Holiness Vs. Happiness

pablo-picasso

This morning I had a little breakfast date with my mom. It was so great just to chat and catch up. We chatted about different stuff for a while and then we started talking about different things that we had gone through in 2016. We began to talk about some of the hard times, and I was telling her about I lesson I wished I could tell a friend of mine. It started with this quote, “The true Christian ideal is not to be happy but to be holy.” I’ve been thinking about that since I saw it because I’ve found it to be really true. This past year there have been many times where I was frustrated with God because I felt like He had taken things from me that I thought He wanted for me. I felt confused and I was sad that I had lost friendships and relationships I cared about, but I also was telling my mom that I felt like I had learned so many lessons throughout the year.

My mom told me that she had felt the same way in the past. When we first moved to the state we live in now my mom was looking at two different houses in the neighborhood we now live in. She LOVED one of the houses but when we placed an offer the homeowners turned us down. They weren’t willing to negotiate and we weren’t able to get either of the houses we wanted. My mom was really upset and disappointed that God didn’t give us either of those homes, even after she prayed for God to give us one. Shortly after, another house came on the market. It was out of my parents budget but they toured it and they really loved it. Eventually they put an offer in on it anyway and were so excited when the previous owners came down on the list price. We are now living in that awesome home and my mom LOVES it!

But that’s not all. Since we bought this house, one of the houses that my mom wanted has had a tree fall on it and just recently it flooded. Now that we are in this home we’ve been able to see that God really blessed us by giving us this house. He kept us out of harms way and gave us a home that’s even better than what we had in mind. As we talked about it, we came to realize that sometimes God needs to take us out of a situation so that we regain our focus on Him and remember that He has a better plan for us.

Here’s what 2016 has taught me. “The Christian ideal is to be happy not holy.” In the end I know that God only has the best in mind for me, but when I’m in the midst of his plan sometimes it feels like the worst. God’s plan can feel like confusion, a broken heart, or happiness. I’ll be the first to tell you that God’s plan doesn’t always feel good, but whenever you reach the end of God’s lesson, you’ll realize exactly why God let things happen the way they did, and trust me, the true clarity you can see on the other side, and the closeness you achieve with God is always worth the pain.

Isaiah 55:8-9

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

 

 

Forget About It

Forgetabout it.png

Today in my AP Lang and Comp class we read a story called “The Minster’s Black Veil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The premise of the story revolves around the concept of secret sin and how man has to do some kind of penance to make up for his sin. This is something that he also addressed in his book, “The Scarlet Letter.” This theme was really popular in puritan towns when our country was first established. Alright, this is beginning to sound like a paper. What’s my point?

Well, in each of these stories the main characters sin in some way, they repent of it but they are forced to live their lives in some sort of punishment for their sin. In other religions man has to please God some how to have his sins forgiven, but with Christianity we are so fortunate, our God doesn’t need you to do a thing to please him! When you sin and you repent you are done with your penance! According to 1 John 1:8-10 we MUST repent but as soon as you do you are FORGIVEN. To me that is the best part of the Christian faith.

The ability we have as Christians to be forgiven defines our faith. The ability we have to be forgiven is the BEST part of our faith. God holds himself responsible for all of our sin, He will give us the strength to resist sin but if we do sin, there is no catch or condition for forgiveness.

Christians know that. Why am I talking about it? Because while God forgives us we often don’t forgive ourselves when we sin. We hold ourselves accountable for our sin and we feel guilty. Isn’t that a good thing though? Shouldn’t we feel bad? Nope. When we constantly hold ourselves in guilt we aren’t showing the great part of our faith. Forgiveness. When we forgive ourselves we show other the light of God, because he has put His grace and mercy into our lives.

So here’s my plan. I’m trying to be the best person I can be, with God’s help. I have to except though that I will fail. God will forgive me, and that is not going to stop me from seeking God out again. This plan isn’t going to come naturally though. I have to keep remembering that God is cheering me on and calling me to himself. I just have to keep walking towards him!

I hope you all have an awesome new year!! May God strengthen your relationship with Him and bring it into new levels!!

 

1 Corinthians Love

love-is

The other day I finished the devotional that I was going through. So I began looking for another one. I searched online to see if there were any that people really liked and I came across a blog called She Reads Truth. It is written by some Christian women and it features different scriptures. Yesterday the scripture featured was 1 Corinthians 13, the scripture that is often read at weddings that speaks about what love should be like.

As I read through the verses I was struck with the fact that these verses don’t just apply to a romantic relationship they are relevant in every relationship we have as Christians. So what do these verses say love is?

Love is…

Patient, kind, rejoices with truth, bears, believes and hopes all things.

Love isn’t…

envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, doesn’t insist on its own way, isn’t irritable, or resentful.

