To love less

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

[Luke 14:26 ESV]

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This verse has made me feel uncomfortable since the day I first read it.

I have been a christian for around 10 years (whoop whoop, praise Jesus), however, there are still many parts of God’s word that I wrestle with.

Luke 14:26 is one of them.

HATE my family?

My parents?

My sister?

My dog?

Myself?

Every time I come across this verse I quickly dismiss it and move on to something different. I don’t like to confront the idea that God may be asking me to do something that doesn’t make sense to me.  

Last week I finished packing up all of my things & moved out of my house completely for the first time in my life.

I couldn’t hold back the tears rolling down my cheeks and the anxiety that took my breath away.

I was shaking, trembling, and honestly heartbroken.

Life as I knew it for 21 years was about to the flipped upside down and I wasn’t ready.

I love my family more than anything in this world, & in many ways my parents home is my safe haven. My sister is my joy. My sweet puppy is my peace.

I was excited to move in with my husband; I was excited to decorate the apartment; I was excited to start figuring this whole “adult” thing out.

But I was also at a loss.

The time went by too fast and it felt like I was losing such an important part of my life.

Saying “see you later” just didn’t quite have the same ring to it.

I knew I would see my family later, but when? A few days from then? A week? A month? Longer?

I didn’t know how to process all of the change, so I did the only thing that I know to do in these types of situations: I opened God’s word and asked him to speak.

I was looking for a “feel-good” verse, something that would bring me comfort, reassurance, and relief.

I eagerly opened up my bible, the word that has nourished my soul with love, joy, comfort, encouragement, and peace. I was ready for what God had to say to me. I wanted to hear his voice. I needed some insight into this situation.

I put on my pajamas, brushed my teeth, turned on my side table lamp, & began reading the first verse that I had found that related to “family” in my bible index:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” 

[Luke 14:26 ESV]

Why did Jesus direct me back to the same verse that I have wrestled with for so long? Out of all of the verses in the bible, why did he lead me to this? This wasn’t making me feel better…if anything, it made me feel worse. 

So I started processing:

I know that God loves everyone.

I know that God is a God of relationship and fellowship.

I know that God loves me.

I know that God loves my family.

I know that the bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. 

I know that God’s word tells us that love covers a multitude of sins (I don’t see anything about hate in there). 

I know that we are called to bear with one another in love.

My own understanding wasn’t enough. I decided to dig a little deeper & do some research.

In the original greek, the word used for hate in this passage is miseō. Strong’s concordance has a few different definitions for this word: 

  1. To hate  
  2. To detest 
  3. By extension, to love less

A lightbulb turned on in my head:

In this verse, Jesus isn’t commanding us to spew words of hatred towards the people that we love (or ourselves). He wants to emphasize that we need to love him more than we love anyone or anything else. To hate means to love less. “If anyone comes to me and does not LOVE LESS his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” 

Why? 

As Tim Keller simply states in his book, Counterfeit Gods, “Human make terrible Gods.” As much as I love my family, there have been many, many times when I have hurt them or have been hurt by them. As much as I love myself, there have been many times when I have chosen what has hurt me rather than what would have kept me safe. We are all fallen and imperfect. If I place all of my trust into my family (or myself), I will be crushed when they disappoint me (or when I disappoint myself). To believe that humans were created to satisfy us more than Jesus is to believe the lie that God isn’t who he says he is.

When I choose to run to Jesus before anything else, it actually enables me to better love my family, because God’s spirit will produce in my joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, & peace.  

God isn’t asking us to hate our families, but he is making it clear that I cannot be his disciple if I don’t love them less than him.

I’ve been very lucky to grow up with a family that loves Jesus and reflects his glory on a daily basis. I am confident that God uses them to encourage me and love me in tangible ways…but if given the choice, the deepest parts in my heart would always choose Jesus first, even when it’s hard. 

Why? 

It is only God who can produce inexpressible joy in our hearts. It is only God who can flood us with peace that surpasses all understanding. It is only God who can heal my deepest wounds and redeem my life from hell and the grave. 

My family and I weren’t made to do that.

I cannot be his disciple if I let my family determine every decision that I make and action I take. 

I cannot be his disciple if I rely on my family to be my Holy Spirit. 

I cannot be his disciple if I rely on my family for salvation. 

I cannot be his disciple if I don’t love him more. 

I cannot mature in my relationship with Jesus by always staying in my comfort zone. 

No one can. 

 

I don’t always put God before my family… it’s a very difficult thing for me to do. 

I seek first their opinions. 

I crave their love. 

I desire their approval. 

I want them to satisfy me in ways that only God can. 

I want to be comfortable with them. 

Family is such a beautiful blessing from God. He created it the ultimate family model in the father, son, and holy spirit. God created families and desires to be glorified in them on earth and in heaven. It’s such a sweet gift to be able to walk in a family that encourages, prays, uplifts, and gives life.

But when I place my family on a pedestal, I elevate them into a place that only God can rightfully reign, and I begin to become bitter and angry when my family doesn’t do what I think that they are supposed to. I have to guard myself against this temptation.

Loving Jesus more than I love my family produces freedom that can only be found in the union with christ.

For me, loving Jesus more is being okay with moving out and going out into the community and working, because that means that I will have more opportunities to share the gospel and bring God glory. I have to be okay with going where Jesus wants me to go, no matter where my family is. 

For others, that may mean removing yourself from a toxic situation, speaking out about your faith, or providing your child with the resources to head oversees to share the gospel. It also may mean risking your life, status, or position in your family all for the sake of Christ. 

For everyone, loving Jesus more & the world less means: understanding who Jesus really is: the savior the world, king of kings, prince, of peace, fountain of life, living water, good shepherd, lover of our souls, ultimate sacrifice, high priest, intercessor, and our only redeemer. 

