Sunday, April 6, 2014

Self-Worth

God has been pressing a very serious conviction on my heart. As people, we need to find our self-worth in Him. Our ENTIRE self-worth.

Looking for self-worth in people is unfair to them, you, and God. It is an idea that people are never going to live up to, thus it can only lead to disappointment. It also devalues the priceless gift Christ gives us in a new life in Him.
In the book of Titus, Paul informs Titus of the different duties of different people within the church. In chapter three, he tells Titus to remind people to respect authority and be considerate of all people. He then writes that even he, Paul, used to live in hate toward people. BUT...
 Titus 3:4-8  
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men.
I think that if we are to live out what we are commanded, we need to recognize that our full identities are in Christ alone. God loves us so much that He pours out the Holy Spirit on us richly through Jesus so that, through His grace, we become His heirs in eternal life! What does that say about our self-worth?
It doesn't matter what has happened in the past or what people say now. All that matters is what Jesus says you are worth:
Luke 12:6-7
 6Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God.Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.
If God does not forget a single sparrow, then how much more will He remember every single person?
Picture courtesy of Bing Images.

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Post In The Midst of a Struggle


For the past several days, and honestly weeks, I have felt like I'm losing in a horrible battle of depression.  I say "a battle" because there have been many before this one, and I don't doubt there will be many more after this one.  I know that the war is already won, I just have yet to celebrate the victory.  Knowing that future celebration is coming gets me through some moments, but others are swallowed up by the depression.  In fact, because I have felt like I have been losing this particular battle, I have been reluctant to post much recently.  I figured I should wait until I have mustered the strength to seek God in overcoming this period.

But then I stumbled on on blogpost titled "I have... depression."  My struggles are nothing compared to what the author of this blog is facing.  But instead of hiding his trials, he is sharing them. One paragraph he wrote really stuck out to me:

My desire in sharing my struggle is that others may feel compelled to tell someone of their dealings with depression, instead of feeling that they must keep it to themselves. That is what community among Christians is for! We should be helping one another in our times of sorrow.

I realized that I don't have to be in a high point to share my thoughts.  I can share in the midst of a struggle. My struggle: overcoming depression and focusing on Christ to guide me daily.

A few other sites that are inspiring and encouraging
A Patient Process (I find every single post realistically hopeful)
Want a devotion?  Daily Devotion Blog

I know this is an old song, but God really used it to encourage me this week.  Even when it feels like no one is around or relates to you, Jesus never leaves you alone.

Picture courtesy of Bing Images.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Be Your Own Dark Horse


This may sound silly, but I had no idea what the term "dark horse" meant until just a few weeks ago.  For those of you that may not know but just don't want to admit it, it means:

Monday, March 10, 2014

Moving On


A wonderful woman and I lead a junior high girls small group in our church youth. The entire youth group has been going through a series about bringing offerings before the Lord. The theme verse is Deuteronomy 16:16b, "No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed." (NIV). The series encouraged the students to bring their sin, guilt, and tithe (if not money, then time and personal investment) to Jesus. 

For the final week in the series yesterday, instead of breaking off into small groups, the pastor set the microphone down and essentially had an open mic for any of the junior highers to open up to the peers about how the series spoke to them. It was awesome to see several junior high kids speak about how the Lord was speaking to them. Many spoke about what was holding them back from having a better relationship with God. 

Then I was convicted. What's been holding me back from God? What sin, guilt, and tithe have I not been bringing to Him? The answer: my hurts from past people. I almost daily remind myself of how someone has hurt me and how many of my friends have just forgotten me. I feel like those who have hurt or forgotten me have moved on, not caring about leaving me behind. Some days I allow that to just eat me up. 

Then God reminds me that even if for the rest of my life I never get to rekindle the friendships I had with those who moved on, I get to hang out with them in heaven. I say this with assurance because I am fairly certain that they believe in Christ's salvation just as I have. While it is so awesome that that Bible guarantees an eternal relationship with God for those who trust in Him, I believe heaven will be filled with restored friendships that were either lost or destroyed on earth. That excites me!

Unfortunately, I have a horrible habit of keeping my eyes on the past. It can be so difficult to move forward, but it is only impossible as long as we continue to look back. Learn from the past, yes. But do not remain in it. My devo today pointed me to two passages:

Isaiah 30:21
Your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left

Psalm 32:8
I will instruct you and teach you in the way in which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.


