His Grace is Enough

I saw a graphic shared on Facebook the other day that said: 

“She believed she couldn’t, and she was right. But God, when she gave Him every broken piece, of herself, He used it all for His glory.”

This isn’t a popular message right now- admitting your weakness, admitting your limits. You won’t get many followers, likes, or shares for it, that’s for sure!

You know what will?

 “Girl, you are in charge of making your dreams happen!” “Hustle and slay all day, girlfriend!” “Stop accepting less than you deserve.” “You are in control of your own life!”

..loudly shouts the widely successful author/speaker/entrepreneur/reality TV star/blogger/Instagram influencer/Facebook viral sensation.

That is the message that echos in our culture of women empowerment and it really is a message of false hope. The ultimate answer to our success is not found in our own abilities and talents. We cannot even take credit for those things because they were given to us as gifts from the Creator of the universe.

Beloved, if you are a believer, know that your life is much more useful in the hands of the Savior’s than in your own. His power and strength are really what we need.

This reminds me of the verses in 2 Corinthians 12 that the Apostle Paul penned:

“But [Jesus] 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. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

(9-10, NIV).

This message is so countercultural, but so much truth can be found in it. Much like the apostle Paul, I believe it is important to gladly boast in our weakness for it shows the world that our faith truly lies in Christ and not in ourselves. Jesus tells us that there is strength to be found there, not because we are awesome and capable and in control, but because He is. 

Your strength isn’t about how hard you can slay or hustle. Real strength comes from total dependency on God.

For His strength will always be made perfect in our weakness. What blooms in your life will be beautiful because of Him. 

Author and artist, Ruth Chou Simmons says it this way: 

“God demonstrating His glory through your dependency is your real story, and He’s writing it day-by-day through deepening roots and newly formed buds.” 

Your story of walking with Jesus is not about your works or what you can do to look more like Him in your own power or strength, it is about working with grace and allowing it to do its work in you and through you.

The more you lean into His grace, the more you will see growth and maturity in your heart and life. Through this dependency on Him, you will make Jesus famous and not your own name. God alone will receive all the glory that is due His name.

We must remind our hearts that His grace is enough to walk through this life, even when we feel so incredibly weak and powerless and incapable of what we feel God has called us to do. May we learn how to surrender our life to Jesus every single day and trust that He will use it all for His glory. 

Are you finding yourself “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” to accomplish a task that the Lord has given you?

When was the last time you asked God for His help in an area you were struggling?

If you find it difficult to admit your weakness, know that a safe place to run is into the arms of God. May we not walk in our own strength and learn how to humble ourselves before God so we can see Him work in our heart and life. This will help shine a light on how real and faithful God is to the world who are looking for real strength to get through the trials of life. 

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Eternal Gains

A year and a half ago, my brother-in-law was involved in a tragic drowning accident. He was only twenty-five years old and had only been married for a little over a year. I watched my husband, his parents, and my sister-in-law experience the deepest pain imaginable – pain so difficult that it physically hurt. Through this great loss, we’ve learned to walk through the pain with Jesus, trusting that He will continue to heal our broken hearts and believing we will see our precious brother again in heaven someday.

As Christians, we are not ones who grieve without hope because, ultimately, our hope is set in eternity. Because of the cross, we do not have to taste death because our spirit lives on and we live forever in eternity. 

It is the cross that accomplished the forgiveness of sin and made a way for us to have peace with the Father, which is the core of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Believing this gospel sets our hope towards the life that is to come. This place is not our home.

The Bible is full of truth about eternity and wisdom on how we should live our lives while we are still here on earth. Jesus doesn’t promise that we will escape pain here on earth, but He does promise that He will be with us always (Matthew 28:20).

The Apostle Paul shows us in Philippians 1:21 how we should view our life here on earth:

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

NIV

While we are here, we know our mission is to live to glorify Jesus and tell others about Him by preaching the glorious good news to all those God places in our path. When we face great pain and loss of loved ones or are facing our own mortality because of a terminal illness, we can find hope and rejoice that heaven is our reward.