Our God is not a withholder of good; he knows what we need, when we need, & why we need it more than anyone else on this earth, even ourselves. 

Even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, & even when it doesn’t quite make sense:

Love less so that you can love more. 

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How I know He is the One

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Josh and I have been dating for almost 6 years; it’s crazy how fast time goes by when you’re having fun!

We’ve navigated both high school and college together.

We used our weights class as a study hall and pretended to “do abs” the entire 55 minute class period (we put the “student” in student-athletes).

We somehow managed to get A’s in AP calculus & AP psychology (I’ll let you guess who was better at which).

We convinced our college professors to move our tests when we wanted a long weekend (true story).

We’ve celebrated more holidays together than I can count (from Christmas to St.Patrick’s day….?)

We’ve laughed until we had tears streaming down our face.

We’ve road tripped 14 hours to NYC, 9 to KC, and 7 to PCB.

We’ve had some long-distance summers, & others spent together.

We have gone on so many fun dates, from picnics at the park to fancy dinners in downtown Nashville.

We’ve laughed, cried, danced, adventured, made memories, and grown together in so many different ways these past 6 years.

Let me tell you a little bit about Josh, & how I knew he was the one:

Josh shows me love each day even when I don’t deserve it.

He always pays for my meals (even when I accidentally order the most expensive item on the menu…oops 🙂

He gives good gifts & it generous with his time.

He often gives up his own plans for mine.

He always knows how to put a smile on my face.

He makes me feel funny and he laughs at my jokes (most of the time).

He has gone to therapy with me to support me in recovery.

He is sweet to my friends.

He holds me when I cry.

He drags me out of the house when I need a pick-me-up.

He challenges my thoughts when they are irrational (hard to believe, I know).

He let me buy more than 5 throw pillows for our apartment (a big compromise on his part).

He has the most balanced, healthy relationship with exercise, & encourages me to follow him in that.

He encourages me to eat dessert when I want it, & to save it for later when I am full & satisfied.

He only makes positive comments about my body & appearance.

He takes my mood swings like a champ.

He comes and watches me speak every chance that he gets.

He shows love to Maddie even when it means getting her hair all over his black shorts.

He is very intelligent & good with money (thank you Jesus that I don’t have to construct our budget or do our taxes).

He loves spending time with family.

He respects me & doesn’t hesitate to tell me how proud he is of me.

He supports my career & is willing to work while I do my dietetic internship.

All of these things are great, but they weren’t the deciding factor in determining if he was “the one”.

Jesus was the deciding factor.

I knew that a relationship that wasn’t built on the rock-solid foundation of the gospel wasn’t going to work for me.

I’m not sure how it works for anyone.

With the divorce rates in the United States ranging from 40-50% (even within the Christian community), I wasn’t going to take my chances with just anyone.¹

I wasn’t just looking for a guy who went to church, attended a bible study, or lived a moral life.

I needed someone who shared my love for Jesus.

I needed someone who was born-again, & believed in the daily work of the Holy Spirit.

I needed someone who would fight his sin like a true man, while also encouraging me to do the same.

I needed someone who would hold my hand during worship.

I needed someone who would be to me who Jesus is for the church.

I needed someone who would receive the grace, mercy, and forgiveness and God, because Lord knows I need that same grace, mercy, & forgiveness every day.

I needed someone who would prepare for the return of Jesus with me.

I needed a good “kingdom-building” partner.

I needed a man who was after God’s own heart.

Josh is that person for me.

What makes loving him so easy is his humility, willingness to turn from his sin, and recognition that his purpose in life is to know God & make him known. He understands that it is only by growing in intimacy with God that he can grow in intimacy with me. He loves Jesus, he fears the Lord, he believes in the power of God’s word, & he has been born again, a new creation through the blood of Jesus.

It isn’t because of the nice dates, fun times, or even memories made. It isn’t because of the cute pictures & holidays spend together. It isn’t his good looks or his charm. It isn’t even his personality. As wonderful as some of those things are, they wouldn’t have held us together these past 6 years.

It’s because of Jesus.

Nothing more, nothing less. The saving blood of Jesus unites us together in a relationship that can only become more intimate through the covenant of marriage.

REFERENCES:

  1. http://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/

 

Wedding Week.

All of our plans from the last 13 months are coming together this week.

Thank you notes are being written at full force.

My bags are packed for the honeymoon.

My dress was taken to David’s Bridal for a last minute button repair (yikes!)

Rainy weather prep has been taken care of.

The marriage license has been signed.

We are both more ready now than ever before (how could you not be after dating 6 years?!)

In 4 days, I will be marrying the man of my dreams; the one who has loved me through the darkest season that either of us have walked through; the one who makes life less complicated & reminds me to make time for work AND play; the one who holds me and prays for me when human words are not enough to comfort.

In 4 days, we will make a covenant before God (how cool is that?!), promising to love each other deeply, in sickness & in health, for better or for worse, & to build a life around the gospel that glorifies Jesus in everything we do. What a beautiful blessing that could only come from Jesus.

Life couldn’t be any better, but this week hasn’t been a walk in the park. “Wedding bliss” has been a far cry from my reality.

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I lost my retainer & had to pay $300 dollars out-of-pocket (for a new piece of plastic).

My anxiety has been ramped up & I haven’t been able to sleep very well (let’s be real, when do I ever sleep well?)

My stomach has been in knots & I have had sharp pains on and off each day, often without explanation.

I went to the doctors office to get a physical done & I about threw the scale across the room when she told me my weight (dramatic? maybe so.)

My eating disorder has attempted to resurface this week, so I’ve been having to fight the lies with truth & fight to practice good recovery.

I haven’t spent much time recently with Josh because we are both super busy between the wedding & work.

Feelings of depression have flooded my heart.

