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Don’t Let Your Enemies Become Friends

“Satan will do all he possibly can do to remind you of past sin… He will tell you the Lord is disapppointed in you… never believe a word of this” (Stanley, 2008).

 

Let’s get one thing straight: Satan is NOT your friend. He never was, he isn’t now, and he never will be, under any circumstance. Satan is no friend of ours. He’s no man. He’s just a little boy who has nothing better to do with himself than to mess with our lives. He’s not even worth the capitalization of his name.

Satan is, well….Satan. He wants to hurt us in any way possible. His goal is to put us through every battle, every hardship, every tiff, every anxiety filled moment that he can. He wants to tear down every dream, everything we’ve worked for. His mission is to be the jealous ex-girlfriend watching her ex-boyfriend from the sidelines get very close with someone. He just can’t stand it. So what does he do? He intervenes. He’s determined to get in the middle of your relationship with someone special. Not because he wants the other person. But because he wants you.

He wants you.

But there’s someone better with a better life plan for you that you can run to. I hope I don’t have to say who that is.

Satan is like spam mail. You have to keep deleting those useless emails out of all the good emails you have. And once you click on one bad email, your whole computer is infected with this virus and it’s not working the right way, like it should.

Under no circumstance should we ever find ourselves making a bargain with Satan. Even on those lonely nights when you’re emotionally drained and have nowhere to turn and you feel like you can’t hear God talking to you, you should never listen to the devil sitting there on your shoulder, telling you to give up everything and turn against God. Because Satan will sit there and plea with you that he has a better life for you than God ever could. But it just can’t add up.

Satan is like a stranger in a van, offering you candy. Don’t let him tempt you. One piece of temptation is enough to tear down everything.

Because Satan is your enemy. And the enemy is not your friend.

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Yeah, I Wanna Get Married Young

Yeah, I do want to get married young.  And I’ll openly talk about that desire.  But if you dismiss that idea as stupid or never going to happen, I’ll probably shut down.  Why the heck do people think it’s okay to shut down other’s dreams?  Let me rephrase that …  Why would you want to diminish someone else’s desires?   

Yeah, I Wanna Get Married Young

Let’s frame this in the lens of Scripture, because, especially in this circumstance, it’s incredibly important.   

“Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4 NIV).  

If you’re not first delighting in God’s presence this verse is not applicable.  Nor can you fake delighting in God’s presence.  I hate the phrase “fake it till you make it.”   It makes me cringe every time I hear it.  No, how about actually be honest about where you’re at and be joyful and content with where you’ve made it to.   Now, if you’re not in a good place spiritually, that’s a different conversation altogether. That was a little off topic, though.   

This verse is telling us that God does promise to give us the desires of our hearts if we delight in Him.  So when someone says that they have a desire to be married whether young, old, anywhere in between or any desire that is honoring to God, don’t shoot that down.   

I have had so many people say, “Yeah, well, life doesn’t turn out like you plan.”   And I kinda just nod my head.  Because I feel like if these people know me at all, they should know that I know that my life hasn’t turn out how I planned already.  However, I also am completely and one hundred percent aware of the fact that God has bigger and better plans for my life than I could ever imagine.  So when it comes to marriage, there is no exception.   

Look, I’m not saying that I’m going to be horrified and angry if I don’t get married young.  I’ll be content with it.  However, when that’s something I talk about, it’s because it’s a desire that I have.  It’s like a little kid saying they want a toy or a piece of candy.  Do you tell them they’re never going to get that toy or piece of candy?  Probably not.

That escalated quickly, but seriously, just use your words wisely.

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Take Me to Church…Literally

(Courtesy of Google Images, labeled for reuse with modification).

In my last post, I mentioned that I had left the church I had gone to for almost half of my life and that I had been on the quest to find a new church. I decided that I wanted to do a post about why it’s important to find another church after leaving a previous one.

You might be like me and you miss having the God feeling in your heart and you want that back.

