Wednesday, December 21, 2011

God With Us

This Christmas season, I have really been resting on this thought: God is with us. Not God was with us, or God will be with us, but that He IS with us!

The Bible fortells the coming of Jesus, "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." -Isaiah 7:14 And later... that happened. "And the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call him Jesus....The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy--the son of God.'" -Luke 2:31, 35

The Son of God, Jesus, was born. His only purpose was to die, as an atonement for the sins of man. While Jesus was walking the earth, he told his disciples, recorded in John 16:7, "Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper [Holy Spirit] will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you." In order for us to have the Holy Spirit with us, Jesus needed to go.... but God is in three persons- God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. So, God's promise to "never leave you or forsake you" -Hebrews 13:5 stands true even today. It did not begin on Christmas and end Easter.... it continues on as we have the Holy Spirit!

This Christmas, I hope that seeps in for you too. It is amazing to think that as we remember and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior, we can also rejoice in the fact that God is with us, always.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear?

"But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me." - Micah 7:7
"The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer."
- Psalm 6:9

God hears me. God hears you. He listens. As our Father, he wants to hear from us! He loves to hear straight from our hearts, whether good or bad. But so many times we tend to think, "well God already knows, no use in telling him." Ok.... picture this....
You're a parent. Your child's teacher, during a conference, tells you all about your child's creativity on a project. If your child wanted to tell you about it later, would you say, "Oh honey, I already know all about it. Let's talk about something else." I certainly hope not... I know I would want to hear my child tell me EVERYTHING, regardless of my prior knowledge.
Same with us and God. And, on our end, it is so refreshing, comforting, and often provides a feeling of reflief to go to the Lord with whatever it is and just talk -- knowing He is listening!

"I call upon you, for you will answer me O God; incline your ear to me; hear my words."
- Psalm 17:6

But what about the other way around....? Do you have friendships or relationships with people who you talk to and never listen to? Probably not. A relationship is two-way. It takes investment from both parties. In a relationship with God, we tend to do more talking than listening... and then we get mad when we don't "hear" an answer. Well, how are you waiting for God to respond? There are many ways in which God speaks to us...
Circumstance: God will use an open or closed door/opportunity to answer us or show us His will.
Still Small Voice: God will impress upon us by the power of the Holy Spirit to move us towards His will.
Peace: God will give us peace in a situation if it is His will.
People: God will use other believers to speak wisdom into a situation.
But the only ABSOLUTE way in which God speaks to us in an undeniable way is through His Word.

"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." - Hebrews 4:12

So, my encouragement to you (and reminder to myself!) is to first, talk with God... have a conversation... do some talking, then some listening. And the listening may require spending time listening to a Pastor give a sermon, or resting in a quiet place.... or reading the Bible! Let God speak to your heart. I am always so thankful when I choose to listen for Him; He never fails me.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Give Thanks


Inspired by Jason Burris, I made a list of some things I am thankful for using Thanksgiving...

T Today. I am blessed with each day God gives me. (Psalm 118:24)
H Husband. I am so grateful for my loving husband, Tyler! (Psalm 34:3)
A Armor. I am glad to be equipped with the Armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-20)
N Newness. Through God, I am a new creation and for that am very thankful! (2 Cor. 5:17)
K Kinship. I am thankful to have a fabulous, loving, supportive family. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
S Sweets. I love sweets.... too much. But, I'm thankful for them because they are YUM.
G Grace. There aren't words to express my thankfulness for the grace of God. (2 Cor. 12:9-10)
I Inheritance. God bestows all that he has on me. I am His heir!! (Colossians 1:12)
V Vine. I am thankful to have God as my vine & source of power. (Jn. 15:5)
I Iron. Ok, not really iron... but I am thankful for friendships that are founded on the Lord. (Prov. 27:17)
N Nature. I enjoy soaking up God's magnificent creation! (Hebrews 1:10)
G Gifts. My love language is gifts. And I am very thankful for love and gifts! (Jn. 15:12)

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
- 1 Thessalonains 5:18

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Recipe for Hope

More than that we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
-Romans 5:3-5

As I pondered over this passage in Romans, it jumped off the page like a step by step recipe for hope! And maybe it was a different read for you, but here's what happened for me.