Oh…….and my dog, my sweet Maddie May, has a cancerous tumor in her right eye, & she tore her ACL.

What a week, & it’s only Wednesday.

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I know that none of these things are a coincidence. See, the devil doesn’t like it when two people who love God commit to marriage. He knows all too well that a cord of 3 strands cannot easily be broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). He prowls around like a lion & devours me every chance he can get (1 Peter 5:8).  He wants to steal, kill, & destroy not only me, but everyone who inhabits this earth (John 10:10). He is bitter towards God & tries to reap havoc on everything that he can.

Do I think it’s a coincidence that my eating disorder urges are strong, my anxiety is high, & my dog’s illness was revealed to me this week?

No.

Josh & I are both Christians & we are both committed to marriage…the devil has already lost those battles, but that persistent, pesky fallen angel doesn’t give up easily. He tries to do everything in his power to deceive, distance, & disrupt our relationships with God. He does everything in his power to render the Christian as powerless, ineffective, and unfruitful.

When responding to his attacks, we have a few options:

  1. We can run to the things of this world to distract ourselves from what we are feeling & relief our pain temporarily.
  2. We can try to run & isolate ourselves.
  3. We can become bitter towards God.
  4. We can turn to Jesus and fight back.

I ran through my options:

I could revert back to my ED behaviors to numb myself to what I am feeling…..maybe skip a meal, go on a long run, or binge on cereal until I am sick to my stomach.

I could just sit in my room with my door closed until the day of the wedding…life is too much sometimes. It would be easier just to not do this week or talk to anyone.

I could just get pissed at God & distance myself from him because I don’t feel his presence in these situations. “WHY would all of this happen on what is supposed to be the best week of my life?! Does he not know what is coming up in just a few short days? Does he care?”

I could turn to Jesus & refuse to lie pray to the enemy’s schemes. I could fight back for joy, fight back for peace, & fight back for my soul. 

Number 4 isn’t necessarily the easy option. It doesn’t always feel good. It doesn’t always make sense. It’s hard.

But, even so, how could I not turn to the savior who has redeemed dead places in my life more than once; the one who loves me more than anyone else on this earth (even my fiancé); the one who has NEVER left me or forsaken me; the one who has already won the battle on the cross?

When I decided to turn to God rather than run away from him, he gently reminded me of the scripture that has been engrained in my mind since my late high school years, the scripture that reminds me of the power of Christ that lives in me, the scripture that has been the most helpful to me in fighting off lies from the enemy:

“Although we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war in the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (of the world, man-made), but mighty in God, for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down of arguments, & every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, taking every thought into captivity & placing it under the obedience of Christ”­ (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).

Modern Day translation: You are not fighting your circumstances, the things that are seen. We are fighting off the lies that the enemy whispers to us in the midst of situations that may or may not already be difficult to walk through. He makes things up. He tries to pit man against man, woman against woman. He wants us to believe we are powerless. But, God the Father has granted to us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm to fight off these attacks. The power of the cross is great enough to break down sin patterns that have been engrained in our lives for years. The power of the cross speaks louder than any argument the enemy tries to engage in. The power of the cross tells us that there is nothing too big or too hard for God.

God knows that the enemy will attack us, but he doesn’t leave us to fight the battle alone.

He asks us to take our thoughts captive. He wants us to discern what is true & what is not through his word & the guidance of the holy spirit. He takes hold of the destructive thoughts when we surrender to him. The weapons that he has given us are the sword of the spirit (the word of God), the helmet of salvation (our secured victory & eternal destiny), the breastplate of righteousness (our position before God because of Jesus, our identity), feet fit with the gospel of peace (a foundation of peace & trust in the gospel), and the shield of faith (God himself, protecting us & guarding us from the fiery darts that the enemy uses in hopes to wound & discourage us). Our weapons are more powerful than the weapons of this world (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Satan wants me to turn back to my eating disorder because he knows it renders me as useless & crippled.

Satan tries to worry me because he knows my body doesn’t process anxiety well.

Satan encourages me to fixate on small details that don’t really matter in light of eternity.

And Satan tries to destroy me here on earth because he isn’t powerful enough to seduce my soul.

Friends, the battle has already been won, which is something we so easily forget.

So as I continue to prepare for the wedding on Saturday, I refuse to sit back & allow the devil to beat me down. I will sing songs of praise to Jesus, fight back with scripture, & pray by the spirit any chance I get.

I will crush satan’s head with every step I take towards my groom on that glorious Saturday afternoon. I will make a public declaration that he hasn’t (and will never) win battles against me. I will rejoice in the beauty of the gospel & the privilege of getting to do life with such an amazing man, one who is after God’s heart. I will live in the now rather than looking ahead and worrying about the future. I will not be shaken by circumstances or lies that are only meant to destroy me. Not from my own power, but from His. Saturday couldn’t come soon enough!

 

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Following Jesus Daily

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Y’all……following Jesus isn’t for the faint of heart.

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

“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” (Philippians 2:12)

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12-14)

When I test and examine my heart with the scriptures, it becomes quite easy to identify the areas of weakness in my walk with Jesus:

Am I dying to myself when I choose to start my morning scrolling through my social media feed rather than opening my bible & spending time with the sovereign creator of the universe?

Am I presenting my body as a living sacrifice when I neglect rest & I am irritable because I haven’t eaten enough?

Am I walking by the spirit when I rationalize my sin & ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit?

Am I demonstrating compassion when I am easy to anger & quick to forgive?

Am I showing kindness with my words when I am sarcastic or rude?

Am I walking in humility when I spend 15 minutes trying to come up with the right caption & filter for my latest Instagram post (come on, we all do it)

Am I acting meek when I talk more than I listen?

Am I patient when I decide to take matters into my own hands?

Do I really approach God with fear and trembling when I scroll through social media in the AM rather than opening up my bible & asking God to speak? 

