Souls Like Ivy

I look toward the window to see my small, potted ivy. Some leaves are healthy and grass-green, but others are withering, dying. I see the edges turning brown and holes where the leaf should be one.

I water it, give it extra light, walk away. I expect the brown leaves to heal themselves, and the green ones to grow greener.

It doesn’t grow; it doesn’t heal. Extra leaves are turning brown, and they look to be choking the green leaves, the ones that are still striving to do what I left them there to do. They’re trying with all of their might, but instead of healing, they’re ever so slowly failing.

I become frustrated. I give it more water; I give it more sunlight, more warmth. Every day I find the same condition, maybe worse. But, I’m giving it all it needs.

A last-resort thought comes: I’m not taking away what it doesn’t need. It’s suffocating. I’ll cut away the withering leaves and give it a chance to breathe.

So, I do just that.

I look toward the window to see my small, potted ivy. All of the leaves are healthy and grass-green! They’re breathing, beautiful. It’s grown taller in the past couple of weeks.

I give it more water, more sunlight, and none is wasted. It isn’t suffocating; it isn’t dying.

It’s thriving.

***

When I look at my soul, what do I see? I may look toward my soul and see healthy, grass-green leaves, God’s goodness and light, thriving in an environment that’s ready to process and grow.

I may look toward my soul and see brown edges and holes, blatant sin that I shrug away, that I conveniently ignore, all the while saying, “those brown edges will heal themselves if I give them more of Water, more Light,”

or worse,

“the green, healthy soul-leaves will be fine if I leave a little brown behind. They’re strong enough to manage.”

More light piled in with more dark.

I don’t grow; I don’t heal. Extra soul-leaves are turning brown; they look to be choking the green leaves, the ones that are still striving to do what I left them there to do. They’re trying with all of their might, but instead of healing, they’re ever so slowly failing.

Once more, I become frustrated. I give my soul more Water, more Light. Every day I find the same condition, maybe worse.

But, I don’t understand,

I’m giving it all it needs!

I look toward the window and see my thriving ivy. A last-resort thought comes: I haven’t taken away what my soul doesn’t need. It’s suffocating among brown-edged, deeply cut sins.

I have to remove them; I have to give my soul a proper chance to breathe,

a real chance to surivive.

I begin cutting away at my sin. So, I give my soul more Water, more Light, and I cut some more. I now look toward my soul and see buds!

My soul is ready, and it’s growing.

It takes the Water and the Light, and it grows — none is wasted anymore. My soul isn’t choking. It isn’t suffocating.

It’s blossoming.


This is one way I look at repentance and growing in Christ — in fact it’s a concept God Himself teaches.

We’re each much like a plant. All plants require particular environments in order to thrive. The ivy couldn’t handle one pot with the much disease and life all combined, some flowers can’t be potted with anything else because they don’t share nutrients well, most plants can’t handle extreme temperatures; yet, they must all be watered, and they must all have access to light.

We require water and Light from Jesus. But, before we start trying to add new virtues, we must examine ourselves in an effort to find anything to cut away.

And then cut it.

If we want a chance to survive, we must first learn how to thrive.

See Galatians 5, Matthew 13, Ephesians 4:17-32


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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, follow me on Instagram and Pinterest.  Feel free to print, pin, and share my posts on all platforms; I only ask that you link it back to this site. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

Guilty of Comfort

This will be the most me-focused, raw post to date, so if that makes you uncomfortable, I won’t make you keep reading (I don’t always put myself out there in this way). But I encourage you to stay and let yourself be challenged like I have. There’s something that has been on my mind lately, that I haven’t quite been able to put a finger on — until last night.


At our Wednesday evening worship services, we usually have a Bible study with different classes based on age, singing, prayer, and a short sermon or message before one last song and a closing prayer. During that small sermon, our preacher took us to Luke 18:18-23; that’s the story of the rich young ruler.

In this story, there’s a man who is very rich, and he wants to know how to receive eternal life: “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answers by saying that no one is good but God (a humble response from our Savior, always pointing to God), and he lists some of the commandments that we also find in the Book of Exodus. Ruler (I’ll call him this to make typing and reading easier) replies that he’s kept all of these things since he was young.

This is what followed:

“So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.” (vv. 22-23)

There are a couple of points our preacher made last night that I want to bring out. The first is that Ruler’s sorrow was symmetrical to how rich he was — he became very sorrowful because he was very rich. He based so much trust and love and comfort on the stuff he owned that he was equally as sad to be told to give it all up. How sad is that? The more he had, the less he was willing to sacrifice.

Next point: People often think (and I’m guilty of this), “I’m so glad that Jesus wouldn’t ask me to do that.”

Think again.

The attitude behind this way of thinking is appalling. Who are we to say what Jesus would ask of us? How great do we think we are? If this is something I’m guilty of thinking, then this is exactly what Jesus would ask me to do, because we have to give things up to follow Christ. If I’m putting more stock in what I own than what Jesus offers, then that’s what I need to give up the most.

Upon hearing these points, I asked myself what this thing is for me, what I find the most uncomfortable to give up. What would I say, “I’m glad He’d never ask me to do that” about?

You know what I came up with? Comfort. Just comfort. And the more comfort I find, the more uncomfortable I feel about giving up even a small portion of that; my comfort level is symmetrical to my sorrow. I’ve lived most of my life in my comfort zone, looking for more ways to be comfortable instead of ways to move through discomfort gracefully. It’s funny that the thing holding me back the most is something that seems so innocent, something we all feel entitled to. It’s not even something that’s tangible. I can’t hold comfort and I can’t see comfort. But I can feel it. It’s there, and it can be a stumbling block, even a brick wall. I was never promised comfort. I was promised persecution; comfort is only a luxury.

Feelings and emotions or states of being, things like comfort, can be my fiercest enemies if I don’t treat them as a tool instead of a fact. They can make me hobble along, or they can be a foundation on which I can build along with truth and growth. As a shy, sensitive introvert, my emotions like to remain front and center, and comfort is like gold. It can hold me captive: comfort in my own home, comfort with the things I love, comfort with my people, comfort sticking to myself in a large crowd, comfort scrolling through my phone instead of challenging myself to get up and do hard things, comfort only associating with Christians for fear of having to speak up, comfort not sharing the good news because I’m comfortable. The list could go on, but it’s crazy how something as simple as comfort can be so complicated. It’s an idol and an obstruction in my relationship with God.

I know I’m not the only one.

The devil can use your own personality against you. He can pick the thing you feel most strongly about and he can use it push you backward. And he will.

Christians need to be OK with being uncomfortable. We need to be happy about being uncomfortable if that discomfort means that we’re serving God with all that we are and all that we have.

There’s no doubt that comfort is partially, if not entirely, the reason that Ruler became sorrowful; he was comfortable with his abundance and his excess, and comfort became his wall. The rest of his story is sad, yet motivating. I don’t know that he ever decided to give up his riches, but I do know Jesus’ response to Ruler’s sorrow in verses 24-29:

“And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'” (v.24)

The more we own, the harder it is give it up. I have to recognize that the things I own aren’t truly mine. I have no more right to it than anyone else, even my own comfort. It all belongs to God. The more excess I have, tangible or not, the harder it will be to give it up and give it to God.