The honest question is do you focus too much on this life? Do you believe it is better here on earth? Are you only concerned about your legacy you will leave?

When we die in Christ we live forever.

Yes, there is pain.

Yes, there is great sorrow and many questions as to why now, Lord? We have lost loved ones what felt like way too soon. We’ve had a lot of ‘whys’ just because we are human, and humans have a very difficult time processing death. But the Bible is very clear about the glorious hope we have that awaits us as believers in Christ and the truth of God’s Word is what gave us great peace in the midst of our pain. Our faith is forever set on our sovereign Lord, knowing the cross has the final word in the end.

Death doesn’t have the victory because in Christ, we are given eternity with Him!

Death doesn’t lose its sting on our human hearts, but our spirits should be so full of joy at the thought of being in the presence of Jesus where there is no more suffering. What great gain!

Take some time and pray this prayer if you are struggling to fix your eyes on eternity: Father, help me to see this life with eternal lenses and embrace the promises of everlasting life with Christ. Help me through times of pain and suffering as I hold onto the hope I can find in Jesus. I will continue to hide my life in Christ until I take my last breath here on this earth or until Jesus returns in His glory.

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Made for God’s Glory

When I was in my early 20s, shortly after graduating college, I was searching for the “perfect” job. I was so worried that I would end up in the wrong position and waste my gifts and my experience. Considering my degree was a BA in Theatre & Dance with a specialization in performance, once I decided not to move to a big city, I knew the chances of being able to find a job in the Midwest in my specialty were slim to none, so I was most definitely willing to compromise- for a period of time at least.

After nine months of unemployment after graduation, I finally landed a job as a receptionist in a small medical office as an insurance verification specialist for durable medical equipment. It did not make a lot of sense with my theater degree, but it was better than no job!

Since I wasn’t weighed down with being busy with classes, papers, projects, rehearsals, and shows, I was able to spend more time in my Bible and time in prayer, and the Lord truly began working on my heart. Instead of becoming so focused on my frustration that my job was not in my field, on my way to work in the morning, I began asking the Lord to give me opportunities to show His love to people that I encountered in that small medical office.

I realized that God had placed me there in that office not just to perform a particular job to get a paycheck, but ultimately, no matter what task I accomplished, I was there to do it all for God’s glory. I also realized that God cared more about people than He did about my productivity or accomplishments; He wanted me to show others more about His love and if possible, share truth about Jesus.

In Colossians 3:17, the apostle Paul says in his letter to the Church as Colossae:

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

NIV

He was reminding the Colossians that their ultimate purpose on this earth was to give God glory by showing God’s love and walking in peace with one another and to do all things with a heart full of gratitude. 

What does it mean to give God glory?

The word “glory” bears with it the idea of greatness of splendor of God as it pertains to the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the word “glory” is translated to mean “honor, dignity, worship and praise.” When we put the two together, we see that glorifying God means to acknowledge His greatness and give Him all the worship and honor and thanksgiving in all that we do and say. God’s glory is the essence of His nature- we bring Him glory when we revel in His divine essence.

How often are we consumed with our mundane activities that we forget who we are doing it for? I believe if we lose the motivation that we are doing it to glorify God, we are prone to grumbling and complaining, much like the children of Israel. We become ungrateful, and our hearts begin to grow hard and cold towards God. We begin to simply “go through the motions” in life and soon we are looking to other things to satisfy a longing in our soul that only living a God-glorifying life can satisfy. We were made to worship God, and He gave us the gifts and abilities in which to do that every day. 

Are you finding yourself grumbling and complaining when you are doing mundane tasks throughout the day?

When you are tempted to complain about your daily activities, turn that into an opportunity to praise and thank God.

Are you questioning your purpose regarding what you are doing for a living, like your career for example? Trust that God has you exactly where you are supposed to be. Pray for wisdom and seek Godly counsel if you believe it is time for a change.

