Why I Have a Problem with Being “True to Yourself”

Why I Have a Problem with Being “True to Yourself”

*If you don’t know where your true identity lies, read until the end to find out.*

I’m going to upset a lot of people by saying this—stay with me!

I take issue with statements like these:

Trust your heart.

Do you.

Believe in yourself.

Be true to yourself.

Don’t look at me like that!

These are phrases and themes that you can easily find in Disney songs, movies galore, motivational speeches, and just about everywhere you look. More and more, society encourages us to discover and love ourselves, and ultimately do what makes us happy.

Sounds alluring to me! We are our own unique individual, after all, and no one matters more than we do. It’s our life, our body, our heart; shouldn’t we be the ones to know who we truly are and follow what we truly want?

While there is some truth to that mentality, there is a monumental flaw which can cause us to miss the DANGER WARNING WRONG WAY sign ahead.

Let me clarify: You are beautiful. You are unique. You are loved by the Creator Himself. You are the only YOU born into this world, and that is such a privilege. But let’s be honest. The society that prompts us to trust our hearts and be true to ourselves is the same society that forces us to compare to impossible standards and gives birth to insecurity.

It’s an endless cycle, and it doesn’t just stop once we decide to love ourselves and trust our hearts. Let’s face it, we’re not to be trusted. Our sinful nature motivates us to live by the desires of our flesh, and it’s so easy to get that confused with who God created us to be.

God outlined His intentions for us, and if we go back to the Bible, this is what we find:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9)

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (Luke 9:23)

“And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” (2 Corinthians 5:15)

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26)

“Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” (John 12:25)

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:44)

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Galations 5:14)

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[a] you want.” (Galations 5:16-17)

When we live by our rules, trust in our own ability, and strive to obtain everything we want on our own, it only makes failing so much more inevitable and potentially devastating. That’s because we’ve left out one key figure.

Jesus.

*Let Him be the One to love you. Our identity begins and ends with believing in the love of Him as our Savior and the application of His Word. That’s what first welcomes us as sons and daughters and begins our journey as followers of Christ.

Don’t be discouraged.

He designed you as an incredible, one-of-a-kind being. Within His design comes skills, talents, dreams, and a multilayered personality. Those things are beautiful and fit within His special plan for your life. BUT He also reminds us to test our heart, to discover His will, and to humble ourselves.

We shouldn’t follow our heart. We should follow His. We don’t have to blaze our own trail, we can walk in His. We shouldn’t be true to ourselves, we should be true to Him and who He made us to be.

When we realize life goes so much deeper than ourselves, we can recognize the power God has to transform us into a life-altering force in this world.

Don’t forget you are loved!

LJM

5 Prayers When You Don’t Know What to Pray

5 Prayers When You Don’t Know What to Pray

Prayer does not have to always be about you. It isn’t a laundry list of the things you want and need. It isn’t a meaningless mantra you say so you can check it off on the to-do list. It’s a time of unleashing, surrendering, fellowshipping, processing, and renewing with God; taking the time to do all that is such a precious act of faith.

If you feel like your prayer life is getting dry and your mind is left wandering or you’re not sure where to go with your words, you can refocus with these fundamental types of prayers.

1.Prayers of Praise (1 Chronicles 16:28)

It’s not hard to focus on God and His greatness. Worship Him for what He’s done for you. Thank him for His love, grace, mercy, and faithfulness. Remember His history. If you still can’t find the words to praise, no worries. Just open your Bible. Psalms is a great place to start. Here are some other examples that are perfectly fine for you to pray:

-Exodus 15

-Nehemiah 9

2. Prayers of Thankfulness (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

Spend time in prayer just practicing gratitude. Be thankful for both the exciting and the mundane. Be thankful for the things you take for granted like your house, your car, your phone, and your clothes. Be thankful for the people who bring you joy. Our blessings are gifts from God no matter how insignificant they may seem. Imagine a life without those blessings. Their presence can be worth more to your life the more you recognize them in prayer.

3. Prayers of Silence (Psalm 46:10)

You may think, well aren’t most of our prayers silent? Perhaps, but I’m talking about silence as your prayer. Our inner selves are so busy with thoughts, questions and worries. Praying about those things is great, nonetheless, we need a breather. Practice quieting your mind and letting God dwell and minister to you in His way.

4. Prayers for Others (John 13:34)

When you don’t have the words to pray for yourself, make good use of your prayers by focusing on others. Pray for our nation, our leaders, the persecuted church, your coworkers, your family, and your friends. Anyone that comes to your mind that has even the slightest impact on your life could be blessed by your faithful act of prayer.