The people who heard Jesus’ response asked, “Who then can be saved?” Basically, “if that guy can’t be saved, then who can??” Jesus indirectly answered, but he answered nonetheless. “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Jesus is still saying to forsake all else, He’s just saying that even though it might seem impossible, with God, it’s more than possible. He also implies that it’s more important to give it up than to have it all. Peter then said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” Peter points out that they’ve already forsaken everything else for Jesus’ sake, and he wants to Jesus to know this.

It’s possible with God. It’s feasible with God. I can do whatever the thing is with God. I can give up comfort because God is with me. I can choose to put myself in personally uncomfortable situations because God asked me to and because He won’t abandon me there — if only I’ll trust Him.

Jesus’ reply to Peter’s statement is what’s most edifying, especially after watching Ruler turn Jesus down because he loved his material possessions more.

“So He said to them, “’Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.'” (vv. 29-30)

No one. No one who leaves all he has, people included, for the sake of the kingdom of God will not receive many times more now and eternal life.

There are a lot of things that make me uncomfortable, but what makes me the most uncomfortable, what hurts the most, is that I see myself in this rich, young ruler. No, I’m not rich and I’m not a ruler. But, I have said no to Christ simply so I can say yes to my own comfort, yes to my own insecurity. I’ve kept quiet when I should have spoken up about the gospel and the truth. I’ve given my meager, earthly self priority over other people’s souls and Christ’s crucifixion. That’s what’s really uncomfortable.

In the end, what is my comfort really worth? Not much. And I can say for sure that my comfort is worth giving up for the cause of Christ. Giving up my comfort to share the gospel with others and to be the salt and light and to follow Jesus with all that I am is worth all that He is. Who cares if I have to feel uncomfortable if it means God is being glorified through me? All that I have and all that I am already belongs to Him, and it’s nothing in comparison. I don’t want to care more about the things I enjoy, tangible or not, than I do following Jesus.

(related: Be Holy, For I Am Holy)

“Nothing you have not given away will ever really be yours.”

-C.S. Lewis

There are people who need what I have — they need the good news. I cannot allow myself to be selfish with it. And if my comfort gets in the way, then by all means, I ask the Lord to take it away from me and to help me do it afraid. I’m tired of the devil using my personality against me, and I’m tired of this world hungering and thirsting for the truth with no one pointing them in the right direction. This world needs every Christian — every comfortable, stubborn, scared, searching Christian. We need to shine brighter in more darkness — on every platform.

It’s not OK to hide behind comfort, behind a screen, and say that I’m doing enough. Following Christ requires more — more giving, more doing, more praying, more talking, more of me. So, I want to challenge myself to be OK with uncomfortable. I want to focus on that and be what God really wants me to be — a servant and a light — no matter what I need to do to make it a reality and whatever happens as a result. It’s time to get over it.

 

// What’s your brick wall? What’s your crutch that keeps you from serving God fully? You don’t have to tell me here, but I want you to think about it. No matter how old or young you are, no matter what stage of life you’re in, think about what holds you back the most, what Jesus would have you give up if you asked Him what you need to do.

And then get rid of it.


Related: Journey to Joy: A Resolution // It’s Not About Us // To the Work // Bloom Where You Are Planted

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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, follow me on Instagram  and Pinterest.  Feel free to print, pin, and share my posts on all platforms; I only ask that you link it back to this site. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

Be Holy, For I Am Holy

The design of the graphic was simple and attractive. Sitting on a blank, white background were two sentences in black, cursive font: “I didn’t ask you to be her. I asked you to be you. -God”

It was given as a direct quote from God.

When I read this, something didn’t seem right. I read it a few more times, and then it clicked.


The quote likely has two meanings. One is harmless, while the other is not. My concern is with the interpretation that you should be yourself, unapologetically, being our own example, with the quote credited to God. I have no problems with being unique — everyone is unique in some way because God created every person with a combination of different interests and personalities, and that’s the beauty of His creation. What I am concerned with is that the quote seems to have more of an inward focus and not enough upward focus; this was my first impression of the quote. If it was my first impression, it’s likely others’ too.

I’m sure the writer had good intentions and that the quote is meant to be inspirational or uplifting, and maybe even instill some kind of faith in God. But I find one mistake.

God never asked you to be you.

Of course, He still didn’t ask you to be her — but He also didn’t ask you to be “you.” Aside from the fact that this quote is offered as a direct quote from God, a quote we don’t find in the Bible, God didn’t communicate this principle in the Bible. What God asks us to do is deny ourselves, be holy, and be like His Son. I don’t see “be you” anywhere in “deny yourself.” They are not synonymous. If we pay attention to the Bible story, we’ll find that God, through various writers, says that we are to imitate His Son. And to imitate His Son is to put ourselves aside.

Sin

Because of that pivotal moment in the Garden of Eden, there is sin in the world; all humans have the capacity to sin — and we do all sin (Romans 5:12 & 3:23).

(Jesus was the only person on earth never to sin — 1 Peter 2:22 — because He was God’s Son and He had prophecies to fulfill, a literal God-sent mission to accomplish; He was devout and determined.)

Relying on ourselves in this sense makes us incredibly vulnerable to Satan’s tricks, the last thing we want to be if we’re trying to be faithful Christians. If Adam and Eve hadn’t chosen to listen to Satan (and themselves) instead of God, leading to “death spread[ing] to all men”, we probably could be us because we would be without sin! But because we do have sin, we need someone to blot it away, and that person is Jesus Christ. Because we have sin, there’s a higher expectation we should be trying to reach (see Romans 6).

Denial

Luke 9:23 says, “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”

To deny yourself means to refuse to be a sinner, to refuse your earthly cravings and wishes, to not be yourself. To be holy is to be set apart, different, sanctified in Christ — not set apart because of your unique human traits, but because of your unique spiritual ones. To follow Christ means to go or strive after Him, to pay close attention and conform to Him. It means that you are no longer conforming to yourself.

Denying yourself opens to door to being something better than your human self, better than anything you could imagine.

Being a follower of Christ, both in New Testament times and modern-day, requires taking up your cross daily,as the verse states. Jesus carried his own cross down a cruel road to the spot He would take His last breath. Although we likely won’t be taking up our own physical cross anytime soon, we have a figurative cross to bear. When Jesus took up His cross, He was making a statement that He would not submit to His own fears or feelings; He was bending to the will of  His Father, and denying His earthly self.

Imitation

If we’re denying ourselves, we need something new to imitate, right? Jesus asks for it to be Him.

Here’s a light anecdote for you: When I was little, one of my biggest role models was Hilary Duff, especially when she was acting as Lizzie McGuire (I’m sure all my friends reading this will be either laughing, nodding their heads, or both — #totalEAmove). I had posters of her album covers on my walls, not to mention I owned all of her albums, watched every episode of her show, and I went so far as to get my haircut just like hers. You know, the layered, full-bangs style. I thought she was the absolute coolest. I liked this one TV star so much that I practically wanted to be her, so I imitated her. 

As a Christian, I am not supposed to imitate Hilary Duff, but I am supposed to imitate Christ. God didn’t ask me to be her, but He does ask me to be like Christ.

Value

This is not to say that you, as a person and a soul, are not valuable. But when you become a Christian, you choose the responsibility of reflecting Christ and shining His light and you become eternally valuable because you are now God’s child; if you truly strive, His Light and your light will become one as you bend to His will.