Step 1:
Rejoice in Suffering. Sounds.... miserable and difficult? Well, yes. And that is why we need the power of the Holy Spirit to produce the fruit of joy through us.... especially when we reach difficult valleys in life. My example of rejoicing in suffering would be not having a current relationship with my dad. For a long time I looked at the "wallet size" picture rather than the "8x10" BIG PICTURE. I can rejoice in the midst of having a dad who chooses not to have a relationship with me, his only daughter, because God was able to use that to draw me closer to him. I now cherish my relationship with my Heavenly Father in ways I would not even be able to imagine if I had a flourishing relationship with my earthly father. So, with God, I have been able to find and experience joy even when circumstances are grim.
But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and God rests upon you. -1 Peter 4:13-14
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake. -Philippians 1:29
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds. -James 1:2

Step 2:
Endurance. Through suffering, endurance is produced. When I think of endurance, I think of the cross country girls I work with, or my friends who have run half marathons. In order to finish races, endurance is required! Even when the pace is slowed or a run turns to more of a walk, the finish line will be crossed with endurance! To endure is to continue on when it seems difficult or even impossible. Being a wife for only about a year, I am no marriage expert. But, marriage is a great example of a place where endurance is necessary, yet unfortunately not greatly seen in our culture. Hear me when I say, I love being married to my best friend and the love of my life... but it is challenging! And he would tell you the same thing. We have to (and ultimately want to) bear with one another and endure together, no matter what! When you have gone through a period of suffering, endurance is the bi product, because you are then made aware that you can "get through anything!"
But the one who endures to the end will be saved. -Matthew 24:13
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy. -Colossians 1:11

Step 3:
Character. When I hear that word, the descriptive word that comes to my mind is "integrity." A person of character is the same whether in public or behind closed doors, they are often well-rounded individuals (hence their past suffering and endurance), and from my experience, these are the people you want as friends. Those with character, hold themselves to a standard and often times welcome others in keeping them accountable to that. The verses below emphasize the need of God in order to have the kind of character that is referenced in Romans 5. In Deuteronomy, character is tested and seen in obeying God's commandments. In Philippians, character is produced in you by Jesus. Character is not something you can go pick up at your local store. It is developed.... through suffering, endurance, and most importantly the power of God.
Remember how the LORD your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commandments. -Deuteronomy 8:2
May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation--the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ--for this will bring much glory and praise to God. -Philippians 1:11

Step 4:
Hope. The hope that is produced through character, is that which requires faith. It is the hope in a mighty God who saves! As Christians, we have put our trust in a grace giving God and we have placed our hope and trust in Him. It is an essential part of the Christian faith... being hopeful that God will ultimately save us, renew us, and rise us to life in heaven. And once a person has suffered, endured, and established character, where they place their hope is easily seen.
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation at Jesus Christ. -1 Peter 1:13
He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. -2 Corinthians 1:10
For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. -Galatians 5:5

I love the description in Romans 5 after hope is placed. There is no shame for those with this hope!
Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. -Psalm 34:5
Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments. -Psalm 119:6

So, after all of that going through my mind.... I rested on the fact that I need the power of the Holy Spirit. I need to rely on God. I cannot possibly rejoice in my sufferings, endure through anything, have the character God desires, or place my hope correctly, without relying on Him alone. In my strength, I cannot do it and neither can you. Stop trying. Trust me, it is freeing!

Sunday, November 13, 2011


My husband, Tyler, often goes out for "guys nights" or has Saturdays full of flag football. But me, I struggle to get time with friends (mostly because so many of my friends are now not local to me) and so friendship has been on my heart recently. We were all created for relationship, with God and each other. But friendships have not always come easy for me. Growing up, my friends were those who enjoyed the same activities as me, laughed when I laughed, slipped me notes in class, or happened to be involved in my seasonal sport or activity. Some friends have stuck with me through the highs and the lows, while others bailed as soon as things got tough. I remember in high school, I was battling depression. A friend of mine, who I had been very close to since elementary school, told me that I cried too much and she no longer wanted to be my friend. Whew! Talk about tough times in teenage years! So, as I have seen in my life, some friends come and some go.

