Tag: Faith

Always Pray and Never Give Up

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“One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “– Luke 18:1

This is the second time I’ve been led to this verse and I really needed the reminder today. I’ve been ready to throw in the towel and each time I’m ready to quit, God reminds me to seek, trust, and wait for Him. He doesn’t want me to quit, He wants me to see whatever He’s doing through to the end.

I’ll be honest though, it’s hard. In my mind, I can already see the outcome and I don’t want to go through it again.  I went through seasons of dry spells in my prayer life when God and I weren’t on the best of terms. My prayer life has been active a lot more over the past few months because I know in my heart I need His words to comfort me.

God wants us pray continually, repeatedly, and not give up meeting with Him when things get hard. He tells us in scripture anything is possible if we believe. 

I want the kind of faith that doesn’t quit.

How’s your prayer life lately?

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Risk It All

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“Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”  When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.” – Matthew 19:21-22

This morning’s reading is confirmation. Three times now I’ve heard or been led to the story of the rich young ruler. This time though, this story means something different. The rich young ruler valued the comfort of keeping things in his life the way they were more than responding to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him. I resonate with this story well.

I’m scared.

I don’t like to admit it, but I am. I’m scared of the unknown. I’m comfortable with the way my life is going at the moment without wanting to take any more risks.  I want things to stay exactly as they are because I don’t feel ready. I don’t want to screw up and importantly, I can’t handle any more disappointment.

Man, the enemy really has a grip on me.

This is my reality right now. I wake up every morning with a feeling inside me God is up to something huge and there’s a part of me who wants to get excited, scream from the rooftops of the way He’s working in my life, and yet, I sit here this morning afraid.

I have found myself attached to the wrong things, wrong motives, and wrong assumptions about things in my life, whether past or present. These things have held me back and still do from embracing the path God is paving for me now. While sometimes the vision blurry, I’m seeing things clearly now. At least I’m trying to.

Anything God asks of us requires risk. Risk to walk in the unknown, risk of trusting Him when nothing He does make sense, risk of putting everything in our life on the line to accept His invitation/call to follow Him. And if we aren’t willing to risk it all for the cause of Christ, we’ll pay for it. Maybe not now, but eventually.

I don’t want to be like the rich young ruler who couldn’t give up the things he cherished more over following Christ. I want to follow the Lord in everything I do, wherever He leads.  Though I’m scared, I know if I continue to walk in fear, I’ll never live the life I was created for.

God wants us to let go of anything holding us back and risk it all for Him.

Are you ready to risk it all for the Lord?

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Be Ready

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“The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.” – Genesis 12:1

The story of Abraham has been on my heart a lot lately. People I know are moving forward in faith and being obedient to His call on their life. I’m not sure what God is trying to reveal here in my own life, but I know whatever it is, I need to be attentive.

A few things have sprung up in the past two weeks and I know it’s God, not me. I don’t actively seek opportunities any more unless I know God is specifically directing me towards it. Abraham’s story has always fascinated me for the fact he didn’t know where he was going but went anyway because God told him to.  His obedience meant saying goodbye to the familiar and stepping into the unknown.

Abraham stepped out in faith, even when he didn’t understand the reason. God wants the same from us.

I’ll be honest, stepping into the unknown scares me. I’ve been very comfortable for most of my life and content in my own bubble, but God wants more for my life. He wants us to forfeit our comfort so we can really live the life He’s called us to.

Will you be ready when He calls you?

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Faith That Won’t Falter

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“Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.Romans 4:20-21

 The story of Abraham used to give me goosebumps. About three years ago, God used the story of Abraham to strengthen my faith. He used it to help me step out in faith and trust Him.

I’ve been reminiscing today about that time in my life. How strong my faith was, how obedient and determined I was. No one could convince me God wasn’t real, because I saw Him in everything.

If I’m honest, my faith hasn’t been strong since then. It comes and goes in waves. When I’m still, I hear Him clearly but in moments of defeat, I don’t.