5.Prayers in Tongues (Romans 8:26-27)

For those of you who practice praying in tongues, this may be a good time to do so. From what I’ve learned, ‘tongues’ is a very personal connection to God, allowing the Holy Spirit to pray on your behalf, even if you’re not sure what exactly you’re praying for.

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Remember that prayer sets things into motion. Prayer invites God to move, to minister, and to grow you as a person. Don’t limit your prayers. Remember the One Who deserves them the most. Make your time with God full and meaningful.

The next time you’re alone with God and you don’t know what to say, remember these basics and your prayers might just become richer with purpose.

 

God bless!

LJM

Post Grad Life: Two Years of Purposeful Living

Post Grad Life: Two Years of Purposeful Living

A lot can happen in two years. Life can change both on a dime and on 20,000 dollars. That’s roughly how much my student loans cost me, but I dedicated these two years living at home to paying them off. Now, debt freedom is on the horizon. It was such a blessing, even if it felt like I wasn’t doing much with my life.

Though I went through periods when I felt stagnant, God was busy. He still used me. He still showed me pieces of His plan for me. He treated me to accomplishments and opportunities all the while nurturing me in my weaknesses.

The lessons I’ve learned these past two years are treasures I will carry with me for the rest of my life, no matter where I go or what I do.

While working in a job that wasn’t anywhere near my desired field, God taught me a lot. Here are a few helpful tidbits to apply in the working world.

  • Leadership is knowing when to be tough and when to be encouraging—a balance between getting the job done and being there for the people.
  • Integrity is demonstrated.
  • Respect is given before it is earned.
  • Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s okay.
  • God loves all your bosses and coworkers just as much as you.

I could go on, but you get the point. You may not be thrilled with where you’re at right now, but always look at what God is teaching you. Suddenly, everything becomes deeper.

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

∼Colossians 3:17∼

Some of the hardest days at work were the days I leaned on God the most and I praised Him for getting me through. I know that wherever I’m placed, if I choose to look at it in a way that will make me a better human and a better light for God, I’m acting out my purpose.

You mean I only have to glorify God to fulfill my purpose?

That’s right!

Assuming you’re a Christian, you should have at least a general understanding of what Jesus talks about in the Bible.

Love your neighbor. Love your enemy. Care for those who need you. Pray always. Give thanks in everything. Forgive. Encourage. Trust. Be careful of what you say. Stay away from what you know is wrong.

Don’t make excuses. Don’t overcomplicate the freedom Jesus has given us to live as His followers.

If we are following the Word of God, we’re following the calling God has for our lives. Not only will we be pleasing God, but we will also make a lasting impact on the people around us. And you don’t have to be famous to do that. You don’t have to have all the money in the world to do that. You don’t even have to be doing something you love in order to do that.

Don’t confuse your passion with your purpose. Hear me out—your mission isn’t limited to accomplishing your dreams. Sometimes your passion must take a back seat to responsibility. But while your dreams are stirring and growing behind the scenes, your every day life can still make a lasting impression.

No matter where you are or what you’re dealing with, God can still use you.

Embrace the infancy of your purpose. Take the necessary steps to figure it out. It might feel like you’re going nowhere sometimes, especially when you compare yourself to others who are “farther along” or are “doing more.”

Your path is what you make it, and the best thing you could do is trust God with where it leads. If you feel like this is your nomad season, remember, God still provided for His people while they wandered in the wilderness.

Whether you’re sweeping floors or building rocket ships, let the Word of God motivate your work so that you can do everything for the glory of God.

 

God bless!

LJM

The Feast of Tabernacles: A Home in the Wilderness

The Feast of Tabernacles: A Home in the Wilderness

One summer Saturday, I looked at my backyard and I envisioned it. I saw the wood frame of my very own sukkah.

*A sukkah is a temporary dwelling place made with natural materials*

It took me a month, but I used tree stumps as the foundation, scrap wood for the frame, and greenery to decorate the outside. Why did I do this? Because I was getting ready for the Feast of Tabernacles!

What is the Feast of Tabernacles?

This feast is also referred to as Sukkot in Hebrew. The Bible translates it as the Feast of Ingathering or the Feast of Booths. Five days after The Day of Atonement, this feast is one that is more focused on a celebration than a sobering observance. It’s instructed to be a festival for seven days.

Why are we celebrating?

The Jewish people celebrate this conclusion of the fall feasts to commemorate the fall harvest as well as the power of God, who sheltered them in the wilderness after fleeing Egypt. Not only did God protect them, but He also dwelt in their midst as a cloud of smoke by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13:21-22). Finally, when they built the first tabernacle, He dwelt in the Holy of Holies.

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My first Sukkah! 2018

Scripture References

Leviticus 23:33

Leviticus 23:39-43

Nehemiah 8:17-18

Numbers 29:12-16

1 Kings 8:1-2

Zechariah 14

 

How do we observe?

