A Good Testimony

We need to stop glorifying “hard” testimonies.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that people who went through tough stuff before coming to Christ are wrong in some way, but I think that their testimonies have somehow become exalted. And it’s so dangerous. Trust me, I speak from personal experience.

Up until I was about 14, I had what people tend to think of as a “boring” testimony. As a preteen and teenager, I heard so many testimonies of how God pulled people out of the depths of prostitution, substance abuse, and suicide. I saw those testimonies as so much more worthy than my “boring” one, and I began to wish I had a better testimony. And while I know it isn’t the only reason I got involved in a lot of tough stuff, I do think that in some ways I was seeking something that would make my story more “valid”. I wish that I could say that I still have a boring testimony, but so much has happened since I was that innocent 14 year old.

I’m here today to say that a boring testimony is the best testimony! If I only knew this five years ago, I would have saved myself so much pain and heartache.

That is why, when I have my own kids some day, I will teach them the righteousness of having a simpler testimony, one that involves them growing up in the church. I will teach them that they are not boring and their efforts to stay close to God are not futile. I will teach them that they don’t need to beat addictions or survive a suicide attempt and dramatically turn back to God to be a “good” Christian.

Instead of putting these more complex testimonies above the others, let’s celebrate instead the faithfulness of God in every person’s life, and if you have a “boring” testimony, instead of wishing for a better story, thank God for sparing you from the pain.

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trust

Can you imagine having so much trust that you never feel anxiety? As someone who tends to feel a lot of anxiety, I really can’t imagine that, but I want to have it so badly. I’ve heard of a lot of stories of Christians who trusted in God for every dollar they needed, every bite to eat when they couldn’t buy food, every word to say to every person they meet. After I hear about these people, I am often left in awe of not only a God who provides every little thing, but people who can trust that. Yet I don’t try and apply that to my life. When anxiety creeps in, I let it. I worry about things, I try to work things out. I don’t automatically say no to anxiety and yes to God. I have a hard time letting go and giving things to him. It’s something that I’m working on, but please pray for me. And this post is kinda random/small, but maybe you will be encouraged to do the same thing. Say no to anxiety. Seek a life that is completely entrusted in God’s hand.

Be blessed

Thoughts

I left church this morning with so many different things going through my head. So much to think about, and they’re all so random… I’m not sure what to write about right now, but I have a feeling that this text box will be filled up soon enough.

I guess one thing that I really realized this morning is that lukewarmness is not acceptable, yet it is probably one of the more common things in my church, especially in my generation. I see so many people choosing what parts of Christianity they like, and following God only some days of the week and with only a part of their heart.

But we are called to be hot. And if you don’t want to be hot, then just be cold. Because being lukewarm is not okay.

You can’t decide that you’ll follow God’s commandment not to get drunk on wine, and then turn around and gossip. You’re still living in sin.

You can’t live in sexual purity but have a jealous heart, you are still living in sin.

We are called to be all or nothing. If we really want to live like Christ, we need to constantly be in pursuit of Him. We need to be examining ourselves every second and making a conscious effort to align ourselves with Christ, so we are replicating him.

That means turning from gossip and lust. It means loving not only our friends and the people we like to be with, but also the people who are hard to love, whoever that may be for you. It means going against the grain to be like Christ, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

So are you ready to give it all? Or would you rather give nothing?

Be blessed

Spoiler Alert

Wanna know something so cool?

Warning, spoiler alert: God wins

I’m currently sitting in the atrium of the science building on my university campus listening to For Today’s song Fearless. How cool is it that God speaks to me in such an unexpected place! Here’s some lyrics that really stood out to me:

We bear the mark of the uncreated god
So what should we fear?
We bear the scars of the holy risen son
So tell me what should we fear?

Every threat is hollow
Because our victory is already set in stone

And it just hit me. God wins. We already have that amazing assurance through the Bible. We don’t need to be afraid of anything as long as we are faithful. HOW FREAKING COOL IS THAT?!

Haha sorry for the randomness, but that just really stuck out to me and I’m just so excited about it. I’m also a crazy person…. Don’t mind me

Revelation gives a pretty clear picture that Christ is victorious. The end times seem sort of (aka incredibly) scary but hey,  I already know who wins so BAM.

As I was writing this I read Revelation 19:11-21. Read it for yourself and you’ll see, too, that God wins

YAY

Be blessed

God’s Plan

Something that I’ve heard a lot is the question of, “If God knows what’s going to happen in my future, why doesn’t he just show me my whole life path?” I think people tend to think that if God would show them how their entire life would pan out, it would be much easier. But there’s a few reasons why I think God chooses not to do this.