But maybe you were hurt before and you want to give up because you don’t want to get hurt again. Here is why it is important to keep going to church:

  1. You’re seeking God. Whether you’re at the one church you’ve at your whole life or you’ve been at ten different churches, you constantly are seeking God no matter what. It doesn’t matter what church you go to, but it’s through the church that you seek God.
  2. You’re not okay. If you took a look at yourself right now and where you’re at with God, would you say you’re okay? There’s always more to find in the kingdom of God! Seek him!
  3. You won’t lose touch. Without going to church, we say we’re going to do all the things we can do in church outside of church. For example, we say “I’m going to read my Bible at the this time” and “I can listen to this podcast”. Here’s what happens most times: When we don’t go to church, we often start putting those things off. “I’ll listen to that podcast later” or “I’m busy now, so I’ll read my Bible later.” We start putting it off and before we know it, we have put God off and don’t even know who He is anymore.
  4. You learn something new. Nowadays, we hear sermons that are life-changing. Sermons might have crazy titles, but they have powerful messages. There is always something that can be learned in a sermon that goes far beyond what we could ever imagine!
  5. You don’t get the same experiences. If we don’t attend church and listen to podcasts and watch sermons, we are not getting the experiences that church is supposed to provide. Church is about worshipping, seeking, serving, and finding God through prayer, along with a community of people. You are given the opportunity to grow with God with friends and your Christian community and that is a powerful thing. Listening to a podcast at home in our pajamas does not do church justice!

There is no excuse for not going to church that can’t be answered. We’re not perfect, but that’s the beauty of God’s unconditional love. God is constantly coming to us in our lives, in our cities, in our communities, and in our homes. The least we can do is visit Him in His home.

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Talk About Politics!

TalkaboutpoliticsIn general in the church, politics seems to be a topic that is avoided like the plague.  And, quite honestly, I don’t understand.   Jesus talked openly and honestly about politics.  If you are following Jesus and doing everything to honor and serve Him, it’s okay to have a conversation about how you view politics or what’s going on in the political world.  Actually, when it comes to talking about having these conversations with Christians you’re close with, I think it’s important!

Remember: It’s okay to disagree.  And probably a good idea at the outset to agree to disagree when it comes to politics. 

In general, I try (as much emphasis there as possible) to frame my worldview through the lens of Scripture.  Therefore, when I view a political issue a certain way, it’s because I believe that Scripture addresses the scenario from that viewpoint.

I was trying to figure out what I wanted to write for my “Real World Issues” post for two weeks and I could not decide.  So, being me, I Google searched “today’s top news.”  I want to give you a few of the top stories (not headlines, just things that are going on, in case you forgot).  The trump travel ban is in the Supreme Court ( I wrote this part a week ago).  Today, President Trump is taking time out of his schedule to speak to boy scouts in West Virginia (top headline).  Meanwhile, 10 people were killed in a potential human trafficking situation in which 39 people were being driven (likely from the US/Mexico border).  Yet, people continue to ignore the fact that human trafficking is a serious issue in the US.

Maybe, and I hope, I’m wrong, but maybe, just maybe, the headlines that we click on are an indication of where our hearts are at.  So what headlines are you clicking on?

And are you willing to discuss politics when they come up instead of ducking, covering, and running?  It’s important to know where you stand and to be able to legitimately discuss what you believe.  That doesn’t mean you should be looking for a fight, but some political conversations could open up the doors to discuss what you believe, and more importantly, why.  That’s a ministry opportunity. 

This is just an intro post to many more Real Word Issues post to come, but I knew that I needed to preface those by saying that we should talk about politics through the lens of Scripture.   

Amanda

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Never Stop Praying

I recently went through a major disappointment – I had been praying about a certain situation for a long time only to find out something that would seemingly make that happening impossible. But here’s the thing, all along the way, I truly believed I felt God leading me in that direction. (No, I’m not going to tell you what I’m talking about). So what do you do when you feel God leading you one way and don’t understand how it could possibly happen?