The people build small, temporary shelters called sukkahs. Out of natural elements, they build their sukkah to commemorate the beauty and fragility of an earthly shelter. For seven days they treat it like a typical living space, eating just about every meal inside, and some even sleeping in it at night.

This is one of three feasts where God commanded all males ages 13 and older to travel to Jerusalem to observe it. As a result, present day Jews and Gentiles alike go to Jerusalem to worship together with singing and dancing. Like I said, this is one of the most joyous festivals, and it warms my heart with the reminder of how God will always provide for His people.

How does Jesus fit in?

“Every good and perfect gift is from God” (James 1:17). Nothing could be truer than when God sent His Son to dwell among us. No other moment in history demonstrated such empathy, and as a result, we can be more connected with Him than ever before. Jesus said He was the light of the world and the living water, in other words, He was the guidance and protection of His people (John 7:37-39).

I loved my sukkah. My morning devotions, my meals, and my prayer time was spent inside. I felt like Jesus and I had a space to connect more. And the process–I would almost describe as holy as building an alter to God, and that’s what made it special for me. It was disappointing having to take it apart at the end of the week.

But the good news is, Jesus dwells with us even now, through both the everyday moments and the life altering ones. And one day, He will welcome us into eternity with open arms where we can tabernacle with Him forever.

Enjoy a collage of different styles of sukkahs!

Read Fall Feast Intro

Read about Fall Feast no. 1

Read about Fall Feast no. 2

God bless!

-LJM

 

The Day of Atonement: Down to the River

The Day of Atonement: Down to the River

Dressed in white, my family made our way to the nearest river in our hometown. It’s a beautiful spot to watch the falls cascading down the rocks while a few ducks and geese float along the gentle rapids. We found a clearing near the water, and there, we opened our Bibles in observance of the second fall feast: The Day of Atonement.

What is The Day of Atonement?

Ten days after the Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement arrives as one of the highest holy days of the year. When the Israelites first built the Tabernacle, the Levitical high priest would perform a ceremony in order to cleanse the nation of their sin from the previous year. The Atonement ceremony included laying hands on the head of one of two goats. The chosen goat would then ‘receive’ the sins of the people and be released into the wilderness to die.

Only then could the high priest enter the Holy of Holies without being struck dead. Once the ceremony was complete, the Israelites were cleansed, symbolizing their readiness to dwell with God.

How do you observe?

The Days of Awe are the ten days after Feast of Trumpets, and it’s a time of prayer, repentance, and settling debts. The people have a feast the evening before Atonement, but on the actual day, they deny themselves with a fast to recognize God’s holiness and to hate their sin. Temples have several services during the day with blessings, prayers, and Scripture.

The Tashlich ceremony, typically done on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, is where the people cast bread crumbs or stones into a body of water to represent casting off their sin.

⇑ Keep reading to see why this is relevant ⇑

Scripture References633fa63917d243f219ff007e292e9fac--scripture-quotes-bible-scriptures

  • Hebrews 9:14
  • Matthew 6:14-15
  • Micah 7:19
  • Leviticus 16:29, 23:27, 17:11
  • Isaiah 58

Why is it important?

God instructed His people to observe this day, not because laying hands on a goat took away sin, but because it was a rehearsal to prepare them for when the Messiah, Jesus, would come and redeem them. He was the high priest who bridges the gap between us and God in the Holy of Holies. He was also the sacrifice, who took the weight of our sin, so we can be ready to dwell with Him in eternity.

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How do I apply?

Remember the stones I mentioned in my last blog? I’d passed them around earlier, and now was the time to bring them out. Mine was colored with different symbols revealing my sin. Holding onto our stones, we took communion, remembering Jesus’s blood shed for the world.

*This next part is something I added and is probably not done in other congregations. *

I poured the wine (juice) over the stones and then I poured water over them to represent the blood and water that gushed from Jesus’ side when he died. Then, we threw the rocks into the river, believing in Jesus’ gift of washing our sins away.

Hurling my rock into the water uniquely touched my heart. I sent the stone that kept reminding me of all my weaknesses and failings careening into the river, and once it left my hand, I realized I could never retrieve it again.

Going back to the person we were before the blood of Jesus would be just as impossible as me wading in the water trying to find my rock. Just like that stone, that sinful person is dead and gone never to remind me of who I used to be.

Our sins have been washed away, and now we can walk in the newness of life hand in hand with Jesus! Praise God!

The Day of Atonement is just the beginning. Are you ready to dwell with Jesus? That will lead us into my next and final feast blog: The Feast of Tabernacles. I hope you’ll join me!