Our faith shouldn’t be determined by the weight of our circumstances. Though life is unpredictable, God wants us to keep walking when our faith is weak. 

 Abraham was fully convinced God was going to do what He promised, even when it seemed impossible.

God wants us to trust Him in the deep of our struggles never wavering. 

There are areas in my life where my faith is weak. Mostly, it’s being 32 unmarried, no kids, and wondering if God is really going to provide me with a Godly spouse and family. I know He’s always had my best interest in mind and knows my heart like no other. I know all these things. Yet, I still struggle with believing He will provide.

I don’t want to be cliche about having faith in the difficulty of life because when you’re in the thick of it, it’s hard to believe. However, God has never once let me down. I let Him down plenty and He’s never once left me.  I look back on all the ways He’s provided in my life and it gives me hope.

Don’t dwell on doubt. Focus on God’s faithfulness. Look back on all the ways He’s provided in the past and know He will provide again in the future. 

 God wants us to have faith that won’t falter. It must be anchored.

How’s your faith today?

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Do Not Awaken Love

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I feel like my whole life has been one bad love story after another. Looking back, most of it could have been prevented with more careful consideration of who I was choosing to allow into my life and heart. However, in hindsight, I realize there’s a reason for every relationship regardless of their length. I’m writing this in a torrid season and confused heart.

To clarify, I can only speak from experience, my experience, and I feel the topic of dating is one I kind of hit and miss in my writing. I write a lot about having my heart broken, my past, and having faith through it all. I’ve been through a lot over the past year. Last year was my best year, especially in the area of relationships.  God opened a door and I walked through it with confidence and trust.

Over a year later, my confidence and trust is broken.

I didn’t intentionally seek anything on my own strength or through my own understanding. I was led by obedience to God and trusting Him when nothing He was asking of me made sense, I simply obeyed.  Every area of my heart was surrendered to God and His plan and purpose. Over time more of His plan was being revealed through each step of obedience. Then out of no where, the confirmations, connection, and everything built in those four months slowly fell apart. I still believed in the Lord and in His goodness but everything changed.

We changed.

Over the last few months I’ve gone back and forth from wanting to let go and hold on. My heart says “let go“, my gut says, “hold on,” God says, “trust Me“.  I’m leaning now towards trusting God through this than wanting to throw up my hands in defeat and call it quits.

Every area of my life is never meant to be in my hands or within my control, everything is in His.

I’m currently reading, “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” by Joshua Harris and I feel the book is rewriting the last year of my life only in reverse. I see things I did right, things I did wrong, and things I will do better in the future. I’ve never dated just for the sake of dating. I don’t feel it’s necessary for two people to date or “see each other” without the purpose of it leading to a long-term commitment. Whether it’s marriage down the road or mutual understanding of where both of you are in life.

If any one struggles with commitment, they have no business dating. 

Let this truth settle in your mind and heart because I’ve had it settle in mine. The truth hurts, but the truth is better than being led on or lied to. We can manipulate our heart and life into believing relationships can fill the voids in our life or worse allowing our flesh to rule our hearts, but only God is the author of our life and what better author to write our love stories than Him?

The question shouldn’t be whether or not it’s right or wrong to date. The real question should be, “Do you trust God and His timing?” or better, “Do you trust God, period?”

I’ve experienced the joy and reaped reward for waiting on God’s timing in this area of my life. I’ve seen God’s hand do beautiful things between two people who surrendered their entire hearts and life to His calling. But I’ve also experienced the heart ache of allowing my feelings to dictate the choices I’ve made recently. Yet, I know beyond a shadow of doubt God’s plan remains and through all of this His purpose will prevail.

Dating for the sole purpose of dating will only lead to temporary fulfillment, it won’t last. Commitment doesn’t happen in short-term relationships. Dating isn’t wrong but the right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.

It’s through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Lord real love is awakened.  Genuine love is best in God’s timing

Song of Songs 8:4

Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires.

