Run to Jesus

It’s very common for us to hear stories of grace and lift our hands in praise then turn our gaze quickly away.  So often we know all of the right answers, but we live as if we’re clueless. Our understanding of Christ is surface deep and strangely, we seem content with that.

We have a passion for knowledge, but no passion to put the knowledge to practice. We highlight the leaves of our favorite passages but leave the truth behind as soon as we close the pages. There is a huge abyss between the things that we say we believe and the things that we show we believe through the way that we choose to live.

Why is that?

Why would I marvel at the love that Christ has for me as I dwell on the pages of Ephesians, only to turn around and insist that my brother earn that love that I never could? Why would I say that Christ is my all while I resist living in such a way that proves it? How can I praise Him for His life of servant-hood through which He laid down His life for those that despised Him and then hold back from forgiving those that have ever so slightly hurt me?

Perhaps we don’t know what it means to truly follow Christ. We know about Him, but we have a harder time actually knowing Him. Perhaps we don’t know what it means to deny ourselves and live for the One that died for us because when we truly understand the gift of grace, our natural reaction will be to give up the things of this world.

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in all his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” Matthew 13:44

We can read about forgiveness, but until we actually receive forgiveness and learn to forgive others, we don’t know really what forgiveness is. We can hear about love, but until we experience the unending love of the Father, we really can’t understand what it means to be loved. We can say that we follow Christ, but until we deny ourselves and pick up our cross, we cannot follow Him.

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

Sometimes we say that grace calls us out of our comfort zones, but it’s probably more accurate to say that grace calls us to destroy our comfort zones. We are called to let go of self, let go of sin, let go of anything in this world that isn’t of Christ, and this is going to impact our lives in a very real and tangible way. Every day our life is going to bring along decisions and we’re going to have to choose between denying ourselves or denying Jesus. The only way to truly follow Him is to deny ourselves.

“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10:38-39

If our hands are full of our own ways and our own dreams and plans, we cannot grasp the things of Christ. It is only when we empty our grasp on the things of this world that we can pick up the cross of Christ. In picking up our cross, we are accepting the call that He has for our lives and embracing the life that grace is beckoning us toward.

We cannot hold on to our own kingdoms and still reach out to embrace His. It’s one or the other. We can’t run after our own plans and insist on our own ways and still say that we want to acknowledge Him in all of our ways. Our choice is self, or Jesus.

Either choice is going to be evident in every area of our lives. Our choice will manifest itself in the way that we love. When Jesus comes in, He restores and reconciles and makes us alive with Him. Your life is a reflection of the grace that He has shown you. Radical love results in radical living.

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Maybe no one knows the exact things that we struggle to hang on to, but our Father knows and is calling us to release them so we can love Him more. Whether it’s media, an incorrect view of love, a grudge, a feeling of entitlement, a tendency to put self above others, insecurities, or perhaps impatience with those that have a knack for frustrating us, He’s calling us to let them go. Whatever it is, He is better, and He’s calling us to loosen our grip so that He can fill our arms with something much greater than we could ask for—His presence and love in our lives.

“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest in me. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Sometimes we call out for grace and He gives it to us in the form that we least expect it. Sometimes what we need most is an uncomfortable grace that calls us to change through the call to empty our hands of the never-satisfying things that take priority in our hearts. He is calling us to give up our own wisdom so that He can show us the reality of our delusions. We can admit and embrace our short-comings and trust Him to lead us through our weaknesses. We can look to Him for His perfect strength as we carry our own cross and run toward Him.

“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.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Would Jesus Watch The Walking Dead?

Every Sunday evening, my news feed is filled with TWD. Many professing Christians, as well as a good portion of the world are so caught up—almost obsessed with this TV series. There’s nothing wrong with entertainment, but as Christians, we should be mindful of how we are living, aware of the things that we are allowing to influence our lives, and make sure that we are being diligent to follow Christ in every area; even the things we see on TV.

Is the content of TWD God-glorifying?