The point is that God values you. He values each and every person He created. He values you enough to bring you out of your sins, if you choose to accept, because He knows you’re worth more than your sins.  David acknowledges in Psalm 139 that, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” and He praises God for it; He recognizes that without God, He would be nothing (related post here).

God sent His Son to be a sacrifice for each and every one of us. He values our souls so much that He wants us to be with Him eternally. It’s a privilege and a relief! Because He values you this much, He asks you to be something better than yourself; He knows you can be something beautiful in Him. You don’t have to figure out who you are or where you “fit into” society when you become a Christian because you already know (and you don’t have to) — you’re a valued child of God, set apart from the world, and you’re going to be transformed one day.

The reality is that if we are fully following Christ, we shouldn’t even want to be ourselves — because what’s the point of being yourself if it’s all going to pass away? The point of becoming a Christian is recognizing that there is more to life than this life, praising the One who saves, and taking a giant step toward being transformed into something glorious in the heavenly Kingdom of God through imitating Jesus. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” We should want to be just like Him and be a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:16-17).

We need God to know the difference between right and wrong, and we need God to maintain godly reasoning. Just like that day in the Garden of Eden, if we rely on ourselves, we’ll inevitably fall. Sure, have individualized interests, keep your distinct personality, but find your confidence and worth in Christ. Because nothing you are, could you be without Him.

So, if you need an inspirational, faith-instilling quote, come to Jesus. If you’re looking to be truly unique, different from the world, come to Jesus. Let yourself be changed by the power of God. He never asked you to be her. He never asked you to be you. He asked you to be holy.

“…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)


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Related: Shine Your Light // It’s Not About Us // My Self-Esteem Comes from God

Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, follow me on Instagram  and Pinterest.  Feel free to print, pin, and share my posts on all platforms; I only ask that you link it back to this site. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

Shine Your Light

We’re just past the Christmas season, the time of year when people start being kinder, more generous, more thoughtful and more loving, and reaching for the new year. More people give out of the goodness of their hearts, with the intention of receiving nothing back, shining their light (God’s light) in darkness, and forgetting about the cares of the world for even just one second because that’s what God’s light does for a person. And for many people, including myself, the start of a new calendar year (although nothing about the physical change of a calendar makes a change of heart) signifies a fresh start and grows a resolve to do better and be better in the next 12 months. These two ideas are closely tied together.

I have to admit that the idea to write this post came from wearing the message “Shine Your Light” on a t-shirt made by Blair from Blair Blogs (it’s amazing what wearing Truth will do for your attitude, by the way). Though I always try to be a light to the world, heading in to the new year, I’ve been meditating on and actively pursuing being a light-shiner (aside from chasing joy) even more. All of us have the potential for kindness and love to shine from our hearts and positively impact people along our paths. God made us with the incredible potential to pursue light and be light, to shine His glory in every circumstance, and He gave His Son so that we would have the opportunity to reach that potential!

Every good and perfect gift comes from the God who has no darkness in Him at all (James 1:17 & 1 John 1:5), and the choice to shine His light shows that His people are real and are longing to reflect Christ and be like Christ. If the very God we worship has no darkness in Him at all, how could we ever choose to hide that? If we are truly His people, how could we ever choose to spread our earthly darkness, whatever that may be, instead of radiating His life-giving light? Christians have the responsibility to shine Christ, the ultimate Light, on the ultimate darkness that’s increasingly growing in the world. We have the responsibility to speak only what builds up, to spread joy, to share truth, to be good stewards of all He’s given us, to be responsible with His word. Nothing about being on this earth is about us — it’s all about giving the glory to God and bringing the lost to Christ, and that’s why our Christian lights are so very important. If we’re not shining His light, what are we communicating and are we glorifying God? Without shining His light, we’re only magnifying ourselves instead of our Creator, and we’re essentially saying that God doesn’t truly matter to us, which is exactly what the enemy hopes for.

Although the kind and cozy holiday season is ending, we should still work to be kind, generous, thoughtful, loving, and Christ-like people all 365 days. The holiday season shouldn’t be the only time we choose to reach out to others and shine our lights with whatever talents we have.

“One of the greatest blessings we have is hardship.” – Paul Hutcheson

I recognize that shining your light isn’t going to be easy 100% of the time. But, I also recognize that it’s worth it 100% of the time. Shining your light is hard, holy work that brings about beautiful results. It’s a responsibility that God has the expectation for us to uphold in any season of life, with any blessings or challenges — as a matter of fact, sometimes our lights shine the brightest in our darkest hours. Jesus’ light (who is the Light) shone incredibly bright throughout His life on earth, but that light’s climax was when He sacrificed Himself on the cross, His darkest, most tragic moment, for you and you and you and me. Sometimes, when we want to give up more than anything, when we want to throw it all out of the window, get rid of any hope we had to continue in the light, but we choose to press on through difficulty…that is when others truly see Christ, and see that He, not circumstances, is the Lord of our lives.

So, next time you want to give it all up or you’re afraid to keep going through the hardest season of your life, remember the souls you could impact for Christ — that even their souls are worth your pain. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, what you’re going through, what you think can’t do, you have a light worth shining. Remember that trusting Him is better than trusting yourself or the world or your possessions. And remember that being with God is worth more than earthly comfort.

“When I’m zoomed in on my fear, I can’t see the faithfulness of God and the steadfastness of His covenant.” – Amanda Bible Williams, She Reads Truth

Choose to be a life-giving soul instead of one that drains. Choose to put away fear and comfort and show Christ through you. Choose what’s good and right and holy. Choose joy and choose light.

Matthew 5:13-16

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Philippians 3:14

“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”


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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest.  Feel free to print, pin, and share my posts on all platforms; I only ask that you link it back to this site. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

Home of the Soul

The concept of home has been on my heart lately, and most of us are about to go to some kind of home for the holidays. So, here’s a repost from January 2016, slightly updated.

Friday and Saturday I was blessed with the opportunity to go back to my first home-away-from-home, my little town of Auburn. I got to go back to the place where I did the most learning, growing, loving, laughing, and crying in the shortest amount of time. Auburn University’s theme is that everyone in Auburn is a family. The students and teachers and alumni are all family. They say you don’t understand until you live it, and I’ll say that I didn’t understand it fully until I lived it and left it.

I got to go back last weekend and fit right back into the groove, into the place that I felt that I fit almost perfectly. From the second we drove into town, I felt like I was home. Really, I have a few homes. I have my home where I was born and raised, then I have my Auburn home, and now I have my new-family home. I love all of these homes. But there’s something about the one I took myself to, not knowing that I would always feel a tug on my heart in that direction.

Going to school at Auburn was an exciting new experience that I’m ever-thankful I had the opportunity to do. I saw firsthand the reasons everyone says “I believe in Auburn and love it,” and I’ll more than willingly say it myself.

But my favorite part wasn’t just Auburn’s family theme. It was that I had such a large portion of my spiritual family surrounding me, too. My favorite memories and lessons weren’t the ones I learned in class, they were the ones I learned with my friends, with my Christian brothers (plus my biological one), sisters, and with myself. The kind you can only get from really living your life – from learning yourself through your own mistakes and discoveries. There’s always a place associated with these lessons. A place where you learned it or realized it or found it or lost it. The places where you saw with new eyes and made the changes or let them be. Places inside the big-place where you completely decided who you were.

