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Don’t Follow Your Heart

DontFollowYourHeart

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Someone has told you at some point to follow your heart.  Almost guaranteed.  And they may have been someone that wanted what was best for you and to see you grow.  But here’s the thing: that is the exact opposite of what we should do.  It is a lie that we have been told over and over again and begun to believe.

But here’s what Scripture says about the heart:

“This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD… The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:5,9 NIV)

Now not everything that the Bible says about the heart is negative, there’s a lot about the heart that is actually positive, but those instances describe a heart which belongs to God, the Bible calls that a pure heart.

Whether you’re following God or not, don’t follow your heart.   If you are following God, you can look at it as following your heart but by doing so actually following His.  In this case, you’re still not following your own heart.  If you’re not following Jesus, your heart is going to lead you down destructive paths.


First of all:

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV).

Every action that you take will be a direct result of where your heart is at. But that doesn’t mean that you are to follow what your heart wants at all times.

I am a pretty independent person and have been since I was little.  So my plan for college was never to stay home and study online. I never thought that was going to happen.  But God had other plans.  A little over a year ago when I was figuring out what I was doing for school, I had to be willing to accept that His plans are better than what I had envisioned for myself.  But now that some things have changed, I’m feeling Him leading me to go to campus.  🙂

We have to be willing to wait for God’s timing, rather than doing them whenever we want.  Do I feel in some ways that I missed out because I wasn’t at school for my freshman and sophomore years of college? Yeah.  Do I realize that I wouldn’t be almost done with my sophomore year of college had I been on campus? Absolutely.  There are so many ways that God has shown me through the past few years that He is faithful and will never leave me (Deuteronomy 31:6) that it is indescribable.

Also, don’t forget that besides waiting sometimes the answer is just going to be no.  Sometimes you’ll wait and wait and wait thinking that His answer will turn into a yes, but the answer has been no all along and will remain no.

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

When we place our focus first on God and not on the things of this world, He promises to give us the desires of our hearts. Look at the context of this verse. This passage of Scripture is all about trusting God with our lives, working for Him, and not becoming envious of what others have, among other things.

Here’s the thing: the Christian life isn’t about following random desires of the heart.  That will only lead to disaster when those desires come from a place of impurity remaining in our hearts.  The Christian life is about following God’s will in all things, no matter what our own hearts’ desire. 

Hey if you liked this post, go check out some others here:

Jesus Time

Waiting on God’s Timing

“Give Thanks to God”

 

 

 

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Christian Relationship Goals (Part 2)

ChristianRelationshipGoalsPart2_2Corinthians614

If you didn’t read Part 1 of this post from last week, go check that out and then come back here if you like to read things in order 😉

But just in case you didn’t read Part 1, last week I started writing about things we should look for in a future spouse.  And that post started getting really long, so I decided to cut it short and continue today. So hey there!

I’m just going to jump right in, the person that you’re thinking you’re going to spend the rest of you’re life with should have or be striving to have these qualities

#4: Encouraging 

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV).”

If you’re dating someone or you like someone and all they do is tear you down, you should probably say goodbye.  Now at the same time, think about if you’re tearing them down as well.  Don’t use that as an excuse to stay with them, because if you’re both extremely discouraging to one another, that’s not good and you know it.  However, you do need to be able to reflect on what you’re doing to be able to grow and learn from your mistakes.

 

#5: Fear of God 

Hebrews 10:25-26 addresses that we should all have a healthy fear of God and the fact that one day we all will stand before Him and be judged.   Someday we all must account for everything we have done, and if you have not trusted Jesus as your Lord and Savior to be the one to take your place on judgement day, my heart aches for you.

In the same way, if you are a Christian, your heart should ache for those who do not know Jesus.  Yet at the same time, you should not marry someone in an attempt to convert them.  That can only do more harm than good.

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV)

ChristianRelationshipGoalsPart2_2Corinthians614

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:23 NIV).

#6: Humble 

To be a Christian and prideful is a complete oxymoron.  Pride is putting your trust in what you can do on your own and Christianity is putting your trust in Christ alone.  How opposite are those two things? As followers of Christ we should be modestly aware of our own abilities and strengths and focused more on Christ.