In the meantime, ask God for doors of opportunity this week to share the love of Christ with someone God has placed around you.

You will be amazed at how that will begin to change your perspective on seemingly meaningless tasks or situations that make you uncomfortable or frustrated. Suddenly, you will search out chances to glorify God and tell others about His amazing love through the glorious gospel!

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Let Not Change Move You

Growing up, I learned very early on that not much in my life would stay consistent and that the pattern of my life would include a lot of change, and sometimes drastic change. From my parents’ divorce to my mom’s remarriage to a man she met on the internet (remember AOL chatrooms?) to the birth of another sibling when I was in middle school to moving homes every two years throughout grade-school and middle school to my father’s constant on and off battle with alcoholism to a sudden complicated break up with my high school boyfriend of two and a half years. It did not take long for a heart of anxiety to be formed in my life because there was not much in my life that I could run to for security. 

So as I got older, I ran to other things, other people. I quickly became ensnared by alcohol abuse and did many dangerous things that only served to create glue-strong attachments to other people — things like an adulterous relationship with a married man and countless one-night stands with random men I followed home from the bar. I was constantly anxious and depressed.

But, after I graduated from college, my eyes were truly opened to my selfish, promiscuous existence and my deep desire to find something firm and secure. I hadn’t been to church for years, but one morning I went. During the worship service, God met me in my mess and convicted my heart. Immediately I knew I needed to stop running away from Him and start running toward Him.

In that moment, I realized He was the security and peace I was searching for. I told Him I didn’t want to live this life on my own anymore and I repented for my rebellion and unbelief. I knew that all I was searching for could only be found in Jesus. I resolved to stand upon the secure foundation of the Rock, Jesus Christ, who never changes. After that moment, my whole world changed as God began transforming my heart. It was by far the best change I have ever experienced!

You may not have experienced difficult and often painful change in your life exactly like I did, but I’m sure you have realized that change is inevitable while we are here on this earth.

Change is just a part of life.

How we handle that change is really where we will discover where our hope and sense of security lies. If change is causing us to worry or stress out, we need not to run to other things or people to try to fix our anxiousness. We will always be disappointed, left feeling empty and even more anxious. We must run to God.

Philippians 4:6 tells us that we must not allow anxiety to overwhelm us, but instead, we are to come to God in prayer and cry out to Him with our requests, full of a thankful heart knowing He hears us.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Philippians 4:6, ESV

Nothing is too small when it comes to our prayers to God; He wants us to come to Him about everything! God not only hears our prayers; He responds with giving us His peace and protection. 

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:7, ESV

God’s peace is like nothing else this world can offer; it is beyond all human logic or reasoning.

He promises to protect our hearts and minds when we dwell on our position in Jesus, as forgiven children of God. He is not only the Creator and sustainer of life, but He is our heavenly Father that longs to protect and provide for us. 

So at the turn of 2020, are you undergoing a lot of change, whether by your own hand or by unforeseen circumstances? Is this change causing you to worry?

Instead of allowing these worries to drive you to other sources in an attempt to bring relief, make a list of these worries and take them to God is prayer today. He hears every request. You can find peace and rest assured that He is the One who never changes. Even if everything around you feels like shifting sand, remember that Jesus Christ is firm and secure.

While you are writing down your requests, listen to the old hymn, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less and reflect upon the One who is the only strong and constant foundation.

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Hope in the Lord and Receive His Strength!

While browsing home décor the other day, I found words of encouragement galore. Signs with words such as “Peace” and “Joy” and “Life” and “Hope” and “Strength” filled the aisles. Those words uplift the heart, but truthfully, are empty if they are not rooted in the only Giver of those things, God Himself. We cannot find joy, peace, life, hope, or strength apart from God. We cannot look within ourselves as the source. 

Much like the apostle Paul, I will gladly boast in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12). Jesus tells me that there is strength to be found there, not because I am awesome and capable and in control, but because He is. Just like Jesus tells us in John 16, He has overcome the world, therefore we can find peace and draw our strength from Christ’s victory on the cross.