No. 

There are many, many days where I don’t feel like “being like Jesus”… & I often don’t believe that I even have it in me to live up to half of what he has called me to do.

The world is too dark.

The enemy is too deceptive.

My sin feels too good.

I am too weak.

The truth of the matter is, we don’t have enough in us to live like Jesus. We are absolutely nothing apart from him.

We can’t escape the corruption of the world.

We can’t out smart satan.

We can’t resist our sin.

We can’t, but God can.

His word tells us that where sin increases, grace abounds all the more.¹ He lavishes his grace upon us.² He became sin for us, so that we may become the righteousness of God, free from all guilt, shame, and penalty for our inability to save ourselves.³

Why did he do all of this despite the infinite number of ways we fail him each day?

Because he loves us. He loved us while we were still sinners, when we trampled on the gospel and rejected the good news. He still loves us, even when our sanctification process seems to be at stand still. His love heals, his love transforms, & it is only his love that can bring us joy while dying to ourselves.

Many times we know what we need to be doing in our heads but our hearts aren’t convinced. We are torn between the prompting of the Holy Spirit & our flesh. In that moment we must decide: Are we going to choose Jesus, or are we going to do what we want to do?

Are we going to spend time with Jesus or scroll through Facebook for 30 minutes?

Are we going to bite our tongues, or are we going to blurt out the first thing that comes to our minds?

Are we going to present God with our prayers and petitions, or are we going to create scenarios in our head & worry about things that may or may not happen?

Are we going to give into our sin, or are we going to justify it & minimize it?

Choosing Jesus won’t always feel like the best option; it may in fact be the most painful option. It often doesn’t feel good at first. The immediate satisfaction may not be there. The pain may still be present. It will be uncomfortable, unnatural, & maybe even a bit awkward. Depending on how long the sin has been rooted in our hearts, it could take a lot of time to heal from the consequences of our sin.

But every time we say “yes” to Jesus and “no” to ourselves we take a step towards freedom, satisfaction, wholeness, healing, & true joy.

Choosing Jesus is the best option. When we are willing, he is able to set us free from strongholds and sin patterns that have held us captive for years. He equips us. He fights for us. He faces the battle head on when it takes all of our energy to get out of bed. He does all of this for us because he loves us. He doesn’t want us to be ripped off. He doesn’t want us to believe the lies from the enemy. He isn’t waiting to cast us down & condemn us for our sin, he wants to save us from it. When we understand this love, we are free to obey God & love him back because we genuinely believe that he knows better than we do.

Jesus, because I love you, I will trust you.

Jesus, because I love you, I will abide in your word.

Jesus, because I love you, I will confess my sins, repent, & turn away from them.

Jesus, because I love you, I will do what you think is best for me.

Jesus, because I love you, I will pray by the spirit.

Jesus, because I love you, I will praise you even when it hurts.

Jesus, because I love you, I will forgive those who have hurt me.

Jesus, because I love you, I will take heart in the power of the cross.

Jesus, because I love you, I will walk by faith, not by sight.

Jesus, because I love you, I will test my feelings against your truth before I speak or act.

Jesus, because I love you, I will take up my cross daily, die to myself, & follow you.

Not because I feel obligated.

Not because I need to impress you.

Not because it will earn me more love.

Not to impress other people.

Not for my own glory, but for yours.

You have already taken up your cross for me, more so than I have (or ever will) do for you. It’s not just, it’s not fair, & it’s not deserved, yet you did it anyways, out of love, a love that always runs deeper than my sin.

REFERENCES:

  1. Romans 5:20
  2. Ephesians 1:8
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Prayer + Positive Vibes

 

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The “positive vibes” tagline began circulating throughout social media in 2016. The premise behind the “positive vibes” movement is that our lives (and the lives of others) will become better when we reflect positive energy in our lives and onto the people around us.¹ Negative energy is seen to be equated with lower quality of life, while higher energy is the ultimate way to achieve “the good life”.¹

By “sending” positive vibes to other people, we are transferring positive energy into their lives & situations in need of a positive touch.

“Started my morning off with a great cup of coffee; It’s going to be a good Monday! #PositiveVibes

“I would appreciate all prayers and positive vibes sent my way today!”

“I am sending you positive vibes we as speak, good feelings to you sister!”

If we can’t muster up the positive energy by our own strength, or somehow attain it from other people, we won’t ever reach the “good life”, whatever that may mean.

Biblical prayer, on the other hand, can be defined as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.”

The word “solemn” used here is an adjective meaning formal and dignified, earnest, genuine, firm, and with deepest sincerity. To be solemn is to approach God with awe & reverence + expectation that he will act in accordance to his good, pleasing, & perfect will.²

Prayer is based off of the premise that “we can’t” but that “God can”. It allows us to enter into a conversation with the creator of the universe. It grants us access to every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm, weapons to guard our hearts and minds that are radically powerful.

I am struggling to say what I know to be true as nicely as possible….but then again the gospel is offensive. Here we go:

I take issue with the belief that prayer and positive vibes/positive thinking have the same power & influence in this world…I’m not saying that you can’t be a prayer warrior + positive thinker; I am saying that we alone cannot generate enough “positivity” or “good vibes” to save ourselves or other people. Only by abiding in Jesus can that joy be produced in us.³ 

Positive vibes encourage us to change the way we think by our own ability & strength, or that of other people. Prayer encourages us to come before the throne of God just as we are, & to present our requests to Him. It reaches into the realm of heaven & asks God to do something that isn’t possible for us to do. The results of prayer don’t depend on us, they depend on God. Prayer allows for anger, frustration, anxiety, depression, addiction, & doubt; it doesn’t only accept happiness & positivity. God doesn’t expect us to produce positive vibes in our hearts & minds. It is only through a relationship with Him that our hard, stony hearts can be replaced by a soft, responsive one. But even then, God actually warns us by saying that our hearts are deceitful & wicked, & cannot be trusted apart from the guidance of the Holy Spirit & Jesus in us.