These verses are encouragements that the all-knowing God wants to guide us. They are a reminder to me that whenever I am lost in dwelling on my past pain, I need to forget that and focus on Christ. I need to allow Him to guide and counsel me. 

Another verse I received from a friend today:

Psalm 119:107-108
I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word. O accept the freewill offerings of my mouth, O LORD, and teach me your ordinances. 

After reading that, I see that the Lord is showing me something. I need to bring to Him what I am holding onto: the bitterness over my past pain. And I need to be receptive to learning His teachings.

God gives us opportunities to move on, we just need to trust Him in moving forward.  

Picture courtesy of Bing Images.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

An Overview of My Testimony

Today I had an assignment due in my Missions, Evangelism, and Discipleship class. I had to write a 2 page paper on my personal testimony of how I came to know Jesus as my Savior. I decided to go ahead and share my paper on my blog as well. In reality, I could have written a 10 page paper. So this paper is really a short summary of how God has worked in my life. I plan to one day share the more detailed of God's work in my life. But for now, here is the overview (I changed a few minor things for the post):

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Forgiveness


Today I was blessed with the opportunity to teach a lesson from the Bible to a group of preteen girls. I taught over Matthew 18:21-35. I decided to blog my lesson because as followers of Christ, we always need a reminder to forgive others. Just two things to keep in mind while reading the lesson:
                                  1) I taught this to preteens, so it is in pretty simple language.
                                  2) Think of what action or attitude the Lord may be calling you to.

Matthew 18:21-22
Then Peter came and said to Him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven."

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Benefits of Journaling


Yesterday, I wrote the final entry in my current prayer journal. In writing my concluding entry, I went back to reread my introduction entry. It was crazy to see how much life had changed in that year and half. I was 18 years old and just a few months into dating my now husband. One might expect me to say that the things that bothered me back then seem so silly now. But that wasn't the case. The things that bothered me then turned out to be the things that caused me some of the greatest heartaches I've ever had to face. In flipping through the pages of my journal, I saw how those nagging tugs at my heart turned into red flags, blaring sirens, and eventually emotional catastrophes.

But throughout the heartaches, I wrote down so many prayers and Scriptures. In many entries,

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Just a Frustrating and Expensive Day

Today started off alright...shortly after waking up I read Acts 4, both for my devotion and for the required for a class I'm in. Peter and John are arrested by religious leaders, and then released because they have no reason to hold. But what really got to me was verses 32 through 37. The very first believers in Christ had so much faith in Him that they didn't care about themselves. They would sell all their property to take care of each other and make sure no one was living in poverty. They exhibited true, self-sacrificing love. I can't even imagine the amazing kinds of friendships they had.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

God Makes Us Beautiful



Jeremiah 29:11-13
'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'plans for welfare and not calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search  for me with Me with all your heart.'

To fully understand any verse of the Bible, you have to take it in context. When reading Jeremiah 29, we learn that these words were written in a letter. In verses 1-3, Jeremiah has a messenger send this letter to all the Jewish leaders that are in exile in Babylon. Jeremiah being a prophet, he is repeating to Israel what God has told him. So the words in verses 4-20 are from God to the Israelites. 

Let me try to set up the scene as if it were happening to us today.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Just a Heads Up




Like the title suggests, this is just a "heads up" post, so it won't be very long.

This is a very new blog and I am a very new blogger. Thus I am going to be playing around with the template for a while until I finally land on something unique. I just ask for patience as I play around with this :) I am also very open to suggestions on how to get a good template......

.......And here's a funny video. It makes me giggle every time. (Watch it to the very end).

My Qualifications...?

A particular thought has bothered me lately: what are my qualifications to write a blog on such a serious subject? I mean my goal is to help people suffering through some sort of emotional distress.

But I'm not a psychiatrist, psychologist, or even a licensed counselor. Who am I to say what a person is supposed to do when struggling with depression?

I am just a 20 year old, newly married (had to throw it in there), white girl living in middle class America. No degree, no training, no nothing. So why do I even bother?

Then God reminds me:

Sunday, February 23, 2014

My Hiding Place



Psalm 32:7
You are my hiding place; You
preserve me from trouble;
You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah.

This verse is music to my ears. One of my hardest struggles is watching too much TV. That may sound like such a silly little thing to struggle with, but it is a place I have given Satan a foothold.  At times that I have just wanted to ignore pressures of life or even lying, worthless thoughts in my head, I will turn on Netflix to distract myself from worrying about it. TV has become my "hiding place."