Psalm 31:24 gives us a glimpse as to how we can find strength to face the adversity we face in this life:

“Be strong and let your heart take courage,
All you who hope in the Lord.”

Psalm 31:24, NASB

We are filled with hope and strength when we fix our eyes on God and trust Him and His Word.

His strength encourages us tell others about the truth of His love with boldness. We do not have to try to muster up courage to be bold for Christ because as believers, we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit who empowers us to preach the truth and fills our heart with the love of God to share with the world. God has promised us to always be with us and His Holy Spirit is nearer than our very breath. The enemy has no chance because God is greater than all the schemes hell can throw at us. God is not only with us always, but He has also given us spiritual armor to stand and face the enemy (Ephesians 6). We can rest knowing that God is sovereign over every battle and every resistance we will face. 

Are you trying to find strength in your own abilities? Are you putting your trust in hope in other things or people thinking they will bring you peace and joy?

If you find yourself looking to other people or things outside of Christ for source of peace, hope, joy, or strength, take this time to repent and fix your gaze upon God once again. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you lean upon God His Word. Our prayer should be much like John the Baptist: “More of You and less of me” (John 3:30). True strength is found trusting in the Lord. He holds the whole world in His hands, including your life.

Also, if you are struggling with finding courage to be bold for Christ, ask the Lord for an opportunity to share His love with someone who crosses your path. The Holy Spirit will strengthen you. 

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Count it all joy!

2016 was a hard year for me and my family.

While juggling with babysitting a friend’s son who was a full-on ‘threenager,’ I walked through a really difficult mothering season with my own son who seemed to always protest sleep since he was born.

Every few months, he went through major sleep regressions in which he would wake up multiple times a night. Occasionally he would sleep through the night, but the night wakings always seemed to continue for weeks leading into months at a time, night after dreadful night. About a month before he turned two, He began waking three-five times a night. This routine continued every single night for six solid months straight. We prayed (and cried), we had other people pray, we tried a sound machine, essential oils, added extra cushion to his bedding, and followed all of the pediatrician’s advice and tips.

Nothing worked.

Needless to say, sleep deprivation was my constant reality and it hit me hard in 2016. 

From all of the hormonal imbalances and added stress from the severe, chronic sleep deprivation, along with taking on a part-time job in retail around the holidays, I experienced a chemical pregnancy and battled depression on and off for months. Our marriage was also under so much strain because I simply was not behaving like myself whatsoever and was on edge or emotional all the time.

Feeling depleted and defeated was an understatement. 

As a Christian, it felt like such a fight to hold onto peace, hope, and joy. Knowing that true peace, hope, and joy are not circumstantial, I really had to lean on God’s grace to get through every single day unlike any other time in my life.

I knew the Bible told me that I needed to “count it all joy” in the midst of these trials, but I needed God to give me eyes to see the why behind that and empower me to the how as well. 

We find in the opening of James’ letter to the tribes of Israel, after his initial greeting, he immediately begins exhorting and encouraging God’s people that the storms of life are not for no reason at all; there is purpose within the pain. 

James 1:2-3 says,

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces [a]patience.” 

NKJV

We know that as children of God, our Heavenly Father is allowing these trials into our life to strengthen our faith in Him, knowing that He is always working things for our good (Romans 8:28). James 1:3 reveals that this sharpening or testing of our faith ‘muscles’ will produce a patience in us, which is a fruit of the Spirit. God will often use painful, uncomfortable, and stressful situations to sanctify us. We can have joy knowing that these storms of life and difficulties are molding us into looking more like Christ. 

Ultimately, we must remember that our joy is not anchored in this life, but most importantly, in the life to come.

When our lives are filled with trials, we must be able to look to the future—to heaven—to find the joy that can soothe our weary hearts. Our joy must be based on looking to God and to the inheritance we will receive in heaven. This is exactly what Jesus did. He was able to endure the cross because of the joy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:2). We, too, must realize that the suffering we endure in this life cannot compare with the joy that is laid up for us in heaven.