Humility is an attractive quality.  Arrogance is a not.  

But because pride has been encouraged so much in our culture, I think we have skewed the true definition of humility.  Humility is a choice; an action that we take.  Jesus was humble because He chose to be humble not because He was forced to be.

Take two different people working in two different positions: CEO and intern.  Does their position make determine whether they are prideful or humble? No.  The CEO could be the humble one and the intern could be the most prideful person you ever meet in your life.

We must choose to walk a life of humility, and we should look for a future spouse who does the same.  Why? First and foremost, Jesus lived humbly and we are to follow His example.  Second, we are told directly to be completely humble.

#7: Gentle 

I think this one speaks for itself, but to enter a relationship or potentially marriage with someone who is not gentle is dangerous.  This goes for in the way they speak as well as the way they act.  Not only for yourself, here, but if you plan on having children in the future.  (You have to think about the way this person speaks and acts around other people!)

#8: Patient 

Patience, people! How do they handle little things?  Or the big things? What is their response—is it to trust in the one who holds their future or is to just fold up under the pressure?

#9: Gracious 

Are they forgiving? Do they get over an argument quickly or do they hold on to stupid little things?

#10: Your Goals Align

Also a no-brainer.  If he/she wants to move to the other side of the country and your roots are planted right where you’re at, I think you may have a problem.  At the same time, that’s something that can be figured out.   You just have to figure out what is worth compromising on for you and what is not.  Things that I wouldn’t recommend compromising on–

  • Faith: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV)  Without being judgmental, if there is no evidence of any of these qualities developing in their lives, you might have to ask yourself if they are really following Christ.
  • Career Goals  (Don’t be willing to settle for someone that wants you to put aside what God has called you to do for them.)
  • Family & Kids (If they prioritize their family on a significantly different level than you do, how is that going to play out long-term? Also, you need to know if you’re on the same page about wanting kids and when.

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Christian Relationship Goals (Part 1)

ChristianRelationshipGoals_GraceUnbroken

This girl with (essentially) no relationship experience has decided that she’s going to start writing about Christian relationships as part of this blog.  Partly because, why not?  Partly because I think if the topic is avoided then Christian girls and guys are going to just pick the first person that comes along and think they were made for each other.  (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that can’t happen but it generally doesn’t, sorry.)

So in case you haven’t been paying attention, which I’m sure you have, our culture (and I’m not just going to blame the media, it’s everywhere) likes to portray relationships as disposable.  And I’m not even necessarily talking just about romantic relationships; the general disregard for one another that people have in friendships, family relationships and romantic relationships never ceases to amaze me.

Culture says it’s okay to just up and leave when you’re simply done with a relationship, culture says it’s okay to be prideful and boast about your relationship. (#RelationshipGoals) Culture says that it’s okay to be mean-spirited.  That’s what culture does, but here’s what Scripture says:

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13 NIV).

 

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV).”

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:23 NIV).

I think one of the biggest things we need to do for each other as Christians is to encourage one another to grow.  And that doesn’t necessarily just mean spiritually.  Growth in every healthy area of our lives demonstrates growth in our faith when our faith is the most important area of our lives.

So let’s look back over those verses together, one at a time and lay out some ground work for what we should really be looking for in a Christian relationship.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

#1: Love

I think this is kind of a no-brainer, but if you don’t love the person you’re with and believe that you could have a future with them (aka you want the same things)—ditch them. Now, that might seem like I’m going back on what I just said and also seem a little harsh, but I’m talking about a dating relationship here, not marriage.  So you’re still in the place where you’re figuring out how you feel about this person and if you have a future together.  Now if it’s like week one of dating and you don’t absolutely love them I’m not saying to break up with them, but if you’re a few years into dating someone and you really don’t know yet if you could have a future with them or not you might have an issue.

#2: Willingness to Sacrifice

This one kind of speaks for itself in that as Christians we should be willing to sacrifice for others in general, so when it comes to a romantic relationship this is no different.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV).”