This should be obvious just from the title of the show. Nothing in it glorifies Jesus, righteousness, love or life. It is full of the ways of the flesh, including violence, rape, racism, illicit sex, gore, murder, hatred, and horror.

Philippians 4:8 says “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

As Christians, we have been called to “in all that you do in word or in deed, do all to the glory of God, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17) Would it be possible for us to live Philippians 4:8, and Colossians 3:17 as we are filling our minds with the content of TWD?

Let’s go back to that WWJD question. Would Jesus watch TWD?

Is it beneficial to my walk with Christ?

We have been called to live worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4), and commanded to walk as wise, making good use of our time (Ephesians 5). Christ has saved us from the ways of the flesh, and we should not sit and watch a show that glorifies the very things that He has saved us from. Our calling as Christians is to live worthy—holy as Christ is. When I think about all that Christ has done for me, and the love that He has for me, and the continual forgiveness that He pours out on me, my mind is blown, and TWD seems very silly at best.

Our one life purpose should be to live for Him, and we don’t want to give anyone a reason to question the call within us. If an activity does not benefit my walk with Christ or cause me to grow closer to Him, then why do it? That sounds pretty intense, but isn’t what He did for us more intense than just not watching a TV show?

We have been called to freedom.

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13

I think some might try to use this same argument as an excuse to watch TWD. I’m free in Christ, so I don’t have to live legalistically. He is a God of love and I don’t have to get so caught up in trying to please Him because He’ll forgive me. Right…?

“You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness. I am using an example from everyday life because of your human limitations. Just as you used to offer yourselves as slaves to impurity and to ever-increasing wickedness, so now offer yourselves as slaves to righteousness leading to holiness. When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness. What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:18-23

In Galatians, Paul tells us to use our freedom to serve one another in love, not as an opportunity for the flesh. In Romans 6, we are told that grace is not a license to sin. We are free to live for Him, not free to live for ourselves. We are no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to righteousness.

If TWD is not God-glorifying, and if we as Christians have been called to be free, and if filling our minds with TWD is not beneficial to our walk with Christ, then why are so many still watching it?

Entertainment. We love entertainment. We can find out a lot about our hearts by looking at what we find entertaining. Are we entertained by zombies and watching people get their heads smashed in? What does that say about our hearts?

Proverbs 4:23 says “above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

If our decisions and everything we do come from our hearts, then a great priority should be put on guarding them. So many of us are dealing with depression and anxiety, and we need to ask ourselves about what we are filling our hearts with. We cannot expect to fill them with filth and go unaffected. (If you think that can fill your heart and mind with garbage and go unaffected, please go read Proverbs…)

 

These reasons apply to a lot more than just TWD. They can apply to every other movie, the music that we listen to, the books that we read, the things that we say, or the things we wear. If you are in Christ, you have been called to freedom in Christ. We need to pray “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) We have been called to live a life worthy of what He has called us to, and that call is to glorify Him with our lives through holiness.

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” -1 Peter 1:13-16

Are these things easy? No, but all things are possible through Christ. (Philippians 4:13)

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” -1 Peter 2:9

We have been called out of darkness! Now let’s go together and live in the light of His wonderful love.

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Prioritizing with Little Ones

24 hours is all you get. Dividing that between work, cleaning up messes, comforting little people who wake up sick or scared at 3a.m., potty training, tantrums, mini food fights, and tripping over all the toys in the floor, prioritizing is hard. What actually matters? What needs to happen, and what can wait until the terrible twos are over? What’s for dinner tonight??

Do you ever wish you just had a to-do list that was numbered most to least important? Getting caught up in all these tiny daily decisions is exhausting and seemingly impossible.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added unto you.”
Matthew 6:33

You only have one priority today, and that is to seek the Lord. That might sound daunting, or it might seem useless. It’s obvious, but we forget about it. It’s so simple, yet so hard.

Give the first of your day to Jesus. Make Him your #1. If you accomplished your entire to-do list, but left Him out, you failed. Yet, if you’re still in your pajamas by dinnertime, but you put Him first, you’ve done all you need to do.