1. So we don’t run from it. The things God calls some people do is pretty radical. I think of my old youth pastor- as a teenager, he had a huge fear of public speaking, and he was also living for the world without caring much about God throughout most of his high school life. If God would have shown him that he was going to become a youth pastor that travelled around to different churches and camps speaking and changing lives, don’t you think he might have gotten a bit freaked out? What if that would have made him constantly run from this calling on his life in fear?

And that’s not the most extreme calling, either. God has called so many people out of lives of comfort to do His works. I think of missionaries, especially those who are ministering in countries of persecution. If God had shown this call to them before they were ready, I don’t think many of them would have been excited to go to these countries where there is a huge chance that they will be killed for what God is telling them to do.

2. He waits until we are prepared for the next step. The wording on this one might not make too much sense… So I apologize for that. But I believe that God reveals the next part of our life plan to us only when we are prepared to handle that step. Think of it like this: If God were to reveal to a 10 year old that they would teach English in a persecuted country that doesn’t speak our language, chances are that 10 year old would not be ready to go when they are 10. They need to have more training than that. If God were to reveal our whole plan, maybe we would go where we are called before we are called there, before we are ready to go there.

3. So we don’t skip a step. I believe that many of the bad experiences and situations in my life have shaped me into who I am, and have enabled me to further God’s kingdom more than if I hadn’t had those experiences. But if God had shared my life plan before those things had happened, chances are I would have done all I could to skip out on those negative things in my life. The same things that make me who I am today wouldn’t have been a part of me at all. Maybe if I knew that I wouldn’t end up with my current boyfriend, I wouldn’t stay with him anymore, but what if God isn’t finished using that relationship yet? What if he wants to teach me more, but I walk away so I wouldn’t “waste” my time with the person I’m not going to end up with?

4.  So we don’t get mad that it isn’t a plan we like. What if God showed you your plan today, and you see that instead of marrying the boyfriend you’ve been with for 3 years, you end up single? What if instead of becoming a teacher with a good salary, you become a missionary to the homeless in your community? I think that a lot of people’s plans wouldn’t match up with God’s plans, and that might cause people to become angry with God and turn from Him.

5. To save us from having to worry about it. It takes so much stress off of me knowing that I don’t need to do anything to “make my life plan happen” other than trusting in God. If I knew what job I would have in 10 years, who I would be married to, what my life would be like, I just know that I would be working towards that right now, even if I wasn’t supposed to yet. I can sleep easily knowing that while I don’t know what God will do with my life, He will do something amazing and He will see me through. Some people think that they have to worry more about their future because God is holding the reins, but I worry less because I trust that God will guide me.

Look at the nations and watch- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. -Habakkuk 1:5

Be blessed!

Feeling Great

This morning I had day 2 of scheduled “quiet time”. I expected to wake up and decide to go back to sleep, because that’s what’s happened in the past. But this morning, God woke me up even earlier than my alarm was set for, and I had an amazing time of just laying in bed in His presence. It was the most perfect way to start my morning, and it led into a very powerful quiet time.

I really want to encourage those who are hesitant to have quiet time, or are struggling with wanting to do it every day. It is honestly the best way to start my morning. I make a coffee, and then just spend time getting to know God better (I schedule about 20 minutes, that way it’s not too daunting, but I often spend longer just praying and being quiet with God). It can honestly be in any way that works for you.

Today, I spent time thanking God for his “enoughness” and delighting in it, as I was instructed to do in one of my devotionals. It’s a pretty cool thing- Christ is truly enough for me. That’s something that I think I have struggled with a lot over the years, and honestly I know that I would have a hard time in God decided to take everything I have from me to show me that all I need is Him, but I do trust that He knows what’s best for me, and He will provide through every situation I face.

In case you are wondering how my quiet time is structured, here’s a rough outline of what I’ve been doing since I started:

  1. I start of by praying that God will open up my heart, and quiet the distractions around me. This is a good way for me to focus and begin my study of His word
  2. I read an online devotion called “Quiet Walk”, here: http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/quiet-walk/. I also spend time reading the passage it gives in my Bible (you could read it online, I just prefer my Bible because then I can underline things that stand out, and there’s less distraction for me). There is also prayers and verses on this devotion, and I spend some time in prayer and quiet when I have finished reading.
  3. At this time, I usually spend time praying for situations around me. I keep an updated prayer request list on my computer, and I pray through that, and also add anything on my heart to the list.
  4. Now, I will read a day’s devotion in my The Message Remix: Solo devotional. There is a passage and some thoughts/questions to reflect on it, as well as prompts to pray, and often some place to reflect on what was learned. It’s a little hard to explain the format, but it really allows me to study God’s word more, which is something that is important to me.
  5. After I have read and reflected on that, I will spend some time in my journal, just writing things that have stuck in my mind (I will often write throughout the two devotionals I do, as well). I will pray and just be still and listen to God.