Are you willing to wait?

#heartcheck

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If Our Faith Ceased to Exist

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I remember who I was before I turned my life over to Christ.

I remember what I was doing before I turned my life over to Christ.

I remember the pivotal moment in my life when everything changed.

I don’t know how to describe my life before Christ, I just know I spent a lot of it lost and depressed. Most of my depression came from situations with bad relationships and toxic friendships. I remember the night when I finally reached the point of no return and felt this pull inside to turn to the Lord. I can’t explain it but it was an inner knowing and from that moment forward, everything in my life changed.

The thing is, I didn’t change, not immediately anyway. Even now, almost three years later, there are still old parts of me I haven’t fully surrendered. And it has me wondering if I’ve ever really been saved; if I’ve truly been set free.  I know deep down if I didn’t have faith, if my faith ceased to exist, it would bring the darkest parts of my life back to surface. I remember those dark moments well. Sometimes in the chaotic corners of my mind, I feel them.

We’re more than followers of Christ, but we’re not absent from struggle. When I started following the Lord with my whole heart, it shook everything familiar and comfortable in my life. I stopped watching pornI learned how to handle rejection, I learned I had a fear of marriage, and I learned there’s power in humility and vulnerability.

But even with everything I’ve learned and am learning, I still struggle. I don’t struggle because my faith isn’t strong, I struggle because having faith doesn’t promise happy endings. Faith promises it will be tested, we will be tested. and it’s through these tests we learn what our faith is really made of. It’s through these tests, we learn what we’re really made of and who we’re really following and trusting.

If my faith ceased to exist, I’d still exist but there would be something missing. Apart from God, I’m nothing.

I know a number of people who have chosen to walk away from their faith for different reasons. Having authentic faith in a world that continuously tries to steer us away from truth, truth that’s supposed to bring love, peace, and hope, only breeds hate and a set of rules. I’ve vowed never to be this kind of person, but it’s easy to get lost in the mass of religion than having an authentic faith in Christ and allowing this faith shine through you in love.

I’ve lost friends and gained a few the moment I started taking my relationship with God seriously. I lost most of everything I thought was supposed to matter. But nothing changed or challenged me until the Holy Spirit entered my life and changed the course of my life forever. 

Jesus told His disciples He was going to send a helper who would guide them in truth. The Spirit was sent to help us persevere and give us courage when we face challenge, trial, and adversity in life. When the Holy Spirit enters your life, everything will change, including you. 

If our faith ceased to exist, we’d still have His promise and help.  We won’t be left to fend for ourselves. When faith exits, hope enters.

If your faith ceased to exist, would you?

#heartcheck

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More Than a Follower

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Follower of Christ.

If I could define myself in three words, it would be this. Every moment of my life for the past three years has been shaped by my faith.  When everything in my life was a mess, God came in and changed the course of my life forever. Being a follower of Christ is probably the hardest journey I’ve been through and not because of its difficulty, it’s because I’m confronted with the reality of who I am and what He’s calling me to be.

One of my daily struggles is learning to submit to His will when His will doesn’t make sense. 

This isn’t easy to admit because truly following the Lord isn’t a matter of what we do but who we are becoming because of Him.  I’ve had to face some hard truths about myself and walk in freedom knowing He’s in control. I’ve had to humble myself repeatedly and realize what I think I want, He doesn’t. I want a lot of things but none of those things are in His will.

Being a true follower of Christ is more than reading our Bibles, praying, serving, teaching, or being a pastor; it’s daily surrender. 

Surrender is hard. No matter where we are, God will ask us daily to give up a lot of things within our life and character we don’t realize are there or we do but are too stubborn to admit. Everyday my issues are brought to light, they’re no longer hidden but exposed, and this scares the hell out of me.

How we’re following the Lord in every area of our life matters. Not in areas where we’re known or present but who we are when we’re alone and it’s us and Him. He will bring to light some of the most dangerous parts of ourselves and nudge us to let it go immediately. Most often, He’s subtle but if God believes it needs to be surrendered, He will fight until we’re finally set free from whatever it is that keeps us enslaved.