Here’s my question to you, is this the way you treat people in every relationship you’re in? Is this how you treat your siblings? Or those people who know how to push your buttons? It is hard to remember that we can’t pick and chose the people we show Christ to. God did NOT pick and chose who he wanted to die for. If he did we would’ve been in trouble! Try to think about everything Christ says love is when you feel unsure of what to do as you interact with others.

Today’s post is short and sweet as it is my dad’s birthday!! Happy birthday dad! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and continue to have a very happy new year, and that you faith would grown beyond what you could ever imagine!!

Make the Choice

count-it-alljoy-1

T-minus 3 days!! Christmas is RIGHT around the corner and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m in a holy, jolly mood and I am so truly happy to be visiting with family and to be feeling so incredibly blessed in this season. If I’m being truthful though up until about 3 days ago I was having a hard time feeling continuously happy. Weird I know, but it’s true. I would feel so content spending time with my family, and then that awful voice in the back of my mind would say, “Don’t relax. You have 3 papers to write before January. You should be working.” “Oh, you missed a blog post. Your perfect streak is over.” Or I would just remember happy memories from the past that were going to be different this year. It was hard to get those things out of my head and truly be with the people around me. In my previous post I talked about how I thought that a break in school would automatically bring me closer to God just because I wasn’t so busy, and how that has proven not to be the case.

More and more in this season of my life I am beginning to see that God is trying to teach me that ultimately the choice is mine. I have to chose what kind of Christian I’ll be. I have to chose to be a committed Christian. I have to chose to be a loving friend. As much as I would like to think that the ability to be in control of my emotions and actions, the voice in the back of my head, the devil, has an amazing way of crushing my confidence and bringing me right back to something I thought I’d overcome and discouraging me to the point where I feel like quitting.

Here’s the truth. That’s never going to go away, being a Christian will never be easy. You will never reach a point in your life where the right thing comes naturally. That doubt and self deprecation will always be hard wired into you. Here’s the important truth. We have a God who has been through the same tough thoughts and struggles on earth. He has overcome and He will give us strength when we ask for it. It might feel like God has walked away but every time I have felt that way it has been because I’ve made poor choices and pushed Him away.

Bottom line: God is always the same unwavering miraculous savior He has always been, Our earthly emotion may cloud our vision of Him, but if we reach out and earnestly pray God will draw you up out of the earthly confusion and disappointment that pulls us away. The joy that God gives is the sweetest most peaceful comfort. So continue your mission for faith. Purposefully chose to be filled with the joy of our savior. 

Then remember, sometimes you don’t feel it like a magic cloud of joy floating down on you but when you reach out to God He will show you His perfect plan, in His perfect timing!

Connect the Call

open-bar

It’s over! I have successfully survived my junior year midterms! I am so ready to relax and connect with God again! As much as I would love to say the stress of finals brought me closer to God I don’t think that’s the case. I was  exhausted and I kept praying to God that He would give me peace and energy and a desire to spend time with Him, but to be honest I didn’t feel much of a difference. Through these weeks I’ve realized something that I have known but never really thought about. Prayer doesn’t automatically make you super connected with God. 

When I pray, I feel joyful. It’s amazing that I get to talk with God but I don’t always feel like every worry and burden I have goes away, and that discourages me. I wish that I could remember every promise God makes in the Bible about how He will take away every worry and provide peace that passes out own human understanding. When I pray, even though I feel assurance from telling God my worries I sometimes feel as though the burdens of the world are pushing me away from Him.  What I’ve realized is that as long as you seek out the Lord, He’ll pursue you too. My favorite verse says this,

“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth, to seek those whose hearts are fully committed to Him.” 

2 Chronicles 16:9

That verse has been a huge encouragement for me in my walk with God! It has brought me conviction and comfort in times where I felt as though I wasn’t hearing from God as much as I’d like. The Lord always seeks us and even when we feel like we just can’t hear God in the chaos His love deeper than we can ever imagine!! He sought you out of the darkness you were in when you were lost in sin. So when the world makes you believe He is far away remember, your heavenly father is holding your hand and guiding you through life. He is calling. Connect the call.

Peace That Passes

for-any-girl

What a day! Today I took a HUGE test in my geometry class. I have been studying and trying not to stress about this test, but to be honest it has been on my mind for weeks!!! A large portion of my grade depends on this, and math is really not my thing. I heard someone say this statement the other day, have faith in God but also don’t use it as an excuse not to study. So I studied, and studied, and studied. I was still very nervous though and I didn’t want to feel like that when I’m telling each of my readers to trust in God and his plans.

So what should I do when I’m so unsure? Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray! Personally, I have a hard time remembering to pray because I just don’t think of it. I forget that I should tell God my worries because I know he already knows about them, but God wants us to give our cares to Him because it helps us have peace, then we give God control of our our worries.

