmful. Recognize them and pray about
them. They are issues for a reason, and God is the only one who can give you
enough strength to wrestle with them.
Sort through the mess
Just like when
we decide to sort through closets, attics, or storage space, we must sort
through the areas that affect us spiritually, mentally, and physically.
What are our priorities? How do we manage our time? What do we spend our money
on? How are relationships? Keep whatever brings a smile to your face and
discard the unnecessary in your life.
Prepare for your plan of attack
you’ve asked the hard questions, it’s time to fast and pray about what God has
revealed to you. Fasting depends heavily on prayer for strength, discipline,
patience, and whatever you’re wanting to accomplish through this cleanse.
It’s humbling, it’s difficult, it’s refreshing, and it’s beneficial in
many ways. However you decide to fast (food, media, TV), lean on the grace of
God to help you grow closer to Him. He may reveal ways to help with this
process. He may give you the added strength to be done with somethings that’s
hindering your growth. Or He may spiritually reset your mind.
Clear the clutter
This is when
you officially act. I look at clutter as anything that has crowded your life in
a negative way and has kept you from Jesus. Whatever that may be, come up with
a plan to deal with them. Take it one day at a time and know that you’re not
going to step into perfection, but you can step into progress.
cleaning can be grueling, but the whole reason we do it is because we want to
be surrounded by the things that make us feel good and healthy and proud. Do
this for your soul and for your mental health. Your spirit will thank you.
If you take the time to go through these steps, you’ll be ready to walk lighter and smile brighter, feeling renewed, rejuvenated, and redeemed.
These words flood my Facebook feed, and you may be like me and think, “If I see one more post about this stuff…”
All I have to say is, today is the perfect day to practice what Jesus preached.
It goes without saying that recent events have been nothing but heart breaking. The tragedies we’ve witnessed within the last couple weeks have no reason for happening except for the devil showing his face.
But we should not react like the world. Jesus’s heart is stirred just like you and I, but with wayyyy more righteous anger. However, His response should be ours. Life and all its turmoil, evil and all its assailants have given us Christians an opportunity to do the unthinkable.
Pray for the officers.
Pray for the protesters.
Pray for the victims and their families.
Innocent or not, all need God equally.
“But to those of you who will listen, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you.”
– Luke 6:27-28
God loves them as much as He loves us. God sent Jesus to die for the man we call evil and the man we call innocent. We aren’t the judge, He is.
God sent Jesus to die for the man we call evil and the man we call innocent. We aren’t the judge, He is.
If you take away anything from this, please recognize who the real enemy is. Satan, the Devil, the Adversary, whatever you want to call him, is the mastermind of it all, and he is simply giving us a taste of his capability.
Praying is not simply giving our condolences to God for the souls who have brutally lost their lives. But by praying, we are combating Satan’s demons with God’s warrior angels. We are putting God in control of the problems at hand. Most importantly, we are allowing God to not only impact the lives of others, but also our lives as well.
Fortunately, in the midst of all this devastation, we can rest in the hope that Jesus has already overcome the world and that He will win in the end.
You must be logged in to post a comment.