#3: Church Attendance –Meeting Together

I’m going to say something that you might not like, but you need to understand it. You’re not going to find a perfect church.  That’s because in the walls of a church you’re going to find a lot of broken, hurting people that are there because they need Jesus’ love and forgiveness just as much as you do.  We have to come to a point where we have a healthy view of the church as both the body and the bride of Christ, and for the purposes of this post the metaphor of the bride is most helpful. Jesus loves His bride, just as every girl hopes that her future husband will love her.  And if you’re a girl, wouldn’t you hope that your future groom would defend you if someone said they didn’t like  you?  What about if you’re a guy, imagine someone coming to you on your wedding day and saying they hated your bride. Seriously, what would you do? Jesus’ love for His bride is deep and He would not tolerate hatred or even distaste towards her.  So go to church… 😉

Check back next week for Part 2! Until then, check out these other posts!

Waiting on God’s Timing

Come to Me.

One Nation Under God

 

 

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What is Holiness?

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Hey guys, I’ve missed you!  So I’m back to blogging, but not going to be on social media still, so you can always contact me on here or on Facebook Messenger because I am still logged into that.

Anywho, I was just reading about God’s holiness in one of my theology books and wanted to talk about how we view holiness, because I think a lot of the time we get it wrong (or maybe it’s just me!)

I think we have a tendency to think that God’s holiness is something that it’s not—almost in a way that we think God is demanding the same level of perfection of us as He is perfect.  But what holiness really is is God setting the standard for righteousness for us of how He wants us to live.  Our gracious God, however, understands that we are going to fall.

Have you ever looked at an Old Testament law and thought, but why? If you haven’t thought that, you haven’t read the law books. (Just kidding.) He always has a reason for why He wants us to live in a particular way, even when it came to laws like this:

“‘Keep my decrees. ‘Do not mate different kinds of animals.’ ‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.’ ‘Do not wear clothing woven with two kinds of material'” (Leviticus 19:19 NIV).

Is something like this infringing on free will or is it something that God put in place to protect those whom He loved? When the nation of Israel followed God’s commands, they were the healthiest nation in the world.  I don’t believe in coincidence ;).


So holiness isn’t God trying to make us work and work and work to achieve a goal we’ll never reach—that’d be cruel and God is not a cruel god.  However, as our Father who desires to protect us, He also has the authority to set standards for our lives.  It is 100% up to us whether or not we choose to obey those standards, but if we disobey the standards that our heavenly Father has set for us, we are also choosing to deal with the consequences of doing so.  

However, we can choose to walk in obedience.  Jesus makes it pretty simple:

“If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15 NIV).

IfYouLoveMeKeepMyCommands_John1415

Can it get any simpler than that? If you truly love Jesus you will do as He instructs you to.  It’s pretty clear if we look at the example of the biblical writers that we’re going to mess up because we’re humans and we have free will.  However, we should be actively pursuing God’s will for our lives rather than doing whatever our flesh desires.

I have some big news that I’m going to be announcing pretty soon, so keep an eye out for that!

In the mean time, feel free to comment or check out another post! Here are a few of mine and your favorite posts:

Watch Out for Ticks

Jesus Time

That Email! (That’s a hint about my news, by the way.)

 

Did you notice the Bible in the picture? It’s a Zondervan NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible and it’s awesome! You can get one for yourself or for someone else and personalize it at the link below from Family Christian Stores.

Personalize your gift by adding the finishing touch!>

 

 

 

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My New Years’ Resolutions

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I’m not the kind of person to only have one New Years’ Resolution.  For me not to have a list of 50 is an accomplishment in and of itself.  So I’m going to try to stick to 10 things that I want to change in the next year to keep this post short-ish.  I am trying to keep these pretty simple and reasonable because I know how New Years Resolutions normally go.

#1 Realize that “crazy busy” isn’t how it should be. 