I’m stubborn at heart and there have been times lately I’ve wanted to give up and quit. Voices in my head from every direction distract me from what God wants for me. While some advice is sound, they aren’t God. No one can direct our life but Him but I’d be lying if I said the direction He’s asking me to go was easy. It’s easy to turn our backs on what God wants for our life and ride it out until His purpose is fulfilled. The world screams, “run.” God whispers, “stay.”

Life isn’t about being a follower of Christ but how we’re using this life to glorify Him and fulfill His purpose.

Many of us proclaim to be true followers of Christ but have no clue what a life following Him really looks like. Because let’s face it, it’s easy to run from our past, our failures, and areas in our life we fall short than confront them and let God use those areas for good. We don’t see good in ourselves so we run from the goodness offered and extended by and through Him. And the cycle continues.

Life is more than being a follower or living by faith, it’s a daily crucifixion of self.

Are you more than a follower?

#heartcheck

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What Relationships Will Teach You

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In 30 years, I’ve been in three relationships. The last relationship was probably the best I’ve ever had because God was the center, He directed everything. So often as a single, people give us advice on how important it is to place God first above all and everything second. I did, we did. Ultimately though, the relationship fell apart.

There are times I blame myself, I blame him, and at one point, I asked God, “Why? Now, I sit in thanks and praise. Not because I’m glad it’s over, but thankful for what I’ve learned.

The thing about relationships most of us overlook is everyone is given free will. Free will is what ended our relationship, not God or faith.  Regardless if God and the Holy Spirit worked and continues to work, free will is still a choice and the choice was to end it.  And I have to respect it. Not because it’s right, but because it’s best.

It’s hard moving forward knowing everything in the past year was led by the Lord and realizing somewhere along the way our focus changed. We never took our eyes off the Lord, His hands were in everything but we took our focus off Him together. Individually, He moved in ways I, to this day can’t put into words. Together though, the focus was more on us and less on Him. Factor in past wounds from childhood to current, it’s a recipe for conflict.

Everyone will come into our life with baggage. It doesn’t matter if the baggage is past or present, it still exists. If the baggage isn’t unpacked and collects itself over the years, issues which never existed before will begin to slowly spill over in areas it was never meant to. This is the reality of allowing another person into our life with history too long to trace each step to its beginning. Harder when the other person isn’t open or vulnerable to communicate it.  Where there is trust, there is communication regardless of its content.  When we’re fully exposed to each other … raw, naked, vulnerable,  exposed, it doesn’t matter how the content is communicated, there’s a level of trust and it’s safe. This is why communication is crucial for a relationship’s survival.  

Lack of intimate, vulnerable, and intentional communication means no relationship. We’ll build nothing on nothing and lose everything. 

Everyone will come into our life with characteristics hard to love. Inconsistent, check. Always late, check.  Insecurity, check. Pride, check. I learned to look past certain things and give the benefit of doubt, I extended grace and forgiveness, not judgement or condemnation.  This is the hardest lesson we’ll ever learn about loving others despite our differences. We all deserve grace. Most  issues I’ve seen in others, I refused to stand and see the inconsistencies in my own character and issues in my own life.

Easier to point out someone else’s junk than face our own. It requires a humble and repentant heart to fully surrender the “junk” in our lives to God and leave them there, for good.

Everyone will come into our life with expectations and expectations always lead to disappointment. I can look back on all the times I expected more than I knew I’d be given. I always felt if a man loved God with all his heart, mind, and soul he would know how to treat a woman.  The reality though, we all fall short.  There comes a point when we have to lay down our expectations and stop making excuses for allowing a man or woman to take the place of God. Expectations create mini “gods” and they become idols. It’s no longer God on the throne, but our expectations.

We need to let our expectations go and trust God’s wisdom. God’s Word is filled with wisdom about relationships because it all points to our source, Jesus. He is love and every relationship should be founded on love, not expectations.