I am not mentally strong enough to put on a smile 24/7 & push through life generating my own positive energy.

I don’t trust my heart…it fails me on a daily basis; it leads me astray. It’s often irrational, driven by emotion, and is subject to pain, sadness, & brokenness on a daily basis.

My heart needs the truth and direction of the Holy Spirit, through the channel of prayer.

Do not be deceived: As catchy, feel-good, & #Hashtag worthy as the “positive vibes” tagline may be, they are absolutely nothing compared to the power of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Why settle for “positive vibes” when we have a direct communication channel with God? Why settle by placing our trust in some abstract, concept that resurfaced a couple of years ago instead of the word & truth that is a lamp to our feet & light on our path? Why put our trust in something man-made rather than God-ordained? Why take the risk?

Positive vibes don’t have the power to heal the sick & bring the dead back to life. They don’t heal cancer or brain tumors. They can’t comfort a mother who just lost a child to a miscarriage.

Positive vibes don’t have the ability to fix broken marriages, break addictions, or tear down strongholds.

Positive vibes cannot simply lift us out of anxiety & depression.

Only prayer can do these things. Only God can do these things.

What does the bible say about prayer? How does God’s power compare?

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

“In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:4)

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” (Psalm 119:114)

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.Who are we trusting in today?” (Ephesians 6:18)

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) 

“He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” (Psalm 102:17)

“In the same way, the spirit helps us in our weaknesses. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the spirit himself intercedes for us with wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26)

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

May our eyes be opened to the power of prayer for the renewing of our minds, restoring of our souls, & provision of our greatest needs.

REFERENCES:

  1. Nicole Bethune. “Positive Mind, Positive Vibes, Positive Life.” Pitaiyo. N.p., 03 Dec. 2016. Web. 15 May 2017.
  2. Romans 12:2
  3. John 15:14

If Not, He is Still Good

cropped-city-crossing-crossroad-road.jpgI was getting coffee with a friend the other day & the topic of “worse case scenarios” came up in conversation. We talked about how life is such a beautiful, yet difficult journey to walk through each day. It’s easy for us to praise God when our “best case scenarios” play out i.e. a new job, financial provision, healing, material blessings, relationships, marriage, & and having a plan for the future.

What isn’t so easy for us to process are the possibilities of our worst case scenarios coming to life: infertility, rape, failure, terrorism, persecution, death, singleness, divorce, cancer, HIV, car crashes, human trafficking, or our children making the same mistakes we did.

How easy is it to trust that we will be whole, healed, and taken care of heaven when our life on earth is going well, that one day every bit of evil & sin will come under the wrath of God, & every bit of brokenness will be restored? It’s easy for us to praise God when we think about the realities of heaven and the glorious moment that we will see Jesus face-to-face one day. What is not-so-easy, is trusting him in the now, where we know that we are not shielded from our worst-case scenarios from becoming a reality here on earth.

We can pray for healing in ourselves or other people, but we know that Jesus won’t always cure the cancer or take away the brain tumor when we want him to. 

We can pray for our sons and daughters, but it isn’t a way to guarantee that they will never smoke, drink, or do drugs; that they won’t be taken advantage of; that they would not fall into sin. 

We pray for safety during travel each morning, but somehow there always seems to be a devastating crash on I-65 while traveling to work. 

We pray that the addictions in our families would cease to exist, but we know that the road to recovery is long, hard, & often without end.

We pray that our relationships would bloom and our marriages would flourish, yet the divorce rate in the U.S. is still over 50%.

We pray against ISIS attacks, suicide bombings, child soldiers, persecution, & war, yet it still plagues countries such as Iran, Syria, North Korea, and China. 

We beg God to bring a well-established, Christian man into our lives, & 5 years later there still hasn’t been a call. 

We pray that the lost would be found and the slaves would be set free, yet there are still so many people who have completely fallen away from God. 

We intercede for America, begging God for revival, to change the hearts of those in Washington & in Hollywood, yet there is still so much corruption. 

We call the prodigal home, & still there is no one at our doorstep. 

I start to wrestle with God, begging him to help me figure this whole thing out.

“So God……….I trust you. I trust that I am going to spend eternity in heaven with you, I trust that you will ultimately take care of me, but I must confess that it is difficult for me to trust you in the now, in the moments that seem to be without hope, in the situations there the bad seems to outweigh the good. It’s hard to trust you in the present, when past situations have left me empty and bitter. I want answers. I want guaranteed safety and security on this earth. Jesus, ultimately I know that I often don’t trust you in the present because I don’t believe that you are good ALWAYS, and that the sufferings in this life don’t compare to my permanent home in heaven. I don’t believe that you know best. I don’t believe that you are acting quickly enough. I don’t believe that you care. Jesus, help my unbelief.”

It was during this prayer, with tears rolling down my cheek that God gently reminded me of his truth, the truth that saves my soul, comforts me, and takes the weight off of my worst-case scenarios.

“How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you” (Psalm 31:19).

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere…For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 84:10,11).

“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8).

These verses don’t answer all of my whys and why nots, my if whats and if onlys. They don’t take away or minimize real and tangible pain. What they do, is remind me that I am called to cling to what it good, & that our God is a good father who knows what he is doing even when we don’t.

Jesus isn’t the problem, but he is the only way to escape the corruption, sin, & evil in this world. We can’t escape it without him. HE himself is the solution to all of our worst case scenarios, whether they happen or not.

It is only by understanding these truths that I can claim, “If Not, He is Still Good” in my life, what happens in our lives doesn’t change who God is.

It is only by believing that God is always good that I am able to have peace in my prayers and petitions to heaven, no matter the outcome.