I believe the TV addiction in my life is just as serious as someone else's drug, alcohol, or sex addiction. The addiction I have may not have quite as serious effects on my physical body as other addictions, but I believe at times it has taken just as much of a toll on my spiritual life. (Please note that I am NOT saying watching TV is wrong, such as when you're bored or as a time to just hang out with someone. But it can become a sin when it is used in place of spending time with God and trusting God in times of trouble).

Nothing else, whatever it may be, can be an effective hiding place. Does TV ever preserve me from trouble or surround me with songs of deliverance? Definitely NOT! It may get my mind off my troubles for an hour, but then they all come flooding back once the episode is done. Only Yahweh can preserve us from trouble and deliver us! Which gives us reason to praise Him with songs of deliverance.

Jesus is my TRUE hiding place. I love that! I can hide from this world in spending time with Him! And He is eternal, unlike this cruddy world. And so hiding in Him is not wasting time, it is making the most of it! The God, Creator of everything, All-Powerful Ruler, is our hiding place. I find that fact incredibly comforting. I pray He brings this verse to mind whenever I am tempted to just flip on the TV to escape discouraging thoughts.

Check out the entire psalm. It is such a great psalm written by David to encourage others to repent of their sins and seek the Lord.


Picture courtesy of Bing Images

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Challenge


You know how people say that admission is the first and hardest step to healing? Most of the time this is used in regards to someone needing to admit they have an addiction. I feel like this step can also apply to feelings of depression and loneliness. Of course, most people know if they are feeling depressed or lonely, but some people don't admit that they themselves have some influence and control over it. We fall into such deep pits of horrible emotions for many reasons. It takes no effort to allow bitterness to settle into the soul and let it darken one's view of life, especially people.
I just recently saw a Facebook post asking why people allow themselves not to trust others. The fairly long post talked about how we, as Christians, need to be focused on opening up to each other and building each other up. The poster ended along the lines of a challenge for us Christians to focus on becoming trustworthy people that others can open to and count on to lift them up. (I believe 1 John 4 shows that God wants us to do this).
I hope we all take up that challenge, but a step needs to be taken first: admission. Admitting to God that you (and I!!) have not trusted enough in Him. When we allow ourselves to be so beaten down from the hurt and betrayal of others that we cannot reach out to make new friendships, we are not trusting God in His all-sustaining love for us. It can be so easy to blame God for feeling unwanted by people. But if we are not actively seeking to build and sustain our relationship with Him, then how can we blame Him for allowing the very thing we do?!
So my challenge to both you and me is this: to daily seek quality time with Him the way we wish others would for us. If we seek out His character and His kingdom, the rest that we need will be taken care of.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Remembering God


It can be so easy to get caught up in how much life sucks. Viewing life in a negative, pessimistic darkness takes almost everything good out of a person. But as much as it sucks to focus on how much life sucks, I still do it (and I post this blog in hopes that I am not alone in that). A few examples: Despite the many blessings I've received lately, I tend to overlook them. Instead of attempting to build potential friendship, I wallow in frustration over the ones I've lost. Instead of using my thoughts to pray to God for others, I use them to discourage my self and my self-worth.
Do you see the trend here? It's all about "me", "myself" and "I." As long as I maintain my focus on myself, I will remain discouraged.

I am currently attending a local Bible college, and in my Bible Study Methods class we just went over Mark 11:27-12:44. A couple of themes throughout the passage include Jesus' authority (especially over the religious leaders questioning him) and the idea of giving to Jesus what belongs to Him: us. The poor widow at the very end of the passage gave in all she had to the temple treasury, and Jesus was more pleased with her sacrificial gift than the large amounts of many the rich people were putting in. Why? Because they were giving out of their "surplus"...essentially their leftover money. But she was giving her first and her all.

Some people ask: how can I give God anything when I have nothing to give? If you are so discouraged and distraught (whether it be from internal, emotional struggle like me or from life circumstances like many other people), let me just remind you of who God.Check this out:


 He is amazing! And He loves you! And I don't mean that in the way the I love Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate Ice Cream. I mean an unconditional, sacrificial, all-sustaining love!! God's character trumps our heartaches any day because, no matter how much life sucks, we have this true hope that it won't last forever! And those who have faith in Jesus' sacrifice get to enjoy that moment when they see Him in heaven. It is reality that eternity with Jesus exists!