One of those places was the building where I worshiped every Sunday and Wednesday and some days in between. It was where I truly understood the meaning of church and understood why the church is my family. It’s where I got to spend most of my weekend with most of my people growing and loving even more. An all-too-familiar place where I’ll always feel I can go back to. I made a few realizations while I was there:

1. No matter how far you go or how long you’re gone, spiritual family welcomes you back.

I saw people I loved, most of whom I hadn’t seen in at least eight months, some in six, some in a little less. They each overwhelmed me with hugs and “how are you” and “I haven’t seen you in so long.” We studied together, prayed together, sang together, ate together, and after that we played games together. It was just like always and just like it should be. And just like my Christmas it was exhausting in only the best way.

2. God’s things never change.

No matter what’s going on in the world or in my world, worshiping God and fellowship with His people will not be different. We do it how He wants it every time, and every time it’s just as perfect because it comes from Him. Praising God doesn’t change because I move; His word doesn’t change just because the people do. We praise Him here, and we’ll praise Him forever. I got a small glimpse of heaven this weekend and a strong desire to be there with each and every person in the room.

3. Learning doesn’t stop just because you grow up a little.

When I went to my Auburn home almost five years ago, I didn’t imagine that by the time I was a year older I would have learned as much as I did – about life and about God. When I was a year older I couldn’t have imagined I would have learned as much as I have today, but it truly doesn’t stop. No matter how many times I open my Bible, I see something I didn’t notice before. No matter how many lessons I hear about the same Bible story, I always get a better understanding. The Word of God always has more to reveal than you think.

4. None of these homes are really my home.

No matter how much I love a city or a town, and no matter how much I invest myself in it and in the people there, it will never be my home. This world isn’t even my home. Heaven is my home. We were all made with an eternal soul, pattered in God’s image, truly meant to be with Him – not on earth. That fitting in “almost perfectly” feeling? I’m not supposed to feel like I perfectly fit in because I don’t. I didn’t really fit in in Auburn, even if it was one of the best comfort places on earth. We won’t ever fit in until we’re completely devoted to God, until we’re with Him eternally. That’s why my spiritual family makes me feel at home – because they’re my brothers and sisters. Anywhere I go where there are God’s people, all together praising God, that’s when I can fit in. That’s when I can be who I’m really meant to be.

// So, as I was sitting in the room, surrounded by spiritual family, all singing praises to our Father, I realized why I love this one place so much. I love it because it’s the place I chose to grow, my most significant place of growth in Christ. It holds a special place in my heart for the love I found and the realizations I made – for the people and relationships and adventures and experiences. It taught me that it isn’t, and will never truly be my home. For this I’m thankful.


Home of the Soul Pinterest.pngThank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest.  Feel free to print, pin, and share my posts on all platforms, so the gospel reaches even further. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

Journey to Joy: A Resolution

Psalm 16:11

“You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Joy has a few defintions, all of which are correct in some way, but only one is real. Sometimes we think happiness and joy are the same thing. However, I’ve come to understand that joy — true joy — is more than being happy. Sure, it’s also an emotion resulting from good fortune, but God’s joy is more than a feeling. It’s a content satisfaction in the Lord that we can have no matter our situation. Theopedia calls it “an orientation of the heart” and “a settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope.” It’s an attitude we have the power and the choice to set in our hearts and minds.

The Beginning

True joy starts with an open heart for God and the decision to become a Christian and a child of God, because without being one of His children, we won’t experience His joy. It comes from total surrender to Him, knowing that we won’t have every answer when we want it, every schedule go as planned, or every person as our friend. Joy is planted in our hearts the moment we realize that God has us, and that we don’t have to excessively worry about earthly things — as a matter of fact, God tells us not to. We find joy when we read our Bibles and come to an understanding of His word through prayer and meditation. It comes to fruition when we put realization into action, taking advantage of every tool God gives us for communication with Him and weekly, even daily, fellowship with brothers and sisters. It becomes real when we take ourselves out of the frame and place God there instead.

The Result

Joy results in contentment, whether or not we’re comfortable in every situation. It results in an obedient attitude; whining, complaining, and bitterness are taken away and replaced with confidence in Christ and ourselves, and hope in our salvation instead of in the faltering ambitions of the world. We’ll have a changed countenance and an understanding that we can get through each day because we’re in the family of God! Joy results in a mindset of praise, not just a mark in the calendar and a check off the list. When we have joy, we have love and peace that pass understanding, and we are thankful (thankfulness and joy walk hand in hand!). It results in a hunger and thirst for God’s word and for the righteousness He tells us about. It’s manifested in the lives of every Christian who completely trusts in God, no matter their circumstances, and it’s passed on through our words and actions and how we treat others. True joy results in a Christian who is passionate about her walk with God and consumed with zeal on the path to heaven with a heart that’s at peace, knowing that “it is well with my soul.”

// A large part of being a Christian is a journey that takes effort and intentional growth, especially when we’re choosing joy. Christians should be the most joyful people on earth because we have hope! Nothing about it is easy, so that’s why I want to make a conscious effort to be a joyful Christian.

I’ve had this overwhelming joy before, and I want to keep it. So, I’m making an ongoing resolution (new year or not) to find it all the time, in the big things and the small things, the good and the bad, the day-to-day and the incredible. And I want you to join me! I’d like to make my blog a place for encouraging, active communication. I want to interact with you; so, if you decide to make this resolution with me, I would absolutely love to hear about it! Let me know in the comments below, or send me an email, and we can connect through our common love for Christ.


journey-to-joy-pinterestThank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram  and Pinterest.  Feel free to print, pin, and share my posts on all platforms, so the gospel reaches even further. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

13 Ways to Stay Godly During College

This post is important. It’s important to me because each and every part of the list comes from something I’ve experienced firsthand, and I want to use that to help other current or soon-to-be college students. So, if you’re in that season of life, and you want more tips for remaining pleasing to God, this is for you! If you’re not in college, but still want to make the most of someone else’s experiences, then read away. 🙂

I’m not quite two years out of college, but I can say that what I learned during my college years was and is still valuable. College is a great time for learning on many levels because it’s when you’re thrown out into unfamiliar territory, let loose, and figuratively told to run as fast as you can. There are plenty of awesome tips for surviving college on a secular level, but I’m not here for that.

I’ve always learned best hands-on, through trial and error (a lot of error). I learn well from seeing results from my particular situation, but I’m also hesitant to get started without sound advice. Keep in mind, I moved away from home for college, so this is where my experience comes from, although I believe it can be applied even if you stay home. some of the tips might even prove useful for those not in college — I still use them. While, I don’t claim to know it all or be perfectly wise, I have learned a lot in just the past five years, and I think my experiences can be helpful.

Without further ado, and in no particular order (minus number 1), here are 13 ways you can stay or become more Christ-like while you’re in college.

1 | Remember who God is

Ecclesiastes 12:1

“Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say,
‘I have no pleasure in them’:”

God is your Creator and your sustainer. He gives you life and blesses you more than you realize. Remember His goodness and His severity, and submit to Him. You can’t put God on the back-burner and say, “Oh, well I’ll just get through college and then get serious about my life.” No, no. It doesn’t work that way, and it will catch up with you sooner or later. Future-self will thank past-self if you take God seriously during some of the most trying years of your life (especially if you go away from home). Take my word for it!