He uses our trials to mature us, sharpen us, & grow us closer to him (which ultimately produces the most joy in us.) He uses our deepest hearts and turns them into a platform that helps us share the good news with other people.

My worst-case scenario isn’t dying in a car wreck or getting cancer, it is living a life apart from Jesus, my one true hope.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Grieve the Loss, Rejoice in the Gain: Thoughts on Graduation

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Graduation season is in full swing, & there is much rejoicing & celebration, as there should be.

We did it!

In 4 years, in 5 years, in 7 years… it doesn’t matter at this point. The journey is complete. We made it through all of the late night study sessions, Starbucks runs, stupid relationships, group projects, snow storms, sleepless nights, tough teachers, thesis papers, & more. It was all worth it.

As this season comes to an end and my life is about to begin a new chapter, I have been reflecting on my last four years in college.

There have been so many moments of joy, laughter, hope, & healing, but there have also been some moments that haven’t been so easy.

With so much joy and celebration there also comes grief.

It’s okay to feel both. It’s okay to celebrate the good and grieve the bad. It’s okay to feel happy & sad & hopeful & fearful & frustrated & excited all at the same time.

There is no pressure to feel any certain way. When we allow ourselves to feel the good and the bad, we are able to enter into a place of vulnerability and healing.

We learn from our mistakes.

We let go of our regrets.

We forgive those who have hurt us.

We let go of the things that we cannot change.

We release control.

We trust God with our future, & the future of our loved ones.

We allow God to touch the broken, hardened, and scared places in our lives.

We ask him to grow us and mature us, & to not let him forget the lessons we have learned during our undergraduate degree.

In these past 4 years, I have grown to a level of intimacy with the Lord in a way I never have before.

I have connected with the things I am passionate about, & I feel the calling of the Lord on my life as I follow the path to become a registered dietitian.

I get to marry my fiancé in just a few short weeks.

I have built friendships with sweet sisters who pray for me, keep me accountable, encourage me, and teach me.

I have gotten the opportunity to connect & reconnect with so many new and old friends.

My best friend met Jesus & now lives a transformed life.

The list really does go on.

As much as it hurts to admit, college hasn’t been the “best time of my life.” It’s been imperfect, messy, & pretty terrible at times if I am being honest. Although I don’t want to leave behind my friends or the lessons I have learned, I am ready for a different, new season.

When I first came to college I cried a lot.

I missed my sister & my parents, & I didn’t know how to process all of the change.

It was very difficult for me to make friends at first. I didn’t party and I didn’t join a sorority. My dorm was extremely closed off.

I spent a lot of time alone.

I couldn’t connect with other girls in my ministry, even though I desperately wanted those relationships.

I lost my grandmother to cancer.

My anxiety & depression peaked.

I developed an eating disorder.

I avoided social interactions with friends to avoid food that I didn’t want to eat.

I became very isolated.

My body became weak.

My soul become weary.

In my college career I have made many mistakes & have some regrets, but I think everyone does. I think it’s okay to enter into a new season with mixed emotions. It’s healthy to step back & process & figure out what is really going on in our hearts and minds.

So today, I grieve the loss of the things I wish I did differently, the time that my eating disorder took away from me, and the time I spent worrying about things that I was never meant to control. I grieve the loss of my nana and the pain it has brought to my family. I grieve the idea of my childhood coming to an end, and not waking up with my sister on Christmas morning. I grieve the countless number of girls that I have met who struggle with mental illnesses and/or an eating disorder. I grieve the relationships that have left some of my friends heart broken and hardened. I grieve the brokenness I have encountered and the souls that are yearning for satisfaction that cannot be found in a drugs, sex, or alcohol. I grieve the loss of the friendships that are soon going to become long distance, & the community that has surrounded me with love.

Jesus doesn’t allow my heart to settle in the grief. He guides me to his healing presence & his closeness that no one else can give me. He reminds me of the hope that I have, & that I can freely give to other people. He allows beauty to be born from pain. 

I praise Jesus for drawing me close to him. I thank him for the friends he has connected me with. I rejoice in the healing that my body, mind, and spirit have experienced in the last 4 years. I cling to his promises and unwavering hope in this season of change. I learn from my mistakes, and strive to be more like Jesus each day. I embrace this new season with my family, and the ways that things will look different. I hold on to my family time a little tighter & remember to appreciate the little things. I begin to plan road trips to visit my sweet friends. I am reminded to be intentional with my time, & try to give it away to other people. I am more present in the moment rather than looking ahead to the next hour/day/week/month/year. I fix my eyes not on my circumstances, but on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of my faith. I celebrate the 20+ family members that I am going to gain when I get married. I praise God for the friendships I have formed and the sisters I have gained. I anticipate the covenant that I get to for with God & my fiancé on the wedding day. I embrace the long-distance friendships & know that it’s never really goodbye, but always “see you later!” I cherish the trials that have brought my family closer. I believe that God will continue to finish the good work that he has started within me. I trust that God will surround me with a community of believers who love Him. I celebrate all that I have gained through walking with him, from a deeper sense of compassion to a renewed sense of peace.

I grieve the bad because it makes me more grateful when I experience the good. I grieve the loss that comes with graduation, but I rejoice in the gain, provision, and life that Jesus has (and will continue to) pour out into every area of my life. I celebrate the victory that only comes through the cross.

He promises that he will, & Jesus doesn’t break his promises or change with new seasons. Grieve the loss. Rejoice in the gain.