My default answer to “How are you” for the past year seems to have been “crazy busy,” “busy,” or “crazy.”  We’re in a culture where we constantly have to be busy.  But in 2017, I don’t want to be.  I want to be able to breathe.  I want to be able to be engaged in the conversations I’m having rather than thinking about what I’m doing next or what else I have on my plate.


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#2 Help someone everyday. 

I’m not sure what this one is going to look like yet and I’m sure most of the time it’s going to be super simple.  But the focus here is taking my focus off of myself and expressing God’s love to someone else.

#3 Spend less time on social media. 

I was doing pretty well in this for a while, but it’s really hard not to go on social media when you have a blog.  Or at least that’s a really good excuse (umm…..). So without entirely getting rid of social media because that would be pretty much impossible, I’m going to try to avoid it other than for blogging purposes.  Wish me luck with this one. 🙂

#4 Eat Healthy and Exercise Regularly

I know this is a pretty standard one, but it kinda had to be included because I’m starting to exercise again and starting a meal plan Monday.

#5 Make it to the Dog Park More

My pupper deserves to get there more than he does; simple but important.

#6 Write More. 

I know that I need to work on my writing as well as be more consistent with updating the blog.  So in following God’s calling, this one’s pretty important.

 

#7 Drink less coffee. 

Coffee’s bad for my moods and for my anxiety level.  Yet for some silly reason I still continue to drink ridiculous amounts of it.

#8 Read More/Watch Less TV

In becoming a better writer, I’m a firm believer in reading to do so.  Also, I binge watched Gilmore Girls as I finished up this past semester, probably to avoid the stress of thinking about the actual classes, but I’m not going to do that again.

#9 Stay Organized for School 

My system of organization fell apart this past semester.  Imagine a row of dominos perfectly lined up knocking each other over.  Yeah that’s how quickly it fell apart.  I had primarily been using Google Calendars to stay on top of assignments and what I had going on.  As soon as my to-do list became too large to put in Google Calendars, it was overwhelming and at that point in the semester I didn’t have time to look for another way to organize.  So the plan for this semester: always have a back-up plan!

#10 Pray More, Worry Less

My main resolution, which is why I saved it for last, is to spend more time in prayer:

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV

I could spend my time being worried and anxious about the future, but I’m going to choose to look to God before I concern myself with those things.  Why? Because God held my past and he holds my present and future.  If I know that the God who created the universe holds my present and my future, why should I worry?

 

 

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One Nation Under God

Salt_And_Light_In_The_Midst_Of_Crazy_Political_Season

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First, let me say that whether or not you believe in God does not affect whether or not you are under His authority.  His existence is not dependent on whether or not you believe in Him.  In the same way, this nation’s being “under God” is not dependent on your beliefs in God, or lack thereof.

That is truly all I want to say about the fact that we are under God and His authority.  What I primarily want to address in this post is the first part of this phrase: “one nation.”  The division among citizens after the announcement that Donald Trump is the President Elect is absolutely ridiculous.  So I have a few words to say to a few different groups.

To Those On the “Winning Side”

I won’t say congratulations, because you didn’t win. Your nominee did.  I want to primarily start by thanking you for going to the polls.  You exercise the right you have as an American citizen and showed that you are grateful for it by using it.  You may not have recognized that you did, but you did.  Next, I want to say stay humble and on your knees in prayer.  Pray for the future. Pray for the policies that our President Elect and the majority Republican Congress choose to pass to be God-honoring. Do not engage in anything but positive discussions on social media and in person.  It’s not worth it.


To Those On the “Losing Side”

In the same way that I didn’t congratulate the “winning side,” I won’t apologize to you because your side lost.  But I do feel for you.  I understand that you are scared.  I don’t believe that anyone took their decision lightly going into the polls.  I know I sure didn’t.  But I want you to realize that the President isn’t the only one who makes decisions.  Yes, the Republicans did gain control of Congress.  However, not all Republicans are like Donald Trump.  I hope you can find some hope in the fact that most Republicans care deeply about your individual rights and will fight to protect them.