It was not until I met my friend Nicole that I realized the true meaning of friendship. Two verses from the Bible stick out to me when I think of my friendship with Nicole. "A friend loves at all times." - Proverbs 17:17 and "As iron sharpens iron, one man sharpens another." -Proverbs 27:17. Nicole and I met in high school- we had  Marine Biology the same period and we were both cheerleaders. Once we became friends, there was no way out. And this was new to me. Shortly after we became friends, I placed my faith in Christ and became a Christian! So the whole, friendship with Jesus involved thing was really new for me. She showed me love and faithfulness unlike any friend I had ever had... because she had a personal relationship with God. There was a season (right after high school and into college) that I distanced myself from Nicole. I ran from her friendship.... because she had a close relationship with God.... and I wanted to also distance myself from Him in order to attempt satisfying my desires my way rather than His way. You are probably thinking, "what a jerk you were!" and "poor Nicole!" And rightly so! She stuck by me through prayer, love, and encouragement even when I had turned my back on her and our God. She welcomed me back into a close friendship with no conditions, just love.... 4 years ago this Thanksgiving.

Nicole has taught me so much about friendship. And in the last 4 years, we have been able to grow in the Lord together, encourage one another, support each other, and stand up as MOH's at each other's weddings! I am so thankful that God brought a friend like Nicole into my life to teach me what it means to be a friend. It is not about laughing at the same things, enjoying the same activities, or passing notes (or these days texts) in class. But it is about love, encouragement, and most of all, Jesus. I cherish my friendship with the few close friends that I have, because I know, they are founded on the Lord and they will last!

"But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." - Hebrews 3:13

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Christian. The word literally means, “little Christ.” How do you know if someone is a Christian? How do you know if YOU are a Christian? This can be a touchy issue and I’ve been pondering it a lot recently. So, I decided to dig into Scripture.
Jesus says in Matthew 7:17, 20, “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” And in John 13:34-35 Jesus says, “You also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” James, the half brother of Jesus writes in James 2:14, 17, “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” James continues on and touches on that works do not earn your faith, they merely display that your faith exists. In verses 18-20, James writes, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!”
WHEW!!!!! Overwhelmed yet? I apologize. The Bible just always says it better than I can! So to summarize….
Fruit. You can know that you or someone else is a Christian by fruit produced. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Those are good fruits- evidence that yes, that person has Christ in their life!
Love. By loving others, we will show our faith in the Lord. You may be thinking, huh? Well, God has loved us so much, forgiven us, and showered us in His grace…. We are called to pour that out onto others. Hence, we’ll be recognized by our love for one another.
Faith and works. This is always a messy topic of discussion I feel like. But the point of “faith without works is dead” is well made by James. If a person’s faith in the Lord is active and true, it will be seen in their works. The phrase “actions speak louder than words” rings true here. Jesus wants us to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. And James goes on to explain that believing in God is not enough, because even the demons believe in Him… they just choose not to obey and follow Him.
Will you choose to produce good fruit? Will your love display that you have a relationship with God? Will your faith produce works? Will you choose to take a step beyond simply believing and choose to follow and obey the Lord? It's not too late to choose.

“For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able…You begin to stand outside and to knock at the door saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’” –Luke 13:24-27

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Gift

We have all received a gift at some point in our lives. I think of Christmas or birthdays as big "gift" holidays. Imagine, it's Christmas morning and under the tree are tons of beautifully wrapped packages. After admiring the beauty of the display, you dig in and begin opening the gifts.... right? You wouldn't possibly sit there and stare at the gifts for too long without opening them. And you certainly wouldn't pull out the gifts labeled for you, pile them up, and leave them unopened. I mean, seriously. Imagine adding to your collection of belongings a bunch of unopened Christmas presents and all year just looking at wrapped packages and thinking, "Wow, what a great Christmas of gifts that was!" If you happen to actually collect unopened presents, I would encourage you to open them. I am sure you'll like what is inside more so than the wrapped gift... it'd definitely be more useful to you anyhow!

The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so no one may boast."
To start, we have to see the GIFT that God is offering to us! He is offering it, but we must choose to receive it- just like any other gift that can be denied or accepted. And we also must recognize that since it is a gift, we cannot do anything to earn it. Other than Santa Claus and his expectation of "nice" behavior, gifts are given freely... free of charge! Who offers someone a gift and then makes them pay for it? That just is not a gift! Just after receiving any gift, it is best enjoyed when opened and used. The gift of salvation that God offers us is not intended to just sit on a shelf and be ready for our day of death as a ticket into heaven. This gift of God has so much more to offer than that! In John 10:10 Jesus says, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." Abundance. He wants us to dig in and enjoy life, in Him, to the fullest.... starting now!