2 | Remember who you are

1 Peter 2:9-10

 “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”

For as long as I can remember, my dad said this to my brother and I when he dropped us off at school. It didn’t matter how late we were running or what dramatic event went down that morning, he didn’t forget to tell us to remember who we were, even before we really understood what he meant. Shortly after I set up my little apartment bedroom, I wrote this on a piece of paper, stuck it in the frame of my full-length mirror, and it stayed there until I moved. It was the best reminder of both my dad and the fact that I am a child of God, wearing Christ’s name, and I need to act like it. We all need to act like it, which can be hard to remember during those crazy changes you experience in college.

 3 | Make solid friends

I’m not sure I can stress how important this is. Of course, you should be making an effort to find solid friends at every stage of your life, but in college, it’s especially crucial. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Evil company corrupts good habits.'” Just as much as evil company corrupts good habits, good company encourages good habits. I had awesome friends before I went to college, but after I got there, I found that there are so many more Godly people in the world that I could learn from and serve through being friends with them. In Auburn, I attended worship with the University church of Christ, where there were probably around 100 college students when I got there, most of whom were completely fired up to jump in and serve God. It was refreshing and incredibly encouraging to worship on Sundays and Wednesdays partly because I had good Christian friends who wanted to help me get to heaven.

4 | Go to church

Speaking of church — GO! Make the effort to go every single time your congregation assembles. Go to as many “extracurriculars” as you can without burning out and being worthless (I’ve been there). And genuinely put your heart into it. There are four reasons for this:

1 | God deserves your worship.

Psalm 145:3

“Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised;
And His greatness is unsearchable.”

 

2 | You get to take time out of the most ridiculous schedule you’ve ever had to worship God.

3 | You’ll encourage the other Christians who see that you want to be there among your ridiculous schedule.

4 | You’ll encourage yourself.

God created the church for a reason. We aren’t supposed to be alone in our faith and our journey to heaven — He wants Christians to be able to collectively worship Him and each Christian to be encouraged whenever possible. So, take advantage of the opportunities your local church provides you with to worship, and make sure you know when they’re offering extra Bible studies or gospel meetings/singings (when a group of Christians gets together to study, hear a sermon, or sing praises together — this is what I grew up calling them).

Hebrews 10:24-25

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

5 | Take every opportunity to do good

1 Kings 15:5 says that David did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the days of his life. It’s a good example of a humility and following God no matter what season of life you’re in. This would include doing good for others.

Galatians 6:10

 “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

If you’re in a college town, chances are you have several opportunities to serve in your church and in the community. Even if you’re not in a college town, you should be able to find opportunities, even if they don’t just fall into your lap. Where I went to church, we had opportunities to teach classes, clean the building, and visit elderly and sick people. We had a campus Bible study called Truth Seekers (still going on if you’re in the area and want to check it out here), and we had every opportunity to invite classmates to study with us and learn more about the Word. Take all of these opportunities! Take advantage of the open doors in front of you whether it’s within your local church or on campus. I will say that I didn’t take near as many opportunities as I should have, and I wish I had.

6 | Listen to people who have been there

Hint hint 😉 Just kidding, but seriously. Listen to the people who have been in your shoes — the ones who have just graduated and the ones who graduated 30 years ago. They’ll all have valuable insight, and you won’t regret taking their advice. Find someone you look up to or a mentor and go to them when you need it. Chances are they’re more than willing to encourage you. Pay attention in sermons and Bible studies — the people leading those have most likely studied hard and have experience in the area; they may be able to offer insight that you’ve never noticed or thought of before, and that’s a blessing. As I said above, the church is here for a reason; the Bible gives instructions for older people to teach and encourage the younger, for Christians to admonish one another. On the flip side of that, you have to be willing to take that encouragement, even if it mean you’ll be corrected.

7 | Read the Bible

The Bible is your guide to get through life; it contains everything you need to be and stay Godly during college. I’ve been stressing this constantly in my recent Armor of God series because it’s that important. God gave us the Bible to learn from, be comforted by, examine ourselves through, and obey. Use that to your advantage. College is the prime time to learn how to examine yourself through God’s lens and start making a solid effort to fix  heart problems and mend any soul holes you’ve made on your way there. It’s a huge transition time, when you’re likely re-evaluating parts of your life or at least learning to ask questions to make your faith your own. Once you get into the real world (college isn’t quite real yet), you’ll want to be grounded and have yourself in check. Make sure you’re taking time out of your day, not just fitting it in, to read the Bible and read it for profit.

8 | Pray, pray, pray

My parents taught me how to pray and the importance of prayer when I was little. But, when I got to college, and had more responsibility than I thought I could handle, I really learned how to put those prayer lessons into practice. I learned to pray whenever and wherever. If you’re sad, pray. If you’re happy, pray. If you’re angry, pray. Whatever you’re feeling, at whatever time of the day or night, talk to God about it. Sacrificing even more beloved sleep to go to God in prayer is more than worth it. This was one of my first blog posts; I wrote about putting trust in God through actions and prayer because I was learning how beautiful life is when you totally surrender your life for Jesus. (Related post from Blair Blogs here about writing down prayers and keeping track of how they’re answered)

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

9 | Talk to your parents and take their advice

Your parents aren’t stupid. Honoring your parents doesn’t stop just because you’ve graduated from high school (see Matthew 15:4). Most of them have been in your shoes, and they want the very best for their children, especially if they’re Christ-minded people. When they give you advice — even if your mom texts you to tell you it’s going to rain that day — just take it. Seriously. Take it, and thank them. And don’t forget to text or call them every so often! It does you as much good as it does them to take some time out to talk to your parents; they’ll likely have encouraging words and advice for you that you hadn’t thought of yourself. College is a great time to develop a solid relationship with your parents and put their teaching into action. Remember that you’ll always need your parents (they’re also gifts from God), and that they helped you get to where you are today.

10 | Listen to hymns

Colossians 3:2 – “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”

One year, because I was feeling a strange mixture of discouraged and encouraged to be better, I decided that for a set amount of time, I can’t remember if it was a week or a month, but I was only going to listen to hymns/spiritual songs unless I couldn’t control what music was on. Let me tell you something: that was one of the most encouraging weeks/months I’ve had, simply because of the music I was listening to! I don’t think most people, including myself, realize that the music we listen to can have such a big impact on our attitudes and Godliness. All I did was cut out mainstream music for a short time, and I was more uplifted and motivated than I had been in a long time. (Fun fact: that was also the year I started my blog.) Now, I’m not saying that you can’t listen to mainstream music if it’s not ungodly, but just try cutting it out for a period of time and pay attention to the results.

 11 | Choose to be content

Happiness is a choice (related post here). Contentment is a choice. And I think they’re tied together. There’s a great peace that comes with being content with joy in Christ. Sometimes they’re both hard choices in college when you think you have to add up to everyone around you (girls, especially). But you don’t! The only person you have to please is God, and if a person or group is purposefully excluding you, chances are you picked the wrong group to hang out with in the first place (see number 3). Don’t let your situation turn you away from focus on God. Take a note from Paul, and choose to be happy in whatever state you’re in. I chose to be unhappy in several situations, and now I know that my life, and others’ lives, would have been a million times easier if I had just made up my mind to get over it and be OK.