 

God Bless!

-LJM

The Feast of Trumpets: The Jewish ‘New Year, New Me’

The Feast of Trumpets: The Jewish ‘New Year, New Me’

Welcome to Fall Feast number 1 as seen through the eyes of a Christian!

 

What is The Feast of Trumpets?

The Feast of Trumpets, also known as Rosh Hashana or Yom Teruah, is widely known as the Jewish new year. It’s partially because this time of year is significant in terms of renewal, re-dedication, and rebirth.

There’s something about a trumpet, that when it blasts, it awakens something in your soul.

The Feast of Trumpets is the opening preparation for the coming of the Lord Jesus. For thousands of years, even before Jesus was born, Jewish people have been rehearsing and preparing for the moment the God of Israel would usher them into eternity with Him.

Why is it important?

The trumpet sound reminds us of the reality that Jesus is coming again. Knowing that eternity and judgement is real can be a sobering thought, because it reminds us that what we do in this life matters.

At the trumpet (shofar) blast, the people of God come together to worship and pray. The Feast of Trumpets first guides us in a time of repentance, or the Hebrew word teshuvah. This is a big season of introspection. It’s a time to look back on the year and inspect our hearts, our words, our actions, and our decisions and face them in all their glory and ugliness.

The good news is, when you repent, you can be washed of all the ugliness in your life through the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:9).

What can we do?

What in your life needs to be cleansed? Is your thought-life dark and getting darker? Are you treating people with kindness, compassion, and love, or are you treating them with disrespect, selfishness, and hate? Are there things in your life that you hold higher than God? Have you been drifting away from Him ever so slowly this year only to find yourself in a rut you can’t seem to get out of?

I know these are things I come up against in my heart, and if you do too, maybe now is the time to make a change.

Not only is this a time of introspection, but it’s also a time of settling debts, seeking forgiveness from the people you’ve wronged, and forgiving those who’ve wronged you. It’s a time of making the negative things in your life right, and that alone can be so freeing.

Is it based in Scripture?

To observe this feast, my family and a few others had a dinner to discuss the themes of this holy day and appreciate the importance of the customs. We take turns reading the Scripture associated with the feast.

Feel free to check out the verses listed below!

Leviticus 23:24-25

Isaiah 27:13

Zechariah 9:14

1 Kings 1:34

Nehemiah 8:2-3

1 Thessalonians 4:16

Numbers 10:9-10, 29:1

Matthew 6:14

Psalm 81

 

My personal application

I collected a few stones with smooth and flat surfaces. I passed them out to the family and told them that it was a representation of their sin. We could use the stone to pray over our sins, or we could carry it to symbolize the unnecessary baggage we carry every day. I chose to paint symbols on my stone that represented my specific struggles. Every time I looked at it, I was reminded of the areas in my life that I needed to work on with God.

I really liked the physical representation of my sins so I could focus on repenting from them and look forward to Jesus taking them away. I’ll get into that more with my article on The Day of Atonement, Fall Feast number 2.

Not all holy days are meant for celebration, but know we’re always working toward the goal of forever celebrating our Lord in eternity. I do believe that these days are meant for our good, designed for us to practice being sanctified by Jesus and to live in that freedom and love by sharing it with others.

Reach out to the person you hurt, pray for the person who has damaged you, and pay back the money your friends lent. Make something right today. It’s never too late.

 

God bless!

LJM

Behold, the Coming of the Lord!

Behold, the Coming of the Lord!

Do you ever wonder what it’ll be like when Jesus returns?

“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

-Revelation 22:12-13 (NASB)

Blowing trumpets, fasting, praying, camping, dancing, laughing, crying. If you want to understand about what these actions have in common, you must first understand the season. August to October is a busy time of the year for one group specifically.

Jews, Jewish people, or God’s people.

This time of year is more than just Autumn, with leaves turning and people donning warmer clothes. It is a time of preparation.

For what? The Fall feasts of the Lord!

  1. The Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah)
  2. The Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)
  3. The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot)

Three separate feasts–one common theme: the final coming of the Lord, our Savior.

“These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.” -Leviticus 23:4 (KJV)

As Christ followers, I feel like these feasts are just as important to us as we await the second coming of Jesus (Yeshua). This season, my family got a little taste of the spiritual applications of these special days and I know I will never live the same.

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I want to take you along to discover why the God of the universe declared these holy days and how Jesus has a vital role in them. For the next few weeks, I’ll be going into more detail of the history, the culture, and the spiritual application of these feasts.

I’d love for you to join me!

By the end, I hope you’ll gain a better understanding of the holy days God personally gave to Moses to teach His people, and how we, as Christians, can still apply those truths today.

Shalom and God bless!

LJM