So don't wait to receive this gift. And once you receive it, I hope you choose to open it and enjoy it for all that it's worth. What better gift could there possibly be?!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fork in the Road

The road of life. We all take one! In most cases, our upbringing doesn't leave us with room for a choice- we move forward on the only path we know of; but as we age that changes. There comes a day when we can see a fork in the road we are on. We are faced with a choice. Path A or Path B.

-Path A is easily visible and is full of lush greenery, flowers bursting with color, and sunlight. The end of the road cannot be seen from where you stand at the fork, but the light and beauty of Path A goes as far as the eye can see!
-Path B is dark, dreery, with seemingly pleasant sounds echoing towards the fork in the road. The entire road is dark, so obviously the end of the road is a mystery.

Let's say Path B resembles the road of life you've been on thus far, more so than Path A. Choosing Path B would be the most comfortable thing.... but Path A just looks SO nice! There is even a gentle voice beckoning you to proceed on with Path A, that says, "this is the path of life!" Logically, Path A seems to be the right way to go. But for some reason, you cannot shake it and are drawn to Path B. So what is your choice?
Here's the part where you chooce the ending... (fun right? Like a movie with alternate endings!)

You find that you are constantly watching your back to avoid theivery and destruction [John10:10]. The end of the road seems more clear now, and you see an unquenchable fire [Mark 9:44]. You begin to reap corruption for your choice of Path B [Galatians 6:8]. You sense there is one like a lion, prowling around hoping to find someone to devour, so you are in a constant state of fear [1 Peter 5:8]. You realize, that you are seperated from Christ, and have no hope without God [Ephesians 2:12]!

You are walking on the path of life and are in God's presence. You experience fullness of joy and pleasures forever at His right hand [Psalm 16:11]. God's steadfast love is before your eyes and you walk in his faithfulness [Psalm 26:3]. And you say, "I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delievered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place." [Psalm 31:7-8]. It is obvious now that choosing Path B would have brought you death, destruction, and unsatisfaction. Wow, Path A, what a good and promising choice!

Now that you have the alternate endings.... which Path would you pick A or B? Path B may still seem appealing to you (and if so, I blame Satan). Trust me when I say, you will miss out so much on Path A and you will eventually look back and wish you chose Path A from the start. The good news is, Path A is always available. If you have chosen Path B and are looking for a way off the road that leads to destruction.... turn back and RUN into God's arms and head down Path A! Stroll down the path of life alongside your Creator, Father, Lover, and Savior! But beware... Path B will not be far off and Satan will tempt you to step back towards Path B. I pray you flee and persevere on Path A.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Light or Dark?

Light. What is light? Well, the Bible says that light is....

"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." - John 8:12
"...God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." - 1 John 1:5

Darkness? The opposite.

We all have a choice; to walk on in the light or in the dark. Seems like it makes more sense to walk in the light.... since you'd be able to see and all. But sadly, so many choose darkness. Maybe for the mystery and suspense it holds? But emptiness is all that awaits those who choose darkness. It's dark for a reason. Ugly, painful, unsatisfying sin would look too horrific in the light.... darkness covers it up.

Maybe you're thinking, "Well, I chose light once, but I'm giving darkness a try now. I may to return to light eventually, but darkness looked SO appealing....even just for a little bit!" And if you are, please read the rest of this very carefully. The Bible warns in 1 John 1:6-7... "If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin." And in 2 Corinthians 6:14, "...what fellowship has light with darkness?"
Still wondering if this is you, choosing darkness over light? Well, since there cannot be fellowship with light and darkness, a good indicator would be your relationships. Has your group of friends changed? Are the people you are spending your time with choosing light or are they also choosing darkness (and condoning your choice of darkness)? Do you find yourself trying to cover up your choice to those who you used to walk in the light with, convincing them you're still trying to choose light? And have you begun to see the consequences of walking in darkness; no clear direction, feelings of uneasiness and maybe regret, unexpected and unpleasant surprises? Yes? Then you're for sure deep in darkness.