That’s a basic run-down of how my quiet times work, or at least for now. I have really enjoyed these times. I am someone who is somewhat lost without structure, so that’s why my times are so scheduled. I also sometimes enjoy playing worship music in the background.

Hopefully this helped or inspired you in some way! I’d definitely encourage you to have a daily quiet time, it’s such a great experience for me. God is the most important thing in my life, and it’s very important to me to spend time with Him daily!

Be blessed 🙂

Back into it

It has been months since I have made a post on my blog. I fell off of it for a long time, and I have missed it. I loved pouring my heart out here, and I am going to do it again (brace yourselves… that is, if anyone is even reading this)

I not only fell off of the routine of writing a blog, but I also fell off of the routine of spending time with God on the regular. It’s been missed in my life much more than writing here. My days just aren’t quite as good or as smooth without it, but I let myself go without for so long. I’ve been spiritually starving, but I am going back to this daily bread that my body craves so deeply.

Today, I felt so empty. I felt lost, and sadder than I’ve felt in a long time. But today I also felt full of life, encouraged and strong. Quiet time was the thing that separated those two extreme feelings.

Living in residence at university is not an encouraging Christian atmosphere by any means. It’s actually pretty much the opposite. It was a shock when I got here and learned how different the life I had lead was from the other people in my apartment, floor, and building. The things some people considered normal were huge shocks to me. And sadly, I started to abandon the life I used to lead for their approval. I began to be nervous that my friends would see my Bible on my shelf when they came in my room, just because I didn’t want to have to answer their questions.

Now, I don’t care. I am a child of God, and I will serve Him despite what that might mean for my social status here in UP6.

In my quiet time today (I’m reading The Message Remix: Solo devotional book right now, among other online devotionals), I was encouraged to ask God to reveal himself to me in a way I hadn’t experienced Him before. When I read that, I began an elaborate prayer, which basically consisted of me telling God some options for how He could do this. Then I stopped.

I realized that I don’t have to tell God how to show me Him in a new way. I almost feel silly for thinking this. Of course He knows how to reveal Himself. All I have to do is sit and wait for it. And while I would like to say that while I was just being still and receptive to the Holy Spirit, I didn’t have a life-changing epiphany. But I’m okay with that.

I trust that God is going to reveal Himself to me, and I am ready to let Him do the work. His will, not mine. And I feel like, for the first time in my life, I am truly giving up control. It’s going to be a wild ride, and I have no idea what to expect, but isn’t that the fun of it?

I realize that this is probably just a really jumbled mess of my thoughts, but hey, if you don’t follow them, that’s ok. I am so full of the Holy Spirit right now, I’m just letting my fingers type without much thought. So I apologize if it’s hard to follow, but at the same time I don’t apologize, because God has spoken in this little text box. Maybe it’s just for my heart to hear, but maybe something I said challenges or encourages someone else. I don’t know how God is going to work in and through me, but he does. Woo-hoo!

I also wanted to share this verse I read during my quiet time, found in Ephesians 5:1-2

Be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us

That is the cry of my heart tonight. I just want to be like Jesus.

A New Angel

Today, heaven gained another sweet angel. Little Alvaro, who was a two year old boy from Niños Con Valor*, passed away this morning. He was a very sick little boy from birth. He had cerebral palsy, epilepsy, respiratory issues, and was blind. His story is quite amazing, though, I’ll give you a brief overview:

Alvaro, who came to NCV when he was around 6 months, has an older brother, who was three at the time that the boys were found. They had been abandoned and were living alone, where the three year old brother had the responsibility to care for the very sick Alvaro. When they were found, the brother had only been feeding Alvaro water- it was all he knew, being so young. When they were found, they were brought to NCV and could still live in the same place, something very special. The older brother was so loving to little Alvaro, something that was very evident when I was in Bolivia with them. When we were giving Alvaro a gift from our church, his brother was right there with us, holding Alvaro’s little hand. He had so much concern and love for his brother, his heart was huge.

I can’t imagine how that brother is feeling right now. His baby brother has moved on from this life. My heart is heavy for this brother who is left behind. Please pray for his peace and comfort, this isn’t an easy thing for a 5 year old to understand.