Everyone will come into our life with fear of love and being unconditionally loved in return. I was afraid to put myself out there and lay my heart on the line again. This was different, it wasn’t forced or planned. I didn’t look for it, it found me. And I can still thank God for it all knowing He knew what I needed and when but we can’t force love. Love isn’t something we magically create, it grows over time. “I love you” is exchanged long before a relationship has time to grow.

We need to leave relationships in the hands of God. We need to allow our hearts to heal from past wounds before we can give it away to someone else. This may never happen in my own life but the more I seek God, spend time with Him, and lean on His promises, my past doesn’t hinder my present much like it used to. Not because I’m fully healed, but because Jesus redeemed it all when He died for me, the way He died for you.

If I’ve learned anything over the last month it’s God is still good. He is a God of surprise and He knows. He hasn’t failed to reach into the depths of my heart and point me to truth. There have been some low points but the high points far out weigh the low points of my singleness. I do wonder sometimes if  I will ever find someone, but I rest in God’s promise to me . He has promised to never leave or forsake me, He has promised He is doing a new thing, “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19) and while I can’t see the road ahead, I trust His wisdom more than my heart.

Relationships founded, built, and cultivated with God at the center will always thrive, regardless of our baggage, expectations, and fear. This is the bottom line. It’s free will  that collects baggage, creates expectations, and creates fear. It’s the refusal to surrender these things that end relationships.

If relationships have taught me anything, it’s God is still good. God is still the author of my life and I’ll be fine. It hurts some days, but God is a God of healing. He is greater than anything any one can ever do to me. Free will or not, faith is a choice and so is love.

I’m lucky the choice was made for me from the very beginning, the rest is in my redeemer’s hands.

What have relationships taught you?

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Trust Without Borders

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Outside of the will of God, there’s nothing I want, and in the will of God there’s nothing to fear – Tozer

Following God into the unknown into uncertainty is hard and obedience hurts.

If you’ve ever followed God with your whole heart, soul, and mind then imagine walking into another season with no clear direction but an inner knowing. It’s all there in Scripture, His Word is flawless. His fingerprints are all here, again, but this time it’s different. It’s a different knowing than before, it’s returning, an awakening; it’s trusting.

Fear has never been an enemy of mine, I’m not afraid but I struggle with doubt. God’s ways and plans are never clear in the beginning but there’s a knowing through the Holy Spirit it’s right. When the world is shouting “Run”, God is saying, “Stay.” Because this isn’t about me, it’s about God.

In life, we want to take the escape route when things become difficult and unbearable. We want the quick fixes and the easy answers in life, but following God and trusting Him completely is dangerous, it’s risk;  It’s faith.

Nothing I’ve done in the past year has made sense to any one but me and the people involved. Nothing I’m choosing to do now will make sense to any one but me and God. Somehow I think this is the way it was meant to be. When I stand before God I want to stand before Him secure knowing I did everything I was asked to do, even the hardest things I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing two years ago. Everything two years ago was about me, my wants, my needs, my desires. 

Now, here I stand faced with the unknown and it’s all about Him.

This isn’t easy. There are days like now when I simply want to throw up my hands and quit.  I’ve always been a fighter but sometimes there’s no fight left and quitting is easiest. Though there’s a war raging inside and I’m in constant conflict, the Holy Spirit has been my guide and continues carrying me.

The Spirit has been my guide from the beginning, I’ve seen it’s fingerprints in everything, I see them now and it brings me joy and sorrow all in the same hand. I don’t want to tread on certain waters because truly trusting God with our entire being means stepping into uncertainty with open hands to receive what He promised in the beginning; Himself.