1 Timothy 6:6

“Now godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Philippians 4:11

“Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:”

12 | Don’t let yourself feel lonely

Related to the previous point, loneliness can lead to bitterness, and bitterness can “make you a crazy person” (Larry Rouse, the preacher at University church of Christ). Do not let yourself get to that point. Sometimes it’s more likely to happen, especially if you move away and feel like nobody knows you, understands you, or wants to make an effort to. To keep yourself from feeling this way, be friendly and make friends; sometimes getting away from loneliness takes effort on your part instead of waiting around for other people to notice. If you start feeling lonely and bitter, talk to someone within the church and let them know that you’re struggling. In my experience, no one actually knew I was having a hard time, and once I spoke up, they jumped on the chance to encourage and befriend me! Sometimes it really just takes some effort to reach out, and being surrounded by faithful Christians makes it that much easier. Keep in mind that you’re new to them, too, and because they don’t know you yet, they won’t always be able to tell that you’re feeling anything other than normal. Besides, you always have God, and you can pray to Him for comfort and guidance — see number 8.

13 | Keep a journal

Not everybody likes to write or a keep journals, but if you do, this one is for you! I’ve off-and-on kept journals for a lot of my life, and I love to take notes. So, when I was in college, I kept a journal of sorts — I used a notebook given to me by a sweet friend, and I basically wrote stream-of-consciousness style most nights right before bed. I struggled with staying positive because change isn’t always exciting for me, so I often wrote about my blessings and Bible verses or portions of hymns that were on my mind, and sometimes I just doodled my feelings away (whether good or bad!). When I wrote out my blessings, I was able to go to sleep a little more at peace and with a better perspective of my life state. This is especially helpful if you deal with worry and anxiety. You could keep a prayer journal, write about your day, write about your fears, whatever it is, but try to keep it faith-focused and see if your perspective becomes more Godly.

// Your time in college can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life if you make it that way! Make sure you always keep a consciousness of God and act according to His will, and everything else will fall into place (Romans 8:28).

Galatians 5:22-25

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

Related post: Home of the Soul


13 Ways to Stay Godly During College Pinterest.png

Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

 

The Sword of the Spirit + Prayer

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” (Ephesians 6:14-18)

What is the Sword of the Spirit?

Swords were offensive weapons used in battle. They have a long, double-sided blade and a sturdy handle. Roman swords were similar to the swords we know and have seen, but their points were further sharpened in order to puncture sturdy armor and defeat the enemy (source).

Verse 17 plainly states that the sword of the Spirit is the word of God, and it’s the only weapon that Paul mentions in the armor of God — everything else is simply for defense.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

The Hebrews writer gives us a visual of just how powerful God’s word (our spiritual sword) is — it’s even sharper than any two-edged sword. It can pierce something much more significant than armor, and that’s the division of soul & spirit and joints & marrow. Because God’s word is a discerner of our thoughts and intentions, it can divide even the smallest and closest-knit parts of us. It can divide what we want and what’s right, us from our family and friends, and even churches, all based on what God says is right. God’s word is the authority for everything we do, and following it will bring change if we follow it accurately. And that Godly change is what we need to defeat the Enemy.

Why do we need it?

We need the sword of the Spirit for several reasons, besides the fact that God has said we do.

Through His word, God created the world, through the Word (His Son) He brought salvation, and through Him (the Word, because He and Christ are one), we have a standard and find our authority — see John 1 and 2 Timothy 3.

God’s word is truth. I wrote about the Belt of Truth a few weeks ago, and I said:

“Truth is needed to combat the lies of the world which come from Satan himself. As I mentioned in the preface to this series, the devil walks around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). Any lies the world tells us are planted by him; Satan is the influence of evil and he will stop at nothing to make sure he succeeds.  He may use a relationship, social or entertainment activity, or temptation we have (probably all of the above!) to pinpoint our weaknesses and attack us where we think we’re strong. He will be successful if we don’t know and gird ourselves with the truth.”

This is why we need the sword of the Spirit. With it we’ll have the truth and be able to fight back against Satan.

We already have everything we need to defend ourselves against the devil (belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, and helmet), but the spiritual war is always active, and we have to participate. God has given us everything we need to know in His word! The word of God should be our only weapon, and He expects us to know it, understand it, and use it. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he says that all scripture is from God and that with it, we’ll be complete and thoroughly equipped. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

His word is the standard for every area of our lives. We can have all of the defensive mechanisms we need, but in order to win, we must know God’s word.

God’s word is also the seed for growing other Christians (Luke 8). If we want to bring other people to Christ, we have to go to God’s word and present that to them. If they have good, ready hearts, they’ll receive it and see its power.

How do we use it?

Read it

The first thing we do with God’s word is simply read it (or even listen to it being read) so we can know it and come to an understanding of it.

Pray about it

I don’t think I do this near enough, but it’s important to ask God for wisdom and understanding in reading His word. If we ask Him for this, I truly believe it will be granted — because He wants all people to understand it and be closer to Him (Matthew 7:7; 1 John 5:14; 2 Peter 3:9)!

Understand and appreciate it

Understanding God’s word is what leads to a stronger appreciation of it and the tools to continue in the truth. After we read it and pray for understanding, the next step is to try our best to understand what God is telling us. If we don’t understand at first, we need to keep reading, praying, and making a solid effort to understand it, because eventually we will (it won’t always come overnight or even over a day).

Grow in it

Growing is always, always necessary. It doesn’t matter how young or old we are, we have to keep growing in His word, and growing into the fullness of God — being complete in Him (Ephesians 3). Growing is why understanding is so necessary; we’ll remain stagnant if we don’t understand what God is telling us.

Teach it

When we understand it, even just part of it, we have a story worth telling. We now have the tools we need to teach others and shine our lights to the dark world so that more people turn their hearts to Him. Sometimes what stops us is thinking that we have to be scholarly experts before we can share it — (although it can be helpful) that’s just not the case. If we know the gospel and we’ve been impacted by that, we have a responsibility to share it. If we know a little more than that, we have a responsibility to share that as well. We share what we know, and grow in it together.

Rejoice in it

Psalm 119:162-163

“I rejoice at Your word
As one who finds great treasure.
I hate and abhor lying,
But I love Your law.”

Psalm 19:7-10

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”

The Psalms are full of songs about rejoicing in the Lord, loving His word, and desiring His law. They’re great examples of the attitudes we should have, especially among trial. God’s word is designed to be wanted and rejoiced in. We’ll see much better results in our spiritual lives if we focus on rejoicing instead of always wondering why God tells us to do what we do.

Prayer

Verse 18 says, “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” Two things really stick out to me in this verse:

-Being prayerful (for ourselves and other saints)

-Being watchful

The Bible says to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16). Our relationship with God is a two-way street; He’s already given us His word, so we have to do our part and continue communication with Him. Prayer is how that’s done, and it should be done all the time, in every situation, before every decision, and for everyone.