 

10 Biblical Body Affirmations

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  1. My body is a temple; I want to treat it with love and respect. (2 Corinthians 6:19)
  2. I am made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27)
  3. I am God’s masterpiece; every part of my body was hand-crafted by the creator of the universe. (Ephesians 2:10)
  4. My body is a gift from God; something I cannot earn. Jesus bought me at a high price when he went to the cross. (2 Corinthians 6:20)
  5. I don’t have to conform to dieting, eating clean, and excessive exercising to have worth and meaning. (Romans 12:1-2)
  6. Eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly have SOME value, but godliness has value for all things, because it holds true in both the present life and the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:1)
  7. I have everything inside of me that I need to take care of myself without using food or exercise as a means to cope with unwanted emotions. (Ephesians 1:3)
  8. Losing weight is not my life’s work, and counting calories is not the calling of my soul. I am surely destined for something much greater. (Matthew 5:13-16)
  9. Shame says that because I am flawed, I am unacceptable. Grace says that though I am flawed, I am cherished. (John 3:16-17, Romans 8:1).
  10. My value doesn’t decrease based on another person’s inability to see my worth. My value is determined by what God says about me: beloved, holy, blameless, accepted, chosen, loved, valued, cherished, protected, redeemed, healed, & whole. (1 Peter 2:9, Romans 1:7, Isaiah 41:10, Isaiah 53:5).

Silence in the Storm

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“That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’ Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. (Mark 4:35-41, emphasis added)

The disciples were with Jesus when he drove out impure spirits from those who were demon possessed.

They witnessed him healing those plagued with leprosy.

They followed him after seeing him heal on the sabbath day, something that was unlawful during that day in age.

They saw him performed many miracles in situations that seemed helpless from the outside looking in.

They trusted him enough to lay down their families, careers, & comforts to follow Jesus.

When Jesus walked into a room, they knew that everything would change. They knew Jesus was a game changer, a man who backed up his words with his actions.

They trusted that Jesus was who he said he was.

Yet, they lacked faith.

Life had been great for the disciples thus far. They were living life with Jesus, called out of their monotonous daily lives into one with purpose meaning. They witness miracles performed by their beloved, awaited messiah. They listened to his teachings and learned how to interpret parables. They had fellowship together. Crowds of people were following Jesus, hoping to catch a glimpse of his glory. The disciples were already in. They loved Jesus, & they knew that Jesus loved them. Life was good.

What do we see when the disciples first encounter a trial together on their journey of Jesus?

Lack of faith.

The waves were strong & powerful, like those in a hurricane or tsunami. The dark sky was illuminated by the lighting strikes, & the thunder was earth-shattering.

They disciples had every right to be afraid in a worldly sense. They were trapped on a boat in the middle of a thunderstorm…..I would be freaking out to say the last. I’m guessing their boat wasn’t too similar to the giant cruise ships we have today. So what would happen if the ship wrecked? Would the disciples be able tread water long enough to not drown? Would they be eaten by a creature in the see? What if they were harmed? What if some of them died? They felt isolated, abandoned, helpless, hopeless, and without hope. They knew that they couldn’t save themselves, but that didn’t know what to do in a situation that seemed so impossible to overcome. They forgot about Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but I can relate to this story on so many levels. It is so easy for me to praise God on the good days and curse him on the bad. If one little detail or my own plans slip away from me, I immediately doubt the goodness of God. When I feel any bit of pain or suffering, trial or tribulation I say, “God take it away!!! Please!!! If you don’t do what I want you to do, I will be mad! I don’t understand why you haven’t started moving yet, get to it! Why is this happening? Why did they hurt me? What is the purpose in suffering? You have answered so many prayers, I don’t know what you are waiting on for this one. Help me, I am drowning. Now Jesus, please?”

I doubt.

I question.

I become frustrated.

The bible doesn’t say that it’s bad to ask God the “why” questions; Jesus actually said those very words when he was dying on the cross. At around 3:00 in the afternoon as he was hanging on that rugged cross, he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In the midst of his suffering Jesus heard silence from God. He was separated from him. He was left to die a painful death & endure the wrath of God against all humanity. He was hanging on to dear life by a threat. His body was broken. His blood was shed. He was at his breaking point.

The difference between Jesus and I in a lot of situations is that Jesus didn’t stay bitter towards God. He transitioned from “my God, why have you forsaken me” to “into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

Total surrender.

Inexplainable logic.

Complete trust.

Jesus trusted that God would keep his promise to him. He knew that soon he would be in glory with Jesus. He had faith that God would deliver him in a situation that seemed utterly hopeless. By faith, he believed in the resurrecting power of God.

We know the end of the story.

3 days later, the tomb was found empty. The stone was rolled away. He was resurrected. He came back to life. He is seated at the right hand of the father for eternity, and he lives in you and I.

I have had many seasons where God has answered so many prayers related to my relationship with him, family, friends, future, and healing, among other things.

I have also had many seasons where God seems to be silent in my story. I cry out and I don’t seem to hear an answer, or at least one that I like.

I don’t understand why I am wired to struggle with anxiety.

I don’t understand why I had an eating disorder.

I don’t understand why I haven’t had a good nights sleep in over a year.

I don’t understand why kids bully at school.

I don’t understand why cancer hasn’t been cured.

I don’t understand why ISIS still has power in the Middle East, & the people of North Korea are oppressed by such a brutal dictator.

I don’t understand why I have friends and family who still don’t know Jesus.

I don’t understand why some people are born filthy rich, & others are born into crippling poverty.

I don’t understand why some people are raped, kidnapped, or killed against their own will.

I don’t understand, & I know that I won’t until I am on the other side of heaven.

What I hear and see is silence in this suffering. What hurts the most is knowing and believing that God CAN do what I want him to do. His healing has no limit. His power is unmatched. His sovereignty cannot be undone.

It is only when I look back at the word of God, the scriptures that have been the solid foundation of my faith, that I can move from “my God my God, why have you forsaken me?” to “into your hands I commit my spirit.”

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Romans 8:18

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” -John 16:33

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” 

-2 Corinthians 4:8-10

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

-Psalm 34:19

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.”