To be able to count all suffering joyful, we must be able to trust God.

Are you struggling with that kind of confidence in God’s goodness in all things and finding comfort in His sovereign hand in your life, even in your suffering? Ask God to help you find joy in Him alone and to give you a heavenly perspective when you are tempted to allow the present circumstances to consume you.

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Life Upon the Rock

Eight years. It has been eight years ago today.

Eight years ago, my life drastically changed with a tragedy I only knew of through movies and TV; I never thought it would happen to me.

Eight years ago, I clung to my Jesus tighter than I ever had in my whole life.

Eight years ago, I learned to stand firmly on Jesus Christ, my firm foundation and solid Rock.

Eight years ago, my dad’s life was taken from him in the most brutal and horrific way.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about my dad and the wonderful memories we shared. Although we had struggles in our relationship, I choose to embrace the good. I miss him very much.

I share this story to offer the hope that Jesus Christ has given me. No matter what storm you are facing or what tragedy you have experienced, Jesus is and always will be there for you. He is forever faithful. Stand up on Him. Stand upon the Rock.

The following is an excerpt from my book, Yielded in His Hands: Becoming a Vessel for God’s Glory:

One Sunday night, our pastor was talking about using your life to impact others’ lives for God. Towards the end of the service, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, Why do you want to be an actress? Who are you going to help by pursuing a career in acting? Those questions were a part of a major turning point in the direction of my life. I was deeply convicted.

As I drove home, I poured out my heavy heart to Paul over the phone. I told him that I didn’t think I was supposed to move to LA at all to pursue a career in acting. “Praise God!” he said. He had been praying that God would speak to me about this because he never wanted to move to the west coast. He didn’t want to be the reason I made the decision to stay; he wanted me to hear it from the Lord instead. He wanted to raise our family in the church he grew up in and be close to our families. He was so blessed to know this dream would come true. Although I felt a weight lift from my chest, I was terrified because I had built my life upon what I had wanted and planned, not what God had planned for me. I had a plan, and it was all laid out. Now everything was completely unknown to me. God had already established my steps before the foundation of the world. This was my first attempt at walking in them and surrendering my will. I believe this was the moment I decided to stop living my life on shifting sand and plant my feet firmly on solid ground because I was trusting in God’s word and not my own understanding.

The next morning, I went to work and tried to wrap my mind around what I had just decided for my future. It didn’t make sense, but I knew it was right. Trusting God will never make sense to our human minds, but that’s because God’s thoughts and ways are not our thoughts or our ways. God’s thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). During nap-time, I sat down to journal my thoughts.

Suddenly, my mom called me and told me that there was a family emergency and that it involved my dad. She did not discuss any details, but told me that I needed to come home from work immediately. I called the father of the boy I cared for and explained to him I needed to go home as soon as possible, even though I had no idea what had happened to my dad. A part of me wondered if he had been in some kind of accident involving drinking and driving; it had happened before. I knew that I needed to stay calm and not let fear overtake me. I prayed the whole way home and asked God to give me His peace.

I rushed home, and looked for anyone from my family, but no one was around. I ran up to my room trying to figure out who to call. Worry and fear gripped my heart, as thoughts of what actually happened circled my mind. I immediately started to have a panic attack and fell to the floor crying and hyperventilating. Within a few minutes, my aunt, step-dad, and Paul were surrounding me trying to calm me down. I wanted to know where my mom was and why she wasn’t there. “What is going on,” I cried out.

My aunt then uttered the words, “Honey, your dad has been killed. Someone shot him in the head and killed him. His body was dragged across the street to an abandoned building and the building was set on fire. They identified his body this morning by the metal plate in his pelvis.” My mind couldn’t comprehend what I had just heard. The phone conversation he and I had just a couple weeks prior to this ended in him hanging up on me. I never got to say good-bye or tell him that I loved him. I immediately went into shock and couldn’t stop shaking or crying.