We are to pray for fellow Christians. Supplication means “the act of communicating with a deity (especially as a petition or in adoration or contrition or thanksgiving); a prayer asking God’s help as part of a religious service; a humble request for help from someone in authority” (source). I’ve even seen it described as begging. So we’re to be humbly and urgently petitioning to God about our brothers and sisters in Christ. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” The church is a unit that works together to encourage and fight with each other.

When fighting in a battle, soldiers have to be watching at all times for someone to turn the corner or sneak up behind them. My family and I watched Saving Private Ryan after Thanksgiving (which I don’t recommend watching without some kind of filter service, like VidAngel), and in several scenes, people died because they weren’t paying attention, ready to defend themselves or fight back — some were cowards and some just dropped their guard, leading to fatality. They have to be ready for any situation, which means having their minds and weapons ready. It’s no different in the spiritual war. Christians need to be ever-conscious of Satan’s sneaky techniques and random attacks because most times they’ll show up when we least expect it. If we’re not ready, we’ll lose our footing and give in to temptation, sometimes fatally. Along with wearing God’s armor, we have to use our hearts and minds and pray to Him, knowing that He delivers us; we don’t deliver ourselves.

This takes perseverance! Perseverance is a big theme throughout the Bible because being a Christian isn’t meant to be easy. Keeping God’s commandments in the Old Testament certainly wasn’t easy. Following His word and bending to His will isn’t always easy today, but it’s doable because of Christ’s sacrifice and God’s help. But if we persevere with the deliverance of God and the help of our brothers and sisters, we’ll be able to see the true Light at the end of the tunnel and make our way to heaven.

//

Throughout this series, I’ve loved watching all of the parts of armor work together. At times it’s been challenging because they intertwine so tightly, but I think that’s how it’s meant to be. If we lose one part of armor, we’ll lose it all. Everything in God’s armor is important and necessary to being a faithful Christian.


This wraps up my Armor of God series. Thank you to everyone who read all the way through, commented, shared, and supported me! I hope these posts have been beneficial. 

Related: Preface: Armor of God + Resisting the Devil ; (related posts here and here) // The Belt of Truth // It’s Not About Us // The Breastplate of Righteousness // The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace // The Shield of Faith // The Greatest Commands: Pt 4 from Through My Lens // The Helmet of Salvation

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Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

The Helmet of Salvation

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation…” (Ephesians 6:10-17)

Salvation as a helmet is also mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:8: “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.” (“Of the day” here refers to being of God and contrasts with night, a time when the Bible often refers to evil.)

What is the Helmet of Salvation?

A helmet protects the head. Contrary to helmets worn today for sports, Roman or Gladiator helmets were made out of different kinds of metal (depending on the region); they were probably much heavier than helmets of today. Some had enlarged neck and forehead guards that added more protection. But the main goal of these helmets was to protect the soldiers’ heads from attacks.

The word head is often used to describe a chief, leading, or principal person or thing. The Bible refers to Jesus as the head of the church and every man (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:23). Christ is described as the head because all that we are and do depends on Him. I want to share a lengthy portion of Ephesians 4 (part of which is the theme of my blog — I just couldn’t split it up!)

Ephesians 4:11-16

 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”

The helmet we’re wearing is the spiritual salvation that only comes from Christ. In Ephesians 4 above, we’re told that Christians should no longer waver by the world, and that we (as a church, but also relevant to our own spiritual growth) should be growing into Christ from whom the whole body joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

This makes me think of the mind (often called the heart in the Bible) because the helmet of salvation is the chief piece of armor worn on the head along with the the shield of faith (because without salvation, our faith is empty and vice versa). On an inividual basis, each Christian needs to be bringing every part of the body into submission — that includes the mind from which we control the rest of the body.

Proverbs 4:23

“Keep your heart [mind], with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” 

Because the mind is so important to being a faithful Christian (related post here written by a sweet friend of mine), it’s important that our minds are protected — and what better way to protect the mind than with the knowledge of our Savior and salvation, and of course following through on that? Zacharias prophesied in Luke 1 about John who would “give knowledge of salvation to His people, by the remission of their sins.” Having goldly knowledge is shown to be important throughout the Bible because it leads to living a faithful life in Christ. Salvation through the spiritual Head (Christ) will protect our minds and spiritual bodies when we go into battle, as the physical helmet would protect the brain and head region.

Why do we need it?

Our salvation is what brings us to Christ in the first place — before we’re saved, we don’t have a way to be with Christ or grow into Him. After we’re saved, we keep fighting because we know that Christ was the way to our salvation in Him, and being close to Him is the only way we’ll stay in good standing. Without salvation, we have no protection because we are not in Christ and of God’s family. Because humans still have free will, we aren’t automatically in God’s spiritual family — He has given us the choice to come with Him, but He wants us to know that we need salvation.

Christ’s death perfects those who are being sanctified (Hebrews 10:14). His one sacrifice, as opposed to the many different types of sacrifices required in the Old Law, allows every person to be saved without repeatedly offering animal sacrifices. Repentance will still be necessary after salvation because we all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). But those who are being sanctified are the people who have accepted this salvation, taken the necessary steps to receive salvation, and are now being set apart as holy and separate from the world. We need the helmet of salvation to start our journey toward becoming holy because salvation is the reason we’re qualified to begin with.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” -Matthew 7:7

In a way, this helmet protects our minds. Once we have it, we know (or can know) what’s right and wrong much better with a relationship with God. Having salvation gives us the purpose that we need and a reason to adhere to Christ’s standard. We have the privilege of going to God in prayer, being granted forgiveness every single time we ask for it (Matthew 18, 1 John 1:9, Hebrews 10:17), and worshiping Him from a clear conscience and a pure heart. We are free to do His will without running the race in vain (1 Corinthians 9). The helmet of salvation is 100% necessary to walking with and fighting for God — and resisting the devil — because without it we aren’t truly with God.

How do we use it?

1 | Always grow in the Lord

We “use” our salvation by forever growing in the Lord no matter what stage or season of life we’re in. As Ephesians 4 says, there’s a point at which we should be spiritually mature enough to stop ourselves from being “tossed to and fro…by every wind of doctrine.” This means that growing and learning is always essential so that we can truly live out our salvation and become closer to Christ as we’re called to be. In Revelation 3, Jesus says He will spew the lukewarm church out of His mouth and He says He hates what the improvising church is doing. He’s not pleased by us if we settle where we are or give a little in one area to please people. We have to constantly be growing up in Him so that we can reach a level of maturity that will please Him — this is lifelong growth.

Ephesians 4:11-13

“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;”

Some of the types of people in verse 11 are no longer on the earth, but the point I want to bring out is that we have a responsibility to come to the unity of the faith, measuring to Christ, which takes faith, work, and patience.

2 | Tell others about it

I’ve probably said this in every Armor of God post so far, but I think it’s so important to talk about the salvation we’ve received. If we’ve been given something so life-changing, wouldn’t we want others to have it, too?

Mark 16:15-16

And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

Jesus said this to the apostles, but it’s just as relevant to us. It’s a privilege to have the responsibility to spread this good news of salvation. (see this post.)