Start with 30 seconds. Give Him your first 30 seconds. Ask Him to walk with you throughout your day. Ask Him to show Himself through the frustrations of the day, and learn to see His hand on you through the cheerful squeals of toddlers.

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Striving For Weakness

I don’t want to be weak. I don’t want to struggle. I don’t like being ignorant of the answers to life’s questions, or struggling to understand something I should already know. I hate weakness. I fight it. I want to be strong. I push myself to succeed, I work to become better so that I can do life on my own.

Our culture tells me that I’m doing the right thing. I need to be independent, I need to do it all on my own. I need to support myself, I need to be emotionally stable, I need to be educated, and I need to be popular and accepted and have all the right friends and all the while act as if I’m not even trying. Aside from all this, there’s the unexpected and very real hardships of life that come out of nowhere and demand attention that I don’t have. Then, I have to pull it all off with a no-big-deal attitude, and its gets discouraging because I always fail.

I’m never strong enough for the waves that come over me. I always end up too deep, too busy, and too caught up in things that don’t matter and things that don’t bring the joy that I’m searching for. It’s like a cycle that I go through. I work to do the right thing, everything is good for a while, and then suddenly I become overwhelmed with my weakness again, and start it all over. I work to be strong, and run from the very thing that I need to embrace.

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I am weak, and that’s exactly where I need to be. I am dependent, I am needy, I am broken and fallen and in need of grace every single moment. I need to die to my desire to be strong on my own. I need to be weak, because that’s where Christ shows me His strength.

Paul says in Galatians that anyone who believes himself to be something when he is nothing deceives himself. Fighting to become something, striving to feel better about myself, and trying to believe that I am better than I actually am is just me battling against the truth of my need for grace.

I want grace. I want God’s favor in my life. I want His peace and I want to believe in His promise to be faithful to me. But since I am weak, and in my weakness I want to be in control, He has to take me through all kinds of storms to show me the truth. He has to show me the difference between my abilities, and His abilities. He has to continually point out the truth of my weakness and His strength and love and mercy and grace that is continually being poured out for me. The process is hardly ever fun.

It’s all an issue of focus. When my focus is on my problems instead of my Savior, I misunderstand what’s actually going on. I think that God has abandoned me since I am facing trials. I begin to doubt His strength and the cycle begins again.

When I turn and face my Savior, my problems become so much smaller because I see the strength that I can have in Him. I understand that sanctification is actually what is happening. I begin to learn that His grace abounds in the deepest waters because that’s where I am fully aware of my weakness and that’s where I can finally understand the greatness of my Father.

My new mission is to find joy in the storms. I want to strive after weakness so that I can rest in His strength. I want to face the fact that I am nothing so I can trust in Him who is everything. I want to welcome the waves because I know the one who created them and I know that He can carry me through them.

“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. 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

No Compromise, No Trump.

It’s all making me sick, you guys. Cruz drops out and now all the Christians are running to Trump. Last week we were all talking about him and his incapability to lead a nation, his lies and inconsistency and his fabulous ability to give a whole speech without even expressing a complete thought. Now this week everyone is flocking to his side in Hillary fear. Why are we throwing our standards out the door..?

There are 2 arguments that are floating around right now.

“We have to vote the lesser of two evils.” and “A vote for 3rd party is a vote for Clinton.”

Both are lies.

 “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20

You are a child of God. An earthly representation of Jesus. We show the world who He is by how we live our lives. Are we doing this? Are we making God’s appeal to the world through our lives? Are we promoting truth or are we approving evil through our lack of trust in His sovereignty? As Christians, we never ever have to vote for the lesser of 2 evils. Lesser evil is still evil! God always gives us another option. A way of escape. This is our promise. He always gives us the opportunity and strength needed to follow Him. Don’t be tempted to vote for evil! We never have to compromise.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13

We do this weird thing where we’re all like “Trust Christ, Trust Christ!” then things start taking a turn that we hadn’t expected then we’re all like “Retreat, retreat! Take it into our own hands!”

Come on guys. When has that ever worked..? The solution is not to back-pedal, but to press on with our confidence in Christ!