Today I was soooo blessed! Four different people were praying over me while I took my test, and I felt it. I felt the peace of the Lord come over me, and it gave me an in-explainable confidence. I won’t know for a while what I made on my test. I do know however that I studied well, and that whatever I make is the will of God because He could help me make whatever grade I want.

Here’s what I’ve learned this season;

  1. Midterms are only a part of your life for a few weeks, don’t ruin your weeks with stress.
  2. God’s goal for your life is for you to glorify Him so remember that you are a witness for the God you serve all the time.

In the end, enjoy your Christmas season! Work as though you are working for the Lord! Then party hard! 😀

P.S. It’s past midnight but I’m going to say I got in my Tuesday post in today! :,D

Why You Shouldn’t Have “Quiet Time”

spend-time

I’ve always grown up in church, and growing up in church your pastor, youth pastor, and Sunday school teachers tell you about having a quiet time, and spending time with God. When I was growing up I thought your quiet time had to look a certain way to be “right.” You had to get up early, pray for God to open your mind, read the Bible, pray to thank God for teaching you, ask him to help you during your day, and done.

Nope.

While that is what a lot of people think of when they think of a quiet time, and that’s a perfectly fine way to have it, that’s not all it is. A quiet time isn’t a chore to get done, and it’s not a ritual. God really doesn’t care how you do it. He just wants you to BE with Him.

Think of it this way, you send your best friend a text message:

You: “Hey girl, I heard you had something to tell me. Try to help me to have an open mind about it though, I’m really busy.”

Bestie: “Oh yeah! I wanted to tell you this really amazing thing that I did for you!! It was so cool! And I learned something awesome, so I wanted to tell you about it!

You: “Oh cool, thanks for doing that! Can you help me make sure I have a good day? Okay we’ll talk tomorrow!”

Now imagine repeating this conversation every. day. You wouldn’t want to. You’d get bored, and you’d stop being excited about the thing your friend did for you, and what they had to teach you. This is what we need to avoid with our quiet time! God has done so many AMAZING things for us!! Things we can’t even wrap our minds around! There is no way we should ever be tired of talking to Him! But we can be. Our routine quiet times stop being interesting, and we feel guilty because we don’t exactly feel like spending time with God. I’ve been guilty of this too.

So what do we do?  CHANGE it up! We shouldn’t start and end our quiet time with a prayer like its an opening and closing paragraph of a paper. No way! Talk to God like you’re sitting there talking to a friend who wrote a book you’re reading. Ask him questions, thank Him for His promises! Secondly, you don’t always have to read the Bible. (Don’t worry, I’m getting somewhere with this.) You can listen to a podcast, or read a book written by a christian author, or even catch up with a friend who loves the Lord. Sometimes you can hear God more clearly when you reach out for a new perspective. Just be careful that you are deeply rooted in God’s word so that when you hear something that is not from God you can see that.

Remember this, God is the almighty, holy, and perfect creator of the universe, but He is also your loving father. He loves you with an love so great it cannot be expressed. He just wants to love you and be close with you more than He wants you to have a perfect quiet time. So stop having “quiet time” and start spending time with your savior.

 

“Letting Go and Letting God”

discerning-the-will-of-god-2

When going through day to day to day life I tend to compartmentalize things more than I should. Grades are my responsibility. Joy comes from the people I’m with. Physical needs, those are taken care of by my mom and dad. Money, that depends on me. Spiritual needs, they’re fulfilled by God. As I rely on all these different people for my needs I often feel confused and overwhelmed as I try to make sure that each of them will provide me with what I’m longing for.

This morning I had no idea what I would write about.  I had a few ideas but nothing I liked real well, until this afternoon. In my Language and Composition class we were discussing Transcendentalism, the idea that man can create his own world and religion based on his perception of the world around him. We began talking about the fact that many people in our world today “believe” in many different gods. The idea that, “even if only one of these is the true god I’m still going to believe in all of them because I’ll be protected from anything bad that might happen.” While I don’t take things to that extreme I felt God trying to tell me that this is something I do in my life, but in another way. By relying on other people or myself to take care of things, I am taking that control away from God.

Imagine that you were working on a group assignment in school; you ask your classmate to finish typing your group’s presentation so that you can give a speech the next day. Your classmate nods while texting and then heads home. You’re left with an uneasy feeling, nervous that you might not have a speech to give tomorrow. When you get home, you give in. You type the presentation yourself and hide it in your backpack. The next day when you get to school your classmate comes running up to you. He hands you the typed up presentation along with some note cards to help you present and a visual aid, ecstatic because of all his hard work.