“Never stop praying” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

NeverStopPraying

Alright, now go have a good day, that’s your verse of the week.

No, I’m kidding. But seriously, if you truly believe that the Holy Spirit is leading you to do something don’t give up on it. Some things take time. Some things take a hell of a lot of prayer.

Now, I want to unpack that a little bit. I don’t know if this thing is going to happen, but I trust that God is working all things for my good because I love Him (Romans 8:28 NIV). So I trust that if it’s for my good, it will happen. 

Sometimes praying is all we can do. And I don’t mean that it should be a last resort. Here’s what I mean:

#1 Sometimes the only thing that we can do for the situation is to pray, because nothing else will help.

#2 Prayer is literally more important than anything else you can say or do, so to rely on prayer and prayer alone is not weak but the strongest thing you can do.

Now go pray and have a good week, y’all,

Amanda

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Dating Someone Who Doesn’t Love Jesus

Disclaimer: We’re gonna talk more about marriage than dating because the Bible doesn’t directly address dating but it talks an awful lot about marriage. Okay? Okay.

I’m gonna say this, plain and simple:

It’s not easy to find someone you like who is following Jesus whom you can potentially see yourself falling in love with.

Is it okay to date someone who doesn't love Jesus?

But don’t give up and decide it’s okay to date anyone regardless of their faith. We are very clearly told that we are not to be “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14 NKJV). What’s that actually mean, though?

Let’s take a deeper look at this verse and see exactly what the Apostle Paul was talking about when he wrote this verse and, specifically, the words “unequally yoked.”

“A yoke is a wooden bar that joins two oxen to each other and to the burden they pull. An “unequally yoked” team has one stronger ox and one weaker, or one taller and one shorter. The weaker or shorter ox would walk more slowly than the taller, stronger one, causing the load to go around in circles. When oxen are unequally yoked, they cannot perform the task set before them. Instead of working together, they are at odds with one another.”[1]

Here’s the whole verse:

“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 NKJV).

Now picture that image that is discussing marriage between believer and unbeliever. You don’t get anything done. You only go ’round and ’round in circles when you try to make decisions because you’re on opposing ends of the spectrum when it comes to what you believe is important.

Let me give you a few examples:

  1. Say you meet someone in college and he’s the guy of your dreams (minus the following Jesus part). The two of you decide to get married right after graduation. You both get decent jobs as soon as you graduate (yay, you!) As soon as you get your first paychecks, you go to give 10% of both of your checks – or even just yours, to your church and he has an issue with that. See the problem?
  2. A few years into your marriage, you now have a 2 year old and another baby on the way. After this baby comes, you’d really like to adopt because you have a heart for ministry and caring others. He says you have a perfectly healthy body and doesn’t understand why you’d want to adopt.
  3. You would really like to take your kids to church, but he says absolutely not. What do you do?

I really hope you see where I’m going with this. Marriage between a Christian and a non-Christian is a constant battle that we are not meant to fight.   God intended marriage to be a beautiful thing.   He didn’t intend for marriage to be chaos. Yes, you will have ups and downs, but if you ride them, you will find beauty in the journey.

Don’t even go down the road of thinking about the possibility of being with someone until you know for sure that they are completely head over heels for your Savior before they’re going to fall in love with you. Especially when you think that person does love Jesus to find out that they don’t. Just be absolutely 100% certain. Protect your heart – someday, someone will cherish it. For now, rest in the fact that your Savior loves you more than you can comprehend.

Bibliography

“What does it mean to be unequally yoked?,” Got Questions Ministries, accessed July 7, 2017, [https://www.gotquestions.org/unequally-yoked.html].
[1] “What does it mean to be unequally yoked?,” Got Questions Ministries, accessed July 7, 2017, [https://www.gotquestions.org/unequally-yoked.html].

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Sometimes, “Goodbye” is a Second Chance

Courtesy of Google’s “Free to Use, Share or Modify, Even Commercially.”