To Those Who Didn’t Choose Either Side,

And I don’t mean you chose not to vote.  I’m talking about voting third party. You said a lot this election. Didn’t quite get where you wanted to get.  But made the statement you wanted to.  Evan McMullins managed 21% in Utah! Anywho, Gary Johnson got 3% of the overall and even though it’s not the 5% needed for federal funding, your vote was worth it.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you wasted your vote by voting for a third party.  That’s a total lie.  Kudos to you for standing up for what you believe in.

To Those Who Didn’t Vote,

May I simply start with a question: WHY NOT? Unless you’re under the age of 18 or were for some reason incapable of getting there, I’m not one for excuses about not voting.  Yes there are legitimate ones.  But for the most part, get there or know you’re not going to that day and fill out an absentee.  You may have stayed home because you thought that you just couldn’t vote for either of the two main candidates.  I know the two primary options were not exactly ideal, but let me ask you this, you’re a flawed human being too right?  Couldn’t you decide who most aligned with your ideals, even if it was an independent and get out there and vote?

Also, let me say this.  If you didn’t vote and could have, you have no room to complain about the results of the election.

This is the division we see today, the day after the election, primarily between Republican and Democrat, or those who see themselves as winners and those who see themselves as losers.  It should not be that way.  The President cannot truly “fix” the issues you face on a daily basis long-term.  Why? Another one can come in and get rid of whatever he does.  That’s what we’re likely about to see happen.

So here’s what needs to happen:

  • Rather than complaining and gloating, we need to help one another and be unified in our communities.
  • Our communities are where real change takes place. If we come together rather than focusing on who is about to be in office, a lot of real change can occur. 
  • If we stand together so much more can get done.
  • Christians are to be salt and light so that others may see Christ in us.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16 NASB). 

 

Liked this post? Go check out other “Real World Issues” Posts:

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Called to Worship

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What do you think of when you think of worship? I think it’s fair to say most people think of singing praises to God.  Singing is a form of worship, but it’s not the only way we can worship God.  In fact, quite the opposite is true.

“God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24 ESV).

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV).

If our purpose is to glorify God, we are worshipping Him in spirit and truth.  On the other hand, you could be in a church service during worship and not really worshipping God because your heart is not focused on Him but on every other possible thing you could be focused on.  Don’t get me wrong, I love worship music. 

 

God deserves to be honored and glorified in everything we do, not just in song.  All Christians have spiritual gifts that allow them to do that in a specific way.  We can also use hobbies that are not necessarily spiritual gifts to worship God.

Bible Art Journaling

I started Bible Art Journaling a little over a year ago, but just recently started diving back into it.  And when I say diving, I mean head-first.  For the past two months or so, I’ve been more focused on getting consistent Jesus Time.  The last two weeks, I’ve needed something to do as stress relief with an overloaded school schedule.  So with knowing that I had a journaling class coming up this past Saturday, I just started doing it more and more.

1John4:18-19

Here’s one that I started before the class, worked on during and finished after, because this one was one I really wanted to do but I wasn’t sure how to tie it together.  Who knows, I may always add more later. 1 John 4:18-19 has always been one of my favorite passages of Scripture:

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:18-19 ESV).

There’s so much to this verse and I want to encourage you to study it on your own, but there’s just a few things I want to mention:

    • God is love.
    • God’s perfect love dispels fear.
    • If we are His, we should not fear.
    • Because God loves us perfectly, we are able to love others even though we are imperfect.

 

The class I went to Saturday was taught by Tai Bender, who sells the hymnal cards that you can see in the picture. I had all but the card that reads “Tune My Heart” on it done and wanted to add something because I had a lot of white space at that time.  So, looking through the cards, I realized that that card has “Come Thou Fount” on it, which is my favorite hymn. So I added that at the last second because that song was on my heart and seemed to fit there as well as with the worship theme that I knew I was about to be writing about.

Worship God in everything.  Your work, your hobbies, your relationships; everything.

 

 

 

 

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Obedience of Faith

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I just started classes this week specifically devoted to studying the book of Romans in context as well as a class about the book of Acts.  They both already have individual categories under Bible Study. That’s your “head’s up.”