But I have good news!

The light of the world NEVER gives up hope and He awaits your return. Choose light! Walking in the light brings true fellowship with others and is the way to the abundant life that Jesus came to give us all. It's worth it. You'll see...even if you find out the hard way.

"Choose this day who you will serve." -Joshua 24:15 and I pray you choose to serve the light of the world, Jesus.

Friday, October 7, 2011

To Know & Be Known

A list of Facebook friends or Twitter followers is not an accurate account of who knows us, or who we know. And when you think about who knows you the best, in the whole world, who would you say that person is? Your mother, father, husband, wife, daughter, son, best friend? If it's any of those, I would tell you that you are wrong.

The Bible says, in Psalm 139:13-16, "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." And in Matthew 10:30, "But even the hairs of your head are all numbered."

Bottom line: God knows you, inside and out and in ways no human will ever be able to. Even the smallest of details- such as how many hair strands are on your head. Wow, seriously? That is insane to really sit down and think about. Not only does God know every detail to my body, but He knows what goes on in my head and my heart- not even my husband knows that! (Trust me, I hope that Tyler will have a breakthrough and be able to read my mind, but I'm coming to the reality, that he will never ever ever be able to read my mind... haha!) Ok, so God knows you and me and everyone on earth inside and out. Cool, now what?

Well, imagine your favorite childhood star. Mine = Britney Spears. I know facts about her, trials she has gone through in her life, and lyrics to almost all of her songs (at least the early ones). But if I passed her on the street, she would have no idea who I was. The sad truth, this is how some us are with God. He knows us full and well and many of us think that's enough for Him.... and enough for us. To have a true RELATIONSHIP with someone, it must must must go both ways! (Otherwise, it's kind of creepy if you think about it.) God wants us to get to know Him! He desires that our eyes see His beautiful creation, that our hearts feel His presence through His Holy Spirit, and that our hope rests in His Son's return to earth. And since He's God, there is so much to know about Him, that we cannot ever get bored. He's our Father, Lover, Savior, Redeemer, Provider .... everything!

Have you gotten to know God? He knows you, but don't settle with that. Run to Him, seek Him, and get to know your Creator! It's worth it. Trust me.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


1. profound dedication; consecration.
2. earnest attachment to a cause, person, etc.
We are all devoted to something. There are even those of us who are determined to not be devoted to something, which ends up being our devotion....
I've recently been feeling like I'm crazy. Which, is not so much out of the ordinary, for me to feel that way. However, I'm wrestling with God about my devotion. I have been pouring my heart and soul into something and I seem to be the only one who is truly devoted to it. But, He asked me to do it.... so I can't stop now. He's called me to finish strong! BUT I LOOK CRAZY! I FEEL CRAZY! Then I remember, it doesn't matter who sees me as crazy. As long as they know Who I am crazy about.
Today, on my Twitter feed, I read, "If you sat in a court room facing charges for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to prove you are guilty?" I got to thinking. I certainly hope so! I hope through my devotion, it would be clear.... my devotion to the Lord above all, my devotion and comittment to my husband, my devotion to my job and the lives of those I pour into.... But most importantly, I hope that God sees my devotion, for Him. I hope as He sits on His heavenly throne, He is pleased with me and always notes of my devotion to Him, knowing that I am His and He is mine! Even when I may appear crazy to everyone else.
What or who are you devoted to? Is it obvious to others that you are indeed devoted?

Monday, October 3, 2011

A Light For My Path

Running requires a path. Have you ever really given thought to the path, or do you focus more on the running? I usually am so focused on running, I tend to not give much thought, if any, to the path. A good run is different for everyone. But what ingredients make up a “good running path”... smooth and dry ground, beautiful surrounding scenery, the chirping of birds coming from nearby trees? What about light?
I picture myself running on a path that meets my standards of being a "good running path" but it's in complete darkness. I will not be able to see the path in effort to continue on it, or avoid hitting something. Even with a flashlight, only a step or two in front of me will be illuminated and I will certainly not be able to see how much farther I have until I reach the end of the path. But, just one step is enough as long as I take my time and trust that the light will not dim! On your path, in life, are you feeling alone, in the dark, with no guidance? God wants to be the light to your path. Will you let Him? He knows the way…
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” – Psalm 119:105