Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Sounds that Satisfy

Sounds that satisfy. What comes to your mind? [There's no right or wrong answer!]

To me, I think of music. I love music. As a little one, I fell asleep best when lullabies played quietly from my cassette player. I grew up hearing my mother play heavenly melodies on the piano. And as a teenager, my drivers-ed teacher told me I drove best when music was on. I'd say it's fair to say music has always been a sound that satisfies my soul.

Throughout my many years, I have enjoyed a variety of music styles -- some I'm too embarrassed to share! Currently, I tend to listen only to music with God honoring lyrics. One of my favorite artists, Beckah Shae, came out with her album Destiny (my favorite album of hers to date). I had the privilege to attend an album release party with some friends and we heard Beckah perform her song, from the album, Music. 

I really resonated with the lyrics. You can feel it in your soul, That beat drops and you find yourself just wanting more. Music. And even very recently, I have found myself wanting music playing non-stop. But not only are the lyrics important to me, so is the beat. If I'm wanting to rest or spend time with the Lord, I need something calming and slow. But if I'm working out or cleaning my apartment, I need something upbeat to keep me going! Most importantly, I want to fill my mind with words/lyrics that are not dishonoring and don't cause me to stumble in anyway.

I thought I'd share some of my current favorites! (All available for purchase on iTunes)

"Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!" - Psalm 95:2

Monday, January 28, 2013

On the Shelf

Recently, I have been introduced to some books worth noting! I was also encouraged to pick up a new life habit... to always be reading a book. This was a bit tough to swallow for me, but I definitely see such benefit in developing the habit of always reading a book. In the midst of all of this, I received a text from a friend informing me of an app called "Goodreads" which is essentially a digital place to sort books you have read, desire to read, and enjoy! Needless to say, books have been on my mind =)

This is what I've been reading and have been thoroughly enjoying....

And this is what I will be beginning soon...

Do you have the habit of always reading a book? If so, what are some of your favorites? If not, what prevents you from reading?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Work It Out

We all experience growth. Our lives begin without us having any say, we develop for nine months inside a womb, and after birth, we continue to grow. But I don't just mean physically. Although that is naturally what comes to mind, there is so much more to growth than gaining height and fine motor skills.

As Christians, we are expected and called to grow in our faith! Our new life in Christ begins as we place our faith in him, trusting that Christ alone can save us and give us that new life. From that point on, we are to "run with endurance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1) and seek after the Lord to become more like Him in holiness, righteousness, and love. 

How is God calling you to grow, right now? What are some areas of your life in which God wants to stretch you and develop you into a more mature, well rounded believer? In order to achieve that goal and growth, what are practical steps you can take to get there? Maybe you need to grow in time spent still and quietly with the Lord, so setting aside fifteen minutes each day to read from the Word and pray would be a great start! Or perhaps you have room for growth in serving others selflessly. So spread love in a creative way! Seek God and ask him to search your heart... then obey him and allow him to lead you into maturity!

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling..." - Philippians 2:12

Friday, January 18, 2013

Work in Progress

Lately, I have been challenged to look at different areas and situations in my life through the lens of holiness with the hopes of detecting sin and wrongdoing. That is no easy task and for me and has, at times, been very gut wrenching! But how grateful I am that those around me care about me and my growth enough to point out my blindspots. Somehow I tend to forget my active need for forgiveness of sin. Just because I know Jesus personally and have welcomed him into my life as Savior and Lord does not make me less needy for his grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, and salvation! Moment by moment, I need him! I may be more familiar with his ways, more so than early on in my walk with him, but my ability to live that out has only increased because my dependence on him has increased. And when I fail to walk in the Spirit, seek his will, and choose his ways, I fall back into the ever famous human ways... sin. It can happen to any one of us -- college student, spouse, pastor, friend, parent, teacher. "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" - Romans 3:23 And if we are not actively choosing to walk in the Spirit, we quickly fall into trouble. 

It has been humbling to remember that I am a work in progress. When others may expect perfection from me, I can rest on the fact that God knows I cannot and will not be perfect until the day of Christ's return. "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." - Philippians 1:6 How comforting and freeing! Until then, I will likely continue to fail in meeting the expectations of others. But, I will aim to seek the face of God, grow in him, and choose to walk in the Spirit while also experiencing the freedom of not being held to unrealistic standards by God!

"But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth."
 - 2 Thessalonians 2:13

Thursday, January 17, 2013

For Me & For You

We read all throughout Scripture that God is for his children.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." - Jeremiah 29:11

"For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." - Romans 8:38-39

"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?" - Romans 8:31

When you read it, do you believe it? Do you believe that the God of the universe desires good for you? Do you cling to His goodness? When you fail, do you trust that He is STILL for you?

Because of who God is, he cannot be anything but for you! He is not good to us or for us based on who we are... if that were the case, we'd be in serious trouble! But in His goodness, grace, and love, He is for us! Hallelujah!!

"Good and upright is the LORD." - Psalm 25:8

Monday, January 14, 2013

Love One Another

As I read this today in John 13, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, 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." v. 34-35 I got to thinking....