My mom was at the police station with my brother, my grandma and aunt (my dad’s mom and sister) identifying his wallet and other belongings the police had found at the scene of the crime. This couldn’t be happening. This isn’t real. This sounded like something out of a movie or a forensic science TV show, not my life. There isn’t much I remember about that day, except being surrounded by my loving boyfriend, family, and my old pastor and church family from high school. God’s love held me and carried me through it all, I know. Because of God’s amazing grace, I was able to plan my dad’s funeral and endure the days following.

I was never very close to my dad’s side of the family because of the divorce between my mom and dad, but during this time, we needed to be. Many of his siblings had no idea the kind of lifestyle he was living and wondered how I was able to handle my grief. I gave them two reasons: the man that died was not my father (a bit dramatic and extreme, yes, but the devil had truly deceived him and had overtaken his soul) and of course, the strongest reason I could endure this dark time in my life was because of my faith in Jesus Christ. At the funeral service, which was held in the church I grew up in, I read one of my dad’s favorite poems, “Footprints in the Sand”and declared from the pulpit that Jesus is the only One who could carry us through this tragedy. And He did.

Thanksgiving that year held a different meaning for me as I realized how thankful I was for my life, even though I had suffered and struggled greatly through it. Through the tragic event of my dad’s death, I saw how fragile life was. God’s mighty love shined through all of that darkness and reminded me that He would never leave me nor forsake me, and He would give me strength to overcome any obstacle or tragedy, such as the murder of my dad. The devil tried all he could to knock me down and take me out, but there I was, standing on Christ, my solid Rock.

“He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”

Psalm 40:2b, NIV

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Don’t Follow Your Heart, Follow God!

For many years, I allowed my emotions control the way I walked through life and made decisions. If something felt right, I did it. If something didn’t feel right, I avoided it. Needless to say, I surrounded myself with people and situations that satisfied me and filled my feel-good tank. I eventually decided to study theatre and dance in college and made plans to move halfway across the country to Los Angeles. I was going to become a famous actress in Hollywood.

This fleshly behavior sounds a lot like the way a majority of people live their life, especially those who are unsaved.

But I considered myself a born-again Christian, and I received so much advice from other Christians to continue to pursue my dreams.

They told me to follow my heart. “Do what makes YOU happy!” 

But there was a problem…my heart was wreaking havoc on my life!

My anxiety was still there. Depression was always lurking, and my relationships were a mess!

My heart’s desires were leading me into more pain and deeper into sin because I was constantly allowing my feelings to be the guide of everything in my life…

…until one day, the Father intervened. 

My eyes were opened to my selfishness, spiritual depravity, and unhealthy addiction to my emotions. I repented for always living for myself and the Holy Spirit helped me to die to myself daily, and I began to seek the Lord with everything in me by spending time in His Word and attending church regularly.

Ultimately, I learned what it meant to submit my will and seek God’s will for my life, trusting that He would be faithful to direct my path.

One of the first verses that I memorized was Proverbs 3:5-6 that helped me during a time I needed to make a big life decision- if I was going to move to LA or not.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6, NKJV

We must trust God to be our guide, not our heart, as culture may tell us, or even what makes logical sense sometimes to our minds. If we have embraced Jesus as our Savior and the Lord of our life, the Father has given us His Holy Spirit to lead the way.

If we are putting our trust in everything or anyone, but the Lord, we will constantly be disappointed and lead astray and into sin. We must trust in the Lord with all of our heart, which should never be filled with more of this world than God’s Word.

It is our job to make sure that we are guarding our heart with all diligence (Proverbs 4:23) to protect ourselves from deceit and only allow the Truth of God’s Word to be sown in it and take root.

I’m so thankful that during that time in my life while I was faced with a major decision, I kept my heart full of God’s Word, which helped me lean upon Him for wisdom on what to do. One month after deciding that it may not be God’s will for me to move to Los Angeles, I was introduced to my now-husband and the rest is His story.