Over the past few months, my heart hasn’t been feeling very “Jesus-y.” I was having frustrations with my church that were causing my heart to turn away from God when I needed Him the most.

I had previously had problems with my church and was recently starting to see my church for what it really was.

My friend and I actually met up at Denny’s after I got off work one night. I’ll never forget a few of the things she said that really made a lot of sense to me. I remember her saying that my frustrations with the church were going to prevent spiritual growth, which another friend of mine said to me as well.

The one thing I’ll never forget is when she said, “Tell me about your personal walk with God right now” and I replied, “I don’t have one.”

And the truth of it is that I think I was so caught up in giving to others that I forgot about myself. One of the reasons my relationship with God has lost its strength is because I wasn’t attending service, listening to the podcasts, reading my Bible; doing the things I needed to be doing in order to maintain my relationship with God. I was volunteering with kids, so worried about others’ relationship with God, that I wasn’t committed to getting what I needed to stay healthy with God.

Flash forward to now: I have recently left the church I called home for 9 years. There were certain events that took place that led up to this decision, as well as frustrations with certain choices that were made.

 

But that’s not what this post is about…

 

I wake up almost every morning and when I think about my love for Jesus, it’s more or less in the back of my mind. My heart hasn’t been it for a while now. I felt like I was only going to church for the kids I was taking care of down in the nursery, not for Jesus. Writing this right now, I don’t feel in it. Every Sunday, it used to be, “Yes! Church!” But now it’s, “Okay, I guess I’ll go” or “Nah, maybe next week. I’m sleeping in.” I think one of the reasons my heart is not in it  is because I still went to this church. I honestly tried to make it work because I really hoped and had faith that God had a better plan for all of this. But, maybe this is my chance to feel whole again. I do still have a shred of faith and hope left that God can make me whole again, even though my heart is shattered.

I’m trying to remember what it felt like to have a heart on fire for Jesus, but I’ve been so brainwashed and had my heart destroyed continuously that I’m wondering if it can ever be repaired.

But even with a heart that is trying to mend, I will not stop. I will not quit. I know that there is a man who loved me so much that He died for me and everything I do wrong. He took nails through His hands for the person sitting here, writing this, whose heart is not in it. And my heart may not be in it now, but I’m hoping with time, my heart will heal and I will be whole again. Because I will not break. I will not sink. I am not an anchor, but He is an anchor for my soul. And as Shinedown says in one of their songs, “sometimes, ‘goodbye’ is a second chance.”

 

STEPS I’M TAKING TO MAINTAIN MY RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD AGAIN:

  • New church: I’m currently looking for a new church to attend. I’m committed to getting my relationship with God back on track and where it needs to be. The church I went to before was once the place where I was actively getting my fill, but it is not anymore.
  • Bible app: I have been reading a Bible plan on a Bible app called “Bible Study” since Valentines’ Day. It was the first step I took to get my spiritual strength back. The Bible plan is a chronological 365 day plan that gives you a few chapters each day.
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13 Reasons 13 Reasons Why is Important (Part 1)



13Reasons13ReasonsWhyisImportantThere’s been so much talk lately about the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why that I am about over hearing about it.  Not because I didn’t watch it — I did, twice. The first time by myself then I convinced my mom that she should watch it so we watched it together.  It’s not that I don’t think we should be talking about 13 Reasons Why, it’s that we all need to realize that we’re not just talking about a Netflix series when we’re talking about it.  We’re talking about people’s lives that hang in the balance of whether or not they decide that will be their last day.

So, as the title suggests, we’re going to talk about 13 reasons I personally think that 13 Reasons Why is important.   But I’m going to break it into a couple posts because this post ended up being pretty long.

#1 It opens up room for discussion. 

Yeah, I just complained about the fact that we’re still talking about 13 Reasons Why, but I don’t think it’s the series itself that was the goal of the series for us to talk about.  It was suicide prevention, awareness, etc.

#2 It’s honest. 