 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

“Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes.” Psalm 37:7

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgement, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.” Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
Colossians 2:8

Our devotion to the Republican Party does not over-ride our devotion to Christ! If the Republican Party abandons Christ, we don’t follow them!

A vote for 3rd party is not a vote for Hillary. This logic makes sense only when you take God’s influence over these things out of account.

“For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by Him.”
Romans 13:1

Therefore, it’s not our job to choose a president. God’s already done that. It’s our job to represent Jesus.

(A random side note, I find it amusing that we actually think that we’re the ones who choose the president. We’re such little creatures with such puffed-up egos, filled with so much pride and actually think we somehow have an influence over things that are out of our control. God, the King and Creator of the universe is sitting up there making it all happen and we’re down here, alive only because He keeps our fragile hearts beating, and somehow think that He needs our help to make things happen down here.)

So Christians, here’s my challenge to you: stop worrying about what the future holds. God has it all in His hands. Don’t compromise your convictions, trust in His promise to work it all out for good. And maybe, if we all put aside our fear and unite in our trust in a mighty, sovereign, and loving King, we can actually be a light in this dark world.

Vote for God’s man and remember: God trumps Trump.

Spiritual Gifts, Myers Briggs, and Color Analysis…Related..?

So this semester I took a break from college classes. I was planning to CLEP my remaining classes, but then I discovered that my self-motivation isn’t as strong as I once thought.. So since my mind has been free from the bondage of school, I’ve been able to research some things that actually interest me– Myers Briggs and spiritual gifts being the 2 main topics. After turning these things over and over in my mind, I discovered that there are so many similarities between the 2 topics.

At first this surprised me because, wow, there’s a correlation between our personalities and our spiritual gifts? But then, as I started thinking on it more, it totally made sense! God has given us the personalities that we need to use the gifts that He has given us! I, for example, have a strong personality. I’m an ENTP, I am motivated by goals, I love problem solving, I’m very direct and to the point, and I have no problem with confrontation in order to make things right. I want everything to be resolved and can usually identify the root of problems. I’m outspoken, and sometimes just a little bit blunt. I then started looking into cognitive functions, and as an ENTP, my dominant function is Extroverted Intuition which includes the ability to accurately read people. In turn, my spiritual gift is Prophecy, which requires all of these attributes! I then tested my findings with my friends, and I discovered that my friends that had the same Myers Briggs shared the same spiritual gifts. SO COOL.

So eventually I thought: a. I’m on to something, or b. I really need to enroll in classes to refocus my attention..

But I kept thinking on it, and after a while, I also discovered that there is a correlation between Myers Briggs, which is brain types/cognitive functions, and Dressing Your Truth, which is a beauty profiling system that can determine what colors you should wear based on your physical attributes and energy profiling. This then led to the Color Analysis theory, and the 4 Greek temperaments (Sanguine, Phlegmatic, Choleric, and Melancholy) and they all fit together!

A lot of thinking, I know.

After a while, I started putting all the pieces together and I came up with the following chart that shows the correlation between all of the different systems, and spiritual gifts. The end result being that I think it’s possible that my chart can determine what colors look best on you based on your Myers Briggs and spiritual gifts. It sounds far-fetched, but take a look and see if it lines up for you!

finalchart

Here are a few things that I want to make clear though:

  1. I’m not an expert of any kind in any field. This is all a result of critical thinking, discussion with my mom, and tons of reading (and a fair amount of Pinterest surfing).
  2. It is possible to have more than one spiritual gift. I believe that your strongest gift will determine your Myers Briggs, and you’ll probably find that any other gift you have will show some tendency toward the corresponding Myers Briggs. (for example I also have the gifts of teaching and leadership which shows through my J tendencies.)
  1. I didn’t actually come up with anything new, I just put some puzzle pieces together. Here are the links to some of the previously existing data from which I drew my conclusions:

4 Greek Temperaments

Dressing Your Truth

Color Me Beautiful

Myers Briggs

Spiritual Gift Research

Thoughts? Think something on the chart should be changed? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear more thoughts on this!