3 | Remember it and live it out

As I mentioned above, knowledge of the Savior and our salvation is crucial. After all, knowledge is where it all starts. So we need to constantly have a consciousness of our salvation and be thinking about how we can better shine our lights for it. Serving God in Christ should be a lifelong commitment. There are people who haven’t held on to that commitment because they willingly forgot (or blatantly put out of their minds) that Christ was sacrificed for them, and that when they were saved, they made a covenant with Him. Christians need to make sure we remember that we’ve been given something that we didn’t deserve. Christ was sacrificed for our sins — each and every one of us. So when we receive that salvation through baptism, we put on Christ. We are now wearing Christ, and to act differently is to put that salvation to shame. This is why we are supposed to take the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, so that we can reflect on His sacrifice and examine how we can better serve Him; remembering is the first step to appreciating and living out our salvation in a way that would please God.


This is part five of my 6-part Armor of God series. I’ll post one installment each week, with the Sword of the Spirit and Prayer combined (it should wrap up after Thanksgiving).

Related: Preface: Armor of God + Resisting the Devil ; (related posts here and here) // The Belt of Truth // It’s Not About Us // The Breastplate of Righteousness // The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace // The Shield of Faith // The Greatest Commands: Pt 4 from Through My Lens

helmet-of-salvation-pinterest

Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂

The Shield of Faith

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” (Ephesians 6:14-16)

What is the Shield of Faith?

I think we all know what a shield is, so I’ll keep this definition brief. A shield, according to Merriam-Webster is “a large piece of metal, wood, etc., carried by someone (such as a solider or police officer) for protection; something that defends or protects someone or something.” It’s always carried in front of the body as a defense against oncoming weapons.

Merriam-Webster defines faith as “strong belief or trust in something or someone.” But I don’t think the definition stops there; the true definition is much stronger. Hebrews 11:1-2 says that faith is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Faith is both substance and evidence, therefore it isn’t blind. Synonymns: confidence, trust, belief, conviction, acceptance, hope, loyalty.

The rest of this chapter, as I mentioned in my last post, lists what various people of the Bible did by faith and that they will receive a reward. The entire Bible story is filled with smaller stories of people who trusted in God, and with their big faith, they pleased God and were able to find salvation.

Faith is often best defined and demonstrated through examples from God’s people. One of my favorite stories is found in the Old Testament, in Genesis 22. In this story, God told Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac (this would serve as a test). God told Abraham where and how to offer up Isaac, and Abraham was fully prepared to do so. Although I imagine he was deeply grieved, he trusted God, and prepared the offering, telling Isaac, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” When they got to the place God told Abraham to offer Isaac, he bound Isaac, laid him on the table for an offering, and was about to kill him…

…then the Angel of the Lord said, “Abraham, Abraham!” Abraham simply said, “Here I am.” Then the Angel told him not to harm his son, “for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” As Abraham looked up, he saw a ram caught in a thicket by its horns that he was to offer instead of his son. In the rest of the story, the Angel of the Lord talks to Abraham again, telling him that because he didn’t withhold his only son, he will be blessed with an abundance of multiplying descendants who would possess the gate of his enemies; all the nations of the earth would be blessed through his seed.

Because Abraham had faith:

  • The Lord provided
  •  Abraham was blessed
  • The nations were blessed
  • His descendents were protected

This is what faith does. It’s how faith worked in the Old Testament, how faith works in the New Testament, and how it works for us. We might not receive the same physical blessings that Abraham received — but because of our faith (and then obedience) we will be rewarded in eternity because faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.

Faith protects and helps us stay strong in the Lord. It helps us see what we can’t see now, and it shows others Christ through us. So, the shield of faith is a key part of our spiritual armor. We can’t fight without it; we may have truth, righteousness, and the gospel, but we can do nothing without faith in God and these other articles.

Why do we need it?

1 | To defend ourselves against Satan

As verse 16 says, we need the shield of faith to quench the fiery darts of the wicked one. We need faith in order to defend ourselves from evil! Think about it: if we don’t have faith in God, the truth, righteousness, and especially the gospel, there’s no point in having them to begin with. Having total faith in God means having zero faith in Satan. There’s nothing he hates more than people trusting in God, not listening to him — we can beat Satan by putting our faith in only God.

2 | To please God

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Hi.” -Hebrews 11:6

If Abraham had given up and told God that he refused to sacrifice his only son, he would have failed the test and disappointed God. I don’t know what would have happened, but I do know that God wouldn’t have been pleased with him. The reason Abraham was blessed was because he had great faith. He had a faith that most of us stand in awe of. If we expect to be pleasing to God, we must put complete trust in Him, knowing that our faith is the evidence of things we can’t see in this life.

3 | To keep us on the narrow way

Faith can help us stay on the straight and narrow — it’s the most important aspect of our armor because of this (the verse says “above all, taking the shield of faith…”). Through faith we are able to stay focused on the goal because we can “see” what’s at the end!

Galatians 2:20

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

If we live our lives in Christ by faith, I think we’ll be more serious about following in His footsteps and obeying His Father on the only path that will get us to heaven.

4 | To hold us up when we’re down

Isaiah 40:31 says, “But those who wait on the Lord, shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” Some versions say “hope in” where the NKJV says “wait on.” If we’re hoping in and waiting on the Lord, we are putting our faith in Him. We have faith in God and His promises. And if we have faith in God and His promises, we’re going to be stronger in the Lord, which is the greatest strength we could ever want. This is why Christians are able to have faith when others give up — we know that there are more and better things waiting for us if we only trust in Him.

How do we use it?

One of the best ways to defend ourselves against the devil and please God is to put our faith into action. If we have faith, we must also act on it (James 2:14-26).

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (v.26)

1 | Tell others about it

We can demonstrate our faith by telling others why and in whom we have faith. If we’re telling others about it, we must have big faith! (It takes faith to spread faith — a confusing, yet simple truth. Everything relies on our faith in God.) Romans 1:12 says we can be encouraged by others’ faith, which means that others can also be encouraged by ours. Sharing our faith with others is a selfless act of love because it shows that we care about their souls as much as our own.

2 | Pray more fervently

Praying is one of the biggest ways we put our shield of faith to use. Praying to God requires faith because we can’t see God sitting across the table or room from us, but we know He’s listening.

1 John 5:14

Now this is the confidence [faith] that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.”

3 | Study more diligently

“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” -Romans 10:17

Our trust in God will show when we read our Bibles diligently — because having faith in God also means having faith in His word. We can learn more about faith and what it does for us by doing this, as well!

My faith is always strongest when I’m relying on God and His word for my standard, comfort, and hope.

4 | Obey God in all things

In 1 Peter 1, Paul talks about the sufferings, salvation, and glories of Christ, and he says, “Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (v.9). And after this conversation, he says to obey God and be holy (set apart in Christ)!

1 Peter 1:13-16

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”

Faith and obedience walk hand-in-hand. Faith in God requires that we heed what He says, obey His commands, and make the necessary sacrifices to please Him. If we don’t make an effort to obey Him, we don’t truly have faith in His promises.


This is part four of my 6-part Armor of God series. I’ll post one installment each week, with the Sword of the Spirit and Prayer combined (it should wrap up after Thanksgiving).

Related: Preface: Armor of God + Resisting the Devil ; (related posts here and here) // The Belt of Truth // It’s Not About Us // The Breastplate of Righteousness // The Shoes of the Gospel of Peace

shoes-of-the-gospel-pinterest

Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, feel free follow me on Instagram and Pinterest. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.🙂