I realize that the scene of Hannah Baker’s suicide is graphic, and I don’t think that younger viewers or those experiencing suicidal thoughts should watch that scene (or possibly the whole series, for that matter).  However, the scene of Hannah’s suicide as well as the rest of the series is raw in exposing the truth behind what led her down that road.  One thing that television is not is honest, so I think we should appreciate the honesty and the rawness of 13 Reasons Why. There were also objections in the way of this series purely being about Hannah’s revenge rather than about her feelings and how she truly internalized everything.  I disagree, I think the show does a good job of showing how Hannah felt as she endured everything she went through.

#3 It’s Real Life. 

Gosh, I wish no one ever had to experience all of the things that Hannah did.  But the truth is, girls do and so do guys, and I think that we need to be more aware of this and be there for others if someone is experiencing things like betrayal, harassment, being stalked, raped, or feeling alone or unloved.  It can only take one of these things or one other completely different thing to cause someone to commit suicide.

#4 It’s Not Funny

If someone’s “joking” about killing themselves, please, please, please address it.  Even if it’s said jokingly, you shouldn’t ever ignore someone saying they’re going to end their life.

On the other hand, if you’re joking about suicide in general or killing yourself and you aren’t having suicidal thoughts, just stop. 

#4 It Encourages Us to Be Aware

Just my opinion, but I think the furthest thing from the goal of 13 Reasons Why was to make people feel that they should feel guilty if they have lost someone in their lives as a result of suicide.  However, we can all do a better job of being there for one another and could possibly prevent someone from deciding to commit suicide with a simple smile or text.  You never know what someone else is going through, reaching out to them is worth it.

#5 Love Before It’s Too Late

If you’ve seen the series, you know that it primarily focuses on Clay Jenson listening to Hannah’s tapes.  Clay loved Hannah, but it was too late to tell her.   Point being, whether you think someone else feels the same way or not, tell them.  You’ll only regret not telling them.

This one goes for every single person in our lives, family, friends, and those you don’t know.  You never know how much time you’ll have with people, and whether you have 5 days, 5 years, or 50 years, better to spend your time together richly than to spend it focused on your phones, television and video games.

Come back for Part 2 next week! Until then, check out some “old” posts:

Christian Relationship Goals (Part 1)

Watch Out for Ticks

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Things Jesus Didn’t Say (Part 1): Don’t Talk About Me

donttalkaboutme

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links. 

This is the first post in a series I’m starting called “Things Jesus Didn’t Say.”  We’re going to talk about things that the church, as a whole, tends to act in a way that Jesus said.   These posts will probably all be short and “sweet.”

One major thing Jesus did not say? “Don’t talk about me.”  In fact, he directly commands us to do the exact opposite, all over the world.  That, my friends, is quite the conundrum. He tells us this in the Great Commission:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8 NIV).

How can we continue to live our lives as if Jesus never commissioned us to tell the world about Him when he so directly did? How can we live as if we have no purpose when Jesus gave us our life’s mission in Acts 1:8?

Doesn’t your hurting friend need Jesus just as much as you do every day? When we fail to tell others about His great love for us, we are being selfish.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should go get a bunch of gospel tracts and hand them out to your neighbors.  Maybe try a more personable approach, like having a conversation? Yeah, it’s hard at first, but you’ll get to the point where what you care more about is honoring God and that person’s soul than whether you offend them.  They’ll get over it, or maybe they won’t.   But you’ll know that you reached out because you love them and care about their eternity.


Even if they don’t respond positively, you can continue to pray for them and hope that they do change their hearts.  If you’re walking in step with the Holy Spirit and that person can see in you the grace and love that they need, they’ll probably come around. If they don’t, it’s not your job to save them, but it is your responsibility to talk to them about the one who saved your soul.  And why wouldn’t you want to talk to them about your Jesus?

Have other ideas of things Jesus didn’t say that you’d like us to write about? Please share your thoughts!

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Is it Biblical for Women to Lead?