My advice to you, beloved one, is do not follow your heart. Follow God instead. He knows what you need more than you do. Trust Him with your entire heart and He will mold it to look more like His. 

Are there things in your life that you are trying to control?  Are you allowing your emotions or other people to influence your life decisions and behaviors?

Perhaps it would help you make a list of decisions, worries, concerns and bring them to the Lord in prayer, especially as we enter this new year. Beginning 2020 leaning upon the Lord and trusting Him is a great place to start every day new day and every new year. His ways and directions are perfect and He will never lead you astray.

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Longing for the whole Truth!

Today, I’m simply here to just write.

Vent, I guess you could say…

…gracefully vent.

*Sigh*

I’m going through something right now. Actually, my husband and I are both going through something right now.

Little by little, we have been placed in situations of surrender and letting go of things we were holding onto for security and comfort and learning how to fully trust God alone.

The house.

The furniture.

The freedom of being a stay-at-home mom to then take on a side job to help out some friends.

And now our place of Sunday worship.

Over the last several months, everything that has been the foundation of our faith has been challenged, and we are left unlearning a lot of things once again. We are searching out the scriptures to discover why we believe what we believe. And what we have discovered is that we don’t believe, or agree with, much of what we have been taught.

Needless to say, it’s been challenging…

…especially for my husband, Paul, since he sat under the same teaching for 20 plus years of his life (almost 25), and after we left the church he grew up at in 2010, we were led to a church whose pastor also sat under that very same teaching for years.

When you hear the same teaching for 20 plus years of your life and you trust your pastor more than God, you embrace what you are being told as truth.

And sometimes as the only truth.

But there’s a problem with that- we need to find truth in the Word of God alone and not necessarily an interpretation of what you are being told is truth. It becomes a danger because we never line up what is being said from the pulpit with what the Word of God really says. We should trust the Holy Spirit to be our teacher. We cannot just embrace everything that proceeds out of the pastor’s mouth because, honestly, he should know more than us, right?

Sadly, this happens more often than not in the churches of America. Many people do not read their Bible, and we put all the responsibility on the pastor to feed us, teach us, guide us. His job is to definitely help us learn, but most importantly, encourage us and equip us to go home and study out what we just heard. He was never supposed to walk out our walk with God for us.

A scripture taken out of context and twisted to fit our methods, principles, main points, and often, our fleshly desires, has been genetically modified, my friends. #SayNoToGMO

We can’t just embrace everything we hear from people. It must line up with the totality of God’s Word, what is called the whole counsel of God. Not just one scripture…the WHOLE THING! Much of what is heard on a Sunday morning is out of context. We have experienced this first hand, and the Lord had to reveal it to us the more we studied out His Word for ourselves!

I don’t write all of this as a jab at any pastor or man/woman of God in particular, I’m just simply expressing where we are in our walk. We have been disappointed countless times by numerous teachers of God’s Word, whether those we have sat under, or those we have listened to through the information super-highway.

We aren’t giving up on the Church. Although we are disappointed, we aren’t surprised. The Word of God explains to us that this is going to happen in the Last Days. And clearly, we are in the Last Days!

My husband is responsible for our family. I am responsible for my own heart and what my son hears and has sown into his heart until he is old enough to guard his own heart.

Above all, we must always judge what we are hearing, even if it is coming from the pulpit.

Don’t allow people to tell you that you are not supposed to judge…

…that’s a real popular topic among believers and non-believers alike.

Jesus tells us:

“Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

John 7:24, NKJV

What is “righteous judgment?”

“Judgment” in Greek in this particular verse means “the concept of determining the correctness of a matter.”

Use the word of God to discern what is false and what is unrighteous (Hebrews 4:12).

“If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.”

1 Timothy 6:3-5, ESV

Let the Word of God light your way, every single step. The Holy Spirit will guide you into all truth and peace.

I’m holding onto the Word, who is also Jesus, the Word made flesh! He’s our only hope in these times of testing and times of deception we all face!

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