Faith Through The Hardship: trusting in His goodness

A calling had been weighing on her mind but uncertainty and insecurity were clouding her judgement. The temptation to ignore His call was strong. The questions of doubt and hesitation far out-weighed the answers of confidence and trust. Ill-equipped to carry out His plans, and lacking the trust to believe He is able, she ran back—deep into her comfort-zone where a lack of faith coexisted with guilt.

Pounding down the court, eyes on the hoop. Noise of fans and encouragement of teammates surrounding him, sweat dripping. An opponent in view as he dribbles behind his back. Intense pain follows the blow clumsily delivered to his foot by his opponent. Senior year, one play. High school career over. 2 broken bones, 10 weeks of recovery. Crutches and a boot to replace the high hopes and big plans of a driven and diligent student.

Late nights, but early mornings weighed in on his shoulders as the never-ending load of work coincided with conflict and tension. Exhaustion inflicting stress and stress threatening to take over. Patience ever in high demand. The conviction to love and let Christ often battled by the temptation to give up. Troubled thoughts weighing heavy through the fight for a renewed focus.

As they arrived at the ER, nurses and techs flew to their side as they tried to diagnose what was going on. “He’s a heart baby!” Someone shouted through the chaos. He was rushed off to another floor and his parents stood empty handed, still and shocked as they silently begged God to spare the life of their youngest child. Utter helplessness. Complete uncertainty. Overwhelming emotions. How was the day going to end?

this for destop
Claire Jennings Photography

 

“When hardships come your way, will you tell yourself it’s a tool of God’s grace and a sign of his love, or will you give in to doubting his goodness? …The difficulties that you face are not in the way of God’s plan, they do not show the failure of God’s plan, and they are not signs he has turned his back on you. No, those tough moments are a sure sign of the zeal of his redemptive love.” Paul David Tripp

The natural response is to worry or to feel uneasy when we are faced with unavoidable battles. We cringe when God calls us to something that is outside of our “perfect plan”. We retreat from the face of hardships and cower at the sight of trials. We wonder why God is doing this to us. We wonder how we’re going to cope. When we are faced with trials that we can’t fix or control, we fret because we are not able. We are anxious because we are using only our own might, and not depending on the strength of Christ. We, once again, attempt to live on our own capabilities and once again, we’re going to find that we fall short. Instead of taking shelter in Him, we try to brave it on our own, and find that we are no match for the storm. The temptation is to become frustrated at the trials. Frustrated with God for taking us through yet another valley. And frustrated with ourselves because we aren’t as strong as we think we are.

But our fear, our confusion, our struggle to understand or make sense of a situation never comes from a right understanding of God, but always from a tainted view of self. When we try to fight on our own, we forget that without Him, we can do nothing. (John 15:5) We feel confused when hardships arise because we struggle to understand His perfect plan. We have to always remember that His perfect plan is for our good (Romans 8:28-30), and when we cling to this truth, our confusion will be replaced with trust in His faithfulness and an understanding of His great love will bring us peace.

We need the continual reminder that as long as Christ loves you, He is going to be working to bring you closer to Him. And as long as He is working to bring you closer to Him, He is going to take you through the rough times to show you just how much you need Him. And once you understand just how much you need Him, the rough times are going to be a little bit sweeter because the realization of His love for us is stronger than any valley we tread.

The truth is this: every hardship you face, every trial He takes you through, every test of your faith is for one purpose, and that purpose is to make you more like His Son. If we can remember this during the tough times, if we can look up to Him instead of looking down at our own understanding, we will see that His plan is for our ultimate good because He is the Author and Finisher of our faith. His unending love for you compels Him to take you through the hardships because through the hardships your dependence and trust in Christ grows as you understand more and more just how weak you are, and just how strong He is. Your suffering should not create feelings of discontentment, confusion, or frustration, but should instead evoke in you a rejoicing spirit because the hardships in your life are a sign of His love for you because His love is working to make you more and more like His Son.

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but 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.” Romans 5:1-5