How do I show love for others? Is my love for others evident to outsiders? Am I purposefully loving or do I just hope it happens? Do others know I love them? Is my love for others overflowing from the love of Christ, or am I aiming to love out of my own strength?

As I reflect, I think I tend to show my love for others through gift giving and words of encouragement. More often than not, I lack in loving intentionally and need to work on regularly and purposefully letting others know I love them (and doing so how they'd best receive it)! I certainly hope my love for others is evident to outsiders (as it alludes to in the verses above) and I hope others know just how much I love them (even when I fail at expressing it). Although love at it's best is rooted in the love of Christ, I know I struggle with that at times. I can tend to love out of my own selfishness and weakness, which means I am not loving well or selflessly.... which isn't love at all really.

As you reflect on the verses above, how are you moved to love more, better, or more Christ-like? Maybe it's writing a note of encouragement to a friend. Or perhaps it's extending forgiveness to someone undeserving of it. It could just mean spending more time with others. However God leads, I hope you'll join me in aiming to love one another as we're commanded to by the Lord!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Choose Life

How will you choose life?

How do you pursue intimacy with the Lord?

How do you find life in Christ?

Do not delay! Seek the face of God, today. For he alone gives us new life!

"There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." 
- Proverbs 14:12

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Have you ever been innocent in a situation and not had an opportunity to present your case? Have you ever been heard wrongly, misunderstood, and been accused of the worst? Have you ever had someone not give you the benefit of the doubt and assume the worst?

It is certainly challenging when that happens. To know what is true and have lies believed by others is not easy and can often be emotionally draining. And unfortunately, it happens all the time.

In recent communication with someone, I was encouraged when she reminded me that we have a Defender! Here's the Truth that we can hold onto when we find ourselves in these situations:

"You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror." - Psalm 10:17-18

"May he defend the afflicted among the people and save the children of the needy; may he crush the oppressor." - Psalm 72:4

"Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed." 
- Psalm 82:3

"Defend my cause and redeem me; preserve my life according to your promise."
 - Psalm 119:154

"Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed." - Isaiah 1:17

"This is what your Sovereign Lord says, your God, who defends his people..." - Isaiah 51:22

"Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves to you? We have been speaking in the sight of God as those in Christ; and everything we do, dear friends, is for your strengthening." - 2 Corinthians 12:19

"Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; he will take up their case against you." - Proverbs 23:10-12

Hallelujah! How grateful I am that no matter our own ability in defending ourselves, we can trust that the Lord will defend us in righteousness. What defense could be better?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Making Plans

In our Bible Fellowship Class this past Sunday at Idlewild, I felt challenged to make plans for this year. In years past, I have written down resolutions, goals, and hopes but never really seen follow through or victory. This year I'm going about it differently.

While we sat in class, I jotted down in my journal that I wanted to choose a word, theme, or mission statement for myself for the year; a verse for me for the year; and a verse to pray over Tyler this year. I recognize those aren't necessarily making plans, but before I make plans and goals, I need a solid foundation to build on.

  • My word for the year: Discipline. [training that corrects, molds, or perfects the mental faculties or moral character; control gained by enforcing obedience]
  • My verse for the year: "Be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." - Ephesians 4:23-24
  • My verse to pray over Tyler this year: "Be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in knowledge of God." - Colossians 1:9-10
And from there, I will build with more specifics. Since I will be focusing on discipline, I plan on spending more time working out and making healthier food choices. I also plan on reading through the Bible this year (something I have tried before and never completed). I would also love to spend more time reading books. As I meditate on Ephesians 4:23-24 I hope to also be encouraged in spending time in the Word, in prayer, and in authentic community as I ask God to renew my mind! And as I pray Colossians 1:9-10 over my husband, I know my heart will grow even more fond of him than it already is, and I trust that I will see God move in his life!

What are your plans, goals, and challenges for the year ahead? Take some time to think through it, ask God to give you direction, and write them down so you're able to revisit them throughout the year. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

God & Marriage

Marriage. It is something I entered into with my husband two years ago, knowing that it would not be perfect. I expected it would require time investment [dates, quality time, deep conversations, conflict resolution] and lots of work. Nobody ever told me it was going to be easy, but I knew it was going to be worth it. And praise God, it has been worth it! We're continuing to learn much about marriage, who we are as individuals and as a couple, and who God is.

Recently, I stumbled upon the Mars Hill YouTube channel. As I browsed the videos, I came across the Real Marriage series. This video (below) in particular, got me thinking about marriage and divorce. I was soon reading this article which I found incredibly helpful in gauging when to know if a marriage is over.

I want to challenge and encourage you to think about your current marriage, future marriage, previous marriage, or whatever you're circumstances may be... How is God leading you in that? What would be the most honoring thing to the Lord? Maybe for you it's revamping your mindset before you get married to start thinking less selfishly and prepare your heart to be more servant like. Or maybe God would have you work towards reconciling a broken marriage that in the worlds eyes seems beyond repair. The best thing you can do is to seek Him and obey Him. It might not be easy, but it'll be worth it.

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. Itdoes not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends."
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8