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bing about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to be saints” (Romans 1:1-6 ESV)

As I was reading this, one phrase in particular jumped out at me: “obedience of faith” (v. 5).  Faith means trusting that God knows what is best for you better than you do.  Then, in that trust, you must submit to God’s plan for your life.  We have to be able to simply obey Him and His Word.  No, it’s not always easy, in fact most of the time obedience to God will be the harder path to take.  However, obedience to God is always the right choice. 

 

Faith_Means_Trust_In_Gods_Plan

The most simple way this is stated in the Bible is found in John:

“If you love me, keep my commands” (John 14:15 NIV)

These are the words of our Savior Himself.  Please don’t skim over them.  A relationship with Jesus starts with falling in love with Him, but Jesus came to give us new life here and now.  That new life is abundant because it doesn’t involve worldly things.  Look at the example of the early church and see how drastic the life change was.  We are not to continue living however we please and expect that whenever we die we will be in heaven with Him.

If_You_Love_Me_Keep_My_Commands_John_14:15

What obedience looks like for each one of us may honestly look different.  Some actions, mentioned in various places throughout the Bible, are clearly disobedience.  Others may not be so clear.  Let me give you an example: I’ve written before about feeling God calling me to be a pastor.  I initially felt that call during my sophomore year of high school and honestly I completely ignored what God was calling me to do and focused on my plans and my goals for my life.  It took me three years to finally accept God’s calling for my life and be okay with it.  It still makes me really nervous just thinking about it.  But the entire time that I was chasing my own dreams instead of following His will for my life, I was disobeying Him.  I was still saying no to His plans and yes to mine.  But at that time I had zero contentment in my spirit about what I was going to do and would constantly say “I wish I knew what I was going to do with my life” even though I thought I had it all figured out.  The second I made the decision to accept that God’s plans for my life are so much better than mine and to trust Him with my career path, that contentment that I lacked was there.

So for me, obedience in that area of my life didn’t require a change of schools or even a change of major but instead a change of heart and a willingness to go wherever God takes me.

I don’t know what obedience needs to look like in your life right now, but you probably do.  If you truly don’t, just pray about it and ask God to show you what area of your life you need to trust Him with.

 

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Watch Out for Ticks

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I was supposed to do a mud run yesterday but because my truck broke down and I have been sick for a week and a half I decided it would be best to better prepare myself for a future mud run.  However, as the name implies, you get pretty muddy during a mud run.  So I had gotten myself pretty excited about getting really muddy and was rather disappointed that I was missing out on that.

As somewhat of a consolation, I talked my mom into walking a muddy horse trail at a local park with my dog yesterday instead. Great idea, not! 😉 My shoes are covered in mud, I had mud halfway up my calves and so did Toby. Even worse: when we were almost out of the wooded area of the trail I looked down and had a tick crawling on my finger.  Yuck!  The worst part: Toby had not one, but two on him.

Ticks are parasitic; they bite and then live off their “host.”  The host can then develop Lyme Disease if the tick was infected with it. Lyme can affect any organ in the body and have a detrimental affect on the tick’s host.

What does this have to do with our relationship with God?

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Just as ticks may “seem” harmless; we know they’re not because they can carry a disease that could seriously harm our bodies.  Some of these sins are more obviously harmful than others, but some may not seem so blatantly harmful; but they are detrimental.  They, just like a tick, will “bite” and continue to swell as long as you allow them to have that power.  Things like envy, anger, jealousy, strife, and idolatry may not seem like sin at first because they do not immediately take over your life.  However, once you allow these sins into your life, the devil will continually take more and more of your attention from God by using these things.  Sin is parasitic! 

If you watch out for spiritual “ticks” constantly, you will be able to, through the Holy Spirit, get rid of that sin before it overtakes your life.  Don’t even let the “tick” bite.

“If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth” (1 John 1:6 NIV).

Live Out Truth, Not Lies

The devil wants you to live a sinful life because he is a liar, he wants you to go against God’s will for your life and give in to sin.  Don’t; trust that God knows best and is Truth.

“What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:15 NIV).