I am rejoicing, though, that Alvaro is in eternal paradise with Jesus. His body is restored, he feels no more pain, and I am thankful for that. He was a fighter during his short time on Earth, he had times where he was so close to death, but he fought to stay alive. He was a strong little boy, and now he is with Jesus and my heart feels such an amazing joy at this fact. And someday I will see little Alvaro again, when we are reunited in heaven.

I am praising God, despite this sadness and grieving. Alvaro is whole, he is well, and he is happy. He is with the Daddy that never abandoned him.

Please please pray for the Niños Con Valor staff and children who have lost such a precious part of their family today. Pray that they would have great comfort from God, and that they would feel his peace. Help them to be able to let go of Alvaro, but let the memory of his presence live on. Pray for understanding, especially for the many little ones that are living at the NCV homes. It’s hard to understand why Alvaro isn’t there anymore, but help them to understand that he is safe and healthy with Jesus.

 

*Niños Con Valor is the orphanage I volunteered with in Bolivia this winter, a little more on that here: https://redeemedandrescued.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=322&action=edit

Prayer

Hey guys… This post doesn’t “have it all together”. This post isn’t carefully thought out or organized. It’s not much of anything except asking for help. For several years I’ve dealt with a great deal of anxiety, and it’s gotten a lot better over the last months, but lately it has been creeping up again, sometimes. Anxiety wrecks my life and I do not want it anymore, but I just can’t break free. Please pray for me

Does God Speak?

Well maybe it’s kinda over done to pose a question as a blog title… oh well, I don’t really care 😉

To answer that question in a word: YES

And now I will expand on that short answer, because.. well my post would be pretty short and pointless if I left it at that, and it wouldn’t help much either 😉 (OK sorry for my weird goofy writing style tonight, I’m in one of those moods)

Anyways, here we go…

I believe that God desires to speak to us all the time-  like literally every second, if we will listen. Well, I correct myself- He IS always speaking to us, but it’s a matter of whether we are listening or not. So many times in the past I’ve heard from my peers that “God isn’t saying anything to them” or “I can’t hear His voice” but I think that we just don’t understand how to listen to His ever present voice in our lives. It’s not a lack of Him, but a lack of us understanding/listening.

So how do we better understand? I’m in no way an “expert” in this, I haven’t gone to school for anything to do with this. But I do know things from my experiences, and from the testimony of the experiences of other people, too. So I’ll share what I know- feel free to comment on what you have experienced differently!

I know that everyone is different- duh. And so different people will experience God’s voice in different ways, which makes sense. I know people who experience God best while listening to music, driving their car, reading God’s Word, being in a completely quiet space, reading books… the list goes on and on. But if you’re still wondering how to do this, just knowing some ways to focus on God still might not help you.

Here’s how I have found I best hear from my Daddy God

1. Pray for clarity, and the ability to discern the enemy’s lies. Pray that God will speak to you and pray for a blocking of evil thoughts. God will answer this prayer for you in amazing ways.

2. Start with something- if I just try to sit and listen without any context, I find it very easy to become distracted. My mind just starts to wander and I’ve gotten nowhere. So I have something to kinda “start” my time. This can be anything from a song or album that I listen to, a Bible verse or passage that I meditate on, a sermon podcast, or a devotional book or blog. 

3. As I listen or read, I have a journal beside me. I write down things that I find particularly stand out to me and any questions or thoughts that come up

4. After I am done reading/listening and I run out of things to write, I stop. This is when I will make my mind blank and focus on God- and this is when I hear Him speak. I write down the things that come to my mind, without “editing” as I go. I just write. It’s cool because sometimes all I hear is a word or two, or a short phrase, and sometimes I end up with what is more like a letter from God to me. Other times my page is full of song lyrics or scripture. God speaks to me in many ways, and I love that about him. 

5. When God’s done speaking, I stop writing and take some time to just read it over again. I read the words that God has for me, and sometimes it is so overwhelming.

Through these times, I learn so much about God and his heart for me. He always has a word to encourage or correct me, and I have been very blessed by these times spent with Him. It’s sometimes so hard to make the time to do it, but I have never come away from it feeling regret for the time I spent with God. So I guess this is an encouragement to seek God out. Make an effort to hear what He is speaking to you- and find what works for you. It may take some time until you get it, but when you do, I promise you it will be worthwhile

I hope this has helped or encouraged you in some way as you read this, and I hope you spend some time with your Abba Father soon. He misses you 🙂

Be blessed! xo