Now, while I have worked with driven groups of students, I know this is not how group projects usually go. But go with me on this for a second. In this illustration Jesus Is your classmate, while you know He is a hard worker and hasn’t let you down before, you feel the need to take matters into your own hands so that your grade and reputation isn’t put on the line, even though He has something planned that is even better than you can imagine.

When we take control away from God we feel more secure with our problems in our own hands; but we are actually running away from the will of God. As much as we don’t want to believe it, sometimes God’s will looks like a failure in our eyes. Maybe we don’t get to pursue something we wanted to, or we lose a friend. As hard as it is to see at the time, every hard or sad moment brings us closer to God and can teach us lessons we never would have known. As hard as it may be, strive to give God complete control over each area of your life because He has His BEST plan in store for you when you give it ALL TO HIM!

“And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:19

3 Things You Should Stop Doing

narayani-clan-reunion-1

(Written by my amazing friend Emily!)

As Christians, we often hear about the things we can do to improve our walk with God. But have you ever stopped to think about the things Christians should stop doing if they want to grow their faith? Some of these may seem obvious, or maybe you think they don’t apply to you. That’s okay! Chances are, you’ve done at least one of the following 3 things (I know I have), or could still benefit in some way from this list!

  1. Comparing Your Faith Journey With Someone Else’s

It is human nature to compare ourselves with others. We compare appearances, athleticism, personalities, intelligence, everything! But comparing your walk with God to someone else’s is a dangerous habit. Everyone experiences God’s presence differently. Some people receive visions. Some people talk with Him for hours a day. No matter how you connect with God, He doesn’t care if your walk is different from someone else’s. In fact, He wants it to be different! That’s what gives us unique spiritual strengths! Remember, He just wants you to spend time with Him in your own special way. Lamentations 3:25 & 26 says, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

 

  1. Feeding the “This Won’t Affect Me” Mentality

As an 18-year-old, this is probably the thing I struggle with most, and I know many other teens and young adults do too. We want to be “cool” and fit in with our peers, so we buy into the belief that seeing or hearing one bad thing won’t change anything. I mean, everyone is talking about how awesome that movie is, and even though it has some extreme language and a pretty sexy scene, I know I’m a Christian. Maybe that sounds familiar. An occasional R-rated movie or explicit song won’t hurt us, right? Wrong. This thought pattern results in our minds being subtly polluted with the garbage of the secular world. We can’t focus on God and keep our minds and hearts pure for His glory if we are simultaneously being tempted to say the curse words floating around in our heads. We can actively take a stand to give God control of our hearts and minds. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

 

  1. Being Upset With Yourself When You’re Afraid

Everyone has fears. We fear snakes, spiders, rejection, heights, the unknown, injury, failure, the death of loved ones, not fulfilling God’s purpose, etc. It would be safe to assume that many people try to push these fears aside and pretend they aren’t there. After all, doesn’t the Bible say to not be afraid? Yes! But the bible also says to trust God. Instead of being ashamed that we are afraid, all we have to do is believe that God loves us and wants to help us. Admitting your fear to God might seem uncomfortable if you aren’t used to it, but he’s your friend and wants to know how you’re feeling. So when we are worried or scared, talking to God about it is the best way to overcome those fears while strengthening our walk with Him. Psalm 34:4 says, “I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from my fears.”

“Wait, I forgot what flowers smell like.”

smelling-the-roses

If you’re anything like me, or even if you’re just human, you’ve probably wondered;”Jeez when did my life get so stressful! And uh… when can I be done with it?” As a junior in high school I can safely say my life is filled with the most stress it ever has been. With midterms approaching I’m starting to feel like a little bit of a stress mess! But why do we lose our heads about this stuff when God has told us so many times in his word not to worry? And if we’ve had success in the past, why do we let a new test stress us out when we know God is with us? In my life I have had my fair share of terrifying seasons, whether that be family members getting sick, driving for the first time, or making big decisions about my future. In those times it was easy to rely on God. We know those problems are bigger than ourselves and we need to rely on Him for comfort when we have no control; but when we have exams or work weighing on us we often feel like we can be successful but we “just need more time” or if we were “just smarter” we could be totally capable of our tasks all on our own. As humans we have the desire to be in control. We want to feel confident in ourselves because it gives us peace, and boosts our confidence. (Believe me, I’m speaking from perfectionist experience on this one.)The only problem… that’s not our job. God gives us this reminder in His word:

“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.”  Proverbs 19:21

Yeah.. that pretty much sums it up. Stress is something I constantly struggle with, no doubt. But I’m trying to give my cares to God because I think He’s got a pretty good idea of what He’s doing. 😉 As we rapidly approach the holiday season, I hope you all can find some peace in the Lord. I’ll be praying we all do!