Right after Paul explained what not to do, he tells the church in Galatia what kind of behaviors the Holy Spirit produces; not by our power, but His. When we are saved by grace, through faith in Jesus Christ, it’s not only about Him saving us, it’s also about Him changing us. Jesus came not only to save us but to change us.  He left so that the Holy Spirit could come and change us. A Spirit-filled life is the only way to live a full and abundant life; the life Jesus came to give.

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“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT)

The fruit of the spirit indicates a Spirit-filled individual.  Not one of us can constantly maintain those qualities without the help of the Holy Spirit. We will all still fail, but as we grow in our relationship with the Lord, the fruit of the Spirit should be evident.

Liked this post? Go check of my other favorites:

Silent Saturday

Jesus Time

Don’t Follow Your Heart

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What Is Separation of Church and State?

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I had to write a discussion board post for school regarding legal issues in a public school setting and I really just had to share because I believe that we need to be reminded what the real intentions of Separation of Church and State were.  Here’s my post:

“A coach participates as a club advisor in Fellowship of Christian Athletes-led activities held on school properties.”

In a case in which a church organization is ministering in a public setting, the original intent of the phrase “separation of church and state” needs to be examined. According to Owens in “Separation of Church and State,” “The doctrine of the separation of church and state was conceived primarily to keep the state out of the church, not the church out of the state” (Owens, 2001). By this, Owens describes the original intent of the concept of separation of church and state, which was to protect the church from persecution and from being limited by the government to practice the religion of the state or hide the practicing of religion. This came from a people who had just been persecuted for their Christian faith in England. It was fresh in their minds and therefore, they would not allow the same thing to occur in the new country that they were working to develop: the United States. Thomas Jefferson, in his letter to the Banbury Baptist Association of Connecticut, wrote “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church and State” (El-Mallakh, 2007). Jefferson was addressing a church body on the fact that their right to exercise their religious beliefs would remain intact.” Biblically, people of faith were in political positions often, so the idea that the church should not have influence over the state is new and definitely not a Biblical idea. Throughout the Bible, prophets, judges, and kings all exerted strong influence over their nation even when the nation had strayed from following the Lord. When the judges of the nation of Israel were chosen, they were reminded, “‘Always think carefully before pronouncing judgment. Remember that you do not judge to please people but to please the LORD. He will be with you when you render the verdict in each case. Fear the LORD and judge with integrity, for the LORD our God does not tolerate perverted justice, partiality, or the taking of bribes” (2 Chronicles 19:6-7 NLT). Although the Biblical example is strong for church political influence, Owens continues: “Yet that has been, and will continue to be, the primary effect of this policy–the “church” will remove itself more and more from developing a strong, prophetic public witness in relation to the ‘state’ The shortage of religious leaders who will take the risk of speaking truth to power is critical enough, but it is truly tragic when the development of such a voice is rendered impossible by cozy financial relationships with the powers themselves” (Owens, 2001).
Although in the case of a coach participating as an advisor in Fellowship of Christian Athletes activities on school campus, they should be permitted to do so through the original intent of the wording of “separation of Church and State,” they would most likely not be allowed or they would be afraid of getting in some sort of trouble for doing so.

References
El-Mallakh, O. (2007). Separation of Church and State: the myth. Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table. Retrieved from http://p2048-ezproxy.liberty.edu.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA192639837&sid=summon&asid=b4be56524cfaab4a87503bb2a940c8c5
Owens, R. F. (2001). Separation of Church and State. (Issues). Social Policy, 32(1), 45+. Retrieved from http://p2048-ezproxy.liberty.edu.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=GRGM&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA81005828&sid=summon&asid=d0dff31fe69a509886c8faeecc8efded

But is that the way it feels? That this concept was meant to help the church not to hurt it?Absolutely not! The church needs to be aware that Separation of Church and State not meant to harm us. It’s supposed to protect us from government interference in the church; the exact opposite of what it’s currently doing. This does not mean that Christians should not serve in public offices: they should! There are plenty of biblical examples of this, and our nation and world needs Godly  people in office.