-James 1:12

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:35-39

These passages don’t answer all of my questions, but they do remind me to cling to the very same promises that Jesus did on the cross. When I don’t understand, I still chose Jesus. I still praise him, worship him, & find joy in him. When I cling to his word, I am reminded that God isn’t silent in the biggest storms in my life. I commit myself to have faith, like Jesus, before I know the final outcome. I remind myself that this world is not my home. I place my hope in heaven, the place in which I will experience inexpressible joy & glory with Jesus.

The Morning After Easter

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It’s 6:45 AM on the morning after Easter. The church services have been attended, chocolate bunnies have been eaten, eggs have been hunted, & my newsfeed is filled with pastel pictures galore.

Although this beautiful day has come to an end, I know that Easter isn’t over for the Christian.

On Easter, we celebrate the resurrection power of Jesus, the saving glory of his grace, his healing hand, & the promises of God.

We invite friends to church.

We post our favorite worship music song lyrics.

We raise our hands and worship our eternal king.

We hashtag #Heisrisen. #Heisalive.

We share meals together.

But do we share the gospel?

Do all of those pastel-pictured people I mentioned above know the true meaning of Easter? Do they really understand? Are they free? Will they spend eternity with Jesus?

Do we, as Christians, live out the other 364 days of the year living in the same focused, celebratory mindset? Do we care about the salvation of other people? Do we share the gospel, or let our reputation get in the way of that?

I would like to say that I spend each day waking up praising God, reading my bible, & sharing the gospel with 5 people before I start my day.

The reality is, I don’t do that. I don’t live in light of Easter like I should.

There are days that I wake up praising God & get right into His word, but there are also many days where I get up and immediately check FB or Instagram, making sure I didn’t miss anything that could have been posted while I was asleep.

There are days when I openly talk about my faith and share the gospel, & others where I act like it doesn’t even play a role in my life, when I fear the opinions of other people.

There are days when it’s easy for me to ask myself the hard questions, and others where it’s just easier to ignore than get to the root of my sin.

There are days when I spend time praying for friends & family who don’t have a relationship with Jesus, & other days where I don’t pray at all, either out of bitterness, apathy, or laziness.

It’s hard to pray for someone who has deeply hurt you.

It’s hard to want salvation for people who I don’t get along with.

It’s hard to serve others & expect nothing in return.

I so easily get caught up in the meaningless, temporary, fleeting pleasures of this world that I forget why I am on this earth.

In Acts 20:24, the apostle Paul makes the declaration that his life is worth nothing to him unless he uses it for finishing the work assigned to him by the Lord Jesus Christ-the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.

I have been a Christian for almost 10 years, & I must confess that I so often forget the resurrection power of the gospel. I am quick to complain rather than running to Jesus. I sometimes take His grace for granted, & others fail to simply receive it for what it is-a gift. At times I become insensitive towards the good news, & assume that the people around me know and understand the Jesus I love so dearly. Jesus performs miracles in my life on a daily basis, something I could never earn or do for myself, & I so easily question his goodness.

This is the gospel: By nature, we are all inclined to sin; we are all imperfect, we are all tainted by the corruption of this world; we all fall short of the glory of God. Because God is perfectly just in character, there must be consequences for our sin. Our sin hurts not only ourselves, but also our relationships, most importantly with God himself. No matter how hard we try, we will never be perfect. We will never please everyone we know. We will never be a perfect. Are hearts are wired to wonder away from God, yet they are also wired with a deep longing to be satisfied. This can be a bad combination when we reject a relationship with God & look to success, alcohol, drugs, food, family, careers, ministry, relationships, material things, and our reputation to fill that void in our hearts.

We always crave more attention and affection.

We become distraught when the thing we so often run to doesn’t deliver.

We make idols in our hearts.

We satisfy ourselves with the wrong things.

We are lost. We are hopeless. We are like sheep, without a shepherd.

“But God, being RICH IN MERCY, out of the great love with which he loved us, when we were DEAD IN OUR TRESPASSES, made us ALIVE TOGETHER WITH CHRIST-it is by GRACE that you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5, emphasis added)

It is only because of the cross, the sacrifice for our sins that we may live in freedom and have a relationship with God.

Money can’t save us.

Drugs can’t save us.

Food can’t save us.

Our parents can’t save us.

Our children can’t save us.

Success can’t save us.

Exercise can’t save us.

Social media can’t save us.

Eating “clean” can’t save us.

Only Jesus……Only Jesus.

You don’t have to clean yourself up.

You don’t have to follow any certain rules or rituals.

Repent of your sins, confess that Jesus is Lord, believe in the power of the cross, & spend your life knowing him & making him known.

Cherish Him in your heart.

Plead His blood.

Share the hope you have.

Treasure his commands.

Follow Him in obedience out of love, not of obligation.

Trust Him.

If we could save ourselves, than Jesus died for absolutely nothing.

More & more each day I am convinced that the gospel is “worthy of giving my life to”, as one of my close friends would say. Jesus is worthy of all of my time, attention, & praise. How selfish of me would it be to keep this news, everlasting life, freedom from bondage, & a deep satisfaction to myself?

At church this passed Sunday, I was reminded of how many people I know who don’t know Jesus. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I watched some people receive salvation for the first time in their lives.

Young & old alike, running to the foot of the cross to be washed clean.

There is nothing better, no greater joy.

God constantly pursues. He doesn’t give up. He lavishes his grace upon us. He loves us as we are. He freely pays the price for our debt. He forgives us quickly & is slow to anger. He invites us to have a relationship with him. He desires to know us. He longs to spend time with us. He gives everything & expects nothing in return. He makes a way for us to escape the pain & destruction that is abounding in this world. He fights for us. He protects us. He pours out everything for our sake. This is the good news of Easter.