Though I’m faced with a great unknown,  I am His and where ever He leads, I’ll follow. Trusting completely His will will be done, not mine.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

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The Keeper

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The Keeper of my heart, keep me in Your will

Deep in your presence, Heaven breathe Your life in me

The Keeper of Your promises, keep me still

Set my eyes and heart on You above

Unhindered by the world’s insatiable thirst, keep me thirsty for You

The Keeper of my Spirit, keep me connected to You

Deeper into Your truth, deeper in You

The Keeper of my mind, break every frailty and iniquity

Apart from You, I’m nothing

The Keeper of me, keep me in You.

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Trusting God’s Leading

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My life has been completely flipped upside down the past two weeks. Everything I thought I knew and believed about God’s plan for my life has been blown out the water. He’s left me speechless and in complete awe of His continual presence. In the quiet of my day the direction of my life completely changed. Hesitant, I didn’t know what to think or what to do, but God was clear and wanted me to be obedient.

Resistant I said, “Lord, You want me to do what? This is crazy!”

In my reluctance, He asked, “Do you trust Me?” 

In this moment of trust, I did what was asked and things haven’t been normal since. When God told His first disciples to “Follow me,” they followed. This verse  always made no sense to me. I mean in context, I got it, but actually applying it to my life was difficult, until this week. 

We talk a lot about leaving our comfort zone and place of security to do what God asks us and it’s been thrown at me so many times in the past three months, the conviction stung. Because regardless of how many times I read,“Life happens outside of your comfort zone,” I stayed in mine.  Thing is, it wasn’t until this week when I realized where my comfort zone really is. It’s not behind a computer screen or social media.

My place of comfort has been following behind other people. I’ve followed the crowd and others I thought were leading me to the life God was calling me to; I was following the sheep, not the Shepard.

The reality of this hit me hard because I’m having to abandon everything I thought I knew and wanted for something far bigger than my own understanding. It’s happening left and right without my provoking or searching. It’s happening naturally and something tells me this is the way it’s supposed to be. The path God has me on isn’t attractive or popular, but it’s crazy and I’m accepting it with an open mind and heart. This is where God wants me and it’s right.

The crazy thing about life with God is we never know what He will do next, it’s an adventure. As scary as this is for me, it’s exciting. Everyday I wake up expectant of what He will reveal to me because I know He listens and knows what’s best for me. When there are times when I hesitate and don’t want to trust Him, He confirms it through His Word and truth.

I think sometimes we underestimate the power of God’s Word and the work of His hand. We think because things don’t work out the first time or we don’t get what we want, He doesn’t care or listen, but He does. When things aren’t making any sense in our life, this is when God’s presence is most active. He’s been plowing through my heart and life like a tidal wave and it completely brings me to my knees.

Following God and letting Him lead every of our life is rewarding and humbling. Sometimes we have to abandon the familiar to truly walk in faith and obedience to God. Letting Him lead every area of our life is a risk, but His leading always leads to eternal life and all He wants from us is to trust Him.

Deuteronomy 28:1-2

28 If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.

Are you willing to abandon the familiar and let God lead you?

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A Fool to Believe

“The foolish are like ripples on water, For whatsoever they do is quickly effaced; But the righteous are like carvings upon stone, For their smallest act is durable. “

Horace

I was a fool to think I could put my trust in anyone other than God and it not end in disappointment. What was more foolish on my part is how I allowed my naivety to be placed before my faith in Him. It’s ironic how I always  find myself in the same spot expecting a different result. I was a fool to believe this time would be any different. 

I’m not hurt. I’m not mad. I’m not bitter. I’m not anything. I don’t feel anything.  Maybe this is what faith really is. When every feeling is numb, but you still trust.  It’s knowing despite how many blows you take in life and how many trials are positioned in your path, you know God is still faithful. Even when you’re not My faith never wavered from God, but I felt Him wavering from me. Even though I know He never moved. 

If something feels too good to be true, more than likely it is. Unless it’s God, then anything is possible. Despite the uncertainty, numbness, and an inability to understand, I’m still standing. Because without Him, I’m nothing.

I was a fool to believe I could ever do this without Him. 

Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

From this day forward, I will believe and seek only Him.